Last we heard from our intrepid hero, he was waiting on the weather at Waterloo, IA.
Bill and Marilyn Seibold and I kept checking the weather throughout the morning of July 25th, knowing that we weren't going to get to Fond du Lac for the mass fly-in, but at least hoping that we could get to KOSH. We fueled up the planes, planned our flight of two, and talked about life in Bisbee, AZ. Around 10:30, both the web weather and FSS concurred that a hole had opened up and would stay open till mid-afternoon, so we took off, climbed to 7500 ft, and headed straight to KOSH. I was in trail about 100-200 yds behind and to the right of Bill. We made pretty good time with a 15 Kt tailwind.
I was noticing a rumbling noise that I wasn't used to, so I asked Bill to take a look at the plane - I flew to the side and in front of him, and he looked it over and said he didn't see anything vibrating. After cogitating a bit on what it might be, I realized that my Bose noise-reduction headsets were turned off - I was hearing the low frequency engine noise that I NEVER hear in flight :-). Fixed that quick :-).
The flight was totally uneventful until we got on right downwind for 27 behind some slow planes and had to put on the brakes and fly wide something fierce. Got down OK though, and got a GREAT parking spot in Homebuilt Camping. The HBC parking coordinator recognized me as that PITA from last year who was always giving rides :-), so he parked me right next to the paved taxiway - makes it real easy to get in and out. I'm right across the way from Curt Smith.
I set up my tent, got everything closed up, and wandered around a bit. Then at 4:30 PM, Curt Smith, Terry Winnett, Terry Barnes, John Lambert (a V.E. flyer), Nat and Shirley and I went out to dinner at a local restaurant - we had a very pleasant time.
After dinner, Curt and I went back to the campsite and hung out in his tent as it started to rain. The weather got worse and worse, with torrential downpours, lightning, thunder, and 50-60 mph gusts. About 2 minutes after poking my head out of Curt's tent to make sure that MY tent was still there (and it was), we heard a "thump" after some strong gusts. I looked again, and my tent (with my stuff in it) was gone. Not just blown down, but GONE. Hmmmmm. I put Curt's raincoat on and started wandering around outside, trying to find my tent/stuff. It had blown into/over/past Curt's left wing, and was sitting in a 6" deep swimming pool in the row behind Curt's plane. I pulled it out of the swimming pool, but it was beyond savings. I removed my stuff from it and put it into Curt's tent (which thankfully is VERY large - the Taj Mahal has very little on this tent). I then took a look at Curt's wing, and realized that my tent had taken off the inboard vortilon. Crap. I'll have to help him fix that.
Curt let me stay in his tent, and I slept on my soggy sleeping bag (as did about 1/2 of the folks camping in tents, from what I heard later). Not the most restful of nights, but you get what you get. In the morning, Curt went out to examine his plane, and we discovered that the damage was far worse than I thought. Apparently the tent had rolled up the wing, caught on the top of the winglet, and put TREMENDOUS force on the winglet attachment areas. The force rotated the plane about 10 degrees, with the tiedowns keeping it from moving further, but the winglet leading edge has a LARGE crack in it starting at the wing top surface and running directly up the L.E.about 6". We can grab the winglet and move the top about 1/2" - 1" - NOT GOOD. The top and bottom winglet main attach layups (the multiple ones) seem to be in perfect condition, but the fact that the UNI layups in the winglet skin cracked down at the bottom are allowing the winglet to flex.
We are currently in the process of attempting to contact Mark Beduhn, to see if we can use his hangar as a repair station. I believe that about 2 hours of grinding, sanding, and layups will fix this with a few layers of UNI, but we were all very surprised at the failure mode, being at the leading edge rather than at the main attach layups. Now, we know that the L.E. winglets have been tested to a 90 mph side wind, so the force applied by a 4-man tent in a 60 mph wind is SUBSTANTIALLY higher than any load the winglet would ever see in flight no matter what you do, but we were still surprised to see where it broke.
Curt keeps telling me not to feel bad, and that stuff happens, but I won't feel better until I see Curt's plane in flying condition again, hopefully by tomorrow.
Shoelaces and tents - a menace to COZY aircraft - who knew......
Today I met the Emag folks (update on that to follow), got some ear
cushions for my Bose headset, and am currently waiting for Curt to tell me
when we can fix his plane. I was supposed to give a ride to a couple of
folks this morning, but the weather was not even close to VFR, and it's
still pretty low VFR now, at 1 PM local time, so the rides will have to
wait for better weather.
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