Another Video

Here is a video I made of my trip to Oshkosh in 2005.  It’s mostly a video log of the airports I visited.  But some of it is kind of funny.  You get punchy sitting in a cramped cockpit for 10 hours.

 

Oshkosh 2005–Part 1

Flying Footage

I was cleaning out my bedroom and ran across a DVD I made years ago.  It’s flying footage I took from my RV-4 and set to music.  Watch and experience the thrill of flight (and the Edgar Winter Band) from the safety of your computer.

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…

Postscript:

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.

Here we go again…

But I think it will be here we go.  It looks as though the RV-4 will be sold as of Saturday.  A very nice gentleman from Reno has purchased the plane.  Well, almost.  The bulk of the money will be delivered on Saturday when I deliver the plane.  He’s made two trips to see the plane and seems to really like it.  He had an RV-4 once before and misses it.

To my RV buddies who might be reading this, I know, I know, I’ll be in the same boat in a few years.

Anniversary Flight to Half Moon Bay

I don’t know if it’s all this talk about selling the RV-4 or perhaps the pretty new paint job but lately Mrs. Flying Deacon has taken a bigger interest in going for airplane rides.  We decided to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary by taking a flight from Oakdale (O27) to Half Moon Bay (KHAF) for a seafood lunch and clean ocean air.  We tried to get away last weekend but our daughter caught a bad cold so the mission was scrubbed.  We rescheduled everything for today… and then I started to come down with a cold.  But even after a night of tossing and turning and getting very little sleep and with DayQuil in hand I was not about to give up this week’s flight.  The weather was forecast to be perfect and it turned out to be just that.

We dropped the kids off with their respective sets of friends and headed out to the airport.  I really wasn’t feeling that great and probably shouldn’t have been flying.  I decided to head out there and see how I felt once we got to the airport.  Once we arrived I pulled the RV-4 out and preflighted.  She was just like I left her last week, a little dustier maybe.  That’s life in California’s farm belt.  My spirits brightened a little at the sight of my old friend.  We checked in with some friends who were going along with us in their RV-6A and then returned to our plane to mount up.

The weather today was unseasonably warm for this time of year and the air was charictaristically smooth.  The wind just plain stops in Autumn around these parts.  Winds aloft were forecast at 00/000 all the way up to about 20,000 MSL.  Temps were forecast to be in the upper 70’s to low 80’s on the coast.

I helped my wife into the back seat and got her strapped in.  Cracked the canopy and started the motor.  We taxied out behind our friend’s RV-6A and out to the runup area.  After all the pre-flight checks I asked my wife “Are you sure you’re ready?  You can still back out.”  My wife is a very nervous flyer.  It’s not that she’s scared of the airplane or the pilot, she’s afraid she will get motion sickness.  Turbulence really gets to her.  She told me she was still ready to go and go we went.

The RV-4 accelerated smoothly down the runway and as gently as I could I eased it into the sky.  We climed up to 3000 MSL and pointed southwest to intercept the coast.  It was one of those magical days were there was NO wind movement.  It really felt like riding on a brand new paved road with brand new Michelan tires.  As Mater says, “I bet the roads on the moon ain’t this smooth.”

I made small talk with my wife, well okay, she did most of the talking but I was fine with that.  It let me know that she was happy and feeling good and it kept my mind off my ears and head which were feeling a little iffy.  We stayed at 3000 MSL as we glided over the eastern peaks of the Diablo range just south of Mt. Hamilton.  We still had not felt even a burble of air.  We felt our first bumps as we neared San Martin so I took the plane up to 4500 MSL.  A few minutes later we were over the coast of the Pacific Ocean and all my fears for my wife melted away as I listened to her oohs and aahs ove the ocean.  I dropped back down to about 2000 MSL to stay away from whatever marine sanctuaries I may have overlooked on my preflight briefing.

Soon I could see the big satellite dishes next to Half Moon Bay Airport ahead in the distance.  My buddy who had been trailing me in his 6A called to say he was changing frequency.  I tuned in UNICOM and listened in.  No traffic in the pattern.  I called for an advisory but the only answer was a Cessna calling his departure.  Good enough.  Since we were coming in from the south it’s kind of an awkward approach to runway 30 at KHAF.   I had to get really close to the hills and then almost do a 180 to get onto the 45.  As soon as my buddy and I had turned onto the 45 we had about 5 planes call all claiming to be on the 45!  Well luckily they weren’t and we were.  We executed an abbreviated approach and got on the ground as quickly as possible to let all our new friends sort out their positions in the pattern.

I was first and landed with a thud.  Oh well, blame the cold medicine.  We cleared the active and started the 3/4 mile taxi to parking.  I cracked the canopy and got my first sniff of clean ocean air.  It was like a tonic.  Almost instantly I felt better.  We taxied to the tie-downs at the extreme southern end of the field and secured our aircraft.  One of the Cessna guys behind us in the pattern parked near by.  He was a very wealthy looking guy in his late 40’s early 50’s with a 20-something little number walking with him.  They paused in front of my RV-4 and were speaking in hushed tones.  I smiled and called out, “It’s for sale.  You could be cruising in style today.”  He smugly answered, “Actually I was just telling her that you couldn’t get me into one of those things!”  Hardy har har.  “How fast does it go anyway, 170 knots?”  My reply, big smile and, “well, faster than your Cessna.”  I left out, Your daughter would probably love this plane!  Aah, stick too your spam can, bub.

My buddy and I had a good laugh at his pompous ignorance and walked our wives through the gate at the end of the field.  Once through the gate we were on a street with a few boutiques and restaurants.  I asked him to take us to the place that had the best fish.  We walked about a block and steped into Barbara’s.  And just like at the airport as soon as we showed up a whole crowd tried to come in after us.  Luckily we got there in time go get a good table.  We spent about an hour or so talking and eating, two of my wife’s favorite activities.  We then stepped outside to watch the ocean, the people, and just breathe the clean air.  We took a walk out along a short pier and just talked and watch the water, the pelicans, the boats, and the people.  The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, and our stomachs were full of good food.  Just about perfect.

After a couple of hours of just talking and doing nothing in particular we headed back to the airport.  There is a short trail through some cedars and blackberry bushes that leads back to the airport.  Got in the planes and taxied back to runway 30.  After waiting for a student in a helicopter to do something or other which seemed to take a while.  But soon we were out over the blue of the Pacific again.

We headed north along the coast at 1000 MSL to stay out of San Franscisco’s Class B.  We could see the gleaming towers of the financial district and the orange, yes orange towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We passed over the bridge just over the northern anchorage.  We then flew between Sausalito and Angel Island.  I pointed Alcatraz out to my wife when she asked where it was.  Then we went past the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, over the refineries in Point Richmond, and then over Point Pinole where my wife and I used to spend much time together when we were dating.  We round out our Bay tour by heading over the Carquinez Straights and then toward the Mothball Fleet, past Concord and then over Pittsburgh, Antioch and then back to our big Central Valley.  Fifteen minutes later we were in the pattern for Oakdale.

Overall this would have to be the best day flying I have ever had.  I started out feeling pretty sick but my wife’s positive attitude and the fresh sea air bosted my spirits.  My wife enjoyed the entire flight and for once never got sick.  She is now excited at the thought of another flight.  First time in my 16 years of flying.

So where are the pictures?  I left the camera in the car.  It was the cold medicine again.  However, here is link to a Google map of our flight.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=37.535866,-121.70105&spn=2.121224,3.515625&t=h&z=8&msid=117960223339003644068.00045a20f08058eb300d7

Prayer Answered – Part 2

Well, the RV-4 did not sell.  The prospective buyer found two items he did not feel comfortable with; some scratches on the prop, and the fact that the transponder was not taken to an avionics shop and certified along with the blind encoder.  This is a minor thing to the experimental crowd but aparently a deal killer to the certified crowd.  Oh well, to each his own.

The good news is I still have a plane to fly.  It’s still for sale but I think I’m going to go into a much less agressive sale mode.  Flyers at local airports and such.  God’s will be done.

Prayer answered

Praise God we’ve had a prayer answered.  It looks as though He has brought us a serious buyer for the RV-4.  He sounds like a good person too.  Just the kind of person I would want to see the plane go to.  I hope he enjoyes it as much as I have.  This will give us some financial ease and also enable me to start on the next plane.  If I sell that plane I need to remember to be more clear.  There have been a few minor communication breakdowns on this deal.  Nothing major at all and most likely due to assumptions on my part.

The next task will be to clean out the hangar.  I’m thinking of renting it temporarily while I work on my plane.  Might  bring in a little extra money that could help out with the build.  It’s going to be a huge cleanup operation.  It’s amazing how much junk and spare parts you acquire when building a plane!

Annoying the neighbor

Well after a year of playing calendar bingo I was finally able to give a friend from church a ride in the RV-4 today.   It took quite a lot of negotiating but we finally did it.  I met up with Dave today at Caleveras Airport.  He snapped a few pictures of the plane.  Quite a few in fact.  I patiently waited through all this as the air got hotter and thinner because Dave is a good guy and he’d probably walk through (okay, maybe very near) fire for me.  Dave is a fire captain by day and night and on days off he poses as a humble photographer.  You can see some of his work here at Dave’s Zenfolio Site

This photo just gives me chills.  I can’t insert it directly so you’ll just have to visit his site to see this killer photo.

I digress.  So after Dave finished taking the pictures we shoehorned ourselves into my tiny plane.  We fired up and taxied out.  I played the song I always play for my passengers, a very emotion and uplifting symphonic piece.  I hope that when people hear that song they will think of flying.  I won’t give it away, it’s a small treasure for those who have flown with me.

The ground run was a little long with the heat and thin air and heavy boys in the plane but she finally  broke ground and chewed her way into the air.  I performed a brief control check after we were airborne to make sure the tail wouldn’t try to tuck on me but all seemed well.  Dave enjoyed the split second of negative G’s we experienced during this check.

We took a quick run around Pardee Resevoir so Dave could take a few more pictures.  Then we headed toward his house.  We finally found it and made a few circles around his house.  He called them on his cell phone and out they came, jumping and waving just like my kids do when they see me fly over my own house.  Always does my heart good to see kids waving to airplanes.  I always wave back via wing waggle.

Then I took Dave down what I call the Death Star Trench.  It’s the spillway for New Melones Lake.  It’s plenty big enough to get a bigger plane through so my little bird had room to spare.  I kept it right off my nose so Dave couldn’t see around my big head.  At least, not until I made my last turn to enter the trench.  All he knew is we were low over the water and flying toward a BIG hill.  I turned into the trench at 160 MPH and Dave stopped praying and seemed pretty pleased with the outcome.  We screamed through the trench and then did a 3 G pull up to the right when we exited.

We took a quick diversion so I could show him the trickiest strip I have landed at to date.  Unfortunately fuel was burning and my CG was moving aft so it was time to head back to Caleveras.  Made a picture perfect approach, was greeted by Kathy on Unicom, and made a fair to middlin’ landing.  No screeching sound from the tires and no screeching from the back seat.  We are down and safe.  Our wives will not be consoling each other at our funerals.  Life is sweet.  God is good.

Dave was the perfect passenger in that he not only took a zillion (what I expect to be) great pictures of the plane, not only PAID for my fuel (LOVED that part,) AND paid for breakfast.  Ah, a perfect day.  Dave drove me  into town and we had breakfast. Afterward we went back up to the aiport, chewed the fat with the locals, and then I strapped my plane back on.  I asked the locals if they would have any problem with me doing a fly-by after I take off.  Their only condition was that I fly no higher than 5 feet off the runway.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be able to see it from the FBO.  Heh.  I like these people.

I taxied to 13 and took off.  The air was hotter and thinner now but the plane leapt off the ground like it’s feet were on fire.  I held the plane low so Dave could (you guessed it) take more pictures.  I pulled up off the end of the runway and turned toward downwind.   I flew a normal pattern making normal calls and got my plane into position for the fly by.  When I turned final something didn’t look right on the runway.  At first I thought it was a vulture sitting on the runway.  But when it didn’t move I thought maybe it was a carcass that the vultures would be visiting soon.  As I got closer, it slowly started to resemble… Dave!  In the middle of the runway.  Right on the centerline.  So as I’m heading towards Dave at 160 MPH I started to think:

Hmmm… let’s see now.  They told me that I had to get down to no more than 5 feet off the runway.

Yep.  I remember that.  Now, if I also remember correctly, Dave is over 5 feet tall.  Yes I’m pretty sure this is true.

(Still going about 160 MPH, straight at Dave)

So now, uh, hmmm, that means I’ll take roughly 1 foot off the top of Dave’s body.  Oh boy, I bet Jean wouldn’t like that.

(162 MPH)

Well now, if I were to pull to the right a little bit, I might just miss Dave.

Yep.

“Caleveras traffic, one sierra victor is going around.”  Heh, that means fly by to you non-aviators.

So that’s what I did.  I got as close to Dave as I dared while staying above the centerline but then pulled to the right to go around him.  I was probably a little more tha 5 feet above the runway.  Probably 20 feet or so.  Believe it or not, I’m not a risk taker.  And the thought process above took place in a split second.  I can only guess at what Dave was thinking when I screamed past him.

Kathy came back on Unicom and thanked me for the fly by.  I thanked her for her hospitality, wagged my wings and then enjoyed a hot, bumpy flight back to Oakdale.

All kidding aside it was truly a blessing to have Dave fly with me today.  I know he has a passion for flying that he keeps buried on account of his family.  This is one of many noble traits.  It was a pleasure to be able to allow him to enjoy this passtime that God has blessed me with.  I cannot wait to see the photos he took, I’m sure they will be excellent.

Oh, and the title — what’s that all about.  Dave knows.  Maybe he’ll tell you.  But in case any FAA types are reading this, we’re just going to keep quiet about it.  Enough said.

Why the RV-4 must go

Even though I’ve explained this to my friends already I keep getting questions about why I’m selling the RV-4.  I really enjoy the RV-4.  I’ve invested roughly 10 years of my life in that airplane.  So why sell it now that it’s finally done?  Two reasons.

The first and most superficial reason is that my flying mission has changed.  I’d really like to get back into back country flying again and I can’t really do that in my RV-4.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of room for camping equipment, especially if you have two people in the plane.  Plus now that it’s painted I’d really be nervous landing it on a gravel strip.

The second and much less superficial reason is my son.  As many of my friends know my son has Autism.  Due to his language defecits and limited understanding his career paths will be somewhat limited.  One thing he is very good at is understanding drawings.  He also has a great mechanical aptitude.  Add to this that he recently asked me when I’m going to build another airplane.  His question made me think that I could accomplish several goals at once but it would require that I raise the funds needed to build another airplane.

My plan is to sell the RV-4 and buy a new airplane kit.  The front runner right now is a Rans S6ES.  It is simple and quick to build.  My thought is that I could give my son some excellent mechanical skills if he were to help me with the construction of this plane.  We would look at the construction manual together and I would give him a construction task on the plane each day.  He would accomplish the task and I would inspect it.  I would explain any errors to him and have him correct them himself.  This will give him some great skills in interpreting complex drawings and learning some good shop techniques.

Since we home school our children we have to take any opportunity to think outside the box.  Building another plane is just such an example of where several goals can be met at once.  I am hoping it will also help him build some confidence in his own skills and also be a great father – son bonding experience.

So there you have it.  That’s why the RV-4, something I poured my money, blood, sweat, and sometimes bad words into, must go.

It is finished

The plane that is.  Finally, after 5 years of construction, and 5 years of flying (has it been THAT long?) my RV-4 is finished.  Here is the final result:

The NEW RV-4
The NEW RV-4

I’ve had so many friends tell me that now that it’s done, I won’t want to sell it.  I kind of don’t.  However, I’m entering into a new phase of flying where I don’t feel the need to go so fast or so far.  This plane has long legs and I don’t really.  I would rather it go to someone who can enjoy it.