Sunday, April 13, 2014

June Flight Plans

Mary and I reserved two tickets on a Frontier flight to Denver then on to Portland Oregon for this years BAC Fest.  It was a great deal that worked out to $1271 round trip for both of us, can't beat that.
After going back and forth about Florida properties and the missed trip for Valentines day to Singer Island we decided to take a week in June and fly south. How are these two tied together you ask. We decided to cancel Portland and head south. The ticket money will fuel 08Romeo and we will experience what a flight to North Palm Beach would entail. So, it looks like June will be busy.  The Florida trip to hunt for homes in early June and we have a wedding to attend in New Hampshire near the end of the month.
Fun flying and getting back to taking advantage of GA!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sand Castle is Open

As a follow up to the Sand Castle at OCMD post, Mary and I decided we would take advantage of a beautiful Saturday morning to complete the mission. We dropped of Ziva at the kennel and headed straight to the airport.
We decided to have breakfast once we got to Ocean City and to get in the air ASAP. I had topped off to 46 gallons Wednesday night in case Mike needed to use the Sundowner to come get us Thursday but as I posted he came for us in the Cirrus. I completed my preflight, got the fan turning and launched for the beach. We enjoyed 128-132 knots on the way south, just love those tail winds!

Once secure at KOXB we quickly uncovered the airport car, loaded up all the supplies from the plane and headed out for eats. DeNovo's was the choice and as always provided quick service and excellent food.
On to the task at hand, digging out the Sand Castle. I broke out the shovel and started to fill the trenches left by the dual wheels on the Castle, not fun. Mary gave the inside a good cleaning and started to arrange all the cabinets. I hooked up the utilities and got the water system anti-freeze flushed out, cable tv online and the sanitary connected. Power will not be turned on until Monday but we have a generator on board that I ran to power the vacuum, lights and tv.

Once finished up we took full advantage of the shower and cleaned up for an early dinner. Our friend Jo was at the beach and we decided to meet at the Harborside. Jo and Jimmy walked in shortly after Mary and I got a table. The band was playing, the food was excellent and the catching up with friends made the day perfect. I really wanted an Orange Crush or two but since I was flying it was sweet tea only.
It was time to head north so we said our good-byes and headed to the airport. It was a nice ride home with a slight head wind that seemed least obstructive around four thousand five hundred so that's where we road along. Airspeed averaged 105-111 knots. Mary fell asleep and I picked up flight following with Dover then was handed off to Philly. I cancelled about ten south of New Garden and let down for the pattern. A nice landing and interesting taxi back while RC planes danced overhead. We are looking forward to a getaway with no work involved, just a refreshing orange crush, or two, and some sand between the toes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sand Castle at OCMD

The Beast last summer in the same lot
I took a vacation day today so Mary and I could enjoy great weather and get our Motor home down to Ocean City, MD.  First things first, I had to get the beast inspected since I let the tags expire in early March.  Once we finally uncovered, after all that snow, I wanted to power wash the rig and confirm all my lights were working.  Mechanically she is in excellent shape, but the marker lights are always a hassle since the plastic parts are so old. I needed a headlight and three new marker lights to replace the few that would work only if you gave them a whack, I can't have that.

The Sand Castle passed inspection and I drove it the few miles to Wilmington Airport (KILG) where I would meet Mary.  We wanted to park my SUV there so we had a ride home after Mike agreed to fetch us up in OCMD later that afternoon.  We turned the beast south and enjoyed the 2.5 hour ride to the Ocean City Airport, KOXB.  We picked up the airport car at the airport so we had wheels to get back and meet Mike B.
It's only ten to fifteen miles to the RV park and the ride sparked summer thoughts as we passed by our favorite shops.  I swiped the security card to open the gates and parked in front of our leased lot. Hmmm, it had that same look of wet ground and underlying quick sand.  Ok, not the real quick sand but you get the picture.  I walked the area and decided that I would not get it stuck backing into the lot, instead I would drive around the back and cut through the lot behind us just like I did last year. It was a grand plan! However, the rear of the coach combination of weight and the dual wheel axle didn't make the final destination. I was stuck in the sand soil mud mix with no sight of my sidewalls. The dual wheels were caked with a mud wall between them. There was no moving forward the last ten feet to get to where I needed to be, this would require a tow. Indeed it did to the tune of $157, but we were in and I could back fill the trench we left getting into position another day.
The decision was made to lock up and head home. I didn't hook up any utilities, we let the beast sit until we could come back on the weekend. Mary and I headed out for lunch and then to the airport to meet Mike.
Mike landed on schedule despite fighting a headwind on the way south. After stretching his legs and us all climbing aboard Mike got the fan turning to take us home. It was a very short hop home with a nice tailwind as the Cirrus cruised along at a ground speed of 170 knots. I did some radio work as the tower cleared us for a left downwind entry for runway one nine. A smooth landing by Mike in windy conditions made for a nice end to our day. Mary and I helped secure the Cirrus and we all headed home.

Thanks Mike for the retrieval mission, it was a relaxing ride home after a hectic day playing road warrior.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Williamsport Fly-In

It felt great to scratch that four week itch of no flight!

As noted in my previous blog post, Chris (Photographic Logbook) and I planned on a meet up at Williamsport, KIPT.   The wx was perfect and there were a few friends that joined in on the fun.  Joe E (AOPA Forum)was right seat in Warrior 481 and I met up with Bob C at Brandywine, KOQN. After posting on Facebook Adam Z and Gary S decided to head north from Doylestown, KDYL and also meet up.

I remembered to turn on the engine heaters somewhere around 1am as I stumbled back to bed after my early morning nature stop. I sent a text message and 08Romeo was warming up. I guess I made it out the door around 6:30 after a burning hot wake up shower to loosen the sore muscles from yesterdays RV adventure. I cranked up the oldies and enjoyed the back roads to the airport making a stop at Wawa to hit the bank in the box for cash,a bottle of water and a pack of peanut butter crackers.
08Romeo was warm and ready to go. I went through my preflight, taking my time to get hands on everything, it's been a month since we last flew. With the hangar doors open, so much easier with out winters grip, 08Romeo was enjoying the sunshine.  I tucked my freshly washed ML320 in the hangar, closed the doors and boarded 08R. It felt great in the left seat! It was a short lived excitement since I had to taxi for fuel but I needed to fill up.
I did file today from Brandywine (OQN), that was the plan since the hop was a short one from New Garden (N57). Bob was ready at the terminal and boarded from the rear with 08Romeos prop still turning. Apparently he was working on selling my plane and the guy working the desk was asking all kinds of questions on Unicom. Bob buckled in and we headed north for IPT. We didn't pick up our clearance, instead we enjoyed CAVU, VFR flying. The flight was perfect, except for XM wx showing a twenty knot headwind just off the nose, I should have taken a screen grab. Heading North we averaged between 98 and 102 knots ground speed. I will say it was smooth flying, adding just rudder inputs on occasion.

We did pick up flight following along the way.  Philly road along with us for a bit then handed us off to Harrisburg who handed us off to Reading and they sent us off to New York Center. Center final handed us off to the tower as we crossed the end of the ridge line south of the airport and set up for a left base for two seven.  I made an ok landing and taxied clear on Charlie for the terminal ramp parking. We met Chris and Joe inside, already seated, and Gary and Adam were only a few minutes behind us.

We enjoyed a very good breakfast at the Cloud 9 restaurant. Service was a little slow but the place was busy. The young lady taking our order moved us to a larger table to accommodate the six of us and did a great job with our orders and the final billing.
Bob and I were the first to fire up and taxi out. Williamsport ground directed us to runway two seven via Alpha and Bravo. With my run up and checks complete we were on the roll. Something didn't sound right and I asked bob to recheck his door, it was partially open. I pulled the power, started my braking action and advised the tower we were aborting the take off. Aviate, navigate, communicate. I advised we had an open door and would be good to taxi back for another go. Once again cleared for departure 08Romeo was off and running. We climbed straight out until three thousand and turned south over the ridge line below, now pointing 08Romeo direct Elkton, MD and 58M.

The ride home was a much better pace. Very good tail winds were pushing us along between 122 and 128 knots. I tuned in approach in reverse order of our trip north and monitored. We listened to some music from XM and enjoyed the view.  This leg was also hands in the lap with a few corrections with rudder inputs. As we let down for 58M it got bumpy. We entered the pattern in the crosswind for three one and made our calls. A quick look and we didn't see Bob's plane on the ramp on the north side of the hangar. After turning down wind we didn't see the plane on the south ramp either. Hmmm...09L is obviously still in the shop.  I turned final and made a half hearted low pass, more like going missed as I crossed the runway end.
We climb back out to two thousand and road the bumps to New Garden. The home airport was now alive with activity. Gliders in the air, traffic in the pattern, it looked like a scene out of the Disney movie planes. Ok, it would have been perfect if we had a bunch of those fork lifts running around. I made my calls and turned base to final when the glider departing released early and made the impossible turn back to the runway. Ok, this was a new twist for me. I made a left 360 and advised doing so for the glider now inbound for runway 6. Once realigned on final for two four I made my call and advised traffic. Everything was looking good right up until the one mile final and a plane decides to depart two four. I advised Sundowner short final and the glider operation did the same. The aircraft immediately turned around and cleared the runway. I had slowed enough since I was getting ready to sidestep right and go around but instead was able to continue in and float 08Romeo in for the landing.

A good workout today after not flying in four weeks.  A great time meeting folks on the forums and blogs that I follow.  Always a fun time catching up with Bob, Gary and Adam.  I miss the airport 'hangar flying' sessions we used to have at wings.  Maybe I need to get the grill set up and pick back up on the hangar flying sessions at New Garden.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Flight Plans

Finally, a nice weekend!

As much as I want to fly today I will have to force myself NOT to go to the airport, at least not this morning.  The honey do list calls for breaking the 'Sand Castle' (motor home) out of hibernation and into pit lane.  Yes, wash and wax, light check for inspection along with all fluid levels.  Maybe if I have anything left in my tank I'll go fuel up 08Romeo.

After trading text messages with Chris (Photographic Logbook) we are finally going to meet up at Williamsport, KIPT. It was good to flight plan and flow through my regular  planning routine. I last flew 08Romeo on March 8th, four weeks ago. I did get some stick time on March 18th in the Cirrus.  I may have to take 08Romeo out for a short hop around the pattern after I fuel up this evening. It will be good to get back in the saddle.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vacuum Failure IMC

08Romeo, IMC with rain
I was reading a post on the AOPA forum about Vacuum Failure in IMC. The pilot posting provided a good account of the events which resulted in a positive outcome. As an instrument rated pilot I would expect nothing less, that's what we train for. I guess that comes off as a bold statement having never had to deal with this issue. Looking back at my training and all that partial panel time I would hope I handle things as well as this pilot did. Sure, we all practice partial panel but the pucker factor isn't there like it is in the real world situation. Put yourself in this pilots place, family on board and thankfully this time only a layer to descend through.

Here is the pilots account of his vacuum failure in IMC.

"We were returning from Summersville, West Virginia this morning with two dogs for a Pilots N Paws rescue flight. We were IFR at 8,000 feet, in the clear 4,000 feet above a solid undercast. The flight down and back had been uneventful until we were just northeast of Columbus, about 40 miles from home. As I was scanning the panel, I noticed the VAC light was illuminated. I pressed the test button to make sure it was in fact lit, then looked at the vacuum gauge, which was resting all the way to the left on the zero. The AI and the DG had not started to tumble yet. I told my wife we lost our vacuum and that those two gauges were no longer reliable. She didn’t seem too concerned. I knew the weather at home was 22SCT 33OVC, so I was pretty sure we would not need to shoot an instrument approach partial panel. I would, however, need to descend through the clouds to reach VFR conditions. I was just about to tell Columbus Approach of my situation when they handed me off to Mansfield Approach. I called Mansfield and advised the controller of the situation. He acknowledged and asked what I wanted to do. I told him I would descend and hoped for a visual approach. He didn’t seem too concerned, as I was not, either, and cleared me to descend to 3,000. By this time the AI and DG were obviously not working, so I covered them. As we entered the clouds, keeping the wings level with the turn coordinator was easy, although we got off our direct course a bit. I wasn’t too worried about that, as the G430 made that part easy to correct once we broke out of the overcast. The bases were right at 3,000, and I really wanted to proceed VFR home, so I quickly advised ATC that we were in VFR conditions and would cancel IFR. They acknowledged and said good bye. We were still about 22 miles from home and just flew low the rest of the way and landed without incident.

It was a situation I, and all other instrument rated pilots have trained for, and it really was just like training. No big deal, not an emergency, although if the weather had been any lower, we would have needed to do an approach partial panel, but, again, that would have been okay, too. Glad it happened on the way home, though."

I read through this post and asked myself if I practice enough partial panel and my answer is no.  How often do you practice partial panel? What systems do you have in your aircraft to provide redundancy?
Precise Flight Standby Vacuum System
Our Sundowner has the Precise Flight standby vacuum system with the low vacuum warning light. The sooner you are made aware, the quicker you can deal with the issue. I have been researching and giving some serious thought to purchasing the Sigma-Tec electric attitude gyro. Here is a very good article on vacuum pumps that I stumbled across, it's worth the read. Dry Vacuum Pumps

Saturday, March 22, 2014


The plan for today was visiting the Ocean City Home, Condo and Outdoor show.  The weather forecast was calling for 67° and a sunny day, much needed exposure for Mary and I both. While my Bride gathered up her last items for our flight I did a final check on the forecast for our short hop. The Low Level Wind Shear and low level turbulence I saw last night were still on the ticket for this morning.
In its many forms, wind shear can change a routine approach into an emergency recovery in a matter of seconds. An aircraft is affected by the change in wind direction/velocity because the wind also changes the aircraft motion relative to the ground.

I decided we would ground pound to OCMD for the day. I didn't want to tangle with a rough ride and LLWS on departure or return. Mary and I enjoyed the drive to the beach making stops to snoop through shops and picking up dinner to take home.

Upon our return, Ziva Diva was happy to see us. We should have taken her with us since we were only in the home show for an hour. After letting her play outside we tried to get her to load in the back of the SUV, she still doesn't get it. What dog doesn't like to 'jump' in the truck to go for a 'ride'?