Sunday, July 31, 2011


A family reunion at Butter Valley
I had the engine burped by 7:30am. I wanted to test the air before the sun had a chance to produce some convective turbulence, and was rewarded with glass. The airplane ride was so much smoother than the drive to airport. Morning mist still filled some of the Pennsylvania valleys and the radio crackled only occasionally.

Off in the distance I could see what used to be NAS Willow Grove (Now listed as NXX, Horsham Police), so very large compared to all other airports in the vicinity. Pennridge didn't have any jumpers in the air, but even so I kept my eyes outside looking for any falling bodies.

There was just one departing Doylestown and he favored RWY 5, so I lined up for an extended left base. Another early riser in a low wing (Piper?) and I saw each other and raised a wing to let each know we were aware of the others position. I turned final with "red over white" and made a smooth, comfortable landing. I could have easily turned midfield, but that taxiway had a yellow 'x' so I let her roll down to the next exit. As I taxied back for takeoff, I saw another pilot checking the engine on his plane as part of his preflight ritual.

Checklist complete I was back in the air climbing to 1200' before my turn on course back to 7N8. Just beautiful. Total time was less than an hour, but what a great flight.

7N8 was busy, good weather brought out a lot of folks looking for a good Sunday breakfast. A pretty white and blue Luscombe was already on the ramp, and after breakfast two Cubs and a few Cessnas came in from Brandywine (OQN). We took a look at the cockpit, felt nostalgic, but decided we loved the modern seats and instruments in the PiperSport.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Headset holder works well
 Overslept. We had planned to get up with the sun to take advantage of smooth air for the 30 min flight down to Chester County. Too many hits to the snooze alarm changed all that. We got to 674PS about 9:00am and were airborne after a thorough preflight.

The sky was clear following a weak cold front, a bit of haze and a few bumps. We got a good jolt after leveling 2500' that rocked the wings about 45 degrees. A few more bumps sent us up to 3500'. She was suffering from a bit of motion sickness so I opted for an extended base to nice long, broad runway. Taxi and shutdown were normal followed by a short walk across the ramp to the restaurant
Departing 7N8 to the SouthWest
The food was great. The small stack was two huge pancakes, and my country ham with eggs was outstanding. We had a nice view of the runway and ramp as we relaxed with our meal. Cessnas, (a beautiful 195 among others), Pipers, a Kolibar and a Sting Sport all arrived as we watched, and a very pretty Columbia took off just before we did.

Pretty much a straight shot back, lot's of traffic on the radio, but we didn't see anything along the way. All systems on the airplane (except the landing light) are working well. ...and our coordination doing the preflight and post flight has improved tremendously.

Nice airport, FBO & restaurant
This was a great way to spend a Saturday morning. We are working our way through the FLY2LUNCH website for nearby places to eat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Practice Precautionary Emergency Landing.

Practice, practice, practice!
A beautiful day to go flying. I checked on the minor repairs made and all seemed to working as planned. The plane handled well and the gorgeous smooth air was just a joy. So time for an easy test. While the picture only show the approach from the west, I did try one from the other direction with similar results.

It was fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Crowd watching us depart at 7N8

Good place for breakfast, busy on Sunday
Beautiful blue sky before 10:00AM, but lots of chop and gusts after noon. We  had tried this "$100 Hamburger" run before but aborted due to turbulence.  But we had started later in the day, this time we should be home before the thermals started in the afternoon heat.

Crossing back into PA

Final Approach to Rwy 34 at 7N8
A Citabria parked near us and my acquaintance from Beltzville (14N) stopped by to talk about airplanes. He had been an instructor in Slatington (69N) when I was just starting out. Still has the original seat cushion from the Champ I had trained in.

We completed the preflight and started her up. Saw the crowd in the parking lot as I lined up on the runway. (Not use to having an audience, but I was in the right seat and could blame any embarrassment on her.) It was a smooth normal take off and we immediately picked up the purple line and climbed to 2500'. I engaged the autopilot, did my cruise checks and generally 'cleaned up my office' for the flight out of the state.

Sky Manor is a pleasant little airport just past the Delaware river in NJ. There was a Cessna departing as we entered the pattern, and just a mild wind, pretty much down the center line as I rolled onto final. The Place was really busy on a beautiful Sunday morning. Many folks sat in lawn chairs watching the runway as we landed. Nice breakfast as we watched a helicopter student learning to maneuver. At least 3 folks stopped us to ask questions during the preflight to was particularly interested in a transition due to a medical condition. (An interesting discussion on FB: should pilots have the option of "self approval" and will this be abused and lead to LSA accidents? Time will tell.)

We excused ourselves from the conversations and climbed in for the return trip. The heat was starting to churn the air and we encountered light chop most of the way home. Disconnected the autopilot over Pennsberg and headed toward the reservoir to set up for a long straight-in to Rnwy 34 at Butter Valley. 

I kept it a little high knowing that once past the 'big ugly tree' she sinks pretty quickly over the grass. Cross wind from the left kept me busy in the round out and a few extra knots helped me cushion the flare, but it was a good workout keeping everything going in the right direction.

Overall a very nice trip, one I hope can be repeated often.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A little work with Harry

The 'todo' list had been building up:

  1. Oil change; she was now at 80 hrs (Hobbs)
  2. HS34: replacement unit from Dynon
  3. Fuel line reroute: Donato had sent me some pictures on how to move the line up, away from the engine.
  4. LOA: I needed Harry to sign the letter saying he would do the work to install the night lighting package
  5. Landing light: intermittent, but mostly just couldn't turn it on (switch spring loaded to off)
We decided in the time available to him, we could do 2-5 and save #1 for next week. We took the cowling off, disconnected the battery and started with the fuel line. It was a straight forward change, but Harry explained why it was important to dress the line properly to avoid any possible kinking or future damage to the hose.

Next up, the landing light. VOM showed the battery was good but no voltage was coming into the light. Time to take off the  pilot side instrument panel to check the switch. This is really a CB with a toggle on it and turns out the CB failed. I ordered a new one from Aircraft Spruce.

Next, the HS34. This small box allows the navigation systems to talk to the autopilot. It was an easy swap, just one cable on the back and a long screw to hold it on the instrument panel. It probably took more time to button up the panel then to change out the box.

Last, I gave Harry the documents for the Letter of Authorization (LOA) to review. That has been filed and we are waiting for CSA to approve.

We've had two test flights since (just short hops) and all appears to be working well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

6b6 and back

Another first, well sort of. I had been assigned two weeks of work in Concord, Massachusetts and driven up and back for the first week.(about 7 hours one way.) Weather permitting 674PS would be used for the second week. The FBO at Minute Man Field was very helpful, but I found out the recommended car rental company was closed on Sunday, and the one trying harder would close at 2:00PM. My flight planning indicated about a 2 hour trip and the weather guessers said I should expect clear sky with a slight tailwind enroute. They lied.

I left Butter Valley with a 4000' broken layer of towering cumulus and was forced to weave my way around toward northern New Jersey to get above most of the clouds at 5500'. I picked up flight following as I was returning back to course and settled in for the journey. All systems were working normally and I enjoyed the luxury of having an autopilot coupled to the navigation system. Super duper cruise control. I found that I could switch to heading mode to steer around some buildups then pus the NAV button to return to course. After a while there were just too many deviations so we climbed another 2000'. This worked well and gave me a clear shot through the NYC class B.

Crusin' with the big boys! "4PS traffic 6 o'clock closing 7000 ft should be no factor." Just wonderful watching these beautiful machines highlighted against towering white clouds. Head on a swivel but comfortably watching the show.

The rest of the flight into 6B6 was uneventful. A nice little field (2700') with great service. When you want to visit historic Concord, this is the place to stop.

Friday morning I got up to beautiful clear blue skies. Weather planning again called for light winds with no issues. When I left work at noon I found a solid overcast with some dark gray imbedded cumulus in all sectors. The weather briefer promised better skies to the southwest so I took off and stayed below the layer at 3500'. True to his prediction the clouds started to break and I found a nice blue hole to pop through while passing through the Hartford area. 8500 put most the clouds beneath me. Again, I recommend flight following is a great resource and they were very helpful pointing out traffic during this long holiday weekend. Traffic around NYC was busy and it must have taken me 10 minutes just to check in! Beautiful views of clouds and airliners for the next half hour.

As I approached Quakertown I called (approaching home plate) for my wife to hear on the handheld radio. I later found out that she had been tracking me on FlightAware, getting updates every other minute or so. I was pleasantly surprised to see her waving at me as I passed over the last tree on final. (Sub par landing, a little nose high and slow..I'll chalk it up to being distracted.) It was so great to have her there...and wonderful to have someone help me tie down the plane. A Great trip!