Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I hope the readers of this blog don't mind but with the winter weather I've been spending more time reading than flying.

I'm also sorting out battery issues and dealing with the frigid temps out on the ramp.  I am adding an additional solar charger so each of my 12v batteries now will have a trickle charge to keep them topped off.  I'll report back as I make progress.

Stay warm and dry, Spring is just around the corner. FYI, my next book is going to be Donald L. Miller’s nonfiction book based on aerial wars through the eyes of enlisted men of the Eighth Air Force.

Tom Hanks is once again teaming with HBO in a miniseries about World War II.

This time around, Hanks and Steven Spielberg-who previously delivered the likes of 2001′s “Band of Brothers” and 2010′s “The Pacific” to the channel-will create a miniseries that will focus on the Air Force. The series will “explore the aerial wars through the eyes of enlisted men of the Eighth Air Force — known as the men of the Mighty Eighth.”

The series will be based on Donald L. Miller’s nonfiction book “Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany.”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day

American Patriot: The Life and Wars of Colonel Bud Day
by: Robert Coram
February 24, 1925 - July 27, 2013

United States Air Force
United States Army
United States Marine Corps

Years of service
1942 - 1945 (Marine Corps)
1945 - 1950 (Army)
1950 - 1977 (Air Force)

Rank Colonel
Unit 37th TFW Misty FAC (Forward Air Control)

World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War

Medal of Honor
Air Force Cross
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with Combat "V"
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Purple Heart
Air Medal
Prisoner of War Medal

As you can see from the years of service and the many medals this patriot, Colonel Bud Day, was a distinguished soldier, leader and a man of high morals and ethics. This book told of a man from the wrong side of the tracks in Sioux City rising above anything life threw at him.

Day's military career spanned World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. During the Vietnam War Colonel Day was shot down and captured spending over five years and seven months as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. The description of his torture and conditions the POW's were held in was too brutal to even imagine. Despite incredible torture, Day never broke. He became a hero to POWs everywhere, which would serve him after the war.

After struggling through this reading that dealt with his time in captivity, I flowed through Day's retirement years knowing this man had no quit in him at all. Day retired from active duty in 1977 to resume his practice of law in Florida. At the time of his retirement he had nearly 8,000 total flying hours, 4,900 in single engine jets. Day had flown multiple aircraft to include; the F-80,F-84,F-100,F-101,F-104,F-105,F-106,F-4-II,A-4,A-7,CF-5, and the F-15 Eagle . The Colonel became a passionate advocate for veterans' rights, and fought relentlessly for those who served their country. Day also wrote an autobiographical account of his experiences as a prisoner of war, Return with Honor, followed by Duty, Honor, Country both are on my list of must reads.

I feel a bit of a personal loss since prior to reading this book I knew nothing of this man, or his accomplishments. In today's society we know everything about every reality star even if we don't watch the shows, you can't escape it. Yet, sadly the heroes that made this nation great and fought for the very freedoms we enjoy go unnoticed. I urge you to take the time, read the book and learn what makes this country and the men and women who fought for it the real stars, the real heroes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review: The Map of My Dead Pilots

I checked this book out of the local library branch after reading the review Frank (N631S) had posted online.  The author, Colleen  Mondor shares her work experience in Alaska while working dispatch op's for a Fairbanks based commuter charter outfit.

I was wondering if I would enjoy this book as it started out kind of scattered but the more I read the more I found myself being pulled into the surroundings.This book quickly took me back to my younger days running a large horse stable that provided horses for the hack line and hundreds of horses for camps.  It was the camaraderie, the off beat humor, the sometimes raw stories of long nights at a bar, getting into trouble,the women and sleeping in horse trailers to keep warm or to get away from another hands snoring.  It's all coming back, triggered by this reading.

This book takes a look back at aviation history in Alaska and how much that history still plays in this modern age of flight. The pilots that risk it all for the company and the hard work with poor equipment bonding the crew together.

Elizabeth Burns wrote in her review, "This is as much about story, and the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives and our choices, as it is about the high-risk stakes of flying in Alaska".

Mondor rolls back and forth relating to the many accident stories, and with her coworkers relives the accidents that built this wild Alaska history and sadly, in this modern day, took their friends. By retelling the stories it makes those lost live on, a twisted sort of honor or code that pilots seem to share. In the last chapter, Reckoning, Mondor writes, in my opinion, the most profound lines of the book.

Stories are funny because they won't let you ignore them; they demand to be written. And maybe  you think if you put them down, let them leave your head and put them on paper, then they will live forever. Maybe you can even cheat death that way.

Or maybe I'm just wondering if anybody still listens and wants to know who we were. Maybe I want to know if stories still matter or if the truth really can disappear with the dead and leave you standing there without any chance of ever knowing what really happened. No chance in hell of knowing anything at all.

Check this one out, it's a good read and it will make you think back on your life and the stories that make up your history.


With the winter wx approaching I wanted to get some additional time in the air today. Also, I had traded text messages with my friend and safety pilot Mike B, (Mr. Snowboarder) last night that he and his Bride were headed home and he was available for flying today.  A tentative plan was hatched and we would catch up in the morning.

TAF KILG 211744Z 2118/2218 19007KT P6SM OVC080
     FM212000 22009KT P6SM OVC050 TEMPO 2122/2202 28012G20KT 4SM
     -SHSN BKN025 OVC040
     FM220200 30014G24KT P6SM SCT035 BKN080
     FM220500 28016G28KT P6SM SCT060
     FM221400 28020G30KT P6SM SCT050 BKN150=

Fast forward to this morning at 5:30am.  I already had Maggie fed and out and was just checking my iPad and iPhone for charge status before heading to the airport. Each device needed some charger time and I left my mobile charger in my company Ford Explorer, I'm stuck at the house a bit longer.
I am finally on the road and motoring for ILG.  Today I packed my 800 watt generator for the pre-heat since I didn't feel like driving to the airport last night to do the extension cord thing after texting with Mike. The roads were empty most likely due to the MLK Holiday and I made great time.  I got 08Romeo all set up and fired up the generator, it purred real nice.  Hmmmm, did I fill this the last time I used it, I hope so, I didn't check. It felt heavy and sounded like it had fuel. A few pulls and we were soon making power.
I ran out to the McD's for some orange juice and a hash brown then scooted right back. I uncovered and did my pre-flight, now just waiting for the fuel truck from AeroWays. I took on enough fuel to take me to the slots, that's 20 gallons a side for the non-Beechcraft crowd. At one hour and a half the gen started to sputter, not good.  I got out of the warm SUV and moved it to a more level resting place with the carb on the down hill side hoping the fuel would pool.  Didn't I check? Heck no, what's the point I didn't bring the small premixed container with me.

Sure enough about twenty minutes later the generator went silent key.  About that same time my phone alerted me to a text, Mike was letting me know he was under the wx, ear infection and congested, he was a no-go. Was he not bundled up while playing in the snow this past weekend??  Ok, any chance of remaining current will expire the end of the month so I may as well just go fly today. I had Vince on standby.
I decided to fire up 08Romeo and taxi to the front of the Red Eagle hangar and wait on Vince. It was a short wait and by the time I started and taxied over he was walking through the gates just a few minutes later. I had positioned myself so he could not walk around the plane between 08Romeo and the L-39 jet next to me, he climbed up the wing and buckled in.
Senator Malkus Jr. Bridge
I had the ATIS and provided Vince the info, he taxied us out making the calls for the taxi clearance. I also gave Vince the chance to take off, he does a great job and I am shadowing controls just in case. A smooth climb out at six hundred feet a minute and minding the tach and engine temps with great care, he does a nice job. I dialed in Dover since I knew he would want to get flight following, Vince loves talking on the radio. He did very good despite the two "with you's" Gezzz I hate that.  I reminded him he is "with me" not with ATC and that that was a dig....remember phraseology I said, he acknowledged with a smirk. We were handed off to Potomac, then Patuxent and cancelled when we had the wx and field in sight. Honestly Vince's radio work is top notch.
Brrrr......Temps at 4,500 heading to Cambridge, MD
On the ramp at KCGE
We enjoyed the mason jar sweet tea's and a great breakfast. Kay's was slow this holiday morning compared to the wait in line weekend crowds. We watched a few planes take off then decided to follow suit. We bugged out and decided to make a run back to Wilmington.  I had thought about making a stop at Ocean City MD but that will be another day. I did the take off and turn out on course maintaining altitude below the R-4006 restricted area's 3,500 ceiling. We went home at 3,000' and enjoyed a nice ride with a tail wind. I guess I gave Vince controls just east of KESN- Easton, MD.
Vince did a great job getting us to ILG and into the pattern as directed by the tower. We planned the control swap on short final and Vince mirrored my control inputs as we squeaked one in. Two hours of play time and good eats, not a bad morning.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Batteries and Butter

I decided to try for some flight time this weekend and upon leaving the office yesterday I diverted to ILG prior to launching for home. Out with the three hundred feet of extension cord, yes, you read that right 300'.  Meh, it's just another routine in my typical get ready to fly in cold wx days.  Honestly I had the cord out and to the plane in just a few minutes, I've learned to park my SUV half way vs trying to carry three 100' cords back across the ramp.

This morning I rolled out of bed and just could not get motivated. Maybe because I didn't have a safety pilot or maybe because my lovely Bride was fighting a migraine headache and could not go with me.  Lately with the cost of fuel I really don't do the breakfast/brunch runs. My instrument currency is up the end of the month and for the first time I think it will lapse. I'm not a happy camper.  Worse yet, currency is the easy part, staying proficient is what it's really all about.

Of course I'm going over all this in my head as I make my way to the airport.  The breeze has started up and the sun feels warm on my face. The sports radio station on the radio sounds like Charlie Browns mother as my thoughts distract me.

Thankfully, I am alone on the ramp as I discuss the feeling of no motivation with 08Romeo. Together we are counting the days until spring and the the weekend runs to the beach. If 08Romeo was like Herbie the love bug she would have given me a nudge of agreement. I think I'm showing my age....
Pre-flight completed, I climb aboard and prime. Clear Prop! followed by visual confirmation of clear left center and right and I'm ready to get 08Romeo started. Click, click, click and a quarter turn of the prop. (sigh).....girl girl girl, why do you do this to me? Obviously the solar charger didn't do squat.

I made a run for Harbor Freight to secure a battery charger for a 12v system, the Sundowner is 24v. I figure it will give some boost since I really didn't feel like removing the batteries and charging them, then reinstalling. I figured I would use the new charger for the beach and keep it in the motor home. This unit has a 55 amp setting that provides significant additional cranking power , heck I'll charge on that for a few minutes then switch to the 10 amp. I also picked up a solar battery tender for our Cabrio beach buggy since its under cover in the driveway.
While I'm stuck charging 08Romeo a fellow ramp neighbor pulls up to start his Mooney. With no primer it takes some "touch". He gets her cranked over and low idles to warm up. Eventually he shuts down so he can untie and get his car parked, he wants to move his plane back to the other side of the airfield and into his hangar. I offer a ride back from the hangar to pick up his car and he offered his battery charger for a 24v system that can be used to start the plane upon hook up. Sounds like a deal!

So, with a few trips back and forth we are all happy and hooked up. Without removing my batteries I reach in and hook the cables then climb in to start. Vince arrived in time to assist with the jump start. Once 08Romeo was running he disconnected and remained clear of the plane, actually he sat in the SUV keeping warm. After giving 08Romeo some time to charge we shut down to position my vehicle outside the gate and get 08Romeo untied and ready to fly.
We launched for Millvile and enjoyed the cool temps for a quick climb out. Wow, the winds were really starting to kick. Vince did the south east flying with a nice tail wind and he found the sweet spot for avoiding the "moderate turbulence".  As Vince called it out 2,700' was the buuudddder, smooth as could be.  Below that butter was ride em' cowboy.
I entered the pattern and made for the runway. When I turned final I had a strong gusty quartering headwind. I was rusty, and knew it. I set the left main down and I felt it roll on to the runway and dipped the toe in to plant the right main. As I was about to proclaim my "Sweet landing" I caught a gust that held me off the ground then it quit and the nose wheel touched, I felt the dip. Full power, going around to give this another go.
The second try was the charm as I flew this one right to the runway holding it off until the tail settled in and rode the wheelie for a few seconds. The winds were shoving me pretty good but we were down and clear.
The flight line was packed and we had a short wait for our breakfast. It was good to talk flying with Vince and we had a few laughs too. We finished up and headed back to 08Romeo. I forgot to put the nose plugs in but she held her temps well. With a few spins of the blade 08Romeo was ready to go.
We taxied out for two eight and launched for home. The winds were now in our face, actually a quartering headwind. Indicated was 120 knots and ground speed was showing 97 knots. I told Vince I needed to find the Buddder, we both laughed. On the home leg we found that sweet spot around 2,800 feet. As we made our way we did get to experience a wind shear, it really rocked 08Romeo, we both gave a second look for traffic since it had felt like we flew through jet wash, I'm glad that didn't last long.
Winds were 210 gusting 20+knots and the newish controller gave me runway two seven.I told Vince I'm not liking that and would rather one niner. I love how this kid soaks up lessons like a sponge. Your PIC he says, what do you want.  I want one niner and make the call, I'm proud of him. Some pilots never get that they control their environment, Vince gets it.
I finish up with a super smooth landing letting 08Romeo fly along slow and low crossing the numbers and just plain running out of air. I roll her on the runway and make the first taxiway. 1.5 in the log book today, with some crosswind work and a good breakfast!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review: Rogue Aviator

 This is my second book review  and I should mention I got the idea of posting the reviews after reading Franks Blog "N631S".  Now, keep in my that Frank's reviews are much more in depth and his collection of recent reads is easily available on the lower right side of his blog. I'm just starting to peruse his collection, I hope my readers take the time to offer suggestions of what they enjoy reading.
The Rogue Aviator is an insider's perspective of a professional pilot's roller coaster lifestyle. Ace Abbott's career spanned from the cockpit of an F4 Phantom to the Boeing 727 and the flight simulator of the Airbus A320.
While Ace shared his story of start up airlines, poor pay, endless recurrent training and maintenance issues, he managed to highlight a few episodes of classic hangar flying.  Ok, not a GA pilots version of hangar flying but stories of layovers, getting locked up in a foreign country and lost pay with companies that folded. This pilot did it all, charter flights, freight dog and scheduled commercial flights.

The book was a good read. I'm not sure what kept my interest more, his adventures or keeping count of the number of companies he worked for and those start up's that folded.

From the Rogue Aviator web page....

Ace Abbott was born and raised in upstate New York. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1965 and became an F-4 Phantom pilot based in the Far East. He began his civilian career as a Learjet corporate and charter pilot, spending his last 22 years as a Boeing 727 captain. He retired in 2002 after visiting 44 countries with 14 different airlines. He currently lives in upstate New York with his wife.

The Rogue Aviator, will put you in the cockpit of the F-4 Phantom for exhilarating Mach 2 test flights and pulse-racing, treetop-level formation flights. Ace's Learjet charter stories will take you to five- star hotels and restaurants in Paris, jails in Venezuela, with frequent diversions to the always onerous, greasy and noisy air-freight tarmacs. The final journey encompasses a 22-year adventure as a Boeing 727 Captain with nearly a dozen different airlines during the unstable years of airline post-deregulation (1978 to present).

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

N/A Fun Dinner

This one is not aviation related but we had so much fun I had to share.  Mary and I signed up for a Williams-Sonoma, Tyler Florence Fresh cookbook dinner night. A friend of ours works at WS and she is a great Chef.  It just so happened the store was hosting eight people for a dinner review of Tyler Florence's new cook book.
Mary and I signed up and we had a blast. The menu was kale salad with green apple, walnuts and roasted grape vinaigrette. The main course was a seared Flatiron Steak Recipe with Creamed Spinach, it was excellent. A fun night out with my Bride and we added to our cook book collection.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

First Flight of 2013

With the solar tender hooked up and doing it's job I thought it would be good to test flight.  Yeah, I know, test flight what? The batteries were holding a full charge despite the cold wx and I really just needed any excuse to fly.
I gave Vince a call and we headed to the plane. I had left 08Romeo plugged in so it was a normal pre-flight and start up.  No real wait time as the CHT's and oil temps looked great. We taxied out for a south east departure planning on a round or two of landings at Millville-KMIV then home again.

We launched off of runway two seven and climbed out for our left turn on course. Hmmm, the JPI engine monitor is now giving me crazy temp scales. The graph is full scale yet my CHT's look great and EGT's may look a tad high. No time to think this through in the air.

I made a call to the tower to advise I would be returning for a full stop. I was abeam the numbers for runway three -two and that's what they gave me to land.  Tower, 08Romeo, I prefer runway two-seven, 08Romeo cleared to land two-seven. I did not want to dash and dive for three two and chance a problem with my mind already wrapped around the engine monitor.  Mind you the oil temps were perfect and 08Romeo was purring like a kitten the whole time.
I must have hit the set button and the graph was not on the 50% scale. A quick check through my POH and the JPI monitor insert and we were headed back out. This time the scale looked as it always had and the EGT/CHT numbers were still looking typical for my Sundowner. We made the hop to Millville, put one full stop in the book and scooted back to Wilmington to end the day.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Battery Tender

The plan was to fly 08Romeo and knock out approaches for instrument currency. I had 08R plugged in Friday night so she would be ready to go this morning, that was my plan.  When I arrived I had some light frost to clean and my pre-flight.  I parked the SUV in the lot to clear the air side of the ramp, came back in to unplug the Reiff heaters and pull the nose plugs. I climbed aboard and flowed through my start sequence and called clear prop so the only other ramp inhabitants (black birds) would know I was ready.  Prime complete, full rich on the mixture, crack open the throttle and click, click, click.

After a few descriptive phrases I climbed back out and walked for the SUV. I had my jumper cables and decided to pull one battery and charge for 20 minutes or so.  I had hopes of providing enough cranking power to turn my warm engine over. Following my reinstall, SUV parking, heater disconnect and nose plugs pulled, I once again climbed aboard.  Rinse and repeat, one blade this time then nothing but clicks.  At this point I was cold, missing skin on my left pinky from pinching it on the battery box and now faced with pulling both batteries and taking them home to charge. I was one unhappy pilot.
I called my friend John and asked what he thought about solar chargers. After our discussion I pointed my SUV to his house and we would hit the local shops.  John has the greatest tool collection known to man, a one car garage man cave.  We headed out to harbor freight and the local auto parts store for a charger.  We found a simple unit that would be enough to combat the cold and provide enough juice to keep 08Romeo's batteries up to snuff.  When we returned to John's we hooked up the batteries on his snap-on charger and gave them 30 minutes.

With the batteries fully charged it was time for the solar tender/battery minder install.  I had purchased an add on kit so I didn't need to use the alligator clips instead making a permanent install with the ring terminals. I'm going to head to the airport today and check the battery output. At least I can see what this unit will do over the winter. Maybe I'll need something along the lines of a five or ten watt solar unit, we shall see. I like the quick connect/disconnect and the overcharge and discharge protection features.
The Coleman 58012 2-Watt 12-Volt battery maintainer provides maintenance free charging of your  battery. Easily mounted to the winshield, the 58012 plugs into the cigarette lighter for easy charging in any weather.

Features and Specifications
  • Maintenance Free / Easy Installation
  • Charges in all Weather Conditions
  • Plugs into Cigarette Lighter with Alligator Battery Clamps Included
  • Mounts on Windshield with Included Suction Cups
  • Made of Durable ABS Plastic & Amorphous Solar Cells
  • Temperature Range: -40Z° to 176° F
  • Max Output 2 Watts 133 mAh Under Optimal Conditions
  • Includes:
    • Solar Panel
    • Alligator Battery Clamps
    • 12 Volt DC Plug
  • Manufacturer’s Part Number: 58012
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 19 5/8” x 61/2” x 1 1/8” (50 x 16.5 x 3 cm)
  • Weight: 1.8 lbs