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A Saturday Flight
Originally posted on the RV-List.  Reprinted with permission.

From: "Larry Pardue" 
Subject: RV-List: Saturday Flight
--> RV-List message posted by: "Larry Pardue" < n5lp@carlsbad.net >

Jan 2001, Carlsbad, NM - Even in southern New Mexico we have had some winter this year, including snow on Christmas day, for the 2nd time in the last three years. I've been flying, but haven't gotten far from home in the last few weeks.

The forecast today was nice so I decided to bip up to Santa Fe to try to get a ride to the new show at the Georgia O'Keefe Museum. When I got there, I called my buddy who flys King Airs for the state, but couldn't get hold of him so I walked around looking at the airplanes. There were several nice homebuilts tied down, and over at the other FBO there was a turbocharged RV-6 with all kinds of louvers, scoops and intercoolers. Past that was the magnificent "Connie," Columbine, which is looking better than it did the last time I was here. This time the tires were aired up and everything. 

Over by Columbine were several Eastern European airplanes, like a two-seat Mig 15 and like airplanes. While I was walking around, a Fouga (I think) was doing touch-and-goes.

On the way back to my airplane I heard a couple of booms I couldn't figure out. A Corsair starting up? Don't know. When I walked a little further I figured out it was a rock band practicing in a hangar. Way out here in the snow, outside of town, in a metal hangar, rocking out and unbelievably loud.   Now it was lunch time so I went into the airport terminal restaurant. You know these places. They all charge double prices for iffy food. Well I was in for a pleasant surprise. Turns out they had a buffet, which I don't usually like. With a buffet, you pretty much feel obligated to abuse your body, just to get your money's worth. This buffet, though, was a new experience for me. You put everything you want on the plate then put it on the scale at the cash register. You are charged by the pound. All right!  My two salads, buttered toasted roll, and lasagna with a large drink came to four dollars and some change. I like this. I also like the self-service fuel price of $2.19. Pretty good for a mountain, resort town. 

Gave my buddy another call and looked for him at the hangar but no go, so decided to visit somewhere else. I could go up to Los Alamos and try to bother Steve Judd but decided to "help" Brian Denk with his engine problem instead.  On this takeoff from Santa Fe I was once again struck by the very slow initial acceleration at these high altitude airports (5,800 feet) and a fixed pitch prop.  It feels like another boiler needs to be lit or something, but once you get going it isn't so bad. Takeoff roll is still probably under 1,200 feet or so.

When I arrived at Albuquerque, Brian was nowhere to be seen. One of the airport bums said he was there earlier and was having problems getting the piston pin caps out of his old piston, so his engine problems apparently aren't over yet.  A Cirrus was doing takeoffs and landings here at Double Eagle Airport. On the way home, center abruptly canceled flight following, a definite drawback as opposed to VFR flight plans. They said I was too low for radar or radio coverage. This at 11,500, as opposed to 10,500 on a slightly different course on the way up. A good reason to carry oxygen, which I did not have on this trip.  Oh well, since no one cares anyway I'll make a little detour to Ruidoso. I wanted to look at the snow coverage on the ski runs at Ski Apache but a cap cloud there covered everything but the lower slopes. Yes, there is a major ski area, in southern New Mexico, and the mountain there is over 12,000 feet. Very popular with Texans, although it is not quite a Copper Mountain.

All the way home I was having to dodge lenticular clouds, formed by the 25 knot winds aloft.  Pretty nice to just nudge the stick back to zoom a thousand feet, or swoop down to dodge under the clouds.  When I was approaching home, I got that shock, because I am still not used to it, off being 10 minutes out at 38 statute miles out. Wow, flying one of these airplanes is an amazing privilege! 

At home the winds aloft had finally mixed down to the surface, so it was easy to make the 400 foot turnoff on runway 26.  Even with the wind it was real comfortable outdoors, so I did my three mile walk, right at the airport, in shirtsleeves, after hangering the airplane. 

It really is a magic carpet!

Larry Pardue
Carlsbad, NM
RV-6 N441LP Flying


If you enjoyed reading this piece as much as I did, please send Larry a thank you note at n5lp@carlsbad.net.