Progress Report on N335M, Part II
by Joel Johnston
Hello Dave - I wanted to give you an update on our progress with 355M. I just returned from 2 weeks in Michigan and we got the airplane together and licensed. We put a couple hours of flight time on it before I left.
If you recall, my brother-in-law, David Cabbage, purchased this Mite last year from Dr. Alfred Burnside out of N. Carolina. It had been put in storage in the mid-80's shortly after having been rebuilt (a full recover with Ceconite and an engine overhaul) after an unfortunate gear up landing.
The Mite was very complete, but was missing the forward belly panel, the gascolator, rudder cables, and a few other misc. items. The tail cone fabric had been removed and the frame bent.
New owner, David Cabbage.
As you can see in the pics, my dad (Jerry Johnston) used his metal fab skills to make a new belly panel and also decided to 'metalize' the tail cone, which turned out very nice.
The airplane has the A65-12 engine with full electrical. David replaced all the old wiring throughout the entire airplane with new tefzel wire, added new tires and tubes, a new battery, overhauled the Bendix Mags (this was spendy - both have impact couplings and needed all new internal parts) and repainted much of the steel tubing, firewall and engine.
We continued to make steady progress over the last two weeks and finally reached the point of making some fast taxi tests. Although Dad and David both teased me about being the "test pilot" they had brought in from Washington State, Dad insisted that he was the most "dispensible" (we fervently disagreed with that claim, but with over 18,000 hours in the air, we agreed that he was the most qualified). He made multiple runs up and down the runway (St. Helen, MI; rough, dry sod strip - 2600' North/South with obstacles at both ends . . . there is a 2600' East/West as well, but it was closed due to a lack of mowing) and lifted off each time - 2ft, 4ft, 6ft, etc.
David made several runs as well (he has never flown a Mite, but has a couple hundred hours in 4plc Mooneys). When we were sure it was airworthy, we contacted my Dad's favorite IA Mechanic, Randy Patterson out of Alpena who has inspected and annualled N4124 many times over the years. He went through N355M with a fine toothed comb and after addressing a few small items that required tweeking, signed it off as airworthy for the first time in 22 years. Dad wasted no time in proving Randy right (see the attached pics).
The aerial shots are of my Dad in the Mite, taken by me in the Cub. We flew both airplanes over to Houghton Lake (HTL) where David finally got to put about 4/10ths of an hour on his Mite, getting familiar up at altitude and doing several touch & goes. Then it was my turn to fly it back to St. Helen
David and I are back in Washington now and Dad has been tasked with putting as much time on N335M as he can in the next 10-12 months (tough job but somebody has to do it!) in order to get it ready for the long trip out here next summer. Now that David has been checked out in 335M, he can feel comfortable keeping current in N4124 until N335M makes the move out. We may flip a coin to determine who gets to make that trip.
Thanks for all that you do to support the Mite Community. Regards, Joel