Stephen R. Smith's Blog (34)

Massive River Trip

So it has started, day two of my massive river trip. I am looking at the Grand Tetons out my motel window here in Driggs Idaho getting ready for the first day of the Missouri River.

Yesterday I left Santa Rosa California and flew here more or less in a straight line, having seen that country go by before. Today should be more interesting.…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on May 22, 2018 at 7:31am — 12 Comments

Volcano Run!

I finally got the opportunity to do an adventure I had often thought of; a flight past the many volcanic mountain peaks on the west coast.

I had flown to Washington to visit my brother, who also owns a 601XLB. After a week in the rainy northwest it was time to return home to Santa Rosa, CA. When planning the flight home, I noticed the weather would be…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on May 10, 2017 at 11:30pm — 11 Comments

6,600 mile trip to Central America proves to be big adventure

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche

Since I started flying my 601 back in 2007 I have found it to be a fantastic machine for exploring and adventure. I have enjoyed expanding my view of the world by flying over the country side, looking out at the great sights below and taking pictures from time to time; actually thousands of them.

In the past few years I have had in mind to fly all the way to the tip of South America. I…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on February 4, 2017 at 12:24am — 17 Comments

My 2016 Oshkosh Adventure

I flew my CAMit-powered 601 to AirVenture 2016. This was its third trip to OSH.  It’s just over 1,800 statute miles each way from Santa Rosa California.

I usually try to work some sightseeing into my trips. I love to fly in…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on August 23, 2016 at 10:00am — 5 Comments

Travels of N601WF

With two more big trips accomplished this year I compiled some simple statistics for my flights in my 601XLB.  Some numbers are approximate.

  • 8 years and 5 months of operation
  • 760 flights
  • 161,700 statue miles
  • 1,800 hours
  • 6,840 gallons of fuel
  • 23.6 statue miles per gallon (average)
  • 90 statue miles per hour (average)
  • 3 countries operated in
  • 19,800 max altitude reached

Its been a great…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on November 16, 2015 at 9:00am — 17 Comments

Bob and Steve's Adventure to Canada and Alaska - August 2015

For many years I wanted to fly my 601XLB to Alaska but I only had a light-sport pilot's license. After endless waiting and hoping for a rule change in Canada, I finally ran out of patience.  This last spring I "went back to school" and got my full pilot's license.  Shortly thereafter I started planning my biggest airplane adventure yet, a flight to Alaska.

Upon studying maps and doing a bit of measuring, it soon became…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on September 28, 2015 at 1:00am — 11 Comments

A "few" random flying pictures

The other day I decided go through my collection of over 20,000 airplane-related pictures and selected some of my favorites to put on one of my digital picture frames. I chose about 900 pictures for the picture frame than, having gone to all that effort, wondered what else to do with the collection. I decided to upload them to my Microsoft OneDrive for the enjoyment of my extended family, flying partners and anyone else with a…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on June 3, 2015 at 8:37am — 5 Comments

Quality Sport Planes 2014 Open House Pictures

On May 3rd, Doug and Lorri Dugger held the Quality Sport Planes spring open house.  As usual, it was a good time for all and well attended. 

Roger came out from the Zenith factory and he and Doug gave numerous demo rides in 601, 701 and 750 aircraft.

My brother Bracken Smith flew…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on May 9, 2014 at 12:00pm — 1 Comment

Bob and Steve's 12 Day Flying Adventure Through 7 Western States

In October of 2012 my friend Bob and I flew our airplanes through 7 western states.  During our 12 day adventure we covered a total of 4,053 statute miles.  Along the way we flew through high mountains, valleys and canyons.  This was low-slow flying at its best. Often we were below 500 feet AGL.  The average AGL for the entire trip was only 1,003…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on September 21, 2013 at 2:03pm — 6 Comments

Copperstate 2012 - 4 days of flying with friends - 259 pictures - plenty of fun

This year was my 4th trip to Copperstate, the annual fly-in held at the Casa Grande Arizona airport (KCGZ).  The fly-in is fine, but for me the trip is the main event.

The flight this year was a total of 1,926 miles.  We spent two days flying each way.  I say we.  On the trip down I flew my Zodiac, keeping Doug Dugger of …


Added by Stephen R. Smith on November 17, 2012 at 4:00pm — 14 Comments

1,403 mile trip to Solvang with return via the Sierra Nevada Mountains under God’s leaky parasol

Several of the members of EAA chapter 1230 (based @ Nut Tree - KVCB) planned a trip to the tourist town of Solvang in southern California.  I was invited to join in.


The town of Solvang does not have an airport, however the town of Santa Ynez near by does have a nice one (KIZA).  You can rent a car at the airport by prior arrangement.


We flew in to Santa Ynez on Friday. On Saturday we went wine tasting at a few of the many nearby wineries. Saturday evening we…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on August 15, 2012 at 10:43am — 3 Comments

Desert, mountain and river flying trip through California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho

Les Goldner (701 builder/pilot) and his wife planned a two week flying trip into the Idaho back country.  Les and I belong to both the Petaluma EAA chapter and the Santa Rosa, CA EAA chapter.  We fly together from time to time.

Even though it was "his trip", Les let me plan the route from Santa Rosa, CA to Boise, ID.  I chose a little low-level desert flying in Nevada from Carson City (CXP) to Battle…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on August 8, 2012 at 12:42am — 12 Comments

1,368 mile round trip from KSTS to KSHN and back.

I spent the last week in Shelton WA, visiting my brother and his wife and helping with the re-assembly of their Jabiru motor. (Early top-end because of stuck piston rings with only about 300 hours on the Hobbs.  My engine had the same problem but I did not understand what was going on soon enough so the cylinders…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on July 12, 2012 at 12:00pm — 11 Comments

Today's misadventure (Aborted takeoff)

Today I taxied out with the intent to fly to Petaluma where I was scheduled to present pictures from my recent OSH trip to the Petaluma EAA chapter.


I performed my run-up, got clearance to take off, pulled out onto the runway, pushed in the throttle and started the takeoff roll. Fifty feet down the runway the engine quit and would not start again.  I rolled off at bravo contacted ground and…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on August 14, 2011 at 1:10am — 14 Comments

Playing with the wind: The big circle

It is said that when making a round trip any wind is a disadvantage.  While you may have a tail wind in one direction, you will have a headwind in the other.  You will spend more time in the headwind then in the tailwind so overall, the wind will increase your trip time and increase your fuel burn.  I have found sometimes this is true, other times it is not.


Today’s pilot has powerful weather tools to help fly safely and sometimes more efficiently.  Now if your only going up…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on May 9, 2011 at 1:15am — 9 Comments

Oil cooler failure and off field landing: Epilogue

A week ago my Zodiac had an oil cooler failure which caused me to do an off-field landing. I wrote about the event in this blog post.  That mishap turned out well enough with a bit of skill, luck and significant help from friends.


It has taken a week but I now know what went wrong and feel compelled to share the information.  The short story is “builder error”.  The longer story…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on April 17, 2011 at 11:24am — 6 Comments

Oil cooler failure and off field landing in my Zodiac XL

Saturday I decided to fly to Quincy via the Feather River canyon.  I had just dropped into the start of the canyon above an arm of Lake Oroville when I smelled hot oil which was soon followed by smoke in the cockpit.  I was 500 AGL over water and below the ridgelines, miles from landable terrain.


I knew I was losing oil and had limited time.  I did a quick U-turn back toward landable terrain and started a full throttle climb out of the canyon while monitoring oil pressure.…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on April 11, 2011 at 11:35am — 11 Comments

The Night Before Christmas - Aviation Style

'Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,

Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.

The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care,

In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,

With gusts from… Continue

Added by Stephen R. Smith on December 25, 2010 at 2:00pm — 4 Comments

Keeping fuel costs down

I love to fly and have logged 892 hours in 3 and a half years. That’s a lot of fuel.

I have never liked the lead in aviation fuel. It trashes the spark plugs and the engine oil and of course it’s bad for the environment. My 601’s Jabiru 3300 engine does not need the lead.

A few months ago I started burning premium automotive fuel. I bought two plastic 14 gallon fuel tanks from Costco for about $80…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on November 7, 2010 at 10:42pm — 8 Comments

Two upgrades in 13 days at QSP

Would you pay this man to help you upgrade your airplane? We did and it worked out much better then the picture would suggest.

This blog is not a how-to. There have been plenty of well done how-to blogs. It’s just some pictures with a few words attached.

Three years ago my brother Alan and I (with lots of help) built a pair of 601s…


Added by Stephen R. Smith on March 2, 2010 at 12:30am — 16 Comments

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