12/12/09 Mitre Field - Home of the BravePosted on 12/13/2009 12:29:58 AMAuthor: Alex_J
What a day it was! I thought I had seen AeroJunkies partake in some extreme flying when they took on gale force winds with their minature aircraft. It is my honor to report that today a new standard was set. Not only was it extremely windy but it was bone numbing cold at the AeroJunkies home airfield, Mitre International. The plows were apparently out of service as all runways were snow covered, topped with a thin and crusty glaze of ice.
I had not planned on visiting Mitre today due to the extreme conditions. Hanscom Field AWOS reporting winds at 300 degrees at 12 Knots Gusting 22. Temperature -2 degrees C. This translates to a wind chill of minus 8 degrees C or 17 degrees F. Scott "Maverick" had alerted me the previous night that he was planning an initial flight test on his new Waco. The "doubting Thomases" amongst us were skeptical that this would actually take place given the wind forecast for Saturday.
Rafe made a surveillence run Saturday morning and reported via email that no pilots present at Mitre. Subsequent email traffic from Maverick and Chip "Iceman" indicated that the attempt had not been aborted. I made my way up to Mitre after my moring tennis match with my camera to duly record any and all activities at Mitre, reckless or not. Ice was already at the field preparing the site by lighting up the propane heaters. After several minutes of trying to get the lighter going in the wind, he finally had ignition. If it had not been for warmth provided by the heaters, I would have had to pack my bags early as I was not appropriately dressed for the conditions.
While awaiting Maverick's arrival at the field, Ice launched his EasyStar off the ice. It's quite incredible that he was able to fly this "floater" of an aircraft in such a stiff wind. Without the "turbo" power plant he has in the airplane, it would have been blown off and on its way to Germany, its birthplace. With full power he was barely able to make headway into the wind. He demonstrated take off and landings in every direction with little regard to the wind, making me wonder if it really was necessary to takeoff and land into the wind. On one particular low approach and turn to downwind, a gust wrenched the airplane out of control slamming a wingtip into the ground before he could arrest it with the 3 available channels. The canopy came flying off and got blown downwind and a chunk of foam got taken out of the tail. The canopy was retrieved after a brief chase but the search for the chunk of foam was futile.
Maverick appeared soon after with his collection of airplanes, Sue and a tarp. Rafe and Merry made another surveillence run past Mitre and stopped when they noticed feverish activity at the field. We watched Maverick maneuver his Ford Expedition strategically next to Ice's BMW with the intent of building a polyethelyne igloo with the tarp. After much wrestling with the wind to get the tarp in place, a basic shelter was triumphantly erected to serve as a much needed hangar. If it weren't for the trees and the vechicles, it would have looked like we were at Mt. Everest base camp, propane tank and heater visible behind Rafe:
Steve Eichel showed up soon after the picture was taken and flew his Diabolo EDF jet under the challenging conditions. The Diabolo went vertical on takeoff, stalled and impacted the ground nose first resulting in some damage. Steve also provided those present with a preview of his next EDF project, an Axon Micro Phantom from 2DogRC. Word on the online forums is that this jet is a great flying aircraft. We anxiously await Steve's build and flight reports on this sporty looking Phantom.
Despite the howling wind, Maverick pressed on with readying his new airplane for its Maiden flight. Maverick has unveiled a lot of magnificent airplanes in his time and with each one he seems to out do the previous effort. He has really raised the bar a few notches this time with his new Waco. The name of the aircraft originates from "Weaver Aircraft Company, Ohio". Maverick basterdized the name and decaled "WAKO" on left side of the fuselage, as in "Wacko". I couldn't bring myself to print a picture of the offending side, it was sheer travesty. Nevertheless, just take a look at this majestic bird, it's easy to see how the full scale version became a highly sought after classic:
Notice Maverick's signature "EFNHA" on the side of the fuselage. With the snow skis and a wooden prop hanging off the radial engine, the scene is just waiting for someone to come walking into the frame to swing the prop after the pilot yells "Contact!". The airplane also features ailerons on all four wing surfaces.
The aerial picture below shows Maverick's primary sponsor for his barnstorming airshows to be 'AEROJUNKIES.COM'. It also shows his registration "November One Six Five Niner two". The "C" in the registration is a bit of an oddity. While the "N" signifies a United States registered aircraft, I had to research the signifance of the "C" since a letter cannot immediately follow the "N" in the current registration number scheme, yet I had seen this nomenclature on other classic aircraft, particularly Piper Cubs. A Google search shed some light on the matter. Apparently pre 1950s, a second letter was included after the "N" that indicated the class of the airplane. "C" stood for "Standard". "L, R and X" stood for "Limited, Restricted and Experimental" respectively. This classification letter was not actually part of the registration. So this plane's official registration would still be N16592.
For those interested, below is a link to a picture showing the original WACO N16592:
Maverick's actual test flight is well documented by Ice's video which is posted on the aerojunkies website. Getting the airplane in position for the takeoff roll proved to be tricky as the wind kept blowing the ski shod airplane backwards. The takeoff roll was smooth and it lifted off without exhibiting any unwanted tendancies. Maverick wrung the bird out with his usual maneuvers in short order with plenty of barrel rolls and sustained inverted flights to show off his top of the wing markings to waiting cameramen.
After putting on a great barnstorming routine with no close calls, all eyes were intensly focused on Maverick and his Waco as he called out his landing sequence. The wind hadn't let up one bit as he turned final. He kept a steady hand on the sticks as he brought it down to a gentle touch down. The sprung skis cause a pop up back into the air. Maverick instinctively went to high angle of attack and the airplane floated down vertically back onto the ground. He was greeted by cheers from all who witnessed the unusual yet smooth arrival. It was a classic Maverick show, pulling off the unexpected on the first test flight. He once again garnered the best of show award as Steve Eichel from somewhere in the crowd yelled out "Jolly Good Show Old Chap". Someone please pin a blue ribbon on Maverick's new favorite ride.
Notably absent from the spectacle was "Hot Dog" who is rumoured to have escaped to sunny Florida as this Alberta Clipper descended upon us here in the Northeast.
rafe on 12/14/2009 1:00:44 PM wrote:
Awesome writeup and pix, as usual.
Derek on 12/14/2009 6:55:43 PM wrote:
Nice footage and a great write-up.
Chip on 12/14/2009 6:56:05 PM wrote:
Man that second photo makes the plane look full scale. Perfect perspective, I'd almost fly in it if I didn't know better!