Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The Allentown Airport Authority has jurisdiction over three airports: Lehigh Valley International(?) Airport, Queen City and Braden Airpark. A few years ago the Authority wanted to expand a runway at LVIA and used Eminent Domain to secure the intended land from a local developer. He sued, they lost and are now looking for $15 million to settle the suite. They first thought that selling Queen City would bring in enough revenue to settle the debt, but FAA restrictions on the lease killed that idea. So now they decided to sell Braden. I decided to fly over there before a big "X" was painted on the runway.

The direct flight from Butter Valley would take me through the ABE Class "C" airspace, so I decided to fly the tangents around the controlled area. I went on the the AOPA Flight Planner as I usually do for short local flights, to find it had been "improved" and was now unusable. After playing with the settings for awhile, I closed the browser and went to Skyvector.com. METARs, TFRs and NOTAMs all looked fine, so I went to Sunoco to get ten gallons of premium and out to the airport to start the preflight.

Sally is doing fine. I'm pleased with the procedure of burping the Rotax after each flight instead of prior to the next one. Normal start and ground operations and windsock showed a southerly breeze so we back taxied on runway 16 for takeoff. I like taking off from the turf, it feels 'rustic'.

Cruise checks were all normal and I planned to stay at 2500' for the trip. After a few good bumps the plan changed and we went up another 1000'. It was smooth there and the views were great. I headed east toward the Delaware River then took a left to find Braden just off the nose. We made an upwind entry and were the only plane in the pattern on this gorgeous Saturday morning.  As we turned base Sally started yelling at me about an obstacle alert. A cell phone tower off to the right got her attention and gave me scare. A normal landing and quick taxi through the ramp area (lots of NICE planes in the open hangars) and I made my way back to the hold short line. I back taxied on runway 36 and noticed teams of girls playing Lacrosse in a nearby field.  Girls with sticks launching projectiles at each other, not something Sally and I wanted to participate in so we departed quickly.

This time we took the northern route around the controlled airspace, crossing over the mountain ridge near the ski resort, heading west toward Slatington. From there it was a straight shot back to Butter Valley, a beautiful morning to fly.

When I got home I reconsidered my flight planning and tried out Garmin Pilot on my Android tablet. A much better, more complete solution and a nice user interface.  That will become my planning tool of choice.

Sunday was another beautiful day and I decided to join the Pilots of America at Sky Manor (N40) for a brunch. All procedures were normal and I settled in for the 25 minute trip at 2500'. The low voltage light was on. This will occasionally happen in the pattern at low RPMs but never in cruise. I turned off all nonessential equipment (amps -6 well in the green) and let her run that way for awhile.When we reached our destination the low voltage still read 10.5, she wasn't charging the battery. Not wanting a start problem away from home we departed the pattern and headed back to Butter Valley.

A beautiful smooth flight, we landed without any additional distractions and I put her back in the barn. Post flight showed nothing unusual,  I suspect the battery. A new one is on order.

In other related news: I passed my 2nd Class Medical! (As you get older more experienced these routine exams become more exciting. I'm glad to have that one behind me.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, great post. Have you confirmed that it was the battery? It may very well be the "rectifier" (battery charger). They usually go bad about every 2 years. I have a 2008 LSA and have had to change it two times. The battery usually goes bad every 3 years...