Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Annual Complete and The Flight Home

The Retrieval Mission

I'm up early, 6am as usual, to take care of Ziva and then gather my flight bag items for the return flight home from annual. The check is made out and signed, a few video cameras are packed, along with my updated Jeppesen data card and iPad mini 5. It's just a short hop home, ten minutes, and if I can't find my way I shouldn't even be in the air. 

Mary will drive me to the airport, about thirty-five minutes, and I'll load my log books in her SUV so she can get back on the road. Georgetown in Sussex county is the highest infected area in the state of Delaware despite the northern county of New Castle having three times the population. I don't want Mary to even get out of the SUV. I will disinfect the log books and back pack I carry them in before putting them in her SUV. I can't believe I even am typing this, let alone having to take such precautions. 

3 Tango Charlie was in another Commander owners T Hangar while his aircraft took my place in the shop.  Thanks to Bill H for giving my plane a place to hide from all the nesting birds, much appreciated. 

The items on my squawk list were addressed along with a few other items noted in the final invoice and log book entry. Compressions were very good and everything firewall forward looked very good.

My List
  • Replaced Adel clamp for starter wire, aft of alternator.
  • Replace blast tube for alternator
  • Install new LED landing light
  • Repair stall horn/lift detector
  • Correct parking brake wire clamp,pivot arm
  • Install Fire extinguisher behind the center console on floor between rear seats

Additional Items
  • Replace wire support/clip left main gear
  • Replace O-ring RH brake caliper
  • Replace left main gear down limit switch
  • Stop drill crack left flap gap seal
  • Secure Nav relay CB in fuse panel
  • troubleshoot gear actuator issues & repair

With the check handed over and my log books in hand we walked over to the hangar and tugged 3 Tango Charlie out onto the ramp. I did an in depth pre-flight getting hands on everything. I also did a fuel sump since the plane had sat on the ramp, in the rain, the first weekend at the shop. 

I broke out the Clorox wipes to clean everything that could have been touched outside as well as in the cockpit. With the outside good to go I climbed aboard and went through everything on my pre-start check list and checked some obvious things like seat track lock pins, glare shield secured, seat belts and rear seat attach points. Everything looked as it should be. 

I got the fan turning and let the engine and oil warm up. All gauges were good and the fresh oil initial pressure was a bit high until I dialed back the RPM's after start. I went through systems since I was waiting for temps and set up my video camera. I will say the shop left the plane just as clean as when I dropped her off. Actually a bit cleaner, they found 4 pens under the seats wedged against the carpet tuck, and a quarter. They left the newly found treasures on the glare shield. I had a good laugh. Yes, I put the quarter in my pocket and the pens went into the center console.

I taxied out to runway four and completed my run up, cycling the prop three times and really giving the gauges an extended look. I released the brakes and taxied for the hold short.  It felt good great to be in the left seat again. I made my departure call and climbed out, making good power and tucking the gear away along with that first notch of flaps. 
There was traffic today as I approached Ocean City. Winds favored three-two so I entered on a extended left down wind, number two behind a Cessna. I made an ok landing and let 3 Tango Charlie roll out for the last taxiway. The inbound aircraft was just turning down wind as I was clearing the runway.

It's good to have the plane back in the hangar. We are ready to get back in the air and travel...well, once the country opens back up for business.  Stay safe, practice social distancing and soon life will be back to normal. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

Time Out From Stay at Home

I can find some sanity in making a run to the airport. Mary and I took Ziva for a run and I got to watch some airplanes in the pattern along with a few getting tugged out into the sunshine. We passed one airport tenant that has an end unit, more of a garage then a hangar, and he was also spending time with his dog out in the fresh air. 

We pulled up to our hangar to find a boardwalk tram car parked right across from the point at which I turn away from the hangar doors and shut down. I had to have a chat with the linemen to see if they could get the tram moved to where the rest are parked, just beyond our hangar building. I was assured it would not be a problem and they were just as puzzled as I was as to why they left it there.  Who knows...
I watched a TBM taxi in and shut down at his hangar, apparently he was also trying to get the oil pumping with a short but familiar flight. 
After the airport run we made a stop at Tractor Supply for bird seed, and corn for the deer.  Mary always feeds the critters or as I like to call them our welfare animals. Once we got the goods loaded we headed for home, enjoying the fresh air and sun. I mixed up the corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts for the deer, along with refilling the bird seed barrel. The bride was happy, therefore, I was happy. Life is good. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Annual Update - Gear

I swapped phone calls with Sussex Aero and our aircraft's previous owner Bill B.  Bill is a wealth of knowledge on Commanders and their gear, so why not ask the man that knows.

I previously posted that Bill had detected the pump running in my flying videos.  Bill actually heard it kick on and off in the audio portion, I have yet to hear it.  Something to be said for a pilot knowing every sound their plane makes. Now what Bill had heard was not the pump running on and on, but, just a quick blip to keep the proper pressure in order to keep the gear tucked in the wheel wells. You can also see this happening by watching the amp meter needle spike up and down in a blink. Actually if you blink, you'll miss it. I have seen the spikes.
Fast forward to annual inspection.  The guys at the shop noticed the pump coming on while doing the required gear extension testing. Once the gear was retracted they heard the pump cycle every ten to fifteen seconds. There are no external leaks, anywhere, and the pump remains full. What is happening is an internal leak has fluid bypassing an O-ring under the extreme pressure in the actuator. 

From Trubleshooting Guide

The other important issue with gear are the bumper bolt mounting positions.  3 Tango Charlie was already corrected but it's important to make sure the shop does not swap this configuration or it can result in a potential gear up.  Rob from Sussex assured me it was not reversed. 
The bolts, if installed in reverse, can cause the nut and exposed threads to catch on the Main Landing Gear up stop bracket.  If this happens you are in for a bad day.
That's all the info to report as of today.  I think if the main gear actuator needs new o-rings the plane might be ready by Friday if not early next week.  Updates to follow as I receive them.

Stay safe!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

VLog 4/22/2020

Another day of COVID-19 and combining a few errands into one big loop.  Mary and I, along with the Ziva princess, headed over to the airport so our baby girl could get some much needed run time. Ziva has a blast, Mary is happy to walk a bit, and I get to check on the plane.  Uh...there is no plane today, 3 Tango Charlie is in Annual.  More on that later.

After the airport run, some helicopter video, and dumpster target practice, we headed to the Acme for a small grocery run. Nothing major just a few items since my bride is making a carrot cake from scratch. It sounds yummy to me.

Prior to entering the store I used wipes to clean the shopping cart, and we each pulled our masks into place. Once we finished up our order we wiped our hands down with clorox wipes then headed towards home with just two more stops. A quick dash into Walgreens to check on hand sanitizer, which they had. Mary purchased two small containers, one for each vehicle.  The next stop was our mail pavilion. There was one car in the lot and the driver was sitting inside so Mary went in and checked the mail. It's easy in with a proximity security card, no swipe needed, and the door opens. On the way out we hit the handicap pad with a knee, butt, or elbow, whatever works, and the door opens.

Finally just a few blocks and we are home.  I pull into the garage and let Ziva out, Mary already got out and was chatting with our neighbor. While the ladies practiced social distancing, Ziva decided to break my no and stay commands and visit the neighbors deck. Not cool.  I gave her hell and told her she was in my doghouse, she seriously tried to ignore me. 

Plane Update

I did call the shop, Sussex Aero, and got an update on 3 Tango Charlie.  She is looking good and close to completion. The only issue is the gear pump, it's cycling every fifteen seconds or so, just a quick burst, to hold the gear up in the wheel well. That's not good for the pump and they are mighty expensive.  There are no leaks externally, so the thought is one of the actuators has an internal leak which is causing the loss of pressure. I'll know more tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Annual - The Reposition Flight

Today Mary and I worked our plan to reposition 3 Tango Charlie to Delaware Coastal (KGED) in Georgetown Delaware. The shop is running about a week behind schedule so our plane will be in the shop on Monday, April 21st.  

After giving some thought to dropping off the plane on Sunday, I didn't feel comfortable leaving my log books in the plane, on the ramp. Monday weather is calling for rain and I didn't want to deal with that, and I wont scud run. That left today or Friday.  Just rip the band-aid off and get the plane there, so I did. 

Mary dropped me at the hangar and I tugged 3 Tango Charlie out after my preflight. Mary hung around until I was ready to climb aboard then left for the shop.  As I was closing up the hangar I saw her pull back up, I wondered what was wrong.  My bride spotted a dear around the hangars and it was running towards the runways, she wanted to give me a heads up. I assured her I would let operations know as soon and I was up on the radio. 

Mary headed out and I climbed aboard, getting things organized. It was a spartan cockpit today, no iPad, no video cameras, just me and the plane.  I did do a quick last check for NOTAMS and TFR's with my iPhone as 3 Tango Charlie was warming up. The ASOS was reporting winds 280 to 300  12 gusting 22. My runway selection would be three-two.  With oil temps well into the yellow arc I released the brakes and taxied out. Yes, I did call operations, twice, no answer.  I saw one of the guys out of their truck working on something, but, whoever was in the terminal never responded. 
25nm, 13 minutes
Once at the hold short I did my run-up and made my calls. It was good timing, as the Aztec that had landed was now just pulling up behind me.  I advanced the throttle and rolled for take off, 3 Tango Charlie was ready to work. I lifted off in less than one thousand feet, with just me aboard and thirty five gallons of fuel. The climb out was rodeo at its finest, this was going to be a short ride but with all the makings of a bronc ride at the county fairgrounds. 

I tightened my belts, and kept my altitude below two thousand, which I'm sure didn't help the ride. I was looking for Mary's bright blue SUV along RT 113, but never did see her. 

Time to concentrate on my approach 

I made my ten and five mile calls for the airport and selected runway two-eight. The winds weren't much better at Delaware Coastal, 30014G20.  I did make a nice landing and needed power to taxi off to taxiway Delta. I secured the plane and decided to leave her uncovered, it was too windy to try by myself. 
I dawned my mask and headed into the office to leave my log books, squawk list, and keys. The owner assisted annual has been denied by the shop owners during the Covid-19 fiasco so I am left to sit and wonder whats going on without me. This is a new and not so comfortable experience.

My squawk list
  1. Replace adel clamp for starter wire, aft of alternator.
  2. Replace blast tube for alternator
  3. Install new LED landing light (bottom cowl)
  4. Correct parking brake wire clamp on pivot arm
  5. Install Rosen visors
  6. Install Fire extinguisher co-pilots seat front rail
  7. Check stall horn/lift detector


Rosen Visors
1.4 LB Halotron

Monday, April 13, 2020

VLog 4/13/2020

I posted a short VLog update on YouTube today. I am working on new intro screens, searching for new music, and adding some footage from my Fly The Beach flight. I had a third video rolling, mounted on the pilot side window. I decided not to add the footage to my previous flight video. I wanted to really get a look at how the tail cam video would work out if I wanted to make that the primary view for any length of a given flight. 

I also captured a few pictures from the video to share here on my Blog post.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Fly The Beach

I haven't been in the air since March 8th, thirty-four days! Today I decided to change that, and get 3 Tango Charlie in the air. Now nothing is really open for a sit down lunch but some places are offering take out. That could work if I load up one of our chairs and pick a place, but, that's not much fun by myself.
Instead, I decided on a familiar route, north along the beach. I decided to show off the likes of Ocean City, Fenwick and Bethany beach Delaware,and Cape Henlopen State Park. The beaches were empty, that's a good thing with the stay in place orders. Traffic was also non-existent, I guess that's another positive result of the order. 
Air traffic was quiet and I only had an ADSB return from the Delaware State Police helicopter once turning for home over Lewes Delaware. The DSP bird headed for Delaware Coastal (KGED) and I continued home. 
Traffic did pick up as I approached Ocean City but everyone was working the radio and we all entered the pattern, landing without issue.

It felt really good to get back in the air today. I should be flying more often,  but, without a destination, I just can't seem to motivate myself to bore holes in the sky. 

Next up will be the short hop to annual inspection, and then a return flight home. I hope by that point things start to return to normal and our economy gets jump started.

Monday, April 06, 2020

OSMO Gimbal Learning Curve

Since we are still under the stay in place order I'm not sure about flight time.  Although listening to all the traffic when I arrived at Ocean City Airport things seemed pretty much normal.  I took Ziva out for some exercise and I got to experiment with the new gimbal iPhone camera mount by OSMO. 
I am working out the logistics to safely have Mary drive to Delaware Coastal (KGED) to pick me up on the day I drop of 3 Tango Charlie for annual.  Delaware State Police are stopping vehicles with out of state tags, so we are a target. Maybe a call to confirm with the DSP will ease my brides anxiety. 

Stay safe, keep your distance and soon things will get back to business as usual. At least I hope so. 

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Keeping Busy

As we all deal with the stay at home orders, and finally having time to do the things we have put off, I still need more. We have been cooking, that's been fun. Mary has also been baking, and that's been really good, the yummy kind of good. 

The housekeepers have been benched so Mary and I are back to cleaning. This is not the most fun, but it's really not that difficult. I haven't danced with the vacuum in ages, fortunately we still have our steps down pat. Together Mary and I cleaned up the back porch, and it is now ready for summer and our much anticipated crab feasts. Actually, we are giving some thought to adding an HVAC unit, and all new windows to replace the units we have. Idle time time thinking of projects = $. Yikes!

I have been keeping busy getting ready for 3 Tango Charlie's annual inspection, coming up in just ten days. I'm providing my squawk list, items I want installed, factory inspection procedures and helpful various inspection processes that are Commander specific.  Type clubs are great for providing information and helpful advice gained through experience. 

I have also been playing around with the new OSMO gimbal 3 hand held mount for the iPhone and I am trying to figure a way to secure one of my video cameras on the mount.  This has been entertaining and frustrating at the same time.
While reading through every post on multiple flying forums, one in particular caught my eye. This was the flying sim thread. I haven't used a flight sim at home since before I started flying or soon after.  My how things have changed. So, for $59 I purchased the digital copy of XPlane 11. I have since sold or given away my yoke and rudder pedals, since they haven't been located following an exhaustive search at the hangar, and our home. I am faced with a decision, new logitech yoke or just a joystick. I'm leaning towards a Logitech 3D joystick since the yoke doesn't really provide a realistic feedback.  Besides, I'm only interested in shooting approaches anyway and it saves $$.  What the real issue is going to be, will be finding a Commander aircraft to fly.  There is none for XPlane.  Maybe Microsoft 2020 will have something I can eventually upgrade to.
For now I plan on downloading the Carenado A36 Bonanza, the only aircraft I can find with an Aspen EFD 1000 EFIS. It comes with a Garmin 430, a KFC 225 autopilot, and I can swing the gear to keep with the GUMPS mantra. 
Yes, I'm getting bored and at least I'll be flying, ok, sort of. I did find it pretty neat that I can connect my iPad mini 4 and 5 to chart my location, see traffic and route plan.  It's a shame I can't transfer the plan to the flight sim. Yes, I still miss my Flight Stream 210!
What have you done to keep busy?  Anyone sim flying? Stay safe, stay at home, practice social distancing if you do go out to walk the dog or just go out to exercise. Hoping life returns to whatever the new normal will be very soon. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal



Transform your videography with DJI’s Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal Combo. It's DJI’s most foldable, lightweight, and portable 3-axis stabilizer yet for iPhone—helping you to effectively eliminate shake and capture smooth, stable footage. Along with the Osmo Mobile 3 Gimbal, this combo pack includes a tripod, carrying case, and other essentials to help you start shooting immediately.

Eliminate shake

The 3-axis gimbal delivers super-smooth, stabilized footage. Its lightweight, ultra-responsive design reacts to your movements in real time, letting you focus more on the moment at hand.

What's in the box

DJI Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal
DJI Osmo Grip tripod
DJI Osmo Carrying case
Power cable
Storage pouch
Wrist strap
Anti-slip pads
Weight: 14.29 oz.