Tuesday, April 9, 2024

It Isn't Always The Wind

“Sure is windy out there today,” is a typical bouncy-air analysis verbalized by inexperienced flyers. In reality, it isn't usually wind that causes the rough air, but thermal updrafts fueled by sun heating air at the surface. A parcel of air warmer than its surroundings tends to rise, hence the up-and-down “air pockets” the old-timers talked about.


We had plenty of turbulence aloft last week, both roiling currents under 1,000 feet from wind eddies around hedgerows and buildings, and thermals from solar heating. Thermals can top out anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 feet above the ground, depending on the hour and season. This time of year, they're easily topped.


Among the week's in-and-out traffic were a Piper Archer from ATD flight training in Kansas City, a Cessna Skyhawk of undetermined origin, the usual Life Flight Bell 407 helicopter and an RV homebuilt. Hereabouts, Jim Ferguson took his Cessna Skylane out for exercise, Airport Manager Chris Hall fired up one of his Cessna 182s and I submitted myself to the rigors of Cessna 150 flight for proficiency purposes.


All eyes are on Florida this week, as the big Sun 'N Fun fly-in at Lakeland, FL kicked off. About 200,000 people from the Eastern part of the country gather for “spring break with airplanes,” shaking off the winter chill under the Spanish-moss laden Live Oak trees on the grounds. I'll be getting a report from the Butler aviators at the gathering.


In speaking with a 80-ish airplane owner this week, he confided that he was considering selling his plane. He wasn't flying it much, he didn't figure on making many more trips with it, and the market for good clean aircraft is hot right now. He was torn, of course, because it's like letting go of a child, but there's a time when it's time. All one can hope for is for it to find a good home, where it'll be useful and well treated. I commiserated with him over a pop, knowing how he felt.


The big news of the week was the announcement that ICON Aircraft went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 4th, after slowing sales despite splashy advertising and fawning reviews in the media. The ICON A4, introduced 5 years or so ago, was supposed to be a do-it-all simple-to-fly amphibian with folding wings for home storage, built of sleek fiberglass and certified as a Light Sport airplane with its Rotax engine so it could be flown without a medical. It took a special exemption from the FAA to achieve LSA status due to its weight, but the little two-seater  showed it could float and fly. Not enough people wanted one, it turns out.


The weekly question was about the significance of early aviator Buck Weaver's name. He's long since been forgotten, but his first venture, “Weaver Aircraft Company,” kept going as WACO Aircraft, even after his 1924 demise. You can still order one today. For next week, reader Rodney Rom of Butler challenges us to ask “what kind of airplane is on the wall mural in the Jo 'N Go coffee shop at St. Luke's hospital?” You can send your answers to [email protected].


Cheryl "Sherry" Renee Boyles, 59, Archie

  Funeral services for Sherry Boyles of Archie, Missouri will be 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2024 at Schowengerdt Funeral Chapel (660-679-655...