Saturday was the Spring solstice, bringing to an end the winter that never was; among the warmest seasons in San Diego since records began. On the bright side, it offered many days of perfect flying weather, and with Spring now officially starting, we can expect many more similar days to come, so let's get flying!
Regular readers of this column will be pleased to know that, after replacing my mechanical tachometer with an electronic version, everything works perfectly, so I can finally shut up about the whole problem. Who knows what the next one will be?
Gene Hubbard and Jim MacKinnon, with help from Robbie North, are progressing in their task of figuring out how to attach a VW engine on to the front of one of the Nieuport airframes; without any information to go by, this project will no doubt require much head-scratching and trial and error – not too much of the latter, hopefully. Meanwhile, Gene's Tripacer inches towards completion.
On Saturday morning, Ryan wheeled out his Sparrow Hawk for inspection by the assembled members, inviting comments on the installation of the Continental O-200, which, after a change of plan, seems to be progressing well. He and Bob Soderquist are certainly putting enough man-hours into it.
Joe Pribilo brought in a large selection of items that were “surplus to his needs” as the phrase goes. Lots of good stuff, much of it new and at very reasonable prices. If I were building a project, I could have found some really useful items among those for sale. Some of it was free! I did splurge a dollar for an LED flashlight. Proceeds to the Chapter coffers. Thanks, Joe. He is also selling his RV-4 in favor of an RV-9 – said his wife understandably didn't appreciate sitting in the back of the -4.
It was, of course, general membership meeting day, so breakfast was served by the usual dedicated team, much appreciated. President Joe Russo opened the proceedings with the Pledge of Allegiance, then called upon those committee members present to give their reports. Mark Albert, Young eagles coordinator, announced the receipt of a considerable sum of cash from EAA Headquarters for our participation in the YE program; Mark has already put some of this to good use by the purchase of some larger monitors for our flight simulators. The older, smaller ones are for sale for not much money.
The presentation this month was by Robert DeLaurentis describing the problems and rewards of making a flying journey through a number of South African countries. Although a relatively low time pilot, he has visited over 30 countries in his short flying career; he decided he would sell of most of his assets to finance this life-long ambition.
After last week's wild and wet weather, an abrupt change to hot and windy for this weekend – over 90F and gusty east winds, typical Santa Anna conditions – but this is March, not September, for heavens sake; what's going on here? Anyhow, the warm temperatures didn't deter our weekly workers, nor our Young Eagles from showing up for their introduction to flight on Saturday. In preparation for the unlikely possibility of rain, Rich Czarniecki and Mark Albert had earlier in the week completed most of the weatherproofing of the Eagles Nest, and Mark installed an elaborate surround-sound network to supplement our flat-screen TV, so our Young Eagles now have a most sophisticated entertainment/educational system for their enjoyment. All this plus the four or five flight simulators makes for a pretty comprehensive instructional center.
Although we didn't have any groups arranged for the regular YE's day, quite a number of individual clients showed up, plus parents, many of whom were interested in taking an “Old Eagles” demonstration flight, which our volunteer pilots were happy to accommodate. Among them were our very own Mark Albert and wife Sheena, who were given a flight in Rick Anderson's R-44 helicopter. Not that they're actually old,of course. They enjoyed it.
Well, it didn't happen: a sudden onset of winter-like weather, with rain, turbulence and low clouds predicted, put paid to our plans to fly out to Apple Valley for our monthly breakfast foray. As Saturday turned out, the rain (except for a few showers) didn't arrive, however there were low clouds obscuring the tops of the local mountains and quite blustery winds, so the chances of making it to APV over the San Bernadino mountains were about zero. We'll try again for next month.
We were fortunate to be first on the list for a visit to the west coast by the EAA Ford Trimotor, which arrived on Thursday at Gillespie Field, and was open for rides to the public, for $70 each – a much more modest fee compared to the $450 for the B-17 rides. Chapter 14 had been asked to provide volunteer help manage passenger control and loading, which we did under the supervision of Richard Kalling assisted by a number of Chapter members including Joe Pribilo, Jimmy Kennedy and others whom I didn't see. Thanks to all for helping. Sunday was supposed to be the final day of the visit, after which the Trimotor was to visit Long Beach, Chino, Camarillo, San Luis Obispo and points north – quite a barnstorming tour. However, the rains, heavy at times, finally arrived, so no flights today. However, business had been brisk on the earlier days, with eight or nine flights each day, so it was perhaps a successful first stop on the tour.
Yet again, I have been neglecting my duties as Chapter reporter, in favor of struggling with my on-going problems with my tachometer indications; this eventually resulted in engine removal and dis-assembly (and no solution). But, enough of my tales of woe. The end result, however, was that I was busy elsewhere in my hangar on Saturday, so a minimum number of witty comments on happenings at the monthly membership meeting. The speaker for this month was Gary Wigdahl, a local flight instructor with a very well developed program of flight instruction; you should visit his website at www,gwigdahl.com – it has all sorts of useful information and opinions related to flying in the San Diego area.
The Tuesday/ Thursday activity mostly centered on the work on Ryan's Sparrow Hawk, which he, with the assistance of Bob Soderquist, is modifying by replacing the original Rotax 582 with a Continental O-200.- more power, more speed! Reminds me of trying to get ten pounds of beans into a five pound pot. Between them, however, they managed to squeeze in the larger engine, so maybe it can be done. Weight and balance turned out OK, but lots of head-scratching still required.
We welcomed back resident photographer Bob Osborn, after his not-too-successful cataract surgery; so far, he reports dim vision in the affected eye, hopefully to improve with time. He has nevertheless resumed his duties with his remaining good eye, providing the attached photos of our Chapter action once again.