One of the first special events was a stop-over made by Dave Ronneberg and his Super Berkut 540! This the fastest Berkut ever built to date, has a pumped up IO-540 under the cowl, a beautiful Aero-Composites 3-blade constant speed prop, Blue Mountain EFIS/One and easily zips through the sky at 270+ MPH and can still drop like a rock when desired!! For a short time, I can bost the highest concentration of flying Berkuts is in right HERE! Hehe! You may be wondering what the logo is on Dave's winglets...it's the Air Force's UAV Battle Lab's patch logo. I can only guess what Dave might be cooking up with the military these days...but whatever it might be, it's gonna be kewl for sure! It's 2005 now, and so far it has been a terrible winter - much warmer and wetter than normal. That made for very crappy flying conditions on the weekends and really kept me on the ground. In fact, from the visit above, it was 4 months before Dave was able to go get his plane back from Florida. But, on the way back, he stopped stopped in again and this time had some time to talk with the gang before it was time to head back a few days later.
It's 2005 now, and so far it has been a terrible winter - much warmer and wetter than normal. That made for very crappy flying conditions on the weekends and really kept me on the ground. In fact, from the visit above, it was 4 months before Dave was able to go get his plane back from Florida. But, on the way back, he stopped stopped in again and this time had some time to talk with the gang before it was time to head back a few days later.
9-23-05: Two Category 5 hurricanes in a 3 week period. Yikes! So, in good 'ol Texas fashion, I offered the extra space in the hangar to any canard from the Gulf Coast area that needed a place to "hunker-down". The space was quickly filled with a retreating Long-EZ built and flown by Frank Caldeiro. Anyone was welcome, but this guest was just a bit special. Not only is Frank a long time and well respected canard builder/driver with a beautiful Long-EZ - he's also a NASA Astronaut!! Kewl, huh! Scott and I enjoyed hearing all his stories and antic dotes during his stay. I even found a little "jet jockey humor" on his plane. ;-) Frank, thanks for the stories - I'm glad we could help you out and keep that bird safe!
Summer of 2006: Yippie! I was the lucky winner of a blind auction and was able to purchase a hangar at the home airport. No more "rent" for me...unless it's incoming, that is. The second best part is that the hangar is over in the "mostly EAA folk" occupied area and we are kinda like a big aviation family. We help and support each other, watch over everyone's stuff to keep the place secure, and go on lunch fly-outs about every nice weather weekend - everyone knows and associates with everyone else. The 24hr surveillance, and security systems are always a plus too. It's absolutely great!
What was not so great was the amount of work the hangar needed before I could move in! The previous owner had died and his estate had sponsored the auction for the hangar...and "contents". Those "contents" ranged from a few usable cabinets and a workbench to lots of scrap materials and junk furniture! It took three full days and a couple of trailer loads to the dump to get the thing cleaned out, but the hangar itself was in great shape. There was not much done to the hanger from the time it was built but came with a nice white epoxy floor and an insulated roof. Oh, and not to forget the standard issue one outlet and one light. However Spartan, it did have full 100-amp electrical service with lots of room for expansion and was stubbed out for water and sewer service for a future restroom. I immediately hooked up a short hose to fill mop buckets with - later, I hooked up a utility sink and that has been a really nice thing to have around until the restroom is completed. I also put in a back porch - it's a nice place to sit, drink a beer, and watch airplanes take off and land as it faces the runway! It's other function is to hold the back door open with a little latch I designed. It will also open all the way, but in this position the door acts as a air scoop helping cool the hangar down.
So after the place was cleaned up, it was time to add all the essential systems! My buddy Tim Cook came up and over the course of a week we completed much of the work. We added lots of conduit and several circuits of electrical outlets all around the walls, installed several florescent lights and four industrial ceiling fans to keep things cool. I also had a local company install insulation around the walls to help keep the hangar from becoming an oven in the summer and a freezer in the winter. We also built a storage loft in the back corner. We built it larger than the original, as you can never have enough storage space! It also has an unusual design as it seems to be missing one leg - closer inspection shows it to be suspended from a large beam. That way, the corner post will not be in the way of the aircraft's engine bay that is parked in the rear section for maintenance. Once it cools off around here, I'll install the restroom under the loft.
Once all that was complete, it was time to move in! We brought over the desk and beer fridge, some of the good storage shelves, tools and supplies and took the opportunity to get rid of alot of crap in the process. The Berkut even gets "show pads" to keep tire marks off the floor. Kewl, huh! One new addition to the Eagle's Nest is the Race 13 Ground Crew Vehicle. Hehe! I pickup an old golf cart for a bargain price, cleaned it up, installed a new ignition switch, gave it new batteries and presto...it worked! I jazzed it up a little bit with chrome mags, seat covers that match the Berkut's interior, a sporty steering wheel, and even the Race 13 "pirate wings" logo. It even sports our race number on the side and Sandy is not left out of the action either! So, we're tickled pink with the new "Nest". I think Sandy has some decorating plans for the near future...that should be interesting. Stay tuned...
UPDATE 4-28-08: Just got around to doing some decorating as you can see at the top of this page - a new welcome/warning sign up on the loft. Aye, matie...here, slow Cessnas be the prey!
Winter of 2006: I was reminded that Texas weather can turn on a dime when we went from 80 degrees one afternoon, to 27 degrees that night! Sheesh! Well, it got cold...but the insulated hangar kept the Berkut nice and toasty. However, "toasty" for the Berkut, is still a little cold for the warm blooded folk...so, I broke out the heaters. I have two propane heaters - one for primary heating and a radiant version for localized heating. It was about 35 degrees and windy outside, and I was able to keep it a comfortable 65 degrees inside very easily. For times when I just need a little bit of heat in a single area, I picked up a cute little ruggedized electric heater. It's a neat little unit that even tilts upward to put the heat right where you need it. Kewl, huh.
While I was "upgrading", I went ahead and installed and (temporarily) hooked up the toilet. Yeah, I guess I now have the proverbial "pot to piss in" at the hangar. ;-) I put up a privacy curtain so I don't have to close the big hangar door just to...well...you know. Anyway, it's all hooked up and properly vented...and it's even been properly "broken-in". Boy! That sure beats driving over to the FBO. And, a few days after installing the toilet, I decided it was time to have hot water at the hangar too. So, I un-boxed the 2.5-gallon electric hot water heater and plumbed it into the sink. I also took the opportunity to re-plub the rest of the system using proper copper pipe since I figure it will still be several months before the rest of the bathroom is finished out. Tim and I had already run the electrical feed for the bathroom, so all I had to do there was run some flex line and install a box and plug. I don't intend to leave the heater on all the time as that would waste electricity, so I installed a switch and pilot light to remind me the heater is on. It only takes about 10mins to heat the water in the tank to "steaming hot", so I just flip on the switch when I expect to use the sink. While I was working in this area, I noted that it was a little too dark. So, while I was in the wiring mood, I took an old light fixture I removed from the house, hung it in the loft rafters, hooked up a switch, and installed some 60w florescent bulbs. The light really helps brighten up the whole area...and you can actually see what you are washing off now too. Also, guys...no excusses for missing the bowl.
This is great!! It's still missing the finished walls, a separate bathroom sink, and a door...but what the heck - IT WORKS!!
UPDATE 12-31-06: Well, actually, there was one other thing that was missing...a drain for the sink. Previously, the sink just dumped into a bucket in the cabinet, and every 2-3 gallons or so I would have to dump the water out. It worked, but it was getting rather annoying. There was a 20kt (gusting to 30kt) direct crosswind today, so I decided to install the drain instead of flying. It was actually much easier than I thought it was going to be. I just hooked up the trap, cut some PVC pipe, installed a 90-degree coupler to get around the cabinet, and installed a T-fitting into the main drain/vent line. NO problem! Now the bathroom is really FULLY functional.
UPDATE 9-3-07: At Sandy's request, I finally got around to adding the second privacy curtain so that the bathroom can be fully enclosed. But, since I don't see the need for complete enclosure, I rigged up some chain so that the curtain can be pulled back out of the way. Just un-clasp the S-hook and the curtain falls right into place. Now, it's still hot here in Texas...and when both curtains are closed, you are cut off from the ceiling fans and it get rather stuffy in there. Soooo...I also installed a little fan that blows down on you while you are doing your business. Man, that makes it so much nicer in there! I should have done that a long time ago. The plug can also support a small space heater in the winter. Sandy's happy with it...so, it was a successful project in my book.
6-15-07: I was really wondering if it was possible to fit two canards in my hangar. It worked on paper, but I had never tried it for real. Well, this month, I had the chance to do it. I heard that Scott's hangar was being worked on my the city and not wanting to endanger the EZ, I offered for him to stash it in mine until the work was complete. He took me up on the offer and I was able to verify that things actually fit. It worked out perfectly - there was plenty of room. I was able to scoot the Berkut over so that there was easy access to the light switches. And the phantom post for the storage loft worked out perfectly and proves room to work on the engine bay in the back. So, now I know!
10-14-07: I am truely blessed with an active, friendly and really "family-like" aviation community. Not just EAA based activities, but just good old-fashion get to gethers...usually involving food! We either fly out somewhere to get it, or just open up a hangar and dump piles of food on a table. Either way works for me...and this time it was just 2 hangars down. I love the "boil up some shrimp, throw down news paper, dump the shrimp/potatos/corn mixture into piles, add some bread and a drink, grab a seat and dig in" style myself. Whole families come out and this one was very well attended. Sandy and I certainly had our fill and left with smiles and fully bellies. I even think the dog got a treat or two. I had already been up blazing through the sky in the Berkut that morning testing the new cowl extension but Calvin had not excersized his Cessna 170 in a while, so I hopped in with him and up we went. Wow...a really great day. I had a great lunch with Sandy and my aviation family...and went 250mph AND 25mph in the sky. Yep, truely blessed.
More events and happenings to come!