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2011: OSHKOSH and East Coast Trip

Every year for the past six, except for 2009, I've flown the COZY from California to OSH, thence to Provincetown, MA for a week long vacation with friends, and then to Caldwell, NJ to visit with family for a few days. Then the long trip home to Tehachapi, CA. This is this year's trip.

Date: July 25, 2011

After work, I loaded up the COZY with all of our camping equipment, my wife's easel and art supplies, and all the other crap that 2.5 weeks of vacation requires. I was taking a co-worker and COZY builder with me on the first leg to OSH, so we also threw in his two duffel bags and computer bag. I weighed all the stuff, and it came to about 320 lb. of baggage, which pretty much filled the back seat(s) to the top of the canopy/turtleback. Since I was going to be flying home from the east coast solo, I needed to bring my 55 lb. of ballast as well. With me at 160 lb., Bob at 200 lb. and full fuel, we were within 100 lb. of Max. Gross Weight. Deanie was going to fly to Appleton commercial and meet me at OSH.

Date: July 26, 2011

For safety's sake, Bob drove down to Mojave early on the morning of the 26th and I flew down from KTSP to KMHV to pick him up around 5:30 AM. After putting the ballast in the back seat, we took off around 6 AM and headed east (directly into the sun) after clearing R-2515 (Edwards) to the south. The air was calm, with a slight tailwind, as we headed toward Barstow at 7500 ft. Our plan was to follow I-40 east and stop for breakfast after 2-3 hours. After picking up Flight Following, we heard Mike and Sally on frequency, and they turned out to be about 75 miles ahead of us in the Long-EZ. As we approached the ridge west of the Goffs VOR we climbed to 9500 ft. There were scattered rain and T-storms all along the route through Arizona, but we seemed to be between them following I-40. Mike and Sally apparently headed north after Kingman, into the teeth of the weather, but we stayed on course to Flagstaff, skirted some light rain, and popped into the clear near Winslow, where we detoured slightly to investigate the meteor crater. Still there.

On to Holbrook, Gallup and then a breakfast stop at the WOW diner in Grants, NM. We borrowed the crew car at KGNT and drove the mile and a half to the diner, which was perfectly decent - a good breakfast stop. By the time we departed around 11 AM after fueling up, it was over 85F. At 6500 ft elevation, I was glad to have a 7200 ft. runway - we probably used 4000 ft. of it to break ground, with a ~9000 ft. DA.

About 20 seconds after taking off from KGNT, I noticed that the oil temperature, which had been 185 F during the takeoff roll, was now 15F. That was unlikely to be true, so for the rest of the flight we used oil pressure to act as an indirect indication of oil temp. For the public record, which this is, we can assume that the oil temperature sender (which had stopped working correctly) was working on each runup and takeoff to follow, and only stopped working after being in flight.

At any rate, we climbed back to 9500 ft. and headed east toward Albuqurque. There were a few rain showers near the mountains there, but again, we skirted them without issue. As we approached Tucumcari, NM we turned northeast, with our final stop for the day being Dodge City, KS. We passed over Dalhart, TX and Liberal, KS before beginning our descent into KDDC. It was 106F on the ground when we landed around 4 PM. Not a nice, dry, Mojave 106F, but a steaming, soggy, dripping 106F. We filled the tanks, added a quart of oil, and the FBO (Crott's) generously lent us a crew car for the rest of the day and the evening, with the promise that we'd return it at 6 AM the next morning.

We took some of our stuff, checked into a motel in town, and wandered over to the Boot Hill Museum and historic area of town. We looked at the plaques marking historic areas, wandered the center of town, and sweated a lot. After an hour or two of that, we went over to the casino because they supposedly had a decent restaurant, but Bob was weirded out by the casino (I can't stand casino's either, but was willing to ignore it to get to the restaurant) so we left for another spot. We found a place in town and had some dinner, and then went back to the Boot Hill Museum at 7 PM for a recreation of a shootout that had supposedly occurred there between the law and some visiting cowboys. It was nothing so much like a bad second grade skit, but it was kind of funny.

Around 8 PM we went back to the airport (it had cooled off to 98F at that point) to take a quick look at the oil temp. sender, which we quickly determined to be on the fritz. I resolved to talk to Grand Rapids Technologies at OSH the next day and get a replacement.

We then went back to the (air conditioned) motel and hit the sack.

Date: July 27, 2011

Bob and I woke at 5:30 AM (the temperature and dropped all the way to 82F overnight) and headed to the airport. We were off the ground at 6 AM for the ~four hour flight to OSH. There was weather to the north of us and due west of OSH, as well as a little to the south of us (but less so) so we had planned on heading south of a direct line to OSH to try to get as far as possible and see what happened. We climbed to 7500 ft. to start and were able to fly about 2 hours before having to climb to 9500 and then 11.5K ft. to get over and around some clouds and light rain. We wandered up through Kansas, Missouri and Iowa, avoiding rain showers and descending to 5500 ft. to stay under the clouds, since we couldn't go over them and didn't want to get stuck on top. The ceilings were generally 6K - 7K ft. along the route. We were on FF, were getting cell reports from the controller, and were tuning in AWOS/ASOS/ATIS's around us to see what was up. We also called Flight Service, but they really weren't of any particular use on a tactical level. Weather in the cockpit would have been nice...

At any rate, as we approached Quad Cities and Rockford, IL, the weather deteriorated substantially, and we were able to just make it into Watertown, WI (KRYV) with a bit of 600 ft. AGL scud-running for about 3-5 miles. I'm not a big fan of skimming the treetops, but visibility was 10-20 miles under the ceiling so I was comfortable with it for 5 minutes. We landed at Watertown around 11 AM. We checked the weather and there were huge T-storms and heavy rains between Watertown and OSH, as well as to the west of OSH. It looked as though they'd clear in about two hours, though, so we went to lunch with Alex Becker and his wife, who had landed about 10 minutes after us in their COZY MKIV. Within 15 minutes of our landing, airplanes were descending on Watertown like locusts, to wait out the weather on the way to OSH.

We waited for the rain showers to clear at the restaurant and then walked back to the airport. The weather was VFR and crappy near Watertown, but nicer near OSH. We got some gas and took off around 1 PM, climbed to 2300 ft. through a hole in the low clouds and headed north. Around Dodge County airport the weather did clear up a bit and we headed to Ripon for the standard OSH high arrival into 36 left. Although there was some traffic, it wasn't bad and we had no trouble getting in. There were some delays on the ground taxiing to homebuilt camping and I parked the plane on the paved ramp near HomeBuilt Camping (HBC) to let it cool down and check out how soft the rained on ground was before taxiing on it. The ground was actually pretty decent, so I collected a few "volunteers" and we pushed the plane about 75 yards to a camping spot next to Mark Beduhn's COZY MKIV.

Bob's son came by and they took his bags and headed off for Camp Scholler for the Scaled reserved camping site. I set up our tent, inflated the mattress, and tied down the plane. I then wandered over to the COZY tent near building A, said hello to Burrall Sanders and other COZY folks hanging out, then went to the ACS booth, picked up my wristbands for access, and made arrangements to borrow a co-worker's rental car to go pick up Deanie in Appleton around 6:30 PM. I also stopped by the Grand Rapids Technologies booth and talked to Greg Toman about the oil temperature sender issue. He admitted that they'd had a couple of failures recently and he though that someone in manufacturing had found a "better" (where better is defined as " way of assembling the senders that's actually worse and makes them fail") which might be causing the issues. He said to come back the next day and he'd see if he had an extra one there that he could give me.

I went to a forum and then headed up to Appleton to pick up Deanie. We returned the car (with gas) and headed over to the beer tent to get some dinner with Bill and Marilyn Seibold, who (as usual) had driven up to OSH from Bisbee, AZ in their camper van. The fish is decent there, as is the music (although it's too loud [says the guy who used to listen to the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd with the knob on "11"]). The bikini clad bartenders make it almost worth it, though.

Deanie and I walked back to HBC around 9:30 PM and we hit the sack.

Date: July 28, 2011

Deanie and I woke early on Thursday and had some breakfast. Deanie had made arrangements to hang out with Marilyn and Bill while I ran around collecting tools to replace the oil temp sender from the repair tent.

Suffice it to say that while Deanie enjoyed herself with friends, I wasted at least four hours running back and forth across the OSH grounds getting tools, getting a sender from GRT, and cursing.  Mostly cursing. I was able to replace the sender and verify the new one's operation, and I buttoned everything up. I managed to get to one of John Roncz's forums as well as another one on risk evaluation software in between everything, and meet up with Deanie, Bill and Marilyn along the way. I also listened to part of Burt's talk in ConocoPhillips Square, and ran into a number of Scaled folks wandering around.

I want to thank the EAA Chapter that runs the repair/assistance/tool loan tent profusely - they had what I needed in order to remove, rewire, and replace the oil temperature sender, drove me back and forth a couple of times, and were generally extremely helpful.

Most of the day is a blur, with all the running around in the heat and sometimes rain/drizzle, especially early (I think). Late in the afternoon Deanie and I got together with most of the Scaled crew at OSH and took a bus into town to a pizza place for dinner. We hung out there until close to 10 PM, got the bus back to the airport, and went to sleep.

Date: July 29, 2011

Friday morning was a repeat of Thursday - wake around 7 AM and have some breakfast. Deanie again went off with Bill and Marilyn and I wandered the four main vendor building, looking for something to replace my venerable Garmin 195 (which still works fine, but which was bought used in 1998 and is a bit long in the tooth). I want something that can do ADS-B weather and traffic (I am NOT paying XM $30-$50/mo. for weather that I've already paid for in my taxes), has terrain and sectionals, and puts out NMEA-0183 to drive an autopilot. Doesn't exist yet, but the closest is Hilton Software's WingX Pro7 for the iPad (which leaves you with an iPad when you get out of the plane). Doesn't have NMEA out, though, so I'm not sure what to use to drive the AP if I get it. Decided not to buy anything yet, since I'm cheap. Maybe next year...

I went to a forum and then prepped for the COZY forum at 1 PM. Got to the forum tent a few minutes early, set up the computer, and watched the tent fill up. I was surprised, since Burt was talking at the same time and I fully expected to have maybe 6 people at the COZY forum. But it was essentially full, with folks standing in the back - I believe well over 100 attendees. That was a good thing, because Steve Sorensen gave a very interesting presentation on his Defiant flight to Australia and back, Vance Atkinson spoke about his experience doing the first flight of a COZY MKIV in Socal in which the canopy opened at altitude, and Curt Smith spoke about his experience with replacing brake pads on MATCO triple puck brakes.

I then gave the relatively standard COZY introductory presentation and filled in with some extra stuff for current builders and flyers. I tried to concentrate a bit this year on issues surrounding structural or aerodynamic modification and the dangers when done by the uninitiated - there was an excellent article in last month's Sport Aviation by Dick VanGrunsven (of RV fame) regarding folks who do such and the reasons it's a bad idea without designer approval or engineering assistance.

Friday afternoon I showed the airplane to some prospective builders, talked to folks in HBC, and then around 4:30 PM headed over to the COZY tent to get a ride to the COZY dinner at Robbins Restaurant with a couple of co-workers who are building a COZY MKIV. Daryl and Kim Lueck once again did an excellent job of organizing and running the dinner without a hitch. It was very well attended - more folks then the last couple of years, I believe, including a couple of folks from Australia. Around 9 PM we headed back to the airport and hit the sack.

Date: July 30, 2011

We woke at 6 AM on Saturday with the plan of packing up, leaving early and making Provincetown by dinnertime without rushing. We spent an hour packing up the gear and tent and loading the plane with all but the front seat stuff (sans Bob's bags, but with Deanie's bags from her flight).  At 7 AM, Deanie ate some breakfast while I went to get a departure and weather briefing. When I got back to the plane, I collected a few "volunteers" again and pushed the plane out to the paved ramp. It was probably taxiable - I've done it in past years - but the grass was tall and the ground still a little soft from the rain, so I didn't take any chances. We saddled up, waited for an escort, and were directed to 36L. The new oil temp sender was working perfectly, and we departed with the standard 200 ft. AGL right turn prior to the tower. After clearing the KOSH Class D, we headed for West Bend in a cruise climb, heading to 13.5K ft. for the Lake Michigan crossing. The weather was clear and calm, with a 15 kt. tailwind. Chicago Center was willing to pick us up for Flight Following just as we hit the lakeshore, still climbing. What the fuck - are you kidding me?  The oil temp is showing 15F again?  After 20 freaking minutes of flight? What's up with Grand Rapids Technologies? Sheesh. Anyway, the pressure was fine and indicating that the temperature was in the 190's to 200's, so continue we did. We put on the O2, leveled off at 13.5K ft., and could see the opposite shoreline within a couple of minutes.  We saw a couple of planes down low over the middle of the Lake - seemed kind of low to me, given the 45F water temps. I like to be able to glide to either shore from the middle, but that's me. We hit Michigan near Tulip City, heading for Toledo, OH. The winds were great up high, so we stayed at 13.5K with the O2 on, letting the Navaid follow the GPS and the Dynon pitch servo keep us at altitude. There's nobody up there - all the big stuff is higher, and the little stuff lower, and boy, can you see a lot from 13.5K ft..

We followed the southern Lake Erie shoreline past Toledo and Cleveland, and after about 2 1/4 hours decided to land at Venango Regional Airport in PA for gas, bathroom break, and food (if we could find it). It takes a long time to get down from 13.5K ft - about 20 minutes or so in a cruise descent. Turns out that KFKL has a pretty decent restaurant in the terminal, so we stayed there for lunch. We fueled up and after an hour and a half or so rest stop, took off for the next leg to Hyannis, MA. Usually I go direct to Provincetown, but the car rental there this year was ridiculously expensive, so I decided to drop Deanie off in Hyannis and let her drive the car up to Provincetown. At any rate, we climbed back up to 9500 ft. (no reason to go any higher) and settled in for the next three hours over PA, NY, CT, RI and MA. There were a few clouds just barely (but VFR legal, of course) below us for a while, but for the most part it was clear and smooth. We made good time, flying over familiar ground, and got to Hyannis around 3 PM. We were directed to Griffin Aviation and parked the plane there. Hyannis has a lot of bizjet traffic, so the security there is a bit silly, but the Griffin folks were great and helped us get the car from Budget, bring it out to the plane, and stayed with us while we loaded it up with the back seat baggage.

I then headed back west for the 50 minute flight to Bridgeport, CT to pick up my son Zachary who was going to stay with us for a few days at the Cape, and didn't want to drive the 6 hours from CT to Wellfleet. Why should he, when his dad can be a fast taxi service? Deanie headed up to Provincetown airport to wait for us. I got to Bridgeport in the low haze (7 mile visibility, maybe) around 4 PM, and we departed KBDR around 4:30 for the 50 minute flight to KPVC. Deanie was waiting for us when we got to Provincetown. We tied the plane down, took the rest of the stuff (and Zach's baggage) out of the plane, and paid the $50 weekly tie-down fee.

The next few days were spent torturing ourselves by eating, swimming in the pond, eating, hiking to the ocean (15 minutes away), eating, bike riding, eating, and watching Red Sox games (and Yankee games, if they were on).

Date: August 2, 2011

On Tuesday, Zach needed to get back to work in CT, so we hitched a ride to Provincetown in the early afternoon, threw his stuff in the back and headed out. The flight down was uneventful - while there was a bit of weather building to the northwest, it wasn't supposed to get thick until much later.  A few clouds around 6K ft, which we went over until it was time to descend into Bridgeport. I said goodbye to Zach, fueled up, and waited on the taxiway for a couple of planes to land. I requested progressive taxi instructions since I was unfamiliar with the airport, and the controller gave me a bit of attitude, asking where I thought I was.  I knew where I was, I just wanted to make sure that I used the taxiways he wanted me to use.  Sheesh. I then took off and headed back to KPVC. In the intervening hour, the weather had built up more than predicted. I stayed at 7500 ft. as long as I could - until close to Providence, RI, and then climbed to 9500 ft and then 11.5K ft. to get over and around some clouds. It was clear that there were some T-storm cells moving in from the Boston area toward the cape, and I was racing them.

I headed southeast over Martha's Vineyard, listening to all the AWOS/ATIS's along the way, always leaving myself a landing spot that I knew I could get to if necessary. After the Vineyard and needing to turn north towards KPVC, I descended through some large holes in the clouds, below the 7000 ft. ceiling. I headed straight for Hyannis and crossed their airspace at around 4K ft. Cape Approach (Flight Following) was EXTREMELY helpful in giving weather updates every minute or so as I headed the 15 miles or so across the water. I turned occasionally to check the visibility behind me, and knew that I could turn around and make it back to Hyannis without issue. There were two large rain/T-storm cells nearby, but I could see them pretty clearly about 10-15 miles off to the northwest and east - I had lucked out, and was heading up through a clear pass between them after the first one had already pounded Provincetown. Cape Approach kept feeding me weather updates from their radar, and I was able to pick up KPVC from 10 miles out and landed as the wind was picking up again just ahead of a Cape Air flight that was coming in from Boston. I tied down and put the cover on just as the rain started again. Deanie picked me up after an art workshop in Provincetown, and we headed back down to Wellfleet.

Three more days of indolent recreation ensued and I gave one ride to one of my friends that was interested, as well as to one of Deanie's friends who came down for the day to visit.

Date: August 6, 2011

Saturday was the end of the cape vacation, so we packed up our stuff and Deanie drove me up to Provincetown for the short flight down to Hyannis (KHYA), where she had to drive to drop off the car. The weather on the cape was iffy - low VFR with 1000 ft. ceilings but good visibility. I took off and followed the arm of the cape around to Hyannis at about 700 ft. AGL, trying to find Deanie's rental car on Rt. 6. Good luck with that.

After landing at Hyannis and heading over to Griffin Aviation, I took off the top cowl while waiting for Deanie to arrive. The #2 exhaust was darker than the other three pipes, and the engine ran a little rough on runup on one of the EI's in Provincetown. I figured that maybe a plug was fouled, so was going to borrow some tools and replace it with one of the extras that I carry. When I got the cowl off, the issue was much clearer - one of the plug wires had fallen off the plug - the lower one on #2. These are auto plugs, with the little metal clips on the end of the plug wires and the tight silicone boots. I've never seen one of those come off, either on a car or plane. The boot had been resting against the #4 cylinder exhaust pipe, and had melted away, so I needed a new boot. When Deanie arrived, we headed over to Autozone, got a couple of boots that might fit, and then replaced it. We loaded up the plane, left the rental car with Griffin (good folks there) and took off for Caldwell, NJ - about a 80 minute flight. The clouds cleared by the time we got to New Bedford and we climbed up to 6500 ft. Flight Following in the NY area is interesting - you switch controllers every 5 minutes or so, have a lot of traffic to look out for, and have to deal with 10 mile visibility. Sometimes you don't get a handoff due to workload (never happens out west - those guys are happy to have someone to talk to) and have to squawk VFR and call back in a few minutes later to pick up a code again.

Near Westchester I apparently annoyed a controller by asking for Class B clearance over Westchester County Airport. He eventually gave it to us, but then we needed to descend under 3K ft. for cloud clearance anyway. No issue getting in to Caldwell (KCDW) under a 3K ft. ceiling. We landed and taxied to Avantair (they of the Piaggio Avanti shared ownership deal - there were three Avanti's parked there - boy, are they beautiful aircraft) and tied down and covered the plane. I also fueled up the plane. My sister picked us up and drove us back to Englewood, where we would stay with my mother for a few days - she was taking everyone (including my son, his girlfriend, both sisters and my sister from Raleigh-Durham's family) out to dinner Sunday night for her 80th birthday.

More eating and talking and watching Yankee games, taking a walk on the Highline (an elevated railway in NYC converted into a park and walking path) and fixing stuff for my mother around the house, as well as setting up her new iMac. Visit my father and grandfather's gravesites, drive up to Mahopac in NY state to see where my son has his office (he runs his own sales business - something his dad could never do), and take Deanie to Long Island on Tuesday to visit relatives and stay overnight.

Date: August 11, 2011

I decided to stay in NJ at my mom's an extra day, since the weather in the midwest was crappy on Wednesday and was predicted to be good on Thursday. Plus, she wanted me to stay. I also was in no hurry to get back to the multiple issues that had cropped up while I was away from work for 2.5 weeks and wanted to hit them fresh on Monday. So we just hung out on Wednesday.

Thursday morning my mom and sister drove me out to Caldwell. I packed up the plane and headed out just after 7 AM, planning for lunch with Curt Smith at St. Louis Regional airport around 11 AM - noon. Usually I head west at 8500 ft. for safety and economy's sake, but the winds were crappy up there and more favorable down low, so I stayed at 4500 ft. until I got to mid-PA and the Allegheny Mountains (well, for the east cost, they're mountains, anyway). It was interesting to see the difference in available detail on the ground when you're only 1/2 as far away from it. Then at the hills I climbed up to 6500 ft. and then 8500 ft and eventually 10.5K ft. to clear some clouds near Pittsburgh. Back down to 8500 ft. after that to stay above clouds, mild turbulence and haze, and live with the 15-20 kt. headwind. Thence through Ohio, past Columbus and Dayton, and into Indiana past Indianapolis. From PA to Texas, I gotta say, it's pretty flat and while I won't call it boring, it's hardly AZ, NM, UT, CO, CA or the pacific northwest. Screw it - it is boring. I spent my time reconciling the map to the GPS to what I could see out the window to keep from falling asleep, what with a 2-axis AP ensuring that I was in the right place.

Past Terra Haute into Illinois and then a descent into St. Louis Regional (KALN) and a taxi to the north T-hangar #90 where Curt was waiting.  I fueled up and got my O2 tank refilled, talked to Curt about his landing gear repair and his new Cub, and then we headed out for lunch. Although I had just seen Curt a week or two before at OSH, we hadn't really had any time to catch up, so it was good to spend some time without the OSH distractions.

After getting back to the airport, I checked the weather, loaded up, put in a quart of oil, and took off. I climbed to 8500 ft. and set a course for Dodge City, KS, which would be the corner for a turn to Tucumcari, NM. On the way I switched to waypoint to Liberal, KS, because it would save at least 4.2 minutes off the flight time, and avoid flying through an MOA or two. Plus it gave me an opportunity to play with the GPS a bit, which (as you'll remember) is useful in keeping myself awake with the two axis autopilot. I could see some large clouds building way off to the south - visibility was strangely good for the midwest - probably close to 75 miles or more, and it seemed that I was skirting a long line of thunderstorms about 50-100 miles south of my route (which was pretty much what the weather radar had predicted).

Reaching Liberal, I turned 30 degrees left and headed to Tucumcari. Clouds were appearing at 9K ft., so I climbed to 10.5K ft. to be on top of the scattered layer in smoother air. With only an hour or so left on the flight, I figured I was pretty much home free, as ATC informed me that the weather at Tucumcari (KTCC) was good. But just prior to reaching Dalhart, I saw a patch of pretty heavy rain on my route and ATC saw the same, so I detoured about 10 miles west to go around it - it wasn't clear whether there was any convective activity, although I never saw any lightning. Got a little bumpy, but the visibility was still over 50 miles. The cell disappeared behind me, and although I could see large cells all around, they were all 30-100 miles off and KTCC was in the clear. I apparently scared off a Pilatus doing touch and goes at KTCC when I called in from 10 miles out, as he ran off into the hinterlands for 10 minutes until I was safely on the ground refueling - I suppose only one plane is allowed in the pattern at a time.

At any rate, I called Kevin at the Blue Swallow Motel to pick me up, refueled and tied down (I was the only plane tied down at the airport). Kevin arrived in a 1951 Pontiac and we had a really great conversation on the drive into town about how he and his wife had just bought the motel and spiffed it up in its original form, circa 1939, as a Route 66 drive-in motel with garages for each room. Great place, nice people, and definitely far better than any of the chain motels that charge the same amount of money, have exactly zero flavor, and as Steve? at the KTCC airport pointed out to me a few days earlier when I called about a crew car for the evening, will not pick up clients at the airport, while Kevin at the Blue Swallow will.

If you're ever in Tucumcari, patronize the Blue Swallow - they've earned the business. They've also got an arrangement with a local Mexican restaurant that's a couple of miles down the road to come pick up patrons and bring them back to the motel gratis. I took advantage of this and got a decent fajita for about $12. After a long day in the air, I went to bed with the alarm set for 5:30 AM.

Date: August 12, 2011

I awoke, checked the weather and packed up. Kevin drove me back to the airport at 6 AM. He hung out and looked at the plane for a while (you can see some photos on their Facebook page, as well as a picture of the Pontiac) before heading back. I preflighted, packed up and took off around 7 AM. I climbed to 8500 ft. (see the pattern?)  and headed west over I-40. The weather was clear and smooth, with a lot of airline traffic on ATC. Almost nothing down low, though. Passed Santa Rosa, then Moriarty, and I climbed to 10.5K ft. just to be higher over the pass before Albuquerque. Since the terrain stays high (near 7000 ft.) all the way past Flagstaff, AZ, I stayed at 10.5K ft. to at least have a bit of gliding distance. From Tucumcari all the way back to Tehachapi, I was retracing my steps from 2.5 weeks earlier, but in the opposite direction. Over Grants, Gallup, Holbrook, Winslow and Flagstaff. About 20 miles past Flagstaff, to the north of I-40 about 10-15 miles, a small hill was belching smoke that had filled the valley to a distance of 10 miles around it. At first I thought it was a volcano, since AZ has got hundreds, but the last eruption was about 950 years ago, so that was unlikely. The smoke turned out to be from the "Beale" fire, a proscribed burn just southwest of Kendrick Peak.

Onward past Williams to Kingman, then over the Colorado River and into California. Then a direct line to the southwest corner of the Edward Air Force Base restricted area R-2515, and a hook to the northwest direct to Tehachapi. After 4.6 hours in the air, burning about 8.2 gph at 10.5K ft., with a TAS of 165 kts., I landed at Tehachapi and pulled into the open hangar, where Mike was beginning to take his engine off his Long-EZ to repair a cracked engine mount.

I had flown exactly 36 hours in the previous 2.5 weeks on a round trip to the east coast. Cheated death again. The airplane obviously needs a little bit of work - time for an oil change, and obviously replace the faulty oil temperature sender. Silicone back in a popped landing light lens, call Dynon and ask some questions regarding GPS setup and servo noise, and generally get ready for the Livermore Tandem Wing Fly-in in a couple of weeks at which I've been asked to give a presentation. Then, the next weekend, two days in Bryce Canyon prior to two days at the Kanab Fly-In.

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