Of note in our aviation life…

While postponed by the Covid restrictions, I was eventually able to schedule a slot at Baker’s School of Aeronautics. Steve and I braved airline travel to Nashville, TN, was able to visit with our good friends there and I began class to prepare for my A&P knowledge, oral and practical tests.

The 3 ways to take the tests are similar to pilot testing-have military equivalent, go through a 2 year school or show 30 months of training with an A&P supervising your work. I was able to document the 30 months to the FSDO and was signed off to proceed to the testing.

The first week at Baker’s is preparing for the 3 knowledge tests. First Airframes, then General and finally Powerplants. It’s done in this order because PP is typically the most difficult and passing the first two allows an applicant to continue to the Oral and Practical and get an A license and come back for the P license. There is a question bank and a practice test. Passing the practice test determines if you proceed to the actual test or need more training. I passed all 3 tests on the first try, finished the last one Saturday morning and had Sunday off (to watch the Navy-Army Game).

I mentioned the 3 ways to get to the testing and I was fortunate to come together with other more “mature” applicants with experimental backgrounds. The second week brought two more individuals to our study group. The study group was key because we needed to practice for the Oral part of the exam. With experimental experience, I had more experience than I thought but still learned a LOT from the discussion with the group. We also had a ringer in the person of Heidi! She was actually working as a mechanic and clarified finer points. But I get ahead of the story because all the Oral practice is done after hours.

The 2nd week at Baker’s is preparation for the Orals and Practicals. After a brief introduction, we are taken to the workshop and shown some of the more common projects then released to attempt them or work on the Orals. I was told my exam would be on Saturday but was moved up to Friday when a position opened up.

My practice rivets. Christmas was right around the corner and Steve always wants a hand made gift…
My first practice flare and Steve’s second Christmas present

I was nervous on whatever came next that I wasn’t working on. In the workshop, I felt I should be working on the Orals; at night, I wanted to retry something from the workshop. Of our group of 5, 2 went on Thursday, 2 on Friday and one on Saturday. We all passed but Heidi had the worst test the examiners had ever given.

The reason the A&P rating is the hardest I’ve every taken is because the test is long, randomly generated and very difficult to study for everything. There are 44 sections; the FAA generates 7 questions for each section. The examiner asks any 4, you have to get 3 correct to go to the next section. If not, you have to answer the remaining 3 or you fail the Orals. I passed the Orals and began the Practicals, also randomly generated. The whole process started at 6 am and I finished at 12:45.

The hardest FAA rating so far…

End of summer adventure, 12-20 Sep 2019

We have one last loose end to tie. Our AirCam is located near Chicago and needs to come west.

We complete basic maintenance on the AirCam over the first two days in IL. We are ready to go but weather puts us on hold. We spend a few days sightseeing in Chicago.

The Bean
Cruise along downtown
On the pier

We prefer to fly early morning before any turbulence develops. When we finally have the weather to launch, we say goodbye and thank you to our Oshkosh friends and take off.

We fly generally toward the southwest and are rarely over 500’ above the ground. It is amazing to see all the details of life going on below, feel the uplifts as the ground begins to heat and even wave to people below!

On our second day we encounter a storm line that forced us back to the north. We land in Beatrice, NE which became a highlight of the trip. The KBIE airport manager chatted at us when we called in, offered a courtesy car, local restaurant knowledge, hotel critiques and since it was still early in the day, suggested we visit Homestead National Monument just a few miles down the road.

On Homestead NM, replanted to prairie grasses

Homestead NM is not a very big monument. The part we visited was on about 10 acres of land and was part of the first homestead. There are 3 miles of trails and the museum is a 2 story building that you can walk through, reading everything, in about an hour. We were there for over 5. The history is interesting but the Park Ranger/curator/historian made a huge difference in our visit. There is a bank of computers that are connected to ALL the BLM homesteading records, military records, Ancestry.com and US census reports and we typed name after name into the search engines. Steve learned several interesting facts about his family’s relatives.

Headed southwest

The next morning we continue southwest. The AirCam flies at about 70 mph. We plan to fly 2 legs each day and each leg is about 300 miles. We sometimes fly a little less depending on the winds, weather and fuel available at the airports. The plane can stay up a little longer than the 4 hours in our plan but after morning tea, I can’t; however, it’s usually a coin flip as to who starts the fueling and who gets to sprint to the bathroom!

Water is life

We tackled an interesting technical dilemma when landing near Lake Powell. We had made reservations at the nearby lodge. Our directions were to call from the airport/parking lot (U07-Bullfrog Basin) and the shuttle would be along in about 15 minutes. From about 20 miles out and when we landed, we had NO cell phone coverage. The parking lot had vehicles and one other plane tied down but no people. Our solution–we used our DeLorme InReach to text Steve’s brother in CA the phone number to the lodge in UT. He called and asked for our shuttle. Twenty minutes later we were checking into our room.

Flying 500’ above the desert in Monument Valley was awesome. The AirCam has amazing visibility from the canopy.

NOT the Grand Canyon-NE of Monument Valley

We finally get stopped by a huge wind event but are able to land at North Las Vegas. Inbound to the airport, our plan is to tie down the plane, get a rental car and be home by midnight. That changed to “let’s just relax and spend the night in Vegas” which became “Wait! The Eagles are playing tonight and we can get opening night tickets!” Needless to say we spent the night in Vegas and drove home much later the next morning.

Message in a Bottle

Found on Hawksbill Cay, The Bahamas

5/26/2019 – Found!

Washed up with literally TONS of trash on the windward side of the island was the above bottle with a rolled piece of paper inside. We hoped for a long lost love letter or even just a “here I am, where did this end up?”, message but the writing was gone.

I will post more detailed pictures of the bottle. If anyone recognizes this, let us know!

Enjoy the adventure! And safe travels,

J

Codax wine – Spain
Albariño bottle
1 of 2 legible script
2 of 2 legible script

From the Codax wine website:

“Martin Codax, the character who gave name to our Albariño was one of the most important medieval Galician troubadours. Parchment Vindel houses his ballads, the oldest in the Galician-Portuguese, extolling love and passion for the sea.”

Talk about a “passion for the sea”! It would be amazing if this actually was carried to The Bahamas from Spain. It almost makes me wish there had been a tiny camera attached.

Windward side of Hawksbill Cay
No “trash day” pickup

Life Changes…(June-October 2019)

We made the decision to wait out hurricane season in Brunswick, GA at the Brunswick Landing Marina. The marina is near a former submarine base in a backwater with lots of swampy land around. We felt it was a good choice to absorb the effects of a potental hurricane. I don’t think I’d want to live-aboard with the swamp bugs and humidity but it was a safe hurricane hole.

With the boat secured, we drive back to FL. We still have vehicles and airplanes to move. Our current “plan” (which tends to change frequently-sometimes hourly) is to come back to the boat in about 6-8 weeks and venture north towards the Annapolis Boat show in October, then either make the jump to the Med or head east then south to return to the Bahamas for a season.

We load two hangars of tools, parts and stuff that didn’t move onto the boat into my car and an enclosed trailer. Steve is driving our truck/camper combo and is towing an airplane. We made quite the sight as we caravanned towards AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI.

Truck/camper with Zenith on straight floats
Subaru w/3000 lb tow
My view for 3000 miles…

We have an uneventful trip to WI and rebuild the airplane. We also have a short window where Steve was able to fly commercial back to FL and bring our AirCam to AirVenture.

First time Zenith is on floats!
Steve flies volunteers from the Seaplane Base

During AirVenture, we decide we have to bring our life back on the west coast. A friend kindly offers a hangar for the AirCam near Chicago and we gratefully accept. Our little caravan continues west to CA and gets parked at home. We have enough time to put things away and into storage as appropriate, then we have planned travel to visit our daughter in Alaska where she is employed at her first “real” job after college.

Alaska was wonderful. Sarah is a CFI (certified flight instructor) training pilots to be seaplane pilots. She was able to take a few days to train me in preparation for taking my check ride to become a flight instructor also.

Sarah is an excellent instructor
Sarah also instructed her dad in flying the Pacer on floats

During our time in AK, Hurricane Dorian spun about 40 miles off the coast of GA before turning north. Fortunately, there was only 30-40 mph winds and no damage. The marina posted drone footage showing every dock and boat on their website. That was a relief.

Magenta circle is Brunswick, GA and ALWAYS

We also managed two additional trips during the fall. They had been planned around going back to the boat and the east coast but…life changes. The first trip was to Nashville, the second to NY, DC and Annapolis which ended in NC.

Sightseeing in Nashville
Trisha Yearwood-back on tour!
New York City
The wand chooses the wizard…at The Cauldron
You’re a witch!!!
30 year reunion, Annapolis, MD

We drifted down to NC. Sarah was meeting her cousin for a cross country drive and we would be headed back to CA because our boat shipping date had been delayed….again. All our plans have become very flexible. Our summer was very busy but also exciting as we adjusted back to the west coast.

Easy breakfast oatmeal!

I started making these baggies of oatmeal to save time. (Let me start by saying that I know about the baggies and plastic impact. When they make something similar that will work I’ll make the switch.)

Below is the list of ingredients.

  • 1/2 c oatmeal (5 min Quaker Oats here)
  • 1/4 c muesli
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 taps of cinnamon

Place all the ingredients into a baggie, smash out all the air, close. I then stack them in a large air tight container and put it in my freezer until ready to use.

To eat, I dump the baggie into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Add water to the consistency you like-the chia seeds will continue to soak up water if you let it sit.

I top the oatmeal with blueberries, apple, walnuts, honey, whatever you like.

I like this plan because: while it takes awhile to make the bags, it’s less time than if I pull all that stuff out each time; it’s easy to make underway when I don’t want to be below long; I don’t have a cook pot to clean up; I know I have all my ingredients.

Ready for the freezer