Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Local Tour

Blustery. Windy. Rainy. The end of April is supposed to bring good weather with it but we have only been teased. Most days have been unsuitable for VFR flying especially in a Light Sport Airplane. When I checked the weather clock the forecast for the day was much the same, but when I looked outside it looked...nice. Must be a aberration, a small bubble of good air surrounding my house. So I played with the computer trying to fix a print spooler glitch. When I finally looked up, it was ... nice. Time to do a serious weather check.

I pulled up to the hangar about mid-morning. I had refueled the previous evening with premium Mogas from the local Sunoco station so now had about 10 gallons in each side. The sumps were clean. Oil is still on the top of the flat but is starting to get pretty dark.  I rechecked the new camera mount on the wing. I'm still a bit nervous about losing my Virb during the takeoff run. Everything looked secure so it was time for the test flight.

All went well, the results are satisfactory but can be improved. Enjoy the video here: The local Tour

After I shut her down in front of our hangar Bob walked over to say hello. He had been down talking to Harry about his Piper 180. His hangar is directly across from mine. He hasn't flown in over a year since retiring and really misses it. I encouraged him to get checked out and gave him my card.

The Local Tour
Video Notes:
  1. First time using two cameras. I placed the mount for the Garmin cradle close to a line of rivets under the wing. I'm still getting a "wave like" oscillation that will need to be addressed.
  2. Synchronizing the two videos was easier than expected. However the post-processing time is excessive. That can be alleviated by trimming more of the film before doing an export from Virb Edit.
  3. The exterior camera angle is too high. I'll bump it down a click or two for the next experiment.
  4. I was able to import the GPS track from the Virb Elite to use with the other camera. Again, this was easier than I expected and took little time to do. The picture is a byproduct of that track rendered in Google Earth.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


A truly beautiful Spring Day! Virtually no wind, the weather map said some local airports were marginal due to mist. That meant smooth air. Glass. A flying day.

I did eight turns in the pattern (including one go-around) and had a blast. All were acceptable, one was good. I'll continue to work on it. "Aviation is the pursuit of excellence" -Major Mike Van Wyk, Fat Albert Pilot -AOPA Live This Week - April 10, 2014

Video here: Circuits

Video Notes: Using this as an analysis tool comparing speed, elevation and bearing on each final approach.

This video is an out-take from Circuits: Going Around

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Base to Final at N47
Harry's hangar door was open but I didn't drive over there immediately. I went to Sally's hangar to open up and pull her out into the sunlight. I took the top cowling off and carefully placed it out of the way, then walked down the concrete taxi way and down the hill to see Harry. He is busy working on an old Warrior trying to get it airworthy again. His C172 is still in pieces but "Close to getting finished". His J3 isn't even on the RADAR yet. As we talked another customer came down the hill to discuss the news of the day. Harry kept puttering with his work as we continued to distract him. After awhile I went back to get my preflight started.

The temperature must have risen by 10°F by the time I got back. I had noticed a shimmy after landing and it had become more pronounced recently. I pulled Sally forward until I could get to the nose tire stem and put in 18PSI. It was low. I put 29PSI in each of the mains, they were also under inflated. I wish I would have done this work BEFORE putting her pants back on. I left the oil cooler baffle in place although the forecast says we should have a warming trend later this week. I hope so.

As we crossed the turf I could see the wind sock flapping. Mostly right down the runway and the golf course flags confirmed it was breezy. My cell phone failed to make a connection but XM weather showed winds from the north at less than 10kts. (I'm still considering my options for ADSB.) The takeoff was normal but I tightened my shoulder straps departing the pattern. It was bumpy.

Mostly direct right to left crosswinds at Pottstown Municipal. Gusty, bumpy, windy, but nothing out of limits. A few Pipers were up today just to make the pattern interesting. As I was on short final for landing #2 (or #3) I noticed somebody taking pictures. After a (below average) landing I decided to stop and introduce him to Sally. Al and his wife are former Navy Pilots. He is concerned about his medical and decided to let it lapse and explore Light Sport flying. (If Congress decides to eliminate the 3rd class medical he will re-evaluate his situation, but right now he is grounded.) I gave him the .50¢ tour, probably spending a half hour extolling the virtues of LSA and debunking some myths along the way. He is considering a Bristell and has spoken to the folks in Lancaster. I gave him my contact information and encouraged him to call if he had any questions.

So I buttoned Sally up and prepared to depart for home. Gusty. ASOS reported peak gusts at 17kts, still in my safety envelope but my warning flag was up.  Sally gave me a bumpy ride in the pattern but acted like a lady in the flare. No shimmy either.

Video here: Bouncy

The end.
Video Notes:

I tried to upload the raw edited file from Sony Movie Maker. It was a large file and very difficult to view in Screencast. Just not enough bandwidth.  I rendered it in Camtasia and found that viewing was much better, smoother. I may have lost a little fidelity but the results are fine.

I also had a problem viewing files in Screencast using Firefox. I was advised to clear the cache which solved the problem.

Reference: Here :

  • "Crosswind landing skills erode faster than almost any others. If I don’t fly for a month, the first thing I notice is how bad my crosswind landings are. It’s 80% physical and 20% mental, which is the exact opposite of most flying skills. You simply have to practice it continuously if you want to be proficient. If you’ve been out of the cockpit for a while, be sure to go out and practice crosswind landings before taking that big trip."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday Morning Traffic

I'm accustomed to having the field all to myself. The Runway Grill has opened for the season and this was the first sunny Sunday.

Video here: Sunday Traffic

This diagram might be useful for someone. Its not nice to call "Downwind approaching the numbers" when you are really upwind. It does make a difference.

Aside from that little miscommunication it was a great day to fly. I really enjoyed seeing the different aircraft and am lusting after a Cub. It just looks like so much fun to fly!

Video Notes:
  1. Some post processing was done using Sony Movie Studio (aka Vegas). This helped me create the intro and credits segments.
  2. Camtasia allowed me to insert my "snarky comments".
  3. I tried using the sunshade to help illuminate the glass panels. Not pleased with this as it restricts the camera's (not pilot's) field of view.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Butter Valley has started its "Fairway Improvement Initiative". (Here) Lots of pipes and connectors and heavy equipment are crisscrossing the fairways to improve the golf course. For a pilot, that can be a challenge. As I taxied from the hangar I made sure to stay away from the new hazards as well as keep aware of golfers and stray golf balls as I approached runway 34 for takeoff. All went well.

But when we started the winds were light and variable. As the afternoon turned to evening the winds became more steady from the south so I decided to use RWY 16.

16 is an interesting runway. Final brings you across a nice wide farmer's field to cross a country road to a turf landing before you reach the asphalt strip. The strip is a STEEP downhill grade, if you haven't landed on the turf its best to go around. As we taxied to the approach end I found a trench recently dug for the irrigation line. It was filled in but I hadn't inspected the work. Being cautious I decided to line up prior to that line of new construction. ("Nothing so worthless as the altitude above you or the runway behind you...") Still plenty of room for Sally to take off and we were airborne just as we reached the asphalt.

The challenge was coming back in. I wanted to land beyond the new irrigation line but prior to the asphalt. We like challenges.

Video here: Irrigation

Practice Precautionary Emergency Landing (PPEL) or Emergency Landing Pattern (ELP). This procedure can be used when you suspect an engine problem. Its still running but something isn't quite right and it could quit at any time. The idea is to turn toward the nearest runway and climb at best speed (Vy) to get to a point where you can glide to a "High Key", a position over the runway 2000' above field elevation.  Then use a gentle spiral to reach a "Low Key" at Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA) and adjust as necessary once "the field is made". I can use more practice as my pattern was a bit too tight (e below). Try this sometime.

Video Notes:

  1. It was darker due to cloud cover and time of day. I was glad to capture the glass panel.
  2. I tried using "Picture in Picture" for the first time.
  3. I got a haircut (Tom, not military but close enough)
  4. I ordered a prop filter from Aircraft Spruce. That may cure my exposure problem (or make it worse).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

High Work

TAS = 114kts
1ST day of April and the sun was shining, no joke. I left for the airport about 9:00am after doing some administrative computer work. The temperature was warming so I opted not to use the preheater. Instead I pulled Sally out of the barn and relied on solar warming to do the job while I completed the remainder of the preflight. All was in good order so I secured the upper cowling before getting my coffee and gear from the car and climbing into the cockpit. I was immediately comfortable.

As I waited for the oil temperature to rise I could see Harry running back and forth in his golf cart servicing one of the planes on the line. Folks are getting ready for Spring flying, finally. When I turned past the silo I could see a Mooney had parked behind the line of aircraft, effectively blocking my normal route to the runway. So I took an alternate route up close to the pond and used the turf threshold to taxi to my hold short spot. All indications were in the green as we took off to the north. A perfect morning to be flying.

We climbed to 6500' and I let her accelerate until the RPM read 5450. The TAS stabilized at 114kts, a little slower than previous tests but very acceptable. We made a turn and again stabilized at 114kts so I'll use that as my top cruise speed for planning purposes this season.

Next we slowed down and did a clean stall. Poor airwork on my part let us lose altitude during the deceleration,  but the stall occurred when expected. Next I did a dirty (full flaps) stall and again Sally did just what she was designed to do.

See the video here: High Work

All too soon it was time to go home. The entry procedures back into 7N8 were normal and as I flew downwind I was reminded by the full parking lot that the restaurant is again open for the season. The surprise came on final when I saw a car stop at the sign but fail to check for approaching aircraft. "Go around" time.

See the video here: 7N8 Obstruction

Video Notes:

The Virb performed well but I'm still unable to adjust the exposure to capture the engine instruments. I used my still camera for the inset on the "High Work" video. I'll work on a better solution.