Thursday, March 01, 2012

Aeronca Aviation Weekend

Travis has decided to get out of powered parachutes and join me in the Fixed-Wing world. He found an instructor, Kenny Grisham, near Waco. Kenny is a long-time tailwheel pilot and flies an Aeronca Champ. Since Travis plans to fly old planes, he wanted to learn in one, so this worked out perfectly.

I offered to fly him up there, so Saturday morning I headed to Kittie Hill to get ready. I showed up a little before Travis did. I ran into an old friend, Pete Christensen, who was once interested in Airbikes. He now flies a Kitfox. I also saw the field A&P, Joe Sills. He was waiting on a guy to fly in a Carbon Cub for him to work on then he was going to fly him back to Lakeway in his 172.

Travis arrived and I let him do another preflight and we were off.

The Chief had about half a tank, so we flew to Temple to get some fuel. It was funny when on a two mile left base, a Pilatus announced he was taking off. I told him he had plenty of time as I flew slower than his stall speed!

After fueling and borrowing their facilities we loaded up and headed toward McGregor. When we arrived, it was easy to see the EAA 59 on top of the hanger where we would meet Kenny. As turned final I realized that 17 was a long runway and the turnoffs were quite a ways down, so I flew down most of the runway before landing.

When Kenny showed up in the Champ, he and Travis got started. He walked Travis around the plane, showing him how to preflight it and they were soon off. I tried to get some photos, but felt like I walked miles! They, of course, went to the end of 17, way away from the terminal! They actually got in two flights and Travis enjoyed it other than feeling a little overwhelmed by the landings.

After his second flight, we told Kenny we were going to fly over to Craig's to spend the night and would meet him at his airport the next morning. We jumped in the plane and started toward Craig's. After arriving at Craig's, he came out with a new student in his gyro and took him for a quick ride. When they were done, we went into town with Craig and his family to get a bite to eat, then settled down for some sleep.

I kept looking at the weather and told Travis we might have to head out early as the winds were predicted to climb quickly. Sunday morning, we walked out to a very cold Chief and after throwing the prop about 30 times I got it started! We flew over to Kenny's place and after a few passes I finally found it!

We landed and found Kenny waiting for us. He has a beautiful place surrounded by big trees and full of airplanes! He gave us a tour, showing us the many planes he has from a powered paraglider, to a pair of RVs, to a Stearman! Travis was considering getting a lesson that morning, but it was windy and getting windier, so we headed home.

Shortly after taking off with a stiff headwind, I decided we wouldn't make it to Temple, so we stopped at McGregor to refuel and get some coffee. They have a nice terminal and a friendly guy working there.

Soon we were back into the bumpy air. It was rough, but I kept climbing until we were at 6,000 feet and above the clouds and it was smooth, but still slow going. Eventually we made it back to our home area, where I once again questioned what the track below was, wishing I had a go-cart, then pulled the power back and descended into Kittie Hill for a straight-in approach to 17. It was windy and bumpy on final, but I had a nice landing and we were home. Whew! Flying Aeroncas is fun, but they don't get you there quickly!!

Till Next Time,
Jack "Aeronciator" Fleetwood