Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beach & Boards Time!

Well, maybe not really just beach time but boardwalk time works. The wx forecast was looking great and Mary and I both wanted to do a day trip, we needed to get away. We decided to head south to Ocean City Maryland (KOXB). OCMD is less than an hour by plane but almost 2.5 driving, this is a no brainer. The plan was to head out around 9ish to get to the airport, pre-flight and pick up my clearance so I can depart IFR within the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) at Wilmington. The new rating is already helping our travel. FlightAware track.

I washed the plane yesterday and got the correct fuel load so we were ready in pretty short order. The ramp was busy as could be this morning, pilots and planes moving about, good stuff. We did see Mike B and Frank getting ready to go play in Franks twin Comanche. We were soon cleared to take off on runway niner and climbing out of the pattern for a day of fun. Philly gave me six thousand and handed me off to Dover. We rode with Dover just south of Georgetown (KGED) then got handed off to Patuxent. Pax gave me direct Ocean City and asked me to report the field in site. I was cleared to descend to one thousand seven hundred now just 15 miles north of OXB. I canceled IFR and entered a left downwind for runway two zero. A smooth landing and quick taxi to a tie down......bring on the beach!!

Our taxi ride to the boardwalk was $11.60 and he said $11 even, I gave him $15. Inhale....exhale, yep that would be the ocean and thrasher fries! Mary and I strolled along, quite the couple holding hands and checking out all the shops. We made it down to the village shops and decided to eat lunch at OC Frogs. It's a small place, but the burgers are the absolute best in Ocean City. Mary had the Italian which was a hoagie on a burger bun and I had the Frog Mac, a spin off of the big mac but much much better. After lunch we hit all the shops in the village then caught the tram car to the other end of the boardwalk. Instead of getting off and walking three miles back we stayed on board and got off in time to walk the last few blocks back to our original starting point. We checked out all the shops, bought salt water taffy along with a few other goodies.

We called for the taxi to bring us back to the airport and they were at the planned pick up in just ten minutes. It was a quick hop back to the terminal and the service at the desk was just as quick. We settled up the fuel bill and walked out to the plane. I was ahead of my planned departure time but clearance delivery (CD)was great and amended my time. The route I read back didn't have altitude and was a bit different than my route had sent. I taxied out to get my run up completed and advised ready for release. CD filled in the blanks and I copied the void times for my release. I flipped back to unicom and announced I was departing runway one four. I climbed out of Ocean City and contacted Patuxent. I was immediately cleared for five thousand and direct Smyrna (ENO). The view was much nicer heading home than this morning. I could now see all of Cape Henlopen and well north of Cape May new jersey across the Delaware bay. I said "I" because my bride was already in dream land with her cheetah fabric patterned neck pillow secure.

Dover cleared us direct Wilmington and I was pretty much hands off the whole way home. It was bumpy below four thousand and I did relay that info to a pilot heading south looking for smooth air. Dover handed me off to Philly we rode along up the Delaware river until a final hand off to the Wilmington tower. I made a nice landing, smooth, but rolled a bit farther then I like. Our ramp neighbor was back to the ramp just in front of us and we both climbed out with our Brides and secured the aircraft. It was funny, Mary and the lady in the Cessna both came down the ramp in the vehicles at the same time with Mary peeling off to our plane and the other to her plane. We headed home with a quick stop for Rita's water ice and then our driveway. We both got a lot of sun. Mary is taking a nap and I'm trying to finish posting pictures. It's so nice to be back fun flying with my Bride, I've really missed it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Additional Pilot

Tonight was a fun flight, all 1.5 of it. Mary and I asked Mike B if he would like to fly 08Romeo since 25Uniform looks to be sold. The paperwork end is rolling for insurance and Mike wanted to get some left seat time. It was also time for a formal introduction to 08Romeo. I know he has flown right seat for many hours and shot approaches too but tonight he was going to be hands on. To some it may sound funny but for as many pre-flights that we do, each plane has its own special items of interest. It felt strange for me too, my first time in the right seat sine we purchased 08Romeo.

The ramp actually had some life this evening. I bumped into CFII Tom as he was going out with a new to him student. Tom passed on his congrats on the Instrument ride and we all talked about planes, what else, right? We finally saddled up and Mike went through the check list. I should mention here that while Mike asked for me to show him how to fly 08Romeo I responded he would fly it better than I do, and he does, from the right seat. I was going to work radios as we always split the duty, which always make for good CRM. Like I said, it was busy tonight. Two jets had landed, a C130 was rolling for take off, we sat number two at runway two seven, Tom was sitting behind us number three and the blue/white Archer from the Red Eagle ramp number four was also ready to go.
We launched for the "practice area" and after a few clearing turns went through some slow flight, steep turns and took some time getting familiar with the cockpit layout. Mike, as always, was on the money as he went through the basic flight maneuvers making it look and feel as smooth as could be. When that fun was completed he plugged the GPS 35 approach for Summit, KEVY. As if on rails we rode the GPS approach in for a full stop landing, exchanging traffic position reports with the local CAP flight on our way in. Next up was Wilmington for a few rounds as I picked up with Philly approach for the GPS two seven. Direct Woodstown it was as we made our way home. I was having fun taking in all the view and lights while eyes out looking for traffic. Mike was under the hood for this round too. Philly gave us direct KAHOE which changed the traditional "T" entry from the GPS approach. Mike had us squared away and soon locked in on final. Another smooth landing, making it look really easy followed by another round. The tower advised left traffic for this circuit and off we climbed into the night.
Our last landing for the night was a another greaser, what a great job. 08Romeo is going to wonder why I can't be consistent like that. We secured the plane and headed out for a late dinner at Eats. Good conversation and flight review with a few added items to my learning bucket. I may bag a few hours of work tomorrow to get 08Romeo washed for our Beach day this weekend.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

First Flight, "In The System"

Pictures will be added next week. Vince did the photo work and he is out of town until next week. I'm thinking his last vacation prior to school starting up.

Sometimes timing is a good thing. I finally passed my IR Check ride and I had my first chance to fly in the system today. The North East Flyers were scheduled to fly to KGED, Georgetown Delaware and shuttle to Lewes for lunch at Lazy Susan's.

I was up early checking on wx and printing out the necessary plates, alternate minimums and take off minimums for my destination and alternates. According to the 1-2-3 rule I would not need an alternate.

Alternates as easy as 1-2-3
The regulations regarding alternates are rather simple if you can remember 1-2-3. If the forecast weather at your destination, from one hour before to one hour after your estimated time of arrival, is at least a 2,000-foot ceiling and three statute miles' visibility, then no alternate is required to be filed.

The wx forecast was looking good for the flight and there was a great chance I would get some actual and have a wide safety margin with the ceiling at 5,500.

KILG 211451Z 08004KT 10SM BKN055 25/18 A3005
KDOV 211555Z AUTO VRB04KT 10SM FEW050 SCT140 SCT170 SCT200 28/24 A3003

Mary was under the wx with her diverticulitis acting up and decided to pass on the flight today. I sent Vince a text message to let him know I had a seat open, he wanted in. I packed up and headed to the airport almost as excited as my first flight after completing my private pilot training. I went through all my checks for 08Romeo and a double check for all the information I would need for the flight. Vince rolled through the gate right on time as I was climbing in for the pre-start checks.

I had filed my flight plan with and received a text from them to let me know the plan was on file. I should just turn on ships power and get my route entered but instead I got the fan turning then did the flight plan. I still need to work out the process. I contacted Wilmington to pick up my clearance and was ready to taxi. I would complete my run up and then call ground for my release, then get switched to the tower for take off clearance. A few more new steps in the process but it's new and fun. CRAFT is the simple way to copy your clearance and the short hand keeps it simple.

Cleared: KGED (Georgetown Airport)
Route: RH RV V29 ENO AF
Altitude: 20/60 10
Frequency: 119.75 (Philly)
Transponder: 1170

I picked up my release then cleared to depart Wilmington. I held a steady climb out looking for the multiple traffic call outs then, as directed, switched to Philly. Philly cleared me to 4,000 then changed it back to 3000 for new traffic just as I was climbing through 3,700. I acknowledged leaving 3.7 descending 3.0 and was still looking for the traffic. The cloud layer was just above us, so close I could almost touch it. Philly handed me off to Dover and they kept me at 3,000 for the rest of the ride. I was watching the layer just above us sitting at 4,000 it would not be today that we meet.

I had reported having the wx at Georgetown and was looking for the airport to report it in sight. Dover advised to expect a visual approach. I heard traffic inbound for the same airport, a corporate jet, and just about the same distance out, but from another direction. I had a feeling I was going to get bumped to number two for the airport so I reported the field in sight. I was now only about 4 miles out on a perfect 45 for runway 4. I didn't expect the following radio call.

DOVER: Sundowner 6708Romeo additional traffic (gave some name, the jet I heard) is inbound for Georgetown I will have to put you in a hold over Waterloo (ATR VOR).
ME: Dover, I will cancel my IFR at this time.

I was not about to turn outbound in VFR conditions only to get to waterloo and turn right back for spacing. I switched over to UNICOM and announced my position. The corporate jet did the same. I advised I was making a right 360 for spacing and would enter number two for the field. The jet updated his position and we worked it out. Vince spotted the traffic and things flowed very smooth.
If wx conditions required me to hold it would have taken a few steps with the Garmin 530 GPS to set it up. I would double check my heading bug on the DG to remain on course to KGED then plug direct to the ATR VOR. Once that is entered I would click on the OBS and dial in the hold inbound heading. I would then turn left from my initial course direct ATR and enter the appropriate hold. By the time I get to the hold the jet would have been on the ground unloading its passengers.I dialed in a 230 degree heading just for an example but you can see the magenta "inbound" leg for the hold. The Garmin does make it easy to figure this stuff out on the fly.

I heard Rob (Robs Flying Adventures) in Cessna 55PD check in with Dover approach so I knew he and Ted were right on our heels. I didn't know Don's tail number so I didn't know how far out he and Rose Marie were. I had no clue what tail number Mike ( and his son Steven were flying today so the best I could do is listen for his voice.

Vince and I secured 08Romeo and headed into the terminal to check for a courtesy car, there were none available. I checked out some phone numbers for local cab companies and decided to wait for the rest of the bunch to see what everyone wanted to do. Rob and Ted were next through the doors and Rob came in laughing. He cracks me up, "I'm a new IFR pilot", he says, "I'll cancel instead of the hold". He cracked himself up, nice, what great friends huh. I'm still laughing as I type this. I made a call for cab fare and it was $50 each way....that's no typo. Heck, we all decided it was great to just fly and meet up so let's eat here at the restaurant. I have to mention we did bump into Ron Levy that was having lunch with a client. Ron was instructing in a new light sport that his client owned. I don't think I know anyone that flys as much as he does, well, maybe Ted from Williamsport.

We pushed tables together and the nine of us ordered lunch. As always a good hangar flying session over good food. It was nice to catch up with everyone. Special kudos to Ted on his recent solo!!! I'm sure he got a good look at some tri-state area haze to go along with the Philly overhead tour. We didn't hang out to long after lunch. The forecast called for it to clear but it wasn't looking that way. The parade of pilots to the planning room was headed up by Don. We each took a turn checking our intended routes home. I filed earlier today and just had to pick up my clearance with Dover by phone. I think Mike said he still had to file.

We each completed our preflights and saddled up. It took Rob in 5PD a few tries at getting the 172 started. That bird does not seem to be an easy hot start. I gave 08Romeo three shots of primer and she cranked right off, something to be said for the carburated birds. Rob taxied out to runway ten and we taxied to runway four after I picked up my clearance with Dover Clearance delivery on the phone. I really love the blue tooth on the Lightspeed Zulu's. I had to do my run up and call once again for my release when I was number one for departure. I'm so used to talking with the PTT switch in the plane I hit the button when talking to Dover. Vince pointed to the PTT and I let it go, he's really on it! I told him he'll get old someday and only have muscle memory to rely on too.

Thanks to Mike for the Video

I picked up my release and the void times from Dover. I announced on Unicom departing runway four and launched. With one last call on unicom to report departing the area to the north east I switch to Dover approach. My route was direct ATR Direct DQO, 2000 expect 5000 in ten minutes. Dover amended that to cleared 5000 upon passing 1700 direct DQO (Wilmington). I acknowledged and off we went. It didn't take long for the visibility to drop off. I could see ground looking straight down at times but nothing over the nose until well north of Dover at the C&D canal. I logged .3 of actual. I was handed off to Philly and report having the wx at Wilmington. I was told to expect a visual for runway nine. I reported the field in sight and was handed off to the tower. Wilmington wanted me to report a right down wind for runway one four. I kept the pattern tight and made a nice landing. 2.0 in the log today for my first flight "in the system" and .3 actual. Fun stuff!!!

The plan is for 08Romeo to get a well deserved bath and wax, a spa day of sorts. Then Mary and I will start planning for a four day get-away to Jekyll Island sometime in late September or early October.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Instrument Rated!!

I PASSED!!!!!!

It has been a long road to my Instrument ticket. I started out two years ago trudging along every week with a goal of taking the check ride before I needed to have my hip replaced. I finally was scheduled and was ready to make this all happen in April of 2009. It wasn't meant to be. The Archer I was flying let me down for the very first time with a nav/com failure the day before my ride. I could not push the check ride date because I had scheduled hip surgery the very next day. Looking back I guess that wasn't to smart.

I was self grounded for three months with recovery and climbed back in a plane midway through July of 09. It took some time to knock off the rust but eventually I was ready to get back to the pursuit of the instrument ticket. I met my new instructor, Chuck, who made flying instruments fun again, I was looking forward to finishing up. Well the real world calls and Chucks job took him out of the area with little chance of us hooking up. Needless to say I was not thrilled about looking for instructor number three. I went back and forth hooking up with friends that were rated and would fly safety pilot for me. This at least kept me interested until the next instructor could be found.

My good friend and Safety Pilot Mike B pointed me to a local CFII out of Wilmington Airport that he thought might be a good fit. I had nothing to loose at this point, my test was going to expire in October. I met CFII Tom and instantly hit it off. Tom was very organized and had a syllabus for us to review. We briefly covered all the basics and then worked on polishing up my skills, and they needed polish. Tom was dedicated and patient with me, answering all my questions, even the ones that were out of left field. Tom set up a mock check ride with Len who helped me with some wx questions for the oral and fine tuned the flying skills. With the mock check ride complete and Len giving his approval Tom and I scheduled with the Designated Examiner.

The date was set, the wx was so so but I was getting excited. I flew with Mike B to confirm the numbers for 08Romeo. Mike provided a nice excel table and we filled in all the blanks. The flight was good for my confidence and Mike helped me with some "dragging the yoke" issues. I was ready! Last night I had my folders, airplane logs, reports, flight plans and you name it spread all over the table. I made a check list, checked it at least twice and made a to do list for this morning. I guess I passed out around 9pm, getting old I know, and really hoped I got a good nights sleep. I had strange dreams of problems with my SUV and not having a way to get to the check ride, crazy stuff I know, maybe I shouldn't eat so late. I was up at 3am and did the flip flop until finally giving up at 5:15 when the dogs wanted out.

The day is here...

I gave up any hope of more sleep and decided to start on the final flight plan and wx print outs. I could not believe it was 7am, where did the time go? Off to shower, pack the truck and get on the road for the airport. I arrived at 08Romeo and we had a nice chat. These are the times I miss my father the most and the, you can do whatever you set your mind to talks. My Pop was in my heart and thoughts all morning, more then most days, I knew he was right there with me. I decided to wear his ring today, call me crazy but it helps my mind. I ordered fuel and waited for the folks from AeroWays to top off to 20 gallons each tank. I would pre-flight when I got the word from the examiner we were going to fly.

I hauled all my books to the examiners office which is located upstairs in the old flight school above Red Eagle. It was obvious by the overwhelming smell that someone was painting in the attached hangar. I looked out the window from the office into the hangar bay to see an L-39 getting coated with a hemi orange paint scheme. The smells were out of control and the examiner was not happy. I was asked if I wanted to cancel and I said no, there's bigger bumps in the road of life then this, let's do it. And so we did, the oral was a very good review of wx and flight planning with many what if emergency situations tossed in. I drew a blank on the direct to flight plan required width for obstacle clearance. I did understand and explain where to come up with the altitude and how to check for obstacles with a vfr sectional. I could have done better with HAA and HAT but muddled through it. I think he made one note about my wx briefing and explanation of all the charts, something about low pressure systems and troughs.

All of 08Romeo's paper work checked out fine except when he asked me for landing distance. I did not have that chart blown up so we could read it. I went to the POH and found out that page is missing, I'm printing one from Beech Aero Club as I type this and adding it in my POH! The oral went smooth and the examiner said I was very prepared, that sure made me feel good. Thanks Tom! I headed out to pre-flight and get ready to fly. I updated my wx brief and advised the examiner we were good to go. I was advised by the examiner that he was strictly a passenger, I was the PIC and everything was my call. I did a passenger brief, explained the control swap for traffic avoidance and how to exit the aircraft and secure the door and belts. The DE suggested adding more info to non-flyers about keeping clear of the controls.

I picked up my clearance from Wilmington ground and was ready to roll. Out of habit I asked the examiner for a brake check, he smiled and said you let passengers touch the brakes? Ok...brain fart, you got me. I didn't have the heart to really tell him about the slap to the back of the head if anyone touches my controls, I didn't think it would go over to well. I advised ready to taxi and headed out to runway two seven.

Instrument checks were completed during my taxi to the runway. I advised ground I was ready for release. I just beat out a C-130 and was spared sitting in the heat, I hope the C130 doesn't run me over on upwind. Our clearance was as follows:

R RH RV OOD V184 Direct ACY
A 2000 expect 3000 in ten minutes
F 119.75 Philly Approach
T 71xx squawk code

I climbed out at 700 fpm and switched over to Philly. I was directed to climb 3000, direct OOD, woodstown. I made the change on the 530 and kept the climb going. The examiner made a change and directed me to request direct to Cedar Lake, VCN. I went through my normal steps for the direct to and selected VCN, Cedar lake. About eight minutes out the examiner advised we would change our destination to Millville, KMIV and shoot the VOR A approach. I contacted approach (Atlantic city at this time) and advised on the change of destination, I would like the VOR A with a procedure turn. Atlantic City was great to work with. I had to ask to step down to two thousand since AC got busy and didn't give me the ok. Finally approved I pulled the power to the pre-set numbers and continued my descent as I was performing a parallel entry for the PT over Cedar Lake. Winds were not bad at all but I still cut a big angle to intercept the inbound 216 radial from VCN. I was on track inbound with time and distance to spare. I went missed on this approach, hit the OBS to take the 530 out of suspend and continued on course with climb back to VCN.

At this point I canceled with Atlantic city and contacted Millville radio to advise I was going to shoot the ILS 10 approach. I briefed the plate and set up the comm/nav's then picked up the wx once again at Millville. I was right on time picking up the localizer, nailed it! That didn't last long as I strayed off almost a dot wide futzing with locking down the throttle. I was on the glide slope, never really much out of the "bubble". A few small 'S' turns as I chased a bit but was in the bubble when given the look up to land command. This was going to be a circle to land runway 32 as I held altitude very nice and made a smooth touch and go. I did get dinged for power then flaps but I was soon climbing out. The examiner provided vectors for KILG and we were on our way, homestretch I was thinking, don't blow it now.

It was a bit thermally but not to bad and I let my altitude stray a bit just to +100 feet but had caught it and was correcting. Right at that moment the examiner said my plane....oh God, noway, I busted. He said close your eyes and put your head down for some unusual attitudes. Alright!!!!...I'm still in the game! Unusual attitudes were fine and worked through them twice, one climbing turn with little airspeed left and one nose down and a good banked turn. Following the attitude work I was following vectors to the GPS 27 at Wilmington.

I contacted the tower, advised them of my position and that I had the ATIS with my intentions for the GPS 27. I was directed to report GUSTE inbound. I was just 3 minutes shy of GUSTE when I pulled the power and configured for 90 knots. Must shoot this approach on the money, I'm almost home. I turned about half standard rate and joined the final approach like it was attached to the bubble. I was rock solid on course and power was set to descend to the required altitudes for each fix. Finally, lift the foggles and land, music to my ears. I slowed 08Romeo to 1500 rpm and added flaps. Over the numbers and a sweet landing. It's a done deal, I made it through the ride!

The examiner asked if I needed help with the plane. No, I'll take care of it and he said he would get the paperwork finished up. I slowly packed up the cockpit, savoring what I just completed. I thought of my Dad and wondered what he would say, how he would feel. I knew he had a smile on ear to ear.....just like his son.

Special thanks to my Bride Mary, I could not have finished this rating without your support, you my love, have been my favorite cheerleader, You never had a doubt. Think of all the fun places we can travel to now! Ok, well maybe after I get some things done around the house like painting and some new appliances.

To my CFII Tom, you are the man! Thanks for all your dedication, patience and for sharing your knowledge. You made it happen and got me ready. Today we share the win.

Mike B!!! I did it!!! Man have we logged some hours. You never gave up on me, always encouraged me to get it done. When I thought I really sucked you were there to fly those thoughts right out of me. I kind of liked being called the 'machine', I wore it as a badge of honor. For all your late hours, endless landings, late night meals at Eats, hours of sweat, I offer my sincere Thanks. I hope I can pay your example forward.

Its over...completed. I am relieved, tired and happy all at once. Gary Mascelli, Private pilot, Instrument Rated. I like the sound of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Flying with Jeff, 93Zulu

Today was perfect for some actual, scattered cloud cover sitting around three thousand, overcast was maybe seven or eight thousand. I swapped text messages with Jeff and he wanted to shoot approaches today too. The plan was for me to fly 08Romeo to 33N, pick up Jeff and fly my check ride approaches. Following my practice ride we would switch planes and go shoot a few approaches in 93Zulu.

I was soon entering the pattern at Delaware Airpark and turning base to final a bit hot. I cut the power and with a slip got to the runway bleeding off speed and touched down not quite half way. Retracted the flaps and let 08Romeo roll for the last turn off, always saving brakes. I need to add some fuel so I taxied to the pumps and shut down.

Jeff and I talked about the wx and he wasn't comfortable flying in potential IMC in my plane since he is not familiar with it. Fair enough, we changed our plans to fly his Archer then come back and take my Sundowner out once the layer lifted. We saddled up and headed towards New Jersey planning to shoot the ILS 10 then the VOR A into Millville. It was good to see it unfold without the foggles and helped me see position with regard to the localizer and glide slope tracking. We broke the VOR A off early and entered the left base for one four and a full stop landing.

It was early and conditions were starting to get better. We decided on a lunch run then we would come back to fly 08Romeo. Jeff filed for York, PA - KTHV and we sat and waited to pick up our clearance. Atlantic city switched us back to Millville radio and they in turn sent us back over to Atlantic city. Finally we had the clearance and were ready to get in the air. We were cleared to THV and the route was as follows; LEEAH VCN V184 OOD DQO DQO306r V184 DELRO Direct. It was a great ride! I haven't passed over KILG at altitude in a long time and it sure was a different look. Soon after passing Wilmington we went into Solid IMC. Jeff did a great job, rock solid needles as steady as could be. I only have 1.3 of actual but this stuff was solid. It was like flying around in a sky of milk. Philly handed us off to Harrisburg and Jeff shot the GPS 35 approach. It was very cool breaking out around 1000 feet and seeing the airport off the nose, right where it's supposed to be! Jeff made a nice landing and we rolled out to the terminal taxiway.

With 93Zulu secure we headed in for lunch. We each had breakfast, yes I know I said lunch stop. Jeff and i enjoyed some eggs and bacon while discussing the return trip to 33N. Jeff filed with his iPad and phone for blue tooth. So many gadgets that make flying safer. Jeff had used the iPad for the approach plates and it was easy to read and sat right on the knee board. A cool future tool for my flight bag! We finished up a great meal and headed back to the plane. The bottom layer was sitting around 1400 so we would be in it shortly after take off. METAR KTHV 151553Z AUTO 20004KT 10SM OVC014 23/21 A3001.

Jeff's clearance was a bit odd as it had us backtracking to Harrisburg then on course to 33N. Once announcing our departure from York we switched to approach to advise position and altitude. Harrisburg quickly gave us a heading to intercept the V469 airway that ran between the HAR and DQO VOR's. Once again we were in solid IMC seemingly flying around in a sky full of milk. What I found really odd was not seeing the sun but it being so bright that I had to hold my hand up like a visor when looking at the instruments. It was a good feeling being in the system, yet so very odd flying along and not seeing anything but the plane. The GPS at least provides a sense of where the heck you are in relation to the world below.
With some storm cells showing on the 496 approach turned us to avoid any off the yellow cells. Hey that worked for us as we continued on our way. We passed over Summit, KEVY and the C&D canal, at least according to the Garmin 430 GPS. Philly had us begin our descent and handed us off to Dover. We broke out around 3,500 if my memory serves me correct. Jeff was planning on the GPS 9 approach but canceled IFR and entered on a left base into the pattern. Another nice landing and we are safe on the ground at Delaware Airpark.

The rain was moving in and the cells we could see on the 496 were confirmed by eye. Instead of us flying 08Romeo I launched for home solo. The best thing about my friends that are Pilots is that we can say things to each other and not take it out of context but out of concern and wanting us all to be safe. Jeff did not hesitate to advise not taking a chance running back to ILG, if it's not looking good just put it back on the ground here at 33N and he would drive me home. Advise well taken but I felt the visibility was good enough and if the rains held off I would be fine.

I launched off of two seven and climbed for home. I turned north and could see the rain moving from the west with the cells showing up on the 496. I had one small rain shower over the nose and turned west to end around it. It's so strange watching the rain cell move across your path and being able to see around it. The cell had just passed over Summit, KEVY and was moving east following the C&D canal to the Delaware river. I passed behind it and then turned north east, heading for Wilmington. I could see wx moving from the west and was good to go knowing I would be on the ground getting wet while securing the plane, that was ok, maybe the rain would clean off a few dead bugs. I had an awesome tail wind and was clocking 140 knots into ILG. I entered a right base for runway one four as directed and made a nice landing in the gusty winds. As I taxied clear the light rain started to wet the windscreen.

I secured 08Romeo and headed to the SUV, I had a fun day even though I didn't get to do much flying. It was now starting to rain as left 08Romeo and the airport, a good feeling to be on the ground.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Practice Time - Solo

It was to nice not to fly so despite not having a safety pilot I decided to go through the motions for my check ride solo. No, not quite the same effect as under the foggles but at least working the flow coupled with the buttonology of the GPS helps in some way.

I headed to Millville and worked through an abbreviated VOR-A approach breaking off early to accommodate traffic in my area heading in for a full stop landing. Instead I circled left and fell in line number two to land on runway one four. Millville radio was really bad today. This guy has to be "double talk" as nicknamed by fellow pilots. He would not shut up. The Aztec and I made our landings and traffic calls despite the interference from Millville radio.

I taxied back for departure intending on shooting the ILS 10 approach but just could not deal with the radio nit wit. I was so tempted to just depart NORDO (short for "No Radio"). I knew better and Millville can be busy, besides, why add to confusion by not making the proper calls. I announced departing runway one four and was rolling. Millville proceeded to give me the full update even though I have been in contact with them for the last 15 minutes, then kept asking my intentions and call sign. I had enough and as I was just about wheels up I hit the PTT and said IF you just let me fly the plane a bite your head off tone. They got the message. I announced crosswind and radio requested my direction of flight. So I gave it to them, North East. I followed with a down wind call and was above the pattern heading home.

Back across the river and home to the great tower folks at Wilmington. I entered a right base for runway nine as directed and squeaked a nice landing. I'm ready for the ride, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Signed Off for Check Ride!

I met with CFII Tom to give the paper work a once over and make sure all the t's were crossed and i's dotted. I'm scheduled for Thursday August 19th at 9AM for the Ride!!

Aircraft Documents
  • Airworthiness Cert.
  • Registration Cert.
  • Rating Limitations

Aircraft Maintenance

  • Logbook records, AD Compliance
  • POH
  • Weight & Balance

Personal Equipment

  • View limiting Device
  • Current Charts
  • Computer/Plotter
  • Flight Plan
  • Flight Logs
  • Current AIM, AFD, IAP's

Personal Records

  • ID
  • Pilot Cert
  • Current Medical
  • FAA Form 8710
  • Knowledge test report/review
  • Logbook with endorsements
  • Examiners Fee $$$$$

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Back To Fun Flying

I know I should have been hitting the books, studying for the IR oral test this week. I honestly just had enough of books, flying under the hood and just sweating my butt off for this rating. I miss fun flying! The IR has not been a fun experience for me, honestly, it's sucking the fun out of flying and I can't wait until its finally over. Ok, enough ranting.....

Adam Z and his lovely wife Tam invited us to join them on a day trip to either Cape May, NJ or Lewes, DE. It was decided to make a run to Lazy Susan's for crabs then walk off lunch with some shopping in Lewes. The wx was looking good, Mary and I were up early and ready to go. We made our way to the airport and like two teenagers on a first time date, we were anxious to spend the day together and have some fun.

We were soon climbing out of Wilmington for three thousand five hundred feet, looking for some cooler temps. I think it was 75ish at cruise altitude and the vents were wide open blowing air everywhere. As we crossed the C&D canal I requested flight following from Dover Approach. It was a smooth flight with multiple call outs for traffic. We had a Cirrus at our altitude on our six closing and they reported us in sight. Shortly after they had contact I had a visual on them swinging wide to our nine o'clock and passing us by. They descended for clouds and we followed suit soon after. We were both headed to Georgetown, Sussex County. The Cirrus was turning base to final as I crossed midfield to enter the same left down wind.

Georgetown Air Services marshaled us to parking and remembered from yesterdays flight that I would be there for the afternoon. Mary and I secured the courtesy car as Adam and Tam landed. Adam stood on the wing, arms extended and announced he had to unload Tam's baggage for the afternoon of fun....always the funny guy.

I had the car running with the AC cranked up so it was nice and cool when everyone piled in. We were headed for lunch at Lazy Susan's. I could not pass the stinky farm with great ice cream without asking my Bride if we should stop. Her volume control went on high and she threatened to slap me if I even gave it a second thought. We explained the story to Adam and Tam so Adam opened the window to confirm, it was to early and not hot enough to generate the pig/cow odors.

Adam Z enjoying the Crabs

Lazy Susan's opened at noon and we were ten minutes early, no crowd to deal with. Mary and I split a half dozen of crabs along with a bucket of clams for the four of us. Adam had a half dozen crabs and Tam had clam strips. The food was good although the jumbo no. 1's would have been better. We filled our tummy's and passed on dessert. After lunch we washed up as best we could and loaded back up for the short hop to the shopping, located on Second Street.

Adam and Tam were looking for the Hotel Rodney as a follow up on a brochure they had received. We all walked through the place checking out the various dated photos and furnishings. Mary and Tam walked into the adjoining shops while Adam and I walked across the street to check out Saint Peter's Episcopal Church founded in 1681. As you walk towards the church you pass through the historic Churchyard cemetery. A few of the notables buried there are Captain Henry F. McCracken, pilot of the Delaware Bay and River. He requested that his anchor be buried with him in 1868 and the fluke may be seen protruding from the ground. I should have taken a picture but I didn't. We did however see the part of the anchor sticking out of the ground. One of the other interesting graves is that of Captain James Drew of the H.M.S DeBraak. This was the English ship which foundered on the Capes at the Delaware Bay and from which coins are occasionally washed up after a storm. A leather covered trunk, used as a buoy by three Spanish prisoners, is on exhibit in the Zwaanendael Museum. The stone vase on top of the tomb is reputed to have been sent by Queen Ann.

The four of us wandered in and out of shops with a last stop at the north end of the street at one of my favorites, Kings Ice Cream. Mary had butter brickle, I had banana and Adam had pineapple frozen yogurt. Tam said she had a bit of sore throat and passed on the treat. The walk to the car was short, as we crossed the street and walked alongside the church. I was once again given grief on my park job which left minimum room to the curb and required Adam to wiggle in since his door was right next to a light pole. Careful planning? No, just dumb luck on my part.

We returned the courtesy car with a full tank even though we took it out on the 3/4 mark. It's always nice to give a little back so the car is around the next time you need it. Adam and I took a look at the wx to the north on the computer located in the pilots/wx briefing room. Conditions were looking VFR all the way home with some activity to our south, we were both ready to go. We said our goodbyes and headed out on the ramp. I was good to go for fuel but Adam wanted to take on a few gallons for the return home leg. Mary was really tired and I was starting to feel the heat. I completed my pre-flight then removed the Kenyon sun shields with little time between removal and start up. The Sundowner has a strong blower motor that really moves the air inside the cabin, any movement is a help until the big fan gets turning.

We taxied out and launched for home. The Sundowner climbed at a good rate and we saw Adam and Tam wave from the ramp. I gave the wings a good wig wag in response and flew the left traffic pattern. I was climbing out departing the area on the base leg looking north into all the haze. I picked up with Dover Approach for flight following and settled in for the thirty minute hop home. I heard an aircraft ask to say hello to 08Romeo which caught me off guard. I did not recognize the tail end of the call or the voice. Dover handed the aircraft off to Philly and then the light came on! Malibu xxxCharlie Mike, that's Andrew, formerly of Wings, KLOM, now based in New Jersey. I sent Andrew a PM on Pilots of America just to let him know I did eventually "get it".

When Dover dropped us I contacted Wilmington and reported a right down wind for runway one four as directed. A smooth landing and taxi to Red Eagle brought our fun day to a close. I really really needed a fun flight, no foggles, no approach plates, just soaking up the view and getting my brain back on track.

Thanks Adam and Tam!!!! We had a blast!! Looking forward to the next day trip!