My Life Flying

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Hang Gliding

I used to hang glide in my younger days. No - I didn't stop because I got older and developed more sense. I stopped because I just wasn't able to find the time to fly proficiently in New England and officiate at my kids numerous swim meets. Here are some of my favorite pictures because they bring back some very fond memories.

Launching This is my first soaring flight on August 6, 1978. The launch is in Skinner State Park in Hadley, Massachusetts. It's a 750' vertical and it was our most popular site until people discovered they could fly hang gliders away from a ridge. The glider is an UP Firefly I.
soaring You can't understand what a joy it is to soar unless you have done it. This is me soaring on that same day. What made it really sweet was that I was the last one to launch that day (have you ever carried 70 pounds of glider up a mountain) and everyone else got a sled ride. I only lasted about 20 minutes because I didn't know enough to fly in the lift band all the time.
Greylock Top Here is a bunch of my flying friends on the top of Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts on June 6, 1979. It's just before we flew.
Greylock Bottom This is a bunch of us "hang divers" in the landing field at Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts November 10, 1978. It's just after we flew. There were two notable things about that day. First, we were all bummed out because Jim (not me) had soared and landed back on top. Everyone else had a sled ride. Second, we asked some pretty, young person to take the picture for us. Unfortunately, it was near dusk and there was a 70-270 mm zoom lens on the camera. It was hard for her to hold it steady. Anyway, the blurriness has always reminded me of the state of our bodies that day.
After blown launch
Here I am shortly after blowing my launch at Skinner State Park on April 11, 1979. I took my glider home in a box that day. This is a true candid picture.
Olympus glider This is me flying my Olympus 180 sometime in 1980. It was the sweetest flying glider I ever owned and I could soar the hot rocks at Skinner while everyone else sunk out. It only had one bad habit. One time I was 1500 to 2000 feet over the mountain top hotel at Skinner and noticed that I was moving backwards towards South Hadley. I pulled the bar in and guess what? I was still moving backwards but now I was going down too! After that I bought an UP Comet.
Hidden Valley In January 1981 I tore up my leg really bad. My deltoid ligament was completely torn and my fibula was snapped in half. I had a bolt in my ankle and had a cast up to my butt for twelve weeks. This picture shows my first flight, since the accident, in March of 1982. It was at Hidden Valley California and it sure was great to fly again. Below are fields of oranges, lemons, and marijuana. (You can view the entire valley (9 MB).) Incidentally, I broke my leg roller-skating with my kids.
USHGA Card These are two of my United States Hang Gliding ratings. They are special to me because of who signed them.

If you are interested in Hang Gliding, check out United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association.


I took my last hang glider flight on November 7, 1987. I didn't know at the time that it would be my last. In 1994 my two daughters graduated from college and finished their competitive swimming career. In December 1994, I received my Flightstar Spyder ultralight sportplane kit. It and I were flying on Memorial Day, 1995. I put over 300 hours of air time in it. During my 11 years of hang gliding I managed to rack up less than 100 hours. That's one reason I don't think I'll go back even though I miss the challenge and sense of accomplishment I got from flying a glider.

I flew my ultralight out of the Pilgrim airport (now closed) and then Orange Municipal Airport.

ThisKiss at Pilgrim This image show Flightstar Sportplane's chief pilot checking my aircraft out prior to its first flight. (In the background is his plane that he flew to Pilgrim in.) I flew my ultralight out of the Pilgrim airport (now closed) for two years. When Pilgrim closed, I moved to Orange Municipal Airport.
Flightstar Spyder
256 kB
This is the hangar I first used at the Orange Municipal Airport. It was is old and large. It rained rust inside. I was only there a winter when I bought my own hangar at Orange.
New Hangar My new hangar was ten years old and in excellant shape. The owner didn't want to sell it to me because I wasn't a "real" pilot. But, money talks.
Instrument View
440 kB
This is how my instruments saw me. (ASI to Tach: "See, he doesn't pay any attention to us.")
KORE The Orange Municipal Airport is a nice place for flying. It's very large but because it's in the middle of nowhere, only sport pilots fly there. (There is also a large contingent of people who feel it is important to jump out of perfectly good planes.) We have an EAA chapter, lots of homebuilts, bi-planes, and lots of pilots who just fly for fun. Both runways are 5000 feet long. I've climbed to 600 feet by the time I cross the threshold. No need to worry about engine-outs in an ultralight on takeoff here.
Pioneer Valley My friend took this picture of me flying in the Connecticut River Valley. We call it the "Happy Valley". No one ever wants to leave once they have lived here for awhile.

In the ten years I flew my ultralight, I got about 350 hours. It would have been more but after only five years I bought a "real" airplane. In those ten years I had four engine-outs. The nice thing about ultralights, unlike "real" aircraft, is that they can land on a postage stamp.

One engine-out occurred during a competition because I didn't let the oil mix properly before taking off. The engine seized but I was able to land back on the runway. Two months later, I had a repaired cylinder and a new piston. A friend did the repair.

Another one occurred when the fuel line started to leak. Fuel didn't start coming out. Rather, the fuel pump started pumping air. I managed to make it back to Orange. A new fuel line fixed the problem.

The third time, a fleck of carbon shorted out one plug while I was over Leverett. I managed to limp back on the other cylinder.

The most thrilling time occurred over a farm in Haldley. It was like someone threw a switch; the engine was running fine and then, suddenly, it didn't have enough power to keep me up. I landed on a farm road in a farmer's field. While I was trouble shooting the problem (fuel, air, spark), the farmer showed up. Uh-oh! I quickly determined that the problem was air and the farmer drove me to his barn where he gave me a coffee can with some gas in it and I was able to clean out my air filter. In no time I was back in the air and on my way home to Orange. I will always be grateful to that farmer.

If you are interested in learning more about ultralight aircraft, check out the United States Ultralight Association.

General Aviation - N2408B

There is one major draw back to ultralights; you can't share your love of flying with family and friends as an ultralight has only one seat. For that reason I obtained my private pilots license in June of 1999. Larger planes are definitely more work but even a Cessna 150 allows me to take a daughter for a ride.

ThisKiss at Pilgrim In June 2000 I bought an old Piper Tomahawk. It's nickname at the flight school that it was leased to was "zero eight broken". It's fun to fly -- very like an ultralight in that any turbulence pushes it around. I tell people that it doesn't fly, it swims; the tail swishes back and forth when the air is not calm. I spent a lot of time fixing it up and I had it repainted in my favorite flying colors. This is how it looked after repainting.
ThisKiss at Pilgrim N2408B is a great plane and very economical. A "great time builder" as my CFI said when I bought it. I flew it for about 350 hours and I agree. I had a great trip in it to the EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh in 2005. I bought a Beech C23 Sundowner (N9183S) and the Tomahawk was sold a year later. I miss the low GPH but I am now be able to take my family on trips. This is N2408B being flown to its new owner in Arkansas.

General Aviation - N9183S

I am currently flying a Beechcraft Sundowner (N9183S). I bought N9183S on December 7, 2005 and took my first flight and checkout ride on Decmeber 18. (I had to wait for my check to clear, the weather to clear, and my CFI to get back from California.) I was so anxious I forgot all about the camera I had brought along to memorialize the occasion.

The second flight with my CFI went great and I soloed the same day. N9183S is more responsive on all three axes than a Tomahawk and is a real pleasure to fly. No tail wagging.

In my hangar N9183S fits nicely in my hangar. Of course that was after I sold my Flightstar Spyder ultralight. (I was sorry to have to sell it but I only put three hours on it that year so it was time.) I found another spot in another hangar for N2408B until I found a buyer for it.
N9183S Right front 'This picture was taken on the day of my second flight and shows the Powertow tow I needed to buy in order to put N9183S back in my hangar by myself. My previous plane (N2408B) was at the limit of my ability to push up the ramp into my hangar. As N9183S weights over 400 lbs. more, more help was needed.
N9183S Front See the big smile.

Oshkosh 2017

In 2007 I flew N9183S by myself back to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was not nearly as adventurous as my first solo trip there. Here are some of the few images I took on that trip.
N9183S Right front N9183S Front
N9183S Right front N9183S Front

The highlight of the trip was being over Niagara Falls at 4500' msl. It was such a clear day I could see Buffalo to my left and Toronto to my right. Later in the flight I was at 8500' msl over Lake Michigan. To my left was Chicago and to my right was Green Bay. A truly spectacular day! Unfortunately, I was too busy to stick my pocket camera out of the air vent - so no photos.

If you are interested in Beech Sundowners or other light Beech aircraft check out the Beech Aero Club.

Sundowner Specifications & Performance

Engine make/model: Lycoming O-360-A4K
Horsepower@rpm@altitude: 180@2700@SL
Horsepower for takeoff: 180
TBO hours: 2000
Fuel type: 100/100LL
Propeller type/diameter (in.): Sensenich / 76
Landing gear type: Tri/Fixed
Max ramp weight (lbs.): 2450
Gross weight - normal category (lbs.): 2450
Gross weight - utility category (lbs.): 2030
Landing weight (lbs.): 2450
Empty weight (lbs.): 1603
Useful load - std. (lbs.): 847
Payload - full std. fuel (lbs.): 535
Usable fuel - std. (gals.): 52
Oil capacity (qts.): 8
Wingspan: 32 ft. 9 in.
Overall length: 25 ft. 9 in.
Height: 8 ft. 2 in.
Wing area (sq. ft.): 146
Wing loading (lbs./sq. ft.): 16.7
Power loading (lbs./hp): 14.1
Wheel base: 6 ft. 4 in.
Wheel track: 11 ft. 10 in.
Wheel size (in.): 6.00 x 6
Seating capacity: 4
Cabin doors: 2
Cabin width (in.): 44
Cabin height (in.): 49
Baggage capacity (lbs.): 270
Cruise speed (@ 8000 ft.) (knots):
75% power: 118
65% power: 111
55% power: 93
Max range (w/reserve) (nm):
75% power: 459
65% power: 535*
55% power: 600*
Fuel consumption (@ .42 lbs./hp/hr sfc) (gph):
75% power: 9.5
65% power: 8.2
55% power: 6.9
Estimated endurance (65%) (hrs.): 5.0
Stall speed (flaps up) (kts.): 57
Stall speed (flaps down) (kts.): 52
Best rate of climb (SL - fpm): 792
Best rate of climb 8000 ft. (fpm): 405
Service ceiling (ft.) 12,600
Takeoff ground roll (ft.): 1130
Takeoff over 50-ft. obstacle (ft.): 1955
Landing ground roll (ft.): 703
Landing over 50-ft. obstacle (ft.): 1484

People interested in learning to fly should check out the Aircraft Owners' and Pilots' Association.

Other Links to Flying

(Last Changed: December 9, 2016.)