Instrument Practice with Darin.

Tonight was our EAA meeting so I headed straight to the airport after work. Darin was out there so we decided to go fly some instrument approaches. I ended up doing "vectors to final" for the ILS at TIW, a published missed to the hold, and then a LOC 17 approach. After that we headed direct to Arwel for the GPS 34 approach at Pierce County. Unfortunately we had to abort it though because of clouds. (Can't go in them during VFR practice approaches.) All in all a great night of practice. I'm really starting to get the feal for flying my plane solely on instruments.

Unfortunatley all good things must come to an end and tonight they did abruptly. While we were landing back at Thun at just about dark I got a flat tire. (right main) It was a pretty nice landing so it was hard to tell if it was flat the whole time we were flying or if it popped on touchdown. The airplane was very controllable and at first we didn't even notice. But as more and more weight shifted from the wings to the wheels you could definatly feel the vibration. As we rolled to a stop on the runway you could really feal that it was flat flat. When I tried to taxi there was no way it was going anywhere, we were stuck. "Shit" and there was a 182 on downwind waiting to land. Oh well, got to shut her down. I left on my nav and strobes as it was getting pretty dark. I called the 182 and let them know and they said "No problem, we'll make a couple of laps."

We found that we really couldn't event pull it off the runway with both of us. The wheel pant was pretty much sitting on the pavement. Darin ended up gettin on his hands and knees under the wing and lifted up on the spar as we slowly nudged it onto the grass 6 inches at a time. It seemed like an eternity but I think we were off the runway within 10 minutes.

Once clear I was able to go get my jack and tools out of the hangar. First I went to Darin's hangar and jacked up his 9A to borrow his wheel and tire. I drove my car across the grass and parked right by the plane as it was now completely dark. Changing the wheel and tire went really good and I was so glad that it was dark. (On a nice afternoon like today it's not uncommon at all to have 4 or 5 airplanes in the pattern at one time. That would have really sucked.) I didn't end up messing with the brakes so we just pulled it by hand back to my hangar. By then Harry and Mark showed up and lent a hand while Darin followed in my car.

All things considered it went very well. After landing I had thoughts of a totally destroyed wheel pant but fortunatley it wasn't. Just some scrapes on the very bottom that I was able to dress out. I decided to go ahead and replace the tube and tire with new. ($140 is worth the piece of mind) I never did find out what actually popped the tube but I did find a tiny slit in the tube on the inside sidewall but nothing inside or through the tire. I had recently rotated the tires on the rims and I'm guessing that likely had something to do with it. Maybe that tube didn't seated properly?? I don't really know. I had flown it 2.5 hours with 3 landings without a problem but you never know.