Monday, August 19, 2019

In Remembrance

This really hurt, the first person I knew and had flown with that lost his life in a crash. Mary and I grieve for the pilots and their families. This stirs so many thoughts and emotions.
Al was a coworker at the DRBA. Even though he worked at the airport, and me in engineering, we had a common bond, we were pilots. We shared many conversations about flying, airplanes, my airport contracts, and contractors. 
Al was always the one who would drive up in the Airport Op's vehicle while I was getting 08Romeo ready, and greet you with a smile. Al loved flying and instructing. We typically discussed my flight, weather, and with a smile and wave he would say safe flight and get back to his duties in Operations.

When I purchased our Debonair Al instructed for my transition training.  While in training I needed a part at 58M, he volunteered the 78 Cessna 182Q he flew to run down and pick it up.  I naturally went to climb in the right seat, I was quickly directed to the left seat for additional high performance time.  Vince climbed in the back and Al was right seat.  Uh...Al? I haven't flown a Cessna in many years and never a 182. "If you can fly the Debonair you can fly the 182, climb aboard", okie dokie. 
Vince summed it up, "ILG will not be the same without you around. Blue skies and tail winds, Al." I will miss him, and so will the flying community. Vince, thanks for sharing the pics of us on our flight in the 182.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

BAC Pie/Fly-in

Since or trip north to New Hampshire was cancelled due to weather I thought I could get a little payback on Mother Nature and head south west instead. The plan was to attend the Beech Aero Club Pie/Fly-in at Louisa County, KLKU. 

Mary slept in, not really feeling up to a flight this morning. In her place my friend Ted wanted to go for a ride in the new plane.  The timing worked and Ted was going to join me. 
Ted and I decided we would meet at the office parking lot, it's on my way out of Ocean Pines. The plan was to complete my pre-flight, take on fuel and launch around 10:15. The sky was showing me a different plan, there's no messing with mother nature. 

After completing the pre-flight and fuel we climbed back in my SUV and sucked up as much air conditioning as possible while we waited for the 10:15 departure. 
I locked up the SUV and we climbed aboard 3 Tango Charlie, ready for the adventure.  I climbed out from runway one-four, turning crosswind, down wind, and base,  then finally south. The flight along the peninsula was at two thousand feet, as I looked for a whole to climb through. I couldn't find anything until we crossed the Chesapeake Bay, then I climbed for four thousand five hundred. The ride was smooth despite the build-ups. As we approached Louisa, LKU I picked a large hole that lead me down to pattern altitude, following the cloudy chute. I made a nice landing and taxied for the ramp. Alan landed in his University of Tennesee paint scheme Sundowner not far behind me as I was shutting down.
Thanks for taking the picture, Ted.
The group had lunch at a large hangar behind the terminal building.  There were hot dogs and hamburgers, soda and water. BAC settled in and ate lunch then Alan brought three pies from another hangar that he had preordered from Floozies pies. The three choices were cherry, chocolate and I think blueberry. The pie was good and it hit the spot, finishing off lunch. 
 With the sky starting to get dark we all saddled up for home. 3 Tango Charlie responded with a first try hot start, it made very me happy.  I taxied out behind a Sundowner and once he was clear I launched for Ocean City. 
The plan was to climb through one of the large openings and top out at five thousand five hundred.  This worked out and Ted and I settled in for the ride east dodging build-ups along the way.
As we made our way across the Chesapeake Bay we both noticed a huge wall of ugly clouds that would block our path north.  As the clouds developed a large Michelin man type figure grew out the top, pointing the way home, or maybe just taunting us. 
Either way I wasn't going to climb over and then have to descend for OXB, instead I started my descent early and road along at three thousand feet. We passed under the big ugly layer and flew through a very light shower, just perfect to wash off the bugs.

I continued in for Ocean City, making my calls and setting up to cross mid-field.  I would enter the left down wind for one-four and make my landing right before the call for jumpers away. 
It was a fun day flying and learning. I really need to get back in the IFR game. Today I monitored each approach but did not check in for flight following. I think that was my longest trip without talking to approach. I miss the radio calls and exactness of IFR flight. I am going to focus on becoming proficient once again.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Flight Planning Revisited

In the past, I have put together a few flight planning posts to detail my process and I have read a few of my favorite blogs about their process. It's time I revisit the subject, for my own good, and maybe share a tool that you may not use at this time.

Up until this week I have played around with flight planning just to keep in the game, since the accident. However, this week I am in it for real. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel a bit rusty. 

One of the keys to this trip is that it's an overnight only. For Mary and I that limits our window for arrival. We want to arrive early morning so as to take advantage of a full day with our friends. Early arrival also means getting the most bang for the buck with hotels, hangaring the plane, the rental car, and boarding Ziva.

Lets get started... 

A first step is checking all TFR's and NOTAM's. We all have our favorites for putting together a flight plan, I really like Foreflight. So, let's start there for the basic plan.

There were multiple options but I like the V1 route the best. Following V1 keeps you close to land. If you look close you may wonder why, if like V1, did I not go over JFK. Good question. With the POTUS TFR's I thought it best to give some room and maybe not have to deal with a reroute from approach, time will tell. Here is a blow up shot of the slight change for JFK.
The Yellow route was the original intended plan but I made the slight change from DIXIE to LOKOE then on to DPK, Deer Park VOR.  The overall flight time is two hours and thirty minutes with a few knots tailwind. 

Ok, this part I'm solid on. I love to plot a course and work the best flight plan. The fun is trying every possible combination for best fuel prices and balancing out each leg of the flight. This one was really easy, one leg, a non-stop.

On to the weather...

This is where I need to shed some rust. It's true if you don't use it, you will loose it.  Foreflight provides all the imagery you will need to flight plan.  I still check NOAA and a few other places but the best combined info with easy access has been Foreflight.

The plan is to depart OXB by 7am and arrive at Lawrence LWM around 9:30. We have a hangar secured along with a hotel and rental car. 
PROG Chart
The first look is from the NOAA Aviation Weather Center, the same chart on Foreflight. This is the Low Level Significant Weather Chart. Our destination is calling for ceilings less then one thousand feet and visibility less then three miles.
Above is the Ceiling Height forecast and below is the Visibility Forecast for our approximate arrival time.
Normally I would review the ice levels but for this summertime trip it warrants just a cursory glance. Winds aloft is showing the tailwinds I mentioned and it doesn't look too bad for our return trip.  Here are the charts for 24 hours out, at six and nine thousand feet.
Last but not least is the terminal area forecast (TAF). I like to give this a look and I monitor closely right up until launch.  I also look at all alternate landing locations that I have planned. 

 Looking at the TAF I would normally bump my departure and push the scheduled arrival to sometime after 11am. Whats the big deal, I'm IFR rated, recently passed my IPC, I should be good to go.  That doesn't check all the boxes for me, yes, I am current, but NO, I'm not proficient. 

I haven't flown in actual since April of 2018. At that time I was a proficient IFR pilot, capable of shooting approaches to minimums without a second thought. Since the accident in June of 18, the only IMC flying I've done is under the foggles for the transition training and IPC. That's just not good enough for me or carrying passengers. 

It feels good to review all the wx information and plan my attack on the flight. Sadly, I need to get some actual or a brutal simulated IMC torture session with a CFII.

There will be plenty of opportunities to head north and visit our family and friends. For this mission I'm going to call it a no-go. If for no other reason then just to be safe and not put myself in a potential bad situation. I'm chomping at the bit to get back to where I was with my flying, but, I know it takes time. I now have the ride, I have the right mindset, now I need to focus on the patience to get to where I was with regard to being proficient. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Flight Time with Charles

Today I really wanted to get in the air, it's been eight days since my last flight. Yesterday would have been a beautiful day to fly but I just had no mission. I still have a hard time dragging the plane out for no reason except to bore holes in the sky.

Charles and I swapped a few text messages and agreed to meet up at Delaware Coastal (KGED) for some BLT's, airplane chatter and finally a ride in my Commander. My readers should remember that Charles got Mary and I back in a plane and some air time which helped us decided that we still wanted to fly. Charles, I can't thank you enough.

Charles sent a short text that he was leaving, I thought from his home, headed to the airport. Ah, nope. I got an AirNav alert that he was in the air, departing New Garden (N57). I best get a move on!  I had completed a pre-flight this morning and planned for fuel but the fuel truck was offline today. I didn't feel like self serve so with thirty-seven gallons on board I was confident I could make the ten minute hop to KGED.  At Delaware Coastal I could get cheaper fuel, and a discount if I ate at the restaurant, that was our plan.

Another ok landing and I taxied to the ramp to find a parking spot and shut down.  It was good to see the guys at Delaware Coastal, they remembered me, and were happy I was back flying. We chatted for a bit about their Oshkosh trip and planning for next year. Still wanting some fuel, I ordered seven gallons a side and explained the anti-siphon device and the care needed when maneuvering the nozzle to dispense fuel.
The lineman offered a shuttle ride to the terminal and when I arrived I went in to the restaurant to find Charles seated, already downing a cup of Crab Soup. We each ordered a BLT, they are huge with plenty of bacon.  Can one ever really have plenty of bacon?  I think not.

We enjoyed lunch, airplane chat, and then decided for some air time in 3 Tango Charlie.  I was hoping the hot start wasn't going to be an issue. I think it took me three tries and I got 3TC's fan turning.

Traffic around KSBY
We launched from runway four and climbed out, pointing south towards Salisbury, and on to Accomack (KMFV). The view was clear and the ride a bit bumpy hanging below the scattered cloud layer.  I offered Charles flight time but he was enjoying the ride and view. I get that, I love to ride right seat and look out the window too. 
Shot by Charles with his cell phone
We landed at MFV so we could look for the video camera that I misplaced. After getting everything squared away we back taxied on two-one and then rolled for take-off, heading back to Delaware Coastal(GED).

I made a nice landing and taxied over to Charles's Piper.  We said our goodbyes, floated a plan to take our brides out to dinner and then he climbed out. I had fun, Charles liked the plane and I'm sure he will safety pilot for me in the very near future.
I closed and secured the door and taxied for runway four. There I sat, third in line, as we all waited for an aircraft on final and one turning base.  One by one we all got out, and I pointed straight for Ocean City. There wasn't any radio traffic, not even the jump plane, so I made a straight in runway one-four. Another nice landing followed by calling clear of the runway, making the slow ride to the hangar and securing 3 Tango Charlie back in her nest.

Next up, our planned trip to KLWN, Lawrence Municipal Airport - located in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Mary and I have wanted to visit our friends, and finally meet their now two year old son. We're excited!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Audio Fixed!

After contacting PS Engineering (Yesterdays post) I was directed to their web page and the download link. I clicked on the PMA 8000B and then I was faced with a choice of X (lower/older) or Y (higher/newer)pilot manual. I had been reading the Y manual and I needed to read the X, lower/older pilot manual.
So, this morning after a stop at the dentist for the second step in getting a crown was finished, I headed to the airport. I set up the video cameras and followed the directions, well sort of. I held both the TELL and the AUX buttons at the same time, no bueno.  I had to hold the TELL and tap the AUX.  With the simple change in worked!  I will once again have radio coms in my videos.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

PMA 8000B Decoded

I have to really laugh at myself on this one. I went above my norm and actually read the 8000B Pilot Manual cover to cover, not once giving the actual unit a look. That was mistake number one.
Lets do a comparison, first the unit and manual I was reading, trying to troubleshoot my audio issue. (Prefix Y or Higher)
Now lets take a look at the actual unit I have in the plane. (Prefix X or Lower)
Look at the labels below the switches TEL-AUX-MUTE-SPR.  With MY unit I have to push a combination of TEL and one of the remaining three Functions A,B,or C.
I'll be back out to the plane tomorrow to give it another try from the PAX headset jacks, and try the additional jack in the center console. I'm even going to try the iPod for music input, along with setting up the music control preferences.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Vlog Update, Spa Day - 8/5/2019


I went to the hangar this morning to resolve the audio issue on my videos, mission accomplished.

When I walked into the hangar I could not believe how fantastic 3 Tango Charlie looked.  Ivan (C.A.V.U. Detailing) did a great job! Check out the video, because type doesn't begin to show his work.

FYI - This is a picture of the left wing root area that had the dirty paint.

Audio Fix, Trial and Error


While 3 Tango Charlie was having her spa day I hung out at the hangar trying to figure out what is the secret handshake to having radio audio back on my videos. The first step was to find out when the last time everything worked. With a little bit of investigation I came to the conclusion that everything was peachy as of the trip to Wilmington to pick up our friend Jo Ann. On the very same day, for the return trip the audio was gone, well, everything except the intercom.

The ladies swung the seat back forward so Jo could get in and the headrest hit the panel, at the time I didn't think anything of it. I should have taken a moment to slide the seat base forward which would have the headrest just lay against the top of the dash top panel, lesson learned. This is only a theory.
 So day one I tried every combination I could think of. The only way I could get the radio audio on the video was to put a mini mic in my ear cup. That's doable but not what I want wedged in my headset against my ear.  Having pretty much failed at correcting the problem I went home to do some additional reading about the PMA 8000B. It has to be some combination of settings that is eliminating the radios only and just providing intercom. I should add by 'radios' I mean all incoming and outgoing transmissions, to the passengers, which is where I have the plug to feed the camera.

So as I read through the pilots manual I found this juicy tidbit at the bottom of page 11.
Obviously the TEL button was pressed and it switched to "Alternate Intercom Function". I am making a return trip to the hangar tomorrow to test this theory. For now I tried the mini mic in the headset earcup, it worked perfect.  I'm not a fan of having that in the ear cup, heck I have a hard time with ear buds.  We shall see what tomorrow produces.


I'm off for the hangar this morning, round two of the audio investigation. I opened up the hangar and was really happy with the wash, polish, and wax job that C.A.V.U. completed. I'll be posting a video for that view.

Ok, back to the audio problem.  Yesterday the mini mic worked in the ear cup, but that's not a long term fix, at least not for me.  So, I went through the specific buttons, as noted in the pilot manual for the 8000B.  No luck on hearing the message alerting me to ALternate or Standard Intercom Functions.  I'm thinking that's not good. 

My next thought is to plug into the front headset jacks. A few wires switched and I once again go battery hot and avionics on. First test, the intercom, no problems.  Next I tried to pick up the weather, again positive results. I reroute the audio cable along my seat track and up the back of my seat to the camera, for now this will work. 

I found another headset jack inside the center console, tomorrow I'll try that and pray it works. This plug will eliminate the need to run the cable along my seat track.

100 Subscribers!

I hit the 100 subscribers mark on YouTube today. I know there’s a lot of flying channels with plenty more subscribers, a lot more than mine.  I’m thankful for the 100 people that follow the content that I video and spend hours editing.  

I really do enjoy producing the videos, they provide a different way to review, correct, and learn to do things better in how I fly and follow procedures. 

I’m looking forward to better production techniques and new camera angles for viewers to enjoy.