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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Holey Pistons, Batman!

What's Up by LeRoy Cook

As the days grow shorter, the beautiful flying of fall means we have to hustle if we want to make it back to the home plate before it gets dark. Nothing wrong with a little night flying, as long as you’re current and the weather is perfect. But there are times when the airplane or you aren’t up to the task.  The big moon of last week certainly made for easy night flight.

Our transient aircraft count included several airplanes doing the practice instrument approaches; some land, some just circle, none stay long. A pair of Cessna Skyhawks came in, a Piper Cherokee landed and a Piper Archer II tied down. Dr. Ed Christophersen came over from Olathe for some recurrent training in his Piper PA-28.  

Of the local fleet, Jeremie Platt had his Grumman Tiger out on several occasions, the Cessna 172 in the north hangars flew, Randy Miller was up in the Cessna Skyhawk and I retrieved the Aeronca Champ out of hock. Christian Tucker took a Cessna 150 up to Chicago and back, and the SkyDive KC Beech King Air E90 had some good jump runs on Saturday, before the winds shut down operations on Sunday.  A total of three Fliars showed up for the breakfast flyout on Saturday; departure was delayed  for early morning fog, but it quickly burned off.

It helps to have a GPS navigator to aid in flexible flight management. We were grinding back from Clinton Friday morning against a front’s headwind, showing 37 knots on the groundspeed readout in the smooth air up at 2700 feet MSL. I decided to try bouncing along down at 1700 feet, since the surface winds were a lot less than the 45-knot flow up high. Sure enough, the GS reading rose to 50 knots, and I had no passengers so only I had to endure the turbulence.

Clinton airport is replacing its asphalt parking ramp with a total concrete acreage, to match their north-south runway. Their fuel price is up to $5.05, reflecting the nationwide trend to higher cost of avgas. The upward push of heavy oil used in asphalt paving makes the long life of concrete about even.

Our weekly quiz wanted to know the consequences of burning a lower octane rating fuel in an aircraft engine designed for 100 octane low-lead avgas. As one reader answered, “Holey pistons, Batman!” The detonation resulting from low-grade fuel can destroy an engine in seconds. And don’t confuse an automotive gas pump octane number with 100LL. Car gas uses a research method to derive its rating; aviation fuel uses a motor method, which is entirely different. For next time, we’d like to know “was a submarine ever used as an aircraft carrier?” As always, you can send your answer to kochhaus1@gmail.com.