Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 Year in Review

It's time for my annual year in review and a look forward to some new goals for 2012. Here are the goals I set back in January.

2011 in Review

Hours: 105, Total flight hours 649
Ratings: Nothing new this year :(
States: None this year :(
Aircraft: Nothing new this year :(

Rescues: Donna&Zippie,Sadie,Jackson,Angel&Polo
Medical: The hip is doing great. I'm down only 16 pounds, still working on the weight thing.
Fun Flights: Nashville, TN for a Labor day get-away - Ithaca, NY for the Beech Aero Club Festival - Nags Head, NC our favorite get-away.
First Time Flyers: Just one this year, Vince's brother Joey.
Notes: Auto Pilot fixed. Had a really good annual with no surprises. Flew just over 7000 miles.

2012 Goals

Hours: At least 100 and I hope to pass a  total time of 700 hours
Ratings: Commercial, if they drop the retract gear and I hope to finally add a tail wheel endorsement
Airports: My typical, as many as possible! States: Again, as many as possible!!
Flights: More date night flights with my Bride and more flights to/from the beach. We want to attend the BAC fly in in Gulf Shores Alabama in late September, The Florida Keys is still very high on the list and a Bahamas trip. Visit Jeff out in Champaign, IL (KCMI).
Aircraft Upgrades:  Add the LED Taxi light, Replace the remaining washer CHT probes with the bayonet probes. Replace the Collins Nav/Com radios with the KX155-165 series and a new transponder, GTX 327, which will correct my traffic alert issues.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday Hop

Mary and I started the day heading to the airport to get some power flowing to the Reiff heater system.  I got the chance to use the new generator we purchased earlier this year and hooked it up to get the oil temps up prior to my engine start. We completed the engine pre-heat hook up and headed south another fifteen minutes to the Veterans Cemetery.

Mary and I met up with her Mom and her brothers family to place a wreath and American flag at her Fathers grave site. It's hard to believe its already nine months since he passed. We all miss Pop and I especially miss our conversations and laughs.

Mary and I headed back to the Wilmington airport so we could fly north to my parents grave site in Wilkes-Barre,PA and place a wreath there too.  I called to see if my sister Denise wanted to go for the ride but she was making cookies with her granddaughter Brooke. Instead my brother-in-law David joined us. We all met up at the Red Eagle ramp.

I filed an IFR flight plan and picked up the following clearance with Wilmington ground.

C- Cleared to KAVP
R- Fly runway heading, radar vectors to PTW then as filed.
A- Altitude 2000, expect 6000 in ten
F- Frequency, 119.75 (Philly)
T- Transponder 4621
We were soon wheels up and enroute for Wilkes-Barre, KAVP. Of course I forgot my camera and only had my iPhone for pictures today. There was no snow covered ground shots but I did have plenty of clouds to contend with. Mary gave up the front seat to David and curled up in the back with a blanket. Normally the Sundowner is toasty but today the temps outside at altitude were a tic under 15 degrees, Brrrrr...that's cold. 08Romeo was keeping it in the high 60's inside. Philly kept us at 4000 and that was fine with me as we punched through cloud after cloud bank. We finally broke out south of Allentown.  When Philly handed us off to Allentown they gave me 5000 which put us in the clag for a short time. Yes, pitot heat on and an added watch for ice was part of my scan. We broke out south of Wilkes-Barre's TRSA airspace and enjoyed the view of the mountain lakes and Blue mountain and tunnels.
Once handed off to Wilkes Approach I was vectored left 340 degrees for the ILS 4 approach. The first step down brought us just into the tops but it seemed like we were vectored just enough to avoid the clouds. As we got closer I was turned right to 350, maintain 4000 until established, cleared ILS RWY 4, I acknowledged and was handed off to the tower. I entered the approach just outside the Final Approach Fix, JISAG which is guarded by a few monster towers on a mountain top. Sometimes it's better being in the clag and not seeing whats there, kidding.
Big Boulder Ski Resort
I think this is Camel Back Ski Resort
Once on the ground we taxied to the FBO, Saker Aviation. I ordered fuel and Mary secured the courtesy van. It's a quick trip across the valley and with one stop at the flower warehouse we picked up tomorrows dinner table centerpiece and a wreath for the grave site. From the warehouse it's but a short drive to the cemetery. I placed the wreath and said a few prayers, apologizing to Mom for no white Christmas that she loved so much. I wondered what my Father would have thought about flying to/from Wilkes-Barre instead of driving all those years, I think he would have loved it!
Southbound, SW view
As fast as we got there we saddled up for home. I put a few gallons of gas in the courtesy van and we made a quick stop for lunch at Arbys. I squared up my fuel bill with the FBO and got 08Romeo started following the fuel test. By the time we were ready to roll there was not a cloud in the sky so I decided on a VFR trip home. I should have filed but who knows what possessed me.

I was cleared to take off runway 4 and climbed out with a right turn on course approved. Wilkes ground had given me a squawk code for flight following and asked for an altitude, looking back over my knee board notes I asked for 5000. Over the mountains we went enjoying the view and watching the ski resorts make snow. Once handed to Allentown the controller asked, "is there a reason your 5000 vfr"? Ahhhh....Hmmmmmm..I keyed the mic, no, climbing to 5500, thanks. He responded, "no problem". I started to laugh then keyed again and said Approach I'm so used to filing its second nature.
The trip home saw a constant 130 knots which made for a good time. We were eventually handed off to Philly then turned loose for Wilmington. Another nice landing and taxi for Red Eagle. Just over two hours of actual air time vs almost 5 hours of drive time, flying works for me!

We ended our day with dinner at one of our favorites, Culinaria, with Mary's Mom and my brother Joe and his wife Janice. We ended our day with a tour of the Christmas light displays in our local area.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lost Com Review

I have been reading and reviewing about flying IFR since I haven't put in many hours left seat in the last month. While reading my favorite subscriptions, IFR Refresher and Aviation Safety, I happened to log into the AOPA home page. I noticed one of the subjects is lost communication procedures, IFR Fix: A loss for words. Good reading and always a good review.

I also stumbled across a very good Internet read that provides a simple and easy to follow example of how to work through this process.

IFR Lost Comm Procedures
by Jason Schappert

It’s turbulent, getting dark, you know your approach will be down to minimums. Now to top it all off you haven’t heard anyone transmitting on the radio for a few minutes. You call up nonchalantly and ask for an altimeter setting, no response. You go back to your previous frequency and try to contact someone, anyone, to no avail.

Where do you go? When do you get there?

Flying IFR can be strenuous when everything is working, let alone when something goes wrong. Studies show people can remember things better when they are broken down into acronyms, as pilots acronyms are something we’ve learned to be very fond of. Our acronym for IFR lost comm’s is A-V-E-F M-E-A

Not to bad to remember Avenue F MEA. It’s much better then some of the other one’s I’ve seen. Lets take a closer look. There are two portions to our acronym the first part A-V-E-F (Avenue F) has to do with our route of flight.

You are to fly your route based on your last:
Assigned (Your last assigned heading)
Vectored (If nothing is assigned fly your last vector)
Expected (If no vector fly what was expected in your clearance)
Filed (Finally fly what you filed)

For altitude we use the MEA portion of our acronym. Fly the HIGHEST of the following.

Minimum en-route altitude
Expected altitude
Assigned altitude

Let’s apply this to a situation.Your clearance reads as follows:

“Cleared to the Ocala airport via V-441 to Gators then as filed. Climb and maintain 3,000 expect 6,000 10 minutes after departure.”

Shortly before takeoff the tower tells you “turn right heading 210 cleared for take off runway 14.”

You take off and enter IFR conditions at 500 feet. After 4 minutes of flying you experience communications failure, your altitude is 2,500 feet and heading is 210.

The MEA along our route is 5,000. What might you do in this situation?Let’s break down our acronym.

A – We were assigned heading 210 so we’ll continue to fly that
V – In our limited communication with the controller we never received radar vectors
E – Our clearance instructed us to fly V-441 to Gators VOR then as filed
F – After we fly what was expected, we’ll fly what we filed.

So we’ll continue to fly 210 until we intercept V-441 and proceed to Gators VOR. Upon reaching Gators we’ll continue as filed which in our case is direct Ocala.

What about our altitude? Remember we want to fly the highest of our

M – Minimum en-route altitude (5,000 in our case)
E – Expected (6,000 as given in our clearance)
A – Assigned – We were not assigned another altitude by another controller.

So after 10 minutes of flying “expect 6,000 10 minutes after departure” we will climb and maintain 6,000 feet with a heading of 210 until intercepting V-411 to Gators and then continue direct Ocala as filed.

If Ocala is IFR we will enter a hold over the Ocala VOR. This is why it is crucial to always
file to a fix rather than an airport. It works out in our case because Ocala has a VOR. But when flying to an airport with out a VOR file to a fix on the field this way you can hold until you reach your time of arrival you filed for.

We will hold over the Ocala VOR until we approach our ETA on our flight plan, from here we can commence our approach as prescribed on our approach plate.  Remember to squawk 7600!

Thanks to Jason Schappert for an easy to follow walk through on lost Coms. I found Jason's article on along with many other helpful tips and discussions for pilots!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Breakfast Run!

Finally some flying!  Thanks to my brother Joe the kitchen floor was completed yesterday with just the stair nose remaining for install.  Joe's wife Janice also helped out when she checked in on us and brought us lunch. Mary and I owe you guys a nice dinner out at the club, we could not have done it with out you.
This morning I got up and finished the stairs to the kitchen from the family room. I'll stain the steps this week once I can round up the cats and lock them up, leaving the windows open to help with the paint smell while we are both at work.
On to the flight.  Mike and I traded text messages Friday afternoon and this morning. I advised I would be good to go around 10am and Mike agreed. I cleaned up the mess I made inside and out in the garage. Once showered and dressed I was heading out to the SUV and calling in my fuel order.  A quick text to Mike and he was ready to go.
I had the pre-flight completed and was parking my truck when Mike pulled in. We got 08Romeo started and while the oil temps came up we picked a breakfast destination. Mike would fly left seat on the first leg and we decided on Easton, KESN.

Once in the air we could not seem to control the temps due to a strong breeze blowing in the cockpit. We each checked our doors again  and then I reached back to check the back seat vents, they were closed. Baggage door was closed and locked with Mike doing a second walk around as an abbreviated pre-flight. I unbuckled and checked the baggage are vents and although I could not reach them I could clearly see they were wide open.  As a side note the temp at takeoff was 42 degrees. Mike decided on making a stop just south of the canal at Summit airport, KEVY. We mixed with traffic and once on the ground taxied to the ramp.  We didn't bother to shut down, instead I tried to reach the vents but couldn't fit between the seats or reach for that matter. We swapped control of the plane and Mike wiggled back and managed to shut both vents.

Once again we were in the air and headed to Easton. Mike shot the GPS RWY 33 approach reporting the TUKIE final approach fix as directed. Mike made a firm landing ;) that he beat himself up over, but got us to the terminal ramp in one piece. We enjoyed a great breakfast and chat at Sugarbuns then saddled up for my left seat time. We got the fan turning and cranked up the heat while I planed my leg of the flight. My plan was to make the short hop to Cambridge, KCGE and shoot the GPS RWY 34 approach. I was a bit rusty and my altitude varied more than I like and I too beat myself up. Mike got me back as he role played ATC for my approach noting 08Romeo verify current altitude 2,700 - maintain 2,500. Dang, that hurts. 

Ok, crossing the field and turning outbound on the 155 heading then making my turn to intercept the 335 heading. I was slow to loose altitude but worked my way to 1800 then the MAP of 560 which was wrong because I used the on field altimeter setting so I should have descended to 480 say 500 feet. I was allowed to raise the foggles at 1.5 miles and 560 to find myself in perfect position to land. Only two notches of flaps followed by a nice landing and immediate roll for takeoff.

We headed for home, I was enjoying the flight and Mike was working with his recent iPad Foreflight geo-reference upgrade. We were leaving the sunshine and flying north to the overcast at 5000 ceiling. We scooted along at 3000 and eventually cleared to enter left base runway three two. Another smooth long landing and we taxi to Red Eagle. Mike ended up with 1.2 and I had 1.6 for the day. We each had an approach to log so that was worth the flight time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Kitchen

Honestly.....I hope to get a few more flights in before the new year!!

Kitchen progress:  Cabinets delivered and installation is 95% complete.  A few doors need to be hung and then the trim work starts. My Brother Joe will be leading the floor install on Friday since he did his floors. It will be an on the job learning experience for me. Counter top guy should be here today to template and I hope to have the counter and sink delivered/installed next week. I can see me now...Christmas Eve hooking up the plumbing!
Cabinets everywhere!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Kitchen Progress

I sure miss flying....

The kitchen is moving along, slowly but surely. The electrical is 95% completed, only having to complete the panel hook up to activate the new receptacles and the direct wire under counter lights.  We also have to hang the ceiling fan and track lights over the eating area, now that the paint is completed.  Just some touch up work remaining for the painter after the cabinets are installed.
Cabinet delivery got pushed back from this past Friday to this coming Thursday with install to be completed on Friday. The counter top guy will template and be back in a week with the granite. It looks like it will all wrap up by the 23rd, fingers crossed. Christmas eve I'll be plumbing the sink and helping Mary finish stocking the shelves and getting everything put in its new place. The last remaining item will be finishing up the stairs into the kitchen from our den. I may have them done prior but who knows.

While we are doing the kitchen I'm trying to finish up two classes at Wilmington University and yes, finals are next week. My current work contract has me back and forth to Lewes Delaware a few times a week and that's an 1.5 each way. Busy doesn't begin to cover it!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Air Time/Quiet Time

This morning I decided on a quick hop to Millville, NJ - KMIV.  I just wanted to make sure the battery was holding a charge and get the oil circulating in 08Romeo. Pre-flight was fine and I took on an additional ten gallons of fuel to bring my total to forty gallons. I primed as usual but 08Romeo didn't catch on the first try. Another shot or two of primer and she roared to life, ready to get in the air.
South View, Salem Nuke Plant and Delaware Bay
North View, New Jersey and the haze layer
I took off on runway one nine and made a left turn on course tracking the DuPont one forty three degree radial. I didn't feel like chugging and plugging on the GPS.  Once I had the field in site I plugged in direct MIV so I had a position report with reliable distance. I made a straight in on runway one four and taxied clear for a quick turn around.
Delaware River looking NW, Twin Memorial Bridges
08Romeo climbed out at eight hundred feet a minute while I was busy looking for traffic. I had a Cherokee entering the down wind and I turned cross wind behind him. I pointed 08Romeo towards Union lake and kept in the climb for home. I leveled at two thousand five hundred and was cruising along at a hundred twenty five knots. I settled in to enjoy the view and the gentle moan of the engine in my Lightspeed Zulu headset.  I love flying, it clears my head and makes me smile.
West view, Delaware City refinery
I noted Wilmington's ATIS and contacted them for my clearance to land. I acknowledged, Report midfield left downwind runway one niner. I had a Cessna shadowing me on the right down wind and confirmed visual contact. Base to final has me a tad high but a slip to the numbers followed by a smooth short field landing has  me adding power to clear the runway. I secured 08Romeo and headed for home, 1.0 hours in the book.