By the time everyone woke up and got ready to head to the airport it was after 10am. Once we arrived at the airport and opened up the hangar, Mike and I got 3 Tango Charlie ready to go, tugging her out on the ramp. It was a BEAUTIFUL day!
Both video cameras were set up, one inside facing us and the typical over the shoulder shot facing the windscreen. The ActiveOn Gold facing us had plenty of footage, but the file was corrupted and would not download.
The plan was to head over to Delaware Coastal, KGED, and shoot a few approaches, working through the lessons we covered in our ground session the previous two evenings. We had a few bugs to work out, as far as GPSS and the use of the Stec Heading (HDG) vs the Nav features. One solid takeaway was that we switched into NAV mode too soon and instead of doing the procedure turn the autopilot turned for the shortest intercept to the final approach. I must mention that it's not an equipment issue but an operator error issue.
I quickly disconnected and used the HDG function and performed a Procedure Turn before heading towards the airport on final. Once on final I did reengage the NAV function and the autopilot immediately captured the the glideslope, riding the rail down to five hundred feet where I disconnect and continued down to four hundred feet before going missed. The second approach was a little better, but still had the wrong turn issue in NAV.
Of course with my patience level I was getting frustrated, and I could not settle. I could no longer use the correct buttonology to get out of the current flight plan and set up for Salisbury (KSBY). Keep flying the plane was the main goal and with the added buttonology I was overloaded. My response was a WTF moment. Mike quickly jumped in and instead of fixing it or talking me off the ledge he simply and very matter of factly said, complex planes with new to you avionics take some time, if you can't handle it, go back to flying your Sundowner. Ouch! To Mike's credit, once I was mentally back in the game he said he wouldn't be here if he didn't think I could handle a complex aircraft.
Mike knows me well enough and gave me exactly what I needed, a kick in the arse! After all that set in he talked me through the positives, I was still flying the plane, we were in a safe area moving away from the airport environment and we will just try setting it up again. Well of course that makes sense and I settled in working on, as my bride likes to say, that pilot stuff. I honestly am not used to feeling behind the plane and with the operator button pushing that's where I felt I was.
I used the nearest soft key, selected Ocean City and off we went. Mike was right, we needed to take a break. I made an ok landing, that's being polite, and taxied in to park. It felt good getting out and walking away, I did need a break. We decided on lunch at the Southgate grille. The food and service was very good and the ice tea with lemonade hit the spot.
It was time for round two. We drove back over to the airport and there sat 3TC, in a tie down, not her nest. Mike and I did a walk around and I checked fuel for this next session. We were ready to go, it took a few tries but 3TC fired up and was ready to have another go. I must mention that during lunch I texted Bill, 3TC's previous owner and asked him a few questions on the autopilot. Bill quickly responded with an excellent well thought out description of the process, and it really helped square things away. Thanks, Bill!
We climbed out of Ocean City and once again headed towards Delaware Coastal. This time we flew along in HDG mode, with GPSS engaged. With this setting selection 3TC flew like a perfect lady. All the correct directives were on the Garmin 480 GPS, the autopilot flew smooth and gentle standard rate turns and the entry and subsequent racetrack for the PT was like overlaying the approach plate. On the money!
I was feeling much better about my afternoon performance. I still had an issue clearing the existing flight plan and selecting a new destination. I cheated again and used nearest and direct, we were on our way to Salisbury. Mike contacted SBY and requested the ILS RWY three-two. Tower approved and advised report inbound COLBE, the final approach fix.
As you can tell by the track posted above, the heading and GPSS combination flew another perfect procedure turn. We asked for another lap to complete the hold portion of keeping current and also wanted to confirm the suspend button action. Once established inbound I set my heading bug for the wind correction and switched to NAV. The glideslope appeared and I watched it go from active to alive as steady as can be. 3TC rode the rails, smooth and straight down the glideslope despite gusting winds at twenty plus knots. At just about a half dot high I dropped the gear, adjusted power to stay at 105 knots indicated, and continued in. I disconnected at five hundred feet and flew to the minimum descent altitude of three hundred feet. We called going missed and I followed the four C's; Cram, Climb, Clean and Cool. Cram for throttle full, climb for climbing out, clean for tucking the gear and flaps away, and cool for the cowl flaps open. It was all starting to click.
It was time to call it a day, ending on a very positive note. I turned for home and made an excellent landing at Ocean City. Mike and I tucked 3TC in her nest and cleaned all the bugs off her pretty paint. We are up again tomorrow!
By the numbers: Three GPS approaches, one ILS, and one hold. Total time 3.2 hours.