Saturday, June 19, 2021

Sneak Peek, OC Airshow from KOXB


I made a slow, really long drive to the airport today.  I did not even think about beach seasonal traffic coming into town or the airshow traffic. What typically takes me ten minutes took just shy of forty minutes. What was I thinking?

When I did arrive the ramp was full of GA planes and the tie down row parallel to the main taxiway was also full. The main ramp area at the terminal was blocked off for show aircraft, six Geico SNJ-2's, two UH-72A Lakota's and refueling for the L39 jet. I passed the Lucas Oil Pitts in the hangar just a few up from me and a P51 Mustang in front of hangar row D.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Breakfast with Charles at Cape May NJ

On the way to Cape May...

Since I didn't get out on Saturday for the BAC Fly-In to Sussex NJ I really wanted to get some fly time today.  Charles and I texted back and forth planning to meet up with our brides in Cape May NJ for breakfast at the Flight Deck Diner. 

Mary has been battling a sinus headache for two days and woke up feeling a little better but decided not to fly. I think that's a good call since I was needing a bit higher altitude having to cross the Delaware Bay. After swapping text messages, Charles’s bride also backed out. It was the boys day to fly!

I was in the air by 9:15ish and made a beeline for Cape Henlopen. I crossed the Bay at seven thousand three hundred feet and let down for Cape May about half way across the 11 mile salt water span. I did overfly two Ferry's crossing closer to the NJ side. I passed over the Cape May light house and followed the coast a short distance north before turning for a long left down wind for runway one-nine. I still needed to loose some altitude.
I made a nice landing and taxied for the ramp at the restaurant, adjacent to the operations building. Once shut down I managed to shoot a short video of Charles and his Piper Warrior 160 pulling up and shutting down. 

The restaurant was packed, every seat in the lobby filled with a body...maybe Cambridge was a better call.  Our wait wasn’t too bad, and we got a table instead of the counter seats we had asked for, thinking it would speed things up. 

Charles and I each had an omelette with toast and I added bacon. There has to be a meat with breakfast. Once finished we settled up the bill and headed out to the ramp. Traffic was picking up and we enjoyed hanging out at the planes and chatting with a few of the pilots. 

We each climbed aboard our rides and got the fans turning. The two pilots we were chatting with were first to taxi out, Charles followed and then I fell in line.  The young pilot that was farther down the flight line taxied out behind me.  The conga line made its way to runway one-nine and one by one we turned at an angle and each did our run up. Since I had to cross the Bay I circled over the Cape May ferry terminal prior to going feet wet.

Once at altitude I made the crossing and eventually let down for home.  The jump plane was making calls counting down to dropping the meat bombs as the airport activity was picking up. 
I extended my down wind and a Cessna circled south of the airport. A Bonanza was entering the down wind and a Cirrus was heading in from the north. I turned base and final and watched the first chute circle down towards midfield. Once the first jumper was down I called about a two mile final and landed long. There was a second chute that jumped well after the first and they were circling over the midfield infield area. I didn’t want to taxi off the runway where they were landing so I taxied full length before clearing.  The conga line of planes made their way in behind me. It was busy!

Monday, June 07, 2021

Return Visit to the Shop

I got a call from the shop on Friday asking if I could bring 3 Tango Charlie back in for a quick check with regard to the fuel pump.  Apparently while cleaning the screen and replacing the O ring on Bill's Super Commander the guys noticed another O ring in the same container. The concern was they may have placed a similar O ring in my plane but not the correct one. There were no leaks from my pump in either of my last two flights and there was no leak during the run up leak test to complete the annual.  Making the trip to confirm the O ring part is correct is a no brainer.

I was at the airport at 8am and mounted cameras and following my detailed pre-flight got the fan turning around 8:30.  It's just a short hop back to KGED, Delaware Coastal and fifteen minutes after launch I was shutting down in front of the shop hangar door. 

As I noted the hop was quick but not without some concern as I was reporting short final. I had been making my calls at ten, five, down wind, base and final. On short final I heard a call for a plane landing on two-eight. I asked for its position multiple times with no response. I did not have any traffic on ADS-B. LAHSO is now in full on mode.  I had to erase the land long thoughts and exiting on the last taxiway in front of the shop for getting stopped, and now clear prior to run way two eight. I pulled the remaining power early and made a nice landing, exiting at the first taxiway across from the restaurant at the terminal.  Op's said they thought that plane may have been at Millville, KMIV, landing on their R/W 28.

Op's was correct.  After watching and listening to the video I clearly heard the aircraft give the airport landing as Millville, at least three times. Talk about a brain fart. I was busy getting configured to land and it just didn't register.
I shut down at the hangar and the guys quickly removed the top and bottom cowls and got right to work. With the O removed it was checked and confirmed it was the correct part. Another new O ring was installed and 3 Tango Charlie was buttoned up with a clean bill of health.

Let's get home

I taxied out for runway two-two and launched for home.  Power pulled back and cruising along at fifteen hundred feet, still warm but at 75 degrees it was better then 90 on the ground. I landed on runway one-four with a seven knot crosswind and taxied clear.

I have two flights coming up, both for the Beech Aero Club. On June 12th we are meeting up at KFWN, Sussex NJ and on the 19th we are meeting up at N81, Hammonton, NJ. It's good to be back flying!

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Quick Flight, and Approach (VFR)


A quick flight this morning to check systems and reacquaint myself with my Stec 60-2 autopilot. I launched from Ocean City, Runway two-zero, and climbed to the west. With some button pushing I set up for the RNAV GPS 14 approach, direct PFAIR, back into KOXB. 

It's been six weeks since I last flew, not counting the short hop home from annual. It felt good to chug and plug on the Garmin 480 and get a bit of autopilot buttonology while still aviating. 3 Tango Charlie is ready to go and Mary and I are looking forward to our next adventure.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day, Never Forget


Everyday each of us enjoy the freedoms our soldiers paid the price for. Let us all remember the families left behind, the lives left unfinished, the futures left wanting, those bright minds, and loving hearts that answered the call.


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Annual Inspection Part III, The Wrap Up

It seems like forever... 

The muffler was sent out on 4/28, and finally returned on 5/21, twenty three days, three weeks of waiting. Since I had so much time I broke down the added cost of the plane sitting for six weeks and calculated the fixed costs wasted.  GPS data $72, Hangar $405, Insurance $405, but I did save fuel. insert eye roll.

3 Tango Charlie left for annual on April 15th, finally returning home this afternoon. This has been the longest and most expensive annual since I started flying. Oh how I long for the days of a simple fixed gear aircraft with basic systems.

This year I did have a few things I wanted to have done, and there were a few surprises like the muffler baffles and Pitot static leak. I knew I was due for the left Mag rebuild so at least that wasn't a shock and I had planned for the aileron hinge replacement. The shimmy damper needed an overhaul and the torque link scissors needed new bushings so I just upgraded both with a total parts kit from Aerodyme Corpration, the leader in Commander parts and service kits. 

Let’s get in the air

I had previously set up another session in the Ocean Aviation Red Bird full motion sim to knock out the last approach I needed for currency. I decided on shooting the RNAV GPS 18 into Jekyll Island (09J) to get a sneak peek for the commander fly in destination in September. This worked out great since we were waiting for LIFR conditions to clear before launching on the bring the plane home mission.

Chet, my hangar neighbor, provided the hop to Delaware Coastal, KGED, to pick up 3 Tango Charlie. The weather was IFR until almost 11am and the fog finally burned off. The Ocean City airport was busy, the jump plane was hauling meat missiles and transients were coming in for the Memorial Day weekend. 
I managed a few pictures of the overlying conditions along the coast as we made our way north to GED.  The ride was bumpy but manageable and Chet made a nice landing. 

I will say my shop is very detailed with inspection and procedures. I am grateful they do it right and provide that comfort feeling while I’m flying.

The list 
Basic annual inspection  $1850 +27% increase
Labor 37.1 hours  $3265
Replace LH slick mag  $1230
R&R exhaust muffler, Plane Exhaust Corp. $1417
Comply with applicable AD's & update summary
IFR cert and correct Aspen barro setting $735
Alternate static source switch $34
EGT probe (1) $51
Oil 7 qts  20W50 Phillips  $66
Oil filter CH48110-1  $50
UPS shipping for exhaust $400
Gasket and seals $78
Shop supplies  $20
R&R #2 Cylinder intake tube gasket
Pitot system leaks *labor intensive
Aileron hinge o/s part
R&R shimmy damper o/s kit 
Replace torque link bolts and bushings o/s kit

After settling up the damages we walked over to fellow Commander owner Bill H’s hangar where my plane was tucked away, safe from the birds and their byproducts. Thanks Bill!

Following my preflight Chet and I walked over to the restaurant in the terminal for lunch. I had a cheeseburger, Chet had a chicken Caesar wrap. Good eats and good airplane talk. 

Rant On
While we were eating lunch a Pax river Blackhawk landed and taxied towards the terminal, holding short, still running, where my Commander was parked. I was not a happy camper. I walked out of the terminal and met with the one crew member that was the designated food runner. I greeted him and asked where they were out of, he responded.  I thanked him and said at least I know where to call to complain about the helo sandblasting my plane. He froze for a second and apologized. I said thanks and asked him to remind the pilot to get his head out of his ass the next time he keeps the bird running by other aircraft. As the conversation ended I noticed two men walked in from the flight line and just stared at me, lets say a version of MYOB was the response. I think as I get older I am definitely getting cranky or maybe it was the check I had just written.
/Rant Off

I walked back in to the restaurant and finished Lunch. Once we were done eating Chet headed over to his plane and I walked back to my Commander, giving it another once over after the Blackhawk windstorm. Once the fan was turning I checked all my systems then taxied for runway two-two. Chet was already on his way back to Ocean City and I was going to follow. I climbed out and with a positive rate of climb reached for the gear and selected up. The three green lights extinguished and I felt three bumps to confirm. It usually takes a total of ten to twelve seconds to complete the cycle and then the gear warning light goes out, it didn’t. Hmmm... I should have immediately checked the amp meter to see if the pump was running but I did not. I continued to aviate raising the flaps then re-evaluating my situation. Turning cross wind to down wind I decided to drop the gear and see what happens. The gear dropped and I confirmed with three bumps, three green, and the gear warning light now off in its normal cycle time. Ok, do I cycle again to check or finish my pattern and check on the ground, get it on the ground.
I made a nice landing and taxied back to the shop. Once shut down 3 Tango Charlie went back up on jacks followed by multiple gear swings and inspections. Naturally we could not reproduce the lingering light. 

Once buttoned up I headed back for the runway to give this another try. We agreed that if there was another warning light issue I would call so the shop would get a good look with me flying a low pass. If all is good I will continue home. As 3 Tango Charlie climbed out I selected gear up and counted the seconds for the three green and gear warning light to extinguish, the process and timing was perfect.

I pointed for home and enjoyed the ride, it’s been six weeks. The new exhaust seemed to provide a bit more power but that could be my imagination. I set up to cross midfield for runway two-zero and made a sweet landing at OXB.  

The rebuilt shimmy damper and new torque link scissor bushings were rock solid and there was no sign of any vibration from the NLG. Tomorrow I’ll put my 'stuff' back in the baggage area and give the plane a once over clean up, even though the shop gave her a bath.

This busy day has me wiped out. My plane is safely back in the hangar and I am headed to the house, once again a happy pilot.