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2004 Western Trip - Day 4


What I Planned:

Date: On or about July 15, 2004

The fourth day is a short one.  I'll leave Meadow Lake, CO (00V) hopefully with Burrall Sanders in his V.E. and head west south-west, circling around Pike's Peak, and then heading south to fly over the Royal Gorge Bridge. At that point, Burrall will probably head back (although he's welcome to come along to Taos) and I'll continue down the valley, crossing over the pass into Sand Dune's National Monument, then down to Angel Fire, NM (KAXX) which is supposed to be set in a beautiful valley.  I'll then head across the ridge to Taos, NM (KSKX) to visit with Joseph Patterson (passing over his house on the way), a new COZY MKIV builder (just received his plans).  Joseph's looking for a ride, so I should be able to help him out there :-).  Lloyd Gimple, another COZY builder/flyer may be there as well.

Joseph says he will be happy (well, able, anyway) to put me up for the evening.

What Actually Happened:

Date: July 15, 2004

So I wait three days, staring at the weather report, trying to kick start this big trip that I've been planning for 6 months. Visit a bunch of people, see a bunch of neat stuff, put 50-60 hours on the plane, party, have a good time. Monday, TS's and low ceilings from VA to NY to MA - no go. Tuesday, low ceilings from PA to MA - no go. Wednesday, TS's, low ceilings, blah blah blah - no go. Thursday morning - HEY - it's clear to the southwest, from St. Louis, MO all the way to CT - I've just got 100 miles to go from MA, and I'll be golden - just wait until the weather in MA lifts to MVFR, and I'll be off.

At about 11:30 AM, I headed out to the airport and loaded all my stuff (camping gear, tent, sleeping bag, computer, etc.) into the plane and preflighted. The ceilings were 1300 and rising at 12:15 PM, so I called Chrissi and told her that I expected to pull into St. Louis, MO sometime around 7 PM, CDT.

The first 125 miles were at about 2000 ft. under some ratty looking clouds, but there was sun above and the further west I went, the higher the ceiling and the sparser the clouds. By the time I reached Danbury, CT, I was able to climb up to 8500 ft and head straight south over NYC. About 1/2 way down the NJ coast, I climbed to 10,500 ft. to avoid having to weave around some of the higher cumulus. Blue sky above, beautiful day, about a 20 mph headwind.

I had originally planned to head south almost to southern VA before turning west (to avoid weather building in PA/WV/MD), and over NYC I called FSS and asked about the weather, since it had been a couple hours since I had seen stuff on-line. They confirmed that south was the better route, but I did cut a few corners and head down between the Patuxent Restricted areas and the Washington DC ADIZ, and then turned a bit west, keeping Richmond to my left and heading straight for Roanoke, VA. I started yawning a bit at 10.5 K ft., and figured that this might be as good a time as any to test out the new O2 system I had bought for the trip. I put it on, and within about 5 minutes felt a definite difference. No more yawning, and the incipient headache did not turn into a real one. Hey! This stuff works!

So, after climbing up to 12.5 K ft. for a few miles to get over some clouds, I headed back down to 10.5 and then started a descent into Blacksburg, VA (Virginia Tech is here), south of Roanoke. This is a bit more than 1/2 way to St. Louis, and looked like a good place to get gas, food, etc. I landed fine, did my stuff, fueled the plane, and headed back out.

The engine started hard - it spun a lot before kicking in, but it started. I taxied to the runway, but when I did my runup, the engine almost died on the left mag. I figured I had some fouled plugs, so I revved up, leaned it way out, but all that did was make it run really crummy at 2K RPM - it wouldn't go faster (my normal static runup is about 2350). OK - taxi back to the parking ramp, pull the cowl, and pull the top plugs. They all look PERFECT - no oil, no fouling. A local Lancair guy suggested the P-leads, so I looked at them both at the Magneto end and the Switch end, but everything looked copasetic.

I tried starting it again, but no dice - all it did was spin. Since the Left Mag is the retard breaker mag (I believe) and that's the one that not working correctly, it's not surprising that the engine won't start - the right mag is grounded with the switch in the "start" position. So, everything ran PERFECTLY for 3.6 hours - got me to Blacksburg, taxied me to the ramp, and then somehow, for who knows what reason, the Mag decided to croak before taking off again.

There's nothing like 80 year old technology to give you the warm fuzzies, eh? If I had had a flamethrower there, Blacksburg would have a large puddle of melted aluminum on their parking apron.

Anyway, I managed to find the one airport that doesn't have an FBO or A&P anywhere near it. The closest real repair shop is at Roanoke, and the head of maintenance had left before I called them.

So I'm holed up in a Holiday Inn at Virginia Tech, waiting until 7 AM tomorrow morning to see IF Piedmont can help me get this f***ing thing flying again. I have no clue how long I'll be here, or when I'll be getting into anywhere else. I'm sure it won't cost me anything, either :-).

I apologize for screwing up people's plans - hopefully I'll still get out there (wherever THERE is) to see folks, and obviously, to OSH to give the forum.

Here are a few pictures from the day's trip:

I took this picture somewhere over NJ, I think.  I just like flying over clouds :-).

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

This is a self portrait while testing out my Oxygen system for the first time.  I'm amazed at just how stupid this looks - it's a good thing no one can see me when I'm wearing it.  It works well, though - made a difference in how I felt at 10.5K ft.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

Here's the plane parked on the ramp at Blacksburg, VA.  Nice terminal, nice people, just wish they had a mechanic on the field.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger version.

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