Friday, December 6, 2019

Exeunt Omnes

The buyer's check cleared, so N333C is no longer mine.

I could write pages about the memories that I have from flying. I could moan about the checks that I wrote to keep 33C flying.

But it's over for me. 33C has gone to a new owner. I hope he has at least a tenth of the fun that I did.

Exeunt omnes.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


KFAM 141956Z AUTO 30007KT 10SM BKN055 06/M03 A3027

That is all.

I'll say more after the check clears.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sale Update

KFAM 312256Z AUTO VRB03KT 10SM OVC044 11/09 A3005

I've mentioned this elsewhere: This is now a "lost my medical" sale.

Which is mostly truth, as the process of getting a special issuance in order to get back in the air would be both expensive and problematical.

The point is that when nice weather comes, I'm not going to back out of a deal. I mention that because, before I bought 33C, I had a contract to buy a `77 Taylorcraft. The weather turned nice and the owner sent me a check to return my down payment. Oh, sure, I could have sued him and probably won, but life's too short for that noise. It wasn't as though I was married to the idea of owning his T-cart.

As it turned out, a Stinson was a much better airplane for me.

And it can be for you.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Official Numbers and the Ask

KFAM 312356Z AUTO 16007KT 10SM CLR 08/M01 A2984

TTAF: 4,061. SMOH 771. All compressions are good. Annual is due 12/18.

Asking price is $21,500

Larry McCormick at Mac Air in Farmington is handling the sale. His number is 573-756-4503.

Monday, January 22, 2018

It's Official: 333C is For Sale

KFAM 222056Z AUTO 22016G31KT 10SM BKN080 13/M03 A2953

The main reason that I am putting 333C up for sale is that, well, I'm getting too old for this shit. It's getting harder and harder for me to move the airplane around. It's not "an old-lady can climb in airplane" like a Cessna 172 or a 177.

To be honest, it's kind of a flying beater. It's never been restored, just flown. It's been in a shade hangar for the last six years. It was metallized back in the day when the choice was that or do a full recover every few years. A previous owner flew it IFR. The windshields were replaced two years ago. Compressions are all good. Next annual is due in December. Might be about 4,000 hours on the airframe or so and 700 SMOH. The engine is a 165 heavy-case Franklin with an oil filter. But to be clear: This is "as-is, where-is, with all faults". It's a seventy-year old airplane. You're not getting a new airplane with a warranty or guarantee. You want that, go buy a Maule (and spend ten times as much, give or take).

Included will be a set of covers (engine and cabin). If you're going to a colder weather place, I have a Sure-Start forced-air preheater and a blanket with grommets so it can be bungeed over the cowling. I also have a Garmin 195 GPS, but that'll be extra.

I'm using a broker. I don't want to get to know whoever buys it, nor deal with the lookie-lous or tire-kickers. No offense, but I don't have the time or the patience. Also, I've owned 33C for 28 years. I feel as though I'm selling a child. I'd rather not be more involved than signing the bill of sale and cashing the check.

If you're interested, drop a comment with your email address. I'll forward it to the broker. Or send you his, whichever he wants.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Back in the Air

KFAM 101956Z AUTO 27008G15KT 10SM CLR 13/M04 A3001

At times, it seems as though this has been The Year of Not Flying. After the time down to fix the cowling, I had about two months to fly until the annual was due.

And it was not good. One of the first things that was done is a compression check. It's far more involved then this, but basically, they take a spark plug out of a cylinder, hook up a pneumatic test rig, and see how much air pressure the cylinder will hold. The reference pressure is 80psi. Compressions in the 70s are fine. 60psi is acceptable.

Last year, five out of six were in the 70s, on in the 60s. That indicates that a cylinder bears watching.

This year, five were in the 70s and one in the teens. Oopsie. The exhaust valve seat was kind of cruddy. So the cylinder was pulled off (aircraft engine cylinders are bolted to the crankcase) and sent off. Turnaround time wasn't exactly rapid. There were issues with the pushrod tube seals and other fiddly bits.

The airplane was returned to me two days ago. Yesterday was very windy and cold. Today was no peachy day, but I flew. I climbed up to 5,500' and 6,500' and flew around at full throttle to help break in the new(ish) cylinder. Landing, well, that's a 70 degree crossswind, but when you can land on grass, you've got a little more margin.

I'll probably make another hard/hot break-in flight again. Possibly in conjunction with a $100 breakfast.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back in the Skies Again

KFAM 082356Z AUTO 07005KT 10SM CLR 26/15 A3013

It has been about six weeks since I last flew.

Stinson top cowlings have a central spine; the left and right cowlings are attached by piano hinges and lock down with two quarter-turn fasteners. The front of the piano hinges were each missing a couple of hinge fingers. A mental image of the cowlings unzipping in flight was enough for me to not fly.

Then came the comedy of maintenance and scheduling. The wrong parts were sent. Obtaining aircraft parts in July can be fun, as the suppliers are gearing up and going to Oshkosh for the big EAA show. It also was ungodly hot for a few weeks, which reduces the time that the mechanic is in his hangar, working on airplanes.

But it was done late yesterday. Talked to the mechanic for a bit, did a preflight and went up. (It was outisde his hangar; he was appreciative that I turned the airplane around before starting it so that, when I turned to get on the taxiway, I wouldn't blow schmutz into his hangar.)

Got the oil warm, then shot three landings; two on the pavement and one on the grass. If I can break free this afternoon, I'll wash and repeat, for the weekend weather forecast is basically shitty.

Funny thing, when I don't fly for awhile, I think about hanging up my headset. But when I can fly, then I stop those thoughts.

The airplane behind mine in the hangars is this one:

It had a hard landing, slammed down on the nosewheel and it may be totaled. There are a lot of photos here. The firewall is wrinkled, so is the cowling.

Sad to see that. Unless someone takes that on as a rebuild project, 932's days are numbered.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Day and Night

KFAM 051756Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 12/01 A3011
KFAM 060056Z AUTO 09003KT 10SM CLR 10/01 A3009

I flew twice on February 5th. A day flight means that I can do an easier preflight and refueling at the self-service pump (the only way one can get avgas at KFAM).

There seems to be a lot more pollution in the air these days:

I wonder if that's because wood pellet stoves seem to be gaining in popularity. So apparently is heating with wood itself. When I am out and about in the winter, I smell a lot more wood smoke than I once did.

Anyway, after a gap of several hours, it was back to the airport for a night flight.

My airplane sits in a shade-hangar. Each two-airplane bay is lit by a single overhead light (with a switch, so they're not on all the time). This is the bay where my airplane sits, after I had pulled it out to start it up:

That single bulb may not look like much, but anyone who has done a nighttime preflight with a flashlight and maybe the headlights from a car will appreciate the convenience that is afforded by that single bulb. Oh, I still have to use a flashlight, but being able to walk around and give the airplane a once-over without having to play the beam of a flashlight about is heavenly.

This is also the first airport that I've been based at where I had the airplane in a shade hangar. At all the others, it was on a tiedown. An airplane in a shade hangar is exposed to the wind and the cold, as well as the sun for a couple of hours in the day. But it's not rained on or snowed on and it isn't baked by the sun all day long. I've noticed that over time, there has been a dropoff in the niggling problems that would arise when it was tied down.

The other thing that's nice is that there are electrical outlets. My airplane, like a lot of others at the field, has a battery conditioner on it. The ease in starting has been dramatic. The owners who fly a lot in cold weather also have electric engine heaters, which I've not bothered with. As I have aged, I have found that flying in cold weather isn't all that much fun.

I've done more night flying this season than over the past several years. There have been enough warmish days (40degF or warmer) to accommodate that. I like flying at night, but for me, it's all solo work. If the engine quits at night, the chances of getting seriously injured or killed in a forced landing are significant; I don't feel comfortable sharing that risk.

Night flying season will soon end for me. Sunset now is at 1730 local. A month from now, it will be 1800 and then it will jump to after 1900 when Daylight Savings Time comes into effect on March 12th. Night landings (and takeoffs) only count for currency purposes when they're done no earlier than an hour after sunset. When I was much younger, I had no problem with launching around 9PM for an evening flight.

Those days are gone.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Super Moon

KFAM 130056Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 03/M01 A3034

Waiting for it to get a little bit darker before going flying. I try to get to the field early enough so that I'm not doing a preflight by flashlight. One can miss things in the dark that will pop out by daylight.

It probably helped that I had flown earlier. The transponder light was out; my mechanic recommending climbing up high enough so that Kansas City Center could see me, so see if the bulb was out or if the unit was out. ZKC could see me, with a good altitude readout. All I need to know.

The bright moon helps a bit. At least I can tell the difference between forested land and fields if the engine quits. I can't see if there are any significant obstructions or power lines, though. I'm less willing to take that risk than I once was.

I shot four landings on this flight and four the night before. The first few were kind of sketchy. All were straight, but a couple were more "arrivals". If MAC has a seismograph, they might have seen one or two.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


KFAM 052156Z AUTO 17010KT 10SM CLR 24/19 A3001

I haven't flown for a few months. I was away on a trip in late June and, when I came back, a flight showed that there was a problem with the left brake. The annual was scheduled for two weeks later, so I opted to wait for that.

Probably a good thing. The brake became a real clusterfrak. They are Bodell brakes, which I like, because they have just enough braking authority without too much. Too much braking power in a tailwheel airplane is not a good thing.

The left brake took two pumps to activate it. The friction disk was shot and the return spring was old, so both were replaced. But the brake still didn't work right. Getting the parts proved to be a problem. It ended with sending the lower brake assembly back to the vendor, who apparently replaced either the hydraulic piston or the floating disk (I haven't seen the invoice). Getting that back was a good part of the overall wait. That frustrated the hell out of the shop, as my airplane was sitting on blocks and couldn't be moved.

But yesterday, it was done, everything put back together, logbooks signed and I flew it after work. I flew around for a bit to ensure everything was good, then shot three landings: One on the grass, a 3-pointer on the pavement and a wheel-landing on the pavement. Sad to say that it doubled my flight time for the last four months doing that (haven't bought any 100LL since then), but I'm back in the air and in time for the Fall foliage to turn.

Life is good.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


KFAM 291356Z AUTO 29004KT 10SM CLR 24/19 A3013

It felt stronger than that, judging by the flags and the windsock.

It was almost a direct crosswind, which was good. I shot some crosswind landings a few weeks ago and I sucked at it. The grass was long and wet, so I used the paved runway and quickly saw that I had gotten sloppy. When you land on grass, there's some drag on the wheels and it helps keep you straight, a little.

Today, I took advantage of the crosswind to practice basic fundamentals. Line up with a little extra energy in the budget. Keep the nose aligned with the centerline. Use the ailerons to control lateral position. Watch the airspeed, as flying cross-controlled means a little more drag.

It was all good.

This time of year, it pays to get the flying done early. The thermals start building by late morning and it makes for a less-than-fun ride. I took a newbie up last week; we met at the filed at 8:30 and were tied down by 10. Smooth air all the way. An hour later, it would have been like driving down a corduroy road.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Late Summer Time

KFAM 061455Z AUTO 19007KT 10SM CLR 27/22 A3013

I haven't been doing much of anything on this blog. It's been hot, so my flying has been go up before 0900, if possible, fly around for 20-30 minutes, shoot some landings on the grass, and then put the airplane to bed and go on with the rest of the day.

Which is what I did this morning. I've been shooting at least three landings per flight, if I don't have a passenger. It's been making a difference in my landings, suggesting that I should be flying more than I do.

I did get in a "five states in 3.5 hours" flight last Spring, whee I landed in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and then back home to Missouri. It could also be called the "four airport facility directory" flight, since I landed in airports covered by four different editions (North Central, East Central, South Central and Southeast).

They haven't mowed the grass runway in a little bit.

Yes, the wheelpants are kind of scabrous-looking.

I flew in my sock feet this tie, first time I've tried taking my sneakers off. There was a little better feel to the pedals. I may look into buying a pair of traditional moccasins.

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...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shade Hangars Rock!

KFAM 081555Z AUTO 11004KT 1 3/4SM OVC009 M07/M08 A3018

Beats the hell out of tiedowns, that's for damned sure!

Farmington was hammered with a foot of snow. Not a bit was on the airplane itself.

And I didn't have to do this or this.

Friday, May 24, 2013

An Aircraft Owner's Least Favorite Game

KFAM 242115Z AUTO 12008KT 10SM CLR 20/02 A3034

"Guess what broke now!"

The DG. I have those vertical card DGs, they don't seem to last but a few years. The one that was in the plane was an A/N gyro left over from the war. I flew with that one for thirteen years. It was't the easiest thing to use, but it worked until it finally failed. Supposedly it couldn't be repaired, but if I knew then what I know now, I'd have pushed the issue.

I took an old sectional, tore off a corner, and taped that over the dead DG. Here's a fun fact: It's hard as hell to tear up a sectional when you want to.

I did land at Bonne Terre to try it out. The airport is surrounded by small thick trees that play hob with the winds.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


KFAM 121535Z AUTO 34009G16KT 10SM CLR 12/M04

The annual is done, but work remains. The rebuild ASI isn't I-ing too well. It was alive on takeoff early into the roll (when I heck it and oil pressure). After that check, I don't look at the panel again until I'm well into the air. The ASI was't reading where it should have.

Far too late, of course, to just land, so I flew around for a bit to get the engine warmed up and then landed. The ASI didn't fix itself in flight.

I had a CFI at one time who taught "no panel" flying. He felt that in day VFR, if you couldn't take off, fly around and land without any instruments, then you didn't know your craft. So he'd cover up everything, except the oil temp and pressure gauges, and you had to show him that you could fly the airplane.

Which turned out to be very good training, indeed.

Monday, May 6, 2013

20 Years Later, an Airport Reopens

KFAM 062255Z AUTO 03006KT 10SM FEW065 OVC085 18/12 A2997

The Bonne Terre Airport has reopened.

I overflew it last winter and it looked like what it was, at the time: A long-closed airport. I hope they can make it work.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


KFAM 201755Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM CLR 12/M02 A3027

No flying, though. 333C went in for its annual three weeks ago. There aren't any serious problems, so far. The ASI tended to stick on rollout, it was sent out for rebuilding and it came back. Engine is healthy. But the mechanic had a serious family emergency that had him closed up for nearly two weeks. He called his customers awhile back to advise them of that. The vast majority of them said something along the lines of "don't worry about it, take care of your family issues."

I got a call from a gent who owned my airplane over 40 years ago. Basement flooding damaged his photo collection and he has found that he doesn't have a decent photo of the airplane. I promised to send him one. Just have to dig them out, myself.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncy Bouncy

KFAM 171915Z AUTO 18012G17KT 120V180 10SM CLR 09/M06 A3008

I haven't been able to go flying for three weeks, as flyable weather and my availability to fly haven't exactly meshed. So even though I don't much care for flying in windy conditions, I went flying. Have to get the oil in the engine hot periodically, you know.

But yeah, not fun. Strong winds across the surface hit things, like slopes and hills, and then some of that wind energy goes up. If you ever get a chance to fly over a large body of water when the winds are up a bit, you may be amazed at how smooth the air is. Buy go over land a bit and blammo!

Strongest surface winds I ever dealt with was on a return flight from Sun & Fun 20+ years ago. Our ground speed, as reported by NY Approach, was 67kts. When we descended below 8,000', we got the crap kicked out of us. My passenger had to hod the controls and stand on the brakes until I got the airplane tied down.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


KFAM 191655Z AUTO 21013G17KT 10SM CLR 09/M01 A3012

I can fly in such conditions, the wind is only 10° off the runway's centerline. But flying around in windy conditions is not my idea of fun. It's one thing if I am going somewhere. It's another thing if it's a flight just for fun.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Day Later

METAR KFAM 131615Z AUTO 31010G15KT 5SM OVC008 M04/M06 A3011

Ice pellets are falling from the sky as I type this.

It started raining yesterday a little after noon. When the rain finished up after midnight, over 2" had fallen. This area is still classified as being in a "moderate drought", so I don't know of anyone who was complaining too hard about the downpour.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Timing is Everything

KFAM 121435Z AUTO 20004KT 10SM CLR 11/09 A2996

That was the weather when I went flying this morning. The forecast was for it to turn, well, shitty. The METAR might have said that it was only 11°C, or about 52°F, but it felt warmer than that. It was good flying, got in a little over an hour of time and shot three landings. "CLR" means "clear below 12,000", the skies were scattered to broken up high at altitudes that are unreachable with my airplane.

Current weather: FAM 121955Z AUTO 02007KT 4SM FEW010 SCT014 BKN019 13/11 A2988, and it is raining pretty hard.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ancient Aviation History

METAR KGON 012256Z 33007KT 10SM CLR M01/M09 A2988

One of the oldest aviation groups online is Avsig. It started out as part of Compuserve, back in the days of acoustic 300 baud modems. After many tribulations, Avsig is still around. And until the 3rd, you can easily join.

I've been a member of the group, off and on, for 25 years, which is a few geologic eons in the online world. It's still a good place to be.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


KFAM 052355Z AUTO 07006KT 10SM CLR 08/01

In the late `90s, I lived near and flew out of KCGF. One of the neat things about night-flying in December there was the Christmas lights. There were some homes that had so many lights that they were visible from miles away. One house in particular, maybe down around Solon, OH, had so many lit decorations that the wheel on their electric meter had to have been spinning like a pinwheel in a hurricane.

Around here and tonight, not so much. There were a few houses that had lights along their rooflines and some lit-up kitsch in the yards, but they were few and far between. Unless I was looking carefully, the lights on the ground didn't look any differently than they did three weeks ago.