Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Need For Speed

Once again the need for speed has reared it's ugly head. When Mary and I headed south for BAC Fest in Gulf Shores in September 2012 her first statement when we landed at Jack Edwards Airport, Gulf Air Center was, "I'm not sure but I think I left my arse in Georgia".  I just looked across the top of 08Romeo and my Bride confirmed, we need more speed.  Fast forward through BACFest and now landing back at home and Mary once again reminds me that we need a faster plane.  Ok round trip was just over 18 hours and 2000 miles. I thought the flight was perfect.

Our typical mission in the Sundowner is the weekend get-away beach runs to Ocean City MD. 45-50 minutes each way vs 2.5 to 3 hours driving. We do try and schedule a long vacation every year with the plane as our transportation. This past year Key West was so much cheaper by spam can that we left 08Romeo home.

In order to move our motor home around the use of the plane really comes in handy. Mike B will often shuttle us one way and that saves us a road trip.  Lately Mike has teased us with a flight in the Cirrus.  One can not help but notice how short the trip is with the additional speed. I think one trip he even shuttled us in a Diamond DA40 that he was flying, again noticeable time savings.

Despite not being a pilot this 'time savings' did not go unnoticed by my Bride.  On our trip to the beach this past weekend to meet with friends 08Romeo and I were once again confronted with the 'need for speed' comment.

So, once again the search begins, or should I say continues. Last time it was just a few looks at various aircraft  online and even a few looks at twins. The pro/con list of maintaining a twin quickly doused the need for speed flames. However, this time around twins are definitely out, faster singles are on the table.

I am looking at an older Cirrus SR20 with the six pack, I don't care for all that glass. The cirrus doesn't haul a big load but it's a modern aircraft with the added safety of a chute and two doors. The few keys to the Cirrus is the repack of the safety chute which is good for ten years, I believe. Annual maintenance will increase and the insurance is killer.

I'm also looking at some Bonanza's despite no real excitement in maintaining retracts and only a single door. I like the Beechcraft quality and it's the next progressive step in aircraft. I'll need a HP and complex endorsement for both "potential" aircraft. I have exchanged emails with Paul McCracken the Beech Bonanza "Guru". If I go Bo he will be the man to check it out and get me pointed in the right direction. Paul did the pre-buy on my Sundowner when he was at AeroMark in Texas (T31), I could not be better represented if and when I need a pre-buy.

More info to follow as things move forward. I am working on a 'for sale' advertisement for 08Romeo if this adventure leads me to that point. God help me!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fun Flight and a First

I decided that I would finish up the ice removal from the hangar doors in hopes of not having to deal with this again for the remainder of the season.  Yeah, right, forecast is calling for snow on Wednesday.

Since it was so nice out I asked Vince if he wanted to finally get some flight time, last week we couldn't get the doors open. Vince agreed and I picked him up on the way to New Garden.  A lot of the ice had melted but there were a few patches that stood fast. Vince cleared those out while I got 08Romeo ready for flight. I had 30 gallons on board, my minimum for local flights. Pre-flight completed, we started up and taxied out to runway two-four.
looking south you can see the top of the Chesapeake Bay
The plan was to fly for lunch at York, PA. The restaurant, Orville's, was pretty good the last time I flew in there. Besides,it would be a nice change of scenery from our typical south Jersey flights for eats. It was a nice flight despite a quartering headwind. Visibility was very good as you could see the Chesapeake Bay from our flight path. We crossed the Susquehanna River that had a good bit of ice north of the power plant.
York was clear and had some traffic as we made our way to enter the downwind for three five. We crossed midfield and made a nice left turn for down wind taking note of the hills that guard beyond the pattern. Adding approach flaps and then a second notch on base I settled in for what I thought would be a smooth landing. We heard Unicom state that the restaurant was closed, had been since December so this plan was shot. I ended up landing flat and started to porpoise. One hop back in the air and I was full power and climbing out. I haven't done that number in a long time. Ok, on to plan B.
What was plan B? There was none. We cleared the pattern and gave some thought to our options. Vince asked about Lancaster and I agreed, we're headed back across the river. Vince contacted Harrisburg approach and picked up flight following for the quick hop. Once handed over to the Lancaster tower I was cleared to land following a Mooney Ovation, he was hauling pretty quick. I redeemed myself with a smooth landing and some stall horn.
Now for the first.  As we headed to the terminal for lunch I grabbed my back pocket and there was no wallet. Ok, sometimes I put it in my flight bag just to make my ride more comfortable. I walked back and checked the bag...Hmmmm...no wallet.  I called the house to see if my wallet is where I normally keep it when at the house and sure enough there it was. Mary asked if I needed the credit card numbers for fuel, I said I would call back.
When I left the house I went to grab my wallet but left it sit since I decided to check the flying account balance in case I needed fuel. After I shut the computer off I walked out of the house passing my wallet since I had keys (keys stay with my wallet)and flight bag in hand. Where's that smiley face hitting itself with a hammer?

I let Vince know there would be no eats since I didn't tap the bank in the box on the way to the airport. Vince had cash, he put ten gallons of fuel in the plane even though we had 18 gallons remaining on board, adding to the warm and fuzzy. Vince also bought lunch. He enjoyed saving my bacon today.
Embarrassed, you bet. We saddled up for home which was a three gallon fuel burn and road along with the bumps. The wind had picked up a bit but at least it was a tail wind as we enjoyed 135 knot ground speeds. I made a real greaser at New Garden and taxied for the hangar. We secured the plane and headed to my house for my wallet. I hit the bank in the box and paid Vince back including lunch. We both had a good laugh even though it got me thinking about stashing cash in the plane for those emergency moments. Maybe I just need to add a checklist for leaving home.

Vince reminded me of the things I taught him. The things you do every flight, the simple things. No local flights without a minimum fuel load of tabs or thirty gallons before launch. It paid today with plenty of fuel to return home even though HE added to the tank.

He's at least listening and today he saved the day. Thanks Vince.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Woodys, Dewey Beach

Photo courtesy of the Woodys web page
Mary and I decided that we wanted to head to Ocean City for an early beach day. No, no 'actual' sand time but we did get to sample one of the best crab cakes from Woodys in Dewey Beach, DE.

There was fog at Ocean city when I got up this morning and it didn't really start to clear out until 9am.  The METAR was reporting as follows.

METAR KOXB 221353Z AUTO 19004KT 10SM CLR 07/04 A3015
SPECI KOXB 221312Z AUTO 00000KT 3SM BR FEW002 05/04 A3014
SPECI KOXB 221310Z AUTO 00000KT 1 1/2SM BR FEW002 05/04 A3014
SPECI KOXB 221258Z AUTO 14003KT 3/4SM BR VV002 03/02 A3013

Just south of KILG, great view SE down the Delaware Bay
I decided to let my Bride sleep in and as soon as the wx was looking a little better, at least LPV minimums, we would head to the airport. We placed Ziva in her crate where she would be safe and not get into trouble, then headed to the plane. Once at the hangar we were faced with frozen doors and an eight inch thick, two foot wide mix of ice and snow. I dug out the door tracks and with the help of the airport manager Jonathan and his line person Sarah we eventually managed to clear the doors and push them open.
Snow in New Castle County
Together we pulled 08Romero out on to the taxi lane and Mary and I were soon underway. Smooth skies and a slight tailwind made for a relaxing flight to ocean city. If  I had right seat pilot I could have easily taken a nap enjoying the warm bright sunshine that was filling the cabin and sleepy lullaby hum of the power plant.
After intercepting the localizer I made a nice landing, despite having to dodge three ugly buzzards on short final. We decided to have ops fill the fuel to the slots so we would be ready to bug out with forty gallons on board when we returned to the plane. I checked us in at the office to fill out the fuel card then headed out to the car.
Mary commented how clean the car and convertible top looked since we keep her covered. That compliment was wasted once I turned the key and just got a few clicks. Thankfully I carry jumper cables in all of our vehicles, now I need a doner car for some juice. Don from eXpress rental offered his help and gave us a jump.

Ocean Hgwy, headed north
Finally, we are on the road north, driving through ocean city and enjoying the beach scenery. The off season is always quiet, no traffic to speak of and a nice time to check out what's new with hotels, restaurants and shops.  It takes us about forty minutes to make Dewey beach and there were a few parking spots open at Woodys. We were just as lucky to find a table open and the four of us were quickly seated.  Mary and I planned to meet our friends, Joel and Nancy for lunch. A fun couple who live at the beach full time and they really get the 'enjoy life everyday' idea.  Always guaranteed laughter and good times when the four of us catch up. We each ordered crab cakes and were not disappointed.  Huge lump crab meat with no filler and just the perfect amount of spices, we should have ordered two to go for dinner tonight!

Time always seems to fly by when you're having fun. Mary and I wanted to be in the air by 3:30 and we still wanted to drive through ocean pines to look at homes for sale. We said our goodbyes and pointed our little Cabrio south. We passed our favorite 64th street market, dreaming of summer and followed with our familiar run across the route 90 bridge. No traffic in the off season makes for a quick ride to racetrack road and the ocean pines community.
Ocean City off the wing
The one house that is on the top of our list is still for sale but not physically posted with a sign. I had stumbled across the listing online while snooping through various realtor agents, which made our day since we thought it was sold or off the market. We checked out a few other properties then made our way to the plane.  I did stop to top off the airport buggy tank and Mary wanted some water for the ride north.

After sumping the tanks and doing a walk around we got 08Romeo started. Winds favored runway two-zero and we were soon climbing out for home. I decided on a cruise home at four thousand five and road along enjoying the unlimited visibility. We watched a heavy climb out of Dover AFB and listened to his amended clearance to the Norfolk area eliminating the hop across the bay to Sea Isle, NJ.
Cape May NJ  (top center) and Cape Henlopen (off the wing tip)
I spotted New Garden maybe eight miles out and switched from Wilmington's tower that I was monitoring to N57 CTAF.  I made my position calls and entered on a left base for two-four setting 08Romeo in softly and just passing the mid-field taxiway.  I made a quick turn around and cleared the runway.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

N57-KHYW, The Plan

Mary and I have been planning a weekend hop to Myrtle Beach, SC. One of our best friends, Jo, has a daughter and son-in-law along with two adorable grand babies waiting to see G-Mom.  Jo has always been there for us. Since Mary has needed hospital time for her infusion treatments Jo always steps up to help. I know friends do for friends without question but we want to give something back to her that means so much, hugging those grand babies!

This will be an overnight run to Conway South Carolina's Conway-Horry County Airport. Running the numbers it looks to be a four hour flight with multiple instrument approaches available at KHYW. I will have the choice of either Myrtle Beach International Airport KMYR(13 nm SE) or Grand Strand Airport KCRE(20 nm E) as my alternates, both with multiple approaches. I am looking into hotels with an ocean front view and a place to hangar 08Romeo overnight.

Monday, February 17, 2014

WAAS and RNAV Quick Facts

I recently added the website of BruceAir, LLC (BruceAir.com) to my list of favorites.  Bruce is a frequent poster on one of the flying forums that I read.  If you have some time, please check out the wealth of information Bruce provides on many subjects.

I found the following links through the BruceAir website that took me to the FAA GNSS Library Fact Sheets. Here are two good reads for instrument pilots, if not to learn something new then a good refresher as spring time flying approaches.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines get-away, canceled

We got the call last night that our Valentines day weekend get-away flight to West Palm Beach was cancelled.  I asked if there were two seats on any flight non-stop, multiple stops whatever, heck one seat for my Bride and I'll fly jump seat or right seat if you let me.  After a cute giggle and the acknowledgement of quite the original counter offer the answer was still no seats on any flights until Monday morning. Hmmm, arrive Monday morning and then catch the 7pm flight home, that's not going to work.  My tickets were canceled and money refunded, oh joy.   The rep did have me hang on as she checked out all airlines and gave me a heads up that Southwest had 4 seats open at 8am Friday.  I thanked her and quickly called Southwest.
When I called Southwest I advised her that the US Airways customer rep gave me the heads up about four open seats, thinking it may help.  The Southwest rep said there was a seat open but not two seats. SW also checked for any flights on Saturday but everything was booked.
So, here I sit after shoveling the driveway (for a 4th time) at 5:30 this morning and cleaning off my SUV. I guess we will pick up Ziva girl from the boarding kennel and make the best of my now five day weekend at home.

Come on Spring!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Ice, not so nice

Mary and I decided to make a run to Lewes, Delaware.  It's Mary's uncles birthday and he loves baked goodies from the Lewes Bake Shoppe and Milton Sausage from LLoyds.  So, since we wanted to have breakfast out and Georgetown is a short hop we combined the trip to fly our first real mission of the new year.

We pulled up to the hangar and it had that same mound of snow/ice as last weeks post but now it had my hangar doors locked down solid.  I did not want to drive to Lewes if I could help it but I was starting to worry. One of the line guys drove over and let me borrow a metal shovel so I could clear the fresh snow and ice combo. At least most of the snow was cleared, the ice is still there.

C&D Canal looking West
Mary was staying warm in the SUV while I readied 08Romeo. Once the plane was out of the nest Mary parked our SUV in the hangar. I pulled the nose plugs as Mary climbed in and I followed as quick as I could. Brrrr...It was cold! With several shots of primer 08Romeo came to life and purred along. Love that battery minder and Reiff heaters. I taxied to the pumps and took on fifteen gallons to bring me to forty-two for our flight south.
I had filed IFR earlier this morning in case I needed to get into KGED if wx took a turn for the worse. I kept that tool in the box just in case. The flight was smooth as we cruised along at three thousand enjoying the view. It's been awhile since Mary flew with me, November 30th to be exact.
I made my call for GED at ten north and at five north. Thinking back, I brain farted and announced crossing midfield for left down wind runway 4, while in fact I entered the left down wind at midfield for runway 4. Hmmm, the things that pop into my head while I sit here and type. A super smooth landing and turn off for the main ramp, that was empty. We took the front row spot across from the main door to the terminal and I scurried in as fast as I could finish securing our plane.

I took on eight gallons of fuel for 08Romeo then asked to borrow the courtesy van for our drive into town. Always good to spend some money prior to asking for the free use of the car. The roads were empty so it was a quick trip to and from town with our food stash safely tucked away.
We grabbed lunch at Arenas in the terminal, each enjoying a cup of soup and half BLT sandwich. I settled up my fuel bill and did my pre-flight while Mary stayed warm in the terminal.  Once I was ready I waved and she came out to climb aboard. A double check to see the nose plugs and chocks were secured in baggage and we are ready to start. I did file for our return flight home but I decided to have it ready if I needed a pop up to get us in N57 or my alternate Wilmington, KILG. I climbed to three thousand and rode along in fairly smooth air, watching the layer above that was full of ice.
I monitored Dover approach and he was asking everyone to say flight conditions. There were reports of light snow ahead of us but no reports of Ice. The highest aircraft I heard was heading north at five thousand and he was IMC. I was more than happy to ride along with a slight tail wind at three. As we passed north of the Dover Air Force Base we started to see snow showers. Very light, not even sticking to the windscreen.I watched our leading edges and the temp probe and everything looked dry.
I should explain the title, Ice, not so nice. Here is a picture of what was above me for the ride home. I also snapped a few shots to confirm good conditions below that layer that was not so friendly above us.
I made a nice landing at New Garden, turning off at the halfway taxiway. The line guy followed me in his car and helped me push 08Romeo back in the hangar, I think I am going to need a winch.  

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Plug Me In

Sunrise in the Valley
I had such a nice flight yesterday taking advantage of the break in the weather to get some left seat time.  Upon my return and securing 08Romeo in her hangar I forgot to plug her Reiff heaters in. Doh! The switchbox will work much better if I plug in so it can warm the oil and cylinders instead of just making the pretty little light at the end of the cord glow.
Smith Bridge
I was up early and took care of the zoo and even made a breakfast sandwich for me. I tossed my snow shovel in the SUV so I could clear the small pile that slid off the roof and now provided a hump to maneuver over to get in and out of the hangar.

 DuPont's Granogue Mansion

The ride to the airport was perfect, back country roads listening to some Jim Croce Greatest HitsWorkin' At The Car Wash Blues, You Don't Mess Around With Jim  mixed in with some greatest hits of the 70's including Stealers Wheel Stuck in the middle with you. You really have to ask...of course I was singing along. I have to add that the view along this route is gorgeous, Smith Bridge, Granogue DuPont Mansion, rolling hills and the Brandywine River.
When I got to the hangar I backed in and opened the rear hatch so I could keep the tunes flowing. I did clear the snow but the bottom had frozen solid leaving a two inch speed bump of solid ice. At least 08Romeo is plugged in and ready to go for her next adventure.
I closed the doors and headed home for the few chores that need to be completed. Once I'm in for the day I'll crank up the fireplace and get back to my Tom Clancy book, Without Remorse.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Cold Clear Smooth

RW 24 Approach
I had 08Romeo plugged in for two weeks waiting on a decent day to fly.  Today it was cold, clear and smooth, perfect for a fun flight to get the oil pumping. Mary passed on flying out for breakfast and Mike was scheduled to fly to KHEF - Manassas Regional Airport/Harry P. Davis Field in Washington, DC.

I hoped that Vince wouldn't be on a fire call and that his Friday night crew duty would be over in time to fly. We swapped text messages last night and the plan was for him to text me if he was running late. All went well, as he trotted up to his house a few minutes after I arrived.
We headed to the airport and quickly went to work on 08Romeo. Uncovered and pre-flight completed we pulled the plane through the small pile of snow that accumulated in front of the hangar that had slid off the roof. Vince parked my SUV in the hangar and we climbed aboard 08Romeo to stay warm and get the fan turning.
Ice in the Delaware River near old New Castle
I have to say the battery minder on the maintenance setting has been a blessing, two blades and 08Romeo was purring along. We added fifteen gallons of fuel to bring us to forty-six, sumped, restarted and followed with a run up. All systems were good to go and 08Romeo launched off of two-four loving the cold temps and asking for more with a steady 1000 fpm climb.
On the ramp at WWD
It was a hands in your lap flight across the Delaware river and skirting along the New Jersey coastline following south along the Delaware Bay. We cruised at three thousand five hundred and I gave Vince a chance to shoot the RNAV 19 into Cape May.  I'm loving the WAAS upgrade and the LPV decision heights. It's great to fly the needles on a GPS approach.

Ice in the Delaware Bay
After enjoying a great breakfast at the Flight Line we saddled up for the Woodbine airport. Vince and I had hoped we could catch up with the group flying to Georgetown before they left. We did get to meet up with Jeff and take a look at his Mooney post bird strike with fresh paint, it looked awesome!
08Romeo on security camera at Woodbine
We finally decided it was time to head home so we taxied out to runway one three and launched for home. We did depart the pattern opposite of the published left traffic so we didn't have to deal with all the seagulls overflying the landfill. Yes, there is a landfill just outside the left downwind for one three and it was busy with birds when we landed.
Delaware Memorial Bridges
We enjoyed a fifteen knot tailwind coming home slipping under Philly's Bravo and just above Wilmington's Delta. I made an ok landing with a gyro copter on my heels and taxied 08R back to the nest. A fun day, 2.1 in the books and 08Romeo got some much needed exercise.