New Adventures, Skydiver driver!

In the conquest of making myself the best aviator that I can be, I have started learning the finer points of being a skydive pilot. The people at Skydive Greene County are absolutely nothing short of awesome.  They welcomed me right in and made me feel at home.

The aircraft, a Beech 18 with with the Westwind conversion, with a PT6 on each wing replacing the Pratt and Whitney R985s.  It sure looks different, but is a great flying airplane.  My good friend Dewey from http://www.gobiplanerides.com came out and rode along to make a Vlog of a jump run, so click on the video and come on along for a ride!

 

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!

 

 

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!

Keeping vintage and antiques alive

One of my goals at Van’s is to do everything I can to keep  that older aircraft flying.  The Taylorcraft I fly is a 1946 that has been in my family since at least 1976.  Grandpa Big Jim VanDervort recovered the airplane in 1987.  It took him and a friend only 5 weeks from fly in to fly out!  I am now passing that tradition on to my children with the hope that they develop the same love for these aircraft that I have.

 

 

Taildragger fun

LJ’s first ride

LJ2 Maddy