Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Brunch Run to Hammonton, NJ., N81

The weather was looking good for some fly time today, and I am trying to keep with at least one flight a week. I posted on FaceBook if anyone wanted to meet up, no pilot takers but my brother-in-law Dave was ready to ride.
Dave needed to leave by 9am and I needed to be in the air around 10am.  We swapped text messages one last time to confirm I was still a go. There was an overcast layer at 4,200 feet across the Delaware Bay and into New Jersey. I'm not comfortable crossing that low at the mouth of the bay spanning 17 miles. Instead I headed north for Dover AFB and would make my crossing there where the Delaware river meets the bay, approximately 5-6 miles wide. 

ATC was entertaining as Dover Approach was doing training today. Yes, they made mistakes but calls were quickly corrected and everybody went about their way.  I crossed the river and pointed to Hammonton, N81. Dover handed me off to Atlantic City Approach and I road along with them until I was within 10 miles of my destination. I didn't top of the VIRB battery charge and lost my landing video at Hammonton. 

Dave was there maybe ten minutes ahead of me. We walked to the Apron Cafe' located at the end of the ramp on the approach end to runway 3. The food and service was excellent. 
We watched a few helicopters fly by as we ate and then finished up breakfast.  Dave came out to see the plane and then I saddled up for home. 
I had a fresh battery for the return trip and even got some additional footage from both windows across the wing. I climbed out to 4,500 feet for my crossing and shadowed the Delaware Coastline heading for home.
The ride was a bit smoother then the trip north, and the views were much better with the sun reflecting off the Delaware Bay.
I rode the tailwinds home and enjoyed the 10-20kt push.  It was better then fighting the headwind I had this morning. I monitored Dover Approach and once south of Delaware Coastal I switched over to Ocean City.
The winds had changed from this morning.  The winds now favored runway 2.  This made my approach easy as I entered the left downwind, making the appropriate calls along the way.

I did make a better landing back at home then my first time at N81. With another flight in the log book I was ready to face the battle of getting 3 Tango Charlie back in the hangar.  My tugs wire connection to the  fwd/rev switch came apart and I had to hand tug her out this morning. Time to put her back in the hangar. I figured I could use the exercise and gave it a go...not happening. The slight incline really made me dig in and push, and as anyone who reads this blog knows, my sticks just won't cut it.
It was time to do surgery on the tug. I disconnected the battery and then reconnected the four wires to the switch. I really need to put a dot of solder on the connections to keep them from pulling apart. So with a quick electrical pit stop completed, I was good to go and managed to tuck the pane in the hangar.  When I pulled the tug out from the nose gear and parked it in its usual spot it wigged out.  It stuck in the on position and would not shut off, in either direction. I could hear Keystone cops music playing in my head. I hit the switch to keep it from running under the wing and into the back wall, now running itself almost over me and out of the hangar. I picked up the T handle and fiddled with the switch while the wheels were in the air turning, it finally stopped.  I disconnected the battery, again, and removed the switch that had pulled apart.  

I'll use the new electronic spray cleaner I picked up and reassemble the switch, I'm also looking for a replacement part.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Errands and Spinner Polish

Canceled Flight, Errands, and Hangar Time

I had plans to meet up with my friend Dave at the Cape May Airport, but, he had to cancel last minute for a business issue.  I get it, we'll schedule another time to meet up, maybe even this week.

Since Mary is down with her back acting up I made sure she was squared away and the Ziva princess taken care off.  My two favorite ladies were staying in bed, one with a heating pad and the other (Ziva Princess) curled up on her new bed with an added gel pad.  
I had made a few deals overnight, the first selling my Clarity Aloft Headset to a fellow BAC member. 

I decided to sell the headset and immediately make an offer on an eight month old iPad mini 5 for the same price to another BAC member. The iPad owner also had the new RAM bracket for the mini 5 so I purchased that too. 
I shipped the headset out this morning and I just received an email with tracking info on my iPad mini 5. 

To The Airport

After finishing up at Staples for shipping my package, I headed to the Airport. As directed by the man who does my detailing on 3 Tango Charlie, I purchased Blue Magic Metal polish. My plan was to finish with the spinner polish.   
The product really has a strong chemical odor but it works really well.  Easy on and off, even for my arthritic shoulders. The final product looked great and that chore is complete.
Next up on my to-do list is a belly wash.  There is some hydraulic fluid residue from the parking brake that was leaking and I want to get the belly looking spotless once again.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Stumbled Upon A Book Review

As I sat here at the computer watching YouTube videos, in particular, Taking Off - In The Hangar, I did some internet searching. 

I do follow one of the guests, Josh Flowers of Aviation 101, and he had mentioned the info he found on himself on the internet. After the video I decided to do some digging, and I stumbled across this book review of my second book, The Realization of a Boyhood Dream.

It was fun to find the review, and be listed with the other titles I have read, and Authors I follow. At least I didn't find anything bad during my search, I'm thinking that's a plus.  

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Fun Flights, Three Hops

A fun day flying in the tri-state area.  Departed Ocean City on hop number one, headed for Delaware Airpark, 33N. I did pick up flight following with Dover Approach since there was traffic along the route.
The second hop today was from 33N, Delaware Airpark to KWWD, Cape May, NJ. We crossed at the top of the Delaware Bay where the Delaware river meets the bay. Visibility was fantastic! I could see approximately sixty-five miles from just off Dover to the Pottstown cooling towers at Limerick.
The last hop for the day was me getting 3 Tango Charlie back home to Ocean City. I departed runway two-eight from Cape May and climbed for the coast, circling on station until I had sufficient altitude to cross the mouth of the bay. When I felt I was safe I pointed for Cape Henlopen Delaware and continued the climb until midway across. From the midway point I nosed over and followed the shoreline for home. 
starting my climb with the Cape May Ferry off the wing tip
It was a perfect day to fly, cool temps made for great power.  The only bumps along the way were encountered once dropping below two thousand feet as I made my way for the pattern at Ocean City.  
I'm not sure whats next. I'm definitely looking forward to more fly time.  I should mention that I don't usually make new years resolutions, but, I do want to try and fly at least once a week in 2020.

I'll need to hook up with a fellow pilot to act as safety pilot since my IFR currency is up the end of February. Maybe I'll fly up to Boston and get Mike B to fly right seat and torture me a bit while under the foggles.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Post Maintenance Flight

Today the weather cooperated and I was able to get in the air for a post maintenance check. It felt good to climb aboard and get the fan turning. 

I made one circuit and landed to give the brakes a real work out.  Typically I don't like to use up brakes, hit the right speeds and add power to make the turnoff is a much better practice.

After I taxied back I decided to take off and head to Accomack, VA (KMFV).  I planned to shoot one approach and then one back at Ocean City.  The winds were really gusty and the ride was getting bumpy so I made a U turn and pointed back for the beach.
I worked through the procedures and loaded the RNAV 32 approach and selected direct GOBYO, an Initail Approach Fix. I tracked for a short bit and then just pointed for the airport instead.  This also gave me a chance to work through adding an extended center line for my runway of choice on the Garmin 480. 

I made a better landing the second time and tucked 3 Tango Charlie back in the hangar.  I did pop the top cowl off and add orange RTV to seal up two small cuts in my baffle and behind the engine. I also fiddled with the wire to the JPI number one cylinder since it was intermittent on my flight. 

I am planning for a flight to Cape May tomorrow to meet up with POA forum members. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Fly Time & Landing Light Install

Since I was planning to go flying today I decided to first update my landing light. I currently have a GE4509 installed, and I am replacing it with a HANDXEN PAR36 Aviation Grade LED Aircraft Landing Light.
PAR36 Aviation Grade LED Aircraft Landing Light,cone Beam.

Includes 18 LEDs Max 2,100 Lumens in Long Lasting Glass Lens with Die-Cast Aluminum Housing.
  • INCREDIBLE BRIGHTNESS: 2,100 raw lumen output from 18 high quality LEDs, 15 times brighter than incandescent bulbs, crystal clear glass lens
  • LONG LIFE: waterproof, shatter and thermal resistant Borosilicate glass lens won't yellow over time like cheap plastic models, OSRAM LEDs with 50,000 hour lifespan, die-cast aluminum housing for maximum heat dissipation
  • EASY INSTALL: screw on terminals with polarity labels, no pigtails to wire, accepts 10-30 volts DC with with 80% less amp draw
  • HIGHLY COMPATIBLE: standard PAR36 4.5" drop in replaces GE4505, GE4509, GE4313, GE4591, GE4594, GE4595 GE4596, GE Q4631
  • OPTIMIZED BEAM: daylight color (5500k - 6500k) optimizes obstacle reflection, 20 degree cone shape for landing
Once at the hangar I set up my moving blanket and strapped on my knee pads, getting old ain't for sissies. I removed the three screws and was surprised to find three springs fall out. I guess I should have consulted the Commander 112 Illustrated Parts Catalog first. 

Mistake number one was not putting a mark on the GE 4509 light terminal connections that I was removing. I removed the light and set it aside. Next I unwrapped the LED, again not noting the positive and negative terminal and removed the pig tail since I did not need the hook up.  What I should have done was leave the pigtail, cut off the old connectors on the plane and run out and by two new connectors for the new pigtail.  Nahhh...that would have been the smart thing to do.  

I proceeded to hook up the LED, trying to make do with the very short wires from the existing light connection. I had a 50/50 shot on the connection. I had positioned a step stool so I could crawl out from sitting in front of the plane and be able to grab onto something to help me stand up. I climbed up in the cockpit, turned on the landing lights, and switched the battery on.  No bueno, I had no light. I crawled back in the cockpit shut the battery off and crawled back under the front of the plane. Easy peasy, right? Just switch the leads.  I fumbled with the screws and dropped one, causing me to set the light back down, and without marking the terminals I had no clue which terminal I had hooked up where.  
At this point both my shoulders are hurting from working with my arms out front of me and I really didn't feel like taking another swing at hooking up the light, then doing the in and out of the cockpit test routine. I muttered a few choice words with regard to my stupidity of not marking the terminals and proceeded to reinstall the GE4509. 

I was worried about installing the springs behind the holding plate with such a short wire. It took some fiddling and a few more choice words but I got all three in place and secured. At this point I could not lift my tool bag so I pushed it with my foot out of the way and did the same for the step stool. I did climb back in and out to make sure I still had the existing landing light working, it was good to go. 

My shoulders felt so bad that I didn't feel like tugging the plane out. I had no interest to fly, I just wanted to get home and put some heat on my shoulders. I think it's finally time to see the doctor.  I can barely pick up a full ice tea glass without sharp pains on top and the outside edge of my shoulders, it's almost unbearable on some days. Other days It's sore but I can totally function. I really need to be in warm weather for winter. 

So 453 Tango Charlie is buttoned up. I will head to the store tomorrow to find the correct connectors, and a good splice connector to extend the wire from the plane to the light.  I will give it another go this week after I take a couple of Advil in advance. Besides, I already know the routine, that's a plus. Ok, it sounded good.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Brake Valve, The Repair

Monday December 30th - Continued

The bottom cowl is clean and ready to be hung when the repairs on the brake valve are completed.  As I stated in the title this is a continuation of Monday's calls.

I swapped emails with Bill H of the Commander Owners Group.  You all remember Bill, he came over to Ocean City while on vacation in Lewes to take me flying in my new plane.  Yes, he had to fly left seat, I didn't have any time in type.  Bill owns a beautiful Commander 112A 390 Super Commander and he plans on having the annual done at Delaware Coastal. This got me thinking, so I sent an email requesting the info on who he was using that had Commander Experience. The email response pointed me towards Sussex Aero, and Rob D.   

I made the call and had a nice chat with Rob about Commanders and even Debonairs.  Unfortunately his shop is also slammed so I won't be able to get 3 Tango Charlie taken care of until the week of the 6th.

Friday January 10th

I want to say fast forward but it has seemed like ages. I swapped a few calls with Rob from Sussex and he is sending over his man to take care of 3 Tango Charlies brake issue. 

Steve came through the gates around 10:45 this morning and quickly set up his tools to begin the work.  He was happy to see that both top and bottom cowls had been removed. 

The first step was to remove and cap all the brake lines.  Since most of the hydraulic fluid had already leaked out we didn't have to deal with much of a mess. Steve had a pan set up to catch any drippings and secured all lines to the valve.  I should just add that Steve was very organized and meticulous in the prep and process.
The next step was to remove the brake valve from the firewall.  The two phillips head screws pictured above had a nut on the co-pilots firewall side, no, not a nut plate, just a nut. Thankfully Steve was pretty flexible and he took the in cockpit side. I took care of the engine bay side with the screwdriver, only needing to lay on my back or scrunch in close, in somewhat sitting down position. 

All the parts were disassembled and cleaned along with the brake valve. Once everything was cleaned up Steve removed the O rings.  The three O rings on the parking brake arm assembly were the first to go. Two were somewhat soft and one was hard. The hard one broke, this had to be the leaking culprit.  

The next two O rings were replaced on the bottom fittings, they were both in like new condition. Despite being in great shape, I had the parts so they were also replaced. With the brake valve reassembly completed Steve crawled back under the plane and cleaned up the drippings that had accumulated on the firewall. 

Next up was remounting the unit. The first step was to secure to the firewall.  I took the outside and Steve sacrificed the body once again taking care of the in cockpit contortions. 
I didn't get a very good shot but you get the idea, its clean and remounted. Next Steve reconnected all the lines along with the two bottom line connections that connect at the firewall for both the right and left side brake system. Pictured below.
With everything hooked up and cleaned we were ready to bleed the brakes. I don't remember how the Sundowner was done but the Commander Owners Group specifically posted to bleed from the bottom up. Steve was already hooking up the bleed feed for the hydraulic fluid and also attached his homemade overflow catch system for the masters.
We started with the right main gear. I crawled up in the cockpit on the pilot side to watch when we had a steady stream into the jar. I heard a lot of noise maybe that was the air clearing out of the lines or air trapped in the top of the master. Soon there was a steady stream of hydraulic fluid passing through the tube and collecting in the jar. Rinse and repeat for the left mains. 

The next step was testing the pedal, first the copilot side. Steve pumped on the pedal and the master was a bit too full, it spurted out the vent hole. Thankfully we had towels under each pedal and with extra shop towels I wiped the master clean. Rinse and repeat again for the left side master.  

For the final step Steve crawled in the pilot side and withdrew a few cc's with a tiny syringe enough for the master to remain at a full level but not overfilled to cause the master to spurt out fluid. Next I climbed in the pilot seat and felt the pedals, they felt normal and there was no excess fluid coming out.  Mission completed!!

Steve gave me a hand remounting the bottom cowl and I will replace the top cowl sometime tomorrow. I did appreciate the time he took to give the engine compartment a good once over. I have a few new items to add to my squawk list.
  • New mounting bracket for the blast air tube on the alternator. Two of the three tabs are cracked. Part ordered from Plane Power and shipped today.
  • Replace a few adel clamps that are just tired and the rubber is getting hard and cracked.
Next up, an oil change in 15 hours. I'll be scheduling at Sussex for this work and the two items noted above. I'm looking forward to finally getting some air time!

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Destinations for 2020

I have made similar posts over the years but this year seems to hold a bit more meaning.  This post was initiated by my bride, that's right, Mary suggested we make a list of places we want to explore. So let's get to it, in no particular order, our list.

New Adventures

Boston, MA
Martha's Vineyard, MA
Fremont NH
Bar Harbor, ME
Niagara Falls, ON, Canada
Charleston, SC
Jekyll Island, GA
Singer Island, FL
Destin, FL
Mackinac, MI
Blacksburg, VA

Return Trips

Myrtle Beach SC
Key West, FL
Nags Head, NC
Williamsburg/Newport News VA
Blacksburg, VA

Lets dig into the 'New' list first. Mary and I have been to Cape Cod and used that as a take off point to explore Nantucket. This time we would like to land near Boston, specifically, Norwood - KOWD. We will finally get to visit family, and our friends Mike B and Kim.  This may also serve as a jump off point for a day at Martha's Vineyard, Lord knows I don't want to overnight there (insert cash register sound...kaaa..ching!). The Boston run can take on a few different spins.  We would also like to finally get to visit our friends Adam B and Jeanine, and meet their little man Declan. So lets add KLWM into mix and a short drive to Freemont NH.  We would plan for some time away to make all the stops necessary to complete this mission, we may even need a four day get-away at Bar Harbor to recover before pointing for home. 

We have had Niagara Falls on our list, not that this would be a new place for us, but a new way to get there. Last time we drove, this time we would fly into Canada or into KIAG and make the short drive across the border. 

Early Fall would be the time to plan for traveling south. Mary and I want explore Charleston SC.  Also on the list is Jekyll Island GA, so we will work that four day get-away into the schedule.

Fall and winter will also be a great time to push a bit farther south.  Singer Island FL has been on our list since we had the Sundowner. Our reservations from January 2014 were snowed out so I spent that extended weekend shoveling snow. Not Cool. 

We have given some thought to returning to Gulf Shores but we both wanted to try someplace new along the gulf coast. Destin FL seems like a place we read a lot about so we both agreed to add it to our list. 

It seems I missed Mackinac,MI this has also been on our list of places to visit, but, its definitely a summer trip. While exploring Michigan we would also like to visit our friends Jeff and Lori who are along the way, located south of Grand Rapids. 

The 'Return Trip' list is a bit shorter but still just as fun. Nags Head, one of our favorites, and Myrtle Beach are always great for a weekend get-away. Williamsburg is also a short hop and we love meeting up with our friend Susan and catching a show at the Ferguson Center in Newport News. 

We have been to Keys twice, well once for Key West and one time to Marathon, although we drove to Key West from there for a day trip. I think Mary and I both love Key West.  We followed fellow blogger Geoff's suggestion and we will return to the Sheraton Key West at Smathers beach. Great beach access, shuttle that runs all day providing access to great food and entertainment downtown.

The last entry on each list is Blacksburg, VA. I should add we haven't been there yet, but, with our friends Candy and Mark from Texas moving there, we will be making frequent trips back and forth. 

So we have a list, now we need to get the plane back online. I am still waiting to have the parking brake valve serviced. Another post is in the works for the repair.

I think Mary is just as excited as I am about getting back to traveling and exploring new places. I am looking forward to more videos and blog posts, taking our readers along for the adventure.  Time to Spare...Go by Air, the next chapter, is about to get started.