Friday, August 16, 2013


The second day in a row. The morning skies were clear of clouds, winds calm and visibility was close to infinity. I just couldn't let another day like this go by without flying. I took a vacation day.

The plan was to fly out to Gettysburg. The planner said it was ~90 miles over some beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch countryside. While there were no NOTAMs or TFRs, the airport was directly underneath the red circle of the Washington DC SFRA (VFR Speed limit restriction). I wouldn't want to drift any further south than absolutely necessary.

All preflight checks were good and engine start was normal. However I did get a DSAB error. The Dynon Smart Avionics Bus allows all of the avionics to talk to each other. A failure meant that I still had flight instruments and engine instruments, but the normal interactions were broken. As an example, I typically set my altimeter with the HS34 control box. Without DSAB this doesn't work. (It could be set using menu functions on the Flight Management System.) I pushed the button to find the setup function, then paged through screens to find the DASB configuration function and pushed the buttons. That worked.

By now the oil was warmed up so I taxied to the runup area, completed my ground checks and finished the ground checklists. No wind, I used the preferred northern runway and departed to the west. It really was a beautiful morning. A little mist clung to the rivers and low areas making the farms look sleepy, even though I knew there were hard working farmers down there. Climb checks complete, I pushed on the autopilot and got nothing. Cycled the switch, checked breakers, did all the normal stuff to no avail. I did another DSAB configuration but it didn't help. OK Sally, I'll just fly this one myself.

I wasn't using Flight Following so south of Reading we climbed up to 4500' to go over Lancaster's airspace then turned more southerly to pass clear of the TRSA around Harrisburg. Then we descended to 2500' and overflew York before lining up with Gettysburg. I hit the CAT about 10 miles out. Clear Air Turbulence. Sally sank and pulled hard left while I countered to keep on course. Only that one 'pot hole' but enough to wake this pilot up. Other than this one event the air had been smooth as glass. Don't get complacent.

W05 charges a landing fee so I settled for a low pass and started my trip home. I did pick out some monuments, some cemeteries and could see some of the battlefields to the south. I think this will make a great day trip for us.

East is odd, we climbed to 3500'. Passing over the Susquehanna River I heard Paul making position calls in the training area south of Lockhaven. Impressive radio reception today.  We overflew Smoketown and adjusted course to the north. A scattered layer of little cumulus clouds were building right at our level and I was tempted to punch through some 'just for fun'. I didn't, we are restricted to VFR only. Morgantown went by the right wing and I took a bearing off the towers at Limerick.  A few minutes later we entered the pattern  at Butter Valley. Sweet landing.

I back taxied over to the runup area and did an autopilot calibration. Another DSAB configuration and everything checked out. I got a "Autopilot Disconnect" from Sally validating my efforts and drove her back to the barn. What a great way to spend the morning.

Note: The diner has gone to a new kind of potato chip - Sweet Maui Onion. Try 'em if you can find 'em. Good stuff.

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