Time to take a couple hours and put in a little update. It's been over a year since I've written anything in this space, and many of you are wondering what's going on. Well, here goes.
I had an exciting year in 2008 as you can see if you scroll down. Over the 2008 Labor Day weekend I flew to the AAA/APM meet in Blakesburg, IA. Camped with friends for a couple evenings and had a great time. The weather was perfect. Here is a little video I made while there...
2009 was a different story. I flew the Voisin less than 15 hours the whole year. Not because of problems with the airplane, but because of business obligations. I did try and make it to Gardner, KS. for the WWI Gathering of Eagles. A Nieuport 17 flyer from the Green Castle airport over by Cedar Rapids was going to fly over and join up with me at Corydon, IA for the flight to Gardner. We even had the airplanes out of the hangar and preflighted, but the weather never cooperated, and the weekend was a bust. We will try again this year.
I did fly to one breakfast in July, just 25 miles north of me at a little private airstrip called Drake near Radcliffe, Ia. Had a great time there.
Most of my flight time in 2009 was not in my Voisin. My friend and fellow EAA Chapter 675 member, Ed Boehm, is taking Sport Pilot lessons. Not quite certificated yet, he found his dream plane and decided to buy it instead of passing it by and missing out on a good deal. The airplane is an Ercoupe, the same type I took my checkride in back in 2007 for my Sport Pilot certificate. He asked me to go with him to look at it in May, then over the July 4th weekend, we had quite an adventure going to get it in southwest Kansas. Our friend Ralph Briggs flew us down in his Tripacer, then the two of us flew back in the Ercoupe while Ralph served as wingman. The Tripacer was a bit faster than the Ercoupe so on the third day, Ralph ran ahead of us and did some airport hopping. Dodging thunderstorms and low ceilings gave us all good lessons on intensive flight planning. We made all the right decisions (hence the three days) and had a very enjoyable trip.
Ercoupe over Kansas
I flew the Ercoupe a few more times last fall to give rides during our chapter meetings, and needless to say, I haven't flown the Voisin since that fly-in breakfast back in July!
Another reason for the low flying time, is my newest project. My lovely wife and I decided to build a house. Literally, we are building a house. And I mean WE are building the house! With a little help from friends and neighbors, the hole was dug, and Dianna and I have built the house up from there. It's a PWF (Permanent Wood Foundation) earth bermed home, meaning no concrete work at all. We got the structure built up to the roof line with the ceiling and window in, but the roof is not on yet.
OSHKOSH VIDEOS ARE UP!!
My brother Bryan put together a great production of our Oshkosh Airventure Adventure! We broke it down into four parts for easier viewing on the web.
WE DID IT!!
600 miles in 12 flight hours. Other than fog and turbies, it was a PERFECT trip!
Here is the story as written for Replica Fighters Magazine:
See the pictures here
Flying the Dream
In all things aviation, there is a concurrent theme among those who fly for fun; getting their pride and joy to the big "show". The Mecca, the nirvana, Heaven, The Sturgis of sport aviation if you will...AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
It was a great day when I lifted my Voisin off the runway at the Marshalltown airport on July 15th 2007. From that point I KNEW I could fly anywhere in the world! It was going to be a great time. It took eleven months to fly off the 40 hours, and not a month too soon, for I had BIG plans to FLY, not trailer, my Voisin to Oshkosh.
Gary Nablo, who owns and flies a Preceptor N3 Pup, modified to look like a WWII L4 Grasshopper, and I with my replica of a WWI 1915 Voisin reconnaissance/bomber, each put in for our vacations and sat down to determine exactly what our requirements were for the trip. Kind of a what we would put up with and what we wouldn't. Gary set the parameters for what kind of weather he was willing to fly in. I planned the route for the trip making sure there was a compromise between the flight path and the ground crew path. Gary's son, Chad Nablo would drive one vehicle, my brother Bryan Butcher would drive the second, and friend, Ralph Briggs supplied the camper being towed by Bryan's van. All five of us were able to get the same time off of work, so we were pretty much set to go.
The only thing I had to do at that time was get my last few Phase I hours flown off so I could get outside the 25 mile radius of home. With just two hours to go, I decided I would do it in one flight. Head to Marshalltown and see if anyone wanted to come out and play and record that moment of freedom. Everything was going just swell until about 6 miles from home, I noticed the voltmeter was reading 8 volts. Uh oh! I immediately did a 180 and headed for home. All of a sudden I had thoughts in my head I hadn't thought of before. Will the battery last? Is it the alternator belt? Did I loose the water pump too? No problem. It felt good to get back down.
Checking it out, I found the ground loop connection on the alternator had broken. As I was repairing it, I also noticed the bracket for the MAP sensor was also dangling. I repaired that easy enough and was back in the air in an hour. Everything was back to normal but I decided to stick around home for 15 minutes or so just to make sure.
I'm flying over the marsh which is a mile to the north of my airstrip, when it happened. Suddenly there was a pop, a terrible grinding noise, then violent shaking. Including the 3 second delay of response, it took all of 5 seconds to turn off the switch. The engine is behind me, and not knowing if I had a tail, I pushed forward on the yoke to see if I would pitch down. It did! I had a tail. It hit me at the same time that pushing forward is what I was suppose to do anyway. Get that glide speed set. I turned toward the airstrip and was suddenly met with new thoughts again. What exactly IS my glide speed with the engine off? Will I make it a mile with 800 feet of altitude? I knew I could fly at an indicated 30, so that's where I held it. By golly, I made it back! Well, almost. I landed in the field just short of the end of the runway. I KNEW I could make that nice flat area, and decided to take the known instead of stretching it out to the unknown, just 500 feet further. A neighbor saw me go down and came over to help me walk it to the hangar.
The pictures tell the story. I was running with a flexplate, not a flywheel. The starter ring gear separated from the flexplate, wound up and blew through the side of the bell housing. A chunk of the housing hit a blade of the prop and splintered it. Pop, grind, shake. This explains the broken connector and bracket.
This happened on May 9th. It was my intention to fly to Columbia, Missouri to the Salute to Veterans airshow over Memorial Day weekend, then to Gardner, Kansas for the WWI Gathering of Eagles that the Kansas City Dawn Patrol puts on every Fathers Day weekend in June. The Columbia show was probably not going to happen, but if everything fell in place, I could make Gardner.
The next day I removed the redrive and took inventory of what was damaged and needed replacement. I put the dial indicator on the engine crank and the prop hub to verify the runout. They were perfect. So it amounted to a new bell housing, one new prop blade (it's a GSC ground adjustable), a new rear seal cover, and a new FLYWHEEL. I called the Canadian supplier of the bell housing and he had one in stock. He also had a stock flywheel, but it would need to be lightened for the application. I told him to send it ASAP.
I was concerned with the time it would take to get a new prop from the manufacturer, so I checked out the big online auction website to see what was there. Low and behold, there was a seller who had two prop blades of a three blade prop, the blade dimensions being exactly like mine, plus, it had only been used one hour. The price was good and if I could win it, potentially could get two blades for the price of just one from the manufacturer. I bid and won the auction. I had the extra rear seal cover.
What I didn't count on was the time it would take for the parts from Canada to get to Iowa. Four weeks! And that was no fault of the supplier. He and I didn't think Canadian Post would take that long, so to save money, we went with them instead of a FedEx type of delivery. Big mistake. I received the parts the week before Fathers Day (the prop made it in five days from Pennsylvania), so making Gardner was out. I still had to have the flywheel lightened and it ended up the bell housing needed to be drilled for the redrive. I was getting worried about making Oshkosh, but at the same time, nothing was going to stop me after getting this close! A friend of mine, Ray Robinson owns a metal work shop and we spent nearly 5 hours grinding down the flywheel, getting it just right per the drawing that was supplied with it from the redrive supplier, and drilling the bell housing on critical center. I then took the flywheel to a shop that specializes in balancing flywheels for racing applications. I finally got it back together the next weekend and flew it for about half an hour. All was well and I was sure I could make Oshkosh. I only had an hour and a half to fly off, but I wanted at least five on it before the big trip. I didn't quite get the five hours in, but it was running smoother than it ever had, and I was legal to fly beyond 25 miles. We were a go!
FOG, Low ceiling, ARRGG! What a way to start the trip. The "Plan" was to take off early, like 6am, but the weather said otherwise. A few phone calls between the pilots and ground crew decided that noon would be the earliest we could get going. Ground crew members, Bryan and Ralph arrived at the CDFlite airstrip about 11:30am. The Voisin was out and lined up on the runway, and I had preflighted about 4 times (plus 2 times the night before). Unfortunately the sky was still gloomy. A call to Marshalltown AWOS told us they had 900 foot ceilings, but it sure seemed lower 20 miles to the southwest where we were. A look at the radar on the internet showed that if we could make it to KMIW, it would get better the farther northeast we got.
I decided to fly a couple laps around the patch to see how low the clouds were drooping and if I thought it was doable, I would tell them on the ground by radio I was heading northeast. After smooching my sweetie, I cIimbed in, donned my head set, double checked the checklist, and turned the ignition switch. "CLICK, CLICK"! Nothing. NOW what? Actually I knew what it was, but I thought it was fixed. Ever since the flywheel issue in May, the ground connection from the battery had been giving me some headache. I don't know if it is in the switch itself or a ground on the starter, but two more turns of the key and it fired right up. I know what you are thinking, but it didn't act up for the rest of the trip, and I'm invincible (Yeah, right). While I let it warm up, pictures were taken of this historic moment. I was thinking to myself 'Please let the clouds be high enough to fly!'. At exacly 1:00pm, seven hours behind schedule, I took off to the south, made it to 600 feet and could tell the clouds were still above me so after three laps, made the call. The crew scrambled back to the car and I settled in for a straight line to KMIW. Visibility was a hazy, shy five miles, the air was relatively calm, and I could see see where I was, so this was it. I was on my way to Oshkosh!
We had decided on our preflight planning that we would use 122.75 between the ground crew and the two airplanes. I tuned in and heard "PT One to 35 Victor Romeo, do you copy?"
Huh? Who is PT One? I answered back, "35 Victor Romeo". I could tell it was the ground crew, but what is this PT One stuff? I answered that I could hear them but it was not real clear. I estimated we were within five miles of each other, but the ground clutter was getting in the way of a moving vehicle. Then, I began to hear all sorts of other chatter on the frequency. It sounded like truckers, or farmers, or who knows, thought that 122.75 was available to ANYone who wanted to use it. A lot like CB radios. It was too much, so I switched to the airport CTAF and decided we would talk about this when we gathered at Gary's hangar at KMIW.
I then tuned to the AWOS and heard that the ceiling was still 900 feet so I was feeling pretty good we were finally on our way. Except, the clouds above me seemed to be going by VERY fast. Faster than the ground below me. Then the wind screen got all wet, and before you know it, I'm eating clouds! I push over and decide I can easily make it at 500 feet. Instantly I am out of the clouds, but now my heart is pounding pretty good. Sure hope it doesn't go any lower. I'm still seven miles from the airport. At 500, I am still scraping puff balls so I think, 'Okay, I've done 400 before without a problem and I know the area, and I know there are no towers around here, so I drop some more. The clouds are still going by real quick. I'm okay for maybe 3 miles and I realize I've been watching the ground, but when I look straight ahead, all I see is white. How low do I go?!? Time to clench the cushion! I cross the Iowa River at 300 ft. and am thinking if I have to drop any more, someone is going to call 911. I decide not to pay attention to altitude and direct all my attention to what may be a 200 foot high tree. No, it isn't there, but paying attention to ground references is much more important than how high you are at this point. I WAS carrying a cheap hikers GPS, and it was the only time during the whole week I actually depended on it. Suddenly I recognized a farm that is just south of the airport and know I can enter base for runway 36 right where I am at. I was listening to the CTAF and no one else was around, and considering the fact I was probably a little on the left side of the rules, I decided not to announce my arrival. At 200 ft. I could see for five miles again and landed without a problem. WHEW! What a way to fly the first leg of the trip! The ground guys arrived at Gary's hangar about 10 minutes later, as I was telling him about the low ceiling.
Well, there was no way we were going to take off in that soup. By the way, the all knowing AWOS was still saying 900 foot. NO WAY! As we were talking about our next plan of action, a Republic SeaBee scudded over the airport heading north, obviously looking for a break in the clouds. About 5 minutes after he disappeared in the muck, we heard him again. This time he landed. We had to run over and talk with him. He said he thought for sure there was a break just north of here, but he couldn't find it. He made the wise choice of turning 180 and landed to let the break come to us.
Here we were just 20 miles from home, Gary, based in KMIW, hadn't even started yet, it was 2pm, what should we do? Where could we get, at 50 miles per hour, before dark? Our next planned stop was Manchester, IA. seventy-seven air-miles away. Should we go for it or just wait till morning and start over? What if the weather is like this tomorrow? Worse case scenario is we overnight at Manchester.
The clouds lifted to a definite 900 and the SeaBee took off. We decide to go for it and just after 3:30 pm we are in the air. We stayed at 800 agl and it was comfortable. Still hazy, but we had a light tail wind and an hour and a half later we are on the ground in Manchester. We were pumped and confident now! We beat the ground crews by 15 minutes, but they got caught in construction just 5 miles from the airport. Oh the joy of flying!
With the ceiling still lifting and our confidence swelling up, we decide we can easily make it to our next stop, Platteville, Wisconsin just a 55 mile hop. We fuel up the planes, talk to the people who gathered around us, and were back in the air by 6pm. Only this time, Gary let Chad fly this leg. So Chad and I took off and headed east.
This was one of the most exhilarating legs of the trip. Flying over the Mississippi river at 800 agl was a real rush. Chad, with his voice on the high side, comes across the radio, "This is Freaky. We need to take the shortest route across!" It was a thrill.
Within 3 miles of the river on the east side we broke out into beautiful sunny clear skies and were able to see KPVB from where we were. I landed first and took a couple pictures of Chad landing. It was a fifty minute trip, so we beat the ground crew again by 20 minutes. They had to stop for fuel and drive through Dubuque.
Once again we drew a crowd while we tied down the airplanes and set up the camper. One of the many reasons we stopped at Platteville was the fact the airport allows camping. The airport manager was nice enough to let us use the very nice terminal throughout the night as well. Bryan and I have relatives in town as well, so a phone call to them brought them out to take a look at the contraptions we were flying. Around dark, we all went to town to a restaurant and celebrated our very successful first day!
I'd better not leave you hanging about he PT One stuff. Bryan and Ralph are both artists in their own right. Bryan teaches art at a high school and Ralph prepares graphics for a newspaper. It just so happens they both have the stereotypical "PonyTails". Ralph is a Revolutionary War re-enactor and Bryan, well, he is an old artist. Anyway, they decided that their call signs would be PT-One and PT-Two since, as they were riding together, it would differentiate who was talking. The real problem was we were not really able to communicate. They could usually hear the two pilots, but we could not hear them. In the end, it wasn't a big deal anyway. We just wanted to have redundant systems of communication in place for the trip. We also carried cell phones as well as the radios.
It was almost midnight before we got to bed. The terminal had wireless internet, so we all used the computers we had brought with us to communicate with home and to keep tabs on the weather. So when we awoke to another morning of fog, we didn't feel too bad about sleeping in until 7:30. But there were no clouds above the fog and we wanted to be ready to go as soon as it lifted. The goal was to make Oshkosh in good time, and we knew the air would get bumpy by mid-day. We stowed the camper and preflighted the planes. (We had fueled them the evening before.) It really didn't take long to get 5 mile visibility, but we were going to fly against a head wind. Our next stop was hopefully going to be Portage, but we used Sauk Prairie, another 55 miles, as a waypoint, and ended up landing there just to make sure of the fuel situation. The range of the Voisin is about 2.5 hours, but I don't like to fly it past two hours. The wind was picking up and it took us about an hour and a half to get to Sauk Prairie. Portage was just 23 more miles, but no reason to push it.
We again beat the ground crew; a flat tire on the pickup Chad was driving. So Gary and I waited about a half hour this time. While we were waiting, we discussed the next couple legs. It was my intention to fly to a private field just north of Ripon, where I had already received permission from the owner to land. We had also decided we were NOT going to do the Ripon approach because our planes only fly 55 to 60 mph at full throttle. Studying the ultralight approach on the EAA website convinced us that was the way to go. I had also called Timm Bogenhagen, who is in charge of UL operations at EAA ,and he said it would be no problem to land on the UL runway and taxi over to the RFA area. So from Ripon we would go straight east to the UL corridor approach.
The ground crew showed and we quickly refueled. The air was getting bumpier, but if we could just get to Ripon, we could easily get into Oshkosh before 8pm, the time when taxi operations come to a halt, even if we had to spend the afternoon doing nothing.
Can you say 'BIG MISTAKE'? Gary and I took off at about 10:30am and immediately I knew we were not going to get to Ripon. I climbed to 2400 msl and it seemed to be a little less bumpy, but the terrain is almost mountainous in this area. We were hit with lots of turbulent air, but we pressed on. About eight miles from Portage, Gary called to ask if we were landing or pressing on. My arms from the shoulder to the ends of my fingers were numb from fighting the yoke. I couldn't feel the button on my PTT. Now it was my turn to use the high pitched, almost frantic voice; "We are landing now!!" I called Portage to say I was going to make a straight in final, and, who we found out later was the airport manager, came back, "Airplane calling Portage, I can barely hear you!" I answered, "Yeah?, well I am barely flying!!" It was the wildest 23 miles of my life in the air OR on the ground! I had never flown in air like that before and hopefully never will again. When we got on the ground, Gary was laughing saying, "I told you so!" He was also laughing about the comment about 'barely flying the airplane.'
As soon as we were down, we called the ground crew and let them know we landed in Portage. They showed up within 10 minutes. It was obvious we were going no where in this wind, so we checked the ADDS forcast for the rest of the day and found that at 4pm the wind should die down enough for us to continue on our way. I was also going to be more out of the east than the north, giving us a good tail wind. But that was four and a half hours away. We collectively decided that it would probably work if we just flew straight into the UL approach from Portage. The ground crew could leave before the planes left, get the camper set up in Camp Scholler and be waiting for us at the runway to get some great pictures. After we had lunch at a restaurant recommended by John Poppy, the airport manager, the GC took off for Oshkosh.
While Gary and I waited around, other airplanes came in on their way to the show. The bounces and wing wagging were great entertainment. At 4:30 it was still too windy to take off. We got a report from a pilot who had just come from Osh. He said the wind there was real calm, but bumpier as he came west. 6:30pm was our make or break time. If we couldn't take off by then, we probably couldn't get in place at the RFA clubhouse before 8. It was still breezy at five, but by 5:45 it was time to go. We took off shortly after six.
The flight to the Ultralight Runway was probably the best flight of the trip. We had a good tail wind and landed exactly at 7pm. As with most of the trip, the Pup followed the Voisin, mainly because it was just a tad faster, so the Pup could do lazy S-turns behind me, and besides, Gary preferred I do the navigating. All he had to do was keep me in sight and watch the scenery.
Everyone was waiting for us, as the ground crew had given the EAA UL crew a heads up. Our landings were filmed and there were even a couple cheers. We were escorted to the south east end, crossed the fence and made a quick and easy taxi to the north in front of the entire spectator flight line. Cameras were clicking and we were looking real good waving at the crowd. In no time we were in our parking area at the clubhouse and spent the next hour or so securing the planes and talking, and talking some more. A few showed up from the flight line peanut gallery saying they just HAD to come over and see what those airplanes were. It was just swell!
Getting to the Goat Locker was a real relief. It was time to relax, get some food and enjoy the rest of the week.
Sunday thru Wednesday
The stay at Oshkosh was very busy. Ken Dressel and I had a seminar to give, and I hadn't really done any preparation for that. I'm glad I brought my computer. There were many things I wanted to do, but was only able to do about half of it. Much of my time was spent with the airplane, and I wanted to make sure I was available to the clubhouse for any needed volunteering. I did fix a light socket! This article isn't really about Oshkosh, but I have to mention here that it was great meeting Dick Starks of the Kansas City Dawn Patrol. He and his wife, Sharon brought her WWI Morane Salnier parasol. With the Bleriot of Robert Baslee, and my Voisin, WWI replicas made up half of the airplanes at the RFA clubhouse. The beautiful L4H replica, also from Iowa, Gary's L4 Pup, and a Stewart P-51, made up the other half of the airplane contingent in front of the clubhouse.
As I was leaving, President Tony Pileggi presented me with the Brass Balls Award for the pilot crazy enough to fly a kite from Iowa to Oshkosh. I think Gary should share that one with me. Then, I found out nearly a month later when I received the RFA newspaper, that I had won the Peoples Choice award. Don't know how that could be. All the other airplanes looked better than mine. (I think they just felt sorry for me 8^)
The five of us watched the weather during the week and, although Wednesday looked pretty good, a couple of us wanted to make a little more of the week pay off. We compromised and decided to take off Thursday before the air show. About 10:30 we got word that there had been an incident on runway 27 and the taxi time to the UL runway was over 45 minutes. LOTS of airplanes were trying to get away and they all had to use 36. One of the AirVenture ground crew kept tabs on the wait time for us and about 1:30 we were able to taxi. By the time we got over to the UL side, it was almost time for the airshow to start and they shut down the UL runway. We parked the planes on the south side of the field and had great seats for the airshow. We decided that we would go straight for Sauk Prairie and overnight there. As soon as the airshow was over, we pushed the planes to the end of the UL runway and waited for the green flag. Taking off to the west put us in a good position to see the camp ground and, following the UL circuit, put us right in line with the UL departure corridor. It was a pretty hour and forty-five minute flight, landing with the sun low in the west. Again, we were in front of the ground crew, although not by too much, and after securing the airplanes, decided we were going to splurge and get a couple motel rooms. We found a motel within eyesight of the airport and after checking in, decided we were hungry. It was going on 9:30 or so and wondered if there was anywhere to eat this time of night.
The Sauk Prairie airport is actually located on the northwest side of two cities, one named Sauk City and the other Prairie du Sac. We cruised both and finally found a restaurant that appeared to be open. There were only a couple cars in the parking lot but we went to the door and it was open so we stumbled inside. The time is almost 10:30pm. Yep, their closing time. Darn. But the manager insisted we come in! We were told we could have anything on the menu except mashed potatoes. Wow. It was probably the best food we had the whole trip. (Well, there was the Golden Corral buffet in Oshkosh, but that's just another story.) Then there was the giant cinnamon rolls from the morning. We were going to need something sweet for breakfast, so how much? TWENTY-FIVE CENTS???!!!??? We all bought one, of course!
The Last Day
Another midnight bedtime, and we wanted to start early in the morning. I was the first one up and with one look outside, it was, you guessed it, another foggy morn. Getting up for the others was a real ordeal. Hey, it's foggy. Let's sleep in. Uh, we were at the airport by 7:30.
Airplanes fueled the night before, we wiped a good gallon of water off each airplane during preflight, and by 8:30 the fog was lifting and we were ready to go.
Chad decided to fly this leg to Platteville and he was glad he did. It was a one of the best of the trip. The river just south of the airport was still covered with fog and we had to fly over it. We took many pictures and none of them really capture the moment. You just had to be there. About an hour and twenty minutes later we were in Platteville. The ground guys showed up within a few minutes and we hurried to refuel. The air was still relatively smooth and if we could get to Manchester, by noon, we would surely be home by sunset.
By the time we were ready to go an hour later, some clouds had moved in and it looked like maybe it was going to be a little bouncy. Checking the weather on the terminal computer verified the clouds broken at 4000'. Experience tells us the air is a little less bumpy at the cloud base, so we decided we would try it and see what happens. Chad flew this leg as well. I don't know, it might be coincidence, but maybe Gary has an aversion to flying over large bodies of water?
It definitely was a bumpy ride for the first 1500 feet, but as we climbed it smoothed out a little at a time. By the time we were at the Mississippi river, we were the highest I had ever been with my Voisin, 4000' msl. The view was awesome!
Just as I got to the other side of the river I saw a cloud right in front of me. I don't know what it was, maybe the daring-do mentality I have, but I just had to punch a hole right through it! Hey, clouds are wet! I could see nothing but white. I couldn't even see the ground. After five long seconds, it hit me that maybe this wasn't such a good idea? Maybe this is a BIG cloud! Then I heard Chad on the radio, "Hey Corey! Where'd you go?" At the very same moment, I exited the hole I made to bright sky again. Another awesome moment!
When we arrived at Manchester around noon, the air was getting pretty rough. The ground crew arrived about 20 minutes later, and while waiting for the air to calm down, we all made a trip into town to visit the Pizza Ranch and partake of their addictive buffet.
Back at the airport it was obvious we were going to sit until evening. The wind was from the west and blowing pretty hard. This was not one of the better moments of the trip. Here we were just one leg from home and we had to sit for four hours. Every fifteen minutes we would check the computer to see if it was letting up, but not until 5:30pm did we consider it a possibility. Even then we were pushing it. The hope was it would get calmer as we pushed west, and quickly.
Chad was going to fly this leg too, so we preflighted the planes, took a deep breath, and turned the switch. After all, it couldn't be as bad as the leg to Portage, could it? The windsock tail was still pointing to the east, as I pulled onto the runway. Not wanting to think about it too much, I poured on the coals and off I went. HOOOWEEE! What a ride! I instantly crabbed into the wind and was a rocking and rolling! Chad just sat there watching and hoping against hope I was going to go downwind and return to land. He told us later he ALMOST didn't go after watching me do my aerial ballet. But after I was above 800 feet or so, it calmed down considerably. When Chad realized I was pressing on to the west, he took his deep breath, firewalled the throttle on the mighty Mosler, and followed in my ballet footsteps!
The ground crew were going to race us this time. They wanted to be at KMIW when we landed to video the end of our grand aviation adventure. When we were just south of Waterloo, we heard a radio call on our chosen air to air frequency, 123.3, (which we had settled on at Oshkosh and worked great,) asking if the N3 Pup or Voisin were around. Low and behold, our friend Dave McCurry was flying in his Taylor Monoplane and figured we would be close by about this time. He met up with us just east of Traer and escorted us home. As we approached the airport, we heard PT-2 (or was it PT-1) calling for us wondering where we were. They were just north of the airport and wanted us to slow down so they could get in position to get pictures. We actually saw them racing down the highway, must of been going 80 mph! This leg had been the longest yet and my fuel float rod was all the way down, but jiggling around, so I knew I still had SOME fuel, but I don't think I had ever let the seven gallon fuel tank get THIS low before. With Chad following, I did wide pattern and watched the ground crew get in position. They were standing at the south end of runway 36 as I entered a one mile final and all we had to do was make this last landing a good one. At 8pm, we were home. We had completed our dream to fly to Homebuilt Airplane Paradise and had done it successfully.
I know what you are thinking. I wasn't 'home' yet. Well, we taxied up to Gary's hangar and the sun was just on the horizon. Everyone pressed me to fill up and get on home, but with the wind, albeit light, was still from the west, I was afraid it might take me beyond Civil Twilight to get home. I did fill up and decided to just park it for the night. No reason to court a problem this close to the end of a perfect trip!
The flight the next morning was very surreal. I arrived at the airport at 7am with perfectly calm and clear skies, and with the break of day solitude that only a pilot can appreciate. I could only reflect on the week's events on the flight home, how everything went so well, and upon landing in the quiet dew of my own airstrip, realized this was a perfect way to end a dream come true.
The flight plan is on paper and the airplanes are ready! Charts are marked and waypoints are memorized. The GPS units and hand-held radios have new batteries, and the ground crew are psyched and ready to roll.
WE ARE FLYING TO AIRVENTURE!!
My friend, Gary Nablo with his Preceptor N3 Pup/L4 Grasshopper,
and I in my Voisin,
will leave July 25th and hopefully arrive in Oshkosh on the 26th. We plan on landing on the Ultralight turf runway and taxi over to the Replica Fighters Association clubhouse located on the west side of the street across from the forums buildings.
They say the wireless connection at Oshkosh has been upgraded, so I will try and do daily updates each evening.
Look us up!
First Off-Field Landing!
Yep, it happened.
It was a nice flying day like most others. A simple 20 mile flight from my airstrip to the Marshalltown airport to see if anyone wanted to come out and play.
I was 10 miles into the flight when I scanned my panel and noticed the voltmeter reading 8 volts. That wasn't normal, so I immediately turned around and headed for home, praying all the way that my battery would make it.
No problem. I landed and checked things out. Found a broken wire on the alternator. The loop connector had broken. As I was repairing it, I found that the bracket holding the MAP sensor had broken as well, so I took care of that. Took about an hour for everything.
I went up to fly around the area to make sure everything was working as expected. After 15 minutes into the flight, I was pretty sure everything was working ok and began my turn toward Marshalltown. Just as I banked, there was a thump, a loud grinding noise, and an immediate shake throughout the airframe. After the proverbial three seconds of seat cushion clenching, I turned the engine switch off resulting in instant quiet and the vibration went away. I pushed forward on the yoke, not thinking that I needed to maintain airspeed, but to see if I still had some control! From first thump to engine shut down was no more than 6 seconds. When I realized the airplane was flyable, THEN I thought about my speed and so turned toward my airstrip. I was about a mile away at 800 foot agl. I was pretty sure I could make it, but saw a nice flat spot in a field next to my runway that I was absolutely sure I could make. I aimed for it and landed uneventfully. The airplane came to a stop 500 feet from the end of my runway. The first thing I saw when I hopped out was a broken prop blade. I didn't look at anything else and walked back to the hangar to pick up the truck. I went to the house, picked up my wife Dianna, and we drove through the field to get to the airplane. Our neighbor across the road was walking toward the plane and we arrived at the same time. We put the tail of the Voisin in the truck bed where I and my neighbor held on while Dianna drove us slowly back to the hangar. While we are holding on for the ride, I noticed the real source of the problem. When we stopped, I examined the damage and came to the conclusion the starter ring gear had separated from the flexplate. It did not separate cleanly and the rotating mass bent the gear like a pretzel and shattered a hole through the side of the bell housing. The pieces contacted the prop on the way out which caused the vibration. Here are some pictures...
I found a prop blade on the big auction web site and the supplier of the SPG-2 PSRU had a new bell housing in stock along with a flywheel. I am having the flywheel lightened and balanced and plan on being back in air by the first of July.
April 2008 First 2008 Flight
I don't know about you, but I sure wish Spring would hurry up! The second half of April is here and we are still looking at below 50 degree weather. But as always,
"tomorrow" is suppose to be a better day. Soon, flying will be comfortable again.
I have been able to get in the air a couple times this month. On April 5th I braved the cold and wind and readied the Voisin for it's first Fly-in Breakfast. The temperature was around 45 degrees early in the morning and the wind was around 10 mph. It was forcast to be over 15 with gusts to 25 by noon, but the Fly-in is just 21.5 miles from me so I figured I could get there, have my free breakfast and get on home before it got too bad.
I was at the hangar by 6:30. The airplane had not been started since last November, so I wanted to do a thorough preflight. I had been doing a couple minor modifications, such as adding leading edge struts to the horizontal stabilizer, and had inspected all my cables. I had also covered the wheels with fabric, changed the oils, and changed the artwork on the fuselage.
By 7:15, it was full of fuel and preflight was complete. The chocks were in place and I was ready to turn it over. The only thing I had not checked was the battery, so I was a little concerned after it had not been used for 4.5 months, but it fired off on the third blade! I really like this dry-cell battery by Odessey. I let it warm up at idle and checked around the engine for leaks or anything out of the ordinary. Still looking good. Sounded good too!
By this time it felt like the wind had increased a little. I was feeling a little apprehensive about a flight that took me on a course of 280 with the wind from 210. I figured I would climb to altitude while circling the airstrip and if it was too much, I could just land and wait for the next free breakfast.
The Flying Season Begins!
It was a little bumpy, but not too bad at 800 agl, which also happened to be the pattern altitude of the airport I was flying to. Well, after 30 minutes of flight time, I had flown only 11 miles!! I checked my GPS ground speed and found I was blazing along at a crisp 20 mph. That was an average! I saw it as low as 17 mph when I tried to turn my ground track into the wind. Boy was I glad I topped off the tank. As I approached the airport, I announced my entry into the airspace and added that I was moving at about 20 mph. I tried to turn south so I could enter downwind for runway 19, but it was like the airplane just stopped in the air. I was lined up with base while I was still two miles out, so listened carefully to the traffic and announced my intention to enter the pattern on a one mile base. Sixty-three minutes from take-off at my airstrip, I landed at the Ames, Iowa municipal airport. Average speed, 20 mph. WHEW!
Directional control while taxiing was an issue because of the wind. Oh, I should mention here that my landing was almost helicopter like. I touched down at 8:35 and was able to stop in about 50 feet, but kept it going because there was a Cherokee that was on base turning to final. When I stepped on the right brake to turn onto the taxiway, I had to really stand on it to get the tail to swing into the wind. I was able to overcome it with some liberal application of throttle, and was directed to a parking spot. As soon as I shut down the engine, the airplane was surrounded by a crowd. Many friends were there as well and almost in unison asked if I were cold. I replied I was but that wasn't the biggest problem. I said I've been in the air for over an hour to fly 21.5 miles! That brought a big laugh from the crowd.
I climbed out of the Voisin and they decided I should be at show center. We walked the plane over to the breakfast hangar and parked it beside the EAA display just at the entrance. The Iowa State University AeroClub was the primary sponsor of the fly-in. I answered questions for a while before I decided I better get my free pancakes and get home. There was more talking than eating, but I scarfed down the cakes and walked back out to the airplane to ready it for the flight home. I was pretty sure I had enough fuel to get home considering the wind would be on my right rear quarter, but I would feel better if I was topped up. A friend of mine has a hangar at the airport and had a gas can we could take down the street to the gas station that has high octane non-alcohol fuel. It took more time, but I felt better filling up.
The Voisin is full of fuel, a crowd has gathered again, and I was ready to fire up and git home. I was able to get it turned on to the taxiway from the tarmac, but decided I might need some wing walkers to get me turned to the runup area. Just as I added a little throttle to start moving in that direction, everyone in the crowd started slashing their throats! Oh No! What broke now? And at my first fly-in breakfast! I shut off the engine and my friend Ralph came running up waving my antenna at me. Somehow it had fallen off and blew behind me. No, I had not checked it during preflight as I should have. Anyway, Ralph climbed under and plugged it back in making sure it was secure. It is mounted directly below the yoke, so I pushed down on the inside of the cable as he pushed up. It's a BNC connector so I am not really sure how it came apart.
With the antenna reconnected, I was ready to go again. It was a good thing I had the wing walkers as I rounded the turn to the run-up area. The wind had really picked up and was at 200 degrees. In fact it was at 17 gusting to 21. I checked traffic quickly as I rolled through the hold short line and applied throttle as I turned onto the runway. There was an airplane on downwind so I wanted to be out of his way quickly. At full throttle against the wind, I was off the ground instantly. I pulled up to a climb speed of 33 mph and SWEAR I was climbing straight up! I announced my intention to turn east and as soon as I heard the landing airplane announce he was on final, I turned toward home. Instantly I was scooting along at 67 mph! I was on the ground at my airstrip in 20 minutes! I did have to keep my altitude below 500 agl. It was just too rough above that.
Overall it was a lot of fun, but I don't think I want to make a habit of flying in winds over 20 mph.
The weather was cooperative on the 14th of April and I was able to fly 1.4 hours. I have exactly 8 hours to fly off to get to 40. I went over my log book and found to be completely legal, I need 45.7 on the hour meter. I plan on flying to Columbia, Missouri for the Salute to Veterans airshow which I have been invited to participate in, and understand that they will be checking paperwork. I don't want any problems with anything questionable. At the moment, there are at least 10 WWI types expected to be there.
I do still plan on making the Gardner Gathering over Fathers Day as well. It should be a major blast! I am NOT a "Trailer Weenie"! The only time I will ever trailer is to pull it out of a corn field. It takes a combined time of nearly 12 hours to tear it down and put it back together. I can fly there in that amount of time. Even with bad weather!
Plans for the trip to Oshkosh are still underway. It appears I still have the L4/N3 Pup Grasshopper replica to fly with, and it is possible a Loehle P5151 may fly with us. He will be faster, but is willing to fly scout and clear the way. It should be a lot of fun. Let me know if you can join us!
I will do the next update when I get the 40 hour restrictions flown off. It has to be in the next month if I want to fly to Columbia!
Maybe tomorrow will be flying weather.
Looking back on 2007 I realize it was a very eventful and busy year. I obtained my Sport Pilot certificate, my airworthiness certificate, and experienced my first flight in an airplane I designed and built. Scroll down to find links to movies and pictures.
During the next three months I will be sprucing up my builders drawings and construction manual/log. My goal is to offer them for sale as soon as the 40 hour restriction is flown off plus 10 hours. That should happen in April or early May, however, my record at setting time limits has not been that good, so lets just say the first part of the year. I am making plans to fly to the WWI Gathering of Eagles in Gardner, Kansas over Fathers Day weekend in June. I also plan on flying to Oshkosh. I have a friend who plans on flying his Preceptor N3/L4 Grasshopper with me. Any others who would like to join us are more than welcome. I will have a ground crew as well.
I will have more information for you in a couple of months. Till then, Clear Skies and Tail Winds!
November 2007 Last Take-Off of 2007
On November 17th, I was able to fly about 45 minutes before I decided it was just too cold! The grandkids were here and PaPa had to show off. The next weekend is a holiday weekend and I will winterize it until warmer weather next spring. I will cover the wheels with fabric, install fairings on all the vertical struts, and do the yearly condition inspection before flying again. The only real issue I need to address is putting struts on the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. I don't think it will give way, but it twists a little more than I am comfortable with. I noticed it in pictures taken from the ground while I was in flight. I think it is also the reason why the airplane has a tendency to roll to the right. I'm also going to consider larger brake caliper assemblies. I would like a little more authority when taxiing on grass. I will start in the spring with 34.2 hours on the hour meter.
I've been asked to fly to Ankeny, Iowa on the 8th which IS within my restricted flight area, to give a talk on my Voisin. Click here to see the movie on YouTube that my brother Bryan put together. The flight there was the first time he had witnessed his brother actually flying an airplane!
At the end of the day, 22 hours of the required 40 were flown off.
August 2007 Coming Home
With everything going well, and with the rent on the hangar at KMIW going up and due on September 1st, I decided to relocate the Voisin by flying to my own airstrip and hangar. VERY exciting! My friend Ralph was there to video the first ever landing on my own airstip. See it HERE. I had decided to make three approaches just to get the feel of it. The runway is just under 1000 feet with corn on three sides. I had practiced short field landings at Marshalltown on the grass parallel the runway, but it was a much different experience when there is no room for error. I approached once, cringed and wondered if I could do it, then went around for the next time. On the second approach, everything was perfect for a touchdown, so, with my eyes on the corn at the north end, I landed from the south and the result was what you see in the video. I let out a WAHOO as I shut down! The picture above was taken about 2 minutes after I shut down. It took me a while to get out because I was shaking so bad!
Take off and landing is about 300 feet. No problem!
The flight home was after just under 10 hours of flight time.
July 15, 2007
THE VOISIN FLYS! THE FIRST HOP
Right click here for 2 mb movie
Best to save to your computer first, then play. November 2006
Taxi testing has begun! Right click here for a 2mb low res movie for dial uppers Right click here for a 10mb hi res movie for broadbanders
Movie is 2 minutes 40 seconds long and was taken with a digital still camera with movie capability. Best to save to your computer first, then play.
More to come!
Engine has been moved. Weight and Balance is OK, but not great. It is over one inch in front of the very aft limit. I would like it 2". The only real problem is if I keep on my diet, I will have to add a proportional amount of ballast to balance. Ideally, I should have lengthened the front kernel about 12". It would give more leg room and my head wouldn't be against the fuel tank.
Other items accomplished...Seat belts are in. Data Plate is on. Experimental sticker is on. Among other little things.
Only things left to do before FAA inspection is the center cover on the upper wing, install a WORKING compass with card, and calibrate the fuel gauge.
Other items I want to do that are not required before inspection...I want to add strut and gear leg fairings, cover the combing with fake leather, cover the wheels, add bombs and gun, and play with some other graphics. You can see some of it in the picture above. Three more pictures are here.
By the next update, I hope to have finished my taxi testing.
Gotta hurry though. It's getting COLD!
As you can see in the picture, I HAVE taxiied the Voisin! A little brake cable adjustment was in order, but that was quick and easy. The airplane tracks easy and I have rudder authority at any throttle setting above idle. In fact, I only had to use the brakes to make zero-point turns and full stops. The airplane will roll on pavement even at idle. Lot's of prop.
So after that rush of excitement, I did a weight and balance and had my EAA Tech Counselor go over it with me. Just a few sqwaks (like too tight safety wire, etc.), but the weight and balance came out 2 inches aft of the envelope. So the fix is to move the engine forward about 5 inches. I am mounting the radiator on the cabanes and moving the engine up behind the fuel tank. I considered moving the tank to the cabanes, but it would have created more problems than moving the radiator. Plus the fuel tank weight varies, the radiator stays the same.
I also changed the design of my main gear a little. The bungees were being pinched the way it was. I added a slider slot and large washer to keep the bungee from rolling into the Vee.
Anyway, I have already re-weighed it and everything is good. I just have to finish drilling for the new mount bolts and reroute my fuel line, some wires, and remount my coil. That should be accomplished by the 24th.
Obviously, I will not have the FAA inspection by the end of the month, but October should not be a problem.
AND DON'T FORGET TO GO SEE "FLYBOYS" THE MOVIE. IT'S GREAT!
I moved the airplane to the Marshalltown airport over Memorial Day weekend. I decided my little 1000' runway, although plenty long enough for my purposes, was not necessarily long enough for testing. It is now together and is very close to final inspection. The engine issues have been taken care of and it runs real well. I did a thrust test using the scientific method of a bathroom scale up against the hangar door and it was over 280 lbs. I don't know how much over because the scale refused to go any higher. It's a 260 lb scale with a little white space past the last indicator. Anyway I am very happy with how well it is running. After some discussion with a couple of engineers, I have decided to add a couple more cables between the fuselage and the wings. I am also adding cabanes between the upper wing root and the fuselage. This will be done by the middle of this month. Then, the only issues left are attaching the windscreen and scrutinizing bolts, nuts, crimps, etc. I will have my TC go over the plane with a sharp eye, and then do some taxiing. Pushing for a September inspection.
I've also been working on my Sport Pilot license. I have just 5 more hours and then I will take my practical.
A lot should happen in the next two or three months so stay tuned!
01 January 2006
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
No. I didn't crash my Voisin on my way to Oshkosh but nine days of camping is a little much!
While there, I was volunteered as the new Replica Fighters magazine editor. Since then I have been learning new publishing programs and compiled my first issue which came out the first of December. Quite a job for a volunteer position, but I'm proud of it and willing to help make it a top notch publication. If you are interested in knowing more about the organization, the web address is on the Links page.
When not working in front of the computer, I have been building my hangar. The one to replace the hangar that the May of '03 tornado blew away (along with my EasyRiser and Ragwing 16 parts). I decided I don't like trailering my plane around. I have trailer rash to fix and haven't even flown it yet! So getting the hangar done was a major goal. Now with the hangar my friend Ron built, I have an almost official looking airstrip. It was a good feeling to get the windsock up. The hangar was completed over Thanksgiving weekend (November 24-27) and since then have been involved with holiday running with the family. I did manage to get my wife's 10 x 24 garden shed covered with metal too. It was just a tarp covered frame before.
So now that the holidays are over and the buildings are usable, I can now get back to finishing the airplane. I have the brake linkage, interwing strut fairings and windscreen to install, root gap to fill, clean up the wiring, and a few other miscellaneous items to accomplish before spring. I have already moved the wings and tail feathers to the hangar. Most of what I have to finish is on the fuselage which is in the shop (shop and hangars are about 1/4 mile apart).
You can see all the pictures of the Oshkosh trip here, and I should have another update by March!
10 July 2005
Ok, things are frantic around here! Since my last entry, I have taken the Voisin to the Gardner, Kansas Gathering of Eagles WWI Fly-in. It was GREAT! The entire KC Dawn Patrol was there and parked right in line with my plane. It was Great! (Oh...I said that already 8^)
Now I'm in Oshkosh mode and trying to get the Voisin in Taxiing condition. Don't think I will make it, but it will at least LOOK like it will. Just brakes and throttle to install, but so many other things to do to get ready for the trip. The trailer I used for the Kansas trip was like pulling a 4'x8' brick thru the air. Not very aerodynamic! So, I am putting a nose on the trailer and hopefully I will be able to get the ol' six cylinder truck up past 58 mph.
Look for me at Oshkosh near the Replica Fighters Assoc. area. Same place as last year.
You can see all the pictures of the Gardner trip here... www.voisin35.com/Updates/Gardner0525 May 2005
Just to let you know I have not fallen from the face of the earth.
There was a prolonged cool period in April that kept me from completing the painting on the wings. That is finally accomplished. Since then I have been working on configuring a trailer to haul my Voisin around on. I had to do some work on the ol' truck too. My plan is to get the plane together and do a preliminary W&B this Memorial Day weekend. Most of you will be enjoying flying activities, but with the Gardner gathering just three weeks away, I need to get as much done as I can between now and then. It won't be flying, but should look presentable. After Gardner, I will finish the controls and a thousand piddly things in order to take it to Oshkosh. I will be there all week. It might be flying by the end of August, but I no longer am setting a flying goal. There is just too many things that keep coming up. Like rebuilding my hangar that was destroyed a year ago by a tornado. I don't want to rent a hangar, so rebuilding is a priority. Fly safe till next update.
05 April 2005
Sorry it's taken awhile to update, but the only thing I've been working on is the crazy wiring on this engine. But hey, IT RUNS NOW!!!!!
After intense studying and finding my stupid mistakes, and after figuring out a defective ignition switch, it pop and stuttered and off it went.
I still have a couple of issues to solve, like a water temp gauge that doesn't work, and a coughing between idle and 3500 rpm, but at least I know it runs.
I will get some pictures up and more details as I progress. For now I'm going to get the yoke, rudder pedals, and throttle installed. Then paint the last two wings. After that, it's final rigging. Still pushing for late this month, but it's coming on quick!
16 February 2005
It is still cold out, but more and more days are warming up. I did not get the engine running by the end of February, but I was able to round up lots of little things so I can move quickly when the weather does warm up. I have all my gauges, instruments, and found a radiator, fuel tank, fuel pump, brackets, and worked out my control system.
You can see the progress I have made on the 'Construction' page. I've worked on the panel, and have the radiator and fuel tank on. I found a high impact polyethylene tank made for sand rails thru an online performance parts store. They had spun aluminum ones, but they were 11 pounds and $60 more than the poly. Mine weighs 5.5 lbs. The first thing that will bring criticism will be the fact that I placed the tank behind my head and in front of the radiator. Believe me when I say, I DID think long and hard about this. There are many planes that put the tank in your lap, so having it behind my head doesn't make that much difference. I have seen radiator installations on trikes where it is completely blocked and still provides more than adequate cooling. My biggest concern in that regard is the long hoses. I will have to find a way to support them in them in the middle.
More later. As always, your comments, concerns, and questions are very welcome.
01 January 2005 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Well, it's been just over a year since I started this project and have done little since the last update. I did manage to work on the panel today. You can see a couple pictures on the Construction page. Other than the ice storm today there is still no snow on the ground, but it is COLD! Now that the holidays are coming to a close, I will be spending a bit more time on the Voisin. Wiring the panel, installing the fuel tank, and firing up the Geo 1.0 are the goals for the end of January. Stay tuned...
19 December 2004
By Popular Request, I have resized some picture thumbnails on the construction and Oshkosh pages to reduce the load time. Hope this works out for you. Let me know of broken links, etc.
15 December 2004
As you can see, the website is undergoing a complete renovation. Please be patient until all links and clicks are working correctly. When this is completed, updates and news should happen more often. I will gradually add eye candy and expand the different pages with additional links and info. Send an email and tell me what you think.
Right now, I am making decisions on the type of fuel tank to use. Maybe homemade fiberglass? Or soldered aluminum? Or PVC pipe? Any thoughts?
Click here for pictures from Oshkosh 2004. I was set up with the Replica Fighters Association and had a fun time talking to lots of people from all over the world. Everyone who I spoke with had a positive reaction to my project. I will be back next year with a flying Voisin, altho I don't know if I will fly it in. May not have the confidence by then, but I will be there!