Monday, December 1, 2014

Cold Sunday

The alarm clock went off in the early morning darkness. The temperature was below freezing. I forced myself to get up even though my aching body demanded more sleep. Bleary eyed, I checked the weather maps to see if it was worth the trip to the airport. It didn't take too long for me to decide to start a fresh pot of coffee.

S.O.G. (Snow on ground). The sun struggled to penetrate the overcast layer that the maps had said was at 5000'.  Thin patches of ice lingered at the edges of the reservoir I cross on the drive in, and on the puddled taxiway near the hangar. A small pile of snow was in front of the hangar doors, too close to the structure for the plow to scrape away. The thermometer inside read 35°F but felt colder. I unfastened the upper cowl to check on the Rotax. Then I found my home made engine warmer, snaked the duct up from the exhaust vent, under the left cylinders, over the prop housing, under the right cylinders and pointed the open end at the oil reservoir. I turned on the "low" setting and gently placed the upper cowling back on before going back to the warm car and my cup of coffee. 45 minutes later I went in and cycled the prop, short of a "burp" but enough to move some of the oil. After another 30 minutes she was warm enough to start.

The density altitude was -850'. Sally loves the dense air and nearly jumped off the runway. We stayed in the pattern for about 3 circuits then departed to explore the local area. SOG everywhere.The world had lost its color, everything was displayed in shades of gray. The season has changed. The radio was busy with other Sunday fliers out getting some exercise. Leaving Butter Valley we were faced with a flock of Snow Geese. I decided not to let Sally's white wings join up with them so cut my departure leg a little short. After a good work out we came back to Quakertown to an empty pattern.

I logged 6 landings. Sometimes it seems that no matter what adjustments you make, the "squeak" just doesn't happen. This time they were easy. Sally and I were completely in sync. It was really worth that effort to get out of bed.

Video Notes: Cold Sunday

Interesting Analysis: GA's Difficult Climb Back

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In the Hangar

I recently started using Lightroom 5 to develop my pictures. The software does pure magic working with the stills captured from the Virb so I decided to experiment with some shots taken with really poor lighting conditions. I'm satisfied.

Nice reflected light pattern
Nose art

The panel.
I'm really very fortunate to be in a hangar. This was Sally a few years ago when we were tied down at Butter Valley.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Planning a Trip

This is how I typically plan my trip:

1. to check initial distance. This will tell me how many flying days should be planned.

2. Break trip down into 200 mile legs. Find 6 routes (or so). Provides rough idea of intermediate stops.


3. Check airport comments and nearby alternates. Eliminate poor reviews. Elevate those with interesting comments. I'll also check comments on AOPA. I prefer places I've never been...adds to the adventure for me.

4. I plan 600 miles a day for travel (2 fuel stops before an overnight) Consider "on airport" dinners/restaurants. Check on accommodations, for me AND Sally. (I like to actually talk to someone at the FBO if I plan to spend the night.)

a. 600 miles ~ 6 hours. That's enough time for me to be flying a small airplane each day. Add in preflight, fueling and securing the airplane it easily turns into 8 or 9 hours. If the weather is good and my energy level is good I can skip a stop. But I'm usually ready for a break after a 2 hour leg. Reference here

b. What do I talk to the FBO about? Hangar or tie down. Services available. Transportation options (crew car?). Any preferred hotel (discounts?) etc. Do they sound like good people?

5. Review for hazards (SUA, terrain, TFR, etc)

6. Break the trip into day trips.

7. Enter plan into Pilot (or Foreflight) Check NOTAMS. Adjust and finalize.

After a GO decision I enter the plan into my 696 and put my tablet in the bag. The tablet goes into the FBO with me if I need to change the plan.

Reference: Quiz

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Uphill Monday Morning

Take off on runway 29er @ KUKT
It might be the last nice weather flight this year:

A strong cold front will move through on Wednesday and send temperatures south in a hurry for the 2nd half of the week and weekend. There may even be some snowflakes in the air Thursday night in some areas.

So I took a short flight just to enjoy the countryside. Added a few landings just for practice and called it a day.

Video Notes: I tried a different camera angle and set the aperture to "wide". It gives the impression that Sally is always going "uphill" but does capture a lot of the terrain.

Monday Morning

See the memo from the FAA, or read the summary below:
The mounting of external camera does not constitute a major change and therefore is not subject to the regulatory purview of 14 CFR Part 43.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac, converted to local time.
14 CFR 61.57 - Recent flight experience: Pilot in command.
Night takeoff and landing experience.(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section, no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and—
(i) That person acted as sole manipulator of the flight controls; and
(ii) The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required).
 14 CFR 61.315 - What are the privileges and limits of my sport pilot certificate?
(c) You may not act as pilot in command of a light-sport aircraft:
(1) That is carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire.
(2) For compensation or hire.
(3) In furtherance of a business.
(4) While carrying more than one passenger.
(5) At night
An awesome power. Five clicks on the radio button turns a black hole of darkness into a runway lit up like a Christmas tree. The world stays beautiful at night, but it also becomes a bit more dangerous to those of us use to the light. Obstacles remain unseen. A deer on the runway, the tree that grew too tall on the approach corridor, minor mechanical failures all become more hazardous.

"Night flight is so completely different from day that it requires careful introduction. Any pilot deficiencies become magnified at night. The night horizon is less visible and more indistinct. Night flight is semi-IFR with considerable reliance on the instruments. Clouds and terrain are from difficult to impossible to see.  There can be a gradual loss of visual clues when flying into darker terrain. This leads to disorientation and loss of control." PilotFriend
Video Notes: This video really stressed the Camtasia software. I wanted to show the effect of decreasing sunlight. Running the clips simultaneously seemed to be very hard on the rendering engine. I had many crashes before this video was finally successfully rendered.


20 Things You May Not Know About Night Flying
Darkness comprises roughly half of every day, but that’s no reason to avoid flying at night, if…
By Bill Cox

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lock Haven

Lock Haven ~ KLHV
Richard was working with Paul to get his new SportCruiser a condition inspection. It was a chilly but sunny day in Barto so I decided to take the one hour flight to go and visit them for lunch.

The drive to the airport gave me some concern. While the cold front had passed through last evening, the colder air had merged the morning temperature and dew point. Mist and fog lingered over the lakes and streams and changed the clear blue morning sky into IFR conditions. I worried that I might be forced to cancel.

I pulled up to hangar, opened the doors and got my preflight started. Sally is getting close to her own 100 hour condition inspection. While everything looks normal, I worried about the minor oil leak and how that will be handled during the inspection.

I rechecked my navigation. A direct course would take me too close to the Allentown Airspace. So I decided to travel a little west before turning north to go direct to my destination. While there were no TFRs in effect today, a major VIP visit over the weekend is going to effectively close Quakertown traffic routes to the south. I always worry about TFRs just "popping up" while I'm out flying.

Soap Box ~The Fear of Flying:
Acrophobia (from the Greek: ἄκρον, ákron , meaning "peak, summit, edge" and φόβος,phóbos, "fear") is an extreme or irrational fear of heights, especially when one is not particularly high up.
I have a bit of Acrophobia. That third step on the ladder is as far as I go. But flying a small airplane is the definition of freedom. To be able to pick up and go (almost) anywhere at (almost) anytime is fantastic. But each freedom comes with a responsibility. A trust between the pilot, the airplane and our society. The real fear of flying is breaking this trust:
  1. The fear of doing something stupid. One of the famous last lines is, "Watch this!"
  2. The fear of an inflight emergency. Know your airplane. What is normal and what is abnormal. Listen to her.
  3. The constant fear of the 3rd class medical. Know yourself. Establish personal guidelines and adhere to them. (IMSAFE)
  4. The fear of breaking the rules. FARs, AIM, PHAK have them all written down. But do you understand them?
  5. The fear of getting caught in bad weather. Meteorology: She is a bitch, don't get her mad. Know your own limitations.
  6. The fear of getting lost. Try flying without the purple line. Pilotage is a skill requiring practice.
  7. The fear of bending the airplane. Airmanship: Take a few laps in the pattern...on a windy day.
You are going to screw up. I can count on one hand (and have some fingers left over) how many "perfect flights" I've had. Usually minor stuff, but yes I've done some really dumb things as well. That doesn't mean you stop flying. Like the quarterback throwing an interception you get back in the game and don't make that mistake again.

You see, I think the worries and fears keep a lot of us from going out to the airport. That's a shame because exercising freedom is really a lot of fun.

OK, I'm done.

Video Notes:

Lock Haven

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Allentown, PA
I ordered a 'tempe' wireless temperature sensor to track cockpit temperature. It links to the Garmin Virb Elite and other devices. I often get asked if it gets hot (or cold) due to the bubble canopy and I usually respond that the temperature can be controlled. It never hurts to have data to back your argument. The read out appears in the lower right in the attached cockpit video.

I got up early on Saturday morning and beat the gusty winds that were moving through the area. It was smooth at 3000' but got pretty bumpy down low. Gusts were up to 16kts by the time I got back to Quakertown. It was still gusting on Sunday, enough for me to cancel all flights for the day. I suspect it won't be too long before the winds are driving snow.

Video Notes:


PPL Center is a sports arena in Allentown, Pennsylvania that opened on September 10, 2014. Its naming rights are owned by the PPL Corporation, which is headquartered in Allentown. PPL paid an undisclosed sum over ten years. The arena is part of a larger redevelopment project of the central business district of Allentown. The project encompasses a 5-acre square square block area, in which several new structures are planned to be erected. Part of the arena site was previously developed in the 1990s as an office building called Corporate Plaza; shortly after opening, on February 23, 1994, it collapsed into a sinkhole, due to limestone in the ground and the decision not place the building on a concrete pad, but rather on spread footings; the plaza was imploded on March 19 of that year.