Thursday, August 31, 2006

Returning to the Air

I recently lost some family members in a plane crash. It probably hits a little closer to home due to the fact that I've always been involved in aviation. Aviation has touched my life in many ways, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. I've seen a lot of people lose their lives. More times than not, it seems to be pilot error. We've all made mistakes. I once had a school owner/instructor tell me, "If you land and tell me that you had the perfect flight, I'll never let you fly my planes again." There's always something you can improve on. You should always be your worst critic.

I read this quote and wanted to include it: Life is not measured in the number of breaths you take, but rather by the number of moments that take your breath away. This is what flying does for me.

On a lighter note, I made the repairs to my plane. I replaced all of the bearings and lubed them properly. I also went over the entire plane again, checking the tightness of all bolts and looking for anything I could find wrong. After assuring myself that my craft would bring me back, I started up and lined up for takeoff. I took a moment to remember the events of the last few days and promised myself to be extra careful. As I climbed out, I relaxed. It's always good to be back in the air. I circled around a lot to make sure the ailerons were working as designed and then headed toward my house. I flew over the rock quarries that are everywhere you look, and then headed over our new outlet mall. Never ceases to amaze me how many people flock to a place where they think they'll get a good deal. I'd rather pay a little more and not face the crowd. Anyway, I circled my house a couple of times and then headed east. I flew around the Dell Diamond, Nolan Ryan's baseball team plays here - the Round Rock Express. They were warming up for a game. I then looked down and saw a truck in a field. I suddenly felt a little worried as I realized that I was looking directly into the barrel of the machine they use to launch fireworks. I was in no danger, as they don't fire them off until after the game, but not my favorite place to be none the less. I headed back north for the field, checking out the new toll roads they're building. It's nice to see what so many people never will. It's also nice to fly over a big empty highway. If you have to have an engine-out, this is the place! Back at the field, I greased a landing and smiled as I had enjoyed another hour of flying.

Round Rock Premium Outlet Center

IKEA - new furniture store

Three shots of the Dell Diamond

Nice Pond

I didn't stop to pay the toll! Catch me if you can.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Scary Flight

Well, I wish I could just post about another lazy day of flying. It started out that way, but on the way home, I was really wishing I was on the ground.

I started the day by letting a little air out of my tires to reduce the bouncing I've had on landing. I also cleaned my plane and did my normal, thorough preflight. I took off and headed north. Central Texas is called the Hill Country. As you fly north or west, you can see why. I took some photos of a house up on a plateau. These people are living the life. I also flew over a lake I've never flown over before - Stillhouse Lake. It's a decent size lake and has a nice long bridge over it. I raced boats and everyone waved, what a nice day. I then headed toward my friend Hubert's field. As I neared his field, I saw him flying. He landed and I followed him in. We stood around talking for awhile and as I noticed the wind starting to pick up, I decided head home.

I took off and circled around, waving to everyone and then turned west toward my field. Everything seemed fine at this point except there was a lot of turbulence.

I was bored with straight and level flying, so I turned right and when I went to turn back to the left, something didn't feel right. I tried again and it seemed mushy. I looked over at my left aileron and noticed it didn't move when I moved the stick. I looked back to see my aileron push-tube leaning backward, not connected. At first I thought maybe the bolt had come out, so I reached back to check it. I found it was broke. It was hard to stay composed at this point.

I could still control the plane with the rudder although not very well. The wind wasn't helping either. I decided to land at my friend Wayne's field so he could help if I crashed. As I lined up on his runway, I realized the crosswind was too much here. I flew down his runway hoping he would come to my field.

It got harder and harder to fly with just the rudder. I considered putting it down a couple of times, but decided if I got hurt, I might not be able to get attention. I flew out to line up for a long final approach to my longest runway. Everything seemed fine. It's amazing how many things can go through your mind in a short period of time. I don't want my girls to grow up without their Dad. I knew I could be seriously hurt or killed and I even considered I had better odds of crashing than landing safely. I wasn't scared, but sad. As I got closer, everything was going well, so I made the decision to continue. I also decided there would be no go-around. It was now or never. As the main wheels touched, I knew it was almost over. It was a very nice landing and one of my favorites. I taxied up to the hanger, got out, and sat down. What a flight! The lesson I learned is to lubricate everything well. If this had been my elevator, I would be dead. There is not a doubt in my mind.

King of the World - Can't you just imagine a runway up here?

Washed Out Bridge.

Little Church

Stillhouse Lake

Wounded Bird

This little part almost took me out.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Short Flight

Got to go up this morning for a quick flight. It's been very windy here for about a month, but if you get up early enough you can beat it. I flew for about 30 minutes, nothing too exciting to report. I practiced landing a few times. I think I'm flaring too high and bouncing a little. I'm trying to keep power on a little more, but the runway's awfully short. I believe it's 900 ft. I'm hoping to go out tomorrow and shoot touch-n-goes for awhile. I took a few photos, I will post them later.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sunday Flight

It's been awhile since I got to go fly two days in a row. I got to the field around 8am and started fueling the plane. I heard a 2-cycle engine off in the distance. As he got closer, I realized that it was my friend Hubert in his Quicksilver. He and his dad were out for a flight and buzzed the field. They would have stopped, but his dad needed to get back home. Once in the air, I headed to his field had found him talking to Wayne and Ben. Wayne has a nice Cub and his son Ben is currently taking lessons. Hubert gave Wayne his first flight in an ultralight. After they got back, Ben jumped in and they were off. I took off shorty after and joined up with them. Got some good air-to-air photos.
Hubert & Wayne

Hubert & Ben
Look just above the horzon, right of center.

Heading Home
R/C Field

I-35 - Flying Low and Waving at Cars

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Why We Fly

I was up this morning at 5:00. I had the plane preflighted before the sun was even up. After the preflight, I stood around for awhile waiting for a little more light. As I took off, I realized this was going to be a good day for flying. We've had a lot of wind and heat lately, but both were absent this morning. I was nice and cool and the plane performed accordingly. I started flying North, but then remembered that President Bush was in Crawford and I wasn't sure how close I was getting to the no-fly-zone. Since I didn't want to meet any F-16 pilots this morning, I decided to fly East. I flew by a friend's airstrip, but nobody was stirring so I just circled around for awhile. I did a few power-on stalls and played around in general. It's nice to have no destination. I was able to get a good flight in and get the plane put away before it even got warm. I even made a great landing - with a witness!! The final touch was a friend of mine buzzing the field in his Cub. This is why I fly....

Looking Back at the Sunrise
Home Field