Saturday, August 30, 2008

Breakfast & Bath

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting up with Bob C and his daughter Mackenzie for breakfast. Our plan was to meet close to Wilmington (KILG) and then I was going to wash the plane. The wx really looked bad and I didn't think it would be to much fun washing when it may have rained on me. The change of plans had us meeting at a more central location in West Chester, PA. The DK Diner was the choice and the food and service were very good. Mary and I have made the stop on more then one occasion for breakfast and or lunch.

The Bride was once again sidelined with a flare up of diverticulitis so I was on my own today. It was great hanging out and talking flying with Bob and as always, it was a blast absorbing all of Mac's smiles, giggles and her playing peek a boo in the mirrors adjacent to our booth. You had to be there, she would pop up, see herself then say, it's me!! The child is just to cute!

After the morning stop for eats I headed south. I called Mary to check on her and see if she needed anything before I headed back down to the airport. She was good to go but did remind me to pick up cat litter on the way home. I rolled into Red Eagle Avionics and they still had all their planes parked out front. I was wondering if I would be able to taxi over and wash the bird. I wandered inside to see if I would be in the way and got the thumbs up to wash away. They have always been very friendly at Red Eagle. I did figure out why the planes were out when I saw the floor scrubber machine hard at it. They were doing the spring cleaning, just in time for fall.

I walked down the line of aircraft wondering what history each plane could share. I think of these crazy things, what places have they been to, who has the most hours, who is well cared for and sadly acknowledge the few there that really need and want attention. These thoughts are gone as fast as they came when I arrive at 679er. I uncovered and opened her up for some fresh air and then hooked the tow bar for the pull towards the hangar. 679er who I have dubbed "Elizabeth" had to wonder why no pre-flight and why no key in the ignition. Not today my flying friend, today is your airplane version of a spa day. I tugged her up alongside of a spotless King Air, this big boy was sharp, super clean and obviously well cared for. I fetched the hose and my bucket along with a brand new super soft brush, new cleaning towels and Mothers quick shine that I have used on my corvettes when entering them in shows. Of course the sun comes out as I am getting started and I worked up a good sweat, it beats riding that dang stationary bike.

After a good scrub and wash down I pushed my baby back to her tie down and toweled dried any remaining water. I broke out the new clean soft towels and applied the spay and wipe quick detail from Mothers, she was looking good. I re-installed the new nose plugs, placed the cover on and double checked all the locks, our girl was good to go. I know we don't own 679er, we are part of a 3 person club with one being the owner but I treat her like she is mine and she takes care of us when we fly. I know, this may sound strange but I guess it's a guy thing. I was the same way with my corvettes, when I sold them I felt like I was selling a part of my family.

I gather up my bucket and supplies and head over to the hangar so I can harass my friend Bill who is running the floor machine. He is a fellow ham radio operator and we have known each other for, well to many years to count. Both his boys were helping out and he was wrapping up as I finally decided to call it a day. I made a quick call to the house to see if my Bride needed anything but she was fine. We will decide on dinner if she is feeling better when I get home. Oh, the answer is yes, I brought home the 25lb box of cat litter, the boys will be happy.

A fun day hangar flying with Bob and some good hard work getting 679er clean and shiny. We may head over to Woodbine for the labor day cook out and catch up with Jeff and Wayne. We are almost ready for our flight to Nags Head, NC scheduled to depart Wilmington on Thursday returning on Sunday, bumped a day earlier for Mary's surgery. The plane is clean, tanks full and the GPS is updated. Are we there yet?????

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Instrument Cross Country

Whew, what a long day!

I was scheduled for my Instrument cross country at 11:30, I was awake since 4 am and went through my preflight a dozen times. Mary wanted to give me that V8 juice smack on the forehead so I would stop tossing and turning but she gave up. My Bride gave me a kiss goodbye as she headed into work around 7:30 and I continued with my wx and nav log sheets. I finally decided, after multiple reviews that everything was covered, checked and rechecked it was time for a shower. I was ready to head to the airport on what seemed like a record pace. Of course I ran through all my stuff just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. I must give credit where due; I had purchased the IFR Flight File from and it really helped organize what I needed for my trip, I reccomend it to any new IFR pilots. Finally, I was packed and headed south when it hit me, I forgot my batteries for the E6B, ahhh the manual version is always reliable and needs no batteries, keep trucking south to Wilmington.

I had previously ordered fuel on my last return home so I only needed to sump for this task. I quickly uncovered and stowed my gear, I was really feeling excited about flying, like it was a checkride prep flight. The Tiger tied down across from me taxied out and I followed suit in short order. I was headed to runway one four for my departure. I was asked to hold in position just shy of the taxiway that leads me to runway nine for an Army Blackhawk landing at his ramp. There was no traffic behind me so I completed my runup. No sooner I was reviewing my checklist I was asked to change to runway nine at the taxiway I was holding short, no problem 679er taxi to runway niner at kilo five. A final check of the door, flaps, mixture, pump and lights has me advising the tower that Archer 679er is ready to go runway niner at Kilo five. I'm cleared for take off and 679er jumps into the air, we are both ready for today's next step in the Instrument rating process.

A smooth landing at Brandywine (KOQN) and a short taxi to tie down. Brian and I reviewed my fight plans, check the computer wx forecast and he listened in on my call to flight service for a briefing on weather, flight restrictions and file my flight plans, all three legs. Everything checked out and the flight plan call went ok. The briefer kept telling me my route to IPT was not correct, he didn't accept direct to pottstown (PTW). I thoguth this was bizarre but hey it was my first time calling for an IFR plan. Brian confirmed my plans and questioned what the briefers concern was. I guess I dropped the ball since I thought he finally acceptd what I gave him. We shall see when I request clearence.

Brian checked my fuel in 679er and we saddled up. I taxied out and completed my run up so I would be ready for my release. I held short of runway nine and made my call.

ME: Philly Clearance, Archer 28679er, at Brandywine, IFR to Williamsport
PHL: Archer 28679er advise ready to copy
ME: Ready to copy, Archer 2879er

C- Cleared to Williamsport
A- 3000 expect 6000 in 10 minutes
F- 128.4 (departure radio frequency)
T- 4234 (squawk code)


I read back what I copied and added departing runway nine, I was given "read back correct, advise ready for release" by Philly. I quickly advised ready for release and I was given a release with a void time of four minutes. Philly clearence advised my void time was 1638, time now 1634 if not off by 1638 call clearance to advise. I flipped back to CTAF and announced my departure on runway nine at Brandywine. I was climbing out to 3000 and made my brandywine traffic call advising departure to the south. I then flipped back to Philly departure and checked in with, "Phlilly Departure, Archer 28679er off Brandywine, 2,200 climbing 3000 dirct modena". Philly reqested a climb to 5000 and direct PTW, they also came back and vectored me for traffic then got me back on course. I was having a blast! Nervous as all heck but having fun!

Enroute was really nice,listen for your call acknowledge instructions and comply. If you use flight following you will handle the Instrument enroute no problems. We followed the course and Wilkes-Barre approached asked me if I wanted vectors for the ILS 27 at Williamsport. I confirmed I would take the vectors, life made easy. After a series of heading changes I was told to maintain a certain altitude until intercepting the ILS. I did and was then handed over to the tower. I had to report the Final Approach Fix "Picture Rocks" also an NDB, inbound. I had the NDB already tracking and watchd it swing as I passed the station. I reported my position and was cleared to land on runway two seven. I am still unwinding here so if I missed a call or two while typing this don't hold it against me. I made a really nice landing into Williamsport and have come to the conclusion that the plastic foggles were messing with my vision. I wore my regular glasses with the flip "overcasters" and I landed with no crazy sensation of being in the fast forward mode.

We made a nature stop here while I checked the wx for the next leg and settled up the fuel bill. I wanted to top off for the remaining legs of the journey. Instrument flight requiers 45 minutes in reserve fuel not counting the fuel needed to fly to an alternate of necessary, according to the 1-2-3 rule. I had everything plotted out and marked on my low enroute chart, I also had the alternate airport flight plan on the same sheet as the flight plan for each specific leg, I know, anal retentive. One of my radio bloopers toady was during my taxi off the runway. I was directed to switch to ground and I did then given direction to make a left turn on bravo and a right turn on Hotel. I spewed something like left turn golf (the taxiway I was on) and right tune on bravo, or somehting stupid like that. In good ole Reverend Jim fassion (tv show taxi) the ground controller repeated in slow motion, how embarassing. I could not help but laugh as I repeated to him in the same voice and speed, we all got a chuckle out of that. As Brian said, good thing that wasn't ILG, they would not let you forget that one, he was right.

I sumped my tanks and we saddled up for Tri-Cities (KCZG) just south west of Binghamton, NY. I advised I was at Degol Jet Center, IFR to Tri-Cities. The info was exchanged and this was what I copied.

C - Cleared Tri-Cities
R- As Filed
A- 4000 expect 7000 in 10 minutes
F- 124.9
T- 4277


I once again got the read back correct and I advised I was ready for release. I had to wait a few, but not to long thenwe were off. I taxied to runway one two via taxiway Juliet and we were launching for KCZG. I was cleared to 7000 in short order and turned on course to Tri-Cities. My plan was to shoot the VOR - A into CZG and knock out a second "kind" of instrument approach. I was offered vectors from Binghamton and I accepted knowing I was going to shoot the VOR-A back at Brandywine, with no vectors. The approach dumps you right at the point where you can enter the left down wind for runway 13 or cross midfield and enter the downwind for 31. I know, it's circle to land but you all follow my line of thinking here. Anywho, I "circle to land" and it was pretty smooth and rounded very nice with a good 180* turn. You have to watch the surrounding hills and not stray far from the runway. Again a smooth landing and short roll out as I taxied off. I closed my flight plan on the ground with Binghamton Approach and taxied to the ramp to get set up for the next leg, CZG to ABE Allentown.

I taxied out, and contacted clearence at the same sweet spot I was able to call them from on my taxi in. Again the use of CRAFT to copy my info makes life so easy.

C- Cleared to Allentown (Class 'C' airport)
R - Radar Vectors LVZ As Filed Maintain obstruction clearence (a new twist)
A- 4000 expect 6000 in 10 minutes
F- Departure on 118.6
T- Squawk 4215


I advised ready for release and we were soon off. It was a straight out climb making sure I cleared the surrounding hills, once clear and local traffic advised of my direction of departure I flipped to the departure frequency and contacted Binghamton. I advised off of Tri-Cities, my altitude and climbing to 4000 . Enroute time, time to review and work my plan setting up the radio and vor's as needed. I am waiting on getting a bit closer so I can copy the Allentown ATIS, I know I'm a bit anxious. Brian and I chit chat about flying, lessons and what remains for my rating. Brian decides to fail my GPS and I get on the VOR tracking, I have them set as my back up anyway. I actually tracked the VOR's better then the dang GPS. I flip to cross reference intersections with other VOR's, fun stuff.

After working our way well south of Wilkes-Barre we get handed off to Allentown. I get my GPS back in time so I can shoot the GPS 6 approach. It all flows very smooth except for a missed altitude readback in the middle of the GPS clearence and all the other stuff that was spewed out. Point taken and I'll do better. Finally switched to the tower and I shoot a low approach only. I get cut lose to maintain VFR back to Brandywine, but keep the squawk code.

Eventually Allentown dumps me and I trudge onward to the Modena VOR MXE for another VOR-A approach with a hold. Altitude and heading are correct and I brief with a note that my entry will be direct all the while drawing the invisible line on the approach plate for a teardrop entry, which was correct. Brian asked what are doing for an entry, show me. I made the trace with my finger indicating a teardrop and said teardrop the second time. I then realized what I had said the first time, I'm getting tired.

I entered in a teardrop and turned outbound at 200* for one minute then turned inbound for the 56* heading. The vor and headiong indicator needles swung in unison, it was a beautiful site and a fitting end to such a fun day. I was so happy I hit that on the button that I forgot my timer, what a dipstick, ok track in and drop down to the circling altitude. How do I know I'm there? I use the GPS and guesstimate, I flipped the foggles as I was almost to the down wind base point for runway niner, great timing. I circle to land on nine, corrected for squaring off the pattern and not maintaining the circling concept. I cut back the power, add flaps and once again make another fine landing,

In review, 5.4 hours on the hobbs $475, 6 hours instructor time $330, landing at two new airports and the learning experience PRICELE$$ !

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

IR Lesson 27

To reference the 1966 movie classic, a bit of history. Clint Eastwood is the "good", slow to anger, but quick on the trigger, Lee Van Cleef is the bad, an elegant example of absolute evil and Eli Wallach is the "ugly", a menacingly funny, totally amoral bandido whose relationship with the Eastwood character consists largely of betrayals. The movie style is all contrasts,huge panoramic shots alternating with tight close-ups and very slow build-ups to lightning-fast action.

Fast forward to August 24th 2008. Gary wants to be the "good", working hard on his IR, trying not to beat himself up to much. Gary seems to be playing multiple parts, taking on a second as the "bad", since his flying today stinks. Wait, why not play all three parts and cap of this lovely flight experience playing the part of the "ugly", yep, between altitude and heading, never mind the standard rate turns it was down right UGLY.

Ok, all the players are covered and I get no extra hobbs time credits for playing multiple parts. The day started out nice enough with the wx looking pretty good. No sooner then it was spoken the Government, in it's infinite wisdom, decided that the Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden needs a TFR over his house. I could go on but I digress. TFR noted and noted again when listening to the Wilmington ATIS as I call ground for my taxi release. A change of pace has me taxi to runway one four as instructed. I'm off in short order climbing to 2,500' since my track to KOQN is directly over the TFR. I maintained above the 2000' block and didn't get a second look from the tower or any escorts. My approach and landing into Brandywine was uneventful and I taxied off to find a parking spot. This was the end of my "good" flying.

The plan for today was to shoot some approaches and polish my skills with the garmin 300XL GPS. I purchased new clip on foggles for this week and they worked great, blacked everything out. We departed Brandywine and climbed straight out to 2,500'. I followed a few vectors and made my course changes accordingly. I set up for the GPS 27 approach which went fair. It was bumpy at times, I guess as we got close to the base of the cloud layer now moving in. I make that statement since I was vectored by my CFI to remain clear. My altitude is everywhere and I'm doing the ski slalom keeping my on course heading aligned. I easily get frustrated today and that's not like me and it's not a good thing in the cockpit. Deep breaths I tell myself as I go missed and instead head out towards Chester County. Brian senses my frustration and tells me that my procedures are fine and the briefings are fine, stop fixating! Even though we want to hone the GPS skills I seemingly move the yoke with my body movement to program the 300XL, this is causing me to fight the plane. As my frustration level increases so does my standard rate turns, they get steep which causes my altitude to fluctuate. It's a vicious circle today.

Next up was the VOR A approach. Seems simple enough right? I don't think so, at least not for me today. I track to the VOR, cross and make a direct entry, looking good. I'm outbound on the 239* for one minute, ask if clear right and track inbound on the 52* heading, ok well at least search for it. I made the mistake of dialing in the MXE VOR on the GPS and distracted myself getting off course for half deflection. I get reined in and cross the VOR asking to make another lap so I know that I can still do this IR pilot stuff. Brian says to relax, do what you know to do and fly the plane, again with the stop fixating. At this point Brian asks if I had enough for the day, I respond oh hell no, not ending on a bad note. I turn inbound tracking nicely but forget to reset my timer. I don't fiddle with it since I have enough distractions and instead note my time on the clock display. 11:11:38, ok that means I'm looking for 11:15:25 or so for the Missed Approach Point sine the DME went kaput in the last week or so. Ok time's up and my altitude is hanging on 1150' for the circling to land. Ok nice and easy, add another notch of flaps and make a smooth 180* turn back to the runway. Nice, looking nice and off we go missed. My only positive point of the day and it was so short lived, the life of an instrument student.

My final approach was the GPS 9 and I pulled it off ok. Still fighting course and altitude. My last few lesson have really come together but today did knock me down a peg or two. I 'm instructed to look up, so with a quick flip I have runway nine almost dead ahead and Brian asks for a circling to land two seven. I slide to the right after making sure I'm clear and circle to land two seven as instructed. On final Brian again asks if I had enough and I tell him I want to land and end on a good note. He agreed and in we went.

It was a very humbling experience today, I am far from ready in my book but we shall see how the cross country goes on Wednesday. The plan is KOQN-KIPT-KCZG-KABE-KOQN. I'm excited but after today's rough go I'm a bit nervous. I'll report back Wednesday evening.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Just The Two Of Us....

Yep, it was time we got some fly time together so Mary and I made a quick hop to our favorite breakfast stop, the Cornerstone Grill at the Millville Airport. The original plan was to meet up with the North East Flyers (NEF) at our scheduled stop 4N1 Greenwood lake. Mary had some back pain and was not feeling up to two hours of flight time so we made the call for the short hop. Millville is 15 minutes each direction not counting taxi time to and from the ramps.

We were met at Wilmington Airport by fuel trucks buzzing about, count em' Atlantic, Dassault and our fuel supplier Aeroways. Three trucks crossing the ramps and topping of various birds anxious to get in the cool September like air. I completed the preflight and mounted the camera for a video of our flight. I am looking forward to my Instrument Lessons to be complete so Mary and I can get back into our weekend groove of flying off and enjoying the time together. Thankfully we will be flying to Nags Head in twelve days! We decided to get away and Nags Head, North Carolina is only a two hour hop.

We enjoyed breakfast in the new addition at the Cornerstone Grill. Mary had eggs benedict over english muffins with canadian bacon and I had the breakfast quesadilla, it's always perfect. We each stretched our legs as we wandered our way back out to 679er enjoying the weather. There was another Archer II now parked alongside and we gave it a sneak peek. This aircraft had the small vent window added in the access door window, pretty neat idea. I made my customary walk around, then we saddled up for home. Mary said she was glad we made the shorter run today, it felt good to once again get some seat time together.

Millville radio drove me bonkers as it always does. There is no nice way to put it so here goes, they need to just plain shut up and let traffic make calls, Ahhhh, I feel much better. I've said it before and I'll say it again, they are going to cause an accident. Besides the normal radio chaos we had a good time. Both of us feel bad for backing out of the NEF event at 4N1, Greenwood lake but it was better to have fun then suffer through and hour each way when my Bride didn't feel all that great. Part II of our flight is from Taxiway 'J'uliet, then my battery must have died. I'm pre-occupied flying and don't give it another look until enroute to Wilmington. At the end you will hear Mary comment nice landing, and no stall horn. It's bad when the non-pilot knows I was flat.

I have an Instrument lesson planned for tomorrow, three hours of approaches and getting squared away with the Garmin 300XL GPS. The cross country is scheduled for Wednesday. Updates to follow after I drag myself out of the plane!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

IFR Cross Country Planning

I am at the stage in my training that I will attempt to plan my cross country and hope to fly it this weekend or next week. The requirements are as follows. The student shall complete at least one cross-country under IFR (simulated or actual) that consists of: a distance of at least 250 NM, an instrument approach at each airport and three different kinds of approaches. Sounds like fun!
My initial plan was to head south but I reconsidered and now want to plan some airports that I have not landed at. I would like to depart Brandywine KOQN and make my first stop Williamsport, PA (KIPT), home of the Little League World Series. From IPT I would head north/north east to Tri Cities in New York (KCZG) this is located just south west of Binghamton, NY. From this second stop I would depart to the south and shoot an approach at Allentown (KABE). Lastly, I would high tail it home on the short hop back to Brandywine. My preliminary calculation totals 290 miles, an ILS approach at IPT, VOR-A at CZG and a LOC into ABE and finally a GPS into OQN, Brandywine.

Where to start? I have purchased the applicable IFR Enroute Low Altitude charts, L-30 and L34 and VFR charts. I purchased new batteries for my electronic E6B and printed some nice and neat flight planning log sheets. I have been following the wx all week and this Sunday looks good with the possibility of some thunderstorms late in the day. I plan on being home well before that fun is scheduled to start.

First a bit of helpful info for understanding the flight plan and its process. The victor airways are something like the interstate highway system, except that the airways are above the ground and you can't actually see them—they're a system of established routes that run along specified VOR radials, from one VOR station to another. They therefore make flight planning easier, and they help Air Traffic Control to organize and regulate the traffic flow. The basic principle of operation of the VOR is very simple: the VOR facility transmits two signals at the same time. One signal is constant in all directions, while the other is rotated about the station. The airborne equipment receives both signals, looks (electronically) at the difference between the two signals, and interprets the result as a radial from the station.

Ok, time to get started. My first order of business is to open up the AOPA Real Time Flight Plan program (RTFP) and (FP) web pages. I first look up the most recent routes assigned for my choice of destination on FP and then plug that info into the RTFP program. I just like the nav log and look of the AOPA program. Lets take a look at the first leg KOQN - KIPT. The FP tool provides a few routes and I will go with the shortest 112 miles. The route will be listed KOQN PTW V29 ETX V164 FQM. What's this mumbo jumbo you ask? Well, let's break this down so we can all understand it.
I will be departing Brandywine (KOQN) and heading direct to the Pottstown VOR (PTW), from Pottstown I will follow Victor Airway #29 to the East Texas VOR (ETX), from ETX I will follow Victor Airway 164 to the Williamsport VOR (FQM) and finally into Williamsport on the ILS 29 Approach. Seems simple enough right? Yes I guess it can be unless the route is amended in flight, then I will be making changes to the Garmin 300XL and acknowledging the amended clearance. I just hope it flows smoothly for my first time "in the system".

Each leg of the flight will follow the same process, then on game day (day of the flight) I'll update wx and plug in the numbers to calculate the effects of the wind on my leg times and fuel burn. The last look at the wx (on the ground) will also let me get a feel for what runway and approach I should expect. As a pilot gets closer to their destination we can check in with Flight Watch on 122.0 to get an updated look at the wx ahead, it works, I've taken advantage of this a few times. We can also tune to the Airport Terminal Information Service (ATIS), Airport Weather Observation Service (AWOS) and Airport Surface Observation Service (ASOS) report.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

IR Lesson 26, Class 'C' Approaches

Today Brian and I decided on Class "Charlie" airspace with some traffic and good Air traffic Controllers. I had topped off the tanks yesterday after my return from my practice approaches with Jeff over in New jersey. 679er was ready to roll when I arrived at the airport. I made the quick hop to Brandywine and picked up my CFI. As I stated in the opening line, we decided on Allentown, KABE Class C.

Traffic was light at Brandywine and we were off runway two seven in short order, 679er was climbing like her hair was on fire at 1200 feet a minute, she loves the cool air. I headed north and picked up flight following with Philadephia knowing I would be handed off to Allentown. I tuned in the ATIS and noted the winds then planned on my first approach accordingly. GPS 24 was the first on tap this morning. I set up the Garmin 300XL and selected PILSE as my initial approach fix. I set up my comm/nav with everything I would need for communication and I was ready and set for the missed approach. Philly handed me off to Allentown approach and they advised to fly direct PILSE, maintain VFR at 3500, I acknowledged. Did I mention how much I hate the Foggles? They are uncomfortable, they mess with your vision and for no other reason, they just stink. Ok, I least feel better for clearing the air with that rant. About 2 miles from PILSE I slow to just 90 knots and add a notch of flaps, a slight throttle adjustment to 2200 rpm and 679er is loping along just fine. At PILSE I turn left to a 330* heading and descend to 3000', it's 5 miles to MUDRE. The Garmin 300 leads my turns and at MUDRE I turn left on course to 243* clear to descend to MUSYK the final approach fix. I run through my landing checks and switch tanks, I'm ready. I am instructed to switch to the tower and I do, advising that Archer 679er is inbound MUSYK (the final approach fix) and alert them that I have current ATIS Info. Brian tells me to remove the foggles and the runway is right there before me, sweet, no time to feel the love I'm going missed to the published hold. The tower confirms and switches me to departure.

I double check my nav two setting for the East Texas ETX VOR (published hold) and track there with the plan of a direct entry to the hold. I cross the station and turn on a 059* course and track out for 4 miles. I am adjusting for the wind and use the GPS to view my track while making corrections with the heading indicator. Good tip from Mike that I fly with in 3525U. The picture displayed is out of the manual and not a true representation of today's tracking. I hit my four mile mark and turn inbound to a 239* heading. As I am rolling out the CDI swings in harmony with my heading indicator, life is very good! Brian makes a call to Allentown and requests the ILS 24 approach. We exit the hold and I follow vectors for the ILS. This stuff is really fun, as I turn to a new heading of 040*. My altitude is dead on, speed and heading look very good. Next course change is 060* and I confirm then pick right back up with my scan. I give the GPS a glance and put together the mental picture that has us tracking parallel to the approach. My next series of turns will have me intercept the localizer. I once again flow through the approach plate wanting to brief a second time and check my settings. Everything is looking fine when I get my next course change to 150* and follow with the right turn. I'm getting close, final landing checks completed and a quick glance at the plate to confirm my settings. The final course change to intercept the localizer is 210* and I'm cleared for ILS 24 approach. The localizer comes alive and I immediately start my turn to 243*. On target, looking good and ready to descend once crossing MUDRE. I cross MUDRE and descend to 2400 crossing the Final Approach Fix MUSYK with the needles centered. I am now clear to 586' and get the cleared to land from the Allentown tower. A touch and go then off to the south and a return to Brandywine. Brian lets me keep the foggles off after my T&G to enjoy some of the wx and view. He calls my plane and I acknowledge so we can circle a reservoir off his side of the aircraft and check out all the colors of the water. Not looking good if that's somebodies drinking water.

Allentown has us squawk VFR since Philly is not taking the hand offs today. No big deal as we drop to 2500' and set up for the GPS 27 approach. I have shot this one many times and all goes smooth right up until I remove the foggles. I'm aligned as I should be and at the right altitude but after the foggles I feel like I'm zipping along at twice my speed. I double check and I'm good 65 knots very short final and I'm feeling like I'm stuck on fast forward. I let Brian know and he is ready if needed. I'm over the numbers, flat and plunk 679er in. Full power! Going around to salvage the possible multiple bumps landing. Once turning crosswind the fast forward feeling subsides, what a rush that was as I keep telling myself slow down, stay ahead of the plane here cowboy. I enter the down wind, base and final making a smooth landing and in control.

Quick review and update. No, I still have not taken the written. Brian asked me to plan a few cross countries and we will review. He said get the sample test to me so I can sign you off for the real thing. It's cross country, the oral and check ride prep. Getting very close!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Practice Approaches Go Bump!

I needed to get some practice since it has been a few weeks since my last lesson and we all know how rust quickly develops on skills not in use. I gave Jeff (Jeffs Flying Web Page) a call and decided we would meet at Delaware Airpark, yes I am finally going to land at DAP, a private joke that I finally laid to rest. The call to FSS was short and sweet conditions improving by 1300 Zulu time, that's 9am for you land lovers. No Flight Restrictions to worry about and wx clearing as the day goes on, at least that was the forecast.

It was cool this morning as I uncovered 679er with a light breeze. I ordered fuel since we left the tanks below the tabs after our return from Ocean City. Preflight completed I call clear prop and 679er awakens, we are both itching to get some air time. My call for taxi clearance has me heading to the usual runway two seven at taxiway Mike. I comply, followed by my run up and call to the tower after switching the radio to the tower on 126.0. I am cleared for take off and approved for my turn south on course.

I guess about seven miles or so south of Wilmington I pick up flight following with Dover Approach. I dial in the squawk code and keep a look out for Delaware Air Park, 33N. About ten miles out I can make out the runway and the familiar landmarks surrounding the airport. There is traffic inbound so I make my position report and state intentions. I will overfly the field and reposition for a 45* entry to the left downwind on runway two seven. I cross midfield and start my descent banking around to my right and entering on a three mile 45* for the down wind. I know the winds can be tricky here and there is always a dip as you cross the power lines followed by the crosswinds being blocked by the tress to the north. I'm running it all through my mind as I power back to 1500 rpm and add a notch of flaps. Landing checks are complete as I slow for my base turn. Clear right of any traffic and I add in the second notch of flaps. Still slowing down to 65 knots and once across the power lines I add the last notch of flaps and make an ok landing, my concentration broken by some stall horn. I retract the flaps and let 679er roll out to the last exit saving my brakes and enjoying the view. I call clear 27 and taxi to the terminal.

Jeff and I climb aboard as I run through my checks. The plan is to head to Millville, KMIV and shoot the GPS 32 approach. We taxi out and I announce crossing two seven where I will perform my run up. Once we are ready to go we have the chance to witness some of what I like to call "stupid pilot tricks". We have been monitoring two aircraft inbound, one crossing midfield to enter the left down wind and another shooting an approach for runway nine that said he was going missed off to the left. Ok quick mental picture here, his heading is 090* so breaking off to his left would put him on the north side of the airport, right?. I think this guy need to make the letter L with his left hand and hold it to his forehead, this would have assured he was indeed stepping to the left and, since he went right instead he could use the hand/letter configuration for looser, what a nitwit. It gets better, oh, how so you ask? The Bonanza is now on the downwind and the plane that doesn't know left from right is at the Bo's 7:00. I call out on the radio that they are right on each other and they both wiggle wings and look, thankfully they now see each other. Meanwhile Jeff and I are sitting at the hold short taking it all in. It still gets better, how so you ask? The "lefty" plane turns base and the Bo also turns base. Ok, this is looking interesting. "lefty" lands and the Bo is still coming, he touches down while the first plane is still rolling out. The Bo pulls in the reins and turns off at the same time "lefty" does. I make my call that we are departing runway 27 and add, now that the show is over. I secretly hope this is not an indication of things to come.

We depart on the downwind and make for Millville. Jeff spots a C-17 taking off from Dover AFB and suggested we should pick up flight following, I agree and make the call. Ok, we now have an extra set of eyes for our Delaware Bay crossing. I brief the GPS 32 for Millville and get set up. The wind is pushing pretty good from the north so I need to keep in about a ten degree correction to hold course. My altitude was looking good, nice and steady. About 5 miles out of the initial approach fix LAYIB I configured 679er for 90 knts and one notch of flaps. Nice and steady, we cross LAYIB and turn on a 120* course for a teardrop entry. At the 4 mile mark I turn inbound and follow the 326* course. I must not have hit the hold sequence button since the GPS did not wait for me to reactivate once inbound, I'll have to work through this. Millville radio asked that I report the Final Approach Fix ZUNIE when inbound, I complied. Once crossing ZUNIE it is 5.7 miles to the missed approach point runway 32 and the decision height is 381 feet. I removed the foggles at 400 feet and configured to land. I have been having problems landing after removing the foggles and then placing my glasses back on, it seems to be a depth perception thing as if trying to refocus. I land flat after flaring way to high and immediately go around. Ugh, not happy. I reenter the pattern and manage a C grade landing. We taxi back and I decided enough hood work, I need some landings.

We are soon in the air once again now pointed towards Cape May. Traffic is light but do make a visual on a north bound aircraft below us. I announce my positions as we overfly the field and take up a heading for a picture shoot over the Cape May Lewes ferry. I position for a left downwind entry for runway two eight and get us on the ground in one piece, this landing is a also a C grade. We taxi in so I can make a pit stop and Jeff can get some air, he is battling an upset stomach and the bumps are not making things any better for him. Jeff said he has a sic sack just in case and my face must have went blank. I'm not sure I can land this bird with someone hurling, he assured me he could hold it back. We both laughed but I did not want to even think about it. Jeff decided he was good to go so we saddled up and headed to 33N. I followed the NJ coast of the Delaware Bay and once north of Dover I turned west to cross. I was on with flight following and had to look for one call out crossing left to right a few miles of our nose at the same altitude. Jeff made contact on our traffic and I advised Dover. About 7 miles out I cancelled flight following and set up for a straight in on 27. Jeff reminded me about the squirley winds at 33N but I had that stored in memory from this morning. Altitude now about 500 feet and making our way in I clear the power lines and pull back the power. We fly through the "dip" and get behind the tree line when I need to add a touch of power for a B grade landing, the stall horn even sang a tune longer then I am accustomed to.

Once I was at a full stop Jeff hopped out. I thanked him for the safety pilot time and apologized for him feeling so bad. I taxied out and took off, heading north back home to Wilmington. I got a straight in for runway 1 and of course with no passenger make the first grade A landing of the day. After all the practice today one would hope I nail it once in awhile. 3 hours in the log and some good practice holding heading and altitude in the bumps. I will admit I felt behind the plane on my landings, the worst after taking off the foggles.
I did have fun, Jeff is a great pilot and even though feeling sick, a good co-pilot. We have fun flying and I hope we can log more flight time to keep our IFR skills sharp. Thanks for the great Pictures Jeff. Check out Jeff's Flying web page at

Todays totals: 3 hours logged, 5 landings

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Hangar Flying

The Pilots Of America (POA) members held another monthly hangar flying session this evening at KLOM, Wings Field. Besides the rich in history background to this airport gem, the POA members are carrying on an age old tradition of what we as pilots really enjoy. Fellowship, camaraderie, hangar flying (fish tales) and sharing experiences that in the end benefit each of us as we continue on our journey to always learn more.

Tonight Shane and his wife Beth were in attendance. Together they shared some great Airventure stories about their camping experiences, transportation and best of all the journey to and from, very cool stuff. When I arrived I was first to the picnic tables but must admit RobS had me beat, he was returning to Wings after a short flight and knocked out a couple of landings, then my radio went dead. Lee, Gary and Adam were also in attendance and Anthony who wins the furthest traveled award from Lexington, KY. What?! from Kentucky? easy there, he has business in the area so the timing worked out. Sorry Anthony, we can't mislead folks thinking your THAT dedicated to these Hangar flying sessions. Although, a bit of good news shared this evening will have Anthony back among the North Easters in the very near future.

While we sat and ate (thanks Shane & Beth for the sandwiches and Rob for the munchies and refreshments) we could not help but notice the plume of smoke from the south. There was a building fire that quickly got out of control (8 alarm)and consumed a few apartment buildings in one complex, no word of injuries as I type this. The Airport quickly started to buzz, both life flights were off the ground each heading out in a different direction. The news helicopters from NBC, CBS and ABC were in for fuel then back to the story. I figured it was time for me to head south and noticed the news choppers were still on station as I headed south on Rt. 476.

A fun night of aviation, good friends and shared experiences! I'm looking forward to Septembers get together. Special thanks to Rob for the group picture. (Pictureds left to right, Anthony, Adam, Lee, Shane, Beth, Gary S, Me and Rob taking the picture)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ocean City, MD

What a GREAT day to fly!! Mary and I decided that since my CFII was having surgery this weekend I would pass on the heavy dose of IR studies and go have some fun. We decided to head to the beach for the day. We had planned on meeting our friends Ted and Pam at the airport since they were going to pick us up. They were driving in from Gap Pennsylvania and we planned on a 10am meet.

We got up late taking advantage of the nice wx and sleeping in. I finally got up and took care of the Maggie mutt and completed my flight plan for the under one hour hop. Wx looked great and the temps were nice and cool, it was shaping up to be a late September day in August. We passed on a real breakfast and instead hit McD's for a quick bite on the drive. We usually drive up to the plane but today we carried the beach bags and flight gear. It was so nice to be able to pre-flight and not sweat up a storm. Mary the always friendly ramp neighbor wandered down the line to say hello to our friends with the Piper 140/150hp. This man's plane is spotless and he has decided to sell. Paint is excellent, interior very good and less then 100 hours on the new engine. The bird just came out of annual from the same shop 679er is sent to. Yes, when I dropped of for the recent starter fix I asked about the 140, I got the scoop and it was all good. The price is easily in our price range but I'm not to keen on the 150hp or the single door for my first bird. I admit, I'm spoiled by the Archer. Mary made her way back up the line and said he was cleaning off finger prints that he found that was from the annual, he's that meticulous about this plane.

We finally climbed in and got 679rer fired up. I planned to fly direct along the Delaware shore line splitting my path between Sussex County, Georgetown Airport KGED and the Waterloo VOR (ATR). I also gave some thought to tracking to the ATR vor then turning south for Ocean City, there are many options. We are cleared to takeoff on runway two seven and approved for our turn on course to the south. Peter is the controller working the tower and he advises to have fun at the beach, I acknowledge.

The view is really clear this morning. AS we cross the C&D canal Mary reaches for the camera to start taking some photo's, one problem, neither of us pulled the battery from the charger, DOH!. Oh well, at least we enjoyed the view! I picked up flight following with Dover Approach and was pretty much hands off the whole way, it was that smooth. Atlantic City was clearly visible from our side of the Delaware river and Bay for that matter. The vents were pushing cool air on us and I even closed mine to just allow enough to keep air moving. Mary did her thing, settling in for her in flight nap while I kept an eye out for traffic., I wanted to have some fun so I opened the chart and picked out the NDB Landy just slightly north west of Ocean City. I set our ADF to 407 and then decided to tune for an AM broadcast instead, I found news radio 1060. Who wants to listen to that stuff, back to 407 and listening to identify the NDB.

About 15 miles out I cancel flight following and tune the Airports CTAF of 122.8 to get a picture of the traffic. There is a a plane shooting the GPS 2 practice approach, multiple targets in a conga line to land on runway 32. I overfly the NDB with the airport active runway at my 9:00. I watch a Cessna take off followed by a King air, they both climb well above and behind me. I had made my ten and five mile position reports and now was announcing my three mile 45* for the left down wind three two. There was a plane that had taken off and he said he would follow me number two to land. The radio was flowing very smoothly. I turned Base to final and someone asked the Archers current position when I responded short final. I touched down long so I could speed up the taxi clear of active for the traffic behind me. As I was turning off, the next aircraft to land called a one mile final, I followed with clear runway three two Ocean City. Mary opened her door and I opened the window flipping the air scoop in place. We taxied in and followed a cart to parking. This same cart also gave us a ride to the terminal.

Pam, Ted and their son Patrick soon arrived and we were off for the beach. We went to their condo, ordered lunch from Anthony's and sat out on the deck enjoying the cool breeze and just catching up. By the way, Anthony's is a must stop for your favorite sandwich needs, good hoagies and shrimp salad. The ladies changed for the beach and the guys, well we were bums, our plan was to hang out enjoy the view of the bay, talk sports, flying and whatever else crossed our vacation mode brains.

There is a condo for sale in the same building that Mary and I decided to look at. We called the Realtor that Pam and Ted dealt with even though it wasn't his listing. They knew the listing agent and didn't think much of him so they pointed us to their guy, at least if we bought the listing agent would have to split the 6% fee. Hey, it's one way of letting the other guy know your not to fond of his business practices. Within thirty minutes we met and walked through the place. Single bedroom, one bath, kitchen with appliances and a deck with a Bay view. Carpet and tile was new, it has a one year warranty on HVAC and the appliances too. Price range was good and with the market flat I'm sure there is wheel and deal room to negotiate. Something for us to ponder.

The ladies headed off to the beach and returned late in the day. I wanted to be wheels up by 8pm at the latest so we could be home by 9pm. I am night current but having not flown much at night I don't feel as proficient as I should be. We got running late and didn't head out to dinner until 7pm and our choice for dinner had a 40 minute wait. It was now 7:30 so I decided to pass on dinner and head to the airport. We all said our goodbyes and wished we could have stayed longer but I am of the better safe then sorry mentality and I didn't want to stretch my night time comfort factor.

We saddled up and headed for home. As we climbed out of KOXB we were watching for "jumpers" exiting an aircraft high above the field. I was talking to the pilot and advised of my course. As I climbed out we exited on a modified downwind heading more towards the north/north east to clear the airport general area. As we strained to see the jumper plane we finally saw two chutes pop open and start their descent, very cool to watch. I picked up flight following with Dover and we were on our way. The only call outs for traffic was a C-17 and two C-5's near Dover. Mary got to see the sunset for the first time in the air, it was gorgeous. My Bride seemed to enjoy the evening flight as did I, I guess I should get more night flight time in my log book. About 15 miles south of Wilmington, Dover cut us loose to squawk VFR and gave us Philly's numbers. I had already noted the Wilmington ATIS and flipped to the standby tower frequency already dialed in and waiting.

Me: Goooood Evening Wilmington Tower, Archer 28679er 15 from the south 3000 level with Hotel,for full stop, going to Red Eagle.
Tower: Archer 28679er enter left base two seven, report 4 mile, winds 290 at 7.

With that exchange complete I went through my landing checklist and enjoyed the view. The Delaware Memorial Bridges were looking good in their new lights, Wilmington was aglow and the tower beacon was flashing it's welcome home. I call my 4 mile left base and receive my "cleared to land runway two seven". The new nose landing light really looks good, we switched to the Q4509 and the light beam is really bright. I ease 679er in over the numbers with a very slight stall horn and smooth touchdown. Flaps retracted and some breaking I pass taxiway kilo but make the very next turn off on taxiway Mike. I stay with the tower all the way to parking and shut down once aligned for my tie down.

A great trip to the beach, spent time with our friends and enjoyed a beautiful sunset from the air. Life is Good!!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Lazy Susan's for Crabs

Mary and I decided that we would head south to KGED, Sussex County Airport in Georgetown Delaware and use the crew car or rent for the quick trip to Lazy Susan's for lunch. My Saturday instrument lesson was cancelled due to thunderstorm activity in the forecast and so we wanted to get some flying time in together this weekend. Of late all the hours have been adding up due to my quest for a new rating. Mary commented that lately I've spent more time with Brian (CFII)then her, that's not a good thing. She was teasing of course but looking back over the last few months she is right! We flew to Millville in April for breakfast and warbird tour, Ocean City Maryland for a wedding in May, a day trip to Block Island in June and Gettysburg in July.

We decided to ask my brother and his wife if they wanted to join us on the lunch run and they agreed. We would pick them up around noon and head to the plane. All present and accounted for we headed to the airport. There are a lot of planes out today from our Red Eagle location and we intend to join the crowd. I called AeroWays to top off 679er to the tabs since that is how I figured my weight and balance. I may as well take all I can carry. Scott arrived and fueled the bird and with that I followed with a sump test. Our passengers climbed aboard and Mary gave a quick briefing. I went through my checklists and got the fan running, the cool air felt great.

After contacting Wilmington ground we were cleared to taxi, runway two seven at mike. I finished my run up and was soon cleared to take off. I made it a nice gentle climb out, cruise climb to keep 679er cool and less passenger stress. I decided on staying under 3,000 feet so our second time pax's could see some points of interest and pick out familiar landmarks. The air was nice and cool at just 3.0 and that kept everyone comfortable. I picked up flight following just south of Wilmington advising 7 east of KEVY Summit level at 2.8 and VFR to Sussex County KGED. Dover approach gave me a squawk code and I was hooked up. We had a few aircraft called out along the way but nothing real close. Once I canceled flight following I heard a citation jet also going to KGED and stayed on frequency to hear his position report.

I had the airport in site as the Citation jet was just calling on 123.0, CTAF for Sussex County. The Jet traffic entered a right downwind and I decided to give plenty of space and entered a left downwind advising number two to land on runway four to follow the citation which I had a visual on. Smooth as could be we followed and taxied in behind the jet, they had a van brought out to them, we got to use the crew car. Lifestyles of the not so rich and famous.

I filled out a form with my contact info and we were off to lazy Susan's for lunch. It's about a 15-20 minute ride and traffic was not to bad. Of course I took some ribbing about our last visit to Lewes and the dairy farm ice cream stand as we passed by, we were still laughing about the smells. The main highway was not to crowded and we went south a short distance needing to make a u-turn and head back north for our lunch stop. The parking lot had plenty of open parking spots which is a good sign. We were quickly seated and had our drinks ordered. Pepsi all around and I had a BIG ice tea. We each ordered a bucket of fifty clams, Joe and Janice didn't miss a beat and emptied their bucket and Mary and I were not far behind. We also ordered two dozen large steamed crabs and I had corn on the cob.

Our crabs came out and we got started picking. We had each eaten one crab when the hostess came out and said we got the regulars by mistake and she would bring out the large in just a few minutes. Wow, pretty cool since I really had no idea how big regulars and large were compared to each other. Let me say there was a difference and the large had more meat then you can imagine. We barely got the two dozen finished between the four of us and the ladies helped us men out since we each threw in the paper towels a crab or two earlier.

With full tummies we headed out to top off the tank in the courtesy car and enjoyed the ride back to the airport. I handed in the car keys and checked out the wx in the Pilots flight planning room while my passengers checked out the prints and enjoyed the a/c. I was ready to go in short order so we all headed out. I checked my fuel load to make sure I had an equal use on the way down then finished up with a walk around since 679er was out of my view while we went to eat. Everything looked good so I saddled up while the others looked at the aircraft tied down all around us.

Uneventful ride home which is always a good thing with a slight diversion to overfly Lewes Delaware and the Ferry Terminal. The DRBA, my employer, had the Kalmar Nyckel tied up at one of our docks, I guess they were giving tours. If your in the area check it out! I turned 679er north and headed for home picking up flight following as I crossed the waterloo ATR VOR. Again we shadowed the coastline of the Delaware Bay and River as we crossed into New Jersey. The haze wasn't to bad today since we could actually see the Salem nuclear plant cooling tower/smoke plume from about 30 miles. Dover ATC was pretty good today after they finally got my call correct, sheesh I say it slow and keep it full until they cut it short but today they were a bit confused.

I eventually cancelled flight following about ten out from ILG and dialed up Wilmington's tower. I was heading in from the south and was directed to enter and advise a five mile final at the Jersey shore for runway three two. I acknowledged and set up to land. My landing gets a grade of a B, to flat, no stall horn (must review the video) but on center. I rolled out with the tower and crossed 9-27 following our ramp neighbor to the tie down.

1.8 in the book, a full tummy and quality family time with my lovely Bride, brother and sister-in-law. They really had a good time and I'm pretty sure we can talk them into another flight. That's all for this fun flight, I'll soon be back at it with my lessons.