Friday, February 21, 2014


The day started out rainy and overcast.

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.

Well actually, the flipping dogs played out in the rain and the mud as much as I let them, but anyway...

But then it cleared up, as if by magic. Come afternoon, the clouds were gone, the sun was out, and best of all, the wind was light and right down the runway.

Oh, yeah...

Out to the airport I drove, calling en route for the fuel truck to go out and top me off. The battery's been in the basement on a charger since the last flight in December and it only took a couple of minutes for me to install it. Then, after an extra-thorough walk-around pre-flight check (because I have not seen, much less flown, this aircraft in two and a half months), I hit the starter and she fired up as quick and as smooth as if I'd just parked it an hour ago. As soon as the oil temp came up, I was number one for take-off and off I went, heading southeast, just because.
The town below in Charles Town, WV. Above and beyond it, that gap in the mountains is Harpers Ferry, where the Potomac River cuts through the Blue Ridge on it's way down to DC.
(Click on the pictures to enlarge.)
The scant remains of our snow, courtesy of a couple of back-to-back 50+ degree days.
Here's the Shenandoah River, curing north to meet the Potomac at Harpers Ferry.
Just over the Blue Ridge is the farmland of Virgina's Loudon County. It's an economic and cultural different world on that side compared to Dogpatch, West Virginia on this side.

Down the Blue Ridge a bit, a little south of Route Seven, we come upon Mount Weather, the federal government's FEMA center where, in the event of a war or catastrophe of some sort, they plan to shelter all of the important bureaucrats that likely caused it.
I've been leaving this place alone for the most part on my flights in the area, but on my last night flight through here, a helicopter of theirs decided to follow me around and blind me with his searchlight every time I so much as pointed my nose in the direction of the place. I didn't post on it at the time because I wanted to double-check and make sure that I wasn't accidentally violating some temporary flight restriction but after much checking around, I'm certain that I didn't and the helicopter crew were just being tools and/or trying to drive me away from something that someone didn't want me to see. Well hey, Mt. Weather--that old wheel just keeps turning and now it's on like Donkey Kong and you guys are going to get lots of that special sort of attention from me for a while now.
Where's your helicopter now, bitches?

I'll be back. Count on it.

Next, here's the airport at Winchester, VA. I landed just because I needed the practice and it was there.
And yeah, their left-most PAPI light is out. I told them.

And look at this neat plane I found there.
No idea what that is, but that three-blade prop suggests that it's got some power pushing it.
Next, it was a hop down to Front Royal, were I got to practice slipping because I'd gotten way too high and turned base way too soon. But I greased it in right on the numbers and made it a full-stop just so I could taxi back up to the FBO. I mean, where else can I set up to be number two for take-off, following the F-86?
I've been here before, and there are more and better pics of the F-86 here.

Taking off again, it was a short, uneventful flight back to my home airport, but in flying over Stephen City, I saw this quarry with a tunnel leading off of it that practically begs for a scuba exploration. What do you say, Aaron?

Then it was home and down, and the plane put up as the sun sets.
I kinda wish I'd come out later for some night flight, but there'll be time for that later.

And lookit--it's got some spiffy new Kenon sunscreens to keep the sun off the interior and prying eyes away from it's contents. These were a Christmas present and they just got installed today for the first time.

All in all, it was a great afternoon, and while I'm still not walking terribly well, I had no brake/rudder issues at all and for two whole hours, I completely forgot that I'm still having leg problems. I'm happy.


  1. Good to see you are back in the air again. Nothing like it, is it !

  2. The cat in the hat gets airborne!

  3. What a great outing - and congrats on getting wheels up!

  4. When will you take the dogs flying?

    1. Murphy already has plenty of flight hours but Belle will get her debut flight soon. Stick around.

    2. The mystery plane looks to be a Velocity--a home/kit build that uses canards, has no flaps and is literally stall-proof. If/when angle-of-attack gets too steep, it simply sinks at the same rate the aoa increases.

      VERY cool airplanes, but you do need a lot of runway to take off and land on.

      As far as the rotorheads who were hitting you with the spotlight, for one that is a pretty blatant violation of the FARs. Two, they are the give-way vessel as they are far more maneuverable than any fixed wing aircraft. And three. . .

      I had a tour-guide rotorhead harass me down on the coast of Texas some years back. I got on the guard frequency and informed him that I had more fuel on board and could stay up longer, was faster and he could not outrun me and that I was going to land when he landed and he and I were going to get properly introduced.

      I wasn't alone. Two other fixed-wing GA pilots were waiting on us at the rotorhead's FBO, and like me, they were ex-military and we got the message across to the SOB with only a minimum of physical punctuation. Then we called the FSDO and filed a formal on him.

      Seems he had done this before and been reported and this was the incident that did him in. Ticket suspended indefinitely.

      If you're ever in doubt about an area and another aircraft is acting weird, tune in to 122.75 and see if they're trying to communicate with you.

      If you're in violation of anything, chances are good that someone from regional approach or center will be trying to communicate with you. Sounds like these rotorheads were just being alpha hotels.

      Glad you had a good flight. I let my medical lapse late last year during my last hospital stay so as to avoid having any complications with the AME. I need to get a letter of waiver from my surgeon next month and then go visit the AME and get legal for the Cessna and RV8. I only need a drivers license for the Taylorcraft (classified as a light sport aircraft) so it's been getting most of the attention.

      Good stuff!


    3. Re: the helicopter, I was monitoring 121.5 and the local airport's 122.7. I figure if he had something to say, he'd have hailed me on either one of those.
      First I saw of him was when I flew right over the top of him as he was down low, using his spotlight on something on the ground just outside the perimeter of the place. Then when I realized that it was a helicopter operating below me, I got curious and I flew out a bit then turned ninety degrees so I could watch him out my side window from a distance and see what was going on. That was when he started lighting me up with his night sun and climbing up between me and the facility. I flew away, but then I circled a minute later to see if he was still back there and he hit me again. Those things are bright and play hell with your night vision. We did this dance twice more before I finally departed the area. And honestly, at first I thought that I'd somehow been in the wrong. But after much checking...eff that guy. There was no TFR and I had every right to be there.

  5. Quite a bit of FEMA training for first responders is conducted at Mt. Weather and a lot of helicopters are in and out of there. I've spoken with attendees who were directed back inside when mysterious goings on occurred. Whoever was handling security must have been doing it right because other than knowing something was going on that wasn't any of their business that was all the attendees knew. FWIW I'd ere on the side of leaving the area if another helicopter spotlighted you again.

    1. Yeah, but I don't like to be pushed. Publish a TFR or ask me nicely on the radio and I'll stay clear. But if they want to play rotor-cowboy, I can be the indian.

  6. Feels good to stretch your wings again, eh?

  7. I agree with AOA, I think the mystery plane is a Velocity. Drooled over the thought of building one for a while then gave it up as too expensive and time consuming, especially since I didn't have a suitable shop and tended to move a lot.

    Nice pics! I love flying over VA. Do make double sure to check NOTAMS and TFRs before you go back. Maybe even a quick call to Flight Service on the radio while you're heading that way just to make sure nothing's popped up.

    Lots nicer than what I saw last week flying over Congo. It's tail end of the dry season so it's all dust, haze and smoke. Forward vis at altitude is barely a mile or so. Good flights, save for being hassled by officials extorting money out of me and my passengers at a couple of places.

    Enjoy the flights!

    And keep up with the Dr Seuss. Great quote!

  8. I swear that is J.B. Farm/Gate 4 in that one picture on the right as you head, I think, up river. I waived. :)

    1. It is indeed. And I appreciate the waiver of a wave.

  9. Glad you're back in the air! Now you just need to get those rocket pods installed...