Monday, February 28, 2022

What’s Up by LeRoy Cook

 Beware Of Thawing Tundra 

 With morning temperatures more ameliorable to starting engines, aviation activity picked up this week. As March arrives, we’re merely chilly during ramp duties, not frozen stiff. The landscape is no longer a white desert of snow cover.

The Fliars Club flyout last Saturday garnered a total of five hungry travelers in two planes, with perhaps a half-dozen breakfast seekers on the Paola parking apron. Kansas’ mask requirements have been relaxed, making eating out more sociable. Other traffic observed was a Cessna Skyhawk, a Piper Archer and a Cirrus SR-series. From the local hangars, Dennis Jacobs flew the Cessna Skyhawk, as did Jeff Tourtillot and Eric Eastland, Lance Dirks had a Cessna 150 up and Jeremie and Jim Platt flew the Grumman Tiger. Three instructors—Les Gorden, Eric Eastland and I---fought over the student training schedule.

Remembering the times 60 years ago, when Butler airport was paved with grass, this is the season when one has to approach landing on turf runways with caution. The frost is going out of the soil, so the top few inches can get spongy, turning hard dirt into sloppy mud. You don’t want to land on someone’s nice grass strip and leave it rutted up, particularly as you lock a wheel to turn around. Replace your divots, as we say on the golf course.

I recall one chilly spring day when I taxied the Cessna 150 down to the south end of our old runway and promptly buried a maingear tire when I tried to turn around to take off. I had to walk all the way back to the hangar to get some boards to shove under the wheel, so I could blast my way out of the hole. The young lady I was taking up for a ride was not impressed.

Proving once again that you can’t always depend on your airplane being ready to go, I opened the hangar Saturday to find a flat nose tire. Airing it up was fruitless; it sank back to a limp pile of rubber in a few minutes. There was nothing to be done but weight down the tail and disassemble the gear. Fortunately, we had a new tire and tube in inventory. Takeoff was delayed an hour or so, including washup time. 

For this week’s brain teaser, we wanted to know why American pilot licenses don’t carry a picture of the holder, like other civilized countries require. The FAA really doesn’t want to add a picture-taking burden, which would be kinda pointless since pilot licenses are issued for life; I sure don’t look like I did when my last update was done 40 years ago. So, the regulations say we have to carry some other photo ID, in addition to our license and medical, when flying. For next week, whose picture IS on all U.S. pilot certificates? Send your answers to

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