Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Check Ride Scheduled

Monday was a no go on flying, I couldn't pass the IMSAFE test (FAA fitness to fly checklist which is short for Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, and Emotion) due to the big 'F' fatigue. Mary and I spent Sunday evening into Monday morning at the Emergency Room with her father. We finally got home and took care of the zoo around 3am. I was out in no time, Mary I'm sure soon followed suit. Update Tuesday: Pop is home from the hospital, Mary is still trying to catch up on sleep and I'm back to work and flying.

Chuck and I swapped some emails and worked up a home stretch schedule. I went up today after work since we had a loaner radio for 679er. First order of business was to complete a VOR check with the loaner equipment. Second, I was going to shoot a few ILS approaches and work on speeding up my attitude recovery, my flying attitude recovery. Working with contractors and some of our lease holders tends to "give me an attitude" at times so I dial down when it comes to flying.

Ok, whats a VOR check you ask? Read on....

FAR Section 91.171 - VOR equipment check for IFR operations states the following:

(a) No person may operate a civil aircraft under IFR using the VOR system of radio navigation unless the VOR equipment of that aircraft --

(1) Is maintained, checked, and inspected under an approved procedure; or

(2) Has been operationally checked within the preceding 30 days, and was found to be within the limits of the permissible indicated bearing error set forth in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.
(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, each person conducting a VOR check under paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall --

(1) Use, at the airport of intended departure, an FAA-operated or approved test signal or a test signal radiated by a certificated and appropriately rated radio repair station or, outside the United States, a test signal operated or approved by an appropriate authority to check the VOR equipment (the maximum permissible indicated bearing error is plus or minus 4 degrees); or

(2) Use, at the airport of intended departure, a point on the airport surface designated as a VOR system checkpoint by the Administrator, or, outside the United States, by an appropriate authority (the maximum permissible bearing error is plus or minus 4 degrees);

(3) If neither a test signal nor a designated checkpoint on the surface is available, use an airborne checkpoint designated by the Administrator or, outside the United States, by an appropriate authority (the maximum permissible bearing error is plus or minus 6 degrees); or

(4) If no check signal or point is available, while in flight
(i) Select a VOR radial that lies along the center line of an established VOR airway;
(ii) Select a prominent ground point along the selected radial preferably more than 20 nautical miles from the VOR ground facility and maneuver the aircraft directly over the point at a reasonably low altitude; and
(iii) Note the VOR bearing indicated by the receiver when over the ground point (the maximum permissible variation between the published radial and the indicated bearing is 6 degrees). (c) If dual system VOR (units independent of each other except for the antenna) is installed in the aircraft, the person checking the equipment may check one system against the other in place of the check procedures specified in paragraph (b) of this section. Both systems shall be tuned to the same VOR ground facility and note the indicated bearings to that station. The maximum permissible variation between the two indicated bearings is 4 degrees.

(d) Each person making the VOR operational check, as specified in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, shall enter the date, place, bearing error, and sign the aircraft log or other record. In addition, if a test signal radiated by a repair station, as specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, is used, an entry must be made in the aircraft log or other record by the repair station certificate holder or the certificate holder's representative certifying to the bearing transmitted by the repair station for the check and the date of transmission.

With the Garmin 300XL I have to check Nav II (the loaner) and since the VOT is out of service at Wilmington I will need to follow item (4) If no check signal or point is available, while in flight. (ii) Select a prominent ground point along the selected radial preferably more than 20 nautical miles from the VOR ground facility and maneuver the aircraft directly over the point at a reasonably low altitude; and (iii) Note the VOR bearing indicated by the receiver when over the ground point (the maximum permissible variation between the published radial and the indicated bearing is 6 degrees).

How is that done? The plan was to fly the V29 airway (181* radial) DQO, BLARE to ENO Smyrna on the GPS and upon arriving at the BLARE intersection (known point) check the NAV II by turning the CDI until centered. The loaner was -4 degrees off which falls within the 6* tolerance. Make notes so it can then be added to your VOR check log. Note the date, your name, Nav I or Nav II, the reading (-4 in my case) and the method used, location, dual, VOT.
I wanted to supply all that info for others who may not have performed the VOR check. I'm embarrassed to say I was guilty of not checking but will now add it to my IFR checklist to check the log or perform the test. You say but Gary, it's good for thirty days! Yes, but we have two other pilots that fly the club plane, while I trust these guys to fly with, I only trust me for completing the necessary requirements for instrument flight. If I'm in the soup, I want to be sure "I" checked, there's no room for but, should haves or could haves.
Cleared for takeoff from Wilmington I climb out to 2,500 feet and track the 181* radial (V29). We discussed ID'ing the intersection on the V29 airway and with that I brain farted and set up the VOR to cross check the given point. With flipping back and forth I missed the my check over the BLARE intersection. Left turn back to pick up the 181* heading on V29 and under control. Ok, the GPS has me over BLARE, I dial in the NavII CDI and it centers at 177*, a -4 degree error, I'm within tolerance per the FAR 91.17 spec.
From this checkpoint I'm given a heading and told to fly direct Modena (MXE VOR) and brief for the ILS RWY 29 approach. I keep my scan as I set up radio's and nav equipment for the approach. From Modena I'm given a heading of three zero zero to intercept the ILS. The CDI seems slow to move but I somehow manage to track to runway two niner. This one ends in a full stop so we can stretch our legs and check wx and NOTAMS for info on the ILS we just shot. I also should add that the pattern was busy at MQS, it was a nice day to be flying.
We mounted up and decided to fly the ILS RWY 1 approach into Wilmington. As we approached the class Delta airspace of Wilmington I called up to report my position and intentions, requesting a practice approach, I did forget to give them the current ATIS info I had just listened to. My course was to the Outter Marker HADIN NDB and although it seemed off track and taking forever to ID, I got there. A bit over anxious I guess as I turned outbound to the 195* heading for one minute and started my timer before passing the station. The VOR came in to confirm passing and I restarted the timer. I made my call to the tower and reported a 4 mile final since I missed the 6 mile call and requested a circle to land runway 19. Circle to land approved I maneuvered to the down wind maintaining my CTL altitude. The tower wanted to get one plane out prior to our arrival so I would extend. Chuck said I needed to keep my circle to land with in 1.3 miles so keep it close and just get slowed down. I eventually got to where I needed to be and added a second notch of flaps and soon followed with full flaps at which time my CFII commented how much nicer the nose of the plane is situated. It's the little things he teaches me in such a short time that make the difference and I know they will make me a better pilot.
A smooth landing and roll out to Red Eagle followed and when we climbed out of 679er the chilly air was a surprise. Chuck was in shorts so I know he felt the chill. I failed to mention when he walked out to the plane I shielded my eyes from those white legs and said cover those up, he laughed. You know, that sinister laugh. I tried to quietly mention how I knew I would pay for that comment, he agreed.
A good flight, 2.3 hours in the book with another lesson tomorrow evening. The wx is looking crappy so maybe some actual lesson time could be on tap. Ok, I made everyone wait long enough, The check ride is scheduled for April 8th, the day before surgery. We are going to hold open Monday the 6th and Tuesday the 7th in case we need to reschedule depending on mother nature.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday's Lesson a Bust

Wx is not looking good this morning so oral review time will keep me in the flying game today. Time to read read and more reading. I highlighted the Terminal Area Forcast notes that jump out and send up flags for me.
Updated at 10:26 AM GMT on March 29, 2009 (6:26 AM EDT):

SPECI KILG 291026Z 05010KT 2 1/2SM BR OVC002 08/07 A2956

KILG 290853Z 2909/3006 08010KT P6SM VCSH OVC004
TEMPO 2910/2914 3SM -SHRA BR SCT004 OVC012

FM291400 11010KT P6SM -SHRA OVC012CB
FM291700 16012KT P6SM -SHRA VCTS BKN004 OVC010CB
FM292000 22012KT 5SM -SHRA BR VCTS SCT008 OVC020CB
FM292300 30012KT P6SM SCT020 BKN040
FM300300 28010KT P6SM SCT040

Some METAR reading helpful hints.....

The 050 (the first three numbers) is the direction of the winds in degrees from 0 to 360 degrees (although you will never see 360 because after 350, it goes back to 0). The 10 (next two numbers) is the speed of the winds in knots. The KT simply means knots. It will always be at the end. For winds speeds below 7 knots, you might see VRB005KT which means the wind direction is variable. This is the idea of "light and variable" that you might see in a forecast. For winds greater than 6 knots you might see 18015KT 150V210. The winds are from 180 degrees at 15 knots, but the direction is actually variable between 150 degrees and 210 degrees. In order to be variable above 6 knots, the winds must have at least a 60 degree variation.

2 1/2SM-Visibility
The 2 1/2SM simply means 2 1/2 Statute Miles. Occasionally you might see visibility up to 20 or 30 SM but for the most part it will go from less than 1/4 visibility up to 10SM.

(-SHRA)-Present Weather and Obscurations
(-) is the designator for light. Precipitation will either be light/moderate
(-), or heavy (+) based on certain criteria that must be met. For now, just understand that it is simply the intensity of the snow, rain, hail, sleet, or freezing rain.
SH means showers and RA means rain. So the present weather is BR mist. The forcast does show -SHRA (light/moderate rain showers) and also VCTS (Thunderstorms in the vicinity)

- Light Moderate, + Heavy , VC In the Vicinity, MI Shallow, PR Partial, BC Patches,DR Low Drifting,BL Blowing,SH Shower(s),TS Thunderstorm,FZ Freezing,DZ Drizzle,RA Rain,SN Snow,
SG Snow Grains,IC Ice Crystals,PL Ice Pellets,GR Hail,GS Small Hail and/or Snow Pellets,UP Unknown Precipitation,BR Mist,FG Fog,FU Smoke,VA Volcanic Ash,DU Widespread Dust,SA Sand,HZ Haze,PY Spray,PO Well-Developed Dust/Sand Whirls,SQ Squalls,FC Funnel Cloud.

OVC002-Sky Condition
OVC represents overcast. (The clouds cover 8/8 of the sky)
002 represents the clouds are at 200 feet (simply add 2 zeros to get the height).

The cloud cover will either be FEW (1/8 TO 2/8 cloud coverage), SCT (SCATTERED, 3/8 TO 4/8 cloud coverage, BKN (5/8-7/8 coverage), and OVC (OVERCAST, 8/8 Coverage). You will often have more than 1 designator (i.e. SCT035 BKN090 OVC140).
08/07-Temperature and Dewpoint
08 represents the temperature in Celcius 07represents the dewpoint in Celcius.If the temperature or dewpoint falls below 0 there will be an "M" before it (i.e. 03/M02). "M" means minus.

A29.56 -Altimeter/Pressure
A simply stands for Altimeter 2956 means 29.56 inches of mercury for the pressure.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Actual Scrubbed

Yeppers, had to scrub this morning. For the very first time 679er left me in the starting blocks, my Com/Nav LED display took a dump and decided to provide us with a rendition of the Macy's store front on Christmas Holiday. Yes my lovely aircraft, your twinkle lights look beautiful but not on the Com/Nav. More about this later.....but first an explanation.

On my I Believe I can Fly post, there is more to the story and I've decided to tell. Some of you may think he's lost it and that's ok, as my father always said if they don't pay the mortgage does it really matter what they think...Hmmmmm...I guess not....so here's the deal. When Mary and I went to Wilkes-Barre last weekend it was for two reasons. The first was to prove to myself I could indeed still fly an airplane. The second was to take care of my parents grave site. While cleaning things up and planting some flowers I found this stone; flat, smooth and oval in shape. I tucked it in my pocket and finished all tasks then headed back to KAVP.

Fast forward to my early morning lesson Sunday, March 22nd. I pulled up out front early as usual and listened to the radio. Oldies 98.1 had some discussion group on so I searched for something else to occupy my time. 101.1, some easy listening station (yeah, I'm an old fart) had something on so there it sat. I took my rock with me, wanted to bring it flying, beats me felt some connection with my family's home town and my father. I took it out and said to myself I wish I had your strength Dad, I need to get this flying stuff done, should I stay or switch, I really wish he was here to talk to. Needles to say we were very close and I often try to think what he would do in situations. Ok here is where it gets really hokey, that song came on the radio, I swear! I believe I can fly. Call me crazy, it was a sign, or maybe I am really crazy. I listened to it, to the end, then got out and walked in the school. I filled out the paper work, grabbed the clip board and keys and went out to pre-flight. Eight Lima Alpha was covered with frost, a no go. It was also left unplugged overnight strike two and there was no room to push the schedule this day, strike three. I walked back to the office, turned in the keys and said I was going home. I decided it was time for a change.

Ok, fast forward to today....

METAR KILG 281151Z AUTO 07011KT 6SM -RA BR BKN007 OVC028 08/07 A2993

The rain let up as soon as I got the cover folded and stored in my truck, go figure. I took on nine gallons of the good blue stuff and completed a sump test. The pre-flight checked out perfect except for my butt slipping on the extended flap. It was pretty neat catching myself and then performing the customary look around to make sure nobody was doubled over laughing. No harm done and no extra damage to my hip. Speaking of hips, I was so pumped to go fly today I didn't even take any Advil, woo baby the adrenaline was pumping. Chuck walked up shortly after I climbed aboard to get things set up. We discussed today's lesson which included filing an IFR flight plan for local work shooting some approaches. On tap for today was ILS RWY 1, GPS RWY 1, and LOC RWY 1. We reviewed wx (I printed out three pages) and the process to file which I had on one of my spare home made flight plan forms. I wasn't sure about what I would file for so we talked about that and I made my notes.

1-800 WX- BRIEF for FSS to get my plan filed and an additional check for any TFR's and wx at Chester County KMQS since it was not available this morning and we may want to go there. All the info was noted and it was time to get 679er started. Primer, beacon, battery, full rich, crack the throttle, pump on, clear prop! She rumbles a bit and then gets smooth as I lean mixture, shut the pump and toggle the alternator. I turn on the avionics master and that's when we notice the Macy's store front blinky lights. We recycled, gave it a push and a tug but no go, it was cooked. Avionics master off, lean the mixture and raise the rpm's and 679er is now quiet. All switches off, key off and removed we open up and climb out, lesson scrubbed.

We did manage to have breakfast at Arners and do some Oral test prep then followed up with some healthy hangar flying. I went back to 679er and cleaned out my flight gear and waited for Gary (the owner) to meet me. In the mean time I got a hold of someone at Red Eagle Avionics about their stuck gate and mentioned about getting 679er in Monday morning for radio work. The man from Red Eagle walked out to the plane with me and pulled the radio, checked everything out and reinstalled. He wanted to look if he had anything in the shop we could swap out. As we walked back Gary came through the gate and we made plans to drop off our radio for work. The LED problem will need to go back to the factory, a three day turn around. Red Eagle gave me a loaner for tomorrow's lesson! I was back in business.

I'll update tomorrow....

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Believe I Can Fly!

Yep, just like the song says, I believe I can fly! I had my first lesson with my new CFII. It's amazing but I can hold altitude and heading and flow through my checks. I sure did miss 679er, and I will never cheat on her again. Needles to say the song was stuck in my head at this point and I was walking around the plane singing. No wonder we have no active neighbors on the ramp!

I believe I can fly...I believe I can touch the sky...I think about it every night and day....Spread my wings and fly away.

After my preflight and ramp rendition of I Believe I can Fly Chuck walked out on the ramp and we talked about 679er, her maintenance, engine time, who works on her, who owns her and some general upkeep on my girl. Really good questions since he is going to trust his skin in this bird. We climbed in and I went through my normal procedures flowing through my checklists pre start and pre taxi. ATIS info noted, everything set and taxi instructions noted. I ask Chuck if he would like to try a brake test on his side then I followed suit. We are taxiing to runway one nine as I perform my taxi checks. I notice on my sweep through the gauges that the altitude is not reading correct. I pull up to do my run up and give the altitude indicator another look. The indication is maybe sixty to eighty feet off so prior to calling for clearance I run through my ATIS once again. I entered two niner niner zero and the ATIS noted two niner niner niner, now it's reading correct. Now I'm all set and get my clearance to depart and turn on course south west.

679er climbs out trimmed at just a tic shy of eighty knots until reaching three thousand feet, at which point I level off. Beautiful, power set and trimmed, mixture leaned we start working on basic attitude recovery. Honestly it's been awhile since I've done this stuff except for some sim work many months ago. Chuck needs to see me react quicker or more "robotic" as he called it. I was in a nose down 30* banking attitude when he gave me the plane back, I made the throttle correction but as I started to level wings I pulled back on the yoke to bring the nose up. I was asked to snap the wings level more of a crisp movement with authority. I worked through a few different attitude recoveries and we moved on to some steep turns and such. Good altitude hold with all my maneuvers and nice roll outs on headings.

It was time to shoot an approach. I was around 14 miles south west of the DQO VOR and tracked to intercept the 025* radial for the VOR RWY 19. Tracked real nice, held altitude and had some very good discussion on instrument flight. Chuck made the initial call to Philly for the practice VOR approach. Philly asked if we wanted vectors or to fly the approach, I responded we'll fly the practice approach. Now flying the 025* radial we passed the station and I started my turn out for the procedure turn and caught that I needed to pass WILEA intersection first. Right bank, back to 025* and all is well. At the 5.5 DME mark I turned outbound to 355* for my teardrop procedure turn. One minute passed and I started my right turn back to intercept the 205* radial. As I came to my heading the CDI was coming in on time and looking good. I did get a bit heavy handed as I followed the localizer but tracked in ok and hit all my altitude as I passed each point. I passed WILEA and started down from 1900 feet. Calling altitude and course I leveled off at 700 feet (decision height 660). I did get a call from Philly to keep the speed up a hawker jet was number two to land. I did my best and that was the last I heard. Once given the ok to look up I saw runway one niner just off center but dead ahead. Flaps set for landing double check on fuel, pump and lights has me ready bring 679er in. Not a bad landing with a short roll out to taxiway Kilo to clear for the hawker and off to red eagle.

GREAT lesson, 1.1 hours of fun stuff and I feel I can still fly. I honestly was starting to wonder if this rating was going to work for me. I'm up again tomorrow at 8 am and should get some actual....very cool stuff!!

If I can see it, then I can be it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it
Hey, cuz I believe in me, oh
If I just spread my wings I can fly
Don't you hate when a tune just sticks in your head?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Change of Pace

I've made the decision to fly the remaining few lesson/flights out of Wilmington. I asked a friend who I fly with on occasion, which has been way to long since our last flight, what he knew about a local DE. I got a good report about the Examiner in question and this conversation led to our discussion about my current lesson status. I didn't have to say to much since he follows the blog and my frustration is obviously quite evident. I explained that I'm just not having fun in the air working on the instrument rating.

We chatted about some flying and then talked about an instructor that might be able to help me out. It's been a thought to get a second opinion about my flying so I asked if he would put us in contact. Tonight I got a call from the new instructor and it was a very enlightening exchange. We discussed my progress, my lessons, flight time, he asked my thoughts, what I was looking to accomplish and what he thinks it will take to get there. I liked everything I heard and his approach and attitude even better. We fly Friday for an evaluation and then will decide the best course of action at that point.

I must say after our chat I feel excited once again about flying and knocking out the check ride. It's going to be a crazy ride from now until April 9th so stayed tuned!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

KAVP Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

I bagged my Instrument lesson for today, Mary and I decided on heading north to KAVP, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. A gorgeous day to fly, a new airport and time for us to be together. I have been running on empty the last few weeks with work, flying lessons and scheduled surgery so I decided we should get away. A great choice! We headed to the airport making one stop for some breakfast on the go from McD's. It was so good to see 679er, I could not wait to fly her again. I know, sounds bizarre but who cares, I love this plane.

I needed to top the tanks since I had left them below the tabs on my last return from flight, February 28th. Scott from Aeroways answered the phone and I said long time no talk to, he laughed and asked what was up. I told him I needed some go-go juice, the good stuff, pretty blue 100LL. When he finished laughing AT me he said he would see me at the plane shortly. I had finished my pre-flight when Scott pulled up and would just have to sump the tanks. 679er was thirsty as he topped us off and capped the tanks. We chatted for a bit while Mary was staying warm in the plane, actually she was unpacking all the electronic goodies for our flight. I completed the sump and locked the baggage door then climbed aboard. Mary and I switched seats and I went through my checklists. A few shots of primer and 679er was ready and willing to get moving. Not so fast, she needed to warm up the oil a bit.

I noted the ATIS info and made my call to ground for taxi clearance. Ok, I scribbled down the directions as I acknowledged. Taxi to runway one, via kilo, hold short rwy one for back taxi. We are off, I make my checks and move to taxiway Mike at Kilo for my run up. A quick call to the tower and I am back taxing for departure. I advise ready to go and start to roll. Airspeed alive gauges green and 679er is in the air. I was turned loose on course and I flipped over to Philly Approach. I dialed in my new squawk code and kept on trucking for 5500 and the ETX VOR. Today was like driving our Benz compared to the lesson plane. 679er holds altitude so nice and heading too. She reminds me of the cooking infomercial where you set it and forget it, that's our girl. A steady 80 knot climb to 5500 then level off and enjoy the ride.

Philly handed me off to Allentown then Allentown to Wilkes-Barre. I checked in with Wilkes-Barre, then had a slight brain fart. I was thinking (first mistake) about shooting an approach when approach came back and asked me my intentions. Flags went up, lights flashed....holy smoke did my mic stick and I blabbed my "shooting approaches" over the air? I had thought so, so I said no approaches will report field in sight. What a dope! I'm still getting a chuckle out of that. Anywho, I report the field in sight at 15 miles and get handed off to the tower. I made my call now that my brain trapped gas was gone and advised 14 to the south inbound full stop with (information) Oscar, I was cleared to land runway 4. Over the mountain and through the wind turbines it's down to pattern altitude we go. Yeah it reminds me of the over the river blah blah blah song too. An abbreviated base now turning final runway four is looking good. That big ole' drop off doesn't look to scary from here, standing next to it looking over the edge was a different story a few months ago while visiting the airport to learn about their EMAS system.

Nice soft landing with plenty of stall horn and an easy roll out to my left turn to the taxiway. I stayed on with the tower and followed the signs for the FBO, First Flight. Once on their ramp I flipped over to 122.95 and gave them a call. The lineman came out and directed me to a parking spot. Very nice guy, chocked the wheels and asked if we needed anything. Once 679er was secure we headed inside to check in. First flight has a courtesy van available so we signed that out and I ordered fuel. The van was in good shape and it served us well. We made the trip across the valley to Mom and Dads grave and planted some flowers and cleaned things up. I really needed to connect. Mary stood by me and gave me hug as we both said a prayer. My Pop was my strength, always there to listen and offer advice, I miss that something terrible. I wish I could hear him tell me that it will all be just fine; the hip, the flight lessons and everything else whirling around in this hard head of mine. I know he can't, but I have all the things he taught me to make it through.

We loaded back up and headed for the airport. A quick stop to fuel the courtesy van and a dash into the shop for water and a Pepsi. The folks at the FBO were really nice. The plane was topped off, our bill ready to go and just as friendly as could be. I had to make a pit stop as did my Bride and I know this may sound crazy but that place had some really clean bathrooms, that's always a plus.

We loaded up and I completed my pre-flight. 679er fired right up and as we warmed up I called for the taxi clearance. Ground asked our planned altitude and I offered 6,500. Ground came back with a squawk code and departure frequency for us, very cool! I taxied out and completed my run up then notified the tower. I was cleared to take off runway 4 right turn on course approved. And so we did, take off and turn that is. I was directed to contact departure and within a few minutes we were on our way home with the extra eyes watching out for us. The Garmin 496 interfaced with the Zaon XRX PCAS was great, traffic all around and this baby was right on the money showing me the targets. I would see them on screen the approach would call. Wilkes-Barre handed us off to Allentown and in turn to Philly.

I requested a descent from 6.5 to 4.5 and what a mistake that was, it was bumpy. I was already well past Pottstown and figured I may as well tough it out and call up Wilmington. I canceled flight following with Philly and indeed called Wilmington about 15 north. I was directed to enter left downwind runway one and advise midfield. I scooted around the TFR just to be extra safe then entered the downwind. I was number two and flowed through the landing checks as I got the girl slowed down. 679er ran super strong all day especially with the tail winds coming home. Short final, setting flaps for a fair landing. Some stall horn but a bit firm with a nice roll out for taxiway Kilo.

2.4 in the book and a great flight for my mind. I needed to reinforce my pilot skills after a few rough outings in the school plane under the hood. Mary and I will be meeting Rob and Becky for dinner, we are excited to be heading out with our friends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

ATC Instrument Work

More leave time turned in as I push for the finish line. I'm feeling a bit under the wx with some hip pain due to the change in our wx. When I went out to the SUV there was snow on the roof and windshield, mother natures way of reminding us who is really in charge of the changing of the seasons. Traffic was heavy but I made my way to Brandywine Airport. My lesson was scheduled from 1:30 - 4:30 and i flew 2.5 hours of that time block.

The plan for today was ATC radio work with Allentown, KABE. The approach and tower folks at Allentown are really great to work with and always very accommodating. They also have plenty of instrument approaches for one to choose from. Once again I decided on no GPS so the Garmin 496 stayed home on the shelf. The plan was to head towards ABE, contact approach and request an ILS approach based upon the wind direction/runway in use noted on the current ATIS. I pulled out Enroute chart L34 and made some notes prior to my taxi out. My route was Direct MXE V29 PTW SPUDS and made notes of VOR's and cross radials. A quick taxi check of the instruments and I am launching into today's adventure.

I climb out direct to Modena MXE and in mid climb Brian role plays ATC and amends my route directing me to intercept V29 then as filed. I twist to a heading of 025* FROM Modena (MXE) at an almost 90* angle and turn right to track the radial/V29 course. So far so good, famous last words huh. It's roughly 20 miles to PTW from MXE so I keep tracking while setting up to ID the SPUDS intersection. I'm up and down with altitude today but I'm tracking course fine. Once crossing PTW I turn to a 032* heading and proceed to SPUDS intersection. It's about time to ring up Allentown approach and I didn't note the frequency. I could have grabbed the AFD or Flight Guide but instead looked at the VFR NY sectional and dialed in 118.2. I was now approaching SPUDS since my 133* cross radial from ETX came to life. I made my call to Approach.
ME: Allentown Approach, Cherokee 988Lima Apha
APP: Cherokee 8 Lima Alpha Allentown approach say intentions
ME: Approach 8Lima Alpha is 15 north of Pottstown VOR inbound for practice ILS approaches.
APP: 8LA squawk ' 4xxx'

I read back the squawk code, approach confirms location and I'm on my way following the vectors for final. I like the ATC stuff, keeps you busy and it's fun. I get vectored towards runway 6 and brief my approach once again. Localizer and approach course set, Decision height, final approach fix, published missed all noted and I'm ready.
APP: Turn right 030*, descend and maintain 2400 until established, cleared for the ILS RWY 6 Approach.
ME: right 030*, 2400 until established, cleared ILS 6
And here we go.....holding course and altitude waiting on the localizer to come alive. Also I configure for landing, one notch of flaps, keep my speed at 90 knots, fuel pump on, mixture full rich, fuel fullest tank, landing lights on. I make the first mistake and reset my CDI for the missed intersection MUDRE by dialing in the SBJ VOR and setting the 309* radial. Ok localizer alive and down the glide slope we go. I'm holding at 2400 and cleared to 594' once crossing the Final Approach Fix (FAF) SHAGY, at that point I will start my timer. One problem, I can't ID SHAGY since I tuned off of the ETX VOR and set up my missed on the SBJ. To late, I blew that one but continue on for the ILS practice. No timer so its fly the needles as I maintain glide just fine but chase the needle on the localizer with heavy hands. UGGhhhhh.....I'm at decision height and look up, not far off following the glide slope but the timer would have been nice. Going missed...
I make three rounds each one progressively better, using rudder corrections as I get on short final and keep my needles centered. On the last attempt I flew the published missed. I flew the localizer to keep my heading as I switched to the STW VOR and flew the 243* radial. I already had the cross radial dialed in due to my over anticipation and kept the bird on track. I got a call from ATC asking if we were flying the published missed.....rhut rho.. that ain't good. Affirmative Approach direct MUDRE. Ah....8 Lima Alpha your 2.5 miles south east of MUDRE. I say out loud,but not over the radio, we're what! I'm tracking on course! My CFI keys the mic and requests vectors to MUDRE. I follow the directions while he rechecks the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI).
I'm now crossing the station and perform a loop in the hold requesting a south west heading. Off to Brandywine for the VOR-A approach. I make my tear drop entry a perform the procedure turn then head in on the 054* radial. Once across the station I adjust to a 052* heading, wait for the needle to come off the wall then set my timer and head towards the airport. At the noted time, yes set my timer this time, I get to flip up the foggles and see runway niner. I had listened to the AWOS while killing time heading to MXE. Winds were 030 and can't remember the speed. I circled to land on Nine and made an excellent landing with the stall horn moaning away. Thank God I'm in, my hip hurts, and I'm very tired.
I'm not having fun right now flying with all the pressure to get the rating finished up. Between getting projects squared away at work and other everyday things I just feel a bit overwhelmed at times. I can't wait until they knock me out and do the stinking hip, at least it will be some good sleep time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wind Correction and Holds

The wx was looking great and I could not wait to leave work. I turned in a leave slip for 3 hours and was headed home to throw on some sneakers and grab my flight bag. Mary was working in the yard and it looked perfect. She is into all that gardening stuff, me, I rather write a check to our landscape guy and have him do it. Yeah, I'm getting lazy but with the new hip I hope to add a few more outdoor yard activities to my schedule.....sleeping in a hammock "in the backyard" does count as an activity?

I pulled into the school 45 minutes early, I was ready to erase my last lesson and prove to myself I can do this stuff. I just read on one of the forums about some 70 yr old lady that had passed her instrument and she was still flying. I was embarrassed I let myself get so worked up, if she could do it at her age I have no excuse.

Prior to my pre-flight a Beechcraft Super King Air 200 was waiting to pick up two passengers. The courtesy car was out and the pilot needed wheels to head about 15 minutes away to get them. I volunteered my services and off we went. Our pick up was two ladies fresh out of a meeting and they were a blast. The pilot advised I volunteered my wheels to help out and they thought that was so nice. As I explained to them it was my way of paying forward some of the nice things folks at local airports have provided me, I asked them to do the same in return. Doing nice things for people helps with the good mojo and at this point in my life with all the things on my plate I'll take every bit of good mojo I can get. Hmmm...where did I leave my Italian horn, it wards off the bad mojo.

On to the lesson...

Winds had picked up so it should be fun. The Brandywine AWOS reported winds are at 11 gusting 16. Throttle forward, aileron wind correction set and we launch, weathervaning out over Route 202 and taking up a heading for noise abatement. I'm vectored off to the north (by my instructor) and we chug along. Eight Lima Alpha does NOT climb like 679er, it's a slow go. The plan is to work on nailing wind corrections and holds as we review for the big ride. I didn't bring the 496 today, instead it was spartan conditions in the Cherokee and we both got to share in the fun. I was on my highest alert with the Heading Indicator problems last lesson. Today it was warmer and maybe that had an effect on its use, the precession was not as bad as the last time out. I did check after each turn to a new heading once wings level, a bit obsessive I know but I didn't want to deal with chasing my tail.

I have no DME on board the school Cherokee so I am playing by ear and drawing the mental picture of my location. I guesstimate maybe seven to ten miles north of Modenna (MXE VOR) and give myself a three minute window before slowing to 90 knots and adding a notch of flaps. I soon crossed the station mindful of the winds at 2500 feet and turned to a heading of 200* for my tear drop entry into the hold. I tracked outbound for 1.5 minutes and then turned right to a 054* heading to intercept the inbound course. The CDI needle was slow to come off the full scale so I held my course to 010* cutting a bigger angle trying to intercept. Finally needle movement and I immediately continue my right turn to 054*. No sooner I am on course the needle swings through giving me warning I am about to cross the station. A quick look at the timer and I am just short of a minute, the tail winds are blowing.

I turn outbound for 4 more laps in the hold each time dialing in the wind correction and intercepting the inbound course earlier each attempt. On the last go I cross the station and deviate slightly to my course of 052* for the VOR-A approach. Once I get the CDI to come off the wall I start my timer looking for 3:48 to the missed approach point. I pull some power to start my descent to the decision height of 1120 feet planning on leveling off at 1200' for my safety cushion. As my time expires and at altitude I am cleared to remove the foggles, there she sits, runway niner just where it should be.

I entered the downwind leg of the pattern minding my altitude not breaking the 1120' circling to land height. I did make my circle to land a bit wide but lined up nice for the final. With wind correction held and plenty of rudder I crossed the numbers and flared a bit high followed with a flat landing, actually a short skip and then settled in nicely.

I'm up again Friday afternoon with a double block of time that we will spend at Allentown. Brian wants to go through my ATC work just to make sure I'm ready. I think radio work is the least of my problems but we can shoot approaches and knock out radio work all at once. One bright note is that Brian said we should be done the "ready work" and my check ride completed by the first week of April. We shall see.

The history behind the Italian Horn....

What is the evil eye superstition? In olden days it was believed that when a person was jealous of another person’s achievements, possessions or even his physical appearance, his jealousy alone could harm the other. The evil eye was especially known to cause harm to child bearing women, nursing women, men, fruit bearing trees, milking animals, fertile lands and many other objects. This evil eye was thought to have much influence against fertility of both men and women and their sexual powers. And to protect one’s self from all these harms, the Italian horn was worn.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lesson Scrubbed

My CFII canceled the lesson this morning after we waited an extra hour and a half in hopes of a better forecast. I would have loved some actual but I couldn't talk him into it with concerns for freezing temps with mist and rain showers. So, here at home getting ready to cook up some breakfast then hit the flight sim for a few hours of approaches.

KILG 151214Z 1512/1612 VRB03KT 2SM BR BKN005 OVC020
TEMPO 1513/1516 5SM -RA BR SCT005 OVC020
FM151600 07004KT P6SM OVC020
FM160100 00000KT P6SM OVC050

KMQS - Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Updated at 1:20 PM GMT on March 15, 2009 (9:20 AM EDT):
METAR KMQS 151320Z AUTO 00000KT 1 1/4SM BR OVC003 03/03 A3021 RMK AO2

KPTW - Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Updated at 1:02 PM GMT on March 15, 2009 (9:02 AM EDT):
SPECI KPTW 151302Z AUTO 00000KT 2 1/2SM BR FEW007 OVC050 05/03 A3022 RMK AO2 TSNO

KABE - Allentown, Pennsylvania
Updated at 12:51 PM GMT on March 15, 2009 (8:51 AM EDT):
KABE 151215Z 1512/1612 VRB03KT 5SM HZ OVC035
FM151500 VRB03KT P6SM OVC100
FM152100 VRB03KT P6SM BKN250

I'm up again Wednesday afternoon, then Saturday and Sunday. I don't really feel the best as far as learning and absorbing these days but I have to keep focused and drive on. The light is shining bright at the end of the tunnel and at least I don't hear any train whistles or horns, that's a good thing.....right?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pressure + Frustration= Disgusted

It bears repeating that I am under the gun to complete my instrument rating before my scheduled surgery on April 9th. I spent hours practicing last night, shooting approaches, tracking NDB's, VOR's and everything else one can imagine. I had the wind turned up almost zero visibility and anything else the sim could throw at me short of failing instruments. With all this in mind I head off to my 10am lesson hoping this would be the day I am assigned a mock check ride date.

The school is busy so I grab the clipboard and hurry out to 8LA for my pre-flight. Everything is good to go noting that the guy before me didn't shut the door or switch tanks for an equal fuel burn. Right side is full left side to the tabs. I'll burn the right tank for an hour then go back to my 30 minute switch routine for an equal burn rate and to keep weight and balance squared away.

This lesson will take me towards Reading KRDG and depending on the winds I'll shoot an approach there then head to Pottstown KPTW for the LOC RWY 28 approach. About halfway to RDG I tune in and listen to the ATIS and runway in use is three one and Brian changes his mind and send me to KPTW. ABout this time the door magically cracks open and I ask what the rush of air is from. Brian says the door is open and I nod in acceptance and say thats nice, deal with it, I'm flying. Ok, how do we get there (the ETX 160* radial)from here? Well I was direct to the East Texas (ETX) VOR so I now tune in the 160* radial and turn east to intercept it. Remember the DME does not work in 8LA so I can use the 496 to calculate distance as a back up with my primary means of ID'ing the GOOGL intersection when the localizer needle comes alive. All is well as I am now tracking the 160* radial from ETX and Finaly get the localizer to show movement. I turn left and track the localizer out bound remembering reverse sensing so I have to drag the needle back to center. At the one minute mark I turn left to stay in the protection of the procedure turn and head to 240* to intercept the localizer track of 276*.

Inbound on the localizer passing GOOGl intersection and now starting my descent to 760 feet and noting my time for the 3:12 run to the Missed Approach Point. Everything is moving like clock work, checklists completed and Brian even comments on the good altitude work today. Then it happens, I reset the Heading indicator since it's slightly off with respect to the compass and thus begins the chase of the needle. I hold steady but I'm two dots off, over correct and now three dots the other way, almost to decision height of 760' and the timer has but a minute left to MAP. I see a full scale deflection and go missed as my timer hits its limit. It gets better, on my missed the engine bobbled and we both immediately reached for the fuel pump (It's on)and we both called out switch tanks. I was on the fullest tank and best we can figure 8LA sucked up dirt or water. 8LA ran rock solid the rest of the lesson. I'm rather ticked by now as I full throttle and begin my climbing right turn to 2,100 and back to GOOGL. I start to scramble trying to get back on the localizer for my out bound heading of 096*, keep an eye on the ETX radial to help ID the intersection and once again have to twist the HSI back to match the vertical card compass. I'll refrain from posting my comments made in the cockpit on 8LA's equipment and I'm sure Brian won't soon forget since he got an ear full. Ok, outbound and timing for a minute actually adding maybe ten seconds to give me some wiggle room inbound. My twist and turn complete tracking inbound the HSI does not even match the compass card again. To hell with it, just fly the dang localizer needle. Things went much better this time and I came out on target. More on the heading indicator precession later.

The last approach for the day was the VOR -A back at Brandywine (KOQN). I tracked direct to with no problems and paid little attention to the HSI since it was doing something on it's own anyway. Brian had me correct the Heading Indicator (HI) to match the compass since I would need to hold a heading from the MXE VOR. I performed the procedure turn twice both times screwed up with the HI wacked out. I was getting pretty hot and thank God I didn't hold the mic button in. I had to calm myself down since someday my life could depend on it, this where we must fly the plane first. I wanted to placard the darn thing inop and fly partial panel the rest of the way but I would be looking up to see the compass. I made another correction and soldiered on now counting the third lap in the hold. Finally I get the dialed in and everything jives as the VOR swings to a correct heading. I'm inbound for OQN and start the timer and my descent. Times up and holding at 1200 feet I'm instructed to look up. Ahhh, what a sight runway niner at Brandywine. I advise entering the downwind for two seven and chug along. Base to final and over the numbers 8LA feels like she is falling out from under me so I add power and go around. I get an excellent call as I almost wanted to grab the yoke said my CFII. Do what? I don't think so....I was on it.

Around for another lap and I make a nice soft landing and taxi out, clear of two seven. I was so glad to get out of that bird today I actually cursed the darn thing and called her a POS. I am up again tomorrow at 7 am, I hope it goes a bit smoother or I'll kick 8LA right in the wheel pants and go sign up for surgery early....I'm tired, out of patience and sick of spending money. VFR flight is really looking good. Ok, I do feel better after that rant so I'll get off my soapbox for now.

I'm going to try and describe precession as best I can with the help of the Internet. PRECESSION: Another characteristic of gyros is precession, which is the tilting or turning of the gyro axis as a result of applied forces. When a deflective force is applied to the rim of a stationary gyro rotor, the rotor moves in the direction of the force. When the rotor is spinning, however, the same forces causes the rotor to move in a different direction, as though the force had been applied to a point 90° around the rim in the direction of rotation. This turning movement, or precession, places the rotor in a new plane of rotation, parallel to the applied force.

Unavoidable precession is caused by aircraft maneuvering and by the internal friction of attitude and directional gyros. This causes slow "drifting" and thus erroneous readings. When deflective forces are too strong or are applied very rapidly, most older gyro rotors topple over, rather than merely precess. This is called "tumbling" or "spilling".

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Don't" Chase The Needle

Up and out the door for another 7am lesson at Brandywine airport. Brian pulled into the next parking spot by ten of seven and I had been parked for twenty minutes. I quickly scribbled my signature on the invoice and was off to the flight line with clip board and keys to eight lima alpha in hand.

The pre-flight went with out a hitch and the bird was fueled and ready to go. It took a good bit of work to get her started and how we did I'll never know. I hope I can duplicate the process on check ride day. I now have learned to ask where our first destination will be so I can get out the correct plate and get dialed in prior to my taxi out. I am directed to the Wilmington ILS RWY 1 at Wilmington, KILG, my home turf. Trust me, I held no advantage other then the fact if we decided to stop I knew where we could take a nature break or if we wanted to get a bite to eat I could have the answers ready.

I was briefing the plate as we headed south when I tuned the ATIS and looked over at the DME to report my position from the on field DQO VOR. Hmmm, no DME working, ok next on the list of tools. I moved the cursor on the Garmin 496 and it gave me 13 point something and time to target. I figured good enough and with that called up the tower to report my position, ATIS info and request practice ILS runway 1 approach. The tower directed me to report HADIN inbound and I acknowledged. The NDB tracking is fun and pretty easy to do. I dialed in my cross check 267* radial from the Woodstown VOR and kept my altitude and course steady.

I flipped on the marker toggle switch on the communications panel so I could hear the NDB as I passed over to help identify my position. Ok, getting close now about 2 miles so I add a notch of flaps, hold steady at 90 knots and flow through my landing checks. As I cross the station the NDB spins so I begin my turn outbound on a 195 * heading for 1 minute. The plan is to make this a parallel entry so at the one minute mark I make a right turn to a new heading of 45* to intercept the 015 * approach course. Localizer is alive and I turn left to 015* and track in towards the HADIN NDB. Once at HADIN I'll need to start my timer, flip to the DuPont DQO VOR for my missed if needed, call the tower to report inbound and fly the needles to the Decision Height of 325' and the Missed Approach Point timed 3:32 from HADIN.

The approach went fairly well but I did get a little heavy on my corrections which had the needle deflect a few dots as my timer was running out. I went missed and advised the tower which directed me to make a left turn out back to HADIN for another three approaches. I progressively got better so that's a plus with my final missed following runway heading and climbing out to the north to have a go at the KOQN VOR A approach. My holds were good and my approach went well. I did get dinged for not making a better circle to land instead getting a bit wide and flying the pattern.

I'm up again Saturday and Sunday each 3 hours of lesson time. Brian is making the call to the Examiner this week to get his Private Pilot student on the schedule and I will be set up for the same day. I guess I'll find out the date this weekend.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Squared Away

It was up and out the door early this morning for a 7am lesson. The dogs cooperated and played nice while I fixed breakfast then headed out for the morning outside stroll. I double checked my flight bag, gave the Bride a smooch and walked out the door. With the time change it was still dark outside and I was wondering if I was going to have a chance to get night current. Nah, sunrise was scheduled for 7:23 and it was only 6:45. I do love the fact that there is no traffic in the early morning hours, it makes for a pleasant drive with good tunes playing on Oldies 98.1.

Brian rolls in on time and I pick up the keys and clipboard to 8 Lima Alpha. My pre-flight completed noting fuel at tabs we climb in and buckle up. I posted a skinny little sticky that reads CHECKS, as in remember all the checklists, front and center just under the tail number. I perform my taxi checks as we taxi to runway niner in order to back taxi on the runway and check for deer. I announce my intentions and begin bambi patrol. All clear as we make a 180 and get pointed down two seven for take off. Today I added a notch of flaps and stand on the brakes a bit longer to give 8LA some help. Off we go and it seems to take forever as we finally get into ground effect. Speed up and now climbing as I turn for noise abatement and take out the first and only notch of flaps having cleared all obstacles. Today I will be shooting the Localizer 29 approach at Chester County (KMQS). I eventually get to 2,500 feet leveling off, heading north and following vectors as Brian role plays ATC. My on course is very steady this morning, I completed my cruise checks by shutting off landing lights, fuel pump and leaning the mixture.

I did set the Garmin 496 up high on the windscreen on Brian's side but near the center post. It was up and running and would serve as a situational back up. Brian (ATC) advises; 8LA turn right two six zero descend and maintain 2,400 until established, cleared localizer runway 29 Chester County. I repeat verbatim and keep flying the plane working the scan and adding the extra look at the altimeter to keep steady. I also flow through my checks slowing to 90 knots adding a notch of flaps, fuel pump on, mixture full rich and landing lights on, marker beacon check and nav two set to help ID the 349* radial off DuPont. I'm holding steady on course, speed good and altitude good. Ok, localizer is alive so I start my turn to inbound on final. Tracking nicely and patiently awaiting the outter marker tone while watching the nav two needle start to swing as the cross radial slowly comes to center. Good timing on both as the outter marker sounds off. Reduce power to begin my descent and focus on course and altitude. I am clear down to 1040' or 1100' for my safety factor. I'm looking good almost to decision height and realize I did not start my timer....UGHhhhh what a dipstick. I needed to fly 3:28 from the Outer Marker and figure I've been inbound for maybe a minute tops. I could have clicked on the MQS designator on my Garmin 496 and it would have displayed distance to the airport as a back up. My CFII advises that we now break out around 1200' and I am almost on time with my timing guesstimate,I power up and go missed.

For the missed we climb out to 1300' then make a climbing left turn to 2400' direct Modena (MXE). The missed/hold outbound is on the 149* radial so I continue direct to on the 120* planning a teardrop entry. I cross the station and track outbound for 1 minute then turn inbound to intercept the 329* radial. The winds are strong today which requires one to cut a larger angle to intercept the inbound. I'm holding around 300* and the needle finally comes alive as I follow it to the correct heading. We practice a few laps in the hold then I follow vectors to who knows where. I know I'm east of Modena (MXE) but I'm not sure where he has me going. With my mind trying to keep ahead and keep the scan going Brian pulls the power. Ok he says, engine out IMC conditions, now what. I trim for best glide note that I'm already on with ATC so I would advise and I use the Garmin to get a look. I'm south of Brandywine (KOQN) but think its my best bet under the conditions. I make fairly steep left turn to get tracking towards my destination, keeping a watchful eye on airspeed and altitude. Just below 1000' my CFII advises we break out so I get to flip up the overcasters/foggles. No airport off the nose so a quick glance at the garmin says my 1:00 position and there she is. Hmmmm...this will be close as I cut the angle from a base to short final. The speed is really good, altitude falling but the landing is doable, I add a notch of flaps, then second guess and wish I hadn't quite yet since the headwind is slowing my progress. No turning back, can't take those flaps out at this point so I ride it out and nose it over the end of the runway. I get full power back and climb out going missed, that was some fun stuff! Once around the pattern for an ok landing and taxi in to complete the lesson.

I'm up again Thursday morning, a double block then a double block Saturday and Sunday. The mock check ride should be one day between the 16th and 20th.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cherokee 8 Lima Alpha

First lesson in the school Cherokee......it's not our Archer that's for sure! Whew....two original King KX175B radio/navs, DME was out of service and it did have an ADF and working transponder. I'm used to several shots of primer, fuel pump on and crank, 679er is up and running, just that easy. Eight Lima Alpha took no primer, four full throttle movements (back and forth) full rich fuel pump switched back off and crank. Hmmm....she's not making vroom vroooommm noises. This time mixture lean hold throttle open, no pump and crank, still no Vrooom noise. Back to full rich, throttle cracked open and pump on, she fires up and idles very nice, I think she was actually flooded.

I taxi out and complete my run up then launch on runway two seven for a north west heading towards the practice area. Once finally settled in I dial in Modena (MXE) and track direct for some hold work. No DME but I did bring the garmin 496 for situational help. I didn't program the unit at anytime, instead just used it as a reference. I continued on course but chased altitude this afternoon. A quick glance at the GPS to confirm I am just a short distance away from the VOR which confirms my course hold and not chasing the needle as we get ready to cross the station. I'm on a south heading of one eight zero and once the to/from flag flips I turn outbound on a 200* heading and mark the time. I'm entering the hold in a teardrop pattern so at the one minute mark I will turn right to a 054* heading to intercept the inbound leg. The winds were blowing a bit, I've been in way worse, so I added time to my outbound leg. Oh, I failed to mention as I approached the VOR I did configure for 90 knots and a notch of flaps.

Around and around we go in hold and finally Brian clears me to proceed to Brandywine. My heading changes once past the station to 052* and I can descend to 1120 feet I level off at 1200 feet and hold there but my timing has me over the airport. Who knows why, in the real world I would have either seen the airport or as I am about to do, go missed at the MAP of 3:48, enter a climbing left turn to two thousand and direct back to modena (MXE). I try to track to the station on a 230* heading which will put me right into a teardrop entry to the hold. As we track out Brian advised I missed my landing checks....UGHhhhhhhh. I am going back to running the checks as I enter the hold then a quick double check on final, I missed both this time.

Back out to MXE and a few more laps in the hold. I'm reminded to keep the scan going and do much better with my altitude and I track very solid inbound to Brandywine. I'm holding at 1200 as my timer passes through 3:48ish and when I say were are at time or MAP, I am directed to look up. Ahhhh...there she is just off at an angle exactly where runway niner should be. Two seven is the active so we circle to land two seven. I'm in kind of tight and trying to space myself out from the runway on my downwind and I dip just below the circle to land minimum of 1120', Brian tells me check ride bust, NEVER drop below minimum until on final. I beat myself up for the bust while circling to land, now back at 1150 feet. Since I didn't flush it (the altitude bust) away I once again missed my landing checks. I can't type what came out of my mouth, I was really ticked at myself. I'm turning final and really keep an eye on my airspeed since this is not my normal ride. I'm a bit fast but I make a beautiful circle to the runway and dip my left wing into the wind and hold off long enough to set 8LA down and roll out. 1.1 hours in the log and some real homework required to get ready for tomorrow mornings lesson at 7am.

I guess I'm feeling the pressure to get done since I missed a few months and now I'm up against a deadline with my surgery date of April 9th. I'm frustrated, sore and just plain not a happy camper right now. I'm glad Mary is at the flower show with family so I don't dump on her while in this mood. I'm off to practice on flight sim and will devise a way to flow through my checks just like when flying VFR.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Push Is On

This past Monday I met with the surgeon who is going to do my hip revision,Doctor Craig Smucker of the Morgan Kalman Clinic. I was ready for just about anything I was going to hear having heard the same speech the first time around in 1986. Mary went with me and I am thankful for that, my Bride is always so supportive. A few new twists this time around that I must say kind of hit me like a brick. After looking at the x-rays the good Doctor explained the shadows around the socket portion of my hip.

Bone Loss (Osteolysis - os·te·ol·y·sis)

In addition to inadequate stress loading, bone can also be lost through a process known as osteolysis. Here’s what happens: As the hip stem’s hard metal head rubs against the softer polyethylene cup in the hip socket, the friction can degrade the polyethylene over time, causing small wear particles to break off in the body. The body’s immune system rejects this foreign debris, attacking it much like it would attack an infection. Unfortunately, since the polyethylene debris typically settles around the site of the implant, the immune system may start attacking the surrounding bone tissue. This is known as osteolysis – literally, "eating away" of the bone. As the patient loses bone tissue in his or her hip, the implant may become loose and no longer function properly. Many orthopedic surgeons identify osteolysis as the number one cause of hip implant failure. I also have some action going on with the top of the femur resulting in a possible weak bone scenario with the potential for it breaking apart when removing the initial implant. This would require additional work to put Humpty Dumpty's parts back together again and thus leave me grounded for a longer period of time. I know, how could I be thinking about flying with this surgery just around the corner. It's what pilot's do, they always protect their medical, besides the thoughts of not flying again would be the ultimate worst case scenario for me so I really don't want to go there or think that, it makes for bad mojo.

As you can see there is much to think about with the upcoming surgery so for now I keep my thoughts focused on flying. I am going to finish up my lessons in a TAS Flight School plane. Even though it will cost more per hour I will save one hour each lesson flying to and from the airport where the school is located. It cost me $87 an hour wet to fly our Archer so it will be a savings. It also will allow some actual instrument time since I won't be stuck on the ground at Wilmington( KILG) trying to get to Brandywine (KOQN) on those marginal days. My ride will be a 1981 Piper PA-28 161 Cherokee N988LA. I spent some time in this bird back in my, I'm a new Private Pilot days and made a flight to Georgetown (KGED) and across the Delaware Bay to Cape May, NJ (KWWD)with Mary.

I am scheduled for a lesson tomorrow morning at 8am then again on Sunday. As the title stated, "The Push Is On" I want to have the instrument rating prior to my surgery. I hope to get a check ride scheduled this month. The PTS is now priority reading material everywhere I go, lunch break, sitting around the house or waiting for Mary while she darts into the Target pharmacy. More updates to follow....