A lot has transpired since our last newsletter. The three Hs have put a damper on chapter activities. Our fly-in to Kurt Schneider's for the polo matches and our Martha's Vineyard beach party were victims. The national S.W.P.C. convention in Denver was a huge success and several of us got to enjoy it. Some of us actually flew out there in Short Wing Pipers!
Gloria and I flew out in Gary Corwin's Tn-Pacer. Yes, that means that N8500D isn't ready; more on that later. We had a very pleasant flight with little in the way of surprises (weather). I started looking at the weather on Sunday and , with the help of my favorite FSS briefer at Williamsport, PA, determined the route and date of departure. We departed HPN on Wednesday and made it to Springfield, Illinois. This is where the weather and fatigue came together. Springfield was good for many reasons. The F.B.O. lent us a courtesy car to get around in. We visited Lincoln's tomb and the Illinois War Memorial Monument, got a decent motel, and had dinner in a great Italian restaurant. The next day the ceiling made it possible to scud run all the way to St. Joseph, Missouri where the skies cleared. On both sides of our route was severe weather. From here on the wind became a factor as well as time and fatigue, not to mention hunger. We made it to Colby, Kansas and landed in a 42kt. wind!
I picked Colby because it had several motels and restaurants listed in the AOPA airport directory, a good book to have on any long cross-country. Colby has a nice 5000' plus runway which was thankfully aligned with the wind. It was completely deserted at 7:00 p.m. when we arrived. A nice gentleman showed up in a pickup truck and gave us a lift to a motel. Would you believe the place was full as were several others? We ended up at the Ramada and had a pleasant evening. We awoke to gale force winds and dense fog! The day before our arrival, the town had a tornado pass through. When we got to the airport we learned that it is a busy ag-plane base and also home to one of two weather alteration services in North America. Using single engine Comanches, they seed severe storms to reduce hail damage to the crops. This has a wide ranging impact on several economies!
Since we couldn't get off at the crack of dawn, we had to deal with the wind, heat, and thermals from Colby to Denver. This was not Gloria's favorite leg of the trip. From Colby until we finally got home to HPN we had to deal with density altitude! Gary's plane would hardly climb. Since he has been so gracious as to let me fly this plane as if it were my own, I have of course taken the responsibility of maintaining it. I had the radio and transponder fixed and had wanted to get the prop overhauled and pitched to a climb prop. The second thing I did after landing at Centennial was to arrange for the prop to be taken care of!
I say this every year, but this convention was the greatest! Hats off to Kent O'Kelly, the Lamberts, the Shaws and the rest of the Colorado and Wyoming chapters for such a well put together event!
Every aspect of this convention was first rate. First of all were the people This is our greatest asset of the Short Wing Piper Club. The facilities at the hotel and airport were great. Parking was in an area away from all the hubbub of the country's second or third busiest G.A. airport. The controllers were great and most understanding (patient). Many of us had a tour of the tower which was literally outside the hotel's main entrance. The seminars were top notch. I was impressed by the seminar that the Mills put on about the making of the Short Wing Piper News, our great club "organ". Jim Fix gave a wonderful seminar on propellers. He gave me a private reading on Gary Corwin's prop. Yeah it was in dire need, dire need! It turns out that it was a 63 pitch!!! The normal cruise prop should be 61. We had it overhauled and pitched to 58; boy did it make a difference!
The food, lunches, banquets, and dinners were great. The guest speakers were good too. It's not easy to pick a speaker that actually can capture an audience and keep them engaged. The organized trips were excellent. The trip to Univair was most interesting. It's quite a place. The tour of the Air Force Academy and dinner at the Flying-W ranch were special. Then there's the city of Denver and its area. We had a great time. So did Phil Jacobus & Teresa Filkins who flew out from Hammondsport, N.Y. in their Pacer, Tony Philpin who flew out in his Clipper from Meriden, Conn., Bud Hinckey who flew from the Montreal area in his PA-22/20 and Rico Cannone, Dale Privadera, and Mike Archambault who flew in on more powerful birds. We also welcome back to the chapter Bernie Tatro Jr. who was in attendance and is co-operator of the S.W.P.C. Store. It was great to see old members Neal and Chris Nicholson and Art & Sue Weisberger who all send their best to all of you. What was really great was that Jackie VanValkenberg came to the convention and had a great time. We had a great time being with you Jackie!
Carrying out some sort of tradition, Frank Sperandeo, Gene Moore, and yours truly got together in the lounge after the banquet and had an old fashioned sing along. No I didn't schlep a tuba along. A dear friend from my Juilliard days lives in Colorado Springs and he and his family came up for a visit on Monday and he brought along a tuba for me to use. Thanks alot Pat Mills!
We drove through the mountains to Aspen, Colorado for a weekend of camping out in our tent, roughing it, and enjoying the music festival. I hadn't been to Aspen since I played there in 1967. It has changed! It is truly the land of the haves and have mores!! The scenery, music, food, and most of the people were great. On returning to Denver for the rest of our flight, we decided to ship 100 lbs. of unnecessary gear home. With the new prop, the plane performed great. We flew up to Casper, Wyoming to visit my old tuba teacher who has retired there. From there, we flew to Custer, S. Dak. to spend a day at Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park. Absolutely gorgeous and the roaming wildlife was impressive, especially the bison.
From Custer we were headed to Chicago and a brief visit with relatives. Here we had to deal with a growing cold front and weather. At the time of our departure it was only 40 miles wide and there was again a tunnel through the bad stuff which was spectacular to view off each side. The ride was smooth but wet. It was a bit moist inside the cockpit too because we had the air vent open (88 deg. o.a.t. at 7500'). A fuel stop at Ainsworth, Nebraska and Ames, Iowa were met by 95 plus degrees and 35-45 knot surface winds. The FBO at Ames also lent us a car to get some lunch. We overnighted at Palwaukee airport just north of Chicago. With the threat of the advancing cold front we decided to push on home Friday morning. It was hot, windy, and quite hazy. Our first leg from Chicago to Sandusky, Ohio was flown on top of the haze/cloud layer at 7500' where the oil temperature went down to 180. The next leg home had us slogging it out in the lower climes in 3-5 miles of goo, landing at sunset at HPN in the only wind condition on the entire trip that had less than 25kts - wind calm! It was the next morning that the world learned of the Kennedy disaster. Let me tell you - it was very, very hazy! We put on a total of 38 hours on the tach. for the trip. I know I've used the word too many times already in this article, but the trip was - great!
Our next fly-in/meeting is scheduled for Sat. Aug. 21st with a rain date of the 22nd at Basin Harbor, Vermont. We'll have lunch at the Red Mill restaurant adjacent to this great grass strip. Plan on meeting at noon which is when the reservation was made for. This is usually a popular event if the weather cooperates. Let's hope it does! A note to those who are not familiar with Basin Harbor. This is a world class resort with all the amenities. If the day is a good one and you bring along a bathing suit, nobody would give you a hard time if you took a dip at their beach on Lake Champlain. There is a championship 18 hole golf course adjacent to the runway for those interested. You might even consider staying the night or two - its very pricey. By the way, Basin Harbor does not have fuel so make plans accordingly.
I have just confirmed with Zene Garnsey the date for our annual "bash" on Sat. Sept. 4th with a rain date of the 5th. This is held at Garnsey's airport (B04) in Schulerville, N.Y. on the Hudson River. As always, bring your own food and drink and maybe some to share. The Garnseys provide the field, a beach for swimming, barbecue grill, and restroom facilities (their home). We will hold our meeting and set the club calendar for the year as well as hold elections for club officers. Please, please, if anyone out there wants to take an office make yourself known, raise a hand, call me collect, Bend a telegram, tow a banner (you get the drift???).
On the sore subject, yeah it ain't ready. It was supposed to be ready to fly to the convention. It was not. Many of you know that amongst the things I do each day is teach school. You'd be amazed at some of the excuses that students come up with when they're not prepared. This guy came up with a great one, he choked on some chicken bones and split his esophogus! That's the one he used 4 days before we were to leave. Now after a year and a half, he's discovered a leak in a wing tank so it should be only a couple of more days. The guy has the plane for a year and a half and has the nerve to just discover a leak. Yeah right, the dog ate my homework. It's in my lawyer's hands and it we have to sue, he won't be buying me a Tn-Pacer, know what I mean? At this point he'll be lucky to get the quoted estimate! Anyway I hope to see you at Basin Harbor on the 21st. Safe flying to you all.