GoPro on the skylight

8 Airports in One Day

This morning I felt adventurous and wanted to practice landing at different airports in a variety of settings and, really, see how many airports I can visit before my rumpus maximus was too sore to continue. I’m proud to say I made it to eight different airports. Yakima to Cle Elum to Ellensburg to Quincy to Lake Chelan to Desert Aire to Sunnyside to Prosser to Yakima. I mounted the GoPro to the skylight and am pleased with how the video turned out… well mostly pleased. The GoPro auto-adjusts the picture brightness which makes the iPad look like it’s turned off for the entire flight. In reality, it was a glass-panel/moving-map/flight-recorder helping me all the way.

GoPro on the skylight

First landing at Cle Elum runway 25…

Then a touch and go at Ellensburg runway 7…

Then a landing at Quincy. There was a lot of turbulence in the pattern at this airport.

Then a landing at Lake Chelan runway 20. I did a touch and go at this airport back in 2010 when I was a new pilot, but this was the first time I’ve landed here. This is a “destination” airport for seasonal vacationers and the approach to the airport from the south is quite scenic with Lake Chelan and it’s surrounding mountains forming the backdrop. Downwind in the traffic pattern is over the Columbia River (technically Lake Entiat) while base and final are over orchards. This is a fun spot to fly in to.

Lake Chelan airport parking

I’ve never used the “panoramic” feature of my camera so I figured this shot of the taxiway (foreground) and runway (background) might be interesting. Unfortunately, my photo stitching skillz aren’t that great and the picture itself came out grey and dismal. Let me assure you the sun was bearing down and the wind was gusting though you wouldn’t think it from the picture.

Lake Chelan airport taxi and runway panoramic

This is what the trip looked like so far…

AirNav Pro Yakima to Lake Chelan

Then a touch and go at Desert Aire. The wind was raging at this place. I was coming from the north and planned to fly over mid field to check for a wind sock. I eventually spotted one at the approach end of runway 28 and it was swinging wildly but favoring a landing on 28. All was normal in the pattern, but something wasn’t right on the ground because I could not set down. I bounced once, twice, and the third one was gonna be hard so I firewalled it to go around. Once at altitude, I could see the wind sock was now favoring runway 10. I’m kinda pist because I thought I had set my GoPro to record at 60 fps, but it was recording at 30 fps. When reviewing the footage frame-by-frame, I can see as I was nearing the numbers of 28, that my attempt to land on 28 was down wind. That explained why I couldn’t set down. I entered a left downwind for runway 10, annoyed some golfers, and set down for a gusty touch and go.

Then a touch and go on runway 25 at Sunnyside.

Then an ugly touch and go on runway 25 at Prosser. I ballooned this landing, then bounced. I’m sure all attendees on the field had comments to make about what they saw or heard. I think I heard their laughter over the rumble of my engine.

Finally, back home at Yakima. I was cleared for a long landing on niner with a wind of 140 @ 9 knots. Things got hairy for a moment during a gust, then settled, then I bounced, then powered up to not slam down, then as settling down another gust took charge, then a not-so-greatly-executed 3-point landing.

Here’s what the return trip looked like.

AirNav Pro Lake Chelan to Yakima

Flight time, leg 1: 1.8 hours
Flight time, leg 2: 1.9 hours
Total time: 3.7 hours

My GoPro settings for this flight: onO, F, r3, Cnt, UPd, LFF, oSF, P5, bLO, bPO, nSC

Packwood runway 01 windsock

Packwood Has Been Conquered

This wasn’t my first attempt at setting down in Packwood, but it was almost as harrowing as the first! This place has been on my list for a while and if at first you don’t succeed at landing in Packwood, try, try again. So I did. Some words of advice for anyone unfamiliar with this strip: don’t try any wheel landings. There are dips in disguise that run the width of the runway and when you hit one of these at 60mph you’ll be sprung into the air like an Olympic gymnast which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when you set back down, if you’re like me, then you’re destined to hit another one of these dips launching you into bronze medal contention at the Packwood Olandpics. Also, anticipate winds that are about as consistent as Larry King’s marriages. They change a lot.

My Tailwind is parallel to Runway 01. Note the windsock is indicating a strong wind at about 090.

Packwood runway 01 windsock

A short walk across the runway and you can now see the windsock is indicating a medium wind at about 230.

Packwood airport

One thing the windsock didn’t do was indicate wind directly down the runway.

Packwood airport runway 19

Here’s a shot of Mount St. Helens which can be seen in the distance en route to Packwood from Yakima.
Mount St. Hellens

Continental O-200 air oil spearator

DIY Continental O-200 Air-Oil Separator

air oil separatorThe installation of an electric starter involved the removal of the air-oil separator, and this has proven disastrous in terms of oil blow-by. N11018 has become the Exxon Valdez of the skies. For those of you just tuning in, the air-oil separator on my Continental O-200 was mounted to the back of the engine where a starter would normally be (see inset, yellow arrow). Removing this important component meant relocating the crankcase breather tube to the front of the engine (red arrow) and therein lies the problem. I couldn’t understand how so much oil could be blowing from the crankcase, but after some research I learned that just on the other side of this breather outlet (inside the engine case) is a “shelf” upon which oil accumulates and this accumulation allows for larger quantities of it to blow out. In fact, there was so much blow-by that the tailwheel would get coated in oil; enough oil that every place I stopped on the tarmac would look like a parking stall at AutoZone the next morning. My Mom wanted to make certain I was aware of the problem before I took her on an Easter Sunday flight and said, “This wheel back here is leaking oil.” When things get to the point that your tailwheel appears to be leaking oil, it’s probably safe to assume you’ve got a problem. After some more online searching, I found an affordable solution to the problem which happened to be the same great resource that paved the way for my B&C starter installation: Bowers Fly Baby (see the section on “Crankcase Sealing and Breather Tube”).

If you look at this picture which can be found at the above BFB link, you can clearly see the “shelf” that the oil accumulates on. By extending the length that the breather fitting reaches into the engine, you reduce the amount of oil that can access the blow-by hose. Start by brazing a piece of copper pipe into the threaded end of the breather fitting.

DIY air-oil separator

The “upper” side of the pipe was marked at 4.75″ and the “lower” side at 4.25″. This photo is a top view.

Then cut at the appropriate angle. This photo is a bottom view.

Then, as described by Harry Fenton on BFB, it needs to be “fish mouthed”.

And here’s what you have when it’s done.

The end results were drastic. For a while I figured a little sheen on the underside of my Tailwind might be a good thing. You know, to keep the fabric from rusting. I’m excited to say that this modification has certainly been an improvement and there isn’t any noticeable blow-by on the underside nor the tailwheel of my Tailwind.

Credit for this modification goes to Harry Fenton at Bowers Fly Baby who then credits Bill Pancake for it. Thanks, HF and BP.

B&C Starter BC320-1 Continental O-200 Installation

Santa Claus was good to N11018 this year and delivered a new (actually a low-time) B&C Specialties BC320-1 starter that was picked up from a fellow pilot who ran it on his RV-4 for 42 hours. As all airplane maintenance/upgrade tasks go, nothing is ever simple and installing this starter was no different. I was expecting a quick bolt-on project that would be done in an hour or so, but when attempting to mate the starter to the block there was a 2″ shaft blocking the way. AH CRAP!

Continental O-200 starter shaft

Not knowing what to do, I hit the interweb to see if Lorena Bobbitt might have some advice for removing this thing. That search was fruitless, so I began searching for all the other folks that have come unto this same predicament with their Continental starter installations. Apparently not many have, or if so, they’re keeping it a secret.

After following more links than Mr. T has around his neck, I eventually stumbled onto this page which had a link to this information which included a non-link to this write-up at SkyTec for modifying a Continental C-85 from a pull starter to a push-button starter AND IT INCLUDED PICTURES. HOT DIGGETY! I don’t have a C-85, but the details were close enough to be applied to an O-200. Although I’ve never bought a SkyTec product, I sincerely thank the person at SkyTec that took the time to document AND PHOTOGRAPH the installation of one of their starters that is similar to the BC320-1 I was attempting to install. That saved me some serious grief. Thank you.

I began by soaking one end of a shop towel in WD40 to “catch” metal particles then tucked it inside the engine.

Then made a cardboard cutout that roughly matched the profile around which I would be cutting.

Using some modeling clay that I purchased from the nearby craft store, I packed it into all the places that I couldn’t protect with the cardboard. Not all clay is the same so make sure you read the label before purchasing. I didn’t wanna be chiseling this stuff outta my engine so I got the Bob Dole kind that never hardens. I recommend you do the same.

Bob Dole modeling clay


You’ll need a die grinder to cut the shaft and if you’re like me and the people at SkyTec, the shaft will need to be cut twice in order cut off as much as possible. If your die grinder has a long neck, then you might be able to accomplish this task with one cut. Lorena would be proud.

die grinder

The amount of shaft you remove is critical. According to the B&C specifications, when the starter solenoid is activated, the drive gear will extend 2.46″ into the engine housing so this means you need to make sure the remaining stub of the shaft is at least 2.47″ from the starter mounting surface on the engine.

B&C Starter BC320-1

Use a straight edge placed across the mounting surface (dashed yellow line) and a micrometer to measure the depth into the engine where it meets the shaft. Mine came out to 2.44″ which meant I had to get back in there and file off some more. When finished, the clearance was 2.49″ so I was safe to proceed.

When the job was done, the total amount of shaft cut out was the two solid pieces totaling 1.884″ plus the 0.05″ I had to file down in the previous paragraph which equals 1.949″. When factoring in an additional two “thicknesses” of the die grinder wheel (for the two cuts I made), I think it’s safe to say that 2″ of shaft was cut off.

I’ll spare the details of how to install and wire the starter because if you’ve made it this far, you’ve proven your competence for completing the job. Here’s a before and after shot so you can see what my installed BC320-1 starter looks like.


B&C Starter Continental engine


My New Year’s Resolution: 150 Hours of Flight

2013Happy New Year, everyone. The Tailwind isn’t back in the air yet so no new videos or photos to share. To get myself motivated to have 11018 flying soon, I have resolved to fly her 150 hours this year which is roughly three hours per week. I think that’s doable. The biggest obstacle is the expense of fuel. I do have the good fortune of running auto gas, however due to the US government scam known as E85 (or in layman’s terms: ethanol treated fuels), the number of gas stations that actually sell pure gas have dwindled almost to extinction. There’s still one station standing in the Yakima area selling ethanol free fuel which at the moment is approximately $4.00/gallon. Calculating fuel burn at 5 gallons/hr means 750 gallons of fuel I need to buy this year. 750 x $4.00 = $3,000.00 to spend on fuel and that’s being conservative. As all Americans know, fuel prices begin to rise dramatically for the summer so it would come as no surprise to me if my ethanol free fuel prices climb to $4.75/gallon, meaning I should realistically plan to spend $4,000.00 on fuel this year. YIKES!

If you’re looking for ethanol free gas in Yakima, you’ll find it at Sharp’s Conoco in Moxee. 212 E Moxee Ave Moxee, WA 98936. There used to be two Conoco stations in Yakima (each within two miles of the airport), one in Union Gap, and one in Selah that all sold ethanol free gas. Now none of them do.

Finished heat muff

DIY Experimental Aircraft Heat Muff

There’s a fun-flying aircraft that’s occasionally seen in the wild blue, and once spotted, it’s immediately recognized for its missing cockpit. It’s called a Breezy. The only thing that separates N11018 from “Breezy” status is the fact that it has a cockpit. Because of this, it can never be referred to as a Breezy, but as long as N11018’s cockpit remains intact, it shall be called a Drafty because, well, this sucker is drafty. There’s yet a place I’ve flown to where either my core or my extremities haven’t experienced the sensations that happen when exposed to temps as the mercury approaches zero. I’m not complaining though. The 1965 construction has held up quite well, though over the years there’s no denying, this ship has become drafty.

The two left side exhaust stacks were rigged up for the carb heat box so that left me only the right side exhaust system from which to build a heat muff. The forward exhaust stack was completely unusable, but the rear stack had about 6″ of almost-straight, nearly-unobstructed pipe so that was the best place to work with.
Wittman Tailwind O-200 exhaust

I got two aluminum 2-piece shaft collars from Grainger…
aluminum collar

… and one 6″ x 8″ x 0.032″ sheet of aluminum, one 2″ x 7 ” x 0.032″ sheet of aluminum, four #4 rivets, and two 2″ hose clamps.

The 2″ x 7 ” x 0.032″ sheet of aluminum was cut into 1″ strips and then riveted into 2″ diameter cylinders that would become the inlet and outlets for the heat muff.
heat muff inlet and outlet

The shaft collars were clamped onto the exhaust and the 6″ x 8″ x 0.032″ sheet of aluminum was wrapped around them. Sorry, I don’t know why I don’t have a better photo of this, but if you look at the hose clamps on this photo, underneath is where the collars were attached.
experimental aircraft heat muff

Using one of these sanders…

I shaped the inlet and outlet parts to fit against the heat muff…

The inlet and outlet were then welded to the muff. If you look carefully, you can see the aluminum collars inside and how they help shape the heat muff.
Finished heat muff

This patch shows that maybe possibly once upon a time this ship had a heating system.
Wittman Tailwind firewall

Digging through an old pile of airplane parts, I found this abandoned Piper heater box. I think it came from a Super Cub.
Super Cub heat box

Next I needed a way to control the heat box. Digging through the same pile of old airplane parts, I found a cable that was suitable for the task, and an empty spot on the experimental canvas to place it (to the right of the mag switch).

To finish the installation, well… let’s just say that I used the creative freedom allotted to me in the Experimental Category.


A New Baggage Compartment

The baggage compartment shelf on N11018 was a fragile piece of 1/4″ plywood at the onset of osteoperosis. Through normal flying and landings and incidental vibrations, it would often slide forward about 1/4″ so the back side would no longer be sitting on the main support channel which would cause the shelf to bow in the middle. I replaced it with a sheet of some material that a friend purchased from the Boeing Surplus store several years ago. This is a lightweight balsa wood material sandwiched between two sheets of 0.040″ aluminum. I was informed by a former Boeing employee that back in the day this material was sold in 4′ x 8′ sheets for $2,000.00 per sheet which means N11018 has one seriously strong and expensive baggage compartment. The best part, it weighs only 9 ounces more than the turd it replaced and I’ve tested it up to 75 lbs. without so much as a bow.







Sim-Outhouse Updated Wittman Tailwind Models

I’ve been quite busy with life’s activities for the past few months. Unfortunately that hasn’t involved any flying nor working on the Tailwind, so my apologies to those who have found my little corner of the web and hoped for some more frequent updates, but have not received them. That said, a message came over the wire this morning about some updated W-8 and W-10 models at Sim-Outhouse and they look phenomenal so I think they’re worthy of a mention here. I’ll include a few teaser screenshots, but there are several more for you to drool over at SOH. Now there’s no excuse to not fly a Tailwind every day.



Tailwind on the ground

Credit for the images goes to user Lionheart at SOH.

Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk, NC

Happy Birthday to Aviation

The weather’s been as low as single digits and topping out in the 20’s during the day. It’s just too cold to work on the Tailwind in an unheated hangar so I haven’t got anything done since I last signed in. I did want to take this moment to say happy birthday (or happy anniversary) to aviation. It was on this day 108 years ago, December 17, 1903, that the Wright Brother’s took their first powered flight in Kitty Hawk, NC in the Wright Flyer. What’s really special is that the moment was caught on film and the photo is available through the Library of Congress. It’s such a neat piece of history that I want to share it here. Orville was laying on his stomach at the controls, while Wilbur looked on watching history being made.

First flight, 120 feet in 12 seconds, 10:35 a.m.; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Wright Flyer First Flight

Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk, NC

If you want to download the images from the Library of Congress, here you go.

Harold Passow, Where Are You?

I’ve been trying to track down N11018’s builder, Harold Passow, for a few months now. I mailed a letter to his last known airport — KARV Lakeland Airport/Noble F. Lee Memorial Field — in September hoping it would reach him. The letter was never returned to me, and I never got a response from Harold, his family, or the airport.

Using that handy resource called the internet, I found an address for Harold in Hazelhurst, WI and sent him a “Thank You” card (as in, thank you for building this great Tailwind) last month and today it was in my mailbox because it couldn’t be delivered.

I wanted to let him know where his Tailwind is at now and wish him a happy holidays so if anybody knows where Harold is at (I hope he’s still alive), then leave a comment below or contact me with his address or phone number.