Luscombe Road Trip—Wish me luck!

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by birdus, Sep 2, 2020.

  1. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    With mountain flying down drafts, they'll get your attention in a hurry when you're low hours and getting used to them. When you get the REAL bad one, the one that won't release you quickly, you'll find that it will let up at 300-500 AGL (hope you approached that ridge line on the 45* so you have options). Be SURE you know what you're fly in, meaning if it's VIRGA or a microburst, it may take you all the way to the ground. If you hit a dust devil landing (especially over pavement and don't see it), you'll get turned 45 degrees to the left, have had this in the flare and it's not fun. If you catch mountain wave or near rotor TB, you might get some near inverted or unintentional inverted flight ... there's not ALWAYS a lenticular to give it away.
     
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  2. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Second to the last day of the trip and I'm feeling pretty excited about getting home, but first, I'm going to fly to Lebanon, Oregon and visit my cousin that I haven't seen in 40 years (his mom and my dad were brother/sister). Our families would get together at least once a year while we were growing up, but life can alter tradition.

    I went through my usual routine at the airport: mount cameras, remove some stuff from the plane, put backpack and camera bag in the plane, put various and sundry other junk back into the nooks and crannies, pre-flight and go. I also had the line guy (a helicopter pilot who is pursuing that as his career) top up both my tanks.

    After I was all ready to do, I fired up the engine and let it start to warm up. While it did, I continued my usual routine. Make sure all the cameras are running, double check oil pressure is good, check fuel gauges, check my route for the day on the iPad, listen to ATIS, then tune in the next two frequencies I was going to use: ground and tower. Having an idea which runway to expect after listening to ATIS, I visualized which way I would taxi to get to the threshold. I'd also heard ground tell another plane which way to taxi. I felt pretty good about being able to get where I needed to go.

    A few days earlier when I had pressed the PTT button on the top of my stick, there had been quite a lot of static. I had been talking to a tower and he hadn't said anything, so I'd guessed that the static was only audible to me in the headset. It cleared up after that and I forgot about it. Well, this morning, the static was back. Kingsley ground said "civilian aircraft is unreadable" and suggested "you might be in a dead spot and if you're at Century Aviation" maybe I could taxi away from the building and try again. I was pretty sure that wasn't it, so I fiddled around some more. At one point, pushing my PTT button resulted in absolutely nothing. Pushing the PTT on the other stick caused silence in my headset, but didn't transmit. I unplugged my splitter (which sends audio to a digital recorder in addition to my headset) and plugged directly into the panel. No dice. One thing I did not try was to plug into the backup jacks which go directly into the radio and bypass the intercom.

    So, for the second time on this trip, I employed my hand held radio. Initially, ground said they couldn't read me. Maybe I wasn't pressing the button hard enough, but eventually, we were able to communicate. I wasn't excited about trying to understand them on the hand held with the engine blaring, but it worked out okay. I taxied, then switched to tower, and got clearance to take off, and for a downwind departure to the northwest, which is what I'd requested. I asked the tower if he wanted me to do a left downwind or right downwind. He decided on a right, which I confirmed. I held the radio up to my ear for several minutes, anxious to hear "Luscombe 1-3-kilo, frequency change approved" which I eventually did. I quickly responded with "Luscombe 1-3-kilo, thanks for your help. See ya!" and dropped the hand held on the seat next to me, glad to be done with those shenanigans. I then put my head set back on, happy to be able to enjoy the comfort of active noise reduction.

    I suspect a few of you have been yelling at me, but I couldn't hear you the other day, so I apologize for frustrating you with my density. After putting my headset back on, I could hear the tower very crisply and clearly and with virtually no engine or wind noise. Magical! It was at that instant that I realized that what I should've been doing was listening over my headset through the airplane's radio, and using the hand held merely for transmitting, simply holding it up to my mouth to talk, but then setting it down, flying, and listening as normal. I guess that's what happens when you get experience. You learn new and better ways of doing things that make you less dumb than before.

    After I was done with the class D airport at Klamath Falls, I knew I was in the clear. I wouldn't have to talk to anyone else for the rest of the trip. I would announce my position as I approached Lebanon State and Pierce County, but that was no big deal, and now I had the process worked out. I was pretty sure the rest of the trip would be smooth sailin'.

    I flew at moderate altitude—maybe 1,000 feet—over Upper Klamath Lake, and quite enjoyed it. North of the lake, I flew over some flat fields, and noticed something interesting (to me, anyway). There was a meandering river running across the valley, but there had obviously been other pathways the river had taken in times past. You would probably never see that on the ground, but from the air, it was very clear. You can see the same thing around other meandering rivers, like the Rio Grande or the Mississippi. Once the turns become sharp enough, they cut all the way through. There are signs of the old pathways for ages to come, and I could see them all over the valley.

    There was a ridgeline in front of me and I was excited about what I would see when I crested it. For a while before reaching it, I was at full power and climbing pretty aggressively. I got to an altitude I was satisfied with before reaching the ridge (around 8,000 feet, if I recall correctly), leveled off, and reduced power. I don't think I'd ever been to Crater Lake and so was really anticipating what I was about to witness. Ages ago, there was a volcano named Mount Mazama. Its collapse left a huge crater which now forms the deepest lake in the United States, a whopping 1,949 feet deep. I wasn't disappointed. The blue color of the water is famous for a reason. It was beautiful, and the crater was huge. It measures about 5 miles across, resulting in a circumference of over 15 miles. It took me probably 10 or 15 minutes to fly around it. Just awesome.

    Around Crater Lake is mostly just rolling hills covered with trees. It was a bit bumpy with lots of drafts. Not the most fun. Believing there would be a bit more of interest down low, I descended and flew along the Willamette River and over Hills Creek Lake. That was thoroughly enjoyable, more so to me than above tree-covered hills that looked mostly the same.

    On the chart, I saw an airport up ahead. I hadn't planned on landing, but as I got closer, I thought it looked like an interesting airport, and that I should land there. Oakridge State Airport (5S0) is on a plateau above Willamette City and nestled in between mountains. I overflew the airport and winds looked calm, so I flew out pretty close to one of the surrounding hills, then turned around for a 45. I overshot final by just a bit, and only then saw that the best approach would've actually been to cut the corner, as there was a clearing in the trees which would've accommodated that approach much better. I solved that problem by just doing a long forward slip over the trees. I took a short break, changed a couple batteries, and enjoyed my unscheduled stop. There were no obstructions at the north end of the runway, so I took off in the same direction in which I'd landed. That's the direction I wanted to go anyway. My climb was shallow (on purpose) and I just ended up staying low over the river and continuing low above Lookout Point Lake.

    The last segment of the flight was over beautiful rural land surrounded by low hills. As I approached Lebanon State Airport, an RV was departing, but the airport was otherwise quiet. I announced my positions on the hand held and listened for other traffic over the A20. After landing, I noticed a few Tecnams on the ramp, pretty neat planes. There was also a Tecnam sign in the hangar. Turns out a dealership is located there. We had a nice chat. For the first time since I've been a plane owner, I put MOGAS in the Luscombe. Most airports don't seem to have it, but since they did and it was more than a dollar per gallon cheaper than 100LL, it was the obvious choice. Upon placing the ladder up near my wing, I noticed something interesting. As the pilot, I know the buck stops with me, so it's my fault for not noticing before. The lineman at Klamath had put both my fuel caps on backwards. I don't know if any fuel was siphoned out, but I guarantee I wasn't getting any ram air pressure. No harm done. I'll e-mail them and let them know.

    Although the trip has been uneventful in the grand scheme of things, the radio issue was definitely a challenge. Other than that, however, the day's flight went well. Time to visit a long lost cousin. Only one day left. I'm anxious to get home.

    F-15 getting some work or testing done on it as I taxied to the runway. The guy on the left looked like he was security.
    01.jpg

    Upper Klamath Lake (I think)
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    Valley north of Upper Klamath Lake. Note the paths of former meandering rivers.
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    Crater Lake
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    8e.jpg

    Hills Creek Lake (I think)
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    Hills Creek Lake (I think)
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  3. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Approach to Oakridge State Airport (5S0). I swung wide on final and was high, so I got back on track, and I'm slipping pretty aggressively over the trees. The better approach, in my opinion, would be to cut base short and come in right over the blades of grass along the descending hill (the brown grass). Even with my bad approach, there was plenty of runway at 3,610 feet.
    12a.jpg

    Departing from Oakridge State Airport.
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    Lookout Point Lake
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    The reason Lookout Point Lake exists, Lookout Point Dam.
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    As slow as the Luscombe is, it's still faster than a freight train. I totally crushed this dude.
    17.jpg
     
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  4. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I hope I never experience any of those bad ones!
     
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  5. LB 408A

    LB 408A Pre-Flight

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    Thanks for your posts I'm looking forward to more. I'm suspecting that you were told- now you have a license to learn, you must have taken it to heart.
     
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  6. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I appreciate the extra commentary. With you being in a lower-powered aircraft and relatively "low time", I wasn't sure how much anxiety you felt during the stronger downdrafts, especially when terrain below was getting closer and you hadn't made it across the ridge to the upwind side. Those rotors can be sporty!
     
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  7. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    You will if you're near mountains, but you'll also know that as long as it's not a microburst (no TS acivity), it might LOOK ugly, but it will let you go and won't pile drive you into the ground ... but if you forgot the 45 degree rule ...
     
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  8. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My last day's flight would be a short one, and, as I wasn't anxious to skedaddle while visiting with a cousin I hadn't seen in years, I slept in a bit (as I had the past couple days) and would enjoy a leisurely breakfast as well. That plan worked out well as, when I looked outside the window after getting up, thick fog shrouded the abodes of the neighbors, the trees, and other things I'd be interested in not crashing into after getting off the ground. The fog was solid up against the western side of Cascades all the way up into Canada and wouldn't clear up until afternoon, so we enjoyed our breakfast at Sheri's and continued to catch up. After that, we visited a couple houses that were for sale (he's in the market) and finally went to the airport about noon. I knew I wouldn't be off the ground for another hour or so, and it looked like I'd have flyable weather by then.

    While fog was still visible in the distance, I'd learned that that was common with fog or smoke. To wit, if you looked through the weather, it might look bad, but if you could see several miles, then as you went, you might always be able to see that far ahead, so you could keep going just fine.

    My plan was to fly relatively low all the way from Lebanon to Puyallup. My route would keep me over rural or sparsely populated areas, and I would also fly under a couple of the shelves of Portland's class C airspace. I'd gotten at least some of the kinks worked out on my Stratus Insight software and saw lots of planes being reported via ADSB, especially around Hillsboro, although I tried to keep my eyes outside the window for the most part, scanning for planes that might not be reflected on the iPad.

    Flying over the Willamette River was beautiful and it's plenty big to give lots of space to a slow-flying plane like my Luscombe. Still, on occasion, I felt uncomfortable at a corner that I knew was coming up, based on the map on the iPad, so I climbed above the trees and cut the occasional corner, in the event that it was a particularly sharp bend. Staying down low and coming up on a corner I couldn't make didn't sound fun, although in that case, I most likely could've just climbed up above the trees as required. Doing it ahead of time is better, though.

    Approaching the Columbia River was pretty cool. That is one big river! No concern about making turns there! Where I was flying, it was around a half mile wide. There were lots of pleasure craft out, as on the Willamette River and the Cowlitz River farther along, but not only were there small boats on the Columbia, but massive tankers and other large ships. I love the hustle and bustle of commercial activity, seeing some of what helps the world go 'round.

    I'd planned on landing at Kelso, but decided on Woodland State instead (W27), an airport at which I landed on my first solo cross country. Its runway is 1,953 x 25 feet and the approach is interesting. I overshot final by an embarrassing amount and was high to boot, but managed to get back on the centerline and slip over the trees and the Lewis River to make a not-altogether-horrible landing. Didn't even need to use brakes, something I try and avoid, generally. I still felt mildly like a loser, but got over it pretty quickly. After a short break and the changing of a couple batteries, I took another look at my iPad and got a refreshed picture of what the last leg on my trip would look like.

    I cut back over to the Columbia, followed it for a few miles, then hung a sharp right up the Cowlitz. Quite a few people were waving on this last day of my trip, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a lot of fun to see things from up above, but I also can appreciate the joy of seeing an airplane flying over from ground level, and knew that the folks down below were enjoying aviation, too, just from another perspective.

    Over the course of this trip, I've observed many sets of wires, train trestles, bridges, and towers, all from their level. It's a fun way to fly. Most of those things are easy to see. Some wires are even easy to see, especially the ones with "visibility marker balls" or "overhead wire markers." I remember when flying low over Rio Grande headed west out of the Amistad Reservoir, I flew over some wires that had either no marker balls or a single broken one way off to the left. I flew over others with no marker balls. Don't count on wires having the visibility marker balls.

    Ahem. So, I came around a bend in the Cowlitz River. There was a pickup truck that had pulled out onto an island in the middle of the river. Cool! What a great day to be enjoying this beautiful river in the great Pacific Northwest. I had debated sharing this since I don't want everyone to know that I'm a huge idiot, but maybe it will help someone. At some point, I looked up (where I should've already been looking or at least glancing less infrequently) and there were wires dead ahead. Pretty quickly, I yanked back very sharply on the stick. I didn't yank back far or for very long as it was clear I was going to make it over the top of the wires. In fact, I might not have had to climb at all to clear the wires. However, for quite a bit of the day up until then, I had been lower than I was at that instant (particularly over the Willamette and Cowlitz rivers). Now if that doesn't get your blood pumping.... One thing I can guarantee you. For the rest of that flight, I was highly confident that I was the dumbest human being on the face of the planet.

    I enjoyed several more miles of the Cowlitz River and surrounding landscape, albeit from just slightly higher up. When I saw Mt. Rainier, I knew I was close to home. After flying past the windmills and clearing the Cascade foothills just north of the Cowlitz River, the Puget Sound lowlands opened up before me...sort of. Off to the west was solid overcast. It was 5PM and a large part of Puget Sound was still socked in. Not Thun Field, though. I listened to ATIS and to some local pilots flying in the pattern for a while.

    Gal in the pattern: Pierce Count 362, uh, left, final, base, sorry Pierce County 362, base, left 35, Pierce.

    Me (to self): Huh?

    Someone else: Left base final.

    Me (to self): Was that dude givin' her crap?

    Same gal as before: Pierce County 362 turning final, 35 left, Pierce.

    Me (to self): Huh?

    Another guy on the radio: Pierce County Traffic, 94-fox, turning downwind, runway 35, Pierce.

    Me (to self): Right downwind [it's left]? Okay, you know what? I'm not going to criticize anybody right now since I almost killed myself today because of stupidity. So, no criticizing people for talking on the radio imperfectly in the pattern.

    My radio had somehow just begun working. I did a radio check and was in business. Whatever. I'll talk to my A&P about it. However, if it's working, troubleshooting will be difficult. We'll see.

    I made my first call: Pierce County Traffic, Luscombe 1-8-1-3-kilo, 10 miles to the south, straight in, runway 3-5, traffic allowing.

    Long story short, it was pretty busy, so, a few minutes later, I announced I would head a few miles to the west and enter the pattern on a 45 for runway 3-5. A Cessna had just turned downwind as I drew near. I announced that I saw him and would fall in behind him and follow him in. My approach was excellent and my touchdown was about perfect. That's a good way to end the trip.

    I taxied to my tiedown which was occupied by another airplane. Our airport is having some work done on it and some planes have been shuffled around. Clearly some people parked in random spots rather than in spots they were told were actually available. I called the airport manager and explained the situation. She sighed and let me know of a few nearby spots which, in fact, were available. I taxied over and parked. One final unpacking. My friend drove up and we chatted and loaded up his car with all my stuff.

    Not a few miles from the airport, it went from beautiful blue sky to thick fog. While most of the white stuff that I saw in the distance during the final flight was fog, there was a bit of smoke, too, but not much. The first day of the trip and a few days before the end contained by far the most smoke. It was a virtual miracle how good the weather was for this trip. I missed severe smoke in the Pacific Northwest which would've grounded me if I'd left a few days later, I got out of Brownsville, Texas just a day before some pretty heavy duty cyclonic activity, and, while I had some thick smoke around Carson City, Nevada, I know I missed the worst of it.

    I don't imagine this trip could've gone much better. I learned a lot, but thankfully the lessons came in pretty easily digestible doses. I flew over 70 hours (well more than tripling my total flying time as PIC), climbed to almost 11,700 feet, landed at almost 50 new airports, and flew over 6,600 miles. I have a couple other trips in the works, but for the time being, I'm just going to relax. Oh. The Luscombe is also getting a brand new panel.

    Talking to my cousin Randy before firing up the old Luscombe.
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    Flying over the beautiful countryside of northern Oregon.
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    Willamette River (I think)
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    Willamette River (I think)
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    Willamette River (I think)
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    Willamette River (I think)
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    Terrible final approach at Woodland State Airport (W27). Lewis River off to the right. I-5 off to the left.
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    Terrible final approach at Woodland State Airport (W27). I-5 off to the right (from this view).
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    The mighty Columbia River.
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    The mighty Columbia River.
    13.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
  9. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    See the wire?
    15.jpg

    If you didn't see the wire above, you certainly do now!!!
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    Just south of the Puget Sound lowlands.
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    Thick fog just off to the west of Thun Field, my home airport (Pierce County Airport/KPLU).
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    When I saw Mt. Rainier, I knew I was home. Alder Lake.
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    Clear Lake, I think.
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    Home sweet home.
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    GarminMap.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2020
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  10. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Pattern Altitude

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    Well done! THANK YOU for the trip!
     
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  11. idahoflier

    idahoflier Cleared for Takeoff

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    Welcome home! When's the next trip?
     
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  12. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks! That means a lot, especially coming from someone who was a bit skeptical that it would be interesting.
     
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  13. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Was fun to ride along.
     
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  14. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks!

    Other than some local trips, the next semi-big thing I want to do is a series of small (weekend?) trips covering the length of the entire Cascades. The most challenging, I think, will be flying up to Silverthrone Caldera at the northern end of the range. Tacoma to Port Hardy is a good chunk, but then Port Hardy out and around the northernmost volcanoes will be a couple long flights. At best, it'll make for a very tiring weekend, probably at least 3 days. Maybe two trips up into Canada. I'd like to put together a series of videos about that range and its volcanoes (combined with the fun flying part, of course).

    Another idea is flying the entire Rocky Mountain Range. I'm thinking I'll do that in 9-day chunks, just a week of vacation at a time. Maybe 4 trips, but I haven't done too much planning yet.

    At least as of now, those are my ideas.
     
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  15. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route

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    Thanks for sharing.
     
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  16. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

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    Well done sir. I don't know about you, but I've had a few of those humbling moments. Well worth remembering.
     
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  17. pmanton

    pmanton Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  18. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Well, can't say that you weren't warned about the wires over the rivers. Glad you were able to catch it before some kind of catastrophe, and you were able to gain some important experience to rely on in the future. You completed a trip longer than most private pilots ever have, and brought us along with you. Thanks for posting your updates and pictures, truly inspiring!
     
  19. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Pattern Altitude

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    Wow! what a trip! thanks for sharing!
     
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  20. l8evator

    l8evator Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jay,

    Thanks for taking us along. I found myself "needing" to check on your progress every day. What a great testament to the idea that one doesn't need a complex airplane to make a wonderful, memorable and adventuresome trip. Good job.
     
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  21. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thank you so much! That makes me happy.
     
  22. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    Well done! Quite the adventure!
     
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  23. Southpaw

    Southpaw Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Can't describe how much I enjoyed the ride along.
    Wonderful adventure in a "Flying Machine". :)
     
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  24. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I probably just missed the post, but how much usable fuel on board?
     
  25. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't remember if I posted that here or not. I actually confirmed for myself on this very trip what I had been told on the Luscombe facebook group. I have two 12.5-gallon tanks and it's all usable. The tank ran dry at around 2 hours 22 minutes, so I could theoretically go 4:44, plus or minus.
     
  26. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Thanks. You found a relatively rare bird.
    Most have the 12.5 tank behind the seat or one 12.5 in the wing.
    I've been looking for 2 wing tanks for a couple of years.
     
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  27. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do us all a favor please... gas that sucker up and get out there and fly until after the election. This thread is the only positive thing going in 2020.

    Well done !!
     
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  28. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not to be the bearer of bad news but if you follow Lycomings service instructions the engine needs a tear down and inspection after the prop strike.
     
  29. Tusayan

    Tusayan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It doesn’t have a Lycoming engine.

    All Luscombe 8Es, 8Fs and some 8As have two 12.5 gallon wing tanks. The use of wing tanks is required for any with 85 HP or greater power engines, like this one. That can be accomplished via field approval with a single wing tank (on a powered-up 8A) but a single full sized wing tank in combination with a fuselage tank was not done by the factory.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  30. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I actually feel really fortunate to have gotten a solid airframe for a good price. I got the two 12.5 gallon tanks, the pull handle, and the shoulder harnesses, all things I wanted. I've made a number of improvements and more are in the works. I've really enjoyed the plane so far.
     
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  31. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'll have to check with my A&P/IA and see what he says about the Continental C-85, considering what happened to me.
     
  32. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    Jay, what an incredible trip. Thank you for sharing this write up with us, it has been so much fun to follow.

    Are you planning on putting up a blog/website for this journey? I look forward to vintageflying.com's annual journey in his cub for similar reasons.
     
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  33. pmanton

    pmanton Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    By the way Jay, on your shot of you about to land at Thun, the Clover Park A&P school looks deserted. Did Covid shut them down?
     
  34. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I do plan on making a set of videos for my YouTube channel, but hadn't planned on doing anything else regarding writing or stills.
     
  35. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I hadn't heard that they'd been shut down, but don't know for sure.
     
  36. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not a ton to add from an East Coaster but I sure did enjoy your trip. Very impressive.

    I’m not all about speed but I’m transitioning from a Tiger to a Bonanza. I’m intrigued and may want a lowWe and slower plane in my life too!
     
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  37. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't know why you couldn't easily and safely fly a Bonanza at 500 AGL, if you wanted to. I would think that would be very enjoyable!
     
  38. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I fly at 500 AGL every flight....as I’m headed to 10,000.
     
  39. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I need to see how well the 65hp version does on a trip like this...
     
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  40. Van Johnston

    Van Johnston Cleared for Takeoff

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    Really enjoyed this. Was following at first just because you were in my part of the country and I’ve flown several legs of your route. But I am planning a big bucket list trip and you’ve given me some ideas about how to document it when I do. I may pick your brain about cameras and so forth down the road. Looking forward to the videos.
     
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