Thursday, July 02, 2020

Fly Time and Approaches

An early start to my day taking care of the Ziva diva and then rechecking all my flying gear. I always like to double check to make sure both iPads are charged along with camera batteries and the latest GPS data card version is up to date. 

My friend and fellow pilot Charles G is in Ocean City today and he has time to safety pilot for me. It's a rare occasion that he drove into town, but I appreciate him offering to right seat. Charles advised he had a mask and his headset with him. A true pilot, he travels with the spare headset. 

Today's plan is to get in the air by 8am and go shoot approaches. I'm current until the end of August but it's nice to make a dent in my currency requirements to eventually advance that date.

After rereading the Stec manual I found an item I want to try. Once clear of the pattern and climbing to altitude I would like to test the Vertical Speed function. It is my understanding that as I climb out I can select vertical speed and the autopilot will lock into my rate of climb and hold that, not to exceed 1600 fpm. I routinely set the heading bug indicator to runway heading so I have the option of switching AP on to maintain wings level on departure. It's also a third confirmation of the DG and compass matching up on the correct heading.

Lets get flying...

First up, a few approaches into Delaware Coastal, KGED. Now that I have relearned the correct buttonology sequence for the Stec 60-2, I should have no issue with my approach when entering the procedure turn (PT) or hold. Nav selection will be made once I am on the final approach course, not prior to entering the hold/PT. Lesson learned, the hard way. 
First up after our Ocean City departure is the RNAV GPS RWY 4 approach into Delaware Coastal, KGED. My initial course was a direct to GED and then after checking weather I set up for the GPS 4. The autopilot worked perfectly and I disconnected at five hundred feet then climbed out for another round.
This time I hand flew the same approach, GPS RWY 4 and it really felt good, almost slow motion. I went missed and made a left turn out for my next approach in Cambridge,MD KCGE.
We headed to Cambridge, MD dodging some traffic.  For this round I will use the autopilot and shoot the RNAV GPS RWY 34 approach. 

The autopilot (Stec 60-2)has been a non issue since reviewing the pilots guide and working through some simulation. I feel proficient and ready to get back to instrument conditions.
The last approach for the day was back home, into Ocean City. Winds favored runway one-four (110 at 5) but being uncontrolled there were planes also landing on two-zero. Charles and I made our way from Cambridge, keeping clear of Salisbury class Delta. This round was another autopilot approach. Direct PFAIR for a turn in the hold then inbound for minimums at seven hundred feet.  


It was a beautiful VFR day but I was stuck under the foggles for most of the flight time. I am really feeling good about the autopilot work, and my hand flying approaches in 3 Tango Charlie. Man and machine are finally on the same page.  I'm ready for some IMC time!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Makes Me Wonder


Rant on...

As my readers know I follow many different pilot forums.  Sometimes I find excellent topics to post about sharing what if scenarios, and what would you do situations. I really enjoy when other pilots share an experience that makes me dig deeper and learn more about what I love to do, fly.

It seems the latest buzz doesn't fall into either category mentioned above. Instead the scuttle butt is focused on a YouTube creator and what happened to him following one of his flying videos.  

P1D, the man that owns, flies, and videos does a great job taking viewers along for the ride. In a recent video, after landing, he exited  at the end of the runway, calling clear before he crossed the hold short line. There was another plane waiting to take off, and one in the pattern. My feeling is he kept the traffic flow moving and was clear before the other plane rolled for takeoff on a seven thousand foot runway.  

Flying here at the beach in peak season the traffic gets pretty busy. At times you may have one or two holding short, and a couple in the pattern as you touchdown and roll out to clear the runway.  Have I called clear as I turned off the runway, I may have a time or two just before I crossed. By the time the plane at the other end rolled towards the runway I was well beyond the hold short and already turning on the taxiway. Situational awareness helps keep traffic moving. I must note; I have also extended down wind to let others out, and always let the plane on final know I am holding short for them, even though I don't have to.  It's called airmanship. But I digress...

The pilot in question was reported to the FAA by a student pilot watching his video. Was the student right that the pilot called clear prior to crossing and clearing the hold short, yes. Was it a safety issue, no. In my opinion it was all about situational awareness and keeping the traffic flowing.

Reading all this and watching it unfold makes me wonder if I need to keep my videos unlisted for me and my family only.  My thought for now is to add a disclaimer on all my videos from this point forward. Viewers need to understand not everything makes the final cut. Videos are kept under fifteen minutes for the most part or shorter. The pre-flight and much of the checklist items don't make the cut in every video. I try and post the portions of the flight that interest me the most, or have the best ATC interactions. Take off and landings are important for me too, I debrief all my flights and the videos help find things that I can do better. A good pilot is always learning. 

Capturing the flight videos and working through the editing have become a hobby for me. I know, sick, right? I do enjoy it, it helps me focus, and I believe it improves my flying procedures.

I guess I could get into boating, fishing, collecting cars, riding motorcycles or any other such hobby. I would have listed golf but I do play and I suck. At least working the videos eliminates some risk, despite the occasional blurt out of something I can't type here because I lost a file or found it to be corrupted. 

Thankfully, for the most part, my video viewers are fellow pilots, friends, and family. Besides, if I did do something sketchy my pilot friends will be the first to call and chastise me, that's why they are my friends.

I guess the bottom line is, if you like the videos people work hard to produce, watch them.  If you don't, then don't watch! It seems pretty basic to me. 

Rant off...

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Flight Plan to Bar Harbor Maine

Mary and I have been discussing some destinations we would like to explore. Of course we have our bucket list destinations, and we both hope to cross a few off before the new year.  One of the short flight destinations is Bar Harbor, Maine - KBHB

I started doing a more serious search for places to stay, FBO's, and hangar space.  I posted on the Pilots Of America and Pilots Place forums for suggestions.  I was happy to see a response from our friends Ted and Susan, who we have met up with many times in the past.

Gary,
A free shuttle runs from the airport to the downtown area and the other parts of the island. Ivy Manor Inn (B&B) is classy and has character. Cocktails at Bar Harbor Inn are relaxing. Blueberry pancakes at Jordan’s are a must. It is a beautiful island.

So with the recommendation in hand I went on line and did some research. The Ivy Manor Inn is just that, an Inn, not a B&B. It is in walking distance to plenty of places to eat and explore deeper. The rooms look great and it's our kind of place to stay, when we can avoid the big chain hotels.
The FBO choice will be Columbia Air Service and the current 100 LL fuel price there is $5.32 a gallon, full service. No hangars were available at the time of my call, but, I will check again once we land.  Tie down fee is $10 a night. There is a courtesy car available, however, that really won't help us for a multiple night stay. There are also rental cars available and they can be ready and brought out to the ramp when we land with prior scheduling. 

Things to see and do...
  • Lobster; dinner, roll, lazy, maybe even the lobsta ice cream.
  • Whale watching tour
  • Stained glass window tour at St. Saviour's.
  • Foodie tour
  • Blueberry pancakes and popovers at Jordans.
  • Lunch with a view at the Terrace Grill.
  • Investigate any museums we find.
  • Sunset cruise.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Survival Food Taste Test

My Mayday Survival gear food and water will expire in August 2020 and I have ordered replacement meals and water, for the original kit. So I guess it's time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

I did a blog post and video on the contents of my survival kit and at that time vowed to taste test the food bars and water before they expired. What exactly was I thinking? Insert eye roll. 

From the supplier...
Not only a food ration that tastes great, but is also very nutritious. Our 2400 and 3600 calorie bars are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the Canadian Transport Department and have a 5 year shelf life. The new addition to our family is the 1200 calorie food ration that is great for the one-day meal. All our food rations are baked under strict supervision and all have that great taste of apple cinnamon. Mayday food rations can be stored outside up to 149 degrees (°F) and can be eaten without preparation.

DID NOT TASTE TEST
I have decided to order a couple of different "survival" meals.  One sample, a 72 hour kit from 4Patriots. The 72 hour meal pack includes the following meals. 

Each 72-Hour Survival Food Kit is designed to feed 1 person for about three days, depending on how much you'd like to eat each day. You get 16 servings of delicious and nutritious survival food good for up to 25 years of storage.
  • America's Finest Mac & Cheese (4)
  • Creamy Rice & Vegetable Dinner (4)
  • Grammy's Sweet Oatmeal (8)
That’s meals for breakfast, lunch,and dinner! 3,760 total calories (avg 1,253 calories and 5 servings per day). Enough energy and nutrients to help you survive a 72-hour emergency.

The 4Patriot meal will require the ability to boil water and that means a mess kit to add to my gear. There already is a mini stove included. One of my dislikes is that the four and eight servings are bulk, so three packages to a kit.  That also means measuring out the food rations and resealing for the next meal. 

I think this might not be as practical as an MRE (meal ready to eat) but I wanted to try them out. The thought of having to add additional items to the survival gear to be able to boil water (a small camping type pot and utensils) along with using up the valuable water supply packets just didn't seem as survival oriented and keeping weight to a minimum.
The second company I am trying is the Ready Store. One of the nice things about this MRE is that the meals come pre-packaged with a flameless heater for each entree. These convenient heaters only require a tablespoon of water, which is included in with the meals, and produce enough heat to warm your MRE in a matter of minutes without having to light a stove, or use your water ration to cook.  

The MRE comes in a variety of entrees along with snacks and condiments.  Of course the goal is to never need to use this survival gear but it's nice to have these items in our survival bag, just in case.

The only drawback to the Ready Store is that the minimum order is a box of twelve MRE's. My survival bag for the plane will take six of those, enough for three days food for Mary and I. 

As for the remaining six I may distribute them, one each for the car emergency bags, and one or two in the daily flight bag I keep with a medical kit in the baggage compartment of 3 Tango Charlie. 

As an update after taste testing....there was no water pack in the MRE. I emailed the company to let them know.
I also contacted Earthquake Management, located in California, to order my new water packs.  This company is a distributor for Mayday Survival gear. They do have a minimum order of $25 but I found an emergency pack I want to put in each vehicle and they only cost around $13 each. 
The Kit Contains
6 – packs of 4.225 ounce Mayday Drinking Water
1- 2400 Calorie Emergency Food Ration
1- Never Needs Batteries Dynamo Flashlight
1 – Whistle w/ lanyard
1 – 8 piece First Aid Kit
1 – 12 hour Light stick
1 – Rain Poncho
1 – Mylar Blanket
3 – Wet Naps
1 – Travel Bag

While placing my order for the new water packets the owner suggested keeping the expired water packets and using them for wash up, thus not wasting good water needed for drinking. I then asked if the expired watered is boiled can I use it for cooking, she said she honestly didn't know but would check and provide me an answer.

So that is my survival gear update. I'm good for five more years of being ready, but, hoping never to need the items I reviewed and purchased.  

I understand that being out here on the east coast it's highly unlikely that if you make an emergency landing that you will be on your own for days. That's a good thing. I also increase my odds by getting flight following or being on an instrument flight plan and talking to approach. What I am concerned about is our future travels and flying over places where there is vast emptiness. I should note that our 406 mhz ELT should also increase the odds of being found.  

But what if? 

My thought process is that I rather spend a few dollars for the peace of mind, and hope it's never needed, then to need it and not have it. Sort of like that aviation quote; it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground. 

Be prepared, fly safe!

Monday, June 15, 2020

What If Scenario

As many of my readers know I frequent multiple flying forums, and from time to time I stumble across a what if scenario I like to share.
Here is a recent post that I thought was a good what if to share. 

This is a flight and approach situation the original poster (OP) was involved in.  What is your take and how would you have handled it?
This flight is from KCON to KMHT. Departed KCON, cleared to climb to 4,000’ with vectors to intercept KMHT ILS 17 localizer and track inbound. About 12 miles out (5 miles outside of BLUUM):

ATC: NXXX, confirm you are established on the      localizer.
ME:  Affimative, NXXX established on the           localizer.
ATC: NXXX cleared ILS 17 approach.
ME:  Cleared ILS 17, NXXX.

1 minute later:

ATC: NXXX, you haven’t descended. You do understand that you are cleared for the approach?

There is an obvious conflict here between what the OP was doing and what the controller expected. 

My response was as follows. First, its easy to be a Monday morning QB from the comfort of my office chair. Second, I didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn. Ok, let's get serious.

Noting the IAF CON VOR feeder is 2500 and crossing BLUMM is at or above 2500 I would have asked ATC for clarification instead of dealing with a dive and drive/slam dunk from four thousand feet.

It sounds like the controller dropped the ball, unfortunately crap happens, they are human too. We need to be ahead of ATC at all times, and I'm not saying the pilot that posted wasn't. It's a short hop with a lot going on in a short amount of time.

I appreciate the pilot sharing the scenario for all of us to think about, and hopefully learn something from their experience.

What are your thoughts?  How would you have handled this situation?

Sunday, June 14, 2020

BAC Fly-in - Martinsburg, WV

Flying activities are starting to return to normal. The Beech Aero Club ( BAC) posted a few fly-ins that peaked my interest. 

Today’s fly-in is in Martinsburg, WV (KMRB). Our group is scheduled to meet up at noon in the Crosswinds Cafe’.  The weather was looking perfect and I sure could use some flight time. Saddle up!

I was off for the airport at 9am, still needing to do my pre-flight and sump fuel.  Mary took a pass today since it was pretty much going to be boys day out to play. I filed my flight plan last night for west bound and filed for the east bound return early this morning.

KOXB JAYBO BAL WOOLY MRB KMRB
Easy peasy, my typical routing over the Baltimore airspace. The confirmation email, however, showed an amended route. 

KOXB ENO SWANN BAL WOOLY MRB
This route is out of the way and I wasn’t looking forward to flying half way through Delaware. Ok, an additional ten to fifteen minutes.  

I’m at the plane and getting ready to start when I get an email with another amended route.  Obviously the stars aligned and sure enough I was back to the original plan, direct JAYBO. Bizarre!

Well the route update works for me and I get the fan turning. Once all the avionics are online I chug and plug my new original route. Activity has picked up here at the beach and the transients were heading in for the weekend. Following my run up I waited for a Cessna to clear, and then I taxied out for departure.
My original planned altitude was for eight thousand but today’s amended route was for six thousand. The ride was smooth and visibility unlimited as I flew over the Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore airport. Along the way I was handed off from Patuxent to multiple Potomac controllers. Once past Baltimore, I was vectored for traffic a few times towards the north west then finally a direct Martinsburg to get me back on track. 
The tower had me report a five mile final and then they requested a right hand 360 For spacing to re-enter final approach. I complied, then reported a three mile final as directed on this attempt.  I made a nice landing and taxied for the terminal building which houses the Crosswinds Restaurant. 
The Crosswinds didn’t seem to require a face mask and we were all seated at one large table. The service and food was very good and well worth a return trip at some time. 
After telling the flying version of fish tales we all headed out to our aircraft.  I was the next to last to leave the ramp since I needed to pick up my clearance for the return trip across Baltimore and the Bay. The plan was pretty simple and almost a direct flight. 

KMRB JAYBO SBY KOXB
When I called ground there was one amendment, adding the MRB VOR.  This quick add was easy enough and it was along the route home.  With the flight plan entered I taxied out for runway two-six via Echo 1, Echo and Echo 2.  Once at the runway I completed my run up and then was cleared for takeoff. 3 Tango Charlie climbed out, and as directed, we made a left turn direct MRB. Joe was ahead to my left and low, Chris was just off my right and above. BAC flight! 
I had a few vectors for traffic then turned direct JAYBO. Shortly after I pointed to JAYBO I was given direct Salisbury SBY. I went through the same approach sectors as this morning, only in reverse, as I worked my way to the beach.The head winds from this morning were now much appreciated tail winds, pushing me along at a ground speed high of 160 knots. The ride was smooth and I provided a winds aloft PIREP for Patuxent approach, as requested. 
BWI
As I was making my way east I was lowered to four thousand feet.  Approach advised a TBM clipping along over two hundred knots was going to overtake passing below me at three thousand feet.  I was bumped to number two for Ocean City and advised once the TBM canceled I would be cleared for the visual. I can fix that, I reported  the field in sight and canceled IFR.  
The TBM eventually passed me by, despite my excellent ground speeds. I gave him a good run.  No big deal, we would both have to deal with traffic landing every which way at OXB. I followed the TBM, also selecting runway one four.  I made a nice landing and taxied clear, across from the aviation school ramp. It was a fun day flying and catching up with friends.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Beach Flight, Food, and Refreshments

It was too nice a day to pass up flight time so we decided to get in the air.  3 Tango Charlie was fueled yesterday and the pre-flight was completed. Today's task was another quick once over and sump the fuel tanks. Everything looked perfect so I tugged the plane on to the ramp ready for boarding. Mary decided she wanted to go with me today which always makes the flight fun for me. We went back and forth on where to go, and after checking what was open we decided to just fly the beach all the way to the Delaware Bay and back.

I taxied out for runway two, second in a line of five planes. It was busy today with school planes and transient aircraft. When the Cessna rolled for takeoff I announced lining up to wait on runway two. I watched the Cessna battle the gusting winds, 030°14/G22.  I think it was worse as he climbed out over the trees.  With the Cessna upwind I was rolling, it was a wild ride.  I had full aileron deflection in, and I was riding the right rudder for all it could do. I still pushed across the runway as I broke free of the pavement and snapped into position like a wind vane, now into a solid crab.  Of course today I left the videos in the hangar, this was time for me and my bride only. 

I positioned the plane just over the Bay so Mary could view the beach and buildings along the way north. Here are a few pictures she took as we pressed on for Rehoboth Delaware and the Cape Henlopen State Park. 
OC Inlet and parking area

OC Marina

OCMD, Condo Row

The Parke at Ocean Pines, where we live.

Bethany Beach approaching Indian River Inlet Bridge

Cape May Lewes Ferry, departing Lewes DE

RT1 and 1A Split to Rehoboth Beach
I turned around, pointing for home, after we took a few pictures of the Ferry departing Lewes DE for Cape May NJ. The ride wasn't much smoother, but, not as bad as coming north.  We were also enjoying the twenty-one knot tailwinds out of the north instead of fighting them.
I made my position calls at ten and five out then entering an extended downwind for runway two.  I had one plane on its way in behind us.  I turned my base a bit early  but knew the headwinds would put the brakes on to my good ground speed. The gear was down and locked with two notches of flaps.  It was gusty and I tweaked the power setting just right as I made a sweet landing, confirmed by my brides "good job". 

Together we decided on lunch at one of our local favorites, The Sunset Grille.  Good food and service made for a memorable start to summer. 

Crab Dip Appetizer
Lump crabmeat, cream cheese, roasted garlic, scallions, old bay, aged white cheddar, amish soft pretzels.
Crab Cake Sandwich
House Specialty. 5 oz. Jumbo lump crab cake served on a soft potato roll.
Refreshments, Ruby Red Crushes
Smirnoff sourced ruby red grapefruit vodka, Triple Sec, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, lemon-lime soda.

Enjoying 'refreshments' at Sunset Grille