Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I ended up missing the fall foliage completely. The fuel gauge gave up the ghost, it had to be pulled and sent out for rebuilding. Fortunately, it wasn't either of the sensors in the tanks.

Got a couple of flights in. Not today, the mag check failed on the left magneto for #6 cylinder. The old trick of running it up and leaning the piss out of it didn't work, still bad. #6 is one of the hardest cylinders to get a plug out of, and the bottom plug is the worst one of all.

Here's an economic indicator: There are four airplane on tiedowns at 44N for sale, going by the signs on them. One is a really pretty Cessna 140 that has been owned by a couple for many years. I think it was the wife's airplane. There are a couple of 172s and a Champ. I didn't drive around looking at all of the airplanees to see if there are signs on any others.

It is a bad time to be selling, the used market supposedly is softer than it has been in a very long time.

Monday, September 19, 2011


KPOU 191853Z 28004KT 10SM CLR 20/08 A3020

Yes, I know, it's not technically Fall yet, not for a few more days.

But the nights are getting cooler, blankets are being used on beds.

And when it is a nice day with a clear blue sky and terrific visibility, with just enough wind to light puff out the windsock, that's a great day to indulge in a little bit of VFR wandering through the sky.

Even if I had to take the wheelpants off in order to add air to the mains (six screws per side). Even if it wound up that the preflight was longer than the flight. Such is life.

What a glorious day to fly!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Wind Doth Bloweth

TAF for KPOU (Poughkeepsie, NY), the nearest observation station to Sky Acres Airport:

KPOU 281137Z 2812/2912 05015G28KT 3SM RA BR SCT015 OVC035
TEMPO 2812/2814 2SM +RA BR OVC015
FM281400 05020G36KT 2SM +RA BR OVC009
FM281600 30025G40KT 2SM RA BR SCT006 OVC012
FM282200 28020G35KT P6SM VCSH BKN050
FM290200 28012G20KT P6SM SCT050
FM290500 26010KT P6SM SKC

KPOU is in the projected less-dangerous semicircle of Hurricane Irene.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

They're Baaack!

The mud daubers.

A little out of focus (so sue me), but that is a fuel sample drain that is completely blocked by a mud dauber's nest.

Or it was.

It's getting pretty soupy up there. In-flight visibility was maybe ten miles or so.

You can see further, but as for seeing recognizable objects on the ground, ten miles, maybe. It often gets worse here in the summer, and VFR flying is not much fun when it seems as though you're flying inside of a milk bottle.

By the way, if you want a classic Champ, this one is for sale at 44N:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It is early afternoon here and the outside air temp is flirting with 90degF, 50% humidity. Most light airplanes are not air-conditioned and, if you are flying them in such a direction that the sun pours through the windows, it's like riding in an Easy-Bake Oven, with the added joy of solar convective turbulence.

Better to go flying as early in the morning as possible. Which is what I did today. The airplane was refueled, tied down and I was home by 11.

The good news is that the mud daubers have given up trying to build their nest inside one of the fuel quick-drains. Every other preflight this month has involved removing that crap from the drain.

Friday, July 15, 2011

One of the Joys of Ownership

Washing the airplane:

Not seen are the hose and the long-handled brush.

The airplane was filthy, I haven't washed it in awhile. I sprayed Simple Green Aircraft Wash directly on it, then scrubbed with a water-Simple Green mixture.

Washing an airplane is hot, hard work. It's like hand-washing several cars at once. I didn't wax it; the paint is pretty crappy and wax would not help at this point. But it is still a few shades brighter than it was this morning.

I flew it for a bit afterwards to make sure that it was completely dry.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Turned out that the problem was a species of bug known as a mud dauber. I knew that they will build nests inside of pitot tubes (which is why aircraft owners should keep them covered if the airplane isn't being used), but I had never heard of them building a nest inside of a fuel quick-drain.

A friend advised me to take a paper clip, unbend one end and poke around in the opening. Sure enough, bits of mud and dirt came out. I stirred the wire around and then the mess just flushed out with the fuel sample.

So I went flying! The winds went from calm when I left to "hold onto your hat, Hannah" in an hour. They weren't too bad of a crosswind, though, so the only real joy was wrestling with the cabin cover to put it back on.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I was away for two weeks, so the other day I went to go flying.

At least that was my intention. Hardly any gas dribbled out of the test drain for one tank. My first thought was "gorrammit, somebody stole my gas", but then I "sticked" the tank and saw that the tank was three-quarters full. So either the quick-drain is FUBAR or there is something in the tank. I don't have the capability to remove the drain and then catch 15 gallons of avgas flowing out of the tank like some fratboy shotgunning a beer.

I re-tied the airplane back down, put in a call to the shop and went home.

Monday, May 30, 2011


I got to go flying today!

It's fairly warm here. It was MVFR until noon, with broken cirrus at 2,300' after that. Flew around for a bit and then shot three landing for the logbook. I did pretty well, even with a seven week layoff from flying.

Feels good, even with gas at $5.80/gal.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The airplane still isn't back to me.

That's partially my fault, as I have told the mechanic repeatedly that I won't pay for expedited shipping for parts, unless I specifically approve it. The cost differential for large or heavy stuff isn't worth it to me. Besides the muffler, which I wrote about previously, the gyrocompass shit the bed on my pre-annual test flight. Modern DGs don't seem to be worth a crap. I had an old horizontal card WW2 surplus DG in my plane and it worked up until 2004.

They truly don't make them like that anymore. There were four war-surplus instruments in my airplane when I bought it, now 20 years ago (DG, AI, VSI, altimeter). The altimeter was the last to go. The rebuilding shop wouldn't touch it because it had indicator needles with radium paint on them.

Anyway, I fly for fun. That means that if the mechanic has an airplane come in that somebody uses in a business, it gets priority, and I am cool with that.

But the weather is nice, finally, it's been weeks and I want to go flying.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Five Words That Strike Terror Into the Heart of an Aircraft Owner

"The annual inspection is due."

This is an event that aircraft owners shorten to "annual". It could also be called an "IRAN" for "inspect and repair as necessary", but it is more than that. Depending on the airframe, engine and propeller, there may be periodic detailed inspections, maintenance or even replacement of components. Virtually every production aircraft and engine has inspection guides as to what needs to be looked at, lubricated, or replaced.

The work is done by an airframe & powerplant mechanic, or "A&P". The inspection is done (or at least signed off) by an A&P who has inspection authorization (A&P-IA).

Experimental aircraft do not receive annuals, they receive "condition inspections". The difference is that there is more latitude on what should be done. Condition inspections can be done not only by an A&P, but also by the person who built the aircraft. (The builder receives a repairman authorization that is good for only that aircraft.)

Annuals can run the gamut from paper-pushing exercises to extremely detailed rebuilds. If you own a piston-engined airplane, a bad thing to do is to take it to a shop that does a lot of work on turbine-powered airplanes, as their view of what is a reasonable cost and your view will differ.

One of the biggest cons in the aircraft dealing racket are the words "fresh annual", for it means nothing. I've seen mechanically sound airplanes that, from the exterior, look like flying bales of scrap. I've seen very pretty looking airplanes that were sold with a "fresh annual" and which needed five figures' worth of repair work soon afterwards. Caveat emptor rules in buying aircraft.

So far, one of the mufflers needed to be rebuilt. That was sent off by surface freight, I'm not in a hurry as to justify shipping big metal parts by second day air.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Narco: Wonderful.
Just Frelling Wonderful.

Narco Avionics has gone out of business.

Speaking as the owner of an airplane with all Narco radios, I sure as hell hope that somebody takes over the repair side of their business.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nine Days Later From My Last Post

Today tt was 60degF and sunny. It was a gorgeous day for flying, and I did.

Almost all of the snow that was there nine days ago is gone, only the remnants of large piles and some stuff on north-facing hills remain. The ground alongside the paved areas at the airport is soft and almost squishy.

There is a layer in the atmosphere of brownish shmutz at the surface that goes up a few thousand feet or so. It seems to me that the brown layer is worse this year than in years past.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winter Flying

That is ice on the trees. It was sunny out, the ice had melted from my airplane where the sun could shine on it. That meant that the right side of the tail and fuselage were covered with about an eighth of an inch of clear ice.

I was able to taxi to another part of the airport and park the airplane to turn that side of it directly into the sunshine. Less than a half-hour later, I was in the air. Overall, though, I spent more time preparing for the flight than I did flying, which is not terribly unusual in the winter.

Avgas here is now $5.30/gal. I can check fuel prices on AirNav, but some of the reports are over three weeks old and given the volatility in fuel pricing, a three week old report is worthless. Unless the price of local fuel is outrageous, I'll buy at my home airport, as I have an interest in seeing that they stay in business.

Anyway, the airports in southeast NY state may see a bit more airplanes on the tiedowns this year. The governor of CT wants to add a personal property tax for airplanes, which will make it attractive for those who can stomach the extra driving time to move them to other states. That'd be good for my airport, but not so good for airports like 11N and DXR.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter Flying

333C is almost ready to go:

Almost. The tailwheel needed to be inflated a bit. The snow berms being what they were, there was no way I could get my car close enough to the tail in order to use my electric tire pump. So I had to move my car to another place on the field and then taxi over there.

Those snow piles are down a good foot from what they were two weeks ago.

I am glad that I had been keeping up with clearing the tiedown and the airplane after each snowfall. Even if I couldn't always get every bit of snow and ice removed, I moved enough so that one warm day was all it took to finish the job. There were pilots out at the airport this time shoveling snow away from their airplanes, while all I had to do was preflight and go flying.

It hit 50degF here today. It was warm enough that I removed my cheapo winterization kit from the oil cooler. The landscape was still covered with snow, though.

There has been enough snow this winter that a day or two of 50 degree temperatures isn't going to change that. But it has been nice that there has been a break from the weekly heavy snow storms that ran through from Christmas to the end of January.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Today was supposed to be sunny with strong and gusty winds. The winds died down early this morning. I went to the airport, got most of the snow and ice off the airplane. The Sun did the rest and, while that was happening, I cleared enough of the tiedown to taxi out. That was fun, including freeing the tailwheel from about half an inch of ice.

Took two hours of work, but I got it done. I went to the cafe to rest, had a couple cups of coffee, glanced over the newspaper and then I went flying! I flew for about 1.5 hours and got in three landings.

No photos, unfortunately, I left my camera home.

First flight in a month, too.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I went to the airport on Sunday, removed 95% of the snow and ice that was on the airplane. I also shoveled out the tiedown (again).

You can see in comparison to the pictures in my earlier post that the snow berms are getting pretty damn high.

Yesterday, we had about a 1/4" of ice in this area. Even with the engine running and heating the windows, it took me 15 minutes to remove enough ice from my car to be able to drive safely.

I hate to think how long it will take to remove that much ice from my airplane. And more is forecast for Saturday.

This winter is kicking my ass.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Am Getting Too Old For This Mishegoss

It snowed hard here from the evening of the day before yesterday until last morning. This is the scene at Sky Acres:

They do plow the tiedowns, but they don't cut too close to the airplanes, for obvious reasons. I shoveled enough away so when they do plow later today or tomorrow, it will clear the tiedown area. (I also shoveled a path so I could get to it.) Because of drifting, the snow varies from a few inches to well over a foot.

I think I got my exercise in for today.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sometimes, Sympathy Is Hard to Find
(a whining post, you have been warned)

I went to my home airport yesterday in order to brush the snow from my airplane and to shovel out around the tiedown. The wind was pretty strong, which meant that if I was not careful of where I stood, brushing the snow from the wings meant that I got a faceful of it.

So, after I was done doing that, I went to the airport FBO's building in order to get a cup of hot tea at the cafe.

When I passed through the office, another owner was trying to move to a west-facing hangar as he thought it was too rough to have a hangar that faced to the east.

I thought about that as I walked by, chilled half-way to the bone, that I'd love to be able to afford to keep my airplane in a hangar, regardless of the direction it faced. Life is tough for some people.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Peppermint Oil

In an earlier post, I mentioned that a cotton ball soaked with real peppermint oil was a decent mouse deterrent.

It seems to work.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the roll of paper towels that I keep in the airplane had been nibbled on. So I got some old knee-high stockings, some cotton balls and peppermint oil. I put one in the baggage compartment and one in the cabin.

The roll hasn't been nibbled on since.

So it does seem to work, but I reiterate that you probably have to go to a health food store to find genuine essential peppermint oil. The synthetic stuff won't do the job.