Saturday, April 12, 2014


A truly beautiful Spring Day! Virtually no wind, the weather map said some local airports were marginal due to mist. That meant smooth air. Glass. A flying day.

I did eight turns in the pattern (including one go-around) and had a blast. All were acceptable, one was good. I'll continue to work on it. "Aviation is the pursuit of excellence" -Major Mike Van Wyk, Fat Albert Pilot -AOPA Live This Week - April 10, 2014

Video here: Circuits

Video Notes: Using this as an analysis tool comparing speed, elevation and bearing on each final approach.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Base to Final at N47
Harry's hangar door was open but I didn't drive over there immediately. I went to Sally's hangar to open up and pull her out into the sunlight. I took the top cowling off and carefully placed it out of the way, then walked down the concrete taxi way and down the hill to see Harry. He is busy working on an old Warrior trying to get it airworthy again. His C172 is still in pieces but "Close to getting finished". His J3 isn't even on the RADAR yet. As we talked another customer came down the hill to discuss the news of the day. Harry kept puttering with his work as we continued to distract him. After awhile I went back to get my preflight started.

The temperature must have risen by 10°F by the time I got back. I had noticed a shimmy after landing and it had become more pronounced recently. I pulled Sally forward until I could get to the nose tire stem and put in 18PSI. It was low. I put 29PSI in each of the mains, they were also under inflated. I wish I would have done this work BEFORE putting her pants back on. I left the oil cooler baffle in place although the forecast says we should have a warming trend later this week. I hope so.

As we crossed the turf I could see the wind sock flapping. Mostly right down the runway and the golf course flags confirmed it was breezy. My cell phone failed to make a connection but XM weather showed winds from the north at less than 10kts. (I'm still considering my options for ADSB.) The takeoff was normal but I tightened my shoulder straps departing the pattern. It was bumpy.

Mostly direct right to left crosswinds at Pottstown Municipal. Gusty, bumpy, windy, but nothing out of limits. A few Pipers were up today just to make the pattern interesting. As I was on short final for landing #2 (or #3) I noticed somebody taking pictures. After a (below average) landing I decided to stop and introduce him to Sally. Al and his wife are former Navy Pilots. He is concerned about his medical and decided to let it lapse and explore Light Sport flying. (If Congress decides to eliminate the 3rd class medical he will re-evaluate his situation, but right now he is grounded.) I gave him the 50 cent tour, probably spending a half hour extolling the virtues of LSA and debunking some myths along the way. He is considering a Bristell and has spoken to the folks in Lancaster. I gave him my contact information and encouraged him to call if he had any questions.

So I buttoned Sally up and prepared to depart for home. Gusty. ASOS reported peak gusts at 17kts, still in my safety envelope but my warning flag was up.  Sally gave me a bumpy ride in the pattern but acted like a lady in the flare. No shimmy either.

Video here: Bouncy

The end.
Video Notes:

I tried to upload the raw edited file from Sony Movie Maker. It was a large file and very difficult to view in Screencast. Just not enough bandwidth.  I rendered it in Camtasia and found that viewing was much better, smoother. I may have lost a little fidelity but the results are fine.

I also had a problem viewing files in Screencast using Firefox. I was advised to clear the cache which solved the problem.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday Morning Traffic

I'm accustomed to having the field all to myself. The Runway Grill has opened for the season and this was the first sunny Sunday.

Video here: Sunday Traffic

This diagram might be useful for someone. Its not nice to call "Downwind approaching the numbers" when you are really upwind. It does make a difference.

Aside from that little miscommunication it was a great day to fly. I really enjoyed seeing the different aircraft and am lusting after a Cub. It just looks like so much fun to fly!

Video Notes:
  1. Some post processing was done using Sony Movie Studio (aka Vegas). This helped me create the intro and credits segments.
  2. Camtasia allowed me to insert my "snarky comments".
  3. I tried using the sunshade to help illuminate the glass panels. Not pleased with this as it restricts the camera's (not pilot's) field of view.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Butter Valley has started its "Fairway Improvement Initiative". (Here) Lots of pipes and connectors and heavy equipment are crisscrossing the fairways to improve the golf course. For a pilot, that can be a challenge. As I taxied from the hangar I made sure to stay away from the new hazards as well as keep aware of golfers and stray golf balls as I approached runway 34 for takeoff. All went well.

But when we started the winds were light and variable. As the afternoon turned to evening the winds became more steady from the south so I decided to use RWY 16.

16 is an interesting runway. Final brings you across a nice wide farmer's field to cross a country road to a turf landing before you reach the asphalt strip. The strip is a STEEP downhill grade, if you haven't landed on the turf its best to go around. As we taxied to the approach end I found a trench recently dug for the irrigation line. It was filled in but I hadn't inspected the work. Being cautious I decided to line up prior to that line of new construction. ("Nothing so worthless as the altitude above you or the runway behind you...") Still plenty of room for Sally to take off and we were airborne just as we reached the asphalt.

The challenge was coming back in. I wanted to land beyond the new irrigation line but prior to the asphalt. We like challenges.

Video here: Irrigation

Practice Precautionary Emergency Landing (PPEL) or Emergency Landing Pattern (ELP). This procedure can be used when you suspect an engine problem. Its still running but something isn't quite right and it could quit at any time. The idea is to turn toward the nearest runway and climb at best speed (Vy) to get to a point where you can glide to a "High Key", a position over the runway 2000' above field elevation.  Then use a gentle spiral to reach a "Low Key" at Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA) and adjust as necessary once "the field is made". I can use more practice as my pattern was a bit too tight (e below). Try this sometime.

Video Notes:

  1. It was darker due to cloud cover and time of day. I was glad to capture the glass panel.
  2. I tried using "Picture in Picture" for the first time.
  3. I got a haircut (Tom, not military but close enough)
  4. I ordered a prop filter from Aircraft Spruce. That may cure my exposure problem (or make it worse).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

High Work

TAS = 114kts
1ST day of April and the sun was shining, no joke. I left for the airport about 9:00am after doing some administrative computer work. The temperature was warming so I opted not to use the preheater. Instead I pulled Sally out of the barn and relied on solar warming to do the job while I completed the remainder of the preflight. All was in good order so I secured the upper cowling before getting my coffee and gear from the car and climbing into the cockpit. I was immediately comfortable.

As I waited for the oil temperature to rise I could see Harry running back and forth in his golf cart servicing one of the planes on the line. Folks are getting ready for Spring flying, finally. When I turned past the silo I could see a Mooney had parked behind the line of aircraft, effectively blocking my normal route to the runway. So I took an alternate route up close to the pond and used the turf threshold to taxi to my hold short spot. All indications were in the green as we took off to the north. A perfect morning to be flying.

We climbed to 6500' and I let her accelerate until the RPM read 5450. The TAS stabilized at 114kts, a little slower than previous tests but very acceptable. We made a turn and again stabilized at 114kts so I'll use that as my top cruise speed for planning purposes this season.

Next we slowed down and did a clean stall. Poor airwork on my part let us lose altitude during the deceleration,  but the stall occurred when expected. Next I did a dirty (full flaps) stall and again Sally did just what she was designed to do.

See the video here: High Work

All too soon it was time to go home. The entry procedures back into 7N8 were normal and as I flew downwind I was reminded by the full parking lot that the restaurant is again open for the season. The surprise came on final when I saw a car stop at the sign but fail to check for approaching aircraft. "Go around" time.

See the video here: 7N8 Obstruction

Video Notes:

The Virb performed well but I'm still unable to adjust the exposure to capture the engine instruments. I used my still camera for the inset on the "High Work" video. I'll work on a better solution.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Airports

The weather was cold and clear. Winds were gusting less than 10KTS which meant it was a flying day. I put my coffee in a Dixie cup and microwaved an egg sandwich, grabbed my gear and got out the door. Kids were still at the school bus stop. I got to the hangar about 8:00am.

My first chore was to pull out my home made preheater. A paint stripper heat gun with about 6' of heater hose (SKEET Ducting) attached to the nozzle with a hose clamp. I wound that under the left cylinder heads, under the prop and under the right cylinder heads and threaded the open end to point at the oil reservoir.  I covered the engine with a tarp and returned to my warm car to eat my breakfast. I let it run about 45 - 60 minutes. The news said MH370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

I disconnected everything and pulled Sally out into the sun to finish my preflight. All checks complete I climbed in and turned the key. Smooth start, the oil temp read 45°. We taxied down past the old silo to let her warm up to 122° while I completed the ground checks. Ducks were landing on the pond. It wasn't frozen over anymore.

My objective was simple: Landing practice. A short 'round robin' that would allow me to enter the landing pattern and once again get comfortable landing the airplane. Nearly three months on the ground let my skills atrophy so I wanted the exercise to get back in shape.

  • KPTW Heritage (formerly Limerick) has a right hand pattern due to the nuclear cooling towers south of the field. My pattern was lousy (too low abeam) so I dragged her around the whole way. yuck.
  • KLOM Wings: Sally provided a lot of distractions with terrain alerts and low RPM warnings, but the pattern was better and the landing was fine.
  • KDYL Doylestown: The only airfield with traffic today. Nice pattern and landing (getting stronger).
  • KUKT Quakertown: Best landing of the day.
  • 7N8 Butter Valley: Acceptable.
You can view the video here: Irregular Pentagon

I also had the opportunity to fly with Mike at Quakertown. He is the airport manager there and expressed an interest in Light Sport. So I taxied over to the office and he got in and we chatted for awhile. Then we took a short hop in the local area for him to feel the controls. He liked Sally. However, from a business perspective he can't quite see the ROI in buying an LSA when he can buy 2 (or 3) C172s for the same price. I provided some material that might help him see some benefits he may not be considering. It was a good flight, but I made a lousy landing (#@*^&!) He said it was great for me to demonstrate how Sally could handle student landings.(#@*^&!)

Video Notes:
Virb mounted in center of rack

This turned out to be an endurance test for the Virb. It didn't have a full charge at takeoff and I didn't check the phone app to see what endurance was predicted, but it lasted for nearly the full flight (2+ hours). It shut down nicely and saved everything when the battery did dissipate just prior to landing at Butter Valley.

  1. I like the overlay in this video. It provides all of the information I want to keep and displays it in a clear presentation. I may adjust the colors a bit but overall I think this will become my default.
  2. This was definitely a "set it and forget it" kind of flight. I didn't even try to play with any settings. I'm pleased with the results.
  3. Post processing took awhile but completed without any crashes or hangs. 
  4. All video effects were done using Camtasia. I'm still learning the best way to utilize that software.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


I pushed the knob on top of the box to stop that annoying sound. Bleary eyed I looked at the current weather readout and it wasn't bad. Too cold, but partly cloudy and mild winds. OK, not a bad start.

Cup of fresh coffee in hand I sat down to look at the weather on the computer. Local airports were reporting 5000' overcast, winds easterly at 10 knots, temperatures around freezing. It was worth going out to the airport to take a look.

I parked near the door of my hangar because the ice on the shady side of the barn looked treacherous. Another sip of hot coffee before I got out to walk the taxi way. The concrete was clear except for some small stones and gravel. The sod was firm, frozen actually. I kicked a few protruding worrisome pieces out of the way as I walked to the approach end of the runway. Doable.

I walked back to the hangar and opened the doors. "Lets go flying Sally."

This would be Virb Flight #2. My objectives were to calibrate the camera to the airplane systems to see how far off the camera might be. The real purpose of the flight was to knock some rust off of the pilot and exercise the airplane. When I climbed in I had the strange feeling again, I had been grounded too long to feel comfortable. I turned the key. It took more than 3 props to get started but once she did I felt at ease. I remembered how much I like this.

The flight into Pottstown Municipal went well, but I was behind the airplane and my landings were sh...lousy. The high work went well. Sally's systems are as they should be. Everything seems to be working after the long hibernation. The entry and landings at Butter Valley went well, but I was behind the airplane and my landings were cra...lousy.

I think I was smiling the whole time.


  1. I had a lot of problems with the Virb Edit software for Windows 7. It wasn't until I down loaded the latest version (2.4.0) that everything started to work as advertised.
  2. I think the video and audio are great. I'm disappointed that I can't boost the brightness of the Dynon displays to have them captured. This is not a unique problem of the Virb and I'll continue to try and improve my technique to make this better.
  3. I have permanently fixed the Virb cradle to the headset rack in the middle of the canopy rail. So far this seems to work well.
  4. I experimented with a number of different "overlays", Garmin's term for displaying the GPS data. I haven't decided on any favorites yet.
  5. I experimented with two different zoom settings and will stick with the default "Ultra Zoom".
  6. I need a haircut.

I was at first disappointed. The Altitude, Heading, and Airspeed were not consistent with what I was seeing on my instruments. Dummy. The camera is just another GPS unit. Altitude is really referenced to a mathematical geoid, based on a standard day. That won't be close. The Heading is what the airplane is flying, I should be comparing with the track from my 696. Similarly I should be looking at groundspeed, not airspeed, to make my comparisons.

All Virb Videos can be viewed here.