Sept 21, 2007 Hannibal, MO

I called my motor things that I shouldn't have. She didn't deserve it—you'll see why.

It was morning of the first day with dawn beckoning as we pulled into the remains of Ottawa's airport. Faded letters marked out where Skydive Chicago used to be and a crop of houses grew nearby. But for now, it would serve, maybe for the last time, as an aerial launchpad.

Tim and I got ready but I couldn't get my motor started. I pulled and pulled. Tim launched while I kept troubleshooting. Pulling out the spark plug to make sure it wasn't flooded, checking for fuel, spark, trying starter fluid. It would start and not keep running. What's up?!?

The day before, with new redrive bearings and a cleaned out carb, she put on a beautiful show—powerful, responsive and smooth. Ahhhh. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Not this morning.

I pulled and pulled. It's embarrassing, really. After all, my own advice, right here on FootFlyer, tells me that if she don't start after a few pulls, something's amiss. Well let me tell you, something was amiss.

An onlooker, Pete, showed up to see us fly. Tim launched for a cruise that turned out brief. God bless him, he came shortly and said it was bumpy "you go ahead and take mine" he said.

Yeah right. Bumpy. I'd felt barely a breeze the whole time I'd been there.

It was 8am—he was being blatantly kind and wanted me to get some airtime to ease the growing frustration. Who was I to argue—I took his ride up for a little spin and man did that feel good. The Silex sure is a nice flying wing and that little top 80 sure has been a trooper. I  Spice is still my fav but I enjoyed the ride on his.

Shortly I landed and got back to resume detective work.

While trying another theory, Pete noticed fuel dripping from the fuel line. Hmmm. That shouldn't be. Wouldn't you know it, my fuel line had a leak right where it entered the carb nipple. Wouldn't you know it, I cut that end off to expose good line, checked it, and the motor ran perfectly. PERFECTLY! Had I thought about this page, I wouldn't have gone to so much trouble.

The ran so well, In fact, that it didn't want to stop. The kill switch wouldn't—an intermittent problem that re-appeared with a vengeance. I knew the most likely culprit was a broken wire right where it exited the coil—the worst possible place. Fixing this would be almost impossible. I tried, knowing that my solution might kill the coil and it did. That was it, this would be a one-machine, two person trip. I didn't want to be starting this thing without the ability to shut it off.

Flying there was fun, though, even if the flights were brief. It sure does limit your aerial photo ops, though.

Making the best of it

With only one motor I proposed something we'd never done—a crewed cross country. One person drives, the other flies. Tim thought that would be fun although he saw that I was a lot more excited about the flying than he was and let me take his motor.

Galesburg came up just as the afternoon thermals waned. It has Class E to the surface meaning that we require permission from the controlling agency. Using 800 WX-BRIEF I got the number for Moline approach, called them and cleared it with them to fly there. As expected, they didn't know about permission because airplane pilots don't need it. They said "have fun." Then I got permission to drive the motorhome onto the field and set up.

It's an airport so I used aviation comm to announce my intentions and here what was going on. I could communicate with Tim, too.

You can see the launch description here. Tim took this series and I put it together. There's more to that picture. My headset fell off as I turned around and I almost let the wing overfly me while I dealt with that.

Cross country flying like this is really cool. You'd expect it to be boring but was fascinated by the process. The ability to run into flight then set off across the state still makes me giggle. Although most of the flight was above 200 feet, on occasion I went down to play.

Tim took a while to get out of Galesburg and catch up with me. The crow does fly straight. I may only go 30 mph but I don't stop for traffic lights. He passed me and we then played leapfrog where he would go ahead then wait.

It was fun beyond expectations.

We pressed on as tourists with a visit to Hannibal, MO and next to Springfield, IL. Overall we obviously won't get as much flying done but will certainly enjoy the trip.

Life is good, even in spite of some relatively small adversity.

The Cross Country. I flew, Tim followed along in the Enterprise. Peering into the lives of mid America from between 0 and 800 feet.


I can't remember doing the "tourist thing" for an entire day. I'm sure I have but it's been 20 years, probably. We had planned on flying around Hannibal and visiting during mid-day but decided to spend the entire day checking it out. At one point, on the way to Cameron Caves, we saw an overlook, Lover's Leap. "If we're not flying, we might as well get an aeriaI view."


Row 1: The Mark Twain Caves. I learned more about Mark Clements than I ever knew. Fascinating. Creative sorts seem to be somewhat tortured souls.

Row 2: 1) An unlikely place to sell ice cream? 2) Life aboard the Enterprise after a day of touring. 3) We climbed from the river level to the lighthouse, all 244 steps according to this "Survivor's Award"--a clever promotion by the nearby gift shop.

Row 3: 1) The dinner cruise in the evening was relaxing. It was perfect weather, too. Of course it would have been perfect for flying.



1. My first one-way cross country in the U.S. I've done this in Mexico but it was cool launching from this airport on the way to elsewhere.

2. Magenta dashed lines around Galesburg airport means that Class E airspace goes down to the surface. We we need permission to fly  from that and so I called Moline Approach. They're not used to getting that question because certified aircraft don't need permission to fly from there.

3. This is as close to flying as we got in Hannibal, MO. It wouldn't make a good launch unless you were cornered Indian lovers (as the story goes) and didn't plan on re-using your fuselage.

© 2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!