Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stearman Field & the $100 Hamburger (make that a $1.50 hamburger)

Today's post is short and sweet -- just a little lunch time flying over to Stearman Field.

I can fly from my home base (Wichita Gliderport, home of Belite Aircraft) over to Stearman Field in about 5 minutes.  As a result, it makes a great lunch destination, and I consume about a $1.50 of gas on the round trip in my ultralight aircraft.  Awesome.

Stearman Field used to be Benton Airport.  I paid it my first visit about 30 years ago, shortly after I got my private ticket and needed a plane to rent.  It had a small dingy office, fuel for sale, and a mechanic somewhere in the shed in the back.  The runway was lined with some homes.

That was then... today, Stearman Field is a busy place, with a new office/restaurant; an outdoor eating area, many new hangars, new homes, new runway extensions, instrument approach... the new owners have made a world of difference.

The restaurant is great -- providing a feel of flying nostalgia along with awesome greasy breakfasts and wonderful burgers for lunch.  I've slipped in there several times in the last month.  I managed to get over there before Oshkosh, and I had flown over in the yellow trike. 

Here's a photo of the lunch counter, along with all the airplane nostalgia:

Nice, right?

Folks couldn't help but stop and look at the Cub Yellow Trike, and I took their pic from my dining table:

The Belite Trike is a great vehicle for taking in the local airstrips.  It looks and flies like a real airplane, and it sure makes everyone stop and look at it.

You can read more about Stearman Field by clicking on this link.

You can read more about our Trike by clicking on this link.

Thank you, and enjoy your meal! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Afternoon Flight with two Ultralight Aircraft

I gave Terry a call.

"Hi Terry,

I have to do a fuel consumption check on the Yellow Trike.  If I fly over to your house, will you fly your Kitfox Lite and join me for some flying time?"

Terry answers:

"Yes, I have to check to see if the strip is mowed, but that should work fine."

I take off in my yellow Belite Trike and head over to Terry's strip, about a 20 minute flight to the east:

I'm soon over his strip, circling while he gets his plane ready for flight.  I circle for 10 minutes while Terry unfolds the wings and gets his engine started.  (He recently upgraded to the big 50HP Hirth).

I snap some pictures from my vantage point.

A couple of minutes later, Terry started his takeoff roll.  I had a perfect view from on top, and I snapped several pictures of the ultralight aircraft shooting through the field.  A wonderful view of Kansas aviation, a small plane rapidly accelerating through a hayfield:

And a moment later, Terry's Kitfox Lite was airborne.

And a moment later, the ultralight aircraft was over the end of the grass strip.

Terry climbed rapidly and joined formation with me.  We made some turns, and took lots of pictures of each other.  Although it was well over 90 degrees on the ground, the wind over my shoulders, and the coooler temperatures aloft, made for a very comfortable flight.  Here's a pic of Terry, flying off my left wing:

I like that pic.

Terry is holding around 55% power to slow down with me.  I'm holding about 90% power to keep up with him.  (Terry's flying with a 50HP Hirth twin cylinder engine, I'm flying with a 28HP single lung Hirth engine.) Even so, we flit up to about 1500 feet AGL.  The temperature is much nicer than on the ground; the air is reasonably calm, and it just feels good to be a pair of airplanes roaming around Kansas.

I don't know why, but Terry decides to fly his airplane through the struts of my airplane.  I capture the event in a photograph:

More time passes, and I land.  Terry greases a landing right after mine.  Here he is on short final, having cleared the bean field in the background:

After carefully measuring my fuel consumption, I've got to put my yellow Belite Trike away in the hangar.

Terry and I talk for a few minutes.  He takes off, and heads back home as well.

Wonderful flight.  Thanks Terry, for flying with me.

-- James