Monday, May 23, 2022

4-Day Get-Away Plans

The plan is to get 3 Tango Charlie in the air and take Mary and I away to a new destination. Our favorite, a 4 day get-away. 

The immediate consensus is to point south for Laurel, MS. However, the weather for the week is looking very wet with boomers in the forecast, and that makes for a not so fun walk about town. I'm also not into flying through boomers or anywhere close to convective activity. 

Mary and I quickly shifted gears and went to a back up destination, Charleston, SC. Unfortunately the back up plan had much the same forecast, rain and boomers for our time away. 

For now mission scrubbed. Instead we decided to day trip this week and the week of 5/23 through 5/26. Some day trips will be by ground and a few others by plane, we are looking forward to June and maybe heading north or north west.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Annual Review: The Cost

Since I did a wrap up following last years annual I figured I would continue the tradition and provide a list of work done and final costs for this year. Here we go...
The final total was $2,447.75 since I paid by bank check, saving me the 3% credit card fee.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Annual 2022

Once again it's that time of year, airplane annual. I had a pretty good routine going with Sussex Aero at Delaware Coastal (KGED). I would have Mary drop me at the hangar and then she would make the forty minute drive while I tugged the plane out, preflighted, then make the ten minute hop. Unfortunately the A&P that did my annual no longer works there. The shop manager, Rob, is still there and I will miss his experience.

This year I am going to use the shop at New Garden Airport (N57). The switch opens a whole new can of coordination issues with hotels and a rental car. The last few years I could easily drive back and forth to Delaware Coastal, this year requires more planning. 

Monday 5.2

The initial plan was to fly up to New Garden Tuesday morning and arrive early for my 11am shop appointment. The weather was looking really poor for Tuesday and by midday Monday the Wednesday weather was looking worse. Mary and I talked it over and we decided I would fly north today.

Earlier this morning Mary helped me preflight 3 Tango Charlie after she finished her walk with Ziva. The plane was ready to go, now I just had to get my head in the game.

I quickly packed my bag and called to have the rental car delivered a day early. I also called my sister to see if I could crash for a night at her place. Nick at Hertz said he would have the car at the airport in fifteen minutes, and my sister Denise and her husband Dave said the spare room is available for a border. I was a go to launch.

I taxied to runway two-zero and launched for N57. The ride was bumpy and I had a headwind to deal with making my ride north about fifty minutes.  I picked up flight following with Dover Approach since I had eyes on a heavy doing landings. I watched the plane land on runway one and managed a picture once they had taxied clear. I also caught a shot of a 747 that was making his way to runway one for departure. 
Once north of Dover AFB I was directed to climb and maintain at or above three thousand five hundred for a departing 747. I confirmed then made my climb, not wanting the 747 to have me as a bug splat. Eventually I canceled with Dover and made my way to New Garden, setting up and landing on runway two-four. 
With the plane secure and rental keys in hand I headed to my sisters house. It’s about a thirty minute drive and the traffic wasn’t too bad. It was fun catching up and we had pasta with Dave’s homemade meatballs. They were really good, I’ll have to get his recipe. 

Tuesday 5.3

I woke up refreshed and ready to go. Denise made scrambled eggs, bacon, toasted English muffins, and a fresh fruit cup of orange slices and blueberries. A yummy breakfast indeed. 

We all sat and chatted until Dave left for a doctors appointment, all the while watching one of the three foxes hunt down squirrels. Three separate attempts about fifteen minutes apart left the score squirrels 3, foxes zip. Meanwhile the bird feeders were a buzz of activity, I could have sat and watched for hours. 

I figured I should get motivated and head over to the airport, I still had the log books with me. I needed to open up the plane to release the brakes and remove the gust lock before 3 Tango Charlie was tugged in.

When I arrived at the shop 3 Tango Charlie sat quietly on the ramp waiting her turn to enter the hangar.  Around 1pm I was told my Commander was coming in the shop, and sure enough she taxied around the corner and right in front of the hangar doors. 
Day one and Mike will start on engine work, compressions, plugs, oil filter removal and replacement. The filter looked great, not even a spec of carbon. The Champion filter was replaced with a Tempest.
While disconnecting the cowl flaps Mike noticed the attach point brackets bolt hole was worn and now oversized. The plan is to add a bushing to each bracket.
Bill started in on inspection plate, dorsal, and tail cone removals, then moved into the baggage area. 

Before we knew it the clock struck 5pm and we called it a day. I headed to the Charcoal Pit for a cheeseburger and a pineapple sundae to go. With dinner in hand I checked into the hotel and called it a night.

Wednesday 5.4

Up and atom, Angels is calling my name for breakfast. After breakfast I was reminded why we left this area, traffic! I arrived at the shop fifteen minutes past start time.
When I walked into the shop 3 Tango Charlie was missing her seats, floor, and carpets. The spinner was already removed and everything was already lubed. Mike was finishing the plug cleaning and getting ready to reinstall. 
Mag timing check is next and I understand the concept but Mike really explained the the process. On the initial check one mag was at 25 degrees and the other was 22.5 degrees. The engine data plate calls out 20 degrees. 
3 Tango Charlie is going up on Jack stands and upon inspection the brakes are getting close. I am going to have the pads replaced, no sense waiting. There was also a very small leak on the right caliper that needed attention.
Next up, the gear swing. This is pretty straight forward and a close inspection is required. A hydraulic line in the right wheel well had a ongoing wing skin rub from a metal tag on the line. The tag was removed and the clearance restored. The shop performed multiple swings and two emergency gear dumps, everything checked out fine. I do have to inquire on the COG forum as to why the hydraulic fluid overflow when we did the emergency dump. I do not remember that happening in the past annuals.

Thursday 5.5

I think this morning I’ll head over to Hanks for breakfast. I’m not sure if the place is open, last time in the area it was closed for remodeling. After the beautiful drive I arrive to find they are still closed. At least my ride on Smith bridge road and a chance to use the covered bridge made my morning. I ended up with a grab and go at McD’s. 
Today is button up day, inspection panels installed, interior returned to a useable mode and 3 Tango Charlie will get her feet back on the ground. Once my plane is coming back together, my plan is to head south for home. 

I’ll be back Monday to square up the final invoice and fly 3 Tango Charlie home. I guess I should give Hertz a call and let them know I’m extending the car rental. I’ll also note I’m overjoyed to check out of the hotel a day early. I didn’t get much sleep last night with the next room over guest going out to smoke every hour on the hour and then slamming the door because he couldn’t get his key card to work. Maybe I should have bugged out last night after I met the “neighbor” sporting a blonde Mohawk and in his forties. I should have trusted my gut, instead I just wanted to eat, shower, and then sleep. 

Friday 5.6

I got a call from the shop concerning my three blade Hartzel prop. The prop checked out just fine, the paperwork trail was missing a signature on the 337 form.  With a call to Hartzel the shop secured a copy of the needed paperwork, of course Hartzel charged a fee.  I’m glad that’s squared away. 

Monday 5.9

I am up and out of the house by 8am, pointing the rental ford north.  Traffic wasn't too bad and I made good time, arriving around 10:20am.  I had to wait for the POTUS TRF over Wilmington so I started my pre-flight safety check. When I went outside Scott was replacing the left mag gasket that developed a leak then retimed the mags. I appreciated the attention to detail, especially after the comments from the guys in the shop that my Lycoming was dry all around no leaks. 

When the TFR lifted I climbed aboard and got the fan turning. I immediately noticed it was easier to start and when I did the run up the mag drop difference was just 20 rpms between both right and left. 
Forecast winds were going to be reaching forty knots so I knew the ride would be interesting. Take off was normal and I was quickly turning on course. Sure enough, the ride was brutal. North of Delaware Coastal was pretty rough and then just south maybe nine minutes out of Ocean City I really got rocked. The turbulence was so bad my Aspen flashed a message, "Cross Check Attitude."
That message was a first and I honestly expected a check for your seat cushion message to come up next. Crazy ride!  As I turned for final at Ocean City, Runway two, you could really feel the gusty winds just knock your air speed down. A few adjustments and feet ready to dance on those rudder pedals and I was greasing one on. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I'll take it. 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Lunch in St. Michaels MD

Friday 4.29

The ladies were catching up on the phone when they agreed we should meet up Saturday to do lunch and enjoy the forecast for beautiful weather. Mary and Nahia had a good laugh and decided to leave the planning details up to the men.  A good halfway point would be St. Michaels MD with us flying into the Easton Airport, KESN, just fifteen minutes from downtown. 

Saturday 4.30

After a quick breakfast I remembered I needed to reserve a car at Easton.  I called and locked in a Ford Taurus for our transportation. Securing a rental is a better deal then paying for a taxi to and from town. I completed my typical flying day ritual of weather and NOTAM checks then packed a few items in the flight bag. The plan was to keep it simple today.

We rolled into the airport and I dropped Mary off for her morning walk, minus the Ziva diva. I continued on to the hangar and completed my preflight. I tugged 3 Tango Charlie out onto the ramp as  Mary emerged from the back of our hangar. In unison we said great timing. 

Winds favored runway one-four and we launched for our flight west. FlightAware detailed a twenty-eight minute flight with fourteen knot headwinds. The ride was bumpy until we climbed through three thousand feet, finding smooth air just one hundred feet higher. I wanted to stay below the R-4006 restricted area base of three thousand five hundred feet, which kept our route direct.

I contacted the Easton tower at ten miles out with the current ATIS and my intentions. Tower cleared me for a straight in for runway four. I found this odd since I was approaching on a perfect right base. Tower changed things up and directed me to the right base, much better to keep the flow.  I made a floaty landing and touched down a bit firm, definitely not my best.

I secured the plane while Mary took care of the rental car paperwork. When I entered the terminal a man approached me and asked about what plane I flew in. I responded I was flying the commander and the conversation went on from there. The gentleman, Jeff, was getting back into flying after 28 years away and he and his wife Vanessa were plane shopping. I introduced Jeff and his wife to Les and he checked out his Sundowner then we took a peek at my Commander.

L-R:  Les, Nahia, Mary and me

We finally walked out to our rental car and pointed for St. Michaels. The ride was just fifteen minutes or so and we soon found some parking in the post office parking lot. Town was really busy, traffic was backing up headed west on Talbot street and the sidewalks were filling up with people. We walked a short distance and all agreed on lunch at the Limoncello Restaurant. 

Gnocchi in Marinara Sauce

Lobster Ravioli
Each couple ordered the Burrata cheese with tomato and balsamic drizzle appetizer to split.  Mary had lobster ravioli and I had the gnocchi in marinara sauce for our entrĂ©e.   Lunch was perfect and the service just as good. We shared great conversation and many laughs with our friends and Beech Aero Club members, Les and Nahia. 

Les with the photo bomb
A beautiful Jag
Once we returned to our rental ride I attempted to tour the Marina and lighthouse. Unfortunately there was a wedding reception underway and the waterfront parking area was closed. It was time to head back to the airport so I made my way to Talbot Street, moving along at a snails pace but enjoying the view of all the shops.

We returned the car and then made our way to the ramp to saddle up for home. Once I had the ATIS I contacted ground then the Tower when I was ready to launch. The ride home was smoother then the ride west to Easton, now enjoying a tailwind. I made up for my landing at Easton by greasing one on at Ocean City, it was butter.

Next up, reposition 3 Tango Charlie for Annual inspection at New Garden Airport, N57. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Meeting the Pilots of the MSP

AugustaWestland AW139

Mary and I stopped to see one of the Maryland State Police (MSP) helicopters on display at the Ocean Pines Fire Department. I was lucky enough to meet the pilot from the crew that saved my life on the day of our airplane accident. It was interesting to hear their side of the events that day, and how it had an affect on their procedures moving forward. The pilot, Don, said they stopped at Salisbury because they didn’t think I would survive the flight to Baltimore shock trauma until I got blood. Kind of freaked me out to hear that bit of information. 

Thanks Don for being on scene that morning and for the great chat today. Also a shout out to Courtney, a Maryland State Trooper/Paramedic, for hooking us up.
The crew that was with the display aircraft thanked us for stopping by and bringing closure to that day for them. The first responders typically don't get to experience the result of their efforts. I'm so glad we got to meet Don and he said he would talk to the other pilot and Trooper/Paramedic that was flying that day.

I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture with Don, obviously overwhelmed with seeing the helo and all the medical equipment on board as well as reliving that day back in June 2018

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Getting Vince to Atlantic City

I had swapped multiple messages with Vince’s brother Joey. Joey was putting together Vince’s bachelors party in Atlantic City and I was going to be his transportation. I was excited to be part of the surprise transportation plan and get some fly time with Vince. 

It’s been a crazy few days here at the beach. My 2003 ML 320 left me stranded for the first time, at least it was in the driveway. It was sad to see old blue on the hook but she’ll be back good as new. Mary had to drive me over to the airport so I could preflight and return to pick me up when I returned.

3 Tango Charlie had forty-seven gallons on board which will cover the missions needs. With the preflight completed I got the fan turning and taxied for runway two-zero. The ride at three thousand was smooth with good tailwinds. I picked up flight following with Dover Approach as I closed in on the Waterloo VOR.

I decided to cancel flight following north of Dover and contacted the Wilmington Tower.  My first instruction was to enter right base runway nine then was switched to right downwind runway one-four. No problem, a nice landing and short taxi clear to FlyAdvanced. 

Vince was at the gate with his brother, kudos to Joey for pulling off the surprise. Vince and I saddled up for a flight to Millville Airport for breakfast before we would head to Atlantic City. 

I taxied out following Vince picking up our taxi instructions and once cleared we launched to the south east. Vince took controls and did a great job flying and lining us up for the downwind runway ten. We transferred controls and I made a nice landing despite the gusty winds.

I taxied to the south parking area across from the restaurant and was ready to shut down when we both agreed Verna's Flight Line Restaurant was closed. I saw an Ops vehicle and asked them on the radio if they knew if the restaurant was open. Ops did a drive by and confirmed our suspicions.

Well that shot the plan all to hell. We taxied back out and headed to Cape May, KWWD. I was lined up for runway one-nine and made a long straight in with a good landing. 

The Flight Deck Diner parking lot was crowded, but the ramp was empty, we secured a front row spot. We were quickly seated, passing on the two counter seats, instead, selecting the one table just inside the door.

Breakfast was excellent and once finished we made our way back out to 3 Tango Charlie. Once belted in and the fan turning Vince and I reviewed our plan for ACY. First the taxiway diagram and then weather so we worked through our arrival  and potential taxi to Signature.

We taxied out to runway one-nine and launched for our short trip north up the coast. I did pick up the current ATIS then flight following with Atlantic City Approach. One bit of traffic was called out, passing overhead, a massive C5, very cool!

Once the traffic was clear we were handed off to the ACY Tower. There were two military aircraft, KC10 Extenders aerial refuelers, doing touch and goes so wake turbulence was a concern.

Once cleared to land I made my way to the numbers for runway one-three and with gusty winds pulled off a good landing. I followed the taxi instructions to Signature and pulled up as directed by the lineman. I did not shut down, and had to wave him away as Vince exited to the rear of the plane. The lineman motioned for me to come in and I shook my head no and motioned I was heading out. Vince confirmed they wanted to charge me a ramp fee, what a rip off. I used no services.

Coast Guard Helo just off the coast
I taxied out to one-three following my clearance and had to stop and copy a change once on the roll. I hadn’t asked for flight following, I just wanted to head down the coast. I made note of the revised clearance and continued to the runway. 

Once cleared to takeoff I climbed out as directed, runway heading up to the assigned sixteen hundred feet. The tower handed me off to approach and I was immediately turned on course and given my altitude of three thousand. 

I headed home across the Delaware Bay reflecting on a fun day flying with a great friend and someone who seems more like family. It’s been fun to watch Vince grow up since our first flight back in January 2010.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Spinner Polish

I did a brief video back in January 2020 on cleaning up the spinner but today I wanted to dedicate a few minutes to showing how easy the process is with the Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream.
BEFORE
AFTER
Cleaning was easy, applying the product from back to front in a straight motion. As you can see by the dark blue towel this was my application rag after a few passes. 

It reminded me of cleaning our silverware from Mary's Grandmother, although never that dirty. The lighter blue rag on the right was for clean and buff, it too had some discoloration.

Total time was under fifteen minutes and it didn't give my arthritic shoulders much pain.