Stories & Testamonials
Clayton Fisher's Greatest Adventures - Part One
Did you ever do one of those crazy things that defy logic? That you hope you never do again, but deep down know you probably will? Lordy, I done one the other day!
It was a nice spring evening here in Oklahoma. I was flying my Chinook Plus 2 around with the doors off, looking for some colors and patterns in the farmland around my home that might make nice photographs. I saw a friend out by his barn and decided to pay him a visit. I picked out a nice green strip of wheat close to him, made an easy left turn, put a little flap in her, and set up to land as I had done many times over the years. Just as I pulled the stick back to settle in I saw them brown things sticking up through the green. I got the "oh!" out, but the next expletive was lost in the gosh-awfullest racket and bouncing around you ever heard or felt.
The field had only been disked after harvest and left to volunteer for pasture. That would have been bad enough, but the cows had been turned in and it had rained, and the bovines had tromped holes and pulled up more clods. The clods had dried rock hard and were just waiting in all that green for somebody stupid to land a cock-eyed airplane.
My friend of course, was laughing his butt off at my predicament. He said he had tried to ride his four-wheeler over the place, but had given up because all the speed he could manage was a creepy crawl. But I was down, so now what!
No gates to get out to the road that I could get through. He offered to let the fence down, but since so far, there was no damage, I decided to try and take off. With his help we turned little Kodachrome around and faced her down the patch. There was not much wind, but what there was, was going my way too. I knew though, that if I could make it 100 feet she'd be getting lighter by the second and in another 100 feet or so she'd be just kissing the tops of the clods and be off into the wild blue yonder-assuming I hadn't tore something up real bad.
Bluffing all the confidence I could muster, I put my shoulder harnesses on (I usually fly with only a lap belt). I gave her a notch of flaperon, waved at my friend who was crying tears out of his eyes from laughing and was backing out of the way. I told him that if I didn't make it, for Pete sake not to call 911 or the FAA-to just come and get my broken body in his front end loader bucket and call the old lady. Then, with nothing holding me back but terror, I built a huge fire in my 582 Rotax and went for it, rattledy bang, bang banging down the patch.
Well, you know I made it, don't you?! Came up out of there like a big green shiny eagle (with orange tail feathers and stripes on the wings, and a few red polka dots). At 100 feet above ground level I throttled back and made a pass over my friend. He had quit laughing and was now just standing there with his hands on his hips, shaking his head.
I could see the mains and tubes out the side of the plane and they looked okay. Since the tail wheel is hooked to the rudder control cables, I figured the tail wheel was still attached, since I was coordinating turns okay. I could hear engine noise in the back and was still maintaining altitude so I figured the engine was still attached. Even all the gauges were still in their holes and working. And the best part'I was alive!!! (maniacal laugh)
I flew home, made a great landing in my patch (strip) and put her in the shed (hangar). The next morning I checked everything for everything and found only a broken exhaust spring and noticed the bungee suspension needed a little tightening up. Thanks all folks!
I have flown several types of fat ultralights and have bent a tube or two in my close to 800 hours of flying time, but it is my personal opinion that nothing I have ever flown or looked at would have stayed off it's belly (or back) that afternoon. I am sure am glad I'm flying a Chinook. I appreciate its tough but easy flying characteristics more each time I fly. You could say I sing her praises.
Gives us the nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes us think all the worlds a sunny day, hey, hey!
I've got a Nikon camera
I love to take photographs
Mama don't take my Kodachrome away"
-Song by Paul Simon
"Me and My Chinook Plus 2" by Clayton Fisher
Okay mama, the time is right. Hay is in the barn, pea patch isn't ready yet, honeydews are all done (temporarily) and good open weather coming up. I'm going flying!!! I've been wanting to take my Chinook out for a good long cross country for some time now. I have procrastinated enough that my wife has been making chicken clucking sounds at me whenever the subject comes up. With 140 hours on her (the Chinook), mostly circles close to home, I'm ready to try a little of the 'camping under the wing' I've heard so much about - sort of a trial run for flying to Alaska some summer.
Therefore on August 30, 2004, I took off from my patch in Wayne, Oklahoma and climbed out SE bound with a rosy pink dawn in my left open door. All I needed was a good stereo sound of some Spanish Flamingo in the headset - maybe Audalucia off the River Dance CD to complete the spirit of Adventure. I haven't figured out how to do that yet though. I'd just have to settle for the whir of the 67" GSC prop behind the Rotax 582. With the rear stick removed and a plywood platform in front of the rear seat, covering the center tube and control cables, there was plenty of room for the following:
-Tie down rope and stakes wrapped in a bright orange Poncho
- A tent and sleeping bag
- A can of Dintymoore beef stew, cans of sardine (packed in oil-don't you know) some Spam (no need for a feller to starve hisself)
- A gallon of drinking water
- 5 gallons of extra gas
- A gallon of Quicksilver Premium Plus 2 Cycle oil for the 582
- My .357 ' 6 shooter
- My Cannon Rebel 2000 (camera) with a couple extra rolls of 400/24 Exp film
- Hot Dawg Oklahoma, here I come!!!!
A 60 mile hop and a short stop at a small unattended but paved and beautiful runway on the north shore of Lake Texoma - at the edge of the Tishomingo National Wildlife and Public hunting area kicked my trip off in good shape. As I departed, I circled the area a couple of times to check it out for future hunting or fishing trips. Then it was north to fuel up at the Seminole, Oklahoma then north again to top off with fuel and eat a bite at Cushing, Oklahoma (at one time a huge terminal for Oklahoma's early oil industry). Still a nice runway with fuel and a courtesy car. I felt right at home but the itch to fly on before the mid day heat set in overcame me so I boogied on. It was early afternoon when I landed at the Pawhuska, OK runway just south of the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, a 39,000 acre holding of the Nature Conservancy. I decided to pull off the runway and do a little napping under the wing until about 6:00 p.m. (my self designated evening flying time for late summer). I don't enjoy flying in hot, bumpy air. Me and my Chinook can do it if we have to but it ain't no fun so I avoid it when possible.
After intermittently dozing, smashing the occasional ant that found its way up my britches leg and watching the buzzards checking me out from above; I resumed a short flight across Bluestem Lake and out over a giant tract of grassland. A grass fire smoke plume in the distance reminded me that once upon a time fire and grazing by immerse herds of buffalo had created what I saw before me; and that the Nature conservancy folks were trying to re-create these conditions as best they could. Flying dream like at 100 feet AGL, the vastness was overwhelming and the visibility out my Chinook with the doors off really showed off the scenery. Come to mind what the Osage and Pawnee must have known when they were in charge. Soon I spotted some brown specks in the grass on the side of a draw. About 150 buffalo lay in the Bluestem but were heads up as I approached.
Not wanting to get too close, I banked around them getting a few shots off as I circled, just to prove I had really done this. Realizing that I actually had goose bumps and not quite believing what I have just been privileged to witness, I pushed in a little power and climbed into the sun westbound toward Kaw Lake and the Poncacity, Oklahoma airport. A beautiful calm evening it was no trick to grease a landing there. Adjacent to the airport is a nice restaurant, which was, when I was there, busy, with folks waiting for a table. Since I figured I probably reeked of sweat and gasoline by that time in the day, I did not linger, but took the time to do a good walk-a-round, midflight, look in over the plane. She's doing good!
I took off and continued on to Medford, Oklahoma where I planned to spend my 1st night. At sundown, I landed, taxied up to a hangar and was greeted by Mike Newman, Airport Manager, airplane mechanic, salesman and a darn good submarine sandwich designer. I decided to pull out on the grass and do the tent deal. Had a good day, no trouble - 319 miles of light wind at my back. Time to rest and think the day over.
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And Rock-a-bye Sweet Baby Jane.
Next morning I was up at sunrise. Noticed the wind soc was already swinging to and fro in a south breeze. I got ready for a different kind of day. I was reminded that here on the edge of the high plains, not only do we have a wind gradient from ground level to higher altitudes, but the wind most always increases from east to west. Also another problem I was looming up on just west of Medford was the 10 mile wide alert area of Klegman A.F.B. controlled by Vance A.F.B. about 30 miles south of Medford. I got a radio frequency off the sectional. Mike gave me a couple more and off I went. I have a Comtronics IC-AZZ handheld transceiver plugged into 12 volts with a push to talk patch cord, working through a 9 volt powered IC-101 intercom box. With a RA-101 remote antenna the system is a receiving son of a gun. I can regularly hear 100 miles away, but can talk only about 35-40 miles out, with good conditions. I could hear Vance control but they must have had me squelched out cause I couldn't raise them. So, I climbed to 4500 MSL, a good westbound altitude and flew on with fingers crossed. As I approached, I could see little jets below me in the pattern shooting landings. I hoped that my bright green and orange Chinook would be visible should they decide to slip a few surly looks my way.
Well, I got through okay and as I relaxed I was aware of the Great Salt Plains and Lake just ahead of me. Down I went to have a look.
Got a dynamite shot as I spiraled down to set up to fly low and slow across some very unusual country side. Could have sworn I was approaching some white sand beach and meandering inflow wetland branch down on the Gulf of Mexico. I flew over a couple of mule deer and a coyote as I dropped down to fly 20 feet off the salt. What a thrill to fly for 10 miles, just off the shimmering earth. The morning air was so cool and clean that 4200 RPM flew me along in the ground effect at 45 MPH. No roads, no 4 wheeler tracks, no power lines - just pure white salt below, pure blue sky above. Since salt and aluminum don't mix I did not land, though it was tempting.
The thin crust of salt was gathered by the wagon load by early settlers for use in seasoning, saltlicks for livestock, and preservation of meat.
Today, many visitors come to dig for selenite crystals in specific locations on the south side of the flats.
My next stop was Alva, Oklahoma where they topped me off with fuel and treated me real good to boot. I would try to make Lavern, Oklahoma before midday. I was expecting 90 degreesthat afternoon. I was crabbing pretty good to fly west so I knew I would shut down and let the hot wind blow the midday thermals around. Leaving Lavern around 6:00 should give me time to get to my daughter and son in law, and grandkids by sundown.
At Lavern, twern't nobody around. An Ag Cat set in a hangar - the pilot lounge was open with a good supply of magazines to help kill time. Soon a local fellow, last name Duvall (sorry hoss, I can't remember your 1st) showed up to look at my bird. He took me to town to get gas which I greatly appreciated. I rested till 6:00 then took off west again into a rapidly shrinking sun. I figured I could make Beaver, Oklahoma 35 miles away - land there and see if I could make it another 60 miles or so to the grandkids before dark. I cranked in a few more RPM's to increase my air speed to 70 mph.
I flew low up the Beaver River, under the wind, across sparsely settled ranch land. I could see the rolling sage covered sand dunes on the north side of the river and the hard land draws and coulees branching into the river from the south. I hoped I wouldn't have to pick an emergency landing spot. But I knew that I was in the toughest little plane of its type in case I had to land in Badlands. The numbers on my instrument panel were all good, and the 582 was purring like a cat full of canaries at 5000 PRM so on I flew.
I waved at a rancher in a pickup truck - he had stopped to open a gate - he waved back. And on I flew. I love to fly low across wild country. I just can't help it. I know I'm getting on in years and all that goes with that, but so far so good. And on I flew.
"I have faced that cunning enemy called time
For a while I held him cold and to a draw
But as he rode away, he said another place and day
Cause you can't erase the writing on the wall
Although this one was just too close to call"
When I landed at Beaver, I taxied and stopped on the unattended runway. In front of me was a 2 foot Prairie Rattler making his slithery way across. I got the 1st few shots off with my camera, then, after checking my background of empty pasture, the last shot with my 357.
I cut his rattler off for a souvenir. I taxied back down to the pilot lounge, and found a working telephone, a credit card call to my daughter let her know I was on my way, but if I couldn't make it by dark I would find a flat spot in a pasture or wheat field, spend another night under my wing and see them in the morning. The sun was getting lower. By this time in the evening, the wind was laying and flying higher was getting good. After I flew past Guymon, Oklahoma, I could see Helms Nursery and Farmstead in the distance. The sun had set as I landed in fading daylight in a field behind the house. I slept in a bed that night, I had flown 213 miles that day across no man's land. I had taken a couple of great pics - all in all a terrific day.
Next morning, I was up before daylight preflighting and anticipating the day. Reminded me of another Waylon Jennings song:
"Howl you lone coyote song paint the saphire sky at dawn
Count me as a lucky man to send the world around."
-Old Church Hymns and Nursery Rhymes
As I took off and climbed out I was almost immediately crabbing 30 degrees, though the wind was laminar with no turbulence. I went back down to 100 feet off the Panhandle farmland and held 135 degreesby flying diagonally across the sections, which are all layed off square to the world. 135 degrees turned out to be a bit too far South, as I flew into Texas I was too far south of Palo Duro Lake, a main landmark. Even though I corrected a bit north, I hit the South Canadian River, west of Canadian, TX. I flew into the morning sun down the river to the Canadian airport. There, I borrowed the courtesy car and went for fuel. Then I was on my way again toward Clinton, OK.
As I flew east, the wind was becoming less of a problem at higher altitudes. However, after a short lunch stop at Clinton, cumuli were beginning to form and the air was getting rough. At 2:00 in the afternoon, I landed at Chickasha, Oklahoma, glad to be on the ground. A cold soft drink, a nap, and some folks to swap flying stories with made my 6:00 flying time come quickly. I finished my trip with a 35 mile hop to home just in time for supper and a hug from the best wife a man ever had.
I had flown 272 miles that day, for a straight line trip total of 804 miles. I averaged about 50 mph and got about 18 mpg on fuel, all this including warm up time and taxi time and time in the patterns and circling around. I was so proud of myself and my Chinook, the president's overcoat wouldn't have made me a vest. And what made this cross-country flight so jump back special is that I built the airplane. Working part time during the winter of 02-03 weather permitting in an unheated shop, I actually assembled a Chinook Plus II kit from the detailed plans and quality parts provided by A.S.A.P. Being a 1st time builder, I ran into a few problems along the way. But a phone call and a little help from someone at the factory would always set me back on the right track. Although a challenge for me, it was one of the greatest achievements of my life!
So now - yep! I'm ready for Alaska some summer. Gonna fly to the land of magic and mystery - up the Alcan to some real good country. Got to get to planning the Big One. Gonna need a GPS for ground speed. Oh year! Got to make room for a fold up chair and a small table and a fishing pole for sure - and oh yeah! more Spam!
"Man means nothing, he means less to me
Than the lowest cactus flower or the humblest yucca tree
He chases round this desert, cause he thinks that's where I'll be.
That's why I love mankind"
From God's song By Randy Newman
Clayton & Susan Fisher with the Chinook Plus 2
Clayton Fisher's Greatest Adventures - Part Three
I like looking down at the Redtailed hawks and buzzards. I like to watch um quartering past under my Chinook. I can watch um coming out on the other side and disappearing behind and 100 feet below me. You really can't do that in a Cessna 180 or a Cherokee. You can get where you're going slick and fast, if that's what you want to do, but you can't pull up beside a flock of mallards and quack "Howdy!" at 'em. No, I don't shoot the buggers, that's illegal you know.
Well, one evening I was drifting along about 500 feet AGL watching a Redtail trying to catch him one last thermal for the day, when all of a sudden this great photo just sort of popped up in front of me. I was flying over the Washita River. It meanders along about 10 miles from our farm thru some pretty good farmland. Grows good alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, cotton and about anything a man might want to grow in this Oklahoma climate. Because the land is flat; and because the control freaks haven't had their way and channelled the old girl by cutting a straight ditch thru her flow path, she still has some character. It's like she's trying to slow down and smell the roses, as she looks the country over on her way to the Gulf of Mexico. They have tamed her somewhat with flood control impoundments on her upper tributaries, but she still kicks butt every so often when it rains a bunch.
But there was the shot - The Windie River trying to find the sea.
She'll make a short stop at Lake Texoma and then join up with the Red River just for company. The Red River is the border between Oklahoma and Texas. As it leaves Oklahoma it rambles thru Louisiana disappearing into the swamps and bayous of the Mississippi delta. Boy! Now there's a place I'd like to fly some day - what do ya think! Cajun country!!
But anyway, let me back up a little. I've got this cousin, once or twice removed. I can't keep up with all that lineage stuff. It's just too complicated. It's like reading FAA regulations trying to figure out how to keep from doing something wrong. But I know we're related because we both like music, and that's enough proof of kinship for me. I'm also pretty sure I've already done something wrong.
Beau Haddock lives in Kentucky and picks a mean 12 string guitar, and sings. He has one CD out called Magnolia and is trying to work up another one. One of the songs it will be called the Windiest Rivers Find the Sea. I'm thinking he might need a good shot for a CD cover. And since I'm always looking for a flying project, why not try to find that perfect photograph.
And while I'm flying around looking, maybe I'll smell that new mowed alfalfa in the rising summer air. Or maybe the sun glint thru the clear lexan of some morning sunrise will remind me how great it is to be alive and flying my own airplane over good green country close to home. And maybe some day an ole Redtail will bank away from my Chinook, glance over his shoulder and look me in the eye. Maybe just for a second we'll both realize we're, well, cousins - once or twice removed.
"It's a strange situation
A wild occupation
Just living my life like a song."
The Wino and I Know
- Jimmy Buffet
Clayton Fisher's Greatest Adventures - Part Four
I reached at my hip pocket for my wallet. I felt my old ugly face turning red and flushed with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. A lump like a swallowed king sized lemon drop came into my throat. "Earl," I stammered, "Man, I forgot my &%#('!@?#) wallet, and my drivers licence is in it. In the excitement and the busy nervousness of getting ready to fly, I just didn't get everything into my clean pants". I quit trying to explain, figuring we were screwed. "We're screwed", said Earl, explaining that either a third class medical, or a valid drivers license were required for a Sport Pilot Certificate. I had to have it and that was that! It was a darn shame - me and ole Earl had been getting along like a couple of boys playing hooky, and I had blown it. We sat staring at each other for a while. When the dull ache of resignation finally set in, I choked out, "I guess I'll go to heck home, huh?" "That's about it", he said, "I'm sorry."
"Ok, but Earl, er uh, with no wallet, er uh, I don't have my credit card, or any money, and er uh, I don't have enough fuel to get, gulp, home."
"Aw, don't worry about it", said Earl, "I'll fill you up and you can pay me later." (All in a days work for a Sport Pilot examiner).
This morning began full of promise, with a full power take off from my patch in central Okla, just before civil twilight, on my 65th birthday. It's really dark at that time of the morning - just a hint of pink in the eastern sky. The thick creamy light of Okla. City 35 miles to the North, the scattered twinkling of outlying areas, streaks of ground fog in the low spots were quite a sight. "Beautiful," I thought, in sort of a citified, populated way. But, I wondered what it would be like if there were no lights? What if I could do a climbing 360', and not see a rival fire agleam? You see, I've had this unorthodox notion since I was a wee lad, that one increased his or her chances of living a fruitful life, if one was a far piece away from Lawyers, Doctors (unless you are hurting real bad), Tag Agents, Government farm planners, car salesmen, Produce buyers, speed trap enforcement officers, fundamentalist preachers, and haystack inspectors. (Dang, that's about everybody, ain't it?) I've been in a place or two like that and been the only human heartbeat, completely alone in bear country, at night. I've felt that indescribable feeling of looking way yonder, and not seeing a light, anywhere. And I know how crazy it is, but I liked it.
A wild and lonesome place of mountains and glaciers on the Alaska / Canada border, North of Skagway, AK.
I throttled my Chinook back at 2500 ft., scanned the gauges with a small flashlight, and checked for traffic again. "Man," I thought, "I'm the only one up here. Look at all them Okies down there. Probably all eating their pancakes getting ready to hit the interstate, to work for some grouchy boss man." "Clayton," me thinks, "You're one lucky geezer."
I keyed up and got the boys on 122.15, at the Mcalaster FSS and activated my flight plan to Cushing, Okla., about an hour or so at 20' NE. I had finally decided I had studied enough to take my flight test and oral exam. This would finish off my Sport Pilot certificate and get me bonafide "in compliance" my CFI, was getting tired of accepting sweet corn and fresh asparagus as payment for services rendered.
Being, most of my life, a round peg trying to fit into the square holes that would, from time to time, present themselves as opportunity; I had finally accomplished a series of huge undertakings, starting 18 years before. I survived several missteps in the aviation experience gathering process. I had learned to keep an airplane in the air, most of the time. I crunched a few. I had a few friends volunteer to be my pallbearers, a few more threaten to shoot me down, if I ever came THAT close again. But, Boy Howdy, I flew the teewaddeling out of stuff- different 3 axis ultralights "trikes" but always in the gray areas of the Regs. Now I was going to see if I could be a regular guy and quit having to look over my shoulder. Chock full of confidence, I sang out my open door at the slice of big red sun now peeking above the orangie pink horizon.
"No one can tell me that I'm doing wrong today'"
-"Your Smiling Face'" by James Taylor
Four hours later I'm heading home, bouncing along in the thermals, not believing what I had just done. It took several days for the lemon drop to dissolve "for that sick feeling to go away" for life to get back to normal.
When the story got out, my friends laughed, acquaintances giggled. Both wondered as I did, if I was pilot material in the first place if I could make a mistake like that. I told my wife that I guess I'd write a little short piece about how big an old forgetful fool I was. She allowed as how I might ought to make it a bit longer, maybe a series, to be continued.
This getting old ain't fer sissies!
It's the same story the crow told me
It's the only one he knows.
Like the morning sun you come,
Like the wind you go.
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait
Oh, Oh, all I want to know is
Where does the time go?
-Uncle John's Band by Jerry Garcia & The Grateful Dead
Well, life goes on, and two weeks later I rescheduled, and, a slightly more prepared, I passed. Not exactly with flying colors, since I had practiced doing things wrong for a few years, but I passed. My Chinook performed great. I could feel her telling me what to do thru the seat of my britches and the stick in my right hand.
I am now a Sport Pilot, with a legal, registered experimental amateur built aircraft. Since I am the builder, I hold a repairman certificate so I can do repairs and maintenance. I have all the paperwork, my logbook and my drivers license, so, Gimmie a ramp check ' I'm ready!
I've really got to thank ole Joe Grimes, my CFI, whose patience and advice, and instruction got me proficient, and probably kept me alive (so far). Thanks to the boys at EAA headquarters in Oshkosh, WI. For answering all my questions and nursing me along as I slogged thru the bureaucratic process. Without these guys, I probably would have taken the advice I had heard along the way, to just ' 'Shut up and fly'. It would have been a mistake.
Now the next step in this ongoing saga, since a Sport Pilot is not 'IOCA approved' is to get permission from Transport Canada to fly up the Alaska Highway to a place where I can't see lights at night ' anywhere. Wish me luck.
Cloud high I climbed but yesterday
100 miles around.
I looked to see a rival fire agleam,
as in a crystal lens it lay,
A land without a bound.
all lure, virgin vastitude, and dream.
(A verse from the poem, Squaw Man by Robert Service)
Clayton Fisher's Greatest Adventures - Part Five- "OOPS!"
I recently got a logbook endorsement with Troy Hedges, CFI, to fly my Chinook Plus 2 into Class D airspace (Troy is now the FBO at the Woodward, Okla. Airport.). As a Sport Pilot with a radio, I can do that. As a Sport Pilot who suffers from spasms of frugality, I probably won't buy a transponder. I won't be able to fly into Class B or C circles, but that's OK because I would really be uncomfortable mixing it up with 747's and their like.
There are three small towered airports within 60 miles of our home that have nice inexpensive restaurants, and it's pretty neat to be able to fly in for a meal. Sometimes my wife will fly in with me, sometimes not. She is with me on this day, a fact I will later regret (just kidding sweetie). Let me explain.
She and I are flying into Norman, Okla. Westheimer field early one morning for breakfast. I announce my approach to the tower but get no response. I realize that they don't open until 8:00. I switch to my Class G mindset and begin communicating with an outbound aircraft who is taxiing to hold short for runway 35. I tell him I plan to land on 35 but to go ahead and take off, and I'll kill some time on a long straight in final. He declines, offering that he needs to run up and to come on in. So I do. Herein lies my OOPS tale.
As I set up my approach, I am aware of an area behind the start of the runway with yellow chevron all stacked up one on top of the other. (the displaced threshold) I'll swear, that area looked twice as long as my patch at home.
I got to thinking (sometimes that gets me into trouble), that if I landed on them purdy yeller lines, I could get the heck out of the way of the holding aircraft, faun chin at the bit wantin loose. (probably all in my mind). Then I can wump a right turn into the first taxiway, without having to back taxi, and me and the little women are on our way to Ozzies and 2 eggs over easy ' sausage ' hash browns ' toast with butter ' even bisquits with gravy, if I think I can hold it. All for $5.00 or so (well maybe I digress). My wife is completely unaware of the excuse she and the FAA are going to have to chew me out.
Somewhere, back in the folds and recesses of my antique old memory lay the knowledge and good judgement that I should have pulled up, clicked on, and downloaded into my throttle, stick, and rudders pedals, but Alas, eh?
A few days later, when got a call from the FAA, I found out that somebody had complained. I was told that even too this was a minor thing, and that no fines or letter would come of it, but that they did have to respond to the complaint. They would visit me in a few days to do so. I told him I did understand and to come on down and we could put the coffee pot on and discuss stuff. The visit to my house, however, never occurred. Fate intervened.
Fast-forward a few days.
"Hey Marty, what do you think about flying cross country into the vast, untouched wilderness of eastern Okla. Lake country tomorrow?" (sometimes my imagination takes over)
"We can check out some fishing holes, camping spots, maybe a golf course or two and enjoy a nice calm flying day - maybe find a place to chow down before the return trip in the evening."
We agreed to meet up at Westheimer the next morning, then boogie 100 miles east to Fountainhead runway on Lake Eufaula and into whatever adventure might come our way. I landed first and taxied up beside a couple of corporate jets and killed 'er.
It's interesting that these small, light aircraft always seem to draw a bigger crowd than do the more expensive factory jobs. It must be the mystery of low slow flight in simple stick and rudder; 500 lb. Contraption titillates the imagination in a way more traditional aircraft just can't. Even though most pilots will but the factory jobs, I have a suspicion they would rather build themselves a Chinook.
About that time Marty Fint taxied up in his shiny red Chinook and took his turn with the lookers. Then a fellow walked toward me, friendly and smiling with a nametag swinging back and forth across his chest. He introduced himself as being with the FAA and "What a coincidence he caught me here." His friend (the fellow who called the other day) was on his way out to discuss the rules for displaced thresholds, and that while we were all here nice and convenient like, we may as well do a RAMP CHECK!
"Aw geeze" I thought, but don't panic man, I'm ready ain't I? Haven't I been bragging about being ready? Just stay calm and answer the questions. I have my paperwork don't I?
A few more lookers' show up to watch a couple of ultralighters get what they deserve for having too much fun (again probably all in my mind).
I have my Sport Pilot license? Yep. My drivers' license? Yep. Airworthiness? Yep. Registration? Yep. Annual statement? Yep. Log book? Yep. (Sport Pilots have to have them in the plane)
"Aw geeze, he ain't gonna like this."
He really looks her over good, and he quits smiling. I fidget as I explain that I don't keep 2 or 3 separate logs like I'm supposed to, but I have been told and do believe that it is legal. He nods in agreement, but he still ain't smiling.
About my logbook. It's not neat, except for the CFI endorsements in the back. (Them guys are always neat, ain't they? I bet they could always keep their colors in the lines plum back to kindergarten).
Included is all info about hours, maintenance, for 2 aircraft, phone numbers, extraneous info about passengers, weather conditions and anything else I think might need someday. It ain't neat, but it's all there.
Well, then the fellow tells me about a cross country he once flew in a J3 Cub, and he's smiling again. I tell him about my plans to fly to Alaska some summer. All of a sudden we're just two pilots swapping stories, and I know I passed my ramp check, so did Marty.
"Ain't no change in the weather
Ain't no change in me
I ain't hiding from nobody
Nobody's hiding from me
Aw, that's the way it's supposed to be."
Call Me The Breeze
By: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Well if that wasn't enough adventure for one day, Marty and I took off east, bound into the cool, June morning air. But that was only the beginning. We'll get Marty's 'Rest of the Story' later.
"Part 6 - Time On My Hands" by Clayton Fisher
October is usually a great month for flying in Oklahoma. The air is cool, mostly dry, winds mostly tolerable. Time to dust off the lexan doors and get 'em back on my Chinook. Most mornings are cold (35F) and the early morning sun sure feels good in my little flying greenhouse. The afternoon return trips, however, are sometimes a hot sweaty torture. I have discovered tho, that the right side door can be removed, turned big end to the back and slipped in beside the right rear panel. Flown thusly in the warm afternoons, it makes for better picture taking out the open door, as well as letting natures air conditioning in around you. I can discern no difference in flight characteristics with the one-door off. I tried flying once with the front doors on and the left rear door off and realized quickly that was a big no-no. I could smell exhaust coming in the back door from the plane's slip pocket.
Take note tho, that ASAP recommends that a Chinook be flown either with all the doors on or all the doors off. But I figure if you don't never do stuff you ain't sposed to, how you ever gonna learn nothing, huh! Besides what they don't know won't hurt um. Right?
The right door practice will leave some scratches on the rear panel, but with 400 hours on her, my Chinook has got a few dings and boo-boos anyway. I'm a function over form kind of guy, so superficial stuff doesn't bother me much. What works is most important.
I love my hangar. It's a combination hay shed, firewood storage place, lawn-mower shed and airplane hangar. With 2 parallel 40 foot steel beams that hold the roof up over door posts that are 34 feet apart; and with double rolling doors, it works good. With a dirt floor and used sheet iron for siding, it's ugly and cheap, and so does not attract much attention from passers-by, and that's good.
Since I am 'semi' retired and so don't have to spend as much time hard scrabbling a living from this old farm anymore, I spend a lot of time sitting in the open doors of my hangar looking out across the hay meadow, down to the creek woods beyond, contemplating the cosmos. My Chinook is behind me, fuelled up and ready to go if I should decide to 'join the tumbling mirth' of air currents and fall colors above me. With the price of fuel lately, it's a bunch cheaper to watch other things fly- try to learn something.
Often, there's an old marsh hawk that comes hovering past, 3 feet off the ground hunting varmits in the edges and fencerows. He flashes that white parch on the back of his tail as he works his feathers to stay just above a stall in the head wind.
Flocks of turtledoves come flashing past, chasing each other to the best sunflower patches.
A few cool fronts have pushed small flocks of teal and scaup into the area. They hang around local ponds until colder north winds give them reason to move on south. Later bunches of Mallards and Gadwalls and other larger varieties will be seen moving around the country against cold, gray skies. It will be time to check out the 12 gauge for some pond jumping.
Susan and I sleep with the window at the head of our bed open, even in the winter. The moan of the north wind, that plaintful call of great flocks of geese on their way to the guld will soon fill the night air. The sound will trigger a wanderlust that is hard to describe and even harder to contain. The tremendous increase in traffic and the years whittling away at our spirit of adventure have dulled the ache somewhat. Ain't life funny?
But back to October and the open hangar door.
There are always buzzards, Red Tailed Hawks, and the occasional Bald Eagle that soar the thermals above my hangar, making me jealous. Only in the past few years have there been Eagles passing through this area. They follow the South Canadian River, which flows north of us a few miles, and there is always a Carp in the shallow water to attract a hungry Eagle.
A Great Blue Heron comes gliding over the treetops and with an easy wing over that would make any flying creature proud, drops like a big gray rock into our pond, flaps down and long spindly legs finding just where to land for a little crawdad fishing.
The local crows, I have named 'The Gang of Thieves' are always around raising hell with some poor hoot owl down on the creek, or 'stealing' table scraps that Susan puts out for them. The raucous crows, the whistle of meadow larks, the whisper of the wind thru the tall grass and the pecan trees in the bottom conjures up a deep appreciation of the wildness that is around me and a longing for the way things used to be. God, I wish I could have been here 200 years ago and experienced this country before 'progress' changed it all.
"We didn't start the fire.
It was always burning since the worlds been turning.
We didn't start the fire,
No we didn't light it,
But we tried to fight it."
But the very best thing about October in Oklahoma is the annual migration of natures shorenuff ultralights - Monarch butterflies. On some days hundreds can be seen moving southwest on gentle breezes. They fly from 6 inches off the ground to as high as one can virtually see them. And I have seen the little buggers as high as 1000 feet AGL while flying my Chinook. They travel between southern Canada and the Northern US to their wintering grounds around Angangueo, Mexico, southwest of Mexico City. I think our farm must be smack dab in the middle of their flyway, and I'll tell ya, I'm plum tickled to death about it. They stop in our fencerows and hay meadows to grab a quick bite (suck) and then move along, circling ' back tracking ' apparently having a good old time. In years past the tall Maximillian Sunflower has been their energy drink of choice, but this year they were chowing down on a small insignificant native flower - Blue Sage (Salvia Azurea) in the meadows. I took a picture or two just for the heck of it.
Maybe soon, the friendly countries to the North and South will honor our Sport Pilot rules and I'll be able to fly up and down this whole magnificent continent. Maybe someday I'll load ole Chinook down with flour tortillias and hot sauce, brush up on my Espanol and boogie South with the butterflies - or maybe I'll decide not to. But to be able to fly when I want, where I want, consistent with flight rules, NOTAM's, and of course - weather; reach out the open doors of my bird and feel the sky flowing past - priceless!
As I am finishing this story on Thanksgiving morning, I've been thinking about the pristine world of 200 years ago and my imaginary place in it. I'm realizing there would have been no flying, indeed no airplanes, no 40 foot steel beams, used sheet iron or rolling doors and no electricity, indeed no power tools, shops or hangars. There would have been ONLY flour tortillias and hot sauce, with maybe some hard tack and buffalo jerky for variety; eaten in an unending ocean of grass after a monotonous day. I probably would have died of appendicitis at the age of 6. Had I survived illness, I might have been burnt alive in a prairie fire, trampled by stampeding buffalo, kilt by raiding Comanche's, or suffered a broken neck when my horse stumbles and falls after stepping in a prairie dog hole whilst running from all that stuff chasing me.
And would I have had any appreciation for the wilderness around me, considering how busy I'd be just trying to survive? One wonders.
So I guess I'll put up with the roar of the interstate and the insanity of modern life. I've got a Super Wal-Mart a few miles up the road to keep me in trinkets and gizmos and a red dirt farm to keep me close to nature. I've got a dynamite little wife who doesn't hold my eccentricities against me, three great kids who are out doing their own thing and ' ain't costin' me no money! I've got a great running flying machine I can buzz around the country in - because at 2500 feet everything comes into perspective.
The world's alright; serene I sit,
And cease to puzzle over it.
There's much that's mighty strange, no doubt;
But nature knows what she's about;
And in a million years or so,
We'll know more than today we know.
Old evolution's underway '
What-ho! The world's alright I say.
From a poem by Robert Service
"Clayton Fisher's Greatest Adventures Part 7
(And Their Consequences)" by Clayton Fisher
A couple of months ago, I landed sort of hard with my Chinook. Wasn't awful hard, but hard enough that the inside half of the aluminum wheel on the left side broke - split around the inside edge of the brake drum. I saw it wobble and heard the click, click of the brake lever hitting the wheel. "Bummer," I thought, but it rolled me on back to the hangar. Next day I called Dale at ASAP and had one on the way pronto. I put the new one on and had every thing back work wise in a few days. A fluke, I thought. Must have hit a big ole frozen cowpile last winter and cracked it, and it must have just now decided to give up. Couldn't possibly happen again, or so I rationalized. That is until the other side broke a couple weeks ago. Susan and I landed on a newly refinished black asphalt runway. A combination of the black oily runway and sun angle blew out my depth perception, and I went 'kerplunk' from about 2 feet off and wobble, wobble, wobble''Aw @#$%*!' 'This could be embarrassing,' I thought as I taxied up to the tie down area. Since Susan was with me I decided to leave her in the pilot lounge, go get the car 20 miles away, and come back and get her. Luckily the broke wheel had one more take off and landing in it. And the best part, nobody saw my trouble!
Now my Chinook has almost 500 hours on her, and as you might expect from reading my 'Greatest Adventures' stories, I have made a lot of hard landings. I've run over a lot of cowpiles, gopher mounds, logs sticking out of sand bars and unseen ditches and ruts in fields with tall grass. Also, what I have done in the past -great practice for cross controlling- was to taxi just above stall speed down a grass runway (don't try this on hard surface) with one wheel on the ground and one wheel off. In order to do this one must push forward stick to keep the lower wheel on the ground, just the right amount of right or left flaperon to keep the right wing up and the low wing from hitting the ground, and enough reverse rudder to keep you and the airplane moving straight down the runway. Then, if you have enough runway, bring her back up on the other side. It's a little tricky but it shore is fun. The problem is that is puts side slip on the tires, which tend to separate from the wheel, and put a lot of pressure on the inside half of the wheel. I quit doing this because I kept shearing off inner tube valve stems. Yeah, yeah, I know ' imperfect machines built by imperfect people, and sooner or later one of them is gonna get stupid! Anyway, the little wheels took way more than their share of punishment before metal fatigue finally got um.
One good thing that had come from this, I added 'wheel check' to my 50 hour inspection. Pull um off, deflate um, pull the brake drum and look for cracks, especially if your bird is high time or has had several 'non-greaser' landings.
I sometimes wonder what the equivalent of 500 hours and 5 years would be in human terms. I know she's just a machine, but she does talk to me thru my stick and rudder. She does purr in my ear and get me high. She does require a goodly amount of TLC, and she ain't cheap, just like - well, you know. Although she is about as low maintenance as any old girl your gonna find flying around out there anywhere. We may be about the same age - my Chinook and me. We've both had a really good run at life, no complaints.
I do recon, tho, that we could have been a little easier on each other.
"I've got a long list of real good reasons
For all the things I've done.
I've got a picture in the back of my mind
Of what I've lost and what I've won.
I've survived every situation
Knowing when to freeze and when to run
And regret is just a memory written on my brow,
And there's nothing I can do about it now!"
From a song by Willie Nelson
Well, till another adventure happens, here's honkin at ya! Yeah Yeah, I know - there's no fool like an old fool.
"Clayton Fishers Greatest Adventures Part 8 (Showing Off)" by Clayton Fisher
"The sky is a magical place. It surrounds our world giving it life. It can at times, be so dark we are afraid: yet at other times, so bright we rejoice. Its sunrise our hope, its sunset our rest. We who can navigate its never-ending currents feel the magic every time we fly." - Earl Downs - Oklahoma Aviator Publication
And so it came to pass, they were to have an open house at Westheimer Field, Norman, Oklahoma, Sept 20th. There would be static displays with cool airplanes to eyeball. The tower would be open, and I looked forward to meeting the heads behind the voices. These guys have been known to make fun of my orange suspenders, being color coordinated with my airplane; chide me for being slow on approach, and final accusing me of running a Briggs and Straten engine on my plane. (I have trimmed my bird for 60-65 mph so I burn only 2 to 3 gal/hr.) I wanted to apologize for my oft failure to communicate and my vexing requests to 'repeat' when traffic is heavy and they're talking fast.
The sun rose to show a blue bird kind of day - light wind and blue sky. That, with they're being nothing quite like the smell of burning 2 cycle mix in the morning, really got my flying blood stirred up. I knew the magic was out there waiting and I was itching for the sky.
I pushed the throttle down and engine noise came up. I did another quick check of gauges - especially the fuel pressure. (I wouldn't fly without one) Chinook's big wheels began slinging up dew and spattering the wings behind me and the tail was cutting a chogie thru the wet grass as I accelerated. Flying speed came in a hurry. I held the stick a little back of neutral, danced some on the rudder pedals to keep her straight and as the tail came off the ground the wings caught the morning air and I was off and climbing into the bright sunlit ambiance. I knew I'd soon be getting bug stains on my shoulders. (A Chinooks flyer's joke)
But I would climb this morning, not the low and slow that I most enjoy. I would leave the mystery of what might lie beneath the green canopy, the surprise of what might flare out of the grass into the prairie breeze. I would not see the ripples of fish in the shallows of the river, not the surprised deer as heads pop up from feeding in the edges. I would not have to be cautious of hitting egrets and heron as they rise in front of me nor be wary of the onerous high wires that crisscross the land, unseen till too late. And the coyote this morning would be safe from being buzzed when caught running in the open field.
I climbed to reach 2500 msl and flew over the hodgepodge of Oklahoma pastures, woods and farm fields; over a green hinterland dotted with creeks and ponds full of wiggly aquatics - the muddy kingdoms of adventure of my boyhood.
Then I began to leave rural Oklahoma behind and soon was over the concrete prairie suburbia, over the river of rolling jelly beans that I-35; over the metalloid ponds of human endeavour that are the car lots, shopping malls, and casinos; over the new additions - fractalized houses, that almost over night pop up like clumps of mushrooms after a warm rain. Over the rampant influenza of modernity - over the sad sad way we treat our substrate.
"Don't try to explain it
Just bow your head
Breath in, breath out
From a song by Jimmy Buffet
Then I was announcing a 2-mile final for runway 3, as per instructions from the tower. As soon as I had the runway made, I reduced the power to near idle, adjusted in a notch of Flaperon, put the nose down and glided in and landed. I taxied to the parking area and was greeted by a young attendant with a big smile. I get lots of smiles. I'm proud of that. Sometimes the smiles progress into raucous laughter. I'm not sure whether they are laughing with me or at me, but either way is ok.
Maybe it's because buddy coon is in the backseat with his usual carefree persona. Maybe it's the oogah horn perched jauntily on the nose. Could it be the glistening Endure brand John Deere green paint that shines like a precious green stone and glints and sparkles off the ribs when the sun is just right? Maybe me and my Chinook have 'bling' do you think?
Maybe it's the contrast between the way people are exposed to aviation - the big expensive plane, the time and money required to obtain the 'right stuff' - and me an old out of shape peckerwood with limited resources in a small, fun tough machine that he built himself. It blows their mind and makes 'em smile.
Well anyway, as I was disembarking, (you ought to watch me get in and out of that sucker, with a screen door handle positioned just above and to the left of me to hold to and raise my heft assets from the seat, I can enter and exit slick as a gut) a guy, obviously an airport official walked up. After introductions he asked me if I wanted to be part of the static display, I explained that I had only come to eat breakfast at Ozzie's and check out the open house, but "sure" sounded like fun. I would have to leave early for some business in the hay patch, but that a couple of house hamming it up and touting the adventures of building and flying a Chinook might be a hoot.
So there I was, manoeuvring my plane behind a brand new T6 and beside N34, the old DC3 that makes a lot of annual Fly-ins and airshows.
It was early and so for while I wasn't very busy, but soon folks began to arrive and I became very busy 'touting'. And the questions were coming fast and furious. "Yes," I built it. "No, it's not an ultralight" "Yes," one has to have a pilot license. "Is it fun?" "Darn shore is." "Was it hard to build?" "Well sort of, but if one is handy with basic tools, can follow simple diagrams and instructions, with perseverance, a Chinook can be built in a reasonable amount of time without knowing too much about airplanes or breaking the bank."
The thing was, people were intrigued that my Chinook was within reach of the average looker. I could see the wheels turning; I could see the glimmer of flying dreams coming to life in young and old.
The kids and their parents came by the dozens to honk my oogah horn. I explained that much of my flying was low and slow, that I was always in earshot of neighbours. That a well timed 'oogah' was a classy way to say howdy.
I told folks that I had 572 hours on her (closer to 600 by the time the story is on the web) with no overhaul and very little trouble. That I thought it was because I use the low RPM's. I seldom use full power, even on take off, unless I have to get out of a short patch. Even then, I begin to reduce power at 100 ft or so. I use good mercury premium plus 2 cycle oil with a couple of ounces of Marvel Mystery oil in 5 gal of 87 octane non-ethanol fuel. I check compression every 50 hrs and both cylinders are always 100 PSI or better.
The one of the airport people came over, got my name and address and said they would officially invite me to be part of the display next year. How bout that! I told her I knew some other pilots with some really cool homebuilts that I could bring with me. She seemed pleased about that.
Well, I had to leave way too soon. I got the plane turned around, cleared of onlookers, called the tower and got cleared to taxi off midfield 21. I left um standing there in awe and wonder as I briskly climbed out on my way to some adventure in the hay patch.
I love my airplane and I had lots of fun showing it off. I get a little down when I see all the wires and towers and city spires that it takes to keep us crazy people in our comfort zone. But, when it gets real bad, I can find a big blue hole and fly my Chinook to a place they can't pave over.
"Now you ask me just to leave you
To go out on my own and get what I need to
You want me to find what I already have
Somebody said they saw me
Swinging the world by the tail
Bouncing over a white cloud
Killing the blues"
-From a song by Rowland Salley
Sung by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss in the CD "Raising Sand"
Proud Builder of the Chinook Plus 2 – 912
Here is Christian’s story in his own words. Christian is from Amos, Quebec and he bought his 912 Chinook Plus 2 in 2005 and built it to completion early 2007. He wanted to share his story with other builders or potential builders on the success he has had with building his Chinook Plus 2 and now is enjoying flying it. (S’il vous plait, voyez ci-dessous l’histoire ecrit par Christian en francais)
I was always very passionate about flying. About 3 years ago, I completed my Private Pilot’s license and originally I was looking at buying a certified aircraft. Once I started doing my research, I found out the cost to fly certified was prohibitive for the cost of the aircraft not to mention the insurance and the annual inspection fees, so I started veering my search into ultralight flying.
It took me over a year to research the different light aircraft available and finally decided to go with a pusher configuration with tandem seating that would allow me the best visibility possible in this type of aircraft.
I tried two different type models that seemed the most popular in Canada and I made a definite choice to go with the 912 Chinook because it was robust but also because the 912 was an engine offered on the Chinook which gave me the security about flying because of the 4 stroke capability. I felt these were two important and essential characteristics for flying in Northern Quebec.
Other important features that made my decision easier, was the solid landing gear, the simple but efficient controls and the solid wing structure with several wing ribs which created a nice aerodynamic wing profile with a pleasing esthetic look. I also like that the fuel tanks were mounted on the struts rather then inside the cabin. I felt that in the event of an incident that myself and my potential passenger would be safer with the fuel tanks away from the cabin.
In regards to fuel, I also opted to purchase the optional in-wing tanks (with the combined strut tanks and in-wing tanks, I am carrying about 20 gallons of fuel on board) which also gives me over 6 hours of flight because of the great fuel economy of the Rotax 912. This allows me to go to my hunting camp and back without worrying about refueling and luckily so because there are no fuel stations on my way to the camp.
In conclusion, it was a great kit to assemble, the assembly manual is complete and everything is very well laid out and easy to understand so it makes it enjoyable to build the kit. All the parts are pre-cut, pre-drilled and measured which makes assembling the kit much simpler.
Chuck Schlicht's Chinook Plus 2
Chuck Schlicht's 1999 Chinook Plus 2 with Rotax 582 E box. Chuck and his friend Bruce went to Vernon, BC to pick up their Chinook Plus 2 kits back in 1999. They both successfully assembled them and have enjoyed them both on wheels and floats. Chuck says they have over 100 hours each on their planes. Chuck is a retired 757 Commercial pilot and now has more time to enjoy flying his Chinook. Great job Chuck!!!!
"I have been building and flying RC model airplanes for twenty years, and on every first flight I knew that I would have trim problems. It usually took two of three flight to get the planes trimmed out properly. Now came the first flight on my new Chinook, I expected some trim adjustments, but after take off the Chinook flew straight as an arrow, no trim adjustment required. I used to fly Boeing 757's, but flying the Chinook is a lot more fun." - Capt Chuck Schlicht NWA Retired
David Abernethy from Lincolnton, NC purchased his 503 Chinook Plus 2 back in 2001. David was kind enough to show some of our potential customers Mark and Ken, also from North Carolina, his Chinook Plus 2 and the photos display the wonderful day they enjoyed.
Eric MacDonald and Jim Rowe
Eric MacDonald and Jim Rowe are long time Chinook 912 owners. Both of them are on amphibious Full Lotus floats. They recently flew to a remote area in beautiful British Columbia:
On our way to the lake south east of Salmon Arm, which is about a 3 hour flight. We were not in a hurry to get there, or we could have gone over the top:
Our home for a couple of days was a small cabin which was was built in 1962, the only inhabitants were a few mice to keep use awake:
The lake is five thousand ft asl, you would have to be there for a few days to get accustomed to the silence.
After leaving we flew down to Slocan and sat on the beach for an hour, then we left for Nakusp, had some lunch and went back to Revelstoke for fuel . We left and went up to the north for an hour of flying and turned for home. We ended up putting seven hours of really nice flying on the planes . We had some real fun few days and even caught some fish.
Marty Fint's Chinook Plus 2, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
It has been less than two weeks since my daughter and I completed our beautiful, red, 503 powered Chinook. First flight was Nov.16, 2005.
It was suggested that I taxi around awhile and get used to how she felt. I started her up and checked all the gauges. Everything looked good. I waved at all the concerned faces onlooking and taxied out to the runway. It was a 3000 ft grass strip. I checked traffic and started taxiing downwind. At 3/4 of the runway length I decided to turn around. It was kind of a tight fit as I narrowly missed the top of a wire fence on the turn. Now I was faced upwind. Hmmmmmm.
Guess I've had enough taxi practice. Methodically I did my pre take-off checklist. Here we go! Adding smooth full throttle input I am startled at the acceleration of the 503. I hardly have time to look down at the airspeed indicator before I reach 45mph and begin to pull back. Man, this plane gets off the ground in a hurry! Comfortable with my nose attitude I look down to see that I am going 65mph. I increase elevator to bring it back to 55mph. The climb becomes very steep, but that is what is needed to keep her at 55mph. I look down and notice my VSI says 1000 fpm. Very nice. I level out at 1000ft AGL. Cruise is 70mph at 5800-6000rpm. I believe that will increase with a repitch of the prop. The ride is incredibly smooth, and the view is awesome.
My first landing is without flaperons and no wind. Final approach was too easy. Maintained 50mph all the way in but did not slow below this on touchdown. Landed on the mains and rolled until the tail settled down. Easy as you please. First Flight a success!
I have made three more flights as of this writing. With the use of flaperons I was able to slow the Chinook to 45mph and come in for a very short, perfect 3 point landing. My last flight was with a 90 degree runway crosswind of 10-12 mph. The upper level winds were higher. I was able to crab the Chinook, no flaperons, all the way in til about 50ft AGL and with proper rudder/aileron application, brought her in for another perfect landing. The stability of the Chinook is impressive. Anyone want a ride?
Marty Fint - Part 2
My buddy Clayton Fisher and I get together in the air from time to time in our well known Oklahoma Chinooks. Well known for various reasons. Here in Oklahoma we're the only ones with flying Chinooks. We have spread the word though, and there are a few that are being built as I write. One received its airworthiness certificate a few days ago. The builder has asked me to test fly it. Of course he's seen me fly mine and knows of the story I am about to relate to you. I have other Chinook adventures to tell, but we Okies get a little long winded. See Clayton Fishers Greatest Adventures in the Pilot's Corner for a few examples.
Anyway, Clayton asked me to fly over to his farm and try out a landing on his short field. By short I mean 600ft. with trees on each end. Not for the faint of heart or the truly smart. But, Clayton does it on a daily basis and I guess he figured after a hundred hrs. of flying the Chinook I was ready.
I brought her in low and slow over the tree tops with two notches of flaps and set down as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I jumped out and walked over to Clayton who was sitting in a lawn chair admiring my handiwork. No sooner had I come over and sat down next to him when he gets this big grin on his face and says, 'Well, are you ready for the Big Kahuna?' I get an uneasy feeling and reply with a feeble' I guess so.' He says, 'Let's go!' The next thing you know we're in our separate planes applying full power to get over that fast approaching row of pear trees and peeling off towards what I don't know.
In about five minutes we reach the Canadian River at an altitude of 400ft AGL.
Clayton comes over the radio and asks, 'Do you see that sand bar off to the left?' I reply that I do and he informs me that he is on a downwind for the sand bar and I'm welcome to follow him in if I'd like! Well my heart starts thumpin' as I'm trying to accept that I can do this even though that sand bar looks awful small. All the while I'm trying to think of what I'm going to say if my plane takes up a permanent parking spot on the river.
Well, as you can see from the pics, after a thrilling landing coming low over the water, I was all smiles. When we got out to stretch, Clayton reminded me that it was for flight capabilities like this that we built our Chinooks. As we walked along the beach I knew I had to get my daughters out here to experience this.
It was not long after this that I got my chance. Early one morning my youngest daughter and I set out to meet Clayton at another sand bar. He had informed us that the fishing had been good lately and to bring our poles. By the way, there is plenty of room in a Chinook to bring two fishing poles, fully rigged, along with bait, tackle box, and your favorite passenger.
After another bush pilot landing, we got out to enjoy a place on the river accessible only to us and the wildlife. The fishing wasn't too good that morning, but we weren't to be disappointed. A large snake swam over to say hello. I don't think he had ever had contact with humans because he swam directly onto the beach not three feet away from us. We studied him and he us. Eventually he slithered away.
Although we didn't catch any fish, we didn't mind. The fishing was secondary to the thrill of flying our own airplane wherever we wanted. Especially to places where others cannot go. The Chinook is a go anywhere aircraft. That's important to us adventurous Okies.
If you're reading this it means you already have a Beaver or a Chinook and you just can't get enough. Or it means you would like to have a plane and you're still trying to pull the trigger. Three years ago I was dreaming just like some of you. I decided to follow my dream. Now I'm living it. Pull the trigger!!!
More to come...
More to come...