Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Category: Sport Flying Page 2 of 34

AOPA Regional Fly-in, Livermore, CA

With one of this year’s AOPA Regional Fly-ins so close to home I couldn’t really not attend. It was held this past weekend (June 21-22, 2019) in Livermore, CA, about 25 NM east of KSFO.

I had intended to fly to the event, however the weather patterns had other plans. There were no clouds or reduced visibilities (except for the marine layer in the SF bay area) but a fairly weak cold front managed to arrive in the area Thursday.

The front didn’t bring weather but it did bring wind. Interestingly on Wednesday evening I had attended a FAASafety Team seminar which included a segment on mountain flying and local weather systems.

According to the speaker, one situation to really try and avoid is winds blowing at 90 degrees across the ridges or within 30 degrees either side of that 90 degree direction, especially if the winds are 25 knots or greater. Also, due to the particular landscape in the vicinity of Donner Pass, a favorite route to the west from Reno, winds crossing those ridges from the SW side of the 90 degree direction seem to create more turbulence than from the NW.

Dawn Thursday morning and in checking the winds aloft in the area I find 25-35 knot winds at 9,000, 12,000 and 15,000 from about 250 degrees. I checked another local indicator, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) weather station of the top of Slide Mountain (at about the mid-point of Lake Tahoe on the Eastern side). At 9:30 am the winds there were averaging 40+ Knots with gusts to 65 kts.

It was a fairly easy 4-hour drive to Livermore.

I made the pancake breakfasts on both Friday and Saturday mornings. Friday found the marine layer over the airport forming an 1100′ overcast layer that burned off by about 1030. I attended the IFR Refresher and Pro Tips workshop that morning given by Gary Reeves. After that I had lunch from one of the 6-8 food trucks that parked on the flight line. After lunch I listened to Catherine Cavagnaro’s talk All About Spins. The rest of the afternoon I cruised the aircraft displays and the large vendor tent. At 5 pm I took advantage of the Flightline Cookout.

Saturday morning dawned clear and cool. After pancakes while watching arrivals.I attended the Advanced IFR workshop by Max Trescott and after lunch took in the Aircraft Maintenance workshop with Mike Busch and Adrian Eichhorn. By then a lot of people were leaving so I found a good seat in the shade of the food tent and watched the departures.

All in all I felt that the weekend was well worth the time and money that it cost to attend. It was good to see the volume of people and aircraft that attended. Flying around your local area or to your favorite destinations doesn’t reinforce the variety of aviation activities that are available to us as these AOPA or EAA events can.

Here are a few of the photos that I took on meanderings around the event:

Yes, it Still Flies!

Parking area at the EAA Chapter Fly-out.

I am almost embarrassed to say that I have only flown the Swift 3 hours so far this year. That is really nasty.

Through a series of circumstances the annual inspection last year was completed in December – in a heated hangar. So on the last day of 2018 the annual ran out. My low-temp rule for working in an unheated hangar is 40 degrees (F) so I put off working on the Swift and helped (in a heated hangar) a neighbor put ADS-B in his Piper. In the middle of that project we had an unusual warm spell would have met my temperature requirement for working in my hangar, but I like to work on one project at a time…

Selector valve in center, gascolator to right.

All the temperatures and time availability finally lined up and I started on the annual. First challenge was a fuel selector valve that had graduated from a small seep to a visible drip. Of course, the fuel tanks were all full…

I was looking at possible valve replacements but when I finally got the valve out of the plane and cleaned up I found that it just needed a new o-ring seal on the valve stem. All fixed with no leaks with the fuel system pressurized.

Then while putting the fuel strainer assembly back in (removed to gain access to the selector valve) I found the seals in that assembly were in bad shape. That led to a month-long quest to find the right fuel strainer (gascolator) seals. You would think that is a simple process. Aircraft Spruce had the right one in their online catalog but when they arrived the seals were the wrong size. Subsequent discussions with them revealed that their supplier had sent the wrong seals and that they had then been put into their stock improperly marked. Meanwhile I found another source in Florida that took a bit over a week to receive.

Finally the fuel system was all back together again, tested and leak-free.

Washoe Lake south of Reno on the way to Stead from the EAA Chapter Fly-out

The rest of the inspection went smoothly and the paperwork was finally finished in April. A week later I got back into the air and regained my landing currency. The following day I even made the EAA Chapter fly-out for breakfast.

The Ford AT-5-B as it arrived at KRNO.

About a week later our EAA Chapter hosted the EAA Ford Trimotor Tour stop. We operated the event out of the Atlantic Aviation facility at KRNO this time. I can’t say enough good things about the hospitality we received from the folks at Atlantic. Great bunch of people.

The following week the weather started moving in again. We have had several weeks of weird-for-Reno weather, which is saying a lot. Cold fronts have been passing through one or two a week, temperatures have been in the 40s to mid 50s (the end of May) and clouds have been sitting on the tops of the ridges.

This coming weekend is supposed to be the end of the weather days – just in time for Pylon Racing School (PRS). Next week will be formation qualifications for the new racers so they can then attend PRS. A TFR will be in place June 5-8 while the race course is active.

Maybe I can sneak a local flight in before the TFR activates…

In a Dry Spell

Snow-capped mountain near Susanville, CA.
Snow-capped mountain near Susanville, CA

It hasn’t really been since the middle of November since I flew last, it just seems that way…

I had a good string of flights going for a while – at least once a week. Then I took on a project installing an ADS-B solution for a friend. That is just about finished – not sure I’ll do that again for an aircraft that old (1968) with a full instrument panel and dual radio stack.

The wiring was a mess – not all the avionics were installed at the same time. Some came as replacement of previous radios, some just initial installations. It was obvious that some work was done on a time basis as unused wiring wasn’t removed.

Fogged-in mountain lake.
Fogged-in mountain lake.

That project is pretty much wrapped up – we had the transponder/encoder check done last week. He just needs to go fly it and get the ADS-B report, then apply for his rebate.

Of course, all of the time I was stuck under the panel we had weather with temperatures in the 50s. Now that I have my free time back we have barely gotten into the 40s and this is the second weekend in a row with winter storm warnings.

Those temperatures make it unlikely that I will work in an unheated hangar. Top it off with an annual that ran out December 31st and it appears that I’ll be grounded for a while. I need about a week of solid work to finish off the annual. Once in a while we have a string of nice temps that would permit it but nothing on the horizon for a while.

Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, NV.

So, like the rest of you in cold climates with winter weather, I’ll spend my time reading my magazines, watching videos and taking aviation courses until we thaw out. It’ll seem like a long time but it won’t be too long.

We can always start making AirVenture plans….

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