created September 20th, 2005
The haze was so bad I opted to get on top of it. I really like flying "on top", because it's so much smoother, cooler, and the hazy layer becomes an excellent horizon. Notice how the white clouds on the "horizon" sink down into the haze layer, like icebergs on the ocean.
Here the clouds were almost solid, but there were always holes where you could vaguely see some ground features. If I'd gotten to the point where there were no holes, I'd have turned around and found one to decend through before going any further.
These are "L&L Lakes", south of Troy, ALabama, on Alabama highway 87, just north of Springhill. The three biggest lakes total 125 acres all together. To get an idea of the scale of this picture, the things that look like cars in the fields are actually huge pavillions where families have big reunions, and companies have their picnics. There's an 8' flourescent orange windsock next to the runway that you can't even see! This land was strip-mined for iron ore in the 50's and 60's, and looked like the moon when my father bought it. He bought a small used bull-dozer and proceeded to straighten it all back out, and now it resembles a state park! The crown jewel for me and my brother (C-172 owner) is the 3600' grass strip that sits on the hill between the lakes (top of photo). Daddy built it to make sure we'd have no excuse for not visiting often. The lakes are stocked with catfish, bass, "brim" (bream to most, I think), and others, and he charges something like $2.50 a day to fish all you want, and carry what you catch home with you. It's not much of a living, but it gives him a good reason to hang around and talk to visitors all day.
Not a bad accomplishment for a retired vocational school teacher. He's the kind of guy that would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. When he was in the army in WWII his idea of splurging was to buy an ice cream cone on Sunday afternnoon. He used the money he saved while in the army to buy his first piece of land and a tractor when he got back, and then went on to get a masters degree in agriculture from Auburn. His farm's been growing ever since. The smallest pond (18 acres) was a "rock washer" mud pond when he bought the land, but he designed and built the other two big ones himself by building the two dams using bulldozers, scrapers, and slip pans. This guy is just plain awesome in my book. He makes me look like a selfish idiot by comparison.
My first landing here wasn't too bad, and I had plenty of runway left.
John Tower (from Maine) and his girlfriend dropped by to check out a KR up close. John's learning to fly helicopters at nearby Fort Rucker, and is interested in building a KR.
This was the first time my father had ever seen my plane, or even a picture of it (no internet on the farm, and that's fine with him), so he gave it a good going-over. Here he was commenting on the tiny tail-wheel, and how I could probably replace it with a skid and be just fine. He made flush tie-downs for us out of mobile home tiedowns, buried inside 12" diameter PVC pipe, with plow disc covers so keep the ropes out of the grass mower blade. The wind sock mount is a bicycle fork that pivots in the smallest breeze.
The trip back was pretty much the same weather. I flew at 10,500 ft, and averaged 145 mph at part throttle, burning a little less than 5 gallons per hour. Getting on top is the way to go, as long as you make sure you can get back down, and that there aren't going to be any tall clouds you can't get around or over.
Return to Mark Langford's KR2S CorvAIRCRAFT engine project.