Springfield Chapter Missouri Pilots Association

January 2005

Flying Journal - Odds and Ends and Memories of an Old Airplane Friend
How about this weather? My plastic rain gauge had 6 inches of water in it (from just two days!) when it froze and split at the seams. One of my former students had studied hydrology and when I told him where we moved three years ago, he asked us how close to the bottom we were. It is not much of a hill at all, but it appears that run-off from about three acres of land (fortunately still grass and trees) can flow across our yard on the way to the sinkhole in the park across the street. I had to move some stuff in my workshop as water seeped in the doorway. A week later, it only rained about two inches, but since the ground was so saturated, it flooded even higher. I spent a memorable evening wading in water to keep debris from backing up against the fence and sending the water yet higher.

As water swirled around my shins, I resolved to not complain though. It's nothing compared to what tsunami victims suffered. Oh, sorry, they already have more than enough volunteer pilots for relief flights in Indonesia. Too bad, you missed your chance. What they really need, of course is money to keep them flying.

Did the earth actually shift on its axis from the earthquake and tsunami? For an easy to understand explanation of what happened, see Jon Nance's column, "Ozarks Skies," in the Thursday, January 13 edition of Springfield News-Leader. He explained that it's like a figure skater spinning with arms on hips. If you kept one hand on a hip, but extended the other arm, you would keep spinning, but wobble back and forth. He said the axis of the earth, through the North Pole, wobbled back and forth several feet, but then settled back down after the oceans settled back down in their basins. Interestingly, he also pointed out that the Earth will wobble a tiny amount if you get up and walk across the room! Isn't science fascinating? Actually, I guess it's life on this Earth that is fascinating, science just being one mode of bringing the fascination to our awareness.

As you can tell by now, I haven't flown in the last month. If I had, I would have written about flying! But the cover of the latest AOPA Pilot magazine featured a beautiful old Aeronca Chief that brought back some fond flying memories. For a few years I belonged to a club which owned an Aeronca 7AC Champ. That was how I got most of my tailwheel experience. Briefly, we also flew an 11AC Chief. Of course it didn't look as slick as the one in the magazine, but it was a great old plane, probably the oldest I have flown, a 1941 model similar to the newer Champ, but with side by side seating and yokes, instead of the tandem seating with the control sticks of the Champ. That's really an interesting experience, to fly the same engine and wing, but in two entirely different configurations.

I have a student ready to resume his instrument training, as well as one or two starting to work on the commercial rating. I hope I'll have some fresh flying to talk about next month, but meanwhile, enjoy your flying memories, and fly safely!