Happy Hydroponics

I have read about hydroponics for a number of years. This winter in Florida is the first time I’ve tried growing plants from seed without soil. Dolly and I now have a number of lettuce, tomato and pepper plants growing in three different modes:

      • Milk jugs outdoors
      • An outdoor plastic pipe tower with nutrient pumped to the top and trickle down
      • A tray in the garage under flourescent lights.

        Tower with thirteen grow sockets.  Small electric pump is located in Kitty Litter bucket at base of tower.  The pump is on a timer that sequences on or off each half hour.  Seeds were started in small peatmoss or fiberglas cubes at the end of November.

      The same nutrient mixture is fed to the plants in each case.

      Pepper plant outdoors in milk jug. It receives about two hours of direct sunlight per day.
      Pepper plant blossoms and one small pepper. January 9th.
      Tomato in milk jug. Some blossoms appeared this week.

      The tops have been cut off the milk jugs and a 2″ grow basket inserted to hold the plants.

      Initially, the jugs were wrapped in aluminum foil.  Now, the jugs are painted black to prevent algae growth and then silver to prevent the nutrient solution heating in sunlight.

      An unpainted strip down the handle reveals the nutrient level.  I add reverse osmosis purified water as necessary.

      I have been amazed at the growth rate of the lettuce, tomato and peppers seeded in Fiberglas and grown under the florescents.  The plants in the photo above were seeds 28 days ago. An initial charge of nutrient solution is supplemented with additions of plain water to keep the cubes moist.

      Dolly and I should be eating salads in March.  The overall results have been very encouraging.  I am planning a larger installation for next year using LED grow light strips and shelving units in our screened lanai.

      It may not be economical to grow your own on this scale.  Yet, the convenience of picking and eating fresh, no pesticide fruits and vegetables may offset the cost.

       

A Little History

Karl is a retired chemical engineer, major corporate financial officer, air charter manager, and computer consultant.

He started on his aviation career around the beginning of the jet age and likes to explain that back then the Private Pilots Written Exam was only 50 True/False questions.

Karl has owned a 1964 Mooney Statesman, 1979 Cessna Skyhawk, and more recently a 1948 Temco-Globe Swift.  He and wife Dolly together built their current airplane, a Vans RV7.

Karl holds FAA Commercial, Single Engine Land, Single Engine Sea, Multi Engine Land, and Glider certificates collected in 3,000+ flying.  His Instrument Flight Instructor  rating is lapsed.   Several yeas ago the Federal Aviation Agency presented him with the Master Pilot Award.  He is a member of the United Flying Octogenarians.  He loves to tell hangar flying stories of how he has towed advertising banners at the New Jersey shore; flown night time charter around the Northeast; served as his son’s flight instructor; landed one night at Chicago O’Hare before it was commissioned; crossed the US at night following the old mountain top beacons; and more recently towed gliders for the Tampa Bay Soaring Society.  Karl has piloted 47 different models of aircraft; 32 single and 15 multi-engine.

During the 2011-2013 summers Dolly and son Len with help from Karl, completed a studs out remodeling of an apartment that is now their summer home in Michigan. In 2014, contemplating how bored he’d be without some project, they came to the conclusion that aircraft building is age independent.  He and Dolly together built their Vans RV7 that first flew in 2018.  It was on display at the 2019 EAA Airventure flyin in Oshkosh, Michigan.

Dolly, who also is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association,  is enthusiastic about aviation and knitting.  Click here to visit her knitting pages.

At the cockpit controls of Howard Hughes Spruce Goose at the museum in McMinnville, Oregon

Photo: At the cockpit controls of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Air Museum in McMinnville, Oregon

Family Reunion

September 16, 2019. Back row: Karl (KJ) Bambas, Paul Bernava, Kirk Swanson, Elizabeth Barry, Sarah Swanson Barry, Patrick (Pat) Barry, Erik Swanson. Front row: Karl Bambas, Margarete (Kindy) Bernava Bambas, Joan Bambas Swanson.

Triple Tree Fly-in

Triple Tree is a unique place created over many years by Pat and Mary Lou Hartness. From undeveloped land they wrestled out a beautiful airdrome in South Carolina.

It’s centerpiece is a 7,000 foot grass runway of Bermuda bent grass that is irrigated and maintained like a golf course green.

For one week each year the private airport is opened up to all things airborne. All persons are invited provided they can show a pilot’s license or some other direct connection to aviation.

Facilities include the pavilion shown above, plus showers, wet and dry camp sites, an educational center, aerodrome control tower, a museum/hangar, pilots lounge and other necessary infrastructure. Pat’s prime aviation interest has been model aviation although he also has a full scale mirror polished Spartan Executive and a P51.

Pilot’s Lounge

DC3’s?

These two birds put on an airshow Saturday afternoon.

Shade from the sun and hangar flying conversation – Triple Tree hospitality.

Food at TTA is plentiful and delicious. There is a different menu for the cookout every evening. Thursday is “pick out and grill your own steak” night with tasty fixings and chocolate cake. Yumm!

On Saturday we lined up for a pulled pork dinner near the top of the hill by the hangars. A quartet played old songs and friends caught Dolly and I dancing. We had worked as volunteers all week; Dolly helped in registration and I drove six person courtesy golf carts.

Try it next year?

Oshkosh Airventure 2019

Sent a photo of N50KB in response to a query on Vans Airforce forum. Doug Reeves passed it on to Vans Aircraft where Rick Hayes passed it on to Lycoming. I received a call that Lycoming would like to have the aircraft on display at their Airventure booth in Oshkosh.

Back to Michigan

The paint job was finished on May 17.  Dolly and I closed up the house and departed for Michigan on the 21st; she in her car and I in the Dreamweaver.

It took me 6 hours 38 minutes flying from Florida to Michigan, plus one fuel stop.  Dolly required three and a half days.  She plans on leaving her 2006 HHR in Michigan next winter and flying back with me.

 

 

 

Painting

The prime mission for N50KB during the ’18/19 winter has been to be painted.  During most of the build I have had a design in mind, inspired by some of the spectacular paint jobs seen at EAA Airventure Oshkosh.

In November I started hunting for a professional paint shop as soon as we arrived in Florida. During a visit to their shops, each of three bidders was shown a black and white sketch depicting the design. We had a good discussion of what I wanted and they gave me an approximate cost.

It is amazing the range of prices I encountered.  The highest price was 240% of the lowest.  I chose Fosters Aircraft Restoration located on the Lakeland, Florida airport (KLAL), the home of Sun-N-Fun.  Although the high bidder has an excellent shop, the price was beyond my budget.  The owner of the lowest bid price shop was moving to a new location and could talk better than listen.

I found John Foster easy to work with.  His shop is huge. On my first 12/13/2018 visit there were seven aircraft in the preparation area.  These included two helicopters, a Citation jet, and other cabin class twins.  His reputation for quality work is outstanding.  Attached to the preparation hangar are three large (50′ x 50′ ?) paint booths.  I told John I wanted Fosters to do the job and accepted the three month wait till a March 11th start.

As I write this on May 14th, the painting is almost done.

As part of the deal, Dolly and I were to disassemble and reassemble N50KB.

For the first step in the process Fosters crew masked surfaces that were not to be painted, and ScotchBright scored the aluminum surface. Then an acid wash was applied to promote adhesion of the following coats.  This was followed by an alodyne anti-corrosion coating.  Next as shown below all metal surfaces were sprayed with a two part epoxy primer.

TWO PART EPOXY PRIMER.

There was considerable body work to be done in front of the tip-up canopy where it meets the front fuselage skin.  I was amazed how the crew was able to make a 1/8″ mismatch disappear.   Further, they were dissatisfied with their first attempt, removed the faring, and did it over at their own initiative.  That has been their approach to the whole process allowing no blemish to exist.  However, each of these steps takes time and the original four to six weeks has inflated to nine.

WHITE PAINT AT LAST

Near the end of April the white paint had been sprayed.  Dolly and I drove to Lakeland to install the cowl and tail feathers, enabling the layout of masking for color stripes.

TAPE APPLIED FOR MASKING STRIPES
MASKED AND READY FOR STRIPES

I visited Fosters last Thursday and most of the color work is complete with just some small areas to be painted.  It is coming along nicely.

Tomorrow Dolly and I travel to Lakeland to begin reassembly.  Vinyl N number, wing walk material and other decals are yet to be applied.