Thursday, February 26, 2015

0.5 Hours

The weather clock display showed zero degrees, frigid, sunny. The forecast promised it would get warmer. The winds were calm. My plan was to take Sally up for a brief flight to knock some rust off the pilot, check the status of her systems, and put some 100LL in her tanks.(I like to mix Avgas and Mogas in the winter to reduce the moisture content possibly absorbed by ethanol.) I wanted everything to be ready for a student's flight the following day.

I pulled up to the hangar by 10:30am. I ribbon of snow left by the plow blocked my door. My padlock was frozen, not allowing me to insert my key. I used the cigarette lighter from my car to warm the lock and some lock deice from a little spray tube I keep in the glove box. That worked after repeated applications. I finally got in to release the hangar door locking pins only to find the doors were frozen shut. I found my shovel and ice chipper and started to work.

We had a snowfall earlier in the week followed by a brief warming the following day. Some of the snow melted after the plow went through and the melt from the hangar roof dripped and puddled in front of the hangar. When the next Arctic Front came in it froze in the tracks of the doors. I started chipping. At 12:00pm I took a break and sat in the car to get warm.

By 1:00pm the doors were slid opened wide enough to free Sally. The thermometer I use to monitor the effectiveness of the engine warmer read 35°F. I gently pulled her out into the sun then went into the FBO for a cup of coffee. I was cold.

Preflight completed, I climbed into the seat at about 2:00pm. She started easily, engine temp read about 45°F and climbing. We taxied to the ramp area to let her warm up the rest of the way.

The sky was clear, winds slightly gusty and the visibility was simply fantastic. But it was cold. The cockpit heating system just couldn't beat the low outside air temperature. After a thorough systems check, including VOR tracking, I let Sally take us home, knowing we were ready for the student's flight the following day. We logged 0.5 hours, 1 landing.

I pulled up to the fuel pump and put 5 gallons in each side. ($49.40) We taxied back to the hangar and I carefully pushed her pack in. Post flight, plugs and covers and then I pushed the doors shut. It was about 4:30pm. 

The student canceled.

Video Notes: half hour
Virb Edit
Camtasia 8.5

Sync issues. The GPS data isn't aligned with the video. Virb Edit has a utility to correct this but I shouldn't have to manually do this.

First flight with Ipad mini and WingX. So far, so good. I like the Replay option. I did a minor video re-edit to include some WingX Pro7 replay data : half hour WingX

Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 2015

Sectional Chart overlay in Google Earth
I've never liked February. The month is the dead of winter, ugly gray, frigid cold, blustery winds and snow. Too much snow. None of it is good for flying, especially VFR only kind of flying. While I have gotten some flights in, more have been cancelled. Last week I had to postpone a flight due to cold temperatures, 1 degree Fahrenheit. (Gusty winds and moderate turbulence factored in, but the cold was the real show stopper.) So its important to find other things to do while waiting for the Spring thaw.

  • eFIRC: (Electronic) Flight Instructor Refresher Courses (FIRC) help Flight Instructors stay abreast of changes in general aviation flight training. I took the one provided by the AOPA/Air Safety Institute. Some of the courses need to be refreshed but overall the course was interesting and well produced.
  • Google Earth: My Virb Elite camera produces a GPX track as a byproduct of the video. I usually just use the information as an overlay to show flight data, however the track is useful as input to Google Earth to show where the flight went. Some investigation on the web provided a way to import Aeronautical Charts. I think this will be especially useful to analyze cross country flights.
  • Ipad Mini: The pressure was just to great. I like my Nexus 7 but if you attend any pilot learning session the hot topic continues to be Ipad apps. The final straw came while attending Expo. I stopped by the WingX booth to discuss the latest software updates and found that no new development was being done on Android. Additionally, the latest version of the program was being offered for free to CFIs. Ipad Mini2 with Retina Display, 32gb, IOS 8.1.3. I'll let you know more once I've flown with it.
  • Keeping her warm: A lot of good internet discussions about keeping the ROTAX engine warm in the winter. A variety of different kinds of blowers, heaters and warming devices are being discussed. I'm still using Dr. Paul's concept using a heat gun with conduit into the exhaust channel at the bottom of the cowling.
Finally, there is a stack of unread magazines on the table. I wonder if I should get the digital versions for the Ipad?

Video Reference Google track: Cold Sunday 
Video weather analysis

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Condition Inspection

§91.327 Aircraft having a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category: Operating limitations

(b) No person may operate an aircraft that has a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category unless—

(2) A condition inspection is performed once every 12 calendar months by a certificated repairman (light-sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating, an appropriately rated mechanic, or an appropriately rated repair station in accordance with inspection procedures developed by the aircraft manufacturer or a person acceptable to the FAA;
(c) No person may operate an aircraft issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category to tow a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle for compensation or hire or conduct flight training for compensation or hire in an aircraft which that persons provides unless within the preceding 100 hours of time in service the aircraft has—
(1) Been inspected by a certificated repairman with a light-sport aircraft maintenance rating, an appropriately rated mechanic, or an appropriately rated repair station in accordance with inspection procedures developed by the aircraft manufacturer or a person acceptable to the FAA and been approved for return to service in accordance with part 43 of this chapter; or
(2) Received an inspection for the issuance of an airworthiness certificate in accordance with part 21 of this chapter.

So, an SLSA gets a condition inspection, and a standard category gets an annual inspection. The FAA does not use the term "annual inspection," and makes no distinction between the procedures for an annual or a 100 hour inspection. The FARs say that all aircraft must have had a "condition inspection within the preceding 12 calendar months", and those in commercial service must have a condition inspection within the previous 100 hours of operation. Sally is being used in "commercial service" (IE flight school operations), so needs the 100 hour inspection.

I decided to have the inspection done while I was away attending the Expo in Sebring. Saturday morning before my trip I pulled Sally out of her hangar at Quakertown and made the short flight over to Butter Valley. Harry had left tie down ropes and chocks on the asphalt pad in front of his workshop. It was so cold. The chocks were frozen to the ground. I had to break them loose by kicking them with the heal of my shoe. I opened the wing locker and removed the canopy cover. I hadn't used it in awhile so it took time to position it properly. It was so cold. Finally Kathy arrived to pick me up. We sat in the car for a few minutes to warm up before checking Sally one last time. She was secure. I left this note for Harry:
The airplane has been flying well. Take off power reaches just over 4900RPM (my min is 4850). All temps and pressures are solid “green”. Except for discrepancies listed below, I’m very happy with her performance.

1. 100 hour Condition Inspection – needs breaks.

2. Oil Change (oil and filter provided) Note the new drain valve.

3. Oil Leak. Left side…nothing new. Doesn’t appear to be getting worse. Bugs the heck out of me. Fix it if you can.

4. Coolant leak. Just started to notice fluid on nose wheel pant after a flight. I have not added any coolant in the past 100 hours.

5. Nose wheel pant: scraped up pretty much after my landing with flat tire. I’ve decided not to modify the other pants. Do your magic on this.

6. Canopy struts: Replace. The old fittings can be used on the new struts provided.

7. Left flap: Student stepped on it. Cosmetic dent. Pull it out if you can.

Then we left and I focused my attention on my trip to Sebring.

On Monday I called from sunny Florida. Pennsylvania was having an ice storm, Harry was unable to get started because of the bad weather. I checked back on Wednesday and operations were well underway. Sally was in is workshop, her pieces being carefully inspected. She did need brakes.

When I stopped by to check on progress Harry was still waiting on the delivery of brake parts. He showed me the progress he had made with the rest of the items on my list.  The important items had been completed, but it would take a few more days before we could escape from Butter Valley.

Reference: Finding a Czech Mate for Flying Adventures ,
Certified Czech