Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

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Swifts and Articles for September 30, 2011

This was really a slow week for the kinds of aviation articles that I like to pass along to you.Flying home from the West Coast Swift Fly-in To give this article a little more body I’ll combine it with a little coverage of the West Coast Swift Fly-in that I attended last weekend. I do have one link which I’ll put at the end of the article.

The Globe/Temco Swift group is pretty active overall. The Swift Museum Foundation owns the type certificate for the airframe and maintains a Parts Store at the Association headquarters in Tennessee.  Each year there is a National Fly-in and a West Coast Fly-in. The West Coast version is traditionally held in Jackson, CA at the Westover-Amador County airport (KJAQ). Swift Fly-in registration tent.

This year there were about 30 Swifts in attendance. Arrivals began on Thursday and most participants were on their way home by mid-afternoon on Sunday. The Friday night BBQ dinner on the airport fed 65 people and the Saturday awards banquet had 55 in attendance. This was the registration tent and souvenir store.

One day there was a Formation flying clinic – the Swift Formation training program is certified by the FAA and, when completed, results in the awarding of a Formation Qualification card – required by the FAA in order to participate in any airshow formation flights.

Globe Swift parking at Pine Mountain Lake airport (E45). On another day there were two fly-outs. One to the San Francisco Bay area to view the clouds covering the Golden Gate Bridge – the group settled for lunch near one of the bay area sport flying airports. The other fly-out was to the Pine Mountain Lake Airport (E45). A Swift owner there invited the group over to be ‘guests of honor’ at their airport’s open house/fly-in. This was the Swift parking area at Pine Mountain Lake airport.

Several different awards were given out at the banquet on Saturday night. The award winners were

Longest traveled:  Bill Whelchel from Costa Rica
Best Paint:  Nate Andrews, N98338, Graham, WA
Best Polish: Karl & Donna Johanson, N78103, San Diego, CA
Best Original:  Denis Arbeau, N3307K, Napa, CA
Best Custom:  Paul Ross, N3890K, Lakeside, CA
Viewers Choice:  Kyle Hook, N90383, Portland, OR
Bud Knox Grand Champion:  Scott & Sandy Naumann, N817CC, Arroyo Grande, CA

Swift on the way home from Westover fly-in. One of the attendees sent a few shots he took on the way home. At a fuel stop they crossed paths with two of Eddie Andreini’s planes on the way home from an airshow – a Super Stearman and a Yak-9U.  I’ll also include a link to a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) balloon photo that he sent along – saying he saw it near Napa, CA. (Maybe in a bad dream.)Eddie Andreini Stearman. Yak-9U




NSFW Balloon photo

Many, many thanks go out to Gerry and Carol Hampton who organized the Swift Fly-in. My wife and I have been involved with the planning of a similar event and we know that the work load is tremendous. They did a super job. Thanks also to Don Thomson and Karl Johanson who both supplied photos for this article.

Here’s the only article I found this week that I wanted to pass along:

A Georgia boy and Ohio aviation history
This is from Douglasville, GA. The author’s father told her the story of the first time he had ever seen an airplane. She did some research and the story expanded to aviation history in Cincinnati and Atlanta. A lot of familiar names. Good read.

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 PerfectPolish.com.  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.

Wonderful Weather

I finally  was able to go flying in my plane a couple of days ago, the first time this year.  It was just a short local flight for a little sightseeing and then six patterns to remind myself that I could still land the Swift.They were actually pretty good landings for being off for so long. I can say that since nobody was along to refute my claim.

I finished up my airline training flight and commuted back home just before Christmas. Unfortunately two days later my name was on the sick roster. 1948 Temco SwiftI caught some sort of viral thing that took almost two weeks to clear up enough that I could call myself airworthy. I didn’t make any friends in the scheduling department by calling in sick over Christmas and New Year’s, but I had no choice.

Just when I thought I would be able to spend some time at the airport a weather system moved in that nixed any plans that I had for flying. A big high pressure system was camped overhead and a low off the west coast was pumping some warmer temperatures and moisture into the area. The higher temperatures coupled with the moisture and the remaining snow on the ground set up great conditions for the formation of fog. We also had a rare set of days with little to no wind to clear things out. Every morning I’d get up, look out the window and call the AWOS number to see what it was like at the airport. And every day the computer-generated voice would say “sky obscured 100′ overcast, visibility less than 1/4.” Not great weather for driving, much less flying. Most of the days the low clouds and fog would hang around until mid to late afternoon, breaking up and lifting enough to barely be called VFR  shortly before sundown.  One day I went out to the hangar anyway and got the plane ready to fly, turned on my home-made engine pre-heater and went across the taxiway to see what my neighbor was doing. About 45 minutes later I figured that the engine was heated enough ( the outside temps had been around 45 degrees during the day) and I’d have about 45 minutes of daylight left. I walked out of his hanger to go back to mine and found that it was raining! I couldn’t win. I unplugged the heater and headed home again.

A couple of days later I had again been keeping track of the AWOS recording and heard that the overcast was beginning to break up, so I headed for the airport again. The plane was ready to go, so I plugged in the heater and then went to the local cheap gas place and filled up my truck. By the time I got back the engine was toasty warm (oil temp registering 80F), so I pulled it out and started up. There was still a high overcast, but the valley where the airport is located was clear.Fogbank north of the Reno Stead (KRTS) airport. Once I got into the air it became obvious that I wasn’t going to be going very far from the airport. There is a low ridge about 5 minutes north of Stead.  Highway 395 travels through a little pass on it’s way northwest to Susanville, CA. You can see in this photo that I took looking over the cowling that the low clouds and fog  had only receded as far as that low pass. The view was the same to the east, but to the west there was another clear valley, so I headed that way.

When I had taken off the AWOS said that the temperature was 43F at the field elevation of 5100′. I was cruising at 7500′ and my OAT gauge said it was 51F.  Hmm. Out of curiosity I fired up my handheld GPS (an old Lowrance) and checked my progress. The GPS said I was doing 140 mph over the ground as I headed west. I plugged in a few more numbers and found that my TAS was about 155 mph. A bit of a headwind. When I got to the west end of the valley I turned back and headed NE. My GPS groundspeed jumped up to 185.  The flight at cruise was surprisingly smooth, even with that wind in the area.

I did encounter some turbulence as I descended into the traffic pattern and got below the ridge tops, but it wasn’t much more than occasional moderate bumps. The traffic pattern was empty, so I practiced landings for a while. I managed six circuits before another plane made an appearance – the benefits of flying mid-afternoon on a weekday. We have an aerobatic school on the field and their practice area is right above the airport starting at 2000′ above pattern altitude. The Decathlon that took off was heading for the aerobatic box.

It was getting late and I had a safety seminar to attend that night, so I made a full stop landing and headed for the fuel pumps to top off the tanks. That accomplished, I put the plane back into it’s hangar and put the covers back on. I had a feeling that the weather forecast for winds the next day was going to be correct.

The next day dawned clear and windy. By 7 am the gusts were hitting 40 mph at our house. So, I spent the day getting things ready to go back to work.  Four letter word.  I have a 6-day European trip coming up, followed by two days off (which is too little to make it home and back to work) and then a 9-day Asia trip. At least I managed to get one flight in for the new year. Maybe next month the weather will be more favorable for VFR flying. One can only hope.

Spring is right around the corner, right?

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