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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

VLog Update 11/26/2019

Continued testing and training in order to learn the animation tips and tricks. I used the same Google map on this video, but, this time after plotting the flight path I decided to try and stagger the waypoint intros along with some zoom in and out features. I also decided to save the map/flight path as an .mp4 to make it easier to edit for speed and add new features. For multyiple leg trips I'll break out each leg with an .mp4 for each.  It will be faster and easier to manipulate in the overall final production video.

Luckily, I can watch the training videos and keep alert enough to take notes. This brings back memories of watching the PPL and instrument training videos by King. I didn't have as much success staying awake, but their system got me through both ratings.

Monday, November 25, 2019

VLog 11/25/2019

Today I am finally taking some time to learn about animated maps.  I have been wanting to add this feature to my videos in an effort to up my game a bit.  I enjoy the total process despite it taking so much time to shoot and edit the final product I upload to YouTube.  It's all about MY enjoyment, I'm certainly not in it for money or fame....I have to laugh just thinking about that aspect. 

My videos are to show my flights, the good bad and ugly of it all. I use the videos for a training tool, a review of what I say and do and how to improve my flying and operations. 

Here is today's first attempt at animating the flight path.  Thanks to Daniel Batal's Youtube Channel for excellent step by step tutorials on many subjects for Wondershare Filmora. I also use Movavi for my editing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

N57- New Garden For Lunch

Last night I swapped text messages with Charles G from New Garden, N57.  We hatched a plan to meet up at Cambridge Airport at noon for lunch.  Mary was meeting with a group at the Parke Clubhouse so I had some free time to fly.  

I headed to the airport in time to check and order fuel if needed, I thought I had enough for today's mission.  KCGE is thirty minutes each way, ten maybe eleven gallons required. When I did my preflight I stuck the tanks, calculating fourteen on the left and twenty-three on the right. I was easily good to go.

I shut off my preheat and tugged 3 Tango Charlie out on to the ramp. It was a quick start with minimum warm up time. I do need to come up with some sort of big sponge wedge to block the nose gear opening to help retain some of the heat. 

Once I picked up the Ocean City weather I taxied out, wondering if Charles was still a go. Just ahead was the last taxiway to the terminal, so there I sat and sent a text to advise I was started and only a few minutes from take off.  

Charles was running late after meeting with a client so we changed plans.  I was now headed to New Garden, N57. Charles would meet me there and we would take his car to go grab lunch.  
I made a quick check of NOTAMS and TFR's along with the weather review for the area. The ride north was going to have me dealing with strong headwinds, so I recalculated fuel and launched. 
It was a long bumpy ride as I pushed through the twenty-three knot headwinds. My ground speed was holding at 110 knots and I hoped I could enjoy the return flight tailwinds.
Video by Charles Graef

I made my calls and entered the pattern for runway two-four. My landing had a direct cross wind and the sock was pretty much straight. Somehow I skipped one in and rolled out to the end of the runway, I always like to save brakes. 

Charles was waiting and we headed out to Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. Lunch was very good, I haven't eaten at an Anthony's since we retired to Ocean City. Thanks Charles for buying lunch!

With a full tummy Charles took me back to the airport. I was hoping 3 Tango Charlie would hot start after sitting.  There was no heat to the touch inside the cowl, so maybe she would behave. I left the settings exactly like I had shut down, I wanted to try something new.  I gave a few seconds of fuel pump then cranked, she fired right off, then shut down.  I rechecked my start list and I had touched the fuel control but didn't turn it back on, duh!

Ok second try.  I did the exact same procedure and she fired right off. Now I'm not sure if the 'new' way was the key or that she had cooled off, future testing will answer this question. 

I taxied out towards runway two-four and did my run up, actually having to wait for some oil temp to build up. Once my temps were good I rolled on to the runway and turned 3 TC loose. The winds were really blowing and as soon as I went wheels up, despite aileron and rudder, I blew to the left side of the runway and crabbed my way up and away. It was, um, exciting. 

Once in cruise I pulled the power back, running 22/24 and loving the tail winds.  The cruise speeds were 145-150 knots. Once overflying Delaware Coastal (KGED) I  started my descent for Ocean City. The plan was to enter on the crosswind for three-two, then turning on the down wind, making my way through the pattern. With winds,right down the runway I finished the day with a nice landing. 

There was another aircraft, a twin, inbound for three-two he was seven out on his initial call. As I cleared the runway the twin was just coming over the numbers, he made the first turn off. 
I had a great time meeting up with Charles despite a bumpy ride both ways.  Mary and I are looking forward to having Charles and his bride down for a dinner here in OCMD.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Newport News by Land

The winds and potential low overcast pushed me to a no go decision for Newport News and it redefined our method of transportation. It was now strictly a ground pound scenario. After many years of flying and reviewing weather information I have long given up the guilt of a cancelled flight, but I still watch how the forecast plays out. I'm a pilot, it's what we do. 
Mary and I decided to take new blue, our new GLC300, and leave old blue my ML320 at home. We headed out around 10am, pointed south along RT. 113, with a planned stop for breakfast at Janets General Store Cafe' located in Onancock, Virginia.

Onancock was founded in 1680 as Port Scarborough before having its name changed to a word derived from“auwannaku', a Native word meaning “foggy place.

The Cafe' is a friendly place with excellent food and service.  Mary had her favorite,orange french toast with a honey orange marmalade syrup, and I had an omelet with bacon, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. Everything was hot and tasty, it's worth the stop when driving down the peninsula. We plan to visit again soon by flying into Accomack (KMVF) and using a courtesy car for the short ride north(7.5 miles)to the Cafe'. 
The weather was overcast all day today, from Ocean City to the south side of the Bay Bridge Tunnel, there was no relief. The winds moved the SUV from side to side and the Bay Bridge had a speed and vehicle restrictions.

Mary and I checked into our hotel and took some time to relax. We were scheduled to meet up with Susan for dinner at 4:30pm.  Susan picked out a  a new us steakhouse, Schlesingers.  
This steakhouse was upscale, and if the steaks are as good as the restaurant presents we would be in for a treat.  I had an 8oz filet with a baked sweet potato while  Mary had the petite fillet, 6oz, with spinach. Susan had the 8oz filet with steamed broccoli. The steaks were cooked perfect and we all enjoyed our meal. Since we had our fill, it was decided we would all pass on dessert.
The Ferguson Center was just a short drive and we managed to find a very good parking spot close to the parking garage exit. The single parking garage structure is close to the main entrance but the winds really encouraged attendees to hustle along the pavers leading to the entrance.
Clint Black put on an excellent show. He's been at it for thirty years and his interactions with the crowd were just smooth and natural, a true entertainer. I was impressed, he could still bring it with his voice, guitar, and harmonica skills. During the show he did some Willie Nelson, seriously, a perfect imitation.  Some of the other songs he did were in tribute to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard along with some back story on each.
The key to departing the parking garage is to back into your spot. This was learned after multiple shows and struggling to get a break in order to back out. Experience is always a a good teacher.  Traffic moved quickly and within fifteen minutes of leaving the garage we were pulling into the hotel.  Mary and I both passed out, it was along day.


It was nice to sleep in one more morning with no Ziva to wake me.  Our plan was to meet Susan for breakfast at 9:30. We all forgot it was Sunday morning and the crowds instantly reminded us. The wait at the next door Cracker Barrel was only twenty minutes, and the food was worth the wait. Yes, we took some biscuits home. 

The hardest part was now upon us, the goodbyes. I did hear the ladies planning a combined birthday get-away to Las Vegas next September, I'm not sure if I should  be worried or not.  At least I'll be around to bail them out if necessary. Maybe I'll plan a nice flying adventure. 

Mary and I each grabbed a Stewarts root beer for the ride home, along with some snacks.  It was another long three hour drive back to Ocean City. The waves along the Bay Bridge were still pounding, and at one point we watched sea spray blowing on to the bridge deck, it was an awesome sight.
Once home I updated the Ocean City weather only to confirm my original planning.  The sky was overcast 400 and visibility 1 1/2 miles. It was still very windy and raining, I'm happy we decided to drive. Mary and I are already looking forward to the next opportunity to catch a show at the Center and spend time with Susan.