Tuesday, July 30, 2013

If you can't make it to Oshkosh. . .

Stop in at the Bush-N-Vine for an ice cold Triple Berry Slushy!  You'll be glad you did!

Now that Four Three Bravo is back in action, the Jellystoners are back to doin' what we do best:  Knocking back slushies at the Bush-N-Vine Produce Stand in York, South Carolina!

Before we go any further; check out this video of the Sound of Freedom:

Watching Four Three Bravo taxi out sure put a smile on my face!  So did cruising over the York County countryside in the Pontiac Red and Sun Valley Ivory biplane.  (I could have written, red and white Hatz, but where's the poetry in that?)

On to the photos from today's adventure:

Young Colin Baker.  Almost ready to check out.

Colin and Joe on the steps of the Bush-N-Vine.

The object of our obsession!

They have this stuff too.

Brother Baker and I swapped airplanes for the return flight to Jellystone Air Park.  It was my first chance to fly Four Three Bravo since the overhaul.  The Mighty 85 runs sweet!  Still working on seating the rings; so it was 2,400 RPM and 205 degrees on the oil temperature gauge for the next thirty minutes.  Five minutes after takeoff I asked my First Officer:  "How's summer vacation going?"  No response.  It was "lights out" all the way back to the hangar!  At times it can be lonely being the Captain. . .

Once the airplanes were put to bed we set out for the Daily Special at the Ebenezer Grill.

After the Dereliction of Duty photograph, the young First Officer refused to have his picture taken.

Until next time. . .

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Visit

They say you can't go back.  Maybe not in time; but certainly you can in place.  Brother Barbeau took this picture of Dad and I standing in front of the old hangar at Elser Field (now Youngstown Elser Metro Airport) in North Lima, Ohio this past June---thirty-eight years since my last visit.  Sixty-seven years since Dad's first solo. 

Gary and I were in Ohio helping Mom and Dad move my 89 year old Aunt into an assisted living facility.  Aunt Ruth is a "collector," and has been for most of her 89 years.  Gary knows this---and while I've never known him to turn down a road trip---the carrot I used to entice him to help sort through 89 years of stuff, was a chance to see the airport where Dad soloed in 1946.

Back in the day. . .

Here are a few photographs from Aunt Ruth's collection.


1946 Taylorcraft BC-12D, NC96667.  Only seven hours on the airframe when Dad soloed.

Taylorcraft view of Elser Field.

Young Pop Cottom on final for Runway 28.  This photo was taken by my Uncle John, Dad's older brother.  Uncle John's claim to fame at Elser Field was a successful off airport (cornfield) landing, that according to Dad, probably could have been avoided with the application of carburetor heat.  So the lesson here is not to remember to apply carb heat at reduced power settings; but rather to be nice to your kid brother, otherwise he will tell embarrassing stories about you later in life!


For me the highlight of summer vacations during the 1970's was visiting Elser Field.  I wrote about this in a post titled:  July 13, 1973.  These were the in between years.  I was old enough to know I wanted to fly, but too young to economically take flying lessons.  To satisfy my addiction I built hundreds of airplane models, and read FLYING magazine each month cover to cover.  I constantly bugged Dad to take my brother and I out to the airport when we visited our grandparents in North Lima.  Elser Field---that magical little dirt and grass airstrip in Northeast Ohio---was my introduction to a lifetime of aviation adventure.  After 40 years the memories are still vivid; in some cases spectacular.  Like the firecracker fate of many a model airplane!
Speaking of memories.  How about this fashion statement from 1975!  The person that said, "if you hold on to anything long enough, it will eventually come back in style," never owned a pair of plaid, double-knit polyester slacks.  The saving grace for this fellow:  He flew a Bonanza.  The gentleman on the left is the airport's namesake, Galen Elser.  Galen wore many hats:  Airport Manager, Chief Pilot, Line Boy, Owner.  He was also Dad's flight instructor.
By the late 1980's Elser Field, like much of general aviation, was in a terrible state.  Run down and neglected, only a handful of airplanes remained on the airfield.  It could have easily disappeared---another housing development; like so many of it's brethren, or back to it's pre 1940's farming roots.  But that didn't happen.  In 1989 Michael E. Stanko, President of Gemco Aviation Services, Inc. rode into town.  In short order the upgrades began.  Runway, ramps, and taxiways were paved.  Hangars were built.   A new fuel farm was installed.  General Aviation returned to Elser Field. . .
Youngstown Elser Metro Airport, 2013:
Gemco Aviation Services, Inc., Beechcraft Maintenance Specialists.
A King Air 90, a Maule on floats, and a surprise in back of the Gemco shop.
Surprise?  Apparently not.  Gemco has a reputation for outstanding Staggerwing restorations.  This particular airplane was overseas and was damaged during shipping---someone dropped the crate!  The fuel gages were being calibrated during our visit.  Yes, that is Ferrari Red!
Clean as a whistle!  Before the oil. . . 
Now this was a surprise!  Not what I was expecting to see in Staggerwing.  A little something-something for the Cirrus owner who would like to upgrade.
 Dad and Gary with a 1938 D17S.  This one's full of oil!  It's also for sale.
More to my liking.  Or should I say understanding. . .
Runway 28, Then & Now:
Gary and Dad on the parallel taxiway, looking down Runway 28.
Gary saw this. . .
 I remembered this. . .
Dad remembered this!
The original hangar.  The right side bay was added in the late 40's - early 50's.
More Storage. . .
Not a lot of change on this one.
Before we put this story to bed. . .
This is how I remember Galen Elser:  Smiling; always happy to visit with his former student---and two excited boys!  Interestingly enough, N3111N, the 1947 Cessna 140 in the photo above, is currently registered to a fellow in Chandler, Arizona.  Since Pop Baker lives out that way, and is fairly active in the tail wheel community, I asked Joe to check with his dad to see if he might know the guy.  Hey, stranger things have happened---and there really aren't that many tail wheel folks out there!  I figured the chances were pretty good that Pop Baker knew the guy, and may have flown that very airplane. 
Alas, he did not. . .  But he remembered photographing the airplane at the Casa Grande Fly-In several years back.  If you ask me, I'd say that was pretty close!
Aunt Ruth

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Mighty 85. . .

is almost ready to rumble!

Four Three Bravo's top overhaul is complete.  All that remains is to install the cowling and the propeller, add four quarts of oil, and then go fly!

Update 01, 1501 Zulu, July 24, 2013.

From Brother Baker:  "As per the Continental Service Bulletin; 750 RPM for one minute, then 1000 RPM for three minutes. . .  No leaks!  She's all signed off.  We fly in the morning!"

Update 02, 1549 Zulu, July 25, 2013.

The long awaited message:  "45 minutes.  Oil pressure steady.  Nothing on the belly!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Progress. . .

Behold!  The parts have arrived!  Here are two of the four boxes that were delivered to Brother Baker's doorstep Tuesday afternoon.  The top overhaul of 43 Bravo's Continental 85 (with the O200 STC) should be completed shortly!  In fact, the team is set to assemble Monday morning---crew scheduling willing, and the creek don't rise!

The past few months have been rough.  With three full time pilots---Brother Hogan and the EG are out-of-towners (no offense guys)---having one airplane out of commission has been hard on the Jellystoners.  Overall, our membership is not slight of build.  The recent trend of 2,800' density altitudes pretty much limits the Hatz to single pilot operations---and we are a social group!  It's mid July and we have yet to visit the smoothie machine at the Bush-N-Vine Produce Stand in York, South Carolina.  As if there was a chance of that happening---what with the recent monsoon rains. . .  Soggy runways aside; like Brother Baker, we are all glad the parts have arrived.

Speaking of Brother Baker:  He decided to use the down time---between sissy French airliner flights, of course---to spruce up the engine compartment.  Except for the cowling; all of the airframe parts have been cleaned, inspected, painted, and reinstalled with new hardware.  It really looks nice!  Last week he decided to paint the engine case gold.  That got the attention of Jellystone Air Park neighbor, and vintage aircraft purist, Russ Farris.  You may recall that Russ has a beautiful 1957 Cessna 172 that he co-owns with Forrest Walton.  Both are fellow Francois Flyers of Brother Baker at US Airways.  When Russ saw the gold colored paint job he offered the following comment:  "You know you might lose a couple of points at Oshkosh; Continental didn't start painting their engine cases gold until 1965."  Touché, frère Russ, Touché!  Now if it would just stop raining. . .

A derriere view of the Farris-Walton 172.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Twenty Years and Counting!

Happy Anniversary to my bride of twenty years!

Nancy through the years. . .

Watsonville, California, 1993.

Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington, 1993.

Sun-N-Fun 1999, Lakeland, Florida.

Four pretty ladies!  1999 Spring Vintage Fly-In, Southern Pines, North Carolina.

Oshkosh 2000.  More pretty ladies!

2010 Spring Vintage Fly-In, Roxboro, North Carolina.

I'm sure she was thinking: "My sweet husband could really use one of those!"

Clowning around at Jellystone Air Park, August 2011.

Waiting on the layover van. . .  San Jose, California, July 2012.

Glamour Shot!