Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Home

I have been flying. Nothing extraordinary, no special trips, nothing that one might call an adventure. Just nice local area aviating. I've become much more comfortable in the left seat getting my pattern work and landings back where I want them to be, to my own standards. I've played with the avionics with practice ILS and Localizer approaches, some GPS approaches but all in the local area.

The autopilot will not fly a holding pattern. It can get me to the IAF but after that I'm on my own. Unlike a GNS 430, the 696 just doesn't know IFR. No need I suppose as it is a VFR only bird. It handles the final approach course well, just doesn't know a procedure turn or holding patterns.

She is getting ready for another oil change and I have a very small list of gripes to go over with Harry. (The towing ring broke on the nose wheel and I have the part to be installed. etc) I have some cosmetic gripes as well. The "Do Not Step" warnings on the flaps show wear, and a few other blemishes need to be addressed. I'm sure if she were hangared I wouldn't be seeing this kind of wear. All a part of ownership.

Today I took a short flight down to Pottstown Municipal (N47) to keep her for the winter. It extends my drive by about 15 minutes, but puts her on an asphalt pad and prepared taxi ways that can be more easily cleared when the snows begin to fall.  Hopefully it will mean more winter time utilization. N47 also has some good night lighting, so hopefully I'll be able to take advantage of my new lighting package.

As I pulled up to the fuel tanks Joe came out to help. He showed me the on/off switch and how to clear the pump to start fueling. I'll figure on a winter time mix of  50/50 100LL and auto-gas. Ethanol/moisture in the winter has me just a bit concerned about freezing fuel lines.  I haven't sumped any water but DID have water in the fuel sensor line, enough to keep me cautious.

We also got some very nice compliments. Pilots like the lines of a PiperSport and she always gets attention. One pilot stopped by to discuss LSA, it turns out he just bought a Cessna SkyCatcher. It should be a lot of fun to compare notes!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We achieved another milestone this week.  On December 2nd 2010 I signed a piece of paper, handed over a check and the bank, my wife & I bought N674PS. We've had her for a full year now and if anything I've learned to enjoy flying even more. This weather has been incredibly lousy, but even so we's had some good statistics:
  • Hobbs: 122.1
  • Height: 10.500' en route to Ohio
  • Speed: 122 TAS between Pottstown and Quakertown (TAS check)
  • Longest leg: 392 miles, 4.2 hrs
Today I started on the new year. Crisp clear air, I wanted to do a VOR check and visit another local airport. I've noticed that Solberg has been quite busy on on the Common Traffic Airport Frequency so decided to find out why.

When I got to the airplane there was still a bit of frost on the northern side of the plane, so I took a few minutes to polish that off before starting the rest of my preflight. She's getting ready for another oil change and the dark black oil was just a bit under halfway after she burped. I added some antifreeze into the bottle the last time out and that still looked good. The biggest discrepancy right now is dirt. I hesitate to do any deep cleaning, don't want water to find someplace where freezing could cause a problem. She starts fine, but idle is a bit low. Maybe I'll have Harry take a look at that during the oil change.

A beautiful day to fly. Clear cool air only increases the airplane's performance. Level off and clean up "my office" for a 20 min cruise over to SBJ using the VOR for navigation. I made some course changes to see how the autopilot would respond and was pleased with the results.  Approaching Vansant (9N1) I heard a call that glider operations were under way so maneuvered behind the pair to get a good look at the separation. Looks like fun.

N51 was busy. Two in the pattern and two more waiting to take off. Runway 04 was in use and I entered on the 45 behind a Cessna turning base. A nice landing at a very pretty airport. I can see why it stays busy. I taxied back and waited for two before departing. Climbed up to 3500' and did a few intercepts into the VOR. Convinced that everything is working properly I dialed in Butter Valley in the 696 and pushed the button to follow the magenta road.

Someone was in the pattern at home. (That's a bit unusual for 7N8) I flew the whole pattern using a crosswind entry instead of my normal straight in from the reservoir. After landing I noticed two men on the line of parked planes watching my return. After shut down they stopped by to talk about light sport operations and to get a good look at 4PS. Nice guys.

I can only hope we'll have a few more days like this bfore the weather turns ugly for the winter season.  I still need to check about moving down to N47 for a few months. But today, it was just perfect to be a Butter Valley.