Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goodbye Friend

There's Jerry out on the Ohio River.
If you live on, near, or have spent any time at an airport, you know a large group of pilots.  They come in all shapes and sizes and for the most part they are all likable people.  Each has their specific demeanor that makes them who they are, most of them are usually identified by one or more of the airplanes they fly, and when they leave you almost always find yourself thinking of the person for several more minutes.  Aviators are an interesting lot and it’s hard not to wonder what made them who they are and for that matter who are they really?  That’s part of why aviation is so fun.
Jerry's yellow Super Cruiser at one of our events
On the other hand, when aviators pass away, another character is lost.  Like the cast of a dramatic comedy, pilots bring more laughter and tears to the table than any other group I know.  And, as with any performance, through each act as a few actors must leave the stage while others appear.  It is as much a part of the stage as it is in life.  And yet, when some characters vanish behind the curtain, the show has lost more than a name on a page.  It has lost something that made it special.  Jerry Givens was one of those people.
Being a pilot at Bowman Field since 1966, Jerry was well known to anyone who had anything to do with flying in the Louisville area.  He was what many would call “a fixture”.  Myself, I met him in the early 90’s.  He was then what he was when he died, a good man.
When people important to us pass away, so often we try to paint a picture of their life with the brightest of colors.  In Jerry’s case though, it was the number of colors, not the intensity, for which he will be remembered.  What made him such a memorable person was the fact nothing stood out because everything you knew about him was good.  He was just that, a great guy.
Jerry loved his family, was extremely proud of his kids, didn’t have a lot to say but everything he said meant something, and he was kind and generous to others.  He also loved to fly.  That of course is how Ginger and I both came to know him.
Jerry was a fixture at Lee Bottom too.  When everyone else was in their hangars complaining about a nickel rise is the cost of fuel, he was up in the sky tempting others to come up there with him.  Regularly, he would drop into our place, sit down at the picnic table, and proceed to hound one of us into flying his airplane.  Not only did he love aviation, he loved to see others enjoy it as much as he did.
I remember one time when he and I went back and forth about flying his plane for at least fifteen  minutes until I finally said, in a light hearted manner, “Fine, I’ll fly your plane”, and hopped in and took off.  When I came back he was disappointed because I didn’t fly it enough.  That was Jerry.
When we learned Jerry had died, Ginger and I both agreed his passing was different.  People don’t often talk about it but death reveals treasures too late.  When some people pass we feel sorrow, and when others pass we feel loss.  In Jerry’s case it is loss.  Gone is the guy who brought us pheasant and routinely stirred up the river in his Lake Amphibian.  But more importantly, gone is a great guy in an era so lacking of the same.
Goodbye Jerry, we'll miss you.
To read Jerry's obituary, click here.

Aviation - A Microcosm of D.C.

MICROCOSM - A community, place, or situation regarded as encapsulating in miniature the characteristic features of something much larger.

You and I, today we have something in common.  We both have very little time to comment on the FAA’s latest attempt to regulate aviation out of existence.  This time it involves Airmen Testing and Certification Standards.
Once again we find ourselves besieged by the mindless attempts of the FAA to improve safety.  Well, that’s their claim.  But as any reasonably educated person would know, there comes a point that you can’t reduce the number of accidents any further.  For something to exist, it must have a minimum “failure rate”.   If it doesn’t, it doesn’t exist and that is exactly what the FAA is after.
Look around you and you’ll see the evidence.  Find any three letter government agency and look at their most important objectives.  Boil them down and each one of them has at its core the removal of that which they regulate.  Interesting hu?
So, make your voice heard and go tell the FAA that testing standards won’t affect the quality of basic flying skills.  Which, by the way, just last year the FAA said it wished to focus on.  Of course, that was after years of pushing FITS, which actually suggested we move the focus away from teaching basic flying skills training.  Yes, it even said so in the wording of FITS.
But let’s not forget, in the spirit of Washington D.C, our own people, such as THE KINGS and several aviation groups, supported this move the FAA is suggesting.  Remember all the articles in ALL the aviation magazines about Risk Assessment?   Yeah, that’s what so much of this is about.  Well, let me clarify that.
What Risk Assessment is really about is teaching students how to find risk in everything and that when they are able to identify situations which qualify as risky, on the "everything is risky" quick reference chart, they shouldn’t fly.  Got that?  Let me put it another way.  The FAA wants everyone to consider a higher percentage of flying to be risky and their solution to that new standard is a no-go decision.  Meaning - you fly less because there is more risk.  Even worse, aviation is falling for it once again. 
Go to this link, tell the FAA that they no longer have to justify their jobs by trying to find infinitesimal margins of safety, and that you would really rather they pursue things that benefit aviation instead of cripple it.  If this proposed rule proceeds, it will do nothing more than further hobble the PRIVATE flight training industry.

Note:  I should point out this rule would help the 141 industry which is designed around red tape and benefits from all the government subsidized student loans.  But pay no attention to that.  Those schools are incredibly important.  They teach budding pilots to wear airline pilot shirts when they sleep, fly airplanes in circles all day long while regurgitating airline lingo, and to fly instruments when its sunny outside.  Coincidentally, they also teach student pilots that everything is dangerous, especially when flying anywhere without ATC control.

Click here for the link.  It is the same one as above in case you missed it.

You're Too Political!!!

"YOU'RE TOO POLITICAL".  Yep, that’s the reaction to many of my posts from several years ago.  NORDO News was taking off, we were considering “doing something more with it”, and the world preferred to be hopeful.  Well, I’m not into hope and my interest in doing “something more” left shortly after Ginger told me I would have to be less political.
Ginger was right. I’m not faulting her for that.  Were we to make a serious attempt to do more with NORDO News, I would have to be willing to feed people what they wanted.  Unfortunately, unlike the majority of people in this world, I have never been one to do or say whatever it takes to get more people to like me.  Therefore, NORDO News would continue to have the occasional political post and those whose  favorite three words were "you're too political" would go away.  That was my plan at least.  Then I sat down to write and it wasn't fun anymore.
When your passion is aviation, and everyone and everything is conspiring to take it away, the last thing you want to hear is some half-man half-ostrich telling you you're too political.  The FAA restricts airspace, you point it out, and the only person who cares is some idiot pilot who thinks the government will save us and therefore we should let it take control. Well, that's their story until the government tries to close their tower.  Then that same ____ (insert your own colorful word here) comes crying to me to get the word out.  Just months earlier I was "too political" and suddenly I'm just what he needs.  This leaves me in a very bad spot.  A spot I have to remind you is no fun.

My first inclination is to respond in a way many of aviation's figureheads have quietly suggested.  They propose, "Say f-it and enjoy yourself".  There's a problem with that though.  I'm sure that's how we got to this miserable place.

All those before us chose to enjoy themselves when often they should have been fighting small battles.  Now those small battles have turned into all out war and the generation that said f-it acts surprised.  But why should they care, they've had their fun.

And so, that's how the Greatest Generation created the worst generations.  They believed our country was so great, things would just work out.  It never occurred to them that freedom is something which has to be nurtured and fed.  Now, only two decades after they were being honored for leaving us with a great country, we're left to deal with their offspring, and their offspring's offspring, who were never taught anything about history, politics, money, and reality.  In my case, it's always the "you're too political" offspring.
You’re too political.  What a prize of a statement that is.  It tells you so much about a person.  First, it says they're uncomfortable with reality.  Reality is so yesterday.  Alternate reality is where it’s at.
"You’re too political" also says “I don’t agree with you but my balls are the size of quinoa and so I’ll just complain that you are too much of something (I don’t like).  By default it is also almost always an admission their beliefs are so flimsy they won’t hold up to debate and yet they want so badly to hold on to them (see previous paragraph) they’ll just vaguely complain.  And you know what, I’m okay with that.  I’d rather not talk to these folks anyway.  If their argument is that weak, I appreciate them saving me the time.
Finally, although not the absolute final reason, there is a third and most common reason for someone expressing “You’re too political”.  The person is happy where they are in life, happy with what they have, and even if it means selling everyone out, they're not going to do anything that would rock that boat.  It’s the “I got mine” syndrome and it’s far too common.
Now that you know what I believe to be the three most common reasons someone would express “You’re too political”, let's look at number four.  That's the one I really want to talk about.   Spoken by the same people who say, “Flying is supposed to be fun”, in this case I agree with them; Flying is supposed to be fun.  There’s just one problem.  You’re a damn idiot if you think flying is going to stay that way without all of us being involved in the political process.
Whenever I hear "You're too political" tinged with the implication of "flying is supposed to be fun",  I think back to two moments in time.  A few years ago, when the user fees battle was heating up, we sold shirts at Oshkosh that said, “USER FEES SUCK”.  They were printed in large block letters, everyone talked about them, many asked where we got them, but only a few wore them.
Judging by the overall reaction of those who saw the shirts, the message spoke to them in a very clear way about something with which they very strongly agreed.  Yet again, few would wear them.  Folks just didn’t want to get into the politics of it all and the mere wearing of the shirt would therefore be uncomfortable.  Flying is supposed to be fun, remember?  Yeah, politics, that's for other people.
And then there was the time when we put signs on the doors of the port-o-johns during our annual fly-in.  They read, “Send a message to Washington, step inside”.  Some folks got really mad over those.  And yet, few things other than those signs have ever offered a better demonstration of how much fun politics can be.

If you try to tell me you've never considered delivering a giant bag of flaming crap to Capitol Hill you're lying.  Something along that line has crossed the minds of all of us at one time or another.   However, in the interest of keeping politics out of aviation, given the choice of standing up to say “NO”, even if it's fun, or having aviation wiped from the face of the Earth by senseless politicians, many pilots would choose the later.  If that describes you, it’s time to reassess your place in the world. 
Like it or not, politics as it relates to most people involves two things, the restriction of freedom and the expansion of freedom.  They are the yen and yang of government.  Unfortunately, politicians in America have come to believe their primary purpose is the restriction of freedom.  And although it is sad they have chosen this avenue, it does make your job as a citizen easy.  All you have to do is support freedom with an effort greater than those who would restrict it.  One thing's for sure; aviation is going to be no fun at all if you don’t.

Note #1:  Being involved in the political process does not mean giving money to a person or group so they can do your political work.  You have to get educated, hear not the sound of the words but the meaning, and be willing to make your voice heard.
Note #2:  You could have read only the first and last paragraphs and got everything I truly wished to convey.  Sorry I wasted your time.  All that stuff in the middle was venting.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Joys of Surprise Revisited

Redoubt volcano
A very few days ago I sat down at the desk to write about the joys of surprise.  That post, named Planning-The Enemy of Surprise, closed by telling the story of how a lack of planning led to a strange convergence of moments and a surprise meeting of friends.  Today, it seemed the world wanted to give me proof of the theory.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Alaska; one of those days you had to take photos.  Visibility was incredible, mountains displayed snow, Redoubt puffed as we flew by, and the captain pointed out landmarks.  The same guy, being from Anchorage and a fellow aviation enthusiast, also offered a tour of Lake Hood when we were done.
Most people assume pilots love flying but it’s actually pretty rare in the commercial world.  Therefore,when I had the chance to get out around Anchorage with someone who knew the difference between a Beaver and a 185 on floats, I took it.  As we expected, things were really happening around the lake.
Driving around to see everything there was to offer, we visited the Alaska Airmen’s lodge so I could renew our membership and find a jacket for Ginger, checked out all the seaplane tender trucks, and went by The Millennium to check out a 195 on floats which was nearby.  Beavers were taking off from the lake, Super Cubs were landing on the gravel, and one last plane was being converted from wheels to floats.  That alone would have made it a great unexpected day but there was more to come.
Arriving at the hotel I got in touch with Justin Ackinson, a fellow crew member and classmate who happened to be in town.  He had yet to have lunch so we hit the town to eat and swap flying stories.  Hearing the Kings were running, we went to Ship Creek to see if they were but found nothing.  Apparently we were one week early.  Oh well, it had already been a great day.
Back at the hotel I sat down to post some of my photos.  One after another I put captions to them and was just about to post another when I saw an interesting post by someone else.  It was from an acquaintance I had talked to for several years but never actually met.  Doug Rozendaal and I have had some great online and phone conversations through the years.  Being a fellow devil’s advocate, you can imagine there have been times things were rather spirited.  Yet, like I said, we’d never actually met.  Yesterday would change that.
By chance, Doug was in town with his friends Mark Holt and Adam Glowaski.  In fact, they were half-way through their own surprise filled trip to Alaska and had been sitting in The Millennium taking and posting photos of themselves with the girls of Flying Wild Alaska.  Later I would find out they were doing so at the very time we were driving by The Millennium to look at a 195 on floats?  Those were the photos I later saw and to find out if they were currently in town I sent them a message.   To my surprise, not only were they in town, they were staying in the same hotel.
F-Street Pub is not where I expected to finally meet Doug.  But hey, it was a day of surprises.  Sitting down with him, and his buddies Mark and Adam, would be the beginning of some great conversation.  It would also lead to more surprises.  First though, Doug wanted to know how Ginger was doing.  I've pretty much grown used to that and with my answer and introductions out of the way the night began.
I’m not much of a person for the notion of celebrity but somewhere through the night the energy at F-Street took a rapid surge upward.  The girls from Flying Wild Alaska had arrived.  When they stopped to say hello to their new friends Adam, Mark, and Doug, I was introduced.  Successful reality shows almost always come down to the subjects being “characters" and after meeting the Twetos, I could see why theirs was still on the air.  Yet, that wasn’t the big surprise of the night.
Doug Rosendaal and Laura Hinz at F-Street
Earlier in the evening, while the atmosphere at F-Street was still dignified, an amazing thing happened.  It was one of those great aviation moments.
Sometimes there’s just something about someone that seems a little out of place.  The girl who had been waiting on our table was such a person.  It was obvious she had a little more going on upstairs than the rest.  She also seemed to be stopping by our table and pausing longer while there as if she had something to say.  Soon we would know why.  Her family had a unique interest in aviation that would show itself when she finally asked Doug about his shirt.  What happened next we couldn’t believe and I’m quite sure the following conversation led to a few watering eyes.   That’s a story for Doug and the guys though.  If you want to read about it, keep and eye on their blog.  I’m sure they’ll eventually post it.
Like I said a few days ago, aviation is full of surprises.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Planning - The Enemy of Surprise

Here's a link to survivors.
When it comes to aviation, surprise is always reported as an evil.  Think about it.  Inside nearly every “I’ll never do that again” the great unknown, the airborne demon just waiting to reach out and grab you, the thing that almost did them in was surprise. 
How many times have you heard someone say something along the line of, “The last thing you want to have out here is a surprise”?  Or how about this one, the classic we’ve all had to listen to at some point, “Plan ahead; you don’t want to be caught by surprise”.  Surely you are familiar?   Implied is the notion surprise is so bad it might even take time to set an elaborate trap just for you.
Fortunately, there is a cure of equally mythical proportion.  What is it?  Organization of course.  Plan ahead and you won’t get caught.  Surprise will see you coming, assess the situation, realize you are organized, and take its finger off the “execute” button.  Glory hallelujah your OCD has saved the day.  Or has it?
Growing up there was one thing I remember every kid loved; surprises.  Who didn’t love them?  And yet today everything is about removing surprise.  What’s up with that?
Personally I still love surprises.  It’s also one of the things I love most about aviation.  Despite the best efforts of the safety Nazis and their ceaseless promotion of flight condoms, it’s full of them.  So full in fact you don’t even have to be flying to experience all the gifts aviation has to offer.  Here’s a great example.
Recently Ginger and I chose to spend a day of doing "nothing" together.  Of course by doing nothing I mean nothing we needed to do and nothing aviation related.  So, off to Louisville we went.  Where we’d eat was undecided.  What we’d do for entertainment was undecided.  And even when we’d come home was, well, undecided. 
As with so many other planes, it is amazing how many survive yet sit on static display in museums.  This  one on the other hand flys 50 plus hours a year.
As it turns out, Monday the 10th was a perfect day of nothing. We ended up visiting an excellent restaurant during off hours and closed down a favorite antique shop.  After that we hung out in a book store.  Then during our next, “what do we do now”, I realized we had been having so much fun I had forgotten we were low on fuel.  Oops.  That generated the next excitement.
Driving straight to the nearest gas station was what we’d do next.  It would also place us next to  to the highway which led back to Indiana.  That would start us thinking of home.
Seeing us merge onto the highway, anyone familiar with horses would have described us as  "heading for the barn".  Mentally we were ready for the return trip.  But just as our discussion turned to things to do on the way, out of the corner of my eye I spotted something unmistakable, a Lockheed 12.
“A LOCKHEED”, I exclaimed.   Yes, it’s true, I said it like a kid who had just spotted a mountain made of candy, covered in chocolate, and sprinkled with the most addictive candy ever created, pretzel M&Ms.  But hey, it was a Lockheed.  You understand, right?
So there we were in a city we rarely visit, on a stretch of highway we never take, and going the correct direction at the very moment which would allow us to see the silver angel as is passed through a gap in the trees.  Try planning that.  A professional film crew would be hard pressed to make it happen.  And yet, it did. 
No more than five minutes later we had changed lanes, taken the first exit, made our way to Bowman Field, and found, to our surprise, a familiar Lockheed 12A sitting in front of an FBO.  It was our friend Joe Shepherd.
Ginger and I had arrived so fast, Joe wasn’t even out of the plane and yet the surprise of seeing such a beautiful aircraft on the field was already generating a crowd.
Click here to see Joe's web page for the plane.
Joe was surprised to see us, we were surprised to see him, and the rampers, flight instructors, and students were all pleasantly surprised by the aircraft.  Generally speaking, it was a great surprise finish to a wonderfully relaxed day which had started and ran to completion with no planning.
Can a lack of planning cause you problems?  Of course it can.  Remember, I almost ran out of gas.   Ultimately though, to really live we must embrace the randomness of life, for it is from there where the best moments come without warning.  Few greater things exist in the world than the unexpected sight of a friend, a chance view of a beautiful sunset, or a surprise hug.   Last Monday, our lack of planning brought us all three.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When They Came for Aviation

Wait, why was this new tower built and how much did it cost?  Click here for cost estimate.
First they came for the Airlines, and I did not speak out--
Because I did not own an airline..
Then they came for the Private Jets, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I did not own a Private Jet.
Then they came for the General Aviation, and I did not speak out-- 
Because I did not consider myself a part of General Aviation..

Then they came for my Vintage Plane--and there was no one left to speak for me.  -  Dick Davis

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bearhawk to Alaska - Part 2

Achieving maximum range in the shortest amount of time was the plan for our second day of flying.  This is something the Bearhawk makes easy.  Ordinarily, were you to throw everything you own and 72 gallons of gas in a plane you could land below 40 mph, you would not expect it to have six hours of range at 150 mph.  In the bearhawk you can count on it.  And let me tell you, when trying to get to Alaska in April, that's damn handy.
Lifting off from Texas, it was great to know and hard to believe we could land in Wyoming.  Our goal was Laramie but the Bearhawk, especially when fitted with long range tanks, is one of those planes that always take you further than expected.  Unfortunately, this also comes with a potential negative.
Aviation is a sport of long distance friends.  That’s the nature of it.  It is also another reason range and speed are such great positives.  But, those traits can have a downside.

When you are able to fly nearly 900 miles at 150 miles an hour you tend to build your day around those numbers.  Meanwhile, the same 900 miles bypasses friends that live somewhere in between.  To me, that’s a serious negative.  On the upside, the solution to any aviation problem almost always creates more fun.
Hey look!  More farmland.
Enroute to Wyoming I dug out my phone.  Pitching wildly, often drifting off course thirty degrees or more, slowing and accelerating, I texted Mark Beam, a friend who was living near Denver.  Well, actually Ginger was flying straight and level when I was texting.  I just love stir up the safety Nazis.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, the text I sent Mark was to let him know roughly when we’d be passing by the area and to ask if he or his wife Cindy (also a friend and pilot) would be around.  Then we waited, and we waited, until finally our bladders caught up with us before Mark did.
Rolling to a stop on the ramp at Lamar (Colorado) the usual deal was struck.  Ginger would let me pump gas, and in exchange she would get first use of the restroom.  What could I say to that?  She drives a hard bargain.  So, as I stood upon the ladder leaning over the wing on that beautiful day, I received a message.  Mark was home and would be able to meet us but he wondered where.  Knowing he was always up for a little fun, I sent him back the message “How about in the air”.  He agreed.
Trading off pit crew duties when Ginger returned, she checked the oil and all the other important details while I went inside to do pilot stuff.  Having little spare time I kept it to a minimum.  First there was the obligatory, “Hey, did you see that chic out there flying that Bearhawk?”, which I said to the only guy inside.  “That girl that was just in here? Is that what she’s flying?”, he asked.  Then I went to the restroom.  On the return I said, “You’re still here?  If you’re not going to talk to her I am”, and I headed out the door.  Walking up to the plane, I did my best to appear like a stranger introducing myself, knowing full well Ginger would just write it off as me being a dork.  Next I helped her put things away and we climbed in to depart.  I wonder if anyone has ever fallen for it?
Look close to see Denver (middle right) below the pitot..  I didn't say it was a great photo.
Climbing away from Lamar, we plugged in the agreed point of intercept and sent an ETA to Mark.  Then we cruised.  A flight from Lamar to Laramie has much to offer the senses.  It’s a lesson in topography, geology, and sociology all wrapped into one.

Beyond the crop land, elevation varies, colored stratum betray hidden elements, and pockets of population reveal patterns of survival.  A particular seemingly insignificant photo comes to mind.  Approaching Denver at a tangent, farm land was back-dropped by skyscrapers back-dropped by snow covered mountains.  It was a beautiful day and something to see.  It was also the perfect day to catch up with a buddy.
Approaching the designated intercept zone, Ginger queued up the agreed frequency and listened.  It wasn’t long until a familiar voice came through, “You guys up”?  We both smiled.
It would be difficult for me to guess how many times I’ve heard those exact words.  Whatever the number, it’s safe to say it is well over a hundred.  And yet they never get old.  Perceived as a vague question to anyone who doesn’t fly,  they hold a chapter’s worth of meaning to any aviator.
On questionable days, “you guys up” (or singular “You up”?) conveys comfort in the knowledge you aren’t alone. When the sun is rising and the wind is calm, they mean a plan is coming together and a good day lies ahead.  If you hear the words unexpectedly, you have stumbled across a friend in the air and a conversation of catch-up is about to happen.  And on other days they can mean something as simple as “hello”, “where are you going”, or “I see you up there”.  But even then there is a deeper unspoken meaning conveyed in this simle question.  When shared between pilots, conveyed are the notions “I am one of you, I understand your love of flight, I have fought the same battles, and I am your friend.  Mark definitely fits them all and it was great to hear his voice.
Growing nearer our rendezvous, each of us reported landmarks and altitude.  When almost on point, attitude was added in, “I’m circling over the intersection at 6500’, coming through the west heading”.   Several vectors later, he was in sight, or maybe it was us. Somebody spotted somebody. Throttling back the Bearhawk’s 540 was next.  Mark was flying an L-5, an observer model he and his wife Cindy had purchased from my brother, and despite it easily being one of the best flying planes ever built, it in no way matched our speed.  But hey, who’s counting?
Notice the tailwheel.  They all seem to do that in the air.
Seeing Mark ease the old girl up beside us was great.  In addition to the memories of flying the plane from Lee Bottom and all the laughs we had shared with him and Cindy, the fact we were meeting up in the air a thousand miles from home as if no time had passed made it all the more special.  There among the clouds we shared the freedom only aviation can deliver; a conversation between friends without the irritations of life.  We had met, not like mortals in a cafĂ© or parking lot, but like aviators, among the clouds.  It was officially a great day.
You'll see this building and beacon tower below in an old photo.
As all good flying buddies would do, Mark and his passenger (mustn’t have an empty seat) flew along with us for quite a while.  We took photos of each other, exchanged the best stories we had to tell, lied and said we would catch up again soon, and admired the other aircraft.  Then, when it was time for him to return for fuel and us to burn off the plugs, he peeled away and we pushed it up.

Watching the L-5 disappear toward Denver, that feeling we had felt at Nelson’s came over us.  With aviation, you’re always leaving friends, old or new, with the hopeful assumption of seeing them again.  Ginger took one last look back, then offered up the information for Laramie.
Crossing a high plain covered with snow, we marveled at the rapidly changing terrain.  Within our field of view were three distinct climates we would cross in twenty minutes; beyond that, more.  Aviation's version of a winding road on a summer Sunday was passing us by and it was  going fast.
The hangar at Laramie.  Note the original part in the back.
Taxiing up to the FBO in Laramie once could sense it would be an interesting stop.  Inside the  building, the old black and white photos proved it.  There was a lot of history in those walls and we took time to see all we could.  Walking around to the old hangar, we even found a couple of guys talking airplanes.  One of them had an interest in the Bearhawk.
On the wall at Laramie.
Ten minutes later, while leaning on the wing with the fuel hose over my shoulder, I talked the guy through a tour.  He was a “plans owner” and excited to look around.  Then came the usual performance questions of, "Does it actually do the company numbers"?  My answer was always “Yes”.  It really is a wonderful plane.  Unfortunately though, its speed was going to allow us one more flight than we originally thought possible.  Therefore, like the other times before, we apologized for having to leave and blasted off.  Alaska was on our mind and it kept us moving.
Landing in Cody, behind us was a big day.  We’d left friends in Texas, met one in the air near Denver, and made another in Wyoming.  The terrain had been spectacular, the weather perfect, and we had crossed the USA South to North.  It was amazing progress that would lift the next days' numbers.
On the wall at Cody.  The closest airframe is N1781A.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And Yet Another Old Plane Flew Today (May 31st)

Well, it has been a good day for vintage aircraft.  Not long after posting the story of the Waco 10's first flight in Georgia this morning, our friend Doug Gardner emailed to let us know another great plane had just flown post rebuild.
Flying from Mallards Landing Airpark in Locust Grove, Georgia, Kent Gorton stretched the legs of this Ranger Ryan.  Kent and Terry Gardner, plus a few folks from Mallards Landing, worked on the rebuild and I’m sure all of them were happy to see it fly.  Look at that thing.  Who wouldn’t find it pretty?
If you really like the airplane, Kent and Terry have several PT-22 projects and together they plan to use six different STC’s to build more.  The most noticeable change is, of course, the Ranger powerplant.  But to the discriminating eye there’s more.  So, if you really really want to know more, you have to check out a few websites.
First, there is this website which belongs to the original owner of the plane in these photos.  It has some great history about the conversions.  The next website you should check out is Kent’s and Terry’s.  But hey, I’m warning you.  After a few minutes looking these things over, you may end up counting your pennies.