Anyone get in some flight hours this weekend?
What a busy weekend! I forgot my camera (go figure), but believe me when I say we made some headway on annuals this weekend (thanks to Dan, Matthew, and Travis). The stock stearman is nearly wrapped up and the tri-champ is now sporting a brand-spanking-new wing fuel tank on its right wing. Of course we're not nearly done with the Champ 7FC. Much of the interior is torn out, but with a few new parts, it will be all ready for a 2012 season of lots of flying. We'll keep you posted!
Anyone get in some flight hours this weekend?
With snow on the ground, it's fun to reminisce about summer fly-ins. Grass strips are my favorite. Here's a picture taken by Jim Pippert when he stopped by an absolutely beautiful private airstrip in Iowa. I believe it is owned by Rex Ott, but could use a verification. I haven't flown in here yet but would love to sometime. If you know any details about this strip (where is it, if Rex owns it, if it's open to folks to stop by), please leave a comment.
This weekend we'll be continuing our usual winter weekend agenda: working on airplane annuals in the hangar (still on the tri-champ as it's been a bit uncooperative for its first Half Fast annual). Have a great weekend, aviators!
Our good friend Larry Miller just reminded me about this!This Saturday (Jan. 28), Greenfield is kicking off the Iowa fly-in season early with their annual 15th annual chili fly-in. Below are the details. Hope to see you there!
Greenfield Municipal Airport
15th Annual Chili Fly-In
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
641-343-7184 (Lee Ann Nelson)
This morning as I looked out at the snow, I thought back to warmer days, to one warm day in particular: my first Stearman ride. Below is a story of that day.
My First Stearman Ride
by Rachel Aukes
Just like an old western, I sauntered from the Stearman. And then I promptly threw up.
Okay, maybe that’s not the best place to start. Let’s take a step back.
For me, it began with a shirt; a silky aloha shirt. It was attached to a guy named Brian with a killer smile and a quick wit, which meant he was pretty darn irresistible in my book. The night we met, we talked until my voice ran out, and we had to go our separate ways. The next day he called and asked if I was interested in going for a flight in his plane. Now, just so you know, Amelia Earhart was my childhood hero, and I’ve always dreamed of dancing through the clouds. I just never took it to the next step. So, when Brian called, I gave out an enthusiastic (albeit hoarse) whoop and in 2.3 seconds I was waiting at my door in anticipation for my first biplane ride.
I was giddy as a little school girl as Brian drove us to his hangar in Ames. If I had a voice, I would’ve asked him hundreds, no, make that thousands of questions. Instead I fantasized about my upcoming adventure. You see, just two days earlier I had gone skydiving, and that was a heckuva rush. And so I laid down the gauntlet for Brian… I mean, seriously, how can you possibly beat the adrenaline rush of freefalling and cart wheeling (I admit the latter part was unintentional) at 12,000 feet?
Boy was I ever wrong.
When he opened the large bi-fold door, my feet froze and a giant smile crept onto my face. A cheerful open cockpit biplane was looking out at me from the hangar. Oh yes. This was going to be fun.
With a couple quick instructions, Brian and I pulled the Stearman into the sun. Light glimmered off its yellow wings as if it was as excited to go flying as I was. He showed me around the 1942 plane that he and his father had restored back to its original Army configuration. We strapped on parachutes and climbed on in.
With a smoky cough, the radial engine rumbled to life, and the first thing I thought to myself was that it sounded even better than the potato-potato-potato of Harley Davidsons. The Stearman took its time to warm up (which I’ve long since learned that Stearmans don’t like to do anything fast except guzzle av-gas). After a quick check, it took only seconds to be in the air and sailing through the skies.
We chased deer, startled boaters, and had an all-out blast. Then Brian’s voice came through the intercom. “You sure you want to go through the ringer?”
“Hell yeah!” Let’s just say I was much younger and had too much energy back then. Now you’d get a very different answer from me.
It was then I learned that Brian is a man of his word. I couldn’t name most of what happened over the next several minutes and lost snippets of memory where my vision tunneled in on me. But I remember that I loved the Avalanche and the Falling Leaf but hated the Hammerhead. I remember that skydiving couldn’t compare to the wild aerobatics in an open cockpit biplane. It was loud, windy, perfect.
Like every great adventure, it couldn’t last forever. We touched down just as the sun dipped below the horizon. As I lost my lunch (while still wearing a smile), I knew two things.
First. I was going to marry this man. Second. I loved this plane.
(This article was originally printed in the Stearman Flying Wire, the magazine for the Stearman Restorer's Association)
Hope you're all staying warm! We're going to start posting some pictures we've taken (or pictures shared with us), starting with this snapshot that was a finalist in the Iowa Aviation Photography contest this past year. The pic is of Matthew and Amy Sawhill in their Cessna 140 when we were returning after Greenfield's fly-in. As you can see, the weather was perfect and the "green lantern" 140 was flying great.
The Red Baron's annual is wrapped up (and everything's great). And now the tri-champ is in queue, with a few more items to fix (starting with a new wing gas tank, bummer). So as the tri-champ gets taken apart, we take a break now and then to do a bit of RC flying in the hangar. Brian got a shark Air Swimmer for Christmas and the vapors are still flying strong. Here's a video in the hangar... see if you can find the shark and the vapors!
Not a very clear photo, but you get the idea.
I'm heading out on a business trip shortly and wanted to leave a few words before my flight leaves. Aside from being busy with annuals (Brian, with Travis and Matthew's help, wrapped up the Red Baron yesterday with no red flags), I have little to report. So I thought I'd share a tip...
If you have a pet with multiple dog tags (e.g., ID tag and rabies tag), they often jingle with every step. With a high-energy breed like a Gordon Setter, that's a lot of jingling. To bring sanity back to our lives, Brian riveted Annabelle's tags together, with the text facing out on each. We've discovered riveted tags works almost too well. Now, Annabell, AKA Stealth B-2, has scared the beejeezus out of us more than once by silently flinging toys at us. Consider yourselves warned.
Divers just came across what is believed to be a Curtiss Helldiver SB2C, a very rare World War II warbird. Only one remains flying today. For details, visit the news article and video.
Welcome to 2012! Anyone out there with New Year's Resolutions you'd like to share? I'm all for resolutions. What are my goals, you ask? Well, I want to log at least 50 hours between the Tri-Champ and Stearman this year, and, oh yeah, I need to get this ole body back in shape.
How was your New Year's weekend? We spent ours working at the hangar (took a break to go out friends on New Year's Eve), but we had no chance to fly... I think someone up there conspired with the weather to keep us on the ground, if the howling winds were any indicator. Surprisingly, I did see an RV-7 take off when the winds were gusting to 38 (*shivers*), although I never saw him land (he may have ended up in China on that tank of gas).
Brian and Rachel Aukes are aviation nuts based in Iowa. They love to fly, and when the weather keeps them on the ground, they love to talk about flying. When they aren't in the air, Brian keeps the airplanes running while Rachel cleans them and keeps this website running.