What a day.
Dan and I made a great formation flight to Crystal Airport to look at an RV6 that’s for sale. The owner was extremely nice and we spent a couple of pleasant hours talking airplanes. Eventually we said our goodbyes and Dan launched (literally) out of there in his new RV7.
This is where things get interesting. I departed northbound toward Lake Isabella to pick up some folks for AngelFlight and ended up dodging thunderstorms north of Tehachapi. Upon arriving at the Kernville Airport, I find out that a) I’m the last AF pilot to arrive, and b) they were one aircraft short, so unless I can take an extra person, they’d be stranded there. Plus there’s a lot of extra luggage.
So we try to see how much of it we can fit in the plane. Would you believe 14 duffle bags and sleeping bags? Plus 50 gallons of fuel. Plus three passengers weighing about 200 lbs each. The baggage compartment was a solid wall of bags all the way up to the headliner. There were bags under the rear seat. They were holding luggage on their laps. Bags in between the seats. My flight bag (which is quite large) was under my legs.
I later remembered that I had forgotten to add my own weight into the W&B computation, so instead of 2950 we were at 3150 lbs. Then as we taxi out I notice it’s 105 degrees. And at the end of the runway, of course, is…. a huge lake.
But the POH says we have plenty of room to spare. So I decide where my “reject” point will be on the runway, add 10 degrees of flaps, and feed in full power. Suffice it to say the plane got off the ground very quickly. Didn’t climb more than 500 fpm, but that’s fine. Good job, Ron. Nothing can stop you now!
Did I mention the bird strike?
No damage to the airplane, but it sure is a mess. Naturally, I just cleaned the aircraft yesterday. After landing at Pomona, I found pieces of the bird(s) on the prop, cowling, windshield, top of the wing, bottom of the wing, wing tip, wheel fairings, belly, and vertical stabilizer. It was like putting a piece of food in a blender but leaving the lid off.
I don’t think it qualifies as a “prop strike” since there was no slowing of or damage to the prop. Not even the smallest nick. The bird was obviously a tiny one. Even so, blood is like oil. It doesn’t take much to really look bad.
Oh, and did I mention how fun it is trying to get a pop-up IFR clearance into the Los Angeles basin when a dozen other AF pilots are trying to do the same thing? I got vectored around for nearly 30 minutes. Made a lovely VOR approach, a great landing, and am congratulating myself on a job well done. As I taxi off the runway, I expect the usual “taxi to parking, monitor this frequency” from the tower.
Instead, he says “Contact ground”.
Well my front seat passenger was holding the approach book for me (rule one: use all resources), and after we landed he started leafing through it, so I don’t have the ground frequency on hand. Sure I could have pulled it out of the GPS or loran, or fished through the CA Pilot’s Guide or Airport/Facilities Directory.
But it’s been a long day and my airplane is covered in blood, so I decide to just ask the tower if they can give me the frequency. He comes back with “We’re using the published frequencies today, sir. That’s the published frequency. The published frequency is 125.0. That’s 125.0. It’s published.”