Thursday, October 16, 2014

RC Flying

I was cleaning out my hangar at New Garden (N57) tonight and did my preflight for Fridays flight to OCMD.  When I finished up I thought I would track down the Airport Manager, if he was still available, since it was just past 5pm.  I did find the manager and gave notice that I would be out of my hangar by November 1.
As I got in my SUV and started to head out I saw this youngster, with his dad, walking out to the ramp with an RC plane.  This little guy had his act together.  Hard side case in one hand containing  the controller and his aircraft in the other.  He unpacked, went through some checks and then taxied out.  The aircraft was electric powered so it really had a unique sound to it. It was a smooth and controlled departure that immediately went into a vertical climb!  He hung that airplane on the prop then nosed over and spiraled down to recover and go inverted followed by cranking out some knife edge turns and snap rolls.  I shut the truck off and continued to watch this youngster fly, he was very impressive.
When he was done he brought the plane in slow and smooth, better than some of my landings in the Sundowner.  I walked over and asked if I could take his picture for my blog, his father said yes.  This youngster is eight years old and can really fly that RC plane.....honestly it was like I was watching Matt Chapman, just a scaled down version.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Moving 08Romeo

It’s time to pack up the hangar at New Garden (N57)and move 08Romeo to her permanent home in Ocean City MD (KOXB). I'll finish out the month and then vacate by November. 
We are still trying to sell our home.  The house has been listed for sixty days to date, plenty of lookers, no offers yet but we are praying to St. Joseph.  I decided that since it’s the off season I can drive back and forth to the beach without the hassle of extra heavy traffic days. 
The plan is to load up the SUV with the small work bench and cleaning supplies along with my Switchbox preheater and battery maintainer controls.  The next forced wx driving day I’ll take the hangar contents with me to OCMD.
I hope to move the plane south with some help from Mike B. I’ll get an hour head start in the SUV then he can fly in and pick me up. I’ll fly back to drop him off then turn and burn for OXB. At least it’s a plan and that’s a good start.
I have my annual scheduled for November 10th so I’ll fly up to 58M, rent a car and hotel room for a few days in order to complete the work.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

IMC and 'Not So' Big Sky

Friday 10/3/2014
Today started off on a bright note with wx looking good and even better for a planned Sunday return north.  Saturday’s forecast was calling for rain, heavy at times in Wilmington, showers in OCMD.  I figured it would be a good time to get a few things done at the beach home.  At 3pm I made a run for the door, exiting work and heading to the house for a quick check since it had a showing earlier in the day.
I should have taken a few things with me but I just wanted to get in the air and pointed south.  08Romeo needed fuel so after a quick start up and shut down I had 30 additional gallons on board.  The run up went smoothly, every item on my check list noted and acceptable.  I put in a call to clearance delivery at Philly and noted my typical CRAFT report with some changes.  I had figured on once again trying N57 DQO ENO ATR KOXB but I can’t seem to get that to pass muster.  Instead, fifteen minutes later I copied the norm, MXE DQO ENO SBY KOXB. I did get six thousand and according to the Skew T diagrams that would put me above the IMC layer.  As the saying goes…one out of two ain’t bad.
I announce and taxi for departure on runway two-four. Gusty cross winds but nothing 08Romeo can’t have fun with. I weathervane on climb out, announce my departure intentions and flip to approach.  I checked in with Philly and they give me four thousand after a right turn climbing out on downwind.  That was a first and I think letting me climb higher for longer or keeping me pointed away from the airport would have been safer. One never knows who may be on a forty-five for that same downwind…it’s funny how we process this stuff.
SO close to the top I could see the sun light the clouds up

I center the needles and keep on keeping on at four pointed for direct Smyrna (ENO). Eventually I’m handed to another Philly sector, 119.75 and then on to Dover 135.15.  I notice there is traffic on my Zaon PCAS, a few miles behind and a thousand higher.  We are each on with Dover approach and get called out to each other for traffic advisories.  The Cessna 182 gets six thousand, I got nothing.  I asked for higher but was kept at four thousand banging out the IMC time.  On occasion I had ground contact, more south of Dover (KDOV) but gone by Georgetown (KGED).  I was handed off to Patuxent 127.95 and advised I had the wx at my destination, which was VFR.  Of course the 182 was headed in to OXB and he asked for the visual. I was following along thinking I would get a hold at PFAIR but I was cleared direct and lowered.  Once I broke out I could see the coast no problem, so I canceled and went in VFR.
Happy girl with her head resting on my tummy.

Sunday 10/5/2014

Sunday was a good day for the boardwalk so Mary, Ziva and I did some walking.  Mary had a soft ice cream, Ziva got plenty of attention from everyone passing by and I got a caramel apple from Dolle’s. We headed back to the house and settled in for the afternoon.  My wx check looked great and as long as I was in the air by 5:30 I would be happy.  Mary was dealing with a migraine headache Saturday and a slight headache again today. Mary wore dark glasses and soldiered through the boardwalk for a couple hours but I could see the squinty eyes and tired look.  She had all the signs but she knew it and got comfy on the couch while I watched football. I refilled my ice tea and while I was up grabbed a blanket to cover my Bride.  With my Bride tucked in and Ziva sound asleep I sat back and watched the Eagles play, and win.
RT. 50 inlet bridge
I headed out to the airport after the game and was in the air some time around 4:30.  I had no flight plan filed this trip but I did monitor Dover, Philly and Wilmington as I made my way to N57.  I hung out at three thousand riding a tailwind and some rodeo gusty winds.  I announced my typical ten and five mile inbound for full stop calls and kept an eye on the PCAS that was showing a blip around six miles. That blip changed to five, then four down to two and now a mile and a half. The sun glare looking west south west was brutal, the Rosen visors did help and I finally had eyes on the target.  Big sky?  Not at this very moment.
RT 90 Bridge
I made another call on New Gardens CTAF but no response, the Piper kept coming.  I lost the plane briefly in the sun then saw it again now pointed at me and closing.  I powered up into a climb and banked away to the right, the PCAS echoed my turn and as soon as the distance opened I leveled and looked again. The Piper had stayed level and banked right, crossing behind me.  Not sure how close we got but my guess was a mile or less.  I settled down and reminded myself I was clear and needed to think landing, fly the plane dummy.  I turned from base to final giving the sky and PCAS a final look and all was clear. I made one of my best landings at New Garden and was off on the first taxiway.
Cape Henlopen and Cape May across the Delaware Bay
As I taxied in I heard a Piper call his position, a forty-five for the left downwind runway two-four.  I came to a stop just before the hangars and pointed across the grass so I had a clear view of the plane now turning base to final. It was the same plane that passed behind me.  I watched them land and decided it was best to make my way to my hangar.  I shut down, opened the hangar doors and parked the SUV out on the adjacent hangar ramp.  I could hear a plane heading my way but the hangars were blocking the view. As I went to the baggage door to grab my tow bar the Piper turned down my taxi lane.  Hmmm…the thought ran through my mind that this could get interesting.  I pushed 08Romeo in the hangar and the Piper taxied right up my ramp nose first, shutting down maybe ten feet from my doors, which were wide open.  I still had no idea who this was, didn’t recognize the plane or pilot.  The right seat was a young lady, in her teens and the pilot and young man, maybe forty at a guess, they both smiled and waved.

This was a hangar neighbor and he parks across the taxi lane from me. He turns into my ramp like I do his after every flight so we can push back without turning our planes while going up the hill.  I’ve never met him or saw his hangar open since I’ve been at New Garden.  He seemed like a very nice guy and his daughter just as nice.  I asked them if they had a radio problem and he confirmed it was intermittent. He admitted that his daughter pointed out the traffic, ME, and he took evasive action like I did.  I thanked her for riding along today.  I guess it’s a reminder that it is always SEE and AVOID while we are in the air.  I am thankful for the Zaon traffic, it saved my bacon today.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping Current

I had shot only one approach in the last six months since my last flight with a CFII.  My currency was about to run out as of the end of September, yep, tonight at midnight I would turn into the great pumpkin.  Giving it to much thought, maybe I would turn from a mouse (Beechcraft reference) to a horse pulling a carriage…neigh……er,um…nah.
I started out my evening cleaning 08Romeo’s belly. I gave her a good scrub and then changed for my flight. I really needed some stress relief and flying would shift my focus and clear my head.

08Romeo had 38 gallons of fuel on board so I was set for the flight.  All flights with my CFII start with a briefing of what torture our plan of attack will be.  The lineup was as follows, multiple approaches into 33N - RNAV GPS 9 and 27, multiple approaches into KEVY - RNAV GPS 17 and 35, a hold at WENDS, ILS RWY 1 approach into KILG and finally tracking back home (N57)for the VOR RWY 24.
I must admit that my training flights usually start out with the first approach serving the sole purpose of shedding rust by the buckets. A little behind the plane and chasing needles to keep in the ball. Tonight was different, no finger pointing by my CFII for course or altitude deviations instead a few wows and very nice tossed out there.  I was in the zone tonight; the last few weeks of flying had me ‘shit hot’ as I like to say.
No, this post can’t be all sugar plums and fairies.  Of course my CFII is never one to let my ego get out of control and I am quickly reeled in with an approach curve ball tossed at me.  I brief the plate for the expected RNAV GPS 17 into KEVY.  The initial (role-play) communications had me vectoring for the approach. I had the wx, had briefed the plate, radios were set and I was sticking the headings and altitude changes rock solid. Once cleared for the approach I would chug and plug on the Garmin 530.  We started to get into a conversation about some flying friends and airplanes as I was still ahead of the plane, fat dumb and happy.  Yes, I underlined dumb.  
Distraction is a killer in IMC, especially on approach, sterile cockpit is the norm when I fly….but I was so in the zone tonight.  My flying was still picture perfect then the sugar plums went splat and the fairy dust got in my eyes.  (role-play comm) 08Romeo direct EPKAW cleared for the RNAV GPS 17 approach, maintain 2000 until established.  I acknowledge and start to chug and plug.
I select the RNAV 17 approach and scroll through my choices. Hmmm…..there is no EPKAW selection.  I have to pull the plate, find EPKAW (top of the ‘T’) and see that it’s an IF not an IAF.  Meanwhile we are still cruising along and now my eyes are back to the scan, down to the plate, at the 530…you get the idea. Score one for the CFII, I am humbled.

I scroll through and select OGHUF, then click on the FPL (flight plan) button scroll to select EPKAW direct enter.  I am on my way in time to settle in and set up for the approach. I’ve had Philly approach run this exact scenario on approach to KILG while in IMC and had to chug and plug. Train for the what if’s, they happen when you least expect it.
The Garmin does alert you to the fix on the screen.  IA(initial approach), FA (final approach), MA (missed approach) and MH (missed hold). This should have been my first clue.
We had some additional fun shooting the ILS 1 into KILG.  The tower is always pretty good to work with and tonight was no different, very accommodating. The ATIS was noted and localizer dialed in as I was getting (role-play) vectors, the actual tower at ILG wanted us to report HADIN inbound.  I had just noted that the localizer was alive when ILG tower asked us for a left 360* for departing aircraft on one niner. We had traffic coming at us head on.   We acknowledged and off I went holding altitude in a smooth standard rate turn. My CFII asked for a half standard rate just to slow the turn down and give the C130 space on departure.
Once again the localizer is alive and glideslope starts to move as my turn put me back, just at HADIN.  We report our position and continue in.  I’m a bit busy slowing down trying to get the needles centered in the ball and run the GUMPS check.  I centered the needles and went foggles up at 275’ to see the runway right where it should be. I went missed and climbed out for home to the North West.

Last up was the VOR RWY 24 into New Garden.  I do enjoy tracking the VOR and on my beach flights dial in the various points along the route as my back up.  I ended the flight with a greaser landing and tucked 08Romeo in for the night.

The flight debrief took place over dinner at Two Stones and as always I left with new things to work on and ways to sharpen my flying skills.  Thanks Mike!

Quick edit!

With this flight I busted the 900 hour mark!!!! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rest Of The Story

The rest of the flight story....

Once landing at KLHZ we saddled up for the trip north.  I had taken on enough fuel to bring me to fifty gallons, 08Romeos belly was full. Flight plan was showing two hours fifty-three minutes....close, but the headwinds ate up some additional time and fuel.
I picked up my clearance with Clearance and Delivery on the 800 number then launched for the north.  The sky was beautiful and smooth. My routing was BEXGO LVL RIC TAPPA PXT ENO DQO N57, (313 Miles). Approach hand-offs were seamless and the flight was hands in the lap take pictures and enjoy.

Monday 9/22

Monday was a busy day with our return flight finally getting off the ground at 3:50. Approved route; DQO V29 ENO V16 PXT V213 HPW V615 MEYER (319 miles). Once again a smooth flight and great comm work with multiple approaches. I turned up the 70's hits and, after moving my mic, sang along with the tunes. Once we landed I had the tanks filled back to an on board total of fifty gallons.
Time was passing quickly and I was I faced with the decision of a night flight to KOXB, Ocean City. Most pilots say no problem, what's the issue.  Well, I haven't been night current since November 2013.  Now I know that means no passengers and I could make the flight and even knock out the three full stops and once again be safe from turning into a pumpkin.
I admit, I am Mr. Conservative and a I have a few issues; flying over or shooting an approach or going missed over water at night presents the black hole effect, the lighting on 14-32 is not the greatest but 2-20 is new,  and the real stopper for me is no night landings since August 2013, over a year ago.  I decided to pass on the flight and button 08Romeo up for the night.

Tuesday 9/23

It's a cool morning and the sky looks good for my hop. I flight plan for the just shy of two hour flight to Ocean City at five thousand, keeping ahead of what's crawling up the coast. I pick up my clearance; DUFFI FKN CCV SWL  and launch to the north east.

The fleet at Norfolk
The Atlantic
Fisherman Island off the tip of the Delmarva peninsula
It was a good flight, clear for pictures and smooth. Patuxent Approach stepped me down and I canceled when I had the wx and field in sight.
Actual view
xm wx view
There were two aircraft to coordinate with in the pattern and one inbound behind me as we all worked our way in. This was going to be an afternoon with my Bride and then a hop home to N57 later in the day.

Tuesday late afternoon and all our errands are complete. Mary took me out to lunch so I was set until dinner back at the north home. I hate leaving, it stinks. We said our goodbyes and I took the airport car back to the hangar for storage until Friday. 08Romeo was ready to fly but once again no Bride in the right seat. I didn't file for this hop, instead I enjoyed my flight time.
I took the time to reflect on the weekend events. I am truly thankful for my family and friends. Interesting insights the last few days on family and how they did for others quietly, under the radar. These things I know because they have been paid forward and people have stepped up to acknowledge. I also know it's important that my generation should carry that thought process forward, I see that they do, each one of us in our own way. I am truly blessed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Hurry up and wait for wx....
I had to wait out some wx passing through my route but I made my planned departure time of noon. I climbed out of OCMD and headed towards Snow Hill, my first time passing over this VOR.  08Romeo had a full belly of fuel and with the density altitude she labored to climb to 8000 holding 5-6 hundred feet a minute. The graph from flight aware makes it look like I road a rocket to 8000 in a minute then plunged to the earth only to recover and do my best Blue Angel imitation and climb 4500'.  Trust me, it was a steady climb, trimmed for a hands off 500 feet a minute.
Virginia beyond the layer
Over Accomack, KMFV  Looking SE
The peninsula was covered by clouds that stretched across the Chesapeake Bay.  Virginia was looking clear and the remainder of my flight was unobstructed.  This was one of those hands in lap looking for things to do to stay ahead. I arrived at my scheduled time, took on fuel and turned for the north home airport.  I did hear Dave,Light Sport Aeronaut, on with Washington Center heading north to Quakertown. I wanted to say hello Dave, but didn't think Center would appreciate that. Hope you enjoyed the smooth air today!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weekend Flying Plans

It's going to be a busy flying weekend coming up and as all pilots do, the pre-planning has been dancing around in my head all week.

Online wx and flight planning do make the process a bit easier but I always second guess route and altitude choices up until I finally file. It's hard to select the favorable altitudes with winds until you file so I tend to run through the plan one last time then send my plan off through ForeFlight.  I'll post more next week but here is the preliminary plans.
My typical Friday night flight south

Sundays flight
I'll return Monday evening following the same route as noted above (Sundays flight), just in reverse of course. If its getting late I'll duck into OXB and tuck 08Romeo in the hangar and I'll get to spend the night with my Bride. I can launch in the morning on Tuesday to get home for work at 7am.