Flew the Coupe! – Part 17 – back in the air and drama!

So I had Woodstock back together with a healthy engine.  But the distraction of the Reno Air races meant I wasn’t going to be able to fly Woodstock for some time.  It turned out nearly a month.  Once back from Reno I needed to find a good weather day for a test flight and make sure the valve issue was resolved.  I wanted a short flight to check out the engine.  The first nice weekend was just after my birthday I made plans to meet my friend Olan at the great restaurant at the Tacoma Narrows airport.  This is about a 20 minute flight for me and I still probably had my tanks 1/3 full.  Maybe 2 hours of fuel.  But as I taxied past the gas pumps I remembered that old saying “nothing is worth less than fuel on the ground”.  So I topped of the tanks and headed out.

Spacegrrrl – the test pilot

If anything my engine was stronger than before (but maybe a little rougher?)  Soon I was tied up out front of the restaurant waiting for Olan.  Woodstock, as usual was getting admirers.   Here is a photo:

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So we found the service at “The Hub” on the slower side but the food was great.  Olan agreed to follow me back to Auburn airport (S50) and we headed back.  Once again Woodstock was flying and the motor running great!  However as I switched from the Tacoma narrows tower frequency and back to Auburn I quickly learned there had been a gear collapse and the runway was closed until they could get the plane off the runway.  This was Sunday afternoon, so not a lot of folks around.  As Olan radioed me asking my intentions I discovered my radio would not transmit!!  I could received but the push to talk was not functioning.  Ugh, what to do!  I quickly tried to remember my “no radio” procedures and started to ponder what heading to either Renton or Pulayllup airports might look like.  Renton was very busy as this was a beautiful day and I did not like the idea of slipping into a busy pattern in Renton and staring at the tower for light signals.  Pulayllup would be better for sure.  But that would leave me hours from home and no good place to leave my plane.  What to do, what to do??

The Plan!

Well, good news, I had close to 5 hours of fuel!  So it seemed from the radio traffic at Auburn I should be able to wait for the runway to open.  In the mean time I stayed out of the traffic areas of the airport and tried to debug the radio.  I remembered I had a second push to talk switch so I unplugged everything and tried that.  No Joy! 😦  Then I plugged everything into the passenger side headphone jacks.  Again, no luck.  OK, all the time reminding myself to fly the plane.  So I put the original push to talk switch back into the pilot headphone jacks and turned my attention to the intercom switch.  One feature of the King radio I have (KX-155 which seems like a very nice radio) is an integrated intercom.  This feature is not that useful to my mind.   A switch puts the radio in intercom mode where the headsets are connected together to talk but neither can transmit or “”Xmit” mode where either headset can have a push to talk and can transmit.   Dennie had felt this switch had been an issue when he checked me out in Woodstock but it had never been a problem since.  So I kept flipping the switch back and forth.  After a frustrating amount of toggles I again could transmit!! The Evil switch!:

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Communication restored!

So at this point the pattern was clear as everyone knew the runway was closed.  So I joined the pattern and stayed at pattern altitude for the whole circuit.  I continued my position reports and monitored the progress as they cleared the plane form the runway.  After a little more than an hour the plane was off the runway, but not so fast.  The airport personnel needed to sweep the obvious FOD from the runway and then walk the complete runway to make sure no parts were on the runway that could affect runway traffic.  Another 30 minutes and the awesome announcement went out.  Runway is open for operation!  Of course I was the first in the pattern and soon I was announcing “Ercoupe 2756H is clear the active.  I taxied Woodstock back to my hangar started to put the plane “back in the barn”.  Soon several folks showed up to talk about the incident and help me push Woodstock back into his next.  Of course 90 minutes of Ercoupe chat (Woodstock makes friends everywhere he goes!) and a beer for several of the airport friends I was closing the hangar doors and contemplating my next steps.

This was October 15, 2017  Two days after my birthday and as it turns out the last day I would fly Woodstock that year.  I would have a number of distractions, finding a new job, going to the Copperstate Fly-in and having my hangar at FFZ inspected.  Also a mandatory visit of my AZ family.  Soon I would be focused on the new job, the holidays and the mostly horrible weather.  I also needed to renew my medical so I completed the requirements for “basic med” and attended the regional aviation conference at Pulayllup in February of this year (2018).  I’ll be posting more blogs on Reno, the Copperstate fly-in, basic med, and the aviation conference.  I also hope to share some other random experiences with Woodstock (ID plate for example) and some musings on my plan for ADS-B compliance.  Not to mention my plan to deal with the radio issues, a better battery, some bling,   Finally a look so far on what owning Woodstock is costing me.  I am slamming this blog out as I know I have a lot of catching up to do so please know it hasn’t been proofread much! 🙂

As I’m writing this Woodstock is nearly back together after its annual and I’ll be sharing how that went.  All is shaping up to be an wonderful year of flying!

I’ll share one last photo of Woodstock at Tacoma Narrows airport:

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