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Monday, January 25, 2021

Always check ahead...

What’s Up

By LeRoy Cook

As is common, January continued with up-and-down flying opportunities last week. The weird weather on Thursday was particularly memorable. We woke up to zero-zero fog, expecting it to burn off by mid-morning. We drove north up the highway and could see only one two-tenths mile marker at a time. But at Archie we broke out into clear skies, as reported on the weather scan. Butler and points south, on the other hand, stayed fogged in until 1 p.m.

 When conditions permitted, there was quite a bit of activity on the Butler runway. A big Beech King Air 300 corporate turboprop arrived Monday, staying a few days, and a smaller Beech King C90 turboprop stopped to pick up passengers on Friday. A Piper Twin Comanche came in and a Cessna Skylane shot a few landings. Jim Stevens was over from Olathe in his Cessna 182.

 From the local fleet, I took the Cessna 172 over to New Century for maintenance and made a Cessna 150 sortie to Clinton for refresher training. Flight instructors Dan Embrey and Erick Eastland gave dual sessions in Cessna 150s  and Lance Dirks made a Kansas trip in the Cessna Skyhawk.

 We’re always saying “check your Notices To Airmen” before flying anywhere, because you never know what might be out there. I was going into Harrisonville the other day and learned that the runway was closed for much-needed crack sealing. But with 15 minutes prior notice, the City crew would stop work long enough to let airplanes in and out, and three of us took advantage of that. The temporary “X” at the runway end was rolled up let us in and out.

 But then, when we returned later in the afternoon, our request for opening the runway evidently didn’t get passed along. Even though we couldn’t see the closed markers from the traffic pattern and no machinery was evident, when we made our approach we spotted a barely-visible “X” displayed in the grass. So, we had to go around and divert to Butler.

 We went into Topeka’s Billard Café fly-in restaurant the other day, finding the parking ramp vacant and only a couple of parties eating lunch. Things are slow around airports these days, even though business flying is somewhat on the increase again. Operators are needing to watch their costs in these lean times, so don’t expect all the free services they offered in better days. Some places are asking for a $10 ramp fee if you don’t buy fuel, which is entirely understandable. Let’s all help each other survive.

 Last week, we wanted to know if it was okay for an aircraft owner to paint his airplane, without a mechanic’s supervision. Actually, painting and refinishing is allowed under Part 43 of the regulations as owner maintenance, although it would be arguable that a shop should rebalance the control surfaces. Our question for next week is, how come we don’t see spilled jet fuel raining from the sky when aerial refueling takes place overhead, as we saw on last Tuesday? You can send your answers to