New Tie-Downs for Blue Sky Fleet

7-5-21

by Bill Sundberg

For years our club has been talking about acquiring “drive-thru” tie-downs and we have never been able to find a workable solution.  At the May membership meeting, Bob Doyle pressed the issue of “drive thru tie-downs” or at least better tie-downs than we currently have. John Horan, Roger Harris and others joined in to ask how we could accomplish this goal. 

As usual, we found reasons why there was little hope for a favorable outcome.  This had all been gone over before.

  • We could pave an area behind our existing spots.  Could we get Solberg to pay for it (ha-ha)?  
  • Could we move our planes to the large existing paved area at the departure end of 22 (the Quick-Chek area)?  The main drawback was moving our shed there.  Would we have to move the shed every year at the Balloon Festival?
  • Could we utilize the large, paved area next to the hangar?

Bob asked, “Has anyone approached the Solbergs to discuss these issues lately”?  The answer was no!  Bob said he would like to try and he would like a Board member to join him in the discussions.  I agreed to go with him.  

Several days after our May meeting, Bob and I made arrangements to meet with Thor, Suzi, and Lorraine to present our case.  The thought of them paying for new pavement behind our existing spots was out of the question.   In addition to their cost, they were concerned with resistance from the Township.  

They also noted the ramp area next to the hangar was a place they wanted to reserve for larger aircraft.  So that location was out. 

They (the Solbergs) were willing to re-consider the Quick-Chek area.  They agreed we could move the shed to that location; however, the bad news was that it would have to be moved every year for the Balloon Festival.  The good news was that we could park our cars near the planes.  

Thor, Bob and I walked the area.  Thor showed us that the tie-down ropes were under steel covers in the pavement and it all started to look plausible.  Bob and I asked him to come up with a monthly rental price for the tie downs.  I said I needed to expose all the tie-down rings (I couldn’t get 2 of the steel covers up).  I also wanted to be sure we could drive the planes in and turn them around without hitting any obstacles (eg. other planes and/or the fence). So, on several occasions we taxied the planes into the turn around to insure there were no problems with turning the planes around.

We reported our findings to the Board, summarizing the discussions with the Solberg’s including our observations.  The Board members discussed the issue of moving the shed every year and we decided that moving it would be costly.  Even if the Balloon Festival people moved It with their equipment, we would have to remove and replace all the contents of the shed twice each year.  Also, there was the concern of physical damage to the shed itself.  So the decision was made to place the entire move on hold.

Then the plan was discussed again at the June membership meeting.  And because of the shed issue, it was decided to look further for an alternate solution.

However, after the meeting several of us re-thought the “shed problem” and realized that the only thing we needed to be near the planes was the pre-heater and a supply of oil.  We could buy a much smaller enclosure for the pre-heater and oil and store it near the planes.  It could be small and light enough to be easily moved when necessary.  The existing shed could stay where it is.

The Board decided to go forward with the plan to move our spots to the QC (Quick-Chek) area.  The only problem left was to expose the tie downs that were buried under the grass and to dig two holes for the wing tie-downs for the Diamond.  John Horan, Bob Doyle, Mark Mohajeri, and I were able to expose the tie downs for the SkyHawk and SkyLane, but digging the holes for the wing tie-downs for the Diamond proved to be more of a problem than I thought.  My post-hole digger simply “bounced” off the hard ground.  I was getting nowhere.  I called Otto Rossmeyer and asked him if he could bring his 4-ton machine out to the field to dig the 2 holes for us.  He said yes, and two days later he arrived with his machine and his little (6’2” – 220 lb.) brother.  It took this massive machine at least 30 minutes to dig each hole.  It turns out that just under a few inches of topsoil there’s a significant layer of shale.  (I would still be digging.)  Not only did Otto dig the holes, his brother brought 4 bags of concrete as well.  I had made the “ring” assembly for the Diamond ahead of time.  The Rossmeyers placed the ring assembly in the hole and poured the concrete in each hole (a little at a time) mixing in the water.   After several hours of work, we had new tie-down rings for 263DS!  We can’t thank Otto enough.  He is always ready to come to our aid when asked.  He defines what a “Club” is all about.

Long story short, on 6-30-21 we moved all three planes to the new tie-downs that we have been “lusting” after for years.  The Club owes a debt of gratitude to all those members who took part in this effort as well as those who supported it.  Especially to Bob Doyle, who wouldn’t accept the thought that this could not be done.

1 thought on “New Tie-Downs for Blue Sky Fleet”

  1. Hear, hear!

    I flew on July 4 and it was easy-peasy to get the Diamond parked again. Big thanks to everyone who helped set this up. Even us really quiet members appreciate it.

    One note: when I taxied back, the Skyhawk was also out, but its tail tie-down had been left behind, tucked entirely below ground level into the little sunken pipe that the anchors are set in. It seemed to me that it could still get sucked up into the prop if I went right over it, so I removed it first, then replaced it once I’d parked. Anyone have thoughts around that? Am I just being paranoid?

    Also… is anyone chatting with our new “neighbor” — the owner of that twin that we now share the pad with? Any chance of getting that plane added to our line-up? Would be nice to get some twin time… 🙂

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