May 8, 2012 - A fond farewell: On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, Wild Child departed X14 as my airplane for the final time. She has moved on to a new owner. SheWCBye.jpg has been a great airplane for me and I truly had the privilege of her ownership but all good things must pass. Her new owners are a WCBye1.jpggroup of fun-loving guys who live in ..... wait a minute ...... Tavernaero! And Wild Child is really going home. She will be living in my hangar in the Keys but under new ownership so she will not be far away at all. Congratulations, guys - you have a great airplane. I wish you all the fun with her that I had.WCBye2.jpg

Pompano Beach via FL Keys (July 2011): My first Saturday back home. I have an airplane full of gas; I have a beautiful sunny day and I have nothing planned. Air-trip!!!! The 4th Saturday of every month is the fly-out for the Grasshoppers - a ladies flying group whose sole purpose is to fly somewhere and have a gathering - usually associated with some meal. The group has been together for 50 years hopping from place to place throughout Florida and the Bahamas. Today it was Pompano Beach.PMP1.JPG

Vern and I got up and out early to make a run to the Keys before heading north to Pompano. I knew they had been working on the house but I have not seen anything since I have not been around. With calm winds and clear skies this morning, it was the perfect time to go. The trip to the Keys was a bit slow. While surface winds were calm, we had about 10-15 kts aloft, making our ground speed a paltry 88 kts and making for a long ride over the Everglades. It was nice to see that we have gotten some rain in FL and the Everglades were starting to fill with water once again. The gator holes actually had water instead of being PMP2.JPGdried brown masses.

Upon our arrival at Tavernaero, we were again pleased to find that rain had graced the Keys as well: the runway was lush and green; there was no dust and everything was clean and clear. We plopped onto the runway and taxied back - NOT making a dust cloud as we did the last time we came. There was not too much progress on the house - the rough in plumbing was completed and some of the AC duct work was in. We spoke with the builder to learn that lots was to happen this week to come with the AC. The kitchen cabinets are enroute and the bathroom fixtures are at the house. All and all it is moving so I am happy.PMP3.JPG

It was a short visit but we wanted to scoot so we could make the Grasshoppers lunch on time, We flightplanned a low route up the remainder of the Keys north - past Ocean Reef, Stiltsville, the Port of Miami, all of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale coastlines and in to Pompano. It was a spectacular view and one we have not seen before. We always catch a glimpse of the coastline as we head in from the Bahamas but nexer do we make the long trip along the beach. Even though I much prefer natural sights, the concrete structures towering over the placid waters PMP4.JPGof the ocean were quite interesting and beautiful in their own way.

Lunch was at the local restaurant,  Gullipes, next to the golf course. The setting was nice, the food good and the company great. Over 40 Grasshoppers and friends gathers for hangar flying and fellowship before scattering again to our respective fields to play. Our journey home was a quick one - lots of tailwinds this time - but we ended dodging the afternoon thunderstorms that frequent Florida in the summer time. Setting our sights on LaBelle, we managed to get in before the storms over ran the airport just around 1400. PMP5.JPG

It is time, once again, for annual for Wild Child so she will get some rest in the hangar next to a wingless Wild Mama.

Photos of Pompano via Florida Keys Trip

Summer fun - July 2011: It is a good think that I do not take too much stock in life plans and they always have a way of becoming de-railed. The summer in Charlotte, NC got shortened when the project hit a wall. The company has to go back and re-group to allow me to do the next phase of the project. I had planned on some mountain flying but there were no weekend days that14A8.JPG allowed me to romp through the mountains; so it was back to Florida.

I found a weather hole on July 20th where I could get all the way home with little to no trouble. The weather and winds were calm and I was able to take the water route this time as I had more confidence with the fuel endurance of Wild Child. I also DID NOT want a repeat of the really awful visibility getting past the Okeefenokee Swamp fires that are still not out. The morning proved to be a bit hazy in Charlotte and the airports surrounding the area were reporting MVFR 14A9.JPGand IFR. Not my idea of a time to launch VFR so I parked myself, played a little iPad Scrabble and waited until everyone reported VFR and MVFR with a trend toward improving conditions. That opportunity came at 0800. With a little tail wind, I would be home by 1500 and before the storms blew up.

The first part of the journey went well although the haze was quite bothersome. It was very difficult to pick out a landmark any distance away to which to point the airplane for navigation. It made me hasten the instrument scan to keep on track and be very vigilant for other aircraft in the area. The news report said Charlotte has the worst air quality in the nation that day. I believe them.

My first fuel stop was in Walterboro, SC at Lowcountry Airport. It was a short 1:45 flight but I decided that 2 stops gave me a lot better margin for oopses if necessary, even though I could have made the trip with only 1 fuel stop. I got fueled, checked weather and was back in the air in less than 30 minutes. Not bad but I will make the next stop even faster. The tailwinds were dying down and I was keeping steady at 100 kts ground speed. Any less than that and my 1500 arrival would be in jeopardy. I made my turn toward the southeast to get toward the coastline, hoping for a little better visibility.

I had flight-planned to fly off the coast out to TYBEE intersection and down the V airway to KSSI but there was no horizon at all out on the water so I had to follow the coastline on down so I had14A10.JPG some means of navigation ... and some way to see a horizon to avoid spacial disorientation. There was mostly marshland along this stretch of southern South Carolina and Georgia, with the occasion house - or hunting camp - strategically placed in the middle of nowhere. I figured those would be my landing targets in the event of an emergency. As I neared my next planned fuel stop at Fernandina Beach, I prepared how to make the quick get-away. I had a salad in my pack that I would snarf while paying for fuel; I would have the truck fuel the plane to save time there and I would check the weather on the iPad using my mifi so I did not have to wait for the airport wifi to kick in. I checked the weather to find an 8 kt wind blowing straight down runway 26. Sweet. This should be an easy landing. I made a wheel landing and began to lower the tail wheel. As it touched down the plane veered sharply to right and I had to stab hard at the left rudder to get her back toward the centerline. So much for easy. What was I doing wrong? I must be really out of practice or something!  I fought to taxi to the ramp, slowing to a bare idle to the FBO. I jumped out  of the plane - glad to be out - ordered fuel and ran inside to check weather, eat my salad and use the facilities. I have a pile of small bags packed in the back and I am thinking maybe my load shifted and there was something pushing against the control lines in the baggage section. After all, I did hit quite a few bumps coming in to land. I will make a thorough pre-flight of the plane when I am ready to leave to see if there is anything obvious that would have caused the taxiing problem.   

14A11.JPGAs I approached Wild Child, I could see a bag that moved a bit over to the right side but it did not appear to be a problem. Maybe it shifted over then shifted back? I inspected the remainder of the interior of the plane and found nothing unusual so I started on the outside. The tail wheel: it is flatter than a pancake and cockeyed on the rim. Mystery solved. A little air and I will be on my way.

I called the line man over and he said he noticed it was flat. He brought the air tank and started putting in some air. The tire inflated and was flat again before he could get the air hose off the valve stem. So much for my quick turn around. He called the local mechanic, Kevin from Island Maintenance. Kevin came out and went back to see if he had, or could get, a tailwheel tire and tube. No joy. We decided to pull the tube to see if we could get a patch for the trip home. I could land on the grass strip at LaBelle to lessen the stress of a pavement landing. When we inspected the tube, we found it had torn at the valve stem and could not be replaced. There were no tubes to be found locally. So much for my arrival home today at all.

I called Vern and asked him if he had a spare. He located a new tube and tire in Deland so he got "The Beast" (Kirk Jameson's 180) and headed up on the rescue mission. As for me, I headed to the beach! If I am going to be stuck, I will make the best of it.

There was  Hertz rental agency right there at the FBO. I asked for the cheapest car they had ... out can the ONLY car they had - an Audi! I got the up-grade of the century: a premium car for a compact price. Things are looking up. I went out to the car and realized that I have not driven a new-fangled key-less car and could not even figure out how to get it started. The rental attendant14A12.JPG 14A13.JPGcame and gave me "fancy car 101" lessons and I was on my way to find a nice place to stay. I happened on a Days Inn that had a suite available -n the only one in the whole hotel with a jacuzzi ... I mentioned my being stranded and she gave me the room for just over 1/2 the normal rate! Really sweet! I rented a bicycle, toured the town and waited for Vern to call that he was arriving with the tire and tube. He got in just after 1700 hrs and had the plane fixed quicker than I can tell the story of this adventure. We headed out to a nice dinner at The Surf, cruised the beach and hit the pool and outdoor hot tub before heading to K-Mart to get him a change of clothes for the next day.

Thursday morning was another stellar day and with a tire full of air, we were off at 0800 for the last 2:30 stretch. The haze had lifted and the air was smooth, although by now we sported a 10 kt headwind, making my ground speed never see 100 kts! It was great to be back in FL. I could see far enough ahead to select a point to which to fly; I was seeing familiar landmarks and looking at a land full of lakes and waterways; we flew past the Disney TFR and knew that home was just a short 45 minutes away.

Twenty miles out of LaBelle, Vern passed me and went in to land first, having the faster plane. He had flown in loose 14A14.JPGformation with me the whole trip and it was time to break away. I dropped in behind him - this time it was an easly landing. It was good to be home!

Wild Child’s big adventure:  I had only flown Wild Child locally – partly because I always had Wild Mama to take the long trips and partly because she was really not meant to be a travelling machine. But with Wild Mama in the shop having her wings removed and my finding the need to get 14A1.JPGmyself from LaBelle, FL to Charlotte, NC, Wild Child looked pretty darn good for a long haul. First: logistics. 

I have grown accustomed to having the C-182 cargo plane to carry all of my support equipment. Especially when I was alone in the plane, the cargo carrying capacity actually exceeded my needs – bonus. But Wild Child, with only 2 seats and a significantly smaller useful load, needed a bit of finagling to carry everything I needed to North Carolina. The baggage compartment is smaller 14A2.JPGand can only be accessed through the cabin – there is no baggage door (something we will change if we ever re-cover the plane) so loading everything over the back seat was a bit of a challenge. One that was tackled, my main suitcase had to be strapped in the back seat like a passenger. Check. Finally, the survival equipment – water, first aide kit, ditch bad and Moon Pies – had to be strategically placed throughout the plane where it would be in balance, out of the way but readily accessible to the pilot. Check.

Full fuel on Wild Child is only 35 gallons so I had to do a bit more fuel management even though she sits a mere 8 gallons per hour. Again, not having taken her on a long journey, I wanted to be sure that the fuel was not going to become an issue, so I planned 2 fuel stops instead of the required 1 stop.

Weather was the last consideration. I put the Garmin 496 in the airplane so I would have a good moving map GPS with an updated data base but also so I would have some weather reporting. Since Wild Child is a VFR airplane, I had to pick my flight time carefully. The plane was to leave Tuesday, July 5th, but the weather dictated a departure on July 4th. What a great way to spend Independence Day!

Packed and ready to go, I loaded the flight plan in the King GPS … then the 496 …. and in then in the iPad which is what I was using for navigational charts – no14A3.JPG room for the paper variety. That was work: I am spoiled as Wild Mama is cross-feeding everywhere. The winds were light and the sky was clear and the departure was very uneventful. That is a very good thing.

I puttered along about 105 kts – 115 kts ground speed most of the way out of Florida to the first fuel stop in Keystone, FL. I kept 14A4.JPGto about 1700’ figuring it was an odd enough altitude that the likelihood of crossing paths with another plane would be remote. Darn – no traffic advisories. Sure enough, 1 o’clock high right in front of me is another little putterer. Good thing I was lower … then another 3 o’clock same altitude but I was ahead of that one. I sure missed having the traffic advisories. I wonder how many other planes were close by that I never even saw?

In Keystone, I met up with Bob Ohl, nephew of Jimmie Doolittle and boyfriend to racer, Susan King. While I missed Susan – she was off going Museum business – I had a nice quick chat with Bob then got on my way. It was funny: another gentleman was there greeting me upon my landing absolutely amazed that I was making the trip all by myself: “You mean, there is nobody with you?”14A5.JPG he asked in amazement. Actually, there was no room!

The next leg took me past the Okefenokee Swamp fire TFR. I ran the TFR line to the east and saw where there had been many charred sections of ground, but the bulk of the fire appeared to be out on the southerly end. Not so with the north side. By the time I was half way across the TFR, the smoke started to appear and within a relatively short time, visibility dropped significantly and it was getting hard to breathe with the strong smell of smoke. I climbed up to 3500’ to escape the small … but not the poor visibility. I climbed up to 5500’ to escape …. absolutely nothing. I could see straight down but the smoke was so thick that horizon and forward looking landmarks were gone. As the clouds were building high, there was nowhere else to go so I remained put and very vigilant throughout the next hour of flight until I could finally come down enough to see past 5 miles. By then, I was well into South Carolina.

14A6.JPGMy next fuel stop was Aiken, SC. I missed the turn backwards from the taxiway to the terminal and ended up taking the scenic tour to get back to the terminal for fuel. Duh. So much for my taxi diagrams. I made a quick fuel stop as the storms were coming in from the west and I needed to be on the ground at Lake Norman before then. I darted off and climbed up to 2,000’ still in some haze but much better than it had been. I had only 1.5 hours to go.

Flying Wild Child has been fun but I discovered you have to fly her all the time. Grab your water and you have climbed on a thermal 400’; divert your attention and read your charts and you have turned 10 degrees to the left; get stuck to the seat and try to move – well, there I was out of luck as the harness system kept me stuck to the seats. Note to self – bring a towel to sit on in the summer.

My 1.5 hours passed quickly and I was ducking in under the Charlotte Class B airspace with Lake Norman in sight. There was a 7 kt wind (which is typically nothing) bit it was a direct 90 degree cross wind so I had to do a bit of maneuvering for the landing. I slipped down over the trees and aimed for the numbers. The runway at Lake Norman is 3100’ and very narrow so there is not a lot of room for floating down the runway for a smooth touchdown. I took a bounce then14A7.JPG planted her with plenty of runway to spare – and right on the centerline. Sweet success!

 I had been a bit nervous about such a long trip in a VFR only airplane as I have been well spoiled by the speed and capabilities of Wild Mama. But I had a lot of fun. I was not fatigued, although I was tired, but I did discover a few things: First: sit on a towel – wearing shorts in a tight harness system leave little “wiggle room”. Second – Moon Pies are messy when they melt and the door pocket of a Citabria is not the coolest place for a Moon Pie. Third: Even squirt type water bottles can make a mess in bumpy air.  Now that I have a little more tail wheel confidence – it is time to tackle the mountains while I am here in the Charlotte area. Stay tuned for more adventures of Wild Child!   

Wild Child is Waiting to be Wild:  After more than 2 years of waiting, I am finally headed off to get formal aerobatic training. I have signed on with Greg Koontz  to be trained in his Decathalon - should be an easy transition to Wild Child. Greg has his home and training facility in Ashville, AL and I will make that trek in November, after Wild Mama gets out of annual. Soooo, stay tuned as the adventure continues ...

Happy Mother's Day:   It was a mother's day to remember. Not a cloud in the sky for all of the morning and the beginning of the afternoon, even then just a few decorative puffies showed their faces. But it was hot - 96 degrees in the heat of the day. You could see the heat waves WC2.jpgeminating from the tarmac at the airport. Ooooo, did I say airport? Ahh, yes. A gift for Mother's Day was my little Wild Child coming out of yet another extended annual - she seems to these major repair events. Well, in addition to the annual, we had to install the aerobatic harnesses so the next phase of training can finally begin.

WC1.jpgWild Child emerged around the 2:00 hour and Vern took her on the post annual maiden voyage. He put her through the paces with a loop, roll and spin and triumphantly returned no worse for the wear. My turn to play. I had not flown Wild Child  for at least 4 months so I was not going to be too brave. I figured that getting in my obligatory 3 landings and regaining currency was going to be enough for the day.

The mid-day heat was sweltering and I was dripping wet before I made my first take-off roll. I WC3.jpgtypically do not like piles of air blowing on me but today was an exception. The heat was not our customary wet heat: it was that dry stuff that sucks the breath right out of your chest when you step out the door. The winds were variable - extremely variable. I approached 14 for take off and the wind had already shifted to favor 32. Too bad. I am here now and I am going. With a bit longer than normal runway roll, we were off - just Wild Child and Mama (no, not Wild Mama - that's the plane!). With the winds continuing to swirl, I decided to stay in the pattern, get my 3 landings and call it a day as it did not take too long before I figured that this was not the time of day to fly; but I did not care, I wanted to fly the plane again.

WC4.jpgEach landing was a bit of a ride: by the time I was on final, I managed to land with a tail wind - something I had not done before in the tail wheel plane. Ground speed was just over 80 kts. - a bit fast so I was expecting a floater. Bounce, bounce, bouce. Well, I got my 3 on the first try. Too bad I could not stop in between bounces. I finally stopped fairly far down the runway and decided to taxi back as I was no so sure that I had sufficient room to depart between the heat and the tail wind. Off again for the second and third landings. All and all not my best but it felt good to be back in the little airplane. WC5.jpg

Tomorrow morning should be cool and calm. We will go out again - just my baby and me.




EVERGLADES SEAFOOD FESTIVAL - FEBRUARY 2009:  On a  beautiful winter morning in Florda after a seemingly long  and particularly brutal cold snap, we decided it was time to turn off the hangar heater and take  Wild Child  out to play before she goes in for annual at the end of the month. We have been having quite a bit of fun with her with my nephews and others; but I have not been able to start on the aerobatic training as I had hoped. Being so close to annual now we just left the matter of seat harnesses to be done along with everything else.ESF1.jpg

But today was a day to fly and the Everglade City Seafood Festival was in its final day. I had not been before but I knew it was quite popular and many pilots braved he 2400' runway and crosswinds to go get some really good eats. Twenty-four hundred feet is a cake walk for  Wild Child

The air was cool this morning and Wild Child was quite peppy. We flew "I.F.R." down highway 27 (that's "I follow roads"), meandering over Immokalee, the Everglades and on in toward Everglade City itself. For those who have not been there, Everglade City is a small town on the Gulf Coast - quite remote and removed form the rest of the Gulf Coast towns like Naples and Fort Myers Beach. It is a very quaint little fishing vilage type of place but the population swells greatly for the annual Seafood Festival.

We arrived in short order and plunked Wild Child down on runway 15 with plenty of room to spare. The approach is over water with both eand of the runway dead ESF6.jpgending in the water. Annually, about half dozen planes end up in the drink as the runway is narrown and short. It is best taken with a low, slow approach, hitting the numbers to give you lots of time to roll out. It was early enough that we were one of the first planes in for the day and there was very little plane action at that point so we hoofed it in to town for the Festival.

 ESF3.jpgThere were vendors of all sorts - food, crafts, stuff, boats and the like. We were interested in the food primarily but we did catch a few cool looking craft booths. We spied this huge vat of ESF2.jpgpaella  and immediately made out decision. This  paella was chock full of seafood and veggies. I make this dish and this one was far superior to anything thatI have ever made. We ate way too much then had to walk off some of our discomfort. We ended back at the airport watching the multitude flying in now with a stiffer crosswind. What fun! There was a "landing committee" sitting up on the second story porch overlooking the runway and the activity. You could hear the ESF4.jpgcrowd "get 'er down ... slower .... slower ..... brake, brake, brake!" While no one made the drink, several were close and a couple of go arounds were in order,some ESF5.jpgmuch prettier than others. One fellow just took off and never looked back - nothing but tail!

We were done entertaining ourself and it was time to fly back home. Now the air way bumpy and that Florida haze was back,making the ride home lots less spectacular ESF7.jpgthan the ride over. We arrived back at LaBelle with a little plunk on the grass strip, tired, still full, but happy for a great day.    

*On a glorious  February afternoon, after nearly 5 months under reconstruction and annual, Wild Child has emerged from the repair shop for her christening.christening.jpg Vern pulled her out of the hanger and washed away the last 5 months of dust and grime which have accumulated during the process. In all, she ended up with the wing spar AD being properly completed, a fresh annual, new regulator and alternator, re-built carburator, new tires and wheel bearings all the way around, new brakes, new transponder, re-built turn coordinator, new tachometer, new beacon and new hand grips with built-in push-to-talk buttons... and the list goes on. Suffice it to say - she is good, clean and wanting to fly!

My  first outing in her was from the back seat. After such extensive re-constructive surgery, it is much preferred that the surgeon take the shake-down flight. So off we go, Vern in the front,and I in the back. All went smoothly. Vern was touting the "great view" and "wonderful visibility" in the aircraft. Well, yeah, from HIS point of view. He is tall and broad: I am vertically challenged and short bodied to boot. I has a fabulous view of ... Vern's shoulders.

Anyway, I did get to fly her around a bit. It was a great experience, bobbing and weaving mm7.jpgmy head around. I was told that flying a tail-dragger was an exercise in using peripherial vision, but I don't think my view was exactly what anyone was talking about! Flying Wild Child was a blast. Vern put her through the paces: stalls, slow flight, the full range of flight controls, spins, maximum rate climbs, etc. I just got to play a little after he declared her officially fly-able doing simple things like ground reference manuvers, straight and level flight and basic navigation without a moving map GPS, a/k/a "where the heck are we now???" firstflight.jpg

By the time we landed, a crowd had gathered as everyone knew today was her day. Today was her day, indeed, she was open for rides and Brian was the first. Brian flies a Champ, among other things. For him, this was his Champ on steroids. He and Vern took off and all we mere mortals on the ground could see was a cockpit full of smiles. Have fun. My turn comes tomorrow.                         

MM20.jpgWild Child has been resting not-so-comfortably at the VERNON CONLY AIR SERVICE hanger since her arrival in late September. Since that time, she has gotten her new mags, new transponder, new alternator, had her turn coordinator rebuilt, had her fuel system checked and re-worked, gotten new tires, new brakes, new wheel bearings, had her oil changed and gotten a thorough annual. The last thing MM11.jpgremaining is the wing spar AD. Vern has been sanding and cutting on her wings to try to get all the required holes for the inspection plates to be able to make a good inspection on the wooden wing spars. So far, the right wing in nearly done for opening the holes, and the top holes are completely cut open on both wings. It will require manyMM30.jpg hours of work yet to complete the inspection process then to patch the portions of the wings which have been opened and install the inspection plates, then re-paint the disturbed portions of the aircraft. Yes, she will be undergoing some cosmetic surgery. We are hoping to be in the air sometime in January 2008 if all goes well with the inspection ... Stay tuned.

In keeping with my aviation project for the year - to get my tailwheel endorsement and do aerobatic training - I decided it would be better for the training to have a plane dedicated to the task instead of flying off somewhere to complete the training in a catch as catch can basis. On Septemner 25, 2007, Vern and I departed for Evergreen, AL to bring home Wild Child. True to form even the simple act of bringing home baby turned into quite the adventure.

Wild Child has only been flown about 50 hours in the past 6 years; and her current state was evidencing that fact. She is 3 years out of annual and required a ferry permit to bring her home. After inspecting her on Sunday, Vern was convinced she was airworthy toMM2.jpg make the trip and made the application to bring her home. First snafu: the registration did not match the airworthiness certificate. After all day on the telephone with FAA Oklahoma City and the Alabama FSDO, at the last tick of the business day on Monday an extremely helpful CLIVE JOHNSON was the hero of the day; resolving the paperwork issues in record time and getting us our ferry permit so we could make the trip the next day as it was the ONLY day in the forecastable future that spoke of good weather along the entire route.

With paperwork in hand, we departed in Wild Mama from X14 at 0700 for the 3 hour flight to GZH to fetch the baby. The good news was that we had a MM3.jpgkiller tailwind on the way up . . . the bad news was that we had the same killer wind, except now it was a headwind and Wild Child was expected to top out at a whopping 120 mph! Wild Mama and Wild Child got their first introduction up re-fueling in Evergreen. Although we were a bit apprehensive at first, Wild Mama took to her new role as "Mama Bird" quite well.

Vern did a quick turn around the patch at Evergreen to MM4.jpgmake sure all was well enough to make the trip and we both departed the pattern flying low and averaging about 95 knots ground speed the whole way home. The adventure was about to begin, however. The next snafu was a malfunctinging transponder. Not really anything too critical but we knew we had to go around Tallahassee instead of straight through it. No biggie. Next, the tachometer was dreadfully off; but we had anticipated this potential and brought along the portable digital tach check, just as as precaution. Next snafu: turn cordinator failed. No worries as Vern is a 22 year experienced pilot and we had a gyro panel so go back to your instrument training days and keep going. 

Our first planned stop was in Cross City: this would be about 2 hours and half-way home, well within the anticipated capacity of Wild Child. No such luck there. Just north of Marianna (4th snafu of the day) Vern radioed that the right tank was showing full but the left tank was nearly empty. Divert to MAI to re-fuel and check the problem. While Wild Mama was creeping along at 17/21 with 10 degrees of flaps to slow her progress, sipping barely 10 gallons per hour, the baby gulped a whopping 18.9 gallons in just 1 hour. MM5.jpg A quick check revealed some sort of fuel anomile with the right tank, the extent of which we would not be able to determine until we reach home. We decided to keep close to airports and stop every hour for a fuel check. On to Perry-Foley (40J).

The hour long trip to 40J seemed faster than the first hour. Our stop at 40J was a quick turn-around with Wild Child only consuming 13.5 gallons for the leg. Better, but still we want to make the hourly stops as the anomile was now in the left tank and NOT the right tank. Strange. We depart for Dunellen (X35). That's when (snafu #5) the mag malfunctioned; but Vern could not communicate that to me because of the (snafu #6) overcharging electrical system, forcing him to shut down everything so as not to MM6.jpgovercharge the battery. We land at X35 without further incident - not that snafu's 5 and 6 weren't enough. Only 12.2 gallons. Better yet.

We had been concerned about the weather, as is customary in Florida in the summer heat; but today was pretty good. We decide to press on to Winter Haven (GIF). The radio crackles and Vern tells me to get on ahead to GIF to make sure the fuel master was still there at 1730 hours or later when he arrives. I get there in time and the gentleman at the FBO agrees to wait for Wild Child to arrive. This time, the right tank took only 9.4 gallons and the left tank was completely full. Very strange. We are just 45 minutes from home now but we see some spotty cells. Wild Child departs fast and makes the run for home. Wild Mama gets stuck behind landing traffic and we have to run hard to catch the baby; but we finally spy her and resume our protectors' position high to her 4 o'clock. All is well.

MM8.jpgWe were flying along well even with all the snafus for the day and home was in sight. A cell was blowing up very close to the airport at LaBelle (X14) and moving in that direction. It was a race to the finish to see who made it first. Vern had Wild Child firewalled to drop in just ahead of the hard rain making a straight in on runway 14. Success! Wild Mama had to wait for other traffic in the pattern and had to orbit to the NW of the airport as the downwind side of 14 was nothing but a wall of water. I finally lined up on final with little more than the VASI lights clearly visible and landed safely. What a day but both Mama Bird and Baby Bird were safe at home.

Over the next 2-3 months, Wild Child will be in the shop for her annual, AD compliance MM9.jpgand replacing and repairing all the assorted ticks, glitches and anomilies which we find. At that point the real adventure will begin for me - my tailwheel training. Stay tuned.