Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Airplane at the Port...

...the "shipping port" (not airport)...

The official lock from the shipping company was attached. N207FD is officially "loaded and locked".

Thanks to Jean Roman, our administrative assistant, the container truck showed up at 9am sharp!

Our kind driver gently loaded the container...

...Carefully traversed the poor roads...

... and avoided the helpers that cleared the low-hanging power lines on the way to the port.

Now, the fun with the customs officials begins. When we first arrived at the port, one agent told us that we would be assessed an $80,000 fee for transporting the airplane out of the country! So, I was faced with either having a heart attack or laughing... I laughed. I hope he wasn't offended. Later, $80,000 turned into $80- lets hope it was just a decimal that was misplaced. Thanks for your prayers.

CLICK HERE to see all of today's photos.

Day 4: Mission Complete

See all the photos: CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 3... In & Secure

I took a bunch more photos with my cell phone, but these are the only 2 that I could find. Enjoy!

Using a come-a-long tool, we slowly started the aircraft into the container. Here's Dr. Neil (in town on a layover from Bongolo to the states) checking the progress.

Here's Dale C. checking the progress from the back. The nose wheel remained on and, instead of wheels on the main gears, we had steel skids. On the left gear, we attached it to the 4 main axle bolts. On the right gear, the skid was attached to the post that had been welded on to the stub of the gear.

Tomorrow, we'll head to a local church to worship and have some time to rest in the afternoon. Monday, we'll put in the wings and padding throughout, fill out the paperwork, and have the container ready for Tuesday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Two

Sealing up the aircraft for the trip across the ocean.

This is a $50 dollar piece of 1 1/2 inch thick plywood purchased locally. We'll be using it for framing in the nose gear and bolting it all down to the floor.

"Michel", our oxy-acetylene welder, did a great job for us. Here's his slightly-used tanks.

The wheel base of the airplane won't fit into the width of the container. So, since the right gear (at least) is going to be replaced, we're cutting it off close to the fuselage and welding on a new "leg" and skid. The bar welded closer to the end of the gear leg was a practice piece.

Here's Michel and his assistant working on grinding parts of the support leg.

Tomorrow, with the use of a come-along, the airplane will be placed in the container.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My wings have been clipped...

... and that's a good thing... I think...Here's the gang from MMS Aviation showing up and surveying the situation.

Here's Dale, starting to trim off some damage.

Andy also got into the action, trimming off damage at the tip of the right wing.

Paul got to removing the Horton STOL addition from the tops of the wings using a makeshift hammer! These guys are all business, as you can tell.

Little by little, things started to disappear. First to go was the elevator surface.

Then, the damage from the end of the right wing was gone. (notice that Andy is using a metal bar to pound out other damage in the background. He seemed to be having a lot of fun)

Then, the rudder and vertical stabilizer were no more.

...and there goes the horizontal stabilizer... the tail has been clipped!

Then it was time for the wings. You may notice the left wing gone here.

Half hour later, the right wing was gone. It's looking a lot different now. Not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. It's a good thing, of course, I know... I know.

Then, in the distance, we saw a beautiful, Central African sunset... Time to call it a day.

See all the photos: CLICK HERE

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Engines can be Pickled?

Before our "wounded bird" can be put on a ship and sent to the US for repairs, we need have a couple of items to get it prepped:

First is to send preservative oil pulsing through the engine. Well, the battery had been sitting too long without activity and only had about 5 volts left in it- not enough to crank the engine. Thanks to the nice Russian mechanics at the DHL outpost at the Libreville Int'l airport, I was able to get a charge... FOR FREE!!!

This all required a couple of trips across the city... not a good idea during the country's HUGE celebration of the 50th year of independence. There were parades, concerts, and dignitaries coming and going from, you guessed it, the airport! Each arriving big-wig was treated to singing and dancing from about 500 women waving flags and handkerchiefs!!! (actually, 500 may be a conservative estimate).

After slapping the battery into place, the airplane cranked right up! No problems!

There's a happy pilot! We ran the preservative oil through the engine for about 10 minutes. The process suggests that you actually run the airplane a little more aggressively, but since the airplane is not able to be secured too well at the right gear, we kept it at about 1200 rpm.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Airplanes can SKID!?!

Subtitle: What brought N207FD out of the sky?

We belong to a couple of safety groups that assist us in thinking through the safety guidelines of our program. One of the programs is MSI, from TN. They have researched many accidents, similar to ours, and have started to draw some conclusions.

As you read the article, keep in mind that our fuel level was similar to one scenario that they describe. Our left tank was down to the "unusable" fuel level and our right tank had about an hours' worth of fuel (15-16 gallons). Our fuel selector was on the right as well.

June 2010

A number of recent events have reminded us of an all too common danger when flying the Cessna 200 series aircraft. Hopefully everyone piloting one of these aircraft (Cessna 205, 206, 207, 210) is well aware that you must be very careful to switch tanks in a very disciplined and deliberate manner, otherwise there is a great risk of running a tank dry and the engine stopping at a very inopportune time. This can be very embarrassing (or much worse!), especially if you still have plenty of fuel in the other tank that was not selected. In most cases, switching tanks and hitting the electric auxiliary boost pump switch brings the engine back to life very quickly, but there are some exceptions, which we will discuss later in the article.

However, there is a much less commonly recognized danger relating to fuel supply and starvation in these aircraft, and that is called “unporting” of the fuel due to uncoordinated flight maneuvers. In the Cessna 200 series, the tubes “picking up” the fuel extend into the wing tanks from the inboard ribs. This is also where the fuel quantity transmitters are located in the 205, 206, and 207.

Due to the lack of much baffling inside the fuel tanks, uncoordinated flight, such as is experienced while slipping or skidding, can cause the fuel to move away from the inboard rib, and allow air to be drawn into the pickup tubes. The U206 is especially prone to this during photo shoots with the cargo door removed, as the photographer often asks for skidding right turns to allow him to get photos out of the open right side of the aircraft while keeping the right wing up with opposite aileron. If the left tank is selected while doing this, it is very possible to “unport” the pickup tubes in the left tank, even with half fuel capacity. Couple that with the typical request to be down low for good photos, and you have a disaster in the making.

Other examples of uncoordinated maneuvers that have caused unporting events are slipping in a crosswind on long final, extended cruise or descents using only rudder, climbing right turns after a low pass with low fuel in the selected tank, circling over objects on the ground, and tipping the plane to observe air drops.

What is the solution?

  1. Always stay coordinated while maneuvering the aircraft. Your fuel is doing whatever the ball in the turn coordinator is doing.
  2. Always have the fuller tank selected while near the ground.
  3. Avoid the temptation to run your tanks down to the last 5 or 10 gallons. If you want to know why, look inside the tank next time it is that low. The fuel is barely an inch deep, and the pickup tubes are about half an inch off the bottom of the tank.
  4. Finally, “just say no” to the photographer when they ask for a skidding right turn, especially close to the ground. Offer to climb to a higher altitude that will allow for gentle banking to keep the subject in sight without getting the wing in the way. Hopefully you briefed him ahead of time to bring a telephoto lens or two.

Regarding restarting the engine if unporting or fuel starvation occurs:

Testing has demonstrated that switching tanks and immediately hitting the emergency setting on the aux pump switch for a few seconds or until you see the fuel pressure or flow start to come back up brings the engine back to life the fastest. Waiting to switch tanks only delays the restart. Holding the pump switch in emergency position for longer than a few seconds can easily flood the engine, especially turbocharged ones or the newer IO550’s.

Another consideration affecting the restart has to do with maintenance. If the TCM service bulletin (SEB 96-4R1) regarding setting the resistors that control the pump speed with varying throttle positions is not followed properly, particularly in using a properly regulated voltage of 14 or 28 VDC, there is added danger of flooding the engine while attempting a restart. Some places have used the aircraft battery while setting the resistors, but that gives an incorrect setting, as the battery gives a lower voltage than the running alternator will.

As a final warning, unporting can be deadly, and has been already. Additionally, flooding the engine while attempting a restart, while not conclusively proven, is strongly suspected to have been a major factor in at least 3 recent fatal accidents in missionary aviation.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Departures... sadly (part 2)

First day of school

The kids just rolled in from their first day of school at Rain Forest Int'l School. They had a blast, as we expected. They feel that it will be a great year, and we have no doubt.

Favorite part of the day? Lunch... and socializing. That's what we knew they were really hungry for. So cool to see them able to really flourish in this area. Of course, it is just the first day of school. There will be ups and downs- it won't all be like this "honeymoon" stage. God is good. He is faithful. The kids will be fine. Now... pray for us parents!

for some photos (with captions) showing you more about these past couple of days.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Departures... sadly (part I)

So, the name of this blog is "Arrivals and Departures"... signifying many things... mostly it's about people that come and go, in and out of our lives, in some way or another. We get a lot of that in our lives. Being expats who run a guest house and small aviation service means having to say plenty of "hello's" and "goodbye's".

As most of you know, our family has driven 15 hours, from Libreville, Gabon to Yaounde, Cameroon, to deliver Joe and Meg, our two oldest children, to boarding school. In a way, this marks a "departure" event. Joe and Meg have both had some extended stays away from us, and we from them, but never to this magnitude. As you may
suspect, this is a very difficult time for us. We really appreciate your prayers.


The alarm clock woke us at 4am, this past Sunday, the 1st of August. About an hour later we were all packed and on the road to Cameroon. Leaving LBV (Libre
ville) at that hour is a little eerie. We're used to the streets being full of people and taxis and having to dodge here and there to make progress. Early in the morning, however, there is almost no one on the streets... just look out for the dogs!

The kilometers clicked by... Libreville, then Ntoume, Kango, then the left turn at the round about in Bifoun to start heading Northbound. I fired up my portable aviation GPS (Garmin GPSmap 96C- see picture)- the database covers Europe and Africa. I wasn't sure if it would depict the any ground based info (other than airports), so I was surprised to see that it did paint the "route nationale 2". At times it appeared that we were paralleling the road to the west- perhaps I wasn't tracking enough satellites to keep it accurate. However, for the most part it was very accurate and we were able to anticipate turns in the road and arrival into major towns. It's a great tool to have.

After Bifoun, Ndjole and then the roads start to stink... really bad. Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being excellent and 1 being impassable, here's how they rate:

Libreville to 10 km out of LBV: 7 (watch out for the open drainage culverts lining some roads)

10km from LBV to Kango: 5 (it's paved, but with the occasional wash out- you speed down the road thinking you've got a nice stretch when "WOOMP! THERE IT IS!!!)

Kango to Bifoun: 7 (watch out for the chickens & goats meandering on the roads!)

Bifoun to Ndjole: 5 (high grass at the sides makes foot traffic almost impossible to see and then the seemingly limitless "S" turns make you want to ask if they were getting paid per kilometer and if they found a way to make the road as long as possible!?!)

Ndjole to 20km S. of Mitzic: 3 (I actually saw a 4 door Toyota 2 wheel drive making this trek- they were lucky it is dry season. On this section of road, you can occasionally here a "thump" of passengers heads as they hit the roof- this is
somewhat humorous... if it's not YOUR head).

10k S. of Mitzic to Yaounde: 7 (There are a
ctually parts of this road where you can really haul- about 80 mph in the middle of the central African rainforest! See picture.)

(In some other post, I'll go into road rating systems in greater detail.)


AIRPORT CONST'N: In the town of Mitzic, there used to be an airport. It paralleled the main street through town and, like most towns, they used it as the towns' by-pass. Due to very little airplane traffic, the taxis (and foot traffic) had taken to use it to get quickly to the other side of town. I have landed at this particular airport and, during takeoff, had to wait until traffic cleared the runway... and it wasn't airplane traffic! Well, upon entering town, we were stopped at a control and, in the course of the conversation, found out that the town had started to construct another landing strip that paralleled the old strip, that is now a road. I think we can all see where this
is heading...

STREET FOOD: In Mitzic, we pulled off to the left side of the road (going N-bound) when we saw some smoke rising from one of the store-front shops. We thought that may indicate some street food for sale, and we were right. We got 5 chicken "leg/thigh" pieces ("cuisse de poulet") cut up in individual sacs. I was the only one that opted for the powdered piment. We took this on the road and were very pleased with it. Some in our family referred to the chicken as "the best they have ever eaten". Did I mention some in our fam are prone to exaggeration? Well, they were right... it was pretty darn good chicken for the middle of nowhere Africa. I recommend this place.

BOARDER CROSSING: Here's my take on the Gabon/Cameroon boarder. You've got two choices that are about the same in terms of distance driven. So, if you like a bit of chaos and dodging vast amount of motorcycles, then Kye-Ossi is your crossi
ng. If you like things a bit less chaotic and tranquil, may I present to you Eboro. This is my choice. Now... that said, let me add this caveat... you will run across those that have had experiences at both locations that range from "nightmarish" to "smooth sailing". I just think of it like this... do you like a "nightmare" set in a peaceful environment? ...or in a more chaotic environment? ... to each his own.


We rolled into Yaounde, and to a delicious meal with our friends, Randy and Jill, and their two wonderful kids, Amy and Tim. This sweet family will be playing host to our Joe and Meg for the next 10 months of their school- Rain Forest Int'l School.

Alace, Sam, and I are staying in the guest house above Randy and Jill's. It's called the "Peach Palace Guesthouse". Joe and Meg are already moved into their
new rooms and getting to know their "adopted" brother and sister and "fill-in" mom and dad.

We're also working to equip their rooms with 220v to 110v
transformers (see picture), fans, mirrors, etc. It's like moving your kid into their college dorm room. To get all these necessary items as well as all the folders, papers, pens, pencils, protractors, etc. we've had to do some runs into town.

The first morning, as we woke, we were informed that we had incurred a flat tire! WOW! We were so thankful that this happened after we had made it our destination. So, we added that to our "to do" list.

YDE seems soo much bigger than LBV.