Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Review: 14 Days To Alaska

14 Days To Alaska
by: Troy Hamon
For all the pilots out there...Think back to those first flights, learning how to get down the runway center line and get the plane in the air then having to go through the checklists and land that bird. Overwhelming at first for all of us, I'm sure. Remember how tired you were after a lesson, not physical tired, brain tired, mentally wiped out from trying to absorb all the information.

Now with that thought process engaged, imagine your brother as your instructor and learning 'on the fly' to Alaska, pun intended. Yikes! Troy Hamon captures the in cockpit  pressure, humor, brotherly harassment (in its own special way) that only one with a brother can understand.

Flying his 1951 PIPER PA-22 Tri-Pacer with his instructor and brother Quinn in the right seat they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. This is a very good read. I found myself more than once thinking, been there, understand those thoughts, how does that instructor make it look so easy. It was an interesting way to do the Private Pilot training and surely provided memories to last a lifetime. I'm looking forward to Troy's future writing.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Breakfast Meetup with Jeff

On my ride to the airport
Jeff had sent an email out Yesterday, early morning.

"Guys, the weather forecast looks near perfect for this weekend.  I'm planning to fly with someone here in Richmond and he suggested flying up to Kay's in Cambridge.  It's about an hour flight for me.  Anyone interested in meeting up?  We will probably plan to be there right around 10 AM."

I responded that I would be there since Mary and I cancelled the overnight to Myrtle Beach, SC.  Wx is looking bad Sunday for South Carolina and even though I am current I am not proficient enough to tangle with what they have in store.

Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. A chance of rain this evening. Rain after midnight. Lows in the upper 40s. East winds 5 to 10 mph with gusts up to 25 mph...increasing to southeast 15 to 20 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 90 percent.

Sunday: Scattered thunderstorms. Rain in the morning...then showers likely in the afternoon. Some thunderstorms may produce gusty winds. Breezy with highs around 70. South winds 20 to 25 mph... becoming southwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Chance of rain near 100 percent.

Back to the meet-up....

The plan was to be at the airport around 8 am then get 08Romeo ready to fly. I took on fuel on my last flight so I was ready to go after my pre-flight. Mary decided to stay home, not that she was dealing with a migraine but instead she broke out in hives, who knows.
I was on my own and all be it rare that I don't have someone in the right seat I was looking forward to just me and the plane. After my run up I launched from runway two four and cranked up some oldies. Yes, I was singing along, mixing in some slow flight and a steep turn or two as I took in the 50+ mile visibility.  As I passed 58M, Elkton MD, I could look to my left and see the tip of Lewes Delaware at Henlopen, just awesome!
bridges at Bay Bridge
I made my calls and entered a left base for landing on one six. I had a Bonanza behind me working his way into the pattern number two to land. A made a nice landing followed by a turn out on the midfield taxiway and point 08Romeo towards Kay's ramp. I parked next to a Baron and the Bonanza parked next to me, a Beechcraft reunion of sorts. As I walked towards the terminal I saw 93Zulu cross the numbers and touch down, nice landing Jeff!
Jeff's Archer II
It was a good breakfast and Jeff's friend from KOFP-Hanover picked up our check, Thanks Scott. It was great to catch up, and of course talk airplanes and flying. We missed Frank D and Mike B, I hope your ears were burning guys. With Jeff back in the 'area' (Richmond) I see many more meet ups in the future.

Jeff and Scott filed, I just made the hop VFR. I did monitor Dover and Philly as I worked my way north. The visibility was perfect today. I could see Salem nuke planet from Easton airport and had a clear view of the Baltimore skyline too. As I worked my way north passing Ridgely, KRJD I could see the two cooling towers at Pottstown.
Salem from just north of Easton Airport @ 55 miles
I made my calls for New Garden and worked my way into a very busy pattern. I was number two following my hangar mate in his Turbo Saratoga and there was a Bonanza number three. I made a nice landing and made the midfield taxiway, one of my goals for working on the short field technique.
more of my ride to/from the airport
As we all taxied towards the north hangars the fuel line was stacking up. Most of the aircraft waited in line clear of the taxiway, all except for the silver Cirrus. He shut down and his passengers were out having a gab fest as if they were meeting up at a flea market. UGhhhh....I motioned that I was trying to get by and they looked at me then turned around and continued to gab. OK, no problem, I added in some throttle to get their attention and squeezed by hanging the right wing out over the grass. The pilot was chit chatting with the person fueling and his head popped out immediately, the three ladies that were flapping now stood at attention looking at me...I smiled and waved as I went by. Ok, I muttered jackass but I was by myself and I did not hit the PTT. I never claimed to be PC about anything.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Flight and Maintenance

The battery minder purchased before Christmas arrived, so a trip to the airport was in order. I sent a text to Vince and he was available to fly, the plan was beginning to taking shape.

New Garden was quiet this morning so we took a leisurely drive around to scout out potential warm bodies that may be lurking about the airport, there were none.  Ok, none that we could see. I parked the SUV and we opened up the hangar so we could tug 08Romeo out into the sunlight.  I completed the pre-flight and Vince did his own, good practice for the future aviator. Vince waited for 08Romeo to start before closing the hangar doors, no sense pushing them around a second time for no good reason. I pulled the power back and as we briefed Vince would approach from the right side rear to board.
I pulled the heat right away so we could thaw and thanks to the Reiff heaters 08Romeo oil temps we well into the yellow just shy of the green operating range. We agreed that Vince would handle the radio work and I would do the take off and flying. With the run up completed we launched off of two-four. It wasn't a bad looking day from 2,800 feet above the earth. We crossed Wilmington's airspace (2600) and headed across the Delaware River for New Jersey. PCAS had one target that Vince called out at our three, same altitude and parallel course, it looked like a lear jet that we heard depart ILG.  As the jet turned north heading towards Philly it was now converging, I descended to 2000 and we watched the jet pass in front of our nose a few miles out and now above our altitude. The flight was to knock off some rust and make a landing or two.
I entered the pattern at Millville, KMIV, and did one full stop on runway two-eight. I taxied back and handed controls to Vince for his take off. I would do the radios and he could get some flying in. He needed a bit more right rudder but overall a nice smooth climb out. Of course the standing joke is that Vince always gets to fly the headwind leg, he didn't complain, he just reminded me. Yes he had the headwind leg, I was enjoying 135 knot ground speeds and he was trudging along fighting a thirty knot headwind just off our nose and clipping along at 85 knots. Indicated airspeed was 115-120, and the Garmin 496 winds aloft confirmed the winds at three thousand.
We both picked out New Garden just inside of eight miles or so and I made the proper calls. I entered the pattern on a left base for two-four and made one of my best landings to date rolling 08Romeo on the deck so soft it felt like we were still flying. I'm finally getting the winds here and the hump in the runway, now if I could make the first turn off. We made a fuel stop and brought the total fuel to 42 gallons before heading to the hangar.
With 08Romeo tucked inside we covered up and plugged in the heaters then opened the BatteryMINDer box. It seemed pretty basic, a plug and play of sorts. I didn't get the rings in the shipment, apparently they no longer send those as part of the package.  I had to open 08Romeos battery box, two snaps clips, and use the alligator clips. I brought along another extension cord and we eventually ran the cable through the vent window and set the batteryminder in the baggage compartment on the battery box lid. The original plan was to leave the unit outside the plane and run the cord through the baggage door but I didn't like the cord getting squeezed so tight and possibly damaging the unit. All the lights checked out and the unit went into the maintenance/ pulsed de-sulfation mode.  I am going to order the ring set this evening so I don't have to open the battery compartment.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Battery Minder

I tried to get some flight time in but my batteries had other plans.  After pre-flight and pulling 08Romeo out of the hanger Saturday afternoon I got two blades then clicks.  I'm not a happy camper.

Today I brought along my battery charger for a 12v system. I have  two batteries in my Sundowner so my system is 24v. As in the past I removed the plate connecting the batteries and charged each battery individually. In the mean time I drove around the airport looking for life but the wx was really turning worse so the place was a ghost town. I did see one guy starting his Cirrus and I guess he had the same thoughts as to getting the oil pumping if he couldn't get in the air.

The charger did it's job and with the wx looking better I swapped to battery number two for its charge time. As Vince reminded me yesterday a watched pot/battery never boils/charges.  Yeah yeah, I get it, I'm just not long on patience.  With the blue sky peeking through I was thinking we may get some flight time in with a quick local hop then home, enough to get a few landings in.

As the green light came on to signal charging complete, the wx decided to cover the field. Low clouds were blowing through almost like a ground fog but not quite as low. We fired up 08Romeo anyways and taxied to the other end of the airport and back, even making a loop around the hangars. I did two run-ups and taxied a bit more until the oil came up to its normal position on the temp gauge then taxied back to my hangar and shut down.

I ordered a new 24v battery minder when I got home.

BatteryMINDer 24041-AA-S2 Aircraft Battery Charger - 24 Volt - 4 Amp

The VDC Model 24041-AA-S2 Plug n Run Aviation Specific 24v Maintenance Charger - De-Sulfator - Conditioners is approved for use on Gill and Concorde Aviation batteries. This 24 volt unit is similar to model 24041-AA-S1 except for its Plug ‘n Run feature, eliminating the need to set neither the output current nor battery type, before operating. This feature is of particular importance if any person, unfamiliar with the setting requirements, is involved in maintaining the battery.
  • For all size and type 24 volt aviation batteries including sealed AGM-maintenance-free and filler cap maintenance type
  • Instant alternator condition at the push of a button.
  • Guaranteed never to over-charge, regardless of time or temperature (32°F - 125°F ) with correct battery type setting and ABS-248 temperature sensors correctly installed on either battery terminal connection
  • Auto-restart after power failure
  • Safely charges up to 200% faster than conventional chargers
  • Maintains from 1 - 6 batteries at a time (parallel connected)
  • Automatically dissolves power-robbing sulfation using safe low voltage pulse technology (U.S. Patented)
  • Microprocessor controlled pulsed output ensures 100% full charge
  • Temperature compensation extends battery life by more than 200 Cycles (full charge-discharge cycles) with ABS temperature sensor
  • High efficiency design = low monthly operating cost of less than 50¢
  • Weather-proof enclosure
  • 12 volt PowerPlug (fused) allows charger to be easily connected to battery via input 12 v power receptacle
  • 1 year 100% money-back guarantee + five (5) year "no hassle" warranty.

  • Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Snug as a Bug

    Wilmington was blanketed with 8.5 inches of snow last Sunday, 12/8.  It's the first snow I remember on my birthday in many years. The snow did provide an entertaining afternoon of Eagles football and I really didn't mind cranking up the snow blower at half time. What I really enjoyed was knowing I did not have to go dig out 08Romeo or clean her off. I didn't have to load up the snow blower and fuel and I didn't have to get wet and stinky from the exhaust. Instead I enjoyed the late game and a nice dinner with my Bride.
    Bad memories of digging out 08R
    We had a follow up snow, maybe 3 inches on Tuesday the 10th. I used the shovel and with one hand made a pass back and forth until the driveway was clean. I bagged a day of work so I didn't have to drive in it or be stuck in the office. My co-workers made all the "sally" jokes when I returned on Wednesday. I'm pretty thick skinned so I enjoyed the laughs and only countered with I was home with my Bride, you all were stuck here with each other, the laughs came to a halt.
    snug as a bug
    It's the weekend and once again we have snow in the forecast. Calling for 1-3 inches this afternoon, just enough to make me have to clear the driveway. Mary and I had a few errands to run this morning so we could make pizzelle cookies this afternoon. With the 'to do' list completed we are in for the rest of the day.
    Stay warm and stay safe!

    Monday, December 02, 2013

    2013 Year in Review

    It's time for my annual year in review and a look forward to new goals for 2014. I know I still have the remaining days in December to hit my magic 100 hour mark but wx will dictate the mission and therefore I only see a few hours added to my 75 hour total. The one bright note, I did bust 800 total hours and now sit at 820!!

    As was 2012, this year with Mary's health issues made for a very slow travel year. The one long trip to Key West that would have helped the totals was so much cheaper to fly commercial that we decided to keep 08Romeo parked.
    Mary's Mom passed in March which really took a toll on us both. I can still picture Mom in the back seat of 08Romeo with the headset on just taking in the view. My second Mom for sure, not many son-in-laws could say that. Mom L always voiced her opinion and I loved that. I still miss her stopping by and going out to dinner with us.
    Mary and I also lost one of our dear friends in aviation. Bo Boggs passed in May and that really affected my flying. Bo was the very inspiration for this blog and was always a mentor for me when it came to aircraft  maintenance and cross country flying. I miss ya' buddy.
    Maggie also left us this year in April and that came as a shock too. Maggie muffin had just turned eight, she was a loyal dog with a loving disposition and adored Mary. I hope our Ziva girl can measure up to Maggie's legacy.

    The one bright note this year was the new infusion treatments for Mary's migraines. We are starting to see a little progress with their severity and honestly, her health is what is the most important issue at hand.

    We did make a change and left our tie down at Wilmington's Red Eagle Avionics. We are now in a hangar at New Garden (N57)and I must say 08Romeo has responded very well to her new digs along with two spa days for wax and being pampered.

    From the 2013 wish list 08Romeo was upgraded to WAAS for the Garmin 530 and the Collins transponder was replaced with a Garmin GTX327 which enables the Zaon PCAS to work flawlessly. I love having my traffic back!

    On the Beach front...The plan is to once again place the motor home in Ocean City, MD for the 2014 season. 08Romeo will be our main transportation and we hope to extend our travels for some additional vacation time.  We are looking forward to a healthier year in 2014 for the both of us!

    2013 Totals

    (89 Landings, 17 Approaches)
    Approaches - ILS: 5
    Approaches - RNAV/GPS: 10
    Approaches - VOR/DME: 2
    Cross Country: 47.9
    Night: 1.0
    IMC: 3.0
    Simulated Instrument: 4.9
    PIC:     75.4
    2014  Goals

    Hours: Hoping for at least 100 
    Aircraft Upgrades: Replace the Collins Audio panel with a PMA8000B
    Travel: Get back on track for 4 day get-aways and explore new locations!