Friday, November 28, 2008

Bump Went The Pilot

METAR KILG 281651Z 30018G22KT 10SM CLR 10/M03 A2984

Runway 9-27 is closed at Wilmington along with many taxiways due to construction. I was directed to back taxi on runway one and advise ready to depart. Hmmm, let's think about this prior to my taxi out. That works out to a 70* crosswind at 17-21 knots from my left. I feel comfortable enough to make the go decision having also noted that the wind speed was calling for less as the day went on. Ok, brake released, I'm on my way. After my run up I am cleared to back taxi on runway one, I went far enough allowing me 4,000 feet to get off the ground.


679er is up and away weathervaning along the runway heading. I make my way to Brandywine having to crab into the wind to stop from blowing towards the next ring of the Philly Class bravo. Winds aloft reported at Atlantic City at 3000 - 2932 and 6000 - 2646. It was bumpy, gusty and I asked myself how bad did I really want to fly this Instrument lesson. I was now announcing a three mile 45* for left down wind two seven at Brandywine. Winds reported on the AWOS 290 14G23, I had two notches of flaps in as I turned final and kept my speed up around seventy knots. Just over the fence I added the last notch of flaps and set 679er down. Only a slight moan of the stall horn followed by chirps. Fly till you tie it as my CFI used to say and that's just what I did.

My hour and a half lesson went off pretty smooth. I did the GPS RWY 27 approach into Brandywine followed by a VOR A approach. My procedure turn was ok at best the first go round with a parallel entry, I didn't allow enough wind correction (actual path, blue track). I made a left turn to stay in the protected area ( red track)and cut a heck of an angle to intercept the inbound 54* radial. The needle finally came alive as I had crossed the station. My CFI Brian asked are we established, the answer is no, now what he asked. Obviously another lap around the hold this time much better with my wind correction. Very good he said but what did you forget....key up jeopardy music.....times up, I forgot to notify ATC....UGGgghhhh. (I forgot my GPS so I had to hand draw my flight path for the VOR A, I'll remember it Saturday.)

I completed my lap and shot the VOR A holding my altitude better and following procedures. My timer work was spot on along with pre-landing checks and managing to still fly the plane. Did I mention how bumpy it was? I was on the money this time and did a circle to land for runway two seven. My landing was a little flat but overall a good job.

My assignment is to knock out the PTS study guide for the oral test prep this weekend and I should be good to go. I hope to get the check ride done the week of the 8th, we shall see.


I have to share this video. This was taken by a fellow forum poster and webmaster of 160knots.com. Frank has some fantastic videos with good audio exchange between he and ATC. This video is one of my favorites and gives one a very good idea of what pilots deal with when strong gusty winds are forecast. Oh yeah, hang on to your hat!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, also known as Thanksgiving Day, is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. It is primarily a North American holiday. The traditional "first Thanksgiving" is recognized as having occurred at the site of Plymouth Plantation, in 1621. Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States.
Thanksgiving in our home is truly a day to give thanks, spend time with family and friends and of course enjoy the traditional turkey and all the fixins. We will have 14 counting Mary and I gathered together around the table. We will also keep our extended family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.
A special thanks to all who serve in our military and provide us the very freedoms we at home enjoy. May you be safe and come home soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Home From 58M

I got a ride to 58M with Gary so I could fly 679er home from annual. I hung out in the shop while Gary picked up the log book. 679er was spoiled, she spent the last few nights tucked away in a warm hangar, I hope she wants to go home. The hangar doors opened and 679er was pulled out for my preflight. I found a few items the non-professionals (Gary and Gary) worked on that needed attention; the stabilator (The horizontal portion of the tail consists of two sections: the Elevator and the Horizontal Stabilizer, together sometimes called the Stabilator) had an ever so slight rub on the tail cone, and one of the seats needed to be connected to the left track.

Adjustments now completed it was time to start up. 679er started up and had a great sound to her, a good once over and she was feeling like new, which is better then my knees are feeling after a couple of days crawling around on concrete floors.

I taxied out and after multiple brake checks decide that my left side doesn't have the grab it should and I'm experiencing a slight pull to the right. I taxi back, shut down and trade info on unicom. I head back into the hangar so they can bleed the brakes in the warmth of the shop. We pop the top cowling and hook up a line to the "master cylinder" can hanging on the firewall, this design still weirds me out. Air bubble now passed it's time to give it another go, I'm starting to think 679 doesn't want to leave the warm hangar. I buckle in and flow through my checks again, this time adding a let's go home baby girl. 679er starts up and off we go with a short taxi to runway three one. While holding short for a Cessna that was ready to take off I completed my run up again. With the Cessna climbing out I back taxi and get set to depart. "Cecil County traffic Archer 28679er departing three one" and away we go climbing to pattern altitude.

The wind is kicking pretty good but it feels great to be back in the air. 679er feels and sounds rock solid, happy to be kicking her heels and running for home. Wilmington asks me to enter a left down wind runway one........huh? I give my position again inbound from the south west and get a traffic alert which I acknowledge contact. The tower now asks me to enter left base for one and I acknowledge. Base to final now with the winds 300 12G20 I find myself crabbing in with a hefty wind correction. Short final now still holding in the correction I cross the numbers kicking the right rudder and adding a left bank into the wind, I'm on center. Left wheel chirps, a short roll and the right side is down quickly followed by the nose wheel. Flaps retracted, adding pressure to the toe brakes 679 slows smoothly and straight. I taxi off and get to my tie down, home sweet home. I call up the school and cancel my IR lesson, I'm to sore from all the bumps and time spent on the concrete. I decide to just pick back up on Friday with the flight school.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Annual Day 2

I rolled out of bed at my normal time but at a much slower pace. The neck was a little stiff and the knees were aching a bit more then normal. I figured a really hot shower should loosen up the parts, it did, to some extent. I took care of the Maggie girl and with a kiss goodbye for my Bride I was once again heading south. I made my stop at Dunkin for my medium tea extra sugar and saddled back up for Elkton. Traffic was a bit heavier this morning but moving along at a good pace. I pulled into the airport right on Gary's tail and parked in the open slot where aircraft normally tie down out front of Ceicil Aero. We walked into the office and everyone had their morning coffee. I dug into yesterdays donut box to find the last Boston creme, now I'm ready to work! I also gulped down a Tylenol extra strength trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.

First task was to put 679er's pants (wheel pants) back on and Keith took care of that. Roger gave the firewall forward the final once over and wanted a few things done. I removed and replaced the shroud that covers the muffler since the fit was not squared away and got it right the second time now that the, for lack of a better term, clips were exposed. The band clamps tightened easily and that task was completed. Next we had to clean up some oil on the ducting that I missed after the oil change. I'm not sure how anyone saw that but I like the power plant area to be clean and I happily got it done. Finally after getting the all clear I helped Frank hang the bottom cowling. Again, thank heavens for battery powered screwdrivers! Next up was the top cowl and I carried that around to the front of the plane and made sure all tools were clear. The landing light needed to be plugged in and so we did. Up and over we sat the top on and she slid into place with ease. Gary and I completed the polish compound and wax up front then he completed the wheel pants, 679er was looking great! The only thing that we are waiting on is the ELT battery. It's due to be replaced in January but figured why wait, it's nice and warm in here, who wants to do this stuff on the ramp in winter weather. The UPS guy should be in between noon and three so we shall wait on that delivery.

Time to open the hangar doors and push our girl out on the ramp for a run up and leak test. Gary climbs in while I watch and listen, I'm counting the pumps on the primer and going over my pre-start checks in my head even thought I'm outside looking in. After running at idle and gaining some temp in the oil Keith and Gary raise the rpm's and hold there. After a short time they shut down and decide the idle level is to high and make corrections. There are no leaks, everything else is looking great. Once again they fire up and follow the same procedure, the idle is much better this time around. We shut down and push her back into the hangar. I load up our storage box in the baggage compartment and we gather the tools that belong to Gary. Last item was to add one more quart of oil to bring the level to seven, I take care of that. Gary paints the back of the prop black to eliminate any glare and we close up 679er for the day.



video

The plan is to ride to Elkton with Gary in the morning and fly 679er back home to Wilmington. Once back home I'll top the tanks and get ready for my 2pm lesson. Oh yeah almost forgot, I get to check in at Brandywine Airport with Penn Avionics for the Century II AP check out and a price quote for the S-Tec altitude hold add on. I also get to add the music input to our intercom system since it is set up for it and only needs a plug to be mounted, Mary will like that. Thanks for reading along and sharing my very first annual that I got to participate in, yep got my hands dirty and had all those good shop smells on my clothes....insert the Tool Time, Tim Allen grunt (It's a man thing).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Annual Day 1

The fun starts right now! Even though I had the day off I decided to participate in 679er's annual (since the owner asked me if I wanted to join in the fun). I was up early and out of the house as if it was a regular work day. I made a stop at Dunkin Donuts for my medium hot tea extra sugar and a couple dozen donuts for the guys at the shop. It's a small price to pay for asking dumb questions and getting in the way. I arrived at 7:50, a whole ten minutes ahead of schedule, not to shabby for a guesstimate on travel time.

First order of business was to set the plane on jack stands, not the typical car type but the heavy duty jack me up, roll me around airplane specials, God I love tools! 679er was undressed right in front of my very eyes. First her wheel pants, I did all the inspection plates (thank God for battery powered screwdrivers) then the upper and lower cowling and finally the interior. Frank and Keith of Cecil Aero were very patient, they answered all my questions and shared all kinds of cool info. After the cowlings came off the oil drain/change was started. The wheels came off for inspection and repacking of the bearings and each torque link needed a shim added to keep things tight. The shims were placed where I show the red arrow and the torque link is designated by the green arrow. It was really nice to get everything cleaned up in the parts washer which made for a neat and tidy assembly.

The strut seal was replaced on one side, I forgot to take a picture of it. I thought it would be a pressed seal but instead it was flexible and once placed in the (my description) strut tube it stayed in place. I also removed the spinner to allow some sort of inspection and managed to watch the compression tests and replace and torque the plugs. The plug wires had a strange little end on them and a spring, each of these were inspected and cleaned off before reinstalling. Filters for the vacuum pump were replaced even though the existing one was spotless. The battery was pulled to check and the tray/box was cleaned and inspected for any acid/corrosion. The panel was also left off for inspection of control cables. The tail cone was also removed, cables inspected and an adjustment made on something to do with an ever so slight movement in the elevator.

These guys were all over the plane. I could hardly keep up trying to make mental notes of all that went on. It was an exciting day, more fun then one should be allowed to have and I learned a lot of good stuff. We broke for lunch and Gary and I hit the local deli and upon our return decided to eat in the shop. While we were eating an SNJ5 Texan, the pilot maker, entered the pattern and landed. I should have went out and got a video but I was busy stuffing my face and didn't feel like going back outside. As luck would have it the plane was schedule for the very hangar we were working in so I got a few shots.

After lunch the wing inspections were completed and I got to button the plates back up. The inspections continued in the cockpit, each plate had been removed and off they went with flashlights crawling and probing our girl giving her a good once over. Some of the other item checks were the fuel systems and pump, the oil filter was cut open and checked for metal and just about everything firewall forward was touched, probed and or tested. I could not believe how fast time went by. It seemed we had just finished lunch and now it was coffee break time. Break time chat was aviation related, go figure, from the cost of T-Hangars, to who's flying what aircraft and our progress on the annual.

Tomorrow we will put 679er's pants back on, finish up in the tail cone area and whatever testing is required. Gary finished up replacing the seats and getting the interior squared away while I was getting in the way as planes were moved around to get the SNJ and a Cessna 150 in for the night. I thought we just had break a few minutes ago and now the boss man (Roger) calls it a day. Heck it was 5pm! We cleaned up a few things,briefly planned for tomorrow morning and then said our goodbyes. Gary offered me a ride up the hill to my truck but I wanted to walk out all the kinks in my hip and knees. Crawling around on the concrete floors is way out of my league at my age and with my metal parts and bad knee joints. Was it worth it? YOU BET!! I'll be up early tomorrow and back at the hangar so we can finish up. Mary, pass me those two Arthritis extra strength 650mg Tylenol's, gulp, yeah man, I'll be ready for round two.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

December Flight Plans

December shapes up to be a busy month for flying. Yes, I still have my IR check ride to schedule and complete but I'm talking about fun flying. Mary and I had to cancel our Cape Cod trip earlier this month due to wx but it's back on the board. The North East Flyers are headed North to enjoy the Nantucket Christmas Stroll on December 6th so we decided to combine destinations.

The current plan is to fly into KHYA - Hyannis, MA arriving before 10am, check into our hotel then beat feet for the high speed ferry to Nantucket. Sounds like a great plan huh? I'm still working out the logistics. I can't see us running through the airport trying to get to our rental car then wheeling into the hotel lot for check in only to zoom back out to the dock to catch the ferry. At least I hope that's not how it works out, thus all the planning. I dare mention mother nature and the thought of frost on 679er that morning but there is always de-ice available from AeroWays FBO.
Ok, on to the plan. We will depart Wilmington around 7:30, Brrrrrrr it will be chilly! I can see Mary all wrapped up with her blanket and pillow falling asleep even before I pick up flight following with Philly. I hope to get cleared through the Bravo, if not I'll head towards the Pottstown VOR then turn right on course and cruise at 7,500 . I'll take up a heading to and above the New York Bravo airspace as I continue on towards JFK. I will head out along the Island crossing the Long Island Sound and once wheels dry over Groton, CT a north east turn towards New Bedford, MA. From New Bedford it's east bound over the "boot" and into Barnstable, HYA. This is where the fun starts. I will have a car waiting, it's a quick stop, unload our bags then off to check into the Anchor-In. Somewhere along here we will catch up with our friends flying into meet us. We will head to Nantucket via air or high speed ferry for a fun filled day of checking out the local attractions and of course shopping for holiday gifts.

No time to relax around here! The following weekend Mary and I will be headed to one of our favorite stops, Christmas in St. Michael's. This is a short hop, maybe thirty minutes to Easton Maryland. We like to rent a car since it balances out vs the taxi fare. The parade starts at 10:30 and the road closes at 10:15. I'm not sure my Bride has seen much of the parade since she is usually knocking out each and every shop along the streets. We always try to have a nice lunch in the local restaurants with a window view in order to watch the festivities. There is a little something for everyone in the parade, marching bands, horses, horse and carriages, car clubs, drill teams it's all in there. With the early sunset I'll have to make sure I'm night current or we'll be bugging out by 3pm. No matter what it will be a fun day enjoying the holiday season with my Bride and our friends.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

679er Arrives At 58M

I left work at 3pm and headed to the airport. The wx was looking terrible all day low ceiling windy just plain yucky. Around 2pm I walked back into my office (finally out of another meeting) to see blue skies and a scattered cloud layer around 4,500.

METAR KILG 201951Z 29010KT 10SM SCT045 BKN070 06/M03 A2988

I completed my preflight and saddled up for 58M Cecil County (Elkton, MD). I was cleared to back taxi and take off from runway one, all the while listening to an aircraft on 5 mile final. It's my runway now and I back taxi to about midfield, the three thousand foot remaining marker. I turn into the wind and have four thousand feet ahead, adding a notch of flaps I am wheels up in a hurry. Nice and steady, requesting a left turn out on course and acknowledge looking for traffic while climbing to my desired altitude for the hop, two thousand feet.

I never did see the initial traffic that was called out but did spot traffic at my nine o' clock five hundred feet above me, maybe two miles. This Cessna was flying the published missed approach hold so he was headed towards me for certain. I acknowledged the traffic and held visual contact as he sailed over the top of me while I descended allowing for plenty of room. 58M is only 13 miles and I can see the top of the Chesapeake Bay, my point of reference. The clouds are closing in as I tool along at 1500 feet now having to look through snow showers. I keep an eye on the fuel caps for ice or any accumulation for that matter, but thankfully there is none.

I announce my position for 58M then again as I cross midfield north east to south west and make a left turn to enter the left down wind for runway three one. Base to final with a nice landing listening to just a short moan of the stall horn. I taxi in and Gary (aircraft owner) motions for me to sit tight and gives me the "key turning" hand signal, I shutdown then hold them up for him to view and he moves towards the plane and pushes me back to the tie down. We both wander in the shop, Gary headed to the office to talk to Roger confirming our Monday morning start. I look at everything parked in the shop while trying not to drool on all the gorgeous aircraft.

Monday morning 8am start for the annual, I will bring the donuts (takes care of any dumb questions I may ask) and my Dunkin' Donuts hot tea. I'm already excited about taking part in the process, I hope to have photos to post each day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Annual Inspection Time

Annual Inspection

Any reciprocating-engine-powered or single-engine turbojet/turboprop-powered small aircraft (12,500 pounds and under) flown for business or pleasure is required to be inspected at least annually by an FAA certificated A&P mechanic holding an inspection authorization (IA), by an
FAA certificated repair station that is appropriately rated or by the manufacturer of the aircraft. The aircraft may not be operated unless the annual inspection has been performed within the preceding 12 calendar months.


I found a great article that provides info on the Annual Inspection and the process. This article can be found at the I Fly America web pages. You will also find plenty of great info related to many aspects of flying, stop by, check them out!

The Annual Inspection . . With Some Surprises Removed
© Jim Trusty 2005

A million questions about the annual inspection will NOT be answered in a thousand word article written by a Flight Instructor/Aircraft Owner, but a lot of information will be touched upon. How you use it will be your personal decision. If it makes you take the time to think, ask questions, do some work yourself, shop around, ask around, and watch the work as it is being performed, then my time writing this article was well spent.

A lot of reading will be required on your part, but the good thing is that even if you decide to let the mechanic do it all, you will have learned exactly what you didn’t know about your very own airplane. I have a good friend who always proofreads my articles. He hates them because to get anything out of them requires too much work. He really thinks that I should be able to cover the entire subject matter on two sheets of paper in about a thousand words. Not many subjects can be done that way and absolutely nothing involving aviation.

THE REQUIREMENTS: These are fully covered by FARs (and what isn’t?). Read 91.403 for a start, 43.3(d) and (g), 43.9, and now that you have read your FAR book for the first time since getting your Private ticket, let’s see what we have learned.

FIND THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS: Who can legally do the work? What work can you perform? What work are you qualified to do? When does it have to be completed? And that dreaded sign-off, how much weight does it carry? What happens if we don’t do it according to the regs? Who’s to know if it isn’t done properly or at all? What constitutes an annual inspection for my airplane? How do I get this thing back to my home base if I am out of annual? Is my insurance effective after my annual runs out? What specific items can I do with the hangar doors open? Should I do them? What should be the average cost for an annual for my type airplane? Who did the last one? When? Was it satisfactory? What items must be recorded in the aircraft logbooks? Where can I get a copy of the required maintenance schedule needed to do an annual on my airplane? Who is required to do a 50-hour, 100-hour, 250-hour, or an annual inspection? Am I? Of the 328 items mentioned by Cessna for my 172, which are recommendations and which are mandatory? Is it true that I can legally do only 32 of those items without being in violation? Where do I, as an owner, get parts? What do Red Tag and Yellow Tag parts mean? Where would I get the necessary tools? Am I smart enough to do this work? How much do I know about my aircraft? How much do I really want to know?

RESEARCH AND READING: A lot of reading will be required on your part, but the good thing is that even if you decide to let the mechanic do it all, you will have learned exactly what you didn’t know about your very own airplane. When you total up your lack of knowledge, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone about it. They will either refuse to fly with you or turn you in for being so far behind the knowledge curve.

Read anything you can find about working on your particular airplane. Search Trade-A-Plane for service manuals and bulletins. Get someone to run you a copy of the Advisory Directives from the FAA that have been issued over the years. Read your Aircraft Flight Manual, Pilot’s Operating Handbook, and borrow, buy or copy your AP/AI copy of the service manual that applies to your airplane. Get a copy from your mechanic of a recent annual inspection sheet that he did on a similar airplane. And now comes the one thing you really don’t want to know, but it will be your first question: How much do you charge to do an annual?

COST: First, decide what work is going to be done by your mechanic. Parts? Labor? Flat fee? And what does this flat fee cover? If I am paying for parts and labor, why am I also paying a flat fee? Am I nuts? Can I get an estimate? How much time will my bird be on the ground? Has he annualed a similar aircraft lately? Can I see that paperwork?

MISTAKES NOT TO MAKE: “It’s time for my annual. Can you do it for me? I fly my family in this aircraft and I want it to be perfect. Cost means nothing to me! Whatever it is, FIX IT!” Not knowing in advance some of the costs and how the total job will be priced can lead to a surprise that will knock your socks off. I’ve seen $8,000 annuals done on an airplane that was flying great the day before it went in. And the time to do these inspections is just as important. An aircraft down for three weeks from a flying club, for example, can almost put you out of business.

THE BETTER WAY: Know all the costs that are possible to project in advance. Are parts easily accessible for my aircraft? Anything that comes up should be personally okayed by you. A list of things you personally want done should be gone over before the inspection begins. If costs are important to you, shop around. Be wary of too cheap a price, and be especially wary of one-price fits all! Be careful of the mechanic who can’t or won’t show you any paperwork from prior inspections. You may be his first victim. Know your mechanic. Know the FBO or shop that is directly responsible for the outcome of this work and the bill! Get it in writing. Get the name of some past clients and talk to them.

FINALLY: This is your airplane, your money, and, most assuredly, your responsibility, so do it your way. If the little bit of reading and chasing around is too much for your busy lifestyle, you deserve the results, and they can be scary.

An annual needs to be a learning experience. A little reading, a few questions, a little negotiating, some persistence, some demands, some commitments on both parts, and who knows but you might just make a new friend. Don't lose a friend just because you didn’t do your part of the bargain.


There are certain and several things that are required on an annual basis, and you can put them off until finally it’s time to pay the piper (or Cessna) since it has gone too far. Safety should always prevail in your final decision. Good annuals DO NOT have to be all that expensive. During the year you should do a few things yourself, record what you did, find some necessary parts at a reduced price, get everything ready for the operation, all paperwork in order, price agreed upon, and time down settled. You are now ready to be inspected.

I’ll see you at the airport! Always remember, pilots who don’t fly have no advantage over people who can’t fly. What’s your excuse?


As you can see this was a great read, Jim Trusty nailed it and has me excited about taking part in 679er's annual starting Monday morning at 7am. I hope to be more involved than last year and actually getting the hands dirty. I am going to drop 679er off tomorrow at 58M - Cecil County Airport located in Elkton, Maryland. I hope to be back flying by the middle of next week.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oil Cooler Plate Install

I decided that I must give in to mother nature and face the facts that the fall season will be very short lived and winter will soon be here. Ugghhhh.....I just hate the cold, it makes the arthritis ache, who the heck even likes snow and ice just sucks. The only thing winter weather brings is clear skies which means great visibility, OK I guess I can tolerate it for a few months.

With the temps consistently below 50* during the day for the earthbound folks that means even cooler temps at altitude, for the pilot folks. Since our trip to Cape cod was a no-go I wanted to at least spend some time with 679er, I know, call me crazy. Mary was heading out early this morning on a shopping field trip with the girls. Get this, it was a shopping trip to a grocery store, I'm not kidding, five ladies loaded up and made a beeline to Wegmans. Speaking for most, no all men on this one, what would drive someone to make a special trip to a "grocery" store. I keep telling Mary that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, a shopping problem. I am reminded that it's the same as the boys making a trip to a new pilot shop or better yet flying to Ohio to shop at Sporty's when they send us a million catalogs. Hmmmm, I guess she has me on that one.

Back to the reason for my post. I wanted to re-install the oil cooler plate on 679er so I took a few tools with me and headed to the airport. I have read a lot about the plate install on the Piper Owners forums and the Cherokee Pilots Forums. I will admit the first time I had to remove the plate I had no clue what I was even looking for, or where to look for it. I did some research and asked a few questions on the above mentioned forums and was good to go. Now for the re-install, this should be easy, I stored the plate along with screws and nuts attached in the aircraft. I simply unlocked the baggage compartment, opened the storage box and found the parts just how I left them. It's a bit windy this morning so I must take extra caution with the cowling removal and placement. Pictured on the top left is the plate with the screws and nuts. Notice I did not use a wrench but instead a needle nose vise grip. I know some will pooh pooh this practice but done carefully the vise grip will not allow the nut to "roam about the country" when I drop it. The key is be precise and don't chew up the nut, nobody likes parts that "bubba" destroyed. The next task was to locate the placement for the install, pictured right and the close up on the left. This "hole" normally feeds cool air TO the cooler. Notice the two holes, top left and right of the hole ready for the install.

I set the plate and attached the screws by hand then use the phillips screwdriver to tighten everything down. I remove the needle nose vise grip s when finished and set them on the wing walk area. I like to choose a place to start my tool count and prior to the button up have the same count sitting there at the end. I know, overkill for two tools and a clean rag but it's a good habit to get into. Time to put the top cowling back on and attach. The wind is still blowing so I sit tight and wait for a break. I don't want the cowling to flex and possibly crack paint or pull out of my hands and I drop it. I'm in no rush, heck I'm at the airport and having fun!

The wind finally slows enough to set the cowling, wipe any fingerprints and get the airplane cover reattached up front. I sure wish I was flying today but there will be another day for that. Time to head to the house for some instrument PTS study and fly a few approaches online.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Scrub Cape Cod Trip

The plan for the last few weeks was to fly to Cape Cod early Saturday morning (today), spend the night, with a return on Sunday afternoon. Well, the old saying best made plans......and you know the rest. Mary and I reserved a harbor view room at the Anchor-In in hopes of strolling around and taking in the local attractions. Needless to say that plan has changed.
I have posted in the past about flight planning, and the all important go, no-go decisions to fly. Although I'm just about ready to take my instrument check ride, I don't think I would have made this flight even with the instrument ticket in hand. All our flight decisions are based on the fact that we do this for fun and to cut the travel time to our place of interest. Safety is always the top priority and a comfortable low stress trip makes life easy.
Today would NOT be our day to fly. Here is a sneak peek at the flight plan, notice the blue, green and red bars. The color coded bars or boxes designate various warnings such as turbulence, ice and IFR conditions. In the second picture you will see the actual weather overlay with the planned route of flight. The third picture is the 7 am local time flight rules, notice the red "IFR" conditions. The instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions is an automatic no go for the visual flight rules (VFR) only pilot. Last but not least is the local radar picture and if this one alone doesn't make you want to stay in bed, nothing will.




All is not lost, the trip is rescheduled for December 6th. This change will actually provide us a chance to take part in the Nantucket Christmas Stroll. The North East Flyers group is scheduled to fly in to Nantucket and spend the day. We moved our reservation from today to the Dec. 6th date in order to enjoy both locations. The new plan is to fly in early to Cape Cod (KHYA -Hyannis, MA), check in the hotel and either take the high speed ferry, Nantucket Air or fly ourselves to Nantucket. Take a commercial flight you ask? Well Mary really wants to fly in a twin engine and since I won't be getting any multi time soon I figure why not, we're on vacation!

That's it for today, a tiny glimpse of what helps pilots make the most important go/no-go decision for our flight. For me it's back to the study guide for more reading in hopes of really wowing the examiner during the oral test. I may even shoot some approaches online for practice. Although my first real order of business will be to wake the princess and head out to breakfast!

Fly safe!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Checkride Prep

What started out as a beautiful day with a smooth flight to Brandywine (KOQN) turned into a real bucking bronco while under the hood. I called for fuel at Wilmington, completed my preflight (sump tanks) then launched for Brandywine. Smooth as could be, plus twenty miles visibility as I climbed out of ILG. I could see the Pottstown cooling towers to the north and make out the Philly skyline even through the haze to the northeast. I was at two thousand five hundred cruising along only needing to tap the rudder on occasion, what a nice ride. I spotted the two water towers that show the way for a the four mile 45* for left down wind two seven. I noted the AWOS and made my calls. Base to final, now getting ready to add the last notch of flaps my brain calls for a slight crab into the wind with a nice landing as the reward.

Brian and I saddle up and I ask whats on tap, I want to have my approach plates ready. We are going to work the local area between Brandywine (OQN) and Chester County (MQS), or so I thought he said. Once climbing out and turned on course north Brian decides on some ILS and holds at Allentown (KABE) taking advantage of approach and the tower. My autopilot is OTS (out of service) so I fight the winds and the ridge line screwing with my altitude and break out the proper plates. I'm thinking this sucks as my butt comes out of the seat multiple times with all the turbulence. I brief the ILS RWY 24 approach and get everything set up. Radios set for approach and the tower,check, nav radios including my missed East Texas VOR, check. Still twenty five out and trying to get a handle on the bumps. ATIS dialed in and noted for my call into approach. Another quick once over briefing and I'm ready to have at it, did I mention how bumpy it is? I slow to 90 knots, add a notch of flaps and get ready to rumble. After calling Allentown and getting a response, I exchanged some info.

ME: Allentown Approach, Archer 28679er, two zero miles south, 3000 level, with Kilo, request practice ILS 24 approach.
APP: Archer 679er squawk 2441
ME: 2441 679er
APP: Archer 679er Radar contact 15 south, turn to 040* descend and maintain 2500
ME: 040* descend & maintain 2400 (I'm thinking easier said then done)

Approach is providing vectors to get me to the ILS approach, I wasw running almost parallel in the opposite direction south of the approach when they started my turn towards the ILS.

APP: Archer 679er turn left 350*
ME: 350* 679er
APP: Archer 679er turn left 270*, maintain 2400 until established on the ILS, cleared for the ILS RWY 24 approach
ME: 270*, maintain 2400 until established on the ILS. (I forgot to say cleared for the ILS RWY 24.)

I was handed off to the tower and checked in......of course I brain farted and said Allentown Tower Archer 28679er, that's it. Yikes, they responded archer 28679er tower.....a moment of silence. Brian beat me to the PTT and chimed in with inbound ILS 24, 679er. I had a momentary brain freeze, actually two on the approach, I felt like a dope. We went missed along with the proper calls and received vectors back to have a go at the Localizer 24 approach. A bit better with my wind corrections and I confirmed the calls correctly this time. I again went missed this time to the published missed approach hold. I started my turn a bit late, should have right turned at 900' instead climbing through 1200. I flipped to the east texas VOR and tracked TO the station on the 260* heading. This course would set me up for a teardrop entry in the hold. I cross the station and start my timer holding 260*. At one minute I right turn inbound on the 112* heading and advise approach I am established in the hold as requested. Two laps around the track on course and adjusting time very well, it felt good. My CFI requested a south departure out of the hold and thanked approach for the service, we were on our way to the GPS 27 approach for Brandywine.

I flipped through the GPS and dialed in KOQN, GPS RWY 27 with my initial approach fix as DASDE. Everything went fairly smooth except for a slight chase of the needles due to not holding enough wind correction in. I reach the Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) of 1020' actually I'm holding at 1100 and get to take off the foggles. Brandywine is over the nose and I'm high so I chop the power and slip to the runway. A nice job getting in and an ok landing in the gusty wind.

I square up the bill and meet up with fellow POA forum members Bob Ciotti and Rob Schaffer for lunch. How nice is that to get a ride to lunch and get to talk flying with pilot friends. It was a short hop to the DK Diner and the lunch was good. We got to check out Rob's new Lowrance 500, and discuss their flight to Elmira, NY tomorrow. We also kicked around some weather talk concerning my flight to Cape Cod this weekend. Thanks guys for providing the wheels for the lunch run and as always your great company.

Rob dropped me off back at OQN where 679er and I got ready to bug out, back to Wilmington. A quick hop with a great tailwind had me clocking 135 kts ground speed to ILG. I entered a right down wind for runway one as instructed and landed long for the jet traffic holding and to make for a shorter taxi to my turn off.

2.9 hours today with two of that as instrument torture. I'm off to finish my wash, gulp down some Tylenol for the aching hip and figure whats for dinner. Next up Cape Cod this weekend.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

IR Ground School Lesson

If you follow my blog you will notice I posted this morning about weather conditions forcing me to cancel my Instrument "flying" lesson. After trading a few text messages with my CFI Brian we decided on a review and sign off of my written test and some oral test prep in the same time slot.

Mary and I went out for breakfast then dropped off Maggie mutt for her hair and nail appointment. The folks at the groomers love having Maggie wander around the shop since she gets along with everyone. I packed up my oral test prep study guides and the written test results and headed to Brandywine. Brian was just finishing up with a student when I walked in so I took a seat and listened as they planned some ground school time. Ahhh the memories, glad that PPL stuff is old news. At least the IR is fun, the PPL was work!

We sat and reviewed the few questions I missed on the written and then reviewed some questions Brian previously gave me to answer. I had fifty questions that he suggested I email so he could check and not cost me money reviewing in person. I asked a few questions that I had concerns about and then we talked about actual instrument operation. It was pretty neat opening up a turn indicator and learning what really makes it tick. Next we investigated a heading indicator followed by an altimeter, neat stuff. Brian said I'll need all this for my commercial anyway and that he wished more was required for the instrument rating. We sat and reviewed for two hours yet it seemed like we had just sat down.

I'm up for a flying lesson Tuesday at 9:30, I'm so close to making the check ride schedule call. I might use a school plane since 679er is going in for annual Thanksgiving week.

IMC Prevents IR Lesson

Go figure! I'm stuck on the ground here at Wilmington (KILG) in Instrument Meteorological Conditions since I have no Instrument Rating which means, no lesson. No lesson because I can't get out of here to get to Brandywine Airport (KOQN) for the darn lesson. Wilmington is stuck with this mess for most of the day. I pasted the Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) for KILG below. Notice all the OVC designations meaning overcast, ranging from 200 feet to 1500 feet and hanging around from 8 am to 4 pm, just plain yucky. Here is an abbreviated lesson to help the non-pilots understand all the letters and numbers listed.

Present Weather and Obscurations:
BR Mist, VC In the Vicinity, RA Rain, SH Shower(s), - Light Moderate , Cloud cover is noted; SCT ( 3/8 TO 4/8 cloud coverage, BKN (5/8-7/8 coverage), and OVC (8/8 Coverage). Always add two zeros to the number following the sky condition to get the height. (BKN 004 = Broken cloud layer 400')

041656Z-Time and Date:
The 04 represents the day of the month.
The 1656 represents the time at which the observation went out. The Z represents that the time is in ZULU or UTC (Universal Time Code).

19020G26KT-Winds:
The 190 (the first three numbers) is the direction of the winds in degrees from 0 to 360 degrees (although you will never see 360 because after 350, it goes back to 0). The 20 (next two numbers) is the speed of the winds in knots. The G26 represents the wind gusts. In this case the gusts are 26 knots. The KT simply means knots. It will always be at the end.

6SM-Visibility:
The 6SM simply means 6 Statute Miles. Occasionally you might see visibility up to 20 or 30 SM but for the most part it will go from <>

KILG 081303Z 0813/0912 17008KT 3SM BR VCSH OVC004
TEMPO 0813/0815 1SM BR OVC002
FM081500 19006KT 3SM BR VCSH OVC005
TEMPO 0815/0818 2SM BR OVC002
FM081800 22007KT 5SM -SHRA BR OVC015
FM082100 22005KT P6SM BKN025
FM090200 29006KT P6SM BKN050
FM090800 27004KT P6SM SCT080

I'm scheduled again on Tuesday, November 11th, I hope the wx is looking better by then. For now it's practice approaches online with
VATSIM.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Flight Time & Memories

I was going to sit home and study for the IR oral but the beautiful wx got the best of me. I decided to head to the airport and take 679er for a fun flight. Mary was spending the day with her mom and cousin shopping (shoe shopping). Wow, exciting as that sounds, I'll take a pass.

I closed the books, did a online wx and TFR check the grabbed the flight bag and made a beeline to the airport. On the way I called a co-worker that really wanted to get some flight time. Paul is a riot and he has been a lifesaver for me when it comes to managing my projects at the Cape May Lewes Ferry. I asked him if he wanted to fly some today and he responded what time and where. I figured by the time I preflighted, fueled up and putzed around I would be wheels up around 12:30. I told Paul met me around 1, it may be a few minutes later but I'll be there no later then 1:30.

I taxied out and launched from runway one nine with a left turn on course approved, pointing me to the south east. It was so nice to fly along, hands off looking for traffic and listening for calls to the local airports. I had Dover approach, Millville Airport, Atlantic City Approach and finally Cape May airport tuned throughout the flight. I reported at ten and five out of Cape May with one aircraft heading my direction but was staying at 1500 feet. We exchanged info and both were looking for each other. It's so nice when everyone plays nice on the radio, although, some didn't today (more on this later).
I never did see the piper as I descended from 3000 to traffic pattern altitude, now just a mile and half shy of crossing midfield. "Cape May traffic, Archer 28679er crossing midfield for left down wind entry two eight, Cape May." I followed with the down wind, base and final calls then made another great landing, stall horn moaning, airspeed just dropping under 60 knots and just the softest touchdown. I knew I was down because I felt 679er rolling out. I have to mention my landings only because since I started my Instrument rating they have stunk, my hard work is paying off, I'm back in the landing groove.

I taxi into Big Sky and Paul is waiting. I motion for him to enter from behind the wing since I set the brake and opened the door. Paul gives me a thumbs up and climbs up the wing, he already had that unmistakable grin on his face. All you pilots know that grin I'm talking about, ear to ear, like a kid in a candy store with no spending limit. Paul handed me an apple, said he brought it for the teacher, he cracks me up. I got him squared away with a briefing on the operation of the door, time to talk and not talk and a few other odds and ends. We started to taxi back out to two eight and decided on a short hop to Millville. A smooth take off and gentle climb out towards Millville had us both enjoying the view. Paul quickly spotted his friends house on thirty five plus acres with mutiple ponds. I swung over to my right and positioned us for a few pictures. We finished up and pointed back to KMIV. I announced ten out then five both times stating "with information", it didn't matter I got the briefing from Millville radio each time along with an overview of everything that was flying in a twenty-five mile radius.
As soon as I got the yadda yadda from the guy the next poor soul that was inbound from the northwest got the same ear full. Needless to say this went on over and over again. I saw a citation jet at the hold short and made a call on short final as a courtesy, Millville radio came back and asked if i saw the Cessna skyhawk departing two eight. Affirmative have the traffic on the upwind and that was the final straw. I told radio that if he wouldn't make so many calls the "pilots" could hear each other announce their positions. It fell on deaf ears, at least for now.
Once clear of the active I announced and then we taxied back for another take off. I made a call to announce crossing runway ten two-eight and radio again gave me the full run down of weather, aircraft in the area and whatever else he could think of. Heck, I didn't even say I was taxing for take off, I was just crossing the runway. We get out to three two and hold short for a Cessna cardinal on short final, watching him make a beautiful landing. Once the cardinal is clear I announce departing on three two and begin rolling for take off. Yep, you guessed it the full report again. I ignored him, instead making my call on the crosswind and down wind departure to the south. I gave Paul a chance to take the controls, I explained the instruments and he asked about every single flight control and it's operation. He slowly grabbed the yoke and as every beginner did a gentle weave. Not bad at all since he held altitude pretty good and kept us on course. I set up for our descent back into Cape May and followed my earlier arrival by crossing midfield and entering the left down wind for two eight.

I shut down at Big Sky and we sat and talked about flying as Paul shared some stories his father had passed on to him. Paul's dad was a bombardier based in Italy with the 15th Army Air Division (I hope I got that right). Paul's dad was shot down on his final mission and rode out the remaining time of the war as a POW. Paul's father has since passed but you can see the sparkle in his sons eye as he recounts the stories his father shared with him. It was a great day to fly and Paul just soaked it all in. I hoped it provided some tie to his dad and that view we as pilots enjoy every time we saddle up was something he could relate to. I'm sure we'll fly again soon, I want to drag him out on a lunch run along the coast.
When I returned home I put in a call to the Leesburg, VA Flight Service. I asked to talk to a supervisor and went on to explain about the gentleman on the radio this afternoon. It's a shame but I did share the very fact that this guy crowds the air so much he has been nicknamed "double trouble" by locals who fly in and out of MIV. We chatted for a good twenty minutes about service, briefers, pilots and todays fiasco. The supervisor was really great to chat with and he understood my concerns. He advised that he would have a talk with the operator. I passed on my tail number in hopes that it would jog his memory and thanked the guy for taking the time to listen. I hope it helps.