Flight in Swift early in September 2023


I couldn’t believe how long it has been since I wrote anything about my personal flying. It was last July talking about flying in June. Now it’s October and he have new snow on the mountain tops west of Reno and the leaf colors are starting to change.

Catching Up

I don’t believe that I even drove out to the airport in July. We had a long string of really hot weather for us – 100+ (F). I have an uninsulated hangar so the sun was beating down on a big metal shed – I really didn’t want to see how hot it got inside the hangar.

August was better weather-wise but I missed out there, too. By early September I knew that I needed to get back into the air and see if I still remembered how to land. For two days in a row I just flew traffic patterns, 12 of them to be exact. I started out pretty rusty but by the end of the second day I was happy with the results.

Last Races

Of course, September at the Reno-Stead Airport, for the last 60 years or so, has brought the National Championship Air Races. Officially they are from a Wednesday through Sunday but for airport tenants they run about two and a half weeks. That includes all if the pre-event setup and then teardown. For about the last week before the official start there is so much going on with people, tents, barricades, etc. that is is too dangerous to taxi on the ramp.

West Coast Swifts

After the races (the last to be held at Stead) I started polishing the Swift. I hadn’t done it in 3 years so it was way past time. It took me about 5 days working 4-5 hours a day – I’m not a fanatic about it. I was getting it done because the West Coast Swift Fly-in is traditionally a week or so after the races. But, as I watched the weather I saw a strong potential for rain during the time I was to be at the fly-in – held in Jackson, CA (KJAQ) each year. So, after getting the plane all shiny I decided to drive to Jackson.

It’s about a 2-1/2 hour drive, so it’s not too bad. I went over on Thursday and stayed until Sunday. Sure enough, it started raining late Friday night and stopped around noon on Saturday long enough for everyone to wipe down their planes. Then, when they were finished, it misted again for about a half hour so they all cleaned them again. The group of attendees split into two groups for Saturday afternoon. One group toured some wineries and the other toured the Knight Foundry in Sutter Creek, CA. I went to the Foundry. On Sunday we woke up to low clouds that lifted but did not break up. The solid overcast prevented my friend from south of Reno from getting back home until Monday.

Driving back on Sunday was fairly reasonable. It did start raining on the east side of the pass (Carson Pass on NV-88) but stopped before I got into Minden, NV. At the top of the pass (8000′) the temperature was 35 degrees, so those were wet, icy clouds.

Knight Foundry machine shop overhead belt drive system in operation.

Reno Young Eagles

The next weekend (October 7th) was the local EAA Chapter’s Young Eagle event. Friday morning I went out and tried to fly a few patterns to practice a few more landings. Unfortunately the pattern was full of training aircraft from the two schools at KRNO. When one of them in the pattern called a 5 mile left base I decided to call it quits rather than to try and fly my normal pattern in the middle of all that. If that plane’s engine had quit in the turn from downwind to base it would have been a long-distance call from the site of the wreck to the airport.

Anyway, the next day I pulled the plane out and flew 5 kids on their Young Eagle flights, three of them their first flight in a little plane. It was a very enjoyable morning and definitely satisfying to see their faces when the got out of the plane. You can find coverage of the event here on the EAA Chapter 1361 website.

Now we’re starting to see the change of seasons. There is new snow on the peaks west of Reno and two days ago the morning low was 27 degrees. But its supposed to be around 80 degrees Sunday/Monday.

Air Race Future

It is unfortunate that the races are leaving the Stead airport but it was inevitable with the Airport Authority trying to find a way to develop Stead into an operation that at least breaks even. As I understand there are roughly 6 locations currently in the running. This month I believe they whittle that down to 3 and are supposed to announce a final decision some time in December. That’s the rumor anyway. We’ll see.

I’ve heard that they (Air Racing Assoc) are planning on doing an airshow next year. I would think that would require the participation of one of the big jet teams in order to draw attendees out to Stead. Time will tell if that can be accomplished.