Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cross Country Adventures

As previously posted, Mary and I will be attending the Gaston's Fly in located in Lakeview Arkansas. This trip will be our first true cross-country adventure (830 miles 7.5 hours flight time). This event is scheduled for June 6th through the 8th. I have a tentative flight plan and we are working on a horseback riding adventure and a short flight to Branson, MO for some extra activities. We plan to arrive Thursday June 5th with the main group coming in on Friday.

I have been reading on the forums about Sun-n-Fun in Lakeland Florida. My vacation time would allow for this trip with weeks to spare, Mary on the other hand is building time in her new job. I am considering making the trip either in our plane or catching a ride and splitting expenses with a fellow pilot. As of this entry I have no idea who that might be, so I guess I’m looking for another pilot to join me. Worst case scenario will be to fly into Orlando commercial, rent a car and stay somewhere in the middle of the Lakeland-Orlando commute. There seems to be plenty of rooms still available so that will not be a problem. I am working on Mary trying to lure her with a day at Universal and one at MGM agreeing to only spend a day at Sun n Fun. Also as of this writing, I have no idea if she will attend.

Some of the possible stops along the way could be KJGG in Williamsburg, Virginia for a quick lunch and fuel top off. We could also make our first stop at KLHZ - Franklin County Airport in Louisburg, North Carolina and set up a lunch visit with my cousin Annette and her family. Another great stop and at the limit of my comfort factor (fuel and the need to stretch) would be KCRE Grand Strand Airport in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The possibilities are endless and that in itself is the best part about General Aviation. Try and change your schedule while flying commercial, It's not going to happen. I must add at this point that the ultimate decision making tool for stops is the capacity of one's bladder not just the fuel on board. More posts to follow as this plan takes shape.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Change of Plans

Mary and I decided to make the short hop to KMTN Martin State, north of Baltimore, Maryland, both wanting to spend the day at the Inner Harbor. We went out to dinner last night with my brother and his wife and asked them to join us. They are finishing up in their house with waynescoat(?) and painting so they took a pass. Our meal was very good at Bertucci's and it was a nice night out. As we were leaving I bumped into friends from the corvette club that I haven't seen in years. It was so nice to see Scott and Lisa. Scott asked if I was still flying and I gave him the update along with our plan for today. It sounds like HE would love to fly but Lisa said she would be screaming the whole time. Of course my lovely Bride chimed in and said that's not a problem we'll unplug her mic from the headset. We both laughed, everyone at their table just had a blank look. I still have to chuckle when I think about it. Obviously I have been a very bad influence on her.

On to today's flight...

Weather pretty much looked like crap in Baltimore this morning and shot our planned early start in the keester. The "plan" was to get into MTN early, rent a car and then do as many attractions at the inner harbor as we could fit in, only taking a break to eat lunch at Phillips. I am not night current so I would plan our return to KILG by 4pm which would have us back ready to depart Martin State around 3pm.

METAR KMTN 291348Z AUTO 00000KT 1/2SM VCTS FG VV005 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291409Z AUTO 00000KT M1/4SM FG VV000 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291430Z AUTO 00000KT 3/4SM VCTS BR VV005 08/08 A3002
METAR KMTN 291451Z AUTO 00000KT 1 1/2SM BR SCT080 09/09 A3002
METAR KMTN 291512Z AUTO 00000KT 3SM BR SCT080 10/10 A3003

SPECI KILG 291303Z 28007KT 10SM SCT010 OVC050 09/08 A2999
METAR KILG 291351Z 28005KT 8SM BKN050 09/08 A3000

The first report was around 9 am and the visibility was a 1/2 mile and fog. It didn't start to clear up until after 10am and at that time it was 3 miles and mist scattered at 8000. We decided not to go and waste the day. Car rental was around $45 a day and since they closed at noon they would tack on the Sunday. One of the taxi company's said they would charge $70 round trip and pick us up on a phone call. I guess what it boils down to is spending that amount and not getting a full day visiting the many attractions. Mary and I will put this hop back on the shelf with the other "day trips"

Mary decided to get her hair done along with a pedicure and manicure, I decided to give my friend John a call and get some fly time in. We met at ILG around 11:30, BS'ed while we uncovered and pre-flighted together. I hope john decides to go after his LSA cert, he would be a natural. We finally climb in and I go through the check-lists for pre-start. I haven't been in the left seat since November 25th, it seems like forever. I dial up Wilmington ground and put Wilmington tower in the standby since I've already listened to the ATIS and noted the info.

me: Wilmington tower Archer 28679er at Red Eagle.
GND: Archer 679er your on Ground
me: Huh, well that's a fine start to my day, ground 679er at Red Eagle with golf, ready to taxi, vfr to the south east for Mike India Victor
GND: 679er, taxi to runway 27 at mike
me: 27 at mike, 679er

METAR KMIV 291654Z AUTO 31009KT 10SM SCT042 OVC065 11/07 A2997

I switched over to the TWR after my run up and was given the cleared for take off. A nice ride to Millville this morning with little turbulence. Millville was a busy place and as always Millville radio tied up the frequency with their endless traffic and wx reports. When I called at 15 out I added with current info and traffic report. Hehehehe Millville radio gave me the double mic click. John and I each laughed knowing we got em. As we turned final I picked up traffic coming head on but to my right who finally got a word in on traffic, alerting he was going missed while doing approaches for ILS runway 10. I held my position and advised I had contact and will remain runway heading. He simply acknowledged and we both continued on. If millville radio would have shut up I would have heard him sooner. See and Avoid, so no harm no foul, plenty of spacing between us.

We ate breakfast at Antino's/Cornerstone and walked out with full tummy's. I chit chatted with Jeff from Big Sky then we saddled up for home. I was going to do a few T&G's but there were 4 aircraft ahead of me for departure and thought best just to make tracks northwest for ILG.

A nice landing at ILG and a turn off on taxiway Mike has us at our tie down and turning to line up. On the money today on a rare right turn from the taxiway. I hooked up the tow bar and pushed 679er straight back and John locked the cable on the tail tie down. Only 1.2 in the book but a fun day in the left seat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our readers and best wishes for a Happy New Year ! To all of you that share our passion for flight we hope you enjoy the adventures that 2008 will offer.

Fly Safe!

Gary & Mary

A MUST READ for all pilots.....

The Night Before Christmas

Thanks to: Zach at "Behind The Yoke"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Places to go, Things to do

Can you tell it's the winter season and the wx has us stuck here on the ground? UGhhhh, Mary even acknowledges I need a flying fix, bad. Since the rain and wind have kept us locked up in the house we have been working on our short list of day trips, if you have been reading along they fall within the "ring of fun" as noted on the flight planning entry.

Day Trips on our short list include:

W05 Gettysburg Regional Airport in Gettysburg, PA to visit the Battlefield and do lunch at The Herr tavern.

Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, PA taking advantage of the close proximity of N79 in Shamokin, PA.

Luray Caverns in Luray, VA, taking advantage of W45 Luray Caverns Airport. I have read some great write-ups about the friendly staff and available transportation to and from the caverns.

We still have Orange County Choppers on the list! A great day trip for some good eats at Rick Runway Cafe located on the field at KMGJ Orange County Airport in Montgomery, N.Y.

Vacations and 4 day get-away's

Some of our 4 day get-away plans include Block Island, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Mid-Coast Maine, Niagara Falls and of course Williamsburg, VA in the spring and Myrtle Beach in the fall. I guess if we have to rank them it would be mid-coast Maine and then Niagara falls. We shall see as spring time gets a bit closer.

Our flying/ fly-in vacation will be to Gaston's White River Resort in Arkansas this June to attend the Pilots Of America event. This should be fun, 830 miles and 7.5 hours of flight time.

We are always looking for new places to visit and interesting things to do. Please feel free to leave a comment with any great stops you have been to or have on your short list of "must see" places.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

679er Not For Sale

Whew, I just received an email about 679er and she is no longer for sale. Gary responded to my email today and confirmed that he decided not to sell her at this time. The person that made the offer would not continue the flying club and at a minimum the owner wanted to keep access to the plane, so did Mary and I! An interesting twist was added asking if we might be interested in owning 679er and want to keep the club going. Hmmmm, I am sure this will lead to further discussions. For now, I think I will go celebrate the good news, our flying family stays intact!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Flight Planning

I have read so many forum posts questioning flight plans, airport information and weather that I decided to recap what goes into my pre-flight plans. First and foremost is "The List". Mary and I managed to put together a list of day trips that we would like to do and fun get-aways (4 day weekends). Our range for the "day trips" seem to fall into the 1-2 hour max range which is represented by the "ring of fun" in the picture to the top left. We also put together a list of "must see" locations with no real limit on travel time. We each research our locations and compile a list of things to do and see.

Once we decide on a location I begin the plan. I use the AOPA Real Time Flight Planning (RTFP) software. Yes, there are a host of other free planners but this is the one I like, your mileage may vary. I then follow up by researching our airport locations for each stop and any additional stop as an alternate based on fuel, food, multiple runways, potential lodging and the all important member comments. One of the two sources that I use for airport info is Airnav, which provides all the airport specs from phone numbers, runway info, lighting, ownership, rental cars, you name it, it's in there. Yep, just like the commercial. The comment section is always a good read. Fellow pilots provide feedback about service, fuel prices and the eats.

My second source for airport info is the AOPA online airport directory. It provides a lot of the same information as Airnav and has a neat feature to print this out in a 'knee board' size sheet which really is nice for in flight info. Again, I read through all the member comments and search for anything that may not be on airnav. I also add notes to the knee board print out or high light info so it's easy to read while in flight. Some of the things I look for is noise abatement procedures (must keep the airport neighbors happy), traffic patterns (noting the right handers), FBO hours of operation and if there is a courtesy car available. If I remember I'll explain later the courtesy car to all the non-pilot readers.

Ok, the basic blueprint for the flight is completed, now comes the fun stuff. I monitor the weather (wx) a few days in advance for the day trips so that we have a rough idea if the flight will even happen. Once the extended forecast is looking good I will monitor a host of web sites that provide all the wx info a pilot could wish for. I will check in with the AOPA wx pages (not happy with the recent changes there)and various other sites such as Duats, Duat, Vansairforce, and the AOPA RTFP. I have included a few of the graphics that pilots use for planning.

Forecast Map and Flight Rules

Wx Prognosis and Surface Analysis

As you can see there is a good bit of info to review and digest, but I think it's what makes the flight planning fun. With the wx outlook shaping up I then decide to lock in our club aircraft through the online scheduler. This is the easy task of planning, look up your dates, point and click your departure and return times and your ready to go. If anyone is in a club I highly recommend taking advantage of the Online Scheduler, it's easy to use and keeps good records. Ok,wx is looking good, we have a list of places to visit and things to do once at our destination, the aircraft is scheduled and my charts and Airport Facility Directory are current and have been reviewed. After flowing through the process it becomes second nature and I approach each trip the same way. The night prior to our planned departure I review the electronic flight plan and all information I'll have on my knee board.

The morning of the flight I will once again review the flight plan, update and factor in the weather for my flight to include winds aloft, wind relative to my flight path, winds effect on fuel burn and wx at our destination. I make a call to Flight Services for a final live wx brief and file a flight plan.

Mary and I usually have our bags packed the night before so it's a quick load and go to our breakfast stop. Once at the airport we follow the same routine to uncover, and load with my pre-flight uninterrupted until complete. Once on board I begin my checklists and get things set up for our departure. When I am ready to start I make a final call to Flight Service and open the flight plan, then fire up and get taxi Clearance to depart.

That's pretty much what goes into the planning and departure for our get-away flights. I hope you enjoyed a quick glimpse into the "what goes on".

As a fellow pilot and keeper of a flight journal put it, "Trepidation over planning a trip to a new airport? Understandable. Concern over flying into an uncontrolled field? Understandable. But is it a justification for not going? No more so than planning a dinner at a new eatery on the far side of town. Like eating any pizza, you have to do it one bite at a time." Another great quote from Flights of the Mouse.

The courtesy car. Some FBO's have a courtesy car available for pilots or flight crews to use for a short period of time. As an example, I planned to fly into Bristol, CT to watch the Little League Baseball Mid-Atlantic playoffs. I inquired about a courtesy car and Interstate Aviation, Inc., at 4B8 Robertson Field had one. I asked about going to the ball fields to watch a single 6 inning game. I guesstimated about 2 hours or so and the man on the other end of the phone said no problem. So, that would have made the day by saving on car rental and pick up followed by drop off. The car is usually first come first serve and one should always top off the tank or at the very least put back what was in it. A word of caution, plan on driving something along the lines of your first hand-me-down car. Don't expect leather interiors, seat heaters, or a looks like it's wet paint job. Hey, it's free and it runs!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Take Time To Remember

Is this what I want to post on my web blog?

I struggled with this question and the thought of this post, but this is a part of life and flying, the part we least like to deal with. I hope to learn something from what happened today and take away a lesson in that what we do is fun and exciting but serious too. I have been told that I am a different person in the cockpit, that's a good thing. I am conservative, professional and always looking to learn from each flight, this is what pilots do.

Heading south on I-95 around 7:15 this morning and always sneaking a peak towards the sky I noticed a big plume of thick black smoke coming from the area of the Wilmington airport (KILG). You know when you get that sinking feeling in your gut and you just know that you know, unfortunately I knew. I made a call to co-workers and confirmed what I saw as I continued into work. I made sure our club aircraft was not involved and tried to go about my business as usual. My office phone rang off the hook this morning with co-workers calling to see if I had bagged a day off work to go fly. It's nice to know they care.

METAR KILG 041151Z 27012KT 10SM FEW060 00/M11 A2972

METAR KILG 041251Z 27018G23KT 10SM CLR 00/M10 A2973

We lost a "brother" today from the GA population at ILG. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the pilot, along with a thank you to all my co-workers and fire/rescue that responded to the scene.

News Article NTSB Report (Preliminary)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jersey Bound

I can't remember the last weekend that provided back to back GREAT flying weather. I took advantage flying Friday in windy gusting conditions to get 679er back from annual. Then on Saturday to York for a lunch run and today breakfast at Millville, NJ followed by a short hop to Cape May, NJ.

METAR KILG 251451Z VRB03KT 10SM CLR 04/M01 A3040

There was a lot of traffic in the air today as I departed Wilmington but even more traffic at KMIV- Millville,NJ. I announced to Millville traffic on 123.65 that I was 10 north west AFTER listening to the ASOS and announced inbound for full stop two eight. UGHhhhh...Millville radio jumps right in and gives me the wx, pattern traffic, traffic leaving and traffic inbound. HELLO!!! I got the update on ASOS and have been monitoring for the last 15 miles. I didn't return his call at first but he made a second call if I copied. Instead of tying up the radio with him calling again and again I acknowledged. Every call on the radio was met with the full wx and traffic report which clogged the darn airwaves. Then what really fried my A$$ was the pilots that told this yahoo they didn't have the wx update, LISTEN TO THE ASOS nit-wit! Of course Millville radio gave the full run down again and again and again, did I mention again?

Ok, off the soap box for now. We taxi to the ramp at Big Sky and before we can even climb out the line guy chocks the wheels and asks how he could be of service, very nice. I had the tanks topped off and 679er took 17 gallons. John and I had breakfast at the Cornerstone (Antino's) after waiting in line for a short time. You know, if you stare at people long enough they get up from the table and leave.......just kidding but I bet it would have worked. Both ramps were full today, Millville jet and Big Sky. The fuel truck was everywhere and the airport was busy.

METAR KMIV 251654Z AUTO 28003KT 10SM CLR 09/M03 A3034

METAR KWWD 251655Z AUTO 27005KT 10SM CLR 08/M03 A3037

John and I decided to putz around with the video camera mount location then got disgusted and decided to get back in the air, the hell with the video. We were No. 3 behind a Cessna and a Navion and held short for an aircraft on short final. If the MIV radio would have shut up long enough we could have all kept each other notified. I squeaked in that I was going to hold short for the aircraft on final and waited my turn. Once all clear we launched for Cape May, NJ.

We entered the pattern for Cape May on the cross wind for two eight. I hate crossing the airfield anymore to reposition, I rather swing out wide and enter on the 45* or enter the cross wind, it provides a very good look for see and avoid.

METAR KILG 251851Z 25007KT 10SM CLR 11/M03 A3030

After departing Cape May we pointed 679er towards the Salem Nuke plant cooling tower. It's a great landmark and the visibility was great today. Wilmington had us notify on 5 mile final for three two and we followed the directive. The same guy was on today as yesterday, he was in a better mood. ATC actually thanked me for the 5 mile notification, then cleared me to land. I drifted off center left a bit but made a nice landing. I taxied clear and contacted ground point seven for instructions to my tie down.

Just two hours in the air today but was it the best time! Next up on December 8th is our hop to St. Michael's for their Christmas parade and host of other activities.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Orville's Restaurant - KTHV

What a great day to get into the air. I was reading posts in the Pilots Of America forum and saw a lunch run to KTHV - York, PA. I signed up and marked out the time on our club calendar. I met up with the "Grumman Gang" which was a treat and had a nice time talking flying and learning new things about aircraft. My Pop always said if you just sit and listen sometimes it's amazing the things you can learn. Initially we had seven people then two from KPNE (North Philadelphia) and two from KLOM (Wings Field)showed up.

Traffic was busy coming into York this morning as I made my initial call 14 to the south west inbound for a full stop. I like to listen early and get a mental picture on who is where in the pattern and who is headed in. I heard Ron in 22L I think 7 or so out No. 1 to land followed by a Cirrus No. 2 and I was above pattern alt (1500') crossing SE of the field at 2700' to reposition for a down wind entry to the runway in use three five. I called a two mile 45* for left down wind 35 and set up to land. There was a mooney crossing midfield to join the pattern at altitude. My base to final was a bit high but I slip in for a nice landing and taxi clear. I hear the mooney turn base as I make my way clear off the runway and announce the same.

A great lunch and good service for my first visit to Orville's Restaurant. We saddled up and headed home for Wilmington picking up flight following with Harrisburg then Philadelphia. About 10 miles out I canceled Flight Following and contacted Wilmington. I was directed to make straight in runway 14 and report two mile final, I acknowledged. At two miles I made my call, Wilmington Tower Archer 679er 2 mile final one four. When I released the mic button I heard "to land" so I replied, tower, we doubled, confirm cleared to land one four for 679er. The controller came back with some attitude because he had to repeat, I politely acknowledged thank you, cleared to land one four for 679er.

I taxied off and awaited instructions as if to punish me I guess. No problem I acknowledged destination on the field again as Red Eagle and added a thank you sir. I finally got to my tie down and secured the plane.

A fun day today with 1.7 in the book. Mary and I will be heading out tomorrow morning for breakfast at KMIV - Millville, NJ at our favorite place Antino's.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Home From Annual

A sunny day today has me excited about returning 679er back home. Annual completed and a fresh wash and wax has 679er looking sweet. I met Gary at KILG and he drove the first leg to 58M Cecil County (Elkton, MD). I got the go-ahead to fly 679er home so I headed out to pre-flight.

This was my first post-annual flight. I decided to give a little extra prep of the surrounding area (google earth) and know where I could set down if needed. I thought this sounded strange but decided you just never know. Anyway, I was ready for my short hop home. I taxied to the self serve fuel and Gary and I topped off the tanks. Fuel is priced much better at 58M then at KILG. Fueled and ready to go I taxi out to the hold short for runway three one and complete my run up, all systems looked good to go.

I back taxi a short way and turn into the wind. A check of the instruments, all in the green, full power and 10* of flaps has me in the air almost what seemed to be in an instant. Climbing out clear of the trees, I raise the flaps and 679er continues to scream on out. Gary's right this girl loves the cold and I am enjoying the ride. Another check of the gauges shows everything in the green and a great rate of climb. I turn crosswind and downwind and decide it's ok to head for home. I turn left to 75* and make for KILG.

METAR KILG 231751Z 31018G22KT 10SM CLR 06/M08 A3018

ME: Wilmington tower, Archer 28679er, 14 south west, inbound for full stop, with foxtrot, 2,100 level.
TOWER: Cherokee 679er enter left downwind three two advise abeam the numbers.
ME: Abeam the numbers three two, for 679er

As I enter the downwind I am cleared to land and acknowledge. Wind check is 340* 18G24 low level wind shear reported. Greaaaaat just what I want to hear. Winds are 20* off the nose so that's no problem, some extra throttle work and it should be fun. I turn base and final and crab to the numbers for three two. I kick out a bit early and get blown left of the center line a tad but still in very good shape, stall horn moan followed by the mains giving me a slight chirp. Smooth if I must say so myself. The tower is busy this morning as I roll out on three two. Tower advises left turn Fox3 but then asks my final destination. I reply Red Eagle and he directs me to continue 32 right turn runway 9, left turn Kilo 5. I acknowledge Niner right left Kilo 5 for 679er. I taxi in and shut down then secure. 679er looks great with the fresh wax, I can't wait to get back in the air Sunday morning!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Airplane Education

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I was very fortunate to have the chance to tag along for a quick glimpse of 679er's annual inspection. Although I missed day one of the "open it all up for inspection" process I did manage to learn some neat things that will serve me in my future days of ownership.

I did get to help finish with the wax job (a small portion) that was better to be done by hand rather then chance burning the paint with a buffer. I removed the landing light wing tip strobes and cleaned the plastic lense covers and the light housings. I tried to help/not get in the way as the owner Gary renewed the wing walk area, that stuff stinks and mixes up like grits or cream of wheat. It went on very easily and dried in very little time. We removed the painters tape used to trim around the area and moved to the next task.

The alternator needed to have a bracket replaced and with that completed she was ready to button up. The man working on the plane was really pretty nice, he answered questions and let me help. The bottom portion of the cowl was installed (a boat load of screw fasteners) followed by the top portion. With out a hitch 679er was again looking like a youngster, shiny and new and ready to go.

I'm not positive on everything done but my short list that I heard was a new nose wheel tire and brakes and rotors that were in good shape but Gary wanted to update. It seems 679er does well through her annual's and thats due to Gary's upkeep and attention to detail. I'm very lucky to be flying this aircraft and it's very comforting to see how well she is cared for.

Oh yeah, I was instructed it's best to show up with donuts and coffe in order to take care of any dumb questions I think I am asking. Thanks Gary (owner 679er), Roger and Frank (Cecil Aero) for letting me hang out and learn a few things.

Friday, November 16, 2007

"Annual" Hop

What a gorgeous day! I was up early to check the weather and to get ready to head to the airport. Temps today started to dip and as I walked out the door I could feel the crispness in the air, it felt good. Today's forecast called for partly sunny and blustery. Highs in the upper 40s. West winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. METAR KILG 161251Z 29016G22KT 10SM CLR A2978

The plan was for a very short hop to get 679er to Elkton, MD (58M). Total travel time in the air about 10 minutes. It takes longer to warm 679er up and taxi out then to make the flight. I didn't mind either way, it was left seat time and that's always a good thing.

I was given the cleared for takeoff runway two seven at Wilmington and acknowledged. Winds were 290* at 15 gusting 22. I was in the air quickly and dealing with the gusting winds. I only climbed out 1800 feet figuring on descending to 1500 to overfly 58M and take a look at the windsock. 58M was hard to spot nestled in all the colorful trees (old file photo posted)but the advanced look on Google provided a heads up to its position relative to the water.

I repositioned for the 45* for left downwind runway three one and wrestled with the gusting winds. I entered downwind about midfield and set up for a first time landing at Elkton. I got some steep bank practice in as I adjusted for the wind and made my way to base and final. The trees at the end of 31 are tall (needing a obstruction removal contract) so I came in a bit high, settled in below the tree line and the air felt smooth. A few adjustments to throttle and I set the mains down square followed by the nose wheel, all the while listening to the stall horn moan.

The runway looked freshly paved and the pavement markings were in excellent condition. I taxied in and met Gary (679er owner) who marshaled me into a tie down at the correct hangar. It really felt good to get in the air early in the morning! Gary gave me a ride back to Wilmington airport and we chatted about flying, lessons and airplanes. I may bag a few days work next week and learn about annual inspections and try to help out with the wax for 679er.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Annual Inspection

679er is in for annual inspection over the Thanksgiving Holiday. I hope to drop her off for Gary (the owner) tomorrow morning prior to heading into work. The forecast is calling for winds 13gusting 28 and that's never a fun ride, even for a 14 mile hop. I'll check again this evening and then again in the morning prior to the go-no go decision. I found this article that describes the annual better then I could have so I thought I would share.

Flying on Flying
By Tom Benenson
August 2001

In Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan is described as "high maintenance," meaning that satisfying her needs is never simple or straightforward; keeping her happy requires constant attention. Anyone who owns an airplane is familiar with "high maintenance." But maintaining an airplane so it meets the FAA's basic airworthiness requirements isn't as much about the expense as it is a recordkeeping exercise. Keeping an airplane safe—and legal—to fly does require high maintenance.

According to the FAA, the registered owner or the operator of an airplane is responsible for maintaining his airplane in an airworthy condition, including compliance with all applicable airworthiness directives (ADs), assuring that the maintenance is properly recorded and keeping abreast of current regulations concerning the operation and maintenance of his airplane.

The FAA has spelled out a number of inspections, maintenance procedures and checks that have to be completed in order for an airplane to be legal to lift off or to be used under instrument flight rules. Being legal and safe are not necessarily synonymous.

Every airplane is required to undergo an annual inspection. According to the FAA, "no person may operate an aircraft unless, within the preceding 12 calendar months, it has had an annual inspection and [has been] approved for return to service." A period of 12 calendar months extends from any day of a month to the last day of the same month the following year. Many owners schedule their inspections toward the end of a month so their airplane can be signed off and returned to service early in the next month; essentially creating a "13-month annual." That way they can spread the cost of the annual over 13 months instead of 12. Other owners stop their annual's forward progression in the middle of the winter so in the future they won't have any downtime during the flying season.

The details of an annual inspection are spelled out in the manufacturer maintenance manual and include the instructions for continued airworthiness, which address inspection intervals, parts replacement and life-limited components.

There are two exceptions to the annual inspection rule. Aircraft used to carry persons for hire or in which flight instruction is performed are required, within the preceding 100 hours of time in service, to have received either an annual inspection or a 100-hour inspection and approval for return to service. (Note that the rule applying to airplanes used for flight instruction does not require any compensation be exchanged.) The FAA recognizes that some operators may have scheduling problems for a 100-hour inspection, so it allows the 100-hour limitation to be exceeded by not more than 10 hours while en route to reach a place where the inspection can be done. There is a catch, though. The excess time must be included in computing the next 100 hours of time in service.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Veterans Remembered

Thanks to all our Vets, those serving and those who have served. This family appreciates the very freedoms you all provide us and we are thankful for your courage and dedication.

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday - - a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Just Ramblings...

I agreed to fly 679er on a 14 mile hop to visit her doctor(A&P) in Maryland. The club aircraft will be out of service through the Turkey Day holidays. Mary and I may get some flying time this month if the North East flyer's meet at Reading (KRDG).

I hope to fly Monday since I am off for Veteran's Day. I am planning a few short hops with one of the student pilots I have been emailing with. One as a mentor which has been a very neat experience and the other who I connected with while talking to his family during one of his early lessons.

It's pretty cool to give something back while maybe helping a new pilot over those learning plateau's, God knows we have all had them. I figured on a short hop to KOQN Brandywine Airport to pick up then back through Class delta at KILG Wilmington as we head for an early lunch at KMIV, Millville. Departing KMIV and heading south east we can do a few T&G's at KWWD, Cape May and then fly over the beach and circle the light house. If it's really clear I may cross the Delaware Bay and head north after orbiting Lewes, DE for a few rotations.

Airplane Watch...

On the airplane watch there is little news. Mary and I have secured at least one person and I am working on a second to fly with us as a club in whatever aircraft we buy. I made a stop at KWWD to check out a Cessna Skylark but it was sold in just a few days. An email to the owner of the PA-28-140 provided photo's and a description of the aircraft. Checking with folks on the forum gave us pretty much thumbs up on the plane. The only concern was that it was not ready to go IFR, so that caused us to pass. I still need to get down to south Jersey to check out the Beech Sport for sale and I am waiting on info for two 172's that are for sale locally. Oh, can't forget the Grumman Traveler, I want to hook up with the owner and get the info, since this plane ties down across from us.

Well, that's all the news for now as our search continues. I hope to provide good news after the annual inspection on our girl. I get to ride home with the owner and you know I will have to ask him what's the latest. So, Gary if your reading this I'm looking for GOOD news.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Gaston's or Bust

Well, it's official, Mary and I agreed that we want to head to Gaston's in Arkansas for the Annual Fly-In. June 5th - 8th will be penciled in the book at work tomorrow and I will call to reserve our cabin/room. We will fly into Ozark Regional (KBPK) as of this posting but who knows what 08 will bring.

And now for the rest of the news....

Does the saying it was the best of times , it was the worst of times ring a bell? Well in the middle of us searching online for fun activities like horseback riding and tours we received an email from our club/aircraft owner. This email was in response to us asking for the extended use of 679er even though we can with our club, but I always like to keep the owner informed. With the blessing of the owner (best of times) he informed us that he was given an offer for 679er and is considering selling our baby, but won't decide until after the annual in late November (worst of times). I have been miserable all night.

So, while trying to keep the happy face on I am faced with new issues. I am just about to start the flying portion of my IR and was looking forward to the cost savings with our club plane. The cold reality of renting also hit me like a ton of bricks and I just can't go back to $126 and hour. Needless to say the wheels have been turning. I sent an email for information about a PA28-140 and will be contacting a man about a Beech 19A Sport in New Jersey tomorrow. The Sport is ready to go IFR so that would fit my training but it would truly be a 2 passenger aircraft for Mary and I. Mary asked me to check out the Grumman for sale in Wilmington and I may just do that tomorrow also. I will ask a friend at work if he will take my 81 Corvette and park it on his driveway that gets a good bit of traffic, he sells a lot of cars.

Mary has been very supportive this evening and has even asked about starting our own club. It's an idea. This all may be for nothing if he decides not to sell, but, it's a wake up call that we need to really make a plan for our own aircraft. Time to surf the forums for aircraft pre-purchase information.

I'll be fine after I sleep on it tonight, but I just have to let it all soak in. As the famous Dr. Bruce would say...[sigh].

More to follow...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Susquehanna River Tour

I've been thinking about a trip "back home" to the place my family is from, Wilkes-Barre, PA. I have made this trip many times by land and air but never once following the Mighty Susquehanna River. I have been toying around with a few stops and planning a flight for a clear sunny day. I plan on heading west towards the Maryland Pennsylvania border then turning north to follow the river. I guess my inspiration is from reading about the Citabria gang , aka the Trunk Monkeys, fun days of slow and low over the tri-state area and forging lasting friendships.

Some Susquehanna River Info...

The Susquehanna River (originally "Sasquesahanough" per the 1612 John Smith map)the longest river on the east coast winds its way south from Otsego Lake near Cooperstown, New York, through the northern and central ranges of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. By the time it meets the Chesapeake Bay, the Susquehanna River has flowed 444 miles. With an average daily rush of 22 billion gallons of water, the Susquehanna is the largest contributor of freshwater to the Bay. The Bay was formed over 10,000 years ago when what was then the Susquehanna River was flooded by rising sea levels. The quality and quantity of waters from the Susquehanna and its tributaries directly affect the Bay's health and productivity.

In the mid-Atlantic states, it's called the "Mighty Susquehanna." It's the largest river lying entirely within the United States that drains into the Atlantic Ocean and the 16th largest river in the United States. The River's 27,500-square-mile watershed covers parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. This is about 43 percent of the Bay's 64,000 square miles of drainage basin..

I have listed the airports I would like to visit along my route. Of course it's just a tentative schedule for now as things can change once underway.

Donegal Springs Airpark (N71)
Elevation: 458 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1258 MSL;
Runways: (10-28) 3250X50; asphalt; PCL; tree ea end

Penn Valley (SEG)
Elevation: 450 MSL
Traffic Pattern Light Aircraft 1500 MSL
Runways: (17-35) 3800X75; asphalt; PCL; trees ry 17; tower ry 35

Bloomsburg Municipal (N13)
Elevation: 481 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1410 MSL;
Runways: (8-26) 2800X50; asphalt; LIRL (NSTD); road ry 8; trees ry 26

Wilkes-Barre Wyoming Valley (WBW)
Elevation: 545 MSL
Traffic Pattern: All Aircraft: 1546 MSL;
Runways: (7-25) 3376X75; asphalt; PCL; trees ea end (9-27) 2200X100; asphalt; ; trees ry 10 (9-27) 2200X100; turf; ; trees ry 10.

Total flight time non-stop to KWBW is 1.5 hours and along the flight plan pictured about 165 miles. I hope to make a day of it with the above mentioned airports for stops.

Mary has started to work week-ends with her new job and so I will ask a friend or two along for the ride. This might be a nice trip for the two project pilot students I am lucky enough to mentor. It should be fun! I hope to post a video when completed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Salisbury Wine Festival

I have to at least post the sunny wx picture and trust me, that does not do justice for the fantastic day flying today. Mary and I made plans to visit her cousin Maureen and her husband Dan. Mary's Mom decided she was ready to try General Aviation and wanted to head south for a visit too.

We started our day with a stop to pick up Mom and then headed south for the airport. The morning temps were cool with a light breeze and the forecast high was for 77 degrees. We uncovered 679er as Mom watched, asking questions about the pre-flight as I finished up. Mary provided the passenger briefing for the outside and inside of the aircraft, she is so good with everyone that flies with us.

I climb in with the usual "piper roll" and Mom is number two to board. As I start my pre-start check list Mary reviews the 'inside' passenger brief. The only part I add to the briefing is the hand single for quiet if needed. I call 'clear prop' and 679er comes to life seemingly as eager as I am to get some flight time on such a cool sunny day. We get taxi clearance to runway two seven hold at 'M'ike. After completing the run up I am cleared to take off two seven and advised to watch for birds. As I acknowledge the cleared to go Mom asks, while the mic is keyed, what kind of birds. We all crack up laughing and Mom covers her mouth, I'm laughing as I type this still.

The flight was so smooth, like sitting in a chair looking out the window at home. I explained traffic advisories once we were on with Dover Approach and we all looked for landmarks along the way. It was so clear today that you could see the mouth of the Delaware Bay with Lewes and Cape May clearly in view. The white sands of Cape Henlopen were clearly visible from a few miles south of Wilmington as we climbed to 4500'.

I contacted (KSBY) Salisbury Tower and reported a 3 mile right base for runway two three. A nice landing and roll out to the taxiway and on to parking at the GA Terminal. The Lineman marshalled us in to parking and Mary's cousin was standing right there with him. He had brought her out in the van to meet us as we taxied in. I made arrangement to top off the fuel and then joined the ladies for the ride to the house.

Maureen and Dan have a gorgeous home. A new pool this year and everything landscaped as if we were walking into a better homes and gardens picture shoot, very nice indeed. It was great to chat and catch up. Maureen made crab cakes that were out of this world so we enjoyed a light lunch along with a salad of spring garden mix that had dried cran raisins, feta cheese and candied pecans (to die for). I had to pass on desert (full tummy) but had a taste of Mary's coconut cake that she had. Heck lunch alone was worth that trip, Phillips has nothing on Maureen and Dan's crab cakes!

We loaded up their SUV and headed to the Wicomico Autumn Wine Fest. There was a good crowd for a Sunday but the temps and sunny weather sure helped. We strolled in and staked our place in the shade for the picnic blanket, chairs and cooler. The ladies quickly headed out, wine glass in hand, while us men held the fort with our designated driver wrist bands securely in place. The wine tasting was unlimited so the ladies had fun, making a return to sit and chat as if to recharge.

Maureen and Dan's friends were very nice and I got to talk about aviation, which is always fun. One gentleman asked about the presidential TFR and how I made out going through it. Hmmmm...let me get this straight, a non-pilot understands about TFR but yet some pilots do not 'get it'. I digress, Yes, I acknowledged the TFR but said that particular one had ended yesterday, I then explained the why and why nots, how pilots check the status and what goes into a 'flight plan'.

We all sat and enjoyed the live band while eating cheese, crackers and grapes. There were many food stands but I was happy munching while drinking my Mountain Dew. I drank the last of the dew around 3pm and as of 8:30 pm (as I type) I am still wired. Mary, Mom and I said our goodbyes and Dan drove us back to the airport. Gezzzz, where did the day go? It's 4:15 as I pay my fuel bill and we walk out to saddle up for home. I complete a walk around along with sumping the fuel and we are ready to go.

We are cleared to taxi to runway one four number three behind a Cessna 150 and Citation Jet. The 150 has mic problems and pulls clear of the taxiway to let the Citation depart. We pull up for our run up but leave room for the 150 just in case. The guys in the 150 do not respond to ATC (at least not on twr frequency)and pull up to the hold short. they are cleared to take off and again no acknowledgement on the tower freq. It's pretty bad when my wife who is not a pilot understands what frequency to be on and the need to acknowledge, she mumbles nit wit as we watch them roll out for departure. We finally get cleared to take off and do so climbing out to 5500' and turned loose on course, all the while enjoying the clear view of Ocean City, MD and the coast.

We had some traffic call outs once handed off to Dover Approach from Patuxent. The tine in flight was about fifty minutes with winds aloft 320* at 20. Headwind on the way home but 679er galloped along wanting to take the bit as they say in the horse world. Once cut loose from Dover I started a slow descent into Wilmington (KILG). I crossed over pea patch island at 1500' and was at pattern altitude 1080' as we called out the right down wind entry for runway one four. We had traffic passing by from 1 to 10 o'clock about 1500' and acknowledged. Abeam the numbers I am cleared to land and squeak a landing in with a roll out for the first available taxiway.

A day in review...A first time General Aviation passenger, a great day with family and back home safe, life is good and I am thankful.