Monday, February 28, 2011

Oil Analysis

I finally got around to sending in my oil analysis from last year and sent along the most recent sample taken on my last oil change.  The first sample was from the total engine time of 35 hours and I had the screen and no filter.  Sample two was taken post filter add on, now running at fifty hour intervals and total time of 173 hours. All the numbers look good according to the report but I want to learn more about what the averages should be for my engine, the Lycoming O-360 A4K. I am a member of the Beech Aero Club (BAC) and I did manage to find some useful info for averages. After reading I find that the universal averages are a mix of all the different types of aircraft oil available. Therefore, the additives that are present in my sample will not match those in the universal averages column.
All my numbers look good with the exception of Iron and Copper. There are a few reasons for the higher numbers, although the trend shows a drop in copper between changes. I need to investigate the Iron numbers. I should also note I am running Aeroshell 15W50 oil and some folks say that tends to produce higher copper numbers.
Most Common Sources of Wear Metal Elements in Oil:

  • Iron - Cylinders, rotating shafts, valve train and any steel part sharing the oil.
  • Copper- Brass or bronze parts, bushings, bearings, oil coolers, sacrificial coatings.
  • Nickel - Valve guides, trace element in steel, some cylinder types.
  • Chromium - Rings, cylinders, a trace element in steel.
  • Silver - Sacrificial coatings, a trace element in some types of bearings, bearing cage plating
  • Magnesium - Engine casings, additives
  • Aluminum - Pistons, piston pin plugs, bearing overlay, casings.
  • Lead - Primarily leaded gas blow-by, traces from bearings
  • Silicon - Abrasive dirt from intake air, silicone sealers and gaskets, sample contamination.
  • Tin - Bearings, bronze parts (with copper), anti-wear coatings.
One tid bit of info I read is reflected in my copper numbers. Copper: These metals are normally from bearings or bushings and valve guides. Oil coolers also can contribute to copper readings along with some oil additives. In a new engine these results will normally be high during break-in, but will decline in a few hundred hours.

I will continue to research the Iron numbers and discus the report with Roger at Cecil Aero, 08Romeo's real caretaker.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flight Check Geo-Plates

Since I did not fly yesterday on what turned out to be a gorgeous day I figured I better get some left seat time in today. A co-worker wanted to go up and scout the New Jersey area for hunting locations but after an early call to set a flight up he informed me he was already out watching eagles about 35 miles from home. I know Mike is in Vermont playing in the snow with his Bride and Mary is over at her Mom and Dads helping out. I sent Vince a text but he did not respond so I proceeded with my pre-flight and got the fan turning on 08Romeo.

I departed runway two seven and climbed straight out as directed in my take off clearance waiting for the tower to direct a left turn on course.  I didn't hear a word so I requested my left turn on course. The tower apologized, they thought I was headed south, no problem, we're on the same page now. It was a smooth flight to Cape May - KWWD as I set up for 3,500 feet and flipped on the autopilot. I'm still getting a slight right bank when I bring the unit online, it still needs some adjustment.
West view towards C&D Canal
I made my calls and crossed Cape May at mid-field and entered the left down wind for runway two eight. I kept it tight but squared off and pulled the remaining power over the end of the runway and made a very smooth landing.  With a little brake action I could have made the first turn off but I let 08Romeo roll out for the midfield turn off. The ramp looked busy with a Cessna 310, 172 and 177 all parked in front of the fence.  I shut down and secured the plane and got to use my new chocks I purchased. I wandered my way inside and the restaurant was packed, they even had people sitting outside in the terminal lobby area. I managed a single seat at the counter and had two eggs over medium with bacon and homefries.

With a full belly I made my way to the ramp. The 172 and Cardinal were gone and it was just the 310 and my Sundowner. I checked my fuel and walked around the plane then boarded. The three guys in the 310 came outside, climbed aboard and fired up. Whatever works for them.
I started 08Romeo and followed the 310 out to runway two eight. The 310 called on the roll and departed, I did a run up, it's free insurance, call me mr. conservative. One Cessna reported entering the down wind and I confirmed his location with a 360* on the taxiway. Ok, Cape May Traffic, Sundowner departing two eight, Cape May. I was rolling and in the air as I crossed one nineteen.

View NE towards ACY
 I plugged in direct Millville (KMIV) and activated the RNAV GPS RWY 28 approach which had me fly direct to the Sea Isle (SIE) VOR. The Foreflight georeferenced plate has the active 'blue' box so I should show up in that box. I tuned in Atlantic city approach to make sure I wasn't in the way of arrivals and kept the nose pointed to Sea Isle.  As I crossed SIE my plane appeared on the approach plate along with altitude and speed in the bottom block.  The numbers looked real good and as an additional emergency back up I would be ok with the iPad. I am having second thoughts about hooking the 496 up to the 530, it can be a PITA chugging and plugging the buttons to bring up the same approach. Here are a few pictures, Prior to the FAF I start to break off to the left since traffic is on runway three two and there is a helicopter off the end of two eight. I headed towards the Delaware Bay and then north for home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Present Ready to Ship

Mary obviously knows how much I like toys, as all grown up boys do, and ordered a 1/25 scale airplane model of our Beech Sundowner for me.  I finally got to see the almost complete project since provided some photos for Mary to approve prior to shipment.  I can't wait to see it up close, the pictures are awesome! 

Mary hits a homerun! Thanks for a perfect gift, the little boy in me loves it.....heck the grown up me does too!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Geo-referenced Plates!

Announcing Geo-referenced Plates - ForeFlight

Geo-referenced Approach Plates and Taxiway Diagrams.

ForeFlight Mobile now offers an optional Pro plan that includes geo-referenced approach plates and taxiway diagrams for the entire USA.

Track your progress directly on the chart with an easy to find airplane icon representing your “ownship”. Keep tabs on groundspeed, track, and geometric altitude from the same view using the readouts below the chart. And all the standard pinch to zoom and panning gestures just work, just like you’d expect.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Practice Approaches

Not bad weather today following yesterdays blowing winds that forced a no go on the dog rescue flight.  I met up with Mike B so we could get some practice approaches in, I'm always always chanting current does not make one proficient. With that thought in mind we saddled up for a trip to KCGE, Cambridge Dorchester Airport.

We are cleared to take off from runway two seven and climb south, south west for our intended destination. Dover approach could not get our tail number right but they did confirm our squawk code, one outta two ain't bad I guess. We were handed off to potomac then patuxent in that order and Mike asked for the GPS RWY 34 approach for Cambridge. We maintained visual separation as directed and descended into the bumpy air at three thousand. Patuxent turned us loose for unicom at Cambridge and Mike role played ATC for the approach.
I managed to get some tracking in along with a procedure turn on this go round. I kept high to not interfere with local traffic and Mike figured he would torture me with a descending procedure turn to make it interesting. I turned outbound to a 155* heading once arriving at the Cambridge NDB. Yikes, scrape off the rust pilot....turn twist time throttle talk, the 5 T's. My airspeed is looking good and holding altitude as I give the approach plate on my iPad another glance. Procedure turn is a left turn to 110* then inbound on 290* while letting down for 1,800 feet. The needle comes alive and I intercept the new inbound heading of 335*. Altitude looks good, airspeed is good although I am fussing with it and not locking into my known rpm for the desired rate of descent. On course and looking up around 500 feet. I am just right of the runway but pull more power add flaps and make a really nice landing.
Mike and I had lunch in a side room since the main dining area was packed with a waiting line. A cup of chili and a BLT did the trick, washed down with the best sweet tea around. We were ready to head north so Mike could do some fun flying and shoot an approach or two. The ramp was getting busy with a few Mooney's a Bonanza and Cessna's lined up neatly. We taxied out and launched off of runway three four with a turn out north east for Wilmington. The ride was bumpy for a bit then felt better as we leveled out around 3,500. 
Mike contacted Philly approach and requested the ILS RWy 1 into Wilmington, KILG. We had a few traffic call outs but had visual on them.  Mike continued in riding the rails, a real nice approach. If you have a *visual on the approach lighting you can descend below the decision altitude to 100 feet above the touchdown zone elevation of 76 feet. Mike had needles centered when we went missed, a real nice approach. We were doing a low approach only and climbed out to join the down wind for runway three two.

A fun day of flying and a much needed practice flight for me. I'm looking forward to getting some actual with Mike right seat and really work on being proficient.

*Visual on approach lighting
You can only descend below MDA or DH only if;

1. You are continuously in a position where you can land on the intended runway using a normal rate of descent and normal maneuvers. (14 CFR part 121 and 135 operators must be able to land in the touchdown zone).

2. The flight visibility must be at or above the visibility required to complete the approach. (It remains the pilot's decision and responsibility to determine the visibility on the approach (14 CFR part 91).

3. You have at least one of the following in sight:

a. The approach light system, except that you may not descend lower than 100 feet above the touchdown zone elevation, unless the red terminating bars or the red side row bars are clearly visible.
b. The runway threshold.
c. The threshold markings.
d. The threshold lights.
e. The runway end identifier lights (REIL).
f. The VASI.
g. The touchdown zone lights.
h. The touchdown zone lights.
i. The runway or runway markings.
j. The runway lights.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

MAESSR Ground Pounder

Yep, the forecast winds were even stronger than advertised. Wx checks this morning were showing 50-75 mph winds at 4,6 and 8 thousand, not much room for an argument to fly here.  I sent emails to scrub the mission but since the dogs were en route to Wilmington Mary and I decided to make the trip to Hanover, VA by car.

 We said our goodbyes at Wilmington and loaded our furry passengers on board the ML320. Our first ground transport for MAESSR, we were keeping our fingers crossed. I pointed us south on I-95 and Mary asked for the address for our drop, heck, I had no clue.  I was heading to the airport and it was off exit 86A, in Virginia. Needless to say that did not go over very well with my partner. Shortly after that navigation exchange Zippie decided to leave us a present to let us know it could indeed get worse. Yikes, this one called for a pull off the road stop and clean/air out.


I swapped phone calls with Debbie and she was arranging a hand off around College Park, MD.  This would be a welcome exchange since we were just heading into the tunnel north of the Baltimore inner harbor. Once on the south side of the tunnel we stopped to confirm the address and chug and plug Mary's GPS. We were back in the hunt in very short order.

As we approached our destination we went through an area where I smelled smoke. Not from our ride but from the outside surrounding area, maybe a field fire or paper. We continued on to the Hampton Inn in College Park and waited for our next team to arrive.
With the doggie transfer completed we saddled back up and headed for home. Mary's GPS asked if we wanted to detour due to a 29 minute delay en route. I had to read it a few times and of course try to figure where this box was sending me. This device is not my Garmin 530 or 496 but instead a Tomtom.....sorry I've come to trust MY toys much more.  Anywho, I waited to long and the request vanished off the screen....Hmmmmm....maybe that's not a good thing.

We were soon in the traffic and from what we could tell it was the fire smell gone crazy!  The smoke was rolling across the highway and the winds were feeding it all. Mary did say maybe the College Park fire trucks and hazmat trucks were coming to this event....yeah, I'm thinking that's the case.

UPDATE: 4:15 p.m.: From Prince William police:

A brush fire at the Dale City exit of SB I-95 has consumed over 5 acres and one on the northbound side at Cardinal Drive has consumed over 10 acres. Smoke is obscuring I-95 and NB I-95 has been shut down with the exception of HOV. The access ramps for the Dale City exit have been shut down.

It was a two hour ride home and Mary took a nap while I listened to music. Both our butts were numb from sitting for almost 4 hours. A fun mission but I would rather fly it any day. I guess it's good to get the reality check now and then. We're so lucky to be able to fly!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mike's Lesson Prep

Mike and I hooked up for a quick flight tonight, 1.4 in the book.  Mike flew right seat and I played student as he worked through a few lesson plans and I knocked off some rust trying to prep for tomorrows rescue flight to Hanover VA.  We finished up the hop with Mike shooting two approaches, one GPS RWY 35 into KEVY - Summit and one ILS RWY 1 into Wilmington- KILG.

I took a half day off so I could update the 530 data card and update the software on the 496.  I also added a carbon monoxide detector (18 month version)and color coded breaker caps to the panel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

MAESSR Rescue Plans

Well, if the wx holds out for Saturday we will have a fun day of flying with our furry friends from Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue (MAESSR).  A request for transport went out via email and this trip is in our backyard.  Ok, well backyard when it comes to transportation by plane.

The tentative flight plan; Pick up Zippie a 7 year old male at KTTN, Trenton Mercer Airport, head south east to KACY, Atlantic City to pick up Donna who is going to her forever home in Irvington, VA. with our drop off at W75, Hummel Field.  Debbie is going to have Fudge, a 7 year old male ready for us to take home to Wilmington.

Ok we need to check the dog transport bag and checklist. Paper towels, water, treats, plastic trash bags, zip lock bags, moving blanket and an extra leash just in case.

By the numbers....
Total- 403 miles
Flight Time - 4hr 10 minutes 
Fun factor - out of sight!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Charleston, The plan

Mary and I received an email from our good friends in McKinney Texas, Bo and Sandra (Flights of the Mouse). They were  providing a heads up that they will be in Charleston the end of March. The question was raised if our Florida keys trip would cross paths and maybe, if our timing was very good, we could catch up.  Mary and I are still working out the details for Florida and it's looking more like a mid to late April get-away.

After reading the email we sat and looked at each other and almost immediately in unison said lets take a long weekend and head to Charleston, scary when we think and talk alike. I have to ask myself what else does she know that's going on in my head....well if she can handle the view from my minds eye, go for it.

We've exchanged an email or two and details still need to be worked out but it looks like we can fly down on a Saturday, see the town and catch up Sunday when Bo & Sandra get in. We can checkout Monday or Tuesday, most likely Monday and make a late afternoon departure for home. All very very preliminary at this point but you know I'm already punching numbers and plotting our route with a halfway stop in there somewhere to discover a new airport or place to eat. 

Maybe if we left Friday night, after work, and make a stop in Williamsburg we can catch up with our friend Susan for dinner then launch early Saturday for Charleston. So many possibilities that would make this a fun weekend. More on this flight as we get closer to mid March.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

NJ Hop

The wx forecast was on the money today! There was this big shiny thing in the clear blue sky and it was making my face feel warm. I'm not sure what they call that ball of warmth, but I like it, now if it only hangs out a few more days...weeks.

Mike B was scheduled to take a first time flyer up this morning so I made the trip last night to plug in the plane, not fun doing that stuff in the rain. Thankfully the forecast was looking good and getting wet last night could not discourage me from the chance  to fly today. We swapped text messages and Vince was included in the mix too.
Mike pushed his flight until 3pm so Vince and I launched for New Jersey around 10:30 this morning. We had twenty gallons in each wing tank that would provide plenty of play time. It was quiet around the airport this morning up until the Mig thundered down runway one, dang that baby is loud! Needless to say the thunder of the jet got the blood pressure pumping as Vince and I climbed aboard.
South East view down the Delaware Bay
Clear for take-off runway two seven left turn on course approved to depart the area on the down wind for three two. We were in the air and following the direction of the tower as we climbed up and over the Delaware River. It was bumpy this morning but not uncomfortable. We made our way over the Delaware bay and the rough air was soon as smooth as the water passing below. I tried the autopilot since I made the adjustment the other night and wanted to check our "wings level" mode. Heading bug set and autopilot switched on and tracking within five degrees of the course. Still a light roll right but the system seemed to settle down and hold wings level nicely.  I didn't try the tracking mode, this will be done on another flight with Mike.
I announce 10 out of Cape May and spot the only traffic in the pattern, a Cessna 172. I follow that aircraft in number two to land and roll out on runway two eight about mid field. The winds were gusting pretty good and I did drift left of center late in the flare but made a nice landing. After a short stay on the ramp we decided to make the fourteen mile hop to KOBI-Woodbine Airport, I haven't been there in ages. Actually I was hoping to catch up with fellow pilot Jeff D and his Mooney. Once again I was number two to land following a Cherokee working in the pattern and communicating very well so we could coordinate positions and pattern work.  Another gusty winds landing but again smooth touchdown and taxi off at midfield. Jeff's hangar was closed and not many people were around the field.
short final KWWD
Terminal KWWD
The last hop was back to Wilmington. I taxied back to the active following the Cherokee. Radios set, DuPont VOR dialed in and GPS set, we are launching on runway three one. I'm off pretty quickly and climbing out. Once established in a nice climb and everything in the green I ask Vince he he would like to fly.  I point out our rate of climb and airspeed with the reminder that it will be hard to see over the nose until we level. I will work the radios, we are both eyes out.  Vince does a nice job and I only have to point at the vertical speed indicator and the airspeed for him to know he has us climbing out to steep. He gets that squared away and I explain that the climb can lead to a departure stall and the potential hazards associated with it.  He understood and continued on. I should add in here that I gave him the headwind, rock your boat leg, he was up to it.
Twin Spans - Delaware Memorial Bridges
Vince made the radio calls to Wilmington, sounding quite the professional as he noted position, intentions and ATIS info. We were directed to enter a left base for runway two seven and call turning final, Vince acknowledged.  There was jet traffic inbound so we transferred the control back to me with the traditional my plane, your plane my plane verbal acknowledgment. Vince stayed eyes out and spotted the traffic calls and as we were on short final a jet landing on runway one was cleared to land. I extended my landing and touched down past the 1-19 intersection but still made the midfield turn off on Kilo-4.
A fun day flying with 1.7 added in the log book. We didn't have to cover since Mike was going out at 3pm but we did plug the heaters back in. I have my flying fix for another week, let's hope the snow doesn't keep me grounded for much more than that!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A/P INOP No More

I was up early and on my way to the airport in case of frost on the plane. I decided to make a stop at the hangar where one of my projects is ongoing. It was start up day for the new infrared Re-verber-ray heaters just installed. I only had a few minutes but wanted to check in.

I headed across the airport to 08Romeo and started my preflight. I have deice fluid in the gallon pump sprayer so I set that in the truck on the floor with the heat on full blast. With the plane ready to go except for some frost I gave it a coating of the deice. The pink fluid flowed and it was easy to confirm the coverage. I packed up the truck and parked out in the lot then walked back in and unplugged the reiff heater. The deice juice worked perfect, it was flowing off the wing and tail. I could run my fingers across the area of frost and it was clear.

I was soon launching off of two seven and pointing towards Brandywine. I heard 46Charlie, a Cessna 172 landing at ILG. 46C was the plane I learned to fly in, good memories. I heard my former instructor Bill make some calls along with his student. I needed to switch over to the unicom frequency for Brandywine and announce my position and intentions. I made a nice landing and turn off at midfied.

I rolled up towards the Penn Avionics hangar door and Ken came out to meet me. He used the powered tug to get 08Romeo in the shop, I said don't spoil her. Ken and I reviewed what has been done to date to check the system regarding the roll servo and he confirmed with his notes. The plan was to check the unit and if needed advance to a cable check.

The7 pin connector
I walked across to the flight school and waited for Bill to return from his lesson. It was great to catch up and update each other on our planes and travels. I visited the FBO upstairs and took advantage of the Wifi to check on wx and TFR's.  Ken tracked me down, even though I had left my cell phone number, and gave me a quick update. I knew it was good news when he had a smile and gave a two thumbs up. Apparently when testing the relay he got the A/P unit to work so he is pulling the relay box to replace a connector that has a broken pin. The pin that was broken caused the relay to see the pilot interrupt switch on the yoke as always engaged. 
the relay
With the seven pin connector replaced and the relay installed the system was checked and returned to service. I helped tug 08Romeo out to the ramp then went in to square up my bill. The damage for today's adventure was $293, overall not to bad. I was excited to get back in the air and give it a whirl.
I launched for home after sending Mike a text that I would be wheels up in ten.  Mike was going to fly with me so we could check out the A/P. We met on the red eagle ramp and taxied out to runway two seven for the quick hop. We had went through the preflight ground checks and now in the air would try the system in the wing level mode. Once aligned on course and bringing the A/P online the plane banked right into a ten degree heading change then back left. The century one unit seemed to "hunt" for the heading. The same result in track mode tells me the unit needs some adjustment. Ken explained the adjustment for wings level so we could make the change on the ground and try another flight on Sunday.
Mike shot the ILS RWY 1 into Wilmington, low approach only then climbed out to enter an extended right down wind for two seven to accommodate inbound traffic. It was a long day but a rewarding one. The last bit of work on 08Romeo is now complete and the A/P will add a safety factor to my instrument flying.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Auto Pilot Service

I scheduled a vacation day for tomorrow in order to get 08Romeo to the doctor, the avionics doctor.  I have a 9:30 appointment with Penn Avionics to bring the plane in to get the Century I A/P squared away.  If you read along you will remember that during the annual I had the roll servo removed and Penn Avionics agreed to bench test it.  Getting the unit bench tested during inspection, while the interior was out and floor opened up, saved a good bit of time and money I would have shelled out for Penn to go through the same exact process.

So, the plan is to head to Brandywine airport in the morning, after a stop at Dunkin for my must have hot tea and maybe a bagel. I went to the airport after work today and plugged in the reiff heaters which should bring my oil temps up to 110* and keep the cylinder heads warmed up too. There was some ice but I managed my way picking the snow areas instead of the ice, in hopes of reducing the chance of falling on my butt. I forgot my moving blanket to cover the cowl but I'm sure she'll be ready to go.  Friday also looks like a great wx day for flying, today was just as nice despite the winds.

I'll report the findings and or status of my repairs. I am hoping they will not break the bank. If the repairs leave money in the flying budget I may swap out the taxi light with the wide beam Whelen LED version.  I am also looking at a replacent for the compass, maybe a vertical card, maybe SIRS.

Century I Autopilot information:

Century I is an all-electric, rate-based, lightweight, single axis, roll/heading lateral stabilization autopilot. Vacuum system failures will not affect the operation or performance of the Century I. An electric servo on the aileron control system provides the control force for the wing-leveling stabilization and pilot-commanded, knob-controlled turns at rates of up to 200°/minute.

The system utilizes a tilted rate gyro to sense rate of turn and roll rate in its 3-inch lighted standard turn indicator. The indicator includes an inclinometer (ball) for slip/skid indications, and VOR/LOC radio signal tracking is standard. The Century I may also be used as an all-electric safety backup autopilot to the Century IIB, III, or IV vacuum/electric systems, sharing the same roll servo. Unlike many competitive systems, the custom-manufactured cable harness is included to reduce installation time and expense.