Finally, out of the barn and back into the air

The plane came home from JNX in early September 2019. After one landing at the farm, I folded the wings, drug the plane in the barn into the bay where I’d originally built it, and shut the door. In November 2019 I changed oil so that there would be fresh oil for the winter.

And

That

Was

It

I didn’t really touch the plane all winter. Oh I took a panel off here, decided I’d fix a wire there. But the reality is that the plane say forlorn and unused from September 2019 till April of 2020 when a little known bug going around called COVID-19 cancelled all of my (and the rest of the worlds) plans.

I didn’t exactly have extra time because the farm was running at 500% and there was a lot to do to try to get food in the store. But knowing I had events cancelled, and the weather was turning nice, I knew that if I didn’t get the plane out and ready to fly, I’d miss the entire year.

So I went to Polymershapes in Raleigh and picked up a sheet of Lexan to replace the one we used on the doors of the airplane. In our haste to make the doors, we messed up a number of things, mainly fit and finish stuff. We also didn’t make the windows I had planned on having so the doors went back to the drawing board. After several days of welding, cutting, painting, drilling, etc, we had much better doors than the first time.

I also finally installed the heater we’d ordered with the kit. That wasn’t something we needed flying low level in July but in early spring, it was something we’d definitely need. Plus it was another item on the list.

After several weeks of on again, off again work on the airplane, Carter, Cody, and I pulled the plane outside for the first time since September and unfolded the wings. Then Myla and I wheeled the plane over to the other side of the barn to wash it down and convert it from dust brown to Tranmogriflier orange.

Myla washing the plane
Myla washing the plane

Once we had the plane clean, we moved some cows and took the plane out to the pasture to its new, temporary, outdoor home. I used our air show tie down kit and our new airplane cover to park it outside since the weather was going to be good. Tomorrow I’d have to do something new. Take off from the farm.

On paper, this was a no brainer. The plane will take off in only a few hundred feet and we had 600 to work with. Plus a few hundred feet of overrun.

I did some test runs with Myla zooming around the pasture with the doors open flinging cow poop all over the place. That was fun till I realized I’d flung cow poop all over the inside of my new doors. Oops.

With the poop cleaned off, the next day was the big day. I took off just like the book said I would. A few hundred feet and zoom, I was gone. A quick trip to HRJ to get some fuel and see my friends and then it was time to come back to the farm. Landing was just as hard as i remembered from September. Harder because I was out of practice in this plane but its awesome performance made things work out just fine.

Airplane in a cow pasture
In the field bedded down for the day

A few days later is was time to go flying again. This time to JNX to get some paperwork. I took off again and again it was no problem. Landing back at the farm again showed just how awesome the landing gear is on the SuperSTOL. I could probably get a Highlander in and out of here, but I couldn’t drop it in and slam it down like I do the SuperSTOL. The landing gear on this airplane just eats up bumps and hard landings like they aren’t even there. And dropping it in is what I’ve been doing. The approach to get in is over super tall trees and some power lines. By the time I get over the power lines, it is time to drop seemingly straight down till I pass the fence and slam the plane down. The gear soaks up this abuse so well that you wouldn’t even spill your drink.

There may be faster airplanes, but I don’t think I’d want another plane to get into our place.

I would take another 20-30 horsepower for getting out though. SuperSTOL with Gator

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