Some of my friends are bad influences on my retirement account. In the spring of 2018, I decided to get a tailwheel endorsement, so that I could fly airplanes with the third wheel in the back. Tailwheel airplanes are trickier to deal with on the ground, because the center of gravity is behind the main wheels and if you don’t keep the airplane pretty much straight on landing, the tail attempts to get in front of the nose, and that’s bad. AirFacts has a reasonable article on why this is both a good and bad thing. Now that I could fly taildraggers, it seemed reasonable to own a taildragger. Also, I caught the round motor bug somewhere along the way. So the second half of last year was spent semi-seriously looking for a taildragger with a round motor that wouldn’t immediately try to kill me. This limited the choices somewhat. There were some round motor Bellanca examples. Fairchild 24Ws are nice. Cessna 190/195s are a bit bigger, but not unreasonable.
In November, a 1940 Fairchild 24W-41A which still had the Warner 165 engine came up for sale in the Puget Sound area. After some back and forth, Jess and I decided to buy the plane. N28525 was built in 1940 as a Fairchild 24W-40, with a Warner 145, which is a 145 HP engine with greased rocker arms. That means greasing the engine every 10 hours, because the grease slowly escapes onto the plane. In 1945, the plane went back to Fairchild to be converted to a 24W-41A, which is basically a 24W-40, but with a Warner 165. The Warner 165 is 165 HP and, more importantly, lubricates its rocker ams with oil instead of grease. Much less maintenance and mess.
Last weekend was the first of a couple of weekends of transition training in the aircraft. We found a couple of minor issues (the radio needs replacement), but overall it flies really well. I’m looking forward to a summer of trips to nearby locations. For now, the plan is to keep the Bellanca, as it’s much better suited for long flights or IFR conditions.