The Beacon

September 2021



The next breakfast follows the chapter meeting this Saturday. We'll remind you here of the governor's new masking orders.

At both the chapter and board meetings, Greg LePine, the chapter president, has noted we remain short on cooks for the twice monthly breakfasts. While he has pressed board members who aren't busy in other roles to help out at the breakfasts, it would be nice if other members volunteered to help one week a year. If cooking isn't your style, how about dish washing afterwards, or even helping set up the tables the Friday afternoon before the Saturday breakfasts?

At the chapter meeting, Tom O'Toole was thanked for organizing the chapter lunch at OSH this year. It's noted that at OSH, a chapter that can put 12 members in the breakfast kitchen there is allowed to keep the profits, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Do talk to Greg if you plan to be at OSH and would be willing to help with such a fund raising effort for the chapter.


Dick Barthel and Rich and Dan Gilbert were this year's nominating committee to select a slate for the board for 2022. At the August board meeting, Dick presented the results of their inquiries. Since all the current board members are willing to serve another year, and since no one else was eager to take a board seat, the committee's slate is simply the current board. Dick encourages any one wishing to volunteer to contact the committee; it's not too late to add your name to the ballots for November.


The treasurer, Rob Meyer, reviewed chapter finances at the August board meeting. Funds in long term investments (stock mutual funds) continue to rise. It was suggested to him it might be time to move some of this to cash. Rob noted we have already made one such move earlier this year, leaving the chapter's savings with about 40% in cash. This is deemed plenty sufficient, although the investment committee will consider the matter the next time they meet.

What to do with our savings also came up at the board meeting. While some feel it would be best to spend it, others advocate preserving it as an income producing endowment. Also, a major spending project, such as an airplane build to teach local high schoolers aircraft construction, requires a significant time investment from the chapter's most experienced builders. We can't reliably get enough cooks for the breakfasts, so getting members to volunteer the day or more a week required to help kids learn building is probably a stretch. It was noted that such builds typically have one mentor per two kids on the project.

The audit committee plans to wait until late December to review the 2020 finances and at the same time do the 2021 audit.

Youth Programs

In late August, the Ray Scholarship program wrote they have decided to release more funds for 2021, and our chapter was asked if we could find a second candidate for this year. Our program director, Rob Meyer, has already begun the paperwork and is calling on previously interviewed candidates who were not chosen.


Jolene Miller, the chapter's Ray Scholar for 2021, has an update, including a photo from her recent flight over Lacon:

I have been super busy the past month flying every chance I can get. I have included a few pictures this month, and I am excited to see you all for breakfast on Saturday. I have completed all of my Solo XC requirements, and have almost completed my required solo hours. I scheduled my written test for next week. I am beyond excited to get my license very very soon!

Miller near Lacon

Chase Leason had been helping around the hangar for several months this year before his family moved to Arizona. He recently sent along a selfie at his new EAA home, in the Mesa chapter.

We have a spot reserved for the EAA Advanced Air Academy at the next OSH. This camp is for kids 16 to 18 years old and overlaps half of AirVenture. All chapters had to reapply this year for next summer's camps. We typically cover one half of the $1,600 fee.

VMC and IMC Club

The VMC Club meets this coming Sunday at 6:30. In addition to the Pilot Workshops scenario, we'll look at some of this month's materials from HQ.

The IMC Club meets the following Sunday, 9/12, in the hangar at 6:00. The club's fly-out scheduled for last weekend was postponed. The airport restaurant at Janesville didn't think they could accommodate all 13 people planning to attend; regardless some of the airplanes were down for maintenance. Rescheduling should be a topic at their next meeting.


Thanks go to member Joe Troglio who has donated a powder coating system and oven. It's available in the hangar and can take parts up to 12x15x16 inches.

LSA Maintenance

One advantage to the LSA category is the relative ease to obtain from the FAA the Inspection Rating for an experimental LSA you own but did not build. The Maintenance Rating, which is more like an A&P rating and lets you work on any LSA, is also much simpler to earn. Details can be found in the article "LSA Maintenance Training—A Rare Opportunity" in the August/September issue of Midwest Flyer magazine. This magazine is free and published on-line. The article covers the courses taught by Rainbow Aviation in Missouri.


Joe Ernst's daughter is now a first officer on 737's with United.

Flying the F-84F

Three issues back, this F-84F sitting near Wenona, IL was mentioned. Chapter member Dewey Fitch flew these in the Air National Guard and is happy to talk about them.


The F-84 was flown at PIA from 1957 until 1969. These were early models of the swept wing F-84 and had the "split tail" horizontal stabilizer instead of the full flying one used later. The F-84 was not a suitable air superiority fighter, a role which was left to the F-86 and F-100. Instead, it was used for ground support, including the delivery of tactical nuclear bombs, for which the Peoria group would practice.

The tactical nuclear delivery involved coming in at 500 kt at 500 ft then making a 4 G pull up from over the target. When a specific angle of flight was reached in the maneuver, the bomb was released and the F-84 hoped it could high tail it far enough away from the blast to survive. Pilots were trained how to arm their own bombs on the ground, but these were never carried over the U.S.

The F-84 had automatic slats, and like the Messerschmidt from WW-II, these had a habit of deploying one side before the other in high g maneuvers. This lead to the slats being screwed down, making worse the low speed handling of the airplane. It was thought a drag chute would help with the longer landing roll, but they had a habit of freezing into a useless ball. Pilots tried to keep the nose high as far as they could on roll-out, but not so high the tail would drag the pavement, as with the pose of that hapless F-84F in Wenona.

Asked if the moniker "Lead Sled" was earned, Dewey confirmed it was "a dog." Take-off performance was especially poor, and engine spool up was very sluggish. The slow engine response was part of two fatal accidents at the Peoria Guard, when the engines could not produce power soon enough to recover from a stall. The other fatal crash was believed to simply be pilot exhaustion after a particularly long day working in a local factory.

Otherwise, the swept wing F-84 handled nicely, and while their primary mission was bombing, the pilots would engage in mock aerial fighting. Pilots enjoyed one cross country flight per quarter, and Dewey liked to fly to Boston for lobster after work on Friday, returning before lunch on Saturday. The naval air station at Boca Chica in the Florida Keys was another popular destination.

The slight anhedral to the wings, to counteract the effect of wing sweep, lead to marker lights being added to the body so pilots could orient themselves to other planes in a night formation. Amazingly, the planes arrived with nothing more than an ADF for navigation. Pilots would depend on guidance by ground radars via ATC. Later, a TACAN was added.

The group was deployed overseas during the Berlin crisis and patrolled the East German border, watching the contrails of their counterparts on the other side. Dewey was the pilot on the last F-84 to fly off the PIA base in 1969, but one F-84 remains in the outdoor museum inside the ANG base at PIA. It can be seen in the satellite views of the base on various on-line maps.


Greg LePine

The O-235 Greg rebuilt for his F4U was fired up in mid July, but first a short in the starter system had to be located and corrected. Sadly, the woes with his back has lead him to place an ad on Barnstormers to sell this project, which is ready for flight testing. Clambering into a skinny cockpit from atop the sloped wing of a taildragger isn't for someone with a bad back.

Karl and Kip Kleimenhagen
Getting two kids off to college and other chores was more time consuming than estimated, and there was little progress this past month. Whether I'll tackle the covering of the fuselage yet this fall depends on how well my experiments with the PolyFiber system go in the coming weeks. I may choose to leave the covering to spring and instead resume work on the mess of wing kit for the fall.
Rob and Jeff Meyer

Jeff's Onex first flew in late August. Tests on the ground and in the air suggest prop wash is affecting the pitot port. As on other Onexes, the pitot is mounted on the stub wing, and it appears the wash can add well over 10 mph to IAS.

On Rob's Zenith 750 Super Duty:

The major news for the Zenith is we picked up the fuselage and finishing kit in Mexico, MO. Thanks again to Kent Lynch for letting us borrow his trailer. We have inventoried all the parts and have a few parts they will need to ship to us. We now have all of the airframe kits at our workshop. We will be getting the 0-360-A4M Thunderbolt engine from Lycoming before year end to avoid their 13% price increase. We still need to order the firewall forward kit from Zenith and the panel/avionics from SteinAir.

Zenith crate
Josh Mattson

While my little PL-4 project in the corner of the EAA 563 hangar seems to be stagnant, it in fact is very much alive. Admittedly, I haven't been able to get as much done on it as I would have hoped for this summer (isn't that always the case when building airplanes?). Several military trips and an A&P course in Tennessee really ate up my time.

Nevertheless, the table of parts I spent most of the spring working on is now being fitted to the airplane. Much of the work the past two weeks has been focused on fitting the landing gear beam. This is the part of the fuselage structure in which the landing gear is attached to the fuselage. It also serves to distribute the landing load throughout the fuselage and main spar (but we never have hard landings, right?). I'm about 80% done with final drilling and reaming all the required holes for that assembly, then all the clecos holding it together will come out. The parts will be deburred, cleaned, etched and alodined, painted, numbered, then set aside for riveting and final assembly into the airplane.

A request from our members:

1) Does anyone know of a good machine shop in the area that would be willing to bend up some plate .063 aluminum into a channel for me? I have tried MSI but was very disappointed with their quality of work. I would do it myself but the radius of bend needs to be .16" and I don't have the equipment to meet that requirement.

2) I have found that the landing gear that came with my project will be unsuitable for reuse. I therefore need access to .625" thick plate 4340 steel. I'm planning to have the shape cut out by water jet CNC. However I will need someone reliable to make the required bends. If anyone knows of a shop somewhere that has access to the required material and/or has the bending capabilities, please let me know.

If you see me working away in the back of the hangar, stop by and say hello.

John Tillotson

John now has two children under 2 years of age, so there has been no recent progress on his RV-8. On the bright side, he's looking at the investment in time with kids to pay off in form of little RV-8 builders in the future. A mini-split being added to the garage (RV assembly bay) should increase the available hours for building once he has time to build again. Congratulations, John, on your second child!



Water damage not long ago to the radio and WiFi systems at 3MY has been repaired. While the initial repair of the WiFi left it with relatively slow, 0.5 Mbps service, by the end of August this had been remedied.

Embraer Phenom 300

Greg snapped a photo of a NetJets Embraer Phenom 300 which stopped by the field mid July. Flight tracking shows these rent-a-jets do get around. It's remarkable how many half hour flights are made, perhaps for repositioning the aircraft for its next hire.

Greg has talked with Gene Olson at the Aiport Authority about the SayWeather system for CTAF at uncontrolled airports. It's less expensive than an AWOS.

Currently, the city's storm water sewerage bill for 3MY amounts to half of what the airport clears in hangar rent and fuel sales. This sewer fee is not paid by either the schools or the road department, so the airport is holding back the money. They are looking at getting funds from the FAA to manage water run off and are also looking at lengthening and widening the runway at the same time.

Funds to make sun shades for the picnic tables the chapter installed at the FBO are not currently available in the airport budget. Instead of buying a commercial fabric job, we could do it ourselves with aluminum sheet, but volunteers would be needed.