Saturday, March 08, 2014

Keeping Current

The weather forecast was looking perfect for today's mission, keeping me instrument current.  Mike B and I planned to meet at the plane around 10am. I decided to head up early so I can replace one of the hangar door pull handles that cracked and now only hangs on by the bottom connection.  I pulled up to the hangar and since my doors face north I still had a slab of ice across the foot of the doors. Yes, of course I left my 'new' metal shovel at home...Grrrrr. I jumped back in the SUV, invented new phrases and a few special words in the confines of my vehicle and headed to the local lumber yard. Hangar rage in check.

Upon returning to the hangar with  a new ice chipper and a bag of calcium chloride flakes in hand I went into full attack mode. The door track needed work on the inside more than the outside. Mike B pulled up and lent a hand with the frozen doors and we eventually were able to free 08Romeo from her hangar. It was good to be out without a jacket today and despite sweating up a storm and hands and arms that were feeling like jello, I was excited to fly.

With the pre-flight completed we got the fan turning in 08Romeo. The airport was coming to life and there were aircraft moving about. We taxied to the pumps to take on 25 gallons to bring us to 58 on board. Run up complete, we were lined up and rolling for departure on runway two four. It felt good climbing out, getting away from the ice removal and taking advantage of the cool air blowing on my face through the vents.
First up, to knock the rust off, was a short hop to KEVY, Summit airport. I set up for the RNAV GPS 17 approach and briefed. My brief felt scattered, almost a struggle to get up to speed and digest what I was reading, a sure sign of rust. Direct OGHUF at 2000, on course looking good. The winds played with me all day and I was slow to correct my speeds on this first go. I came out from under the foggles at the LPV decision Altitude (DA) of 540 and proceeded to make a flat landing that required full power and a climb out. Ughhh...not the way I want to start the day.

Mike quickly distracts me and requests the RNAV GPS 30 into Ridgley, KRJD. As in the real world of IMC flight one must forget the missed and concentrate on setting up for another go. My favorite analogy as taught to me by my brother while coaching baseball was to tell the kids flush it down the toilet, it's gone, get ready for the next play. It's truly bizarre the things that pop into my brain when flying.  We roll play ATC communications and I am given instruction to proceed direct DONIL, an initial approach fix (IAP).

Here comes a Mike teaching moment. Sometimes when in the system ATC will have us join a Victor airway from our present position. Now is the time to refresh those skills. Ok, I'm direct DONIL and ATC wants me to intercept the leg (our pretend airway) from DONIL to PEKME. Here are the steps:
We complied with ATC and now headed direct DONIL. Next ATC directs us to intercept DONIL to PEKME (our victor airway). We will need to select FPL on the bottom row of buttons.
There is our "airway" DONIL and PEKME. To activate that leg we need to select the destination point, PEKME.

Next, select menu on the right side buttons and a message box asking if we want to activate the leg appears. Select enter on the same right side buttons.
Next message is Fly Leg? Once again select enter and the GPS will now highlight the new leg and the CDI will provide guidance to intercept.
I'll tie this in at the end with Mike's explanation and example from one of his previous flights out of Wilmington during our debrief.

Ok, back to the flying. I'm making my way into Ridgely with better speed control and ok on the needles. Once again after removing the foggles I make a flat landing. I'm now full power climbing out and wondering where in the world did my sweet spot landings run off to. I am not liking this performance.

I get myself squared away and point 08Romeo to Cambridge, KCGE. My enroute is easy peasy, on altitude and ahead of the plane. I am going to shoot the GPS 34 and make this one a full stop for lunch.
I overfly the field and turn outbound at 2.5 providing plenty of space between myself and traffic pattern aircraft. I make a smooth procedure turn while descending and head inbound. Down to 480 and removing the foggles I see a bird off my left side passing across the nose with plenty of room, it's a bald eagle. The eagle swings around and turns inbound, now on our right side riding along as my wing man with a good view of his/her head  looking at us. Despite the distraction I make a nice landing and taxi clear.

The line was long for eats today but as always, it was worth it. I had a reuben, Mike had a tuna salad.  I inhaled a mason jar of sweet tea which tasted perfect and maybe woke me up.

We headed back out to the plane and after a brief preflight, saddled up for our ride north. I chugged and plugged for Dover AFB and after listening to the ATIS I selected the ILS 1 approach. I picked up flight following and asked for the practice approach. With a new squawk code and a few vectors we were soon established inbound and handed off to the tower. It always cracks me up and I know its a military thing but yes, 'gear down' and welded. This was a low approach only down to 224 feet. As directed I reported missed and VFR to the north.
So far four approaches and each one getting cleaner and tighter on the needles than the last. It was time to head back to Summit, KEVY. This time it was the opposite approach RNAV GPS 35. From my current position I turned inbound at WENDS taking full advantage of the LPV DA of 320 feet. Foggles removed  I made a nice landing. It was a short lived victory as I went full power and climbed out to the north. The ice removal effects are starting to show.  My hands are sore and my arms are a bit tired....gezzz I'm getting soft.
We decide on one last approach to make it six for the day. I set up the 530 for the New Garden VOR 24 approach. Direct Modena (MXE) with the plan for a parallel entry. I cross Modena and turn outbound on a 056* heading for one minute then turn right to a heading of 280* for an intercept.  The winds made for a bumpy ride home and require a large bite to make the inbound course. I intercept Modena and make the heading change to 230* and drive to 1050 feet just above the MDA. Mike tells me to remove the foggles and I set up for a two notches of flap landing. I set 08Romeo on the runway pretty nice if I must say so, the winds on the field were not as bad as anticipated.

Thanks to Mike B for his patience and teaching skills, it's always a good workout and learning experience.

Mikes example he experienced departing KILG for Leesburg KJYO.
I don't recall his clearance but this is how knowing what to chug and plug can make life easier.
On departure he was given vectors to join V469. Ok the GLOMO intersection is out so he has to add in JOANE (top arrow) activate that leg between KILG and JOANE and now the GPS and CDI provide guidance to intercept. The next instruction is to join V408. If you look at the first chart example there is no intersection where the two airways cross, however, GLOMO and ROBRT are already entered. Follow the example from my flight today and select ROBRT (the destination for the leg) and activate it once instructed by ATC to intercept V408. Your instrument flying remains precise and the amended route is not a problem.


Diggerdavid said...

Wow, sounds like you had quite a day of flying my friend! Now onve you get that 530 coupled with your auto pilot you will really see how much fun it can be!


Chris said...

Sounds like an excellent workout, Gary! I'm getting ready to go do something similar myself in a couple of hours and hope I can pull things together as well as you did.

I have to ask though - what are you planning to do with that bag of calcium chloride at the airport?

Gary said...

Chris, I had plenty of rust to shed. I'm sure you will do a great job. It is like riding a bike, it does come back to us :)

I used the calcium chloride for all the ice removal.

Chris said...


Chloride salts are extremely corrosive to aircraft - most airports (in my experience) don't permit their use. All of my ramp deicing activities (from my north-facing hangar) have focused on the back-breaking ice chipper approach depicted in your other photo.

I remember back to my time in Michigan, the county was in charge of plowing the runway. They goofed up and inadvertently salted it, too. I saw the residue on my hangar floor after flying and reported it. After a few more reports from other pilots, the airport manager had the fire department come out and hose off the entire runway. It was quite a big operation.

Gary said...

Yes, it's a very corrosive product.

I used it exclusively to free up the hangar door track. There is so much ice and snow I figure the track will wash out on its own. I'll monitor for any residue on the apron and taxi lane. Thanks for sharing the experience, I will give our manager a heads up so he can monitor my apron area.

Chris said...

Oh, you have sliding doors, don't you? I had a friend with that style door and, in the winter, the tracks would heave upward and bind the door. I hope that doesn't happen to you, because it looked like a huge pain in the you-know-what.

Steve said...

Man, that's a workout!

Pilots down here in a similar predicament have reported great success with a propane heater. Aim it at the inside of the doors, along the tracks, to warm everything up.

Supposedly that gets the water flowing (literally) and provides enough residual heat that it helps melt any ice left in the tracks.

Gary said...


I've seen a few guys trying to free up their doors with a salamander/torpedo heater but it takes forever.

The ice locks in the door track then snow and ice from the roof melt and flow into the back side of the door creating a small sheet of ice on the floor. This makes for a really slick surface to try and push doors open.

Come on spring!!

Steve said...

Not sure if it's a realistic (or desirable) option, but I also know some folks who just leave their hangar doors open when it gets real bad out.

On the bright side, I think we're almost into always-above-freezing-season again. Finally!