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Aug 03, 2019, 06:53 PM
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R/C Diary Pt. 45, PT17 Stearman Flight Experience!


Okay, this report is not exactly r/c related but it involves a lovely bi-plane. It just so happens to be a full sized one! : ) Anyone I know that loves r/c planes also enjoys articles involving the full sized models! So bear with me...

About the only advantage that I can think of when growing old is when you hit a milestone. If you are lucky, you might just reap a nice reward! Such was the case for me recently when I hit the ripe old age of 70! Holy smokes! When did that happen? I think like a 40 year old, but when I look in the mirror, I get wrenched quickly back into reality…oh ya….I am getting “long in the tooth!” Bummer!

As a birthday gift, my family all pitched in to purchase a 30 minute flight session in an old Boeing Stearman that flies out of The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in nearby Mount Hope, Ontario.

As you know this is an open cockpit design so it promises to be quite the experience. I have been waiting for warm weather as I figure it might be a tad cooler at altitude.

The date was booked and now all I needed was for the weather to co-operate! I woke up in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and it’s a regular monsoon going on outside!! I check the weather network and it shows a long line of storms going through the area but it should stop raining by 7:10 am. We leave the house at 10 am and head to the museum, about a 15 minute drive. As we approach the airport, the skies are dark and ominous with the cloud deck at 700’! Man, if you want the weather to turn ugly, just try and arrange a flight in an open cockpit plane! We check in at the front desk and they send us to the flight ops area. Here we meet our pilot, Chris Riekel and the ground support staff. It seems we are in a holding pattern waiting for the cloud base to lift. We waited for over an hour and then got the green light! I was outfitted with a helmet with attached com gear. We headed out to the big yellow beast built in1941 and grabbed some pics of me with my family and the pilot. Next it was time to scramble up into the cockpit! With the hand holds cut out on the upper wing, access was fairly straightforward.

After I was all strapped in, I watched the pilot manoeuvring the rudder/brake pedals and the control stick. Oh yeah, the control stick! It looked like someone grabbed a “Louisville Slugger”, sawed off the end and stuck it in the control bracket! It was rather unnerving having this long wooden bat swinging around in a large arc with no one touching it! It came dangerously close to me tenders which were saved only by my larger stomach! Lol!

I listened to the control tower chatter as we taxied out for our preflight run up. Soon we were hurtling down the runway and the off axis winds were giving the pilot all he could handle as it veered from side to side while he made small adjustments. It took much longer to get airborne than I would have thought but eventually, we gradually pulled away from good old “Terra Firma!” We headed south east towards Caledonia, Ontario and levelled off at about 2,500’ ASL. We then headed east following the Grand River out to York, Ontario, where we circled and I grabbed a shot of the bridge. The museum’s Tiger Moth joined us and stayed off to our right at about the 4 o’clock position. The view of the land from this perspective is just amazing, especially when you recognize the area and know the landmarks.

We headed north to the Binbrook area then started back towards the airport. This was supposed to be a 20 minute flight, but I was airborne for 30 minutes not counting the time to taxi out, do the run up and later, the taxi run back to the museum.

We flew over the museum then set up our downwind leg flying East over Hwy 6. We then made two quick turns to line up with runway 30. We had to be quick as there was a Dash 8 Turbo Pro waiting to take off plus a 777 Cargo plane coming in on final approach right behind us! Wow! That was crazy!

Back at the museum, the pilot signed my certificate and my new Stearman “T”-shirt. What an experience! Being in an open cockpit makes all the difference! Having that massive radial engine up front is pretty cool too!

Thanks for reading my blog and sharing this moment with me! Maybe you too will get a chance to fly in a piece of aviation history!

Regards,

Lyle Jeakins,
Hamilton, Ontario
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Aug 04, 2019, 10:15 PM
Grumpa Tom
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Congrat's on the milestone!

When I rode in a Stearman, I expected to be blown to bits before I climbed into the cockpit. I was so surprised that I did not get buffeted by any wind at all, as long as I did not lean outside past the windscreen.
Aug 06, 2019, 01:41 PM
AeroDan
Sound’s like you had a HELL of a B-Day!!! I got a ride in a T-Moth once. It was AWESOME!!!
Aug 06, 2019, 08:35 PM
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Kmot: Yeah....I noticed that too! Inside the cockpit....very calm.....outside at 80 knots.....very windy! The pilot said he had a few passengers trying to take a selfie and lost their iPhones in the wind stream! : )

Cheers!
Lyle
Aug 06, 2019, 08:37 PM
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Thanks for your comment Bell47G2! I agree totally!

Cheers!
Lyle


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