Sunday, July 14, 2013

Just a little VFR

Each morning as the alarm goes off I turn to the weather radio and find a symbol similar to this one. A brief line of text accompanies the picture explaining the severity of the storm expected for the day, but for me the picture is usually enough. Its a "No Fly" kind of day. Sunday was no different. I peeked through the bathroom window and saw only gray overcast. The clouds thick enough not to allow any shadows on the ground. Dismal weather for this time of year, for any time of year.

Ever the optimist at 8:00am I checked Aviation Weather Map hoping for any encouragement. Nope. A blanket of red dots with only a small number of blue was all there was within a 150 mile radius. At 10:00am I noticed something strange, a shadow on my deck. Checking the weather map I found a few green dots. I finished up my house projects, grabbed my bag and headed out to the airport. No Walmart today!

Birds have made a nest in the barn over Sally's left wing. I'll have to start using tarps and covers again. Some enterprising wasps built a mud nest in the right air vent. That could have been an ugly surprise. She burped after 20 pulls and all of the preflight checks were good so I pulled her out into the sunlight. (Yes, the sun was shining!)

My old Lightspeed 20Xl fell apart on my last flight. It had been trying to die for some time, I just wouldn't let it as it was perfect for passengers. I replaced it with a basic David Clark (passive) set I've had for years but seldom used. I decided I would use it today to insure passengers could hear everything OK. They work fine, but I quickly missed my own headset.

I enjoy flying the gaps around clouds. The base of the broken layer was at 2800', the tops roughly at 4000' so I climbed up to 5500' and settled in:

RPM      TAS      Fuel Flow  
5400      114Kts    5.9gph         
5300      110Kts    5.5gph
5000      102Kts    4.8gph
4800        93Kts    4.3gph

A nice overall improvement with the new Sensenich Power-Flow propeller. I wove my way back down to re-enter the traffic pattern at Butter Valley. I haven't been thrilled with my last few landings. I prefer to go to idle power at the 180, hold 55-60 knots on base and final, slowing further once "over the fence". Lately I've been high forcing me apply a slip as I turn final. My first landing was the same and Sally didn't like the "thump" when we touched down (neither did I).

After some more laps I realized I was cutting the pattern too close. (Not a long enough cross wind.) Since I fly right seat, I wasn't getting a proper view of my offset which cut the base leg short, which meant I was high on final. I fixed that by flying wider and really looking for proper alignment on downwind. Squeak.

Finally, I wanted to use the fuel cut off to shut her down. I left the Master and Instrument switches on (as well as the ignition) and twisted the fuel control to cut-off. After 2 minutes I got a "Low fuel pressure" alert, and after almost exactly 3 minutes the engine quit. Nice to know.

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