Time for another update. I didn’t do an update yesterday because we didn’t do anything aviation related. We toured around San Francisco, from Fisherman’s Wharf to what appeared to be a barrio in the Mission district, to hippie central at Haight and Ashbury, to the Golden Gate Bridge. Simply mind blowing to see such a diverse city.
But back to the flying. It’s been another great day of aviation adventure, much of it unexpected. We were delayed getting out of Gnoss Field this morning because of the San Francisco fog. This turned out to be a good thing.
We got talking yesterday with the fuel man on Gnoss, Mark O’Reilly. He’s an ex-USAF tanker and test pilot. We talked with him for a while this morning waiting for the fog to lift. He offered to introduce us to someone on the field whom Mark said we just had to meet.
We drove in the fuel truck over to a distant hangar and met John LaNoue. He built the Vickers Vimy replica that National Geographic featured several years ago on a number of historic flights. John flew on the flight from London to Cape Town, and from London to Sydney. He’s got nearly 400 hours of Vimy time. John and Mark both understand the flight we’re making and John gave us each a beautiful book about the Vimy and the Vimy replica, as well as the historic flights both versions of the plane made.
Here’s a link to explore the National Geographic’s website on the Vimy.
It’s impossible to convey what a treat it was to meet John LaNoue. He’s currently tied into a project to build a replica of Charles Lindbergh’s Ryan NYP, which is also hoped to replicate that famous flight.
Still jazzed from our morning meeting with John LaNoue, and from hanging out with Mark O’Reilly, we took off into clearing skies, and made our way to Red Bluff, CA. It was a smooth but very hot flight.
We had some trouble landing at Red Bluff because once again the extreme heat coming off the runway caused our planes to float quite a distance down the runway. A bit of a zephyr grabbed Geoff’s plane and sent him off the runway into the weeds. He narrowly missed a fence and a ditch, but recovered the plane and taxied to the ramp. After lunch we inspected the tail wheel, which had shimmied violently on landing. We found one of the tail wheel steering control arms had bent upward by about 40 degrees. We really worried that if we bent it back that it would simply snap off. This would strand us in Red Bluff until we got it fixed.
We walked down the ramp to the local FBO and repair shop where the A&P told us it’d be fine to bend the arm back into place. He even lent us a few wrenches to do it. As we worked on the problem we found we couldn’t even kneel on the ramp because it was too hot, even through our pants.
We very carefully bent the arm back into place, breathed a huge sigh of relief and took off for Medford. We once again flew past Mt. Shasta and surfed the thermals up to around 7500’ where it was cooler.
Two hours after we left Red Bluff we touched down in Medford in 33 degree heat. We didn’t have as much trouble this time with the landing. Medford Air’s service was phenomenal and I even got to ride in a ’57 Chevy to the car rental office!
More news tomorrow.