Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Category: Sport Flying Page 1 of 36

Flying with friends to interesting places.

Swift flight on April 29, 2022

Yes, I’m Still Here

I received an email a few days ago asking if I was still around and flying since it has been so long since I last posted an article. I just looked and can’t believe it has been almost a year and a half. My apologies….

I did write an article during the first week in January but I never published it – I was concerned that the information I had put into it might encourage a non-mechanic Swift owner to take on a project that they were neither qualified nor capable of accomplishing correctly and would end up with an unairworthy airplane or worse.

That article was about my need to take at least one wing off my plane (I did both) to fix a main fuel tank leak. I had gone out to the airport to go flying and found a puddle of fuel on the hangar floor – not a good sign during your preflight.

It turns out that a crack had developed on the top rear of the right main fuel tank (my plane also has outer wing aux fuel tanks, an STC from Merlin Products). Fixing the leak required removing the outer wing panel, which in turn required disconnecting the aileron and removing the wing flap. That was followed by removing the end rib on the center section, disconnecting all of the fuel lines and vent lines to the tank and then removing the tank. Of course, draining all the fuel out of the tanks was the first step – and as expected, the tanks were full (52 gallons minus what was on the floor)

Since I only wanted to do this process once, I also removed the left main fuel tank using the same process – though that one included removing the fuel filler assembly.

I took both tanks to a fellow IA who had experience welding these tanks. He accomplished the repair and then we pressure tested both tanks to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I inspected the repair IAW AC 43.13 and wrote up the repair on an FAA Form 337 – Repairing fuel tanks is a major repair. (14 CFR Part 43, Appendix A (b)(xxviii))

I then reversed the process and put everything back together. I refilled the tanks over several days, checking each day for another puddle or leak but found none. I did a really thorough preflight and flight control check and made a successful test flight. I was back in business.

Of course, by then COVID was well established and the air quality here in Reno was absolutely terrible because of all the fires. That pretty much shut down my flying for the majority of the summer. I did manage to get in the air enough to complete a phase of the WINGS program which qualified as my Flight review.

Between the winter temperatures and the wild swings in weather we have been having I am just managing to keep my landing currency but not much else. The price of 100LL now isn’t helping either.

Swift flight on April 29, 2022

I managed to get into the air last Thursday for about an hour. The AWOS said the winds were variable at 4 kts but it sure wasn’t that at 8500′. My head hit the hatch twice as I flew around the area so I headed back to the airport, did a couple of patterns and called it a day. Turbulence in the mountains isn’t fun.

Today the AWOS says the winds are from 250 deg at 20G27 and tomorrow it is supposed to get windy with gusts in the 40-50 kt range, including LLWS, blowing dust, etc. Reasonable flying weather is supposed to be back in about 4 days.

The good news is the temperatures have been warm and we have no snow on the ground nor is there a forecast showing any appreciable snow or rain on the horizon. That is also the bad news. It looks like it could be another bad fire year out here in the west. The Reno-Stead tanker base is in operation waiting for their first call. With the forecasted dry winds I hope it’s not this weekend.

Over Pyramid Lake at 9500'

To Say that 2020 has been an Unusual Year is a Gross Understatement

Here’s hoping that 2021 erases at least some of the hardships we have all experienced this year. It has to be better, right?

Over Pyramid Lake at 9500'
Over the SW corner of Pyramid lake at 9500′

Let’s see, I flew on February 28, 2020 and then didn’t get back into the air until November 3rd. I may have been out to the hangar a few times during the Spring and Summer months but in general I tried to stay away from everyone and everything. [I am in the high risk group with respect to Covid-19 and have no desire to test what type of reaction that I would have to catching it.]

The annual inspection on the Swift ran out at the end of April so even if I had wanted to venture out, the airplane was not legal to fly.

I finally started driving out to the airport again in mid-September when my schedule would allow and started working on the annual. . By the first of November I had completed the annual inspection and its requisite paperwork and again had a flyable airplane. But not for long….

Reno from 10,500' MSL
Reno from 10,500′ MSL

I logged 3.5 hours of flying over November 3-5 and after the last flight topped off the tanks in preparation for a few days of non-flying while a winter storm blew through the area. [ For the calendar year 2020 I managed to log 10.5 hours in the air – not what I was hoping for at the start of the year. ]

Swift Right Wing Root with Fuel Stain
Swift right wing root area with fuel stain on the floor.

The next time I went to the hangar to fly I found a fuel stain, still wet, under the right wing root. After the expletives stopped reverberating in the hangar I started my search for the source of the leak.

Oh the joys of aircraft ownership – especially an antique/classic aircraft. At least as an A&P/IA I have the ability, training and certification to fix it myself.

Mountains near Cold Springs

Short but Fun

We were between storm systems today with light winds, partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. How could you NOT go flying?

Snow-capped mountains and scattered clouds visible over the wingtip of the Swift taken at 8000 feet MSL.

While I was doing my preflight inspection I only heard 3-4 planes take off and then depart the area. That seemed unusual for such a nice day.

I made my way to the runway behind a nice yellow SuperCub and then waited while a Diamond DA-40 landed and a Cessna Corvalis entered the pattern. I took off and cleared the area to the north of the airport.

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