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.


Steve said...

Safety Pilot time is something I've yet to do, though I'd like to soon! My old CFI asked me about it last summer and we still haven't managed to go flying (he needs to get IFR current again) though I've certainly been bugging him about it.

Unknown said...

Very cool. Crazy about the Geese. I guess anyone with a PPL can do safety pilot time--you don't have to be IFR certified, correct?

Anonymous said...

DB - good question, to be a safety pilot (and log the PIC time) ask yourself: Can I act as PIC in the aircraft and in the given operation? Frequent gotchas include: class (single PIC acting as safety for a multi engine); not having all endorsements (complex/High perf); and lack of recency requirements (BFR, landings. etc). Check out 61.51 & 91.109(b). Good luck on your ride. -mb

Gary said...

DB, I can use a VFR only pilot as long as we remian clear of the clouds for the approach work and as Mike noted he is current with BFR, landings etc...

Mike, I don't think he is taking a checkride. I may be wrong but I think DB has his Instrument rating and the best part.....he flys a mouse like us!! :)

I was shooting approaches on flight sim all morning getting tuned up for KPMZ and KCHS at the end of this month, if we still make the trip. Depends on the FIL's health.