|Bill Bailey's Hangar Rash at
Saturday, another nice late winter day for flying in Kansas; forty-five degrees, five to fifteen mile per hour wind,
and sunny skies! This glorious day made flying---as opposed to driving---to an airport restaurant for that proverbial
"hundred dollar hamburger" worth the extra effort. Fortunately, in the case of Bill Bailey and me, with our small
planes, those expensive aviation burger runs cost less than twenty dollars apiece. For Bill though, a greater
expense, at a price not counted in dollars, would come later
|A flurry of e-mails on Friday, resulted in six pilots
gathering at Selby's Aerodrome shortly after noon on
Saturday. Only Bill and I wanted to fly out for lunch,
the others planned to deal with maintenance and
upgrading issues on their planes. Since the January
opening of the Bar and Grill at Stearman Field in
Benton, Kansas, the restaurant has become the
favorite fly-in meal destination. This Saturday's
dining experience would be for a late lunch.
Through a stroke of conversational luck, Bill and I casually talked about the flight route before leaving the
aerodrome. Had we not done that, we would have flown different directions only to land at airport restaurants
thirty miles apart! We each had assumed different destination airport. After agreeing to use radio frequency
122.8 as one of two local communication channels available, we pre-flighted our planes. It is nice to make
plans and have others concur before setting out on our flight. Soon after our conversation, at 1:00 PM, Bill and
I launched our planes, his an enclosed cockpit Mini-max and mine an open-cockpit AirBike. I led the way and
set the speed, because I knew the location of the airport and in trip flying, the slower plane goes first.
We flew one thousand feet above the ground, occasionally through
bumpy air. Thirty minutes after starting our flight, we entered Stearman
Field's downwind pattern leg, turned to base, then made our approach on
final. Being in the lead, I landed first on the grass runway paralleling the
concrete. Bill followed, making his best landing ever when someone was
around to see (and score) him. The cheering restaurant crowd gave him
a 9.9, inking their scores on paper napkins and holding them aloft as he
walked through the door. However, later his newly earned pristine image
would be tarnished by an encounter with a hangar wall.
|Outside Air Temperature was
forty-five degrees. Anyplace I
locate a thermometer on my
plane, it will read O.A.T.
Still shivering from the cold flight, I walked into the restaurant wearing
all my flying gear including helmet, goggles, scarf and gloves. Normally
the helmet and ear plugs are removed soon after landing to aid
speaking and hearing. Bill, (the weenie?) in his enclosed cockpit
Mini-max, smugly stated that sometime during the thirty minute flight he
slipped on one glove to prevent his throttle hand from getting cold near
the window vent. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and draped a Leigh around
his neck to further promote his high comfort level in the enclosed
cockpit. Show off!
After I ordered a mug of hot chocolate, used more for warming my
hands than for drinking, we both ordered burgers. Bill ordered an ice
tea! I responded by saying: "Man, it is forty-five degrees out there, how
could you possibly order a cold drink!" Bill just smiled. I then thought
to myself, I am surprised he didn't request a slice of lemon and a fancy
little umbrella to go in the glass.
|Stearman Bar & Grill at the north end of
runway 35 at Benton, Kansas
|The 5,100 foot concrete runway easily handles the Cessna
Citation Jet while the Rans Coyote uses the 3,000 foot long
parallel sod runway
|R/C model planes hang from the ceiling
while beer mugs hang from an unfinished
wooden wing over the bar.
While waiting for our order, I
noticed Bill observing the
restaurant's ambiance, both
the static and moving
"displays". He must not be as
old as he appeares I thought,
as he took particular notice of
a young waitress's
embroidered rear jean pocket
stitching. When I commented
on his attention to detail, he
replied "Hey man I may be old
but I ain't dead!" I think he
said his stitch count was up to
two thirty-nine at the time I
interrupted him. Bill is so
|Tables, bar, and booths provide dining options
suitable to group size and preference. Speedy
table service compliments the tasty food!
Meal finished, we paid our tab, exited the restaurant and walked to our respective planes.
Firing up his Mini-max, Bill taxied from his parking place while I delayed to tend to a fuel leak problem. Within a minute,
Bill's previously earned high image for a great landing would be tarnished. Doing several S-turns to look rearward at
me, he didn't didn't pay enough attention to where he was going. Add the absence of brakes to his lack of focus, and
we have what happened next. A hangar's last two feet of corrugated steel siding suddenly appeared a mere one-half
inch in front of his left wingtip. Instantly, the rap, rap, rap, sound of fiberglass wingtip banging against the siding
created a deafening noise that was amplified by the open hangar which acted like a megaphone!
The repeating staccato noise suddenly stopped; replaced with a continious screech until the sheet metal hooked the
wingtip and held it fast. The engine continued to provide power and, having no brakes, the plane quickly and neatly
pirouetted about the hangar's corner with the wingtip as its pivot. The noise brought the restaurant patrons, line boys,
cooks---even pilots doing touch and goes---out to identify the commotion. Bill's plane had just made the neatest and
fastest 180-degree left turn in recorded history! It also gave new meaning to the phrase "Hangar Rash", a term
typically reserved for damage to the airplane when parked in a community hangar.
|Fuel cost two dollars and sixty cents a gallon; hamburger, fries and a drink--ten dollars, seeing hangar rash actually
Climbing out of the cockpit, Bill looked at his plane, then at the hangar, and threw his hands up in the air displaying
that universal gesture of futility. Unquestionably, he had just left his indelible mark on both the patrons minds and on
the hangar siding. He succeeded in creating the most beautiful red paint stripe on the hangar siding while
simultaneously removing a splotch of color from his plane's wingtip that would make a Rorschach Ink Blot test
designer proud! Later, Bill, attempted to salvage his pride by claiming the event as a meritorious accomplishment. I
thought: nice try Bill, but no one is buying it.
That memorable moment in Bill's flying experience has now been posted in the online aviation bulletin board for all
the world to see. He has added "hangar rash" to his growing list of infamous flying achievements: like using a wheel
rim to pick grass off the runway while learning to land, and an off-airport landing in corn stubble because of a
supposed fuel problem. Then of course, while in flight he once “painted” the fuselage side with oil that escaped from
a blown valve cover gasket. What's next? Keep us entertained, Bill!
|Back at the Selby aerodrome, the hangar crew made
many helpful suggestions for Bill. They included
installing curb feelers (re-identified for this purpose as
"hangar feelers") on the wingtips, hiring wing walkers
when he taxies, replacing the fiberglass wingtips with
rubber ones, and finally, the pinnacle of ludicrousy:
knocking down all hangars at every airport where he
intends to land. I am sure Bill appreciated these
suggestions, the hangar crew will certainly remind him
Perhaps a simple rear-view mirror would have solved
the problem. I know an AirBike pilot who has one.
|Bill, showing shock at the damage done to his
painted wingtip. It was brand new!
|Note to Bill: thanks for being such a sport about this "roast".
|This incident took place on February 27, 2010 and written
by Paul D. Fiebich