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Polar Flight 90 - The Polar Pumpkin's Journey to the North Pole

Flight Log 2011

 

February 1, 2011

Fairbanks to Manley Hot Springs

Good weather. Smooth Air. Good flight. Topography enroute includes some rolling hills, but mostly lakes and the mighty Tanana River. Light was good; so besides the moose tracks, I could see snowmobile and dog team tracks. This year the Tanana River ice is a bit thinner than normal; so one could see various open holes in the river. Traditionally, before airplanes in Alaska, mail was transported village to village by dog team. Today I flew over the old Tolovana Roadhouse - at the mouth of the Tolovana River - that was one of those dog team overnight mail stops. Deadman Lake, just south of my course, now has a few cabins on it; but so far this Spring, I have seen no sign of airplanes landing there. Since so many dog drivers live in or near Manley Hot Springs - population 60 (+ or -) people - the closer I got to the village, the more dog team trails I saw in the bush. Susan Butcher - noted dog musher that won the Iditarod Race 5 times - lived nearby, until her tragic death from leukemia. When she visited the White House, she reportedly told President Reagan that, "Alaska is the place where men are men, and women win the Iditarod"!

 

January 31, 2011

Another local test flight in the Fairbanks area. A maintenance issue was discovered; so off I flew to visit my excellent mechanics at Chena Marina Air Service. Mark and Nathan quickly found and corrected the problem. The Polar Pumpkin is now 100% healthy once again!

January 26, 2011

The manifold pressure issue was tended to, by blowing out the pressure line with compressed air. Taking an aircraft from a warm hangar outside to the cold environment, then back in, and out - provides perfect conditions for moisture condensation. Wind was calm; so I took off to the north. These days, with still a very low sun angle on the horizon, taking off into the sun to the south is dangerous. After climbing to a cruising altitude of 4,000 feet, I was able to check engine cylinder head and exhaust gas temperatures, fuel flow readings, cycle the wheel skis up and down, and delightfully realize that my cruise speed was faster with the addition of Federal C3200 wheel skis. Views were spectacular; but I could see some dark clouds to the north and west - with an approaching snow storm likely. So back to Fairbanks International Airport, with the Polar Pumpkin being parked at the hangar of my good friend Earl Malpass.

January 25, 2011

Local test flight in the Fairbanks area. Flew down the Tanana River - staying over the river ice and sand bars as much as possible. During test flights, when there is a better chance of problems, it's always nice to stay over a potential landing area. Visibility was not so good; so I made it a short flight. Light was fairly flat. Otherwise, I would expect to see tracks in the snow, made by moose and wolves.

January 11, 2011

Polar Pumpkin in front of the Fairbanks Control TowerRecent maintenance of the Polar Pumpkin - and a bit of touch up painting - was complete. So it was time for a test flight. A high performance propeller had been installed; so takeoff performance was exceptionally good. Realize that with the colder winter air, performance would be better anyway - more so than on a hot day of summer. The aircraft was light on fuel and cargo; so the Pumpkin "wanted" to fly. Immediately upon getting airborne, however, I noticed a lack of manifold pressure on the gauge. Since I wanted all readings to be normal before I flew very far from the airport, I immediately took the aircraft back to the hangar for further inspection. Time airborne: approximately 10 minutes.

 

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