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My first 140 trip

05-13 OCT 2018

A flight with Anna and N5581M from Sisters, Oregon to Las Vegas, Nevada

Summer was over, wenn I returned to Sisters, Oregon, where N5581M had been waiting for me at Brian's "guest parking", next to his house. It was October 4th. In the morning, ice formed on the Plexiglas windshield. I was with my daughter Anna. The plan was to do some maintenance on the plane, fly it a bit locally and then fly it down to North Las Vegas, Nevada.

October 5th, we sprayed away 6 weeks of dust and dirt

October 6th, installing bigger ("bush wheel") tires. (Airhawk 800-6). We fixed a few things. Charged the battery, which was week, after 6 weeks of parking.

October 7th, after my first tailwheel solo, here my first flight with Anna in N5581M

Same day, a few miles west along the McKenzie Hwy, Dee Wright Observatory, Willamette National Forest. Next day, I practiced 8 additional touch and goes in Sisters. Then we returned the rental car to Bend. Brian drove us back to Sisters. We mailed most of our baggage to Las Vegas. A 140 doesn't have much baggage capacity when flying with 2 people.

October 9th, before sunrise, Anna and I walked from the hotel to Brian's house, where N5581M was parked. It was freezing cold. Brian had prepared an engine pre-heat, so starting was no problem, despite the somehow weak battery, which had plagued us in the last days. Anna does not weight a lot, but still, the 140 was at max take off weight, when we took off. Weather was marginal. We headed south, flying between treetops and low clouds. No time to take pictures, I had to concentrate.

After 1h 40m, we landed at Lake View, Oregon. It was still early, but the clouds were too low to continue over the mountains, so we called it a day and looked for a hotel. Too far to walk, but the nice folks at Lake View airport gave us the keys of a truck. My first exposure to the courtesy car system.

Early next morning, the battery couldn't start the engine. It was cold, so I thought we should try again after a pre-heat

The airport folks wouldn't arrive for another 2 hours, so we waited in the comfortable pilot's lounge

Pre-heating the engine. But it didn't help, the engine didn't start, so we hand-proped it. This is actually a bad idea. Never hand-prop your aircraft, if the reason is a weak battery. Especially, if you don't know, why it is weak.

Soon after take off, the transponder failed. I concluded, that this has something to do with the weak battery.

There was no installed voltmeter in N5581M at that time. And there is no "Generator not charging" light. All there is an Amperemeter. But I never saw its needle leave "0". (I later checked the system and found out that it is connected in such a way, that it doesn't measure the current flow during starter ops, therefore the needle is always CLOSE to "0". But of course, it is not EXACTLY "0".) If you look closely, you see, that it is indicating a slight discharge, while it should indicate during flight a slight charging. But during the flight from Lake View to Silver Springs I didn't look closely. I expected a malfunctioning battery and a malfunctioning ammeter. Someone had told me that batteries installed in aircraft parked in the desert don't last long. Luckily, my 140 doesn't use electric power much. (The sister model 120 was sold without electric system). Transponder, radio or lights were not legally required for my flight, so I continued to Silver Springs. 2h 15m.

Silver Springs airport at that time was owned and operated by a very friendly lady, who helped me to find someone who could charge my battery. We charged it for a few hours, while we had lunch. Then we continued southbound, flying to Tonopah. Weather was much better, than the day before.

We enjoyed the flight

Water is life

In Tonopah, we found a mechanic. Must have been at least 70. Old guys love the 140. They know it. It triggers memories. He looked for an electric problem, but didn't find it. Must be the battery, he agreed. I ordered a new Concorde battery from Aircraft Spruce. Only 359$. Will be delivered to North Las Vegas. We decided to charge the battery over night.

Parked in Tonopah

Not much to do in Tonopah, so we left early next morning. I love flying over the desert, you see so many strange things. Here, Solar farms.

After 2h 15m flight time, still early on October 11th, we arrived in North Las Vegas. Parked N5581M at the shade I rented from Jeff.

Meanwhile, I like Las Vegas. It has so much to offer

It is all fake, of course. But nice. After some shopping for Anna, we flew back to Frankfurt.

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