Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Author: Tracy (Page 5 of 112)

Time Flies but I Haven’t

Propless Hangared Swift.

Yes, there is something missing.

I just looked at my logbook today (yes, I still log every flight that I make) and was really disappointed at what I found. The last time I wrote an article here I described a flight I had in June to take part in Swift World Domination Day.

Believe it or not, that was the last time I flew my Swift. I knew it had been a while but I had no idea it was going on 6 months. I flew a couple of times in August in a friend’s Piper PA-28-180 and I got about a half hour in the EAA Ford Trimotor (see below) but there is nothing else noted in my logbook.  Pretty sad.

That isn’t to say that I have not been involved in aviation – I just haven’t been up in the air.

In January of this year I was elected as president of the Reno-Stead EAA Chapter (Chapter 1361). Taking care of those duties has taken a lot more time than I anticipated. The Chapter has made tremendous progress in growth and visibility during the year under the guidance of our new officers and board but the progress has come with a large time commitment. With help from the chapter members I expect my work load to ease a bit.

In July I drove back to Oshkosh and experienced AirVenture for the first time in about 30 years. It was the same and it was different. I’ll write an article about that soon.

In August I started on the annual inspection on the Swift. I took my time and was considering replacing the instrument panel in the process while making room for some sort of ADS-B installation. I looked the prop over then decided to take it to a shop in the SF Bay area to have it inspected. While the flight time on the prop was minimal, it had been 16 years since it installed on the plane. I ended up telling the shop to overhaul the prop. That process is still ongoing.  The length of time that the overhaul is taking is not a function of the ability or professionalism of the prop shop, it is merely a result of the need to come up with an unexpected amount of funds to pay for the overhaul. I should have it back on the Swift in December – assuming I can get back and forth over the Sierras during a winter weather break.

In September the EAA Chapter provided volunteers to operate the people-mover shuttles during the National Championship Air Races. I’ll just say that it was an unexpected and very tiring experience trying to keep all the volunteers going in the right direction.

During the Air Races our EAA Chapter received an offer from EAA to host their Ford Trimotor Tour at our home airport. I polled the members of the Board about their feelings toward the event and then gave EAA a thumbs-up for a stop in November. So as soon as we had cleaned up everything from the Air Races we began getting ready for the Trimotor. That seems like a long time between events, but the Chapter had never hosted that type of event, had no history of local area public relations and needed to start the process of obtaining a use permit for the event from the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority. It was a true learning experience on all sorts of levels.

Back in November of last year (2015) the IMC-Club and EAA merged their efforts forming EAA IMC LLC, a subsidiary of EAA, Inc.,  to distribute IMC Club materials to any EAA Chapter that wants to establish a Club as part of their chapter. IMC Club is a guided discussion group of real-life IFR scenarios. The Scenarios are submitted by IMC Club members, massaged into an audiovisual presentation and provided to Club coordinators as discussion topics. Our EAA Chapter decided to form an IMC Club as a way to attract new Chapter members and to promote that EAA is not just about building airplanes. I took the club Coordinator training, found a meeting location and promoted the inaugural meeting.  We had ten people show up for the inaugural meeting, two joined our EAA chapter after the event and three more established Trial EAA memberships.

The Trimotor event went off in November as though we had been doing it for years. The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire 4 days – clear and winds no more than 10 knots. Rare for any time of year in Reno. The plane left for it’s next stop on Monday and Tuesday a front came through Reno with wind gusts to 60 kts., low ceilings and rain.  The Trimotor was a fun event, provided the airport users with another look at the activity of the EAA Chapter and brought in a few dollars for the Chapter (the hosting chapter shares in the ticket, merchandise and sponsor revenue). I ran the Chapter information table and signed up two more new members during the event.

And that finds us still trying to digest all the great Thanksgiving meals, trying to balance our checkbooks after the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and getting the snow plow in condition to handle the storm moving in tonight.

While I have had a real dry spell manipulating the controls of a physical airplane, I have been very aviation-active.

I will provide more frequent updates here whether I fly or not. I will also be publishing on our EAA Chapter website and am making a renewed effort to publish more frequently on my website design business website.

It is possible that I am spreading myself a bit thin but with a concerted effort at time management everything ought to work out.

It’s Summer

A few things have been conspiring to keep me on the ground lately, not the least of which is the 100 degree (F) heat we have been having lately. Then we had several planning sessions and an EAA Chapter Young Eagles Rally a week ago.  The Chapter managed to fly 74 kids from the Reno-Stead area. It was a fun but busy day.

I did manage to get into the air on June 12th in between formation sessions. Mid-June was the 2016 Pylon Racing School (PRS) preceded by FAST training (Formation and Safety Training). Racers at Reno must hold a FAST card saying they are qualified formation pilots before they can participate in Pylon Racing School. When they graduate from PRS they can then race in the National Championship Air Races in September. There were about a dozen jets and 40-50 Sport Class planes going through the FAST sessions. During the FAST sessions there are no restrictions at the Reno-Stead Airport, merely more than usual  traffic in the area – and traffic using overhead traffic patterns. During PRS there is a TFR in place over the airport and tenants are restricted to specific departure/arrival periods and only with prior permission.

I braved the traffic on the 12th because it had been designated Swift World Domination Day. This is the second time that the Swift group has held a ‘Domination Day’. The effort is to try and get as many Swifts into the air around the world as possible in a single day. One individual in the group receives flight information from all the participants and then correlates the times to get a grand total and to see how many aircraft were in the air at the same time. Results will be published on the Swift Museum Foundation website. I can’t imagine how much work it is to correlate everything.

Anyway, the 12th was a really nice day for flying. Clear skies and light winds, as you can see from the photos. Now I’m in the middle of an annual inspection so it might be a bit before I get up again. I’m hoping I can put in enough time to finish the inspection by the middle of July since I plan to head to Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture this year. I think the last time I attended was 1980, just before I moved out to the West Coast. Should be fun.

Good Weather and a Nice Visit

Photo of Lake Tahoe looking east from about Kings Beach with Incline VIllage out of the picture to the left.

Lake Tahoe looking east from about Kings Beach with Incline Village out of the picture to the left.

I finally got back up in the air again over the holiday weekend. It felt like we were right in the middle of the weather system route for most of the Spring. Now we’re swinging the other way.

The last ski area closed this past weekend – and now we’re forecast to see 100 degrees next weekend. Life in the high desert.

The winds were forecast to be a bit strong down in the CA valleys and there was a good chance of thunderstorms building over the Sierras, so I opted to stay on this side of the mountains. I called up my friend down in Minden, NV and arranged to meet for a late breakfast at the Taildragger Cafe on the airport. Always a good meal there – and seating with a nice view of the flight line.

The air was a bit hazy for the flight down by way of Lake Tahoe, so I didn’t bother to take any photos. The photo to the right is from a previous flight along the same route. It was a nice flight anyway, and good to get back into the air – it had been a bit over a month.

I flew the direct route back to Stead through the Class C airspace around Reno – getting clearance through the area from NORCAL Approach at 7000′. That was a much bumpier ride – the temperature had started rising and the usual afternoon breezes around Reno had started to puck up. When I left Stead the winds were calm to less than 5 knots from the east. For my return they were 140/6G19. Since it had been so long since my last flight I chose to use runway 14 rather than practice my variable crosswind technique on runway 8 and have a much shorter taxi back to the hangar. Even so, the landing was ‘interesting’ and I was glad there was 9000′ of runway to play with. Twice, as I was about to touch down a gust put me back into the air, not necessarily pointing in the original direction. So, add a bit of power and start over again with the flaring part of the process.  Even so, I managed to turn off by the midpoint of the runway.

All-in-all a very nice day and a good way to begin the 3-day weekend.


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