Saturday, October 03, 2015

BACFest 2015 Dubuque, IA

Tuesday 9/29/2015

The original plan was to depart OXB Thursday morning around 7 am.  I have been monitoring the wx and patterns each day. This is the look I have today for a Wednesday departure.

Wednesday 9/30/2015

It was an early start to day one with a revised BACFest flight plan. Mary and I dropped of the zoo this morning at OC Pet Spa around 8am. Our baggage was weighed and stowed, our munchies bag with water and Gatorade was loaded along with our new survival kit and plane covers. Ceilings were 300' so we waited until 11am and ceilings 800' to get the fan turning.

My planned tail winds were now headwinds and my proposed three hour leg was looking closer to three hours and thirty minutes. It was a busy flight.  I logged two hours of IMC and felt sharp soon after my initial check in with Patuxent approach. When I launched off runway one four I did feel anxious climbing out, right up until we entered the clag. Once on the instruments it was all business and everything felt natural.
I eventually broke out between layers as I approached CDI.  With a solid layer below I requested the RNAV GPS RWY 4 approach. Approach turned me direct YISUG and after a good chuckle about who thinks these names up I complied.  Approach followed up with a request for me to confirm that I can fly the approach at 4000 for radar coverage. Not a problem, the next step down was 7.2 miles and 2700'.  I finally broke out at 1500' adding in flaps and making a position call on final.  I made a squeaker of a landing and taxied clear to look for fuel.

It was a nice break to stretch the legs and to take on fuel. With 50 gallons on board we saddled up for KVPZ, Valparaiso, IN. This flight was planned for 2 hours 20 minutes, taking advantage of the tailwinds. We launched off runway 4 and climbed back into the clag. I checked in with approach and was directed to climb to our enroute altitude of 6000. After the initial climb out we road along in the clear, above the layer, until north west of Fort Wayne Indiana.  Fort Wayne gave me a block altitude so we could keep our nose out of the scattered build ups. I was having fun, Mary, not so much.

Approach cleared us for the visual approach and I cancelled about ten miles out when I had the field in view.  I crossed midfield and entered the left down wind for runway three-six.  A smooth landing to end the days flying was fine by me.  We taxied to the FBO and ordered fuel for tomorrow and asked to have 08Romeo tucked in a hangar for the evening.
Howie the cow at Kelsey's
The FBO provided a courtesy car for our overnight stay, that was really nice of them.   We found a room at the Country inn and suites,our first time at this chain. The hotel was clean and the service excellent. We asked for a recommendation on a place to eat, the desk provided two. One was in town, Stacks, the other located near the airport, Kelsey's. We couldn't find a place to park in town, all on street, so we headed back towards the airport for Kelsey's.  A great choice, this steak house and seafood place was excellent,  Mary and I each ordered the filet mignon with a twice baked potato, it was all perfect! 

After we finished dinner we headed back to the hotel to settle in for the night. I flight planned for tomorrow's hop into Dubuque and we shared a dessert we ordered to go. A perfect ending for our busy flying day.

Thursday 10/1/2015


Well, that was the plan, once I turned 08R to follow the 180* assignment from south bend approach I was advised report ready to copy a route amendment.  08R ready to copy, I was given MAPPS then direct, great, that will speed things up especially with the 35 knot tailwinds. I was then handed off to Chicago center and once again given the advise ready to copy.  The next change was direct MEDAN then MEITZ direct KDBQ.
Center wanted to give a little space for the Bravo I guess. I made the changes then enjoyed the view. It was a smooth fast flight all the way to Dubuque. I descended, pilots discretion, from six to three thousand which ducked us under the layer. We broke out in time to enjoy the view of the Mississippi River as we made our way to the airport. I was number two to land and entered a right base for RWY 36.  Not my best landing but I was on the ground and ready to enjoy BACFest.
South view
North view
We headed to the hotel and checked in along with our 75 lbs of luggage. Mary headed out to get her nails done and I found a comfy recliner chair in the lobby to people watch and get my blog entries caught up. Maybe an hour after settling in, the BACFest van pulled up and I decided to head back to the jet center for the meet and greet.  Mary was done with her nails so the van picked her up on the way. Good timing.
Members were making plans and grabbing dogs and munchies at the meet and greet.  Mary and I had a light breakfast around 8:30 in Valparaiso and nothing since so we decided on the wildfire restaurant in the neighboring casino across from our hotel.

Dinner was excellent, perfectly done filets and great service.  We somehow waddled our way back to the hotel,thankfully it was a block or two walk.

Friday 10/2/2015

Six years ago today Mary and I signed the papers and sealed the deal to purchase 08Romeo. How fitting that we are gathered with the Beech Aero Club and so many baby beech aircraft.
A full day of activities are listed on the itinerary. The group is flying out to IA23, Guttenberg,IA. I took a pass since I haven't landed on grass and I wanted to get my prop balanced.

I met with Doug the owner of Harmony Aviation and inquired if there were any time slots available for an add on to his schedule. Doug was just waiting on an 83 Sundowner owned by Brad and Ann M, of the Beech club. I was able to get in line for the next appointment and had the FBO tug 08R out of the hangar.

The Balance Process

Simply stated; two sensors attached to the engine provide data to a prop balancing computer during three brief engine run-ups to 2000-2200rpm. After each engine run-up, the computer prescribes an increasingly accurate corrective weight amount and location to balance the entire rotating group. The weights (AN washers) are temporarily located under one or more spinner screws or bolted directly to the ring gear on some Lycoming engines. After the prop generated vibration level is reduced to near zero (usually after the third engine run-up) the spinner is removed and weights are permanently installed in accordance with F.A.A. approved specifications.
After warm up I held the RPMs to 2100 as instructed.  Doug was plugging away at his controller and in a few minutes gave me the cut sign.  I shut down and held up my key to confirm so he could approach.  With the door cracked open I heard him say you're done. I thought we had three cycles to do? Not you, he said, 08Romeo is near perfect. He said I could zero it out by adding metal washers to three screws in a specific location on the spinner, replacing the plastic ones that are in use.   

I was happy to have the prop done and even more excited that it was in great shape.  I now have a new sticker for my prop log and comfort knowing I'm not wasting power with sideloads and an out of balance prop. The tach check was also good with 2100 rpm indicated and 2119 confirmed on Doug's machine.

The first of two wagons to transport the members to the maintenance clinic
The maintenance clinic started at 2pm and we had a great turn out. Today's topic was stabilator trim actuator lubrication.  Plenty of hands on with parts along with  hints and tips to get this job done. Another great clinic by Beech Aero Club.
We all headed back to the hotel to get ready for this evening's Mississippi River boat dinner  cruise.  Mary was feeling better and just about ready when I got back to our room.  I showered and got dressed with time to spare.  We headed out early to enjoy the beautiful river walk. It was a short stroll to the Port of Dubuque and our boat.
We got underway enjoying the camaraderie of fellow members and the perfect wx on the water.  We had great seats facing west and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. Dinner was very good with selections of chicken and or ham along with sides of potatoes, slaw and green beans with bacon.  The dinner cruise ran from 6pm until 9pm. It  was a nice walk back to the hotel in the cool evening air to end day two.

Saturday 10/3/2015

Another early start and a long walk across the hotel for our club breakfast. Mary is not feeling well so I brought her back breakfast. Breakfast in bed always helps.

Instead of taking the bus to the shopping trip to Galena, IL., Mary will sleep and I will attend the members lunch. Following the lunch I'll attend the membership meeting.  After the meetings are complete there will be down time until our banquet starts at 7pm.

Somewhere in all this we had to pack up our room and move to a new room. The hotel only had three nights in a king room so today it's two double beds.

Phase II of our adventure begins tomorrow with a plan to stop in Minnesota then on to South Dakota.  Stay tuned!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Currency Extended

With me being grounded for seven weeks my IFR currency was going to lapse the end of the month.  If I went out and did at least three approaches I would extend until November 30th., this would keep me legal for IFR flight during our vacation travels.

I had posted on Facebook and made a few calls and could not find a safety pilot.  My good friend Mike B, CFII, and flying partner was going to be in town for work. We hatched a plan for me to fly up to ILG and pick him up, shooting approaches on our way back to Ocean City.  So many airports along the way, it would have been a blast, like old times.  Wednesday afternoon Mike let me know he was not feeling well, seems he caught a bug from his Bride. No fun flying feeling like crap so we ditched the plan and agreed to catch up the next time he was in town. I miss flying with you Mike!!  Who else tortures me like you do? :)
Cape Henlopen
I got up this morning and headed to the airport determined not to return home until I flew the approaches I needed. Without a plan I pulled 08Romeo out of the hangar and completed my pre-flight. I checked in at the terminal desk and no pilots hanging out.  Hmmm...I walked across the parking lot and checked in with the flight school, no go unless we fly in their planes due to insurance.  That's ok but I won't be flying their planes, with my avionics.


Dave S sent me a text message that he was available in the early afternoon.  This would be the back up plan but I wanted to get done and home as early as possible since Mary was under the wx with the start of a migraine.

I headed back to the hangar and decided to cross the Delaware Bay and look for breakfast and a pilot that I knew to help me out. I launched off of runway two and flew along the coast enjoying the view and trying to relax.  There were a few planes on the ramp at WWD but nobody I knew. I figured I would eat then try Millville Airport next followed by Big Sky Aviation to see if they could fly with me.
RT 50 into Ocean City
While catching up with my former co-workers I got a text from Bob C, He was done work early and could help me out now.  I said my goodbyes, skipped breakfast, climbed back in 08Romeo and headed to Brandywine Airport, KOQN.  Bob needed to get his tach pulled from his plane and delivered to 58M so they could order what he needed. We were going to meet there but why have Bob drive when I can pick him up AND shoot an approach into Claremont, 58M.
I made a decent landing at Brandywine-OQN and Bob climbed aboard.  We taxied out for runway nine and launched. After reviewing the plate and getting set up I put those hated foggles on.  The first approach would be the RNAV GPS RWY 13.  It's windy so it will be a challenge knocking off the rust and landing on 3000' with a 1.5% grade downhill.  I get 08Romeo lined up, needles looking great, getting 08R down and stopped.  We taxied in to see Roger and drop off the parts for Bob's plane.
C and D Canal at the Delaware River
Next up, lunch!  We taxi out and launch for Chester County - KMQS.  This place was busy with jets and I had one in trail maybe 5 miles as I was short final.  I had shot the RNAV GPS RWY 11 approach and it looked better than the first.  I cleared the runway and the Citation wasn't far behind.
Dover AFB
Bob and I had lunch at the Flying Machine Cafe' located in the terminal.  Good food and service made for a pretty quick turn around. I took on some fuel so I wouldn't have to stop on the way home, 08R was back to forty gallons.  Bob and I launched for Brandywine and I set up for the RNAV GPS RWY 9 approach, tracking out to ECZEL. This approach was very good, needles steady and altitude on the money. The LNAV allows me down to 860' and when I tossed the foggles the runway was right smack in the middle of the windscreen.  I added flaps and with some added stall horn planted 08R.

I can't thank Bob C enough for being my safety pilot. I am once again in your debt, Sir. At least when you work on your instrument ticket you will have a safety pilot available, benefits of my retirement.  We said our goodbyes and I secured the door for my taxi out.  Thankfully I got out just in front of a Pilatus PC-12 who was also getting ready to go.
I departed to the south being mindful of the Philly Bravo airspace and ducked under at 3000'.  Passing just west of Wilmington I pointed for Dover and the AFB.  I passed just north east of DAFB and cranked up the music for the remaining ride home. I averaged 115 to 120 knots with the tailwind. As I approached the beach there was an update for AIRMET Tango and the boundary line fell along the beach and OXB. It got pretty bumpy at 2000 and below as I made my way in for runway two. I made my calls and entered the pattern making another nice landing.
With the approaches completed along with crosswind landings, I'm ready to head out to Dubuque Iowa.  More flight time next week then I'll tank up and give the plane a once over getting covers and tie downs packed.
Flying time today 4.5 hours.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Flight Physical Passed!

It's been seven weeks since I last flew.

I knew I would get flagged for Body Mass Index (BMI) so after coming to the realization that the testing process would take forever and I would have to have it done anyway, I decided to roll the dice. I had been corresponding with Doc Bruce, senior AME,  on the AOPA forum.  He suggested that I get the test done and know where I stand and get my info together to speed the process.
As previously posted I took the in hospital overnight sleep study, what an ordeal.  Obviously, as Chris H (Photographic Logbook)mentioned in a comment "evidently, Gary can sleep through anything, the lucky dog".  I did, and the test numbers were excellent and the final result was a normal polysomnographic study.  In short, I ain't got no sleep apnea!!  Sorry Mrs. Harker, I had to just blurt it out like that.
I went in this morning armed with the report and my certification number from the online med-express form. Typical procedures; height, weight, eye test, color blind test and sample in a cup.  My BMI was an instant flag (requiring a sleep study) and my response was to hand over the report.  The good doctor read through it and said I was good to go.  I guess this all came to a boiling point as noted when he took my blood pressure, it was higher than normal. I'm pretty predicable at 110-120 over 70-75, I blew that away but was within the FAA limit. I came home and took my pressure and it matched what my last PCP visit was so I'm ok.
With fresh ink on my medical I just had to get 08Romeo in the air.  I had the plane fueled yesterday so I could sump this afternoon, I prefer to let it sit and settle. I didn't check the tanks after requesting fill to the slots which would have put me at forty total.  Instead, when I verified the fuel today I was easily sitting around 25-27 a side.  The line guy blew that one and I'm just as guilty for not watching him  fill each side. I did a very detailed pre-flight touching every surface verifying with my flashlight so I didn't miss anything.

It would be a short hop and multiple take off and landings if needed. I taxied out to runway one-four and made my call for departure.  The jump plane had just kicked out its load of crazy folk so I bugged out and cleared the area heading north up the beach. The air was smooth and the visibility perfect! I was back at home in the left seat, loving life. 
I putzed around for a short time then did a steep turn inland to head back south.  It seems the rag haulers (banner tows) had cut their day short, I had the beach all to myself. I crossed the inlet and descended to pattern altitude making the required calls. Abeam the numbers adding approach flaps with a nice squared off turn to base adding second notch and on final adding the last notch at five hundred feet. I added a swipe of nose up trim and 08Romeo rolled on to the runway, niiiice.
With such a sweet landing I decided to call it a day. I tucked 08Romeo in for the night with a pat on her cowl thanking her for being patient.  We'll do this again in the morning for our Sunday breakfast run.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Plan

For me, half the fun of cross country flying is the planning.  I enjoy mapping out flights, checking on weather, fuel prices, places to overnight and eat.  It's always been about the journey more than the destination.  I really have fun meeting people and exploring new places.

I have worked multiple plans. This first flight would be for a Wednesday departure and overnighting in a new to me flying state of Indiana.  God knows I've trucked across that state more times than I care to remember back in my car hauling days, as a young buck.


The distance is 575 miles and if I launched today it would be a five hour and thirteen minute flight. Figuring on headwinds I split the flights to two legs, three hours to CDI and just over two into OXI.

Day 2

This would be a leisure start. No pressure to arrive at Dubuque (KBQU) since festivities are not starting until 1pm. Day one is usually CFI/CFII flights for Bi-Annual reviews, Wings flights and Grass strip landing practice at our Saturday venue Abel Island. I've never landed on grass!

This distance is 200 miles and 1 hour and forty-five minutes flight time. This should be a fun flight and if the wx looks good I'll cancel early and make a landing at Albertus Airport (KFEP) to knock out Illinois.
The alternate plan is to pound it out in one day on Thursday if we can't get out on Wednesday. I rather split it up and not make it seem like work.  Worst case we would go as far as IFR wx allows(no boomers or ice) and get in on Friday.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Checklist for BACFest Flight

I have been working on our checklist for our BACFest in Dubuque, IA and our jaunt to Mt. Rushmore Rapid City, SD flights.  We typically travel with a very primitive kit; protein snack bars, water, knife, lighter, baggie of dryer lint for fire starter and a few small LED flashlights. I thought it best to invest in something more substantial for the terrain we will have to traverse.

Survival gear, covered

I shopped around and found this kit listed on Sportys.
First aid kit
12 Pouches of water
Water purification tablets
Two 2400 calorie food bars
Light stick
Nylon Cord
Orange survival tent
Emergency blankets
Waterproof matches
AM/FM Radio with Batteries
Camper’s Stove
Utility Knife

I would add my bare bones collection I mentioned above just for added lighting and fire starter needs.

All of the kit items are cleverly packaged in a backpack that measures 12"w x 17"h x 10"d and weighs 11 lbs.

Avionics Covered

My 530W will be updated and it covers the east and central United States and the 496 will get it's annual update to maps, terrain and airports. I have the new iPad mini 3 and the backup iPad 2.

ADS-B Thoughts

I have also been digging deeper into options for ADS-B.  While the GDL88 and Flightstream would be a great addition at @$6000 + installation, there are other options that I am exploring. The upgrade from my Garmin 327 to a 330ES would cost me @ $2,300 plus installation and the trade in of my 327, this takes care of ADS-B out. For ADS-B in I have been looking at the Stratus 2S at $899.  A considerable savings and more cash to spend on fuel. An even better solution would be to find a used Stratus 2 with average selling prices listed between $625-$750.  I wouldn't rule out a Navworx install, the price is right and it will work with the Garmin 530 and wifi.

Friday, September 04, 2015

ForeFlight Wx

I saw this posted on Facebook and wanted to share with the folks who read my blog that are not on Facebook or don't check the ForeFlight web page for product news and updates.  I really liked the Model Output Statistics (MOS) near the end of the video.  

Medium-to Long-Range Flight Planning
with Scott Dennstaedt

Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Sleep Study (Updated)

I gave this a lot of thought about posting but since I'm confident my results will free me I decided to help any of my readers that may be facing the same path to travel, a chance to hear what the study is all about.

Getting hooked up.

At about 10:30PM it was time to begin attaching all the sensors that would take readings of what seemed like every brain, breathing, facial expression and leg function one could imagine or dream up.

Plug me in!

I had two electrodes on the outside of each calf muscle to measure for Restless Leg Syndrome. Two more electrodes on my chest and one on my back for measuring heart rate. These electrodes snapped into connectors located on the elastic straps across my chest and abdomen in order to measure my breathing.  All of these electrodes were all attached with sticky pads after a light scrub with what I thought was a scotch pad, ok it FELT like a scotch pad, then they were each secured with medical tape. Each individual connection had a long thin wire that plugged into a box to transmit the data to a computer in the monitoring room, which was just outside of my room.

Next, the tech measured my skull so she would know where to place the next electrodes.
These were  metal discs connected to a wire and were eventually attached to my scalp with Conductive Paste. Yes, it's a nasty sticky glue. After marking certain spots on my head with a wax pencil the tech used a cotton swab stick an antiseptic gel to clean the target area, I mean location, for the sensor.

Next up was the face sensors. Three were placed across my forehead. one at the corner of each eye to monitor eye opening and three  across my chin to measure jaw clenching.

The last sleep test accessory was the nasal tubing, not quite the typical oxygen cannula we use for flying but very similar. The cannula has a port in each nostril with the tubing wrapping around each ear to hold it in place.  There was a small loop under my nose as a part of the cannula that hangs down and gently sits on my upper lip to monitor breaths in and out of my mouth.  Finally, the pulse oximeter for measuring oxygen levels in my blood was placed on my left thumb.

When I first crawled into bed, the tech had to run a baseline test including the video and audio monitoring equipment. I would be given several commands to follow; without moving my head move my eyes right and left ten times each, move my eyes up and down ten times each. Move each foot like I was stepping on the gas pedal in a car, then move them both at once. I had to take a deep breath and hold it, cough, and clear my throat, clench my teeth and finally blink my eyes ten times. Base line numbers complete, time to sleep!

I slept fairly well all things considered. I had one nature call around 3ish (I'm guessing since she said see you in a couple of hours)and finally woke up around 6am.  The first process was to unhook all of the spaghetti wires from the machine then begin pulling off the sticky pads. The goobs of glue would need plenty of hot water when I shower after getting home.

My follow up appointment with my sleep doctor is scheduled for September 16th and my Flight Physical is following three days later on the 19th.  I'll be armed and ready to knock this out.


I followed up with the sleep doctor and my in hospital results were very good. I do NOT have sleep apnea. During non-REM sleep my AHI was 3 and RDI 4. In REM stage sleep both AHI and RDI were 4. Average Oxygen Saturation was 94%.

My advice - Don't waste your time or money on a take home, go to a sleep certified doctor and check yourself into the hospital for the real deal sleep study.