Thursday, January 30, 2014

Approach Flaps

Since I'm not flying as much due to the wx I find myself reading more on the forums. I found this topic of when to add flaps on an instrument approach in one of the cloud buster sections.
If shooting an approach what are your thoughts on when to put in approach flaps? Do you configure at the Initial Approach Fix (IAF), Final Approach Fix (FAF) or when you break out?  Some pilots seem to add flaps prior to the FAF so as not to disturb the aircraft configuration and continue on a stabilized descent.  Others, like myself, configure for 90 knots as we approach the FAF in order to time the approach based on the approach charts FAF to Missed Approach Point (MAP) information.
For the instrument student approaches are pretty intense to begin with, especially when coupled back to back to back. Despite us all thinking that our instructors just lived to torture us there was a reason the CFII’s like to pile it on. The overload teaches us to juggle more balls at once and once you can keep all the balls in the air safely it actually seems to slow everything down around you. When you can really juggle all the balls you find yourself looking for things do.  I was taught to set it and forget it at the IAF, configure for 90 knots and approach flaps, fly the approach.  However, in the real world we are often asked for best speed and that opens a different can of tennis balls.
Once I had the instrument rating in hand I flew with different pilots that possessed different ratings and levels of experience. Most of the folks seem to configure gear and flaps at the FAF.  In my Sundowner it’s not a monumental task to slow down so I find it best for me, just prior to the FAF, to configure for speed and fly the approach until I break out. I do this for two reasons; First, if I have to go missed I am clean and climbing with no tendency to power up and get nose high for a potential departure stall. Second, trudging along at 90 knots seems like forever so I like to keep the speed up and only make a configuration change once the landing is assured.

As they say, your mileage may vary. What do you do when flying the approach?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review: Those '67 Blues

I typically do not read fiction but B.K. Bryans book gives us a look into a two-week period of flight operations and the heroics of men flying in North Vietnam during the autumn of 1967. The Author based his book on his Vietnam war experiences as an A-6 Intruder Pilot. A very good read with a mix of action and background struggles with family at home. I'm looking forward to reading more of his work; Flying Low and Flight To Redemption.
From the Authors Web Page
Those '67 Blues is an enlightening action novel of U.S. naval aviators aboard an aircraft carrier on Yankee Station during the Vietnam War. Sortie rates and aircraft losses trended strongly upward through the autumn months of 1967.  Daily, the Pentagon sent major multi-aircraft “Alpha” strikes into the “Iron Triangle” delineated by Hanoi, Haiphong, and Nam Dinh.  Navy all-weather A-6s went in low and alone at night.

This is a day-by-day account of those missions and the men who flew them during two weeks of that fiery autumn. Feel the tension build in the cockpit of an A-6 Intruder as it homes in on a well-defended target, and the shivering adrenalin release that comes hours after a harrowing mission. Experience the terror as a SAM surface-to-air missile tracks its target—you. Live the fear of being shot down, hunted, and then tortured by the North Vietnamese.

Meanwhile, the aviator’s wives and children back home live through fears and problems of their own during a war that few people understand and many despise.

Review by the Association of Naval Aviation, published in the  Fall Edition of Wings of Gold  Magazine.

This is a story about the aviators who went in harms way big time. ‘At night,’ writes Bryans, ‘Navy all-weather A-6 Intruders went in low and alone.’    A brief excerpt: ‘The SAM that hit their A-6 right after weapons release knocked out everything electrical, set the port engine on fire, and caused the plane to shake like a dice cup.’   Bryans knows his subject. He flew A-6s during the war earning a Silver Star and DFC, and commanded VA-35 aboard USS Nimitz.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Foreflight 5.5.2 Update

I recently downloaded the new Version 5.5.1  update. Works great on my iPhone iOS7, I brain farted and also updated my iPad1, iOS5. After the iPad app updated I got dumped out of Foreflight every time I went to maps screen. I quickly sent team FF customer service an email. Foreflight's response was returned in just under two hours.

Thanks for your email. We are aware of this issue, which is unique to the iPad1. The issue has been corrected and a new version of ForeFlight Mobile should be available in the App Store very soon.


What's New in Version 5.5.2

We are off and running into 2014 with the first releases of the year. Version 5.5.1 brings animated in-flight NEXRAD radar via the Stratus ADS-B receiver (both first and second generation Stratus) and a new zoom-to-route button on the Maps view. Version 5.5.2 a bug fix for iPad 1.

My iPad one lives on to fly another day! I think it's time to start looking at an update.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Singer Island Plans

Mary and I decided on a four day get-away to Singer Island Florida.  I am sitting here sulking since after running my numbers I could have saved @ $630 flying myself.
My savings are strictly based on fuel consumption only and I took an average price of $5.75 a gallon for the trip.  Looking at my first leg south, fuel at KHYW - Conway, SC is $5.03 a gallon. The return trip out of F45 - North Palm Beach County would have me forking over $6.00 a gallon.  A rough estimate on fuel would be 160 gallons for 08Romeos round trip. The average of fuel multiplied by the avg cost per gallon works out as follows; 160x$5.75=$920.  Airline tickets are $1548 for two, round trip tickets.

I understand there is maintenance associated with the flight and reserves for engine, avionics, annual and so on. My numbers for per hour operating costs based on flying 10 hours a month are $134.87/hour. So I guess I can look at it with the "all in" strategy and figure round trip 16 hours at a mind blowing $2158. Body shiver....yikes!
Figuring in the time of year and possibility for icing I guess the $630 fuel only savings can be swallowed a bit easier. I won't have to concentrate on wx or flying, I can enjoy the sunshine and time away with my Bride.

We scheduled a meet up with a realtor so we can look at properties after checkout on our last day, our flight home doesn't leave until after dinner. It's time for us to start looking for that winter hideaway.  Actually, with all this snow this season we have been reconsidering our Ocean City MD retirement home and thinking about the home address in Florida with summer digs in OCMD.

Monday, January 20, 2014

House Cleaning

This morning I decided to clean up the Flight Journal. I went through all my links and those that did not have a reciprocating link to my Journal were deleted.  I also went back and read through my RV blog and decided I did not want to update both and so that went into the circular file too.

I have been giving some thought to retooling the look of the blog, its been the same since 2005, it's time.  So, pardon the dust, the color changes and layout until I decide what works. Maybe I'll end up keeping the old familiar look but for now it's time to experiment.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Book Review: Buffalo Airways

Buffalo Airways   by: Darrell Knight
I must say I am a fan of the show, or should I say a fan of the vintage aircraft.  I watched Ice Pilots as often as possible and even purchased a few of the episodes I missed.

Darrell Knight takes us back to the start of his flying, no, not the rumbling radial monsters but the very beginning, the quiet of glider flight. In June of 1964 Darrell,along with ninety-nine other cadets, was awarded a glider scholarship and summer posting at the former Canadian Forces Base at Rivers, Manitoba. The author recalls his solo flight and as all of us that fly can attest, it's a moment in time that will always be etched in our memory.

The book goes on to describe his travels and flight training along with additional ratings and licenses he obtained over the years. 
With no permanent positions available in Southern British Columbia, Darrell decided to look in the North West Territories for a flying job. Having remembered the Buffalo Airways vintage aircraft from his youth, Darrell sought out a job in Yellowknife.

The author provides an in-depth look into the history of each aircraft he crews on. Starting out as a rampie and working his way to the right seat he details the long hours and physical work required to make it at Buffalo.

Overall a good read, providing a behind the scene look at the demands of flying in brutal conditions and flying the vintage fleet. This book predates the Ice Pilots show but you could have advanced the timeline and fell right into place and not miss a beat.

The book is just 207 pages and makes for an easy read. If you enjoyed the show you will like the book.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

First Flight 2014

Passing over KILG
Finally, Mother Nature allows for a flight!

I haven't started up the airport car since our Lewes trip back on November 30th, that would be 43 days!  Mary was not feeling well, migraines all week including a trip to the ER on Thursday. She remained snuggled in bed and I took care of the zoo then headed out.

I swapped text messages with Mike B on Friday but he and his Bride were playing on the slopes, can't blame him for that.  I was hoping to knock out approaches today but it was not to be.  I sent a text to Vince to let him know the right seat was open and he acknowledged that he was available.
North of ILG looking E/SE down the Delaware river
I picked up Vince and we headed to the plane. Vince was telling me about joining the local fire house, always have to respect anyone that wants to run into a fire when most of us are running out. I commended him for his volunteer junior status and know he will be able to explain every piece of equipment and truck in no time flat. It was a quick trip, or so it seemed, the airport seemed quiet.

I did notice that 08Romeo was wet today, that soda can sweaty wet, you know when the temps are just right.  These are the temps that make for carb ice, I kept that in the back of my mind for todays flight. I had the heaters on overnight so the power plant was toasty, Vince confirmed this with a big hug for 08Romeo on her upper cowling.  Yes, it was windy and a bit nip this morning.

I parked the SUV in the hangar and we taxied the plane up to the pumps for fuel. I brought my fuel load to twenty a side and sumped. With a few shots of prime 08Romeo was ready to play. I made a call to Philly Clearance, by phone, for my IFR flight plan and despite my route of choice and 530 entry I had to make some changes.

A 3000/6000
F 124.35
T 1113
Sunlight through the clouds on the Delaware river (Fort. Delaware)
Sunlight reflecting off the Delaware Bay through the thick cloud layer
Winds were 30016G19KT so runway two four was my choice. I was in the air crabbing my way out to the noise abatement altitude then turned on course for MXE. Philly climbed me to 4000 and advised they would turn me on course after traffic cleared, two army helicopters. The rest of the flight went just as easy, I managed .2 IMC and would have added to that total if they would have given me 6000 like I planned for. Once we had the wx and Cambridge in sight I canceled with Patuxent approach and switched to CTAF.

The ramp was empty at Kay's but the parking lot was full, I had my choice of tie down location.  With 08Romeo secured Vince and I headed in for some eats. The restaurant was very busy with locals, always a good sign that the food is good. We each ordered up cream chipped beef and a sweet tea, the best sweet tea around.  A Cessna 182 taxied in and parked next to the Sundowner, really close, just about overlapping wing tips.  Once finished up we headed out to the plane and did a quick walk around. 08Romeo was ready to fly and my plan was for a VFR flight under R-4006 at 2800 which would keep me clear of the (KSBY) Salisbury airspace and remain below the restricted.

The tail wind was great heading east to Ocean City, we enjoyed 135 knot ground speeds and the ride wasn’t the smoothest but far from the worst. Ocean City seemed slow today and that was fine with me. I made a nice 45* entry for the left down-wind runway three two and flowed through my checks.  GUMPS again and added approach flaps abeam the numbers. I did extend a bit so I could get a good fix on the winds once turning final. I decided on just a second notch of flaps once turning base and rode it in from there. The winds played around a bit and I did have some float after I planted the mains. It was strange, the gusting wind felt like it lifted me up but once I retracted the flaps and kept my aileron correction in she settled for a solid taxi.
As I was installing the nose plugs to keep 08Romeo warm I heard an aircraft pour on the power. I looked across the wing and over to the runway in time to see a Cirrus SR22 roll to almost sixty degrees.  I could not believe my eyes, I was looking at the belly of the Cirrus thinking he is going to cartwheel this bird down the runway. I’m not sure how but he managed to roll almost level missing the trees and then with flaps and trim still set for landing he immediately climbed nose high.  I thought I was going to see this poor guy stall spin after making the most unbelievable save.  I could not help but scream push it over, level, level!!  That SR22 hung on the prop and somehow climbed/crabbed its way out and now gaining altitude. 
I did hang out to see if he made another attempt and sure enough he brought the bird back around. This time he was right on it, smooth as could be, mains planted with barely a chirp followed by a long roll out, he was down safe and secure.  I didn’t stick around to see who it was, I’m sure he didn’t need to see me staring or asking questions on how he pulled that rabbit out of his hat.
Vince and I headed out to the car so we could take care of business. There was that awkward silence for a bit and then we talked about what we just had witnessed. I think it really did a number on Vince seeing how close that pilot came to making a smoking hole and how fast things can go wrong and your life be over.  We uncovered  and started the airport buggy and went for a nice drive. The solar trickle charger did a great job and the cover was still looking good and keeping the Cabrio clean and dry. We did see a pair of Bald Eagles as we approached RT.50 and that's always an exciting catch.
Back to the Flight Line...

I did take on fuel to bring me back to twenty gallons a side so I needed to sump before we started up.  The Cirrus was parked next to us on the ramp and I did take a picture of it but we didn’t discuss it any farther.  The flight home would be VFR with flight following and I figured I would give Vince the flying time to help clear his mind.  The winds for departure were 30009G16KT, twenty off the nose.  We were off three two and climbing out for 3000 looking to pick up flight following with Dover approach.  Vince did a very nice job despite the bumpy ride.
RT. 90 Bridge and Ocean City MD
It may sound corny but I wanted him to get back to flying in order to soften what he watched unfold. Vince’s communications with Dover were rock solid and when he heard Dover talking to a flight of two F15’s he perked up and asked me to fly so he could take pictures.  Thankfully the pair did T&G or low approach at Dover and climbed out towards us. Vince had the camera up and snapped off a few shots, that boyish smile was back on his face. The remainder of the ride went well and he communicated with Wilmington Tower since they were busy with traffic on the ILS and we were crossing it.
The fun started as we listened to the ATIS at Wilmington, the winds were blowing pretty good from 30014G19KT.  Vince knew it was going to be a ride getting into New Garden.  I called out the field and made my position reports with the plan to enter on a left base for runway two four.  I was looking at sixty degree crosswinds that were blowing, but I do like the challenge. Base to final now and my altitude is good, as we cross the last ridge we get a solid bang from below coming over the top of the ridge that gets our attention.

Now approaching short final I have the valley to cross just before the runway, it’s always bumpy there. I cross with little resistance then get walloped just over the numbers, dipping the wing into that crosswind is not getting it done then the wind just feels like it dropped out. 08Romeo started to sink fast so I went full power and decided to go around. I set up for another approach, this time deciding to crab it in and kick it at as I cross the numbers.  A few dippity do‘s across the last valley and a kick over the numbers has me low and bleeding off what flight 08Romeo has left in her.
I made a decent landing that Vince finally commented on, having sat silent since turning final on the first approach.  He gave me a score of ten, said it was my best in the worst conditions, he liked it.  I should mention that my friend Charlie was at the airport and saw my first go around and of course said he would be scoring the next attempt on CTAF.  Charlie said it looked good on the second landing, I was a happy camper.

Three hours in the log book today and some good crosswind work.  I also managed a few ticks of IMC and it felt good to be "inside" while in the air.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Book Review: Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage
by: Rinker Buck
I'm still waiting to make my first flight of 2014. Winter wx has me shoveling snow followed by keeping warm by the fire with a good book and hot tea.
I kept seeing this title pop up in the "what are you reading" forum posts on a few flying forums that I frequent.  I decided to download it on my new Kindle Fire (Christmas present) and dig into it. It's flying, it has to be good.
Flight of Passage falls right into that coming of age story of adventure and passing through to adulthood. The story takes place in the summer of 1966, Kern age 17 and Rinker age 15 restore a 1948 PA11 Piper Cub that they will fly from New Jersey to California.
Growing up was not easy in the Buck household. The entire family structure seemed odd to me with a Father who had issues he was dealing with and the other siblings did not seem to interact with each other. The Father, Tom Buck, was a magazine executive, and political activist who still defined himself by his once youthful occupation as a barnstormer. His professional flying ended when his plane crashed, killing his passenger and costing him a leg.
Tom would teach both his boys to fly. Kern was a pure stick and rudder pilot, a natural, while Rinker seemed to deal with flight by having to work at it.  Kern would do most of the flying and Rinker would be the navigator for their cross country flight.
The book details their adventure facing harsh weather, rough crop dusters pilots, and a dangerous crossing of the Rocky Mountains. Flying until they run out of daylight, setting the cub down in a new state, meeting new people and trying to fit in was consuming. Sleeping under a wing at an out of the way grass strip airport, other times spending for a room at a cheap motel and eating at small town diners was the norm. The boys somehow managed to conserve their funds in order to make it through this trip. I could not imagine what it would cost today to make this cross country flight, and if the people they met along the way would be as helpful as they were back in the day.
Overall a very good read that I could not put down. The real story line is how the boys develop an understanding of each other and establish their own identities, overcoming their resentment and coming to terms with their father and his ways. This was the real passage that occurs in this book.