Monday, May 27, 2013

Check Flight

The Pennsylvania weather has been horrid. Weeks of low gray overcast and subnormal temperatures. Fog, rain showers making it impossible to fly. (Can't even cut the grass its so wet.) When the Sun did come out the winds came along with it. Gusts in the mid twenties blowing in behind cold fronts, one after another. I made an appointment with Harry to change the oil, replace the voltage rectifier and do a routine engine inspection. Usually all of this would be done on a pad in front of his workshop but we opted for my hangar to stay out of the cold showers. 275 hours and she is still looking very good. I waited for Spring to do a check flight.

Saturday and Sunday of the Memorial Day weekend we still had howling winds. As we did our shopping I kept track of conditions using a new Android App: "Takeoff". This one allows you to add your own weather criteria then flags nearest airports with Red/Yellow/Green colors to match that criteria. Sunday showed red and yellow for winds. Not today.

I checked the long range forecast with the graphical weather page and found that Monday morning should be calm and clear. When I rolled out of bed Monday morning I saw blue sky and didn't hear the vinyl siding shaking. Garmin Pilot confirmed the situation and I spent a moment at the weather page just to validate that it was really flying weather. I arrived at the airport by 8:00.
VOR on the left, GPS on the right

Preflight went well. My pitot cover must have a worn spot that catches on the screw on the pitot tube. I almost had to cut it off with my pocket knife. I pulled her out of the hangar into the sunlight and completed the rest of the ground checks. Harry noticed a haze on the lens of the landing light and said its an indication that might be ready to fail, but not today. I focused on the oil pressure when I turned the ignition key and it quickly jumped into the normal range. All was well.

Entering N47 from the north
Over 5000 RPM for takeoff and the climb rate was good. Sally felt great. All indications were green, including the voltage/amp meters. That problem is officially fixed. We turned north and climbed to 6500'. TAS at 5550RPM yielded 115 knots. I could probably adjust the propeller to give me better cruise. I'll think about that. I reached behind the seat for my cup of coffee then pulled a granola bar out of my jacket pocket. Breakfast at 6500'.

Butter Valley pattern work
After awhile I turned left toward Tamaqa then left again toward Pottstown. This time I tuned the VOR and switched my NAV Source for the autopilot. You can see from the plot that the VOR has a very nice serpentine going on. Obviously this system was built on GPS.

Soon I clicked the system off to prepare for arrival at Pottstown Municipal. As I turned downwind a flight of three RVs passed beneath me. They were preparing for a Fly-By for the Memorial Day parade on Main Street. Pretty impressive. This pattern ended with a very nice "squeaker" and I was off at the first taxiway.

We departed to the north to head back to 7N8. There were lots of people talking on the common frequency but no traffic at Butter Valley. I decided to do a low pass and announced that as I turned base. On final I saw a car entering from the street heading to the parking lot. I'm glad I had planned the low approach as he had no clue about me and failed to stop before crossing the runway. This would have been a 'go around' anyway. I hope my low pass woke him up.

Two more full stop landings and we were done. All systems are good, Sally behaved well. It was time to do some more work. Back in the hangar I pulled out the creeper and a pile of rags. Belly wash!  My arms still ache.

Monday, May 6, 2013


As I drove across the end of the runway I could see a beautiful Mooney sitting on the pad by the fuel pump. Butter Valley hasn't had gas since I've been here so I stopped by to see if he needed any help. Jim was wearing a TWA cap and obviously had a wealth of experience. He was simply waiting for his flying buddy to land. I asked for a PIREP and we got to talking about our planes and he asked if he and his friend could see Sally. Absolutely.

Harry's hangar door was open and he was in the back rust proofing some parts but stopped what he was doing to come out and chat. If people aren't flying their planes they're getting them worked on so the bad Pennsylvania weather has given him quite a backlog. He'll fit me in for an oil change.

Dale arrived in a beautiful RV7. Both men are from Doylestown and stopped in for a brunch. I opened the barn doors and we talked about LSA for 10 minutes. An all metal low wing LSA was new to them and they both gave Sally a thumbs up. Nice to have the option of flying with a driver's license.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

--Douglas Adams, British writer, humorist and dramatist --
Flight School Flight #1. I had made arrangements to spend some time with Paul at AvSport in Lockhaven. I wanted to utilize his knowledge and experience to help me decide about a variety of potential options available to me as a Flight Instructor. Paul was generous with his time and candor and we discussed a wide range of topics over the next 2.5 hours or so.
  • How to start? Where to start? Investment capital, equipment, tools, staff
  • Insurance, taxes, expenses. Can it be done with one airplane. Downtime? Leaseback?
  • Other business: BFRs, tours, etc.
  • Legalities, TSA, Security
  • My continuing education.
  • Records keeping, student packages, publications, text books.
  • and more, and more....
He also instructed me in the Wings program (I knew it existed but was not a fan of the system) and we took a Wings flight in his A/C. He showed me how to sign off an event as an Instructor. My FIRST official act! A fantastic day, others will be planned.

The flight up took about an hour. I went VFR without Flight Following. I used Garmin Pilot on my Nexus 7 as a backup and enjoyed its capabilities. Its another gadget in the cockpit requiring some attention so its tempting to keeps my eyes inside. As with all other devices it will take practice and a better understanding of all its functionality, but overall I was pleased with it. I was impressed with its value for preflighting for my trip home. Using the application on my cell phone I got a good weather brief while waiting for the oil temperature to rise up to 122 degrees.

About the time I got to Reading I noticed fluctuations on the Amp meter (-11). I toggled the various switches and didn't find a cause/effect. I flew her again on Sunday (stayed in the pattern) and had the same problem. I suspect the "Regulator/Rectifier" and ordered a new one from Sam.