The nose gear is always properly placed at the rear of the airplane and the view from the cockpit therefore requires “S” turn in order to see ahead. Taildragger pilots all seem to have longer than usual necks I have noticed; probably the result of craning the see over the combing during those “S” turns.
Plans call for the combing to be placed over the tank and top edge of the instrument panel and riveted in place. It would seem prudent to me to put nut plates in this location rather than rivets since I am virtually positive that sooner or later someone, somewhere, is going to need to get to either the fuel tank or the back of the instrument panel for something.
Before I realized it I was burning holes in the sky in airplanes with two engines, a boat load of instrumentation and retractable landing gear! How, I have wondered, did I ever manage to pull life together enough to manage it?
I recall the tower calling me and advising that I had probably just missed the turn toward the airport in the haze, “We show your airplane 8 miles south of the center line for 26 still headed south; how far behind that are you?” I never even saw the airport go by! It was their snarky way of letting me know that I was really not “all that” just yet.
This then is the great aviation renaissance. And everyone but me seems to be involved. So it is that I find myself reading and learning and believing that somewhere, in the not so distant future I will be able to squeeze just one more project into my charmed life, and into my overcrowded hangar.
Some thirty years ago I wandered my way out to the local strip where I had a hangar full of training aircraft, to get my first glimpse at the “new” Stearman on the field. I found it; it was sitting on the grass right in front of my big silver hangar and even from a distance I could see that there was something odd about it.
They departed from the rag and tube design and tooled the aircraft in all aluminum. This was a radical departure from competing aircraft of the time. With its tail dragger stance, riveted stressed skin, and retractable main gear the Swift became a pilots dream come true, and in May of 1946 the first Globe Swift, GC-1A, was type certificated.
Not content to simply note enemy positions and movements from aloft, the “Mad Major” made some rather startling modifications to his little bird and took the fight to the unsuspecting Germans and their tanks.
Between the dark and the cold it’s about as depressing as it can get. Still I persist. Every year vowing “never again.” It’s much like the old hangover prayer, “Lord, I will never do it again.” But the next year winter arrives and I am still here renewing my vows while I shiver.
Well, there was that stint in the Middle East where I actually wished I could see some nasty cold weather, but that hardly compares to the decades I have spent in the deep freeze waiting for that rat Punxsutawney Phil to decide if winter will end or hang on to add to my misery. What the hell does he know anyway? He’s in Pennsylvania. That’s the “banana belt” in the winter compared to Michigan.