Saturday, January 19, 2013

Batteries and Butter

I decided to try for some flight time this weekend and upon leaving the office yesterday I diverted to ILG prior to launching for home. Out with the three hundred feet of extension cord, yes, you read that right 300'.  Meh, it's just another routine in my typical get ready to fly in cold wx days.  Honestly I had the cord out and to the plane in just a few minutes, I've learned to park my SUV half way vs trying to carry three 100' cords back across the ramp.

This morning I rolled out of bed and just could not get motivated. Maybe because I didn't have a safety pilot or maybe because my lovely Bride was fighting a migraine headache and could not go with me.  Lately with the cost of fuel I really don't do the breakfast/brunch runs. My instrument currency is up the end of the month and for the first time I think it will lapse. I'm not a happy camper.  Worse yet, currency is the easy part, staying proficient is what it's really all about.

Of course I'm going over all this in my head as I make my way to the airport.  The breeze has started up and the sun feels warm on my face. The sports radio station on the radio sounds like Charlie Browns mother as my thoughts distract me.

Thankfully, I am alone on the ramp as I discuss the feeling of no motivation with 08Romeo. Together we are counting the days until spring and the the weekend runs to the beach. If 08Romeo was like Herbie the love bug she would have given me a nudge of agreement. I think I'm showing my age....
Pre-flight completed, I climb aboard and prime. Clear Prop! followed by visual confirmation of clear left center and right and I'm ready to get 08Romeo started. Click, click, click and a quarter turn of the prop. (sigh).....girl girl girl, why do you do this to me? Obviously the solar charger didn't do squat.

I made a run for Harbor Freight to secure a battery charger for a 12v system, the Sundowner is 24v. I figure it will give some boost since I really didn't feel like removing the batteries and charging them, then reinstalling. I figured I would use the new charger for the beach and keep it in the motor home. This unit has a 55 amp setting that provides significant additional cranking power , heck I'll charge on that for a few minutes then switch to the 10 amp. I also picked up a solar battery tender for our Cabrio beach buggy since its under cover in the driveway.
While I'm stuck charging 08Romeo a fellow ramp neighbor pulls up to start his Mooney. With no primer it takes some "touch". He gets her cranked over and low idles to warm up. Eventually he shuts down so he can untie and get his car parked, he wants to move his plane back to the other side of the airfield and into his hangar. I offer a ride back from the hangar to pick up his car and he offered his battery charger for a 24v system that can be used to start the plane upon hook up. Sounds like a deal!

So, with a few trips back and forth we are all happy and hooked up. Without removing my batteries I reach in and hook the cables then climb in to start. Vince arrived in time to assist with the jump start. Once 08Romeo was running he disconnected and remained clear of the plane, actually he sat in the SUV keeping warm. After giving 08Romeo some time to charge we shut down to position my vehicle outside the gate and get 08Romeo untied and ready to fly.
We launched for Millvile and enjoyed the cool temps for a quick climb out. Wow, the winds were really starting to kick. Vince did the south east flying with a nice tail wind and he found the sweet spot for avoiding the "moderate turbulence".  As Vince called it out 2,700' was the buuudddder, smooth as could be.  Below that butter was ride em' cowboy.
I entered the pattern and made for the runway. When I turned final I had a strong gusty quartering headwind. I was rusty, and knew it. I set the left main down and I felt it roll on to the runway and dipped the toe in to plant the right main. As I was about to proclaim my "Sweet landing" I caught a gust that held me off the ground then it quit and the nose wheel touched, I felt the dip. Full power, going around to give this another go.
The second try was the charm as I flew this one right to the runway holding it off until the tail settled in and rode the wheelie for a few seconds. The winds were shoving me pretty good but we were down and clear.
The flight line was packed and we had a short wait for our breakfast. It was good to talk flying with Vince and we had a few laughs too. We finished up and headed back to 08Romeo. I forgot to put the nose plugs in but she held her temps well. With a few spins of the blade 08Romeo was ready to go.
We taxied out for two eight and launched for home. The winds were now in our face, actually a quartering headwind. Indicated was 120 knots and ground speed was showing 97 knots. I told Vince I needed to find the Buddder, we both laughed. On the home leg we found that sweet spot around 2,800 feet. As we made our way we did get to experience a wind shear, it really rocked 08Romeo, we both gave a second look for traffic since it had felt like we flew through jet wash, I'm glad that didn't last long.
Winds were 210 gusting 20+knots and the newish controller gave me runway two seven.I told Vince I'm not liking that and would rather one niner. I love how this kid soaks up lessons like a sponge. Your PIC he says, what do you want.  I want one niner and make the call, I'm proud of him. Some pilots never get that they control their environment, Vince gets it.
I finish up with a super smooth landing letting 08Romeo fly along slow and low crossing the numbers and just plain running out of air. I roll her on the runway and make the first taxiway. 1.5 in the log book today, with some crosswind work and a good breakfast!


Chris said...

Gary, I'm glad you got to get out and scratch the itch. I'm going through withdrawal over here. Yesterday morning was nice, but I was a little under the weather and did not pass my personal preflight.

Your comment about IFR currency resonated with me, too. I have concerns about staying proficient and current once I get the rating. This time of year is rough...

Steve said...

Maybe we'll all have to take an annual winter weekend trip to the SE/SW for some IR currency binge flying once we're finally certificated to fly in the white puffy things!

Chris said...

No a bad idea, Steve. In fact, my friend who was training with the same instructor as me got fed up with the crappy weather and got an IR rated pilot to fly down to Daytona with him. He's been down there just over a week, knocking out the rest of the requirements to finish the rating. Then he'll take his checkride and fly home.

Steve said...

It certainly isn't a bad idea. I'm half-tempted to go the accelerated route sometimes. But in the end, I think I'd rather learn at my own pace and get more familiar with being "in the system" where I'll be based.

Anyway, yes, we might have to plan such an adventure in future winters.

Gary said...

Not bad, an instrument proficiency fly-in! Count me in!