This Hatz CB-1 first flew in 1988, began its life near Dayton, Ohio and won Grand Champion Homebuilt in 1995. Between some new owners, this plane has traveled the tri-state area but ended up sitting for the last 5 years. With an inspection complete and a ferry permit in hand, I departed Illinois on a cold Friday morning with clouds just over 1000ft and temperatures around 35 degrees Fahrenheit, probably not the best time to fly a fabric covered, open-air biplane, but I saddled up and headed down toward Dallas, Texas.
The challenges of this flight forced me to use a culmination of my training combined with the nostalgia of flying across the country relying on old-school pilotage, with some help from my friends at ForeFlight. Not to mention, this plane and the flight conditions gave me a few “high awareness” moments. I dealt with carburetor ice, strong crosswinds and failed instruments (like my tachometer, radio, and fuel meter).
The first leg started with a weather hold while waiting for the clouds to raise about 800ft but the wind never settled. With better weather on the horizon and a high-pressure system on its way, I said my goodbyes to the former owner and extremely courteous ground crew in Mattoon and departed. Not too long into the flight, the perfect conditions for carburetor ice took their toll and I spent the remainder of the flight clearing the carp every 5 to 10 minutes. Thankfully, I didn’t deal with this at any other point on the trip!
In Perryville for my first landing, there was a pretty sporty with a 25-knot crosswind causing a “trial run” and bounce on the runway. With my ego bummed just a bit, I came back around to try again and was able to land safely, fuel up and (most importantly) warm up. While fueling up, I discovered that the tank I thought was 29gal was 20.5gal. **On ferry flights, my first leg is always planned short to find any squawks** So with this new information, I added two additional fuel stops to my trip and continued on.
My next leg was one of the most beautiful flights I’ve ever been on and covered a large portion of the Mark Twain National Forrest. With the fall colors and miles of seemingly untouched land, it was impossible not to get lost in the beauty of this countryside. My stop afterword was not as great with a self-service fuel farm at a closed airport. Luckily, the wind was right down the runway and I was able to get in and out in just a few minutes.
The last leg planned was my shortest of the day and would be the most challenging landing of the trip! I made a cabin reservation at Gastons White River Resort and with their grass runway on site, this old Biplane was going to feel right at home. An issue was that this resort is nestled along the White River in Arkansas with nearly 400ft bluffs on either side and high tension power lines above trees off one end of the runway. All of this together means that planes can only take off and land in one direction (plus there is not a large window to decide to go around). With no radio, I flew over the resort and up the approach path before making a 180 to follow the river in. After a final set of power lines and last bend in the river, I turned final approach over a cow pasture and dodged the last trees needed to land!
At Gastons, I was welcomed with great hospitality, a nice cabin and an outstanding Trout dinner at their restaurant. After making some new friends walking the runway and taking a hike along the river, it was time to call it a night. What a day!
The second day was far nicer with clear blue skies but stayed chilly with a cold 28 degrees to welcome this Hatz and an RV-7 to the skies. Thankfully, the Gastons’ staff were able to bring an extension cord out for the built-in engine block heater and after 45 minutes of pre-heat the engine started up with just a few cranks! Topped off with fuel and all checked out, the Hatz departed to get this plane to Dallas!
The remainder of the trip went smoothly and was mostly uneventful but I lost the engine tachometer en-route during leg 4/6 so I turned off the music I was listening to and focused my full attention on the engine noises for the remainder of the trip. This definitely made time slow down…
Delivering the airplane to this private backyard airstrip was simple and saved plenty of hassle when it came to finding the right hanger. The owner was waving from his back porch as I entered the pattern so of course, I stuck an arm out to wave back as I rocked the wings! With a hot bowl of soup waiting and a quick tour of the house, we quickly became friends before taking me into town for my commercial flight home. Definitely, one of my favorite flights so far!