An uneventful week at Chapter 14, with very little of note happening at the Tuesday/ Thursday work sessions. Ryan worked on taking apart his Sparrowhawk, no doubt to incorporate some improvements on the original – expect a more powerful engine. Chris Puntis replaced the miniscule tail wheel on his Sonex; it could really use a larger one but will require much modification to incorporate such a change. I worked on a massive brake fluid leak in the RV – I really hate messing with hydraulic fluid! Fixed it, though. Then my tachometer expired, requiring reference to the Aircraft Spruce catalog, always a bad sign.
On Saturday, not normally a Young Eagles day, Mark Albert had agreed to have a group of Sea Cadets for a special session, fortunately not too many, fourteen in all, with twelve deciding to fly. Mark had sent e-mails to our usual pilot volunteers, and in the event, more showed up than were needed for this number of Young Eagles. Rick Edwards, Vince Flynn, Frank Himmerich and Gerry Blank quickly took care of the flights, while Mark and Ed Watson (with help from Elly Kok-Vermeulan) took care of the ground activities. The flight simulators were busy – they seemed to be a big hit with this particular troop of Young Eagles. Coaching on operation of the simulators was by Rich Czerniecki.
Cissy Kelly took her final turn (for this year) at serving lunch, consisting of sloppy joes, prepared earlier in the week by resident chef Richard West. As usual, the Young Eagles dined free on hot dogs, chips and nacho cheese, plus ice cream, of course. Thirty five or forty diners all told.
A couple of notable airplanes arrived to park on our ramp: a perfect example of an RV-8 in Navy colors, owned by Terrence Brennen from Gillespie, and a Varieze variant – perhaps a Berkut – appeared later; I'm still trying to find the name of the owner. I also spotted the Super Velocity owned by Jerry Schuster making perhaps its first flight; it took off like a rocket as you might expect.
Maybe more next week.
Chapter members must have been inspired to do some early spring cleaning this week:
Chuck Stiles (and others) attacked the mess in Hangar 3 to provide access to Chris Puntis' Sonex, with he (Chris) returning from an extended trip to the UK and elsewhere. It was also an opportunity to throw out much of the “contributed” junk which has been accumulating there. People just keep bringing in their cast-offs faster than we can throw them out! We really shouldn't be a dumping ground, however it seems impossible to stop.
Other clean-up jobs were the battery terminals on our new electric cart (much improved performance) and some initial work on resuscitating our gas golf cart; not sure what's going to happen to this venerable vehicle if and when it can be made mobile. Perhaps as a temporary back-up when the batteries on the electric one expire?
As predicted above, Chris Puntis returned on Saturday to claim his airplane, which, after a minor battery charge, started right up, with everything seeming to work as before. Next: flight test.
The week started out on a positive note with the arrival of Billy Lopez, our Chapter 14 HVAC expert, to diagnose the problem with the long-defunct heating/air conditioning system in the library trailer. He quickly identified the problem as some loose connections which were overheating, tightened them up and everything now OK. Thanks, Billy, for your prompt response. It's good to have some expert knowledge among our Chapter members.
Next up were some modifications to our newly acquired electric golf cart: Bob Osborn and Chuck Stiles transferred the canopy from our old cart to the new one – looks pretty good, too. Some problems showed up later with the electrics, fortunately the donor of the cart, Dale Fields, happened to be present and noticed that one of the battery terminals had melted – another loose connection! With some work on the terminal, power was restored and everything works again. We do need to keep a close eye on the batteries in the future. Meanwhile, our old gas-powered cart languishes, awaiting attention to its engine.
New Years' Day on Thursday, and the day for the traditional mass fly-out to Chiriaco Summit; Chiriaco is a combined truck-stop, restaurant, museum and airstrip located some 90 nm north-east of Brown Field. The strip is a left-over from WW2, when the area was used as a training ground for desert warfare. In spite of the perfect weather, cool, but with calm winds at take-off and landing, it was surprising that the turn-out of airplanes was smaller than last years' record; around thirty that I counted, although a few more arrived as we were leaving. Arrivals came in three waves: the really early birds, who were starting to leave as we in the second wave arrived, then the late-comers as we left. Not too many from Chapter 14 this year: Mark Albert (Cessna 170 ) with Sheena, Rich Czarniecki (Traveler) with Kathy, and Joe Pribilo (RV-4), and of course me in my RV-3. Lots of other RV's in attendance.
An excellent, if somewhat expensive, breakfast over, some of our group visited the museum, which is devoted to the activities in the region in WW2, with guns, tanks and other vehicles on display, together with the story of what happened there under the leadership of General George Patton.
Then, back to base.
The main excitement on Saturday morning was the arrival of our “new” electric golf cart, the replacement for our ancient Harley-Davidson gas model which has given sterling service round our hangars for many years and is now in a well-deserved retirement (although it may live to operate again, if we can fix the engine). The electric cart was donated by a most affable gentleman from Poway, , name of Dale Field, who together with his wife Tara, delivered it by pick-up to Brown Field. It's actually more of a mini-truck, with a good space for cargo – just what we needed. In excellent condition as well, and no starting problems! Various members gave it a successful trial check out run.
An occasion of note was the passing of the presidential baton by Larry Rothrock to incoming president Joe Russo, marked by Larry's presenting Joe with the ceremonial red badge, proclaiming his new position. Good luck, Joe!
Many hours of the day were spent by Mark Albert and Sheena, with help from Ed Watson, decorating the Eagles nest with a selection of aviation-related framed pictures and posters on the walls, which Mark had previously painted. So much improvement to the Young Eagles area since Mark volunteered to be YE Coordinator! He has done a great job.
Chef for the month was Tom Kelly, who with his wife Cindy served up a pasta and meatballs concoction, which together with garlic bread and salad made for a very tasty lunch for the thirty members present.