It Takes a Village


A nice clean panel for a simple motor glider.

...And every village needs an idiot. Or at least someone who doesn't know something. The best thing though - is the village can come together to educate him, even if they don't know it! Continue reading "It Takes a Village"


Looking West at Donner Pass - those rocks are not easy to climb, even in summer.

Take a look at these beautiful pictures, taken over the town of Truckee (CA), just north of Lake Tahoe,  at the northern edge of the Sierra Nevada. It's mid-November, and snow is beginning to fill in the high country. The large granite crags at the western edge of Donner Lake (the approach to Donner Pass) are visible - but already showing their winter coat.  To the east, we can look into the Great Basin of North America. At the foot of the hills in which we find ourselves, the city of Reno - planted in a valley known as the Truckee Meadows. These pictures were taken out of opposite sides of my RV-8, and the flying time from Truckee Meadows to the Donner Pass is about ten minutes. Continue reading "Perspective"

Favorite Tools

I was working on a part for our Xenos the other day - a fairly complicated bracket to hold an idler bell crank that is part of the aileron control circuit. This bracket was to be made from 2" x 2" aluminum angle, with a right and left half (and a set for each wing). Not only is the shape fairly complicated on the top, the attaching flange has cut-outs on the bottom to clear lightening holes on the rib to which it is mounted. Just laying the thing out from the drawings to the raw stock took an hour of careful measuring and checking - and then it was on to actual metal work. Continue reading "Favorite Tools"

Ultimate Instrument Proficiency Check

I fly a lot of new experimental aircraft, which means I do a lot of flying with the latest technology when it comes to panels, EFISes, and IFR navigators. So when I went to do some multi-engine training in a friends 1967 Twin Comanche, I knew that I was in for a challenge. It had nothing thing to do with remembering the rules and regs for IFR flight - the problem was going to be getting sharp enough to pass an Instrument Proficiency Check on a six pack and raw data! Not only that - it wasn't truly what we call a six pack these days - the DG was below the altimeter, and the VSI was off wandering around in right field. The autopilot hadn't worked in the memory of any recent owners - so this was hand flying all the way. It was a challenge.

And... it was fun! Continue reading "Ultimate Instrument Proficiency Check"


Putting it away--unused. Watched the weather all day, even taxied the airplane over to the fuel pumps, but never flew. See that blue sky above the hangar? It lasted only a few minutes, and of course, just after we called the flying off. But that's the way it works.

There are a few fundamentals when it comes to aviation weather that many pilots never really get taught. These have nothing to do whatsoever with dew points, adiabatic lapse rates, winds aloft, or convective activity. No, these fundamentals relate to what we do with the information we obtain--the decision-making process that determines how we manage risk. Decision-making when it comes to weather is one at in which we stay alive. Continue reading "Ahhh...Weather"

Sorta' Old School

It turns out that next week I am going to do some flying with an old friend in his old Twin Comanche. No, it's not an experimental, but is is still a bit challenging in its own way. We're going to do some IFR currency stuff (everyone can use an IPC now and again), and when I asked him what he had for avionics, he said "A 430W and a six pack."

"HSI?" I asked... hopefully...

"Nope - old school, we'll do it the way you used to!" Continue reading "Sorta' Old School"