Monday, July 11, 2005

What I did this weekend

I went flying! (OK, this journal is lacking somewhat in dramatic revelations. Did anyone not see that coming?)

Hard at work
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
It was a perfect flying day Sunday, and the guys in the two local pilot clubs were having a flyout to the Thousand Islands in upstate New York. 170 miles seemed like a long ride to me, and I prefer vinaigrette anyway; so I decided to fly south instead, and let the prevailing winds blow me along. My old friend Chris in Allentown was getting ready for his first biennial flight review; every two years, pilots must perform a check ride with an examiner to be legal to fly. I figured I would let him get some practice in my plane, and I could sharpen my Flight Instructor skills (barking random orders, and looking out the window.)

Chris handled the Tri-Pacer very well; it's lighter, less stable and underpowered compared to the Cessnas he trained on. We took off and flew west out of Allentown's airspace, and climbed slowly up into the cooler air above 4,000 feet. I suggested a series of basic maneuvers, steep turns and slow flight, and Chris performed them all capably. Then we descended into Reading, where his test was scheduled, and he did three good landings, with only verbal cues from me on the quirks of the old plane.

Custer Channel Wing
Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
While he was aloft with his instructor, I wandered around the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum again with my camera. Since Gail and I had visited, there was a new and bizarre shape on the ramp; the sole surviving prototype of the Custer Channel Wing. This is a small twin-engined plane built to explore an obscure aerodynamic notion, that lift might be gained by capturing the slipstream of the propellers. Apparently it worked - somewhat - at low speeds, but was inefficient at high speeds, and suffered from strange vibrations. Plus, those bizarre wings would have been a production nightmare, with their semicircular spars!

I took a few pictures of the Custer and the rest of the relics out on the sun-baked ramp, and eventually Chris landed and taxiied back in. I guess 02P scared him back into currency; he passed his review, anyway! The examining instructor took him aside for a thorough briefing afterwards, and we took off for the short hop east to Allentown.

Arriving back north in Scranton, I landed at the big airport and picked up my mother; I had thought that there was a meeting back at Cherry Ridge, and they typically have dinner in the cafe beforehand. But I had old news; the meeting was to have been a picnic, but it was cancelled due to illness of the organizer. (Get well soon, Joanie!) So I put the plane away, and Mom and I went to Hamlin Corners to have dinner at Kundla's Open Pit Barbecue. Without resorting to hyperbole, I can only say that this barbecue would heal the sick and raise the dead. People were queued up around the building, but the line moved fast, and we got our sampler of ribs, chicken and pork chops, and - not having eaten all day - I ate myself into a religious ecstacy.