The Last Flight of Air Prayer

I spent a week scrambling but it all came together today.  I took my last ride in my RV-4.  The buyer, a flight instructor at a Reno FBO asked me to fly the plane over to him at Reno International.  He also asked for a condition inspection with the sale.  This is what caused a lot of my scrambling this week (along with some unpleasant personal business.)

The past few days have been pretty hazy which caused me a little concern.  I checked the weather this morning and everything looked good.  I sent my wife and kids ahead of me to Reno via minivan to give me a ride home.  After I had seen them safely off I headed out to the airport.

My visibility yardstick is whether or not I can see the foothills from Oakdale.  I could not.  However Modesto ATIS was calling it 5 miles in haze and I can deal with haze.   I readied the plane taking a little more time than usual to run my hands over the metal I had formed 10 years ago.  With the preflight complete I fired her up and taxied down to the fuel pumps.  What do you know?  For once Oakdale has the cheapest fuel in the area.  I tanked up and taxied my RV-4 to runway 28 and then departed into the murky air.

My haze worries turned out to be for naught.  When I climbed through 1000 feet I could see the foot hills really well and the haze all but disappeared.  I turned onto an almost due north heading  and proceeded to climb to 11,500 feet.  Normally I don’t like to fly this high but I felt very peaceful today.  I wasn’t even worried about flying into a fairly busy airport.

My original plan was to fly over Tahoe and then on to Reno.  I started feeling a little turbulence and decided to head for Mammoth Pass instead.  The bumps disappeared when I got over the pass and the clear cold air became like glass.  I got over Alpine County airport and began to descend.  I passed over Minden and then Carson City when I called Reno approach.   I don’t know if it was my radio or theirs but I could barely understand them.  With a wise use of “say again” ‘s  I was able to ascertain their instructions and then had an uneventful approach and landing at the airport.

Stan was waiting there by his hanger when I landed.  I taxied up and climbed out and helped him push my RV-4 into his hangar.  I unloaded my gear and then unloaded all the things he has asked to me to bring with my airplane.  When everything was to his satisfaction he handed me the certified check.  I took one last look at Stan’s RV-4 and we walked out and got into his car.

Stan drove me to Sierra Air and exchanged a few pleasantries.  I told him he was free to go get acquainted with his new airplane.  He wished me well and happily took me up on my offer.

I am now planeless.

My wife showed up and I drove them home.  It was a long drive.  I felt a little tinge of regret.  I couldn’t just go out to the airport on Saturdays and hop in the plane and just go.  Now I’ll have to call the FBO, arrange for a rental time, make sure I have it back by the time I tell them, etc.  Ugh.  But then I started planning the next plane in my mind.  The simple instruments, thinking about the backcountry strips I will be landing on, etc.

All of a sudden the drive just wasn’t that bad.

So long N311SV.  Hope to see you again one day…


I spoke with Stan just the other day to answer a few question.  I asked him how this RV-4 flew compared to his last one.  His answer was that it climbs better and rolls at about twice the rate.  Heh, I knew ol’ Air Prayer had it in her.

6 thoughts on “The Last Flight of Air Prayer

  1. Ron

    Hi Scott-

    I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I have enjoyed and appreciated reading your site for at least 2-3 years. I was born and raised in
    Santa Clara and live off between Lawrence Expressway and San Thomas Expressway, south of 101. I once read you used to live nearby and worked at Lockheed, Sunnyvale, if my memory is correct. I learned to fly from Amelia Reid, when I was 16. I’m 62 now, and thinking about building an RV and getting back into flying someday. I was curious. Do you know why Stan sold Air Prayer, so soon after buying it from you?

    Hope everything is going well with you and your family.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Ron. Wow! Someone actually reads my blog. That’s a mind blower. 🙂 Seriously I’m glad you enjoyed it. To answer your question, I do not know why Stan sold the RV-4 so soon. Before he bought it he did tell me he had been through 4 airplanes looking for just the right airplane and he just knew my RV-4 would be it. Well ol’ Air Prayer wasn’t what he thought it would be. I know most of his friends were flying light sport planes so maybe he was tired of waiting for them and decided to join them.

      I hope you can get back into flying. If I had it to do over again I wouldn’t build an RV. I just don’t want to invest the time again. It took 5 years to build the RV-4. It’s going to end up taking an year and a half to build the Rans. But what ever you decide, enjoy! And God bless!

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