Monday, February 25, 2008

Safety Pilot Time

I had a blast tonight! I got a call from one of the readers of my blog this afternoon. We had exchanged emails a few times and Mike offered me some right seat time since he needed a safety pilot. Mary was working until 10pm and I only had to make a stop to pick up my headset and take care of our Italian Mastiff (Maggie).

I grabbed my flight bag and tossed in "my" camera. Maggie was a quick in and out but needed her pet me time, which I did as we played in the driveway and as she bounced along back into the house. I had to run in a grab a blank sheet of paper so I could take notes and copy info. I am not used to sitting in a plane with out a knee board strapped on. Traffic wasn't to bad as I made my way south on the interstate towards Wilmington Airport. I gave a quick call to Mike to let him know I was running a tad behind schedule. I arrived at Atlantic Aviation, found a parking spot and headed inside. I said hello to the folks at the desk and confirmed if that was indeed Mike out preflighting the Cessna 25U on the ramp. They said yes and said I was ok to head out, I also had my badge from work with Airport clearance hanging around my neck, maybe that helped.

I walked across the ramp and we both introduced ourselves. Mike was just finishing the pre-flight and offered me a look at whatever info I wanted to see. I decided to stow my flight bag and walk around the aircraft while he ran back inside to the FBO. This Cessna was very clean and in great shape, a very well cared for machine. Mike briefed me on what would go on in the cockpit and transfer of control for his time needed to put his foggles on. I was in agreement with the process and comfortable with his very professional attitude. Don't forget, this is the first time we not only met but I would be acting as safety pilot (extra eyes looking for traffic) while he was flying under the hood (simulated instrument conditions). His checklists were very detailed and he verbally went over items and explained what he was doing. It was nice to see another pilot (instrument rated at that) do what they do. I learned some things to incorporate into my checks that I thought would make my flying better/safer.

I'm a bit ticked that my camera had dead batteries. I'm not sure I can blog with out loading some pictures, I will have to edit during the week.

Wilmington tower cleared us for take off right traffic, to depart to the south east. After crossing the Delaware River I was given control of the airplane. I acknowledged and felt 25U respond to an easy hand. The yoke and rudders had a different feel from 679er but provided a good response once settled in. I'm sure Mike was checking me out since he was going to trust me to spot traffic. We continued on towards MIV swinging out towards the Bay as we listened for traffic. It was some what comforting to know I'm not the only pilot that Millville radio drives crazy, they never shut up! Mike noted that since I had mentioned it should be pretty quiet at Millville tonight that I may have jinxed us. KMIV had traffic in the pattern doing T&G's and a few others inbound, including us of course. Our first approach was the GPS Runway 28 at Millville. We headed towards Atlantic City and turned back to Intercept the CROSE Final Approach Fix (FAF) at 2000'. I know I am missing something or not explaining correct but my primary job was to watch for traffic. Mike held altitude really well and called out the info as we approached Millville. His verbal alerts helped me better understand what we were doing and where we should be. Traffic eased up as we did our T&G and headed out for another round. There was a Big Sky Student pilot flying a Cessna, a Cirrus and a Cherokee in and around the pattern.

Mike performed two more GPS runway 28 Approaches, the last going missed and climbing out to the TIYDU waypoint. Mike contacted Philly Approach to request the GPS 27 into ILG, workload permitting. Approach offered Direct Woodstown VOR or vectors for the GPS 27, Mike took the vectors and we were given a heading towards the FAF, GUSTE. Mike was still wearing the foggles and I was soaking up all the lights as we intercepted final for 27 and passed over the Delaware Memorial Bridges. Wilmington tower cleared us to land on 27, approving a long landing, in an effort to save the slower taxi time. We exited on taxiway Foxtrot and made our way to Atlantic Aviation.

Once 25U was secure we did what all good pilots do and that is locate the eats. We decided on Arners restaurant for a late dinner and of course the always important hangar flying time. Mike answered a lot of questions and was very supportive in my interest to pursue my Instrument rating. As always the food and service was good at Arners. Mike picked up the tab and I left the tip, Thanks Mike that was very nice of you. It's my turn to buy the next round. As we were getting ready to leave, two ladies who sat in the next booth obviously overheard us talking about flying. The one woman told us a story about her youth and wanting to fly. She had mentioned watching aircraft fly in and out of the DuPont Airfield as a teenager.

DuPont Airport History
In 1924, a private airfield was established here by Henry B. DuPont. Charles Lindbergh landed here in October 1927. With Richard DuPont's purchase of controlling interest in All-American Aviation, and Henry DuPont's’s establishment of Atlantic Aviation in 1938, the airfield was expanded, becoming one of the most modern privately owned public-use facilities in the country. Though civil flights were restricted during World War II, the DuPont Airfield continued to prosper as a flight training site for the Navy and as a base for the Civil Air Patrol. It was an important site for development and testing of military experimental projects. Space limitations led to the transfer of most operations following the war. The final flight from DuPont Airfield was in 1958. The site was used by the DuPont Company for construction of the Barley Mill research and development center. Special thanks to Paul Freeman for keeping aviation history alive with his web page Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields.

When she asked if she could learn how to fly it seemed she was told no by her parents. The best part about listening to her was watching the sparkle in her eyes when she told of wanting to fly. I was very impressed by the fire that still seemed to burn for flight but also by the way she had come to deal with it. A classy lady without a doubt. She was proud to note her travels by air in the states and in Europe but you knew it was more then just transportation to her. If she is reading this post, she is welcome to come along for a flight and get some hands on. The other young lady also spoke of flying and asked about restrictions since 9/11. It was truly a great ending to an evening of flight.

Fellow pilots, not all of the public hold misguided fears about General Aviation, some are indeed knowledgeable and some share our passion for flight in their own way. Thanks again Mike for a great evening of flying and thanks to our neighbors in the next booth for taking the time to share our passion.

Mike if I didn't explain or describe something correct please drop me an email or post a comment so I can make a correction.

Friday, February 22, 2008

iPod Nano Invasion

I guess I am officially "off the deep end". Mary and I decided to come up with some sort of "entertainment" while we fly to Florida in April. I'll be busy flying and I really don't want to listen to music and try to listen to Air Traffic Control (ATC). Mary on the other hand would like something other then ATC or myself yapping on the radio. We thought music or movies, or both.

I have been reading up on this whole iPod thing, culture, whatever you want to call it. I am amazed at the technology available and the size of the units. We finally decided on an iPod Nano 8GB that will hold over two thousand songs, four plus hours of video and to many pictures to look at in one seven hour trip. After discovering this modern technology, yes, I'm an old fart I guess, we made a purchase then quickly drove back to the house. Once home we went through every box and accessory. We have since discovered iTunes, what a place. You can by any, and I mean any song out there for .99 and rent movies for under four bucks.

Mary is like a little kid scrolling through the selections of iTunes and our personal CD collections to load up the new gismo. We both agreed that renting a movie would be fun for her to watch while we were in flight. Imagine that, Ladies and gentlemen your movie for today's flight to Kissimmee will be "no reservation", please feel free to help yourself to the cold water located in the soft sided cooler and enjoy your flight. All I'll need to add is updated temps at our destination and have Mary do the safety demo complete with the two finger point to our one exit.

It's been fun looking through all the selections of movies, music, audio books and tv shows. I now have a much better understanding of why all these people have little ear plugs attached while they walk, work or drive. I must admit while looking through all the downloads available I did notice, under aviation, the "Pilotcast - Aviation for Pilots by Pilots". Yeah, it caught my attention.

Needless to say I decided to upgrade from my bulky cassette player that I listen to audio books while driving to various facilities for work. The company car only has an am/fm radio, company radio and an aircraft radio. I went on to Ebay and found a Nano third generation, 8GB for $125 with three minutes left. I bid $130 and won the bid at $127. Talk about catching up to technology. I thought I was "with it" when I bought the DVD player.....Hmmmm, do they still say "with it"? Heck, I still have my album's boxed up along with all the cassette's. No, I do not have any 8-track tapes, they were discarded many years ago.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

KMGJ - Orange County, NY

Today started Mary's first full weekend off in four weeks. She said we're going flying! She was correct, the North East Flyers planned a trip to KMGJ, Orange County Airport in Montgomery, NY. It's been a few weeks since we had a forecast that look so promising, so we were excited. I finalized plans last night only needing to add the updated weather information. Today's trip for us was to include a flight from Wilmington, DE (KILG) to Montgomery, NY (KMGJ) followed by a stop at another new airport for us, Factoryville, PA (9N3). Mary and I wanted to visit our friend Pete and his wife lori (the expecting parents). From 9N3, just north of Wilkes-Barre, PA it would have been an hour flight home to Wilmington.

We made our customary stop at the local service station/food mart for cash and bottled water for our flight. Mary was excited and I was happy to finally have her flying again. We parked the SUV in front of the plane and uncovered 679er for the start of our pre-flight. I had called for fuel Thursday and had the tanks topped off so that detail was taken care of. Pre-flight completed we saddled up and got 679er started for her warm up. It was Brrrrrrr cold this morning and 679er took eight shots of primer to get started. She begrudgingly fired up as if wanting to go but not liking that early morning chill. I kept the rpm's at five to six hundred until I saw some movement on the oil temp. I then bumped up to one thousand and punched in my flight plan.

The plan for today was pretty basic, KILG-PTW-BWZ-HUO-KMGJ. This flight plan had us take off and turn northeast to 016* and tracking to the (PTW) Pottstown VOR or for a better visual the cooling towers of the nuke plant. From PTW I would turn to a heading of 056* to intercept the (BWZ) Broadway VOR. From BWZ I would track to (HUO) Huguenot VOR followed by a turn to 080* outbound for 15.9 miles and the Orange County Airport. That's it, the plan in a nutshell.

We were cleared to taxi to runway two seven at mike and post run up announced ready to go. Wilmington tower cleared us for take off and approved our on course turn. Mary and I were away in no time climbing for our planned altitude of 5,500 feet.

I switched to Philadelphia approach on 119.75 and was immediately handed off to Philly App. on 124.45. This contact was short lived as we were again handed of to Philly App at 128.4. I look over at Mary and she is already nodding off, she didn't even make the first checkpoint which was only 22 minutes out of Wilmington. Mary did manage to point out a balloon that was lost and climbing fast through 5500', obviously there is a child some where north of Pottstown in tears having let their shiny new blue balloon that escaped.

Philly was busy but cleared us through the Bravo airspace and they were pretty good about calling out traffic. No sooner then we were settled in for the ride, we were handed off to Allentown Approach on 124.45. Allentown was along for the ride for just a short time then they handed us off to the first of three NY approach controllers. Off we went to our first NY Approach as I dialed in 128.55. Our first traffic contact was for our 9:00 same altitude a Hawker jet. Eyes peeled and looking for traffic I rock the wings in hope of the jet seeing us as I continue my scan. Sure enough the jet calls traffic in sight as I see him 2 miles or so at my 8:00 now passing behind me. We were handed off to 27.6 and finally 32.75 before being cut loose to land at KMGJ. There was traffic at MGJ but everyone was making good position reports and that made life easier. I positioned for a 45* entry for the right down wind runway two six. We had departed Wilmington at 8:45 and were on the ground at 10:05. We were the first to arrive with James in his Cessna a very close second.

On the trip to MGJ we passed a monument that was noted on the New York Sectional. The name of the area is High Point Park. The High Point Monument is located in Montague Township at the highest point in the state of New Jersey. From the parking lot, 1,803 feet above sea level, or the observation deck 220 feet up you can see for miles around. On a clear day you can see New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Quaint little towns are nestled amid the forests and farms of the New Jersey Skylands. There is camping, swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities in the 14,000 acre park which is mostly deserted outside of summer. So this is a great place to get away from it all and think. The park was designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York's central park.

Our first time to Rick's Runway Cafe' and it was worth the trip. The folks there were very friendly and they were set up with two tables reserved for our group. Everyone came in and introduced themselves and we ordered food around 11am. I had the cheese omelet and Mary had pancakes, both were very good. We had a nice turn out today with I think 17 total counting DrBob and guest with a late arrival. Delaware was represented by Jeff and his daughter Hannah out of 33N, Delaware Airpark and Mary and I out of ILG. Scott (Scooter) flew in from JYO - Leesburg, VA taking the greatest distance at a ballpark guess of 210-220 miles? Shortest distance traveled was by Howard from KPOU, Dutchess County Airport Poughkeepsie, NY.

Mary and I decided that since we didn't have to head to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area to meet Pete and Lori (they headed south to the Philly area)we would take a taxi ride to the OCC Motorcycle shop.

The taxi ride was interesting to say the least but I guess most are, in their own way. We first headed to the OCC shop but it was closed. We then headed to the retail shop after I had to give our driver directions off a sign that was posted in front of us on the building. After our driver got turned around she followed our directions and got us to the store. This place was packed with motorcycles that we have watched them build on TV. Not only is the fabrication work outstanding but the paint/artwork is truly amazing. We decided to make it a quick shop session and headed back to the airport with newly purchased booty in hand. It was too nice not to be flying today so we headed back to MGJ. I have to add that our taxi driver felt the need to take us on the scenic tour back which was nice to see the area but we didn't need to see the Super 8 motel or the Truckstop.

I went into the terminal (next door to the Cafe') and asked to get the tanks filled on 679er. We paid our bill and were on our way in short order. I did a fuel sump and pre-flight then locked the baggage door and climbed in. 679er fired up and I reviewed my flight plan and communications. Once the oil temp was up we taxied out to runway two six. Run up completed we were checking the pattern and moving into position for takeoff. (Pictured -taxi to parking at MGJ, Lake Hopatcong, NJ and Martins Creek power plant, PA)

I had dialed in the Broadway VOR (BWZ) and turned to a heading of 224*. I made the following calls.

NY Approach, Archer 28679er off of Orange County, 2,300 climbing 6,500, VFR to India Lima Golf, request advisories.

Archer 28679er NY Approach squawk 0314 and Ident, alt 3029.

Squawking 0314 Ident, 3029 for 679er

Archer 28679er I have you 3 miles SW of Orange County, confirm altitude 2,700.

2,700 for 679er , and off we went headed for home. (Philadelphia pictured on the left)It was a nice flight home direct from BWZ to KILG. I got to pass through Philadelphia's Bravo airspace at 6,500 until south of the airport and asked to descend maintaing VFR. I was vectored to stay clear of traffic which was pretty neat then turned back on course.

Once Philly handed me off to Wilmington I made contact and was directed to advise 3 mile right base for runway two seven. I had a traffic call out while on base but it passed behind us no factor. I was a tad bit high on final but settled in and lined up on center for two seven. I had to add a touch of throttle after my initial flare to prevent me from dropping in like a stone. I honestly flared a bit to high but corrected for that butt sink feeling and set 679er down without the thump.

Mary and I secured and covered 679er and headed for home. Mary always drives when we get home, it gives me a break after flying. It really helps me relax and I can chug down cold water, in this case the water that we left in the truck! As we left the airport we both decided on a quick dinner and a stop to rent a few movies. We exited I-95 at the last exit in Delaware before entering Pennsylvania. The choice was made for KFC, hey, it was quick and easy and on the way.

I checked my messages as we drove north on the intersate and picked up Bob's (AOPA forum member Rmciottijr) call. Since Bob and Dru could not make the fly in today they asked about doing dinner. Not bad timing we thought as Mary pulled off in the mall parking lot so we could return the call before passing KFC. Plans were made and we headed home to freshen up, feed the dog and head back out. We met at Carrabbas Italian Grill and had a great time. I had the lobster ravioli and Mary had the Chicken Picatta. We unanimously agreed that we would plan for a flying trip to mid-coast Maine in August, it was not only a dinner night out with great friends but a very aviation productive evening too.

Today was a great day. I spent time with my Bride, flying wx was fantastic, the flight was smooth and kept me busy with approach control handoff's, looking for traffic and we wrapped it up with dinner out with friends. It was a home run today, I honestly don't know how it could have been any better. I mentioned to Mary on the way home that in just 19 months of being a private pilot our adventures and friends we made have more then balanced out the cost of learning to fly.

Gallon of 100 LL $4.81
Cost of PPL $$$ (to much to think about)
Adventures and friendships PRICELESS

Saturday, February 09, 2008

North East Flyers Gearing Up

It's that time of year again, the North East Flyers are getting restless and the group is working on a fly-in schedule for the year. Sal Lagonia has spearheaded the group and posts the monthly sign-up on the AOPA forum and I try to keep pace by updating the web page. If you have a chance, check out the forum Hops and $100 Hamburgers and look for NorthEast Flyers - 2008 Season.

Some of the destinations on tap this year include;

KMGJ - Orange County, NY (February)
KLOM- Wings Field FLY-B-Q (May, Multi-forum Fly-In)
KBID - Block Island, RI (June)

Group meet up's at Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland Florida (April) and Air Venture in OshKosh, WI (July28-August 3)

Sign in and sign up, join the fun!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

South Jersey, Shoobie Style

Shoobie (shoe-bee) - Fast trains to the Jersey shore, along with a one-dollar round-trip fare,created the "day tripper," and the "Dollar Excursion" unquestionably gave the shore its wide popularity. Throughout the 1900's and up until World War I, working men had freedom to play only on Sundays. That day, week in and week out, found swaying Jersey shore-bound coaches teeming with Philadelphia families, laden with their "shoe box lunches." Naturally not all of the communities viewed the "Shoe Box Lunch Set" with favor. Keepers of the swank hotels figured anyone who couldn't come for at least a week should stay home and get rested for his job.

Well, there was no box lunch involved but we did manage a stop at the Flight Line at KMIV, Millville NJ. Mary had to work today so John and I headed out around 10 to preflight 679er. The original plan was to fly to W29 Bay Bridge, MD (pictured left) with a stop at 33N Delaware Airpark. The wx was calling for clear skys but moderate turbulence below 10,000. I really didn't feel like landing at Bay Bridge in windy conditions on 2900 x 60. I honestly would like to go there with Mary first and explore some of the great places for a nice dinner. As soon as she gets back to weekends off we will make the short hop to Bay Bridge.

I had talked to Jeff (from 33N, Delaware Jeff) and he said he and the family were also going to
pass on W29 but that he wanted to get some left seat time in. As I have said in the past, it's the need to satisfy that flying fix all pilots get when not in the left seat for more then a few days. I understand the need for the fix, it's been three weeks for me. John and I saddle up for Millville and Jeff (from 1N4, New Jersey Jeff) and I trade text messages planning to meet up for breakfast at Millville.

I cleaned out the baggage area to allow for more weight since the tanks were full and I had planned on taking a second passenger on at Millville. I have the Weight & Balance calculations set up on excel so it's a snap to run many sceenario's in a short time. 679er with full tanks and 410 lbs in the front (me and John) yeah, I'm the fat butt at 250 and John checks in at 160 and Joe my second passenger, I was guessing is around 230-250. This combination left me 22 lbs under my limit and within the Center of Gravity range at 90.3.

METAR KILG 021551Z 29014KT 10SM CLR 06/M02 A3025

I made my call for for clearence to taxi, "Wilmington Ground, Archer 28679er at Red Eagle ready to taxi for departure VFR South East with Information Oscar". As usual I was cleared to taxi to runway two seven at taxiway 'M'ike. I completed the run up as a jet landed and was cleared to back taxi on the runway, I hate that! I'm burning fuel waiting when he could have turned off and taxied to the other side of the field. Anyway, as he taxi's by I am cleared for take of on two seven and off we go. Gusting winds add a bit of rock the boat but we are climbing out and approved to turn on course. As we exit the Class 'D'elta airspace we get a traffic alert from the Tower and confirm a Cessna at our 1 o' clock and approval to change frequency.

I dial in Millville and get a handle on the traffic as I visulaize it in my head. John and I spot a few aircraft on the short hop and position for a 45* entry to runway two eight. Millville radio got me today with ALL the info, I forgot when I made my call to add "I have all the info", it's the only way for them to shut up,, I mean keep quiet. It makes no difference if you call Millville Traffic or not they give you the full debriefing and tie up the radio. We finally enter the left downwind and announce our position adding if Millville radio was quiet we could all hear our call. I don't think it helped. I was number three to land behind a Cessna and a Beech King Air doing T&G's. Not a bad landing but not my best.

METAR KMIV 021554Z AUTO 27011G18KT 10SM CLR 06/M01 A3024

I taxied in and meet up with Jeff (NJ) and his friend Wayne and caught up with Joe from work. We all headed over to the Flight Line and ordered some eats. I had the SOS or Creamed Chipped Beef, some did lunch others followed suit with breakfast. Jeff (DE) and his always cute as a button co-pilot Hannah walked in shortly after we placed orders. The place was packed, but the service was good and the food too. We squared away the bill and headed out to look at Wayne's Mooney, Jeff's (DE) Cherokee and Jeff's(NJ) Mooney. Are you confused yet? We chatted for a bit then decided to head out. John, Joe and myself were heading to Cape May, Jeff and Hannah were headinmg back across the Delaware Bay to Delaware Airpark and Wayne and Jeff were heading back to Woodbine. We decided to catch up with them at Woodbine after making a photo run on the Cape May Ferry and Airport.

Up and away departing Millville on the downwind for two eight we set our sights on KWWD. I ease 679er along taking advantage of the tailwind hitting ground speeds of 137 kts (156 mph). Hey it's no mooney but my gal is doing fine. We pass over Cape May mid-field at 2500 then slowly descend to 1500 as we make a pass at the Ferry. I hear a traffic call out coming from the direction we are headed from a citation at 2000 and quickly get a visual and hold now at about 1200. He passes by and eventually enters the pattern for two eight. We make a photo run then turn back in to set up for the 3 mile 45* for runway two eight at Cape May. The Citation calls out his turn from base to final as I am on the down wind and I acknowledge I have the traffic. The Citation passes by our 9 O'clock and I start my turn to base. We all watch the traffic clear at the far end of the runway by Big Sky (FBO) . The Citation announces clear and I call short final setting 679er down a bit long but fairly smooth.

John digs out the info for 1N4, Woodbine and I jot it down on my knee board. Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) noted along with Traffic pattern altitude and runway info has us ready to taxi for departure. We follow a Cherokee to runway one and pull up number two to take off. I notice 679er takes a bit longer to get in the air as I note the wind sock dancing. I make a mental note that it will be one notch of flaps from Woodbine and a short field power up to roll. Time to pay attention to flying our short hop. As soon as we are in the air you can see the clearing for 1N4. I position for a 45* entry for three one and make my calls as we "cross the fence" to an ok landing. I needed alot of throttle work with the gusty wind. I can see Jeff and Wayne at the hangar so we taxi in and shut down for a visit.

I guess we hang out for a half hour or so then saddle up for another hop back to Millville. I followed my previous mental note and had a notch of flaps in as I pushed the throttle forward. I released the toe brakes and 679er was takin' the bit and running. 679er jumped off the ground in short order and I cleaned her up once clear of the trees and showing a steady positive climb. As they say, she done good.

Millville was a very short hop and I decided since the radio was quiet I would make a straight in for two eight. One aircraft had taken off and I heard one taxing to two eight. When I announced my position I add 'with information', HA, Millville radio was speechless except for the wind check they gave me. I give myself a B- on the landing and taxi in to drop off Joe. I had a first today letting a passenger out while the fan was turning. I gave complete instructions even though Joe is very familiar with aircraft to exit and remain behind the wing, he complied. John climbed from the back and switched to the right seat for the ride home. Door secured, we taxied back out to runway two eight.

The place was quiet, it almost felt strange not hearing the non-stop traffic or millville radio. Ok, maybe not millville radio. 679er was off and running again as we made for home, KILG. I called the tower at 15 miles south east, inbound for full stop with information Sierra. I was directed to enter left base for two seven and call final. As John and I crossed the Delaware we had a traffic call out on the west side of the river (Delaware) just at the bridge. Ooooooookidokie, thats where we are, or at least within a half mile. I am just under pattern altitude 900' as I turn final and the traffic passes out in front I guess about 2000'. No biggie, I call out the traffic and proceed in. Not a bad landing at home with a quick exit at taxiway 'M'ike. 679er secured for the night and all covered up. John and I head out and we both agree, it was a fun day.

I added 2.3 to the log but really had a great time talking with friends and just getting back in the air. Great to see everyone again! Looking forward to catching up again soon with Jeff's, Wayne, and John.

Flight video is posted, check out the video links on the right side of the page.