Saturday, May 31, 2008

Lightspeed Zulu Purchase

I decided that I really wanted to get a Lightspeed Zulu headset so I made a call to Tina's Pilot Shop in Roanoke,Texas and ordered. Total cost $829.00 and they will ship mid June. I really love my David Clarks but wanted to get something quieter and with the available bluetooth and music connections ready to go. I tried a pair of Bose and they were really quiet and fit well but the added extras for cell phone and music together with the cost savings ($150) made Lightspeed the best choice. I'm sure once Mary gets a listen she'll want a set too. Here is a breakdown of all the info.

From Lightspeed...

The new Zulu headset from Lightspeed Aviation hasn't just surpassed previous models in a few features. It's entirely leapfrogged them. Zulu is by far the quietest, lightest, and most comfortable headset the company has ever made. In addition, it incorporates advanced audiophile technology that has never before been available on any type of headset or headphone. In addition, Zulu has Bluetooth compatibility for cordless cell phone access.One of the first clues that Zulu is different is the size of the ear cups. They're shallow. Earlier Lightspeed headsets achieved optimal ANR performance with earcups that had a distinctively prominent profile. With Zulu, company engineers figured out a way to give the headset much better passive performance while making the ear cup significantly smaller.They accomplished this by using magnesium in combination with specially tuned plastics. When it comes to reflecting airborne acoustic waves, magnesium reflects 10 times more sound than traditional plastic cups while being both stronger and lighter. But by itself, magnesium resonates sound. So Lightspeed engineers created a design that uses both the sound reflecting properties of magnesium and the damping properties of plastics to provide an optimally quiet experience.

The sturdy Zulu weighs just over 13 ounces, not counting the cord and battery case. Inside the headband is a core of thin, flexible spring steel, which gives an excellent fit with 40% lower side pressure than Lightspeed's 3G series headsets. Luxurious, soft leather surrounds extra wide earseals made from temperature sensitive foam. Calibrated magnesium sliders adjust ergonomically to the wearer's exact head size with uniform pressure. The vented headpad evenly distributes the weight of the headset and can be removed. All wiring is fully concealed, using patented design features, and the headset folds flat for easy storage.

Lightspeed engineers analyzed how engine noise at different frequencies is experienced by the ear. Then they worked on cutting the most sound at the amplitudes that are perceived as the noisiest. They discovered that a 3dB cut at one frequency can make a bigger difference than a 10dB reduction at another. As a result, Zulu is really noticeably quieter than any other model available for comparison.The Zulu is so quiet, it's actually possible to appreciate high end audio performance. Typical aircraft headset designs allow distortion around 1%. Zulu's distortion is one tenth this amount. To achieve this, Lightspeed used audiophile components throughout, including gold contacts for all wire connections and high grade audio quality film capacitors. They also developed special Noise Gating Technology (NGT) to eliminate intercom noise.

The headset has two independent auxiliary inputs, both capable of cell phone and stereo connectivity. One is wired and the other is Bluetooth compatible, allowing the user to listen wirelessly to music or talk on a cell phone. The switchover from music source to phone is seamless, with an incoming call automatically getting priority.Human ears hearing music through headphones perceive it differently from music played over speakers. Because the right and left channels on headphones are totally isolated from each other, the brain is not able to create a true a 3D sound image. Lightspeed engineers solved this problem by electronically duplicating the sounds the left ear would hear from the right speaker and vice versa. As a result, someone listening to a commercial recording on the Zulu headset has the experience of being in the optimal listening position. Lightspeed aptly calls this new technology Front Row Center (FRC).

The Zulu FRC processor closely matches the shadowing effect of the head for the crossfeed signal to either ear. The signal is both amplitude and delay corrected to compensate for the increased distance the sound would travel.The Zulu headset marks a new direction for Lightspeed. The innovations discovered (and in many cases patented) while developing this headset will be incorporated in future models.

Weight: 13.9 ounces.
Batteries: Requires 2 AA batteries. Estimated to last 40 hrs.
Storage: Headset folds up when not in use.
Bluetooth compatible: Wireless phone and music interface with controls is embedded into the battery box.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Aviation Mecca

This holiday weekend has been filled with flying. Friday's trip to Ocean City Maryland, Saturday's return flight home, Sunday's three hour instrument lesson and the icing on the cake, today's trip to the aviation mecca, First Flight in Kill Devil Hills North Carolina with Jeff Frey.

The plan was kicked around by myself and Jeff from 33N. We swapped emails and phone calls trying to get our plans squared away. The original version was for Jeff and his family to fly down in their aircraft once Mary and I meet them at Delaware Airpark, 33N in the Archer. OK, sounded good, we will meet at 8am. After a telephone conversation we moved to plan B.

Jeff was going to join Mary and I in 679er since his children and bride were feeling under the wx. Ok, plan B it is, we will meet you around 8am at 33N and yes, I will finally get to land at this airport ( another story for another time). I tried to get some sleep but I had thoughts of this cross country on my mind. I finally passed out and Mary reminded me this morning that SHE turned off the tv. As I was getting ready Mary said she had a wicked sinus headache and didn't feel up to going but I should go have fun and make the pilgrimage to First Flight. I was still excited about going but with Mary not coming it took something out of it. We really have fun traveling by air and getting to meet people and see new things. I'm in a fix about taking the plane all day so I decide to send Jeff an email, to explain the new plan C.

Mary is out. She woke up with a sinus headache and said 4 hours of flying will not be good. However, she said go play boys day out. So, if you don't mind flying I was going to drive to 33N, only if you let me split the costs today. I'm up, give me a call on my cell, 302-xxx-xxxx. I'll be heading down around 6:30 to meet you at 8am.

I'm on the road heading south around 6:40 and have yet to get a call. About 7:30 my phone rings and Jeff said he will meet up at 8am. I asked if he wanted breakfast but he said he wanted to keep it light and that he would see me there. I made a stop at wawa for an orange juice then made the short run to 33N. I looked over Sunday's newspaper sitting on the counter at the terminal building when Jeff called and said he was at the plane. I headed out so that I could get in the way, I mean assist in the pre-flight. We saddled up and Jeff went through the pre-start checks and 26Juliet came to life. Jeff asked if I wanted to handle the comm and nav radios and I agreed. Our flight plan was pretty basic, 6500' 33N-SWL-NTU-KFFA. Jeff contacted Dover approach and picked up flight advisories for the trip. We were handed off to patuxent, norfolk and washington center with good ATC work along the way. I made a call to flight watch on 122.0 to get an update on the wx at our destination since we had to climb to maintain VFR over the Chesapeake Bay. we provided a PIREP noting the top of the haze layer with the clouds tagging along.

METAR KFFA 261400Z AUTO 22005KT 10SM CLR 23/12 A3018

With FFA in sight Jeff canceled flight following and got us set up to enter the right downwind for runway two zero. I was taking pictures and keeping a watch for traffic since we were alerted to multiple target by center prior to canceling advisories. The winds had picked up and it was a bit gusty as we dipped below the tree line and continued in on short final. Jeff did a real nice job setting 26J down and we taxied out to the parking area at the 020 approach end. The video I shot was taken with a Kodak Easyshare Z730 which does NOT have the stabilizer feature.

We have arrived! Jeff found a spot between the ramp and runway alongside several other aircraft, the place was filling up fast. We both grabbed a cold bottle of water and started the journey to where it all began. Well, we were on our way but we saw the building that was donated by the members of the AOPA. This building, adjacent to the ramp but tucked behind the trees had bathrooms and a pilot briefing room complete with computers and telephones. There was some artwork on the wall, one in particular caught my attention. Can you see what is the focal point of the picture? I had to look twice since i was so caught up snapping pictures at every new discovery.

Jeff headed back out to the plane to get his cell and asked if I wanted mine. I was so excited about getting out and taking pictures I forgot to call Mary and let her know we arrived. You know the drill, boys and their toys and everything else comes second. Thank God my Bride is so understanding about the kid in me. Jeff and I made our way to the walking path around the monument. We decided to check out a sculpture on the south side and the make the attack on the "hill". While going back and forth to the aircraft for our phones Jeff (pictured left) helped some lady out who was having a hard time with the gate. She was taking photos and shared a small piece of why she was there. Her father used to work at one of the local bases and would fly into FFA when it was a dirt strip. In order to get a ride to the house he would buzz the house and the family would know it was time to go pick him up at the airstrip. This very kind lady offered us a ride around to the east side of the monument but we declined and instead continued our walk.

It was a gorgeous day out, breezy with plenty of sunshine and the park was busy. We made our way to the sculpture and we each took a few shots. I took my shot from over the shoulder of the bronzed cameraman behind the action. I thought it would be a neat shot. Our next stop was the monument, atop the "hill". Jeff asked if i was ok, and I told him I would stop and take a breather and give the metal parts a chance to rest. Of course I forgot to take any Advil before leaving the house. Not to worry, I just took two when I started the write up and Mary and I will hit the hot tub before retiring for the night.
Back to the park. I could continue typing away but I decided to just post some shots to let everyone soak it all in. Enjoy!

It was time to take our last few shots and load up for home. Jeff preflighted and then we climbed in. I held the door open to get some cool air once the fan was turning. At First Flight you have to back taxi to the runways. Based on the gusting winds the captain decided on runway two zero. Final checks and run up complete a notch of flaps is added. One would normally think short runway and higher density altitude (DA) and those were both correct but we may consider lunch adding to the W&B, ok, kidding about the last reason.

In short order two six juliet was climbing out, seemingly proud to strut her stuff at First Flight. We turned out due to traffic and the inbound pilot and Jeff communicated very well to establish positions. The nose was pointed to Elizabeth City Coast Guard Air Station, KECG just across the Albemarle Sound and up the left bank of the Pasquotank River. We were directed to enter a left base for two eight report 3 mile. Jeff acknowledged and started our descent. Another great landing in gusting cross wind conditions. As we rolled out the ALZ in pavement lights stuck out a bit, which was odd, so we thumped along until Jeff moved left of center to keep clear. Maybe the Coast Guard C-130's don't feel them but our bugsmashers do.

Jeff got a real laugh when we pulled up for fuel, it was self-serve and I had to confess I have only self fueled once in the two years flying. I had to read the instructions before we got a drop. Hey, I'm still fairly new at this and at the home airport Scott brings his little truck out and tops me off. Yes, I've gotten to know the fuel guys on a first name basis with all the flying I have been doing. It's really bad when you call and say I'm at Red Eagle and need fuel and they say no problem Gary I'll be right over. I always say that's for tail number 28679er and they yep, we know.

Jeff sumps the fuel and we add a quart of oil before departing Elizabeth City,ECG. We are directed to taxi to runway two eight and complete the checks and run up. No sooner Jeff announced ready to go at two eight we were cleared "without delay" with a C-130 on a four mile final. We were off in short order climbing and turning out early to clear the area. The next waypoint was Norfolk, ORF as we climbed out to 6,500. Jeff noted the temps at 6500 to be 55* it was warm outside. Flight following handed us off along the way while I was taking pictures and getting a good look at the Bay Bridge Tunnel. I usually am the one flying so I don't get to see as much of the view as Mary normally would. The haze is still present and there are a few clouds at our altitude so we climbed to 7500 and motored along. We had ground speeds of 124-129 knts (150mph) northbound as we crossed the Chesapeake Bay for Cape Charles and continued towards Accomack, KMFV.

Dover Approach called out one aircraft headed south passing to our 9:00 and Jeff acknowledged having the traffic. The winds had picked up at 33N with reports 230* at 16 gusting in the 20's. Once 33N - Delaware Airpark was in sight the captain canceled flight following and called for airport advisories. I dropped the ball since I was working comm and nav and didn't get it flipped. Dover let us know we were still with them, sorry Jeff, my bad. I was looking at the Monster Mile and taking mental notes to locate the airport, the typical passenger.

We entered on a 45* for the left down wind runway two seven and set up for landing. With his checklists completed Jeff extended the down wind a bit to allow for a good set up on final and to work the cross winds. We had one good bump that brought us both up out of our seats that we each acknowledged. On short final Jeff set up left of centerline and we came in left wing low just drifting towards center and between gust he set two six juliet down. A sweet landing in gusty winds that got a 10 rating over the radio from Mr. Experience, Harvey working in the terminal. Harvey knows winds at 33N flying his RV in and out of there. We taxied in to the self serve and topped off the fuel. It was a short taxi to the tie down and we quickly pushed back and buttoned up. Two six Juliet provided a great ride and Jeff did a great job piloting us back and forth from First Flight. What a FUN day and a trip I will always remember. I made it to aviations promised land and it was worth the wait. Truley a great place that every pilot should visit.

Thanks Jeff for a great day of flying!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

IR Lesson 18 Hood Time

Wooo was my first fly time under the hood. I previously spent 20+ hours on the Elite RC-1 sim learning procedures and today I got the chance to try them out. I arrived at ILG around 5:45 to pre-flight and after climbing in and reviewing the GPS workings I called Wilmington Ground. It was 6:40 and I was taxing out to runway two seven at Mike. Peter was in the tower today so we chit chatted a bit and he commented on all the flying 679er was doing this weekend. The plane has been busy since Friday morning.

I was cleared to take off on two seven with right turn on course approved. I climbed out quickly to 2500' and tracked the Modena MXE VOR. I set up nav 2 for the 56* radial that would put me on the left down wind for two seven at Brandywine, KOQN. It was very quiet this morning, it seemed I had the sky to myself. I had gulped down a tall glass of ice tea before I left the house and skipped breakfast. I did have two bottles of water in the fridge but forgot them both, I knew something was missing when I reached for a cold drink of water.

I announced a 5 mile 45* for 27 and chugged along. As I entered the downwind I had to add a bit of throttle to maintain pattern altitude. The landmarks from all my PPL training were coming back to me, like an old path to home. I announced base and final then set up for the narrow runway (50' compared to 150 at ILG). I crossed the fence at 65 knots and I let 679er roll out saving brakes and letting her have her head. I turned off and taxied back to the terminal where Brian walked out to meet me. I shut down so we could chat about today's lesson and dig out the plates I would need.

The plan today was some ILS work at Chester County (MQS)and then to Wilmington (ILG). I climbed out of Brandywine then put the foggles on. I was vectored all over the place or so it seemed then a final vector to intercept the ILS, maintain 2500' until established. I had the localizer dialed in on nav 2 since the glide slope nav 1 is inop. Localizer alive, I turn on final course 293* and hold altitude until crossing the final approach fix MOSES. Crossing MOSES I start the timer looking for 3:20 until missed. I am now good to descend to 910'. At 1000' I am told to lift the foggles and there she is right where it's supposed to be, runway in sight! I go missed and make an early left turn out for traffic on the crosswind.

Direct to MXE is the command and hold. I track out at 160* climbing back to 2500'. I enter the hold in a tear drop crossing MXE and turning to 120* for 1 minute. Times up, I turn inbound to 329* and have a hard time with correcting for wind. I get on course as the timer clicks through 1:10 at station passage. Mental note I'll cut the outbound a bit shorter. As I turn back to the 149* outbound I correct on the wrong side and really struggle to get my bearings (head outta my butt). I'm back on course but run just 1 minute and turn for the inbound knowing I'll run over on the time as i pass the station. Here we go again another loop around the track. This time I am on course with the proper corrections and hitting the time. I'm vectored to the ILS once again. Much better intercepting and holding on the numbers.

Enough of Chester County, time to head to ILG. We break out the ILS RWY 1 plate and brief. I'm watching my distance and contact Wilmington to advise position and intentions, practice ILS 1 approach. I'm instructed to report HAYDIN inbound. I acknowledge. HADIN is the outter marker and it is an ADF. I dial it in and follow the pretty yellow needle to HADIN. Once across the station I make a right turn on a course of 195* out bound for 1 minute to make the procedure turn. As my timer clicks off I turn to a new heading of 050* so I can intercept the localizer heading of 015*. Localizer comes alive and I turn left to 015* and track my way in. I report inbound HADIN and am cleared for the option. The ADF needle flips and I am good to descend to 275' and timing for missed at 3:32. I wiggle back and forth a bit as I slow my scan to brief the missed one more time, I need to work on this multi tasking thing.

I make another round including holds and then head back to Brandywne. I set up for the VOR-A approach from MXE. Runway in use is niner so I stay with the flow. Cutting short my circle to land I enter on a right base. I am looking for helicopter traffic as soon as I remove the foggles but it takes a few for my eyes to adjust to the sun. I call your plane and hand it over to Brian as I put my shades on. Whew much better, my plane. I land ok and taxi out to shut down in front of the terminal. 3.3 hours flying time with 2.6 under the hood. My eyes are beat and my metal hip is talking to me. It's a short hop back to ILG where I tie 679er down and call for fuel. Dave is taking her out tonight so I didn't bother to cover. I did add a quart of oil and top the tanks of (20.3 gallons). That's it for now, I'm up again next Sunday at 8:30 for another 3 hour block.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

OCMD Beach Wedding

Friday was absolutely gorgeous! Mary and I bagged work and decided to get to Ocean City Maryland with enough time to get some sun on the beach. We caught up with a fellow flying club member and departed Wilmington (ILG) at 1315 Zulu or 9:15 for the non-flying readers.

Winds were a bit gusty when we left ILG but we climbed out and turned on course to Cape May, NJ. Cape May, you wonder? Well we wanted to make a breakfast stop and give business to the new restaurant (Flight Deck) in the terminal. Not a bad landing on two eight with a long run out so I could taxi by the Sundowner for sale that has peaked my interest. Mary liked what she saw and of course that always helps the possible purchase go smoothly. Service was good at the Flight Deck even though they ran out of creamed chipped beef, my favorite.

We saddled up for the short hop to Ocean City, KOXB. I circled the Cape May Lewes Ferry to gain some altitude and take pictures of the ongoing work on one of my projects. Once at altitude we crossed the Delaware Bay and I went under the hood. Dave was my safety pilot and I wanted to fly the VOR-A approach into OXB since winds were favoring runway three two.

Across the Bay we went and I turned on a course o 191* for 29.4 miles to the IAF CODNI. Once across CODNI I made a right turn on a 260* heading out bound for 1 minute to make my procedure turn. At the 1 minute mark I turned to a heading of 080* to intercept the 108* radial from SBY, Salisbury. Once crossing CODNI again, now the final approach fix I descended through 1500' looking to level off at 860' and hold until reaching the missed approach point 3:12 from CODNI (at 90 knts). At 900' I removed the foggles and entered the left down wind for runway three two, FUN STUFF.

Mary and I rented a car from Express, a baby blue Toyota Camry, it's better then walking. I loaded up our bags and my flight gear since Dave was heading north for the VFR corridor through New York class bravo airspace. I would have loved that flight but.....we were off to our hotel. We checked in at the Best Western on 56th street. Great place and really good service. The room was large, clean and had a sitting room, fridge, sink and two tv's. There would be no sports today, we were headed to the beach. The beach was a short walk, just one bloc. Mary and I found a nice spot and tossed out or towels. The sun goddess, My Bride, was soaking up the rays while I tossed about trying to get comfortable. I plugged the iPod in and listened to the multiple episodes of my favorite aviation podcasts.

I returned to the room first, enough sun for me. Mary followed along an hour later. We got ready for the wedding and headed back to the beach around 5:30. My first wedding not requiring shoes, neat concept. The ceremony went off like clockwork with a background you could not have painted any prettier. Nichole looked great, and was all smiles, as a bride should look with the most thought about day of her life unfolding before her. Memories rushed through me from the day of her baptism standing there in church. I can remember the minister, the suit I wore and the folks in attendance. I can remember changing this child's diaper on more then one occasion. I am indeed getting old (sigh...)

The ceremony was followed by a reception dinner at the lighthouse restaurant located at some country club. The appetizers were very good, I allowed myself one celebratory captain and coke to commemorate the event. Dinner soon followed with Mary and I each having a tasty salad, Prime Rib cooked to perfection and vanilla cake with butter cream icing. Lip smackin' good stuff! The old farts passed on a after reception meet at Secreats (local club), I don't think I could handle all that and get up on time to fly let alone with all my wits about me.

Dave was on time as he taxied in around 10am and we loaded up our bags. I wanted to get some GPS time in so I sat right seat and played as Dave took us home. It was a treat to ride along and actually see the sights. Once home we picked up our Maggie girl at the kennel and a pizza to go from across the street. I inhaled 3 slices and headed out to our baseball game. We lost 11-6 giving up a big time dinger with the sacks loaded, yep a grand slam. Oh well another day another game. Finally on my home for the rest of the day, I couldn't wait. Mary and I spent some time in the hot tub then turned in early. It's good to be home.