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Mental packing

Although I haven’t actually rolled up my sleeping bag, stuffed the tent, or put a bunch of clean socks into a duffel bag, I am doing a lot of mental packing and organizing for this trip. Number one is the airworthiness and preparation of the airplane, natch. In the interest of safety and having more options to land at towered airports, and heaven forbid, transmit an emergency, I have borrowed a hand held radio. I have yet to see if it will actually be usable from the biplane, but the Kinner was fitted with shielded spark plugs when it was overhauled so we’ll see if it does the trick and hopefully the ignition won’t interfere with radio transmissions. Fingers crossed. In the past, on the rare occasion when we desired to fly into a towered airport, (usually for an airshow) we would make a telephone call to the tower, let them know what time to expect us, what color we were and the direction we’d be arriving from. The tower controllers would instruct us to circle over a landmark and await a signal from their light gun. The first time I witnessed this, I was riding along with my Dad. We were headed to the Tacoma Narrows Airport in the south Puget Sound to watch an airshow with the legendary Bob Hoover performing in his P-51 Mustang. Dad circled over the Tacoma Narrows bridge as instructed, and then bam! A bright green burst of light emanated from the control tower. The signal that meant cleared to land. I have never gotten over my astonishment that on such a bright day the light would be so bright and unmistakeable. Dad rocked the wings of the Prince in acknowledgement and proceeded to make a very screechy landing on the pavement during a strong crosswind. But that’s another story…

At any rate, having a radio will give me more options and safety and I won’t need to make phone calls and look for light gun signals. To go along with the borrowed radio, I am also being loaned two canvas flying helmets with holes over the ears to accommodate headsets. Normally I wear a leather flying helmet with earplugs, but with the radio the headsets will be needed to transmit and receive. They will also serve as noise reduction in lieu of earplugs.

Also on the mental list for the airplane: a grease gun for the engine rockers which must be manually greased every 3 hours or so, Marvel Mystery oil as a fuel additive; it still comes in the art deco black and red bottle, smells like red licorice and all round engine pilots swear by it. I think it’s possibly a placebo to make the pilots feel better but I’m not one to tempt fate! Someone recently asked how much I add to the fuel and I told them that’s it’s very critical to measure the exact amount. Therefore, if I have a full tank I put in glug, glug, glug. A half tank is more of a glug, glug. Very precise indeed. Also on the list, extra quarts of engine oil (although I hope I won’t be adding much), tie down ropes, wheel chocks, the extra control stick for the front cockpit, cockpit covers, rags, window cleaner….etc. Then there’s my stuff: sleeping bag, pad, tent, clothes, chargers for phone, iPad (gotta keep you all blogged to!). The space in the Prince is very limited, so one has to pack very lightly and then load the airplane very skillfully. There is a baggage shelf in the front cockpit. Anyone who rides in the front will be instructed to make sure the sleeping bags stay put. There is also a very small baggage area behind the pilots head. That area was added during the latest restoration and it’s great for loading extra quarts of oil, chocks, my purse….But inevitably, I always wind up flying with my tent next to me laying under one elbow, and my sleeping pad under the other. It’s cozy.

One response »

  1. Are you sure that’s a Prince? Starting to sound more like a Princess all the time!! I’m really glad to hear the priority you placed on having a special convenient spot to store your purse!!!


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