Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping Current

I had shot only one approach in the last six months since my last flight with a CFII.  My currency was about to run out as of the end of September, yep, tonight at midnight I would turn into the great pumpkin.  Giving it to much thought, maybe I would turn from a mouse (Beechcraft reference) to a horse pulling a carriage…neigh……er,um…nah.
I started out my evening cleaning 08Romeo’s belly. I gave her a good scrub and then changed for my flight. I really needed some stress relief and flying would shift my focus and clear my head.

08Romeo had 38 gallons of fuel on board so I was set for the flight.  All flights with my CFII start with a briefing of what torture our plan of attack will be.  The lineup was as follows, multiple approaches into 33N - RNAV GPS 9 and 27, multiple approaches into KEVY - RNAV GPS 17 and 35, a hold at WENDS, ILS RWY 1 approach into KILG and finally tracking back home (N57)for the VOR RWY 24.
I must admit that my training flights usually start out with the first approach serving the sole purpose of shedding rust by the buckets. A little behind the plane and chasing needles to keep in the ball. Tonight was different, no finger pointing by my CFII for course or altitude deviations instead a few wows and very nice tossed out there.  I was in the zone tonight; the last few weeks of flying had me ‘shit hot’ as I like to say.
No, this post can’t be all sugar plums and fairies.  Of course my CFII is never one to let my ego get out of control and I am quickly reeled in with an approach curve ball tossed at me.  I brief the plate for the expected RNAV GPS 17 into KEVY.  The initial (role-play) communications had me vectoring for the approach. I had the wx, had briefed the plate, radios were set and I was sticking the headings and altitude changes rock solid. Once cleared for the approach I would chug and plug on the Garmin 530.  We started to get into a conversation about some flying friends and airplanes as I was still ahead of the plane, fat dumb and happy.  Yes, I underlined dumb.  
Distraction is a killer in IMC, especially on approach, sterile cockpit is the norm when I fly….but I was so in the zone tonight.  My flying was still picture perfect then the sugar plums went splat and the fairy dust got in my eyes.  (role-play comm) 08Romeo direct EPKAW cleared for the RNAV GPS 17 approach, maintain 2000 until established.  I acknowledge and start to chug and plug.
I select the RNAV 17 approach and scroll through my choices. Hmmm…..there is no EPKAW selection.  I have to pull the plate, find EPKAW (top of the ‘T’) and see that it’s an IF not an IAF.  Meanwhile we are still cruising along and now my eyes are back to the scan, down to the plate, at the 530…you get the idea. Score one for the CFII, I am humbled.

I scroll through and select OGHUF, then click on the FPL (flight plan) button scroll to select EPKAW direct enter.  I am on my way in time to settle in and set up for the approach. I’ve had Philly approach run this exact scenario on approach to KILG while in IMC and had to chug and plug. Train for the what if’s, they happen when you least expect it.
The Garmin does alert you to the fix on the screen.  IA(initial approach), FA (final approach), MA (missed approach) and MH (missed hold). This should have been my first clue.
We had some additional fun shooting the ILS 1 into KILG.  The tower is always pretty good to work with and tonight was no different, very accommodating. The ATIS was noted and localizer dialed in as I was getting (role-play) vectors, the actual tower at ILG wanted us to report HADIN inbound.  I had just noted that the localizer was alive when ILG tower asked us for a left 360* for departing aircraft on one niner. We had traffic coming at us head on.   We acknowledged and off I went holding altitude in a smooth standard rate turn. My CFII asked for a half standard rate just to slow the turn down and give the C130 space on departure.
Once again the localizer is alive and glideslope starts to move as my turn put me back, just at HADIN.  We report our position and continue in.  I’m a bit busy slowing down trying to get the needles centered in the ball and run the GUMPS check.  I centered the needles and went foggles up at 275’ to see the runway right where it should be. I went missed and climbed out for home to the North West.

Last up was the VOR RWY 24 into New Garden.  I do enjoy tracking the VOR and on my beach flights dial in the various points along the route as my back up.  I ended the flight with a greaser landing and tucked 08Romeo in for the night.

The flight debrief took place over dinner at Two Stones and as always I left with new things to work on and ways to sharpen my flying skills.  Thanks Mike!

Quick edit!

With this flight I busted the 900 hour mark!!!! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Rest Of The Story

The rest of the flight story....

Once landing at KLHZ we saddled up for the trip north.  I had taken on enough fuel to bring me to fifty gallons, 08Romeos belly was full. Flight plan was showing two hours fifty-three minutes....close, but the headwinds ate up some additional time and fuel.
I picked up my clearance with Clearance and Delivery on the 800 number then launched for the north.  The sky was beautiful and smooth. My routing was BEXGO LVL RIC TAPPA PXT ENO DQO N57, (313 Miles). Approach hand-offs were seamless and the flight was hands in the lap take pictures and enjoy.

Monday 9/22

Monday was a busy day with our return flight finally getting off the ground at 3:50. Approved route; DQO V29 ENO V16 PXT V213 HPW V615 MEYER (319 miles). Once again a smooth flight and great comm work with multiple approaches. I turned up the 70's hits and, after moving my mic, sang along with the tunes. Once we landed I had the tanks filled back to an on board total of fifty gallons.
Time was passing quickly and I was I faced with the decision of a night flight to KOXB, Ocean City. Most pilots say no problem, what's the issue.  Well, I haven't been night current since November 2013.  Now I know that means no passengers and I could make the flight and even knock out the three full stops and once again be safe from turning into a pumpkin.
I admit, I am Mr. Conservative and a I have a few issues; flying over or shooting an approach or going missed over water at night presents the black hole effect, the lighting on 14-32 is not the greatest but 2-20 is new,  and the real stopper for me is no night landings since August 2013, over a year ago.  I decided to pass on the flight and button 08Romeo up for the night.

Tuesday 9/23

It's a cool morning and the sky looks good for my hop. I flight plan for the just shy of two hour flight to Ocean City at five thousand, keeping ahead of what's crawling up the coast. I pick up my clearance; DUFFI FKN CCV SWL  and launch to the north east.

The fleet at Norfolk
The Atlantic
Fisherman Island off the tip of the Delmarva peninsula
It was a good flight, clear for pictures and smooth. Patuxent Approach stepped me down and I canceled when I had the wx and field in sight.
Actual view
xm wx view
There were two aircraft to coordinate with in the pattern and one inbound behind me as we all worked our way in. This was going to be an afternoon with my Bride and then a hop home to N57 later in the day.

Tuesday late afternoon and all our errands are complete. Mary took me out to lunch so I was set until dinner back at the north home. I hate leaving, it stinks. We said our goodbyes and I took the airport car back to the hangar for storage until Friday. 08Romeo was ready to fly but once again no Bride in the right seat. I didn't file for this hop, instead I enjoyed my flight time.
I took the time to reflect on the weekend events. I am truly thankful for my family and friends. Interesting insights the last few days on family and how they did for others quietly, under the radar. These things I know because they have been paid forward and people have stepped up to acknowledge. I also know it's important that my generation should carry that thought process forward, I see that they do, each one of us in our own way. I am truly blessed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Hurry up and wait for wx....
I had to wait out some wx passing through my route but I made my planned departure time of noon. I climbed out of OCMD and headed towards Snow Hill, my first time passing over this VOR.  08Romeo had a full belly of fuel and with the density altitude she labored to climb to 8000 holding 5-6 hundred feet a minute. The graph from flight aware makes it look like I road a rocket to 8000 in a minute then plunged to the earth only to recover and do my best Blue Angel imitation and climb 4500'.  Trust me, it was a steady climb, trimmed for a hands off 500 feet a minute.
Virginia beyond the layer
Over Accomack, KMFV  Looking SE
The peninsula was covered by clouds that stretched across the Chesapeake Bay.  Virginia was looking clear and the remainder of my flight was unobstructed.  This was one of those hands in lap looking for things to do to stay ahead. I arrived at my scheduled time, took on fuel and turned for the north home airport.  I did hear Dave,Light Sport Aeronaut, on with Washington Center heading north to Quakertown. I wanted to say hello Dave, but didn't think Center would appreciate that. Hope you enjoyed the smooth air today!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weekend Flying Plans

It's going to be a busy flying weekend coming up and as all pilots do, the pre-planning has been dancing around in my head all week.

Online wx and flight planning do make the process a bit easier but I always second guess route and altitude choices up until I finally file. It's hard to select the favorable altitudes with winds until you file so I tend to run through the plan one last time then send my plan off through ForeFlight.  I'll post more next week but here is the preliminary plans.
My typical Friday night flight south

Sundays flight
I'll return Monday evening following the same route as noted above (Sundays flight), just in reverse of course. If its getting late I'll duck into OXB and tuck 08Romeo in the hangar and I'll get to spend the night with my Bride. I can launch in the morning on Tuesday to get home for work at 7am. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flights Of The Mouse, Revisited

Last Tuesday Mary and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Sandra for dinner, here in Wilmington. Sandra is Bo's Bride, Flights of the Mouse.  Dinner at Culinaira was excellent and Sandra's two friends were very sweet, we felt like we knew them for years. 

Time flew by and our group ended up just about closing the place as we sat well through the dinner time slots carrying on with conversation and laughs. It's funny how there never seems to be a lapse in time when we catch up with friends, we just pick right up and move forward.  We each raised a glass to wish Bo a Happy Birthday and the night really helped me heal. Sandra and I talked about missing the last few BAC Fest events, for me it would never be the same. After shedding some tears we agreed that maybe next years BAC fest is something we could all attend, that's a year away.

The Flights Of The Mouse blog went off line shortly after Bo's passing and I kept the link on my blog that directed you to the Aviation Mentor Gone West post. Special thanks for the effort of Spike Cutler and Jesse Angell (Angell Aviation) who was kind enough to host the web page for the Flights Of The Mouse blog.  This past week I sat and read through every single page of the journal, miscellaneous topics, what it's all about and the hundreds of pictures posted.

I guess you could say I'm re-energized. I'm ready to start back flying those three and four day get-aways and making a serious effort to be more active on my flight journal.

Thank you Sandra for making the stop here in Wilmington.  Mary and I are looking forward to the next time we can catch up for dinner.

Bo, your Redhead is one special lady, always a class act, Mary and I treasure her friendship.  Blue Skies my friend.

Monday, September 15, 2014

November Get-Away


Mary and I are planning a November get-away, in 08Romeo.  It's a multiple stop combo get-away of sorts.  A few days planned for Charleston, SC and some time planned to visit my brother and his Bride in Jupiter, FL.
I think I remember how to fly outside the state lines of Delaware and Maryland, I just hope 08Romeo does.  It should be a fun flight and a chance to relax with my Bride and family.

As of this posting we are still working on the sale of our home with a good number of 'lookers' but no offers yet.  The market has approximately 30 homes for sale in our price range and zip code, this could take awhile. We figure we both needed a break.
We previously planned for Charleston and Florida a number of times (Florida Planning 2011, Trip Planning, 2013 and Singer Island, 2014) .  This time, keeping our fingers crossed, we hope it all works out.  Now to get 08Romeo through annual.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Dodging The Cell

08Romeo's new digs!
It was time to head home and I wanted to make sure I didn't have to deal with the potential thunder storms and rain in the forecast for late this afternoon.  Once the wx cleared at KILG, it was sitting overcast under 700 until 1451Z. I bid farewell to my lovely Bride and her friend Jo Anne and I headed to the airport.

METAR KILG 011451Z 22006KT 10SM BKN011 OVC075 26/23 A3004 RMK AO2 SLP169 T02610233 55000=
METAR KILG 011351Z 23004KT 10SM OVC007 25/23 A3003 RMK AO2 CIG 005V010 SLP169 T02500233=
SPECI KILG 011335Z 00000KT 10SM OVC006 24/23 A3003 RMK AO2 CIG 003V009 T02440233=
METAR KILG 011251Z 22004KT 7SM OVC002 24/23 A3003 RMK AO2 SLP169 T02390233

I had filed for the ride but after giving the sky the visual I did not want to climb through the growing clouds to the north west. I went about my business getting 08Romeo loaded and the airport buggy parked in the hangar for next weeks return trip. I scanned the sky once again and confirmed what I saw with XM wx on my 496.
I called clear prop and taxied for runway two zero.  Winds were picking up as a cell was moving through the area west to east.  My plan, since I didn't pick up my clearance was to climb to 2.5, head west and end around what was left of the cell and then pick up my IFR clearance with Dover.
terrible picture once in the air,  it was bumpy

I launched and immediately saw the rain producing cell passing west to east just north of the RT90 bridge. I continued pointing west north west and gave it plenty of space.  Jo said she saw lightning out over the shore line, I immediately changed to a due west heading to add miles of separation.
As you can see by the photo, under or through that cell was not the place for any aircraft to be. The rest of the ride was fine, a few bumps along the way as I worked my way north between 2.5 and 3,000.
Traffic was heavy along SR1 at the RT113 interchange and we were both happy to be riding above all that mess. Jo snapped off a shot just north of RT 113. I made a nice landing back at New Garden, it was good to be on the ground.

As I taxied in there was two people, taking pictures,  with their backs to me. I gave 08Romeo a push on the throttle and they both turned around, I motioned to move aside to clear the taxiway and proceeded past them. What is wrong with people? Does the potential for slice and dice not make them want to stand clear of operations...sigh. I guess there is no fixing stupid.