The wx forecast was calling for some serious snow accumulation starting overnight Friday all day Saturday and into Sunday. As I sat in my office looking out the window I knew I had to get some flight time in. The winds were calm, the sun shining, Juliet was calling my name. I sent an email out to MikeB and advised I was headed to the airport at 11:30 to pre-heat for a flight. He responded quickly and said he would be available. I cleared off the remaining items on my to do list and only had to run off a few copies of a hydrographic condition survey print for my dredging project in Cape May, NJ.
I had packed the propane tank and red dragon heater in the SUV when I left the house this morning. I had hopes of making the flight line and getting in the air for a few hours. I pulled through the gates and got the pre-heat set up then proceeded to work through my pre-flight. I had ordered fuel from AeroWays since Dassault wouldn't have a lineman available to come to the plane but said I could taxi to them, what a pain. I completed my pre-flight and had sumped the fuel, the flight was a go. I placed my knee board and flight bag in 08Romeo complete with updated approach plates, airport printouts and my baseball gloves in case it gets nip in the cockpit. I shut down the red dragon heater, disconnected the propane and when cool loaded everything up in the SUV. I positioned the truck outside the gate, walked back in and climbed aboard. I received a text from Mike and he was on the road. I decided to get Juliet started and let the oil warm up. The preheat did a really nice job as noted by the oil temp in the yellow when I turned on the master.
08Romeo starts up with the typical seven shots of primer on a cold start and low idles around 7-800 rpm. Oil pressure is in the green and CHT's are coming up. I pull the cabin heat on and take advantage of the cabin blower fan to warm things up, the outside temps are just about freezing.The oil temp soon reaches the mid yellow zone so I taxi towards the gate adjacent to Red Eagle. While I wait I copy the current ATIS info and set up the Garmin 530. I didn't bring the 496 today, have no clue why other than I just plain forgot it. I checked for TFR's before leaving work and our wx looked great at all the planned stops.
Mike walked through the gate and I pulled the throttle back to a very low idle and he climbed aboard. I was nice and toasty he was all bundled up. He soon shed the coat,hat and buckled in, he jumped right in checking the 530 flight plan and radio stack set up. I contacted Wilmington ground and despite the ATIS stating that 14-32 and 9-27 were closed he cleared us to runway 27 via kilo and hold short at Mike. Run up completed and a review of the checklist confirms all items are go. A quick call to the tower and we are cleared to takeoff on two seven and left turn on course approved. 08Romeo was on the roll, airspeed alive and soon climbing out. I am getting better at managing her rate of climb and the sight picture as we left Wilmington behind us. Left turn on course and we are off to Cape May. I monitored Dover approach and then flipped to Atlantic City approach to monitor for traffic while we configured the plane for various stages of flight for an instrument approach.
Cruise Descent Flaps 0* RPM 2100 Speed 100 Knots
Level Flight, Approach Flaps 10* RPM 2200 Speed 90 Knots
500 fpm Descent Precision Flaps 10* RPM 1900 Speed 90 Knots
800 fpm Descent Non-Precision Flaps 10* RPM 1700 Speed 90 Knots
Back to the radio role play as I am instructed to proceed direct KAGYS for my first approach, LOC RWY 19, into KWWD, Cape May Wildwood. I had briefed the approach and at three miles from KAGYS I configured for the approach. I held my altitude and slowed for the first notch of flaps then adjusted power for 2200 rpm. The numbers do work, I was level at 90 knots with approach flaps. I ran through my landing checks and was now on the localizer and descending for KIMBA and 1700 feet. I have to loose 800 feet in 6.6 miles so I pull the power for the pre-determined precision 1900 rpm and off we go, speed and rate of descent (500fpm) look great. At 1800 I set my power back to 2200 rpm for level flight and 08Romeo settles out at 1700 feet, very nice. As I cross KIMBA I pull the power to 1700 rpm and start my descent to the decision height of 420 feet, I'm 5 miles out. At 500 I glance up and announce I have the runway and complete my landing.
It's a brief stop in Cape May as we taxi back for departure to Georgetown, KGED and another approach. Once we took off a cloud layer was moving in off the ocean/shoreline and it's edge was along the airport not quite to the Delaware Bay side. We headed up the Bay along the Jersey coast to build some altitude before we crossed the Delaware Bay for KGED. At 4,500 I pointed the nose towards Delaware. We both commented on how cold that water must be, thankfully there was a DRBA ferry crossing for Cape May below us. I was set up for the RNAV (GPS) RWY 22 approach with EQUEGO as my initial fix. I descended to 2000 feet as I reached the initial fix and turned right on course 315˚ to BOYSE, no PT required. From BOYSE a left turn to 225˚ and descend to 1500 feet. I was tracking nice and holding my altitude with the new settings drilled into my mind. Having the "numbers" figured out so you can set it and forget it frees up brain cells for other things and gives you the chance to stay a few steps ahead of the plane. Once crossing UMBLE the final fix I was looking to descend to my minimum descent altitude of 480 feet. A tad bit of a quartering tail wind for two two but I get 08Romeo on the ground (with a bit of a skip/hop)and taxi off for a late lunch break at the Lighthouse Landing restaurant.
I added fuel since you get a ten cent a gallon discount if you eat at the restaurant and I brought my total fuel back to 40 gallons. Lunch was excellent, I had a hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy, Mike had a healthy choice tuna or chicken salad on wheat, but he did get fries. No wonder I can't loose weight, to many places to eat and I have to report on each and every location, it's my duty. It was time to get back out in the cold as we walked out to do an abbreviated pre-flight and sump the tanks. Everything looked fine and we climbed aboard to get out of the cold. Checks completed I call clear prop and get 08Romeo started. Thank God for the cabin blower as I pull the cabin heat on full while we warm up. I forgot to put the nose plugs in to help hold some temp but our stay was not that long.
Mike and I both had checked the wx in the pilot room prior to walking out and you could see the winter storm was getting closer. The sky had a different look to it and the ASOS advised clear below twelve thousand but it looked much closer. We taxied out and completed the run then launched off of runway four. A smooth takeoff and some avoidance for birds has us turning north a bit early on climb out.
I ask Mike if he would like to fly and we transfer controls. Mike summed it up when he said I just love to fly and it shows, I was happy to look out the window and take in the sights. We each spotted traffic, one off our right wing and I had a heavy going into Dover at our ten. Mike contacted Dover to see if we could shoot an approach but Dover advised they had severe bird activity, in short, not today boys. Fine, we continued north towards Wilmington and I set up for the ILS RWY 1 approach.
On check in with Wilmington I gave the who what where and ATIS information, then requested a practice ILS 1 approach. The tower advised reporting HADIN inbound and inquired how the approach would end. I responded report HADIN inbound and we would go missed and reposition for a GPS RWY 19 Approach, they confirmed. Mike and I role played the radio again as I responded to vectors to intercept the ILS. We reported HADIN inbound as directed went missed above the decision height once at the missed approach point. I was a dot or two off center line but glide was good and the needle was steady.
We climbed out and repositioned for runway one niner. I turned in from north west of the Initial approach fix JIGUP and followed that with a right turn on course 195˚ towards the final fix CUBBE. I was at 1900 feet looking for 480 feet as I made my way in. Tracking nice and looking up at 500 feet I add in another notch of flaps and slip in for my landing. I could use some short field work so I want to make the first turn off at Kilo. I'm on the ground and taking out flaps to help with braking and without much effort slow down in time for my right turn on Kilo. I stayed with the tower as we taxied in to Red Eagle.
A fun couple of hours playing with the plane, learning how she handles and what the real numbers are for instrument flight. Special thanks to Mike for all his help and for his safety pilot skills. I got to log four approaches, cross country time and this flight took me over the 100 hour mark for 2009. Now back to reality and the fact of 8-12 inches of snow is in the forecast......the snow blower is ready but I know it won't be as much fun as time spent with 08Romeo.