What is The Trailing Edge?

Mr. Bearhawks' Wild Ride -- my article as published in KITPLANES about a harrowing encounter with extreme turbulence

A Bearhawk Time Machine -- Using the Bearhawk to take me back in time by flying over a remote test site that my Dad told me about multiple times as a place where he had been a Flight Test Engineer (FTE) six years before I was born. It was a weird yet wonderful way to connect with a part of my Dad's past, even after he was no longer with us.

Flying a Piece of History -- C-53D Skytrooper -- a report on my chance to fly a militarized DC-3 that was a bona fide World War II D-Day veteran. I also totally geek out over the extremely early technology of retractable landing gear.

Survival Rations Taste Test -- In 1981 I was a survival instructor for the Air Force SERE program as a cadet at the USAF Academy. I've been carrying survival rations and water flex packs in my Bearhawk survival kit for years, and some of them were expiring. I bought replacements, and used the expiring supplies to finally find out what I was in for if I ever needed to consume them "in anger".

Fulfilling a Childhood Dream -- Operating a GM EMD E-8A Locomotive -- Besides being a long time airplane geek, I'm also a long time train geek. I stumbled across a program at the Southern Califonia Railway Museum where you could "rent" a locomotive and instructor for an hour for about $350. I couldn't pass up this chance to operate a 340,300 pound horizontal yo-yo.

An Ode To Friction -- My good friend "Stormy" Weathers went nuts one day and wrote a poem about friction. It was so wonderful I just had to share it.

Bearhawk Auxiliary Flap Handle -- Planting your face into the instrument panel is a less than desirable way to operate any primary control on an aircraft. After years of noodling I finally came up with a way to adress some of the undesirable features of operating the flaps. As a bonus, I finally got to use that T-38 parachute D-ring I had been carrying around since my days as a survival instructor 40 years previous.

Dealing with Unclean Power (Voltage Spikes) -- A hardware and software solution to debounce an input to stop the rain of simulated bombs all over the Antelope Valley.

Over-Voltage Ignition Woes -- Gary Aldrich told me his tale of woe trying to troubleshoot why his Skywagon engine would randomly quit in flight for a few seconds. I asked his permission to publish it to the Trailing Edge audience in hopes that it would help someone else who might run into a similar issue.

USAF Thunderbirds Smoke Oil -- During an opportunity to observe a practice session of the USAF Thunderbirds (briefing, flight, debriefing) I noticed that they use a lot of smoke oil. A lot, like 330 gallons per show...

Flight Test of a Replica Lilienthal Glider -- Link to a wonderful YouTube video program about constructing and testing a replica Lilienthal glider, with buildup through wind tunnel to flight test. Also a link to see Lilienthal's glider test hill.

The Fracture Mechanic -- Stormy has been at it again, even though he says that "Engineer Poetry" probably won't catch on like "Cowboy Poetry". This time the subject is cracks, fatigue, and structural strength.

Measuring the Aerotow Box -- Budding glider pilots learn to fly a maneuver called "Boxing the Wash" or "Boxing the Wake". Having done this maneuver hundreds of times, I always wondered just how big it was. I finally figured out a way to measure it. Spoiler: It's smaller than it looks.

Bearhawk 20 Minute Flight Test -- Report from a "20 Minute Flight Test" done for a University of Missouri Kansas City professor visiting TPS.

Why You May Want to Use Supplemental Oxygen at Lower Altitudes Than Required -- A discussion of Altitude Induced Fatigue, or how using supplemental oxygen at altitudes below the FAA mandated altitudes may help you arrive not feeling so tired. Also discusses pulse oximeters, portable oxygen systems, setting up your own oxygen filling station, and why Aviators Breathing Oxygen, Medical Oxygen, and Welder's Oxygen are really all the same stuff with different labels.

Bearhawk Starter Replacement -- During a condition inspection, bumping the Skytec 122-NL starter showed parts moving that shouldn't. Sky-Tec replaced this starter under warranty even though the starter was well out of warranty because the problem had been identified as an engineering weakness five years earlier.

A Weird FCF and Some Recreational Maths -- A post-condition inspection Functional Check Flight with a large number of unexpected events. Managing changes to the plan and breaking the safety chain.

A Near Tale of Woe, or "The Fracture Mechanic Strikes Again!" -- An observant pilot breaks the safety chain and stops a propeller from parting company with its engine and airplane.

Why Thunderstorms Form in the Summer and Why You Have to Drain Your Air Compressor -- You may know that humidity is affected by temperature, but did you realize that pressure can be used to remove water vapor from the air?

Bearhawk In-Flight Flap Measurement -- The Bearhawk uses a Piper style cable system to deploy the flaps. Because of cable stretch, the flaps don't actually deflect as much in flight as on the ground. This test quantifies the difference.

Oshkosh 2023 Flight Notes -- Notes to myself to remember what happened on the flights to and from Oshkosh. Also recommendations to myself on how to plan differently the next time.

Oshkosh 2023 Photo Essay -- Photos and captions that tell part of the story of attending AirVenture 2023. Includes my favorite feature - "Weird Things You See at Oshkosh".

These Are A Few of My Favorite Motions -- From guest contributer Mujahid Abdulrahim of the University of Missouri Kansas City, we get an insight into why these three visceral motions are his favorite to experience.

Ford Trimotor Pax Qual -- I step into a time warp back to 1928 to experience early airline flight. There's no TSA to deal with, but the noise level is just as bad!

Little Yeastie -- Stormy Weathers has been communing with his muse again, and his inspiration this time is a poem celebrating monocellular yeast organisms. Enjoy!

Lee Erb, A Eulogy -- I finally got around to committing to text an approximation of the Eulogy I delivered for my Father on 28 February 2020. Written from the original note cards.

Qualitative Evaluation of a Gyroplane -- Ever wonder what it would be like to fly a Gyroplane? No better way to find out than getting an introductory flight. Until you do that, read about Karl's and my experience at Adventure Air in Chino CA. Highly recommended!

EAA SportAir Sheet Metal Workshop -- A guest blog from Glenn Nicholson who attended a workshop at Flabob International Airport and came away confident that he had the ability to build his dream RV-8A.

Notes on being a Tow Pilot -- Notes for those interested in learning to tow gliders based on my limited experience with a focus on operations at Mountain Valley Gliderport (L94)

O Solo Me! -- An inspirational tale of Glenn Nicholson's first solo

What Happened To My Navigator? -- Part of Stormy's therapy as a recovering navigator is to look back at why navigators, once very common in aircraft, have mostly gone the way of the A - N radio range

Celestial Navigation in Theory and Practice -- Stormy was good enough to write up this explanation of how celestial navigation works so that I could better remember what I did one time back in 1982

The Origins of Evil Editor Zurg -- So how exactly does one go from reigning terror and destruction across the galaxy and being the singular nemesis of Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, to being the editor of an EAA Chapter newsletter? The story of a 20 year inside joke of EAA Chapter 1000 and the editor of this web site.

My First Cross-Country Solo Adventure...with a Twist -- Glenn Nicholson sets out on his first solo cross country but doesn't get there, and learns about dealing with unexpected changing conditions

Why Is There Oil All Over My (Airplane) Belly? -- A discussion of the purpose of the crankcase breather and the ins and outs of engine lubrication, complete with some gratuitous trigonometry

An Introduction To Grid Navigation -- What do you mean I need to fly south to go to the North Pole? Navigating at extreme north and south latitudes requires using a different navigation paradigm

The State of Surreality -- I can't believe I just did that! -- Glenn Nicholson tries his first solo cross country again, this time with better weather, and actually makes it to Bakersfield and back

My Teetertotter is Broken -- Stormy attacks the myth that aircraft weight and balance is just like a teetertotter. Yes, there is some usefulness in that metaphor, but like all models, the analogy eventually breaks down.

I Have an Electromagnetic Interference Problem -- Please Schedule the BAF -- So you plug your computer in to charge and the VHF radio becomes unusable? How does that happen?

Alone and Unafraid in Unfamiliar Territory -- Glenn Nicholson continues his quest for a Private Pilot License, this time flying his "Long Cross Country".

E-Mail: Contact Evil Editor Zurg at

Revised -- 5 June 2024