Tuesday, November 1, 2011


October has been a real "roller coaster", not the least of which has been the dramatic change in seasons. I went out to Butter Valley the morning following our "Apocotoberlypse" (thanks Kevin) to find I had a taildragger. What a sickening sight. Fortunately no damage but merely a starck reminder that winter weather is upon us.

Harry got the lighting package installed. 4PapaSierra is now allowed to wander out after dark. I'm very pleased with the quality of the kit and its installation.

We completed our first annual inspection. No major discrepancies were found, although Harry does have a few recommendations for design changes. Shouldn't inspection plates be screwed on rather then riveted? He also found some water in the fuel line leading down to the fuel pressure sender. I had been having some problems with intermittent low fuel pressure indications and was recommended (by a Facebook friend) to clean or replace the unit. When Harry put in the new sender (from Dynon) he found the water. We suspect it comes from using Mogas with ethanol and have decided to check this line whenever we do an oil change. Hobbs read 104.8.

Yesterday the alarm went off just before 0600 on a dark, frigid morning. I was scheduled to fly Sally (my pet name for 4PS) to Piper Memorial Field for my 'bi-annual' Flight Review. So, after I got the coffee pot brewing I sat down to do my flight planning. The route was simple, no TFRs or other anomalies, but the weather was ugly. Temperature and dew point were equal at M2 and Runwayfinder showed a lot of red. My call to Lockheed only confirmed what I already new.  The good news was conditions were expected to improve once the sun came up. I have been VERY fortunate to have excellent instructors, but since I've been flying Light Sport I haven't really started a relationship with a local guy. I wanted to fly with someone who could 'mentor' me with an LSA, not just do the maneuvers. Through the Sport Pilot Talk Blog I found Paul at AvSport in Lockhaven, about an hour's flight from 7N8.

When I got to the airport I found her encased in frost, the first of the season. Fortunately a blogger friend (thanks Gary) had told me about some de-icing fluid I could pump spray on to melt and remove the frost. It works great, but after polishing the frost off and burping the engine I was ready for another coffee in the warm car. I called Paul at 7:30 and found conditions were still 1/2 mile in mist. Wait...

I could see two hot air balloons rising about 5 miles south of Butter Valley. We had perfect blue skies and still air. The geese on the pond were making a racket, and when they took off flying directly over me I could hear the air swooshing past their wings as they slowly climbed south in the cold air. Wait...

3miles. At 9:00 the digi-weather site reported 3 miles of visibility and Williamsport was calling +6 and clear. We agreed to give it a try, so I finished the final items on the preflight and strapped in. There was still about an inch of snow on the turf taxiway, which was now crusted over with ice. A cautious "full power taxi" with very careful braking got me to the runway threshold. With checks complete a few minutes later I was airborne. ETA for KLHV was 10:30.

I used Flight Following and enjoyed the conversation for the otherwise uneventful trip. 5000 RPM yielded about 100 Kts over the ground at just over 5gals/hr. As the GPS wound down toward my destination I saw a problem. Dense clouds were lining each of the valleys I was passing over and it looked like Lockhaven was in one of those valleys up ahead. When I crossed the last ridge I could see the runway, directly beneath me but KLHV was definitely IFR with the mountain ranges on each side rising above the cloud tops. (IF..., but we aren't.) I diverted to KIPT. Safe arrival just few minutes later. Nice place, great hospitality, free coffee and I got a package of Krimpets from the vending machine. Wait...

At 12:00 Lockhaven went VFR. I entered a left downwind for RWY 9 and felt good about bringing my PiperSport back to Piper Memorial field.  I pulled up to the hangar and Paul and I met in person for the first time.

I won't go into all of the details for the flight review, but will say that it met and surpassed my expectations. It focused on Light Sport documentation, fundamentals and the implications of WEIGHT. It was my first ever flight from the left seat and although not to my standards, I know that I can be safe on that side now. (My landing was a stinker...safe but well left and 'floated'.) I will really enjoy getting more experience in that seat.

AND, what a great guy Paul is! He rearranged his whole day just to take care of me on this last day of the last month. I am delighted to say I have found another instructor/mentor.

...4PS got a lot of nice complements while sitting on the ramp. I think Paul enjoyed the chance to fly a different LSA. The trip home was uneventful except that it was one of 'those moments', when you stop and realize how great it is be a pilot. "Remember this", I said to Sally, "this is good stuff".

So, a nice landing back at 7N8 and as I started my back taxi I sawa large black dog running around free on my left. This dog is just having a great time plowing through the snow, rolling around, darting back and forth, and then sees me. I stopped and immediately put my hand on the ignition switch. Two kids in panic mode come over the hill frantically trying to coral this animal. I decide that if it gets within a wingtips distance I'll shut her down. Fortunately they caught it and took control of the situation. I finished my taxi, parked, tied down and covered her. It was 1800, and I was beat.  Quite a Halloween.

1 comment:

  1. What Dave fails to mention is how well he flew steep turns, power off and power on stalls, all from an unfamiliar seat. It's always a pleasure for a flight instructor to fly with a seasoned, competent pilot who so obviously loves his plane. Well done, Dave!