Saturday, November 28, 2015

UPDATE - Luci's Furever Home

Upadte! In an email I received last night from Luci's furever family.

Luci (aka Lucy 9) has settled in to the West Virginia mountains quite nicely! She spent Thanksgiving exploring the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

Thanks again to MAESSR for matching us with a great companion.

Thanks Diane for sending the beautiful picture along. I hope your family enjoyed a safe abd Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Flying Errands, Terminated

Ocean City- KOXB off the wing tip
Strange title you wonder, yep it sure is, but so was my morning.

My Brackett aero filter was still at the shop from annual and I left my Zaon XRX at KILG, Red Eagle when I had the ADS-B installed.  My GDL-88 users manual is also in and I need to pick that up at Red Eagle too.
So, my plan for today was take on some fuel and enjoy a perfect VFR day flying north then turning around and flying home after collecting all my goodies at both airports, hence the 'errands' in the title.
I turned on the preheats last night when I went to bed, thank you Switchbox, and just needed some go-go juice when I got to the plane. Once I had the hangar open I called for fuel, I took on twenty gallons to make it fifty for the total.
only the shadows know.....
Winds favored runway two-zero so after start up I taxied for my run up and then launched for 58M, Claremont (Cecil County). It was gorgeous today and despite a headwind I had a smooth ride. Somewhere between KGED Georgetown and KDOV Dover I heard a change in my headset. Very subtle, but I noticed I didn't hear the rhythm of the strobes that are very faint but present.
The Terminated

I immediately checked to make sure I didn't switch them off and while checking I followed up with the amp meter showing a charge. Hmm, radios are still working, I'm on flight following with Dover. I check the JPI analyzer and quickly notice my typical battery numbers, 27.7 are now reading 24.5. I shut off my strobes and both Collins radios, nav and com. The Garmin burns less power then the old Collins radios and I decided to leave my nav lights on since they are LED. The transponder was staying on for now so Dover could see me and with that I continued on my way to the shop at 58M.
When it came time to switch tanks I checked the battery again which was sitting at 24.4. I turned on my pump, switched tanks and checked the battery, 24.2. I killed the nav lights and the beacon and monitored batteries until turning final for runway three-one at Claremont. For those reading that don't fly, the plane will fly just fine, the battery is needed for radios/navigation. It was a beautiful day, I could have navigated by eye from here to Myrtle Beach and back with just my iPad (Maps). I would have turned around immediately and landed if this was a flight in instrument conditions.
I got the Brackett aero filter installed and asked Roger if he could check out my 'lack of' charging system.  Off came the cowlings and Stan and Jeremy went to work. Roger even climbed inside to locate and test the voltage regulator. After some testing it was determined the alternator bit the dust. My unit is a Kelly and their reviews haven't been the best so I'm going to switch to a B&C unit.
08Romeo fired up and since it was perfect VFR weather I headed for home. On this flight only the radio and transponder again with the JPI reading 24.4. As I made my position calls for ocean city I saw 24.2, I knew the warning was coming. One good note today, a Bald Eagle passed by my right wing looking right at me, you have to wonder what's going through their mind. Back to flying, I did a last wind check with the AWOS and turned final for runway one-four. The JPI started blinking 23.9 BAT.  Ignoring the warning I made a nice landing and taxied for the hangar.

08Romeo is on the Batteryminder charger so she will be ready to head back north for the new parts install. This makes up my mind about flying vs driving north to Wilmington for Thanksgiving, we'll be ground pounding it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Descend and Maintain

We have all heard those words. "Descend and maintain", sometimes we wonder what the heck for, I'm cruising along fat dumb and happy with no traffic threats and in the clear.

What triggered this post was the conversations I've had with pilots about ATC moving us around vertically and the next approach control moving us back to the altitude we vacated.

From a friends recent post on Facebook:

I wasn't happy with NY the other day. They typically want you at 7,000 (which I was) in that direction. McGuire descended me to 5000 just prior to handing me off. I figure NY must want me there for whatever reason, and I didn't lose any speed, so okay. Then 10-15 miles later.. climb maintain 7,000 .... Maybe those 2 don't talk.

I have documented this on multiple occasions dealing with Dover approach. Don't get me wrong, their service is excellent, but it does seem they put you into the clag more often than not.

IFR Focus #6, written by Jeff Van West touched on this very topic in the most recent issue.IFR FOCUS

Behold the Power of
Uninterrupted Descents
"Descend and maintain" is such a staple of IFR communications it might as well be a single word. Yet there are times when that's the last thing you want to do. Maybe those clouds are bumpy and you have the family on board. Maybe they're icy and you need to minimize your exposure. Maybe you just like the tailwinds where you are and want to keep them for as long as possible before you absolutely must descend to land.

For whatever reason, you don't want to descend only to level off at some intermediate point. You want to descend later, or uninterrupted to a point below the area of concern.

It Never Hurts To Ask

Sometimes, ATC volunteers this kind of freedom with a clearance of, "... descend at pilot's discretion, maintain 3000." You hear this more often in the sparely populated spaces. However, you can certainly ask for the freedom. If ATC issues a descent you'd like to delay, reply with:

"Request descent at pilot's discretion."

You may get a crossing restriction, such as, "...descend at pilot's discretion to 3000. Cross FIXIE at 3000." If that works for you, terrific. If not, it's time to negotiate.
Keep your request as clear as possible because you're asking for something out of the ordinary.

"Approach, we'd like to remain at 6000 until we can get an uninterrupted descent to 2000 to minimize our time in the turbulent/icy/scary/icky (circle one) clouds."

Be prepared to negotiate.

The article goes on to provide some negotiation scenarios and a video discussion.  I like reading about flying and IFR flight, I think it helps keep my skills sharp.

Care to add your experiences?  I'd love to compare notes, please feel free to either send me an email or post a comment.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Breakfast with my Bride

Mary and I decided on a quick hop for breakfast this morning up the coast and across the Delaware Bay to Cape May NJ.  I had turned on the preheats last night in case the Woodbine crew wanted to meet up.  We had the plane out and started, ready to enjoy the gorgeous morning before we heard a word from any of our friends.
I launched off of three-two and made a right turn out north east. I made sure Mary had the coastal view as we climbed to five point five. As we passed over Fenwick Island Delaware I could look up the Bay and see the Salem NJ nuclear cooling tower puffing away.  The distance was seventy four miles!
We watched the Cape May Lewes Ferry cross as we started down for the airport.  I did a few S turns to help and eventually entered a left base for two-eight. As I turned final I saw a plane taxi to the hold short, I was on high alert. I made another call on final just to make sure he heard me and hopefully saw me.  I make it a habit that if there is a plane landing and I'm holding short I let then know I have them on final and WILL hold short for them.  I made a sweet landing and rolled off the taxiway right in front of the terminal.
When we walked into the terminal the place was packed!  Not an empty seat in the house, literally. I had to grab two chairs off a stack so Mary and I had a place to sit while we waited. When we checked in we even said we would take two at the counter if we had to. Two seats opened up at the counter and after a short wait we were seated. I had cream chipped beef on rye toast with pork roll and Mary had a cup of CCB with one egg and toast.
We were both full when we headed out the door, the lobby area was still flooded with people waiting to eat. I did a quick walk around then fire up for home. I circled over cape may and did some climbing S turns between the lighthouse and the ferry terminal until I reached sixty five hundred for crossing.
The headwinds we had getting here were now pushing us home, it was very nice. Heading south I kept just offshore so Mary could once again enjoy the view. I made my position calls and crossed over midfield at two point five then circled back for a forty five for runway three-two. I coordinated with a Cirrus and followed him in, I was number two to land.

Great eats at the Flight Deck and always fun flying with my Bride!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Annual 2015


I can hardly believe it's annual time again, where did this year go?  After yesterdays dog rescue flight I was worried I would be really tired. Of course the chance to fly helped get me motivated this morning and the pets were wanting me up at 5am.
into the clag
Thankfully I did remember to turn on the preheats last night so I knew 08Romeo would be all warm and toasty. I opened up the hangar and swapped out the Cabrio (still for sale) and  tugged 08Romeo out into the chilly air.  The sky was looking dark to the north east but the forecast was calling for very good weather this morning, showers possible this evening.
breaking out
I taxied out for runway two and contacted Potomac Clearance Delivery. A slight change to the plan today from a new voice. SBY ENO as filed. I'm not sure why I got SBY since they always add in fly 270 heading once entering controlled airspace, this pretty much points you at Salisbury (SBY).
Layer thinning out and the open hole over Dover
I acknowledged and launched, climbing out on runway two and  turning on the 270 heading. I was requested to ident, as always, and did so. We confirmed my location and I was immediately turned to Smyrna (ENO), wasted ink. I climbed through a layer and road along for a short time until breaking out around 6200. It was super smooth and the view just gorgeous. The ride was short lived as Dover once again burst my bubble and had me descend to 5000, pilot discretion.
Looking at runway 31 at 58M
I found a huge hole, more like a bowl, in the now thin layer and worked my way below. The weather always seems to break up  over Dover, I've noted it on several occasions when flying north or south. At five I was handed off to Philly and reported having the weather and requesting the GPS 31 approach, the fog is not getting me again. I was turned direct CANUV which means no procedure turn :) and I continued on my way. No approach required today, I could see the field from 15 miles out. I canceled IFR and switched to Unicom at Claremont. A nice landing ended the fun ride and now it is time to get dirty and roll around on the concrete floor.


I talked with Roger and went over my squawk list. I wanted to replace the stabilator bolts as pointed out to me at BACFest. I also wanted to replace the left main and nose wheel. The main had some flat spots, it was showing its age. I had replaced it back on my first annual. The nose wheel looks ok but I see the rubber showing some age (the start of cracking) around the rim.
bottom old bolt
top of connecting rod shaft - old bolt
one of the new bolts installed
I opened all the inspection plates and pulled the wing tips as Stan and Jeremy started on the power plant. The plugs had some carbon build up but they checked out fine after cleaning. The tail was inspected and the stabilator bolts changed out followed by lubrication. The ELT was checked, control cables checked and lubricated and the wing inspections completed and lubricated per the service manual.
looking from behind the screened intake for the alternator
Where it attaches to the alternator
Compressions looked great, 76/78/78/77. The oil filter was pulled and was inspected  after it drained out. The filter looked clean,no metal or carbon. There was a hose replaced that forced air to cool the alternator and a single section of the baffle was replaced that didn't seem to stay in place on the pilots side rear of the engine.
Top right, you can see where the air is blowing by the baffle.
I had to pick up my rental car and head out by 3pm so I could get the one way rental to Ocean City on time. I bugged out and made it to OCMD in two hours, traffic was um...flowing. Enterprise gave me a ride to my hangar and I finally ended the day with a nice ten minute drive to the house. I swallowed an Advil with dinner, took a hot shower and got this first day entered.

Another early start with the pets at 5am and I am on the road by 6am. Traffic, if there is any, should move along nicely despite the constant rain. I make a stop at Helen's Sausage House for a single with cheese, a chocolate milk and get right back on the road. I make the north run in two hours and twenty minutes.
When I got to the shop 08Romeo was in the air with her gear coming off. I jumped right in and finished replacing all the inspection panel screws, what a suck job. Once that nasty task was completed I managed to get in the way since there were three people already working on my gear. One changing the main and nose gear tubes and tires that I requested and repacking bearings, one rebuilding a brake caliper and the other cleaning each gear strut and greasing every fitting on the plane.
Somewhere along the way there was two new grommets installed; one on my fuel tank vent hose and one on the drain line that is attached to a collector in the cockpit that takes care of the fresh air vents in case they get water trapped, which they do, because some genius engineer made the opening facing the sky on each side of the cabin behind the top cowl.

The electrical system, batteries and lights, were tested. I must have pulled a ground loose on my Starboard nav light when removing and reattaching the wing tip. The tip had to come off again and a repair was made to the ground wire.
Old, with a soft spot
Once the gear was completed 08Romeo was lowered and taken off the stands. The lower and top Cowl was installed with a run up to test the two Airworthiness Directives; Precise Flight, Inc. Model SVS III Standby Vacuum Systems and the Bendix Ignition Switch. That's it for today.  08Romeo will be snug in the shop until I bring her home tomorrow.
New front tire, check out those whiskers!
Two hours and fifteen minutes for my trip home. I'm ready for a hot shower and another Advil.  I'll be renting from Enterprise in Ocean City for a one way to Elkton in the morning so I can fly 08Romeo home. I hope the weather holds, I'm not flying IFR immediately following annual.


I didn't need to get such an early start like yesterday, instead, I walked into the Car rental office around 8:30. Todays ride was a red Honda that got great mileage, 3.2 gallons for 110 mile trip so 34.4 mpg. If only my ML320 could do gets 18.4 mpg.
Enterprise ran me over to the airport so I could square up the final bill. I added a few quarts of 15W50 to the total in order to keep my hangar stocked. The weather was pretty much the same all the way to the beach so I filed just in case. Ceiling was 2,800 overcast so I ran south at 2,500.
The tail winds were 20 knots and it helped push my ground speed to 142 knots at its best. It was a bumpy ride but since it was just me I was ok riding it out.
The change in the baffle really fixed the temp issue. I had CHT cruise temps in the 330's and EGT's were leaned out at 1220 solid across the board, and both readings were stable.
KOXB over the nose on the coast, almost home
I canceled flight following with Dover and switched over to Ocean City.  I made my position calls and picked up the weather,  winds were 340* at 10 gusting 18, pretty much right down the runway. As I turned base I could see that my hangar door was open. Mary was sitting in her car waiting to take me over to pick up my SUV at Enterprise here at home. After a nice landing and rolling out, Ops said welcome home Gary and asked if I needed fuel. Not right now, I would be back during the week.

A fun annual and if not for the two new tube and tires($402)it would have been rather inexpensive. Here is the breakdown.

Annual Inspection 4 Place  $755
Additional Labor 4.9 hr    $333
Parts:                     $512
Pneumatic filter
Air Hawk Main tire
Michelin Airstop tube 
Air Hawk Nose tire
Michelin Air Stop Tube
Scat Hose
Brake Pads
Caliper Seals
Champion Oil Filter
Spark Plug Gaskets
Brackett Air Filter
Consumables (Shop)          $45
Owner Assist              -$100

Total $1545.00

Thanks For Your Service

Thank-you to those who have served, to those who stand watch today and their families at home. Thank-You for the very freedom you provide my family every day. 

America’s veterans are some of our nation’s bravest, hardest-working men and women. However, it’s hard to show them the appreciation they deserve when, back home and out of uniform, they’re more camouflaged than ever. Greenlight A Vet is a campaign to establish visible national support for our veterans by changing one light to green.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Lucy Finds Her Forever Family

As previously noted on the Possible Rescue Flight post we wanted to fly this mission if all the puzzle pieces fell into place.  Well, Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue (MAESSR) did a great job getting the drop off moved to Wilmington's airport (KILG) and the new family was thrilled to meet us at Charleston, WV - KCRW.
We started out very early having to take care of our zoo then get to the airport.  I had watched the weather and it was looking fantastic for Lucy's flight. 08Romeo had her engine and cylinder preheats turned on last night so she would be toasty and ready to go once we opened the hangar door.

Mary and I were back to the well oiled machine. The Cabrio was backed out, the plane unplugged and pre-flighted then tugged clear of the hangar. I already had fifty gallons on board from a few nights ago, so we were ready to go.

I picked up my clearance with Potomac C&D, made my notes and launched. Cleared as filed with a fly heading 270* on departure so Potomac can ID me then turn us loose.  It was a smooth flight even with headwinds this morning, arriving at ILG just before 9am.
I took on ten gallons to bring me back to fifty total for the next leg. Mary and Eva made sure Lucy was ready and then we loaded up. Thanks Eva for getting Lucy to us at Wilmington!! I lifted Lucy up and set her on the wing, she climbed right behind the left seat and checked out the back of the plane. We had a moving blanket and a soft blanket on top of that in place of the rear seats and baggage area so she could get comfy.
I picked up my clearance with Wilmington ground then taxied for runway one. After start up Lucy wedged herself behind my seat against the wing spar, it was a tight fit but I guess she felt safe there. After take off I usually move my seat back a notch or two but today it was locked in place so our passenger was happy.
The flight was smooth at six thousand as we passed north of Baltimore and remained just south of Camp David airspace. Approach was great getting us direct Charleston as soon as possible, it helps to note dog rescue flight when you file. I was told to expect runway five for landing but at the last minute approach cleared me for runway two three, very odd. I was handed off to the tower and when I checked in with Sundowner 6708Romeo visual two-three, I was instructed to land once again on five. I entered a right base and was high on final but made a nice landing.
As soon as we landed Lucy popped out from behind my seat and jumped in Mary's lap, she was ready to get out, now.  Ok, I'm still rolling out and looking for the taxiway I was instructed to turn on and Lucy wanted to take the controls. Ah, no darlin' get back. Mary did a great job holding Lucy back as we made our way to the General Aviation Terminal. We had to plan getting out of the plane so Lucy girl didn't go first.
Once we shut down and things got quiet Lucy settled in and let me get out first so I could help her off the wing. The three of us walked in the terminal and were greeted by Lucy's new family. Diane, Jerry and their daughter Caroline each had that big smile on, and that made the rescue flight worth it for us. Lucy took to Caroline immediately and that just makes your heart melt.
Mary and I have done a few of these rescue flights and this was a first for us today. The family presented us with a huge picnic basket filled with great sandwich lunch goodies, local jams and preserves and a beautiful Rectangular Cobalt Blue Glass Water Bottle handcrafted locally that Mary and I will cherish forever. The collector piece has already found its home with Marys collection of cake plates and collector pottery from various locations. It looks beautiful with the LED lights above our kitchen cabinets giving it a very soft glow. We can not thank you enough for your much appreciated gifts.
We said our goodbyes with handshakes and hugs and watched Lucy trot off with her new forever felt right. Mary and I turned to each other and both said Lucy is a very lucky girl.
I settled up my fuel bill and then filed my flight plan home. I had given thought to heading south towards Richmond then swinging up the Delmarva peninsula home. Instead I would follow the route we took home from Mt. Sterling Kentucky and decided to file for Baltimore then home.
We tossed around some ideas for a place to stop and eat then decided to dig into the beautiful basket and just relax at the FBO and have a sandwich and cold drink. This would save us time and get us home before the magical one hour after sunset so we didn't turn into mice (I'm not night current).
Visual traffic alert on the 530. The solid target at -700 turned yellow when he had passed under us by -500'.  I didn't get that shot I was busy looking for him.
Charleston was very easy to work with and we made the loooong taxi for runway five. After watching a regional jet and a Dash-8 land I was cleared to take off. 08Romeo climbed out steady to seven thousand and that's where we road along with approach. We were handed off to multiple approach controls as we enjoyed the view and smooth ride with tail winds.
Somewhere along the way we dug out the awesome cupcakes that were in the basket, they were really good.  Thankfully approach didn't bother me while we indulged.
Looking north at Baltimore
We made our way to Baltimore, just south of the city and directly over the airport. We watched a few jumbo jets climb out, they were huge, it was like flying over Dover with the C5's. We crossed the bay just north of the twin bridges on RT50 north east of Annapolis, we were almost home. It was amazing to watch the ADS-B light up with traffic as we passed busy airports, it was like watching bees around a hive.
Finally we had Ocean city in view and I was gradually stepped down by approach.  I eventually canceled IFR about ten west and switched over to CTAF to make my position calls. I had to slip to loose altitude and really chop the power to make runway one-four.  Not my best approach but a nice landing made it feel better.
We are home and 08Romeo is fueled and ready to fly to annual bright and early tomorrow morning. 7.6 hours flying today, I'm beat.