Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Day to Play

Mary and I decided that since the rain finally stopped we would take our plane for a joy ride. I don't think we have both been in the plane together since we brought it home. I did fly a few times but it was with the guys. The plan for today was to head south west for seventy miles and invade Kays at the Airport located at Cambridge Dorchester, KCGE. We decided to post on the POA forum just in case we had the chance to meet up with our friends. RonL was a maybe and BobC was a go to meet up. We exchanged phone calls and text messages to confirm departure times.

Mary and I got up around 8am and showered and wait, we didn't have to pack a thing, everything was in OUR plane!!! I just had to add that, it feels good despite the monthly payment. The dogs quickly caught on that we were leaving but for some reason they thought THEY were going. Buzzzzzz.....wrong answer dear four leg furry children, it's me and Mom solo today, no critters. I went out to start the truck and look for my baseball batting gloves just in case it was a bit nip at the plane, I didn't need them. I did have to carry one item to the plane, a little tiny bag that Garmin supplies for the 496 and my airport print out for KCGE. When I came back in Mary said the dogs were going crazy thinking they were going with us...ah...noway!

We arrived at 08Romeo and quickly uncovered and ordered fuel. Dassault Falcon jet 100 LL price is $3.99 a gallon full service, best deal on the airport. The truck was out at the plane in less then fifteen minutes and we took on a total of 16 gallons to bring us up to 40 total. The final part of the preflight is my fuel sump test and I completed that, stowed the Gatts jar (for fuel testing) and locked the baggage door. Several shots of primer and 08Romeo came to life, the fun may begin.

We were cleared to taxi to runway one, complete run up and contact the tower. Everything checked out just fine and we made the call, Wilmington Tower Sundowner 08R is ready to go fox 1 and 1, 08 Romeo hold short Cessna on final, 08Romeo holding short, and so we waited. Once the Cessna cleared we were given the clear to go and launched out of Wilmington. Left turn on course we were headed to Cambridge. I know I'll get in trouble for this but my lovely Bride was asleep before we crossed the C&D canal, less then 10 minutes in the air. I picked up flight following with Dover Approach as we passed within a mile or two of KEVY, Summit Airport. We were riding along enjoying the view even though it was a tad bumpy. I was on the lookout for jumpers at Ridgely since we would pass directly over their airport. It would not be a good thing to tangle with meat missiles. Dover turned me loose prior to crossing Ridgely so I acknowledged and quickly tuned to their common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) to report my position and get any report on the jumpers. We passed with no problems, no jumpers at Ridgely at that time but we did hear jumpers away at multiple airports on the same frequency as far away as New Jersey and Chambersburg, Pa.

I switched over to Cambridge to listen for traffic and picked up the wx report at 15 out. Winds favored runway 34 with winds 350 at 8 gusting 14. I crossed midfield and entered the left down wind making a good landing with a long taxi to the left turn off. All of the parallel taxiway is freshly paved with new striping, looks and feels real nice. I found a place to park next to a Mooney and shut 08R down. Bob was en route and we figured we would walk in and add our names to the list.

We needed to get in line since this place is always busy. We watched a few planes taxi in but no Bob. We gave up our spot twice as we waited and tables were turning over pretty quick, the service is very good. Bob taxied in so we let the ladies working know that our party had arrived. We were seated almost in the middle of the restaurant. As does every seat in the house, we had a good view of the ramp and runway 16 approach. I have read a lot of good reports online about the crab omelets so that's what I wanted, Mary and Bob followed suit. Food and service were very good, as always. I struggled to gulp down the mason jar size serving of sweet tea that I ordered, but I managed. Mary had a monster mug of coffee that I'm sure would keep her wired for the rest of the day.

Bob was going to head back to Wings Field (KLOM) and Mary and I decided to make the hop to Lewes, Delaware. We would land at Georgetown Airport (KGED) and hope they had a courtesy car that we could use. We all left with full tummies and headed out so Bob could check out our new ride. Bob seemed to like the new bird and made mention about trading something for my Garmin 530, no deal! As we checked out the plane the ladies that were sitting next to us walked out on the ramp. Three generations of lovely young ladies out to check out the aircraft. The youngest, Morgan, I think, wanted to see the plane and so I gave her a boost to climb aboard and sit right seat. She seemed to get a kick out of it, and let me tell you she was as cute as could be, and just so polite. Her Mom snapped pictures and Mary talked to her Grandmom as the men went back to the plane. The little cutie stood under the wing and stretched out her arms like she was flying while her Mom took a few more shots, that moment alone was worth the gas to fly to Cambridge.

It was time to say goodbye to Bob and our new found friends. We climbed aboard and got the fan turning so we could bug out for Georgetown. I taxied out and had to hold short for a plane on short final then once they cleared we launched. I saw Bob taking on fuel and acknowledged his wave goodbye with a wag of the wings, we were off. It was short hop to GED but I picked up flight following with Patuxent to check on the R4008 restricted area. The floor of the restricted area is 8,500 and I would be well clear but I always like to check to see if its active (hot) or not (cold). R4008 was cold and I climbed to 3,500 and made way to the east for Georgetown. There were a few planes in the pattern and as you can see by the GPS track turned away from the runway and entered on the down wind, not quite a 45* but more of a midfield bank right and announce. I made an ok landing with a short skip and almost flat, I still need to get used to the new sight picture.

The lineman marshaled us to a parking spot and acknowledged there was a courtesy car available for us to use. Well alrighty!, I'll take that tie down spot and I pulled the mixture to shut down. We walked inside the terminal and the retaurant just inside the door cooking up a storm smelled fantastic. I signed out the courtesy car, the "silver bullet" as she is called and off we went. We headed towards Lewes, Delaware and made our first stop the DRBA Ferry Terminal. I wanted to see a project I had managed but was not able to attend the grand opening due to my hip surgery back in April. It looked great! The granite counter tops really stood out and all the new roll up doors and electrical work really turned this into something nice. It was good to see my co-workers and walk along the water front with Mary.

We walked back to the car and decided to check on the condo for her Aunt & Uncle. It's a short drive from the ferry terminal and it overlooks the Delaware Bay, very nice place. Mary asked if I wanted a peanut buster parfait from Dairy Queen since the place was open but I passed.....that's a first. Next on the list was a stop at a little market in downtown Lewes to pick up Milton Sausage, Mary's Mom and Dad like it and so do her Aunt and Uncle. We picked up sausage for everyone including us and two roasted chickens for dinner. We planned on dropping one off at Mom and Dads so they didn't have to cook either.

I made one more stop to put some fuel in the courtesy car and then headed back to the Airport. We thanked the gentleman at the desk and headed for the plane. As we walked across the ramp it's still sinking in that we own a plane, I guess it will soon be like walking out to the car in the driveway.....nah, not for me. We launched out of KGED and headed due north for home. I picked up flight following with Dover and Mary snapped pictures along the way. We passed right over the Air Force base and got a great look at the mighty C-5's, they are large even from 3,500 feet. I dropped with Dover and flipped over to Wilmington's tower. I had already noted the ATIS report and called in with my position, altitude, intentions and with the current information. I was number three to land and continued in having to report crossing the C&D canal. I tuned in the ILS runway 1 and shot the approach but only peeking inside for my scan of the needles since I was VFR and the only pilot on board. About four miles final a regional jet was cleared to take off with no delay for traffic on final. Heck I had two notches of flaps hanging out there at this point, I couldn't catch him if they paid me. Finally cleared to land I made an ok landing but once again a tad flat, Mary said it was on center. Thanks Hottie. We taxied in to our tie down spot and shut down. Mary took a picture of the plane next to us since we both liked the snoopy decal on the cowl. Once 08R was secure we headed for Mom and Dad's to drop off dinner. It was a fun day flying, a better day spending it with my Bride!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

NIght Flight 08Romeo

Last night Mike and I flew to KMIV - Millville, NJ to attend the FAAST safety seminar on Icing. The plan was to meet up with Jeff from 33N, have dinner at Dottie's on the airfield and walk over to Big Sky Aviation. I had the pre-flight completed and started up to taxi and meet Mike as he walked through the doors of Atlantic. Mike climbed aboard and I picked up my taxi instructions from Wilmington.

The plan was for me to shoot the ILS 10 approach into Millvile but landing and departing traffic was using runway two eight. Not a problem, Mike dug out the plate for RNAV GPS 28 approach and we were simulating vectors to the Final Approach Fix CROSE. I had briefed the plate and was set up for my missed. Mike role played ATC as we made our way in to the CROSE FAF. I heard Jeff arriving and I think he did a touch and go before making his final pattern loop and landing 93Zulu.

I set 08Romeo down smoothly but left of center and Jeff asked for Center line.....he really keeps me sharp. We taxied in and met Jeff at Dottie's for dinner. Originally we sat outside but I was feeling a bit nip so we all headed inside. Dinner ran a bit longer then planned and we were a tad late for the safety presentation. I had sat through this one before but it's always nice to review. Mike and I decided to head out after break so we said our goodbyes and saddled up for home.

We walked out to 08Romeo and I commented more then once how dark it was, Mike said great night to fly....I think I blurted I'm scarrrred of the dark. We had a good laugh. I checked fuel and did a walk around with a mini mag light, I need to get my big mag in the plane for night pre-flights. I taxied out to runway two eight and announced our departure. I made my climb shallow to keep the CHT's lower. It was really clear tonight and yeah, it was dark, not much of a moon out.

I copied the ATIS at Wilmington and set up to contact Philly Approach. Philly Approach, Sundowner 6708Romeo....Approach Sundowner 08R, 20 south east of ILG, 2500 level would like the ILS runway 1 approach for ILG. I dialed in the squawk code and was ready for vectors. The 530 was set and ready, I was holding fairly level and speed was looking good and on course. I briefed the plate and should have verbalized what I was doing but didn't. I glanced through the missed and Mike reiterated the brief, I needed to be more deliberate. I got maybe three or four turns on course and made my way in. I brain farted and did not configure for a notch of flaps and 90 knots. My final turn to intercept the localizer was upon us and I had just went through GUMPS; Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Pump and Switches/Safety. Philly turned me over to the tower and I announced 6708Romeo ILS 1 for full stop. I was cleared to land as I continued down the glide slope looking not to bust 325 feet. I was pretty good with the on course, correcting for a slight crosswind but I could have been more responsive with the glide slope. As I approached the DH I looked up and made final changes to configure for landing.

Another nice night landing followed with a U turn on the runway and taxi back to our tie down. Once we got to the tie down location we noticed that Atlantic tied a transient Cessna in my spot with my tie down straps (that had my tail number on them). I wasn't to happy! Atlantic didn't respond to my radio calls so I taxied to them. I had to shut down in order to talk to the line guys and then had to hot start and taxi back to my tie down spot. It was along day and I was tired and cranky.

Mike and I reviewed and both agreed that I need to get back to the "flow", my approaches are fine. I need to chair fly a bit and maybe work through some online approaches to get back in the rhythm. Once the dust settles of the new plane and I get a few things squared away I'm going to push to get my check ride scheduled.

As a follow up......I called Atlantic Aviation today to review the situation from last night. The lady at the desk was very helpful and stated that she would advise all shifts that 08Romeo is a rented tie down and not to disturb or use my spot for transient aircraft. Great service, top notch operation, now if they just open up a tie down that I can park close to the FBO.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sundowner Spec's

A reader asked about the Beechcraft Sundowner Specifications so I gathered some info and put this list together.

Beech C 23 Sundowner performance and specifications:
Horsepower: 180
Gross Weight: 2450 lbs
Top Speed: 128 kts
Empty weight 1650 lbs
Useful load 800 lbs
Cruise Speed: 116 kts
Fuel Capacity: 57.00 gal
Stall Speed (dirty): 51 kts
Range: 565 nm

Ground Roll: 1130 ft
Ground Roll 703 ft
Over 50 ft obstacle: 1955 ft
Over 50 ft obstacle: 1484 ft
Rate Of Climb: 792 fpm
Ceiling: 12600 ft

I only have maybe eleven hours in our new bird but here are my numbers. On our trip home from Texas I burned 11 gallons an hour. With the new engine (55 hours) I didn't want to run to lean and I tried to keep a close watch on Exhaust Gas Temps(EGT)and Cylinder Head Temps (CHT). The first leg from T31 Aero Country to KHZD, Huntingdon, TN was around 450 miles. Start up to shut down was 4 hours so the simple math says that's an average of 112.5 miles per hour or 100 knots. I fought a head wind for some distance but did see ground speeds of 135-140 knots when we were heading east with the tailwind. The second leg was 465 miles from KHZD to WV62 Windwoood Resort in Davies, WV. This leg, start up to shut down was 3 hours 45 minutes. A quick calculation figures the average speed to be around 124 miles per hour or 110 knots. If you want to dig a bit deeper and knock off 15 minutes for start, taxi out, run up, taxi in and shut down you knock off that 15 minutes. This makes a slight change but maybe more realistic numbers bringing the avg speeds to 110 knots on leg one and 115 knots on leg two which reflects what we were seeing in ground speeds and resembles what I flight plan for at 110 knots.

I have been reading so much about lean of peak, rich of peak that my head is spinning. As I become more familiar with the JPI engine monitor I will save more fuel when I start to feel comfortable with leaning a bit more. For now it's pull back until rough then advance mixture to run smooth.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Night Current Again

Finally night current once again...

It was a beautiful night and I decided it was time to get night current. I want to attend a FAAST seminar in Millville NJ on Wednesday evening and Mary and I decided we would get there early and have dinner. The only catch was I needed to be night current in order to have her travel home with me. So tonight she helped me uncover and get the plane ready for me to get in the air.

I needed to order fuel and Dassault Falcon didn't have enough linemen working so they asked if I could taxi over, well that doesn't work for me. I called Aeroways and they came right out. I had to pay more per gallon but my pre-flight flow was my typical routine. I climbed in while Mary sat in the SUV with both dogs. I taxied out with the current ATIS info and completed my run up at the runway one and fox 1 hold short.

I launched into the night and climbed out at seven hundred feet a minute turning crosswind at six hundred feet and climbing to pattern altitude now on down wind. I had the pattern to myself as I reported midfield down wind, as instructed by the tower. Landing one and taxi back uneventful, landing two I try a no flap landing, I was coming in a bit hot but a nice touch down. I made this one a T&G and as I went to full throttle my headset clip unplugged and caught on the yoke. I was drifting left of center and accelerating, more right rudder, yanked the headset plugs clean out with my right hand and continued to fly the plane. Hand back on the throttle, climb out to six hundred or so and turn cross wind. I reached down keeping eyes out and do the hunt and peck for the headset plugs. Ok I have them in hand and decided to turn on my red light head band and make the connections. Time for a left turn to 190 degrees and I'm on the left down wind for runway one, ready to report midfield. Wilmington tower clears me to land runway one as I pull the power back and add in the first notch of flaps. I'm keeping this one real tight. Second notch, left turn on base and roll into final. Speed looks great, runway made and adding the last notch of flaps. Over the numbers holding it off, only a slight stall horn and mains touch down with the nose wheel immediately following. A slow and steady taxi back after a 180 on the runway and right turn off on taxiway delta. I have one to go, I want to make this a good one to end the night. I launch once again turning out for my crosswind and with tight spacing make my down wind turn. I'm at 1100 feet listening to additional traffic joing the pattern also working on night currency. A young lady in a Piper enters from the south and she is number two to land while I extend my down wind leg as instructed. We pass by each other and the tower has yet to call my base so I announce 08Romeo turning left base runway one. I got a thank you.

I followed the Piper in and slowed way down so she could clear the runway. The tower asked if I could slow down and give the other aircraft time to clear. Hello....I'm on it...I was slowing to maybe 80knts and started S turns.....a first for the Sundowner (asked to slow down). I watched the Piper clear after having some trouble finding taxiway delta but I eventually copied my cleared to land from the tower. I was over the fence trying to maintain 70 knots and touched down just past the numbers. I was also directed to make a 180 and taxi back to delta. I stayed on with the tower and taxied back to the Hercules hangar ramp. Mary helped me tie down and get 08Romeo covered. I'm once again current and we're ready for Wednesday night and the FAAST Seminar at Big Sky Aviation (at KMIV). It should be a fun night out for dinner with friends.

FAR Sec. 61.57 - Recent flight experience: Pilot in command.

(a) General experience. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers or of an aircraft certificated for more than one pilot flight crewmember unless that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings within the preceding 90 days, and --
(i) The person acted as the sole manipulator of the flight controls; and
(ii) The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required), and, if the aircraft to be flown is an airplane with a tailwheel, the takeoffs and landings must have been made to a full stop in an airplane with a tailwheel.
(2) For the purpose of meeting the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft under day VFR or day IFR, provided no persons or property are carried on board the aircraft, other than those necessary for the conduct of the flight.
(3) The takeoffs and landings required by paragraph (a)(1) of this section may be accomplished in a flight simulator or flight training device that is --
(i) Approved by the Administrator for landings; and
(ii) Used in accordance with an approved course conducted by a training center certificated under part 142 of this chapter.
(b) Night takeoff and landing experience. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and --
(i) That person acted as sole manipulator of the flight controls; and
(ii) The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required).

Monday, October 12, 2009

IFR Certification

Questions are often raised about what is an "IFR re-cert", or "why do I need to have my transponder checked when I only fly VFR". ATC Controllers and TCAS Collision avoidance equipment works off of the transponder with the encoder to provide altitude and range information. If the Mode C information that is being sent from the transponder is incorrect, or if the altimeter is different from the Mode-C encoder, then Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) equipped aircraft will receive bogus information which could cause a problem. ATC uses the altitude information to keep aircraft separated.

The Altimeter; The single device that tells a pilot how high the aircraft is, and when to go missed on an instrument approach. There are many things that can cause the altimeter to be out of tolerance, Scale error, baro scale error, friction, case leaks, can give the pilot the "wrong" altitude. These rules have been in place for decades, and they are needed to keep the rest of the aviators in your airspace safe. New technologies are being installed into aircraft to provide a safer level of flying than we have ever known. All of this means that your airplane, and the equipment in it, needs maintenance. That maintenance is every 24 calendar months, or whenever a problem is brought to your attention. FAR 91.411
I picked up 08Romeo at Red Eagle Avionics, she passed with no problems. I got to jump in the plane and taxi around the airport before and after work. I would rather have been flying but any left seat time is fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ocean City, NJ

Sunday turned out to be a busy day. I was up early to get to the plane and complete my pre-flight, Zero Eight Romeo had her first mission. MikeB who I always fly with out of Wilmington needed a lift to pick up his car located at the Delaware Airpark. I had never landed at Ocean City New Jersey (OCNJ) so I figured why not make the run. The plan was to be wheels up around 8-8:15 but I ran a bit late making sure I had good oil temps. I don't want to hurt my new engine.

I had traded text messages with Mike so he knew I was on my way and JeffF at 33N was going to meet up with us. The plan was to make the pick up and grab breakfast, ok it was the plan. I heard Jeff on with Atlantic City Approach and he decided to head directly to 26N, Ocean City. I was maybe 10 minutes behind as I canceled flight following and started to let down for pattern altitude at OCNJ. Winds were calm and I entered a left base for runway six. My landing was ok at best with a slight bounce then settled in for the roll out. I taxied back to the ramp and shut down. Mike and Jeff were waiting along with Jeff's two children (crew members) Hannah and Bryan.

Since there was a restaurant on the field we figured we would save time and eat there. As we walked in a sign on the door said no credit cards accepted, well that closed that deal. We turned around and saddled up for Millville. Jeff was off first followed by another Archer, Mike and I were number three to depart after watching a Cessna on final make a sweet landing. We were soon rolling for take off and 08Romeo was wheels up. As we made our way for KMIV we swapped control and Mike flew 08R for a bit, setting us up for the GPS 28 approach. I made the call to Millville radio and we transferred control once again. I had to use Mike's plate, mine were in the back seat. I flew vectors to the Final Approach Fix (FAF) CROSE at 2,000 feet then started down to the Decision Altitude of 344 feet. 08Romeo is very stable and should provide a good platform to knock out my check ride.
We met Jeff at the Flight Line Restaurant and placed our order. The place was busy with locals and a good showing of pilots that flew in too. My schedule was running pretty tight and after a brief discussion Mike was going to hop a ride back to 33N with Jeff. It saved me some time and that helped. I blasted out for Wilmington and was cleared to land on runway three two. Sweet....a left turn off and short taxi to my new tie down location, it still feels very weird on this side of the airport and not having the normal planes around me, I'll get used to it all. I missed my tie down alignment, there is no "T" painted and it's hard to line up the nose. I had to use the tow bar to get in position and add an additional tie down strap on the tail to make up for my bad park job. I'll get used to my new visual clues since I have no arcraft around me. I finished up with 1.2 hours and had some fun with friends. 08Romeo is off to Red Eagle on Monday for her IFR Certification.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bringing Home 08Romeo

Thursday Day 1

Our adventure starts on Thursday October 1st as we prepare to drop of Maggie and Rudder for boarding. We have our airline ticket/boarding passes ready and our bags are packed. I crammed in my mini laptop for flight planning, my electronic goodies to include the Zaon XRX PCAS and the Garmin 496. My brother provided the ride to Philly for this trip, it saved some $$ and we could leave on our schedule not the shuttle van.

Philadelphia was busy but we got pretty close to the curb and unloaded, no bags to check we were doing carry on only. I dreaded the TSA check but I knew it had to be done. We took the escalator upstairs and proceeded to moo through the line like cattle. Actually there was no line and we got to scoot to the baggage check and walk through the magical door. Mary went through no problems; yours truly on the other hand was directed to the sound proof booth. Ok Johnny, tell Gary what he won today….well….. Gary has won a no expense paid trip to a hand search and some stranger who can go through all his packed bags and flight gear. It wasn’t too bad and after the wand and hand search they let me roll, no bag check, we were headed to the gate. I guess we had maybe an hour or so to wait so together we decided to find some breakfast. Mary had the Monte Cristo sandwich special and I had a bagel with cheese and bacon.
When the agent arrived at the desk I checked in to see if I could get two seats together since my original ticket purchased was screwed up by me. Long story short I booked the wrong date, I had to eat the charge per ticket change and the new more expensive ticket price since it was now less than seven days prior to the flight. UGhhhhh….I was sick that day, all day, I hate wasting money. The agent got us squared away since a nice lady gave up her seat next to me and was rewarded with a seat in row two versus row eleven. Mary and I both thanked her as we boarded the flight.

We taxied out a bit behind schedule and departed on the start of our journey to bring Julie (08Romeo) home. It was a nice flight at thirty six thousand and smooth all the way until outside of Houston. We landed into a cross wind as I watched our crab angle out the window, nice job captain. We made our way through the airport and to the ground transportation area. In order to pick up a rental car we had to board a bus that shuttled everyone to/from the airport and designated rental facility. The building was pretty big and all the big names were there. Mary and I had decided on Enterprise and in a few minutes the paper work was complete. Our ride for the day would be a brand new white Chevy Impala; Mary wanted the GMC SUV sitting close by for an additional $10 a day. We passed and stayed with the impala. Onward to Palestine!

Our trip North to Palestine would take just over two hours. The countryside was flat with plenty of grazing area for cattle. We saw cattle ranches up and down each side of the highway along with homes of every design. Some places really nice and elaborate and others small salt boxes. The speed limit was 70 day and 65 nights, first time I ever saw one of those signs that I can remember. We barely saw 70, traffic was rolling along around 80, and we followed along (wink). Once off the big road, exit 178 off of Rt. 45 we made our way along Rt. 79 towards Palestine passing through small towns along the way. We passed through Buffalo, Oakwood and Tucker before getting to the South Loop 256. From this point it was a right turn and a short hop to the Hampton.

We checked in at the desk and asked about a good place to eat. The recommendation was to eat at the Amore Italian Restaurant in down town, so we headed out. No, we didn’t unpack we were hungry and wanted to eat first since it was now around 4pm and we last had a bite to eat around 9am. On the way to the restaurant I dug out my phone to check messages, Bo had called to see if we were going to make it up to McKinney , there was no way today. He did suggest a good place to eat called the Cotton Patch; we had the place in sight. Mary and I each ordered a steak dinner but first gulped down cool refreshments. We ordered an appetizer, steak cut fries covered in cheese and bacon, and we must have been a sight as we cleared half the large plate in very short order. Dinner arrived and we enjoyed a relaxing meal. Too full to have dessert we ordered it to go and each took back to the hotel a peach cobbler for me and a raspberry cobbler for my Bride. I finally caught up with Emery, the owner of 08R and we went through some documents and the weekend plan of attack. When we finished up I had to drag myself to the elevator, I was tired. Mary and I crawled into bed and I honestly can say I have no clue what was on TV because I passed out.

Friday DAY 2

We started out with a continental breakfast at the hotel. I then headed to the FedEx service center to send out the “original” bill of sale, Emery had sent a fax. Ken Johnson at BOA got the ok to release funding on my call based on the fax copy but needed at least a tracking number of the original that was on its way. It all worked out. Mary went back upstairs to give her back some additional rest since we were scheduled for a noon checkout. I found my way to KPSN and nosed around the place, nice airport and terminal. I sat back and watched a movie with the guy working, hoping to meet up with Emery but he was still in surgery. I gave up waiting and went back to meet up with my Bride for our check out. We loaded up the rental car and decided to look for lunch. As we were driving around Emery called and said to meet him at the airport in twenty five minutes, lunch was put on hold. I changed course and headed to Enterprise so I could return the car and get us a ride to the airport. The folks at enterprise were friendly and had us on our way. We were making a left off the main highway and heading down a country two lane road towards the airport. Just a mile or two to go and a car two in front of us decides to make a left, we all come to a quick stop and for some reason my passenger side didn’t have a break pedal, although I really tried. As we came to a halt a pickup truck was closing in on us, I spotted it in my side mirror and hollered hang on we’re going to take a hit! The truck dart to the right, thankfully missing us, cut across the shoulder and into the grass area and never flinched or touched the brakes for that matter, or so it seemed. Holy crap! We almost bought the farm! There’s more to this story but for now we’ll just fast forward.

Mary and I unloaded the bags and waited in the Terminal for Emery. He had pulled his Baron out for the trip to McKinney, what a time saver. He topped off tanks and completed his pre-flight while I loaded our bags on board. Mary climbed in the back and I took the right seat, our first ride in a twin. We screamed on out headed for T31 Aero Country. I was watching the Garmin 430 and his back up 300XL click off the ground speed as we passed 180 kts. This was really nice. Plenty of leg room front and back and great speed to boot. Maybe ten minutes in to our trip Emery motions to me with a head nod to look back at Mary, I asked, is she asleep? Well she wasn’t as I immediately took a slap to the back of my head. Yikes. I think they set me up. We continued on every one laughing but me. I was checking out the scenery when I noticed some blue streaks on the right wing. Uh…Emery we have a problem, we’re venting fuel on the right side. He gave it a look and I kept watch as he banked right and turned us back to Palestine. Once back on the ground he reset the cap and we cleaned up the fuel stain on the wing. Let’s try this again! Our next attempt was successful, we were soon letting down for T31, Aero Country. We taxied in and parked up at Aeromark, the folks who did my prebuy. We went over all the info and got all the logs updated then I paid the bill. Emery paid for the VFR cert and the oil change.

We climbed in so I could knock out a few landings and get familiar with the plane. My first take off was fine but my climb out was a bit steep. I heard some stall horn sounding so I lowered the nose and cruise climbed at the book speed of 80 knots. Much better as 08Romeo did her thing. I came around for landing number one keeping the same thought process as the Archer 90-80-70 for speed on downwind base and final. I pulled the throttle to 1500 at midfield keeping the pattern tight and on final was still a bit high. I went full throttle and climbed out deciding to go missed. Hmmm…..not the best start but I got that out of the way. Went out towards a practice area since I now had a new problem to deal with, a headset cord was tangled in the flap handle. It was now Emery’s airplane as I worked to resolve the problem. I asked for slow flight so I could put in a notch of flaps, this solved the tangled mess and we were back in action. Remember, the key is to “fly the plane”. We split the duties and moved on, good outcome.

Next time around was a nice landing followed by a good climb out with no stall horn. Winds shifted so I went out away from the field so I could reposition. Another good landing, maybe a tad fast had us rolling out to clear the runway. Emery said ok, drop me off and have at it, remember gentle inputs and cruise climb. Got it, and off I went. As I was turning short final Bo came on the radio and asked if I could make the midfield turn off, Thanks I said, no pressure. I brought 08Romeo in and made the midfield turnoff, yeah I had that big grin on my mug.

The time to make a go-no decision was at hand. I really wanted to launch and start heading home but as Bo stated you won’t be out of Texas before night fall. We decided to stay. Bo and Sandra invited us to dinner and gave us some options for places to stay. We ended up having dinner at the SaltGrass Steakhouse, what a nice place. I ordered the 12oz Certified Angus Beef Ribeye, Sandra had the Certified Angus Beef Center Cut Top Sirloin and Mary and Bo had the Prime Rib, end cut. Great food and service shared with friends, it made for a very nice night. As we sat there I could not help but wonder what all happened over the last few days to get to this point. All I do know is that relaxing and having dinner with friends made all the stress melt away, Mary and I both needed that. After dinner we headed to the Hampton inn for the evening. Plans were made for an 8am meet up for breakfast. We both were dead tired, I’m not sure if we even turned the TV on I woke up Saturday morning.

Saturday DAY 3

Our wake up call was for 7am leaving plenty of time to get showered and downstairs to the lobby in order to meet Bo and Sandra at 8am. At ten of eight the phone rang, our breakfast partners were here and ready to go. Great timing, as we were just heading out the door and making the final sweep through the room. It was a gorgeous day in Texas and I knew it would be a great day to fly. We loaded up our bags and headed to Mimis Café for some morning eats. The food was perfect, I had a cheese omelet Mary had eggs with a pumpkin pancake, Sandra had an omelet and Bo ordered French toast. We left Mimis Café needing to recheck the weight and balance. I started up 08Romeo and taxied to the fuel pumps, the ladies took the SUV down and Bo road right seat. It didn’t take long for Bo to ask why I taxi left of center. I was caught; it’s just something I always do since I started. I know better and should always align the taxi line right between my legs, thanks for pointing that out Bo.

Bo said that he gets a fuel discount for keeping his aircraft here so he used his credit card for the purchase. I was going to use my visa so I said I have a check or need to run for more cash, he said we’ll do the check. Ok, that works for me and so I pulled out the ground cable and hose then got to fueling. We chatted about this and that, and a man came up with his child looking at the plane. As I finished we talked his young son into checking out the inside, he agreed. One thing led to another and Bo mentioned you best be getting on if you want to make WV by night. He was right so we said our goodbyes and headed off.

Thanks Sandra & Bo for the great video!!

We are about to fly the longest leg of our short three year flying career as we planned for a first stop at KHZD, Huntingdon, TN. This would be a gas, nature and go stop. I taxied up to the pump and got the go go juice flowing. When I reached into my back pocket for my wallet and opened it for my credit card I notice I still had the check intended for Bo’s fuel purchase. I was so embarrassed! I called to give Bo a heads up and being the perfect gentleman he said don’t worry I didn’t see how many gallons we put in anyway. I said I would mail a check out ASAP, he insisted on waiting until he got the bill. I felt like such a dope.

After I explained to Mary what I did she just looked at me, obviously we were both tired and not thinking straight. We loaded back up and departed for our final stop of the day WV62, Windwood Resort in Davies, West Virginia. The ride had been smooth until maybe twenty minutes prior to our fuel stop at HZD. There was an airmet for moderate turbulence but it was noted as higher altitudes. We continued on as I constantly looked at our ground speed and recalculated our arrival time in my head. It looked like we would be at WV62 right after the 7:05 pm sunset. I crossed Cooper Knob and into the Cannan Valley less than a few miles from our destination. I made a pass a bit lower then my 5,500 en route altitude and did not see the field. I was still on with ATC and asked that they stay with me so I could make another pass. If I didn’t have a visual I would cross the next mountain Balckbird Knob and pass over Jordon Run into W99, Petersburg, Grant County Airport. I just wanted extra eyes with me and ATC agreed. ATC asked if I would like vectors to WV62 and I agreed. We were turned to a 050 heading then left again to 035 degrees. There she is, almost entering the downwind for runway two four. It sure looked small from my view. I cleared with ATC and thanked him for his extra effort then switched to the CTAF at Windwood. I heard the POA pilots that were waiting for us. I had called in on the CTAF from 40 plus miles out just to say we’re inbound and I think I gave a guess on my time. Obviously they heard me and were at the ready for my landing attempt. I pulled the power to 1500 rpm and added a second notch of flaps. I had the pine trees on my mind as I turned final looking for a place to chop and drop. I cleared the trees and heard land at the gray house, the gray house, then another voice, chop it chop it. I was clear of the tress adding the last notch of flaps and pulling the power all together. We were riding it in, steady, wow it’s dark down here, nose up, rudder, nose up, hold it off, hold it off…stall horn screaming kerplunk on the mains and almost instantly followed by the nose gear making contact, we were in. Short lived joy as I crossed the gravel patch and it sounded like the wheels came off with a bang. I rolled out to the end turn around and back taxied for the ramp. Doc. Bruce stood on a runway light that was not illuminated to protect me from striking it and I followed the many folks marshalling us in. Man it’s great to have friends looking out for you!

I shut down and tried to catch my breath. This was only my 4th landing in the new plane and it was dark with the added narrow runway 40’ and large obstacle, 50-70 foot pine trees. Mary climbed out and the group of pilots there to help hustled our bags in and helped me park/tie down. I was dead beat and relieved to be on the ground.

The group had waited for dinner to start so we made that the first order of business. When I got to the lodge Mary already had the room key and a few guys carried our bags in, thanks so much to all of you that helped get us in for the night. Dinner was fantastic, chicken alfredo tasted perfect and so did the two large sweet teas. After dinner we headed upstairs to hang out and hangar fly. Mary paired off with Doc. Bruce’s bride and they seemed to have a nice time. I was chatty Kathy with the guys until I just ran out of gas. I called it a night and turned in. Ted was scheduled for a 6:30 departure and I wanted to see him of. It was lights off and I think I was asleep before the bulb went off…..yeah I was beat.

Sunday DAY 4
I was up at 5am and headed out to see if Ted was leaving. I just missed him as I watched him walking down the grass path towards his plane out on the ramp. It was chilly out so he had to warm up before the run up. Adam was the next one to poke his head out to see ted off followed by Rob. We hung out listening to Ted’s twin rumble through the valley, sweet music to us pilots but to the guy in the house behind Ted’s Aztec, I’m not so sure. Adam grabbed his handheld to ask what he was waiting on and sure enough, as Adam stated, he was waiting for a release. Finally he turned on the strobes and taxied out to runway two four. Power up and the twin engines came to life; Cloud Nine was on another mission.

I hung out and chatted with Rob for a bit then went back to the room. I crawled back in bed and figured I would get up and shower to make this sore body feel better. I was up and out early, working on my flight plan. By the time breakfast rolled around (plan was for 9am eats) Mary had wandered out to join us. I had a cheese omelet and I really could not tell you what anyone else had around me, I was hungry and a bit out in space. Prior to breakfast I called to let my family know we would be heading home in an hour or so and should be in, in less than two hours. My phone call also alerted me of some tragic news. One of the kids I coached for three years was killed in a tragic auto accident along with his father who helped out every practice and took over my coaches spot this season when I went in for hip surgery and his Mom, this year’s team Mom. One survivor, the 16 yr old daughter is recovering in the hospital. I was devastated, there are no words, there is nothing that I can even think about to make sense of it all. I could not shake the thought of not seeing this happy go lucky 12 year old and his father out on the field again, not hearing his voice or listening to his corny jokes and class clown infectious laughter and antics. I still had to fly home but my mind was two hours east on the baseball field reliving all the things he did to make me laugh and love the game we shared.

At this point I needed to take a deep breath and move forward. I had to get us home despite the sickness I felt inside my gut. I added this to my blog because it is so important, for many reasons. One being the importance of life and being happy, leaving it all on the field and letting the people around know how much they really mean to you. Second, the need to be professional in my duties as a pilot to fly Mary and I home safely. I dropped the ball on number two, I should have asked for help from the many friends and pilots that were staying at the resort. I didn’t, I decided to conduct my preflight and continue. I finished up and climbed aboard to get 08Romeo started so she could warm up the oil. I watched Rob and Lee preflight, Gary and Adam too. I was ready to roll for my run up when I heard someone on the radio tell me my left wing was still tied down. He untied 08R, I thanked him and rolled from the ramp.

Thanks Bryon for the video departing WV62!!

The run up was fine as I went through the checklist, now concerned I may miss something else. Everything was good so I announced on CTAF and launched for W99, our fuel stop. Rob was off number two and Gary number three. I radioed on the air to air that crossing the ridge line was really bumpy, hang on to your hats! Mary and I rode it out and started an immediate descent to W99. The AFD and Flight guide noted a right traffic pattern for runway 31, so that’s what I did. Winds were right down the runway and a bit gusty but 08Romeo did just fine. I taxied to the pumps and once shut down got the fuel going. Rob taxied in behind me and helped me tug the Sundowner out of the way so he could fuel 09L. I also missed one of my fuel caps but thanks to Rob got it squared away. We all finished up and taxied out for the ride home. Rob was number one Gary number two and Mary and I followed in our new girl. When I was ready to announce departing three one I noticed on my last checks I didn’t have my seat belt on….UGhhhh. Mary helped me buckle up and we were off. Once in the air I needed to take a few minutes to get my head out of my butt as my Bride said. I had to push it all out and focus on flying the plane. I guess if there is a moral to this story it’s don’t be afraid to ask for help, always be safe.

The remainder of the flight was uneventful and I ended the adventure with a very nice landing at Wilmington. We taxied to our new tie down location and secured 08Romeo. It took a while to unload all the boxes of books and manuals but we got her cleaned out and tucked in for the night. Our new bird served us well and we owe her a good cleaning and wax, as soon as we get some rest.
Thanks to all our friends in Texas and the POA fly in bunch at Windwood resort, you all make flying that much more fun for Mary and I. I can’t wait until the next gathering!!