Cover Up

For a little while after we got the new plane there were boxes arriving every week. A lot of minor things, like the collar for the circuit breaker, but some larger things, like the gust lock that the broker had to supply new from Diamond in Canada. That was a big box (for not that large an item) and had a lot of customs stickers on it.

cover-newThe first plane had a cover from Bruce’s Aircraft Covers. It seems like they have changed a little in the decade between orders. The covers are made over in China, but I think the design is actually a little evolved and better. Sadly, they no longer offer monogramming of the cover. It seems a little silly, but I think it’s a bit of a hedge against someone taking the cover. (That’s a really small probability to offset. There are about two hundred of these planes in North America, the vast majority in hangars. Do I really think some other DA42 owner is going to sneak onto an airfield (some of the most secure property in the United States) and take a cover off my plane to put it on theirs?) Mostly I like that the pieces of the plane, including the cover, have the tail number on them. Continue reading

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We’re off to the Vineyard, darling.

My favorite trips in the plane are those that I would never otherwise make. There was a time when my parents were up at the Lake in Canada and I was working in the City. I wanted to go up for just a few days and it was a major adventure to do so. Train out to Newark airport, an Air Canada jet to Toronto, another to North Bay airport after a couple hours in Pearson Airport, and a float plane to the Lake. When I got there I felt like I had run some sort of gauntlet.

In July had dropped Dexter off at his summer program in Cambridge, MA and had returned to New York City. After some consideration of the calendar I decided it was a good time to spend three or four nights up at the Lake. Pog and Alex were already there and settled in. There were some items at my sister’s house in Providence that Pog needed, so I’d stop there for a night on the way up. As long as I was there with the plane, it would be fun to go on a little flight with Brett and two of her three kids (only four seats…). As it turned out, Jasper was at camp and Willa was busy with friends. So after a night in their palatial guest suite on the top floor, Brett and I headed to the airport with her youngest, Hazel. It was Hazel’s first time in a small plane.

Brett is only two and a half hours by car from Marthas Vineyard. That’s not too bad, although forty-five minutes of it is on a ferry and I bet there’s a little bit of wait to get into line for the ferry and getting the ferry loaded. We took off from North Central State (where JFK Jr. learned to fly!) and steered nearly due east for 1B2, the Katama airport on the eastern beach of Marthas Vineyard. I had been here once before as sort of consolation prize for not getting to land at Fishers Island. This summer I was managing both. Continue reading

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One More Engine and a Team of Mechanics

monkey

We’ll just tweak it a little…

There are people out there who build their own planes in their garages, basements, and occasionally even on airport grounds. My friend Ariel is building one in a shed on his property. My friend Dean wrote an essay about it which is buried in the Internet Wayback machine.

I can tighten a screw. I have built a computer, several. I have installed hard drives, memory modules, graphic cards and even replaced a power supply. I have even built a house or two with my own two hands and was able to do everything, frame, run flooring, roofing, decking, install windows, hang sheetrock, wire the electrical… really everything except plumbing (a dark art) or finish sheetrock (those guys are masochists). But I am really not at all mechanical.

When I was up at Friday Harbor a few weeks ago and started the engines for a quick flight with my parents the RIGHT COOLANT warning lit up. That would have been the end of the visit for me, I would have had to find a shop that could fly someone out to the island to figure it out. My brother took the cowling off the engine, found the clamp that had loosened a little bit, tightened it, found the proper coolant in his garage, refilled the reservoir and watched me takeoff for a test flight. He poked around the engine (which to me always seems amazingly clean) and said, “You can see the white spray of the leaking coolant, you can smell it, too. That’s the sweet smell.” I couldn’t smell anything. Continue reading

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The Grey Area

hazel

Hazel, awaiting engine start

The thing that I struggled with the most when I was training was radio work. I readily admit that to any student pilot, or newly minted private pilot, when I meet them and they ask me what was most difficult. Radio work is the source of one of my more embarrassing mistakes that I still make every few months.

But in a meta-sense, or in the long term, the hardest thing for me about learning to fly (and continuing to learn to fly better) was trying to reconcile all of the different advice I was getting. And the more reading I did (and especially the more reading Adam did), the more we identified things that were Old Wives Tales (OWT on the web boards we were visiting). Since then I have learned that there are lot of topics that you can introduce to a table full of pilots and get an endless discussion (or a short argument where someone leaves in a huff). Continue reading

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Second Landing, Friday Harbor

Adam thinks that between my two visits to Friday Harbor my landings improved significantly. I was certainly more tired for the second one, having done a lot of IFR in IMC before touching down. And I feel like the approach for the first landing was more stabilized. But I also know that I touched down sooner, slower, and had the plane under control on the runway a lot more quickly.

You can watch both and decide.

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Inching Toward Perfection

I continue to make little improvements to the plane and significant improvements to my flying. Antoine Wilson came to lunch with me in Camarillo and I am pretty sure that he’d say that nothing scary happened. It might not be pretty yet, but it certainly isn’t unsafe. And it is getting better bit by bit. (Photos by Antoine.)

Continue reading

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The Inevitable March of Time and the Constant Seep of Entropy

This isn’t really a flying post, but I don’t have an architecture blog and my two projects in Las Vegas were one of the reasons I learned to fly. If you are here for the aviation, just skip ahead to the next post.

slammer-driveI did not choose architecture because I thought it would make me immortal. I never thought any of my creations would outlast me. When I saw the concrete being poured for one of our first projects, I did think it would probably last fifty years (at the same time we were renovating a farmhouse that was over a hundred years old and I had been down to look at the foundation, fifty years seemed conservative). Continue reading

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