Friday, June 24, 2016

Summertime 2016

I was out at the airplane early enough to get the preflight done before the client arrived. Sally looked good. She could use another thorough cleaning but was more than acceptable for this flight. The weather was excellent, maybe a bit warm but nothing that would keep us grounded.

The client arrived early had a lot of good questions. He had done some research on the web and was curious about everything from SLSA registration to burping the Rotax engine. After the safety brief we strapped in and Sally started easily. I let him taxi to get the feel of asymmetrical steering as we headed toward RWY5. More good questions about engine performance indications as we completed the run-up. A Sandhill crane flew by and landed next to our taxiway. Sally got a little warm at the hold short while waiting for landing traffic (250F) but cooled off nicely with a bit of throttle. We made a normal take off and departed to the southeast.

A Technically Advanced Airplane is a lot to handle the first time out. Scan pattern is different for glass, add to that the electric trim and it can be overwhelming. He had almost always flown a yoke with left hand on the throttle. I should have realized sooner that there were just too many differences for him to enjoy flying the airplane. By the time I took her back he was frustrated and exhausted. My fault. So I demonstrated the autopilot and let Sally take us home. He relaxed and started to enjoy the flight.

Visibility was great. The city of Tampa looked beautiful next to the bay. I talked through the landing pattern and answered some more questions about the EFIS. I had too much speed in the flare and made a lousy landing. Not my best day as a CFI.

That evening I got an email from him. He would like to try it again. I'll take the Mulligan.

Video Notes: Summertime

*Because of the claimant's policy, this video can't be played in some countries. - Sorry Germany!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


"...the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration."

Be a Sport Pilot, have more fun!
 I got a call asking for a Discovery Flight. We set the time and date and I began my preparation. A Discovery Flight is not a lesson.
  • This person is bigger than the "standard" American. I did a weight and balance to determine just how much fuel I could carry.
  • Checked weather for the rest of the week to insure our day was at least feasible.
  • Went out to the airport to check on Sally. In addition to the normal preflight I also cleaned out much of my personal gear and made sure the cockpit looked neat and clean.
  • Did a short flight to insure all systems were nominal. Then double checked the avionics to insure they all worked and would fit into my "scripted demonstration" (Autopilot, GPS, EFIS and EMS are work well and DSAB is engaged.)
  • Video cameras checked.
  • The flight also allowed me to burn fuel to the appropriate level.
  • Post Flight included polishing the canopy and general exterior cleaning.
 All systems are ready.

Tonight I'll review key points of the presentation. I cover a lot in 20-30 minutes flight time. I'll also send an email reminder and ask for logbook, explain payment methods (I'm starting to use Square), and ask to be contacted immediately if the flight has to be postponed.

We are prepared.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rust Removal

Good day for the sun shade
I find that if I'm grounded for more than a week the "rust" begins to form on my piloting skills. So one of my missions is just to go out and take a few turns in the landing pattern.

The rest of the week is going to be typical Florida weather with high temperatures (33c or about 90f) with high humidity and the likelihood of afternoon thunderstorms. Monday would be the best day. Preflight went well. Start and taxi were all normal. OAT read 33c. CHT on the ground stayed in the 230f range. All other indications were normal. We used RWY36. 330@6
  1. A little tight and high. Other traffic reported inbound, I slipped her in and transitioned for a nice touch down. We were off by the first exit.
  2. Better downwind distance, cut base a bit short. (Just missed a diving with red markings.) Landing was OK but too long.
  3. Nice pattern, watched a C130 landing at MacDill (double checked to make sure he was landing and not taking off flying at me). Good base and final (no power adjustment needed). Squeek
  4. Nailed the pattern, added just a touch of power on final then landed a bit long. (Wind sock showed a change of left to right)
Sally had no issues with heat. I was ready for a cold one.

At the insistence of my social network consultant (daughter) I've created a "Landing Page".

Friday, June 10, 2016

No Show

We were scheduled for a 9:00am Discovery Flight. At 9:15am I started to think it wasn't going to happen. He was former military and since I hadn't received a phone call or text message I thought something else must of come up. Sally was fueled and preflighted and the weather was beautiful and I had the time blocked. The temperature sensor for the Virb had failed to record on the last flight so I replaced the battery and could test it. I hadn't landed at Plant City  (KPCM) yet so we had a valid mission.

Sally performed well and I did not detect any abnormalities. We flew over the new house, but didn't see any progress. So after a few turns-around-a-point we approached the airport from the south. Located just west of Lakeland controlled airspace, its a nice airport with a good runway. It seems to be a busy airfield.

Upon return I traded emails and he just missed the calendar entry. We will try again.

Video Notes: PCM
Garmin Virb Edit 3.6.0

Some thoughts on Commercial Air Travel

We had a family event near Philadelphia. It would take about fifteen and a half hours to drive the thousand miles. I would probably do it in two days. So we flew the aluminum tube. We had a 7:30am boarding time. I was told to estimate two hours for security. Add another hour to drive to the airport, and another half hour to get from parking to check-in. We left the house by 3:30am.

No traffic or delays to the airport. TSA PreCheck took approximately 15 minutes. We were at the gate by 5:00am.

For the return trip we had a 3:30pm boarding time. It would take about one and a half hours to drive the PA Turnpike (in horrible weather - including hail). Took the shuttle from the rental car lot which took about 30 minutes. Although we had TSA PreCheck stamped on our boarding pass the TSA doesn't honor that in Philly. It took about 45 minutes to get through security. We were at the gate by 1:30pm.

So much wasted time. But the most annoying part is the inconsistency. "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get" ~ Gump

* You don't fly GA if you have a tight schedule which must be met. In this case, we would have missed the event due to weather had we taken Sally instead of American.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

KVDF Arrival

Its 16 miles from the new house to the Tampa Executive Airport. (About that far to Lakeland Linder as well.) Fortunately I can make the trip by taking Dover Road up to MLK, then Williams Street up to the airport and avoid all the heavy traffic on I75. (The trip takes about 30 minutes, not too bad.)

Sally has had the flu lately and this was to be another validation flight. It started with a very detailed preflight. As the plugs and covers were removed I found numerous spiders and their webs draped all over the fuselage. She burped after 12 pulls. It was a warm day with fresh, clean oil in the reservoir. When I sumped the right tank I got some debris in the tube, a dead spider. Everything else checked out good so I climbed up and strapped in. I held my breath for just an instant then turned the key. She roared to life. "Hello Sally."

We taxied to RWY5 and I paid close attention to the EMS. All nominal. OAT was about 30C so I kept an especially close eye on the CHT. She got into the 240 range and stayed there until takeoff, then she quickly cooled in the climb out. We departed to the southeast training area. We practiced some steep turns, stalls and S-Turns over Dover Road. No out of limit indications or verbal alerts. Sally was quiet.

So we returned to KVDF for some landing practice. After a particularly long wait for landing traffic she announced "Cylinder Head One - High".  It was at the upper end of 250's. I added some throttle and she cooled back down. I learned that there has been an update in the POH:

During the airplane waiting maintain the engine speed within the range from 2,100 to 2,300 rpm.
For hot temperature conditions:
• Restrict engine running at ground to the shortest time only
• Avoid or limit taxiing in downwind or “wind blowing from the right side ” position if possible
• In case the CHT (which indicates the CT actually) is close to the limit, reduce the temperature by turning the airplane in a head-wind or “wind from the left side" position and set rpm to 2,100-2,300
Good to know, it will probably get hot in Florida.

Video Notes: KVDF Arrival

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Friday, May 13, 2016


It takes a lot of planning and coordination to make a take off on time.

I had tracked the weather for a week and it looked like great conditions for our Mother's Day flight to Atlanta. This is nearly 350 miles and would include one fuel stop. I checked about a dozen candidates before narrowing my choices to a primary and alternate. I rechecked the Navlog many times. We carefully packed our overnight bag with only the essentials and set the alarm to get up early for a 9:00am ETD.  A careful preflight followed by loading the plane had us in the seat ready to start on time!


The frustration was nearly unbearable. I uttered an expletive. Kathy called the FBO who sent out a service truck. After 45 minutes the charger showed complete but the battery discharged immediately after turning the key. Next we jumped her from a car, she started immediately. I let her run for about 15 minutes hoping the generator would complete a recharge and then shut her down. I sat for moment, held my breath and turned the key. Click. We threw in the towel at 12:00pm, unpacked the plane and put our luggage in the car. We drove to Atlanta (and had a great weekend.)

Monday had me back out to the airport to get the numbers off the battery. I sat in my car and made phone calls to local shops to see if anyone had one in stock. Florida is a land of electric golf carts, shopping buggies and all sorts of other electric vehicles. Autozone had one.

Time for a check flight.

As I taxied to RWY23 a C17 flew overhead on final to MacDill AFB. A Hillsborough Police helicopter was in the landing pattern practicing his technique. It was a beautiful day. Sally performed well.

As I taxied back in a P3 was on final to MacDill. I always view that as a good omen.

Video Notes: Battery Check

Windows 10
Camtasia 8.6 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Summer Breeze

Oil pressure sender.
More than one sensor was providing out of limit alerts. CHT was just out of range, but an extra long wait on the ground might justify that one. Fuel pressure low right after take off was bothersome, but did not recur during the climb or leveling at cruise altitude. EGT happened once. The real problem was oil pressure low. It would usually happen during the take off roll, then subside during climb out. After 20 minutes of flight it would sound off again. Each fluctuation would trigger it and the frequency of alerts would increase over time. By the time I got to Sebring the oil pressure indicator was flat lined. No vibration or temperature rise, no other visible indication that anything was wrong. We sent my D120 to Dynon for analysis. Lockwood lent me a spare that they had sitting on the shelf.

The D120 is an amazing piece of equipment. It turns out you just can't pop one out and slap another in. It has to know the fuel status and that takes calibration, two gallons at a time (for each tank.) It also knows each senor and what the limits are to trigger an alert. It also knows the Hobbs time. All of this information (and more) is customized for each airframe. So work had to be done for the loaner, then redone when my box returned. I spent Tuesday in Sebring getting this work done. Fortunately the IAC trials were going on so I got to watch some great performances while the tanks were being calibrated.

Rwy 23 at KVDF
While at Sun 'n Fun I discussed my problem and all of the experts had the same conclusion: bad oil pressure sender unit. So in addition to replacing a card in the D120, I also replaced the sensor. The flight home on Tuesday was uneventful (Yes!)

Wednesday was a washout. A cold front with driving rain came through the area. Thursday I went out to KVDF to preflight for a validation flight. Choppy, gusty winds were forecast for the afternoon. We took off by 9:00am. The cold front had left us with beautiful blue skies and puffy scattered clouds at 4000ft. We would stay at 1500ft to stay under the Tampa Class B shelf and head west to the gulf.

I4 & Rt 301
It was already getting bumpy. The autopilot would occasionally have problems holding heading. The little arrow on my display showed 20kts from the west. It was choppy but not as bad as one might expect. The trip down the gulf coast was fun. On a calm day I would fly down to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but not today. We settled for over flying Clearwater Airpark (which was pretty busy with two in the pattern and a Helicopter preparing to join them). We departed to the north and made the 20 minute trip back to Tampa Executive. 310@14G22

A routine flight. No sensors reported out of limits.

Video notes: Florida Scenery

Virb Edit  3.5.2