Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Globe Swift (Page 3 of 8)

Lunch with Some Friends

A view of Mt. Rose over the nose.I try to fly my personal plane at least once each time I am home between airline trips. It keeps me current flying a taildragger and it keeps the aircraft’s engine parts lubricated . Besides,  it’s fun.

This past break I called a friend (Don) who lives south of Minden, NV (who also happens to be the IA who does my annual inspections) and asked him if he was up for lunch at the Minden airport cafe. He said he could take the time off and we agreed to meet at noon the next day.

We had been having a run of really nice days for the middle of winter in the mountains – light winds and temperatures in the high 40s – so it was a great day to go flying. I got to the airport plenty early, fired up the engine pre-heater and started my preflight inspection.  I finished that in short order (it’s not a very big plane) and still had more heating time to pass, so I wandered across the taxiway and visited with another friend who spends his days building hot rods.

By the time I was caught up with all he latest airport gossip it was time to head out for lunch. I pulled the plane out, locked the hangar, started up and headed for the runway. There has been construction underway on Stead’s most-often-used runway (8-26) for several months. It remains closed during the week and is opened on the weekends. In the next week or two the workers will have progressed enough to open it full time, but it will have a displaced threshold shortening the usable distance from 7600′ to 5000′.

I was soon airborne and climbing up to my cruise altitude of 7500′ (remember, the field elevation at Stead is 5050′). I decided to take the direct route and called Reno Approach to get clearance to pass through their Class C airspace. I was cleared south along the western side of the valley to stay at or above 6500′. They watched my progress until I was just west of the Carson City airport where they cut me loose to squawk VFR and proceed on course.

The Minden-Tahoe Airport (KMEV) is a fairly large uncontrolled airport that has two intersecting runways. The main runway is 16-34 and is used by most traffic. There is a large glider operation at Minden where several soaring records have been set. The tow planes usually use runway 12-30 but that runway crosses 16-34 at mid-field so you always have to be watching for crossing traffic both inbound and outbound. The gliders often do ridge soaring around the mountains to the west of the airport, so you also have to watch for crossing glider traffic while entering and flying the pattern.

In no time I was taxiing onto the ramp in front of the Taildragger Restaurant.  As I shut down the engine I saw another Swift friend (Gerry)taking a few photos of my plane. It turns out that he was in town to visit with Don and had arrived in time to have lunch with us. About twenty minutes later Don drove in from his shop south of Minden. Don had one of his clients with him, so we had a party of four for lunch. It was a nice visit with good friends.Downtown Reno, NV

The flight home was just as nice as the flight to lunch. I took this as I passed the Reno downtown area heading north to Stead Airport. It’s easy to see the Truckee River winding through town on its way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

Not too long after that I was let loose to squawk VFR again. I changed to the Stead traffic advisory frequency and monitored the AWOS.  With runway 8-26 closed the most favorable runway was 14, so I overflew the airportReno-Stead Airport (KRTS), descended to pattern altitude and maneuvered for a 45 degree entry to downwind. The landing went well, so I filled the tanks with 100LL, put the plane back in our hangar, and covered it up to keep the dust off while I flew my next airline trip.

It was a nice day of VFR fun flying.

A Sunday Flight in the Swift

Today turned out to be a great day for flying. I logged 1.5 hours just flying around the local area doing a little sightseeing. I had my camera with me and took a few photos that I’ll pass along for your entertainment. In case you’re interested, the camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 (my wife just got the newer TZ7).

I flew around two of the local lakes and generally had a fun time. I had intended to spend some time in the pattern at Stead (KRTS) and practice some landings. When I entered the pattern there was one other plane flying a compatible airspeed, but by the time I had finished my first touch-and-go three other planes had entered the pattern, so I called it a day. The local weather guessers say tomorrow will be another nice day – the last of the week – so I might try it again tomorrow.

My first photo is of what is officially Anaho Island – better known as the Pyramid of Pyramid Lake.Anaho Island in Pyramid Lake, NV The water level is down quite a bit. In good years only the vertical portion of the island is visible. Pyramid Lake is unusual in that water only flows into the lake, none flows out. Lake water loss is only from evaporation. Pyramid Lake is entirely within the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation and is home to world record sized Lohanton cutthroat trout.

Reno Air Sailing Glider Port (NV23)

Just to the west of Pyramid l Lake, across a mountain ridge,  is a small airport known as the Reno Air Sailing Glider Port (NV23). This is a view of it from 7500′ MSL (3200′ AGL).

From there I wandered first to the west and then when well east of Stead turned north toward Truckee, CA. Just south of the Truckee airport, across yet another mountain ridge (a lot of those around here) is one of our more well known lakes – Lake Tahoe.Vrystal Bay on the northeast corner of Lake Tahoe.

This is a view of the northeast corner of the lake. Incline Village, NV is at the left edge of the photo. I was flying at about 9500′ MSL. The lake surface is at about 6200′ MSL.

The next photo is looking southwest from about the same point as the previous shot. The low layer of clouds that covered the lake early in the morning has largely burned off -  the remnants are visible here reflected on the lake’s surface. The point of land sticking out is referredStateline Point on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. to as Stateline Point. The border between the states of Nevada and California runs down the center of the point and continues southward across the lake until abeam Zephyr Cove and then angles southeast to the town of South Lake Tahoe. If you drive along the highway that circles the lake you know when you have reached the state line by the proliferation of gambling casinos on the Nevada side of the border.

Downtown Reno, Nevada.

This last photo was taken as I headed back to the Stead Airport. Downtown Reno was clearly visible off my right wing as I flew by just outside the class C airspace.

It was a fun day of flying as evidenced by the number of planes in the local traffic pattern.  We don’t have many of these really nice and warm days ( 65 deg. F) at this time of year and  a whole lot of people seemed to believe that the airport traffic pattern would be a whole lot more fun than the holiday shopping traffic pattern at the mall.

Aircraft Polish, Computers and Ice

Most of the time I spent at home between airline trips this month was spent polishing the top surfaces of my Swift.A polished aluminum aircraft aileron. (Yes, I also polish the bottom.)  When I show pictures of the plane it usually generates questions about how long it takes to polish, who does it and what do they use.  The answer to the ‘who’ question is – me.  At one point my wife did some of the polishing, but now she has  much better things to do. I have always found it sort of relaxing. It’s not like the process takes a whole lot of brain power. As long as the weather is reasonable (70-90 degrees) and I can keep some air flowing to keep cool it’s not that bad a process. Messy, but not bad. Doing the top of the aircraft this time took me about four days of about 6 hours each. I use a cyclo polisher that has two dual-action polishing pads. Since the plane already has a well polished surface, I use a very fine polish (Nuvite grade S) and I use very soft polishing cloth. The cloth is un-dyed sweatshirt material cut into rectangular pieces. I buy all of my materials from a friend of mine in Northern California who has a website called  Tom has everything I need to get the job done as well as guides on how to use the products to obtain the best results.

I picked a pretty good time to do the polishing since the weather wouldn’t of allowed me to go flying. We had either clouds sitting on top of the mountains or winds gusting in the 30-knot range for the majority of the week. The day after I finished polishing the weather broke and I was able to take a friend over the mountains to a fly-in lunch meeting in Sacramento. I nice end to my time off.

Back at work I had another a 12-day jaunt around Asia. I carry a notebook computer when I go out on my airline trips – beer taps it’s an older 6-lb version that both gets me a little exercise lugging it around and keeps me from sitting in the bar on layovers to pass the time. It also keeps me in contact with the outside world. Some of the places where I lay over have little in the way of English television. Almost all have CNN and some have BBC, but often that is it for English ‘entertainment.’  However, as things often go, on the first layover of the long trip my computer started shutting down without warning every hour or so. That makes it very difficult to accomplish anything but it teaches you to save your work often.  The restart was then frustrating too since I would get all those ‘checking files since the program was shut down improperly’ messages. I tracked it down to a failed cooling fan. The computer was heating up, reaching it’s operating temperature limit and shutting down as a protective measure.

My first work-around for the problem was to place the computer over the room air conditioning outlet – one of those units you find under the window that makes the loud noises that keep you from sleeping. Ice bag computer cooling unit. That worked for the first night. The next layover had ceiling AC outlets. Hmmm. My solution was to fill a couple of ziplock bags with ice and put the computer on top of them. Surprisingly (or not) that worked pretty well. It wasn’t too stable, but it allowed me to get some work done. (note: it’s best to use bags without holes in them.) One of my subsequent layovers allowed me to visit an electronics store where I was able to buy a reasonably-priced computer stand with two built-in cooling fans. That third method worked the best and was definitely less of a mess to clean up.

The things we do to stay on-line.

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