Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pictures from Home

Entering Butter Valley Golfport

On the Flight Line
Playing with my camera, I found the panoramic mode.

Monday, May 21, 2012

General Aviation Weekend

The freedom to fly. Finally some good weekend weather. Thursday I went out after work, just to fly in the pattern. Mild winds, right down the runway and most of the energy from the day had dissipated. I couldn't make any excuses. I hadn't practiced from the left seat in awhile and it showed. The pattern work was solid, safe with no forced wave offs, but they weren't pretty either. I was visited by a red and white Champ who stayed in the pastern for one pass, then went down to N47. Later an Sr20 came in, made a pass and pulled off to let me land. They had some difficulty closing their door and were still on the ground the next time I came around so I pulled up, popped the canopy and asked if I could help. They were looking for a pair of pliers and got some from the Pro Shop.  Once buttoned up they departed so I again had the airport to myself. Still need to work on the landings.

Saturday there were Presidential TFRS to the west at Camp David, so I decided to go east. KBLM is close to the ocean and I hadn't seen the Atlantic in awhile. A nice low and slow kind of flight, over Trenton, NYC clearly visible in the distance. As I got closer CTAF announced jumpers in the air. Three others in the pattern, I decided to do a low approach and get out of the way. I traveled south down the coast just a bit before turning west toward home. I saw Lakehurst , Great Adventure, Willow Grove (or whats left of it) and by Wings (KLOM) prior to their Fly-B-Que.I had hoped to get there but priorities called me elsewhere.

I planned to have Sunday brunch at Wildwood or maybe Georgetown. Kathy was working the church Bingo game all day so it would be a good day to fly. Unfortunately the good weather was about to leave and points south were MVFR at best. The TFR was lifted so I decided to head west. I had not flown out to KUNV yet and that destination was still high on my list. Planning said it should take about an hour, and I wanted to test it so that I was familiar with the trip when taking a passenger. An easy flight, I stayed off the radio and just listened for traffic. The air was silky until I approached Mt. Nittany then the bumps started as easterly winds drove up the air over the last line of ridges. I took the standard tour, overflew the airport and started home. Still bouncing, I thought maybe 1000' higher would be smoother, but the weather was changing and air was now filled with potholes.

I had a decision to make. The magenta message in the top left says I have 75.9 miles to go, and my ground speed is 082 Kts. (I should reach my destination in less than an hour.) My fuel flow is 5.1 gals/hour,  and my total fuel on board is 5+6=11 gals. So I should be able to land with 6 gallons, or about 1 hour of fuel remaining. (More than VFR minimums, but below my normal limits.) I usually like to land with 5 per side, which is very conservative. So, this might be a good time to push the envelope. Clear weather, close alternates if I needed them, I decided to go for it. The orange needle on the HSI is dialed into a VOR station halfway along my route. When that swings by my wingtip I'll reassess my options.

How accurate are the fuel gauges? How reliable my weather forecast? What if my destination airport has a problem and I do have to divert? How many times/minute did I do the fuel consumption formula in my head? How many times did I push the NRST button on my 696 to asses my distance to an airport? The winds had picked up and it was gusty at Butter Valley and I landed with 3 gallons in each tank. I was not comfortable, but now I know she can do it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another Runway Dinner

What we stated with
Windy. Unusually breezy weather with gust well above my comfort level have kept me on the ground. So we spent some time working on the hangar. Satisfying, but not flying.

I thought if I could get up early I might be able to get some pattern work in so arranged to have Friday off. I was at the hangar by 7:30 taking the covers off and starting the preflight. When I did the cockpit check I found the master switch on. Ouch. I don't know if I left it on after configuring my PFD or bumped it on attaching the gust lock, but the result was the same. I had enough power to see the displays, lower the flaps and turn on lights, but didn't know if I would be able to start the engine. I pulled her, finished the preflight and got comfortable. Two props and a click.
Cleaned up after 3 bags full

The airport owner was working and stopped by to chat. Business is down. Few visiting airplanes and the golf business is way down. Once I told him my problem he offered a charger and an extension cord. (He has lots of chargers...for the golf carts.)

Ever put one of these together?
So I put her back in the hangar, unbuttoned the cowling and disconnected the battery. After attaching the cables I went over to the restaurant for breakfast. Next I took a little hike to check the runway, then made my way back to the hangars to see if Harry was in. He wasn't but his friend George was and we chatted for awhile, solving the problems of the world until Harry arrived. I made a 'soft appointment' for next week to get the oil changed. So, after about 3 hours I took the charger off and buttoned her up.

The ramp at 1N7
The forecast for Saturday was 'sunny and mild', but brisk winds arriving in the afternoon. Kathy decided to go with me for a $100 Breakfast, and after consulting FLY2LUNCH we decided on Blairstown (1N7).

Once the covers were off, Kathy took some time to clean the canopy and tidy up the cockpit. She hadn't flown in awhile, not at all from N47, and probably not since the last time we tried Blairstown after the October snow last year. So the set up was a bit strange for her. After I pulled Sally out of the hangar, time was spent getting the headset to work right, adjusting the volume, seat belts and all of the items she might need during the flight. We decided I should create a check list for her. After we were all settled in I told her that I hadn't tested the battery since the recharge and the engine might not start. "She'll start" was all she said.

Sailplane operations
Sally started normally. Butter Valley had some traffic on this pretty Saturday morning so we got a front row seat watching a few come in for landings as we did our run up. I tried to explain all of the items on the checklist, but after awhile she said I talk too much.

We took off and headed over to the church to take some pictures, then flew over our housing development to take some more. Steep turns and light choppy air wasn't good for someone prone to air sickness. So I climbed to 3500', contacted Allentown Approach  and flew direct 1N7.  A little hazy, a little bumpy and a rough ride for Kathy. She was glad to get her feet on the ground.

We had a light meal, watched the gliders do their thing, enjoyed the traffic and felt comfortable under the trees just watching the show. I noticed the wind was starting to pick up.

We departed about noon. I tried 4500' but before we got close to ABE we were getting bounced a bit. I requested and received 1000' lower but was still in a bit of a chop. (Later I found the Queen City had reported gusts to 16 kts.) I balanced a max cruise versus a smooth ride and did the best I could to make gentle turns. Kathy was uncomfortable but did well. A straight in to RWY 34 (nice landing) and then back to the barn. It was great to get out in the plane together.