Sunday, May 7, 2023

Wing bling

Decided to bling up the wing a bit and chrome the landing light lens frames. Gregg Cadieux had some spare frames so rather than wait to have mine done he did his for me and sent them over to exchange with mine. They look great. I was a bit concerned the different frames mightn't line up with the screw holes perfectly but they did. Amazing the precision the Beechcraft craftsman achieved 60 years ago.

Here's what the painted frame looks like

Here is the chromed lens frame

For good measure I decided to also see what I could do to improve the old magnesium trim wheel

It was a pain in the butt to get that anchor screw out but once I did the wheel came right off and I replaced the old wheel with the bling version.  

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Just landing


Friday, October 14, 2022

Leather recolor

When I did my interior I decided to punt on redoing the seats.  They were in good condition and comfy, so it seemed like a waste of money to recover them considering how expensive that is these days.  So when I got the interior walls done I tried to pick a color that would fit with my existing seat color which is light beige color. 

When I did the interior I went with a light brown which I thought would be a good neutral compliment to the seats.

But the contrast of this brown vs the beige seats just isn't working for me.  The carpet is dark gray and I feel like the plane should go from dark dark carpet, to lighter seats, to lighter sidewalls, to lighter headliner.  The beige against the brown sidewalls just isn't quite right.  

Needs to be a dark brown or chocolate color to contrast properly with those sidewalls.  Rather than recover the seats I decided to try to recolor them, so I bought a leather recolor kit from

It's turned into a bigger project than I expected but it's entirely manageable.  I'm able to get a professional looking output with a lot of tedious work and a little elbow grease.. 

Basically the process involves scrubbing the old leather with a cloth soaked in leather prep chemical which removes the leather protectant and penetrates into the old dye until it starts to come up.  Then you wipe the down with alcohol cleaner and get all the old chemicals removed and expose the raw leather to soak up the new dye.  Then you wipe with leather dye color of your choice and the seat soaks it up.

It takes numerous coats with time in between each coat to let it dry, and a lot of time to find all the little nooks and cranny's that you miss, but eventually you end up with a seat that is recolored and looks new.  Then you spray a protectant sealer on it and you're good to go, and it's on to the next one.  It's not difficult, but exceedingly tedious.  I've got 2 out of 6 done so far but I think the darker chocolate brown will look much better and vibes with my vintage theme.  At least that's what I'm hoping for...

Monday, September 5, 2022

Rail Bikes on the Noyo (KLLR)

If you live in California you need to put this on your bucket list and doubly so if you're a pilot.  The old logging rail line aka "The Skunk Train" in Fort Bragg CA that has been running since the 1800's had adopted to the times and had turned towards running a scenic rail line between Ft. Bragg and Willets CA.  They were felled by some bad luck when one of the tunnels they relied on collapsed blocking the full path to Willets.  To keep the business alive they converted the open section of track to guided rail bike tours.  Rail bikes are side by side seated metal framed four wheeled pedal powered rail cars that also have a lithium ion battery assist just like modern e-bikes.  You can get as much or as little exercise as you like by peddling and throttling along the track in quiet smoothness through the incredible scenery of the pacific Northern California redwood forrest.  

Driving to the area is painful in my opinion.  Google will tell you that it's a 3.6 hr drive with no traffic.  I can tell you from experience Google is wrong!  It will take at least an hour longer to drive it.  The last 30 miles will take nearly 2 hours and you'll need to stop multiple times or else everyone in your car will be ready to throw up from the twisty and winding road (though beautiful).  

If you're a pilot however, the calculus changes drastically in your favor!  The winding 30 mile section of road becomes a quick hop over the forrest.  With about any GA airplane the 4+ hr journey becomes a beautiful 45 min flight from KCCR.  With temps in the Bay Area blasting through 100deg over Labor Day weekend, we took off and minutes later were landing at Little River (KLLR) with clear skies and temps in the low 70's.  An enterprising woman who flies Beechcraft professionally out of Sacramento saw a need and created a side hustle business doing self service rental cars at LLR.  I called Mary at Air-Galore (707-972-4498) and she left us a key to an old but reliable and clean Nissan Sentra.  

There are so many things to do and explore.  We checked into a beautifully classic North Cliff Hotel with pano views of the ocean.  We explored the marina there and ate some really great local blackened cod sandwiches at Princess Sea Food and listened to live music and drank Boont Amber Ale.  We went to Glass Beach and enjoyed the sunset and my boys scrambling up the rocks. 

But the really awesome part was the rail bikes!  We got going in the morning for a 9:30am tour.  It starts with a hike from the starting point down to the Noyo river about a half mile hike down a steep switch back trail.  From there you cross a rail bridge and then board the bikes and head into the forrest following the rail line along the river.

This is an all day adventure.  We arrived at Camp Noyo around 1pm, which is a campground and swimming hole in the middle of the redwoods.  They provide you with a really good box lunch and there is about an hour to chill and swim if you like, although the water is freezing.  The drought has the river level much lower than normal, but it's still flowing.  The bikes are turned around on the tracks and it's back on the bikes for the return trip.  

Departed and headed down the coast for a beautiful flight home along the coast. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

San Juans + Seattle

I've heard about the flyability of going up to the San Juan islands since I started flying 25+ years ago (I'm getting old).  It's been on my list of places to visit but I've just never gotten around to making it a priority.  This summer we decided to take a visit and I'm sure glad we did.  The scenery is stunning, it's an awesome spot.  We flew up to Friday Harbor KFHR with nary a burp of turbulence.  The marine layer was just starting to burn off so we shot the RNAV approach in and since the wind was only 6 kts tailwind I just landed straight into runway 34.  I was only in the clouds for a few minutes, and maybe 20 minutes later it was clear and a total blue bird clear blue sky everywhere.  

The awesome thing about FHR too is that the runway is walking distance to the harbor.  We parked, got out our bags and just strolled our rolling suitcases the 15 minute walk to our hotel at the Friday Harbor House.  We checked in and went down to Downriggers for crab deviled eggs and blackened Salmon burgers.  Yum.  Then we hopped on a boat at Maya's legacy whale watching and headed out into the Fjords to try to spot some Orcas.  Unfortunately we came up empty handed and never found any whales but it was still stunning scenery and super fun. 

We got back with an appetite and ate great fresh Italian food at Vinny's.  Crashed out and got up in the morning for breakfast overlooking the harbor watching the boats heading out and the sea planes come and go.  We took a walk around the town and the pier.

You could easily spend a lot more time in the San Juans but this was just a quick weekend jaunt, and so we fired up and headed to Seattle to check out the city.  We landed Boeing field except the fog hadn't quite burned off so we flew the ILS 14R approach in there without issue.  The Seattle approach controllers are good and sequenced us in nicely following a PA32.  We went to Modern FBO which was great and they even gave us free tickets to the Boeing Museum of Flight. 

Downtown Seattle was a quick Uber ride. Stunningly beautiful city and the weather was perfect. There were no issues whatsoever with homeless issues I'd been forewarned about, hey I've lived in SF so felt confident ignoring all that.  However it was all much ado about nothing anyways...  of course we saw a few homeless here or there but no worse than any other city and never felt the least bit unsafe even when walking around at night or any other time. The city felt very clean and was hopping, people everywhere, restaurants were great, lively scene. SixSeven at the Edgewater is a great restaurant, the food was phenom and the views. We went sailing in the harbor, did all the touristy stuff like the space needle and the Chihuly museum and Pike St, etc. Boeing museum was a hit with the kiddos too. Easy flight home as well and barely a ripple of turbulence the whole way. Will be back. Always great to use our magic carpet Airplanes to turn a weekend into an epic adventure and explore new parts of the country!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Return of the flyin

There used to be a ton of local fly ins.  There was a good one at KHAF and Salinas.  They had started to drop off years ago due to liability concerns.  First the Airshows started disappearing around here and then fly-ins sort of dried up.  Then with Covid it's been a few years since I've gone to one.  So I decided to go to the "Food Truck Flyin" at South County airport E16 with some friends from the NRI flying club. 

Got there and used the sidewinder to park. Got out the escooter and went to hit the toilet and get some food for my boy but made the mistake of leaving the airstair down. When I got back to the plane there were two kids in the cockpit and the ailerons slamming back and forth as they played pilot with the yoke, with parents inside taking photos and a line of 30 more people who had queued up like Disneyland for their turn. I needed to go for some blood pressure medication but I couldn’t really say no to all the kids lined up with their excited look on the face… so I grinned and bared it for an hour… ughhh… lots of dirty shoes and probably a COV2 infected plane but eventually I had enough and closed her up. Crikey…. still a great turn out and fun see so many plane crazy folks who peppered questions non-stop. We were the hit of the show, seriously. Everyone wanted to know about the TwinBo.

We had a good time, although it took all the self discipline I could muster not to scream GET THE FU-- OUT!!  Haha.  The turnout was pretty remarkable.  By far most of the folks there were not pilots and did not fly in.  I can't blame them for thinking my plane was some kind of organized static exhibit to climb in.  I'll be more careful next time, but alls well the ends well... no damage other than a dirty carpet and a bunch of happy future pilot kids got some good photos.