Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holy Crap!

KFAM 302315Z AUTO 34011G22KT 10SM SCT050 SCT070 OVC080 14/08 A3002
KFAM 302255Z AUTO 34014G20KT 10SM FEW050 SCT070 OVC080 18/11 A2999
KFAM 302235Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM BKN070 19/11 A2997
KFAM 302215Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM BKN070 20/11 A2997
KFAM 302155Z AUTO 26003KT 10SM FEW055 BKN070 21/11 A2995

It has been gusty for the last two days. Late this afternoon, I noticed that the winds had died down. So I went to the airport and went flying.

I was in the air at 2245Z. As I was flying around, it seemed kind of bumpy. I chalked it up residual turbulence. And then I tuned into the AWOS and heard that the winds were gusting to 22 knots.

I got back on the ground as soon as I could. Landing wasn't too bad, but taxiing was a bit of a trial. Turning the airplane away from the wind took quite a few stabs at the left brake to get it going where I wanted to. I shut down pointing into the wind and then towed it into the shade hangar, where I very quickly tied it down.

It was a short and interesting flight.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Heat is Off

KFAM 151415Z AUTO 12006KT 10SM CLR M04/M07 A3038

I've been trying to fly at least once a week and shoot a few landings in the process. But not so much, now. When it gets cold, preheating is necessary. Standing a safety watch while the preheater runs isn't my idea of fun anymore, especially on days when it takes 45 minutes of heat to warm up the engine enough. I'm getting too old for that shit.

But on cold days, it has to be done. If it's been below freezing for any length of time, I preheat it. Not preheating an engine when it's cold is a sure way to speed up the need for an overhaul.

The airport manager mowed out a grass strip almost the full length of the paved runway.

Grass runways are terrific, if they're reasonably smooth. Lots less wear and tear on the tires and the tailwheel tends to have a little more braking effect.

Anyway, a few months ago, I took a friend to breakfast at KDXE's Skyways Cafe. I had coffee last week with his father and stepmother; they were in the coffee shop when I went in for some joe after an early morning hearing. The dad said that his son had way too much fun on that flight for it to be legal and he thanked me for taking him up.

I've owed 33C for almost a quarter of a century, now. Sometimes I forget how special and how much of an adventure it must seem to climb into a small airplane and fly wherever you feel like going.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Heat is On

KFAM 241615Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 32/21 A3002

It got hotter:

KFAM 241615Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 32/21 A3002

Mornings are a good time to fly.

Oil temps were a skosh over 200degF, which is nothing to worry about. I had thought for a long time that the oil cooler was not working well, for I was getting near redine temps, but my mechanic opined that the original system was probably tired and not working right. I was doubtful, but he was right.

By the way, can airports please install visible windsocks? 40 years ago, it was no big deal, for there were lots of wind indications everywhere. But between environmental laws and offshoring of blue-collar jobs, there aren't any more belching smokestacks. I was going to go roll the wheels at Bonne Terre (1BT), but I couldn't see a windsock anywhere.

7PM here, the temp's 91 and the heat index is 100deg. Ugh.

Monday, July 21, 2014


KFAM 201815Z AUTO 10004KT 10SM FEW050 27/16 A3008

I didn't fly for four weeks. I went on vacation (over two weekends) and then I had to wait for the installation of the new oil temp gauge.

I was skeptical that it was a gauge issue. My mechanic assured me that there has been a lot of discussion within the A&P community that if a pilot reports an oil temp issue and the gauge is original, to suspect the gauge. The new gauge was checked prior to installation and then installed. It's reading a good 15-20 degrees lower than the original.

The original gauge worked for 65 years or so. They don't make them like that anymore.

Did a $100 breakfast flight on Saturday down to the Skyways Cafe at KDXE. Then yesterday, I shot some landings on the grass runway. They mowed enough grass that it's almost a landing mat. When I taxi from the grass to the paved runway, I pay a lot of attention to where the runway lights are to avoid hitting one. A little paranoia is a good thing.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Can See Cleveland Now, Lorain is Gone

KFAM 141615Z AUTO 17011KT 10SM CLR 22/08 A3010

That's a bit of a mondegreen.

I had the windshields replaced in the recent annual. The left-side one was 35 years old, the right-side one was newer by a decade. The old ones were cloudy and if I was flying anywhere near a low Sun, forward visibility was nil.

What a difference in flight! I went from gray to clear and that made a difference, too. My A&P, who is in my age range (and who is a CFI) suggested that if I fly any at night, clear is better than gray or green.

Also, the airport is now mowing a 1,300' grass runway.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Splendor on the Grass

KFAM 031715Z AUTO 28003KT 10SM CLR 22/05 A2997

The Airport Manager mowed a 900' grass runway on the east side of the main runway (02/20).

It was a lot of fun to use. After a few landings, I began to judge when in the rollout to swing off the grass and onto the paved runway for taxiing back the other way. That way, I avoided having to add a bunch of power in order to taxi off the grass

Of course, one must be mindful not to hit a runway light. (I didn't.)

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Wind Doth Blow

KFAM 242035Z AUTO 19020G27KT 10SM CLR M01/M21 A3016

The amazing thing is that the wind is from 190. This winter, it's been common for it to be 26020G30KT. I flew last weekend because the temps got up over 50degF and, at least last Sunday, the wind was right down the runway. Strong winds with a large crosswind component are not fun in a taildragger on pavement.

And even if the winds are blowing closer to the centerline, when they are blowing, the updrafts and downdrafts are sort of kicking the crap out of both me and the airplane. Neither one of us are young anymore.

Cold this morning, too: KFAM 241335Z AUTO 16006KT 10SM CLR M17/M20 A3053

Maybe I should have just moved to Minnesoter...