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Wednesday
Sep112013

Homebuilders Workshop - September 2013

More Oshkosh Details

By Ed Wischmeyer

The gating factor for flying to AirVenture on the airlines is not airfare, it’s rental car rates. This year, I was late renting a car, and the rates in Appleton and Madison were both well north of $100 per day. However, Milwaukee still had rates a third of that, so that’s the airport I flew into. And for an extra $10 per day or so, I rented a Mustang.

The Mustang’s speedometer needle turned through only 180 degrees of arc, and the markings looked like they’d been copied from the 1970s – cluttered and hard to read. There were numerical readouts between the tach and speedometer that were clear and crisp, but the radio etc. panel in the center of the car had pixels as big as pizzas and as dim as your old girl friend. With the floaty suspension and the imprecise steering, you kind of herded the Mustang down the road as the slow-shifting automatic transmission encouraged the engine to make raucous noises before acceleration set in.

To be fair, this was a rental car, and there are undoubtedly other versions that are better tuned, but even the high-powered Mustang in the Ford pavilion had the same funky clunky speedometer markings. Disappointing.

My new RV-8 has very precise handling, by comparison, and I’m well on the way to flying it as well as I used to fly the old RV-4. Part of the drill is to do wheel landings and keep the tail up in the air as long as possible, and part of the drill is to not overcorrect on the steering. That’s all coming back, and today’s flight was at a much lower anxiety level than past flights. Now to start getting the G-tolerance back, something that might take a while at age 64. But back to Oshkosh.

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Tuesday
Aug142012

Homebuilder's Workshop - August 2012

RV-14

By Ed Wischmeyer

Outside Van’s booth early in the morning before the crowds arrived. (Ed Wischmeyer)On Sunday at AirVenture, Van’s Aircraft’s Chief Engineer, Ken Krueger, was dropping helpful hints about a new RV-14. Carbon fiber, twin engine, amphibious, vertical takeoff and landing – and aerobatic! You get the idea… Van himself mentioned an RV-14, but gave no details, and for all I knew he was pulling my leg, too. But then on Monday, there was the RV-14 prototype.

The superficial description is that it is a two-seat RV-10, with slightly smaller dimensions. In a sense that’s true, but the start of the RV-14 was with people who were building RV-7s and putting in tons of junk so that they were overweight, as were the pilots, frequently. Krueger said that some of those were so overweight as to be miniature F-104s, a nice exaggeration. So in one sense, the RV-14 is a gadgeteer’s version of the RV-7, able to carry more weight, and with more room.

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Tuesday
Oct042011

Homebuilder's Workshop - October 2011

Vance AFB, Oklahoma

By Ed Wischmeyer

Ninety minutes north of Oklahoma City by car is Vance AFB in Enid, Okla., where my nephew recently got his Air Force pilot wings.

Leon Vance was a native of Enid – the Air Force folk refer to them as “Enoids” – and a WWII bomber pilot who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. The transport plane bringing him home was lost over the North Atlantic, after he survived a harrowing and heroic ditching of his B-24. But the relationship between Air Force and community is deeper than that – the citizens of Enid bought a wheat field and donated that for the then Army Air Corps to build a training base.

Wheat? In Oklahoma? Yes. Enid actually has the world’s third largest wheat storage capacity, and a grouping of maybe 30 concrete silos is referred to by the pilots as “the battleship.” This year, though, the drought is ferocious and this July was a contender for being the hottest month ever. Cloud bases were at 9,000 feet and the 25-knot wind did no cooling but only parched those out on the 100-plus degree flightline. Coming back into the air-conditioned flight ops building, there is a large fan at chest level to help you cool off.

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Saturday
Jul302011

Homebuilders' Workshop - August 2011

Georgia On My Mind

By Ed Wischmeyer

The good news is that after 38 months of unemployment and 600 job applications, I’m now a contract employee with a major aerospace manufacturer in Savannah, GA. And that, in turn, leads us to the unlikely history of the RV-8A that I used to own.

The story starts nearly five years ago when I bought an AirCam at government auction at a screamingly good price. The plan was to fly it for three or four years and then sell it for enough to cover purchase price plus all the expenses of ownership. When I bought it, I lived in Arizona and thoroughly enjoyed flying it there.  But, nine months after purchase, I (and it) moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Aerial sightseeing in the Midwest is not spectacular, like it is in other parts of the country, but the Midwest in summer is as beautiful as any other part of the country. Trouble was, summer – even stretching the definition to mean any time the temperature was above 50 degrees, sort of a minimum required temperature for a tolerable AirCam flight – was at best six months of the year. The AirCam was advertised for sale several times, but then I changed the ad to say, “Might trade for the right RV-8.”

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Tuesday
Jul052011

Homebuilder's Workshop - July 2011

Oliver Springs, Tennessee

By Ed Wischmeyer

My old Garmin 396 couldn’t find Oliver Springs airport, which is near Oak Ridge, Tenn., which is near Knoxville, Tenn., which is – aw, go look it up – but airnav.com and the trusty map application on my ancient, first generation iPhone could. AT&T cell phone service actually works way out here in the sticks in Tennessee.

What a cool place! Grass runway, a few hangars – one with a door, one with a few tarps across it, and a great selection of airplanes. There are three or four Cessna 182s, some 172s, and an immaculate Cessna 150 that’s been in the family for over 30 years. The owner was waiting for her instructor to show up to give her a BFR, and she explained, in her soft, Tennessee accent, that her husband had died a year ago. But the last thing he did was to rebuild the airplane, making everything new, and giving it an immaculate paint job. She also says that there are two flying clubs on the field.

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