I have a relatively quiet afternoon today, so I’ll see if I can get a couple of articles published to catch up on things. I was going to fly down to Marysville, CA this weekend for the Golden West Fly-in until I saw the weather forecast. It was supposed to be 100+ here in Reno, so the Northern California valley temps could easily have topped 105, not factoring in the temperatures on an airport ramp. I decided to stay home and catch up on things instead. The morning flight over wouldn’t have been bad – probably really enjoyable. But leaving after the airshow, so 3:30-4:30 would have been the hottest part of the day. Not fun for the pilot of the airplane.

Focke Wulf 44J Stieglitz
Focke Wulf 44J Stieglitz

A while back I ran across a couple to unusual airplanes at Stead Airport. This first one is a 1938 Focke Wulf 44J Stieglitz. It was being towed from one part of the airport to another. According to Wikipedia Stieglitz translates to Goldfinch. The plane was built primarily as a trainer ans sport plane. It was also produced under license in several other countries.



Focke-Wulf 44J Stieglitz

The next plane was parked in front of a hangar the other day. I had heard it was out flying earlier in the day. The pilot hadn’t flown this particular type of plane before and it took him three tries to get it on the ground – he just wasn’t comfortable flying that slowly.

The Fiesler Storch was a German liaison aircraft built before and used during WWII. Production actually continued until the 1950s. According to Wikipedia more than 2900 were built.

It certainly does look utilitarian and purpose-built.

Fieseler Fi-156 Storch
Fieseler Fi-156 Storch


About a month ago I flew to my favorite breakfast location, had a nice meal and headed back to the home airport.
I happened to be scanning the instrument panel when I saw the vacuum gauge needle make a mach-2 run for the bottom of its case.

Everything else on the plane was working fine so I continued toward home. About 5-10 minutes later the attitude gyro started rolling over. So, it wasn’t the vacuum gauge that failed, it was the vacuum pump on the back of the engine.

I already had a spare on hand, so when I got back to the hangar I started to swap it out. This engine I have in the Swift is a big bigger than the plane had when it was built in 1948. That meant I would first have to disconnect the vacuum hoses running into the cockpit, then loosen the upper engine mount bolts and let the engine rotate on the lower engine mount attachment points in order to have enough clearance to back the vacuum pump gears out of the accessory case and remove the pump. The engine mount is made to do this and is part of the STC for the engine installation. Luckily all I had to do was loosen the upper engine mount bolts (back the nuts off) about a half of an inch to get sufficient clearance. I had the old pump off, the new one on and the engine mount bolts re-torqued in just a few hours. That’s where my progress ended for a week or so. Part of installing a new vacuum pump is blowing out the vacuum lines from the instruments to the pump and replacing the two air filter elements – one in the vacuum pressure regulator and the other, the main air supply filter. I had one on hand but not the other. Yet another order to Aircraft Spruce. I had the parts I needed in about 4 days, but I didn’t have time.

More in the next article…