Behind, Behind the Scenes
What a fantastic day, filming with Flightline TV. It began with waking to sunshine blazing through the hotel window. It was 6:30 am and in just a few short hours I would be flying formation with an AT-6, filming an episode for The Flightline TV.
We met with Mark, Paul and Mike of Flightline TV at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport where they equipped Estelle with 2 externally and 1 internally mounted Cameras. Then, they equipped their AT-6 with two externally mounted cameras and one internally mounted camera guy, Mark. We departed Flying Cloud to the West where we rendezvoused over Lake Waconia for a 30 minute air to air shoot. It was great, Paul would fly formation with Estelle, 20 feet off her wingtip, while Mark shot all the photos and video he could get. Then we would fly formation off Paul’s AT-6, flying closely in trail, off his wing and tucked underneath all for the sake of capturing great video for their TV Show. After flying for about 30 minutes we headed toward Winsted Municipal Airport, located just 45 miles West of St. Paul Minnesota. Winsted is a 3248 foot grass runway, surrounded by trees and crops. I don’t know why but it just feels right to land on a grass runway. The tires don’t chirp, the landing feels soft even if the landing isn’t the best. I was in nirvana, this is the flying I dream of.
While we were at Winsted we did the interview portion of the show, definitely not my favorite part of the day, but it was worth the flying we got to do. After the interview I had the opportunity to take Estelle up solo for some low passes and landings that they shot for use in the show.
From Winsted Minnesota we parted ways with the guys from Flightline TV and we pointed Estelle towards the Wisconsin Dells. Again, the flight was great the weather was cooperative and we saw some great scenery along the route. It wasn’t until after landing that our day was thrown a curveball.
When I stepped out the the airplane at Baraboo Wisconsin Dells I was confronted with an airplane coated in oil. There was oil down the side, covering the door, dripping off the landing gear and completely coating the bottom of Estelle. We left a solid drip line from the engine cowling to the tailwheel. I stood there for a couple minutes in disbelief, what am I going to do about this. I decided to send Ken into town to figure out our accommodations and I took the tool bag out of the baggage compartment and went to work. It took me about 20 minutes to get the cowling and accessory panels removed without scratching them. Once I had access I looked and scoped and peered and stared, trying to figure out the source of the leak. Everything behind the cylinders and lower than mid engine was dripping oil, I don’t know how I was supposed to determine the source when everything was soaked. I decided to clean everything and do a ground run hoping to identify the source. After the ground run I couldn’t see a single drip of oil, this made me think, maybe I over-serviced the oil tank and it decided to overflow. I was left with little choice, I spent 30 minutes putting everything back together so I could take it on a test flight. I flew for about 15 minutes and taxied back in. I shutdown, crossed my fingers and stepped out of the airplane. DDOOOOHHH!!! Oil everywhere. Guess I am going to have to take another look, that will have to be tomorrow. Every adventure poses its unique challenges, I will learn from each challenge.