Monday, March 30, 2015

Just for Fun

“In like a lion, out like a lamb” has always seemed a straightforward enough proverb: when March starts, it’s still winter, and by the end of the month spring has begun. True, in many climates the weather hasn’t quite reached the lamb stage by the end of the month—it’s more like a surly cat, maybe, or one of those awful territorial honking geese. But we get the idea. I have seen the phrase referred to as an “eighteenth-century saying” in more than one unreliable Internet source, while Wikipedia calls it “an old Pennsylvania” saw. -

It hasn't turned into a little lamb yet. Blustering winds, surprise snow showers and temperatures 20° below normal have left us all wondering when spring will really start. So when a forecast finally provides just a hint of optimism pilots head out to the airport.

One of my students had reported a "shimmy" upon landing. I figured it was tire pressure and planned to remove her nose pant to inspect the tire condition and the pressure. There were some loose screws on the pant but overall the nose tire was in good shape. Now, putting the pant back on proved to be a bit of a challenge. The two pieces need to be perfectly aligned and the composite material has a good deal of flex to it. I ruined some screws using my power driver trying to "snug up" the fasteners. stripping the the heads beyond repair. (18 M9s I believe.) As I worked a hangar neighbor stopped by to talk. A Mooney owner, he had never seen a PiperSport and had a lot of questions about Sally specifically and the Light Sport rules in general. She does draw a crowd.

Everything buttoned up and preflighted, it was time to fly. But I had "No Particular Place to Go." Kathy had planned to go to Reppert's Candy to pick up her supplies for Easter, so I decided to wander over toward Oley and the valley towns north of Reading. And I did wander. The air was relatively smooth and clear. A Beautiful blue sky and the visibility was truly unlimited. (CAVU) Just a joy to be in the air.

The landing back home was a good one.  Close to the numbers and on centerline.(4 out of 5) No Squeak. Very little shimmy.

Video Notes: Just4Fun

Camtasia upgraded to 8.5.1

This was one of the more simple edits. While I used the audio from the cockpit camera, all of the video used the wing camera mount.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Two Valleys

7N8        Butter Valley Golf Port Airport
Bally, Pennsylvania, USA
Dimensions:       2420 x 85 ft. / 738 x 26 m (1535 X 24 ASPH INSERT AT S END; REMAINDER TURF.)

N10        Perkiomen Valley Airport
Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA
Dimensions:       2880 x 40 ft. / 878 x 12 m

My landings needed some work. My touchdown point had started to get a little past the numbers and the center-line had become just a bit elusive. Sloppy. The best way I have found to correct that is to find a small airport to practice landings. If there is no room for errors, you won't make any.

The winds were out of the northwest, slightly under ten knots with moderate gusts. RWY34 at Butter Valley meant the wind was right down the runway. We bounced a bit on final with some interesting gusts but overall an acceptable landing (3 out of a possible 5)

I flew a right hand (non-standard) pattern at Perkiomen Valley to give me an overshooting crosswind. The breeze wasn't much of a challenge except I turned the square base leg into more of a Navy racetrack. (3 out of a possible 5.)

I was pleased to find a friend in the pattern at Quakertown. Tom was flying his beautiful DiamondStar. When that plane turns a corner you can see those long wings five miles away. Again, a few gusts made the flare interesting but I succeeded in another acceptable landing. ( 3 out of a possible 5) No squeak. 

Clearly I need more practice.

Video Notes: Two Valleys

The wing camera had an unacceptable vibration for this flight. I believe I didn't tighten the camera cradle properly when I adjusted the elevation angle. At least I remembered to turn it on!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Two Landings

A break in the weather. It is just so much easier when I don't have to fight with the frozen hangar doors.

My mission was to fly reconnaissance for a student ready for a solo cross country flight. It would be a good way to stretch my wings, double check all of Sally's systems and insure there really were no hazards with the proposed route. While not a Spring day, it was sunny, relatively mild with light winds. The route was a good one covering mostly familiar territory with a new airport added for the sense of adventure. One leg got close to the Philadelphia Class B, but there were numerous good landmarks to help keep clear of the controlled airspace. As I turned on final at KUKT I was satisfied with the planning and felt good about the student's next flight.

For some reason I've been landing a little right of center line lately. I occasionally go through periods when the center line is elusive and usually clear up the problem by taking a few circuits at 7N8. I'll have to do that once the snow gets cleared. This time it nearly cost me. I touched down right of center line and my right tire went flat. Fortunately it was very controllable and I was able to clear the runway and taxi ways without any difficulty. But it could have been a problem. Diligence.

Yesterday (Friday) I had the opportunity to take a solo cross country flight from KUKT to KMGJ. Just over 80 miles, I took the opportunity to check in with Allentown Departure to practice my radio skills. I was rusty. Just like any other skill, you must use it or lose it. When the time came, New York was too busy to take the Flight Following hand off. That seldom happens, but I switched frequencies and squawked VFR.  I saw a flock of about twelve geese and one Piper Cub flying about 1000' beneath me.

My plan was to fly direct to STUFF FAF for runway 03 at Orange County and then straight in from there. No. The airport was just too busy so I broke it off early and maneuvered for the normal 45° entry. This time I landed a little left.

I enjoyed the day very much.

Video Notes: Two Landings

Unfortunately I had some technical problems with the cameras. I used a remote to start the wing failed. When I reached back for my headset I must have pulled the audio cable on the cockpit only the external microphone worked and it didn't pick up very much. Finally, the GPS data is slightly out of sync with the video. I'll need to put a checklist together to keep these kinds of problems from recurring.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Looking Back

Friday the weather turned a bit milder. With Temperatures in the mid 30's I arrived at the hangar around noon. The doors were frozen shut. Again I got out the ice chipper and a flat bladed shovel to clear a trench for the sliding doors.  Slow work. After a few hours I made enough progress to get Sally out into the sunshine. And then I had a decision to make: Two flights were scheduled for Saturday. Should I put Sally back in and leave the doors open, or let her sit outside for the night?   After consulting with her co-owner we decided to let Sally spend the night under the stars and lock up the hangar.

I arrived Saturday morning about 8:30am. The hangar doors were frozen shut.


It was very light and easily removed. Mark arrived early and helped to finish the preflight. He did the (cold) start and Sally roared to life after about three attempts. I went back to the FBO and he taxied over once she had warmed up a bit. We briefed as Sally waited in the sun.

On a whim, I decided to turn the wing camera backward to show where we had been. I had seen other videos, mostly aerobatic airplanes, use this angle to show the smoke trail of a maneuver. I didn't expect too much. I am pleased with the results.

Video Notes: Looking Back

(The other) Mark took this idea and enhanced it a bit while flying his RV12. Mark's Video

I've been playing around with WingX Replay hoping to use it as an instructional tool.  This video combines the replay with some other video. Looking Back KDYL

Garmin had an update waiting for me when I started Virb Edit this time. I downloaded the 4.0 firmware to both Virb cameras. Initially one camera would not reboot after the installation. I was able to correct the problem by removing the battery and powering it on normally. It seems to be working fine now.

There doesn't seem to be a good way to capture video from an iPad into a video format. New to the IOS system, I may just be illiterate to some of its amazing capabilities but so far this functionality has escaped me. I invested in a third party application called X-Mirage :

X-Mirage is the most professional AirPlay server for Mac and Windows PC, which allows you to wirelessly stream contents or mirror iPhone, iPad and iPod screen to any Mac/Windows PC. Record screen and audio from iOS devices, as well as voiceover via Microphone with one click.
It works, but not flawlessly. Right now I can record about 90 seconds of video at one time, then it crashes. I suspect a memory allocation error. Version 1.01.5

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Cold Decision

Still February. Still cold. Bitter cold. I had two scheduled flights for Saturday, but in an email Friday night I warned one student:

"Caution. I am concerned about the frigid temperatures forecast for Saturday.  Weather check by 8:00am for Go/No Go decision. No sense flying if we're going to freeze our noses off." (...yes, NOSES...)
Saturday morning the weather clock said 9°F. I almost canceled right then but decided to get out of bed and check the computer for regional weather reports. It was then that I found the dilemma. While it was still unseasonably cold there were no winds. No clouds. No precipitation. The airmets reported nothing in the way of turbulence. The forecast said it would warm to the mid-20's.  Reluctantly I wrote:
My logic is this: My preheat system is good for about 20°. I like to start the engine above freezing which means airport temperature should be in the mid to high teens. KUKT is reporting -13° or about 9°F right now, but forecast mid teens by take off time.
All other weather conditions are good"
I brewed a pot of coffee while I got myself ready to go to Quakertown.

Back in the Saddle
The hangar doors were frozen shut. Not quite as bad as last time but still frozen enough to keep Sally imprisoned inside. First I checked on her temperature. Still a bit cold so I moved the switch to the "High Heat" setting. Then I found my ice chipper and started to work. Just an inch at a time removing the ice along the door's track. Fortunately Mark arrived early and volunteered to help with the work. Finally we opened both sides to give us a very narrow clearance. Mark guarded the left wing as I pulled. Nope, too close. Repositioned, I tried again. I turned Sally to angle her out and after multiple tries she was free. Mark and I both did the preflight as she warmed in the sun, then climbed in to try to start her. Two tries was all it took. Mark taxied us to the ramp area, another sunny spot, where we shut down and went in to brief the flight.

The altimeter setting was 30.83. Mark asked a good question:"How high can the altimeter be adjusted?" Before my glass panel I would adjust the altimeter using the Kollsman window, a mechanical adjustment knob to correct for non-standard atmospheric pressure. Is there a limit to the amount of adjustment that can be made? 31.00 inches Hg.

Sally's heater struggled for the whole flight.  The defroster was non-existent. I was constantly using a micro fiber cloth or a soft rubber squeegee to remove moisture from the bubble canopy. During a short portion of the flight that moisture froze. (The frost was easily removed with the rag.) Winter is not the best time of year to fly light sport airplanes.

It was a very good refresher for Mark lasting just over an hour.  After the debrief I sat in the warm FBO office waiting for Keith. This would be his first flight in an LSA.  He arrived on time and we briefed as Sally waited patiently in the sunshine. She started easily this time. It was a good Discovery flight that lasted about 0.5 hours. After the debrief Keith left and I sat in the FBO with a cup of coffee and a Kind bar. It was time to put Sally away for the day.

I'm glad I painted a yellow line on the taxiway in front of the hangar. It is a great reference for the center of the hangar opening. As I pushed Sally toward that opening I could see she wasn't going to make it. I found the chipper and started to work. After another half hour I had recovered an additional six inches. Slowly I pushed her back in, stopping often to check the clearance on each wing. Success.

Burped, plugged and covered, I pulled the doors shut. Sally was secure. I was done for the day.

Video notes: I recorded both flights to share with the clients. I may post them here later.
Synopsis: Saturday Morning

The Ipad mini worked well stashed in the back behind the co-pilot's seat. However both flights were recorded in the same file. I entered a problem report with WingX to see if this file can be separated. (Probably a user error.)