A COOL 14,000 FEET
By: Owner / Pilot
Independence Municipal Airport (IIB)
Years ago when I was young and bullet proof, I decided one fine day to fly my relatively new to me Taylorcraft, N39911, aloft to my personal limits. This would have been in the early 1960’s as I purchased my Taylorcraft on June 6, 1960. I remember circling and climbing over my hometown, the Lamont area, for a good twenty minutes. I was alone, and I am sure that I had only one tank with fuel in it so we were climbing lightweight. The Taylorcraft climbed steadily marching upward at 500 feet per minute for the first several minutes. However, as we gained altitude this rate of climb steadily diminished.
Also, it continued to get much colder as we made our way toward the heavens. For each 1,000 feet of gain in altitude you loose about three degrees in temperature. As I was going about 13,000 feet above the surface, I would loose about 39 degrees Fahrenheit. (13 X 3 = 39) It was a great view as the sky was dry and clear with the visibility unlimited. It was one of those days you could see forever. It was in the early morning when I decided upon this adventure and you could easily see the entire eastern border of the State of Iowa from North to South as a layer of fog and haze still remained over the Great Mississippi River Valley.
I knew that a person could pass out due to lack of oxygen and that is why I discontinued the assent even though my craft would have eagerly climbed higher though at a much reduced climb rate. The Taylorcraft has been known to climb as high as 17,000 feet. At the final stages of my climb we were probably only climbing at the rate of 200 feet-per-minute or less. I could no longer see the town of Lamont beneath me even when I banked the Taylorcraft steeply in the turns. I did check my fingernails by pressing on the ends of them to see if they turned blue. However, if I was going to pass out, I am sure this would not have given me a clue in time.
Well, I felt I had climbed as far as I dared. I was getting cold with just a light “Tee” shirt. The mission was accomplished, and it would take a while to descend so I started back down. Now a Taylorcraft is noted for its long wings that produce a great amount of lift. Therefore, the Taylorcraft was in no real hurry to get back to its cow pasture hanger where my father farmed. For every mile you are high you have about seven miles of gliding distance. So take 14,000 feet less the surface ground elevation of about 1,000 feet makes 13,000 feet. Then, divide the 13,000 feet by 5,280 feet in a mile and you get about 2.46 miles or about 2.5 miles high. My gliding distance therefore was seven times 2.5 miles high or a good 17 miles. As the crow flies, that would take me to either the Oelwein Municipal Airport or the Independence Municipal Airport even without an engine. However, I needed to keep my engine warm, as it is not good for them to get too cool on a long descent. So you see getting back down required a bit of time to do also. Coming down was even more fun as the speed was much greater and the view out the windshield was absolutely spectacular to me. Very gradually, I began to warm up again and felt very good about the whole mission.
I also did not use nearly as much fuel on the glide back down to the pasture landing field full of Holstein milk cows. They were so used to my flying over them that they were in no hurry to move down the field and out of the way. What could I do but enjoy more flying time before once again touching down on a 40 rod strip of good runway with another not as good 40 rods of overrun. As I flew by the tall cottonwood tree at the North end of the runway on final I thought once again, “You just cannot beat fun!”
Thursday, October 19, 2006
A COOL 14,000 FEET