Saturday, July 5, 2014

Flight to TMGA Fly-In, Cottonwood, AZ from Melbourne, FL

Our flight to Cottonwood was generally in smooth air and light winds.  We would cruise at 4500' in the morning, and gradually increase altitude as the convection started, to stay in the smooth air.
the Skyvector map of our roundtrip route can be found at:

 Gulf of Mexico

 Smooth cruisin' before the weather turned ugly.
After spending the night in Jasper, TX (highly recommended), we left the next morning faced with ugly weather in the form of a front extending from southern Texas to northern Nebraska.  We tried to get around it to the south, but it was moving too fast and was too strong so we landed at Eagle Lake, TX (not recommended), which is primarily a crop dusting airport.  The city manager unlocked a hangar and then drove us to the only motel in town.  While eating lunch the storm hit with a good sized gust front, rain, and lightning.  It rained off and on all night, and then cleared for our departure the next morning.  The motel owner drove us back to the airport.  So we were well taken care of, but facilities in this small town are lacking.

 El Paso and the US/Mexican border
The flight across Texas was in nice smooth air with winds from the north, since it was post-frontal.  We made a rest stop at Guillespe Co Airport (T82 - highly recommended as an overnight stop too), and then continued on to a small airport just south of El Paso (E35) for rest and fuel.  The last short leg of the day was into Silver City (SVC) where Phoenix owners Randy and Cheryl met us and housed us for the night in their beautiful new home.

 Tuzigoot ruins, 1300AD in Cottonwood
Silver City to Sedona was a short 2 hour trip but the winds were beginning to blow, and would not stop for the next 9 days.  Kathy took in the local hikes and sites and I joined her in the afternoons after a brief flight in the mornings before the winds kicked in. 

Cottonwood from Mingus Mountain
Unfortunately the winds in Cottonwood prevented most flying, but we had a great time there with like-minded motorglider friends.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sebring Expo 2014

Alright!  Photos are back on the air.  All I have to do is sign on to the net with Google Chrome.  Don't ask me why.
 Each morning of the Expo brought frigid temps (for Florida anyway).  Rather than scrape the ice off of the wings which could damage the finish, John would rotate the plane so that the sun did the work.

 After a few minutes the ice would turn to water and could be squeegeed off and then a chamois would finish the job.  (The perfect fitting canopy cover comes standard with each plane).

 Winds were brisk the first day, but the remainder of the show as cool with light winds each day.

We gave a dozen demo flights, sold a plane, made new friends, reacquainted with old friends, and even met a Phoenix deposit holder that we had not seen face to face.  Sweet!
Thank you Kathy and John for all of your help and hard work!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sebring Expo

We just arrived in Sebring, FL for the Sebring LSA Expo.  This airshow is dedicated to light sport aircraft, so it is a one of a kind in the US.  The Expo runs tomorrow through Sunday, January 16-19.
For some reason I can't post photos to the blog,  and since this is primarily a visual post, we'll wait until the problem is resolved before continuing.
Don departed Melbourne last week, and stopped off in Miami, Key West, Cozumel, Belize, and finally to his destination, Costa Rica.  He will be on vacation, exploring in his Phoenix for a month, and then will return to the US via western Mexico.  I have urged Don to send us reports of his travels, so hopefully we'll have something for you here soon.
Save flying!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

September 2013 Factory Visit

Dennis Yeomans and I traveled to Prague and then on to Usti nad Orlici to visit the Phoenix Air factory.  Dennis keeps his Phoenix in Hawaii and also has an ASH-26E in Tehachapi, CA.  He flew from Cal to JFK where we met and hopped our Delta ride across the pond to Prague.

 Jetlagged but wanting to stay up until dark to reset our internal clocks, we boarded the subway from the Alpin Hotel into the old town section of Prague.
 Staromesjske Nameste (Old Town Square)
 Vltava River view from the Charles Bridge
 After our rest day and night in Prague, Dennis and I made the 2 hour drive to Usti to see Martin and the boys at the Phoenix shop.  First stop, the relatively new final assembly building which I had not seen before.  In an effort to speed up production, they moved into this building to provide more room and a clean uncluttered area to assemble the planes and mount instruments and engines.  This building is across the street from the airport.

 However, Dennis and I did an admirable job of completely stopping production by asking hundreds of questions.  I also had my list of minor changes I would like to see instituted.  Here, Martin explains to Radek and Peter one of my ideas.  Radek doesn't look too happy to have me upsetting his apple cart.  But really, they are very willing to hear about our special needs in the US and do everything they can to help us out as long as it does not slow production!

 Then it was off across town to visit the "old" shop, where the laminations take place.  Phoenix Air and Schempp Hirth jointly rent the huge building, and share much of the floor space, such as the paint room, ovens, wet sanding room, machine shop, and more.  And then each company has it's own dedicated floor space and employees.  This is a shot of a wing lamination which is almost complete.  The wing has not been removed from the upper half of the wing mold yet, which it sits in.

 Another shot of the wing sitting in the mold
 The finish wet sanding for both companies is in the same room.  This Phoenix fuselage (30/U15) gets the masking and wet sanding treatment, while a Duo Discus fuselage gets the same treatment nearby.

 Fuselage 31/U15 has the initial lamination done, next step are bulkheads, fittings, and the joining of the two halves.
 31/U15 inside the fuselage mold.  Martin, Dennis, and I would have a meal, a meeting, and then go to one or the other of the shops to look as specific items about the planes and have more discussions.  Then off to another cafĂ©, and more meetings with an internet connection available.  We spent a week with this routine, and Martin was very gracious and never acted like he couldn't wait until we left!
 Then we drove back to Prague, and ran into our host, Nikola Chudozilov about to depart his Alpin Hotel for some helicopter training.  He invited Dennis and I to go on a tour of Prague and the surrounding area in his Cirrus SR22 afterwards.  He drove this BMW motocycle to the southern tip of South America, and has flown his Zenith 701 (which I certified in the US for him) from Florida to Oshkosh to San Diego and back to Florida.  Quite the adventurer!

 Dennis, Nikola, Suzanna, and I had a nice hour flight, landing at dusk, and then out to dinner.  So ended our great trip.  Dennis and I caught our flight home the next day.
 Ok, so I got home, and received an email from Nikola.  He took a business trip in his Cirrus to Switzerland, Germany, and Italy after our visit.  He was on an IFR flight plan when his alternator gave up, leaving him without any power.  Since he suddenly disappeared from the radar screens in various countries, the Swiss and Germans sent up their air forces to find out what was going on.  Here is the German Typhoon taking the first looksee off of Nikola's wingtip!  Look at that angle of attack while he flies at 150kts to match the Cirrus!  I think the Typhoon's stall speed is around 110kts with leading edge slats deployed.

 Not to be outdone, the Swiss Gryphon pilot moves in for a look too!
Well, that upped the ante, and it was the German's "kill", so he moved back in Real Close! just so everyone knew who's boss!
(It all ended well).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Russ Owens over Lake Tahoe

All photos by Andy Robinson