Friday, October 31, 2008

Fine Tune The Skills

What a gorgeous day outside! I put in a slip to take a half day in order to get in my flight lesson. I was up early but really wished I could have slept in, maybe tomorrow. I took care of the Maggie Mutt mean Maggie Girl, that pretty little puppy then loaded the truck. I brought along a jacket and a sweatshirt just in case. When I arrived at the airport I called AeroWays for fuel and started my pre-flight. Everything looked to be in order and the fuel sump looked fine. I had pulled 679er out so that the sun was hitting the wings square in hopes of melting away the frost. I made a quick time check and decided to give my CFII a text message to let him know there was a frost delay and that I wished I had a Darn hangar.

A typical taxi out to runway one nine via taxiway kilo for my run up provided the warmth of sunshine invading the cockpit and a chance to hear 679er's engine just lope along. I gave 679er some extra time for the oil temps to come up as I monitored traffic on both the tower frequency and ground. I thought to myself it's about time to install the oil cooler plate as the needle slowly started to climb. My run up completed I called to advise the tower and was soon climbing out of Wilmington.

A smooth flight to Brandywine, hands off, needing only to make my feet tap on the ruder a time or two for corrections. I changed to CTAF at Brandywine and copied the AWOS report. I announced a 10 mile position report and a 5 mile since there was helicopter traffic departing the area. The fling winger and I exchanged info and I made visual contact advising I was at his 10:00 low, 1,500' now turning left down wind two seven. I continued in and made one of my best landings in months, plenty of stall horn and just as soft as could be.

Brian and I had a short discussion on some goals to get to my check ride and today we were going to work on fine tuning procedures and precision flight. We were off of KOQN in short order climbing out, minding the noise abatement and pointed north. My first task was GPS runway 9 at Brandywine. I chugged and plugged to get set up and dig out my approach plate, dam I wish the Autopilot was working. I chased the needles a bit and had to make some altitude corrections to keep on course. I was inbound to Eczel followed by Cefsy then initiated my procedure turn. I tracked out bound "ok" and once turned inbound I had to make a large wind correction to get on course. The Garmin 300XL GPS would not cycle past Cefsy to the Final Approach Fix Waccy. I am not sure why but I climbed out and retracked back to the IAF Eczel. This time I flew the course and Brian said no procedure turn which made life easier. I will have to work through the Garmin manual and see why I could not get it to cycle.

After going missed I was given radar vectors for the ILS 29 approach at Chester County (KMQS). Vectors are easy, turn, burn and acknowledge. Once you receive the vector get the turn started, twist the heading bug and acknowledge ATC. I reviewed my Approach plate a second time and since Brain just stared spouting out vectors I completed my pre-landing checks and configured the aircraft. On the last vector to intercept the ILS I read back the instruction to Brian as he role played ATC. I responded, "turn right two six zero, maintain 2,500 until established on the the ILS two niner, 679er. Soon the localizer needle came alive and I was turning right to two niner three and tracking the ILS. Things looked good, so far, as I was on course and speed, waiting for the glide slope to come to me. I flipped on my marker beacon so I could hear the tones and double checked my radios so that I was set for my missed to the Modena VOR. Wait, whats this, I'm loosing altitude and tracking off course almost half scale. Brian instructs me to STOP fixating and get where I belong at altitude. Ughhh....I get the feet tap dancing and get on course along with "getting back" to the correct altitude, surely it would have beem a check ride bust. I regain control and we go missed after I got a sneak peak as a reward for who knows what, maybe not killing us (ok, a bit extreme but I'm ticked).

Out to the Modena VOR for a few laps around the hold track. I dial in 120* and off I go. Double check to make sure I retracted the flaps and now cruise at 2,500'. I take a few deep breaths, shake my head in disbelief and wonder whats happening to my pilot skills. Brian again reminds me that my procedures are spot on, it's the fixation with the heading indicator and the scan slowing to a stop that is messing with me. I hear him, I just hope I can get it right. Two laps around the hold and we're off to the GPS 27 approach at KOQN. My outbound and inbound headings were good and I was reconfigured for ninety knots and flaps prior to crossing the fix.

I tracked the GPS 27 approach fine as I made my way from the initial approach fix Dasde to Gonve (no procedure turn here, woo hooo) and now on to Celpa. From Celpa I was good to descend to 1020' and the missed approach point was Rudme only 4.5 miles away. Again I was starting to chase the needle but at least my altitude was rock solid. I was given the ok to lift the hood and get us on the ground. I was lined up pretty good and added in another notch of flaps as I slowed for my landing. Nice flare and nose up, a gentle squeaker with a long roll out. Finally on the ground and my lesson complete.

I am working on my oral test prep study time and Brian thinks a few more tune up flights and I should be ready. We are on schedule for next Saturday into Allentown for some additional ATC work and a change of scenery. I walk out to 679er and climb aboard almost feeling like the glass half empty guy. It seems I'm stuck at this plateau and need to clean it up so I can show what I can do. 679er takes me home to Wilmington making some great speed without much of any tailwind, I think she's trying to make me feel better. I have traffic at my 10:00 going my direction, almost a flight of two. It's a Cessna maybe heading to ILG but not talking to them. I am already instructed to report a 3 mile final for one nine so I continue on. 679er takes the bit and runs down the Cessna leaving it in our wake, yeah, she wants me to know all will be ok. I start to laugh and report three mile final and really have to rein it in to get slowed down. Over the fence last notch of flaps, across the numbers, stall horn, hold it off until I hear the sweetest little chirps and hardly a bump, I'm feeling better already.

I taxi into Red Eagle and secure 679er for the day, she treated me well. Who says we don't bond with our aircraft? I have that same affection for 679er as I did for my corvettes, hard to explain, maybe even harder for some to understand. No matter, I do and that's all that counts!

Log Book totals to date:
Total Flight Time 251.2
Cross Country 114.2
Instrument Approaches 66
Day landings 443
Night Landings 21

Until my next lesson.....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Sisters First Flight

Mary called me last night as she was headed to the Philadelphia Spectrum to see the Celtic Thunder -Irish Tenors in concert. I got to stay home and watch the Philly triple header of the Flyers, Penn State football and the Phillies, all of which won their respective games!! Mary reminded me to call my sister Denise and her husband Dave to see if they wanted to join us on a breakfast run. Denise could make it but David had an appointment for a job estimate, we decided to go anyway. I'm sure we'll get Dave in the plane very soon.

One of the club members had 679er out yesterday in all that crappy rainy windy weather. I haven't seen this guy fly in ages, not sure if at all this year and yesterday he launched, who knows. Needless to say I gave 679er a good pre-flight taking my time to carefully go over every detail, inside and out. I had to order fuel since the left tank was really low and the right tank was at tabs, she took 13 gallons to balance out. Our girl checked out and we were ready to go. Denise climbed in the back and Mary went through her passenger brief, it's been awhile. I called for our taxi clearance and was directed to runway one niner at kilo. I acknowledged and got underway. No sooner I completed the run up and advised the tower we were ready to go, they cleared us for take off.

We climbed out of Wilmington enjoying the view with clear blue skies. The tower asked for a left turn out when able for a C-130 on left base for runway one. I immediately started my left turn and acknowledged and got a thank you in return. My sister seemed to do very well on the takeoff and commented that now in flight it seemed to her like we were almost standing still. I explained that with the tail wind giving us a good push we were actually flying along at 115 kts indicated with a ground speed of 129 knots (150 mph). I announced our position for Millville traffic and remembered to add "with information" to eliminate the speech from Millville radio. As I reported entering a five mile 45* for the left down wind runway three two another pilot followed with a call of a 45* for left down wind three two. That got my attention in a hurry since I hadn't seen a single aircraft on the south side of the airport. I immediately asked the Cessna pilot what her position was and she responded two mile 45* for three two. Hmmmm, say it ain't so cause I see nothing as I am almost at pattern altitude and getting ready to turn out, give some room and try this again. As I approach the two mile out point and still looking I once again ask her position and give mine. The pilot responds that she has misreported her position (pucker time) and is now closing 100 meters but for runway one four. I'm scanning as I enter the left down wind for three two and pick up her plane as she turns to the left down wind one four. I advise I have the traffic and she follows suit adding that she will enter the pattern for three two, number two to land. Gotta love traffic around the airport!

Finally on the ground and secured adjacent to the Cornerstone Grill we walked in for breakfast. Mary had an egg white omelet, Denise blueberry pancakes and yes I had my usual the breakfast quesadilla. Traffic was buzzing in and out as we sat at the window enjoying breakfast, each others company and watching aircraft come and go.
Together we decided that since Denise did so well on the first leg that we would fly over Cape May, NJ for some photos of the lighthouse and the Ferry Terminal. We soon loaded up and headed to Cape May. I climbed to 3,500 and the ride started to smooth out. We passed over Cape May airport and watched a citation jet taxi out and another aircraft taxi up number two to take off. As I was banking to the right and dialing in the DuPont VOR for our trip home we heard both aircraft announce and depart Cape May. I flipped over to Atlantic City approach for flight following but did not get an answer, she seemed busy. As we made our way up the Delaware Bay on the Jersey shore I picked up Dover approach and monitored. It was time to make my call to Wilmington so I noted the ATIS and at fifteen out let them know who and where we are and what our intentions were. I was directed to report a 3 mile straight in for runway one. I had one traffic call out, a red Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross on a five mile final and still could not see him. The L-39 did a T&G entered a left pattern and was on base turning final again when I finally spotted him, I was just about 3 miles out by now and cleared to land. (File photo)
A very nice day to be in the air and have the chance to fly with my sister. It was her first flight in a small plane and I really think she had a blast. I say this because she told us the story of her first flight ever, a commercial flight, in which she kept our Aunt company on a trip to Florida. She explained that she was so scared on that first take off that she was in tears. I must have done ok, there were no tears and I think I can talk her into going again.
It was a great feeling taking my sister up with us today. As Mary stated as we taxied in, who would have thought your goofy little brother would be flying planes, we all laughed. Flying family has a different feel to it, a special sense of accomplishment, at least for me. It was a fun 1.8 in the log and I can't wait to do it again!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Skew T Diagrams

My quest for the Instrument Rating has lead me to learn more about weather, pretty scary huh? I have been fascinated with the Skew T diagrams since I first read about them on the Pilots of America Forum. Multiple posts and good info shared by Scott Dennstaedt, CFII & Former NWS Meteorologist,Nationwide Cessna 350/400 Factory Instructor, IFR Magazine Contributing Editor Writer for Plane & Pilot, Pilot Journal and Twin & Turbine.

Scott offers a training course through Chesapeake Aviation Training and the link will provide a glimpse of the Skew T. I spent the day shooting approaches online since I could not get out of Wilmington this morning in order to make my 7am lesson. It sure would have been nice to get some actual in the soup but as they say, no IFR ticket,no wash. Between approaches I scoured the Internet reading about weather and the Skew T. I think I will be sending for Scott's training CD.

Below, I listed the link and info that Jeff Haby provided on my subject of the day. Sit back, read along and see what you think about this added weather info that is available for us to digest.

SKEW-T BASICS by Meteorologist Jeff Haby

The Skew-T Log-P offers an almost instantaneous snapshot of the atmosphere from the surface to about the 100 millibar level. The advantages and disadvantages of the Skew-T are given below:

Why do we need Skew-T Log-P diagrams?

Can assess the (in)stability of the atmosphere
Can see weather elements at every layer in the atmosphere
cap strength, convective temperature, forecasting temperatures,
determine character of
severe weather
This is the data used to produce the synoptic scale forecast models

What are some disadvantages of Skew-T's?

Only available twice a day (00Z and 12Z)
Character of weather can change dramatically between soundings
Sounding does not give a true vertical dimension since wind blows balloon downstream
Sounding does not give true instantaneous measurements since it takes several minutes to travel from the surface to the upper troposphere.

Below are all the basics lines that make up the Skew-T

Isobars-- Lines of equal pressure. They run horizontally from left to right and are labeled on the left side of the diagram. Pressure is given in increments of 100 mb and ranges from 1050 to 100 mb. Notice the spacing between isobars increases in the vertical (thus the name Log P).

Isotherms- Lines of equal temperature. They run from the southwest to the northeast (thus the name skew) across the diagram and are SOLID. Increment are given for every 10 degrees in units of Celsius. They are labeled at the bottom of the diagram.

Saturation mixing ratio lines- Lines of equal mixing ratio (mass of water vapor divided by mass of dry air -- grams per kilogram) These lines run from the southwest to the northeast and are DASHED. They are labeled on the bottom of the diagram.

Wind barbs- Wind speed and direction given for each plotted barb. Plotted on the right of the diagram.

Dry adiabatic lapse rate- Rate of cooling (10 degrees Celsius per kilometer) of a rising unsaturated parcel of air. These lines slope from the southeast to the northwest and are SOLID. Lines gradually arc to the North with height.

Moist adiabatic lapse rate-- Rate of cooling (depends on moisture content of air) of a rising saturated parcel of air. These lines slope from the south toward the northwest. The MALR increases with height since cold air has less moisture content than warm air.

Environmental sounding-- Same as the actual measured temperatures in the atmosphere. This is the jagged line running south to north on the diagram. This line is always to the right of the dewpoint plot.

Dewpoint plot- This is the jagged line running south to north. It is the vertical plot of dewpoint temperature. This line is always to the left of the environmental sounding.

Parcel lapse rate-- The temperature path a parcel would take if raised from the Planetary Boundary Layer. The lapse rate follows the DALR until saturation, then follows the MALR. This line is used to calculate the LI, CAPE, CINH, and other thermodynamic indices.

Below is an example diagram showing the lines of the Skew-T Log-P diagram

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back in the IFR Saddle

IFR Lesson 28
Today after over a month lay off (forcing myself to take the written test) I finally was back in the saddle flying simulated IFR. I had a 2:30 lesson at KOQN so I was wheels up from Wilmington (ILG) by 2 pm. As I approached OQN there was one Cessna 172 at my 8:00 position. We were talking and had visual contact. The Cessna followed me into land number two. It's great when everyone plays nice on the radio.

I was practicing approaches until my home computer took a total dump. Yep would not even come on. Thankfully John got me squared away and I am going to weed out the old hard drive tomorrow morning. It's been at least two weeks since I shot an approach "online" and at least 45 days in simulated conditions in the real world. Winds favored runway nine this afternoon so off we went amidst a busy Brandywine airport. I worked myself in between departures and arrivals including two helicopters. I climbed out to 3000' and turned to the north. Some basic maneuvers were on tap just to shake the rust and get the feel under foggles again. With the feelings back and under control I was asked for a GPS runway 9 approach into OQN.

OK, lets see if I remember how to use this Garmin 300XL. First direct to OQN, select route then cursor a few times until GPS 9 is highlighted, hit ok. Next choose an Initial Approach Fix (IAF), so I scrolled through and made my selection, ECZEL. I'm on my way tracking the approach. Not a big problem getting setting up the Garmin other then a bit of roller coaster up and down action making the fingers bounce around. I got smoother on final and ended up going missed and back to CEFSY to practice a hold. I crossed the station and turned outbound for four miles on a 237* heading, setting myself up for the teardrop entry. Not a bad hold but not my best by far. I had to cut a large angle to make up my wind correction but tracked to the station fairly well. Back around for another lap and I forgot to monitor my track on the GPS and started to chase the needle or intercept the 267* radial, this brought back memories of the MXE vor holds. Brian asked how we looking and that's when it hit me, I'm tracking out of control, yikes! One look at the trak on the GPS told the story. I got myself squared away and turned inbound on the 088* . My CFI was happy that I made the corrections. I once again hit the GPS Squelch which released the hold and started my track inbound on 088* to CEFSY. Not a bad recovery as I cross the station and get cleared to land. Traffic had now switched due to the winds so I took advantage of the circle to land numbers and set it up for two seven.

My circle to land was smooth and a nice 180* turn. I landed a bit flat, held it off and squeaked a nice landing after all. My metal parts were sore today and with the change in temps the arthritis actually was letting me know that I ain't no youngster but I still really needed the practice. A few more lessons/check ride prep flights and I'll be good to go. Tomorrow I am going to detail the interior of 679er, after we grocery shop and after my SUV is cleaned. For now it's another two hours in the log, 1.1 under the hood.....I'm tired and sore!

Friday, October 10, 2008

North Carolina Vacation

Day 1 Friday
With a plan to get up early and bug out of town dashed by IMC forecasts in North Carolina, we slowed the pace down and enjoyed our first day off. The schedule of events was a short list at best; drop off the Maggie muffin (our dog) and then make a stop at Mom and Pop's (Marys Parents). My call to 1-800-wx-brief confirmed what I picked up on my latest morning brief of conditions. The Carolina forecast was opening up and should be clearing around noon with intermittent showers still predicted. Mary and I finally made it to the airport around 11am and I pre-flighted 679er. We loaded up our luggage, set out our headsets, placed my flight bag on the back seat along with a few other odds and ends to complete the loading process. Aeroways arrived to top off the tanks and I sumpped as the last item on my pre-flight check list was now completed.

Wilmington Tower directed us to taxi to runway one nine at Kilo, hold short. As I approached one nine I was asked to position on taxiway Mike to allow another aircraft to exit the runway. No big deal, I acknowledged and did my run up on Mike. We were ready to go and received clearance to take off. 679er was on the roll, eating up the center line stripes and climbing out on the runway heading. I was asked to sidestep east to allow for traffic inbound on the runway one ILS. I had the traffic in sight, it was no factor. After we passed I was directed to resume own navigation. As we crossed the C&D canal I flipped over to Dover Approach and picked up flight following. Mary was already nodding off so I switched to isolate in order for her to have some quiet nap time and help ease her sinus headache.

The ride was smooth and visibility good as I cruised along past Dover, Georgetown (KGED), Salisbury (KSBY)and Newport News (KPHF). Once south of Newport News and working my way towards First Flight (KFFA) the clouds really made their presence known. The cloud layers were at 1200-1500 scattered and 6000 overcast as we continued south of the Chesapeake Bay. I requested to go off frequency for a weather update and Norfolk acknowledged. Flight watch returned my call quickly and the update confirmed what this mornings report had forecast it also matched what I was looking at. Norfolk approach handed me off to Oceania then in turn to Washington center. The scattered layer was now around 1200 with good ground contact along the coast. I didn't see First Flight but did see Manteo in the distance as it started to rain. A Mooney canceled IFR that was heading into Dare County (KMQI) and I followed suit cancelling flight following. I switched over to MQI's CTAF and heard the Mooney report his position, I was a few miles behind him. I made my position calls and entered the left down wind for runway five at midfield. Base to final over the water and now aligned for landing I noticed I had some geese waddling across the approach end of the runway. As I passed over the shore line Mary was my bird watcher and I decided on landing a tad long to add some safety factor. Smooth landing, geese no factor and a easy taxi to our tie down. I called on unicom for our rental car then shut 679er down for the weekend. Our car was at the plane before we could climb out, that's good service.

With 679er covered and secured at her home away from home, our vacation was officially underway! First order of business was to get my bearings squared away and give the map a quick review. Ah, piece of cake, we headed out of the airport noting the Aquarium location and reading all the local historic attraction signs along our route. It was less then ten miles to the hotel as we traveled through Manteo to the "big road" Rt 64/264, made a left turn and headed over the Washington Baum Bridge,one of the many area bridges we would cross on our vacation excursions. Mary and I both noted places of interest and local stores enroute to the Surfside Hotel. Mary also noted the outlet shops, she was looking for the Coach store (handbags for all the men reading). Sure enough before we got to our turn off there it was, calling her name, Mary...come shop here...Mary.... (more on this later).

Check in was quick and the folks at the desk were very nice. I asked for a lunch recommendation and they quickly said to try Sugar Creek and try the shrimp special. I schlepped the bags to our room, we freshened up and headed out. The restaurant was one we had passed on our way in and it didn't seem to busy this time of the afternoon. We were quickly seated and I immediately order a tall sweet tea, ahhhh, my favorite southern specialty. Mary had an extra dirty martini and we placed our orders. Calamari for starters, the shrimp special for me and an oyster sandwich for my Bride. The food was excellent and the service just as good. We rounded out day one by scouting out the area and planning the weekends adventures. We both agreed to pass on dinner since our lunch was late and filled us both up. However, we did make a late run to the Dairy Queen just across the highway for a snack!
Day 2 Saturday

We had hoped to get some beach time in then fly to Ocracoke for lunch but the weather was cloudy and windy. Instead, we decided to do the complimentary continental breakfast and get out and about. I wanted to check on the plane after such a windy night to ensure it was still under cover and that worked out since a good many attractions were on Roanoke Island. The day was busy with stops at the Elizabethan Gardens, North Carolina Aquarium and Fort Raleigh. Our lunch stop was at Darrell's, a great place with excellent service and the food fantastic. Of course I had a big ole sweet tea and Mary a Blue Moon Beer as we checked out the menu. I ordered up the lunch special, flounder and shrimp with mashed potatoes and a side of coleslaw. Mary had oysters and hush puppies, I am starting to notice a pattern here. We really love seafood so this vacation would be nothing but. It was getting on in time and we wanted to get back and relax for a few. After taking naps (hey, we're on vacation) we freshened up and headed out for a more intense scouting mission, this time to the north (I was trying to stay clear of the outlets). We made it up to Kill Devil Hills as we extended our search area for pottery shops. We found one, and it was just ok at best. We saddled back up and headed south towards Nags Head. We did decide on a quick dinner even though it was getting late and we should have passed on the thought for the evening. Who could resist a stop at Sonic? We didn't, so a chili dog and cheese burger later we were headed back to our room full tummy's and ready to sleep, like puppies.
Day 3 Sunday

Sunday started out the same as Saturday with cloudy and windy conditions. Mary and I still were in search of pottery so that became the mission for the day. We found a few places listed that were in Manteo, how did we miss these places I'll never know. We passed on the hotel breakfast and instead went to Grits and Grill. Good food and service again and the grits were perfect, I really miss southern food, cooking and that accent.......Hmmm, Mary is looking at me funny, y'all. We did meet a couple from Dover Delaware so that was pretty neat and a local lady introduced herself and struck up a conversation about homes, vacation, food, cooking and just about anything you can imagine, you just can't make this stuff up.

Tummy's full we were now on a mission to Manteo. We followed signs to the Festival Park, sort of a picnic park is how I would describe it. The key here is all the shops and galleries within a few blocks of the park. It reminded us of the waterfront at Block Island. We had a blast walking around meeting the shop owners and all the local cats that the shops take care of. A great adventure today and a fun time just spending it together with my Bride. It was time to head back since the sun was peeking out and the thought of beach time was looking good. Once back at the Surfside we noticed the wind was still kicking pretty good so Mary passed on the beach and instead laid out on the balcony of our room. While the Bride worked on her tan I took a nap, typed on the blog and watched football games. When the sun finally fell out of sight Mary and I got showered up and headed out for dinner. Tonight's choice was the Penguin Isle. When we walked in there were two wedding parties getting underway, I figured the food and service must be good. Mary commented that this place is also open all year round so that must say something good too. We were seated upstairs and glanced over the menu's. I knew what I wanted, surf and turf, Mary followed suit. What a nice quiet dinner for the two of us on our last night of vacation, we really enjoyed ourselves.
Day 4 Monday

Almost impossible to top last nights dinner but we thought we would give it a shot at Howard's pub in Ocracoke. Of course today's weather was perfect, bright sunshine hardly a cloud in the sky and no wind to speak of. Mary put in a few hours of tan time while I worked on finishing up my flight plans for the hop to Ocracoke and then from there back home to Wilmington. We did detour on the way to the airport for one picture that Mary wanted to take of a little kitty at one of the shops we visited. This little girl was so cute and so petite one could not help but love the lil' thing. Back my to planning, winds favored the short hop for lunch but it looked like a good head wind the whole way home. I decided that we would top off and make the run to both locations with a non-stop home. All my calculations pointed to 11 gallons remaining upon arrival at Wilmington (ILG).

We had already gassed up the rental, taken the extra pictures and now headed to the airport. I worked on my pre-flight inspection and Mary returned the car and also reminded the line guys we needed to be topped off. The fuel truck was out to meet me as I finished up, only needing to sump the tanks. Bags were packed, car returned and 679er ready to go. I taxied out to runway five and did my run up followed by my departure and climb out to 3000'. Washington Center did not have radar contact but did hand me off to Cherry Point as I crossed Billy Mitchell Field (KHSE). I rode along with approach for a few minutes then cancelled when I had W95 in sight. I announced on CTAF my position and intentions as we entered the left down wind for runway six. Base to final now feeling the winds off the ocean push us around as I make my way to short final. A bit of rockin' and rollin' and some throttle work has us descending below the dunes and setting down for a nice landing. Once below the dunes the torture of the wind isn't that bad at all. The airport has tie downs and I did notice plenty of ropes provided. I called For a ride on unicom and Howard's Pub sent out a six seat golf cart to pick us up. Our Driver pictured minus the golf cart.

Lunch was excellent at the Pub. I had sweet tea, of course, along with scallops, shrimp and coleslaw. Mary had a dozen of clams and you guessed it, oysters and hush puppies. I bet this place is packed on weekends, it just has that look and feel. It reminded us of a local favorite at home Stanley's tavern, sports oriented, great food and service. We each purchased shirts as a souvenir of our stop for lunch. Ocracoke has been on my to do list since I became a pilot, today, mission accomplished.

We saddled up for home and launched off of runway six climbing out to 5500'. Mary snapped a few pictures along the way and I added to the in-flight video collection. Cherry point handed us off to Washington center, Norfolk twice then to oceania and patuxent followed by Dover as we neared the end of our journey. The flight home was again smooth as could be, very relaxing and a perfect end to a great vacation. 6.1 hours of flight time over the last 4 days and plenty of good experience. How did the fuel work out you ask? I was hitting my checkpoints plus or minus two to three minutes, getting better as we headed north. I passed Salisbury seven minutes ahead of schedule overall running about five ahead.

I made my last tank switch about fifteen miles out of ILG, I was changing on a thirty minute schedule religiously. I know my left tank gauge reads more then whats in the tank but the right side is really pretty close. The right side read ten gallons and the left, when I switched, was bouncing between five and ten. Once on the ground I called for fuel and topped off exactly where I initially had been filled. Right tank took 17.3 and the left tank took 20 for a total of 37.3 gallons. A 48 gallon usable and some basic math tells me I had 10.7 gallons left. I was happy to see my calculations and trip times were on the money especially with the constant headwind all the way home but I rather make my stops and keep more fuel in the tanks.

Vacation completed it's now time to finish my IR. With my test complete, I hope to be finished up with the check ride this month.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Test Completed!

What a day this started out to be. I was sick last week, actually forced to crawl into bed and curl up wondering if I was indeed hit by a truck or just really sick. I rummaged through the medicine cabinet and found a few pills from my last bout with sore throat and bronchitis. Ahhh...relief in the way of antibiotics, Avelox down the hatch. I may as well add here that I HATE taking pills and would much rather a shot any day, go ahead, make your funny comment, I've heard them all.

Anywho, I took the remaining pills and called it a night. I woke up feeling better, needing a shower since sweating through my fever but overall able to stand without getting lightheaded and swallow without the broken glass in my throat feeling. I decided to head into work, I figured if I was busy enough I wouldn't feel to bad. Yes, I actually think like this, you can ask my Bride. I only was under the weather for two days and didn't miss any work time. Now, fast forward to Tuesday of this week. Hmmm, the right side of my throat is now sore and the fever along with body ache is back. Mary put in a call to the family doc and he called in my antibiotic that I normally take, since I exhausted what I had in reserves. I know, take the complete prescription even after you feel better. Yeah, yeah, ok next time. I did make a full day at work Wednesday and came home only to crawl in bed and get in some review for my IR written. Are you wondering how I did.....I must keep the suspense going (evil sinister laugh inserted here).

I was up and running at 7 am this fine Thursday morning. On tap today is my IR written scheduled for 9am, receiving a furniture delivery for our den and living room between 9:30 and 12:30. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the schedule conflicts we are faced with. Mary has a meeting with one of her clients at 10am so she is scratched off, I'm out from 9-11am but my brother Joe volunteers to cover from 9:30ish through 11am. Hmmm, this went pretty good. As I am making my way to TAS Flight School my cell phone rings, the delivery guy said he will be at the house at 9am!!! Crap! I am not missing my test, Joe has a client at 9am and Mary is now the primary go to gal. I give her a call and she steps in to save the day, I can hear the frustration in her voice but she takes one for the team.

I check in at the school providing my ID, log book sign off and autograph the required forms for the test. The school provides a book with all the IR test figures along with a protective plastic cover so I can use a dry erase on those figures in the book, pretty cool idea. I have two pieces of scrap paper two pencils and two pens as my backup along with an electronic E6B (that the proctor removed my batteries and reinstalled). I verify all the info and advise ready to begin. I jotted down a few notes to help me on the scrap paper and clicked away. I finished up my test with more then an hour to spare and decided to 'review' questions I marked and anything I may have missed. On my PPL test I changed five answerers and yes, changed them wrong, not this time. I did answer two questions that I marked and one answer I did convince myself to change. I clicked on the finish tab, confirmed I was finished and then the score was in...I PASSED with an 87%.

I am so glad that is over! I called Mary but she was still in her meeting so I headed home making only one stop for a celebratory cheese steak, chips and a Fanta orange soda. Mary finally calls back and I invite her to join me for lunch and add that I'll share my steak and chips. Mary walks in and we both comment on how nice the new leather furniture looks in the den and the brick around the fireplace completes the scene. Most of the living room furniture is in except for a special order leather love seat that should be here in 2 months. We sat down to eat and I have to say I was ready to explode if she didn't ask my score on the test. Between furniture conversations she stops and realizes she didn't ask......"well, how did you do on your test?" it just burst out of me.....I passed!!! Great!, how much longer until this is over ? (insert air escaping from balloon noise) well hon, I'll need an oral and check ride prep and that should do it. Hrrruuummmmphhhh.....At least she asked and I did pass.

I'm off to flight plan for north carolina tomorrow, needing to tie in my wx watch all week and pick a course for a back up if weatehr gets ugly along the coast.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Time Has Come

I traded email's with my instructor today and agreed to meet this Saturday around 8 am so he can sign me off for my instrument test. Yes, I am finally going to get it taken care of. Not taking flight lessons through the month of September in order to force myself to study and ultimately take the test seems to have worked. Well, I should say it worked to get me motivated to study and test but will cost me a few more dollars to shake any rust off once back under the hood.

I have been flying in September, maybe a total of 8 hours, but no hood work. I have also taken the time to fly approaches on Flight Sim while tooling along in the online aviation world of VatSim. I at least got some good practice time and it's free, requiring no fuel burn in the wallet. I will post my IR written passing news next week after sitting through the test session. Any readers that believe in the power of prayer, now is a good time to add me to your list.

The plan as discussed with Brian is to knock out the test and hopefully finish up my oral and check ride prep this month and take the check ride in early November. Mary and I will be taking a week off mid October to enjoy some 'us' time in Nags Head, N.C. We hope mother nature is in a good mood so all will go well with our flight and some possible beach/pool time (strictly to work on the tan).