Monday, July 25, 2022

What’s Up by LeRoy Cook


If You’re Gonna Ditch, Have A Low Wing

In typical Midwestern courteousness, a passersby will offer “been flying much?” as a greeting, assuming that I might have an interesting tale to relate. This being the summer doldrums, when one has to have a good excuse (and money to execute it) to aloft to get out in the heat, there’s not a lot to report. Were I more open to prevarication, I suppose I could offer up a recount of something I did last year, as last week’s activity. Most often, I mutter something like “been pretty quiet” or “not lately.”

The week’s movements included a Cessna AgWagon sprayplane out of Garden City, a Turbine AirTractor doing heavier loads, a Mooney M20C making instrument approaches, a Piper Cherokee 180 and a Cessna 150. An animal health specialist flew in from Falls City, Nebraska in a Cessna Turbo Centurion for a local consult. After a week’s hiatus, the SkyDive KC Beech King Air E90 took several loads up to temporary respite from the heat at 15,000 feet.

This was a bad week to have an unresolved maintenance issue. We checked with a good number of the small aircraft repair and inspection shops around the area, and over half reported they were doing no work this week. “We’re going to Oshkosh, be back end of week.” Going to the EAA AirVenture get-together is an experience only available at the end of July each year, when everyone forgets the troubles, loads up the credit card and becomes one big family again. Don’t break down, unless you’re at OSH.

This being the final Saturday of the month, the Fliars Club assembles at 0730 hours on the Butler airport ramp. If not inclined to commit an act of aviation, we can always seek local sustenance and tell the same stories. 

The news clip on TV last weekend of a Cessna pilot successfully ditching in the ocean just offshore of a beach, of course filmed by a cellphone camera holder instead of calling and initiating emergency rescue, showed that it is possible to put a plane down in the water, if you do it just right. Survival depends on being as slow as possible at impact, avoiding face-on contact with a wave and bracing yourself. Low-wing airplaneare a better choice, as they tend to stay upright and even float a while.

At the risk of repeating myself (it happens with creeping senility, I’ve been told) the answer to the previous week’s question about Ernst Mach and supersonic flight is covered again below. I don’t seem to have my backup file on the disc. Ernst Mach was an Austrian physicist who postulated about the behavior of objects in a flowing stream of fluid, and he died long before anyone flew even slow airplanes. But his name was bestowed on the speed of sound moving through air, hence “Mach One” denotes moving at 760 mph at sea level. Next week’s puzzler is “when were jet aircraft introduced into airline service in the U.S.?” Send your answers to

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