Sunday, November 29, 2020

Local Flight Time

My friend and fellow pilot Charles G was in town on business, but, he had a few hours on his schedule to fly. Well, if he had the time I have the plane, let’s do it. 

We agreed to meet up at eleven and get some fly time, and make a stop at Delaware Coastal for lunch. I got to the airport in time to take on fuel, and complete my pre-flight. Charles pulled up at quarter till and we climbed aboard. 

Once wheels up we pointed for the GPS RWY 22 approach, direct to the initial fix HUVOX.  I had my fill of approaches, today I handed over controls to Charles flying right seat. Charles flew off of his iPad and 3 Tango Charlie’s GPS and CDI. 

I have to say for and instrument student he kept altitude within twenty feet and didn’t stray from course at all.  I managed power, gear, and flaps when needed.  The minimum descent altitude was 320’ but we swapped control at five hundred feet and I made the landing. 

Arena’s restaurant was busy, and the ramp was bustling with airplane activity. It was a good day for general aviation. Charles and I each had the combo, sandwich and soup.  I had a cup of chili and half a tuna salad club, Charles had a BLT with his crab soup choice. 
Tuna salad club with chili
We finished up and then headed back to Ocean City.  The traffic at OCMD was one plane, and we followed it in, number two  to land. Another fun day flying along with a tasty lunch.

I was impressed with Charles knocking out the approach and tracking as good or better then I do in my own plane. With his Cherokee 140 down for an engine replacement I want to try and keep him flying. I think Charles passed 170 hours this year, so he's crushing my sorry numbers.  I look forward to catching up again soon.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Instrument Currency Extended

The plan for today was to button up 3 Tango Charlie and then go shoot approaches.  I had enough fuel on board to get us a couple of hours of flying time with a planned top off at Delaware Coastal, KGED, along with lunch.  

The winds were much better today, 050/9, and no wind shear. Mark and I decided to do a run up close to the hangar before we would taxi out, getting the plug check out of the way first.  Once the mag checks were good we taxied for runway two. 3 Tango Charlie was her typical self, quickly climbing out for her workout. 

First up was the KGED RNAV GPS 4 with the autopilot.  The approach was smooth, and 3 TC road the rails down to minimums. I went missed and climbed back out for a second attempt, this time by hand, with the same results. I felt so much better than yesterday’s flight, I was back on my A game. 

Mark flew the next two, the VOR 4 and GPS 4.  I have to add here that flying from the right seat is not easy.  I selected the 480’s NAV page for guidance and he had an iPad mini 4 on the yoke with AHRS and the approach plates on the split screen. On Marks second approach we swapped controls and I landed for fuel and lunch.  

I took on 24 gallons for the plane, and the pilots each had soup and a sandwich. With full bellies and a total of  44 gallons on board we launched for Ocean City. 

I was first up with the GPS 14 approach into OXB.  I used the heading bug and altitude hold along with the Vertical Speed for my descent.  A very smooth approach and without issue as I climbed away on the missed for another go. Next up for me was the GPS 2 and once again I used the HDG, ALT, and VS to fly the approach. 

Once I went missed Mark took his turn, choosing to shoot the runway LOC 14 approach first followed by the GPS 2.  I managed to snap a few pictures of the sunset as we were turning in the procedure turn. We eventually swapped controls and I made a nice landing, coordinating with another aircraft in the pattern.

I cleared runway 2 crossing runway 14 and exiting at the nearest taxiway. We tucked 3 Tango Charlie in the hangar and I cleaned up the plane before calling it a day.  

With today’s flight I am now IFR current until May 31st of 2021. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Mark and I made a quick run to the airport this morning to remove the bottom plug on the number four cylinder. With the help of a 1/2" swivel and a shorter extension we didn't have to remove the bottom cowl.  As you can see from the picture there was a big carbon lead snot that attached itself to the fine wire plug electrode.  If you look closely you can also see a few of the snotball's friends. With the help of the new picks the plug was cleaned, the gap checked, and I gave it a once over with a bronze bristle brush. Everything looked good to go so we added some anti-seize and reinstalled. 

Since it was Thanksgiving we left the cowl on the moving blankets so we can test run tomorrow, then cowl and get back in the air. 

Thanks to Mark G for all his help! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Approaches and Hot Exhaust Gas Temp

Mary and I have our friends Mark and Candy here for Thanksgiving. We spent last turkey day at their home in Austin, TX (Lone Star Thanksgiving). It is always good times with Mark and Candy, good laughs, relaxed atmosphere and good eats. This week would be no different.

Mark has been busy working from our home and is taking advantage of my office to conduct business.  It provides ample work space, quiet, and freedom from inquiring dogs, yes that means the both of you, Ziva and Tango. 
Today Mark finished up early so we headed to the airport to take 3 Tango Charlie up for some flight time and approaches. We were both looking forward to resetting our currency even deeper into 2021. 

I started up and taxied out with no issues on the run up. Mag drop was 100 rpm on both mags so that was perfect. Everything else was good to go and we launched as soon as a King Air landed on the cross runway.  Winds were 220 14/G18 and we launched runway two-zero. It was a bumpy climb out and even some wind shear just as we cleared the trees.

I set up for KGED, and the RNAV GPS 22 approach and went direct HUVOX.  Mark asked if I saw the TFR for Biden over Rehoboth, I hadn't and it wasn't coming up on my ADS-B on Foreflight. I checked for NOTAMS prior to departure with extra concern to approaches at both airports. I checked my route for TFR's once in the plane and engine started. Mark had the TFR but he has cellular service on his iPad, I do not, only WIFI. Make note, always check the iPhone for TFR's with the added cell service and not rely on ADS-B.

No sooner then we were figuring that issue out the TFR pops up on my Foreflight. Strange.  I set up for two thousand five hundred for the short hop and noticed an irregular spike on my JPI engine analyzer. The number four cylinder was one hundred degrees hotter on EGT then the other three jugs. One pass through the info showed 1530 the next pass 1430. This went on as I kept pointed towards the GPS approach initial fix. The plane ran smooth and the CHT's were all around 300 degrees for each cylinder. Mark suggested a mag check and with the we found that the 'left' mag ran rough. The best guess was the number four top plug may have a bit of carbon and fouled. Hindsight I should have landed at GED and let Sussex aero take a look, instead I shot the approach and then headed home. The temps were all in line around 1430 with an occasional spike on number four to 1530. I shot the GPS 14 approach and circled to land on runway two-zero to bring us home. 

Flight debrief - I was behind the plane terribly today and dipped low on both approaches. My GPS programming for the approach was slow and had to be repeated, along with uncoupling the Auto pilot and trying to recapture the NAV/GS once inbound. I would not have wanted to fly with me today. 
Once on the ground we removed the top cowl to check the plug in question. I thought it was the left mag so we pulled the top plug, it looked brand new not a spec of lead, and the gap was good. I guess I was a bit dyslexic today. The actual mag was the right mag so we should have pulled the bottom plug. The ignition switch markings are R-L-Both, the key position does NOT match the mag position looking forward from the cockpit. 
Jamie, the Ocean City airport manager was kind enough to lend me his torque wrench so we replaced the top plug. Mark and I headed home and decided to remove the bottom plug tomorrow giving the girls some additional men free time.  
I should also note I did not have a 7/8" spark plug socket at the hangar, I do now. I also purchased a set of picks to keep on hand for removing lead deposits, and some cleaning brushes, if needed. I sold my torque wrench ages ago but I have decided to purchase another and keep it in the hangar, along with the proper tools needed for plug removal. Maybe not a bad idea to keep the tools in the plane just in case. 

Hopefully tomorrow brings a better day!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Last Minute Lunch Meet Up - KMRB

I swapped text messages with our friend and fellow BAC member Les G.  Les asked if we were available to meet he and Nahia for lunch at Katara's Crosswind Cafe' in Martinsburg WV. I initially had to decline because I was planning a flying day on Monday that would be five hours worth of hops and I needed to remove my backseat in the Commander today.  This is not as simple as the Sundowner, which was to remove two knurl locks and pull the individual back seats. The Commander seat removal entails removing bolts from the back and front of the seat, the whole bench seat, and safely removing the awkward unit from the plane. 

I received a text this morning cancelling the Monday flight, thus no need to remove the bench seat. Mary and I were now free to roam about on a beautiful day.  There are two additional destinations available today; the Northeast Flyers were headed to Nantucket, MA (KACK) and the Beech Aero Club was headed to West Hampton Beach, NY (KFOK).  Since we could not leave the airport environment at FOK or ACK we decided to meet up at Martinsburg with Les and Nahia. 

Bay Bridge - Chesapeake Bay

I needed to take on fuel so we headed over to the airport early, unfortunately not early enough. Instead of getting in the air by 10:30 we were rolling on to runway three-two at 10:50.  Today's flight was into a brutal 35 knot headwind and we trudged along at 104 knots. The saving grace was a silky smooth ride. 

I picked up my clearance with Patuxent approach and enjoyed the ride, and being able to once again fly in the system. Potomac approach missed a traffic call out but our ADS-B and TIS-B on the Garmin 480 switched screens and displayed the distance rings and approaching aircraft flashing yellow.  The traffic (6MH)passed overhead with four hundred feet between us.  Mary and I were not happy campers. 

KFRB - Frederick MD

The rest of the flight went without issue as we were passed from sector to sector. I eventually cancelled IFR and switched to the Martinsburg tower, confirming my number three to land position. I made a nice landing and taxied to the restaurant ramp.

The food and service at the Cafe' was very good and the restaurant was busy. The four of us enjoyed our conversation and company. It was fun to be out of the house, flying, and catching up with friends. 

Les's Sundowner

Our ride, the Commander

We decided it was time to head for home and made our way to the ramp. The airplane photos were taken then we all climbed aboard.  Les was first to taxi out while I picked up my IFR clearance that would make the Baltimore class bravo easy peasy, a smooth transition. 

I programmed the GPS for the return trip adding only the MRB VOR as a single waypoint. Once climbing out I would complete the remainder of the amended clearance. After wheels up I turned for MRB and was quickly handed off to approach. My route was somewhat amended now given vectors to fly heading 090° this was fine as I entered the remaining route on the Garmin 480. Approach advised they have an amended route advise ready to copy. I acknowledged and noted the changes; direct WOOLY BAL JAYBO KOXB.

As I chugged and plugged the GPS would not accept WOOLY, very odd. Ok, let’s try this again from another angle. I deleted the active plan and started with a blank page, I am really missing my Flight Stream 210! Once again a no go on adding the intersection. While working through the GPS issue I crossed the MRB VOR and was now pointed to WOOLY using Foreflight for my heading.  At this point I turned the GPS off and then on again to give it a fresh start. This worked out fine as I re-entered the flight plan without any problem. After checking the route and switching to the map screen I was given another route amendment. This change was once crossing WOOLY fly a heading of 100°  

I enjoyed the 30 knot tailwinds and followed the new plan. Now flying the new course heading I passed directly over midfield at KBWI-Baltimore. Approach then directed me to fly direct Salisbury (SBY).  This is where I was handed off to Mister Happy controller out of Potomac. I waited for a break in the chatter and checked in, only to hear another aircraft as I unkeyed. Mister Happy chastised us all, asking can we hear ourselves all talking at the same time. Well, I thought to myself, no, if I key the mic I actually can’t hear everyone else. Mary called him miserable, I agreed. When it was quiet I checked in again, and received confirmation.

We continued across the Chesapeake Bay and expected to be handed off to the next sector. I told my bride multiple times that Mister Happy forgot about us. A good bit of time passes, now just five minutes west of Salisbury, and again I said to my bride he forgot us. I was now well past the point of being handed off to Patuxent but I remained patient. I hear 3 Tango Charlie and anxiously await my hand off, finally I was handed off to Pax and felt we were in much more capable hands. 

Pax turned me direct Ocean City and once I had the weather and now less then 15 miles out I cancelled. Pax advised multiple targets around our destination and then cut me loose as requested. I made my calls at ten and five out, eventually entering the left down wind for three-two. When I turned final the aircraft at the hold commented "nice bright lights on that plane". That’s reassuring that the lights are so visible in day light. He again commented "money well spent". I thanked the pilot and continued in making a nice landing, and the first turn off towards the terminal ramp. We were home. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Cessna 441 Update

I had posted back on August 1st about a Cessna 441 that had a nose gear collapse landing here at Ocean City. I received a few emails and a text asking about the aircraft and posted an update on August 10th when I noticed the aircraft had been put back on her feet and both engines had been pulled.
This beautiful bird sat quietly on the North West end of the ramp awaiting her rescue. The planes engine nacelles had been sealed in plastic, the rudder pulled, and cones set up.

When Mary and I headed over to the airport on Tuesday to let Ziva run we both noticed a gathering of vehicles around the Cessna 441.  Typically I drive between the next to last row of hangars to let Mary and Ziva out on the north side grass area along the security fence, today I went one row farther.  Mary commented aren't you mister curious, I responded no, I'm mister nosy, there was no denial in my words or tone.

The Cessna was surrounded by vehicles, tool boxes, two wooden crates, a tractor, compressor, and people. I was really happy to see the Cessna getting the attention, knowing she'll be back in the air again soon.
In our travels yesterday we noticed two tents set up, one over each engine. They crew already had the engine mounts hung and things looked to be moving right along.  The weather forecast is not looking good for the next two days, nothing but heavy rain, and calling for a possible two inches. 

It sure would be nice to get her return to flight captured, but for now we wait. 

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

IFR Current, For Now

I had arranged to fly with my hangar neighbor Chet K for Monday, but, it was way to windy. We agreed on getting out early this morning (8am) to knock out a couple. At least we had a plan.

I sat up last night and watched the election returns, finally surrendering to the sandman, passing out around midnight. I made my nightly 3 am nature run and remembered to turn on 3 Tango Charlies pre-heat. That was odd, I received no confirmation that my text message went through.  I tried at least five more times, still nothing for confirmation.  My brain storm was to call T mobile and make sure there was money on the card and that was confirmed. While I had them on the phone I added ten bucks for some extra protection.  I gave T-Mobile a few minutes and tried again, nothing. I decided I would feed the dog at 6am and then head to the airport by 7am to plug in for an hour, better then no heat at all. 

Once I arrived I made sure the antenna and cable were both good to go, they were both fine. I reset the breaker for the GFI outlet and plugged everything back in, for the tug power cord, and the switchbox. I sent another text and I heard the click followed by a confirmation text message. Yea! A simple fix. 
At 8am I tugged 3 Tango Charlie out of her nest and set up the video cameras. I gave some thought to a tail cam but decided to pass on setting that up.  Today would be a front, side and crew view. 

Chet rolled in on time just as I was finishing up my camera set up, and he quickly climbed aboard. I had completed my preflight while killing time this morning and sumped the fuel since I took on fuel last week. 
We taxied out for runway three-two and after run-up launched for Delaware Coastal (GED). The ride was smooth and there was no traffic. I selected the RNAV GPS 22 approach. I wanted to use the autopilot but shot the first by hand, ok with the AP heading bug. We went missed and climbed out to re-enter the pattern for the left down wind runway two-two. I made an ok landing and taxied to the terminal, securing a front row parking spot. I used the ole noodle and called Op's to see if the restaurant was even open before I shut down, it was not. I released the parking brake and we taxied back for departure, now planning for the Cape May Airport (KWWD).

I departed the Delaware Coastal airport environment and pointed for Cape May, climbing at seven hundred feet a minute to my Delaware bay crossing altitude of five thousand five hundred. The air was smooth and I made good speed even with a ten knot headwind. You could easily see Cape May from the Delaware Coast line, and all the way up to Atlantic City.  I nosed 3 Tango Charlie over and made my way for the pattern, crossing midfield and landing on runway one-nine. 

Breakfast was good, however, I think the prices have went up, at least the service is always good. Chet somehow convinced the waitress to give him the bill and I told her that wasn't very nice since I had asked for it. Besides, I wanted to pay for the four sheriff's seated at the next table.  At least I got to pay that bill. Thanks Chet, breakfast on me the next time. 

We saddled up and taxied back out to runway one-nine, followed by a smooth take-off and climb out.  I made one loop just south of the Cape May Ferry Terminal then pointed for home once I had some altitude. The tail winds were nice as we scooted right along hitting 142 knots while pulled back to 65% power (22/24). I set up the Garmin 480 for the RNAV GPS 2 approach, direct CIRAN. We made one loop for the procedure turn and headed in, breaking off early to enter the left down wind for runway two-zero. I made a nice landing to end the day and I am now once again IFR Current, at least until January 31, 2021.