Monday, September 8, 2014

The 60th annual PAOP fly-in Breakfast

Arriving Pottstown Heritage
Three very big Fly Ins were planned on Sunday: at Pottstown (KPTW), Braden (N43), and Sky Manor (N40). Kathy and I planned to fly to two of them but the turbulent gusty winds spoiled our plans. I decided to fly solo to Pottstown for a "look and see" flight and after getting pushed around a bit decided to cancel our afternoon plans. Too bad. The blog and Facebook accounts tell me these were all great events.

Attending any Fly In is like a family reunion. It was great to see David (credit the great image above), and Tom & Cleo, as well as a few of you readers (thanks!). The best part was seeing so many youngsters. While waiting in line for breakfast I watched as the parents of a toddler pointed to each airplane coming in and exclaimed "airplane"! (The kid had on a Penn State sweatshirt so I told the parents that I thought they were doing a fantastic job raising their child.) I sat with a Dad and his two daughters at a picnic table eating my eggs and the young girls seemed very enthusiastic about the planes. "Wouldn't it be great if we could fly to go camping!?" Lots of kids, young ones, were brought out to this event. I didn't see too many thumbs punching cell phones. There is hope.

I decided to depart for home and walked around Sally for a "quick" preflight. An open canopy attracts a crowd. Soon I was in lecture mode providing stats about the airplane and taking in the wonderful compliments about how pretty she is.  After nearly 45 minutes I called "CLEAR!" and asked anyone close by to move back. Carefully, with the help of a Linesman, we taxied away so glad to have attended such a nice event. These guys did a great job. You should attend it next year.

Video Notes:


* Pretty gusty on the final and I misjudged it a bit.  Sally does a very nice slip. I'll log two at home base.

How Important Is a Pilot’s First Airplane? Why older trainers often have the edge on newer ones.

"With no purpose-built trainers in production in the United States, attention turned to the LSAs, small, inexpensive, two-seat aircraft limited in such areas as weight and speed but unburdened by the costly requirements for an FAA airworthiness certificate. Although the FAA would not issue such certificates for the LSAs, the agency was an active participant in the discussions that created the criteria under which the aircraft would be produced and sold in the United States.

Under former CEO Jack Pelton, Cessna began to explore the category as a possible entry point for people just coming to aviation. The newbies would need an airplane with a low price and curb appeal. “We went out on a covert mission,” Pelton recalls about the time when some “key folks ran down to Sebring, Florida, where they hold the Light Sport Aircraft show.” This was around 2006, and Pelton asked the team to look at the market. “We wanted to know if this was something we should be part of,” he says. “The general consensus was that this was a fascinating new market opportunity to bring people into aviation at a much lower price point.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Problems. Minor ones, the kind that you can fly with but will eventually require some attention. Just before leaving for Oshkosh Sally lost her ability to hold GPS tracking. "GPS Fix unavailable" was the error message and could be caused by a number of things each taking some time to troubleshoot. We opted to let her fly and resolve the "gripe" another day.

With some help from SCFlier I narrowed it down to a hardware problem. Specifically a loose connection. Unfortunately I didn't find a specific loose wire or detached connector. After looking at the backside of the pilot's panel and tracing the GPS connectors and checking all of them for general health, I did a test flight today to find that everything worked properly. Its fixed. (But I have that lingering feeling that I didn't really fix anything, that the problem simply went away. That happens sometimes.)

Video Notes: My cockpit camera failed due to a full memory card. I need to remember to delete the old flights.

Morning Flight

"To assume that moving “down” is always less demanding is every bit as inaccurate — and dangerous — as responding to the intuitive sense of up and down that can lead pilots to mishandle an aerodynamic stall. Any pilot who has transitioned from a standard category airplane to a light sport aircraft (LSA) will attest to the very real challenges involved in moving to a lower-performance airplane. Whether moving to a more capable aircraft or to a simpler machine, every bird we fly deserves, and indeed demands, the utmost level of respect from its pilot". - FAA Safety September/October 2014 SAFETY BRIEFING-

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Oil Pressure

Fortunately I've been busy this summer learning to fly. Two teenage flight students have done their initial flights while another student prepares for his solo. While they think I'm teaching them, the real truth is they are teaching me. Insightful questions, interesting comments and observations, looking at the obvious with fresh new eyes, has allowed me to see General Aviation in a new perspective.

Learning to Fly

Just before the trip to Oshkosh Sally started having trouble with GPS steering. A warning "GPS Fix unavailable" was displayed and the magenta tracking information on the HSI disappeared. I have since checked and found multiple satellites available to the 696 and that device appears to be operating properly. I was given (SCFlier) the software settings for the GPS and the HS34 and checked them to see if those settings had become corrupted but all look fine. I suspect the wiring may have come loose from the GPS to the HS34 and will do more extensive troubleshooting later. (An outside chance that the HS34 has failed?)

Recently after the starting the engine I noticed my oil pressure flashed "bars" instead of providing the 65psi I'm accustomed to seeing. I shut her down, removed the upper cowling and did a general inspection of the cabling. Nothing unusual, I climbed back in and tried again with the same result. Allen responded quickly to my call and did a cursory check, found nothing and suggested we remove the sender and put a pressure gauge on to eliminate the possibility of electronic failure. I love the glass panel EMS but do appreciate seeing actual pressure on an old analog pressure gauge. 65psi.

An internet search pointed to LEAF and their technician explained that the Honeywell sender is no longer available and that the replacement is from Keller. However the thread pitch is different so the engine block has to be re-tapped in order to make it fit. So, I called Lockwood and had a conversation with their technician who explained that they did have the Honeywell sender but it needs a "cable kit" to fit a ROTAX engine. (Essentially a new plug to attach the wires.) After the parts arrived Allen had us all fixed up in less than an hour.

No video notes this time. I have done some Discovery flights and made some interesting post processing enhancements, but decided to protect the students privacy by not posting them on YouTube.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Great Adventure

I have never been to Oshkosh.

It is hard work to be a Flight Instructor, but it has it's benefits. The moment that a student "gets it" is fantastic. This time I was able not only to teach but pass along my affection for flying - for VFR General Aviation Flying. What better motivation than getting ready for the biggest aviation experience in the world; Airventure at Oshkosh.

Interactive Link: here

I have never been to Oshkosh, but maybe next year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast

ADS-B, which consists of two different services, "ADS-B Out" and "ADS-B In", could be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. In the United States, ADS-B is an integral component of the NextGen national airspace strategy for upgrading or enhancing aviation infrastructure and operations. The ADS-B system can also provide traffic and government generated graphical weather information through TIS-B and FIS-B applications.[6] ADS-B enhances safety by making an aircraft visible, realtime, to ATC and to other appropriately equipped ADS-B aircraft with position and velocity data transmitted every second. ADS-B data can be recorded and downloaded for post-flight analysis. ADS-B also provides the data infrastructure for inexpensive flight tracking, planning, and dispatch.[6] - wikipedia
 I love having NEXRAD weather on board Sally. XMWeather was particularly useful during my last trip to Texas/Georgia and played a significant role in my enroute flight planning. However XM has a costly subscription tied to it and I'm always looking for ways to save my aviation dollars. I've been learning about ADSB but wasn't quite ready to switch over until I saw a post in SCFLIER.COM about a good deal on a Garmin GDL-39 ADS-B IN portable receiver. I decided to take the plunge and experiment with this new technology.

(First, General Aviation people are just great to work with. The seller took the time to thoroughly test the device and its sub-components BEFORE concluding the transaction.The deal went off without a hitch.)

I eventually plan to attach this to my 696 and remove the XMWeather antenna, but for testing purposes I'll run Garmin Pilot on my Android tablet and use Bluetooth as the connection technology. My first attempt failed. The tablet could find the device but gave an error code say it failed to connect. After multiple iterations and numerous Google searches it was time to call the experts. Garmin Support picked up immediately, asked a few questions and walked me through resetting the GDL39. Bingo, it works! least sitting on my desk at home.

An added advantage for me is Traffic Information Service (TIS) for any aircraft that is transmitting ADS-B Out. Right now that only includes the Airlines and a few corporate jets so I'm not going to give up using Flight Following on my cross country trips.

Another technology in the cockpit. Remember to look outside!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


July 2nd: Holly took me out to the airport and helped preflight, even burping the engine. Sally was in good shape. We said our goodbyes and I went back to the FBO to complete my planning. It was pretty straight forward up to Blue Ridge (KMTV) but a decision had to be made about going east or west around the SFRA. Weather would be the primary factor so I decided to wait until the afternoon to see what might develop. Arthur was south and hopefully no factor. We took off about 9:00am into dense haze. Atlanta didn't want me in their Class B so I headed east at 2500'. As I turned northeast Flight Following asked me to descend to 2000' for traffic. The towers at 1340' and 1369' looked close and Sally didn't like them much. After a short time we were allowed back up to 2500 and then to our cruising altitude of 5500'. We were still in the haze so I asked for and was granted 7500'. We had a horizon (and a slight tailwind). Just south of the Virginia border we began our descent and I saw portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and then to the west of us. I stopped the descent at 3500' until within 10 miles of the airport. Although it was hot, the linesman came out to help with fueling and soon I was on the last leg home. Thunderstorms were building in central Pennsylvania so I decided to go east around Washington. Some of the restricted areas were active so I asked and received a waypoint (TAPPA)  to keep clear. Potomac and Patuxent Controllers were excellent. But now we had another race. XMweather showed heavy (yellow, red, brown) storms approaching Reading. A thin broken layer forced me to descend to 2500'. I was passing familiar airports now, 58M, N57, KOQN, and then N47 and KPTW, but the storm was ugly off my left wing. Dark charcoal gray clouds with heavy rain moved across the mountains just east of Reading. I cancelled and went VFR to land on RWY 16 at Butter Valley. As I put Sally in the hangar the rain started.


Sally averaged about 107 MPH and burned an impressive 19 MPG. Best speed was 118 kts from KADS to KLMS. Longest leg from KCBE to KBWG. This was a difficult trip, not for flying but because of decision making. Weather delays are difficult and many times I WANTED to see ways to continue my flight when none were really available. It was especially hard to do a "Look & See" only to return to the airport. But that is all part of VFR flying, and I am truly glad to have had the adventure.