Conundra of the ancient aviator

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Posted (edited)

In the vein of trying out the Avid C STOL as a cruiser, i.e. a vehicle in which one could actually go somewhere, I undertook a trip from the Columbia Gorge down to Grants Pass, in Southern Oregon, to visit dear friends.  In a nutshell, in the end I had to abort, as the day was not sufficiently long for the almost 480 nm out-and-return, even way up here near 46 degs N, and near the solstice at that.

At first blush I thought that I could plan for 3.5 gph at 74 kts, but very quickly learned why the more experienced of you use 5 gph for planning purposes.  3.5 gph corresponds to 4500 to 4800 rpm, and a piddly 60-65 kts TAS.  Pushing headwinds thru the Gorge I saw a whopping 45kts GS on the GPS!

Plan the flight, fly the plan, they say.  My clever planning put me along the eastern edge of the Willamette valley, in the western edge of the foothills of the Cascades.  The scenery was lovely, but I couldn’t help thinking how hard it would be on the airplane if I had to make an emergency landing on a stump-covered hill left over from a clearcutting operation.  But the little 582 ran like a top, never missing a beat. 

Then came the first conundrum: ROABD – Rapid Onset Acute Biological Distress!  Gotta land, and soon!  Just passed a nice little airport.  It felt counterproductive, but I made a hasty 180, entered the pattern, and put her down at the little field, which had a nice long, if narrow, runway.   Nobody was around, so the weeds received some much-needed moisture.  Man, a hypertrophic prostate is a liability!  It’s one of the rewards of surviving to old age.  You’re fine until it’s an all-out emergency.  There’s nothing gradual about it.  There are solutions, but perhaps are not the kind of thing to discuss in polite company.  I leave this judgment to my dear readers.

O.k., we’re back in the sky.  Feeling fine, ripping along at 65kts, and approaching my (maybe) gas stop, but ROABD strikes again, with a vengeance!  The GPS says there’s a controlled field nearby at Eugene Oregon.  I haven’t been into a controlled field in 40 years or so, although I used to do it all the time.  So, I called them up, got into the pattern, the tower saw me, cleared me to land!  Taxied to the gas pump, where there was a much-appreciated outhouse!  Gas pump ground wire and hose were both snarled up, obviously by some very considerate individual in a big hurry.  Called up the FBO, who sent out two guys who unsnarled things and helped me figure out the very counterintuitive hosering-up protocol.   Yup, I needed that petrol!  I am now loth to plan on more than about 150 nm per leg. 

With fresh petrol in my tank, ground control guided me over to the runup area, where I did my perfunctory mag check, then proceeded to wait and wait as various other aircraft taxied up and then took off.  Ground control didn’t seem too keen on handing me off to the tower!  So, the last airplane to pull in front of me before my handoff was none other than a 737!  I’m thinking: what am I doing here?  My orientation to his centerline was not perfect, so when he gave a gentle throttle push to taxi onto the runway, my right tire lifted off the tarmac!  Right stick, and it slowly settled back down.  Unsettling, so-to-speak!   

Anyway, my turn came, and I got out of there.  Realizing how much of the day it had taken to get this far, I decided to abort and fly back home. Unhappy with my original flight plan down, I instead just flew straight lines between uncontrolled fields up the east side of the valley, until I saw the Columbia then turned right.  The flight eastbound through the Gorge was just as beautiful, and just as devoid of emergency landing spots.  Both I84 on the Oregon side and WA14 on the north side were busy.  Again, the little 582 just kept on purring.  Then came conundrum #2.  Apparently, my dietary intake of magnesium is sub-par, and this, combined with my physically rather dry state (preferable, for the obvious reason), my right shin muscle decided to cramp!  With so much adverse yaw, the Avid is not happy flying with feet off of the rudders, so, in order to not wallow about in the sky too much, I kept light rudder pressure on with my left foot.  This was a dumb idea in retrospect.  This caused the bird to fly in a slip with the right wing low.  I passed Hood River and figured I had it made – until I took a look at the vent line and fuel tank window.  Incredibly, there was no indication of fuel in either, although my very carefully calibrated totalizer showed I had at least 4 gallons left!  I could see fuel going down the transparent fuel line, along with bubbles, from the wing tank down to the header.   But this situation was disconcerting to say the least.  I passed a couple of flat fields on which an emergency landing would have been possible, and the thought of a precautionary landing seriously crossed my mind, but fuel was still flowing, bubbles and all, and the 582 was still running fine.  I entered the pattern at Columbia Gorge Regional in Dallesport, announcing “minimum fuel”, and got her down safely, if not gracefully.  On the taxiway I noticed fuel again in the tank window and up the vent tube; clearly this apparent lack of fuel was due to my flying with the right wing low.  The engine could have stopped from fuel starvation, but I was lucky this time. 

O.K. there are some serious takeaways here:

1.  For us older guys, many of whom have enlarged prostates, a solution must be found, otherwise we are confined to short hops.  If one is dry, it may be possible to fly out a tank of gas, but that predisposes one to muscle cramping.   I think I have found an answer, but need to gain some validation.  It’s a matter of how to rig a relief tube that works.  Keywords are “Men’s external condom-style catheters”.

2.  The established RDA for magnesium is 400 mg/day.  Low magnesium levels correlate strongly with muscle cramps.  Dark green leafy veggies like spinach and Broccoli are good, but I’d also supplement at least to the RDA before any long flight.   The American diet classically runs low on Mg.  Magnesium glycinate is apparently the most easily metabolized form.  Ironically, muscle cramping also correlates to low body water level.  This seems to be more of a problem for us older guys.

3.  My fuel gauge is a totalizer, and I was reasonably confident that it was well calibrated.  Still, when I de-fueled the plane, I had less petrol in the tank than my totalizer said.  I thought I had filled the tank up to about 1” from the gas cap rim, but it was very hard to see in there, and I may have put in less fuel than I thought.  The accuracy of a totalizer critically depends on getting a consistent and complete fill.  I am going to make a wooden T-shaped dipstick to use as a check while refueling.  This is why most airplanes have fuel level gauges!

4.  If you find yourself behind a big plane and are worried about the prop/jet blast, make sure your airplane is aligned with the expected blast, so you don’t get tipped over!

5.  I feel a need to carefully assess the rudder null position so I can reasonably fly the airplane feet off, despite the ungraceful wallowing.  I need to know it’s not off on rudder trim.  I may need to add a tab.

6.  Let’s hear it for the mighty little 582!  

7.  A little dihedral is not a bad thing.

Edited by Turbo
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Posted

I was told by an Eskimo pilot in Alaska that the only time you have too much fuel is when you are on fire!

Also I learned to use Alligator zip loc bags for pilot relief and then "airmail them"!

Murle Williams makes a nice aluminum 1.9 gallon header tank with a low fuel float switch that turns a red light on the dash when it starts to go below 1.9 gallons in the header tank for what ever reason....

 

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Posted

Turbo it is not customary for ground to hand you off to the tower on departure, simply switch to the tower freq and tell them where you are and you are ready for departure.  Otherwise they do not know you are ready.  One other thing, I generally switch to tower when I get to the run up area if it is not to far from the runway.  Those folks up there make mistakes like the rest of us.  Pulling onto the runway with a landing airliner on short, short final is way to exciting for everyone.  I still look both ways before entering the runway after being cleared for take off and if your have switched to tower while running up you will hear both sides of the conversation. My home field is class D and the tower is considered a training tower so there are a few more mistakes than normal.  One more good thing to remember is to request a different runway other than the assigned runway if the assigned run does not suit you.  The active runway may have a tailwind for example.  Also if you have a good reason request to land on the ramp or taxiway.  If all else fails declare the emergency and fill out the paper work.  I like flying into controlled airports because there are extra eyes to keep pilots safe but it's like stepping into the ring, protect yourself at all times.

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Posted

Thanks, WyPaul!  Stuff slides out the back door in 40+ years!

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On the magnesium issue:  The oxide form is cheapest, and seems to stick with you longer, but may predispose one towards diarrhea.  The glycenate and citrate forms are said to have greater bioavailability, but are typically sold in smaller doses per pill than the oxide form.  My read on this "bioavailability" is that it gets into your bloodstream faster, but may not stick around as long.  The pill bottles advocate 3 pills a day.  So I, for one, am back with the oxide form.  

I now have cobbled together a relief tube system.  This allows me to stay hydrated, which will help with leg cramps.  Hell, I can even have a cup of coffee at the airport cafe!

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Posted

Turbo,

Add some auxiliary tanks and the relief tube and you will be all set for a non-stop flight.  I put in a auxiliary pump and plumbed them so I can pump into my left wing tank in flight, it works pretty slick and you can see when it starts pushing bubbles to shut off the pump; just don't overflow your wing tank.

On July 3rd I made a run to drop fuel at a spot on the other side of the Alaska Range to have when we are hunting out there this year.  Took off with 48 gallons onboard; most I have carried on my plane so far.

Randy

DSCN1753-1.jpg

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Posted

Randy you get it done!

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Posted (edited)

Pilot relief tubes...

One of my very dear friends was a flying fish cop up here for many many years.  I truly wish Van would let me record his stories.  

So here was a Van a pretty new fish cop pilot visiting the brown vest hangar waiting on some maintenance to get done on the cub.  He is wandering around and sees this funnel and tube looking contraption hanging on the wall.  Curiosity gets the best of him and he has to ask what this gizmo is.  The mechanic tells him its a pilot relief tube and how it works.  Van thinks this is a great idea as he often has long flights over crappy terrain and this could certainly help his situation.  He also has a champ as his personal plane and thought it would be great to put it in his plane as he had little tires and could not get in and out of some of the "emergency cub strips" that he used when flying for work.

The day came when he was flying along in his champ, the sun streaming in the windows and not a breath of air stirring the leaves.  Suddenly he feels the need to find a landing spot.  As he is looking around low level it hits him, hey, I have this nifty pilot relief tube now hanging off the hook where the water rudder handle hangs when on floats.  He sets about doing the deed.  

Lets think about this.  your in a small cockpit (no pun intended) and you already have a stick between your legs.  Now van is a very tall and lanky guy so leg room is at a premium already.  In order to use the relief tube one must completely get his junk out of his drawers.  So here is out intrepid hero trying to get his pants down enough to get his pecker into aiming range of the funnel while fighting with the control stick between his knees hampering this effort.  I am sure you can sit in the Avid and picture this playing out... While he is wrestling with mr winky and the funnel it seems he forgot that he was actually in an airplane and they he should be flying it first and foremost but at this point it is now mission critical that he relieve himself.  Suddenly he looks up and sees that he is about 20' AGL and has 2 very large spruce trees directly in front of him and the range is closing faster than you can say oh shit.  With his pants down around his knees he cant pull back on the stick so his only option was to roll 90 and go knife edge between the trees in a split second.  once level again he starts thinking about this.. as a flying cop he has investigated way too many fatal plane crashes in his career and here he was, almost a statistic.  What the hell would they tell his wife when they find him in a smoking hole in the ground with his dick in his hand in his airplane.  Yes he dearly loved flying but not that much!  At this point, all thoughts of relieving himself were now gone and he managed to pull his pants up enough to climb to a safer altitude and he found a suitable landing spot and did the deed.  It was at this point that he could have written himself a ticket for littering as the super cool pilot relief tube was removed from the plane and tossed into the nearby willows so no one could ever ask questions about it again while visiting the hangar.

:BC:

 

Edited by akflyer
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Posted

Wow, Leni, that's hard to top!  I dunno about the rest of you mugs, but my bird is like a helo, in that left alone, seemingly would love to dive into the ground all on its own.  Just putting on or taking off a jacket is next to impossible.  Toss in a little turbulence, and staying rightside up and pointed roughly in the direction of travel becomes a full-time job!  Of course almost all airplanes suffer from spiral instability, as this is preferable to Dutch roll.  Nobody enjoys puking!

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Posted

If you cant fly hands off in still air you need to play with the rigging.  What is your typical CG?

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi Leni,

Typical CG ranges between 12.4 & 12.8 in.  But the real problem is not having flown in smooth air for a while.  It's really just a matter of me whinging a bit too much.  As you well know, the Avid C has no provision for pitch trim except the flaperons, so I have a simple stick-force mitigation setup with an adjustable-tension spring as a poor man's pitch trim, kinda like JimChuk's bungee setup.  That, along with power and flaperon settings are what passes for trim on my machine.  Once I get the opportunity to set up for cruise in still air, I will definitely take a look at rudder trim.  Currently I have no tab on the rudder, and hopefully none will be needed.

I'm planning an 880 nm flight out to Ft Collins, CO for mid August, and am trying to get all important issues resolved beforehand.  Biggest Q? is what to take in case of emergency.  I am thinking warm clothes and food, water, matches, and some kind of first aid kit.  I am now not planning any leg longer than about 150nm, maybe shorter coming back against the weather.  Headwinds really slow these poky birds down!  I plan on having maps with course drawn on them as backup for the GPS (my Samsung tablet).

And I think I have a viable solution to the problem you so eloquently addressed.  Could launch a new thread, if I can keep the language such that I don't inadvertently get myself kicked off the site!

Edited by Turbo

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Posted

Leni,

I'm not sure there is a better story teller, hillarious!  I have one of those Johny relief jugs but have never figured out how I could use it.  They must me made for yoke drivers.

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Posted (edited)

Leni,

I'm not sure there is a better story teller, hillarious!  I have one of those Johny relief jugs but have never figured out how I could use it.  They must me made for yoke drivers.

I tried to use one of those on a trip in the 12 years ago.  I don't see any practical way for a man to use one when they are flying a plane with a stick.. even if one had a good autopilot in the plane it would still be one heck of a feat.  I am pretty certain I ended up getting more on my hands and the airplane than in the porta john.  Glad that was a rental plane. :lol: 

 

  I think the best option is to limit liquid intake prior to the flight and have big tires for more landing options.

:BC:

 

Edited by akflyer

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Wow, Randy, you guys must play a lot of football on those hunting trips! But bringing a spare in case you lose the first one - well, that's planning ahead!

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Posted (edited)

Hi Leni,

Typical CG ranges between 12.4 & 12.8 in.  But the real problem is not having flown in smooth air for a while.  It's really just a matter of me whinging a bit too much.  As you well know, the Avid C has no provision for pitch trim except the flaperons, so I have a simple stick-force mitigation setup with an adjustable-tension spring as a poor man's pitch trim, kinda like JimChuk's bungee setup.  That, along with power and flaperon settings are what passes for trim on my machine.  Once I get the opportunity to set up for cruise in still air, I will definitely take a look at rudder trim.  Currently I have no tab on the rudder, and hopefully none will be needed.

I'm planning an 880 nm flight out to Ft Collins, CO for mid August, and am trying to get all important issues resolved beforehand.  Biggest Q? is what to take in case of emergency.  I am thinking warm clothes and food, water, matches, and some kind of first aid kit.  I am now not planning any leg longer than about 150nm, maybe shorter coming back against the weather.  Headwinds really slow these poky birds down!  I plan on having maps with course drawn on them as backup for the GPS (my Samsung tablet).

And I think I have a viable solution to the problem you so eloquently addressed.  Could launch a new thread, if I can keep the language such that I don't inadvertently get myself kicked off the site!

You might like your airplane better and have less trim issues if you run the CG back to around 16" or so.  I highly doubt that language can get ya kicked off this site.  I asked for a friend and he said that bad language was OK for the most part :lmao:  Just don't need ya posting pictures of the proper use of your device unless you have a pretty lady doing the modeling for ya! 

 

As far as rudder trim goes, this is a pretty easy solution that could be done with minimal time and low material cost if one decided to fab it themselves.


https://www.stevesaircraft.com/ruddertrimstc.php

 

:BC:

 

Edited by akflyer

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Posted

Turbo,

1. For Beef relief-get a diaper and put it in a ziplock bag. When needed, open bag and piss in diaper. Zip bag. One time use only. Pack for the trip. This was told to me by a Glasair III pilot who liked to utilize the 1000+ mile range of the machine. He’s 78. If you’ve never been in a GIII, It’s like setting in a corvette and you have a stick between your legs. His plane is a Grand Champion and doesn’t smell like piss, so it must work!

2. Easiest rudder trim. Go to the aviation/weather stripping aisle of your favorite hardware store. Buy some p strip wx stripping. If it’s the double p, tear the other half off. Starting with 6” sections apply to the trailing edge of the opposite of the rudder in the center up/down.  Keep adding til you can cruise flat footed. I think mine took 10 ish inches worth.

3. Right on with the magnesium, NOBODY gets enough out of our food. 

Good luck!

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Maybe a blanket or small sleeping bag? I have a few of these lanterns. They are pretty small when they fold up. https://www.ucogear.com/candle-lanterns/original-candle-lantern-kit-l--an--kit?returnurl=%2fcandle-lanterns%2f

I used to work at a Beech FBO. The KingAirs had a venturi thing on the bottom of the plane that would create a vacuum and disperse the liquid. Like cabin pressure wasn't enough... Anyway it had a tube for the pilot and copilot. Not sure how well it would work with a stick though.

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Actually, I am very close to test-flying a very simple relief tube system that uses a men's external condom-style catheter, connected to some small tygon tube that runs about 1/2 way down the inside of my pantleg before emerging.  This quick-connects to another tube anchored to the seat truss, that runs about 2/3 the way down the inner landing gear strut trailing edge.  A little extra tubing makes sure the system remains intact even in a hard landing as the LG flexes.  Preliminary testing indicates that this is quite secure; when the moment comes you can just let go.  It feels like you're peeing your pants, but you stay dry!  Oh yeah - you have to designate one junky pair of pants for flying, as you have to make a small opening where the tube emerges to outside your pant leg, so you can plug it in to the airplane.  The catheters are painless, come in sizes ranging from PeeWee to Magnum, so you have to first establish the correct size.  The catheters are made of thin silicone rubber, and have a weak adhesive on the inside, which keeps it on, and assures a good seal.  The distal end of the catheter fits snugly over 1/4" tubing, making for a secure seal.  They can be worn for up to 24 hours, and cost about $2.00 each.  There is, however, the potential for ending up with a bit of a sticky dicky!  They say the adhesive comes off with warm, soapy water.  Getting out of the airplane, say for getting gas, etc must be done carefully, as you have peed uphill, so disconnecting has risk.  In my system, I keep nearby a small stopper for use on the tube running down my pantleg, which I will carefully install before getting out!  I can include some pix of the system if there's interest.

Coffee flavored salty virga! Yeah!

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Posted (edited)

I like the rudder trim idea, but I don't have any scissors that big!  Springs and maybe a turnbuckle would seem to do.  My old Tri-Pacer had a primitive aileron-rudder interconnect.  Neat idea, but difficult to do on the Avid, I reckon.  Maybe stiffer rudder springs would reduce the tendency to wallow about in turbulence, by effectively making the fin seem bigger.

Oh, on the CG issue:  I installed a luggage compartment in my C, which I intend to use.  This will certainly help move the CG aft.

 

Edited by Turbo
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A friend of mine has Lyme's disease. Another of my FaceBook friends has it also. She gave me this link about mineral balance (for lack of better words) and I thought it may be helpful, although you seem very knowledgeable on this subject.

https://therootcauseprotocol.com/

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A friend of mine has Lyme's disease. Another of my FaceBook friends has it also. She gave me this link about mineral balance (for lack of better words) and I thought it may be helpful, although you seem very knowledgeable on this subject.

https://therootcauseprotocol.com/  

Sorting things out is difficult, especially with very little background in biological science.  There are simple and cheap solutions to non-life-threatening things like leg cramping, so I typically spend some time online going to multiple sites and look for agreement.  Sometimes I will sit through a 30-minute speil with the predictible $50 / bottle ending, just to see what the critical ingredient is.  To justify the price they usually include a set of exotic-sounding but essentially useless all-natural ingredients.  It's an interesting game.  Still, for sigificant health issues, I am wary of oversimplification, and put my trust in mainstream medical science.

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