Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Changing Airplane Oil and How to Safety Wire Tie

I have worked on my own vehicles for years, finally letting go of even the simplest of things to do, the oil change. With my metal parts and arthritis it  was just easier to write the check, or in this day and age, swipe the card. 
I decided I wanted to try changing the oil on my airplane. The oil pan has a SAF-AIR quick drain valve so that makes things a bit easier. Hook up the drain hose give the drain valve a push up with a twist and out comes that bubblin crude, Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. Those of you readers that are close to my age should know that reference. 
The only step in the process that I wasn't sure of was the safety wire tie. Sure, the A&P makes it look easy and it really is, if you are mindful of a few important factors.
What I have learned; loop a single strand through your anchor point, gently pull the wire through and extend far enough to give you a few inches past the anchor point on the filter. Make sure the safety wire will tighten if the filter would loosen, know the direction. The next step is to hold the wire where it will run and make note (small bend in wire) where it will pass through the oil filter anchor point. Now secure the pliers to the wire at that small bend you made and twist clockwise. I'm using .032 wire so the spec calls for 6-11 twists per inch. Once you get to the length noted (with the small bend) stop twisting. Take a look at the wire, pass the top wire through the filter anchor point and then secure both wires with the pliers and twist again, this time counter clockwise. Check the tension on the wire, simulate the filter turning to loosen and confirm the wire would tighten. Cut of the excess leaving a half inch of twisted wire and curl up that remaining so it doesn't shred your skin on the next change or general inspection. 
I hope the video will shed some light on the airplane oil change and safety wire tie process. Of course always consult with your A&P if you have any  questions. Always use the approved parts for your aircraft and make sure to do a run up/leak test before buttoning things up. Don't forget to make a note in the engine log for the work performed.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Vero Beach Florida Get-Away

Photo Curtesy Vero Beach Recreational Department
The plans for a quick get-away started over a week ago. Mary and I decided we wanted some sit on the beach and bake relax time, so we came up with a few locations. Key West is a favorite and so is Sanibel, however we have already been there, we were looking for someplace new.
My first thought was Fernandina Beach on the north end of Amelia Island just below the GA/FL line. There was an airport just a stones throw from where we wanted to stay and the temps were slowly starting to climb into the high seventies. High seventies, not sure that will be warm enough for water play time. We decided to look a bit further south and agreed on Vero Beach.

This trip will require one stop that will be  about three hours into the trip. I am planning on KGGE - Georgetown, SC for our fuel stop with KLRO - Mount Pleasant, SC as a back up.  Our last hop will be down the east coast of Florida to KVRB - Vero Beach

Just for comparison I checked round trip tickets for Mary and I and did a quick calculation on fuel burn for comparison. Round trip commercial flight SBY - FLL for two was 1.5k and fuel burn round trip for 3 Tango Charlie would be 120 gallons, $6 a gallon average for $720 total fuel cost.
Departure Day March 20th

Just in case our readers were wondering, the zoo is safe, all the furbabies are being boarded at our local vet clinic. Two cats and one dog will cost us around $660 for a weeks boarding. I try and think of it as having a second rental car for the week and just parking it. I know, sick mind. 
1600 UTC Sunday March 20 2022
Mary and I are up early and arriving at the airport by 7:30. My preflight and sump was completed yesterday so we will launch by 8am. There is a POTUS TFR over Rehoboth and Ocean City sits in the outter ring, thankfully we can get out.

Winds favored runway three-two and once we picked up our IFR clearance with Patuxent we launched. With the presidential TFR active you must have a squawk code prior to take off.  
The air was smooth as we enjoyed the ride down the peninsula and across the Chesapeake Bay. Mary and I counted sixteen tankers, a cargo container ship, two sail boats and two tugs pushing barges. I don’t think there was much room left to park! 
I kept to my four thousand feet despite my wanting to climb higher.  The problem was the headwinds more then doubled above us compared to what we were facing at four.
Fleet at Norfolk
Some ATC funnies along the way. As we’re riding along south I said in to Mary it would be nice if they gave me direct Brunswick SSI, to follow the coast and not fly over Savanah. I barely got that out of my mouth when Approach did just that. My response, you need to get out of my head, I just told my bride I would like that shortcut. 

The next funny was checking in with Orlando. I’m not sure how or why but I said Orlando, Comando 453TC level four thousand. Yes, I laughed my way through that call. Mary just had that look and said, Comando, really? Yikes!

Our first stop was Mount Pleasant, SC - KLRO.  This is strictly a gas and go, pick up our clearance in the air, and keep pushing south. Charleston approach was great, gave us our clearance then handed us off to Savannah. Approach moved us around for some jet traffic. Savannah thanked me multiple times. 

St. Simons - KSSI
Once Savannah handed me off approach didn’t call out traffic until handed off to Orlando. I wasn’t to happy but at least it was VFR conditions, see and avoid. 
Passing over St. Augustine
All the beach airports were a beehive of activity. This is serious head on a swivel eyes outside and pay attention to every radio call time.
Daytona Beach
KDAB - Daytona Beach International
As we approached Vero Beach I caught a quick glimpse of the airport then continued in IMC. Approach gave me vectors to final and once below two thousand I had the field for the visual runway four. The only problem I had was not loading the approach and following through it, instead I clicked on something and totally wiped my destination off the flight plan. This could have been a real issue but I had the field, no harm no foul. In the video you see me spending way too much time with the GPS, I was entering KVRB direct just in case. I still think I should have been more eyes out then fiddle time on the GPS. Always learning, always trying to improve.

Once shut down at Sun Jet Center I took on thirty gallons of fuel, we are ready for Friday’s departure. Mary secured our rental, a Ford Escape. 3 Tango Charlie will be safely tucked away in a hangar for $40 a night until we return.
Hotel Check In and Eats

Our room was ready so we schelped our bags to the room on the second floor. This place is older with only one elevator on the far northeast corner of the building. We were rooming on the southwest side and I got pretty familiar driving the baggage cart all over the place. What a PITA. 

Once settled in and sucking up plenty of air conditioning we searched for dinner. Our first pick was Ocean Grill, a short walk across the street from our hotel. Not a chance, wait time was an hour and a half. I haven’t eaten since 8:30ish right after take-off. I wasn’t waiting to eat. I have a tendency to get a bit grouchy when hangry. 

Definition Hangry
  1. bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger. 
    "I get very hangry if I miss a meal"

Choice number two was Mulligans, right behind the hotel, on the beach. Wait time was maybe thirty minutes so Mary and I had a drink at the bar. Super strong drinks with no food since this morning and I was feeling a buzz, so was my bride. Mary had a blueberry mahito, I had a grapefruit crush, strongest drink I had in years. I’ll end this tale right here. 
My Cheeseburger bowl
Mary's Asian tuna bowl
Monday, March 21st

Rise and shine! No pets, we're on vacation, an excellent time to enjoy sleeping in. Who said life was fair? The trash truck emptied its first of three dumpsters at 7:13am. Honestly, banging them each three times to make sure they’re empty can’t be necessary.
Mary and I made our way just a half mile south of our hotel and checked in to the Lemon Tree restaurant for breakfast. Service was excellent and the food was good.
We also checked out a shop just a few stores south to meet with Mary's friend and store owner Jen. We didn’t realize her store was this close to where we were staying, small world. Mary purchased two outfits for her great nephews while there. Jen's shop, Lily Pad, is beautiful, well stocked, and you can’t beat the personal service. 
With full tummies it was time to hit the beach. The winds were really blowing and the water temps were just 73 degrees. The ocean still felt cold to the touch for me. We had a relaxing time, listening to the waves crash, and the winds made the temps feel comfortable. Can you say sizzle....we each got some burn. Mary worse then me.

I actually got some tan going on. Tomorrow we will continue to erase our Casper white look for the we live at the beach look.
Tonight’s dinner choice is Station 49. Just a short drive west from the hotel. This place got very good reviews for wood fired pizzas and they have an excellent selection of Italian dishes. When we arrived the building doesn’t strike you as a restaurant but more like a pizza place. Picture old gas station/body shop structure.
Once inside it really was a pizza place! I learned many years ago to never judge a book by its cover. We were quickly seated and gave the menu a good once over. We would have to try the appetizers. I ordered the Arancini;
Crispy, cheesy, risotto balls, with san marzano tomato dipping sauce. They were excellent. 
Mary ordered the Burrata Caprese with basil, beefsteak tomato and aged balsamic glaze.
Mary said the cheese and the tomatoes were perfect. We both agree the appetizers would have been enough for dinner, but we took one for the team and each ordered an entrĂ©e. Mary and I both ordered the house made Pappardelle Bolognese with authentic Italian meat sauce. It too was excellent! If you’re in Vero this is a must stop for dinner.
Somehow we made it back to the car and the seatbelts still engaged. 

Tuesday March 22nd

Todays breakfast mission takes us back to the Vero Beach airport and CJ Cannons restaurant. 
Mary and I met up with fellow Beech Aero Club member Dan J. Dan was in town flying a Cessna Conquest for a client and the timing worked out perfect. Thanks for breakfast, Dan. 
Once we finished up Dan gave us an up close look at the Conquest, Mary was loving the air stairs and the big comfy leather seating. I had to remind her it’s never going to happen. 

It was fun to check out the Conquest and the hangar owners Caravan.  We also watched the hangar owner fly his Bell Ranger into Vero, landing on the ramp just outside his hangar doors. 
We said our goodbyes and thanked Dan for the tour and the owner of the hangar for letting us stop in to see all his toys. By the way he is selling his King Air. 

It is just under a fifteen minute hop back to the hotel and with a quick change of clothes we are headed back to the beach. It’s windy again today but the sun feels good on these old bones, even the metal parts. 

Tonight’s dinner selection took some planning. Every place we called for a reservation was booked solid until after 7pm. We tried a recommended place as a walk-in and still got shut out. 
We each searched steakhouses and found Vero Prime, located a few blocks from Station 49. This place was an old time steakhouse, plenty of wood wall covering, lighting a bit dim but on target, and smells of a wood fired grill. Is this Heaven? 
The food did not disappoint! Mary and I each had an 8oz fillet, hers with a side of asparagus, and mine a twice baked potato. The taste of the steaks grill rub was good to the last bit. We made our way back to the hotel and enjoyed our desserts to go.

Wednesday March 23rd

No sleeping in this morning. Mary and I will be meeting Jen, the owner of Lily Pad, for breakfast. 
Jen suggested a quaint little shop, Chelsea’s on Cardinal. This shop is a coffee house/juice bar with hot sandwiches and baked goods. 
It was fun catching up and mary got to spend some extra time with her friend from back in the Pottery Barn days. 

The plan for the rest of the day was more beach time. Once we returned to our room to change Mary and I passed out, the beach and wind had obviously taken a toll. We did wake up in time to go check out a few properties and selected a dinner location. 
The Edgewood Eatery was the choice for dining. I was a bit hesitant when she read some of the menu items but Mary convinced me to give it a try. Thankfully there was beef on the menu. We both selected the Burger in the Grass, fresh local greens with a delicious burger with cheddar cheese, onion, and no bun. We also ordered truffle fries and shared the big bowl. 

We ordered dessert to go and then went to look at a few more properties. We really like the condo at Palm Estates, a gated community, just fifteen minutes from the ocean and five minutes from the Vero Beach airport. This property is on the western edge of Vero.

Mary and I would rather be on the east side of the Indian River, closer to the beach and farther from the downtown and industrial area. Since the weather is sketchy for tomorrow we’ll look for more condos. For now, time to eat our take home desserts. 

Thursday March 24th

A little bit of a late start this morning but we got it in gear and headed over to Mulligans for breakfast. Food was good and the service excellent.

The plan was to either hit the beach or sit poolside. With the sky clouding up Mary was happy to take a pass on both and instead we’ll do a bit of exploring. 

I found a few properties but I’m thinking I would have to sell a kidney to make a dent in the asking prices.  Everyone asks, why not find a single family home, because we are not selling our Ocean City home, we just want a winter get-away. The perfect find would be a single bed and bath, first floor, no maintenance, allows pets, the search continues.
We made a reservation yesterday to have dinner at the Citron Bistro this evening. We figured it's our last night in Vero why not have a nice dinner. It’s just a short drive north on A1A and the food and service was fantastic. Mary had the duck and I had braised short rib. Of course we got desserts to go.

Friday March 25th

It’s time to head home. Mary and I packed last night and headed out this morning for breakfast before heading to the airport. I had to top off the rental and then squared up my bill with Sun Jet Aviation. 
I gave 3 Tango Charlie a good pre-flight paying extra attention for any hangar rash, she was clean. A check of the oil is showing a quarter low from six quarts. I’ll add a quart at our fuel stop. 
Taxi for runway 30L
I picked up my clearance with Vero ground. Radar vectors to Melbourne (MLB) then join V3 then as filed. We were third in line for departure and launched when it was our turn. 
Our climb out was smooth but when we leveled at five thousand the rodeo ride began. Approach was much better with traffic as we made our way to our fuel stop in South Carolina. 
Once north of Brunswick Georgia we were cleared direct Mount Pleasant. As we let down for the pattern the ride got even crazier, then we turned final. The ride to the runway was intense, and somehow I still managed to salvage a good landing. 

While mary walked over to the terminal for a soda I added a quart of oil, we’ll most of it. As I picked up the oil to add at the filler tube it slipped from my hand. Instead of letting it hit the ground I tried to make a save, it flipped, and ended up spraying the top and side cowl along with my shirt. Not a pretty sight. I cleaned everything up then walked over to the terminal to clean myself up. 

Let’s saddle up for home. I taxied out for runway one-seven and launched. I contacted Charleston approach and picked up my clearance for Ocean City. The rodeo ride continued north until across the Chesapeake Bay. It was a welcome relief for the last hour, a smooth ride. I entered the pattern at OXB for runway three-two and made a nice landing. It’s good to be home! My tug was dead so Mary helped me push 3 Tango Charlie in the hangar. I’ll clean her up tomorrow while I let the oil drain for her oil change. I guess I'll also trouble shoot why the tug is not charging.

Flight time Start up/shut down - 12 hours
IMC - .2
Fuel consumed - 120 gallons
Miles - 1600
New Airports - KVRB Vero Beach

Friday, March 18, 2022

Garmin 480 - Stuck in the Hold

I received an email from a YouTube viewer asking a question about the Garmin 480 and dealing with a hold. I am going to give this scenario a shot and try to work through the issue and show the fix, or correct steps it will take to come out of the hold. 

You've helped me before and I'm hoping you can do it again. So, here's the scenario...

The airport we were approaching is KAWO (Arlington) and intending to execute the RNAV GPS 34 approach. 
You'll notice on the plate that the Procedure is N/A for arrivals on PAE VOR/DME airway radials 298 CW 329.  I'm not actually sure this is pertinent to the question at all as we were approaching SAVOY from about the 330-340 direction.  We entered the hold at SAVOY and at some point the Garmin went into "MANUAL HOLD"  I'm not actually sure why it did this. After flying a hold at SAVOY, I proceeded on the approach to YAYKU.  The Garmin, however, stayed on the "MANUAL" hold at SAVOY.  I hit the SUSP button thinking suspending the Garmin and then un-suspending the Garmin would put me on the next leg.  But, that didn't happen.

Funny thing, though, the correct NAV information was sent to the CDI so I was able to fly the needles to the runway.  All the while, the Garmin showed a "MANUAL HOLD" at SAVOY.  Any help is greatly appreciated.
Let me preface this with I'm NOT a CFI, CFII, and I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn. I tried to tackle this scenario in the Garmin 480 Sim and had mixed results. Each time I entered the Procedure Turn (PT) at SAVOY the sim did one loop and then on to the next leg. I could not recreate the pilots issue with the Garmin 480. 

Eventually I tried entering the PT at SAVOY and hit SUSP which kept me in the PT/HOLD. Now I could have went into the flight plan and selected the next leg SAVOY - YAYKU and went on my way or hit SUSP and continue with the next leg. The Pilot that sent the question hand flew the remainder of the approach from SAVOY which was an excellent call. Obviously he was on his game and situational awareness was not an issue. Good job!

Pilots that don't stay ahead of their plane would have had an issue trying to recover. Keep those hand flying skills sharp and train as often as you can for these what if scenarios. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Sample Radio Communications

I just wanted to post about a recurring topic I read about on the flying forums. First, I suggest getting together with your CFI or CFII to review radio work and answer any questions you may have. I also firmly believe that radio communications role play really helps. While you're out there flying with fellow pilots heading to that favorite breakfast location, practice radio communications with role play. Remember, always learning, always keeping safe!

  • How to pick up flight following
  • How do I contact tower on initial call up
  • How do I pick up a clearance in the air
  • How do I pick up a clearance on the ground