Friday, April 20, 2012

A Little Round-Robin

Vertical Power on Monday rolled out its VP-400 system, a back-up EFIS that flies the aircraft safely to the best runway in an emergency. During flight, the VP-400 constantly searches for the best runway to land in an engine-out glide scenario. In an emergency, the pilot presses a red button on the instrument panel and the system automatically flies the aircraft to the best runway for landing. On short final, the pilot disconnects the system and lands the plane manually.
I took off on Rwy 16 and departed 7N8 as a Cessna Sky-Master was entering downwind. Hazy visibility, 3K scattered and a few bumps, but still a good day to go flying. I wanted to try something. I climbed to the base of the layer, engaged the autopilot, stabilized the all systems then pulled the power to idle. I punched the Nearest button on the 696, selected the the first airport on the list and mashed the Direct (enter-enter) key. Sally slowed to 60kts and told me she couldn't maintain altitude so began a turning descent (at best glide speed) back to Butter Valley. Not exactly the same as the referenced product from Vertical Power, but still pretty impressive to a guy accustomed to hand flying these PPELs.

It wasn't a good day for sky diving so I headed over to KCKZ for a landing. It has a nice wide runway but the taxi ways are a bit scary. Very narrow and their edge markers are posts that stick up about a foot. Sally isn't very tall and I was concerned we might not have enough clearance. We did. (BTW no mid-field take offs on Rwy 26.)

Then over to KUKT. A Warrior in the pattern, a Sky-hawk 5 miles south and a Cirrus 3 miles north. I entered on the 45 as the other Piper was beginning his crosswind turn. Slipped to get rid of a little excess altitude and was able to make the first turn off. Then I comfortably watched the show at the hold short line as the other planes made their landings.

All too soon it was back to "people to see, appointments to be kept". A cross wind entry at 7N8 for a nice landing on Rwy 34, the Sky-Master was still parked on the turf with those big vertical fins encroaching just a bit, but no issue. I always liked those airplanes.

The trip back to the barn is more familiar now. Hangared,  covered and chocked, it was time to get back to the real world. I hope we have good weather tomorrow.

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