Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Good Pre-Flighting Is Important

I headed out bright and early this morning to the Chino airport for some aviation geekery. The Planes of Fame museum was having their monthly talk, this time on the I-400 class Japanese submarines which were designed to ferry specially-designed aircraft to the Panama Canal for a sneak attack late in the war. The talk was interesting, but had surprisingly little aviation content. Oh, well.

After the talk, I headed over to my favorite FBO to take out a plane for the afternoon. It'd been a month since my last flight, and I needed to get the rust out.

When I got to the plane and did my pre-flight, I noticed that the front tire looked a little low. There were distinctive bulges on the side. Naturally, I asked after it at the FBO -- it'd be nice for the rental aircraft to be in working condition.

It turned out that the FBO's little portable air tank was empty, 'cause it leaked, and I needed to check the pressure on the tire before they'd fill it up. Easier said than done -- the plane has little wheel pants that streamline the gear, but make it nearly impossible to get to the valve on the tire. After much rolling back and forth of the aircraft, I discovered that the tire, which was supposed to be at 24 pounds, was at 7 pounds.

Naturally, the adventure wasn't over. It'd take the FBO 20 minutes to refill their air tank, or I could just pull in my car and use my cigarette lighter air pump to fill the tire. Naturally, I grabbed my car. After 30 minutes of rolling the plane back and forth and cursing, I had it all filled up and was ready to go.

And had a pretty un-eventful hour long practice flight, with a number of inaccurate, but reasonably soft, landings. Hopefully I can get out next week or so and get checked out for Catalina Island. It seems like it'd be a pretty cool destination, since it's such a bother to get to any other way.