Monday, December 30, 2019

Parking Brake Valve, The Discovery

Christmas Morning

Mary and I were scheduled to fly to Wilmington for Christmas but when I opened the hangar door at 8:15 I found a puddle of 5606 (Hydraulic Fluid) stretching from the firewall to the front tire. I didn't feel like dealing with it so I locked up the hangar and motioned to Mary as if I was steering a car.  I then let her know we would be driving north. A two hour drive vs a forty minute flight.

Friday December 27th

After our return I headed back to the hangar to address the leak. I didn't see it leaking but did find a trail of fluid on the firewall below two fittings.  I checked to make sure both fittings were snug using a line wrench, then cleaned up the area. Next I climbed/crawled into the pilots side floor space and added two syringes of 5605 to the right side master, and one and a half to the left side. This was not looking good. With everything refilled and buttoned up I locked up the hangar and headed home. 

Saturday December 28th

Saturday the North East Flyers are going to meet at Easton Airport, KESN. I signed up and figured I would get over to the airport early and finish my preflight by sumping fuel and check for any leaks. I entered the hangar and was looking at the same exact puddle under the plane, again stretching from the firewall to the front tire.  Crap!  I'm grounded. 
I left things as they were and made a call to a local A&P. An A&P maintenance technician refers to an individual who holds an Airframe and/or Powerplant certificate which is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Fortunately the man I called was headed to the Ocean City Airport to complete work on a Piper Warrior.  
Jerry, the mechanic, looked over the Commander and offered to help with the bottom cowl removal when I was ready. I had removed the top cowl and set it on a moving blanket. I was in the process of removing the screws, nuts, and bolts for the bottom, which is a bit more complicated with cowl flaps and gear doors. 

I called it a day, or at least I thought so, and headed home. While I was checking my list of items needed for the repair, Bob C sent me a text from Easton Airport.  Bob wanted to add another leg to his flight today and planned to make a stop at Ocean City once he was finished eating breakfast. I responded I would meet him there and if he had time I would appreciate a hand dropping the lower cowl. He agreed. I threw on my shoes and decided to take Ziva along for the ride and some play time.
I had two screws remaining, finger tight, holding the lower cowl in place. We each removed the screws on our side and lowered the cowl, clearing the gear doors on the nose gear and steering clear of the prop. Its a two man job and Bob saved the day.
We hung out for a bit watching all the traffic in and out of the airport, it was busy. I loaded Ziva in the SUV and then saw Bob off for his last leg home.
Monday December 30th 

I had ordered a repair kit from Aircraft Spruce for the Cleveland 60-5 valve body that replaces A-850-1 previously manufactured by Gerdes. So the parts are here and ready for the install.
The brake valve unit is located on the co-pilot side lower firewall.  

For a better view here is a unit that is for sale on Ebay ($508). I hope my valve is good and only needs new O rings.
The first call this morning was to my usual shop, Cecil Aero, located at 58M in Elkton, MD. Unfortunately they are short handed with a tech out sick, and the holiday shortened week.

Attempt number two was made to the on field shop at Ocean City. Unfortunately they are slammed with planes in for annual and their mechanic is only part time.

So to relieve some stress I decided to stop at the hangar to clean up the bottom cowl.  There was a white type of grunge or cloudy look to it from the exhaust trail, it had to go.

I used a product for boat fiberglass oxidation removal, it's some mixture of polishing compound and cleaner.  It works perfect and with a simple wax on wax off (just like the movie)the cowl looks fantastic. 

I hope to provide a follow up post, if and when I can wrangle an A&P to do the work. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

2019 in Review

Airplane Search and Purchase

I started to search for a plane in December but knew perfectly well Mary and I both had to get back in the air to make this all work. With the help of our friend Charles we confirmed we were both ready to fly again.

I found our next plane the end of March, just two weeks after our get back in the air flights. On April 2nd Mary and I drove out to Morgantown WV to meet the owner and the aircraft up close. This saved us driving time meeting halfway and we both appreciated Bill's offer to do this.
The prebuy/annual was scheduled for the third week of April out in Ohio at Bills hangar. I selected an A&P, one of three that Bill had used over the years of his ownership. It was a learning experience and the start of a new process for me and 3 Tango Charlie.
With the inspection process completed Bill and I closed the deal. Unfortunately weather would keep us from bringing the plane to Ocean City. Bill was gracious enough to bring the plane to us the following week. On April 24th 3 Tango Charlie was finally home in Ocean City. 

By The Numbers

ASEL:                1336.1

2019:                  56.0
Complex:               55.5
Cross Country:         33.8
Simulated Instrument:   5.2
PIC:                   56.0

New Airports - 4

KMSV - Sullivan County Airport
KHGR - Hagerstown Regional Airport
KCXO - Conroe-North Houston Regional
T74 -  Taylor Municipal



My first flight, I was finally back in the air. A very special shout out to Charles G at N57, New Garden. Charles kept me mentally in the game, focused, and finally got me back in a plane.
Just one week later Charles returned to Ocean City and took Mary for her return to flight.

April was busy with getting the new to us Commander scheduled for annual and having her delivered to Ocean City. 


What a crazy month!  Trying to get a CFII scheduled that met the insurance company minimums was a PITA. I finally found a CFII and he was nice enough to come to Ocean City for a few days of training. 


The training is underway.  I ended up with eleven plus hours of flight time, four and a half hours of ground instruction and twenty eight landings. Lets not forget a BFR and an IPC.


This was the getting to know her period.  I crawled all over 3 Tango Charlie in an effort to learn everything I could about her systems and avionics. I immersed myself in the Garmin 480 flight simulator to learn every button push and shortcut. I did manage to fly out for breakfast with my hangar neighbor, Chet.  It was a welcome get-away and a chance to fly 3 Tango Charlie to Millville NJ.


More training!  Mike B flew in from Boston to help me learn the Stec autopilot and provide a better hands on opportunity with the Garmin 480. At times it was frustrating, I had lost that natural flow, always being ahead of the plane. I was starting over in the Commander and Mike helped me get over that mental block. He restored my confidence that I can still do this pilot stuff.


It was time to start flying the plane and having some fun. Mary and I made a few short hops and managed to catch up with the Beech Aero Club.  
Sadly, we were not able to attend BACFest this year. So, we still have tickets to use or loose before February 18th.  Maybe a trip to warmer weather over the holidays. 


I did have a few things done to 3 Tango Charlie. I had the Reiff pre-heat system installed for winter ops, and replaced the seat roller bearings.  Our airplane tug got new tires and I rebuilt the switch that makes it go.


What a busy month! I started out with a flight to Millville NJ to meet up with friend and fellow pilot Chris N. I finally got to check out his beautiful V Tail Bonanza.

Mary and I wanted to get away for our anniversary so we planned for Sanibel Island, Florida.  This would have been a perfect first 'travel' flight for us in 3 Tango Charlie.  Unfortunately, we had airline tickets to use or lose from our cancelled Denver trip so that's how we traveled. 
We did manage a few breakfast flights this month and planned to fly into Newport News, Virginia to see Clint Black. Due to the weather the Newport News flight (45 minutes) turned into a three hour ground pound. Not cool. 

Mary and I once again boarded the commercial tube for a Thanksgiving in Austin, Texas.  We had a blast with our friends Candy and Mark. We are very excited that they will be moving to the Blacksburg Virginia area, that's just a short hop for 3 Tango Charlie.


Tis the season! Yes, the season for giving, and that's exactly what we did for 3 Tango Charlie. Mary and I decided to join a few of our friends for breakfast in Ocean City, NJ (26N). We made it home but the plane was grounded due to a mag issue
I did eventually bring 3 Tango Charlie home after making a contribution to the good folks at Aerial Services, Inc., at the Woodbine Airport. Thanks guys for getting us back in the air!

Mary and I are looking forward to 2020 and more travels together. Our friends, Candy and Mark, are moving to Blacksburg, Virginia so we will be making that round trip often, at least until they get tired of seeing us.

We also want to get back to traveling to new destinations and revisiting some of our past favorites. Mary and I hope you continue to read our blog and watch our YouTube videos as we explore together.  

We wish a Happy, and Healthy New Year to all our readers!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Survival Gear Review

After watching a few of my favorite YouTube flying Channels, I was motivated to review and update my Survival gear. I am going to add this task to my year end flying review blog post.  Think of it as checking the smoke alarm batteries when you change the clocks. 

Here is my current survival gear, purchased for my cross country to Dubuque Iowa for BACFest back in October of 2015.
First aid kit
12 Pouches of water - Expiration 8/20
Water purification tablets
2400 calorie food bars (2)- Expiration 8/20
Light stick
Flashlight w/batteries
Nylon Cord
Orange survival tent
Emergency blankets (2)
Waterproof matches
Ponchos (2)
Whistle/Compass/signal mirror

AM/FM Radio with Batteries
Camper’s Stove
Utility Knife

The Mayday survival kit items are packaged in a backpack that measures 12"w x 17"h x 10"d and ready to go weighs only 11 lbs.

I will replace my water and food bars this summer. The plan is to search out MRE's instead of the 2400 calorie bars, and I'll go with the same water packs. 

Check back, I'm going to open the food bars and sample them this summer. 

In addition, I also carry two life vests, since we often cross the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. 
West Marine vests and dye packs
Our automatic/manual inflatable life vests are made by West Marine. When I purchased the vest I added Orion dye markers to each vest for added visibility in the water. 

A few additional items I will add to the survival kit will include a small axe, a mess kit, and a personal emergency locator beacon.

What do you carry on board every flight or on those cross countries that are over open terrain? 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our readers and best wishes for a safe and Happy New Year! 

To all of you that share our passion for flight, we hope you enjoy the adventures that 2020 will offer. 

Fly Safe! 
Gary & Mary

Friday, December 20, 2019

NTSB Returned The Video

I made a call to NTSB on Thursday (12/19) and once again asked about having my video camera and data card returned.  Usually it’s the same answer, “I can not return the data until the final report is released”.  

This time I was told by the person in charge of our investigation that she would contact the lab and get everything sent to me.  Maybe it was my prompting, 'tis the season' and all that, I really would like my equipment returned. I think it would be a nice gift.

So today (Friday 12/20) UPS rang the doorbell and left a package. When I read the address I was speechless.  Mary and I, sitting together holding hands, viewed the accident video. Initially it made me feel sick, then I calmed down, and after multiple views I was ok with watching. I will never be comfortable with the sound of stress in our voices. My takeaways from viewing the video; My bride was amazing that day, I’m a very lucky man. I know Mary attributes our survival to my piloting, but, I owe our survival to her calming affect when the crap was hitting the fan.  We make one hell of a team. 

I am still debating if I should post the video for public viewing. I put together my Vlog type commentary before and after the crash footage. Maybe it will take some time to really digest it all, and figure out which direction to turn. For Mary and I, it’s like ripping that band-aid off all over again. As Tim Allen said on Last Man Standing, ripping a band-aid off with hair attached. Ouch!

Maybe we were both better off just wondering. My minds eye view of that day was ok to live with, the reality of that day was graphic, disturbing, and painful to relive. Be careful what you wish for was the first thing that came to my mind. 

Mary and I will continue to move forward, once again, enjoying travel by our new magic carpet. We are thankful to be here and as my former coworker AnnaMarie so perfectly said,  “You are blessed. Now do good things with the rest of your life.”

That sounds like a great plan. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

VLog Update 12/18/2019

It's a beautiful day on the Eastern Shore! Sunshine and blue skies with a high temp of a crisp 43°. I spent some time at the airport, eating lunch in the terminal with the folks who work there.  Lynn was busy with the jet crew and John was just sitting down for lunch, it was good timing. When I finished up I asked for fuel, no rush, enjoy your lunch, I have a few things I need to do.  I got those few things done in the hangar and did a preflight, getting ready for a possible Friday BAC fly-in at N40.  The only thing I will have to do prior to start up is sump fuel, disconnect the preheat and tug 3 Tango Charlie out.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Bringing 3 Tango Charlie Home

It's an early start to a beautiful but chilly day here at the eastern shore.  It was a bit nip at just 27°.  The plan is to once again take the Cape May Lewes Ferry across the Delaware Bay to the Jersey shore.  I am hoping this is not becoming a trend, having not ridden the ferry since I retired and now twice in one week. Although, I am happy to report since turning 62 I got a $2 discount. Woo Hoo.
The Driving  :(
Boarding begins for the 8:45 departure. As I make my way onto the boat, in my rented Nissan Mirage,  I find myself in the exact same position as our return trip this past Sunday. I am number two on the right side, starboard I believe, side of the boat.  Here I will sit for the next hour and a half trying to nap or starting this blog post. Maybe being out on the water will inspire me, I think I’ll have a better shot at taking that nap.

I'm Awake Now

The crossing will take another forty-five minutes to arrive at Cape May.  I was awoken from my nap by a car alarm that went off, some people just don’t listen to the departure announcements.  I guess it’s as good as time as any to break open my croissant with bacon and cheese from Dunkin’ Donuts. Today’s ride is not as flat as Sundays, I’m enjoying a little bit of a rolling motion from side to side. The couple behind me is passed out in their SUV,  I even people watch on the ferry boat. Upon my arrival to Cape May I will head directly to woodbine Airport in order to settle up my bill with the folks who fixed my plane. This short hop should take maybe 30 minutes.
I arrived at Aerial Services in Hangar 5 located on the Woodbine Airport. They are located at the top of the T intersection of John Penn Blvd.  I went in the door for the Flight School and met Dave, the man I needed to see in order to square up my bill.  We chatted about different planes and how our brides think of it as just another form of transportation.  We got a good laugh on that one. 

The repair bill break down as follows: 
  • Troubleshoot and remove right mag
  • Install new Slick Mag MN4370. 
  • Install Mag Gaskets
  • Time both magnetos
  • Run engine and perform ops check. Good
  • Labor 4.5 hours 
  • Travel 2.4 hours

With my bill squared away I pointed my rental car to Ocean City Airport. It was another short drive, maybe 30 minutes with the  restricted travel lanes due to road construction. I got the ok from the man at the terminal desk to drive through the gate and load up a few items in 3 Tango Charlie. The cover was damp and folded up in the baggage area, that will need to dry out when I get home. 

My next stop was in Summers Point NJ to drop off my rental car at Enterprise. I was really ticked that last night they told me I could not get shuttled back to the airport until 1 pm. I'll take my chance since it's noon and saying no to a customer face to face is way harder then over the phone. Sure enough I rolled in, parked the car, and went inside. Yes, I was ready to do battle if need be. I approached and politely asked for a ride back to the airport since I was told they don't do pick ups at the airport. I did remind them that the airport staff said they do pick up cars, at least during airshow events. I got that look, then a pause, followed by a driver to bring me back.  Hey, it works for me. 

The scariest part of my trip was the drive back to the airport. Tom, who will not remain nameless, blew through stop signs, two, and refused to listen to my road closure alerts.  Instead he turned down Bay Ave and ran right up to the ROAD CLOSED barricades. He did comment they must be doing construction....really? I tried to tell you Bay Ave was closed. I even asked if he was ready for Christmas, there was a long pause then he simply said, yeah.  We went down a few closed streets, even drove behind the barricades at one point, drawing attention from the workers.  I held both hands up, pointed to the driver and shook my head. They laughed, I didn't, I was still belted in the car with him. Finally the driver listens and takes us past the closure and pulls into the airport. I was unbuckled and out the door as soon as the car stopped rolling. Seeee Ya!

I chatted again with the man at the desk, wishing him a Merry Christmas and thanking him and the staff for their help. With that, I was out the door and ready to get to the business of getting 3 Tango Charlie home.  
The Flying
I had jumper cables and the battery connection if needed. I completed my fuel sump, and preflight inspection. With everything secured I followed my cold start procedures and cranked 3 TC over. With a slight stumble she caught and came to life. I was happy I didn't have to crank very long. I sat patiently and watched my panel oil temp gauge and JPI monitor temp slowly climb. Once it hit 120° I released the brakes and taxied for runway six. EGT and CHT's looked normal and she felt right. I once again set the parking brake and followed the checklist for the run up. Both mags checked out fine as I flowed through the list, I even gave them a second check.

My plan was to depart runway six, if not in the air by midfield I would pull power and apply heavy braking to get stopped.  Once past Vr and in the air I would best angle climb and turn out to the west over the wetland area, avoiding homes. I was happy with my plan and with that rolled on the runway.  Brakes were applied and two notches of flaps verified as I increased throttle. 3 Tango Charlie was lurching forward, ready to go, and I cut her lose. I quickly climbed into the air and with a careful pace retracted my gear and flaps. 
40 miles from over WWD to Salem Nuke plant.
I shadowed the Jersey Shore as I climbed for six thousand five hundred feet for my Bay crossing. The plane felt great, no issues, just like her typical self. I continued across the Delaware Bay and eventually let down for Ocean City. Weather was reporting winds 070 at 7 or 8 so runway two was the choice.  Besides, there was a school plane doing pattern work on the same runway.

I slowed down and configured for landing as I continued to bleed off airspeed. Adding the last notch of flaps I set 3 Tango Charlie down smoothly, riding that wheelie and burning off speed. I sent Mary a text letting her know I was down and she said she would drive over to get me. I had totally forgotten I had no wheels at the airport.  Thankfully Mary was on it.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

The Mag Misadventure

Today's plan was for a quick breakfast flight to 26N, Ocean City NJ followed by a lazy day around the house then ending with a Christmas party in Wilmington Delaware. Sounds great, right? I had 3 Tango Charlie on preheat Friday night and she was fueled, preflighted, and ready for the mission at hand.

Mary and I climbed aboard and taxied for runway two on schedule, 7:30am. The flight time was for thirty-five minutes so we should be arriving for the 8am meet up. Attending today's  breakfast would be Charles G, and his friend Jack,  Bob C, Chris N along with his Bride and her Aunt. This would be my first time eating at the OC Airport Diner.

The air was chilly, just hanging on the twenty-five degree mark, and the Commander was just ok for making heat.  I will need to investigate this a bit deeper.  We climbed to seven point five for crossing the Bay and let down as we approached the Cape May lighthouse. I made my position calls and advised Chris I was ten out. Charles also advised of his position.

I flowed through my GUMPS check and with the final call of three green, and last notch of flaps, I rolled it on the runway.  As I approached my turn off I raised the flaps, leaned a bit and pulled the throttle back to reduce RPM's. 3 Tango Charlie went silent, yep, I was coasting for the turn off, no motor noise, no Varooom.
I quickly radio I was dead on the runway and would try a restart to clear. Charles and Bob were going to orbit overhead while I got my tail clear.  No luck, the hot start didn't work and I had to tug myself off the runway.  So, after multiple hot start tries I climbed out, opened the baggage door and grabbed my shiny new, never used, tow bar. Holy crap! It doesn't fit my plane! Yep, no tow bar.  I grabbed the prop hub while Mary stepped on the left rudder pedal and George from the terminal helped push. 3 Tango Charlie was finally clear. Charles landed on two-four and Bob, now faced with a wind change, landed on runway six. Everyone was down safely, I was still at the far end of the runway. 

A home/hangar owner asked if I would like to use his tug, it pulled by the wheel, much like mine at our hangar. I happily accepted and we got the tug hooked up. The unit operated with a throttle type grip, like a motorcycle. 

I made my way to the ramp and eventually made it to a tie down spot. Bob offered to tug the plane for me but I figured my plane, my problem, my walk of shame. 
The walk of shame
Mary was waiting inside and had saved me a seat at our table. We all gathered and enjoyed a very good breakfast.

Once we finished breakfast I headed out for a cold start. 3 Tango Charlie fired up but didn't feel like her normal self. I increased the throttle and she ran smooth as I waited for the oil temps to come up. I know I looked at the engine monitor but I really don't remember what it read. I'm thinking it looked good or it would have registered in my brain.

Once the temps were up I did a run up. Power came up to two thousand rpm's and as soon as I switched to the right mag the engine rumbled, sputtered and backfired. Yikes!  I quickly switched back to the left mag and all was smooth. One more click to the right and she was running smoothly on both. Hmmm, did I have a fouled plug?  I increased the throttle and leaned, no change. I did another mag check with the same results, rough as heck then a backfire. I switched back to both and shut down. We were NOT flying home today. 
My rescue pilot!
Charles and Bob both volunteered to get Mary and I back to OXB.  Mary flew with Bob due to our weight and balance not working and I flew with Charles.  
Our rescue pilots and their aircraft
Here we are on the ground at Ocean City. I can't thank these guys enough, they really bailed me out today. I know I'm there for them whenever they need me.

A few pics to help identify the mags on the Lycoming IO-360 engine. 


A shout out to Jeff D out of Woodbine Airport.  Jeff immediately answered my text on Saturday asking him if he knew of any mechanic that could service my plane at Ocean City NJ, since there was no shop or mechanic at the airport. Jeff gave me a name at Woodbine and his contact info.

When I returned home Saturday I took pics of my engine log book and texted everything I could produce, mag related, to the contact Jeff provided me from Woodbine. 

I got a call Monday to let me know his shop had sent guys over to start the airplane repairs. The right mag was indeed toast and they were pulling the left mag to check on it. The weather was really crappy and they worked between the showers. These guys are dedicated. I will do a follow up post on the shop and the repairs once everything is completed.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Lone Star Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving had a different twist this year.  Mary and I would usually start our day watching parades and doing food prep, when we spend the holiday at home.  This year, we decided to road trip.  So I suggest you settle in with some leftover turkey topped with cranberry and stuffing on a tasty steak roll and come along for the ride. 

Thursday -Turkey Day

Mary and I awoke with no Ziva girl, our baby girl was boarded at the VCA clinic, her home away from home.  We both were packed and ready for the adventure to begin as we secured our home and loaded our bags in old blue for the ride to the airport.
Today's first leg is on an American airlines Embraer 145, serviced by Piedmont, departing Salisbury, MD arriving in Philadelphia. The forecast was calling for strong gusty winds despite blue skies and typical seasonal temps.  Thirty minutes on the road and I wheeled into the parking lot at the terminal. After obtaining my parking ticket and slipping under the gate we did the lot creep, searching for a parking spot. The lot was pretty much full. 

The terminal was empty, except for a few couples waiting for TSA to open. The terminal was so quiet that the only noise was our luggage wheels clicking across each tile floor joint as we headed to the check in counter.  Mary and I each had our electronic boarding pass so we just had to check our bags, this will lighten my wallet by $60. 

Now relieved of our tag-alongs, we found two seats and joined the TSA waiting game.  The screening soon opened and we all followed along like good little sheeple. Mary and I both passed through the body scanner with no issue, rare for me, but my flight bag held up the works. As the shoe-less crowd gathered on the gate side, my bag did multiple trips through the machine.  I was starting to get odd looks. Eventually my bag emerged followed by shoes and belongings for everyone. I slipped on my shoes and belt, with minimum eye contact, apologizing as I collected my belongings. Yikes, that was uncomfortable. 

Boarding soon followed and after almost being blown away climbing the stairway to the plane, we greeted the crew.  Happy Thanksgiving,  thank you for working today to get us to our destination, we appreciate you being here on the holiday.  The crew responded with smiles and thanked us in return, that's how people should treat each other.  We made our way to row seven and settled in. 

It was a quick takeoff roll with all the winds right down the runway. The climb out was bumpy as we penetrated a few to scattered layer but soon felt smooth and comfy once on top. There was no haze layer this morning, I could see clear to Ocean City, and up the coast to the Indian River Inlet bridge. Our flight took us across the Delaware Bay, crossing over Cape Henlopen DE to Cape May NJ and directly over the Atlantic City airport.  
The aircraft banked left now pointing towards Philly as I watched the New Jersey landscape pass by below.  The clouds began to close up as we made our way north, but the layer did not look thick.  Our crew did a very nice job in the gusty winds, landing on runway two-seven right.

It was a short walk from our gate to the shuttle bus gate in terminal F. Philly was not crowded and that made for an easy transfer to terminal C.  As we passed a few food places we decided to grab a sandwich and snacks for the next flight, it beats cookies and pretzels. 
The call was made for boarding to begin, and once again the lines formed and we followed the make shift corrals to the plane. The aircraft for this hop is another Embraer, this time a little larger, the 190. The seating was two seats each side of the aisle, and we were in row 25. A short walk to the bathrooms, exits and the snack and drink cart. Yes, we were in the next to the last row.

The takeoff roll was a bit longer then the first leg, and the winds were pushing the plane around pretty good in a swaying motion. Whoever was the pilot flying sure needed happy feet on the rudder pedals this morning.  
The remainder of the flight was smooth and quiet until we approached our destination. We now had to descend through that layer we had climbed above, but now it was thick and bumpy over Texas. We broke out around thirteen hundred feet and the crew did a great job getting us on the runway. 

Welcome to Texas!

Mary and I were the last passengers to leave the plane and welcome to Austin was the greeting we received by the ground and terminal staff. The terminal seemed rather new, very clean, and strategically laid out.  

I did locate the check in for American so we'll be good to go for our return departure, unlike the Sanibel, Florida airport misadventure. The baggage claim area was busy but orderly, and the decorations for the Christmas holidays were beautiful. 

We cancelled our rental and instead our friend and fellow pilot Mark picked us up.  Mary and I were headed to Mark and Candy's home for Thanksgiving. 

Friendsgiving doesn't cover this holiday, since we consider Mark and Candy family. We also got to meet Candy's sister, Carmen.  We all hit it off and I knew right away it was going to be a fun few days.


I awoke to a low overcast sky, there would be no morning flight.  The plan was for the men to head to the airport to take care of a few items on Marks Beech Sierra to do list, and as for the ladies, who knows what they had planned. 
The group reconvened in the early afternoon, back at the house. The ladies scratched their shopping itch and the boys got to play with the airplane. Mark and I hope to get some airtime tomorrow, shooting some approaches for currency. 
We all took some time to relax and ponder our choice for dinner.  The group finally settled on Rudy's, it was Texas BBQ time. It was a bit of a drive but holy smokes, the moist brisket was unbelievable.  Our order consisted of brisket, smoked turkey, chicken, and sausage.  For sides we had creamed corn (to die for), baked beans, and potato salad.  I could have eaten more but I didn't want to fall into a food coma. Mary and I eventually headed off to bed, tummies full, and happy little campers. 


Rise and shine! Today the fog finally lifted. Candy, Carmen, and Mary made a fantastic breakfast. A quiche of sorts with sausage, eggs, onions, and cubed honey wheat bread. It was yummy for the tummy.
The men had plans of more airplane time, and Candy's sister Carmen was heading home to Nashville. Shortly after lunch, Mark and I said goodbye to Carmen since we would not be home before she left for the airport. 

Goodbyes are never easy, but with a hug and promise of catching up again Mark and I headed out for the day of activities.

We started off with a stop at the UPS store, that was easy enough.  Next up a Home Depot stop for some cleaning supplies and then on to the airport. Mark checked on yesterdays work to check the status of the materiel used to make a sheet metal mold.  The product had not fully cured.
The next item to address was fueling the plane. It was decided that we would take flight tomorrow, since Sunday's forecast provided for much cooler temps. Mark tugged 3 5 Delta out of the hangar and quickly had the fan turning. Along with fueling, Mark wanted to heat up the oil with a run up and high speed taxi. 

The plan also included a deep cycle of the McCauley prop, at least five times to help oil and set the prop hub rings. 3 5 Delta had experienced a slight weep at the three prop bases, and Lycoming addressed this issue. After hearing 3 5 Delta rumble down the runway I could only hope 3 Tango Charlie's IO 360 sounded just as bad ass.

We followed the recommended cleaning process for the prop and then cleaned the windscreen in prep for our Sunday flight.
Oz boy
Muffin - Alfa kitty
Mark and I returned to the house and together with our brides shared an evening of stories and good laughs, along with loving the fur kids, before finally calling it a night. Dinner was leftover Rudy's, life is so good.


The weather had broken, and yesterday's heat had faded away. Cooler temps prevailed and I needed my fleece pullover to feel warm enough to fly. When we arrived at Taylor airport there were planes and gyrocopters keeping the pattern busy. Mark and I completed the preflight and tugged 3 5 Delta out into the sunshine.
Mark does an excellent job with checklists and the take off briefing. We had a plan in place, and announced departing runway three two. 
The Sierra climbed out with very good power as we turned for 60R, Navasota Municipal airport. This first approach was with the autopilot, the RNAV GPS 35. The Stec performed flawlessly and Mark briefed and flew a very nice approach. 
Next up, after going missed at Navasota, was the RNAV GPS 34 at Brenham, 11R. This approach was all hand flown. Mark did a nice job despite gusty winds, and at minimums we were looking straight down the runway. 
Mute Swan
Wingspan 6-8' Weight 20-24lbs
I should also note as he was reviewing the approach plate, five very large Mute Swans passed under the nose, left to right, and just slipped under the right wing. It could have been real ugly, really fast. 

After going missed once again, we plotted a course for KCXO, Conroe North Houston Regional. This leg was all headwind and bumpy. Although Mark tells me this is Texas, and that's not really bumpy. My back and butt thought otherwise. 

Finally, some landmarks! 

Lake Conroe
As we passed over Lake Conroe to enter the left down wind for runway three-two Mark selected the visual approach on the Garmin 750. I really liked the visual feature that provides an extended center-line and vertical guidance. With a smooth landing complete, we taxied clear, then turned for the Galaxy FBO. Once 3 5 Delta was secured we headed to the Black Walnut Cafe' on the second floor of the FBO. 

Mark and I placed our food order then grabbed a table next to the window overlooking the runway. The food and service was very good. Mark had a steak pot pie and I had two eggs over medium and the most wonderful bowl of grits..ever! 
DRESSED UP GRITSstone-ground yellow grits, peppered bacon, cheddar, sour cream, onion au jus, tomatoes
It was time to get back in the air. After picking up our taxi clearance we made our way to the runway for departure. For this leg we were heading back to Taylor for a VOR 17 approach and a random hold along the way that would finish up our day. 

Mark made a nice landing with winds gusting 20 kts. Once we taxied clear we made a beeline for the hangar. I was getting tired and needed something cool to drink. Together we tag teamed cleaning up, and closed the hangar door when we finished. let's go home!

The ladies were waiting when we returned, everyone was ready for dinner. Our selection would be a casual place, keeping it simple. Everyone wanted steak so we headed to Logan's Roadhouse. The food and service was very good. We each had steaks that were tender and cooked to perfection.
Mark drove us home and we all settled in for some Sunday night football. I made it through the first half then surrendered, the sandman was calling my name.


Mark and Candy left for the airport so Mark could catch his flight back to Blacksburg via Charlotte.  When Candy returned we all sat and had our morning coffee and I had my tea.
We gave some thought to driving north to Waco. The initial plan was to sign up for the Magnolia Market tour of homes they had worked on, since it was the only item on our list we didn't do on our last visit.
I just wasn't feeling up to speed, actually I was experiencing some pain in my right lower leg. We decided to cancel the Waco trip and instead head out to explore lake Travis in Bolente, TX. Mary, Candy, and I had lunch at the Oasis restaurant, overlooking the lake. We had a fun time at the lake and checking out all the shops. 
Candy gave us the local tour, noting the house they first rented when they came to Texas and where she had worked. It was a beautiful area, very well established and all gorgeous homes. It was interesting to see the different construction methods and materials for this engineer. I really liked the gas prices!
Eventually we made our way back to the house, but not before we drove past a H.E.B. supermarket. We share a running joke about grocery stores since Ocean City's selection of two absolutely sucks.
We were all still full from our late lunch so we decided on munchies to carry us through Monday night football.  Now Candy is a Vikings fan and you all know I'm a Packers fan. I really wanted a Vikings loss to help the Packers playoff picture. The only bad part was I dislike the Seahawks even more. 
I called it a night at halftime and turned in. I wasn't feeling great, with a bit of the chills and body ache.


We all slept in today. I know I felt much better after a good night's sleep. Mary and I packed for our flight to Charlotte, then on to Salisbury. We enjoyed our last bit of time with the fur babies before heading out the door.

Candy drove us to the Austin airport and once again we had to say our goodbyes.  It's never easy leaving family.  At least we will all be closer when their relocate to Blacksburg, Virginia is complete. 

Our flight out of Austin departed on time and it was fun to catch a glimpse of a Cessna 172 departing in front of our Airbus 319 and behind another American Airbus 319 that just departed. I secretly gave a thumbs up, you go pilot!
The tower had the Cessna make a left turn out just another fifteen hundred feet or so past wheels up, he was clear and we were rolling. 

The Flight was smooth and arrived in Charlotte ahead of schedule. Normally that would have been great, unfortunately our next flight, home to Ocean City, doesn't leave for four hours.

So, what do you do to keep busy?  Mary and I were not really hungry and we both had snacks for the wait, and the flight. Well of course the first form of entertainment is people watching, but that doesn't last long, and it tends to freak me out. Mary decided to finish watching her movie, The Highwaymen, and I put my headset on to listen to more of Mike Rowe's book, The Way I Heard It
I thought the headset was connected but after Mary elbowed me and said eeveryone could hear that, I shut the audio off.  What's the big deal you wonder, as did I. I was listening to a chapter titled Size Matters, and it was about his TV show Dirty Jobs and working on a horse stud farm.  Let's just leave this right here and move on without any further discussion or description.

Our last hop home was uneventful and the great tailwinds (28 kts) were gobbled up by waiting in the conga line for departure. Gone was the thirty-five minute get into Salisbury early potential. I listened to more of my book, this time I made sure the sound buds were connected before I opened the audio version. I did manage to pick out a few landmarks along the way, despite the wispy cloud layer we were passing through. I started to recognize Norfolk and crossing the Chesapeake Bay, now a solid black void with the opposing shorelines dotted with light. I picked out the beacon from Accomack (KMFV) and the Wallops Flight Facility launch towers on the coast, followed by the airport itself(KWAL). As we positioned for landing I could see the lights of the Ocean City skyline, as we cruised along in the clear night sky. I followed the coast line to the inlet and could actually pick out the airport beacon at KOXB. We banked slightly left to line up for runway three-two and the crew rolled it on, exiting at taxiway Alpha 1, right at the terminal. 

I went out to start our SUV, pay for parking, and drive around to the terminal doors. My timing was perfect, right as Mary was walking out, actually crossing the pick up lanes. I stopped to load our bags and she said why didn't I blink the lights. I don't know, maybe I was tired, but that was a better idea then beeping the horn, which I also did not do.

Home at last, and anxious to pick up Ziva in the morning. We already miss Candy and Mark, along with their fur babies.  Thanks to you both for a special Thanksgiving and sharing your home with us. We had a blast!  

One of the best lines all week was Candy reminding Mary and I, that as she stated during the worst of my recovery days, is that "someday we would all be gathered together and laugh about this."  This week provided that moment, that day, and from the bottom of our hearts we thank you both for ALL your support and outpouring of love. Yes, this thanksgiving we truly are thankful.