Some More Pictures from Irma Relief Efforts

These are pictures that were taken by my companions on the Aerobridge effort last week in Florida.

Keys view
Approaching Summerland Key
Sunset view
N2884L at Rectrix North at Sarasota (KSRQ)
View of Miami area
View of Miami area

Connor and me at Grumpy’s in Aiken, SC
Flying in N2884L (probably OCF to LAL)
A load of goods in transport from LAL to X51 in N2884L

Pictures from the Aerobridge Relief Effort in Florida

Some pictures from the Hurricane Irma relief efforts organized by Aerobridge.  Over the last two weeks, Aerobridge has been an important part of the relief effort following Hurricane Irma, delivering supplies to affected people throughout South Florida, and especially to hard-to-reach areas in the Florida Keys.

An article at AOPA shows how a small private airstrip in the Florida Keys was used to supply people in need following the storm.

Please consider supporting Aerobridge, a worthy charity effort organizing pilots and airplanes to deliver supplies and medicines, and provide transport to people in need in the wake of natural disasters.

N2884L and a Cherokee Six at the unloading point on Summerland Key (FD51) during Hurricane Irma relief efforts, September 17, 2017
Aid collection point on Summerland Key, adjacent to Summerland Key Cove airstrip, 9/17/2017
Aid collection/distribution point at Homestead Airport, Homestead Florida (XD51) September 17, 2017
Cessna Caravan N208RB taking on supplies at Homestead, bound for Summerland Key, 9/17/2017
Unloading a Cessna Caravan at Summerland Key, 9/17/2017
N2884L and a Cherokee Six at the aid unloading point at Summerland Key Cove airstrip, Summerland Key, FL
Airplanes at the Summerland Key airstrip unloading point, 9/17/2017
Beech King Air 200 taking on fuel at Homestead FL. Transported volunteers in to Homestead.
Cherokee Six at cargo loading point at Lakeland, FL.
N208RB unloading at Summerland Key, 9/17/2017
N208RB unloading at Summerland Key, 9/17/2017, while relief pilots get some shade under the wing.
Briefing under the wing at Summerland Key, 9/17/2017
N2884L at Summerland Key, 9/17/2017

Flooding in southern Florida

 

Me preflighting N2884L at Homestead prior to flight to Sarasota, 9/16/2017
Cargo loading point at Lakeland, FL 9/17/2017
Aerobridge HQ at Lakeland Florida
A load of supplies delivered to Ocala, FL, for delivery to Homestead.

 

KSRQ-KLAL-X51-FD51-X51-FD51-KIMM-KSRQ

I will write more later but here is a summary:  we started the day in Sarasota at Rectrix Jet Center at the Sarasota Bradenton International airport, where we had landed last night and parked.  From there to the Lakeland Linder airport for a pilot briefing and our first cargo of the day.  Thence to Homewood, and onward to Summerland Key Cove.  Back to Homestead and another round trip to Summerland amd back.  We decided to fly on our way home to Imokalee.  Finally, to Sarasota.  

AIK-OCF-LAL-X51-SRQ

Today was the most I have ever flown in one day–7.4 hours in total, between five airports.  We started off the day in Aiken, South Carolina with a departure around 0700 after an early wake for a cab ride to the airport.

From there we were asked to fly to Ocala, FL (KOCF) to pick up some supplies.  We had room for about 200 lb of cargo, most of which consisted of food and toilet paper.

We carried this load to Lakeland (KLAL), where the heart of the operation is located.  Some volunteers who drove all the way from Minnesota are running things from their impressive RV.

After dropping off our personal bags at Lakeland, which allowed us to add more cargo to our trip, we filed IFR to Homestead (X51) and took to the skies again.

Cargo that is brought into Homestead is unloaded from a large number of small airplanes and then prioritized by need.  Some larger aircraft, including Cessna Caravans, then transport larger loads to the Keys airports.  It is a bit more efficient this way.

Homestead was hit hard–many aircraft were destroyed here one the ground by the hurricane.  The salvage effort is nearly complete.

A nearly brand new Cessna was tossed like a toy.


One of the Pittsburgh group had been asked to take over organizing the Homestead operation.  He agreed, but nearly collapsed from dehydration earlier today.  When we arrived at Homestead, we stuck around with him until his flying partner R (name redacted due to R’s modesty) returned from a mission to pick up donations from Boca Raton.  I helped load one of the Caravans while we waited.  When R returned, we began our departure, intending to return to Lakeland to pick up our personal bags before continuing on to Sarasota, where R is graciously putting us up in his second home in the area.

However, the early evening weather put up a blockade between us and Lakeland and I deemed it safest to fly straight to Sarasota (KRSQ) where we were to meet R.  Halfway to Lakeland, we advised ATC we wished to divert to SRQ, where we ended our flying day.

We grabbed dinner and stopped to buy toiletries that we had left behind in Lakeland and then went to R’s home, where I am writing this.  Good night!

Aiken, South Carolina

I filed the flight plan for the first leg of our trip to Florida to Aiken, SC.  Nothing particularly recommended it to me other that its convenient positioning south of Charlotte and its relatively inexpesive fuel.  My copilot Scott had called ahead to ask about fuel and services and returned with a positive report.

We were a bit late in leaving Beaver so we got here in the late evening.  That’s when the brightest lights in Aiken came out. I found out that Aiken normally is unstaffed afte 5 p.m.   Because we had filed as a Compassion Flight, the staff at Aiken decided to stay to help us out!

Gary, Tessa, and Connor were here to help and they really meant it.  They thanked us for coming to help with the hurricane relief efforts and made me feel like i had better do my best, because they did theirs for us.

When we arrived we weren’t sure what our next action would be so we headed to the flight planning room and had a look at the weather.  Unfortunately there was some uninviting radar between us and Ocala.  We discussed our options and eventually settled on staying at Aiken.  Part of that decision was made based on the costs of staying overnight at our other potential locations.  Aiken was going to be the most cost effective.

The downside was that the hotel was about 20 minutes away from the airport so we would have to hire a cab.  The Aiken staff were prepared and Connor offered to drive us to the hotel in his own car.  When we asked about places to eat, they explained that there really wasn’t much within walking distance of our hotel.  

Connor, who studies accounting here, handled that by suggesting a good local place he likes to go and offering to drive us there.  “Grumpy’s,” a sports bar with an impressive draught list and an outstanding briaket sandwich, was just the place we needed.  We ended up having dinner and chatting with him for a while.  Interestingly enough, Connor had found himself in Aiken because of his love of the sport of polo, which is a big thing here.  Connor is also a pilot and showed us some pictures of his recent trip to Alaska with his uncle and grandfather in an A36 Bonanza.  

Amazingly, and in a stroke of real “small world!” serendipity, Connor had once spent time at the Darlington Polo Club near our own Beaver Falls.  We spent time learning about polo and how one gets involved in the sport.  We also learned (or at least had confirmed to us) that “they do things differently in Darlington.”

After a great dinner, Connor drove us back to the hotel.  We wish him the best of luck in his education and future!  And thanks to Gary and Tessa for their friendly and dedicated services too.  I would certainly recommend Aiken as a waypoint for any air travelers.

Florida Relief

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a local EAA chapter asking for volunteers to help fly relief supplies and personnel into and around Florida in support of the relief efforts following Hurricane Irma.

After responding to the message, I was quickly contacted by a gentleman named Scott Rose, who is in contact with a charitable organization called Aerobridge, which organizes airborne disaster relief transportation.

Fast forward to this morning; we are prepping to depart at 1400 from KBVI to KAIK (Aiken, South Carolina).  From there will judge the weather and proceed to Ocala Florida (KOCF).

Currently there are some storms across our flight path in the northern Florida area, which we will keep a close eye on and will determine whether we proceed to Ocala today.

Right Wing Tank Work

Today I spent a lot of time deburring and dimpling the right wing tank skin, stiffeners, and associated parts. I also found that the DRDT-2 works better for screw hole dimpling than the pneumatic squeezer did, so I ran the left wing tank skin back through the screw hole dimpling process, and the holes now look much crisper.

I also got a very nice surprise when Mom and Tim showed up unannounced for a visit and gave me a great little chest that Tim made for me in his wood shop. I’m going to come up with a good use for it that will not damage it. Tim said I should keep it in the workshop but I want to make sure I don’t get it dirty or scratched or damaged in other ways. It really is a nice piece of craftsmanship!

It is made of wormy chestnut, which is really pretty. I think it is finished only with linseed oil. The aroma is very nice, and I like the natural finish.

He even signed and dedicated it!

Update

Well, I haven’t updated this blog for a very long while, but I have been working, albeit slowly, on completing the wings. My work rate has picked up significantly in the last couple of weeks. We took a couple of trips in the Warrior (to the beach and to Vermont) and it got me back into the spirit of building.

The left fuel tank is nearly complete–needs only priming of some external parts and then final assembly with sealant. Right hand tank is nearly there too. Once I get the the point I need to prime, I will be priming many wing parts prior to final assmebly.

Below is a picture of the inboard left hand fuel tank rear rib. I have added a fitting for a fuel return line. The engine I bought has an Airflow Performance fuel injection system which benefits from a fuel return to the tank for starting. Also, I will do this for both tanks so that if in the future I decide to switch to a fuel injection system that requires a fuel return, I will have it available. I’ll cap off the return that is unused with a cap fitting.

A picture of the right wing tank during a test assembly. Left wing tank is almost ready to assemble and seal up.