I flew 23J on its first flight with the new engine, and was reminded why I started flying. It had been close to a year since my last flight, delayed, in part, by the engine rebuild. I took off on a CAVU day (also known as a blue bird day!) and headed to Auburn-Lewiston in Maine. I had been there a few years back and enjoyed a lobster roll with Coke and chips for $9.95 – or close to that. Sadly I learned that the restaurant had closed (cheap prices??), but I also remembered, off the end of runway 4, two “Connies” sitting in a field that I hoped were still there.
After a thorough preflight, I fired up the engine. Our mechanic, Dick Horton, had mentioned that with new baffles he installed, there might be more vibration than normal, but I didn’t notice anything unusual. I did the mag check during taxi as Dick had suggested and performed a brief run up. Once cleared for take off, I advanced the throttles slowly until reaching a speed of 30-40 MPH and then advanced them all the way to rotation speed. I had two notches of flaps with just myself in the plane, and if you’ve ever done that, you know the plane literally leaps off the ground. After climbing out of Lawrence, I continued on to Auburn. All the way up I was watching the oil pressure and temperature readings for abnormalities and everything seemed OK. The only other thing I had to watch out for were the occasional clouds at 3500 feet which had me dodging them.
I landed at Auburn and immediately noticed one of the “Connies” parked in front of a hanger in an obvious state of dismantling (see the picture at the top of this post). I assumed the other one was in the hanger. This was confirmed by the very friendly (and slightly bored) receptionist sitting in the brand new terminal. I asked about the Connies and she told me it was an “ongoing project,” delayed over the years by financial reasons. Why does money always seem to get in the way? After the required (in my case anyway) bathroom break I returned to 23J and once again punched a hole in the sky. I leveled off at 4500 feet and those pesky clouds were now at 4500 feet as well. Were they following me? Anyway there were only a few and I was able to successfully dodge them (cue the music from Top Gun) and return to Lawrence.
It was certainly good to get back up in the air. The plane is running great, and 23J is now within a couple of hours of removing of the “no touch and goes for the first 10 hours” restriction. We have a potential new member who is excited to join. Sadly, our long-time treasurer Gordon is leaving. He has been a member since before 23J was last painted and 23J last got a new engine! For those of you who haven’t flown in a while, now is the time to start. Mark is always looking for passengers, and so will I once I get current. Go along as a passenger and remember why you learned to fly in the first place.