Thursday, March 24, 2011


This past Friday Mary's Father passed away.  Pop as we all called him, will be missed but never forgotten.  Always the perfect gentleman, loving husband and a man who truly loved his family and accepted me as his son-in-law.  We shared many laughs together over the years, much of it at the expense of our lovely Brides. It seems that apple didn't fall far from the tree as they say and little Mary (my Bride) was pretty much a carbon copy of Big Mary, Mom. Mary does hold many of the fine qualities of her Father too.....but Pop and I had so much more fun yucking it up about the two of them.

I will miss his humor, discussions about engineering, private chats while the ladies were in the other room and his mild manner in which he approached life. I lost my father in 1998, I was fortunate to have been able to share that title with a man who deserved such respect and who shared much wisdom in such a short time, Thanks Pop, I will miss you everyday as I do my own Father.

Daniel A. Lemon - Age 87, passed away peacefully on March 18, 2011.

Besides his parents, Joseph and Catherine (Harkins) Lemon, Daniel was preceded in death by Elizabeth Harkins (Aunt Bee) and by 4 sisters and 7 brothers. He is survived by his wife Mary Brennan Lemon; son, Mark D. Lemon and his wife Madelynn; daughter, Mary Lemon Mascelli and her husband Gary. Also surviving are two grandchildren, Amy and Laura Lemon.

The family would like to extend a special thanks to Compassionate Care Hospice, especially Wendy, Meridith and Kavonne for their gentleness and compassion.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in Daniel's memory to the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales, 2200 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Susquehanna River Tour

 Finally!  The Susquehanna River Tour is completed!  The thought for this trip started way back in October of 2007 and it never came to be. I did revisit the possibility of flying this tour in September 2008 only to once again put it on the shelf. I guess the stars aligned, the wx looked great and Mike and Vince were available to join me. 
black/green-proposed  -  black/red actual

right cross wind departure rwy 9
First some background on the plan. My inspiration for the flight is two fold; reading about the Citabria gang , aka the Trunk Monkeys, and their fun days of slow and low over the tri-state area forging lasting friendships made it sound like to much fun to pass up. The second reason I wanted to do this flight was the fact that this would be a trip back home of sorts. My family is from Wilkes-Barre-Scranton area. Now you have to understand I have made this trip more times than I care to remember by land and Mary and I have made the direct flight by air more than a few times. I never once got the chance to follow the Mighty Susquehanna River, I would do that today!
I'm still pretty sore after washing and waxing the plane yesterday but it's to nice not to fly. Vince and I met at the plane and Mike arrived shortly after we had climbed aboard. It was a quick review of the plans and Mike entered the info on his iPad and the 530, I had the 496 set. I forgot to note the Harrisburg VOR frequency but looked it up on the VFR chart on the iPad, quick and easy.

going missed at Donegal Springs

We taxied out for runway niner and departed for the right down wind departure as directed. The first stop is Donegal Springs - N71. Runway length is 3250' which is plentry of room for the sundowner to get in and out. As we approached I cancelled flight following with harrisburg and listened to a busy frequency, trying to squeeze in my location and intentions for Donegal while listening to multiple airports all on that same unicom.  I crossed the field and circled around right to enter on a 45* for the left down wind runway one zero. As I entered the down wind I heard the jump plane make a call, Vince and or Mike had already pointed out the traffic above, no factor. We swapped info and I decided to really cut my base leg close in order to get in prior to dropping the meat missiles. Mike had warned not to rush myself, he was right. I had a bit to much speed and did not get wheels down just prior to the half way marker I selected on down wind, why force something that could cause an over run, on a runway that slopes at a heck of a rate, downhill. I powered up and went around, taking out one notch of flaps and climbing away from the airport.  I let the jump plane know I was going to return when his jumpers were all on the ground. I circled north north east of the field around two thousand feet until I got the all clear then returned.
jump plane pics
The second landing attempt was much better followed by a back taxi on the narrow runway. There wasn't much room to turn around so I taxied to the ramp and repositioned for the taxi out.  The jump plane had lost another crazy person jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, we watched this one float down to a perfect landing. This is where I roll my eyes, again, and make the statement, noway - nohow, I ain't jumping out of a good airplane.

Hills of PA near R5802

The jump plane lands and makes his way directly towards us.  We swap info, let him turn around on his small pad to pick up jumpers while I then taxi past. A short back taxi and a call to local traffic, 08Romeo is in the air and heading for Penn Valley, KSEG. My plan was to fly direct to the Harrisburg VOR but I guess I didn't communicate that very well to Mike in the right seat. We ended up on the north east side of Harrisburg pinched between the R-5802 restricted space and Harrisburg class delta (see the map chart above).  We managed with out any problems and once clear the restricted space we once again picked up following the river to our next location.


hold it off.....

our wheels at KSEG
Some of the buttonology the Garmin 530 provides, allowed a course to the runway. With Penn Valley -KSEG selected as the next point (our destination)and a OBS button selection coupled with a turn of the CDI to a 350* heading, the runway center line was now extended.  The 530 OBS selection with the CDI is now working like a GPS approach, intercept the course and track in.  This is a neat feature if you're having trouble finding the airport among all the surrounding terrain, not to be substituted ever for an approach in instrument conditions.
departure rwy 35, through the valley

MUIR AAF Fort Indiantown Gap
I made a good landing and use up some brakes to make the first turn off, Mike rides me a bit since I usually let 08Romeo roll out to save the brakes.  I told him I wanted to polish up the rotors! We taxi to the ramp and the FBO asks us if we needed any services. I asked the fuel price and agreed to take on some 100LL and inquired about food. The man gave us his truck to run into town since the courtesy van was already out, it doesn't get any better than that.  We noted the directions to town, a short hop, and then loaded up for lunch.
Applebees was close to the airport so that's where we decided to go.  The place was packed but food and service was very good. Mike insisted on buying lunch since he got to go for a ride, thanks Mike!  We loaded for the quick trip back and once at the airport I drove on to the ramp, this got a few looks.  Hmmm...maybe I should turn around and park out in the lot, yeah, good idea. I returned the keys, paid for the fuel and thanked the man for the use of his vehicle. I did mention that I saw the Marines emblem on his back window and asked if he served, he proudly said his son did, multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I asked him to pass along a thank you to his son for providing the very freedom I am enjoying today, he agreed.
I did an abbreviated pre-flight checking the tanks and sumping fuel, we were ready to go. A slight change in plans, we decided to head back to Wilmington and I would shoot an approach so I could meet the instrument requirements for being current, I needed just one more approach. It was a nice flight home at five thousand five hundred, taking in all the pretty sights.  Vince and Mike were picking out airports and I was hands off flying in the smooth air just enjoying the ride and the peaceful view.

more crazy jumpers
As we passed Chester County-KMQS off to our left I contacted Philly approach and requested the RNAV GPS 19 approach into KILG.  The winds were favoring one niner so that would work out great. I started a descent as directed to cross JIGUP at or above two thousand coming from the Modena (MXE) VOR.  As we got lower it got bumpy, it made for a good work out under the foggles. I kept the course centered well and with the bumps fought with the power to maintain altitude. At JIGUP I made a right turn to a heading of 195* for final and descended to 1,900 as the approach calls for. I passed CUBBE and started down for 880 feet at HIKPO then down to the minimum descent altitude of 480, call it 500 feet. Foggles up and I was slightly left of center but was in great shape to land.

2.9 overall and .3 simulated instrument under the foggles.  I knocked out all but two of the airports I wanted to stop at even though I have been to WBW, Wilkes-Barre many times.  I hope to knock Bloomsburg-N13 out the next time I am coming home from AVP or WBW.

Thanks to Mike and Vince for sharing my river tour! Thanks for the pictures Vince!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wash & Wax

I had a few honey-do's I needed to take care of this morning, groceries, vac the house, tend to Maggies gimpy leg (she's doing much better) before I could even think about flying.   I guess the temps peaked around 56 degrees and the wind had picked up gusting twenty plus knots out of the north west. I decided to head to the airport and wash 08Romeo, she really needed a bath and definitely deserved it.

I fired up so I could taxi up to the hangar door and use the hose, also hoping that the hangar structure would block some wind. Well, the hose worked fine, the wind blockage, ah not so much.  I gave 08Romeo a good scrub and decided to use some Meguiars cleaner wax product to remove some of the water stains that my top cowl camlocks left on the bottom cowl.  Once I started I couldn't stop, I waxed everything except the belly and the roof from my first antenna forward and the section of tail that was out of my reach.

My thoughts of flying were now memories, I was to beat to fly.  I was dirty, had a good stink on and thirsty. I covered the plane, installed my new tail cone cover from and packed up for home. 08Romeo looked good, she really deserved the attention and I still plan on getting her detailed at one of the local shops.  I shopped around at ILG but everyone is way to expensive, I'm looking into a place at GED and another at Wings, LOM.  I crawled my sorry butt into the SUV after cleaning up the tools of the trade and headed home.  My shoulders are very sore and so are my arms and wrists,  I need to bring down the power buffer sitting in the garage so I can finish up!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The glow of the sunrise with the sun peaking out under the cloud layer off the coast of Cape May, NJ
I was up and out of bed early this morning, around 5am, excited about the chance to fly to Cape May/Wildwood NJ.  The company that I work for has me managing a taxiway improvement project at KWWD.  I had the discussion with my supervisor and we agreed it is up to me how I would report to work. The drive in the company car would take just about two hours each way, the flight is twenty minutes each direction. To and from work would be acceptable, flight time during work no go, that seems fair enough.

The scheduled work on the project was concrete removal, fifty feet wide and just a touch above twelve hundred feet long.  At least a two day job or so I thought.  It seems the general contractor did not relay to me that the sub was waiting on equipment to be delivered on site for 'Friday'.  Nice, real nice, so glad I didn't drive two hours to find that out and have a two hour ride back to the office. What really sucked is that I did not find out until I was on the ground at Cape May for maybe thirty minutes.
The flight went very well with an IFR flight plan filed for the mission. Wilmington tower came up on frequency as I was noting the ATIS info. I made my call to ground with my info and request for clearance.  I had filed direct WWD but copied the following route. "Sundowner 6708Romeo you are cleared Cape May, fly runway heading, radar vectors woodstown (OOD) direct, 2000 expect 5000 in ten, 119.75 and squawk 3347." I read back the instructions and ground acknowledged,"read back correct". I advised ready to taxi and headed out to runway two seven at intersection mike.  Following my run up I requested my release.  Philly had me standby for maybe five minutes then Wilmington turned me loose. 
It was a steady climb out at eight hundred feet per minute with engine temps looking good. I was switched over to Philly and reported in. "Philly Departure sundowner 6708Romeo nine hundred climbing two thousand. Philly came back with "climb three thousand direct woodstown (OOD)".  I was on my way enjoying the morning sky as the sun was glowing to the east but not ready to show itself to the world below.  I tuned in some 70's music for the ride and settled in for the hop. Philly cracked the squelch and directed me to climb to five thousand, direct Cape May. I responded; Approach, 08Romeo three thousand climbing five thousand, direct Cape May. Time to update the 530 and 496 along with checking my path against the heading from the DuPont VOR as a back up.  It's so beautiful in the air this morning, I'm tempted to call in and just keep flying.
I was handed off to Atlantic City for a short ride along. I requested to let down for Cape May and advised I had the current wx info. Around fifteen miles out of Cape May I canceled with Atlantic City and switched over to unicom at Cape May. There was one Mooney departing towards the north and we swapped location info, I never had visual contact with that plane.  I made my calls and entered the pattern midfield for a left down wind for runway two eight.  A super smooth landing that got a 9.9 from the operations folks on the field, I'll take it!
As mentioned at the start of this write up the contractor never showed.  I got to review the closure they put in place and the area that required saw cutting. After about thirty minutes on the ground and a confirmation to the no show I decided to head back to the office. I fired up 08Romeo and taxied out for departure. I shared some airspace with a flock of geese but they were to my north east and pointed 08Romeo for home.  I had a twenty plus knot headwind to contend with but turned up the music and settled in for the ride.

The contractor dropped the ball today on notification which would have normally made me miserable at work but, I did get to fly, I was able to be productive and not waste four hours of my life is good.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Changing of a bulb

What was that joke.....How many regulations does it take to change a light bulb?  Ok, well it went something like that. No, do not replace regs with pilots. 

Instead of flying this weekend I updated my nav data card in the Garmin 530 and changed out a  navigation tail light, the second since our purchase.  I am really itching to fly so any time around the plane does help.

I had my Dunkin Donuts hot tea extra sugar in hand along with a snap-on phillips screw driver and step stool for todays play time.  The data card is an easy deal, plug and play.  Check to make sure the prop area is clear, just in case, and turn on the battery and avionics switches to verify the data is correct on the 530.  Like I said, that was painless.  Avionics switch off, battery switch off and a quick slide of the finger across the battery, avionics and alternator to confirm the off positions. 

A few sips of hot tea and some chat time with Dan who is flying my former club plane ride, Archer 679er.  Dan and his wife are headed to Easton to meet a rescue dog they are thinking about adopting, very cool!  I mention MAESSR and the rescue flights Mary and I do with our Sundowner. They get ready to start up and I wander back across the ramp enjoying the sun and play time on the ramp amongst the various aircraft.

I set up the kitchen step stool and remove the tail navigation light. Two screws, very simple and follow with the removal of the bayonet type bulb, a GE 307.  I button back up and jump in the SUV to make a call to Cecil Aero taking a chance they may be open today.  I catch Roger at the shop and he is just getting ready to bring a Bonanza up to Wilmington.  What timing! I asked if he could grab a GE307 bulb and I would meet up with him. The plan is set, we will meet at the West T-Hangars.

I have my flight bag and radio which was tuned into the tower frequency.  I heard Rogers distinctive voice  as he requested a long landing on runway two seven for the T's.  I sat and watched him taxi by in a gorgeous Bo, then got out of the truck to walk over to the hangar where he had shut down. Roger was out of the plane and dug out the new bulb from his pocket. I was soon a few bucks ligter in the pocket but happy to have the new bulb in hand.  The GE307 has been replaced by the Sylvania 1665, both bulbs are for the 24 volt system so I was good to go. I jumped back in the SUV, exited the west T's and drove around the airport to re-enter at Red Eagle. I once again set up the step stool and begin the remove and replace process.

As pilots, most of us are not mechanics by training or occupation, yet many of us derive satisfaction from tinkering with mechanical things, especially aircraft. By performing routine maintenance on our own aircraft we not only gain personal satisfaction but also become better educated about the equipment we fly, making us better and safer pilots. The opportunity also exists to save a substantial percentage of the annual maintenance costs associated with aircraft ownership by participating in the owner assisted annual.

Many aircraft owners, however, never attempt to work on their aircraft for a variety of reasons. Maybe it's a general sense of intimidation by the complexity of the airplane. Another is the fear of doing something wrong, potentially jeopardizing the pilot’s own safety and that of passengers at some future date.  There is a specific list of Items Permitted Under the Privileges of Preventive Maintenance.

Appendix A to Part 43—Major Alterations, Major Repairs, and Preventive Maintenance

FAR Part 43, Appendix A, Paragraph C

(c) Preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance is limited to the following work, provided it does not involve complex assembly operations:

17. Replacing bulbs, reflectors, and lenses of position and landing lights.
  • Replacement is allowed in these two systems as well as in the anticollision lighting system.
Here is a sample preventive maintenance entry:

(DATE) Total time__________hours. Navigation Tail bulb replaced in accordance with (manufacturer) maintenance manual,Chapter____, page____.
___________________  -   ____________________

Pilot Signature Rating - Certificate Number

I guess it's another one of my long winded posts but this is a topic that owners struggle with. I am fortunate to have a great shop that I trust. Cecil Aero is a short hop by plane and 40 minutes by car. The best part is that I know that Roger and the guys are but a phone call away! 

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Instrument Work Out

As my friend Ted DuPuis said so eloquently, "If you don't feel beat up after some instrument training, I think the instructor isn't working you hard enough." I decided it was time to get some approaches in so I could increase my comfort factor prior to our Charleston trip. With a plan in place and Mike B (CFII) on board we were soon climbing out for some radar vector role play, climbs and descents and tracking. We headed south towards Dover Delaware and after multiple climbs and descents while turning me in circles I finally pointed 08Romeo to Summit Airport, KEVY and the RNAV GPS 35 approach.  Direct WENDS with a planned parallel entry to the procedure turn (PT), I was thinking miles ahead of the plane, Mike's comment.
I crossed WENDS and turned outbound on a 175* heading, correcting for the wind. Outbound for 4 miles then a right turn back to a heading of 035* to intercept the 355* inbound heading.  I flew a tight PT a followed with a really nice approach.  Mike suggested flying the approach normal speeds configuring for 90 knots within three miles of the final approach fix (FAF) and adding flaps when the landing is assured.

The speed change was different from my training but it felt much better then the slow motion flight for such a long time, besides, most airports with jet traffic want you to keep your speed up. This first round ended in a low pass followed by going missed.  I climbed out to EPKAW for a lap in the hold then shot the RNAV GPS 17 approach back into Summit. Another low pass followed by a missed.
We headed back to Wilmington, KILG and I set up for the ILS RWY 1. My first round on the ILS went very well.  I held the needles in the bubble and ended the first round into Wilmington by going missed.  I headed back south parallel with the final approach into KILG for a final round on the ILS. I road the rails down to around 500 feet and a mile from final when I blew left of the localizer by three dots. I was closing on the Missed Approach Point and really did a poor job of correcting, I went missed.  The second ILS did have a tailwind of 11 knots but that was no excuse, I let it get away.

I entered the right down wind for one nine, number two to land behind a jet doing pattern work. 1.4 simulated instrument, 4 approaches, holds, procedure turns and tracking.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Safety Pilot Time

I swapped emails with Mike today and we agreed to meet up around 4:30 to get some flying in.  I had that feeling we might fly so I brought my flight bag with me to work.  I ordered fuel around lunch time and planned to bug out around 4:15 from the office.  It was a paper work day and I had enough face time with the computer and reviewing plans and specs.

It was really nice out this evening so I took extra time during the pre-flight to enjoy the sounds of traffic arriving and departing, even noting what types of aircraft were coming and going.  I grabbed the plexus window cleaner and crawled in the baggage compartment to take care of the inside (dog rescue leaves nose prints)and made my rounds to complete the outside cleaning. Mike soon joined me at the plane completing his own walk around with my confirmation of sumping the tanks.
On the ILS - Cell phone shot
With our clearance noted to Reading-KRDG and advised ready to taxi we were making our way to runway one niner. Once wheels up Mike went under the foggles at two hundred feet and I was eyes outside. The route to Reading was quickly changed to direct and that followed with a hand off to the first of two Philly approach controllers. The southern sector is on 119.75 and he handed us off to the more western side of the airspace to 124.35 for a short ride along. Once handed off to Reading approach Mike negotiated for the ILS RWY 36 approach.  Mike was all over it tonight, chugging and plugging the changes setting up the cross reference for the final approach fix from a second VOR, making his heading adjustments for the wind correction and tracking. I gave the occasional all clear or the clear left or right when needed. I was enjoying the eyes outside time on a clear evening.

Back taxi - cell phone shot
We were on final when I almost took control with the pre-flight transfer of command protocol. There was a flock of geese off the nose flying directly at us. I moved my hands to shadow the yoke and watched the geese descend then start to break two different directions then regroup and climb up and past us, all the while we were descending to the runway. The flock of geese had to have at least twenty five birds in their tightly flown formation. Four of the targets on "our left" side started to break and the rest had went the other way, as quickly as they started to break they regrouped and climbed, all in an instant. Not sure what their closure speed was but we were doing around ninety knots and WE did not want to tangle with them.

Despite the distraction Mike made a nice crosswind landing planting the upwind side and riding it out then following with the other main and holding off the nose while listening to the stall horn moan. We back taxied on the runway as instructed and I grabbed my iPad to take a few shots of the newest ForeFlight feature geo-referenced taxi diagrams.
To the ramp
We had a nice dinner at Malibooz. Good discussion through out our meal on flight training, travels, future trips, medicals and future ratings.  We cover it all, like a pair of old road weary truck drivers figuring out the problems of the world, always good stuff. We settled up the bill and headed out to the plane. Mike had parked us right under the lights which made for an easy walk around. We saddled up and planed our route home. This leg was going to be VFR with flight following and Reading ground gave us a squawk code while on the ramp, very nice.

We were up and away flying runway heading opposite the neighboring hillside and towers. Over to approach for a quiet ride along until handed off to Philly.  Mike requested the RNAV GPS RWY 19 approach into Wilmington and Philly cleared us. The sky was clear and I could see for miles, it was very relaxing. We each called out airport beacons; KMQS,Chester County - N57, New Garden - KOQN, Brandywine. I could also make out the red LED's atop the Delaware Memorial bridges and could see the individual lane LED's, big bright green arrows.  I could not see the Wilmington airport beacon, it needs attention.
Bridge lane LEDs - really poor shot with cell phone
Mike brought us in trimmed for a nice stable descent, it could have been hands off until touchdown, it was that solid. He did flair early, gave me a laugh, since I suck at  night.  He quickly recovered and set 08Romeo down for a nice roll out to taxiway Kilo.

Mike got a few approaches in, we had a nice dinner and I got to log .8 safety pilot time. Oh yeah, I got to enjoy a great view both ways while looking for traffic which is always good for heart and soul.