A Family Adventure

Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

House tour and airplane ride

March 29, 2015
Emilie Phillips

I invited a coworker of mine, Fabrizio, and his boyfriend over to see our house and go for an airplane ride. Both of these required significant prep.

Tyson landed the RV-4 on Potanipo

Tyson landed the RV-4 on Potanipo

Tyson somehow broke the tail wheel off my airplane when he landed it on Lake Potanipo February 28th. Looking at the tail spring afterward, the placement of the bolt hole clearly caused a stress point. In fact, the replacement parts had an updated design which fixes the bolt placement. The replacement parts showed up a week and a half ago. So we spent last weekend and several evenings during the week borrowing the milling machine in the neighbor’s shop, painting, and assembling parts. Saturday Tyson put it all together, but the weather was too nasty to fly.

Tyson test flew the RV-4 Sunday morning while Isaac and I ran final errands. We got back just in time for me to take Isaac out for a landing and refamiliarize myself with the airplane. Between annual maintenence, skiing, and the broken tail spring, I had only flown once a month for the past three months. The wind was blowing hard enough that I did a practice approach and then landed from over the tall trees to the south.

The other thing I spent several weekends in advance doing was cleaning the house. I didn’t think it was in that bad of shape, but I found a lot of stuff to organize, throw out, or clean up. The areas I cleaned up looked noticeably better,  but I probably only made it through a third of the house before Sunday morning with guests arriving at 10 AM.

Fabrizio and Johnny arrived in time to see my landing. Since we already had the airplane out, we started there. I thought it would be fun to get both airplanes out, partly because each one only has one usable passenger seat right now. Tyson suggested if we were going to have two airplanes out, we really aught to just fly somewhere for lunch. That turned out to be an excellent plan. My RV-4 still has a couple other issues; the starter has not cranked properly since we picked the airplane up from its annual inspection, and the intercomm stopped working sometime while we were trying to fix the brakes. And the backseat of Tyson’s Bearhawk is midway through a project to make room for bicycles. None of these are safety issues, but they make the passenger experience a little less than it could be.

We flew to Minuteman for lunch. We had great fun talking all things airplane and even walked around afterward to point out the difference between various planes. Without an intercomm I kept the ride down very tame. After hearing their enthusiasm at lunch, I decided to make the trip back more fun. Tyson and I flew formation so they could take photos, and then I did a low pass over Potanipo. The lake was clear of bob houses but still covered in ice. Back at the airport, I thought I should probably land from the south again given the winds, but Tyson thought otherwise. I followed him in, but it definitely makes me doubt my skills as a pilot if I can’t even pick the right direction to land. On the way back to the house we ran into several neighbors,  chatted lots, and watched an aerobatic plane from Nashua practice approaches into our small airport. Our guests loved the whole experience

Next up the house tour. That went well. Fabrizio has an energy efficient house also, but his is a much different design. The basics — well sealed envelope, lots of insulation, and mechanical ventilation — are the same. His house uses a ground source heat pump for heating and cooling whereas ours uses solar and a wood stove. Our house architecture is dominated by the solar design whereas his is more free form. We are well into solar spring, so the slab was quite warm and the house showed off nicely.

We finished off the afternoon with a tasty Italian pastry desert.