Friday July 21, 2006
What a day. Although I've had some flights on the trip which involved experiences I'd rather never repeat again, today was different. Wheels up at 5:48, on the way to Dayton. The sky was completely overcast, ceiling at about 2,300. A very, very gray, gloomy looking day.
I skirted the inner "core" of Charlie airspace, swinging south. Once on the other side I headed straight for Dayton. I kept telling myself that although it was gray and the clouds looked as if they were going to drop buckets of rain on me any second, that everything would be fine. I had a nice tailwind of 6 mph.
About 40 miles into the flight it was as if I hit a wall. The air temperature dropped about 10 degrees, and my nice tailwind turned into a headwind of about 10 mph. At times it increased to 15 mph. I'd left Indy with full tanks, so I knew I had 5 hours of fuel with an hour reserve, but I really didn't want to spend that long under these miserable looking clouds. The GPS at times told me that the total flight time would well exceed my fuel, but the headwind was so variable that I decided to see where I was at after 5 hours, and then decide.
I was staying at 1,800 msl, about 500 feet below the ceiling. The air was laden with moisture. About 40 miles from Dayton the engine, which had never so much as hiccuped the whole flight, suddenly started to run very rough, coughing and sputtering. My eyes immediately shot to the EGT, and sure enough they were at 1,450 and rising. Carb icing! First I looked and spotted a place to put down if nothing worked. That only took a second. I cycled the throttle a half dozen times to dislocate the ice. The engine started running better, but still wasn't purring. I cycled it another half dozen times and it returned to normal. EGT temp was falling like a rock, and life was good again. I'd dropped about 800 feet while correcting the problem. I cycled the throttle a few more times during the next half hour just to be sure the system was cleaned out.
As I flew closer to Dayton the headwind diminished, and I was up to 25 mph. Oh joy. But it meant I'd make Dayton. I touched down after 5 hours and 11 minutes. Another unofficial PPC endurance record. Upon checking the fuel tank, I still had almost 4 gallons left. Love my HKS.
A TV station came to the airport and did a very nice segment. Then came the decision of whether or not to push on to Cincinnati (ISZ). I'm scheduled for an in-studio interview Sunday morning, and if we were caught in Dayton due to weather, I might miss that. The weather forecast for tomorrow isn't great, with thunderstorms developing tonight, and possibly continuing tomorrow. So... we serviced Voyager and a little after 4, I climbed back into the cockpit for a relatively short (49 minute) flight to Blue Ash airport. And tonight I'm going to sleep like a rock....
Update: Another newspaper article has been put online. You can read it here.