Wednesday, April 12, 2017


It was a different kind of show for me. I was working. My job was to fly prospective customers on demonstration flights but since that was difficult to do at Lakeland, we had two planes positioned at Plant City (KPCM) and flew from there. The logistics worked out well. When not flying, I worked the display area for Cruiser Aircraft Inc, the new importer for the western hemisphere. It was great talking to other pilots about the features of the airplane, the Sport Pilot license, and to dispel some myths about LSA limitations. It was hard work and by the end of the day I was tired.

The Florida weather was beautiful for us, but a very strong line of storms to the north kept many folks from making the trip down early in the week.  We got some thunder and lightning, but really not as bad as previous storms. I met my friend Duane who had spent the night in a tent under the wing of his plane. Brave man! It was just great to trade #SportCruiser stories with him.

I took the day off on Friday so that Kathy and I could watch the airshow. It's been years since we've seen the Blue Angels and once again we were thrilled. After the airshow we walked the grounds visiting other vendors. Kathy sat in a #SeaRey, we talked to an owner/rep about the #Petrel. Then we went over to the #AOPA tent for a Flying Club social. They served us some pulled pork sandwiches and some wine as we mingled. They didn't offer as much info as I wanted about starting a club, but I got Jamie's card and will make an appointment with him.

It was back to work on Saturday and Sunday. Large crowds with lots of interesting questions. People came to this event from all over the world. What are the performance characteristics for flying out of the high Andes mountains of Columbia? Can we import directly or must the plane come into the USA first? Why would I want to be a Sport Pilot if I can only fly 50 nm? I explained he was confusing the license with the Recreational Pilot, there are no distance limitations with Sport Pilot. The press says that this event had the most attendance ever for SNF, even though it was in direct competition with Aero in Europe.

Hopefully the interest will convert to sales.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Appointments to Keep

Flying home from south Florida.
I had two 5 gallon jugs full of Premium Mogas and some coffee and a bagel from Wawa. The rush hour traffic to get across Valrico Road and MLK Highway was heavier than expected, so it took longer to get to the airport than planned. Fortunately, the construction team hadn't started their work on the I4 exit ramp. I still made my departure time before 9:00am EDT.

I contacted Tampa Departure immediately after takeoff but got no response. Checked the frequency on my Waypoint Info page and reselected 119.9 just to be sure. No joy. huh. So I chose KLAL for some additional information and used that page for the Miami Center frequency. That worked. I was level at 5500', burning just under 6 gal/hr and True Airspeed read 115kts. Checklist complete, autopilot engaged...I left my coffee in the car. Rats!

It was an uneventful flight down to KHWO. I had a potential client to meet there. Our preflight conversation went well so we proceeded with the Discovery Flight. I'm always cautious finding a suitable area to do some maneuvering. This time we headed west to get out the Class B/C/D airspace and climbed to altitude over the Everglades. The student did some basic airwork (BAW) and followed instructions well. He has potential.

Next we had an appointment to visit a client down at Miami Executive Airport, formerly known as Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (KTMB). Parallel runways, under the Class B, this is a very busy airport. After landing we taxied over to the "Tiki" and sat in the shade to discuss marketing strategies and options. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. (*BTW, this was the farthest south I have ever flown a GA airplane.)

Then it was back to North Perry for some fuel before returning home. Self Serve is always a challenge for me. I don't know why I always find it difficult, but it never goes well. I carefully read the instructions, put the nozzle in the tank and...nothing. Read the instructions again carefully, again nothing. As I walked back to read the instructions for the third time I noticed the placard on the front of the pump. "Cash Only". The credit card pump was to the left. Success!

An uneventful flight home. I landed at the end of civil twilight. It had been a beautiful Florida sunset.

Notes from Sally. After lots on investigation, the oil pressure sender problem is FINALLY resolved. Thank You CERTUS!

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Sounds

Flying with SkyView over central Florida
Kathy came back from her early morning bike ride and announced thick Fog. I rolled out of bed and looked out the back window. Definitely IFR.

After few cups of coffee I was on my way to the airport. The fog had lifted leaving some haze and blustery winds. Good enough for me to bounce out to the local training area and get some much needed time with SkyView.

After a thorough preflight I climbed into the right seat and got comfortable. The seats are a bit different, the arm rest is nice. The throttle felt a bit tighter, the vents are different, and few other ergonomic upgrades are nice. I flicked the switches (different position order) and waited for the system to boot. There are an infinite number of ways to layout the screens. I wasn't sure which one would best suit my scan pattern but eventually settled on 2/3 EFIS and 1/3 EMS. I put 1/2 map on the pilot side with 1/2 EMS. Next I adjusted my Garmin 796 for North Up. I had added 5 gallons of fuel. The sensor knew this and asked if I wanted validate the new quantity for the computer. Yes, please. Then I looked for the Oil Pressure gauge to make sure I could find it quickly once she started. I turned the key. All seemed well. A warning from the map page said I was out of date. Todd had shown me how to do updates. I'll bring a memory stick with the new changes out with me next time.

It was a bit warm so I decided to open the canopy for taxi. My first new sound; Canopy Open. This would take getting used to. The rest of the ground operations were normal. I closed the canopy and was glad to have the canopy vent windows. They supplement the cockpit vents nicely.

The airport was a bit busy. They've picked up a small cargo carrier firm so I waited for a twin to clear before I took the runway. A brisk right to left crosswind got my immediate attention and I crabbed a bit to stay on track. My next new sound: Flap Overspeed. I pulled back a bit on the stick and raised the flaps. Almost immediately the next new sound: A twitter/screech alerting me I was close to Class B airspace. We departed to the south east and stayed clear of the Bravo.

I had kept the canopy side windows open. Wind Noise. I slid them closed and opened the small vents instead. Just as much air circulation and a LOT less noise. I turned the radio down a few notches.

Next I concentrated on routine operations. It was choppy so I found the Touch screens a bit awkward to use. Dynon has smart button backup for all screen operations, but the 796 doesn't. It took me a few seconds to find a place to brace my hand to touch the portion of the GPS I wanted. That will take some practice. After awhile I noticed an airplane symbol on the GPS with a swirled flag beneath it. OK, I'm game. I pushed it and found it went to track up. But no symbol to switch back? OK, more book time required.

I tried a few more system operations. Played with the Autopilot modes. Noted the different power settings and what airspeed was delivered with each. Transitioned to slow flight and did a stall. Another new sound: Stall warning claxon. (I determined I didn't want that blaring at me on short final so pulled the CB.)

This is a GREAT system! My friend Paul said he has been flying it for a few years now and is still learning. I really look forward to this adventure.

Video Notes: SkyView Landing

It took forever to process this short bit of video. Virb Edit just isn't doing it for me anymore so I looked for an alternative. I used DashWare to process this video. I requires you to sync the GPS data with the video, and as you can see I didn't get it quite right. Overall I was pleased with the results. The big benefit, it only took a few hours to process the video.

Getting a look at the fuel lines.
News from Sally: She is being tenderly(?) cared for at Certus Aircraft Inc up in the cold and snowy land of Cheddar Cheese. The latest report has her wings off checking the rubber connection from fuel tanks to engine. The BRS parachute repack is still underway, and a number of other adjustments and repairs are planned.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from a Long Trip

After a lot of consideration we decided it would be best to fly Sally up to Burlington, Wisconsin to have some needed maintenance done and return flying "Blue" a 2016 SkyView equipped SportCruiser to use for sales. The trip would be just under a 1000 miles each way and cross three weather systems. Since I typically plan 600 miles per day I planned on taking two days in each direction with a buffer thrown in for poor weather.

Tuesday morning Sally and I took off from KVDF about 8:00am EST enroute to our first fuel stop at KBGE. (214 NM). The weather was MVFR with ragged ceilings at 2500' and winds on the nose at 10kts. We found a hole near KBKV and got Flight Following while VFR Over The Top through most of Florida. I elected to stay "Feet Dry" passing Withlacoochee Bay until I reached the pan handle of Florida. When I checked in with Tallahassee Approach the undercast thinned out so I could see land again. Relief for a VFR pilot.   I've never been to Decatur County Industrial Airpark before. So as I descended at 10 miles I got confused by what appeared to be crossing runways surrounded by some very tall radio towers. GPS said I was still a few miles south, so I climbed back up to see this huge runway out in front of me. A former military base, I landed well before the first turnoff. It was a good fuel stop.

We left KBGE by 11:00am EST under clear sky enoute to KMSL (271 NM), a little long for me, but definitely within range for the PiperSport. Weather was good. I checked in on the CTAF and heard a Columba check in at 10 miles on an ILS final, so I deferred to him. As I reached abeam I spotted him still at about 3 miles out. I called #2 and extended my downwind. He called for a Touch and Go so I adjusted my pattern accordingly. I was deep so held my altitude as I slowed down to drop flaps, turned base and waited. Turned final and waited. I watched him roll to the end of the runway and was glad I had given him some extra interval. I began my descent on final, made the call still #2 waiting for him to clear.Waited still. Into the roundout I added some power to hold Sally off the runway. At midfield we went around. After I made the call the Columbia came back with a terse "Cooling the turbo". ummm. OK, I fly because it's fun. Going around just gives a little bit more time in the air. Still...?

We left KMSL under an overcast at 8500' enroute to KMVN (223 NM). The weather guesser said I should easily get under the clouds and to expect VFR conditions for the leg. About halfway there we entered some rain showers. Sirius XM showed a line from west to east of light green surrounding some dark green with a few splotches of yellow in the middle. Memphis Center said to expect some "moderate showers" in about 15 miles. I was nervous and prepared to do a 180.  I checked the OAT and the wings for possible icing. Nope all clear. I adjusted course to the west to stay clear of the worst of it, and saw the yellow patches dissipate as I traveled north. We broke out just over the river, exactly were the display said we would. GREAT technology. It started getting cold. I pulled my hood over my headset and found some gloves to wear. Cold and tired, we tied down for the night here. It was a good stay. (Crew car and a new hotel with an airport discount.)

I went out to preflight about 8:00am CST Wednesday morning. Cold breeze was blowing but the sun was shining. I should have had my winter baffle to cover the oil cooler. KMVN to KBUU (263 NM) would take us through the Chicago Class B. Not a problem with the Garmin 696 GPS. As we approached the airspace we were given permission to enter which cut a few minutes off the trip. It was cold. We were now under an overcast so were deprived any solar heating. The heater (if you call it that) was useless. By the time I landed I was shivering and ready for a hot cup of coffee.

Approaching the Gulf of Mexico
I slept well at the hotel. Meghan picked me up at 7:30am CST Thursday and took me over to the airport. It was cold, but I did the preflight in a heated hangar. We left KBUU back to KMVN. I had read the book on SkyView and had some training by both Todd and Meghan, but it is different flying a new system solo for the first time. Invigorating. This heater sort of worked. I took my winter coat off at MVN.

I left KMVN enroute to KAUO (381 NM). This leg would be a stretch for me. The weather was good and I was becoming more comfortable with the systems. I was directed around an active MOA by Fort Campbell Approach and was way ahead by easily seeing the restricted area and being able to use the autopilot to maneuver clear. A great system! As I turned the corner I had a pleasant surprise, an actual tailwind. I set 5350RPM at 5,500', and got a fuel burn of 5.9gph, 118TAS and 140KTS over the ground! I spent the night and slept very well. (The Italian Restaurant next to the Hilton Garden Inn is great.) BTW the staff at the airport is nearly all students and you couldn't meet a nicer group of people. This was a great stop.

I left KAUO for KVDF (319 NM) by 9:00am CST Friday. By this time the airplane and I are good friends. I settled in and enjoyed the flight. It was good to be back in the warm sunny climate of Florida.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Flying with Glass

Dynon SkyView Touch

  1. Radio: In addition to being much clearer, new radios can transfer frequency information to the screen. With the additional encoded information you can see if Center, Tower or Approach is assigned to the frequency you are using. An Example:I was approaching KMVN, an airport I've never been to before. I told Flight Following that I wanted to check the weather and would check back in once I had it. I pushed the Waypoint button to see all of the frequencies associated with the airport. Touch the AWOS frequency and it was put in the Standby mode on my Nav radio. It also popped up on my display as MVN AWOS with the proper frequency. Memphis Center was listed on the Comm Radio as my Primary. No Confusion.
  2. Wind Vector: I remember using all sorts of arcane means to determine the wind vector, all so you could plug it into a time/speed/distance problem to calculate your position. Now it is derived from the GPS as a given. An Example: I was landing at KMSL. I looked at the wind vector to see what the most likely runway would be and matched it to the HSI to see how I would set up for my entry. Nice to have when descending into the landing pattern.
  3. Runway Extensions: I LOVE these! Little green and black extensions to the runway which provide a clear visual on how to set up for a VFR entry. An Example: After a 2.5 hour flight I approached KAUO, another airport I've never been to. I was approaching from the northwest, they were landing on RWY36. At 10 miles it was easy to see where I needed to fly for my 45° entry.
  4. Autopilot: All of the modes are displayed on the screen so you immediately know if the plane is flying on a fixed heading or using a Nav Source to follow a track to the next waypoint. An Example: I got a call from Ft Campbell Control that the MOA was hot and to adjust my heading 10° right. The autopilot was in Nav mode. I reached over an clicked the heading button and turned the knob. I could immediately see that I was still in altitude mode and now flying in heading mode, because that's what it said on the top of my screen.
  5. Voice Annunciation: Sally talks to me. She directs my attention to the screen when something isn't quite right. An Example: "Fuel Pressure Low", gets your immediate attention, and flashing gauge on the panel can be analyzed quickly.
  6. ADSB: Traffic and weather. You often see the traffic on the screen before Flight Following calls it. With the vectors attached to the targets it makes avoidance easier.
  7. Weather: To be able to see the weather on the screen is nothing short of miraculous. Yes, there are drawbacks and we can misinterpret what is being shown, but it is so much better than just looking out the window at the dark gray stuff. An Example: Flying north from MSL to MVN I encountered a line of muck running west to east.  The forecaster had said to expect it and that I should be able to stay under it VFR. He was wrong. Center said I was running into "moderate" rain. My weather display showed light green, turning to dark green with small patches of yellow. The largest yellow patch was directly on my route. Visibility was about 5 miles. I was nervous. I adjusted to the west and over time watched the patch slowly dissipate. I popped out of the rain just about where the display said I would. Nice to have the extra information on this flight.
  8. Airspace: Is there a TFR active? What is the height of the shelf on that Class B? How far does the Class C extend under the shelf? All this and more is available on the screen. An Example: I was flying north to KBUU from KMVN, which would take me through the Chicago Class B. I could clearly see the airspace, had complete confidence on the heights of the extensions and was able to easily navigate around that space, as well as the numerous Class D spaces nearby.
  9. Toys: Synthetic vision and all of the derivatives are just "plane" fun. 
Video Notes: Dynon Skyview

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 US Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring KSEF

Landing on the Orange Dot
Adding Wawa premium
A few weeks ago I was asked to fly a new SportCruiser across the country to be used for the show. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to fly a brand new plane, loaded with the latest avionics, nearly 1000 miles to attend the premiere event for Light Sport Aircraft? But it was not to be. Weather at the departure airport was crap. Twice I flew the airlines to get the LSA, twice I flew the airlines home. Maybe February will be kinder.

Cruiser Aircraft Inc debut.
So I flew Sally instead, not a bad deal. The flight from KVDF to KSEF takes just under an hour. I commuted each day. The weather in Florida has been perfect. (Sally and I delayed one morning for fog, otherwise we had just beautiful flying conditions.) On Saturday Kathy flew with me. She took all of the pictures on the video while spending her time solo exploring the show. I spent time at the new Cruiser Aircraft Inc tent talking to prospective customers. We both had a great day.

Having read a number of news reports, the Expo seems to have been a huge success. Good weather, beautiful airplanes, and a wonderful group of aviation enthusiasts all contributed to make this event a great kick off to the 2017 season. See you at Lakeland Sun 'n Fun!

Video Notes: Sebring 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Disney Tour

We woke to foggy conditions. The winter weather in Florida is still producing a lot of advection fog as the winds bring moist air from the gulf over the central Florida airports. I knew the sun would burn it off by mid morning.

We arrived about 10:00am to start the preflight. Mandy was a big help getting Sally ready to fly. As we were taking the tiedown ropes off we could hear the whine of engines coming from the terminal. The Direct TV blimp was taking off and flew right over us. I love blimps.

Even though it was a week day, the airport was busy. As we taxied out I could hear planes announcing arrivals and departures for RWY23. We chose RWY18. It was Mandy's first ever take off and though nervous, did fine. We made a downwind departure to the northeast and climbed to 2500'. It was hazy but over 10 miles of visibility. The haze layer provide an excellent horizon to work on basic air work.

After awhile we passed just south of Zephyr Hills and she pointed out some sky divers. As we approached Orlando I noticed some strange looking clouds. Soon I realized that they were sky writers. I called approach to let them know we would be wandering around in nearby airspace (under the Class B and over the Disney TFR) just touring and taking pictures. He gave us a squawk code. It was exciting to see all of the Orlando attractions from the air. The theme parks seem so big when your looking for "Country Bear Jamboree" but not so large from 3200'. We saw "The Orlando Eye", "Epcot" and Universal Studios in addition to Disney World. The tour lasted a little more than 30 minutes and was a lot of fun.

The trip back to KVDF was uneventful. We enjoyed the Florida scenery and I thought about flying over our home but reconsidered. Not everyone enjoys being in a small airplane for over 2 hours. So instead I briefed Mandy on landing pattern operations. She was NOT anxious about making the landing. But I coached her through and she did great!

So in summary; a blimp, some sky divers, sky writing, pictures of Orlando attractions, a take off and a landing. Not a bad discovery Flight.

A Great Discovery Flight

Video Notes: The Disney Tour