In April, 2015, I pulled off one of the best wheel landings at KSBP after returning home from visiting my brother in Reedley, California. Reedley is always a fun trip because my brother lives only about a mile and a half from the airport. And his house is right under the point where I normally turn inbound on the 45 to enter the traffic pattern. So I usually pass over his house at about 1000 feet AGL with the prop turning at 2500 RPM; there is no doubt to anyone below that I have arrived and they know to head to the airport to pick me up. The only downside to the trip was in my haste to get back in the air when leaving, I managed to taxi off the edge of the ramp a bit and the left wheel went into the dirt. It woke me up a bit but no harm done.
But back to the wheel landing in SLO. I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t embarrassed to try wheel landing the plane. And most worked out ok, but this one was perfect, at least by my definition. I approached the airport at an altitude that would be ridiculously high in most other planes. At about five to seven miles out, I just nosed it down and dove for the traffic pattern altitude with the airspeed topping 190. The rest goes like this: enter the pattern, pull the power way back, bleed off the speed, power all the way off, and you are over the numbers before you know it. As I sink down towards the numbers, I add just enough power at the last few seconds so that the plane barely holds level flight; then just inch the power back and let it settle; this one worked out great.
Its amazing that I didn’t hurt myself patting myself on my back; life doesn’t get much better than this. After tucking the plane back in the hangar, I was almost ready to leave but, for whatever reason, I turned to get something that I had forgotten. My heart sank. A large strip of fabric was hanging from the lower left wing. Apparently during my excursion from the Reedley taxiway, the left wing crossed over something that ripped the fabric; and the flight back to KSBP, especially my Kamikaze approach, really tore it up. The hole in the fabric was enormous. The good news? The ribs, structural items and anything else of substance were untouched…..except for my crushed ego. I had never had to orchestrate what it would take to get this repaired. Little did I know what the future held.