Springfield Chapter Missouri Pilots Association

July 2002

Flying Journal - "Buffalo Wings" Anyone?

The month began with only two immediate obstacles remaining between me and the gyroplane instructor's rating. The overall obstacle is of course the checkride, but before that I need some time with a gyro instructor and his or her sign-off to take the FAA practical test.

The Personal Rotorcraft Association only lists18 gyro CFIs in the country, so it's not easy to find one. But Cliff Berry, who signed me off for my gyro commercial license in Paducah, has been flying around in his Mooney giving those 10 day IFR courses, and he was willing to fly up and train me on two conditions-1). I pass the FAA knowledge test for the gyro add-on rating, and 2). That we get a fresh annual on the gyro, which expired at the end of June.

The gyro battery had died last winter, the weather turned foul, and then we lost convenient access to our hangar for a while as it was leased to another entity for helicopter storage. It had been several months since N63306 had flown. After installing the new battery and filling her with fresh fuel, owner Phil Horras and I carefully pre-flighted, especially inspecting and polishing the rotor.

I taxied down to the north end at Air Park South. With the brisk pre-rotation of a new battery, and a 15-knot wind, she lifted off in a few hundred feet and climbed like the proverbial home-sick angel. I took a leisurely pass around the pattern, ensuring all systems working properly, and then waved that I was off to Bolivar. With the south wind it was a quick trip and lovely. I could not decide if it was the last gasp of spring, still green from those flooding rains, or early high summer as long-leaved praying for more rain.

I knew Phil could not have driven to Bolivar yet, so I flew a quick circle around the city, over the old airport where I used to fly the old Aeronca Champ (now machinery parking and soccer fields).

Then I was shocked at the sense of loss I felt to realize I was looking down like a spirit or an archaeologist at the traces of what had once been an imposing brick structure, the Southwest Baptist University Administration Building that had proudly presided over my first semester of college. I knew a new campus had been built, but I had not known that building was gone, just the pattern of radiating spokes of cracking sidewalks remaining visible from the air.

Then I made another low-pass over the airport for the benefit of any on-lookers, did a couple touch and goes to make sure I was current for passengers, and landed, smiling. The mechanic asked me if I had a squawk list. I was pleased that all I could think of was fluid in the compass and the rudder linkage lubed. Old 63306 passed annual with flying colors. My only complaint after annual-after lubrication, the throttle now creeps slightly easier than before. Oh, well, we'll tighten it up.

Some of you may have noticed an article and picture of Phil and 63306 in the Springfield News-Leader on July 1. We are negotiating a lease with the Buffalo airport for hangar space, which may develop into a gyroplane flight school to be named "Buffalo Wings." So we have a place and we have an aircraft, now all we need is an instructor. I guess that leaves it up to me. Somehow I hate to take tests. I put one important test off for 24 years! This is just a 25-question add-on rating FAA computerized knowledge test.

Anyway, this has gone on too long. Consider this my public commitment to have that test passed by the time I write to you next month.

Meanwhile, fly all you can, but always fly safely,


[Copyright 2002 - Earl Holmer]