Saturday, April 22, 2017

So Close to Flight

As the days roll on I sit and wonder just how long it will take to shed the rust and once again be comfortable in the cockpit. The last time I went through this was back in July of 2009 following my hip revision. Back then it took flight time around the pattern with some take-offs and landings. I was quickly right back in the groove. I hope it's the same with 08Romeo next weekend.

My full weight bearing has been a slow and steady process. Initially I wasn't supposed to start until April but the Doc said my fusion was looking great and he let me get started in March. Here we are, almost the end of April and I'm still using a single crutch to help get around. I have full motion as if pushing on the accelerator just very limited side to side movement. This means I still can walk with a normal gait. Thinking back, as bad as my hip revision surgery was, with the fractured femur, I was back to work and I was flying in ninety days. Honestly, I'm ready to throw this last crutch in the bay and climb aboard 08Romeo!

I wanted to thank the folks who follow my blog for checking in. I appreciate the emails, text messages and the private messages on Facebook and flying forums. I can't wait to be posting about flying and finally getting to use my Christmas gift, the Garmin VIRB XE.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Approach NOTAM's

After reading through IFR Focus #14 I wanted to share a ForeFlight tip.

 Suppose there’s a NOTAM raising the minimum descent altitude (MDA)for the GPS 27 LNAV approach for Wilmington (KILG). Can you annotate the approach chart so "680" simply replaces "500" in the graphical depiction?
Yes, you can use the text annotate tool and customize the background of the text box to block the underlying text
From the Plates tab of ForeFlight, open the plate and then tap the pencil to see the annotation tools. Next, tap the text tool and place it where you want the replacement. Type 680. Now, tap the color presets and select black type with a white background. After creating the text box with a background (as illustrated below), you can adjust the location with a tap and drag. You will also need to change the font size to fit the correction in the box.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Temporary Relocation Plans

The bad news. I received word from the airport (KOXB)that there will be a T-Hangar taxiway rehab project starting in September running through October. This project will require excavating 18-24 inches for a new road box to include new under drain, stone base and two 4" lifts of hot mix. This all means that 08Romeo will be out on the ramp for two months, yuck, in the salt air environment.

The good news, we'll have a beautiful taxiway with excellent drainage and new striping.

I started to make calls, sent text messages and emails to my flying friends looking for a temporary home for 08Romeo. I have a few irons in the fire.

At the other end of the networking spectrum is an opportunity to work close to home. I wanted to take all of 2017 off but the chance to work at the local airport has my gears turning. The info; two month project, eight miles from home, and work that's right in my wheel house. Yes, today I updated my resume and made a few calls for references. I'll make a call to a man that offered me a job at this very company back in 2013, maybe he'll find a place for me doing airport work. More on this story to follow in the coming months.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Missing the Miss

In this months Aviation Safety magazine there was an excellent article on flying the missed on an approach. Instrument rated pilots practice this to not only keep current but proficient.

Missing the Miss

Accidents occurring during missed approaches reveal instrument pilots still need to work on preventing spatial disorientation and loss of control.

Lets address each issue that is discussed in the article.

Spatial Disorientation

Defines our natural ability to maintain our body orientation and/or posture in relation to the surrounding environment (physical space) at rest and during motion.

Statistics show that between 5 and 10% of all general aviation accidents can be attributed to spatial disorientation, 90% of which are fatal.

When things don't feel right trust your instruments. Check and cross-check, read and react. I have used my instrument rating more now than ever before. Flying out of a coastal airport presents its own set of issues. When I first moved to the beach I could not believe school was delayed for fog, until I drove in it. The Ocean City airport typically sees 400' overcast or worse when the fog conditions present themselves. I still maintain my personal minimums and I'm not leaving the ground in 400' overcast. Trust me, it's been hard enough getting in on the LPV with minimums of 261' crossing from ocean, over island, then the bay to the runway. For the instrument pilots out there we know to practice all phases of the approach. I personally have gone missed a few times. My opinion is if you immediately get vectors to final in order to try again it can be stressful. I like to slow things down and get to the hold. Once in the hold relax, re-evaluate and then make another go at an approach. After a second approach if I have to go missed I will fly to an airport that provides a better shot at getting in with higher minimums or is at least minimum VFR. Always have a backup plan!

Loss of Control/CFIT

I feel that loss of control is directly tied to spatial disorientation but lets look at it from another angle. Imagine yourself needing to shoot an approach to get home after a full day of flying. You know this approach is going to take you close to minimums but you tell yourself you are current and proficient and ready to fly to that initial fix. Thoughts of getting the plane tucked away and just getting home enter your thoughts, you squeeze them out and tell yourself just fly the plane. You're now inbound on final, dealing with winds and a bumpy ride. You are calling out altitudes and on course, just like you practice. A glimpse of ground just in front of your wing, back on instruments you go. As you just barely breakout you come off instruments and focus solely on the runway environment. In a flash the airport view is gone and you are back in the soup. Now you have to get back on instruments and maybe go missed. This is the point I think pilots face the greatest risk for loss of control. Your flying at a lower airspeed and low altitude, you just had a view of the airport, you breath that sigh of relief when all of a sudden your back in it and faced with the possibility of going missed. You suddenly scramble to find what your position is relative to the approach as your needles dance away.


How do we fix this problem? Keep current and remain proficient when needing to fly IFR. Fight the urge to transition away from the instruments, if and when you break out. Be prepared to go missed. When you do, follow the proper procedures, climbing out is not the time to look at what needs to be done.

Remember..."Currency goes in your logbook, PROFICIENCY keeps you alive."  - Old CFI

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Attended the Foreflight Webinar

Last night I checked into the webinar: Get The Most From ForeFlight, hosted by Sporty's Pilot Shop. It was a good review of the many features ForeFlight offers.

The Webinar description:

ForeFlight, the most popular app for pilots, blends flight planning, charts, aviation weather, airport information, documents, synthetic vision and even a logbook into one complete resource. But like any software, there’s a lot to learn and new features are being added continuously. Spending some time exploring what’s new, the advanced features, and shortcuts can really pay off. This is a great webinar for experienced ForeFlight users looking to go beyond the basics. Join the ForeFlight team for some expert advice on getting the most from your app.

I enjoyed the review and a look at the new features. I liked the ability to invert the map and plate colors for night flying, even though I am not night current (content for a whole new post). There was plenty of info on the new weather features along with tips and tricks for flight planning.
Another feature that has been around for awhile but I never used is the 'pack for the trip'. My thought was that I didn't want to have all the extra files that would eat up memory and slow my iPad down.  After last nights explanation it's my understanding that when the next update cycle is due, whatever you previously 'packed' will not automatically update. Neat thought since I update about twenty plus states at all times, maybe I should just pack for the trip I need.
The 'Pack' feature was also explained in greater detail. This feature packs for the area of your trip, to include, a fifty mile radius along your planned route and a one hundred mile radius around your departure and destination airports. Pack will provide NOTAMs, weather, obstacles, FBO info and fuel prices. Once your in the air its nice to have that info available to review if needed.

I didn't stick around for the full log book feature that was discussed at the end of the presentation. However, one feature noted earlier in the webinar about the logbook was the ability to package your flight plan and pictures for upload to your favorite social media, I thought that was pretty neat.

Overall it was a good review, especially since I've been out of the game the last few months.  As readers of my blog know I'm a buttonology nerd when it comes to the Garmin 530 or the ForeFlight products.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Airport Time and New Parts

Since I am wearing the boot I have switched over to crutches, and life is starting to feel somewhat normal. Mary was under the weather so I took Ziva girl with me for some airport play time.
Ziva ran herself silly then settled in while I made my way in the hangar, yes, over the now orange step. My hangar faces east so the sun really warms the hangar even if it's a bit chilly outside. Once the door was open I checked on 08Romeo to make sure the battery minder was still doing its thing and then the ford ranger to make sure it was charging. I even disconnected the charger and let ranger run for a bit, since the doors were open.
I made a few mental notes to bring new batteries for all the headsets since I removed all of them before surgery. I didn't want them to sit all this time and get all nasty. I lubed all the door locks and hinges along with the fuel cap latches. I will do the flap and ailerons on my next visit, I was running out of steam crutching around.
When I returned home I found a package at the door, a Century I control head (turn and bank). A fellow BAC member was having an Stec-30 installed and he shipped his working unit to me. I want to give this head unit a try so I can eliminate the autopilot 'hunting'. By hunting I mean it tends to bank ever so slightly left or right across the course heading, it's very annoying. I can't trust the unit when I'm in instrument conditions if it hunts so it's pretty much useless.

Upon further inspection of the package contents I see that the unit I received is for 14V, sadly that won't work for my plane. The Sundowner is 28v. The search continues.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cover Art and Edits

Today I received my book cover artwork and sent out the two copies I liked best to a few of my friends. I appreciate their comments and suggestions, and I know they will be honest with me. Following the advice of a fellow blogger and author I decided to go with the company he selected for his cover art. Talk about an easy and smooth experience, thanks Ed. I'll post all the particulars once I get this project published and have a solid number on my total cost.

As a follow up on my last post and the call to Mike the editor, all went well. We had a great conversation about my goals and how to achieve them. I explained that writing is obviously not my full time job, but just a shot in the dark to cross another item off my bucket list. I told Mike that I really wanted to share the magic carpet concept with other pilots, and people who are thinking about flying. I hope this book provides a glimpse into traveling by general aviation, the fun, the excitement and everything that comes with it.

Foot update: I am partial weight bearing status as of my last visit to the Doc. Last week was 25% pressure and this week I'm 50%. The ugly, scaly dragon foot is turning back into a human foot with each passing day. Parts of my foot still feel like it's asleep, but it's slowly waking up. I am cleared to drive but I am still self grounded as far as flying.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Author In Me

I know my blog ramblings are a shoot from the hip style, with no serious regard for the grammar police and sometimes spell check doesn't catch all of my mistakes. What I write is not fancy, it's down to earth, write it as I speak it, keep it simple stupid (The KISS method). I can still hear my high school English teacher, Mrs. Harker, hounding me for grammar and punctuation.

Mrs. Harker would be delighted to know that I am working to have a book published. I have toyed around with the idea for years, Mary has encouraged me to go for it. Giving some thought to my current mobility status I should ask myself if she is wanting me busy typing instead of harassing her, Hmmm. Maybe I shouldn't push my luck.

I decided to gather my notes about our flying adventures. I have plenty of material; my miscellaneous ramblings, obtaining my license, joining a flying club, the adventure into ownership along with some other related flying activities. For the readers of my blog it may seem somewhat familiar. For the folks that find my eBook, I hope it will provide some laughs, make them reflect on their flying and encourage them to spread their wings and explore this country.
For now its cover designs and editing, lots of editing. The internet is a wonderful tool, providing the ability to pick and choose editors, graphic artists for designing my cover and multiple self publishing connections. It's been time consuming and frustrating, rewarding and even scary at times. In my initial email to my editor I asked if he thought I should stay with my retired gig of consulting on highway and bridge projects instead of writing. He forwarded my first chapter to me with suggestions and corrections, asking me to call and discuss the remainder of the work.

More to follow as this new to me adventure unfolds. For now I have to make the call to Mike the editor. I plan on sharing this adventure as it unfolds and the process to reach my goal. It should be an interesting ride.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Nose Dragger Tug

With my foot recovery well underway I am planning my return to the air.  First things first, the Doc tells me this foot will take the better part of a year to return to normal service. Thinking ahead about pulling the plane in and out of the hangar, Mary and I were worried I could damage the repaired foot. With that nasty thought in mind I started to search for a tug.

I posted a 'wanted to buy' thread on the AOPA forum but the next day my membership expired. I'm not ready to rejoin so I couldn't check for any replies. I decided to post a WTB thread on Pilots Of America and the Purple Board For Pilots forums. First, I made a few calls and sent out a few text messages to fellow pilots that might have a line on a used tug, it's always good to network.

Adam Z was the first to reply with a tug I might be interested in. We swapped some info and he hooked me up with a Nose Dragger Tug.
This powerful 24-volt electric aircraft tug will fit and move any nose wheel airplane up to 5,000 lbs. without wheel fairings as well as those with wheel fairings that have 3″ or greater of clearance from the fairing to the ground. It utilizes a smooth thumb throttle speed control for precise forward and reverse movements. The built in differential now allows for easier turning and even better control.

The Nose Dragger Dragger is designed to pull aircraft on a flat surface or on a rain grade surface with no more than a 2-3% grade. The unit comes with two new batteries and smart charger.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

When There Is No Departure Procedure

I was reading through some older posts on the Beech Talk Forum and stumbled across a Foreflight-Garmin flight planning question about flying a departure procedure when there is none listed for the airport. I just wanted to share this typical gottcha that we face when picking up a clearance on the ground or the route change we sometimes get while flying.

The example given was a routine Departure Procedure(DP)given at KAGC, Alleganey County Airport located just south east of Pittsburgh Airport. One problem, there is no DP listed in Foreflight or the Garmin database. However, the procedure is pretty straight forward and easy enough to fly. On departure intercept the AGC VOR 073 degree radial to HOMEE intersection. There are multiple ways to attack this.

You can set up your flight plan on the 430/530 direct HOMEE and use nav 2 to intercept the radial from the AGC VOR, but that's not taking advantage of all of your equipment. Besides if your going to be climbing into IMC conditions you want all the guidance you can get to reduce stress levels.

In a similar situation I made this quick (Nav 2) choice when flying home from Dutchess County Airport in Poughkeepsie, NY. It was VFR conditions, and ATC threw an odd ball change to my route to fly a departure procedure not listed on my 530 database. Granted, it wasn't a biggie, but a route change can get overwhelming if your not ready, or well rehearsed in utilizing all of your avionics.

From the iPad on Foreflight it's a simple point and click then a transfer (with the Flightstream 210) to the panel mount 430/530. Lets set up the flight plan and make sure we select the AGC HOMEE leg before sending it to the panel (430/530).
Selected our airport KAGC and checked for the DP.
Flight plan is entered. Click on the NAV LOG button once in flight plan, then click on HOMEE. You will see a message come up for a change to the plan, confirm fly leg AGC to HOMEE. Once that's complete send it to the panel 430/530.
If you take the time to set this up on your 430/530 it's just as easy. Chug and plug your route adding the AGC VOR before the HOMEE intersection.
In the FLTPLN menu, cursor down and highlight HOMEE, then click on MENU and select Activate Leg.
You will now see a new message box that wants you to confirm Fly Leg AGC -> HOMEE, select activate.
On departure you would be ready to intercept the 073 degree radial to HOMEE and be on your way.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Last Cast, Finally Weight Bearing

To say I was anxious this morning was an understatement. I was coming out of my skin knowing I had to see the Doctor today and that I did not want another cast, no matter what. I rehearsed in my head multiple times how that conversation would go, and I was the cast-less winner each time.

I am still on the scooter to get around and honestly, its been fun buzzing around herding the cats and dog. I needed some form of entertainment.
It was time to load up in the SUV and head to Berlin, just a short ten minute ride. Once again the place was pretty much empty with only one other patient waiting.

I went into the cast removal room and one of the assistants got the saw turning. One cut down each side followed by the spreaders and my foot was free. It felt good to bend my ankle despite the ugly dragon looking scales and swollen areas.

I headed over to x-ray for a few pictures and then returned to the room to wait for the Doctor to come in and update my progress. It looks like I don't need another cast! I've graduated to a boot for day time activities and can start partial weight bearing, working my way to full weight bearing status by the next visit on March 30th.
The Doc said it's the quickest healing of any fusion surgery he has done to date. I had to remind him this ain't my body's first rodeo with staples, metal parts and getting back up to speed. I'm not sure how well my right leg and hip will hold up but I've never been a quitter.

The doctor did not want me putting any weight on the foot unless it was flat and in the boot, no weight on just the toes or heel and no rolling motion, just flat and level. I was reminded that it will take almost a year for me to be back to normal and that I could experience some permanent swelling.
Mary took me out to lunch at the Sunset Grille in West Ocean City to celebrate my progress. It was nice to get out and spend time with my Bride without the zoo hovering around us. I did let Mary know I want to get back in the air as soon as I can go full weight bearing and get up on 08Romeo's wing. We talked about purchasing a tug to eliminate any extra pressure on the foot while I build it back up.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Maintenance Updates

Since I have been grounded, I spent some time making a list of maintenance items I want to address. Already ordered are my Lightspeed Zulu headset ear seals, headrest pad and mic muff.

new vs old
Photo courtesy the  Beech Aero Club file
For 08Romeo I have ordered shock discs (Donuts)through the Beech Aero Club at an amazing savings. Beechcraft has stock identified as an assembly of 8 pieces (one gear) with a 120 month shelf life. Price listed to a BAC member was $2,919 plus the 15% mark up on that price range. I paid $600 per gear, plus shipping, for a total of just under $1300 for the main gear (two gear).
Photos courtesy the Beech Aero Club
Good donuts provide a clearance above the noted holder pin. 08Romeo is just starting to infringe on the top of the pin.

I have also ordered the rubber fairings for the wing root and the vertical tail portion (rudder) connection to the stabilator on 08Romeos tail. As soon as I'm mobile, hopefully after Thursdays doctor visit, I'll get the tail done. At some point this summer I'll attempt the wing root seal.

tail rubber

existing wing root fairing

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Flight Planning to Waco, Texas

I can see the light at the end of the recovery tunnel, well, at least in my minds eye I can.  The latest cast (blue) comes off one week from toady, Yeah! I'm not sure what the Doc has in store for me, hopefully a boot that won't be as cumbersome as the cast.

I am figuring to be back to speed sometime in mid to late April, that's my plan.  With that schedule in mind, Mary and I are targeting our first trip in 08Romeo to take us to Waco, Texas. Why Waco? Well, it's a great cross country and we want to explore the Magnolia Market at the Silos as seen on the TV show Fixer Upper.

As I sit here looking in my log book I have but one hour for 2017, most depressing for sure. I aim to change that, and once I knock off the rust we'll get in the air and head South West.
As always, depending on the winds, I'll flight plan our first overnight stop to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The initial flight plan for day one calls for 5:42 of flight time. We'll make a fuel stop halfway in Dublin, Virginia at the New River Valley Airport. The Runway is 6,200 feet and there are plenty of RNAV approaches.
We'll depart New River and continue on to Lovell Field Airport in Chattanooga. Plenty of runway and approaches with easy access to town. The only downside is the fuel prices, oh well.

We haven't been to Chattanooga before so we wanted to spend some time investigating the city. A few items of interest for us would be the Aquarium, Zoo, Lookout Mountain, the National Cemetery and whatever downtown tours we can find. Always fun finding the perfect place to dine and I'll get to see the architecture of the area. The plan is open, maybe one or two days, there is no time restriction.
When we decide to continue on to Waco we'll once again make a stop for fuel about halfway. Initial flight planning looks like it will be Malvern Municipal Airport in Malvern, AR. This airport will knock out a number of requirements; fuel, runway, RNAV approach, AND it will be a new state. With a gas and go complete, we will saddle up for our final destination, Waco.
We are still looking into hotels and rental cars. Flight planning keeps my mind busy and it's something I really enjoy.

Oh, almost forgot. I am taking the commercial studies to the next step. Simply stated, I need a break from the King course. I recently ordered, and received today, the Gleim 2017 Commercial Pilot FAA Knowledge Test study guide for the Commercial Pilot written exam. If reading is what I want, I may as well put that appetite to good use.