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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.