By Ed Wischmeyer
The passing of Chorny, my sweet old black Lab, in some ways marks the end of one era of my life and hopefully the start of another era, building upon – and even better than – its forbears.
Chorny made her last flight with me, her first in the RV-8A, to the old family summering grounds in Michigan. It was surprising to me to be so content blasting along at altitude at 170 knots, a mile up, and to be so oblivious to the scenery below, scenery that was the domain of the AirCam and the Cessna, scenery marveled at and researched after lower flights in slower aircraft.
The RV-8A didn’t care about the scenery on the ground. It flew in the sky.
Chorny loved to visit Landmark Aviation, the bizjet FBO across the field where they maintain my beautiful old straight-tail Cessna, and they loved her, too. I emailed them a copy of Chorny’s obituary, and to my great surprise, they sent me a sympathy card. Much appreciated, thanks.
And when I was going out to California to pick up the RV-8A, Landmark gladly agreed to pick me up at my hangar at 5 a.m. and give me a ride to the airline terminal across the field so that when I got back in the -8A, my car would be at my hangar. Great service, great relationship, and again, much appreciated. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to fill up with their expensive avgas every time, but it does mean that on the weekends, when they give a discount to airplanes based on the field, I’m not going to be overly concerned with flying to another field to save a few bucks on gas. They’ve earned my business.
This morning, I was out at the airport cleaning the Cessna, spraying on Perfect Detail, a fabulous light wax that makes paint jobs come alive, rubbing it down with a towel, and watching the Cessna glow. Sometimes in months past, Chorny would come out to the hangar with me, and her favorite haunt was in the grass outside, watching the world go by.
She was with me again this morning, in her own way. As I rubbed down the Cessna with the freshly laundered towel, there were dog hairs left on the airplane. Wonder whose…
When I had the AirCam, one of the standard flights was to Tipton, for gas. The AirCam didn’t burn enough gas that flying to Tipton made any economic sense, but it was a nice flight with good scenery. Chorny never rode in the AirCam, of course, and usually I’d leave her home when I went AirCamming because she didn’t like to be tied up outside the hangar and watch me leave.
She finally made it to Tipton, though. She was cremated there.
Two more stories of great customer service here.
For years, I’ve had a portable oxygen bottle, as my individual physiology feels much better with supplemental oxygen, even at altitudes as low as 8,000 feet. And it turns out that there is essentially no research to support the oxygen altitudes called out in FAR 91.
Mountain High provides my system, with pulsed delivery so you get a whiff of oxygen only when you inhale. The pulsed system is expensive enough that it doesn’t pay for itself in terms of refills, unless you use the system an awful lot, but what it does do is stretch the usability of the tank. This is significant because it means that you can make a long cross country trip, and back, without having to worry about getting your oxygen bottle refilled.
When I went to fetch the RV-8A from California, I sent the oxygen bottle ahead in the AirCam, as there was really no way to ship it and the airlines wouldn’t let me take it on board. So, on my first flight in the new plane, I was happy and alert flying at 12,500 over the Sierra Nevada.
Fortunately, I took both of my pulsed units with me, and it turned out that one of them had a cut O-ring and was leaking oxygen at a rate that would have drained the bottle promptly. When I got home, I ordered new O-rings, and one of those failed promptly. Hmm. What’s cutting the O-rings?
So I sent the regulator back to Oregon and it was returned a few days later, all tuned up, cleaned up, and no longer hungry for fresh O-rings.
For years, I’ve been a LightSpeed headset customer. And it’s no surprise that with the gentle environment of an airplane cockpit, pieces come loose, wires get yanked, and normal wear and tear borders on abuse. When one of my headsets got the loose wire blues, accompanied by static, I sent it back. It came back last night, looking like new.
And they’ve done repairs like this for me several times now
So now it’s time to start doing the projects on the RV-8A that it needs. An oil change, for starters, and I’m going to install Van’s inexpensive engine block heater. That may not heat the engine up to 80 or 90 or 100 degrees with a hangar temperature near zero, but it might mean starting a 60-degree engine in the dead of winter. That’s a whole lot better than the alternative.
Another project is to replace the boarding step on the RV-8A. I was very surprised to find out that step failure, meaning fracture, is not unknown. It’s not common, but it’s not unknown, either. I have no idea why a steel boarding step should decide to break, right in the middle of the shaft, halfway up.
And at some point, I’ll want to completely replace the instrument panel with new technology avionics. But, that’s thirty grand to throw at it, a lot of money. It’s also interesting that glass cockpits are getting to be like computers in that you buy one and know that in five years it will be so out of date as to have lost its value. Well, maybe avionics are a little better than that, but not much. I’d like to replace the ancient turn-knob transponder with a pushbutton transponder, but there’s absolutely no point in doing that with ADS-B on the near horizon.
And I still miss my Chorny dog.