Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Vectors to final, Don't do it!

I know, stop beating a dead horse. I really hate that expression being the horse lover and former owner of three that I am, but it fits the moment.

I like to watch aviation YouTube videos and learn from what I watch. One of the very best content creators is Martin Pauly. Recently he posted a video about a flight to St. Paul Minnesota (KSTP), the twin cities. On this flight he was given vectors to final for the ILS 32. Sure as I am typing this ATC switched it up and gave him a direct KIKKY an initial approach fix (IAP). Martin flies with the Garmin 750Xi and even with the VTF selection the GPS still shows all the fixes for the approach. Sweet! My Garmin 530 did not and either does my Garmin 480. 

This brings me back to the topic of not selecting VTF, instead loading the full approach. I was burned by Philly approach once while flying the Sundowner, in IMC conditions and no autopilot, on vectors, only to be switched to direct KAHOE, an IAP. How fast can you correctly select the correct approach and fix? 

My second example was my recent flight home from Vero Beach. I was given the RNAV GPS 17 approach into Mt Pleasant (KLRO) expect vectors. Sure enough I fell into the rabbit hole. First turn was direct to the Charleston VOR (CHS) then expect vectors. No problem, I'm above a layer but knew I had to shoot an approach to get into LRO. Next I was given direct GINNE which now required some buttonology to reload the approach and select the IAP. Thankfully the Commander has an excellent autopilot, Stec 60-2, which reduced the workload. I'm following the approach happy as can be and approach asked if I wanted to stay direct GINNE or receive vectors. Was he kidding me? Nope, I'm good. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Asheville, NC and the Biltmore Estate

Mary and I decided on a quick hop just to get away for our 19th wedding anniversary. We have had Asheville NC, more specifically, the Biltmore estate on our list for some time.  

Reservations have been made, the estate tour is booked, rental car locked in, and hangar space secured. It’s scary but we both talk out the plan then double team all reservations required. The whole process has become second nature. 

Weather Outlook

The weather watch starts two weeks in advance for any of our adventures. The forecast is looking very good for most of the week on both ends.
Saturday 11.4

This morning Mary and I headed over to the airport to top off fuel and get Lucy some exercise. I completed my pre flight with only needing to sump fuel on departure day. My Garmin 480 is updated and I have my flight plan ready for entry after planning on Foreflight.

Monday 11.6

We were in no rush to bug out this morning.  It was heaven with no dog to deal with so we enjoyed showers and packing the SUV. The boys were loose last night to roam about the house and it was a reminder why they stay in the washroom when it’s bed time. The Malachi brothers ran wild, even crashing against our bedroom door twice.  

Mary and I had a nice breakfast at Abi’s diner, good pancakes, then we headed to the airport. I needed to sump fuel and 3 Tango Charlie would be good to go. After warming the oil I taxied for runway two and picked up my super secret squawk code to get out with the TFR in place. It was a beautiful VFR day and Patuxent asked if I wanted to open my IFR plan. Nope, VFR today, but if I need it I’ll open with whatever approach I’m on with. 
I was handed off multiple times heading south. After Pax it was two Norfolk sections, then Washington center, Potomac, Atlanta and then Asheville. Our ride at six thousand five was smooth despite the brutal headwinds at thirty plus knots. Asking for lower we settled for fifteen to twenty knots still in our face at four thousand five hundred. 
As we approached Barrett’s Mountain VOR you could make out the mountains ahead. The tallest peak was four thousand so we steered clear. I thought we would get more of a rough ride crossing over but it was mild. Asheville was really busy and once handed to the tower I was given vectors for traffic and landing on three-five.

The initial vectors had me facing cumulogranite dead ahead. As I was ready to request an immediate turn my next vector was given. 
Once lined up for three five I had to fall in number two behind an Envoy Embraer 175 jet overtaking on my left side. I stayed high as long as I could to avoid the wake and landed well short of the Embraer’s touchdown.  
The ride to the  hotel was twenty minutes, all highway miles. Since we were early to check in we decided to locate the Biltmore village and wander around. First things first, find lunch. After checking out a place or two we decided on the Corner Kitchen. I had a burger and Mary had the Reuben, both very good. Although we did not find a suitable take home dessert at the Corner Kitchen we did find a go to at the Texas Roadhouse. We checked in at the Baymont Wyndham and enjoyed the dessert. 

Tuesday 11.7

Happy Anniversary!

Mary and I decided on something quick for breakfast, bagels. Just a short drive from the hotel was Brueggers Bagels. The bagels and service were excellent. 
After breakfast we wanted to check out restaurants for tonight's dinner selection. We cut that search short and instead headed towards the Biltmore Estate. Little did we know at the time that the list we reviewed were all on the Biltmore property near the winery and hotels. 
Mary had our tickets on her phone so it was an easy scan and go. We followed the windy road to the parking areas. The young lady at the hotel advised us to go directly to parking lot C for easy access by shuttle to the mansion. It was the best advice, spot on, we parked right where we boarded the shuttle.
We had forty-five minutes to kill waiting for our designated tour time to assemble. With time to spare we checked out the courtyard and stable areas. While exploring we made a stop for butter croissants, a hot tea for me and a chai for my bride. Mary overheard the lady in front of us say she doesn't do croissants because they are all air. We had a good laugh. The courtyard and stable are filled with shops, small specialty eateries and the Stable Cafe' restaurant. The original tile walls and room configurations are still the same layout today. The engineering from back in the day is still visible as it was the most modern at the time it was built.
Each room associated with the stable now houses a shop of some sort. The candy shop was the blanket repair and drying shop. The following photos describe the shops former use and todays specialty.
From the stable looking at the courtyard

Stable area shops

More shops and stable cafe’

It was time to get in line for our tour. The process was very orderly and moved along quickly. While in line I managed to take a few pictures of the gargoyles and took a couple for different families. Random picture taker, yeah, that’s my next job in retirement. 
The mansion tour was really interesting. The audio tour provided a handheld device that resembled a tv remote. Me walking around with that remote up to 
my ear lasted one room. Instead, here are the pictures. 

The Atrium

Billiards Room

Dining Room

Breakfast Room

Tapestry Room

Balcony across from tapestry room

Library Room

George Vanderbilt bedroom

Edith Vanderbuilt bedroom

Staircase to all floors

Looking towards the mansion entrance

Once we finished the mansion tour we wanted to do a late lunch at the Stable Cafe’. When we checked in the wait was about twenty-five minutes, so we left our number to be texted when a table was available.  Mary and I wandered back out to the courtyard to get in line to find a cold drink. Not even fifteen minutes passed and we received the table is ready text. Perfect!

Mary had the beet salad and I had the macaroni and cheese, both appetizers. We also ordered a chicken salad sandwich to split which we had to box up and take it back to the hotel. Mary had a white apple cider sangria. I gave it a taste and it was very good, and I don’t like wine. 
Our last stop was the winery and yes a couple of bottles are coming home with us. The winery replaced the original dairy farm and some of the buildings are still in use. 

Wednesday 11.8

This was a quick get-away to cross another location off our bucket list and to have fun on our anniversary. Now it’s time to flight plan and make the just under three hour trip home. 
3 Tango Charlie was tugged out on the ramp, ready to head home for a planned 9am departure. I completed my pre-flight to include adding one quart of oil and sumping the fuel tanks. 

I contacted Asheville ground to pick up my clearance but it was not on file. That’s odd. I opted for a VFR departure and a squawk code since it was a beautiful day. I climbed out on runway heading until departure vectored me around a small TFR, then turned me loose to resume own navigation. 

I worked each approach in reverse order of our flight south. The ride was smooth and not quite as hazy as Monday. 
Once on with the second Norfolk approach we had a strange exchange. Approach asked what was my Estimated Time Enroute (ETE) to my final destination. Ok, that's a first, my ETE is approximately forty-five minutes. Apparently Flight Services showed me as overdue and they were looking for me. Approach gave flight service an update and we continued north. Now the missing IFR plan was making sense, who knows what happened. 

I canceled with Patuxent and let down for Ocean City crossing mid-field entering the left downwind for one-four. Another nice landing and slow taxi to the hangar, it's good to be home. The bugs were cleaned off and I plugged in the battery maintainer before heading for lunch and home. 

Mary and I had a fun time. The mansion tour made for a busy day along with checking out all the other buildings on the estate including the winery. To find more info on the Biltmore estate check out this link.