Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Always Something

The weather was promising for a flight this morning from Potomac Airfield (KVKX) back to Bridgeport (KBDR). Cold, but promising. So, having filed my IFR flight plan last evening, I got up fairly early and headed over to the airport.

When I arrived (about 0645 local time) the air temperature was 29F. The field was quiet; I had the place to myself. I drove around the hangar row to N631S's home and dug out the keys. Then I discovered that the key wouldn't go into the lock. The lock, it seemed, was frozen.

The hangar door is secured with a long-hasp Master padlock and during the damp weekend some moisture had gotten into the body of the lock. An awkward situation! I needed a way to apply heat to the lock. (As I'm a non-smoker, I didn't have either matches or a lighter. Where's Dad's Zippo when you need it?)

I walked down to the FBO office to seek inspiration and wandered over to the storage closet where the cleaning supplies are kept. Hmm...vacuum cleaner. Flexible hose. Hose can convey heat but where to get heat? Aha! Car exhaust! So I carried the vacuum cleaner hose back to the hangar, put one end over the outlet of the car's exhaust pipe and started the engine. A few minutes of holding the open end of the hose directly under the frozen lock did the deed. A bit of water dripped out and the key slid into place and turned. N631S was free!

The subsequent flight was uneventful and quick, with a tailwind of about 15 knots. I followed the old rule, "Fly fast in a headwind, slow in a tailwind." At 7,000 feet the wide-open throttle gave me 21 inches of manifold pressure and I pulled the RPM down to 2,150 and leaned the fuel flow to 9.6 GPH. I had about 145 knots ground speed yielding more than 15 nautical miles per gallon (17.3 statute MPG).

At left, a Cathay Boeing 777, just off KJFK Runway 31L and crossing ahead of me and 1,000 feet below. Traffic of that size is easy to spot!

No comments: