Visit to Just Aircraft

On Friday, October 24, Tony and I flew in one of the club’s Cessna 152’s to Walhalla, SC to visit the Just Aircraft factory (  The route was as follows:



The visit was fantastic, but the cross-country was a great experience as well.  When you look at the map above, you see a large yellow blob surrounded by blue concentric rings.  This is Charlotte, NC.  The airspace around Charlotte is classified as Class B (biggest airports and most traffic).  You have to get permission from ATC to actually enter Class B airspace.  It is surprising then that Charlotte Approach gave me permission to overfly Charlotte and Charlotte Douglas International Airport.  Here is a picture of downtown Charlotte:


We flew directly over the airport.  I would have taken a picture, but I was TOO BUSY being directed by the controller.  It is quite the experience to watch Boeing 777’s land and take-off underneath you.  We were only at 4,500 feet but were above the bee-hive of activity below.

Needless to say, the activity at Oconee County Airport near Clemson, SC was much slower.  They loaned us a car and we drove the 12 miles or so to the Just Aircraft factory.

Just Aircraft makes the SuperSTOL kit.  This airplane is awesome!  It can take-off and land in impossibly short distances.  You can search Youtube for videos of this airplane.  Here are a few shots I got from Gary (the designer) demonstrating for us:

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That little strip of land ending at the lake is the airstrip at the factory.  It is only about 600 feet long and slopes towards the water but it was no problem for this plane!  You can see in the first picture that he has already climbed a couple hundred feet before he reached the lake and is going practically straight-up!  These would be marvelous mission planes for the backcountry!

Another plane that seems promising for backcountry mission is the Zenith 750.


Hopefully, I can attend Sun-N-Fun or Oshkosh next year and get a look at this plane as well.

After spending a couple of hours with Just Aircraft, we flew back.  We covered close to 400 miles and did in 4 hours of flight time.  Not too bad for the little Cessna.

One of the downsides to the SuperSTOL is that it is a tail-dragger airplane, which requires additional training.  The good news is that I have been told that it is some of the best fun to be had in a plane.  Hopefully, we will get the funds raised/put together to get this done within the next year or so.  Then it is on to raising funds for an actual airplane!


First Aborted Takeoff for Real!

Today, the kids were tracked out of school so I decided to take them and a friend of mine, Tony, from the flying club out for a $100 hamburger (pilot parlance for flying to lunch).  After finishing computer instrument training, I preflighted one of the Piper Warriors and planned on flying to Grand Strand/North Myrtle Beach Airport (KCRE) for a burger-joint a mile up the road.

Preflight went fine, taxied out to Runway 21, waited for traffic to land and pulled out onto the runway.  I gave the bird full power and noticed that the pitch (sound) was not as high of a note as expected.  The tach was showing around 2,300 RPM’s and we were accelerating.  However, when we reached around 52-54 knots, we stopped accelerating.  That is rotation speed so I let the nosewheel come up, but the main gears were not leaving the ground.  After a couple of seconds, we got airborne a few inches but nothing more.   I immediately decided this was “No Bueno” so I pulled power and aborted the takeoff.

I taxied off of the active runway to an empty portion of tarmac and ran the engine up a few times and completed procedures to clear any fouled plugs on magneto checks.  I still did not get a comfortable feeling so brought it back to maintenance.  Maintenance decided that it was just a fouled plug and combine that with being close to gross weight, the plane was just sluggish.  However, I was complimented on my decision-making in “being down here wishing I was up there rather than being up there wishing I was down here.”


I thought it was about time to give an update to my training.  I deferred entry into the Doctor of Education program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to focus more brainpower on flight training.  I surpassed 100 hours of flight time a couple of weeks ago and have been hitting the books pretty hard.  I am concurrently attending Commercial Rating Ground School (for a Commercial Pilot’s License) and training for the Instrument Rating.  As this point in training, I am doing all of my flying in a PCATD (Personal Computer Aircraft Training Device – fancy FAA name for a glorified flight simulator which doesn’t have graphics as nice as Microsoft Flight Simulator).  I have around 8 hours in the “sim” and can count a total of 10 hours towards the training requirements for the rating.

However, the Instrument Rating is very technical and my brain hurts after every training session as we discuss timed-turns, holds, including parallel, direct and teardrop entry into holds, approaches, missed approaches, etc…  If this sounds like Greek, it did to me too a few weeks ago, but I have been reading a ton and studying, studying, studying.

In a couple more weeks, we will fly an actual plane again, but there is so much of a technical learning curve, the computer is the best place to learn versus trying to fly an airplane while multitasking at this level of my training.


Visitors to Raleigh Exec

My son decided that he wanted to have an airport birthday this year, so he was allowed to bring 3 friends for airplane rides!  They absolutely loved it!  We also had a visitor at the field that weekend:


The Memphis Belle (movie version) was at the airport for the weekend giving rides.  What a great piece of history!

The birthday boy requested that we not have a cake, so Mom improvised anyway:


With Moon Pies from the snack bar!!  I was told it was the best 12th birthday party ever by an attendee!