Well we finally got in a fly-in. O.K., the crowd wasn't exactly what you'd call huge but those who attended enjoyed. It's always a gamble postponing an event to the alternate date. People make plans for their time. Saturday would not work for coastal New England due to IFR/marginal conditions. The forecast I got on Saturday night for Sunday was not encouraging. I have learned that canceling an event on the basis of a long range forecast can come back to bite you. So I bit the bullet and woke up early Sunday to find that it would be VFR for our fly-in to New Bedford, Mass. The winds would be a little gusty ( they were ) and the air a little bumpy ( it was ), but VFR it was. Complicating matters was the fact that the Airport Grille closes at noon on Sundays. This meant that we'd have to treat this event as a kind of fly-in breakfast.
Marc Pekowsky met me bright and early at HPN and we blasted off for points east. I already knew the Archambaults would not be able to make it due to a broken starter. I knew that Dave Adams would be there. Other than that ? Our ground speed was 135 knots! My mind works like this - it's not that we're going to get tom EWB quickly, but that our return flight into the setting sun will be forever. What can I tell you?
Marc and I arrived at EWB to face an 18 knot wind gusting to 25 right down the runway. After parking on the ramp in front of the restaurant and going thru the new security gate, we entered the crowded Airport Grille. It's a small, but attractive place with a bar that doubles as a counter during non-drinking times, and many small tables. We decided to wait and see who would turn up. The first to arrive was Fred DeFillipis who flew in from HPN in his C-172. Dave Adams arrived by car, followed by Mike Hirsch and friend who flew in from Beverly, Mass. in his PA22/20. This was our crowd. The restaurant let us re-arrange the table to accommodate the six of us.
We all had a nice breakfast from the extensive menu of the Airport grille. This place has an outdoor deck that's probably great in the warmer months. Dave Adams tells me they have a combo playing outside during the summer months. The menu looks interesting for lunch and dinner. New Bedford is an old (declining) whaling/fishing town with a huge Portuguese population. While the whaling fleet is long gone, there is still a fishing fleet that works out of the downtown harbor. The cuisine of this area reflects the fruits of the sea. The city is like many other New England cities - it's seen its heyday and is a bit run down. There seems to be an attempt to preserve and rejuvenate the downtown area to be more tourist-friendly. The main attraction is the Whaling Museum near the harbor and the many restaurants in the area. Lodging is something that the area seems to lack.
After brunch, Dave Adams took Fred, Marc and me for a ride around the downtown New Bedford area. We saw the local Days Inn which is in walking distance from the airport. Alas, it is a bit seedy and lacks what other convention hotels have had in the way of amenities. It was also NOT recommended by Dave's friend at Sandpiper Air, the local FBO. I've described the downtown area. I think that the only way this airport could work for a convention is to find other lodging and convention facilities in the nearby area, without getting into the real tourist areas of Cape Cod & Newport. These areas would end up too expensive for the SWPC. We'll see what shows up upon further investigation.
Since we didn't have a huge mob, we couldn't conduct any meaningful business. We did agree that the next fly-in/meeting would be THIS SATURDAY APRIL 12th with Sun. the 13th as the alternate at Southbridge Municipal Airport (3B0) in Southbridge, Mass. Mike Berry had suggested this place a while ago and both Dave Adams and Mike Hirsch put it into the pot. We'll meet at Jim's Fly-In Diner at noon (it's right on the field) and take it from there. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a great VFR day with light winds, good visibility, no mountain obscuration, and your schedule free? Ha ha ha, fat chance, but I hope you can make it. Noon this Saturday. If this weekend doesn't work out, we'll try it the weekend of Sat. Apr.26/27.
Speaking of Mike Berry, I got a call today from a gentleman from N. Carolina that wanted info on a Tri-Pacer he was considering. It was a metalized PA-22 based at Oxford, Mass. Yup, that's Mike's plane. I hope things go well for both parties and hope to see Mike ( and you too! ) soon.
In the last newsletter, as in this one, I was begging for some article/material to augment my ramblings. Lo and behold, my request was answered by some good souls. In the past newsletters, members Will Gomez, Steve Sevits, Noel Anderson, Mike Berry, Rico Cannone, and Dave Adams come to mind as contributors. If I've left your name out and you've written something, please forgive me.
Say, long time no hear right? I gratefully received my latest edition of the SWPC Northeast Chapter Newsletter and have about one more re-reading before the ink falls off the page. I really appreciate your sending a copy keeps both Dale and me connected to one of the nicest groups of people I have ever had the occasion to swap lies with.
I thought I'd start out by commenting on some points that you made and then proceed with news from the south. You mentioned snow. We do get snow in northern Alabama. It's usually under an inch and melts within a few days. Temperatures can get down into the upper teens for 3 or 4 weeks at a time, necessitating the use of some kind of pre-heater. I like the DeLongi oil-filled space heater. One simply places it under the lower cowl opening, covers the entire cowl with a tarp, and let it run. On the coldest days I have gone out to the Luscombe and read 60 degrees oil temperature.
Just about all aircraft in these parts are hangared. The danger here is not snow, but hail. Hangars rent in the Albertville area for $130 a month and feature a cement floor, sliding doors, an electrical outlet and light. Our local airport boasts a 6100' runway that was designed to always have a crosswind! Airport security is not addressed. We have a gate to go thru to the flight line that is code-activated ( the code is given out freely to any and all visitors ). I guess folks still trust each other in this part of the world.
The scenery here is breathtaking. We live on a 69,000 acre lake that is the premier bass fishing spot in the USA. A plethora of outdoor sports such as boating, sailing, fishing, hunting, hiking, and eagle watching ( we are the winter home of most bald eagles in the country ) are available.
The thing we miss most about New York is the local chapter of the SWPC which is just about non-existent in these parts. I know of several folks who own Tri-Pacers and Colts and have little or no interest in forming a local chapter shame really. While several local airports have monthly fly-in breakfasts, none come close to the activities we enjoyed in the SWPC. Personally, I have given myself the mission to land at every airport within 100 nm of Albertville. As I write this, I am working on the 70nm ring. I can't even get locals to join in! Their loss. Honestly, I don't know why some people own airplanes when they don't want to fly them! We put about 100 hours a year on the Luscombe.
Spring has sprung in the Tennessee Valley and the flowers are beautiful. Today the temperatures are in the upper 60s with blue skies and a 10kt wind gusting to 14. Tomorrow I take the Luscombe to Sylacauga for its annual. I know she has a couple of low cylinders and probably needs exhaust valve work. The oil consumption is fine. I think my use of auto gas was the culprit that did in the valves. If you plan on using auto gas DNT'T! I find that 100LL with the recommended amount of Marvel Mystery Oil keeps my plugs squeaky clean ( remember that I don't have a mixture control ). Auto gas burns too slowly and gets the exhaust valves/seats too hot. A local VW shop ( restores VW Beetles ) says that the unleaded gas is killing the older air-cooled engines same with aircraft engines. All you folks are welcome down this way. By the way, my e-mail is: Pawnee5630@charter.net - Ray O'Donnell
Winter at OXC
The winter of 2002/2003 has been one to remember here in Connecticut and the Northeast. Winter weather, as we are painfully aware, has played havoc with flying plans for many pilots on the east coast. Twenty four inches of snow came on 2/17 alone! That's a lot of snow!!
Last November I became a first time aircraft owner, buying a 1968 C-150H with IFR avionics and base it at Waterbury Oxford (OXC) in Connecticut. I also belong to the Oxford Flying Club and fly their fine IFR Archers when I need a plane to carry a load and has more energy than the 150. At the time of purchase I had no idea what this winter had in store for me, but quickly found out. What seemed like almost daily snowfall kept me hard at work shoveling out my tie-down as well as brushing snow off my plane. Welcome to aircraft ownership!
Snow removal at OXC was excellent all winter with the airport being closed for very short periods. The main FBO would pull all aircraft tied down on the main ramp, including the flying club's planes, into their hangar before a forecasted snowfall to facilitate snow removal. Unfortunately this did not include my plane since I am tied down with the other FBO by the base of the tower. There was just no place to push the snow since the tower is the last building just north of the main ramp and my tie down is kind of a dead end. This resulted in no mechanical help with the snow removal. The armstrong method was the order of the day. My oldest son did help with the snow removal chore several times and for this I am grateful.
Unfortunately, snow was not the only issue this winter. It has been a very long time since I've seen the temperature stay below 15 degrees F for such an extended period of time. The unusually low temperatures resulted in oil temperatures running at the bottom of the green arc with the resulting low output from the cabin heater. This was unacceptable to me since I did not want to damage the engine and did not care for the frost forming on my nose. Some hunting revealed that Cessna made a winterization plate for my year/model. Since the O-200 has no oil cooler, I wondered what this plate was since I had never seen a 150 with anything of the sort.
I checked with my mechanic and indeed there was a plate that fit over the cowl opening behind the prop, which restricted the airflow to keep the oil temperature closer to where it belongs. Installation of the winterization plate helped a great deal, oil temperature was now well into the normal range, and I had better cabin heat for defrosting my nose. In spite of all that, I could still see my breath in the cabin on several flights in January. I also found out how drafty a C-150 can be.
The final frustration came upon returning from a flight and finding my tie-down ropes stiff as a board! One has to love flying to go through all this just to get airborne. My wife calls it crazy; I call it pure enjoyment! The FBO I rent my tie-down from has been absolutely great to work with throughout this snowy winter. I was welcomed into their hangar to defrost/de-ice my plane as well as pre-heat before flying. Great bunch of guys to work with. If anyone is looking for a good, reputable shop for having work done, get in touch with me and I will get you the information. I have all my work done there and trust them with my bird. - Vincent Soares
Rico Cannone had every intention of flying to New Bedford for the fly-in. It's just that obstacles that he encountered made it impossible to get there for the event. He has his Tri-Pacer in a community hangar at Heber Airpark near Saratoga, N.Y. There were three planes that had to be moved before he could get his plane out. Then there was the matter of getting fuel. By now he knew that he would certainly be late so he called Dave Adams on his cell phone. Then came the mountain obscuration over the Berkshire Mountains. So instead of a long cross country, he made a six minute flight to Glens Falls for breakfast. Sometimes the best made plans have to be altered.
It now looks like I will be able to fly to this year's SWPC convention in Springfield, Mo. I know that several of you are also planning to attend. If you are thinking about it, I encourage you to try and attend. These conventions are fun. They are like a big, happy family reunion that revolves around Short Wing Pipers and flying.
I mentioned in last month's newsletter the flight we made down to the Baltimore area to visit my brother, who just moved there from L.A. Gloria complained about a draft from the door seal. The OAT at altitude was below zero. I told this to Mike Hirsch on the ramp at new Bedford. He opened the door, whipped out a $5 dollar bill, and found that the door was out of alignment. As I turned away so I couldn't see the repair method, Mike altered the shape of the door and seal. Did it work? You'll have to ask Marc Pekowsky; he sat in that seat.
I do hope that you'll be able to make it to Southbridge, Mass. On Saturday. Besides eating, we do have business to discuss like the calendar with dates and sites for the future. If it doesn't work out this weekend, we'll try it again on Sat. 4/26 or Sun. 4/27. Safe flying to you all. - Andy Seligson