Sunday, November 6, 2011


Setting up the 696
The mission was a simple one. We had not flown together since mid- August and I wanted to get her back into the air. She wanted to try out her new Clarity Aloft Headset, new HD sunglasses and a few new tricks to combat airsickness. I was still checking things from the annual, and besides, it was a beautiful Pennsylvania day. It was the first time she got to see a takeoff from RWY 16. It is just a little different taking off from grass.

I contacted Allentown Approach immediately after take off to get clearance through the Class "C" and we were given a squawk right away. The air was cool and calm and as you can see from the pictures, visibility was fantastic. We traveled over at 3500' and
really enjoyed sightseeing. She had grown up in the neighborhood  at the bottom right of the photo, and I had spent some time walking there after school. Down Hamilton Street, Past the PPL and Hess's, then over the 8th Street Bridge to her house. Sometimes I rode the bus, most times not.
LVIA (formerly ABE)

 ...and around then I spent  some time in the Allentown Airport Traffic Area learning to talk to the tower and other controllers on a hand held mike and listening on a speaker in the cabin of an old Cherokee. I stayed away from there when flying the Champ, although I did wander down the ridge from Slatington to fly through the Water Gap and back up the other side of the mountain. I think we were a little past the peak foliage this year, but then we had a blizzard last weekend that kept us all on the ground around here.
Delaware Water Gap

 While the controllers were busy, we only saw a few planes during our trip. When I switched frequencies to Blairstown I was surprised at how quiet it was.  They do a brisk breakfast business and I expected a lot of traffic on a pretty Saturday morning. After landing we found that they had been impacted by the sudden snow and their power was still out. After considering our options we decided to head back home and have a late breakfast at 7N8. She had the weekend errands to do and I wanted to winterize Sally.

The flight was uneventful except for one thing, I overflew home base! Flying into the sun, some glare, but mostly finding this little airport from a different direction caused me to miss it. Fortunately I recognized my house when I flew over it and was able to recover before going to N47. We made a nice landing going down the hill on RWY 16.

Runway 07 at Blairstown
 After a nice lunch we went back to the plane to tie her down, and cover her up. We went home to go about chores and I changed and went back out to the airport to add the winter baffles and take the wheel pants off. All went well until I got to the last screw on the last pant. The driver slipped and I destroyed the head. Different sized drivers only made things worse...aargh. Similarly one screw on the oil cooler baffle would come loose either, with much the same result.

My new best friend is a #2 'easy out' (screw extractor). After carefully drilling a shallow hole in each screw I was able to insert the tool and slowly remove the stubborn screws. Which is really good news because that means a test flight. Hope we have good weather tomorrow.

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