Estelle Comes Home

Estelle Comes Home

Estelle in her current livery

The Journey Home

What a great first journey! Estelle arrived at her new home safely in Van Nuys, but the journey was far from smooth. Estelle was built in 1952, and she is sure to have her issues.  On the last day of this journey, the plan was to fly from Albuquerque, NM, Falcon Field in Phoenix, AZ, and into Thermal, CA for an overnight stay. We departed Albuquerque in calm winds and clear skies, it started out as a perfect day.

What a Fuel Pressure Gauge Shouldn’t Indicate

About 80 miles outside of Falcon field Ken looked at Michael and said,

“is that liquid in that instrument?”

Michael looked over and to his dismay, the fuel pressure gauge was filling up with fuel.  Not a good scenario as Estelle is leaking fuel inside the cockpit with 40 minutes of flying until our next stop. Michael reached over, pulled the fire extinguisher from under the co-

pilot seat, and handed it to Ken.  It was the longest 40 minutes of the entire journey for both Michael and Ken.  Estelle made it into Phoenix without further problems but upon landing the tailwheel shimmy was back, now she has two squawks that need attention.

Anybody Seen a Mechanic?

As soon as Michael shutdown Estelle, he began to search for a mechanic. Fortunately, he discovered Falcon Executive Aviation and told them of Estelle’s problems.  He requested that the fuel lines leading to the pressure gauge be capped and to add nitrogen to the tailwheel strut. Twenty minutes later, the chief mechanic appeared and told Michael that he was unable to just cap the fuel lines because the fuel pressure gauge was a required instrument for a turbo charged engine.

$20 Well Spent

Just as it looked certain Estelle would be grounded in Phoenix for the day, the mechanic called Michael over and said,

“Give $20 to this guy for his working fuel pressure gauge.”

Michael whipped out $20 as quickly as he could before the man with the gauge could change his mind.  Later, Michael discovered that the cost of overhauling Estelle’s fuel pressure gauge is $400. This turned out to be another demonstration of how great people are in general aviation when you are in need of their assistance.

Back in the Air

After 3 hours on the ground in Phoenix, Estelle was fixed and back in the air. Because the tailwheel strut was not holding a charge, Michael elected to take on  fuel in Thermal, and push on to our home airport. The remainder of the flight was primarily uneventful.

Michael stated,

“I have to say, this was an incredible first journey.
We took hours and hours of video, we flew over 15 hours and we met a lot of amazing people while crossing this country.”

Estelle is scheduled for a fresh paint job and repairs for a  few small issues.  The next big flight adventure for Estelle is traveling to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in July.


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