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Cold Weather Starting / Short Trip Report

Date: January 14, 2003

This is a report of a short trip, not a short report of a trip. Don't you love the ambiguity of English?

Saturday, I headed out to the airport with the intent to make a local flight to visit three people at three different airports. I spent the first hour at the airport scraping the ice/snow off the airplane with my plastic car scraper. This actually did a pretty decent job without scratching the paint at all, but it's a LOT of elbow grease. I like Morten Brandtzaeg's total fabric cover, and will be working with Dorothy Dickey (made my cover) to fabricate socks for the canard and covers for the wings, eventually.

I spent the next 15 minutes trying to start the engine in 20 degree F weather. No luck. Not even a cough. I hit up the local A&P shop for their pre-heater and drag it out to the plane. After about 5 minutes of heat, I notice that there's fuel dripping from the cowling - interesting - the primer lines must have been at least partially frozen. The A&P mentioned that sometimes the plugs frost up, and that the impulse coupling in the mag sometimes freezes as well. Ah, the wonders of 1920's technology. How did I get to the airport? I jumped in my 1992 Mazda MX-3, turned the key, waited about 2.6 seconds for the engine to warm up, and drove away. What is that, a freaking miracle or something? Airplanes can't do this? We accept this state of affairs? Why?

OK, enough whining - I think electronic ignition is in the future, and I envy you guys with water cooled engines -).

So after ensuring that the engine wouldn't catch on fire and letting it warm up, it started easy. However, by this point I was an hour late, so I cancelled the first stop at Norwood airport to visit a prospective builder. I'll catch up with him some other time. I headed straight down to Newport, RI to visit Jake Perry (mailing list member) who's there for a while on business. The air was mild chop, and although the airplane handled it just fine, I did smack my head on the canopy a couple of times. We spent about 45 minutes looking at the plane and taking pictures, and then I headed over to Westerly, RI to meet Don Ponciroli, who's about 85% done with his MKIV and claims he'll be flying next summer. We looked at his project for a while, he looked at my plane for a while, and then we got down to the important business of eating fried rice at a local Chinese restaurant near the airport (the whole reason for the visit).

After a bit more airplane poking, I headed back up to Fitchburg (with the lap and shoulder harnesses tightened VERY tight). All in all, a fun and fruitful day.

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