Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Instrument and Night Current

It was a great night to be flying!  Unfortunately, I only managed to snap one photo while taking a water break after shooting two approaches rapid fire. This was the last "daylight" I would get to see before getting the foggles back on and getting back to flying.

Mike and I swapped text messages while I was working in Cape May (KWWD) finishing up a project. We agreed to catch up after another round of messages once I was back in Delaware and Mike finished up work. I made it back to the Bridge in one hour thirty seven minutes for the airport, and that's taking a new route due to Irene's left over flooding and required road repairs.

I made it to 08Romeo first and flowed through the pre-flight.  I hadn't been in the air since August 12th for my date night with my Bride at PACC.  I arrived as the fuel truck was finishing up my order and waited to sump the tanks. I recently updated the Garmin data card the day I moved 08Romeo from the T-Hangars back to her tie down so that was complete.  We have a constant TFR in the area for the VP but today's check was showing a new large TFR due to the Hurricane relief work.

With the pre-flight complete and engine started I began my instrument workout.  Upon departure I went under the foggles.  I flight planned for direct KEVY but followed vectors from Mike (role playing as ATC) due to "simulated circumstances" that required me to chug and plug, work the radio and fly the plane.  Eventually I was cleared for the KEVY - GPS RWY 35, direct WENDS intersection. A lap in the Procedure Turn and then inbound with a good approach.  As Mike stated a bit fighter pilot-ish at the begining until I knocked off some rust and my standard rate and half standard rate turns were smooth. Drats! "simulated reports" from previous aircraft reported ceilings at 450 feet and closing.  I wasn't allowed to look up and instead went missed  as published. Everything seemed to flow very well and the rust was less obvious.

The second approach "my alternate" if you can call it that was 58M, Cecil County.  I set up for the VOR DME RWY 31.  Never mind the GPS approaches, this would be different, requiring some additional NAV work to identify intersections.  I followed vectors to intercept the approach and since this is simulated  crap wx, I went missed.  This missed required a climbing left turn back to the VOR on a specific radial.  I was all set up on NAV 2 for my cross reference from another VOR at Woodstown so I could ID intersection RANRE. Mike also failed my Garmin 530 GPS and allowed for communications and the VOR only portion.  No pretty magenta line to follow. I did take advantage of the iPad foreflight georeferenced IAP feature to add some situational awareness, it was nice to have.

I tracked the radial as published and just prior to entering the hold I got to experience a "simulated" failure of my Attitude indicator.  Ok, where's the flag for piling on?  Fun stuff and a good work out as I am muti-tasking and working out of my normal routine. The Garmin 496  is still available so I switched to the screen that provides a mini five pack/panel of instruments, this does help in an emergency.  I flew two laps in the hold partial panel and hit my marks, it felt great!
I needed my second water break at this point and transfered controls to Mike so I could take a drink and regroup. We had a discussion about the next set of approaches back into Wilmington and decided on the GPS RWY 19 bracketed by a pair of  ILS RWY 1  approaches with two landings for my night currency.  Mike made a loop in the pattern and notched a night landing in between approaches too. All in all a great night to practice and keep Instrument and night current.

Thanks Mike for a great workout!!  We finished up the evening with a late dinner at EATS (Border Cafe) mixed in with a debrief and some hangar flying.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Safely Tucked Away

08Romeo is safely tucked away at the Wilmington Airport.  With all the talk and online tracking for Hurricane Irene I thought it would be best to to relocate 08Romeo or try to find a temporary hangar set up until Irene has passed.  Some quick flight planning provided a two hour one way distance that would put me west of Altoona, Pa. and out of harms way.
I decided to try my home airport and see if there were any T-Hangars available.
As luck would have it there were a few hangars open.  I quickly contacted my insurance company and requested a coversheet with the airport authority listed and inked a five day stay in one of our T's located just across the field from my normal tie down location.  I'm happy to be out of the wx for the weekend and able to focus on home and family.  Thanks Rick for the offer of your hangar at FDK and Frank for his hangar at GED.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

N/A Where were you?

8/23/2011 - East Coast hit by one of its biggest quakes ever!

The top headline in today's paper followed by; "After fearful uncertainty, relief when little damage is discovered".  The east coast felt the effects of an earthquake in Mineral,VA. The U.S. Geological Service reported intensity levels, a different measurement than magnitude, ranging from 3 (weak) to 5 (moderate) throughout Delaware. At the epicenter in Virginia, the intensity was a "very strong" 7, enough to cause moderate damage.

Intensity levels in Delaware have reached 3 and above at least 10 times since 1983, when an intensity 5 quake (magnitude 2.9) shook Wilmington's Forty Acres neighborhood. But nothing of the magnitude of Virginia's quake has hit Delaware since October 1871, when Wilmington had a quake estimated at magnitude-4.1.  The quake, the strongest on the East Coast since 1944, was felt from South Carolina to Maine.

To answer the question in the title of this post, I was standing  out at the Cape May Airport (KWWD) alongside taxiway E, inspecting a mill and overlay project.  As the milling machine passed by I felt my legs wobble a bit and thought that's odd, I don't feel dizzy. I stood still wanting to make sure I didn't take a step and fall over and with that thought the "finding my sea legs" feeling passed. I continued working until our Op's person pulled up and alerted me about the earthquake. I contacted Mary to check on my Bride and then continued with the paving operation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

N/A Home Repairs

Due to the recent heavy rains our basement got wet. Mary and I decided that we would install gutter guards to keep the leaves out from our two large trees out front and a large river birch out back. Mary was the ground team and I did the ladder work. I had many thoughts as to how we could be better spending this day instead of being responsible homeowners. About the time I had thoughts of us flying to the beach to enjoy a weekend get-away, I was jerked back to reality with immediate flashbacks of "piloting" the wet/dry vac (emphasize WET) in the early morning hours. UGhhhhh.....yes hottie hand me up a few more sections of the guards.

I also required new gutter clips to replace the few that had broken due to last winters ice storms. The guards were installed with only one whacked finger due to me trying to swing a hammer left handed instead of getting down and relocating the ladder for a new clip install with my right hand swing. Looking at that finger this morning I clearly see my badge of stupidity glowing in purple and dark red colors.

To cap my day of home chores I decided to add drainage collectors and pop up drains to the back two downspouts with the thought of getting the water farther away from the house. It's been many years since I had to wield a shovel to such an extent but at least I didn't turn any fingers or toes funny colors. Drains are installed but I don't think they are far enough away so I did not glue the PVC at the pop ups. I am going to add another eight to ten feet then make the pop up connection permanent.  I'm ready to fly now!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nashville Get-Away

Mary and I have been thinking about a four day weekend get-away and something to do for her "29th" birthday.  We had a few places in mind; Jekyll Island, GA., maybe finally making it to Charleston, SC., or our favorite place Nags Head, NC.  Instead we decided on something different, a trip to the country music capitol of the world, Nashville, TN.

Plans are just starting to come together, locking in our hotel at the Hampton Inn & Suites Downtown last night and securing a place for our Italian Mastiff Maggie, hopefully sometime today.  Mary is also working out the care of our three boys Jake, Inky and George, either in a cat hotel or have a family member check in on them.

There seems to be a lot to see and do while in Nashville. Mary and I like to do the tours on the first visit to a new location and then if/when we return we can investigate a bit more on our own. With this in mind we found that Gray Line Tours is available and will pick up in the hotel lobby.  We want to see the zoo, do the riverboat dining tour and the downtown discover Nashville tour.

We will be close to the waterfront and there will be plenty of good places to eat and music to enjoy. We are both looking forward to the time away from work and the chance to explore someplace new.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Date Night

Sunset on the ride home
Mary and I decided to make Friday night a date night and head to the Philadelphia Aviation Country Club for happy hour. I left work at 3pm and headed home to take care of the zoo then turn and burn for the airport. I saw an accident on I95 south while heading north back to the house so I decided not to push my luck and took I495 south back to the airport instead, good choice.

I had left 08Romeo uncovered last night after returning from First Flight so pre-flight was easier. I had ordered fuel earlier in the day so I needed to sump and then just set out our headsets and my knee board. Mary walked up to the plane and climbed aboard. She thought it was pretty nice that everything was ready to go and she was looking awesome I might add!

No flight plan this evening, just a simple VFR flight under the Philly Class Bravo airspace and some good tunes to sing along to.  I did have Philly approach tuned in to monitor for traffic.  We landed at Wings field and secured the plane. Mary did the heat shields for the windows and I tied 08Romeo down.

The Club filled up fast but we found an outside table and made some new friends. Nancy and Mike invited us to join them and we did. Good eats for happy hour is always the norm at the club. Hors d'oeuvres consisted of mini cheese steaks, I mean like three inches long, seafood wraps, BBQ wings, calamari, assorted cheeses and more. The pilot drank ice tea and my Bride enjoyed a well deserved Lemon Martini.  Adam and his Bride Tam joined us along with Bob from Montgomery Aviation with his Bride and their daughter.

A fun evening out with friends made even more enjoyable not having to fight traffic on the blue route instead flying over top. We are looking forward to getting back to the club for dinner.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

First Flight and Home

The plans were set for a quick turn and burn to KFFA, First Flight, the meca of aviation, and returning to home base.  08Romeo was fueled to the top and ready to fly and Mike was already flowing through the pre-flight as I strolled in.  I had left work and forgot to change so when I pulled up to the airport I figured I would change in the bathroom at Red Eagle.  Of course with my timing the bathroom was occupied so I decided to make the quick change in the SUV.  Why do I add this you wonder, well, it's been a good many years since I had to get dressed in a vehicle and somehow it's just not as roomy as one needs it to be.  Ok, enough of painting that picture in everyones mind.
I emerged from the phone booth cape securely....oh wait, wrong story.  I got out of the SUV and with flight bag in hand entered my double secret access code and entered the ramp area.  08Romeo was just about ready to go except for a problem with the garmin 496 not acquiring information.  Mike did an online reset with his iPad and within fifteen minutes we were once again looking at wx information.

I picked up our clearance to First Flight; DQO ENO V29 SBY V1 CCV ORF ECG NORTN.  We climbed out of Wilmington heavy with fuel and 08Romeo made her way at 500 fpm to eight thousand.  Temps were cool at altitude and Mike had us following our course.  I handled communications and took pictures taking advantage of the opportunity to just enjoy the view.
Delaware Bay off Left wing
Chesapeake Bay off right wing
Dover Downs
Philly handed us off to Dover and Dover to Washington Center. Washington gave us an early direct turn to KFFA just north of  the JAMIE intersection which tracked us east of Fisherman's Island, VA and had us pass over the Bays; Hog Island, Outlet and South. We crossed the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and had a nice view of the Bay Bridge tunnel and the tankers lined up and waiting to deliver their goods. In the distance we could see the thick smoke from the TFR south of Norfolk climbing and the smoke trails blowing towards the ocean.  A quick reality check as Washington hands us off to Oceania approach and they call out a pair of F-18's headed northbound at our two o'clock. I have the traffic, awesome sight to see as they flew tucked in together in formation passing almost a thousand feet below us.  Mike had to bring me back online so I could focus, I just never get tired of watching military aircraft fly by.
Tangier Island
Cape Charles and across the Chesapeake
outlet bay and fisherman's island
about to cross the mouth of the bay
Fire TFR (red box)
Back Bay refuge south of Virginia beach
We decided to ask for a closer route along the shoreline and once the jets had passed our request was granted. We also got a descent to three thousand and cleared some of the thick smelly smoke we had flew threw. Approach turned us back over to Washington center and they held us until we were turned loose to call on unicom for First Flight.  I called out our position and intentions for pattern entry but called the wrong runway...duh! A saratoga inbound chimed in and corrected me as I responded with my correction and a thanks. I started to laugh since he would see Mike getting out of the left seat when he landed just after us....hehehehe...I'm still cracking up.
Abemarle Sound covered in smoke
smoke clouds
Mike unloaded his gear and introduced me to his family, nice to meet his brother and his Bride. We chatted for a bit then I wanted to get back in the air.  I should have listened to Mikes advice and pick up the clearance in the air but instead called the 800 Clearance Delivery number. After getting disconnected once I finally made contact and got the info.  I taxied out and added a notch of flaps just to be safe for my departure.  I was in the air quickly and with positive climb retracted the flaps.  I made a last call on unicom then switched to approach.  Hmmm, no answer.  I climb a bit more and call again, still no answer.  I double check my clearance and I have the correct frequency dialed in, still no answer.  I flip my knee board sheet and look up our last frequency for Washington center on the way in and make a call to advise no contact. I was given a new frequency to try and that worked out fine.
Fires Burning
getting upwind of it all
I was given a few vectors for traffic and smoke but generally approach kept me pointed towards Norfolk now climbing to seven thousand.  I broke through the smoke around six thousand seven hundred and reported to approach.  An abbreviated PIREP of sorts since he had been looking for info from pilots.  Washington handed me off to Norfolk and I was given direct Salisbury which shaved off some time.
Great sunset view
I decided to use the autopilot so I could review my fuel calculations and work some numbers. I had a slight headwind but after running my numbers against my times I figured on 12 gallons left on landing at KILG.  Hmmm, first night time flying in a while, wx was looking great but I still had that better safe than sorry feeling. I planned for a fuel stop at KGED, Georgetown.  After a quick review on the Garmin 496 I noticed KGED closed at 7 pm, I'm not making that one.  As much as I wanted to take advantage of the twenty three cent a gallon motor fuel tax rebate in Delaware I was going to have to stop in Salisbury just a stones throw south of the Delaware state line, so close but yet so far.  I was just twenty minutes out and made the call to approach that I was going to divert to Salisbury for fuel.  He asked if I was fuel emergency or minimum fuel, yikes, neither I said, just being safe. The controller worked out the change and checked on a visual approach for SBY.
Afterglow on my home
I was handed off to the Salisbury tower and directed to enter a left base for runway three two. I was number three to land and worked my way in for a nice soft landing. I had already brought up the geo-referenced taxi diagram on Foreflight and followed along to Bayland Aviation with no problems.  I ordered fuel to the tabs and took on fifteen gallons for the ride home making a total of 30 gallons on board.  I  contacted ground and departed VFR to Wilmington.  A little bit of classic rock to sing along to and a beautiful sunset to fill the view.  I did pick up flight following with Dover once the sun set figuring the extra eyes wouldn't hurt. Dover handed me off to Wilmington and I made another nice landing on three two behind a C-130 doing touch and goes.

A fun trip! Great play time with the new Garmin 530 to 496 data transfer and a big sigh of relief to know how much that frees up my flying not having to enter info on both units.  I'll get some photos posted on the new switch and a better write up on the flight review soon.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Crossfill 530/496

I finally broke down and gave into the crossfill capabilities on the Garmin 530.  08Romeo is back in the shop at Red Eagle with her panel opened up.  I also decided to have the cables hidden that I had previously left accessible in case I wanted to take the XM antenna out of the plane.  I haven't removed the 496 since it was panel mounted and we have a GPS for the vehicles if we need one. It was time to clean up the cockpit a bit.

I currently have the Garmin 496 panel mounted and love the wx and traffic (when coupled to my Zaon XRX).  It is impossible to have both the 530 and Zaon coupled to the 496 at the same time so I will need a switch to be installed.

For now I will strictly use the direct cable connect from the 530 since my Collins transponder is in conflict with the Zaon, it shows a ghost target around me at +/- 200 feet.

  • One time flight planning and no longer will I have to chug and plug on two units for every initial and amended route. A great feature when single pilot IFR.
  • Continuous updated flight plan on 496 in case of ships electrical failure, with hours of battery back up on the 496.
  • I'll lose traffic on the 496 screen, unless I get the switch added.
  • Lose capability to flight plan ahead or change on the go for direct to information.
  • From what I've read I will lose private fields being displayed on the 496 (have to research this more).
  • When activating an approach on the 530 I will lose the final destination airport on the 496 and now have a final destination as the missed approach holding point.
Overall a good safety move for my flying. I will flight test the final destination issues and explore in greater detail the ability to toggle with the crossfill option on the 530 flight plan menu.  Maybe this will allow me to crossfill the flight plan and then disengage and be free to use the 496 as normal.  I will report back with my findings!

UPDATE:The plane is finished and the shop added a switch for the Zaon/GPS in an empty rocker switch slot. They knew I was on the fence and mentioned getting it added at a later date if/when I upgrade my transponder.  He said it cost you a switch, all the wiring was there so I did it now.  That works for me!

I hope to flight test the changes Thursday!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

A Milestone

A milestone of sorts, at least for me.  With the last flight entered in the log I busted the 601 total time mark.  Total landings to date 809, instrument approaches 176, airports visited 81, states visited 22, cross country time 279, and only 4.5 hours of actual instrument time, simulated instrument is 90.

It's been fun, I've learned a lot of good things from my PPL and Instrument instructors; Bill, Chuck, Tom and Mike.  I'm not sure what the future holds, my commercial maybe and even starting to consider a multi engine rating with some new possibilities opening up at Wilmington that could be fun. Stay tuned!

Poughkeepsie Fly-In

North to KLOM, catching the sunrise
The wx was looking good with a the forecast mist at Wilmington but it looked to be clearing by my departure time.  I showered and got on the road early wanting to get in the air by 7:15.   I had ordered fuel yesterday so I needed to sump the tanks to complete the pre-flight. sent a text message confirming both flight plans for this morning; ILG to KLOM (Wings) and then the trip to KPOU, (Poughkeepsie).

Engine start was 7:05 and while the oil warmed up I entered the flight plans.  Wilmington ground cleared me to Wings field via runway heading, radar vectors, MXE, direct.   I was going to climb out to two thousand feet and told to expect three thousand in ten minutes. I never made it to modena (MXE) instead I was given direct PHILA, initial approach fix, cleared RNAV GPS 6 approach, maintain two thousand two hundred until established.  Cool, that was easy!  As I approached PHILA, approach cleared me to switch to CTAF at Wings field. I would call back and cancel in the air with Philly approach when I could.

Here is where I had a brain moment.  I was just about on the feeder from MXE and Philly cut me loose.  I decided not to do the procedure turn since it was just about a direct entry to the next segment. I descended through the layer calling out altitudes and course, great stuff!  Broke out and had the field in site and had altitude to spare.  I advised my updated intentions/position for Wings then flipped back to Philly to cancel in the air.  A good landing and taxi in to pick up my right seat for the day, Adam Z.
As mentioned earlier I had filed this morning for the second leg.  I called the FAA Clearance delivery number and they gave me the number for Philly approach, ok, that works too.  I gave Philly a call to pick up our clearance and this is what we got; Cleared POU, direct PTW, radar vectors FJC, V162 HUO, Direct KPOU. two thousand expect five thousand in ten.  Close enough and Adam made the changes on the Garmin 530.
We launched and had a nice smooth climb through a layer for two thousand. Cleared by Philly for a climb to four thousand then handed off to Allentown. Allentown amended the route with a direct to SCOUP intersection along V162 then as filed with a climb to five thousand and a hand off to New York approach.  Adam and I sailed along, smooth as could be. Adam hand flew us a good distance then handed control back to me as we were ready to cross the Hudson River.

KPOU - 21005KT 10SM SCT020 OVC080 24/19 A3004
NY approach cleared us for the visual approach two four and handed us off to the Poukeepsie tower. After making contact and confirming the right down wind entry I made a questionable call. Since NY approach was slow to let me down for the airport I had to slow down instead of my nose over no shock cooling typical descent.  Just past midfield I passed through a series of clouds and lost site of the airport, thankfully passing through and clearing quickly I reacquired and continued with my turn to a base leg. I added the third notch early since I was a bit high but lost enough to clear the numbers and make a nice landing.
I took on fifteen gallons of fuel as a courtesy for the folks hosting the event and got a fifteen cent a gallon discount, that's always nice. The seminar was good but not geared enough towards the piston crowd, even though the procedures aspect was the goal of the talk. The seminar counted towards a wings credit so that was a plus. The wx was moving east north east and Adam and I decided it was time to bug around noon.

I completed the pre-flight along with a sump since I took on fuel. I climbed aboard and got started while Adam plugged in our course home. I had taken advantage of the "Plates" folder on Foreflight and set up a KPOU/KSWF folder with all departure procedures and IAP's for both airports. The route home was almost reverse of the flight up. Cleared to KLOM, Duchess four departure, HUO, V162, ETX, V29, PTW direct.
The Duchess four was pretty basic and I set it up on my nav two. Spun the CDI to two five zero, switched the collins nav to read out the radial (looking to maintain 250) and I was ready. Adam reviewed and made sure I wasn't rushing but I was set and ready to go, I should have explained what I was doing since everyones plane is different.  What I didn't understand is why the departure did not show on my Garmin 530.

Duchess Four
Take-off runway 24: Climb on IGN VOR/DME R-250*, maintain 3000 thence....
....Via vectors to assigned Route/Fix/Navaid, expect clearance to filed altitude 10 minutes after departure.

The ride home was for the most part IMC once crossing the Hudson River. We retraced our communications trail with New York, Allentown and Philly approaches. Allentown gave us a short cut direct KLOM well before we even got to their airspace, that was nice. A bit bumpy but not bad as we chugged along fighting a fifteen knot headwind. Adam positioned us for a cross wind entry to Wings runway two four and I flew the pattern and made an ok landing.

A fun day, good time flying with Adam and a chance to put some faces with the folks on the forums.  I made the quick trip to Wilmington, uneventful VFR flight, which is always a plus and put 08Romeo to bed.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Airport Open House (KPOU)

It looks like I am going to attend this event on Saturday. I could use the flight time and Adam Z agreed to join me. I plan on an 7:15 departure from Wilmington with a stop at KLOM, Wings field at 7:40 to pick up my co-pilot for the day. I'll file for KPOU and head north with an approximate ETE of one hour.

Here is the info for the event:

This is a Poughkeepsie first- an Airport Open House!

Well, there's more to POU than you may know, and they are rolling out the welcome mat for pilots in the region. The Open House on August 6 features:

8-10am: Breakfast at the new Chetti's Restaurant, where Lilliana's used to be. They are working very hard to become the airport restaurant for POU, and can use all the help they can get!

10-11am: A free FAA WINGS seminar on Aircraft Airworthiness will be given at Chetti's Restaurant at 10am.

11:30am-12:30pm: The Poughkeepsie Pilots Association will host a discussion on places to fly in the northeast, as well as some CFI Q&A.

Cessna and Columbia will also have static displays for pilots between 9am and noon.