Monday, May 26, 2014

Morgantown, Deck, Grimes

Uncle George
The trip was planned. Always concerned about weight we packed lightly, sport coat and slacks for me, a light dress for her. Some traveling clothes and essentials, nothing more. I put precisely twelve gallons in each side. That would be enough for the trip and an hour+ reserve. My planner said the trip to Wooster would take less than three hours. Our weather window had to be good either Thursday evening or Friday morning. The service stated at 1:00PM so my ETD could not be later than 9:00AM.

It was an interesting weather system. The warm front came first and extended north of Allentown, the cold front following it merged there but trailed further south toward Reading causing a triangular section of unstable air right over Butter Valley. Reading reported hail the size of golf balls Thursday evening. I estimated a 50-50 chance of dense fog Friday morning. Not good enough. So we jumped in the car and started driving west. Seven hours later we were in Wooster to say Goodbye to Uncle George.

Sunday morning back in Pennsylvania was beautiful. 50°F+ temps, clear skies and gentle winds. I was at the hangar before 8:00AM. The preflight went well and all of the ground procedures were normal. Sally and I took off and headed southwest toward Morgantown (O03). Along the way we rocked our wings flying over Home Plate.  I chose this grass strip because it was close to the exit on the PA Turnpike we used coming home. The mist still lay in the hollows close to the airport. We did a low approach and admired the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside. It will be a great place to practice turf landings.

O04, 9D4, 8N1

We departed and headed northwest toward Deck (9D4). I often hear planes using the CTAF of 122.8 practicing there but had not taken the opportunity to check out the runway. Along the way I heard a PiperSport 4PS announce his intentions to depart Reigle. A twin sister. Deck is very nice, situated in farm country, it is in a beautiful setting north of Lancaster. Light cross winds were kicking up giving me a chance to play with a crab angle on final. We made a full stop and back taxi and watched a pretty red biplane fueling up for a Sunday morning excursion. We departed to the north.

I thought about returning to 7N8 for some landings but instead went in search of Grimes (8N1). This grass strip is just north of I78 and while I have looked for it a few times have never been able to pick it out from the surrounding fields. This time I found it immediately and made a low approach there. Very pretty, well maintained airstrip. I would like to go back during their annual Fly-in.

We departed back to the east and I pushed the buttons to let Sally take us home. It was an uneventful arrival at Butter Valley. As I was "buttoning up" the airplane Carl came by to chat. He drives the golf cart shuttle up the restaurant and we had waved at each other on most Sunday mornings. He asked some good questions, paid Sally some compliments then climbed into the shuttle to get back to work.

Video Here: Morgantown, Deck & Grimes 
 Video Here: Morgantown 2

The real world beckoned. A UHaul truck was on its way to be fed furniture from my garage.

Video Notes:
  1. I adjusted the exterior camera settings and mount but failed to turn it on following my preflight. Maybe I'll have to add "Cameras" to my checklist.
  2. I repositioned the "selfie" camera using the copilot's handhold as a mounting point. I can do better.
  3. Virb Edit crashed and lost some data. Fortunately I had learned NOT to remove video from the camera until all post processing is complete.
  4. I lost some of my GPS track (Morgantown to Deck) using the trim feature in Virb Edit.
  5. I still had some difficulty synching the two cockpit cameras. I had hoped adding the end cap which uncovered the microphone would help, but voice was drowned out by engine noise. I have some other ideas to test on future flights.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Mid May and the temperatures are still struggling to get out of the 50°s. At least the sky was clear and the winds were mild. Good flying weather.

I always take the upper cowling off during the preflight. Thirteen fasteners take less than five minutes to unlatch and allows you to see so much more of the engine. Usually there is nothing to be found. The coolant level is in the lower third of the bottle, plug wires attached, no major oil on the lower cowling, just nothing special. The last two or three times I've noticed a loose hose to the pilot side carburetor. Held in place with a zip tie, I found it once again detached from where it belongs and this time decided to replace the zip tie instead of just pushing it back on. She seemed to idle better.

We had spent all of a rainy Friday moving furniture and heavy boxes into a Uhaul truck. Much of Saturday was inside preparing for an open house.The mission today was to escape the "surly bonds" and enjoy the view, to just catch my breath. Its amazing what an hour in the air can do to restore my spirits. I spent most of the flight around Kutztown admiring the campus, amazed at how it has grown. Still sad to see that runway with the "Xs" on it. I was tempted to make a low pass on the crossing grass strip but thought better of it and just orbited overhead before leaving the area to the south. The trees are a lush green now. Most of the flowering varieties have shed their blooms and are wearing their summer colors.

The air was smooth.We climbed up to 3500' to chase a thin cloud forming over Pottstown. Just a burble in the air now but by the afternoon the clouds would be dark and gray and foreboding. Now it was just a plaything.  Recess was was over, it was time to go back to the real world.

Video is here: A selfie

Video Notes:

  1. I added some new camera equipment; an SJ2000 Helmet Cam. About a 4" long cylinder with  the diameter of about a quarter, I mounted it next to the wet compass with zip ties. The camera worked fine but made the compass inop. I'll work on a camera mount for it. 
  2. I need to find an easy way to sync the two cockpit cameras.
  3. My exterior mount for the Virb is not quite right. The leveling knob was not tight enough which allowed a bit of "flutter". Another experiment is required.
  4. Time for a haircut.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Pile of

Sand. The maintenance crew had a lot of work to do. Today they were sanding the greens, adding sand to smooth the surface. They used the concrete taxi way near the old silo as a staging area to load smaller trucks and carts out to where the sand was needed. The sand was piled about six feet high twelve feet across, I couldn't get past. Bob was working the tractor so I went over to talk to him. He pointed me to the foreman (Josh) so I ran over to ask him for help. He told Bob it would be OK to push the mound aside to give me room to get Sally out but it would take a few minutes. I was already late, but appreciated the help and patiently waited for Bob to move the pile. I pulled Sally past the obstruction and out onto the grass before strapping in for the start. It was nice that the crew worked with me on this.

Just a few minutes to fly over to Quakertown where Tom and Cleo were waiting for me. It was a great day to enjoy Light Sport flying, very little wind or turbulence. We did some landings, flew by their house and generally enjoyed the Pennsylvania countryside.  By the end of the day some rain showers started to move in. We still had a wonderful time being airborne.

Note: Polarized sunglasses don't work well with glass cockpits.

When I got back to Butter Valley most of the sand pile had been removed. I was very comfortable taxiing Sally to her hangar.  We did sandblast parts of the concrete clean.

Video Notes:

I had the opportunity to install a Prop Filter. It came in a little kit with new screws, "O" ring and a small screw driver. Installation took less than ten minutes. I like the improvement. Sample video here: Prop Filter

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Good View

Sally and I have been able to make a few local flights just to enjoy getting in the air. We've been up and down the Butter Valley, practiced landings over at Quakertown and wandered into the Lehigh Valley between Reading and Allentown. The farmers are working hard preparing the fields for the next set of crops. We still have the light yellow-green of early Spring and the temperatures haven't risen much above 60°F.

Yesterday I drove out to 7N8 to prepare to meet Tom over at KUKT. I was excited to be able to show another pilot an LSA and talk about their advantages and limitations. As I came down the entrance road I noticed a lot of activity around the runway. The irrigation team is still installing piping and I could clearly see disturbed earth on either side of the asphalt runway. That couldn't be good. I parked the car in the lot and walked down to inspect the damage. While they had sliced a portion of the runway to lay the pipes, the repair work was excellent. Evidently they had removed portions of the asphalt, done their excavation, then replaced the asphalt puzzle pieces keeping the work flush with the rest of the runway. I scraped my shoe across the intersection and hardly noticed the new joint. I'll have to inspect this periodically to insure it doesn't sink but for now I'm quite impressed with the workmanship.

Tom and I had a lot of fun giving Sally some exercise. I think he has a good perspective on how an LSA handles as compared to the Cessna he used for training. He appreciated the light touch. While the technology is impressive I think the one thing that always amazes people is the truly outstanding view that most LSAs afford.

Video Notes:
  1. I've been experimenting with the placement of the exterior camera. After creating Where We Live I was disappointed with oscillation. It occurred to me that I had stuck the camera mount too close to the fuel tank and perhaps the sloshing fuel was part of the problem.
  2. Garmin support recommended I remove the adhesive mount by using dental floss in a "sawing action" between the glue and the metal. That didn't work for me. Using a pair of pliers I was able to twist the mount off with no damage to the underside of my wing.
  3. I repositioned the mount further out, just on the wingtip. While it is a definite improvement I will have to play with it a bit to get the camera level. As it is now it looks like I'm in a constant right bank.