Friday, May 25, 2018

Transition Training


The original plan was to rent a car, one way, and fly 45Y home at the end of my transition training.

After a bit more thought I decided to ask my hangar neighbor, Chet, if he could give me a lift to KILG -Wilmington.  Perfect timing, Chet wanted to go to Red Eagle and have his VFR cert done.  I called and coordinated with Joanne in the office at Red Eagle and we were soon climbing aboard 8Bravo Whiskey.
Chet picked up flight following with Dover approach and we road along together until just north of the Smyrna VOR.  Once dropped from Dover we contacted Wilmington tower and reported a four mile final runway  one, as directed.
My rental was waiting at fly advanced and the line guys asked me "where's my plane, the Sundowner", I responded, it's in California.  I just sold her.

They look puzzled until I explained that I was here to train in my new to me plane, a 63' Debonair.

Chet taxied his plane to Red Eagle and I drove around the airport.  I was pulling into the parking lot just ahead of the Warrior 8Bravo Whisky shutting down at the hangar.  Dave came in on his day off to do the cert and everything checked out just fine.  Once the plane was parked out on the ramp, Chet and I drove over to the IHOP for breakfast.

We returned to the airport and I dropped Chet off on the ramp, at his  plane and then headed for the west T hangars to see our new  plane.  I climbed aboard and went through the motions of a GUMPS check and reaching for each control until it felt comfortable. I'm trying to get familiar with switches and breakers, flaps and gear.

I decided I should get checked into my hotel, the Hilton in Christiana.  My former CFII and friend Mike B is in town for business and he is also checked in this hotel.  We are going to catch up for dinner and of course go see the plane.

Mike really liked the plane and crawled around it, examining every detail. Once in the cockpit he checked out the avionics stack and each instrument.  Mike did note the  fuel tank switch would be much easier for me than 08Romeos set up.

Dave was at the hangar, apparently he was closing a deal on its sale too.  We all chatted for a bit then Mike and I headed out for dinner.  I invited Dave to join us but he declined.

It was a short drive to Firebirds and we were quickly seated.  Catching Up with Mike was great, I really miss flying with him.  After we ordered dinner we reviewed the different procedures between the two planes. Basic airmanship, power on and off stalls but now with gear and thoughts on creating the basic numbers for all phases of flight.

Things are going to be different as I fly the Debonair. It's not going to be as easy as deciding how much altitude to loose dividing by two for the number of minutes out from my destination, like I did in the Sundowner.  With the speed increase Mike suggested a simple formula for staying ahead of the plane.  The altitude difference, times three, plus seven.....say what?

Destination pattern 1000'
Flight altitude say 8000'

I need to loose 7000'.  So,  Times three is 21, plus seven is 28.  Start your descent 28 miles out which controls any chance of shock cooling and gives plenty of time for speed control, you don't want any slam dunks by ATC.  Mike reminded me to learn and fly the numbers, be precise, it will be work to stay ahead at first but things will slow down and feel proactive instead of reactive.


The weather is not looking to play nice today, I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.

Despite no pets, I was still wide awake a 5am.  I figured since I was up, I would shower and get ready to head out for breakfast.  I managed to select the same place as yesterday, IHOP.  The place was empty but by the time I finished eating it started to fill up .

It's a short drive back to the airport and the west T hangars. My security card issue is squared away and I pass through the gate just like a regular tenant. The plan is to stow my equipment on board and sync my iPad after relocating it to where I want it. After taking the bracket apart and moving it closer to the pilot side yoke, I find it doesn't provide enough clearance for my right hand on the yoke.
Obviously there is a reason Dave had his iPad mounted where he did. With everything now switched back exactly like I found  it, I reconnected my mounting plate and guess what, it was perfect. Next,I toggled the battery switch to on and synced the PMA 8000BT and attempted to do the same for the Flight Stream 210 to my iPad...easy peasy for the audio panel, not so much for the 210.

My instructor came by the hangar and handed off another set of questions for me to review and answer.  I decided to head back to the hotel, work through the questions and then relax, we are going to shoot for 2pm.
I returned for the 2pm meet but the rain poured down and the threat of thunderstorms were moving in. I decided to call it a day and returned  to the hotel. I am not a happy camper being stuck away from my bride and not accomplishing a thing.  I skipped dinner and instead grabbed some Pringles and Carmel peanut crunch along with a Fanta orange soda. Comfort food munchies to the rescue.

I read the study materials again and glanced over the emergency procedures in the POH.  I'm taking the rest of the night off, watching some NCIS then calling it a night.


I did manage to sleep in a bit later than normal. I rolled out of bed at 6:19 and immediately turned on Action News.  What's the action news deal you wonder...just the best darn news around.  I really miss the 6ABC  news team since we retired to Ocean City.

I decided on breakfast here at the hotel then searched the area for colored toggle caps. I made multiple stops at electrical supply companies, and automotive suppliers before waving the white flag. I'll order from Aircraft Spruce or Sporty's.
It was time to preflight and tug 45Yankee out into the sun for some us time.  I carefully did my preflight and then loaded my stuff in the baggage compartment.  Vince stopped by and checked out the plane, I think he really likes it.  I took my time and did a temporary video set up, connecting the audio cables too.  This video set up will take some planning before selecting the final spot.

Al was right on time and together we did a walk around with me explaining my process.  There was a cotter pin that needed to be bent over so a person doing the preflight wouldn't catch their hand or finger.  45Yankee drew first blood and despite her objection, the cotter pin is squared away.
We climbed aboard and discussed our plan for today's flight.  I followed Dave's start up procedure to the letter and 45Yankee came alive.  To say  I was nervous was an understatement. My knees had a bit of a shake going on but that disappeared once I hit the PTT button to call for taxi clearance.

I completed my run up and everything looked good, I was ready to log my first takeoff in 45Yankee.  Once cleared for take off I rolled on to the runway and unleashed the beast.  The big bore continental roared as I smoothly increased throttle while on the roll.  I was quickly off the runway and climbing  out of Wilmington. I called out positive climb, and with a tap of the brakes, and a flip of the switch the gear was coming up.
I flew steep turns, power on and off stalls, slow flight, an ILS approach into Chester County and an engine out or two.  We spent time in the practice area then headed for 33N, Delaware Airpark. The winds were gusty and this would be my first attempt at landing the Debonair. My approach felt stable and my numbers were spot on, I was on the runway.  I taxied back for another go and departed once again for some pattern work. Al changed the plan on departure and we instead headed to KEVY - Summit.  Instead of staying configured in gear down pattern work we climbed out to the north. I made the configuration change to gear up but my brain had my hands return the gear lever to what I thought was a middle detent position.

FYI, there is no middle detent position, I had immediately recycled the gear to the down position. I got distracted, confirmed I heard the gear in transit but didn't confirm the gear up light. I didn't make this mistake a second time. I quickly realized that my fly the numbers wasn't producing the book speeds and regrouped. I checked flap position, all good, checked gear up light, green, not good. I cycled the gear, confirmed red light, gears up, and watched the numbers fall into place. 45Yankee was teaching me. Al was patiently watching me recheck my numbers and let me find the problem, a good teaching moment.
We made a few landings at KEVY - Summit and then pushed farther north to KMQS - Chester County. Along the way I put the foggles on and planned for the ILS RWY 29 approach.  For the first approach it went very well.  Not having my numbers chart set up yet, 45Yankee was well behaved and quickly settled in for a stabilized descent to the runway.

Next up I was headed to KLNS - Lancaster. While I thought I had time to chug and plug the info (no iPad Garmin connection) and get my frequencies set up I was already hitting the ten mile out mark. Thankfully I was listening to the weather (ATIS) and checked in with the tower. I was high and fast but cleared to land number two which gave me time to drop the anchors, my gear, and descend keeping temps in good shape. I made a nice landing holding off the nose gear and made my way to the west ramp.

It was time for refreshments! I was soaked in sweat and needed a break.  We had been at this for two and a half hours.  Once in Fiorintino's we were seated and  I started drinking down raspberry ice teas, three of them. It was a good time to cool off and review our air work to this point.
One last hop for today, home to Wilmington, or so I thought.  After receiving my taxi instructions I headed for runway three-one. With my run-up completed I called the tower and was cleared to takeoff with a left turn on course approved.  45Yankee was really smooth and stable as I flowed through my checks and pointing us home. Al and I talked about staying ahead of the plane and always looking for an out, a plan B.

My pucker moment happened when Al advised we had an oil pressure issue.....what! I have been checking my gauges faithfully. I checked again and said numbers look great. Al replied no, it's a simulated engine issue...well duh, obviously I'm clueless. I quickly assessed the situation and pointed for N57- New Garden located about my ten o'clock position. I made the runway but I should have held off a bit longer dropping the gear.

We taxed back for departure and once again pointed for home. I was perfectly aligned for runway three two down wind entry and confirmed the towers direction for a left entry. There were two C130's ready for departure on runway two-seven so the tower had us enter a right down wind for three-two instead. I finished up with another good landing and was happy with my overall performance during today's flight training.  I'll be back at it tomorrow for the last hour and a half of dual, starting at 12:30.


It's a new day!  I hope to  finish up and get me and the plane home to Ocean City. Somehow I manage to skip breakfast and instead run a few errands. I'm still looking for color toggle caps, but came up empty. I'll have to call Sporty's or Aircraft Spruce and see what they have to offer.

I decided to return my rental early and catch a ride with a lineman back to the west T's.  I had to wait for my CFII, scheduled for 12:30, so I kept busy cleaning gear and and getting my bags stowed.

Vince stopped by to chat and he offered to help clean. I said I wanted to pair my iPad with the Flight Stream 210 so we both climbed aboard. Last night I read through the pairing sequence for the Garmin 345 bluetooth transponder and the Garmin 530W.  I thought I was ready for the task, Miss Deb had other ideas.

First things first, iPad on and in discovery mode. Next, 45Yankee battery on...battery on...ahhh, battery on. What the heck! The panel is dead, not a single instrument light or gyro spinning up.

Let's see, Missy Deb draws first blood yesterday and today she refuses to power up.  Missy Deb fits the spoiled little girl she is. Obviously she doesn't want to leave Dave, or Wilmington.

I'm sure she will eventually come to learn that I will care for her like her previous owner has done for many years and she will get plenty of exercise while visiting new places. But for now she continues to test me.

I called Dave to see if he had any ideas, he came right to the hangar. Dave knows the Deb as well as I knew the Sundowner, it's very obvious. Vince borrowed a battery charger and removed the Concorde battery for a top off.  Vince was my life line, he provided wheels, mechanical skills, a charger and support.  Thank you!
The determination is made that the battery/master solenoid has, for lack of a better term and my frustration, shit the bed. I made a quick call to Cecil Aero and they had one unit in stock. Josh at Cecil Aero asked me to try a quick test to confirm. Remain clear of the prop, battery switch on and tap the solenoid.  We followed his instructions and with the battery switch hot a simple tap had power flowing to the panel. Battery switch off, then back on and the panel was dead again.  Rinse and repeat a few times with the same results.

Al, my instructor volunteered his Cessna 182 for the parts run. I was instructed to fly left seat, Vince climbed in the back and Al was right seat.  Uh...Al? I haven't flown a Cessna in many years and never a 182.  "If you can fly the Debonair you can fly the 182, climb aboard", okie dokie.
The 182 felt solid when we taxied, just like the Deb. With the run up completed we were cleared to take off runway one-four, and off we went.  Al did radio work until we were released from Wilmington and he programed the 430W while I just flew the plane. Al laughed and said, "you really don't need any GPS as well as I knew the area", I was good to go for 58M, Claremont.

I made my position calls and made a nice landing on runway three-one. Like the Deb, you have to hold off the nose with all that weight out front and let her just gently settle in. Trim is your friend. This isn't the Sundowner anymore, these aircraft need a bit more attention when touching down. The three of us jumped out and walked into the shop. Josh was ready for us and had the part, so it was a quick grab and go. We passed Stan in the shop and chatted for a bit then climbed aboard the 182 for the mission at hand.
I made another nice landing back into Wilmington, missing the first taxiway (F) but making the turn off on runway one-four as instructed by the tower. We put he Cessna 182 to bed and headed back to  over to the Deb, time to reinstall.
With the new battery/master solenoid installed we gave it a test.  Vince climbed aboard and called clear, then hit the battery switch, the panel came to life.  Thumbs up! Battery switch cold, time to close up the plane.  Vince and I ran to get water, ice tea and burgers at the Kings place then returned to the airport.  Vince had to head into work so I thanked him for all his help and promised to get back to ILG and take him for some flight time in the Deb. I think all this motivated him even more to finish up his PPL.

I hung out drinking my huge ice tea and eating the cheeseburger. I just needed to take a breath and calm down. I was going to finish the transition training today and head south, if daylight permitted.  Al showed up after his other lesson finished up and I had 45Yankee ready to go. We both climbed aboard for the last 1.5 hours of training.

Following the taxi and run up we launched from runway nine. Ground asked if I could accept an intersection departure and I requested full runway instead. I guess I ticked him off because he taxied a twin from the other end of the field and made me wait until they passed.  Fine, some sin bin time, if it made him feel better, great.

We climbed out and headed towards Summit, KEVY.  Along the way we did more slow flight and stalls. Power on and off and in climbing turns. No problems, things were moving right along. I did an emergency gear extension, wow that's a lot of turning to drop the gear, around 52 turns. I flowed through all the procedures and emergency situations without an issue.  Finally the words I wanted to hear, take us to Wilmington. I made another nice landing and taxied back to the hangar to complete the paper work.

The Recap: 

PIC in a Complex Airplane
High Performance Airplane
Flight Review endorsement
Time to finally head home. Can I hot start like I did in Lancaster the other day? The answer was no, I had 45Yankee running and leaned a bit to quickly and didn't put in enough throttle. I tried two more times, no start. Girl, we are going to Ocean City if I have to push, tow or truck you there, get with the program. Dave walked over and gave me much needed advice and I tried it again, he has the magic touch. 45Y fired up and we taxied out.

After completing my run up, solo, I sat waiting for take off clearance, it was getting warm in the plane. Finally, it was my turn and I rolled for departure like I have been flying this plane for years. A smooth climb out on Daves suggested numbers and she took to it, I think we were both having fun.
In a blink I was clear of Wilmington and crossing the C&D canal. I picked up flight following with Dover approach and enjoyed the ride. I actually used the S-Tech 50 autopilot, taking advantage of the heading mode and altitude features. I monitored gauges and the traffic, finally settling in, in the new plane.
I arrived at Ocean City just at sunset and made a nice landing. We were home.  I was tired and soaked in sweat as I pushed Missy Deb into the nest.  It's going to be a very good relationship and I will take care of her like I did the Sundowner. I think she'll come around to the new diggs and pilot.

Special thanks to Dave for ALL his help and words of wisdom flying the Deb. I promise to take care of 45Yankee as you did and I know she will treat Mary and I right.

Vince, thank you for all your help. You were my life line. I'm looking forward to flight time with you and you finally getting that PPL.

I am tired and need a's good to be home.


Jim and Sandie said...

Give her time. Being "dumped" is hard and Deb needs to get to know you better. Lol She's going to love her new home.

Gary said...


Excellent insight....I spent some time with her today cleaning up from yesterdays flights. Maybe get back in the air next week, once I recover and gets some rest.

Anonymous said...

LIke i always said you are a machine! You cant make this stuff up. Simply amazing!! Congrats my friend!

Gary said...

Thanks, Mike! I wear that label as a badge of honor.

Steve said...

I'm still most impressed how quickly you went from "let's consider a new airplane" to "the Sundowner sold" to "hey I've got my Complex/HP and a new Deb in the hangar!"

Well done and congrats. Enjoy the new bird.

Gary said...


If you remember, back in 2014 I sat on the fence for weeks trying to pull the trigger on a V tail Bo or some other upgrade for speed. Fortunately I held my ground and kept the Sundowner.

After the last long trip to Waco, we had to do something to speed things up. Time in the saddle for this broke down body is not good and Mary feels the same way. If we are going to be traveling more and try to winter in Florida we wanted speed.

As the process moved forward we were starting to entertain offers on the Sundowner. When it looked it was a go I pulled the trigger on the Deb. This was not my first choice, 45Yankee wasn't even listed, it was right place at the right time and I happened to be there.

Everything is still a blur....