By LeRoy Cook
Seeking every chance to fly last week, pilots rolled out their planes whenever the rain abated and clouds broke away. The stationary weather system, with easterly winds, kept feeding Gulf moisture into our atmosphere. So, even if conditions improved locally, that didn’t mean Clinton, Harrisonville or Nevada were flyable. Showers popped up hourly, causing low clouds to form as the air becamesaturated.
A wide range of traffic came through last week, when the weather allowed. A Cessna Cardinal RG stayed overnight, a Piper Arrow stopped through, and a Cessna Skyhawk touched down. A Cessna AgWagon sprayplane worked at farm fields under the airport traffic pattern. An A-10 “Warthog” ground attack jet from Whiteman Air Force base surprised us at noon on Friday, buzzing town under rain-filled clouds before departing to the Butler VORTAC station. The A-10’s mission is low-level support, for which pilots must train regularly.
A few local pilots made flights, including Jeffery Adams in a Cessna 150, Roy Conley in the Beech Bonanza N35, and myself in a 150 on a maintenance ferry trip. The old 1960 Cessna Skylane was fired up for the first time this year, and we took the Aeronca Champ out for the second time in a month.
On a trip last Friday, the ground wind was blowing at 8 knots with gusts to 17, but at 2,000 feet above the ground we found our ground speed reduced from 90 to 50, for a 40-knot headwind, and on the way back our speed picked up to 130. One never makes back the fuel lost in a headwind, because you’ll only be in the fast lane for a short while.
A brand-new Boeing F-15QA fighter jet was just landed at the Mid-America airport near St. Louis last week when the two government test pilots, who were checking it before the Kuwaiti Air Force accepted the plane, saw a problem and fired their ejection seats—while rolling down the runway. They survived the brief wild ride but the airplane came to rest unoccupied, without a canopy.
Our week’s question was about an American pilot who landed in Ireland to a hero’s welcome in 1938. That would be Douglas Corrigan, who wanted to hop the Atlantic in his rickety Curtis Robin but was denied permission for mechanical deficiencies. He proposed a transcontinental trip to California instead, took off and promptly headed northeast, landing in his family’s native homeland the next day. “Wrong Way” Corrigan always stoutly maintained that his compass malfunctioned. For next week, tell us what products Cessna Aircraft Company’s Fluid Power division made, 50 years ago. You can send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.