Monday, October 16, 2023

What's Up by LeRoy Cook

 What’s Up

by LeRoy Cook




Suggested banner: The Great Balloon Race


The cool weather arrived as advertised late last week, along with strong crosswinds that kept most flying grounded. We've had a good run of fall flying weather up to now, and more to follow.


The week's in-and-outs included a Beech Bonanza 35, a Cirrus SR22, an RV homebuilt, a Piper Cherokee and the usual Cessna Skyhawk trainer. Christian Tucker flew up from Lebanon in a Mooney M-20 and Jay McClintock's Piper Tomahawk came by from Harrisonville with a student aboard.


Of the based fleet, Jim Ferguson flew his Cessna Skylane, Brandt Hall took his Avid Flyer out, Les Gorden had his North American T-28C Trojan up briefly, and I exercised the Aeronca Champ. I took a Cessna 150 up to Higginsville Sunday afternoon for dual instruction, and I also made a trip to St. Louis in the Cessna Skyhawk during one of the cloud-free days.


The annual Albuquerque balloon fiesta was held last week, a huge event with hot-air balloons by the hundreds filling the Valley of the Sun from all over the world. The unique topography of ABQ lends itself to such an event, with south-flowing air drifting the balloons down the valley at low-level and northerly-flowing wind found at higher level, allowing the flights to circulate back to launch point. The festival is also the launch point of the long-distance endurance race for gas balloons, using hydrogen or helium for lift, attracting teams from many countries. The goal is go as far as possible, staying up for days and nights at a time. The winner was either a French or German team; both were landing on the beach in North Carolina, after 1500 miles and three days of ballooning.


The Polish 1 team was not so lucky. Its two pilots ran into high-tension power lines southeast of Dallas on Monday evening, leaving them hospitalized with burns. Fortunately, their load of hydrogen gas didn't ignite, so they were spared a Hindenburg-style disaster. There were 17 teams participating this year, the 66th running of the Gordon Bennett balloon race.


In another pull-out from this week's National Business Aircraft Association Expo in Las Vegas, the French Dassault company, builders of Falcon business jets, declined to exhibit in the convention hall, in favor of hosting its display at the static lineup on Henderson airport. Competitor Gulfstream announced last week that it would not be showing at NBAA, preferring to hold private events.


Our weekly question in the last column was about Chris Hall's Cessna 182 that has three round ports on the side of the aft fuselage. In 1956, those were the location of electrically-fired parachute flares that could be deployed if one had an engine failure at night, supposed enabling a safe forced landing. They were required for commercial flying, not private flights. The risk of unintentional fire was greater than their benefit, so the rule was discontinued in the late '50s. For next time, what is the voltage of a typical light aircraft's electrical system? You can send your answers to [email protected].


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