Good call Vance. I have a friend who’s dad owned Woodland Aviation for many years. His saying was “The Pilot who flies into poor weather and dies is always buried on a beautiful day” in other words, it takes wisdom to pass on a flight you want to make.
John Ready was a friend of mine and one of my aviation mentors.
To his little sister he was a big brother and a Marine. She has a picture of her as a little sister with her big brother in uniform. I love that picture.
To his friends at the airport he few acrobatics in an Acro Sport 1 powered by a hand propped Lycoming O-290 and was the president of EAA chapter 499. He knew a great deal about the history of aviation.
He expected to live to 140 and worked to stay in shape.
His heart gave out and we all miss him.
His sister Mary from Florida was out in California for the second time trying to clean up the things John left behind.
I had a very busy couple of weeks and had only visited with her briefly at the hangar sale that was more of a we miss John fest.
I had finished up with a client at 5:00 and was working on the preflight for the next day.
I received a message on my Cell phone from Mary that she was headed home tomorrow morning.
I felt it was time to give her a ride in an open aircraft and show her where her brother John loved to fly.
Mary jumped at the chance despite the marine layer that was moving in on the Santa Maria Public Airport.
She called her husband in Florida and he was understandably a little nervous because he is a pilot and understands the nature of aircraft and knows of my handicaps.
I got her fitted with a helmet and gave her the required briefing reminding her that it was an experimental aircraft and did not meet the safety requirements of a standard category aircraft. I went through emergency procedures at length.
She would not take the controls.
As we taxied out the sky was still mostly blue and I asked for a straight out with a slight left to make a run up the beach.
As soon as we lifted off I could see that wasn’t going to work. There was a wall of fog over Guadalupe and things looked threatening over Nipomo so I asked for a right turn out to the North.
ATC came back with; “Experimental 142 Mike Golf continue straight ahead and I will call your crosswind.”
The challenge was there was fog straight ahead at our altitude about four miles ahead. I slowed to 30kts and waited for the clearance. North of the airport was nice and clear.
Over the river I did my little dance of steep turns, slow flight and a power off vertical descent.
I did a demonstration of “let’s see what is over the hill” and climbed to 2,200 feet and flew over the Twitchell reservoir and then over the dam and down a little valley covered with vineyards.
I looked over at the airport and I could see the fog rolling in so it was time to cut the flight a little short.
I explained how much John loved approaching SMX and took a picture to memorialize it.
A friend took a picture while Mary still had on her Gyro grin.
She said it was a great way to finish up the trip and it was a nice tribute to John who had helped me to become a flight instructor.
The West Coast Cub Fly In has been held at the Lompoc Airport for thirty five years.
I try to make it every year despite not owning a Cub.
I peered out the window of our bedroom and the mountains were completely obscured by a heavy fog. I could not see the floor of the Santa Maria Valley looking to the South East.
I checked the weather and Santa Barbara and Lompoc were supposed to be overcast all day.
Ever the optimist I launched the M Roadster toward the Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX).
It was blue skies when I arrived at SMX at 9:00 and started working through my preflight list.
The Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) had the ceiling at Lompoc (LPC) at 600 feet overcast, well below VFR weather minimums and Vandenberg’s terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF) was expecting the weather to be Instrument Flight Conditions (IMC) all day.
I launched when the temperature/dew point spread was four degrees at SMX toward Santa Ynez (IZA) even though the ceiling was missing from the AWOS at IZA.
There was a light mist hanging in the air and it was nice all the way to IZA. I checked the AWOS at Lompoc and it was unimproved. I visited briefly with friends and headed down the river toward Lompoc just 20 miles away and I could see the fog just on the other side of the ridgeline.
As I approached Lompoc there was no sign of fog although there was a wall of fog covering Vandenberg.
It appeared from the radio calls that some were confused about what was a right upwind for runway 26 at Lompoc so I stayed well clear of the pattern.
The sky was littered with Yellow Piper Cubs, many with weak or no operating radio.
Lots of friends waved as I made my landing and found a nice place to park.
I love to see the passion displayed by so many who keep the Cubs alive.
I watched a pilot used rope to unstick his valve and was planning to fly back to Flabob in Riverside more than 160 miles over some heavily populated areas.
There was quite a collection of Cubs and the spot landing and flour bomb contests were a lot of fun.
As I was eating lunch a young man was operating a Cub pedal car that was being raffled off. It was a very nice piece of woodwork and he seemed to be quite taken with it going faster and faster and making wider and wider circles. The Pedals also drove the prop.
I was quite taken with this model T speedster that had apparently been a high school shop class project many years ago.
Cubs are lots of fun to fly. I owned a J3 with 85hp engine and wooden prop for a few years then upgraded to a PA-11. The J3 only had a 12 gallon nose tank so had to plan fuel stops especially with headwinds. Have to fly the J3 solo from the back seat so visibility isn’t great while taxiing with nose high. Always flew the pattern assuming the engine would stop, and had that happen a couple of time after annual with mechanic adjusting the idle too low for the wooden prop.
PA-11 Cub was much faster and had 18 gallon fuel tank. Can fly solo from front. Neither had electrical system so had to use handheld radio. No attitude indicators. Both Cubs originally did not have shielded plugs and wires so the interference from spark made the radio transmission almost useless. I often flew into uncontrolled airports where the planes in the traffic pattern were complaining about the Cub not using the radio, but I could hear them just couldn’t transmit far until I had plugs replace and added shielded wires and external antenna. It’s not easy to get radio working in Cub, but I know all the tricks now. Same apply to gyros.
It’s not required to have a radio so planes need to look for traffic in the pattern... I always flew the pattern assuming and planes taxing up to take off would not look. also, the Cubs without electrical system do not require transponder so won’t have the ADS-B out for those that fly looking at instruments mostly...
Thanks for sharing Vance. Wish I could have gone to the Flyin!