In June, I flew my plane 38.4 hours, of which 37.3 were all cross-country. I was in IMC for 15.9 of those hours and shot two localizer, two ILS, and two GPS approaches — and all six were to within 100 feet of minimums. My personal airline had a 100% dispatch reliability and on time record for those trips, but I did all the work. Well, maybe not all the work. I had George to help me.
Like many other pilots in my age group, I acquired my initial interest in flying by watching the CBS television series, “Sky King,” which aired from the mid-’50s through the early ’60s. I had the good fortune to meet the star of the show, Kirby Grant, in 1975 and we immediately formed a close friendship that lasted until his untimely death in 1985.
My Cardinal RG recently returned to service after a pretty extensive annual inspection. The 12 months leading up to that annual were good because not one trip was canceled due to maintenance problems and only one trip was delayed.
I joined the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) in 1973. I had just received my flight instructor’s certificate and the solicitation came in the mail. What caught my interest was that, with my paid new membership, I would receive a small “transistor VHF receiver radio.” I already knew of AOPA but hadn’t got around to joining. Now, not only would I finally make the move, but I’d get a great little radio with which I could listen to my students when they were in the pattern of our controlled field while on supervised solos. For years I used that radio to monitor students while standing alongside the taxiway at Morristown, N.J. In similar fashion, for the past 19 years AOPA has been returning to me far more than the dues I’ve paid.
From mid-November of last year until mid-February of this year, I was at “non-flying” status while recovering from surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear. I used the time as effectively as I could. I put my Cardinal RG in for an extensive annual inspection, leaving my mechanic with a long list of items to check and attack now, while they weren’t problems. With the airframe having just turned 3,000 hours, I wanted to have a “hit list” of favorite items looked at in greater detail. Now that the plane is fully refurbished, I feel it’s time to start going back through it again during regularly scheduled maintenance to double check additional items which, although not a problem now, are known to give problems.
What better way to end another great year of traveling in my Cardinal RG than a December business trip to Canada? (Yeah, I know, a better way might have been a trip to the Bahamas.) Wheels up from my Rowan County, N.C., airport (RUQ) base at 1 p.m., with an OAT of 55°, and 3.5 flying hours later (and a 35° temperature drop) I’m landing after a back-course localizer approach in snow at the Waterloo Airport in Kitchener, Ontario.