Monday, January 16, 2012


Philadelphia International Airport
Cold. I looked out on my deck as I was doing my weather briefing to watch the snow swirling in the breeze. It was just a light frosting, too cold to stick to the frozen deck boards. The good news was there wasn't any frost.

Typical indications, note 32kt headwind
My copilot was busy with family obligations so this would be a solo flight. I had heard great things about Cape May and decided to use this as a surveillance flight. An opportunity to check out the restaurant,  museum, and general convenience as a "beach" destination for summertime day trips.

Commodore Barry Bridge
A winter high pressure system over the area, but the winds were forecast moderate, out of the north gusting to 14kts. I made the "Go" decision, grabbed my bag and headed out to Pottstown Muni.  Normal preflight (with a few extra breaks taken in the warm car to sip hot coffee), over 200 props to get a burp, and some of the surfaces had to be lightly brushed to insure the loose snow wasn't ice.

I had and interesting problem last week. The upper cowl plugs had absorbed some water and when frozen they expanded into the openings locking them in place. After removing the cowl I was able to push them out from the inside. I've contacted Bruce for their suggestions.

Airborne by 10:00, my first way point was Modena VOR. I stayed at 3500 ft under the shelf of the Class B and got to play with the VOR a bit. I still remember how to do an intercept and track into the station. Next it was direct to Cape May. I had just a few burbles along the way but nothing of real concern. Except it was cold. Cabin heat on full but I felt nothing but a chilly breeze on my neck. Fortunately the bubble canopy lets in a lot of sun.

Ten miles out I made my call and found a Helo getting ready to enter his downwind. When he reported clear I asked about the winds (696 said 8G14) but he said it seemed rougher than that, more like gusts to 18kts. The book says the PiperSport can take 12kts direct crosswind, I estimated that the component was probably 8-10 so continued my approach. It had been a bumpy ride after leaving 3500 feet and was definitely that way at 1000. I tightened my harness and extended my downwind to give me a better chance to stabilize my final. I found that I was holding about a 20 degree crab, 10 kts faster than normal approach speed. When Sally called 500 feet another gust forced me to adjust even more. Not this time, no thanks.  Pitch up and power and we were out of there.

I flew back over top at about 2500 feet. A Mooney was on final and got in without any reported issues. Light Sport is just that, LIGHT. I climbed up to 4500 feet and headed for home.

Uneventful. Smooth as glass at 4500 feet but a strong headwind meant about an hour enroute. I enjoyed taking a few pictures and watching the beautiful view. But I was still cold. With the sun at this angle I could see just a little daylight coming from the rear edge of the canopy seal on the pilots side. A gap. Looks like I'm in the market for some weather stripping.

A very nice landing back at N47 and I pulled right up to the pumps for 10 gals of 100LL. Joe and two other guys came strolling out to help me refuel. Jeff & Jeff wanted to take a look at Sally so I gave them the nickle tour. Both fly bigger Pipers and enjoyed looking at a smaller sister. I also met the owner of the FBO and he also showed some interest. He had some unimpressive experiences with LSA and noted that he could buy two used Warriors for the price of one PiperSport. True enough, but would two old Warriors bring in any new business? After some discussion he agreed that he would really like to get a ride. I think I can make that happen.

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