Saturday, February 28, 2009

CWAM Index for February, 2009

Index for February, 2009

02/28 * Volunteer Work
02/26 * It's the Little Things
02/26 * Panel, Panel on the Wall
02/24 * Broken Transmission, Extreme Makeover
02/23 * Visiting Chang
02/23 * Evil Twin
02/21 * Scholarship Group Visits CWAM
02/18 * Mi-24 Panel Updates
02/17 * Mission Objectives
02/16 * MiG-21 (er, Dodge Truckski) Tires
02/15 * Gate Guardian
02/14 * Stay Warm Day
02/14 * L-39 Photo
02/13 * High Flight
02/13 * History of U.S. National Airspace System
02/11 * Have Doughnut, Will Travel
02/11 * Finished Finnish Fouga
02/10 * Have you seen something beautiful today?
02/09 * Twin Comancheski
02/08 * Getting a Fish out of Bed
02/06 * MiG-23 Ground Equipment Heads Home
02/04 * Big Jack Attack
02/03 * Mi-2 Panel Project
02/02 * L-39 bord 25
02/02 * Mi-2 bord 211 Taxi Test
02/01 * Morning Blade Balance

Volunteer Work

All organizations such as ours are dependent on volunteers. We absolutely can't get the job done without them! Here is a big hearty THANK YOU! for all our volunteers.

Our newest volunteer, Isaac is seen sorting the supply of "gummies" (o-rings) that we recently received.

Among our most reliable volunteers, Sean and Rene are shown working on the Mig-21 wing. They are removing leading edge covers for an inspection this weekend.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's the Little Things

I really like the process of restoring aircraft. While flying airplanes is a more straightforward (if not more "normal") activity, restoring them is a blizzard of small details, little unique challenges not unlike working a jigsaw or crossword puzzle.

In converting the Mi-2 caution and warning panel, a couple of things have come up.

First is just figuring out how to convert the panel to English. This is greatly — but not completely — simplified by the English Mi-2 manual. The manual suffers a bit from transliteration artifacts, which occasionally leave one wondering exactly how, "before starting first engine is not completed, don't perform starting the second one."

Second is figuring the sizes of each of the inserts and how to get them back-lit in the right color. Usually this can be done — metric micrometer in hand — by taking the original panel parts, scanning them and editing the image or creating something (as was the case this time) from scratch in Inkscape. Then just send the whole lot off to the engravers. I like sending as much of the original panel as possible to the engravers because it gives them the ability to perfectly match all the drill holes and placements.

Then there were the screws. No problem, right? Well... not a big problem. Normally, aircraft mechanics are very meticulous about putting everything back exactly the way it came off. I was always taught that with aircraft, you don't "not worry about it" if you drop a screw or nut or washer... even with the little stuff, even if it's going to take an hour to fish it out of somewhere that's "not going to matter" — you do it, you recover the lost part lest Murphy magically transport it to somewhere really bad. So the fact that the screws holding down the caution and warning covers seemed to be of random lengths and types was rather odd. One imagines that there's some story behind this... perhaps it was pilots being less-than-meticulous when replacing burned-out light bulbs. Who knows? Another mystery the Mi-2 is keeping to itself.

So I counted 44 M3-0.5 screws of varying lengths. The ones that seemed to be the most "correct" were 12mm. The screws need to be black and since I've learned from experience that simply pushing screws into a piece of cardboard and hosing them down with black spray-paint doesn't exactly, uh, work... I had to find black screws. Fortunately, 12mm seems to be a common size in stainless, black oxide coated, M3-0.5, pan-head, machine screws. Two boxes of 100 was only a couple of clicks on the web.

Some of the screws I removed had tiny lock washers on them. Sigh. Ok, so that's the "right" way to do it. Where to find M3, stainless, black oxide coated, split lock washers? Turns out that ordering 20 thousand of them is pretty easy. And only $30, but quick shipping on six pounds is probably going to cost another $30. Nobody wants to sell just a handful of them. Fortunately, there are some sites where shops can list their excess parts. I found one that would sell me 300 to meet their minimum order of $20 (shipping included). Just the phone number was listed, no web site, not even an email address. I had to call them, and the guy boxed them up as we chatted on the phone. Credit card? Nah, he says he trusts people to send him a check when they get the parts. Who does that anymore?? He says that he talks to a couple of people a week like this with no problems so far. He says that half the reason he lists it like this is because he gets to talk to people working on all sorts of interesting stuff. I guess he likes the little things, too.

Panel, Panel on the Wall

Part of getting the Mi-2s ready for their airworthiness certificate is getting the panels converted to English. We're hoping that Aircraft Engravers can do a quick job of getting the caution and warning items on the panel ready this week for installation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Broken Transmission, Extreme Makeover

Last week we removed the broken transmission from the
"Gate Guardian", Mi-24, Bord 122. In order for it to become a proper display, it needs to be cleaned up...

And the broken blade mount needs to be straightened out.

Just applying tension wasn't sufficient to move the mount back into place. After all, it took the force of about twenty-plus tons of truck and helicopter hitting a bridge at 60mph!

First, we cut the bent blade attach point. Not all the way through... just enough to get it to move.

And then we welded it back at the proper angle.

Eventually it will be mounted back on top and blades will be re-attached.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Visiting Chang

Pilot Miles is shown putting a new tire on his CJ. Miles is an Air Traffic Controller at Fort Hood during the week and a DJ on the weekends. He flies formation with the museum Changs in his "spare" time and bord 69 draws a crowd wherever it goes.

The history and restoration of this aircraft was written up by the previous owner at

Evil Twin

Brad composited this shot of the MiG-23. The guy on the left is Jon. The guy on the right is Jon's evil twin. Maybe it's the other way around?

This shows one wing in full sweep and one in medium sweep. The hydraulic ram which pivots the wings has not been attached yet (as we are still working on connecting all of the fluid lines, etc.) and the wings can easily be moved by hand.

He also took this beautiful shot of the cockpit, which shows how far we have to go before everything is labeled in English.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Scholarship Group Visits CWAM

Megan Hubbard is a student in the Aviation program at Mountain View College in Dallas. She received a $500.00 scholarship today from the Hella Flying Fezzes. After lunch and a presentation in the airport cafe, many of the group, including Professor of Aviation, Richard Parra, visited the Cold War Air Museum. Megan is shown here in the cockpit of our Mig-23. Congratulations, Megan!

Mountain View College is one of seven campuses in the Dallas County Community College system. The Aviation Program is part of the Career and Technical Education Division of the College. Professor Parra teaches many of the professional and advanced courses in the program.

The "Flying Fezzes" are an aviation interest group whose members are all Shriners. The "Shriners" are a fraternal organization known worldwide for creating and supporting the Shriners Hospitals for Children, a system of 22 hospitals worldwide providing care for children up to the age of 18 in a family-centered environment at no charge – regardless of financial need. Hella is the name of the Dallas branch of the Shriners.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mi-24 Panel Updates

The panels and warning lights in the Mi-24 are slowly being replaced with English panels. The initial work went pretty quickly, but some of the panels are very difficult. It took several hours to remove all the "jewelry" from the front of the Fuel Systems panel in order to update it.

We use 20mil Lexan stickers that have been engraved from the back. Once the stickers are in place they stick like Grim Death, so its important to get the placement just right. The resulting panel has an almost identical look and feel.

Here is a circuit breaker panel next to the original for comparison.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mission Objectives

Last week, Phil Davis and I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon hosted by the High Noon Club of Dallas. The guest speaker and program for the day was B. G. Burkett and his book Stolen Valor. When asked to help with fund raising for the Texas Vietnam Memorial, Mr. Burkett found that there was a lot of public misinformation about veterans in our society. Contrary to the image generated by the media, American Veterans as a group are more stable, better educated and more successful than equivalent non-veterans in each socio-economic group. Mr. Burkett's book is well researched and well written. A veteran of Vietnam himself, Mr. Burkett is well recommended as a speaker and writer. More information on his book can be found at the Stolen Valor web site.

Phil "volunteered" to co-present the program this week on the Cold War Air Museum. Phil's official title with the museum is "Volunteer Coordinator". As anyone who has that job can tell you, it compares unfavorably with professional cat herding. A retired IBM'er and Vietnam Era Veteran himself, Phil is one of our most dedicated volunteers and we are glad to have him.

Mission Briefing Begins: In preparing for our turn at the podium, I was reminded that a good briefing should always begin and end with a statement of objectives. I hope that everyone coming to the Blog visits the CWAM web site. There, hopefully you will find all the information you need about us. If you don't, please email or leave comments so we can respond. But in case you never visit the main site, my objective here and in our presentation is to inform you of Who we are. Where we are. What we are and Why we are making this presentation to you.

Who we are: The Cold War Air Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and maintenance of Cold War era aircraft with a special emphasis on aircraft flown by the former Soviet Union. The Cold War Air Museum, Inc. is a member of the Texas Association of Museums, the American Association of Museums, and the North Texas Association of Aviation Museums

Where we are: The Cold War Air Museum is physically located at the Lancaster Regional Airport in Lancaster Texas, a suburb of Dallas/Ft Worth. Aircraft associated with the Museum have participated in local, regional and national fly-ins both in static and in-flight displays. Through its web presence, the Museum has actively displayed its aircraft, exhibits and programs to viewers in all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries.

What we are: When a young man was asked; What is a museum? He answered, "its a place where you go to look at boring old dead peoples stuff". That is the definition of "WHAT WE ARE NOT". The Cold War Air Museum is a collective of Sponsors, Volunteers, Programs, Facilities, Aircraft and Exhibits. Each of those components is necessary for our success. The combination of those components is what makes us successful. Last year we had more than 4,000 visitors, hosted or co-hosted five on-airport events and museum aircraft flew or displayed at eleven other events in Texas and other states before crowds totaling in excess of 40,000 people. The museum also works with local schools and charities in fund-raising events and civic, science and technical training rolls.

Why we are making this presentation: We are still a relatively small and young museum. As we grow, part of our job is to reach out to the community, not only to let everyone know we are here, but to also increase the number of programs and visitors we have. In order to do this, we are seeking compatible sponsors and volunteers to expand and support the museum. We are also looking to expand the number of working relationships we have with schools, colleges, community organizations and other museums.

Mission Briefing Ends: In conclusion, you should now know who, where, what and why. There will be no test. But seriously, I want to emphasize one more important word and that is, "How". The "How" comes from your help and participation. If you are in our area, please consider volunteering or sponsoring an activity. Come see us on any Saturday or email Phil Davis our Volunteer Coordinator. If you are not in our area, you can still participate by contacting us with any ideas you may have for helping with our activities or improving our organization. Thank you.

Monday, February 16, 2009

MiG-21 (er, Dodge Truckski) Tires

When our MiG-21 was shipped from Bulgaria, the tires and wheels were removed from the gear legs (which are part of the wings) and tucked into the wheel wells. We finally fished them out and man are they heavy! Of course, they have to be... many, many plys to take the abuse of landing at over 150KIAS. The MiG-21UM lands just a tad slower than older models (it is, after all, a trainer) but you still only get about 22 landings to a set of tires, and that's if your luck holds out.

Here Phil is seen commenting on the similarity between a MiG-21 tire and a 1953 Dodge truck tire.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gate Guardian

In Eastern Europe where most of our museum aircraft are from, it is common at each base for a piece of retired equipment to be on display at the gate. We refer to these as "Gate Guardians".

Lancaster Airport has its very own Gate Guardian, Mi-24 bord 122.

Our gate guardian comes courtesy of a shipping company in Houston that loaded the shipment on a standard trailer instead of a low trailer. Since the top of the rotor mast extended above 14 feet, this caused a serious problem when the truck encountered the first bridge on the highway. The damage was impressive (and extensive). The rotor head, transmission, and airframe were destroyed. The salvage was donated to our sister museum on the airport, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

In the picture above, the tilt of the rotor head is apparent, a broken transmission mount is visible and if you look closely, buckling of the airframe aft of the pilots station can be seen. But, as with other things, we will try do our best with what we have available. In this case, the joint goal of the museums is to restore this as an outdoor exhibit by erecting the rotor head, installing the blades and repairing the skins so that it will be a visually correct, static display.

With the weather cooperating today, our team, including joint members of the CAF, went down to the other end of the field to put in some work on their exhibit.

The guys start with a talk about how they are going to clear the damaged area for repairs..

Bud, looks at the problem from the top down;

Brad, looks at how he is going to implement the plan,

and Todd is ready, lets go.

Bruce and Brad rig the transmission for removal. The chain lift on the rotor head was necessary because damage to the mast (not visible in these pictures) prevented removal of the head and attachment of a lifting hub.

Bruce checks to make sure everything is clear.

Near the end of the day, we're finally rigged and ready to go.

Everyone is happy to get this portion of the job completed. The inside of the transmission is visible through the front of the broken casting.

For more pictures and stories about this project,
click the "Bord 122" label below.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stay Warm Day

Ever since a wee lass, I was encouraged to keep a diary. I still do till this day. There is plenty to write about as my experience shaped me. And weather. I am moderately good at figuring out a place's weather, but I've been thinking about how to get better. A pilot friend gave me the password to his secret aviation weather subscription service, and it was all these maps and plots and radar reads and isobars and the like, and it was pretty cool when I was trying to figure out whether all of the 19% chance of precipitation building in our area were going to hit us or pass through without getting the tarmac wet. If you read this blog, you would have liked the website, because you like technical stuff. Every time when I need to predict the wind direction and strength, I'll check three or four internet sites. They're all wrong, but they give me a general picture of what's going on in the region, which helps me guess better. I read the NOAA weather, which has been wrong 50% of the summer last year so far. (I should probably just stop reading it, although the thunderstorm warnings are important.) And I go outside and look at the clouds. I was thinking today about how to describe or name what I know about weather, and I realized how inarticulate my understanding really is. Almost everything else I'm competent at is something I can name, unpack, describe, teach. I can't even tell you about the sky this afternoon, how it thickened and got yellow-grey, not hazy but just denser, before the thunderclouds had even started to tower. There aren't words for this stuff, but I'm studying it just the same.

Indoors. It was a leisure day at the museum, no rush or damages. I was bouncing from one project to another. We talked about designing a new patch for the Mi-2s. How most of the patch designs out there were 'cartoonish', I think making light of a tensed-task at hand? We talked about 3-D modelings for the museum logo and auto-cad, something I know very little about and really need to study more on. Lengthier discussion on embroidered logo, aircraft stats and blue-print on polo and t-shirts. These projects are still in their infant stage, therefore I am enlisting help, and ideas, designs and artworks are welcome.

Today is Happy Stay Warm Awareness Day everyone. Won't you join me in expressing your own wonder, delight, and gratitude in the magic that fills your life with comfort and warmth 365 days a year? For my double fun, I get to experiment with an enclosed sand blaster that blasts off paint and rust with a compressor thingy (will learn proper vocabulary later, I expect) on some big screw before the exploration of my own begins. Hope your day is just as full of unexpected opportunity.

[P.S. Special thanks on this day to Renee for helping me with the Mi-24 panel. And Brad for showing me how the sand blaster works. Will think of ways to make the screw look 'Blingy-Blingy' with a cooler head (which your time reading this blog deserves) later.]

L-39 Photo

Brad took this picture of L-39 bord 107 and then fixed it up a bit with PhotoShop. :-) Sweet!

Friday, February 13, 2009

High Flight

The dangers of flying through clouds without ATC clearance can be illustrated by a story from the early days of World War II. Almost every pilot is familiar with the poem “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., but few are familiar with the story behind the poem.

John Magee was one of the young men who wanted to get into action against Hitler before the U.S. entered the war, so he crossed the border into Canada and enlisted in the RCAF. After training, he was sent to a combat assignment in England.

The inspiration for “High Flight” came on a high altitude test flight in a Spitfire. In a letter home to his parents, he described how the poem was begun at 30,000 feet and finished shortly after landing. He jotted the verse on the back of the letter. About three months later, his Spitfire collided with a training airplane inside a cloud over England, and he was killed at the age of 19.

History of U.S. National Airspace System

"Learning should be fun. If you don't have fun in aviation then you don't learn, and when learning stops, you die." ~ Pete Campbell, FAA

Why did different kinds of airspace become necessary? How did the National Airspace System develop?

The history of aviation is fascinating! Go ahead... enjoy it!

The Federal airway system began in 1927, when the Department of Commerce acquired the transcontinental airway from the U.S. Postal Service. All airspace was uncontrolled, there were no real provisions for instrument flying, and very few airplanes. The only navaids defining that first airway were lighted beacons, and those, along with the airfields along the route, were what the Department of Commerce took over.

As more airplanes began to fly in and out of major cities, traffic became more of a problem. Sometimes observers on the ground helped coordinate takeoffs and landings, and the first radio-equipped control tower opened in 1930 in Cleveland.

Jimmy Doolittle demonstrated the first completely blind flight in September of 1929, and by 1933 the science of instrument flying had developed to the point that the Bureau of Air Commerce offered an instrument rating for pilots.

The first air traffic control facility was formed by four airlines in 1935 to coordinate their traffic around Newark, New Jersey. American, Eastern, TWA, and United worked together to provide separation for instrument traffic. When the government took over air traffic control a few months later, there were two additional centers, in Chicago, Illinois and Cleveland, Ohio.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) was created in 1938, but did not take over the control of air traffic at airports until 1941. They took over control of the airways in 1942. With no radar, no transponders, and few radio navaids, it must have been quite a challenge to keep airplanes safely separated, especially with thousands of military airplanes swarming through the system in support of the war effort. The system of IFR flight plans, airways, position reports, and clearances is the basis of today’s ATC system.

To keep IFR traffic under ATC control all the way to the ground, a five-mile cylinder of controlled airspace was created around IFR airports, reaching up to the overlying airway. This “control zone” restricted VFR flights during bad weather, allowing the IFR flights to make their approaches without fear of collision. To allow IFR letdowns to begin farther from the airport, transition areas were created. These extended controlled airspace a few miles outward from the control zone, but still excluded the airspace below 700 feet AGL.

After World War II, the number of commercial and private flights grew even more. All IFR trips were flown along the airways, and except for the airways and the area immediately surrounding airports equipped for IFR arrivals and departures, the rest of the nation’s airspace was uncontrolled.

Since most general aviation airplanes were not equipped for IFR flying, there was little conflict between VFR and IFR traffic. The simple rules for cruising altitudes kept VFR and IFR traffic separated by at least 500 feet, and all pilots kept their eyes open in VMC to avoid other traffic. Airways were eight miles wide and linked radio range stations. There were no restrictions on the use of controlled airspace by VFR pilots, so long as visual separation was maintained.

As aircraft speeds increased and jets began to enter service, the capabilities of the old air traffic system were rapidly outgrown. A United DC-7 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over the Grand Canyon in 1956, emphasizing the inadequacy of the system.

The CAA became the FAA in 1958, when it was separated from the Department of Commerce to become an independent agency. By then, VORs were replacing the old four-course radio ranges, and radar was in use at major airports. The new VOR airways were called Victor airways, to distinguish them from the colored airways that linked four-course radio ranges.

At busier airports, both VFR and IFR traffic came under ATC control. Although most airliners had radios, most of the traffic still consisted of general aviation airplanes, and most of them didn’t have radios. The control towers could use radio or light gun signals to control traffic.

In the 1960s and 1970s, ATC radar expanded to cover most of the continental U.S., giving controllers a real-time view of the traffic. The FAA felt that any traffic above 18,000 feet should be under positive control, that is, monitored and directed by ATC, so pilots were required to be instrument rated and on IFR flight plans. This Positive Control Airspace was renamed Class A airspace in 1993.

The omnidirectional nature of VOR signals allowed pilots unprecedented freedom to create their own radio navigation routes, independent of the established airways. As navigation equipment such as RNAV, Loran, and INS came into use, pilots often abandoned the published airways to navigate directly from point to point. In the late 1970s, almost all the uncontrolled airspace in between the standard low-altitude airways was changed to Class E, leaving only the 1,200 feet just above the ground as Class G.

As this was happening, traffic at the busiest airports had become almost unmanageable. With jetliners streaming into the airports at hundreds of knots, the controllers needed to organize and sequence them at greater distances from the airports.

The old airport traffic areas and control zones were expanded and regulated. First, airplanes without radios were made unwelcome, then airplanes without transponders, then those without altitude-encoding transponders. The upside-down wedding cake arrangement at major terminals allowed airline traffic to descend below 10,000 feet AGL as much as 25 or 30 miles from the airport, without the concerns of seeing and avoiding VFR traffic that might not be under ATC control. Initially called Terminal Control Areas or TCAs, they became Class B airspace in 1993.

Airports with less traffic were designated Airport Radar Service Areas (ARSAs), and Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSAs). ARSAs became known as Class C when the airspace was renamed in 1993, but TRSAs remain as a vestige of the old nomenclature.

With the adoption of satellite-based navigation, and the advent of digital datalinks between aircraft, the stage is set for another major step forward.

Resource from AOPA and Jeppesen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Have Doughnut, Will Travel

The US "borrowed" a Soviet-built MiG-21F-13 from January 23rd to April 8th in 1968 for the purposes of evaluating it. This program was called "Have Doughnut" and was classified for a long, long time.

The museum made a FOIA request to the US government a while back and Rob Young, a historian at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center was kind enough to include a PowerPoint presentation on Have Doughnut in the FOIA package we got back from the government.

The US Government has a systematic program for declassification of material over time and so information on Have Doughnut is approved for public release (and has been for some time). We've placed a PDF of the briefing here if you'd like to look at the whole thing. While the US has a program for declassification, some other countries do not, including the country, or countries that may, or may not, have "helped" the US obtain the MiG-21... so where we got it from is still a big secret.

AFSC instrumented the MiG-21 and flew it here in the US, but exactly where is still another big secret. AFSC made 102 flights in 40 days of flying, and here's what we learned:

The MiG-21 is a simple, honest aircraft that's easy to fly.

It was very reliable and easy to maintain — relative to the maintenance squawks that the US aircraft flying against it racked up, the MiG was "put gas in it and go".

The main advantage of the '21 was that it was a small aircraft, difficult to spot visually, and left no smoke trail except for a small puff of fuel/smoke when going in or out of afterburner; in fact, the twin black plumes of the F-4 escorting the MiG was usually picked up long before pilots saw the MiG.

The MiG had very low wing loading (meaning it didn't bleed airspeed in a turning fight) and a unique lacquer coating system for corrosion protection. The museum is currently enjoying the benefits of that system as our MiG-21 has little to no corrosion even 30 years after it was produced.

There were a few prominent shortcomings including low visibility, slow engine response, and low altitude transonic vibration.

As a result of their experiences in Have Doughnut, the Navy created the famous Top Gun program in 1969 and had good results when they encountered the aircraft over Vietnam. The Air Force eventually created the Red Flag program for similar purposes.

After Have Doughnut was over, the aircraft was disassembled and returned to whence it came... wherever that might have been. :-)

For further reading, the book Red Eagles was published in September 2008.

Finished Finnish Fouga

Some problems are good problems to have. For example, the museum has more flyable aircraft than it has pilots... our Fouga hasn't flown much this year, mostly for lack of a pilot.

This particular Fouga is a Fine, Flying Fouga made in Finland. The Fins made 81 Fougas under license from the French (the most lucid answer anyone's ever given to the question "Why does it have a V-tail?" seems to be "It's French!"), this one is serial number 80. Fougas are graceful aerial ballerinas and were used by many, many aerobatic demonstration teams (did you know that Ireland has an aerobatic demonstration team? They flew Fougas for a while.) This one needs only an annual, a sponsor (hey, Nokia!?) and some tender loving care and it would be flying regularly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Have you seen something beautiful today?

I was encouraged to add a few words to this blog. As preconditions I want it to be 1990 and I want to hand-write it on wide-ruled paper and I want to never be so lucky if I fail to complete it in a timely manner. Hence, braving some modesty... Here we go.

I found a really serene picture that I would like to share. Last Tuesday, after getting some new Teflon fuel and oil lines and bleeding the air from the fuel pump, 211 gets a run-up before being put to bed for the night. What was otherwise a quiet and still evening in the Lancaster countryside was brought to life by the all too familiar starting sound of two turbine engines of a Soviet Mi-2 helicopter.

Have you seen something beautiful today?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Twin Comancheski

The Twin Comanche got annual'd this last month. While not technically part of the museum's collection, it's nice to have a full-IFR twin at the ready to support the museum's activities. Most museum aircraft are VFR-only and become giant, metric paperweights when they fall ill at an airshow far from home (try finding a local mechanic who can debug a tach generator problem on a Soviet turbine engine when you need one!)

Over the years the TwinCo has been purposed to rush forgotten equipment out into the field, to rescue crew that couldn't make it back from an airshow due to weather or equipment, and to take a quick trip to see people or parts on short notice.

Here Bill is seen making sure that everything is in perfect running order.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Getting a Fish out of Bed

We recently moved the MiG-21 from the storage hangar to the maintenance hangar. It had languished there, out of sight, out of mind. It was time for it to get some attention.

It was still on rollers, too low to get jacks under it.

First, we raised it up and got it on a collection of wood pallets. Our thinking is that we'll attach the wings and then get jacks under the aircraft to lift it up about six feet so that we can drop the gear.

Then we took the wings out of their shipping stands and put them first on pallets then raised them with the forklift and put them on L-39 wing dollys. The wings are heavy and it helps to have some big guys who can muscle them around. Here George the Dog is seen keeping an eye on Todd and supervising as well.

Eventually we got both wings on dollys and everybody posed for a picture.

Tracie posed for a calendar picture as well.

Much work needs to be done. The wing pins need to be rehabilitated and the fairings need some sheet metal work. And then there's that whole "getting the engine running" thing we need to worry about.