Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 1 ''Let's hit the road''

Hello all,

Well,  I will be lying to you if I told you I am not excited because I am!  Big time excited. butterflies and all.
In less than 12 hours, at 14:30 UTC (05:30 California time) we will be rolling down 16R here in KVNY and starting  a one hell of an adventure that will take us who knows where?

In the last two days, Shiko and I were busy with the final setup the airplane's Radio, Intercom and Go-Pro camera mounts as well as distributing weight correctly in the airplane while closely monitoring our center of gravity.  Although  personally packed very light, we have lots of  ''Equipment and furnishings'' items  that need to come on board. Lap tops and chargers, Mechanic's tool bag, cold weather gear (for our early morning departures) and a small but heavy duffel bag full of portable tie down equip.  and chocks.

Also, we could not do  without  some  cleaning  and buffing dirt off  the airplane using the good old Simple Green  to get her clean and shiny for the world to marvel . She is a true eye candy.

Testing 123...123 testing.  Setting GoPro angles

Follow me

So there are a number of  ways you can follow us live.

 1)    You can follow our SPOT GEN 3 beacon and see our  progress + history as we  make radial engine noise over the 
   California central coast. This beacon pings Google maps in 10 minute intervals as long as the airplane is in motion. 
  This option gives position only.

 2)     You can log on to Flight Aware website and key in our ''Tail Number''  N67119 . This will show us live from local ATC          Radar feeds.

 3)     A similar option is Flight Radar 24 (download the free app). same thing - key in our Tail number and voila.

 4)     I am not really sure if I need to file an FAA VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flight plan in order to ''get into the system''        and be seen. (I will file one anyway, before our departure) We have our good friend Lahav Gabai monitor these systems                   tomorrow during our first leg to San  Luis Obispo.

Lahav and Gideon Came by  the hangar this afternoon with a water melon surprise.Thank you boyz.  You came at the right time 

Tomorrow's Flight plan:

We will leave KVNY and head to KSBP for a quick fuel stop.
Then we will plan to fly along the coast to Monterey bay, another possible fuel stop at Watsonville and on towards Half Moon Bay. From there up to the Golden Gate Bridge and into the Napa/Sonoma area where we will make our overnight stop. 
This is one of the longest planned days in our journey. most days will stay at or around 4 hours. 

 Day's Stats:

Distance to fly:  348 nautical miles.
Planned Flight:  aprox    4:40 hrs 
Fuel Burn :        aprox    70 Gallons.

So we took off early Saturday from VNY and headed up the coast to SBP. while enroute my good friend Lahav    came up the whatsup channel and said he had just passed Santa Yinez and will meet us for breakfast at the airport restaurant. What a pleasant surprise. We quickly fueled at the Self Serve and taxied up to the restaurant (Spirit of San Luis). had a great
breakfast and ofcours since I am such a seasoned   VFR  pilot, Naturally I forgot to close my flight plan. My phone soon rang and the FSS guy on the other end said he was just about to dispatch a search and rescue possy.  We later took off from San Luis Obispo and headed to our first overnite stop: Petaluma While Lahave is chasing us in his Jetranger Helicopter and taking great shots of the stearman. Thank you Lahav.

  Stiff  headwinds forced us to drop into Watsonville for a refuel. Met some really nice people and found their reaction to our story amazing. some Stearman U.S.Tour  patches were given out to the ladies in the crowd.

Petaluma proved to be a  challenge.  but landing  N67119 in a 12 knots headwind  was uneventful.  We filled up and were looking for a hotel for the night when a local came walking and said.. ''You boys got nothing here close. Its a cab ride everywhere, there is no Uber and no one to call us a cab. I guess 33C temperature kept everyone inside... ''You better continue up to Santa Rosa'... A quick check of the Santa Rosa airport weather called for 5 knots down the runway. No problem. We took off and within 15 minutes were in the traffic pattern on a left downwind to runway 14. 'Wind check?  tower comes back with- ''wind 350 12 knots gusting to 19 knots '' WOW!! what a day... will there be a tomorrow?
I quickly recited all the good tips and methods taught to me by my friend Chris Miller of the Springfield Flying Service of Columbia CA who is a master and instructor of Stearman flying.
Landing was made on runway 32  in a diagonal across the runway and that helped me shave off a few degrees of crosswind. Not the best of landings but hey I walked away and the airplane is still in one piece.

Rest of the evening was spent swimming in the Russian river and having a diner style dinner before we needed to return the crew car to the FBO

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Blogger to Facebook

Blogger to Facebook

I've linked this blog to our Facebook page ''Stearman U.S. Tour 2017''.
in addition to receiving updates as I upload new posts, y'all will be able to follow via FB...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Week to go

''A week to go...''

   We are 6 days away from our departure.  I am here in L.A working my  last trip prior to going on my extended time off.  Spending most of my time here trying to take care of all the odds and ends of  unfinished and incomplete tasks involving the journey.
Lynx Powered Radio Interface.
A great product, but not for the Stearman
Still dealing with com problems and awaiting our avionics guy to gut out the old Lynx system we had installed previously and replace it with  a standard AA80 intercom unit. Although designed for use in a high noise environment, the Lynx system proved incompatible with our King KY97a transceiver  and with our high noise open cockpit. So it's Back to David Clark Headsets and helmets. 
DC    H-10-13.4

Also still to be accomplished:
  • Compasses need to be swung, calibrated and compass cards installed.
  • Pitot Static check.
  • Gust lock needs some adjusting.
  • Wheels need  new tires and inner tubes installed.
All in all about half a days' work.

I am flying back to Israel on Monday and will return here on Thursday or Friday.
Moshe Kedar will arrive here a few days early and will use the time on his hands to supervise the finals,  practice more landings and get better acquainted with N67119.  

My next post will carry the title ''Day 1''



Sunday, July 2, 2017


Hi Y'all and Shalom,      

  My name is Yori Meerovich.  I am an Airline Captain rapidly approaching my 60th birthday with a very special fondness for a 75 years  old airplane called  the Boeing Stearman

    I've lived and worked in the U.S. for more than 17 years and although I flew big jets all over it, I never really got to see it the proper way.

So, here I am finally making my dream come true. This summer, I will attempt to fly my Stearman  N67119 in a most ambitious cross country flight and land in every state of the lower 48.

   I will fly with my wife, my kids, my friends, colleagues and  on some legs (Solo) by myself . Not only I hope to meet as many interesting and friendly  people as I can,  interact with my blog readers,  but also, once again, come to appreciate this magnificent country called the United States of America.

KVIS first fuel stop following a 2+ hour
Test flight.  June 2017
So here goes..

The airplane:   

N67119 was built in 1943 in Wichita KS and for the first four years of its life served in the Army Aircorps as a primary trainer of airmen in various Army  flight schools and airbases.  In 1952 it was sold for $500 to a civilian Crop Dusting Company based in Bakersfield CA . The plane, Boeing A75N1 model PT-17  baring serial number 75-4622 was now sporting its Civilian markings N67119.
On a hot summer day on August 22nd 1970 while on a low pass, spraying Alfalfa, the plane's landing gear collided with a dirt mound at the field's edge, resulting in a crash. The pilot survived but N67119 was badly damaged and was sent to  the airport's ''Corrosion Corner'' to slowly turn into dust.
  Nine years passed until the wreck was bought by a Los Angeles couple, who for the next 2-3 years completely restored it and gave it a new lease on life. N67119 returned to the air in 1982.
Now fitted with a new engine, a Continental Motor W670-6A, a beautiful  polished Aluminum Hamilton Standard Propeller, a Generator, a king KY97A comm, and a Mode C Xponder, N67119 will spend the next 35 years flying rides in airshows and fly-ins  and even once made a visit to the National Stearman Fly-in in Galesburg IL.

   I crossed paths with N67119 by a pure chance. I was just returning from a long JFK trip where I spent my layover time doing a Pre-buy on another Stearman I was interested in, when the owner called and said the plane sold.😞  Next, I logged on to the Stearman  Biplanes forum on FB and was looking to vent my frustration with other people who share the love for this airplane when I saw an ad someone re-posted from Trade a Plane (the biggest aviation yellow pages/Craig's list combined)  with  a picture of N67119  in it. I made the call.  A month and a half later, my friend Moshe Kedar and I bought N67119 and this set the wheel in motion. The U.S. tour I dreamed about for years is about to happen.  
5 long months filled with repairs/parts overhauling/modifications which were done by this MX magician and AI named Matt Jakson of Classic Airworks in KVNY, Also, some serious flight training and pattern work and here we are,   embarking on this epic journey we really hope to complete.

My friend Nati Niv

   Nati Niv was a very good and dear friend of mine. We go back almost twenty years. He lived in Champaign IL.  and  was the one who introduced me to LSA.  We flew together very many hours in his Rans ultralight airplane named after his late wife Dara.
To my profound regret Nati passed away unexpectedly last May at the age of 64.  He suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after landing his airplane at the Frasca airport (C16) on a beautiful Friday afternoon.   Nati was supposed to join me and crew many legs of my trip with me.  I've  decided he still will.  I named N67119 after him.  R.I.P buddy, for ever in my heart.

Nati Niv 1954-2017

The Journey                                                                                             

   Inspired mainly by Stephen Coonts's book ''The Cannibal Queen'' which tells the story of a flight into the heart of America as the author flew his Stearman across the country in the Summer of 1991.  I also drew inspiration and mostly flying tips from Alan Lopez's book '' Biplane Odyssey'' that my son Tom (an E145 Captain for United Express)  sent me when he heard of my grandiose plan.  Last but not least Jim Doyle of Columbia CA who I met in person and was fortunate enough to get a signed copy of his book ''Flying Through Time''  a Journey into history in a WWII Biplane. lots of Stearman wisdom  there too.

  So, after all the reading, meeting and talking to other Stearman pilots and instructors  the ground rules for this journey were set and the are very simple:

 1) Three points landings on grass runways only.
 2)  Fly a max of  5 hours a day.
 3)  First takeoff at sunrise.
 4) Latest time for last landing of the day is 12 noon.
 5) Try to avoid night flying.
 6) No Weather flying.
 7) No Crosswind over 8 knots. (always carry enough reserve fuel to find a better airport)
 8) Always respect Density Altitude.
 9) No Hot doggin'.
 10) Always carry the means to allow relief in flight.

          I used SKYVECTOR for the route planing where I tried to stay practical as much as I could but still visit (fly by/over) interesting places that might lay near our route, (like Mt Rushmore for example).

   On June 2017 , we took N67119 on a testing flight to see what is it really like to sit in an open cockpit for 2+ hours on a long single leg as well as see how she performs at high (7000ft) altitude.
We ended up smarter at the end of that day. We can fly for 2+ hours but we can also shorten it 30 minutes and still enjoy. And, that 7000 ft is just about where we feel we still have enough margin of power to get out of a sticky situation but will definitely try to avoid it where unnecessary. (Original planned route in  WA, ID, MT was changed to avoid high elevations).

The Journey consists of three parts,  varying in length  from 8-11 days.

Part A - 8 Days

Part B  - 9 Days

Part 3 - 11 Days
IN, KY, TN, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, DE,  MD,  WV, PA, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, MA, VT, OH, MI,

    In some cases we will fly through 3 states or more in a single day. In some cases we will spend more than two days in a single state.
There are currently 28 planned flying days and I allocated 80 days for completion.
I hope weather conditions are in our favor, the Goddess of wind smiles on us and the Lord of Radial engines will also be on our side.
When completed, the route will have taken us through all  lower 48, at least once.
The return to CA will be done over RT 66 and will take some 5-6 days of easy riding.

Here is where I will post daily reports and will answer all your questions if I can.

Departure is now planned for 7/17/2017


See you on the trail.