1946 Piper J-3, Colorado to Ohio, for now..

I’d been talking to this customer for a couple months helping him sort through airplanes that weren’t going to meet his mission, and finding the best deal.  We found one that seemed promising, and after having the logs and records emailed to us, we decided it was worth going to look at.  Spent all day doing an annual and going through the aircraft, only turned up a couple of small squaks, and fortunately Univair was only an hour down the road and we were able to get the issues taken care of and get a short test flight in before dark!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Post annual test flight

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Post annual test flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the annual complete and the aircraft fueled and ready for the flight home the next morning, we decided to go get dinner.  We went to the Blackbelly Market, and it was really good.  I’ll go back if I’m ever in the area again.  After dinner we found a hotel and went to bed, it had been a long day.

The next morning we got the airplane pulled out, preflighted and headed east.  Angelo decided to come along to get some good experience with cross country flying.  He had foreflight on his iphone, but I threatened that if he used it I was throwing his phone out the window, and I meant it!  It was a short 1 hour hop to our first stop at Fort Morgan, so we started off by using some dead-reckoning.  Found the airport no problem, and Angelo quickly became accustomed to using a paper sectional again.

We packed very light for this trip, a couple t-shirts, socks, and unmentionables both for us, so that we had enough weight left to make some use of the wing tank, that stretched our legs to 3 hours with a little fuel left.  Keeping the first leg to close to an hour, so I can verify fuel burn and make sure the oil burn isnt crazy either, we stopped at Fort Morgan.  Passed through here last summer in a Champ.  Topped off with fuel, fuel was as expected and off we went.  The goal in flying slow airplanes a long distance is to keep time on the ground to a minimum.

Shortly into our second leg, the pin for the trim crank loose, so we made a quick diversion to Wray Municiple.  Turns out that is Bill Tracy’s home town.  Topped off with fuel again after quickly fixing the trim, and off we go.  It was a pretty good day of flying, taped up all the gaps around the doors  and windows, and was able to stay on the good side of numb!  I wouldn’t call it warm by any means, but it was tolerable!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Fort Morgan, CO

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Wray, CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About halfway through Nebraska the weather started to turn on us, can’t get away with blue skies the entire way could we, thatd be way too easy.  We landed in Kelly, NE to take a look at the weather and find a way through that made sense and had options.  Norfolk, NE was above VFR minimums as well as points in between, so off we went to check it out.  Practiced a bit of ‘Class G airmanship’ and made it into Norfolk with no issues at all.  The FBO was great, had very reasonable prices for a heated hangar, crew car, and even gave us a way into the hangar before they opened so we could make an early start.

Ate at place in town called, Black Cow, Fat Pig and had the prime rib, I highly recommend it!  6.9 hours of flying for the day, not too bad.

The next morning we pushed on east, weather was tolerable, and we didn’t have any real complications other than some head winds, which is all the time in a cub.  Landed at Portland, IN sunday night and had my misses come pick us up and take me home so that I could make it to my day job the next morning.  A friend gave me a ride up to get the cub the next day in his Navion, a very sweet airplane!  The cub is now tucked away in a friends hangar, while i tidy up a few maint details on it.  The logistics worked out better and it will be on to its final destination in just a week or two!

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Norfolk, NE

Piper Cub, Ferry flight, prebuy, antique airplane, J3 cub

Ohio!

Flybaby, fly! Nebraska to eastern Tennessee

Every big trip has something go wrong, its inevitable.  Plan the best you can and be prepared.  Hopefully, its just a small setback and not a game changer.  This weekend was no exception…  I had been talking to Richard for a few days and we were getting the logistics finalized when we realized the weather for the upcoming weekend was going to be perfect.  Great! I said, and spoke to Richard to get the final go ahead.  When booking my tickets I found out that they were all sold out going into Lincoln, NE.  Well crap, its only a 12 hour drive,  I talk it over with Richard who was ok with waiting another week, but I told him something usually goes awry and if this is it then I am ok with that.

KBIE, made it the airplane

KBIE, made it the airplane

After getting off of work Friday, I drive down to CVG and pick up a Nissan something or other, and start driving west.  Talk about a boring drive.  Richard texted asking what I planned on leaving, and I told him ‘whenever I wake up,’ I was tired and wasn’t about to push my luck with out getting in some much needed rest.  I made it to the airplane about 0330 after my car, a rental car, and a cab.  A quick text to let Richard know that I made it the airplane and that it looked even better in person than the pictures I had seen at this point.

After getting some sleep, I push the airplane out and take it around the pattern a couple of times and get used to the airplane, no surprises so I land and top off the airplane, prepared to head east!

As with most ferry flights, I keep my first stop close to a one hour leg, so that I can verify fuel burn and look for any other items that may not have appeared on a short flight around the pattern.  Fortunately, there werent any surprises and the oil burn is just where you’d expect it for an engine with only a couple hundred hours since overhaul.  K59, Amelia Earheart airport was a neat little place,

Fuel stop at K59

Fuel stop at K59

after landing and taxing up to the fuel pumps I look up and see a pretty Stearman circling and getting ready to land.  Had to walk over and check it out.  It is owned by a neat genltemen who has the whole FAA alphabet after his name as well as 757-767 test and ferry pilot.  Really nice and knowledgeable guy.  After some chit chatting, I was on my way east, grass doesn’t grow under your feet, err wings, ya know!

Fall time makes for some great photo oppurtunites, stopping at Washington Regional airport for fuel made for a great fuel spot and photo shoot!

 

Washington Regional Airport

Washington Regional Airport

A quick stop for fuel and snap the obligatory picture, and I was on my way once again.  I had been keeping Richard and my wife updated with texts at all my fuel stops, and the occasional picture as well.  It was getting later in the afternoon, but I had enough time to get one more leg in.  Loaded up and headed east to Creve Couer airport.  I hadn’t been there since I was a young boy running around with Grandpa, so I thought it would be a neat place to stop.  Met a nice guy by the name of Pierre, who gave me a lift into town so I could get some sleep and food at a local hotel.  I posted a few pictures on my facebook wall, and was promptly corrected that I did not have on the proper flying gear.  Well I fixed that!  I dug deep into my bag and got out the white silk scarf.

Gateway Arch, St Louis,

Gateway Arch, St Louis,

 

The next morning I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise, and I once again pushed east, this time with the goal of flying near the Gateway Arch in St Louis, the morning sun reflecting off of the Mississippi river in the early morning made for yet another great photograph.

I suppose now was the time to get out the scarf and use the burst mode on the iphone.  I think it turned out pretty decent, and sums up the flying portion of the trip! The rest of the trip went great, as far as the flying goes and was quite uneventful, just the way I like it!

 

Happy Pilot

Happy Pilot

Fall colors in the mountains.

Fall colors in the mountains.

Richard checking out his new airplane

Richard checking out his new airplane

Successful delivery!  Now for the second fun part, the flight back to CVG sold out as I was purchasing it online.  Guess I am renting a car again, oh well.  I walk up to the Budget car rental and ask for a oneway rental, and the lady informs me they are sold out.  I ask what if i make a reservation online and she tells me they would have to honor it, but fat chance of it working.  Two minutes later, and thanks to the powers of the internet, I have a car reserved and am getting handed the keys! You have to love the internet..  So another short 6 hour drive and I am home.  To sum up the weekend, 18 hours of driving and 12 hours of flying.  I have zero intention of ever doing that much driving again.  Stay tuned for the next one!

 

 

1946 7AC, Ferry Flight

I’ll preface this with the fact that has been one of the most miserable and yet adventurous ferry trips I have made yet!  I think this one really sums up just what can happen while ferrying an airplane like this across our beautiful country!

My customer this time is also a good friend, Patrick.  We’ve been talking over the last few months with him sending me pictures or barnstormers links asking for my opinion.  He finally found one that both he and I agreed on that sounded like a good deal and would be a great aircraft for him.Ready to leave Colorado

Once the deal was made, I hopped onto a passenger tube and headed west, yet again.  I had some miscommunication with a Marine buddy that lives close, and he picked me up at the airport, however, i didn’t realize how far he now lived from the airport the Champ was at, oops.  No big deal I think, after all, I am just outside of Denver in Fort Collins, there has to be a hotel close.  Wrong again.  A quick call to the FBO by the seller, and they let me use their pilots lounge to get a few hours of sleep in for the night, not the most comfortable, but it was inside and climate controlled, that is a pretty big plus in my book!  The next morning I give the airplane a good look over and make sure everything looks up to par before i hand over a stack of money to the seller.  I start packing the airplane as the seller is filling out the last couple portions of the paperwork, once we are both done we shake hands, and I walk towards the airplane to start taking the Champ back east to Patrick!

Aeronca ChampI try to keep the first leg of ferry flights pretty close to an hour for a couple of reasons; first, it gives me a real world idea of what to calculate for fuel burn and second, I can feel out the airplane and see what kind, if any quirks it may have.  Upon landing at Fort Morgan Municipal, (run by an Ag company) I notice that it can use just a little more up elevator, the local mechanics were more than willing to let me borrow a couple of tools to make the trip that much nicer.  The rest of fly went great that day.  Clear skies and light winds, only stopped at one airport that didnt have self serve fuel or anybody around, but I plan for that and had enough fuel to make it a bit further.

oops!My next to last stop was at another small un-named ag strip that was open to the public and had fuel.  The wind was starting to pick up a bit so I landed on their grass cross runway, that turned out to not be a legit runway after all.  However uneventful  of a landing, the airplane may have gotten a bit muddy, sorry Patrick!  Anyway, topped off and pushed as far east as i could, which was Burlington, Iowa.  Met another nice ag pilot whom gave me a ride into town and dropped me off at the Holiday Inn.  As it turns out, the fertilizer plants are running full swing this time of year and ALL of the hotels with in 45 miles have been sold out for the last month, and for upcoming month.  Good thing I brought a tent and sleeping bag with me.

Walked across the street to McDonald’s to grab some food and wait on a taxi to take me back to the airport.  When I taxied in at Burlington I noticed an open hangar with a cub in it, and a truck parked out front.  Lucky for me it was still there when i got back!  Not too sure what was going on, I left a note on the zipper of my tent, that i set up inside of his hangar, briefly explaining the situation and that I would be glad to move somewhere else if needed.  The worked out really well actually, I had a roof over my head, and electricity to charge my phone.  No shower, again, but I quit noticing the smell a few hours ago anyway.

StormsSunday morning is when the trip started to get really fun.  I was woken up by thunderstorms that were very close.  I disassembled the tent in record time and was packed up and ready to go in 10 minutes.  A quick look at the radar showed that I was on the very northern edge of the storms and they were moving mostly east.  Nobody came over night to check on the cub, so I put his hangar door down, would hate to see the airplane blown into his truck or worse.

It came down to decision time, the weather, both radar and visually, looked ok to the north so I decided to go for it.  Just as my wheels were braking ground, I noticed a few drops of rain on the windscreen, not  a lot, but they were there.  They quickly went away as I headed north and the weather turned to overcast with good visibility underneath.  I made it Illinois Valley Regional Airport and borrowed the crew car to go grab another quick bite in town.  Then fueled up and tried to push farther east.  I ended up returning to Illinois Valley and waiting a bit, everything south of the Illinois River was fogged in, and as it started to lift it actually got thicker, which made things a bit, interesting at times.

My second attempt I made it Fulton County Indiana where the thunderstorms were starting to be imbedded in the overcast, and I don’t play with those.  Patrick was starting to get pretty anxious at this point, it had been thunder storming in Ohio for a couple of hours, and he said something about not sleeping the past couple of nights, I took it personal that he didn’t really trust me to deliver it safely!  Which was all in fun of course.

imageContinuing to practice my Class G airman ship, I pushed on south to Richmond Indiana, where I made a call to my wife, whom was standing next to Patrick, and told her to have Patrick go outside in 30 minutes.  Then i text Patrick telling him I was at an airport about an hour and a half away waiting on weather to clear up.

I made sure to approach from my final destination from the north and just a bit high, so that I could keep the power low and do an extended glide in.  I had it timed just right and threw in full power for the image19-1024x768go-around just as I was coming around the tree’s and surprised Patrick pretty good!  Wish someone would have caught that on video, but that’s probably for the better!

 

 

 

 

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Crossing the Continental Divide in a 1940 J5

Recently completed a trip in a 1940 Piper J-5A from Upper Michigan to Dayton, OH and then on to California!

 

Pre-buy inspection/annual

Pre-buy inspection/annual

I go to Michigan and do a prebuy, bring it home through Wisconsin, it was in west upper Michigan.  Stop at a friends over night and get a ride in a 1929 new standard at Madison WI.

1929 New Standard www.biplaneridesofamerica.com

1929 New Standard
www.biplaneridesofamerica.com

 

Overnight stop

Overnight stop

His place

Then on home so the new owner can get some time in it with his CFI, he just finished his sport and is working on his private.
Two days later I load up and punch west!
I have Nav lights that are batt powered, so I call ahead to Peoria, Ill and ask them to leave the lights on a bit longer.  No radio of any kind with me.  They do and I land just after dark!

Following the river to better weather

Following the river to better weather

Run into a front the next day and rain forced me down in Sioux city Nebraska at an ag strip, great guys!  Even had a dolly with a J3 on its nose for storage!
I hang there for a couple hours listening to everything they say, because I’m hoping to do some ag flying soon..

Rain stopped but ceiling were still low, so I followed a river out past the storms.  They don’t put towers in the middle of rivers 🙂

Made it to Torrington that night where the guys at Ag Flyers gave me a ride into town and coffee the next morning!  As well as let me use there truck and tools since my fuel shut off decide to be a fuel leak valve..

Fuel leak repair in progress

Fuel leak repair in progress

Got it fixed, and off I went that AM,  really wanted to stop in Medicine Bow, but I caught a huge lift and had the cub at 12,5, climbed 1,200 fpm to get there even!  (I have video evidence) so i didn’t want to give that up.  Landed at Rawlins where I had my introductory lesson to density altitude, 10,500.  Made it out safely, but not by much.  Ground effect up the mountain and then gain speed down to break away and keep climbing slowly.  I think if I wasn’t as familiar with small airplanes as I am, it could have turned out much differently.  At Evanston, I waited for it cool off some before I went to Salt lake City.

Ag Flyers

Ag Flyers

 

BFDDD764-3868-41A4-988C-28ED39BEE8B1_zpshyf2pgog

The way into Salt Lake City

The pass to SLC, was Gorgeous and the most terrifying terrain I’d flown over, yet…

Stayed the night in SLC #2, then off at sun up the next morning. Saw the salt flats, and stopped at Wendover Nevada, then on west.  I skipped over kMWC, and got out on the ground in lovelock about noon, only 2.5 hours till the destination… Photo won’t upload, it’s at the end… I sleep on the couch a couple of hours and wake up to check weather, still crap…  So I post here hoping to find a clear way west!  Gumpair gives me solid advice, and I realize I’m trying way to hard to ‘find’ good weather.  So I decided to go to town and get a hotel.  For a population of 2,500 they have 10 hotels!   The owner of the Cadillac inn, picked me up and dropped me back off at 0500, can’t beat that!!  Even though the ENTIRE town was closed for 4th of July and I had TV dinners from the gas station, oh well, I’ve had worse!

Next am I head to Reno, wow their airspace sucks with no transponder!  I try to follow 80, but I can see the fog that truckee is reporting in the first turn away from Reno, so I go to Reno stead and refuel.
Grandstands were fenced off, with an 8′ fence, so I couldn’t get in..

974F62F5-2DA8-481C-8F15-6843FB3E16B8_zpsenaj9vlz

 

So I took off and followed gumpair’s route.  I’m glad I did!  It was lower and at 8,500 was super smooth.  As I was
Descending I head some really loud noises that scared the crap out of me!  Fire walled throttle (all ready there) added carb heat, good drop, so no ice.  Checked mixture, good.  Mags good,  then calmed down and realized I had a metal monster can that was collapsing from the added air pressure! Lol.

There was a TFR around Beale AFB, so I stopped at KOVE to make my one and only call to WX brief the entire trip.  It was basically the class C, so stay out of it and I was fine!  While flying over KOVE to check the wind sock I saw a 172 on downwind, no biggie, fall in behind him and land.  He should have been turning off as I was flaring, but instead decided to back taxi! Lol until he saw me and turned even faster around.  I made the first turn off, so we were never really close.  Until I left that is, when he didn’t see me again… And did a mid field departure cutting me off.  Oh well, worse had happened to me.  It’s amazing I saw him since I didn’t have a radio!!  A short 20 minute flight later and I was at my destination!62B9B539-731F-43A5-8482-ACD6B265D0FE_zpsabuzb6qd

Talking with the FBO owner Honeycutt Aviation, found out we graduated from the same highschool in Ohio!  We both had a class size of about 50, he graduated with my uncle.  I posted on FB that I was here and looking for a ride, with in 30  minutes I had a ride from a fellow pietenpol pilot!  Then a United flight and I was done!  29.2 hours from Dayton Ohio to Cali!

L3 Grasshopper cross country ferry flight.

Final look over before departing T51 and heading north!

Final look over before departing T51 and heading north!

A couple weeks ago I was contacted by a friend about his neighbor looking to buy an L3 located in Texas, my interest was immediately peaked to say the least.   After a couple of phone calls to Russ about the airplane, and seeing the ad on barnstormers, the trip was sounding promising and the aircraft looked to be in great shape.

After getting the green light, a commercial airline ticket was bought and bags packed!  The initial plan was to

complete the pre-buy inspection Friday night, and deal with any discrepancies that night or Saturday morning (an advantage to sending an A&P/IA to ferry an aircraft), but the airline carrier had other plans.  A few hours of delay later, I arrived in Houston about 830pm local, so no inspecting that night.

Jim (seller) picked me up at the hotel in the morning and we went to breakfast to look over the logs while waiting on the sun to come up and the fog to lift.  Logbooks in order and off to the airport to see the airplane.  The pre-buy inspection went well.  An issue was found with the exhaust, but we were able to repair it.  My customer and Jim were both happy with the repair, so the deal proceeded as planned.  After a few quick laps around the pattern to make sure the airplane flew as expected we topped off the fuel, finished the paperwork and I blasted off to the north.  It was 5pm by the time I was airborne, but 2 hours of flying in a day is better than no hours.  Made it to Nacogdoches, TX, which I learned is the oldest town in Texas.  The FBO was closed when I arrived but fortunately they have a lock box with a key to the courtesy car that I used to go into town and get a hotel for the night.

Waking up bright and early, I got to the airport an hour before sun up, and once it did lift I was greeted by fog

Waiting for the fog to lift

Waiting for the fog to lift

that hung around until just about noon.  Checking the weather along my route showed that it was pretty widespread, time to sit and enjoy the coffee.  The airports wi-fi definitely got a work out as I was continuously checking weather at my destination, as well as other airports within range to see where it was clearing up at first.  Once the ceilings lifted enough to depart and were good at my destination, I punched north yet again.  A quick stop at CE Williams 3F3, to find their 24hr credit card pump not working and the FBO unattended, reaffirmed that I made a good decision in choosing airports that had other fuel options nearby.  Called ahead to Minden to verify they had fuel, and that I would be able to pump it and off I went.  I figured if that was the only issues I had on the trip, then I was doing something right.  From Minden, it was on to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where some folks in RV’s were having a sort of event.  Another quick top off of the fuel, check the oil and pushed on north!

West Memphis, KAWM nice facilities

West Memphis, KAWM nice facilities

I chose West Memphis, KAWM for an overnight stop.  While walking over to the, once again, closed FBO, a pilot from the local 135 charter saw me walking across the ramp and gave me a ride into town.  He was even nice enough to give me his card and told me to call in the morning and he’d pick me up if I had trouble getting a taxi, talk a bout a nice guy!

I don’t think I could have asked for better weather on Monday, I took off at sun up with almost zero wind at the surface, and once at altitude I had close to a 30mph tailwind.  The ole L3 was making over 110mph across the ground.  I was able to make great time and even change a couple of my fuel stops to longer distances while keeping the same amount of time in the air.

K62 was the only airport I landed at with the wind not straight down the runway or very light.  Even then, it was only a 12kt quartering crosswind, and the airplane performed just as I expected it too with no bad quirks showing up. That was my last fuel stop so I called the airplanes new caretakers to make sure that my destination airport was open, and that they would be there for my arrival.  I gave them an eta then hopped in the airplane for one final pushhome north.  Having put 13+ hours on the airplane and being in my home area, I was getting quite comfortable, so I put everything in the back, except for a chart so that I could make sure I stayed out of the Class B at KCVG, and headed on north to Waynesville, 40I.  After some talking with the new owners, and some debriefing from the flight, Rick wanted to go flying in his new airplane (can’t blame him for that!) So I hoped in the back and off we went, Rick did a great job and I know that he and Russ will not only take great care of the airplane, but fly it a lot too!  You may even see this airplane pop up in posts in the future…  Happy Flying!