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Ron's Fly Baby


     Ron flew his Flybaby for the first time on May 30, 2009! Chapter members Don Schmotzer (who took these photos), Larry Maner, Don Bledsoe, Fred Addison, and Tony Gantt were on hand to witness the event. See photos below.

First Takeoff     Flybaby Overhead     Flybaby Flies By!     Post Flight Grin

The Trip to New York

     Ron and Randy left on Wednesday, March 18th about 7:30am to pick up the Fly Baby in Mayville, NY. After stopping to eat breakfast, they started on their journey about 8:30am. Almost immediately, a passing motorist indicated some problem with the trailer. We pulled over on the bypass in front of Columbia Metro Airport.  Inspection revealed that the left trailer bearing had almost completely disintegrated and was smoking profusely. Fortunately, we were not further up the road, and the damage had not gotten to the axle quite yet. Libby stopped to pick up Ron and carried him to get my car and the necessary tools. Most of the day was spent retrieving parts and making the necessary repairs.  Ron made the repairs, while I waved motorists by. It was a dangerous situation, but we had little choice but to fix it there by the road. He finally finished about 4:00pm that day. We debated whether to leave that late in the day or wait until Thursday morning. We decided to go ahead and get underway. After taking my car home, we left about 4:30pm and made Beckley, WV up I-77 about 300 miles away before retiring for the night.

 Trailer Wheel Off      Repairing the Trailer    

     On Thursday, we made good progress up I-77 to Akron, Ohio. Ron contacted one of his old helicopter buddies from his Korea days, Tom (who flew Hueys and Cobras in the Army and Guard), and Tom decided to ride up with us. As we were following Tom to take his truck home, another motorist motioned that Ron's truck had a slack rear tire. It turned out to have a sliver of metal in it, so we took it to a nearby Walmart. The mechanic would not repair it with the trailer attached, so we disconnected it, and he pulled the truck into the bay.  The tire repair was made within half hour. Unfortunately, as the attendant was pulling the truck out of the bay, he neglected to move one of the lift arms and the right front tire ran over it ... and removed a 1" chunk of rubber out of the sidewall. The tire was not damaged beyond use, but not completely safe for driving either. After some haggling, it was decided that Walmart would pay for the damages upon Ron's return, and they installed the spare tire. We made it to New York and back home on that tire.

     We spent Thursday night in a motel in Mayville, NY. A dusting of snow fell that night as we slept. The photos below were taken early on Friday morning. Mayville is located only about 8 miles south of great lake, Lake Erie, so they get hammered with snow each year. They had record snowfall this year ... 277 inches (about 23 feet) of snow! It's a snowmobiler's paradise. There are lots of Amish there too with their horse drawn wagons and carriages. Fortunately, most of the snow had melted by the time we arrived, except in places the sun could not reach well. The ground was still slushy and mucky though.

Trailer at Motel     Snow At Motel

     Friday morning, we ate breakfast and contacted the owner of the Fly Baby, George. We then left for the airport where we met George. He had removed much of the snow prior to our arrival, but we had to remove more snow from around the hangar door to get in. After a bit of work, they were able to pull the Fly Baby out of the hangar. George cranked up a kerosene heater and blew it on the engine; it started later with a little coaxing. George and Ron tied it to the truck and ran the engine at increased RPM for awhile. Then, Ron taxiied over to a warm hangar where the inspection began. Ron took the day examining various aspects of the Fly Baby. It appeared to be in pretty good condition, except for a few cosmetic blemishes, mostly the paint peeling off in places. There was no recent weight and balance, so they performed one there on the spot. Finally, around 5pm, the deal was made, and we began disassembling the wings. We hung the wings on the inside of the trailer, and then determined that the tail was about 1" too wide for the fuselage to fit the trailer, so we had to remove the right rear elevator and horizontal stab. Finally, we finished loading the fuselage just before dusk. Below are some of the photos I took on Friday.

Snow On Hangars     Planes In Tandem     Ron Taxis FlyBaby     Randy, Tom, Ron, George

     On Saturday morning, we started towards home about 7:30am; it was 16 degrees F when we left. I took the following photo of the almost frozen over Chautaugua Lake as we were leaving. We also got some glimpses of Lake Erie on I-90, and it was also almost frozen over as well as far as the eye could see. The middle photo is of Ron with friend, Tom. They had a lot of tales about their adventures while in Korea. Fortunately, the trip back home proved to be less eventful, and Ron and I spent the entire day on the road on Saturday.  We arrived home very tired about 1am on Sunday morning ... about 750 miles for the day and 1500 miles for the entire trip. On Sunday afternoon, we unloaded the Fly Baby at Pelion. The photo at bottom right is of several of our chapter members looking over the plane after our return.

Ice on Lake     Ron & Tom     Guys At Pelion

Congratulations, Ron!