Mid-Life Annual, Checkup, and Return to Service for Charlie

Charlie returned home today after what I am kind of thinking of as a “mid-life checkup. This year’s annual we dug in a little deeper than most require, did a couple upgrades, and generally tried to make sure her mid-life checkup didn’t have any major hiccups. The goal is to keep being good caretakers of this now 76-year-old chariot of the sky!

I was pretty happy to get reacquainted with her and spend a little time in the air between some low ceilings and afternoon rain as she delivered me back home. I tucked her into a freshly swept hangar that had been empty for a little over a month in her absence.

But that month wasn’t because the mechanics working on her were sitting idle. This annual inspection included a bit of work.

A special thanks to Dave and Paul who were willing to spend the time working with Charlie this year to give her engine some extra TLC. Changing old stamped metal rocker arms over to forged ones along with the rocker shafts on all 6 cylinders took some time. While they were in there doing that, a cylinder also got overhauled. So did the magnetos!

Some planned work was in the mix to change the tires; the old ones were getting worn and it was time. A tailwheel was also changed and the tailwheel springs were adjusted for better steering and to eliminate some of the tailwheel shimmies that I experienced sometimes when I set the tail down at higher speeds. Some paint touchups on the cowling and a few fairings were also in order as they have gotten beat up over the years.

VGs also got added! I will report that in just the one flight I had today with them on I can feel a difference. Maybe I am nuts, but it does feel like I have a little better slow-speed controllability and a little slower stall speed. At least it felt that way to me on my landings.

On the way home, we didn’t go straight there, we had to dip into a nice local grass field for a quick touch-and-go to let her new shoes (tires) feel the softness of some grass before subjecting her to the pavement back at home in Allegan. A little less than a half hour after takeoff, and three landings later, I was again tailwheel passenger current for a new 90-day period and we were ready to start the flying season.

Put to bed for today, and based on the weather forecasts for a couple more days, Charlie was fueled and gets to rest a little bit more before she becomes my ride to the summer season of checkrides I have planned. Looking forward to more time together in the air Charlie!

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About Jason Blair

Jason Blair is an active single and multiengine instructor and an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner with over 6,000 hours total time, over 3,000 hours of instruction given, and more than 3000 hours in aircraft as a DPE. In his role as Examiner, over 2,000 pilot certificates have been issued. He has worked for and continues to work with multiple aviation associations with the work focusing on pilot training and testing. His experience as a pilot and instructor spans nearly 20 years and includes over 100 makes and models of aircraft flown. Jason Blair has published works in many aviation publications with a focus on training and safety.

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