Finally, back in the air!

Forgive me, it has been 3 weeks since I have been flying! My last post ended with a gear hydraulic pump problem and this has been the primary reason. In fact, there were two problems with the gear. The hydraulic actuator for the main gear had an ancient O-ring which essentially disintegrated when my A&P removed it from the actuator. Obviously a problem! However, even after reassembling the hydraulic actuator the gear pump continued to run rapidly indicating an internal leak and had to be sent off to be rebuilt.

Unfortunately this meant that Abby and I couldn’t fly up to Burlington, VT last weekend for our anniversary. We drove instead. Turning a 1 hour flight into a three and and half hour drive is a nice reminder of the utility of flying. But my disappointment turned out to be somewhat moot as the weather (while beautiful in Burlington) was IFR or marginal at home all weekend. More motivation to work on my instrument rating!

Finally I got the call I was waiting for and the pump was back in, the gear swing checked out on the jacks, and everything looked good. I went up to the airport on Saturday morning and chatted for a bit before taking the Cardinal for a test flight. I planned to do three trips around the pattern and if everything looked good I’d stop back at the shop and settle the bill.

Well, after a month of not flying I have to say the plane was flying better than I was! Nothing too bad but the greaser landings I was getting used to were nowhere to be found. All three landings were fine but I was just a hair behind the plane and the approaches were on speed but required more fiddling with power than I like. Each one was a bit better than the last. The only blip to the alternator needle was the typical tiny pulse as the rotating beacon goes on and off.

I taxied back and paid the bill, then headed off to Fitchburg (FIT). Adding to my anxiety about getting the plane back is the fact that Nashua airport will be closing a week from Monday for three weeks due to construction. For many months now they have been constructing a new long, wider runway next to the old runway. The goal is to have a new longer runway which has greater taxiway separation required by standards for larger jets. The existing parallel taxiway Alpha will remain in the same location and the old runway will be removed. Right now the new runway is essentially done but unmarked and has no taxiway connections. In the next three weeks both runways will be closed as the old runway is demolished to extend taxiways to the new runway before it opens on September 3rd.

Fitchburg airport has been kind enough to offer free tie down space for the month to “refugees” from Nashua (along with Manchester airport). I’ll buy fuel from them and otherwise support the airport so this is a mutually beneficial deal. Fitchburg is about the same distance from home for me so this arrangement is great. But I needed to stop by the airport and sign some paperwork and make arrangements so Saturday was perfect.

The gear pump didn’t run at all (except when I wanted it too :) on the way over to Fitchburg. The pattern was busy with several planes approaching the airport so I kept my head on a swivel. Most of the traffic was following in behind me and a helicopter just west of the airport had me in sight (and I had them in sight) so I made my pattern. The landing was fine but still not a “greaser”. Fitchburg’s runway and taxiway surfaces are not as smooth as even the old runway at Nashua so that adds to the roughness.

I taxied up to a spot in front of the building which contains the airport operations office and a small restaurant. I chatted for a bit with the person at the desk there, signed my paperwork, and arranged to bring the Cardinal into its temporary home on Wednesday evening. I also got a temporary card to let me in the gate at Fitchburg. Now I just need to figure out the logistics for getting my to Nashua airport and my wife to Fitchburg to pick me up Wednesday evening!

Since it was noon time I checked out the restaurant and got a tasty bacon cheeseburger with swiss cheese and grilled onions. Friendly folks and a typical airport restaurant with several groups of pilots flying in. I’m sure they will get some additional business from other pilots displaced from Nashua for the month.

My flight back to Nashua was quick and bumpy with cumulus towers building. No gear issues. Still not a super smooth landing but this time with the winds reported as 6 knots gusting to 12 I can at least attempt blame the wind! I suspect it will not take long before I am back to making those greasers.

One thought on “Finally, back in the air!

  1. Aaron

    Hey, I love your Cardinal flying blog. I am a week away from going to pick up my recent purchase of a Cardinal (fixed gear) N177SM. Just waiting for the bank to release the loan funds and its mine. You might enjoy my website since you are a (Northern) east coast flyer

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