Sunday, February 26, 2012

08Romeo Air Time

Mary is home recovering from from another health scare. Not exactly like the last two, this time it's very unstable walking with balance issues and very tired.  Mary can do a lap around the inside of the house but is dragging tail feathers afterwards. My Bride settled in and got some sleep and I headed to the airport to get some much needed flight time.
Cape May - Bay shore line
08Romeo was ready to go, like catching up to a long lost friend and picking up where we left off.  I carefully carried out my pre-flight, checking my list and confirming everything was in order. When I climbed in and went to fire up, 08Romeo barely cranked over. A few slowly turning blades then nothing. I pulled one of the batteries and hooked up my jumpers, less then ten minutes for removal.  After twenty minutes I reinstalled and 08Romeo cranked over.
Vince joined me today and we were soon headed south east bound for Millville. Millville traffic/radio was excellent today.  Yes, I typed that, they were perfect. I did not get the wx, NOTAMS, or traffic in the area, not once.  I was free to announce my traffic positions uninterrupted.  I made my calls and acknowledged the traffic that started to taxi for three two.  Base to final and the last bit of power pulled along with the last notch of flaps, a sweet soft landing. Not bad for no flying the last three weeks.
Power full, flaps retracted we are on the roll. 08Romeo is in the air and we are headed to Cape May, KWWD.  I transfer control to Vince and he does some very nice flying as we position for a midfield cross wind to enter the left base for two eight. Another nice landing followed by a turn off to taxi back for departure. We made a quick turn and departed for home, dealing with the winds while climbing to three thousand. Vince was perfect on the radio and did a real nice job holding altitude and heading.
Wilmington had us enter and report a three mile left base for two seven. We acknowledged and ended the day with another nice landing despite some gusty winds.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Continued Changes

Progress on the Coach continues. We removed and recovered the bedroom valances. I also went through the coach and removed the "curtain rods" that consisted of these tiny little 'O' rings that slid in a itty bitty channel.  Since every window has a valance we are going to switch to tension rods, simple and easy.
old valance and broken lamp shade

Valance recovered, lamps shades trashed

BR - left view

BR right view
I am going to get a few items done Thursday and Friday night with the curtain hanging party on Sunday.  We will be moving items into the Coach over the weekend. Are we at the beach yet?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Sand Castle is Home

What an adventure getting the Coach home...

The original plan was to fly up to Allentown with Mike, and Mary and I could drive the new "Sand Castle" home after our inspection and final closing, handing over of the check, to the dealer. How plans can change in such a short time.

The Saturday we had planned for was out, mother nature decided it would snow and the winds would blow. Trying to fly in that mess would be crazy and neither Mike nor I are nuts. On to plan B, I always have a plan B.

Since I have the Presidents day holiday coming up I decided I would couple a Friday vacation day to make it a four day weekend. The wx was looking great so I hatched the plan with Mike.  After a call to Mike I find out he will be out of town on business so flying to Allentown is out. Mary is working so I called my friend John.

John has been my friend since childhood, 5th grade I think it was, at Saint Mary Magdalen school. Our adventures started out getting in trouble together way back then and paying the price when the nuns punished us. Needless to say but we spent many after school hours writing out pages of the history book and not the pages with pictures. I still get a chuckle when I think back. We have remained close over all these years and even if there's a gap between meet ups we always pick back up where we left off.

I sent John a text and he was up for the mission. We called and coordinated the departure time and the plan was set.  John was at the house this morning around 8:45 and I guess we hit the road shortly there after. The run to Allentown was an hour and thirty minutes, smooth sailing.

The walk through inspection flowed fairly well with a few items that needed attention. I found a small hairline crack in the bathroom drain pipe that left a puddle the size of a dime after running the water. John caught the bad smoke detector and missing batteries in two others along with two broken window lock/latches. Once the water systems were good we suspended the walk through and I had the chance to get a lesson in winterizing. Hands on is the best and Bruce the mechanic was really easy to work with.

Brandon, my sales guy, and I went to take care of paper work since the few remaining "how to do" items needed to be checked when the rig is back outside. It's been a long day so far and we haven't taken a lunch break, but we continue on. With the exchange of paper completed I wanted to catch the second part of the winterizing process. When I head back out to the garage I find John waist deep into a storage compartment hooking up the supply line to the pump. The water pump is just far enough into the compartment that Bruce had a tough time reaching it, I could never get close tom reaching it since I couldn't get past my belly.  John on the other hand wiggled his way in and completed the hook up. I got a price break on the winterization.

We were ready to test the new awning and restart the generator to run both rooftop a/c units. When hooked to shore power it is recommended that you only run one unit.  If it gets that hot out and you need both then it's best to disconnect shore power and use the on board 5kw generator. Everything checked out good and we were ready to head home.
The plan
After a quick strategy meeting of the minds we decided to retrace our path in, through down town Allentown, it was the quickest way to I-476. John was my chase vehicle in my SUV and we had hands free phone connection if needed. My knees started shaking just like the day of my solo, it was an uncontrolled reaction to the adrenaline rush and I could not stop it. I figured it would stop once I made it through town without hitting a parked car or a passing car in the narrow streets, it didn't. We made our way towards RT22 and that would take us to I476, the blue route and home.
The new route
As we approached the blue route I got a message for a reroute on my GPS, it stated one of the roads on my route was closed, replan?  Of course not, I'm a man and I'll work it out, famous last words. As I approached 476 the turnpike was closed, that's right the main highway, my route home was closed.  Ok, is this some cruel joke? I squeezed my way down the ramp, having already committed my rig in that direction.  Bigger means people give way and that worked out as I wiggle in line with John tucking in behind running interference.  I had to make a U-turn in front of the toll booths with traffic coming from the opposite direction through the toll lanes, my knees had stopped shaking by then since all power was being routed to my brain to feed the increased power draw.

Ok missy GPS do your thing, I trust you, find me a way back home. Of course recalculating seemed to take forever but I was silent, she needed her space and I now respected that. We managed to get rerouted back to RT309 SB towards Quakertown and I happily followed. I guess my punishment for not listening to the GPS the first time was a route filled with small back roads following RT100 that was a lane or two each direction and filled with twist and turns, hill climbs and long downhill runs with traffic lights along the way through small town Pennsylvania.
Road warriors
John and I have been on the phone through out this misadventure. We were now passing through Kimberton, PA, we were getting close and I could navigate my way from here and somewhat remembered the roads. I had been through this area in my youth, skating and playing roller hockey at Kimberton Roller rink. We were now only single digit miles from a major highway, RT 202, home was within reach. We finally joined the big road, I was relieved and the kness had quit shaking. From this point is was getting comfy, and we made it to the house after dark but both vehicles intact.
Saturday mornings photo, what a beast!
I couldn't have done it without John's help. He was the perfect chase driver, grabbing lanes when I need to move over, stopping when I pulled over to plan and providing moral support. Another fun adventure added to our list of crazy things we've done. THANKS JOHN!!!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Lunch Run KMQS

Mike and I once again swapped text messages and it was decided we would make a lunch run to Chester County, KMQS.  I gave Mike a heads up I was going to ask Vince to tag along, he agreed.  We all met at the plane, including the fuel truck, around 11:30.  Fill to the tabs plus two translates to 15 gallons (tabs) plus two is 17 gallons per side for a total of 34 gallons. Weight and Balance works out to just 11lbs under gross if I empty out the winter supplies and my cleaning supplies. The Sundowner usable is only 819 lbs and with a fat arsed pilot it takes up valuable poundage.
With the pre-flight completed we started up and taxied out for departure. VFR to the north for some simulated instrument work. Mike got a good work out yesterday and I figured I would shoot a couple today. First up was the ILS RWY 29 into KMQS.

I had a problem with my foggles, that I haven't used in ages.  I normally use the Jepp flip shades but they split in two. The foggles messed with my glasses and I had my transitions on instead of my normal glasses, bad choice. Mike and I swapped controls and Vince handed me my regular pair that I fly with, it was much better.  Two turns later I was intercepting the ILS and trying desperately to ride the rails. As I got close to the DH I had some needle movement but managed to salvage a very nice landing. Maybe there is some rust on this pilot after all.
KILG Traffic
With one in the book we took a break for lunch. The restaurant was very busy and aircraft started streaming in to the ramp. Bob C and his daughter Mackenzie joined us for lunch and that made for a nice get-together. Food and service was very good as we swapped flying adventures and got the dirt on the Helicopter that caused damage to planes on the ramp during a high speed taxi.
KMQS Terminal
As we sat Vince said it looked like it was snowing. What? That was not in the forecast but sure enough it was in fact snowing. We settled up the bill, thanks Mike for the treat, and we headed out to the plane. The nose plugs did manage to keep some heat in the engine room so we started up and taxied out for the run up area.  As we taxied out everyone else that was in the restaurant that flew in was making tracks for their planes.
Conga line
On the go, KMQS
I filed while we sat at the table so in case we needed a pop up we were ready. We scooted out at 2000' VFR since three and above would have put us in the clag.  We had good ground contact until New Garden N57, then we decided on requesting a pop up with Philly. Mike had the radios and I was on the instruments, Vince was spotting for traffic since there would be a rush of planes trying to get home. Philly gave us a squawk code and we were in the system. We received vectors to final for the ILS RWY 1 approach into Wilmington. The wx actually cleared briefly and we did consider canceling IFR but if you are in the system and have potential wx ahead it's best to keep it until you're on the ground safe.
KEVY at 2000'
Philly has us track south parallel to the final approach to runway 1. With just two turns we were cleared for the ILS and handed off to the Wilmington Tower.  I will say once I went on instruments my flying got tight, perfect on heading and holding altitude, just like I was trained to do. The localizer came alive and I set my speed a bit over 90 knots as I literally road the rails to the runway. I was in the donut to the runway and made a sweet long landing for taxiway Kilo.
Intercept ILS 1 - KILG
Good flight for lunch and a nice test to keep the skills sharp, I love having the instrument rating. I will say there is always that added comfort level with Mike in the right seat. Always the teacher and making me bring my game up another notch.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Flight Times

Mike B and I swapped a few text messages and planned some flight time this evening.  Mary was feeling good and I felt confident she would be ok resting at home.  With her blessing, more like a go play and give me peace and quiet, I was headed to the plane.
Jersey shore looking north from cape may, nj
Mike was well into the pre-flight as I walked through the gate.  We were ready to fly in short order as we saddled up for this evenings flight.  I was right seat tonight, designated safety pilot and intent on enjoying my view.  The plan was to head across the river and invade Millville. 
RT 147 N. Wildwood
First up was the ILS RWY 10 into Millville. Mike did a nice job even though we had to share space with a citation jet heading from the east and a Cessna tracking towards the airport from behind our approach.  I made the radio calls inbound from LADIE, just over five mile final.  Yes, here it comes, Millville radio tied up the airway giving ridiculous reports that none of us needed.  Somehow, throughout all the chatter the aircraft managed to get it all sorted out, despite Millville radio, and we all lived to tell about it.
west Wildwood
Mike went missed and headed south east to Cape May for the Localizer RWY 19 approach. We were pointed direct KAGYS and did the procedure turn before intercepting the localizer.  A nice job topped off with a low approach only, mixing with traffic.  Mike was anxious to try the missed approach which was as follows;

Climb to 1000' then a climbing left turn to 2500' via heading 050* and SIE R-180 to the SIE vortac then via SIE R-333 then to KAGYS and hold.
An interesting missed especially when trying to knock off the rust! Mike did a nice job then rolled into the VOR-A for a third approach and a full stop landing. Once on the ground we gathered up our thoughts, I looked for my cell phone, and we taxied out for departure.  We were soon back in the air and heading to MIV for one last approach on the Jersey side. This time we would shoot the GPS RWY 28 approach.
Once again with traffic near the airport busy, Millville radio managed to screw things up. They insisted on reading all NOTAMS to include an AIRMET for high level turbulence to every pilot making traffic reports.  We're talking two Cessna's and us in the Sundowner doing pattern work and practice approaches. I did get a chuckle when the always professional Mike advises Millville radio they are giving info that is part of a pilots pre-flight and unless they had a PIREP that was urgent they were only making local communications difficult. From that point on Comms were uninterrupted and amazingly traffic flowed smoothly. Thankfully we completed the approach with a touch and go and climbed out for Wilmington. The Cessna in the pattern shooting approaches also advised clearing the area.
I dialed in Philly approach on 119.75 about 10 miles south of the Woodstown vor and requested the ILS RWY 1 approach into Wilmington.  I provided our location, altitude and current ATIS info and was provided a squawk code.  Mike made the selection for the IAF BlARE, instead of the Vectors To Final (VTF). This choice enables you to still fly vectors to final but provides the added bonus of listing all the IAF's in case approach decides to turn you direct to any of the available points. Why is this important you ask? Having the ability to select direct to any of the points on the approach saves added steps (chug and plug) on the 530 when in fact you may be in the clag and need to be flying the plane.
The Philly controller gave us a few vectors and once crossing the river, cleared us for the approach and turned us over to the tower. I checked in with the tower and advised 08Romeo on the ILS 1, full stop going to red eagle. Wilmington cleared us to land and advised cleared to land long.  The land long speeds up the process to get to the far end of the runway to our turn off, taxiway Kilo.

We secured the plane and headed over to the Border Cafe' (Eats) for dinner and some review. We also had a chance to catch up since it's been awhile since we last flew. Good times as always with Mike, looking forward to our next flight!