Powered by Lycoming

About 80% of general aviation aircraft fly using Lycoming engines. Clearing the trees at the end of the runway. Leaving 4500ft for 6500ft. Maintaining airflow and generating lift across the wings. All are impossible without a reliable engine. Lycoming powers my training aircraft and so fuels my quest for a private pilot certificate. This blog is a record of my thoughts and experiences on life, flight, and learning.

31 March 2007


We started our way home today from Amelia Island, and what a miserable ride home it was! It rained a slow steady rain with 15-20kt winds and low ceilings all day Friday, but Saturday morning came, and the ceilings were higher and the rain was gone! After a couple of delays, Beth & I were on our way north. However, the 6500ft ceilings around JAX went down to 3500 around Savannah, and they stayed low all the way through South Carolina. So, we spent about 2 hours bouncing along at 1800-2500ft in the warm turbulent air. Not exactly the kind of weather you want to fly in, but we were headed home, so since it was clear under the clouds (30-50 mile visibility), we kept on plugging. After 2.4 hours of flying, we landed at Anson County (KAFP) for fuel and a break and to check the weather. I had XM in the cockpit, but when you're flying the airplane with two hands, it's kind of hard to be playing with the MFD. I need voice activation! So, on the ground, I looked at the XM weather and dialed up the NOAA website and was thoroughly discouraged with the prospects. We decided to head around north of Charlotte towards Bristol, TN. It looked as if the clouds were thinner over there and we might be able to sneak home through Kentucky and by way of Dayton/Cincinnati. About 35 miles from Bristol over the appalachians, I was at 9500ft and had the following view of towering clouds.
Actually, this is looking back towards some of the clouds as we were descending into Hickory, NC. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but the clouds were towering, and since I was at 9500 already, I really didn't feel like trying to keep climbing and then end up in a bad place where I was VFR on top, and then trying to find a hole down through turbulent thunderstorms/rainclouds.....it didn't look good, and I knew that it was clear (albeit hazy) from where I had just come. So, we headed downhill to Hickory, and are going to hang around and see what this town is like. We had a nice dinner at Carabba's, an Italian chain, and are bedding down for the weekend at the Marriot Courtyard. Firm ground, 76 channels, a pool, a hot tub, a comfortable wife, and Ohio State is going to that national championship! Life is good.

30 March 2007

Cross-Country to Lakeland (KLAL)

Thursday was a busy day! I got up early and headed over to the airport, because I was scheduled to work. That's right, in the middle of vacation, I was working...well, a social call to an important customer. After topping off in the self-serve fuel ramp at 55J, I waited and waited for traffic to clear. There was a DA40 from a flight school doing endless touch and goes, and a Baron, and a Duchess, and a centurion....it was really busy, and I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to leave on time! A take-off slot finally opened up, and I grabbed it. The above picture was snapped shortly after departure from 55J, looking west over the marshes towards Jacksonville. See those clouds? They were at about 3500-4500ft, but I quickly climbed up above the mounting turbulence and the hazy conditions to fly above the broken cloud layer. It was really smooth going, and I managed to snag a slight cross/tailwind, but things were okay, and I was humming along at 130kts ground speed on the way down to KLAL. I put the DA40 on autopilot and spent some time playing around with the XM weather. It is really cool, just all the information that is available. The winds aloft information was pretty neat, you could select which level you wanted all the way up to FL450....in case you wondered:). I found that the most useful feature was that METARS/TAFs are available for most airports, which I verified by switching to AWOS frequencies, but when you're 60+ miles out, you can just pop the cursor over and see what the winds and ceiling is at any particular airport. I really think that alone is worth the $50/month charge for XM. I know, I know...you can call Flight Watch for that info, but with XM, you can read the conditions on your screen - real time! I also really enjoyed the traffic alerts that are on the G1000 (whenever you're in a reporting area). They didn't catch everything, but it was handy to look out the window in the general direction of any traffic and see it more quickly. I snapped a photo of a Cirrus that flew 1000ft below me. I'm sorry to say that he overtook me, so it must've been an SR22:). I also snapped a photo of the G1000 screen with the NEXRAD option turned on - I think that an instrument rating will make much more use of this feature, since I would be flying closer to that stuff and would need to know where the big cells are. If you look closely, you can see my reflection in the screen!

Upon landing in Lakeland, I pulled up next to the Columbia Air Service FBO. As soon as my prop stopped turning, an attendant had chocked my nosewheel and asked if I needed fuel. Great service! They also directed me to park next to a gleaming Gulfstream-IV, owned by Campbell's Soup, so I felt important, parking next to the big boys!

Parkin' with a G-IV - Jay-Z would be so jealous!

Downtown Lakeland, FL from 2500ft

I chatted a little while with the manager of the FBO, Andy Solomonson, about the DA40 - he was pretty jazzed about it - had only had a flight in a DA20, but wanted to know all about the DA40. I would've offered a ride, but I was hot on the trail to get going. The weather was starting to change back home, and winds were picking up, so I wanted to get home soon. Since the temperatures had climbed (32°C), the ceiling was much higher, and I had to climb above 8000ft to avoid the clouds. To gain favorable winds, I hung out at 9500ft for the trip back, making a groundspeed of 145kts. Very nice. I avoided Orlando Class B, and I tried to look for Walt Disney World, but I really couldn't make it out from 20miles away. That part of Florida is really an endless jungle of shopping developments, golf courses, and resort communities. As I flew over St. Augustine, I snapped a couple of photos of the city, and this was the best one. You can see the historic downtown area and the fort - unfortunately, the weather and timing did not cooperate on this trip, so I didn't make it down to St. Augustine for a visit. No worries....I'll be back! It's only 5hrs from Ohio!
Descended from 9500ft, I enjoyed the clear, albeit hazy, air as I made my way north to Amelia Island. The view of the Nassau Sound was incredible, and 3 miles from 55J, I passed by my lodgings for the week - the Amelia Island Plantation Inn. Total time logged - 3.2hrs. 1.6 down and 1.6 back. Climbing to 9500ft gained me some speed and got me above the clouds, but didn't really save any time overall.
Looking up Nassau Sound - Amelia Island is to the right-hand side of the frame

Amelia Island Plantation Inn from over the Atlantic ( I like saying that:))

Golfing by the Seashore

Wednesday was golf day! It had been about 3 months since I last played (January 1st), so I made my tee time reservation with some trepadation. I had planned to play the Ocean Links course, designed by Pete Dye and Bobby Weed (just names to me), because it had 5 (count 'em) holes along the ocean. Well....for an Ohio golfer, that sounded wonderful! Usually, I'm trying to keep my ball out of some muddy creek, not a huge blue expanse of ocean. Anyhoo, with my excellent driver/caddy (Beth), I made my way to the first tee. I was freaked out. I hadn't swung a club for 3 months, and I was going to play on this narrow fairway? You gotta be kidding me. "Drive up there to the red tees, Beth." "Aren't those for women?" she replied "Um....yeah, but I want to make sure that I have a good time today. No point in getting frustrated too much."

So, there I stood, big shot Ohio golfer, teeing off at the women's tees. I think it was the right move. I started out with three triple bogeys (7's) on the first three holes. Ouch. This was shaping up to be a GREAT round for me.....until I saw the ocean. With the calming breeze and warm sun, I pulled a par out of the bag, and the went on to play bogey golf for the majority of the rest of the round! I started to get good enough that by the 9th hole, I was back onto the White tees...total confidence builder, playing from the reds, let me tell you! I went out the front nine in 48, and came back in 46 for a total score of 94! Of course, Beth & I decided not to count four lost balls...you know, Outcome Based Golfing:). So, I wasn't really THAT good, but I was pleased with quite a few of my shots. I was consistently hitting the greens on the first or second shot on the par threes and fours. I even birdied a par 5!, and I wouldn't really consider the course to be too easy - very narrow fairways, and small greens. Still, it was fun and challenging as we wound our way around the plantation, and admired some of the positively outrageous homes built along the fairways.

Check it out! On the green in one! (Of course, I three-putted the green for a bogey)

Beth, enjoying the sun, and getting a little putting practice in!

No way was I going to hit a ball out of the muck. Eeewww!!!

No Joke! This was my lie for Hole 16, and you're not supposed to play on the dunes, so I dropped 5 feet behind.
I hit a nice 180yd 5 iron right onto the green from here. Very nice!

My favorite hole, Number 15, a long par 3, which I made to the green in one shot.
This also was a three-putter for a bogey, but I didn't mind. The view was too nice!

The view through the trees, looking back at Number 13, another long par 3 - very nice.

28 March 2007

Historic Fernandina Beach

While the Amelia Island plantation is nice, Beth & I decided to take a taxi "uptown" and experience what the locals had to offer. Fernandina Beach is a town of about 11-12,000people, about the same size as Coshocton, and probably very similar to Coshocton....if Coshocton had multi-million dollar beach condos, two thriving golf resorts, and a steady influx of rich Yankees spending money like drunken sailors! We toured the historic downtown area of about 7 blocks, down by the marina on the west side of the Island. You can also see the Smurfit-Stone pulp mill on the intra-coastal waterway....I could smell a hint of sulfur in the air...on the whole, it reminded me of home....only with warmer weather and filthy little pelicans. You can see Beth's pleased expression as we found some small vestiges of the paper mills at home.
Overlooking the peaceful waters of the Fernandina Beach Marina towards the Pulp Mill

From local history, apparently Fernandina beach was the place where the modern shrimpin' industry was founded. The shrimp trawler, with big trawling nets, immortalized by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, was first used to mass-harvest shrimp from the sea in the waters off Jacksonville, FL. You can see a picture of a nice row of Shrimpin' boats in the below picture. Please disregard the filthy little pelicans.

"Shrimp gumbo, shrimp 'n rice, shrimp stew, fried shrimp, bolled shrimp, shrimp cocktail, shrimp n' beans...."

At the end of the Marina, was a life-like plastic shark, guaranteed to catch the eye and the photographic lens of a true tourist. So, rather than disappoint the locals who went to such great lengths to mount it on the wharf, I obliged by taking a "freshly caught photo" for my fan club. It was a great struggle, let me tell you, but I finally got that shark in the boat. My arms were completely worn out....they felt like useless rubber bands...okay, I'll stop:).

The Great White Hunters with their Great White Prey

To close on a more aviation-related theme, I went out and picked up my Night currency requirements last night. 5 landings in 0.8hrs. I also activated the XM weather capabilities of the G1000, and while I didn't have time to thoroughly appreciate all the information, I was favorably impressed. Who needs flight watch now?

27 March 2007

Walking on the Beach

Beth & I went for a nice walk on the beach last night as the sun was setting. We went down to the tip of Amelia Island, and tried to keep from stepping on jellyfish as we walked. In typical Beth & Dan fashion, we critqued the architecture of the overpriced beach homes and speculated on what they were priced at and if they were primary homes. After about 2 miles of walking, we turned around and came home. The waves were furiously crashing - probably a 10kt wind was blowing off the water, and there was loads of seafoam. I tried to take a picture, but it really doesn't do it justice...the seafoam quivering in the sea breeze, and sometimes a huge clump would break loose and go cartwheeling down the beach, leaving an ugly green stain on the sand. I tried to get Beth to jump up and down in the seafoam, but she wasn't having anything to do with that. Figures:).
Masses of Quivering Seafoam! Eeewwww!

Pale yankee couples! Eeewwww!

25 March 2007

The View

I woke up this morning to a very nice view of the Atlantic ocean. You like? We sure did - we sat on the veranda and listened to the waves crash. The rain and damp and grey trees and brown grass of Coshocton, OH seemed 1000 miles away...well, at least 592 miles away. As for the meandering fairways - are you jealous, Dad? This is the "Ocean Links" course. It looks nice, and has 3 or 4 holes along the beach. Tee times set for 3:30PM on Wednesday! Time to get my practice balls out...I have a feeling that I'll be losing one or two!

Cross Country to Amelia Island, FL (55J)

Saturday was the big day. Beth & I packed our bags, waited for the rain to clear, and took our first cross-country trip together! Since getting my PPL, I had been wanting to go "somewhere" substantial, and since our last vacation was more of a "roughing it" vacation, which is to say that Beth tolerated 3 nights of camping with a bunch of airplane geeks in a hot dusty field at Oshkosh:). So, we agreed that the next vacation would be a relaxing vacation on the beach. Our initial thought was to fly down to Hilton Head (HXD) and so I scoured the web, looking for places to stay. The forecasted weather was in the mid-to-low 70's, and that was just not warm enough. So, we looked further south, and I found an island near Jacksonville, FL that had an airport on the beach! (or rather near the beach). Further searching found an appropriate hotel for proper "relaxing" with a spa and meandering fairways.

Saturday came with loads and load of rain. We were starting to despair, because of the front that had stalled out right over our part of Ohio. The morning was pouring rain and the weather forecast showed continued showers through the day. It was really starting to look like we weren't going to be able to leave, and the really frustrating thing was that we just had to get as far as the Ohio River and the ceilings would improve. It was VFR all the way to florida....we just had to break out of the clouds. Finally, around 2PM, the ceiling had lifted to about 1800ft AGL, and there were big holes appearing. We left Coshocton and bounced along a little while before making it through the clouds near Dresden, OH. We climbed to about 7500ft before heading south over the poofy clouds.

The air was smooth up there and the sun was bright! It was a wonderful change, but alas, it was not meant to last. Around the Ohio River, over Point Pleasant, WV, we saw towering clouds ahead, so I circled down through a vast hole and ended up at 3500ft bouncing over the mountains of West Virginia. It was very convective, and bouncy, but the wife of my youth was quite the trooper. She only let out gasps when we hit an especially big bump, like when we dropped about 25 ft and both of our heads hit the top of the canopy. West Virginia was a very pretty state to fly over, unfortuately, I wasn't able to get any photos, because I needed to have both hands flying the airplane!:). We slowly climbed to 7500ft to cross the Appalachian mountains with plenty of room to spare. We flew over the mountains, near Bristol, over Virginia Highlands and the lakes down there. It was very beautiful - and Beth grabbed a couple of pictures.

Over the Glade Springs VOR on the Virginia Border, looking Northwest.

Looking Southwest over the Appalacians towards the Smoky Mountains.

As you can see, the visibility wasn't altogether GREAT, but it was still about 25-35miles. There was a lot of moisture in the air, and as we headed into North Carolina for our first stop, it was about 32°C. Very hot in comparison to Ohio! We descended with ease into Rutherford County, NC (KFQD) and I executed a PERFECT approach and landing. I think that the 1-1/2 hour of bouncing along over WV helped ot hone my control skills of the airplane greatly!:) Total time for the first leg was 2hrs, 32min (I calculated 2hrs 30min, so my planning skills are still sharp!)

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very enthusiastic ramp attendant, who fueled us promptly and gave us the keys to their courtesy car (Ford Contour) for a trip into town to dine at Legal Grounds, a bar/coffeeshop/pizza parlor. It was good, but we were in a hurry to get down to Florida before the sun went down, so we didn't stay long. Maybe we'll stop there on the way back. We fueled up wtih 23.2 gals (Not too bad - only 9gal/hr!) and took off for FL. At max gross weight and the 2600ft density altitude, we used up about 2000ft of ground roll before we rotated and lifted off. Climbout wasn't too shabby - about 700-800ft/min was as much as the DA40 would handle. (only.....I can't imagine what a C172 would have been!). It was hot and humid, but after hitting 5500ft the air was smooth as glass. I continued to climb to 7500ft, where I obtained more favorable winds (10-15kts on the tail!) to make a ground speed of 145kts on my 180° course to Savannah. The air was clear, but very hazy and smooth. So smooth, in fact, that Beth took a short nap at 7500ft. She enjoyed the second leg quite a lot - I did too - Flying through turbulence in WV was very mentally and physically taxing. As I cruised in smooth air looking for traffic while the KAP140 Autopilot kept us on course, I thought....now THIS is the way to travel. About 30 miles from Savannah, I called in to the friendly approach controller to inform her that I was transiting over her airspace from the north. We squawked 4257 and continued on our merry way.

Flying over Savannah at 7500ft gave a good view of the city, but not in any paraticular detail. I snapped the below photo, but was disappointed with the level of detail upon downloading. Must buy Digital SLR.......
Looking Southeast over Savannah, GA from 7500ft.

The remainder of the flight was smooth and uneventful as we descended into Florida. It was very cool to fly along the coast, to see the Atlantic Ocean and to look down on the twisting fingers of the tidal marshes. We were treated to a beautiful sunset shortly before landing at Amelia Island (55J). It was amazing how clear the air was - I could see for 50+ miles or so along the coast - I first saw the beacon for Amelia about 55-56 miles away.

One of the prettiest sunsets I have experienced in years! (from 7500ft)

Tidal rivers along the coast in Georgia

We made another great approach and landing into 55J, and taxied past all the corporate jets, and tied up next to a Piper Meridian. The facilities seemed nice at 55J, but you'll have to wait for another post to get a full review. We headed for our beds and fell asleep overlooking the pounding surf of the Atlantic. 5.1hrs flight time logged, and a happy wife. Can you have a better day?

08 March 2007

Coshocton Ethanol

Today was another beautiful day, so I went out to do some landing practice in the DA40. I have plenty of G1000 skills, lots of straight & level flight, but I really haven't spent that much time at lower airspeeds, close to the ground. So, today, I went out in the calm winds and high pressure (30.33inHg) to work the pattern. I logged 5 landings and 0.9hrs of time. It was a really clear day, especially above 4000ft. In the smal inset photo, you can see the dark layer of humid, turbulent air close to the surface of the earth. At that sharp line in the sky, the air just turns rock solid and is crystal clear. I did some steep turns at 5000ft and was rewarded with the little burble of air as I passed through my slipstream. Niiiice. Still have the skills. Then, I slowed the DA40 down and did some slow flight. It's amazing to me how stable the DA40 is at low speeds. I was really really light - only 18gals of gas, and just me in the cockpit, so the speeds were pretty slow. For power off stalls, the stall drop came in around 44-45kts. For power-on stalls, I was hanging almost motionless at a 15-20° pitch angle at 36-37kts before the drop came. Very cool. However, since the normal approach is 75kts, if I should be in a lightweight condition - I'll have to account for the slower speeds in an emergency landing situation. This bird wants to fly!

Landing practice went well. Compared to the limited visibility of the high wing 172, it's really easy to judge your turns, because you can see the runway the entire time through the turn. Sorry - no pictures on that one - I was busy flying:). Most of my landings were really good - greasers, and just the right glideslope....and wouldn't you know it. My last landing of the day wasn't so hot. Turns out Dad had just pulled up and was grading away. I should've known -

I flew over the ethanol plant currently under construction just south of Coshocton today as well. It's really coming along! There are a lot of cars parked out there, and they haven't even started running pipe yet! Just pouring concrete and building tanks. Speaking of which, take a look at the detail photo, and you can see that one of the silos or bulk tanks got blown in due to some of the high winds here recently. OUCH! I'll bet that screwed the budget and the schedule. I'm glad that we didn't have any problems like that on our last project...it would've been a disaster and everyone is blaming you, Whitaker Walt!

Coshocton Ethanol, LLC from 2500ft

Coshocton Ethanol, LLC - Check out the collapsed in tank/silo - OUCH!

Of course, I'm not really so gung-ho about the ethanol craze in the first place. I say craze, because everyone is frothing at the mouth to get some piece of the pie. I talked to a vendor selling rail tank cars, and he said that they had booked their ethanol tank car production through 2009. That's 9000, 25,000gal cars.....225,000,000gallons. Just a drop in the bucket....still not big enough for a pipeline. Regardless of the excitement, it's not a viable energy replacement source, because it's either a net energy loss or very close. I can't say that I'm going to be super thrilled about getting 10-15% lower gas mileage, and having to support all the corporate tax subsidies as well. If it was such a great energy saver and so economical, the path to energy independence, then why would Ethanol as a fuel need subsidies and low grain prices in order to make it? Plain fact of the matter is that it is just another government program to support some industry special interests and to help the proletariot make the right choices. I heard on the radio recently that farmers were going to get some subsidies from the USDA to compensate them for higher grain feed prices, because of the demand ethanol production has placed on corn. Is this a screwed up system or what? Subsidize one group, then subsidize another group in a weak attempt to adjust the economic disparity created by the first subsidy. I guess this is what you get when a central government starts deciding what is best for us. We can't be trusted to make economic and manufacturing decisions on our own. Central planning, anyone? Plank 9 of the Communist Manifesto, anyone? Sounds like the worker's paradise to me....let's get back to work - I've only got another month or so, before I finish paying my fair share and will be free to work for my family.

06 March 2007

Dodging the Snowflakes

Today, I woke up and it was a beautiful day. Cold, around 13°F this morning, but clear and sunny. So, I headed over to the airport and got the aircraft out and preflighted, sat around for about 1/2hr drinking coffee and shooting the breeze at the FBO, before I made a lesuirely pancake run to Carroll County (TSO) for some flapjacks, bacon, and eggs....what a perfect day....if only that is what had actually happened. It was a perfect morning for flying, calm winds, clear skies, but I had to be stuck in a meeting for the majority of the day. Yuck.

When 3:30PM rolled around, and my meeting was over, I booked it out of there to make a cross-country to visit my brother Sam up at Hillsdale. The plan was this: Fly up, chum around, get a couple of Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers, see the friends, catch up on some fun stuff, fly back that evening.

Well, it started out that way. The Alberta Clipper that was coming from the northwest was clipping along, beating all previous forecasts by a couple of hours. I grabbed this image from the radar composite at 11:18PM here, and it has really changed in the last couple of hours. The winds aloft were blistering along, which was probably really awesome if I was heading from Winnepeg to Baltimore and could grab a 120kt tail wind. However, I was heading directly into the face of the wind at 6500ft. Totally different picture.
We had a 32-35kt headwind directly in our face, which was making life slow and difficult. I considered dropping lower for more favorable winds, but we had just come from there, and my younger sister was in the back for one of her few aircraft trips, so I figured that it was better to stay in the most stable air up higher, than to bounce down in the inversion/windshear layer around 4500ft. I should've dropped lower. As you can see from the cockpit display (MFD), and the 9000ft winds aloft.... I've got an oppressive headwind dropping my groundspeed through the floor. It was rock solid, and no bouncy-bouncies, so that hopefully my sister will fly with me again someday:).

What a 32kt headwind looks like on the MFD

Right as we got to Toledo, I noted an extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon. It looked like a sun dog, but was directly beneath the sun. As I looked closer, it was sunlight reflecting off the slipstream of tiny snowflakes whizzing by. I took some photos, but it's not really representative of how awesome it looked. (Note to self - buy super expensive SLR digital camera with zoom lens. Hide from wife.) Well, once I saw snow, the visibility started to haze over, and we dropped down to 4500ft, then to 2500ft as we kept moving further and further underneath the shelf of the oncoming storm front.

Sun reflection off snow in slipstream

Reflection off snow in slipstream - As close as my camera allows.

It was a straight-in approach, and a rather hasty landing. Not my best one. In fact, my worst one to date in the DA40, but it was on the ground. I taxied over to the FBO, delivered a bottle of Belgium's Finest Saison beer (I really have no idea if it is good or not) to my brother, gave a quick hug, said "Sorry I can't stay, but the snow's coming in fast.", got back in the plane and high-tailed it for the barn. I like to think of this as a good route-proving trip. I proved that I can fly the route and work the communications like a pro. Well, I'm pretty slow on the readbacks, and I did call traffic at 3 o'clock, instead of 9 o'clock...but I did call traffic in sight! Speaking of traffic in sight...I had a close encounter with a Beech King Air doing approach practice. I could hear him say "Yeah...I've got them on TCAS" as the approach controller notified him of our presence at his 12 o'clock. I saw a tiny blip grow into a rapidly descending and banking King Air, as he passed about 1000ft below us. Pretty cool...and I am glad that he has TCAS, I have a transponder, and I called for radar service. The only bad thing is that I didn't have the aforementioned ultra-sweet digital SLR with a 300mm lens to catch the sun glinting off his canopy mid-bank. I know it would've been on the top 100 of all time at Airliners.net. We made it back safely, and put the plane back in the barn for another day of fun. I logged 3.1hrs, and 2 landings. Very cool.

01 March 2007

SS Jeremiah O'Brien

When I was in San Francisco, upon the recommendation of my brother Sam, I went and toured the Liberty Ship docked on Pier 43 (or whatever) on Fisherman’s Wharf. It was $8 well spent! It is only one of two "living" Liberty Ships that is still operating and still sets sail every so often. One of the tour guides, Charlie Rich, spent quite a lot of time with us, and actually served on a Liberty ship in the war. It was really fascinating to hear his experiences and sharing his knowledge of the ship and how cargo was carried across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe. Apparently, over 2600 liberty ships were built during the 1000+days of WWII, and they were built in an extremely short time – usually only about 60 days to complete a ship. The Jeremiah O’Brien was built in only 56 days. Truly amazing.

The picture to the right is of me sitting in the firing seat of the rear 5 inch gun. This is the seat that my grandfather sat in during WWII. He was a gunner on a Liberty Ship during the war, and also served on board the USS Yorktown. One of the real highlights was walking through the engine room and seeing the steam powerplant. It had a three-cylinder steam engine with a 48 inch stroke on the cylinders. The primary cylinder had a 24inch diameter cylinder operating at full steam pressure (something like 200-240psig), a secondary 47 inch diameter cylinder operating at a lower pressure – 100-150psig, and the final cylinder of 70 inch diameter that squeezed the last bit of thermal efficiency out of the steam possible. The engine room was a hoot, because there were little oiler cans and brushes hanging all over the place. I could just picture an army of engineers clambering all over the engine during operation making sure all the oilers and drippers were lubricating the bearings and cams properly. Very, very nifty-neato. And, as always, the engineer in the room will be happy to answer any questions that you may have:).

The gentleman that gave us the personalized tour also took us into the forward cargo hold of the ship, the ship’s store, where he showed us a diorama of the Normandy invasion that was a gift from the French people at the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. It was a 1:72 scale model and was something like 8ft wide x 30ft long. The level of detail was amazing and the sand used for the beach was sand actually taken from Utah beach. I snapped a bunch of photos of the diorama – it was pretty cool.