Archive for May, 2014

The Deb’s paint job debut!

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Went up to Newburgh, New York’s Stewart International Airport yesterday to pick up the Debonair from the paint shop. And the new paint looks great! Sure looks better than the original paint job, which is at the head of this page!

Don Reese of KD Aviation was on hand to show off the new airplane, and here it is in the paint booth, ready for the light of day:

At KD Aviation's paint shop, ready to go.

At KD Aviation’s paint shop, ready to go.

After months of wearing decals, the paint job is quite a change. It has a clean look, and is somewhat reminiscent of the 2004 “Win-A-Twin” (Comanche) sweepstakes airplane’s paint scheme. And for good reason. The predominant color–the light blue–is called “Bahama Blue,” and it’s the very same paint color used in the Win-A-Twin. I liked it then, I like it now. What do you think?

I flew the new-look Debonair direct from Stewart to AOPA’s home base at Frederick, Maryland in one-hour, 27 minutes. Groundspeeds were in the neighborhood of 155-158 knots. In what seemed like no time, the airplane was on AOPA’s ramp. Word soon got out, and then employees in the AOPA building (in the background of the photo below) came out to give the airplane the once-over.

On AOPA's ramp, front and center

On AOPA’s ramp, front and center

Right now, the objective is to get some air-air photography and video of the Deb. This week’s weather isn’t looking all that good for the Mid-Atlantic, but I’m hoping we can get the shots in between clouds and showers. The plan is to put the Debonair on the cover of AOPA Pilot’s July issue.

The new paint scheme makes its public debut soon. Visitors to the upcoming AOPA regional fly-in at the Indianapolis Regional Airport (KMQJ) on May 31 will be the first to see the new paint job. I’ll be there, so stop on by–after you have your pancakes.

By the way, a show of hands: Who liked the decals better than the final paint job?

 

 

 

The Final Painting

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Time for another Friday post to kick off the weekend, and this time the subject is the Debonair’s paint scheme. As most of you already knew, the Debonair sported a decal-festooned exterior treatment for the past 10 months. The decals, some informative, some humorous, some with historical factoids from 1963 (the Debonair Sweepstakes’ production year) were the brainchild of Craig Barnett of Scheme Designers, who also developed the airplane’s final paint scheme. Which is now being applied.

A few days after AOPA’s  San Marcos regional fly-in, Editor-in-Chief Tom Haines and I made our way to KD Aviation’s paint shop just off taxiway Lima at Newburgh, New York’s Stewart International Airport. There, we left the Debonair with KD’s Don Reese. But we began to wonder about those decals. Would they peel right off, or put up a fight, stay stuck and tear into pieces? We picked away at the edges of the decals with our fingernails, and guess what? They peeled right off. Take a look:

IMG_1852

IMG_1854

As we speak, the first of the paint scheme’s colors are being applied. Here’s what the process looks like:

KD1

 

Then the blue

First the green, then the blue

Right about now you’re probably wondering what the final paint scheme will look like. Some of you may recall that we had a poll of sorts a few months ago, asking for your opinions about various paint schemes that AOPA Design Director Mike Kline and Craig came up with. Some were way out there. One looked like a bumblebee, with black and yellow stripes. Another was dominated by a fiery red theme. Kline wanted to retain a pastel look reminiscent of the undercurrent of many of the 1960s’ prominent design themes (think “Laugh-In” for those of you old enough to remember that show). So the final paint conveys this, as well as the “arrowhead” angular elements that were used in 1963 Debonair factory paint schemes.

The final scheme

The final scheme. Hope you like it!

And for comparison here is a 1963 Debonair in its factory paint scheme,.

And for comparison here is a  historical photo of a 1963 Debonair in its original factory paint scheme.

Well, that’s it for this week. Next time we’ll see the completed paint job in some air-air photography we’re planning.

Debonair showtime: San Marcos, and the stormy trip home

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Its annual and some repairs completed, I picked up the Debonair from Santa Fe Aero Aervices and flew on to the next stop: AOPA’s regional fly-in at the San Marcos, Texas Airport (KHYI). I flew the route at 9,000 feet to stay above the low-level turbulence–and the blowing dust that was plaguing most airports in west Texas. Although skies seemed clear aloft, the ATIS and AWOS reports along the route were advertising surface visibilities hovering around two to three miles in blowing dust and winds up to 30 knots. Here’s a shot of Spur, Texas to give you an idea of the terrain I flew over in west Texas:

Spur, Texas. I can almost hear the theme from the movie "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly." Sure looks lonely down there, like much of west Texas.

Spur, Texas. I can almost hear the theme from the movie “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” Sure looks lonely down there, like much of west Texas.

I shot the RNAV (GPS) runway 17 approach into San Marcos, and broke out through a 1,000-foot overcast. Then it was a taxi to the Deb’s tiedown spot, front and center at the fly-in’s static display.

The next day at 6:30 a.m., yours truly was making his way in the pre-dawn darkness to the Deb’s tiedown spot. Less than an hour later, the first fly-in visitors began arriving–even though the show wasn’t due to begin until 10 a.m. Oh well. This gives you an idea of the fly-in’s–and the Debonair’s–popularity. For the next nine hours, a steady stream of AOPA members and other visitors made a stop by the Debonair. Some came back two and three times. It was gratifying to hear that so many had been following the Debonair’s progress, and there were plenty of positive comments all around. It was great day–and even though the overcast posed some challenges, more than 2,500 enthusiasts visited the fly-in. I think we’re on to something.

The Debonair on static display at San Marcos.

The Debonair on static display at San Marcos.

Back when the Debonair project started, we had some baseball hats made up with the Debonair sweepstakes logo. Last year, we gave away 150 hats, which depleted our supply. So I reordered another batch. I brought along 30 hats for the San Marcos fly-in, and by mid-afternoon the supply was down to a mere two hats. That’s when AOPA member Mark Kiedrowski stopped by the airplane. He’d been an enthusiastic follower of the Debonair project, and his Dad–a pilot during the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift–owned a Debonair. So I awarded the last two hats to Mark. After I returned home, there was an email of Mark and his Dad in their Debonair hats. Nice.

Mark (left) and his Dad, wearing their Debonair hats.

Mark (left) and his Dad, wearing their Debonair hats.

After the San Marcos fly-in was over, I launched on the return trip to AOPA’s home field at Frederick, Maryland. It would be a long trip, so I could have theoretically made the 1,000-nm journey non-stop, given the favorable winds. However, nature intervened in the form of widespread areas of thunderstorm complexes. No way could I go direct with any degree of certainty. The gaps between the storms were too narrow, and I could visualize them closing up as the trip progressed. I opted for a route that took me from San Marcos to Lufkin, Texas, then eastward along a route that stretched to north of Baton Rouge, then eastward along a route running through south Alabama. Once past Montgomery, Alabama the ship’s route could turn to the northeast for a fuel stop at the Athens, Georgia airport. Almost five hours after takeoff I was on the ground at Athens, gassing up for the final, 2.7 hour leg to AOPA’s home base at the Frederick, Municipal Airport.

The Debonair has the luxury of having both XM WX and FIS-B datalink sources of radar information, so circumnavigating the massive storm complex to the north was comparatively easy. Here’s a couple shots of the situation that day:

My diversion around what certainly looks like a hook echo. Next stop: Atehns, Georgia.

My diversion around what certainly looks like a hook echo on the XM WX image. And look at all the lightning in the parent storm cell. Next stop: Athens, Georgia.

 

The ADS-B flight information system-broadcast (FIS-B) image of the same storm setup, as shown on the airplane's iPad Mini, running the Garmin Pilot app.

The ADS-B flight information system-broadcast (FIS-B) image of the same storm setup, as shown on the airplane’s iPad Mini, running the Garmin Pilot app.

 

The view outside the cockpit during the storm complex deviation.

The view outside the cockpit during the storm complex deviation.

So after a full, 7.7-hour day of flying, the Debonair was back in its hangar at Frederick, awaiting its next trip: a visit to KD Aviation’s paint shop at the Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. More on that in the next post.