Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 Review

We got out for a little "fly about" this weekend. Only an hour touring the local area. We stayed low, below 2000', which is quite unusual for me. I wanted to enjoy following some of the roads I travel out near Skippack and Blue Bell. Although the visibility wasn't great I did spot some interesting towers out that way, some rising over 1500'. Sally and I decided to climb up to a more comfortable 2500' for the ride home.

Gary inspired me. Over at his blog he posted a summary of his flying accomplishments for the year. I decided to steal a page from his book and try something similar here. I used Zululog to compile this data:

A nice trend in Total Time. Just over 50 hours for the flight out west. The numbers are still good even without that trip. I feel that I'm getting good use from this little two-place VFR airplane.

Good cross country time. Sally is a comfortable ride on a long distance and can definitely fly longer than I can. The seats are comfortable, the glass panel is great and I love the autopilot. Another good trend. We added about 30 new airports to our list this year.

I was surprised to find this number roughly equal. Obviously this year I flew more flights out of the local area, but I enjoy just going out to the airport an exercising the process. My target is about once a week, if the beautiful Pennsylvania weather will let me.

This one surprised me, less landings this year. I love to stay in the pattern and shoot landings. That encompasses nearly every element of flight. The convenience of Butter Valley lets me escape with even the shortest bit of notice, and those escapes usually find me in a landing pattern at a local airport. Obviously I'll have to make a better effort on this category next year.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Gray. The weather in the Northeast this time is year is usually gray, dismal, with misty rain (or worse, snow). But not always.

The weather reports (METARs) from the surrounding airports were good. Visibility was over 10 miles, ceilings unlimited (CAVU) and most important for me, the winds were light. I finished up my latest word.docx and headed over to Butter Valley for an extended lunch break.

I had seen a "where is it" photo on Facebook showing a beautiful fall picture of an airport surrounded by lakes and was surprised to find it was Andover-Aeroflex just over the Delaware River. Plus it was another airport that shared 122.8 CTAF with Butter Valley. I had heard traffic calls from there and wondered what the airport looked like. AOPA Flight Planner said it was just over the 50 miles that defines a cross country flight. I decided to check it out for myself.

Two 5 gallon jugs filled with 93 octane from the local Sunoco had to be put in the tanks first. When I drove up Harry's door was open and he was working on the old Cessna fuselage as Ralph watched him prepare the surface for new paint. We talked about my trip out west, complained about politics, and generally discussed the weather and other pilot talk. The three of us agreed it was a good day to fly.

Sally only had about five gallons in each side already so the extra ten was a good idea. I have started burping her AFTER each flight, so now it only took a few props to get that satisfying gurgle. Oil is clean and just below the full line on the stick. I took some time to clean the canopy before I pulled her out of the barn. It was cold, about 45F so I was glad to have the oil cooler baffle installed. Patrick told me not to use the one for the radiator, so that one is stored in one of the workbench drawers.

Smooth start, easy run up, she lept off the ground and climbed quickly to 3500'.  The airfoil just loves the cold air. I flew over Quakertown to keep southeast of the Allentown Class C airspace. I dialed in Solberg VOR to use a radial as my midpoint check and enjoyed searching for airports along the way. Clean crisp CLEAR air, I could see New York City and Philadelphia at the same time.

A Huey Helo was practicing water drops. He announced his position when I made my initial call, I got him in sight as I approached on an extended left base for a 3 mile final. What a beautiful little airport. A smooth landing and off at the first taxi way, I was followed by a pretty Cub as I made my way back to the runway. The Huey said he would wait for me, but I responded I would rather sit and watch the show. When he finished his drop I took the runway and began my roll. (Remember, wake turbulence!)

The return trip was equally beautiful, I enjoyed passing over I78 (frequently traveled) and eventually 309 at Quakertown. Another nice landing at home field and back to the barn. This afternoon adventure took 1.5 on the Hobbs plus another hour on the ground. Not too bad.