Friday, September 26, 2014

Dolphins Fly! They used to anyway. . .

I was chewing the fat with Jellystone Air Park neighbor, Russ Farris, the other day.  He was giving me the $20 tour of his R/C model airplane workshop which is adjacent to his full size Studebaker workshop, just west of the Rock Hill -York County Airport.  Both shops are impressive; certainly worth the price of admission.  It is my understanding that Studebaker aficionados and Douglas DC-8 pilots get in free.  The same goes for anyone who has ever flown a DC-9, or one of it's variants.  That was my good fortune, because I had just given my last Jackson to the nice folks at Skytech Incorporated for a couple of quarts of mineral oil for Brother Baker's Luscombe (a story for another time.)  But I digress.  The conversation rolled around to seaplanes when I asked about a PBY Catalina that was hanging from the ceiling. I've never seen a R/C flying boat actually operate on water, so I asked Russ how it flew.  I think he said, "fantastic," or something along that line, I can't be sure.  His answer disappeared---in one ear, and out the other---when I noticed the skeleton of a Grumman Goose fuselage sitting on a workbench.  Russ said it was an on again-off again project. The wings are complete, but the fuselage (obviously) still needs covering.  He showed me a diagram of the paint scheme he plans to use.  It was all very cool.

Our conversation about the Grumman Goose quickly moved south---to Southern California, and the various airlines that have served Catalina Island over the years.  There are several books on the subject.  I have two in my library:  The Knights of Avalon, Seaplanes of Catalina Island, by David L. Johnston, and Catalina by Air, by Jeannie L. Pedersen, the curator of the Catalina Island Museum.  Both are interesting reads.  I mentioned this to Russ (who is a walking aviation encyclopedia, by the way) and was surprised that he had never seen either of these books.  I promised to loan them to him---and did so a few days later when the gang had gathered at Jellystone Air Park, to work on Brother Baker's Luscombe (that other story.)

Here is where the story takes a serendipitous turn.  When Russ saw Catalina by Air, he said: "Hey, a Douglas Dolphin!  Coke Darden had one years ago."  I told Russ that Coke Darden was not a familiar name, but I had seen a Douglas Dolphin at a fly-in at Gastonia, North Carolina when I was in the 7th grade.  The year was 1972, and I assume it was a Carolinas-Virginia Antique Airplane Foundation production.  It was my first fly-in---drive-in, actually.  I rode with my best friend, Joe Mullis, and his father, in the Mullis' family station wagon.  I still have the pictures:

I assume this is the same airplane.  I can't imagine there were two Douglas Dolphins in the Carolinas in the 1970's. 

When Russ saw the pictures he sent the following note:

"Wow, you got to see the Dolphin fly!  NC14205 is in the Naval Air Museum in PNS now. Check out this video of the last flight, complete with water touch and goes.  Man that thing was LOUD, like all great airplanes!"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another RV In The Sky!

Gene Williamson & Bob Cabanis


Fantastic news for Jellystone Air Park neighbor, Gene Williamson.  His RV-12 project received it's Airworthiness Certificate on Thursday.  First flight was yesterday afternoon!  Fellow EAA Chapter 961 member, Bob Cabanis, was in charge of the flight test program.  Congratulations Gene!

First Flight Video!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Brother Barbeau has been known to give a ride, or two.  I've heard him say many times he hates to see the front seat of the Hatz go unused.  I understand his reasoning.  It's a pretty cool place to be---especially for first time fliers.  Even old hands climb out of the front cockpit with giant grins on their faces!  I call it the Biplane Effect---residue left over after viewing the world from an open cockpit, framed by wings and struts. It never gets old. One ride in the Hatz and you understand why the early aviators were reluctant to transition to cabin class airplanes. To fly was to be one with the elements, to be able to reach out and touch the clouds.  Of course one flight when the temperature is below forty-five degrees, or so, and you understand why they eventually made the change.  It can get chilly!

Spring and Fall are the optimum seasons for Jellystorming in the Carolinas. Temperatures usually run in the 60's and 70's in the mornings and evenings when the density altitude is (relatively) low, and the air is smooth.  Whereas the Luscombe is a clean machine, and performs fairly well in the summer months; the 100 hp Hatz, with it's extra set of wings and associated drag producing appendages, does not---especially in the afternoon.  Not many Hatz rides are given during the dog days of summer.  But there are exceptions.

A few weeks ago we caught a break when cooler temperatures invaded the Carolinas.  The Chamber of Commerce weather system happened to coincide with the return of my daughter, Holly, from California---where she and a friend, James, were employed for the summer as high adventure camp counselors for an outfit that specializes in youth programs for adolescent children diagnosed with ADHD and learning disabilities.  The organization is called SOAR, and is based here in North Carolina.  James lives in the United Kingdom.  Somewhere along the way, either while hiking and camping in the mountains above Ventura, California, or sea kayaking in the Chanel Islands National Park, or rock climbing and horseback riding in Morro Bay, California, Holly mentioned to James that her father would be happy to take him flying in an open cockpit biplane before he returned to the UK.  My adventurous daughter knows me well. . .

Thus it came to pass, on an unusually cool morning in August, young James Guffogg (all 6'4" of him) climbed into the front cockpit of a red and ivory Hatz biplane, and went Jellystorming back in time---back to the golden age of aviation.  And while it was not 1929, and there were no clouds to touch, it was every bit as exciting---and satisfying, especially for me.  When James said: "That was awesome," as we were touching down, I knew he was not speaking about just the landing---even though it was a nice one.  He was talking about the whole package:  The clear blue sky and crisp morning sunlight; the wind in the hair; the roar of the mighty Continental O200 engine; the spectacular view from one thousand feet above the York County countryside; and of course, that awesome landing!  I'm not sure who had the better time, James, or me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September Moon

September 8, 2014, Western Wisconsin, Flight Level 330. . .

7:35 PM

7:36 PM

7:37 PM

7:39 PM