Friday, October 31, 2008
A typical taxi out to runway one nine via taxiway kilo for my run up provided the warmth of sunshine invading the cockpit and a chance to hear 679er's engine just lope along. I gave 679er some extra time for the oil temps to come up as I monitored traffic on both the tower frequency and ground. I thought to myself it's about time to install the oil cooler plate as the needle slowly started to climb. My run up completed I called to advise the tower and was soon climbing out of Wilmington.
A smooth flight to Brandywine, hands off, needing only to make my feet tap on the ruder a time or two for corrections. I changed to CTAF at Brandywine and copied the AWOS report. I announced a 10 mile position report and a 5 mile since there was helicopter traffic departing the area. The fling winger and I exchanged info and I made visual contact advising I was at his 10:00 low, 1,500' now turning left down wind two seven. I continued in and made one of my best landings in months, plenty of stall horn and just as soft as could be.
Brian and I had a short discussion on some goals to get to my check ride and today we were going to work on fine tuning procedures and precision flight. We were off of KOQN in short order climbing out, minding the noise abatement and pointed north. My first task was GPS runway 9 at Brandywine. I chugged and plugged to get set up and dig out my approach plate, dam I wish the Autopilot was working. I chased the needles a bit and had to make some altitude corrections to keep on course. I was inbound to Eczel followed by Cefsy then initiated my procedure turn. I tracked out bound "ok" and once turned inbound I had to make a large wind correction to get on course. The Garmin 300XL GPS would not cycle past Cefsy to the Final Approach Fix Waccy. I am not sure why but I climbed out and retracked back to the IAF Eczel. This time I flew the course and Brian said no procedure turn which made life easier. I will have to work through the Garmin manual and see why I could not get it to cycle.
After going missed I was given radar vectors for the ILS 29 approach at Chester County (KMQS). Vectors are easy, turn, burn and acknowledge. Once you receive the vector get the turn started, twist the heading bug and acknowledge ATC. I reviewed my Approach plate a second time and since Brain just stared spouting out vectors I completed my pre-landing checks and configured the aircraft. On the last vector to intercept the ILS I read back the instruction to Brian as he role played ATC. I responded, "turn right two six zero, maintain 2,500 until established on the the ILS two niner, 679er. Soon the localizer needle came alive and I was turning right to two niner three and tracking the ILS. Things looked good, so far, as I was on course and speed, waiting for the glide slope to come to me. I flipped on my marker beacon so I could hear the tones and double checked my radios so that I was set for my missed to the Modena VOR. Wait, whats this, I'm loosing altitude and tracking off course almost half scale. Brian instructs me to STOP fixating and get where I belong at altitude. Ughhh....I get the feet tap dancing and get on course along with "getting back" to the correct altitude, surely it would have beem a check ride bust. I regain control and we go missed after I got a sneak peak as a reward for who knows what, maybe not killing us (ok, a bit extreme but I'm ticked).
Out to the Modena VOR for a few laps around the hold track. I dial in 120* and off I go. Double check to make sure I retracted the flaps and now cruise at 2,500'. I take a few deep breaths, shake my head in disbelief and wonder whats happening to my pilot skills. Brian again reminds me that my procedures are spot on, it's the fixation with the heading indicator and the scan slowing to a stop that is messing with me. I hear him, I just hope I can get it right. Two laps around the hold and we're off to the GPS 27 approach at KOQN. My outbound and inbound headings were good and I was reconfigured for ninety knots and flaps prior to crossing the fix.
I tracked the GPS 27 approach fine as I made my way from the initial approach fix Dasde to Gonve (no procedure turn here, woo hooo) and now on to Celpa. From Celpa I was good to descend to 1020' and the missed approach point was Rudme only 4.5 miles away. Again I was starting to chase the needle but at least my altitude was rock solid. I was given the ok to lift the hood and get us on the ground. I was lined up pretty good and added in another notch of flaps as I slowed for my landing. Nice flare and nose up, a gentle squeaker with a long roll out. Finally on the ground and my lesson complete.
I am working on my oral test prep study time and Brian thinks a few more tune up flights and I should be ready. We are on schedule for next Saturday into Allentown for some additional ATC work and a change of scenery. I walk out to 679er and climb aboard almost feeling like the glass half empty guy. It seems I'm stuck at this plateau and need to clean it up so I can show what I can do. 679er takes me home to Wilmington making some great speed without much of any tailwind, I think she's trying to make me feel better. I have traffic at my 10:00 going my direction, almost a flight of two. It's a Cessna maybe heading to ILG but not talking to them. I am already instructed to report a 3 mile final for one nine so I continue on. 679er takes the bit and runs down the Cessna leaving it in our wake, yeah, she wants me to know all will be ok. I start to laugh and report three mile final and really have to rein it in to get slowed down. Over the fence last notch of flaps, across the numbers, stall horn, hold it off until I hear the sweetest little chirps and hardly a bump, I'm feeling better already.
I taxi into Red Eagle and secure 679er for the day, she treated me well. Who says we don't bond with our aircraft? I have that same affection for 679er as I did for my corvettes, hard to explain, maybe even harder for some to understand. No matter, I do and that's all that counts!
Log Book totals to date:
Total Flight Time 251.2
Cross Country 114.2
Instrument Approaches 66
Day landings 443
Night Landings 21
Until my next lesson.....
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Scott offers a training course through Chesapeake Aviation Training and the link will provide a glimpse of the Skew T. I spent the day shooting approaches online since I could not get out of Wilmington this morning in order to make my 7am lesson. It sure would have been nice to get some actual in the soup but as they say, no IFR ticket,no wash. Between approaches I scoured the Internet reading about weather and the Skew T. I think I will be sending for Scott's training CD.
Below, I listed the link and info that Jeff Haby provided on my subject of the day. Sit back, read along and see what you think about this added weather info that is available for us to digest.
SKEW-T BASICS by Meteorologist Jeff Haby
The Skew-T Log-P offers an almost instantaneous snapshot of the atmosphere from the surface to about the 100 millibar level. The advantages and disadvantages of the Skew-T are given below:
Why do we need Skew-T Log-P diagrams?
Can assess the (in)stability of the atmosphere
Can see weather elements at every layer in the atmosphere
Determine cap strength, convective temperature, forecasting temperatures,
determine character of severe weather
This is the data used to produce the synoptic scale forecast models
What are some disadvantages of Skew-T's?
Only available twice a day (00Z and 12Z)
Character of weather can change dramatically between soundings
Sounding does not give a true vertical dimension since wind blows balloon downstream
Sounding does not give true instantaneous measurements since it takes several minutes to travel from the surface to the upper troposphere.
Below are all the basics lines that make up the Skew-T
Isobars-- Lines of equal pressure. They run horizontally from left to right and are labeled on the left side of the diagram. Pressure is given in increments of 100 mb and ranges from 1050 to 100 mb. Notice the spacing between isobars increases in the vertical (thus the name Log P).
Isotherms- Lines of equal temperature. They run from the southwest to the northeast (thus the name skew) across the diagram and are SOLID. Increment are given for every 10 degrees in units of Celsius. They are labeled at the bottom of the diagram.
Saturation mixing ratio lines- Lines of equal mixing ratio (mass of water vapor divided by mass of dry air -- grams per kilogram) These lines run from the southwest to the northeast and are DASHED. They are labeled on the bottom of the diagram.
Wind barbs- Wind speed and direction given for each plotted barb. Plotted on the right of the diagram.
Dry adiabatic lapse rate- Rate of cooling (10 degrees Celsius per kilometer) of a rising unsaturated parcel of air. These lines slope from the southeast to the northwest and are SOLID. Lines gradually arc to the North with height.
Moist adiabatic lapse rate-- Rate of cooling (depends on moisture content of air) of a rising saturated parcel of air. These lines slope from the south toward the northwest. The MALR increases with height since cold air has less moisture content than warm air.
Environmental sounding-- Same as the actual measured temperatures in the atmosphere. This is the jagged line running south to north on the diagram. This line is always to the right of the dewpoint plot.
Dewpoint plot- This is the jagged line running south to north. It is the vertical plot of dewpoint temperature. This line is always to the left of the environmental sounding.
Parcel lapse rate-- The temperature path a parcel would take if raised from the Planetary Boundary Layer. The lapse rate follows the DALR until saturation, then follows the MALR. This line is used to calculate the LI, CAPE, CINH, and other thermodynamic indices.
Below is an example diagram showing the lines of the Skew-T Log-P diagram
Friday, October 17, 2008
Today after over a month lay off (forcing myself to take the written test) I finally was back in the saddle flying simulated IFR. I had a 2:30 lesson at KOQN so I was wheels up from Wilmington (ILG) by 2 pm. As I approached OQN there was one Cessna 172 at my 8:00 position. We were talking and had visual contact. The Cessna followed me into land number two. It's great when everyone plays nice on the radio.
I was practicing approaches until my home computer took a total dump. Yep would not even come on. Thankfully John got me squared away and I am going to weed out the old hard drive tomorrow morning. It's been at least two weeks since I shot an approach "online" and at least 45 days in simulated conditions in the real world. Winds favored runway nine this afternoon so off we went amidst a busy Brandywine airport. I worked myself in between departures and arrivals including two helicopters. I climbed out to 3000' and turned to the north. Some basic maneuvers were on tap just to shake the rust and get the feel under foggles again. With the feelings back and under control I was asked for a GPS runway 9 approach into OQN.
OK, lets see if I remember how to use this Garmin 300XL. First direct to OQN, select route then cursor a few times until GPS 9 is highlighted, hit ok. Next choose an Initial Approach Fix (IAF), so I scrolled through and made my selection, ECZEL. I'm on my way tracking the approach. Not a big problem getting setting up the Garmin other then a bit of roller coaster up and down action making the fingers bounce around. I got smoother on final and ended up going missed and back to CEFSY to practice a hold. I crossed the station and turned outbound for four miles on a 237* heading, setting myself up for the teardrop entry. Not a bad hold but not my best by far. I had to cut a large angle to make up my wind correction but tracked to the station fairly well. Back around for another lap and I forgot to monitor my track on the GPS and started to chase the needle or intercept the 267* radial, this brought back memories of the MXE vor holds. Brian asked how we looking and that's when it hit me, I'm tracking out of control, yikes! One look at the trak on the GPS told the story. I got myself squared away and turned inbound on the 088* . My CFI was happy that I made the corrections. I once again hit the GPS Squelch which released the hold and started my track inbound on 088* to CEFSY. Not a bad recovery as I cross the station and get cleared to land. Traffic had now switched due to the winds so I took advantage of the circle to land numbers and set it up for two seven.
My circle to land was smooth and a nice 180* turn. I landed a bit flat, held it off and squeaked a nice landing after all. My metal parts were sore today and with the change in temps the arthritis actually was letting me know that I ain't no youngster but I still really needed the practice. A few more lessons/check ride prep flights and I'll be good to go. Tomorrow I am going to detail the interior of 679er, after we grocery shop and after my SUV is cleaned. For now it's another two hours in the log, 1.1 under the hood.....I'm tired and sore!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Day 1 Friday
The ride was smooth and visibility good as I cruised along past Dover, Georgetown (KGED), Salisbury (KSBY)and Newport News (KPHF). Once south of Newport News and working my way towards First Flight (KFFA) the clouds really made their presence known. The cloud layers were at 1200-1500 scattered and 6000 overcast as we continued south of the Chesapeake Bay. I requested to go off frequency for a weather update and Norfolk acknowledged. Flight watch returned my call quickly and the update confirmed what this mornings report had forecast it also matched what I was looking at. Norfolk approach handed me off to Oceania then in turn to Washington center. The scattered layer was now around 1200 with good ground contact along the coast. I didn't see First Flight but did see Manteo in the distance as it started to rain. A Mooney canceled IFR that was heading into Dare County (KMQI) and I followed suit cancelling flight following. I switched over to MQI's CTAF and heard the Mooney report his position, I was a few miles behind him. I made my position calls and entered the left down wind for runway five at midfield. Base to final over the water and now aligned for landing I noticed I had some geese waddling across the approach end of the runway. As I passed over the shore line Mary was my bird watcher and I decided on landing a tad long to add some safety factor. Smooth landing, geese no factor and a easy taxi to our tie down. I called on unicom for our rental car then shut 679er down for the weekend. Our car was at the plane before we could climb out, that's good service.
With 679er covered and secured at her home away from home, our vacation was officially underway! First order of business was to get my bearings squared away and give the map a quick review. Ah, piece of cake, we headed out of the airport noting the Aquarium location and reading all the local historic attraction signs along our route. It was less then ten miles to the hotel as we traveled through Manteo to the "big road" Rt 64/264, made a left turn and headed over the Washington Baum Bridge,one of the many area bridges we would cross on our vacation excursions. Mary and I both noted places of interest and local stores enroute to the Surfside Hotel. Mary also noted the outlet shops, she was looking for the Coach store (handbags for all the men reading). Sure enough before we got to our turn off there it was, calling her name, Mary...come shop here...Mary.... (more on this later).
Tummy's full we were now on a mission to Manteo. We followed signs to the Festival Park, sort of a picnic park is how I would describe it. The key here is all the shops and galleries within a few blocks of the park. It reminded us of the waterfront at Block Island. We had a blast walking around meeting the shop owners and all the local cats that the shops take care of. A great adventure today and a fun time just spending it together with my Bride. It was time to head back since the sun was peeking out and the thought of beach time was looking good. Once back at the Surfside we noticed the wind was still kicking pretty good so Mary passed on the beach and instead laid out on the balcony of our room. While the Bride worked on her tan I took a nap, typed on the blog and watched football games. When the sun finally fell out of sight Mary and I got showered up and headed out for dinner. Tonight's choice was the Penguin Isle. When we walked in there were two wedding parties getting underway, I figured the food and service must be good. Mary commented that this place is also open all year round so that must say something good too. We were seated upstairs and glanced over the menu's. I knew what I wanted, surf and turf, Mary followed suit. What a nice quiet dinner for the two of us on our last night of vacation, we really enjoyed ourselves.
Almost impossible to top last nights dinner but we thought we would give it a shot at Howard's pub in Ocracoke. Of course today's weather was perfect, bright sunshine hardly a cloud in the sky and no wind to speak of. Mary put in a few hours of tan time while I worked on finishing up my flight plans for the hop to Ocracoke and then from there back home to Wilmington. We did detour on the way to the airport for one picture that Mary wanted to take of a little kitty at one of the shops we visited. This little girl was so cute and so petite one could not help but love the lil' thing. Back my to planning, winds favored the short hop for lunch but it looked like a good head wind the whole way home. I decided that we would top off and make the run to both locations with a non-stop home. All my calculations pointed to 11 gallons remaining upon arrival at Wilmington (ILG).
We had already gassed up the rental, taken the extra pictures and now headed to the airport. I worked on my pre-flight inspection and Mary returned the car and also reminded the line guys we needed to be topped off. The fuel truck was out to meet me as I finished up, only needing to sump the tanks. Bags were packed, car returned and 679er ready to go. I taxied out to runway five and did my run up followed by my departure and climb out to 3000'. Washington Center did not have radar contact but did hand me off to Cherry Point as I crossed Billy Mitchell Field (KHSE). I rode along with approach for a few minutes then cancelled when I had W95 in sight. I announced on CTAF my position and intentions as we entered the left down wind for runway six. Base to final now feeling the winds off the ocean push us around as I make my way to short final. A bit of rockin' and rollin' and some throttle work has us descending below the dunes and setting down for a nice landing. Once below the dunes the torture of the wind isn't that bad at all. The airport has tie downs and I did notice plenty of ropes provided. I called For a ride on unicom and Howard's Pub sent out a six seat golf cart to pick us up. Our Driver pictured minus the golf cart.
Lunch was excellent at the Pub. I had sweet tea, of course, along with scallops, shrimp and coleslaw. Mary had a dozen of clams and you guessed it, oysters and hush puppies. I bet this place is packed on weekends, it just has that look and feel. It reminded us of a local favorite at home Stanley's tavern, sports oriented, great food and service. We each purchased shirts as a souvenir of our stop for lunch. Ocracoke has been on my to do list since I became a pilot, today, mission accomplished.