Sunday, February 26, 2012


On the 45 to Hackettstown
 A very windy weekend. As I sat at home doing chores I continued to monitor the weather. The trend was good. By 2:00PM the winds were below 16Kts and improving. Time to go flying.

VOR Navigation over Trenton
N47-PTW-ARD-METRO-SBJ-N05. I wanted to give the VOR a good workout. GPS has proven itself on our cross country flights, so I wanted to see if the VOR would work in a practical way as primary navigation. It works well, but not as well as I would like. GPS will store the way points and automatically cycle to the next, even using 'fly by' points to ease a steep turn. Not so with the VOR. The autopilot tracks the radial and stops navigating at the station. The track over Trenton is a good example. I think the correct procedure for me will be to use Heading Mode close in, manually adjust the outbound heading, dial in the outbound course and switch back to VOR navigation. A beautiful day to fly, I could clearly see Philadelphia and the same time!

Philadelphia 20 miles, NYC 70 miles, both in sight from NXX
Identifying an intersection is tricky. If I leave VOR as the source, I can no longer use my HSI to select a course, unless I use Heading mode on the autopilot. I played with it for awhile, but quickly decided I needed a safety pilot to be looking outside as I played with the avionics. Its enough to know that I need more study and practice to get this technique perfected. After METRO I pushed the GPS button and followed the purple line. (It makes identifying an intersection just sooooo easy. A long way from doing holds with a single ADF.)

Sally didn't like Hackettstown very much.  The airport sits low in a valley with a few cell towers sprinkled around. She squawked terrain alerts a number of times on downwind and base, warning me to "PULL UP!". The instructor was a real stinker sending me there so many years ago. Not an easy place to find, I was glad to have a GPS to help me.

It was a busy traffic day today. Lots of calls on 122.8 and 120.7 at KTTN was controlling two in the pattern when I checked in. I was listening to the traffic at Sky Manor outbound from N05 when I saw a flight of two birds just ahead off to my right at 2500'. Close enough for me to grab the stick and overpower the autopilot.

My route home went direct to LANNA then direct N47. An easy flight, light winds, very little bump and pretty watching the setting sun. Uneventful except for the poor landing. (I let it drop in, sun in my eyes.) As I rolled back in I noticed that two of the Cessnas on the line were cantered a bit to the north. Winds had forced them to weather-vane a bit. A hangar sure would be nice.

Update: The weather stripping is working well. I sat in the left seat on this flight and enjoyed some warmth from the heater and the sunshine through the canopy. (OAT was about 0). The landing light was replaced and I no longer have DSAB failures. Good stuff.

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