After last week's flight planning between Mark Albert and Matt Jernejcic in preparation for the first flight of Mark's RV-3 after its recent restoration, and, following a satisfactory ground-handling test, on Tuesday Matt fired up and took off from the full length of runway 26R. I didn't see the actual take-off, however I witnessed the initial climb-out, which was quite spectacular. 150 hp O-320 in a little RV-3 really makes it perform! Matt proceeded to check out some of the flying characteristics, however he started to notice some fuel odors, so he wisely decided to return to land. Inspection showed that there was indeed minor fuel leak, so further flying was canceled until the source could be determined.
On Thursday, Jonathan Robbins was observed polishing his already shiny Luscombe – this in preparation for the annual Luscombe gathering at Columbia Airport in northern California. An attractive airport, with a very nice grass runway which should be in fine condition after this year's rain. We didn't see Joe Pribilo at the Saturday meeting, so I'm sure he will be there also. One or other of them should win a trophy for sure.
Meanwhile, I was making my seventh and eight test flight trying to find the proper alignment of the aileron trim tab on my RV-3 to correct a wing heavy condition; finally, on Thursday after the twelfth 15-minute attempt, I found the right setting for hands-off flight; you can be sure that I'll be very careful not to change that setting!
Also on Thursday, Mark started tracing the origin of the fuel leak; it seems it was in the inner end of the wing tank, which consequently had to be removed so that repairs could be made. So, further delays in getting this airplane ready to fly. Very frustrating.
The general meeting day on Saturday started with the usual breakfast, this time without the help of Chuck Stiles operating the waffle machines; he's on an extended stay in Idaho until November, so we badly need to train a stand-in for him. Any volunteers? Kevin Roche can't do it all himself.
Not a very large attendance at this month's meeting, about 30 or so, however we did have one visitor who arrived in an outstanding RV-9A, with a beautiful purple paint-job and an all-glass panel - not a steam gauge in sight. Things have come along way since I built my airplane nearly thirty years ago.
President Gene Hubbard called on Pete Grootendorst to give his safety briefing; Pete reminded pilots, in this fire season, to report any signs of smoke to the tower; coincidentally, some smoke was observed over towards Nichols Field ultralight strip, which turned out to be a good-sized brush fire not extinguished by next day. Larry Rothrock reported on his attendance at an AOPA meeting at Camarillo on the subject of the Rusty Pilot; he said it was an excellent forum, and recommended it to any pilot – rusty or not.
Speaker for the day was John Mahany, who has an extensive background in aviation; the title of his talk was “My 40 years of flying”. He described all the aspects of flying he had done – Alaska pilot, seaplanes, mountain flying, gliding, corporate flying and finally with the airlines. Quite a career. He arrived in his beefy Cessna 180. so it seems he hasn't abandoned his back-country flying yet.
Lunch was hosted by Gary List, ably assisted once again by Ralph Pierson who is becoming quite an expert in preparing hamburgers at the grill. Good work by both.
That's probably as much exciting news as you can stand for now. More next week, after the monthly fly-out to Compton.
As I noted last week, last Saturday (the 7th) was an unpleasant day, with cold winds and showers. I had forgotten that that was the day for the open house at Ramona Airport; I was at an outdoor wedding in Escondido that day, and it was pretty miserable, so I can't imagine that it was a great day in Ramona either, although I haven't heard any reports. The following Sunday was even worse – an inch or more of rain nearly everywhere in the county, quite unusual for the month of May. Always welcome, of course, in arid Southern California, however, enough already!
More word arrived about the accident to the Serendipity Fliers Cessna 170 at Taos, New Mexico: a photograph of the airplane showed that it obviously gone up on its nose, with a bent prop and crushed engine cowling. The photo didn't show damage to the wing, however we're told that was bent also. Anyhow, the airplane is a write-off according to the insurance company, which is just as well in many ways, as it would have been difficult to have it repaired at Taos. Rumor has it that a DC-3 was damaged there that same day, with high cross-winds and rain at the airport. I couldn't find any report on the NTSB accidents report web site.
On Saturday, after lunch, a meeting of the partners was convened to discuss what airplane will be next for the club; apparently, no decision on this yet. For some reason however, a taildragger seems to be favored, although it wouldn't get my vote as a club airplane.
On Thursday, Mark Albert spent some time with his test pilot, Matt Jernejcic, discussing the plan for initial tests on his RV-3 prior to its making its first flight after modifications made by Mark over the last few months. They gave the plan a very detailed review, although it's an RV, so no problems anticipated. On Friday, Matt made some high-peed taxi runs, with some lift-offs, all OK except for some of the usual RV-3 wheel shimmy. Real flight comes next.
It seems that Ryan has found a buyer for his Glasair, which he has had advertised; he spent time this week making sure it was all in good shape for the sale.
Saturday was Young Eagles day, and a large group of Young Marines anticipated; this proved correct, as a platoon of 35 showed up, and as usual with these military youth groups, were very well behaved and disciplined. With fine weather, we also had a good sprinkling of young civilians in attendance, so it was going to be a full day. Mark's request for pilots resulted in a fine group of volunteers coming through – nine in all, with many making three or more flights each. I won't name them all here - Mark will no doubt acknowledge them in his report. In all, we flew 48 YE's , plus one adult, for what I believe is a record for our Chapter. One incident to report was a bird strike on Pete Grootendorst's Grumman Traveler – the first anyone recalls occurring around SDM. It took a chunk out of the windshield, but didn't penetrate the cabin, and no one was hurt fortunately.
With all these Young Eagles, supervisors, parents, pilots and staff, plus the usual Chapter members lining up for lunch, the serving crew had their work cut out for them, however chef Rich Czarnieki had planned ahead with hot dogs for all, and so with help from Sheena Albert and Ralph Pierson, everyone was served with even a few dogs left over. Some one had brought some delicious cake, and with that and ice cream, it was all together a very satisfactory lunch. Probably eighty diners at least – a big turnout.
That's all the exciting gossip I have for this week; no doubt, more next week.
May didn't quite live up to expectations this week, which started off well enough but gradually deteriorated as the week went on, so that by Saturday it was cold and wet, all of which limited the activities at Chapter 14. Other than Ryan doing something mysterious in his skunk works, and me experimenting with aileron tabs to counteract a wing heavy condition, I can't really recall anything of note for the Tuesday/ Thursday work days. The new security system seems to be working well, with no alarms accidentally activated. I did notice that someone (probably Chuck Stiles) had installed a motion-sensor security light on Hangar 1 – another safety measure. One of our burrowing owls was observed sitting on a fence, but flew off before it could be photographed, so they haven't disappeared yet – another problem for the airport developers.
As I said, Saturday turned out to be a miserable day, low clouds and rain, which prevented even our more daring members and visitors from committing to aviation, and limited attendance in the unheated Hangar1. A few die hards – perhaps fifteen or so, struggled in by lunchtime, when they were able to enjoy the penne pasta, spaghetti sauce and meatballs cooked up by Gary List- good for a cold day.
Francisco Munoz brought some distressing news on Saturday: it seems that the Serendipity Fliers Cessna 170 had experienced a ground loop at Taos airport; not the first time for this airplane, but, depending on the extent of the damage, it may be the last. There were no injuries, fortunately. However, dealing with a broken airplane in such a remote location is a logistical problem. More on this as news comes in.
Not much for this week – perhaps things will liven up next week with improving weather.