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.)

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