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Monday, March 22, 2021

Potato chips were cause of emergency

What's Up? 
by LeRoy Cook

Carefully choosing their chances to fly, pilots took to the air last week during some of the lulls in the wind and spring storms. As spring officially arrived we had to shift our focus from icing and cold starts to open vents and high cylinder head temperatures.

Among the observed visitors were a Piper Archer, a Cessna Skylane 182T, a Cessna Skylane bearing skydivers and a Piper Cherokee whose pilot stubbornly insisted on flying a right-hand traffic pattern despite the air regulation calling for left turns. Another Cessna Skylane was in from Harrisonville for recurrent training. The multicom radio frequency was loaded with traffic calls as pent-up demand was turned loose.

Local aviators exercising their wings included Jim Ferguson in his Cessna Skylane, Roy Conley in his Grumman Tr2 and the Beech Bonanza N35, Brandt Hall in his Genesis homebuilt and new pilot Dayne Kedigh, off to Clinton in a Cessna 150. The tired-bottom award of the week went to CFI Eric Eastland, who logged 13 hours in the saddle flying the Cessna Skyhawk to Panama City, Florida and back over the weekend. The SkyDive KC Beech King Air C90 got in a partial opening weekend of hauling jumpers, before Sunday’s wind put a halt to activity.

Heard a funny story last week, about a pilot of a Skylane who climbed out of Los Angeles to 10,000 feet, enroute to Page, Arizona (I know, wrong altitude, but that’s the story). Shortly after leveling off, a loud explosion was heard and the pilot immediately declared an emergency with SoCal (Southern California Approach) saying he had blown a cylinder. He was given a radar vector to land at Grass Valley, but then realized his engine was still purring. He told approach to forget the emergency, he was going on to Page. Now, you can’t just do that; FAA rules since 9/11 insist that reports have to be filled out and an explanation given. Sheepishly, he confessed that a bag of potato chips had exploded in the -unpressurized cabin.

The B-2 Stealth bombers we see flying over our area may soon have a sibling to join them. Northrop Grumman is expecting to fly its B-21 bomber next year, an $800-million follow-on to the already-aging B-2. The B-21 is expected to have a similar flying-wing configuration, but it’ll be “optionally piloted”, meaning it may eventually be operated remotely as a drone system.

Our question from last week was “how many horsepower are in a kilowatt?” The answer is, a KW can do about ¾ of a horsepower in equivalent work—while the battery holds up. So a 600-KW electric motor can replace a 450-hp combustion engine, in theory. Current technology makes it impractical. For next week, our brain-teaser asks “what did air race pilot Steve Wittman call his motorcycle engine powered racing plane, which was marginally successful?” Your answer can be sent to