|Have you ever had one of those experiences while flying that caused your heart to jump, fanny to pucker and eyes enlarge to the size of a of twin gas caps? I did while enroute to display my Air-Bike at the Oklahoma City Air Show Aerospace America in the Fall of '03. Let me tell you about it. "There I was ....."|
|Flying low at about 300' to stay out of a strong headwind, my plane suddenly started diving at about a 10 degree angle. I hauled back on the stick thinking I was in a wind shear. Soon I added power and pulled the stick further back, this enabled me to hold altitude and climb a little. This was not wind shear!
A brief look in the mirror told me all of my empennage was still following me, I leaned out of the cockpit and gazed at the engine to see if the two forward mounting bolts had failed, they hadn't. Then, WANG! A sheet metal noise above my head caused me to look up. What used to be a dirty skylight, now was clear blue sky! The clear plastic skylight in the center section fairing had first puckered up like a scoop then blown off!
The skylight window was held on with double-sided carpet tape and that famous 200 MPH silver airplane tape. I knew my Air-Bike was going fast but not that fast!
|With an unusual flash of brilliance, I grabbed a spare shirt from the forward storage compart-ment and stuffed it into the hole. This stopped the air leak from destroying the lift and allowed me to regain some altiude.
With shirt arm waving out the hole, I made a precautionary landing at Sundance Airport to make repairs. This must have been quite a sight while coming in to land!
|Shirt stuffed into hole left by missing skylight window.|
|Steve Schiffner, an Alliance Real Estate Group agent, saw me in the Sundance Airport pattern and watched me land. After looking at the shirt sleeve protruding from my wing he realized I had a problem.
We hopped in Steve's car and he drove me to a hangar where one of his buddies was working on his plane. He gave me a roll of duct tape. I said, if it works on a duck, it will work on an Air-Bike!
|It took about 15' of duct tape to close up the hole and secure it. This restored the wing airfoil and stopped the air leak.
Not too pretty but, hey, it worked!
|Duct tape repair covers hole where skylight window was.|
|Following my return to Derby, Ks after the Oklahoma City Airshow and suffering the indignity of displaying my temporary duct tape repair, I fixed the skylight properly. This time I used double-sided tape, 200 mph silver aircraft tape AND mechanical fasteners. This baby's not coming off again!Enough of that!|
|This permenant repair looks better than the original. This time I painted the metal fairing to match the fuselage color.|
|New window in place|
|Summary Page will take you to the
Oklahoma City Airshow America web pages.