A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Weekend update (part one)

August 27, 2012
Emilie Phillips

Tyson and I went for another trip this weekend. Tyson's father and a friend were going to a fly-in up in Livermore Falls, Maine. The fly in was a two day event, and they were planning on camping overnight. Tyson really wanted to spend time with his father, so we decided to do the first day plus camping, but then head over to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park Sunday morning. The other motive for the weekend was to get me some more flight time in the RV4 before it has to go in for annual.

Camping out of the RV4 is a little challenging. By the time we had all our gear assembled and Tyson taking the back seat, the center of gravity with full fuel tanks was well towards the rear of the allowed limits, and with empty tanks was beyond. The fix in this case was for Tyson to fly us over to Jaffrey to meet up with the others and then unload some of the gear into their airplanes. Tyson moving to the front was both because he is more experienced and because he is heavier than me.

We ran late packing in the morning, but luckily we were grounded by low clouds for just about as long. (Had I been flying, it probably would have been longer.) When we arrived over in Jaffrey, we found plans had changed. Tyson's father decided the night before not to camp. M discovered this only on arriving at the airport and also decided to back out on camping. So now we had two issues. We did not have anyone to carry our stuff back and, M had decided, since he was no longer staying overnight, to invite his grandson whom we were now waiting for. Tyson was also a bit bummed that he would not get to spend the evening with his father.

As for the c.g. problem, we recalculated and decided that as long as we kept the fuel tanks reasonably full and we ate all the food, we could stay within limits for the trip back. For the trip up, we still put some of our gear in the other airplanes.

We all flew up together in what might be called a loose formation. It was close enough that I had to match the other planes' speeds fairly accurately and I had to be consistently attentive to them. But far apart enough that there was plenty of time for even a novice like me to react comfortably. We put the slowest airplane first, mid in the middle, and fastest, me, last. The slow airplane, a Kit Fox, cruises below my best glide speed and almost behind the power curve. Initially, I tried to match speeds with the second airplane, but that turned into a game of crack the whip. I was constantly throttling up to hold a low speed or catch back up and then throttling way down to not get ahead. Eventually Tyson pointed out that by pacing the front airplane I could have a steadier reference. Then I  could use a much steadier throttle setting and use subtle modulations of altitude and heading to keep pace. As it was, though, I ran out of patience and bladder space somewhere in Maine and decided to ditch the other two and make a bee line for the destination. Tyson had to help me find the airport. It is a skinny slot in the trees. But I managed traffic reasonably and landed well. Taxiing I did not do so well since I parked sideways in the first spot I saw, bailed out of the airplane and ran for the bathroom. All told, flying with the other two took almost twice as long as I would have alone.

We enjoyed lunch. Tyson excitedly partook in a Maine traditional hot dog whose neon red color looks utterly plastic to me. Then we toured the many assembled airplanes. In the afternoon, they had a candy drop for the kids. Following which, most of the airplanes left, including the other two in our group. I was tired enough by then that we set up the tent and I took a nap. The evening's events were dinner and fireworks. Of the fifty or more airplanes present at the height of the day, only a half dozen stayed the night. Plenty of the local pilots and residents stayed the night to party too. Tyson and I retreated to our tent after the fireworks.