Friday, December 31, 2010

MAESSR Rescue Flight

Tuesday, December 28th

The Mid Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue (MAESSR) email announcement read as follows...

"Magdelena is being adopted by a family in Wilmington, DE. I currently have her near Richmond. If anyone is heading North on 95 and can help will all or part of the route, please email me."

Hmmmm.....Mary and I discussed the rescue flight via emails from work and agreed we would volunteer for the run. My email reply.

"I am flying Friday since I am off work.  I can point towards Richmond and bring Magdelena home to Wilmington.  Let me know!"

The flight/ride to bring Magdelena to her forever home was already filled, there would be no transport over the holidays for us or 08Romeo.

On Thursday, December 30th I get an email from Debbie.

"Do you still want to fly tomorrow? If so, I have a springer in West Grove, PA that needs to come to me."

Great news! We are back on for a flight! We swap information and make arrangements to meet Adam (foster home and a pilot) at Wilmington, KILG.  Mary backs out from the flight since she wants to spend some extra time with her folks and she knows Mike will fly.  Mike and I swapped emails and he was on board for the mission.

Friday - 12/31/10

We decided to plug in 08Romeo yesterday and keep her warm for our planned early start this morning. Well the oil and CHT's were nice and toasty but all surfaces had frost and needed time to be cleaned up.  Mike and I got to work polishing off the frost with the plane tugged out of the tie down and pointed to the sunshine that was trying to peek through at 8:30 am.

Mike and Scruffy
 Adam rolled in on time and we made the transfer.  Scruffy is a sweet boy, and just a gorgeous dog. I don't know much about the Springer standard but this fella had a beautiful head and top line and the very best personality to go with his good looks. It was time to saddle up and get the mission started.

Scruffy with a kennel command and a tap of my hand inside the baggage door gave me a jump  into the doorway.  I assisted with  a little boost and he was ready to go. A few spins in the baggage area and a lap or two around the cockpit and Scruffy picked out his spot.  Yeah, he passed on the nice moving blanket in baggage and instead sat his butt on my back seat and peered out the window with the "lets get going" look. The same look he had when I let him keep warm in my ML320.

Scruffy..If I can't fly the plane can I drive your SUV?  Huh...can I?
Mike and I got 08Romeo started and  taxied for departure. We decided not to open the IFR flight plan and instead make the flight VFR, the weather was beautiful. We soon were climbing out and switching over to make contact with Dover approach. Dover gave us a squawk code then canceled it and handed us off to Potomac approach. Potomac did a nice job and eventually handed us off to Washington Center. Washington handed us back off to Potomac and we road along together until maybe 15 miles north of the field. We were advised we had a transponder problem so we canceled flight following and set up for the GPS 16 approach. The transponder was intermittent, who knows. Mike asked me to brief our passenger but he was still asleep. After we landed our furry passenger was sitting between us looking out, maybe he wanted to give the controls a try.
CandD canal...lokking west
We taxied clear of one six and headed to the FBO. I advised we were bringing in a rescue Springer Spaniel and if there was someone waiting for us, there was, Debbie was out front.  Once we opened the doors Scruufy was first to deplane....not the plan we had. I grabbed the leash and then Mike grabbed hold. Just that fast he now gave my door a try as I was climbing out. I had to do my best goalie immatation and sprawl across the wing walk and roll off the back of the wing with Scruufy in tow, man he's quick!  We made the hand off to Debbie, did the nature break and headed back out to the plane. I was now flying left seat for the ride north. I'm not sure what caused the transponder problem but everything looked good for us to launch for home....with a planned lunch stop of course.
08Romeo climbed out of Hanover at plus 1000 feet a minute, proud girl she had completed another rescue mission.  I was pretty happy too, I really enjoy theses flights.  KESN - Easton Maryland was right on the flight path home. I was looking down runway four as Mike made the contact for a clearance to land. Easton tower directed us; "Enter right down wind, report midfield for runway two two", Mike acknowledged.  There was another plane from the east nine miles so I kept the power on and descended around 120+ knots to the field. Base to final with a pretty good landing in the book. We taxi clear and head to the FBO for lunch at Sugar Buns Airport Cafe.
Ok, if not on the seat then it's my pillow
With full tummy's and a doggie bag, we walk out to the plane for a pre-flight. I sump the fresh fuel and Mike performs the walk around. We strap in for the flight home and taxi for a runway two two departure, right turn out for noise abatement.

08Romeo climbs out and I quickly notice cold air really blowing across my legs. I think to myself, Nah, it can't be. Yes,it certainly can be, an open door, my door. Maybe too much lunch at Sugar Buns and I couldn't squeeze in, I'm not sure.  Mike makes the call to the tower so we can return and get squared away.  Take two....we taxi back and with the clearance to take off we once again rumble down the runway. This departure was a non-event and I am hands off for most of the trip home to Wilmington.

Debbie and Scruffy
I guess I should mention that as we were heading North east to Wilmington Mike and I heard the Air Force try and contact an aircraft on guard frequency to alert them about entering a restricted zone. There was no answer from the offending aircraft.  The Air Force then directed the aircraft to contact the FAA for violating the restricted airspace 30 miles north of KGAI, Gaithersburg, MD.  With a quick look on the sectional I think they might have busted P-40, Camp David. I calculate that Fredrick Maryland, KFDK is about 18-20 miles north so P-40 looks to be the restricted area in question.  Pilots need to keep ahead of the plane, there is NO reason to penetrate restricted airspace.

Back to the flight.....Mike makes the call to the Wilmington tower and we are directed to make a straight in for runway one, and for us to check our transponder. Great, no flashing light means it went belly up...UGhhhh that means $$$.  I land long but make it a great landing that Mike even commented on. I know I'm doing it right when he gives an atta boy. I taxi to 08Romeo's tie down and flow through the shutdown checks, mission accomplished.  We push back and get the plane squared away; clean out, reinstall the seat, place the deice pump sprayer and all three extension cords in the baggage area and lock up. Install the cover, nose plugs and pitot tube cover, double check the tie downs and give 08Romeo a pat on her cowling.....good girl.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

3 Delta Fox

I made a stop by the airport to meet up with Mike who flew 08Romeo today.  The Reiff heater seemed to cause some oily substance, a water dampened oil stain of sorts coming from the breather tube exiting at the bottom of the firewall.  The oil level never moved  so I think it was caused by heating the oil pan all night.  I will call Roger at Cecil Aero to confirm.
The Office
Overnight temps were below 32 degrees and when Mike climbed in today to start the CHT's were 105 degrees and the oil temp in the yellow, all very good signs. Frank (AirDorrin)was at KILG helping Mike button up and they were planning to give his Twin Comanche N833DF a quick check flight.  Frank had auto pilot work and some landing gear work done at Penn Avionics.  I was invited to tag along for the ride to Salisbury and back so of course like a little kid said yes no matter if I was riding in, on or strapped under the beautiful twin.
I wanted to see these two in action, both very good instructors and two guys who really stress the crew resource management (CRM) duties. They did not disappoint, it was like flying along jump seat with a major airline.  I picked up some excellent tips and procedures that I want to incorporate into my flying. Thanks for the ride Frank! I now understand first hand all the good things Jeff and Mike have told me about your flying.  Oh yeah, I should mention that any more than a ride or two on a rare occasion in a clean very well equipped twin engine would really make me consider the multi engine rating, let's not even talk about the speed factor!

Landing Light Review

I have struggled with the lack of light when landing my Sundowner 'after hours'.  I went back and forth with so many of the lighting products on the market. I finally decided to purchase the Whelen Parmetheus PAR36 LED lights that are a drop-in replacement for outdated Halogen or HID lamps. Lightweight, low-current draw and moisture resistant, they provide stable light, output for thousands of operating hours and they are STC Approved.

I was working on my night currency last night and that provided the opportunity to do a comparison. The two top features of this light are the low current draw and the bright white lighting it projects. I have a very short video of the two lights side by side, the 'taxi' light was my previous landing light a GE 4509 and my new landing light is a Whelen Parmetheus PAR36 LED.  I will work on getting some in cockpit comparison.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Night Currency

Mike B and I traded emails and a few phone calls earlier today to confirm a flight for tonight.  I needed to knock out three take-off and landings to restart the clock on night currency, Mike wanted to knock out some approaches. The FAA states that in order to carry passengers at night, I need to have completed three take offs and landings to a full stop, one hour after sunset within the last ninety days. I would also like to shoot an approach or two.
We met at the plane around 11am and got 08Romeo plugged in for the four hours worth of pre-heat. I noted the outside temps and decided to add a moving blanket to cover the top cowling with the hope of retaining some additional heat. This is the first year taking advantage of the Reiff pre-heater system so I am still tracing the learning curve. With 08Romeo squared away we decided to head out in search of lunch. Mike suggested Cheeseburger in Paradise and off we went.  I was on my lunch break so it would have to be somewhat of a quick turn around....
I headed back to work and did the paperwork shuffle, working on contracts and putting out fires, after all, that's what project managers do.  Yikes, enough work talk, back to the flying stuff. I closed up shop and headed out the door a bit past my normal 3:30 but it was only a ten minute drive to the plane from the office. Mike was already at the plane and had 08Romeo uncovered. I sumped the fuel while Mike did the pre-flight, everything looked good.

Mike had wanted to work on right seat approaches and landings talking through his lesson planning as we went along.  I was left seat working the communications as we taxied out to runway two seven. Once cleared for take off 08Romeo climbed out taking advantage of the cold air and showing us one thousand feet a minute. Left turn on course and looking into the haze over New Jersey as we point towards Millville- KMIV.  I switched over to Millville Radio and made my call to advise inbound and shooting a practice ILS approach. Anyone who follows this blog knows of my "love affair" with Millville was like tearing a scab off a fresh healed cut. Yes, it's the exact same sharp quick pain.

I listened as Mike went through his lesson plan, explaining each maneuver, corrective action and what to look for as we were into the approach. I did my safety pilot thing looking for traffic and working the comms. We were above the glide as Mike made corrections. Geezzz verbalizing the lesson plan and shooting the approach, reminded me of rubbing your tummy, patting your head, chewing gum, walking and talking all at once. Needless to say I'm not there yet but it's nice to see Mike flow through the workload and still make a nice approach, always something for me to learn. I announce short final as instructed and Mike sets us down for round one. We taxi back and launch for another approach this time the RNAV GPS 28. Mike was on the money making it look easy as round two is complete. Once again we launch and this time it's back on the ILS RWY 10.

I get to fly us home so we transfer controls once clear of the airport environment. I load the RNAV GPS 27 approach into Wilmington but do not activate it at this point. I call up Philly approach and advise of my position, altitude and intentions for the practice approach. I was given direct woodstown (OOD)at three thousand feet, expect the GPS 27 approach. I can now activate the approach and continue my track to Woodstown. I reviewed the plate and made the mental notes of each fix and corresponding altitude along with steps for the missed. We were crossing OOD at three thousand, turning north west on course to KAHOE and descending to two point one. I was needles center the whole way and feeling ahead of the plane.

I was now on short final and the my monster of night time landings was raging inside me.  I was secretly praying the new light would really help me see.  Mike sensed the tension and kept walking me through it. Over the threshold now and Mike instructs "keep pointing the nose down for the numbers".  I am, well at least I think I am. OK, time out here to explain me getting the plane on the runway, at night. Remember back to your childhood days and your first dip in the ocean, lake, pool and you know that water was cold so you kind of made your way seemingly one toe at a time? Well that's how I felt getting the mains on the ground. I flared to early lost my sight picture, felt like I was falling to the runway and added a touch of power to arrest the sinking feeling. Just like the old Batman TV show I saw a "BLAM", "POW" light up in my minds eye! We were on the ground, yep, still in one piece.

Round two I am off and climbing for a right hand pattern, great I don't like night flying, er um landings as it is and now I'll have to look a bit harder. Reporting midfield down wind as instructed I am cleared for landing number two. I am anxious and round off the pattern, Mike mentions to relax, take my time, don't rush. He's right, I settle in and get 08Romeo squared away.  Nice smooth stable approach on final and I see the LED light is much brighter.  I don't look so far down the runway but stay at the end of the new really white landing light limit and flare. Holding it off and setting down with a tad bit of side load. Round three was better and I am feeling comfortable with the new light and my night work. I just need to keep at it more often.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our readers and best wishes for a Happy New Year! To all of you that share our passion for flight we hope you enjoy the adventures that 2011 will offer.

Fly Safe!
Gary & Mary

The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I’d have sworn that the call sign he used was “St. Nick”;
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial,
“St. Nicholas One, turnin’ left onto final.”
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
“Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!” What pills was he takin’?

While controllers were sittin’, and scratchin’ their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
“When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower.”

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard “Left at Charlie,”and “Taxi to parking.”
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a “Ho, ho-ho- ho…”

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn’t inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a crop duster’s belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to “fill it, with hundred low- lead.”
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin’ the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, “Clear!”

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
“Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot’s discretion.”

He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
“Your traffic’s a Grumman, inbound from the west.”
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
“Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight.”

Author:  Unknown

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rescue Flt. 2, Scrubbed

Friday  12/17/10

The plans for transporting Marli, a 6 year old springer female was sent out through the MAESSR transportation email system.  There were five ground transport legs listed averaging about an hour and ten minutes each, not counting the actual transfer time and the always required potty breaks. The roads will be busy with holiday shoppers and the wx blessed us all with snow cover, all be it a dusting in my area in Wilmington Delaware.  I should mention that the "dusting" caused 150 accidents yesterday, as reported in the news journal.  I can vouch for three that I saw on the way home during my one hour commute that normally takes fifteen minutes tops. Two were taxi cabs!

Mary is going to spend time with her parents getting ready for the holidays. I was in need of a right seater and Mike B agreed to fly the transport with me. This worked out great! Mike can fly the first leg to Hanover while I tend to the furry passengers. I can fly the leg home and we can each log some time on this mission. By the way, thanks Kim for giving the nod to Mike, I know you both have plans to head north to your ski get-away in Vermont.  I really appreciate you both donating time from your holiday plans.

I took some time off work so I could help get ready for the flight tomorrow morning.  Mike and I met at the airport so we could get the snow cleared off the cover and the plane.  I ordered fuel and AeroWays pulled up when I arrived. Fill to the slot each wing plus six gallons. To the slot is 20 gallons plus the additional 12 makes 52. Round trip to Hanover (KOFP) and back is three hours not counting the drop or a lunch stop on the way home. 08Romeo was clean, almost ready to be plugged in so the Reiff system can do its thing except for one "short" problem.  I was about 75 feet short with the extension cord.

Mike and I saddled up for Home Depot and secured an additional 100 feet of heavy duty outdoor cable to get us hooked up. We also picked up a 1 gallon spray container and searched for de-ice fluid. All this work made me hungry and it was about that time anyway. Mike and I drove across the parking lot and went to Bugaboo Creek for lunch. Very good food and the rustic mountain lodge decor is pretty neat.  We decided to get back to the airport and finish up with 08Romeo. All plugged in and looking clean, we are just about ready for our passengers in the morning. I have to pull the two back seats and place the moving blanket tomorrow morning, then load the plane cover in my truck so we have everything behind the two front seats clear for the pups.

Saturday 12/18/10

Its an early start to a fun day! The weather forecast was actually better this morning then last night and we were excited about the mission. The players have changed overnight; Marli is staying with her new foster family, Oreo was going to go with us but the man that had Marli decided to take Oreo home. So, lets review, no dog going south with us at all, but, Debbie has one dog that is ready to head north to her new adoptive family.  Ok, I think I  have all this squared away. Time to think about flying and deicing the plane.

The RainX de-ice product I purchased was ok but I would not use it again. The deicer kept the frost in a slushy state, I need it to blow off the wings and tail. I removed the rear seats and set up the moving blanket while Mike worked on the remaining deice. We decided on making a run to the auto store for a second gallon.  Pep Boys was close by so we set off in search of more fluid. I purchased two gallons of Peak RV and Marine antifreeze. 
PEAK RV & Marine Antifreeze

Formulated for winterizing all types of potable (drinking) water plumbing systems. This product can be used full-strength to winterize boats, recreational vehicles, trailers, vacation homes, swimming pools, and a variety of other winter storage applications.  Burst-proof protection to -50°F guaranteed! Safe for brass, metal, copper and plastic pipes (except acetate) . All ingredients are considered GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the Food and Drug Administration .
Once back at the airport we poured a gallon in the new sprayer and resoaked the plane.  Wow!, this stuff worked great! It easily melted away the slush and freely streamed off the control surfaces. Since we were ready to go we buttoned up and got 08Romeo started.  CHT's had fallen a bit since I unplugged prior to running out for more deice....I don't know, brain fart I guess.  Anyway, 08Romeo came to life and the CHT's were hovering around 110degrees. Oil pressure was good and the oil temp was in the yellow. 
I picked up our clearance for Hanover and we were off. Once released we climbed out from runway two seven on leg one of the mission. Over to Philly and cleared to six thousand then handed off to Dover.  The XM wx was updating after a seemingly long pause and neither Mike or I liked the new picture it painted. We were handed off to Potomac approach and we decided to divert to KESN- Easton , MD for a sit down wx check to confirm what we saw and what flight watch was telling us about our flight path and destination. After giving the new wx reports a once over I made the call to our Virginia Mid Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue contact to break the news. It breaks my heart not to help get the dogs to their homes, especially when this pup was going to an adoptive family.
With the mission scrubbed we decided to have breakfast at the terminal restaurant (which was really good!) then high tail it for home. I passed on the left seat and Mike flew the hop back to Wilmington too. I watched for traffic and took in all the pretty snow covered scenery passing beneath us. My thoughts are with the new family wondering how they will take the news about having to wait a bit longer.  I am also thinking of my friend Jeff who at this very moment is winging his way across west Virginia. Jeff is moving his plane to its new home in Champaign, IL - KCMI. I'll be home in time to track his second leg from his fuel stop in mid Ohio to CMI.
My "in the zone" moment is broken by the tower controller at Wilmington, my God, it's the same tool that had traffic screwed up the last time Mike and I flew home.  OK, push everything out of the mind and concentrate on radios. Mike positions us for a left down wind midfield entry for runway two seven and squeaks another nice landing. We taxi in and shut down now faced with putting 08Romeo back together.  We transfer the back seats from my SUV and bolt them back in the plane. We organize the baggage area now holding three extension cords for plug in and our 1 gallon pump sprayer that worked really well.

Cleared to 6000
1.9 in the book with a safe retun to the home base. I learned a bunch today from Mike B.  Good wx decisions, diversions and radio work. We had some carb ice in our descent so Mike requested a circle to land over the airport just to be safe instead of trying to loose altitude and deal with the extra cooling.
I'm looking forward to getting night current again soon, maybe over the holidays if the wx plays nice.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Get The Oil Pumping


I decided on a short hop today in order to get some oil pumping in 08Romeo. I haven't been in the air for two weeks so needless to say I was going through withdrawals. Mary wanted to get some shopping done so she took a pass. I would have liked to shoot a few approaches but Mike is out of town. I called Vince to see if he wanted the open right seat and some stick time, he said I'll meet you at the plane.

 I rolled through the gate as AeroWays was finishing up with adding fuel to the slots on each tank (20 gallons a side). I uncovered 08Romeo and went through the preflight taking my time and giving her a good once over. The temps were around 38* and I should have plugged in last night but I was just to tired to make the round trip to/from the airport. The plan was to sit at low idle and watch the temps. Vince walked in the gate and was helping me finish up before we both climbed aboard. Preflight done, prestart checks complete, clear prop and 08Romeo comes to life. A quick check of the Cylinder Head Temps (CHT's) and they register just around 100* at start up, I should have checked before start. The Reiff heaters on my last flight had prestart CHT's at 205*.
 I made a call to Flight Service and filed to Millville. It was misty/haze and about four mile visibility, what the heck, use the new rating. The iPad is really nice when filing, it makes life easy. I read the info right down the list and was finished in short order. I did ask for an update on any TFR's since the Army-Navy game is in Philly. I got stung by the TFR last year even though I followed the rules for VFR and had a 'discreet' squawk code. I copied my clearance and advised ready to taxi. Runway two seven at intersection Mike, advise ready for release on ground frequency, I acknowledged.

C- KMIV Millville
A- 2000/3000 - 10
F- 119.75
T - 3353

For the non-flying readers....
Ok, that's cleared to Millville Airport (KMIV)
Runway Heading (RH - which was 270*) Radar Vectors (RV- approach gives directions) OOD (the Woodstown VOR in NJ), Victor Airway (V166 - the roadway in the sky), BRIEF ( an intersection).  2000 feet expect 3000 in ten minutes (assigned altitude), Philly departure on 119.75 (what frequency) and squawk 3353 (set on the transponder).

We were soon climbing out with a plan update of direct OOD, Woodstown. When I called Philly departure they immediately cleared me to three thousand feet. Vince took all the pictures today, he does a great job. It looked kind of strange glancing up river and seeing all the smoke stacks billowing straight plumes.  I guess mixed with the haze made for an interesting background.
We landed in Millville after closing the instrument flight plan with Atlantic City but stayed on with them for advisories. I reported the field in site and they cut me loose VFR. There were a few planes in the area so I made the call for a straight in runway one four. A Cessna reported departing one zero so I made a slight turn and entered a left base for the same, always trying to play nice with others. A super squeaker of a landing, slow, stall horn moaning and you could hardly feel contact with mother earth. We taxied into a busy ramp and even busier Flight Line restaurant.
The place was packed but Vince and I managed to find a table. I had a soup and grilled cheese and Vince chowed down on a BLT.  He really cracked me up when he blurted out "I really don't like greenhouse tomatoes, no taste." I guess you had to be there. We finished up and paid the bill then made for the door.  With a quick walk around completed we climbed in and went through the check lists. 08Romeo came to life and we taxied out to runway one zero, 2nd in line behind a Gulfstream jet.  Once the runway was clear I taxied out and launched for home. 

Vince flew a good bit of the way while I updated the VOR check that was thirty days to the day and now due. The one nice thing about the Collins Nav is that with a simple flip of the switch it gives you a to/from radial. The garmin 530 does the same thing, life is easy. It's best practice to also double check the CDI against the other. Easy to do, direct DQO VOR on the Garmin and get the heading then center Nav two with the same DQO VOR tuned to 114.0.  Both checks looked fine, 08Romeo is good for another 30 days.

The Geronimo Twin that was on the ramp next to us at Millville and took off after us, passed us and landed ahead of us into Wilmington. I was number two to land and was asked to make some 'S' turns for spacing. I really had a sweet opportunity to switch to guns as we crossed the Delaware River looking midship of a tanker heading into Philly, would have been a nice shot, instead we have the photo shot. I landed long since I had another aircraft behind me landing and I was trying to help the tower folks. Over half the runway gone as I cruised a few feet off at just above stall speed to keep the horn quiet. Another squeaker, flaps retracted and a quick taxi to turn off at the end of three two.  I got a thanks from the tower.
Overall a fun day! I wish I had more time to fly since the sky was looking better as we worked to secure and cover 08Romeo.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

MAESSR First Flight

Leg 1 KILg to KOFP amended in red
Mary and I headed to the airport around 8am with a stop at Dunkin Donuts for bagel's, coffee and hot tea. I guess the shoppers were still recovering from black Friday since the roads were wide open and we made good time getting to the plane.  I pulled through the gate and the plane was just inside the fence parked in front of the Red Eagle hangar, we tugged her up there so I could give the reiff heater system a try. The temps were hovering around thirty degrees overnight and I wanted to preheat and be ready to go without dragging the red dragon propane heater out to the ramp.  I unplugged the new 100 foot extension cord, uncovered and stowed the nose plugs and completed the fuel sump.

Hanover County, over the nose

Once we were situated in the plane I turned on the battery switch to check the Cylinder head temps and oil temp prior to start up.  The Reiff system had the CHT's at 205 degrees and the oil temp was sitting in the yellow, we were ready to roll.  I called for my clearance after start up and plugged in the route for the Garmin 530 and 496.  I was cleared KOFP, Hanover county, the route was runway heading, radar vectors to Smyrna ENO,  V16, PXT, TAPPA, KOFP. Altitude 2000 expect 6000 in ten minutes, approach is 119.75 and squawk 1157.  I taxied out to runway two seven and called for my release.  We were ready to go with one change from the tower, direct Smyrna ENO and cleared to 3000. I was soon pointing down the runway calling airspeed alive gauges green, our adventure was about to begin.
I was quickly handed off to Philly and cleared to 6000 then handed off to Dover.  Dover amended the clearance, direct CHOPS, which provided a short cut to our next way point. I checked in with each approach control as I was handed off, patuxent then potomac.  08Romeo was making good time as we crossed over each checkpoint. I received a reroute from Potomac to fly direct RIC (Richmond VOR) then to Hanover. Seemed like a back track but I figured when I got handed off I would get another change direct Hanover.

METAR KOFP 271554Z AUTO 29009G14KT 10SM CLR 09/M06 A2995

I descended to 2000 feet and canceled the Instrument flight plan with the field now in sight and wx noted.  There were two aircraft in the pattern but everyone played nice and we worked our way in, I was number three to land.  A very nice landing and short taxi to the Heart of Aviation FBO. I took on fuel to bring our load to 46 gallons which would get me to York and home to Wilmington.  Debbie pulled in and brought both dogs into the FBO.  Arleigh and Charleston were ready to go and enjoyed the fuss everyone made over them. I sumped the fuel while the ladies walked the dogs for a last potty stop then we loaded up.  Both dogs settled right in after some crying as they tried to figure why Debbie was leaving them with us. I locked the baggage door and then climbed aboard.

Brutal 45 kt headwinds
I had filed a flight plan for York, PA and tried to pick up clearance with the clearance/delivery frequency noted but had no luck. I called the 1-888 FAA CD number and got everything squared away.  The plan was to back track our flight path from our flight down but make a left turn to the north west and head direct Baltimore then York. After completing the run up we launched for leg 2 of the journey. Both dogs were sleeping and Mary was also in dreamland before we got to altitude. 
Leg 2 started off with good speeds but once turned NW the 45 knt head wind limited my ground speeds to 70-90 knots.  08Romeo chugged along at 7000 and skimmed the cloud tops. My route was amended to direct York once crossing GRACO, no fly over Baltimore's BWI.  Once clear of the BWI class Bravo I did request 4000, with the plan to descend through the layer and do a visual approach into York.  The plan worked fine and we went through the soup, very cool.  I was wondering how rusty I would be but it was easy peazy.  Pitot heat on, my descent had started.  I found myself calling out on course wings level descending 500 ft/min.  The verbal scan helped me focus and we soon popped out beneath the overcast layer. I had some concerns about ice since the temps were cold enough and there were reports of aircraft going through the same layer or traveling in it and picking up ice.

KTHV 271653Z AUTO 28015G22KT 10SM BKN047 OVC055 03/M06 A2986

Linda, Tim and Arleigh

Love that tail wind....saw 150kt ground speeds
I reported York in sight and had the current wx. The winds were really gusty as I made my way to runway three five.  I added approach flaps and the second notch as I was in the flair.  I worked the throttle and listened to the moan of the stall horn as I planted one main then the next for a smooth landing.  Mary was impressed...heck, so was I.  I taxied in and secured the plane so we could let our furry passengers take a break and stretch their legs. Mary and I, along with Arleigh and Charleston, sat in the terminal as we awaited Tim and Linda's arrival, Arleighs new family. Tim and Linda walked in and they hit it off with Arleigh.  Both new parents participate in Golden Retriever rescue so they knew the drill. Arleigh seemed happy and trotted off with Tim, heading for their car.

Mary and Charleston
Mary and I walked Charleston back to the plane and prepared for the final hop home.  I made the decision to fly home VFR under the 6,500 foot layer with my plan to stay low at 3,500.  My ears were really bothering me coming into york and Mary said my voice was sounding like I was getting sick. Mary was correct, I had the sore throat head clogged nasal voice with my ears now feeling like someone crammed a q-tip in each ear and they were touching in the middle of my head.
Tim, two of the boys and Charleston
I taxied out ahead of a twin engine that was waiting for a release and completed my run up. I announced my departure and climbed out of York on leg 3 of the journey.  I had a stiff crosswind and I needed to work to keep on center for the take off roll then rode the crab angle climbing out.  I turned cross wind and down wind then exited the area making a last call to advise our position and heading.

METAR KILG 271951Z AUTO 29021G29KT 10SM SCT055 06/M07 A2991

Charleston was curled up and soon fast asleep.  It was really bumpy but the tail wind provided a fast ride home. I was looking at 145+ ground speeds at 2400 rpm breaking 150 kts at 2500 rpm. I monitored Harrisburg approach then Philly before contacting the Wilmington tower.  I advised Wilmington I was 13 west, inbound for a full stop with the current ATIS and my altitude.  I was directed to enter right down wind two seven, report midfield. 08Romeo entered the pattern riding the proverbial rodeo horse.  Winds were gusty and it made for an interesting turn to final that required a pretty good bank angle.  With a steeper bank I needed to keep some extra speed in and when rolled out and aligned on center I was working to get slowed down. Approach flaps set and working the winds I made my way to the numbers. I keep my speed on the high side crossing the fence and working the flair adding the second notch of flaps and being patient. I ride it out and set down on center and smooth, we're home. The taxi to the ramp requires rudder work and full aileron to try and keep on center. I taxi through the ramp and turn away from my tie down to align for my push back.  Once shut down Mary and I both sit in the warm plane and pack up. My ears are ringing, I have the chills and I am sounding like froggy from our gang. It's good to be home.

Leg 2 KOFP to KTHV amended in red, leg 3 to KILG green
Mary climbs out first so she can bring the SUV to the plane. Charleston wakes when he feels the cold air rush in the open cabin door then wimpers as he watches Mary walk away. I told him it was ok, she is coming back. Charleston set his head between the front seats and let me scratch him, content with the comfort I was providing. First order was to get our passenger in the SUV and comfortable.  Mary and I cleaned out the plane but I was feeling to sick to try and cover in the wind. I didn't even note the flight time numbers in my log, I just wanted to get in the warm SUV.
Charleston fell asleep in the backseat as Mary and Bruce (Charleston's new family)made their way to Red Eagle. We swapped a few text messages and before long they were pulling in the parking lot. Bruce took Charlie out to the grass area and two of their triplet boys joined them. What a nice family, they were really excited to have Charleston back in their life.  Mary and Bruce found Charlie in a vineland, NJ animal shelter and fostered him for Debbie and the MAESSR. After sending him to Debbie in Virginia for surgery he was now returning to his forever home.

Mary and I completed our first rescue mission, it felt great.  The look on the boys faces and their parents along with the love that Linda and Tim showed was priceless,  there are good people in this world. We were happy to meet both families and provide transportation for two very special furry kids.  Arleigh and Charleston, you were our first rescue flight. It was a great experience and I'm sure a memory that will be hard to beat. We are looking forward to our next mission!