Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hey, that wasn't in the METAR

Ran across this today...


School is buzzed, pilot is sought
Plane bombarded building with toilet paper, paintballs

June 9, 2007



Police are looking for the pilot of a plane -- and two possible accomplices -- who buzzed Farmington Hills' Harrison High School, chucking toilet paper and paint balls out the window.

No one was hurt in the incident, which happened at about 2:20 p.m. Thursday at the school on 12 Mile, just east of Orchard Lake Road.

There is a $500 reward being offered by police. Officials say no one was injured, although a bag of paint balls nearly hit an occupied car, police say.

"It's over the top," said Estralee Michaelson, Farmington Hills Public Schools' director of safe schools.

Police say the blue single-engine plane with a yellow stripe buzzed the school at a low altitude, making several passes.

Police Chief William Dwyer said several students were outside watching the plane after having been given advance notice. He said three former Harrison students could be involved.

"This could have been a real tragedy," Dwyer said. "I think they thought it was a prank, but it wasn't. It's just a matter of time before we identify them."

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said there is an open investigation.

Mack Goodwin, a flight instructor since 1974, said if there are people, structures or vehicles in the area, pilots must stay at least 500 feet above the ground. In more densely populated areas, pilots must remain 1,000 feet above the ground, said Goodwin, who runs Mack Goodwin Flight Instruction and Sales in Birmingham. The plane that police are looking for was below 500 feet, Dwyer said.

Anyone with tips should call the Farmington Hills Police Department at 248-871-2610.

While this was clearly a highly dangerous prank, a part of me is smirking inside.


In other news,

Piper 85Y's prop has been identified as weeping a slight bit of oil in the hub assembly. We have pre-emptively sent it out for a re-seal. Downtime is estimated to be an additional week.

The piper has what is referred to as a "Constant Speed" prop, which means exactly that - it will hold an exact RPM setting regardless of the power applied. This contrasts with the Fixed-Pitch prop in our cessnas, which will vary RPM according to how much the engine can overcome the workload placed upon it (hence lower RPM on climbout, and higher RPM in cruise) It works by twisting the pitch of the blades, and creates, in effect, a sort of transmission effect, allowing you to vary torque applied to the prop, matched to the airspeed of the aircraft.

This mechanism works with engine oil pressure, which pushes the prop blades into a lower RPM setting (thus a loss of pressure in the system will allow it to revert back to "best climb" configuration) -- a leak can actually starve the engine of oil if it is allowed to go unchecked. Ours was nowhere near this bad, however, I've never known an oil leak to get better -- so our prop is off to the repair shop.

Cessna 04H is undergoing radio work to get the NAVs into a more reliable state.

Not much else to report with the planes. The weather sure has gotten nice, though -- finally. :)

Blue Skies,

- Mike