Tuesday, April 28, 2015


2015 Sun 'n Fun
This trip had multiple objectives. We were on vacation so beach time was near the top of the list. Tampa has many wondrous beaches and we sampled many of them. We had some business meetings planned and were able to make all of our appointments. And of course, Sun 'n Fun.

We arrived a little before noon on Friday. Larger than Sebring, this event is much more spread out with many more vendors and airplanes to see. Our first stop was US Sport Aircraft to talk with Patrick, Mitch, Jim and Bryan. They gave us the "lay of the land" offered us some cold water and invited us to refresh there as often as we wanted. We left and went out exploring. The displays were much more elaborate, the planes bigger and four, full sized hangars were devoted to vendor space. I was surprised to see a number of drones being demonstrated, new for me at an airshow.

I had two "must see" vendors on my list. The first was Hilton Software, the maker of WingX Pro. I had a "limitation" that I wanted to discuss concerning the playback feature. I love the capability, but want to have files accessible by flight, not by day. It would allow me to send each student his own .gpx file and combined with video, create individual flight reviews. After a short demonstration the guy working the booth finally understood my requirement and agreed to take it back to the development team.

The second was Spencer Aircraft. I bought two travel chairs from them at Sebring and one had failed. An ingenious design with aluminum tubes and bungees, this chair is very compact and light weight. Perfect to throw in the wing locker when going to an airshow. But the resin connecter on one chair had failed after the first use. I found the booth and was prepared for an argument. Instead I got an apology, immediate replacement for the broken part from one of the kits in his booth and a free t-shirt. All he asked was that I send a picture of the broken part with the serial number so that he can advise his supplier of the defect. Done Deal! (yes, I WILL do business with his company again.)

After lunch (a surprisingly good hamburger) and wandering around in the warm Florida sun, we found our way back to US Sport Aircraft. Although very active with customers, we were invited to sit in the shade and enjoy the afternoon airshow. Great seats and all the teams did a superb job. The Thunderbirds are just so impressive, I had forgotten just how good they are.

We thanked our hosts and left for our final event, the NAFI Member's Dinner to honor 2015 Hall of Fame inductees.  We got lost. Some how I turned right and should have gone left. We were hot, tired and frustrated and really not too sure where to go. We obviously looked lost. A kindly gentleman in a blue minivan pulled up and asked if he could help, then drove across the campus to deliver us to Buehler Hangar. Thanks friend, fly safely.

Good food, great conversation and wonderful speakers, the highlight was the Keynote Presentation by Rod Machado. Not a direct quote but something like: "...After a smooth take off the student immediately reached for the post takeoff/climb checklist. Rod snatched it from his hand and threw it in the back. The stunned student asked how he was supposed to climb? Rod told him "Point the nose up and don't hit anything!" You should take advantage of any opportunity to hear this man speak, it will be worth your effort.

Penna weather is lousy. It was hard to come home after spending some quality beach time.

Pictures: from Flying and Spaceflight Insider and Plane & Pilot

Commentary: A Tale of Two Air Shows

Monday, April 13, 2015

Delaware River

Within a day of its publication in Philadelphia, General Washington ordered it to be read to all of his troops. It encouraged the soldiers and improved their tolerance of their difficult conditions. On the morning of December 25, 1776 Washington ordered his army to prepare three days' food, and issued orders that every soldier be outfitted with fresh flints for their muskets. Washington, along with commanders John Sullivan, Nathaneal Green, John Glover and Henry Knox crossed the Delaware River with 2,400 troops, 18 cannons, baggage, and about 50-75 horses. They crossed at McKonkey's Ferry Inn (NJ).

The upper Delaware River tour.
The day wasn't perfect, but it was the most perfect day this year. Temperatures were close to 60°F, clear blue skies and gentle winds. I was surprised that none of my students had contacted me for a lesson, which meant Sally and I had some time to go out and play.

I arrived at the hangar close to 10:00am. She burped after 30 pulls and passed all of her preflight checks. I removed the cold weather baffle covering the oil cooler and cleaned the canopy with the remainder of my Plexus. Then I pulled her out into the warming sun.

The winter weather had kept me out of the seat for awhile. I had just a tinge of "strangeness" so reached for the checklist. Once I turned the key all was familiar again. We taxied to the ramp area to watch airplanes land as we waited for the Rotax to warm up to 122°F. Other pilots took advantage of the flying weather too. It was a busy day at the Quakertown Airport.

I had a new glitch during takeoff. My DSAB intermittently failed during the roll eliminating my primary airspeed indication. It would go dark, give a DSAB failure message then reset, only to fail again 5 seconds later. Fly the airplane, fly the airplane, fly the airplane. A DSAB reconfiguration in flight resolved the issue.

Where I started.
It was a good flight. I reached the Delaware River about where General Washington had crossed. It didn't look that impressive from 2000', but then I wasn't in a tiny boat on ice swollen water. We turned north and followed the river's meanderings up through the gap. I left the river there (remembering my time spent swimming in the river at Camp Hagan near Shawnee on the Delaware). We turned west following the valley north of Allentown. We turned south again to pass through the Lehigh Gap and got a good view of Slatington, where I took my first flights as a student pilot.

Then back to KUKT for landings. I got 3 turns in the pattern, but nothing to be too proud of. My best was a 4 out 5 (got a squeak but landed long). Of course, being a Sunday afternoon on a beautiful day meant I had an FBO full of judges to grade my attempts. Just perhaps one of them might offer an opinion on my performance. Sally flew well.

Video Notes: Delaware River

I used the Video Properties menu to adjust the "Z" rotation to correct the 3° wing mount attachment angle. I then added a slight zoom to remove the crop gaps on the corners of the video. This adjustment is most noticeable during take off helping to provide a level horizon. I also experimented with adjusting for a faster time but every bump and jitter was magnified. Instead I chose to edit out "boring" footage to keep the video under my target of ten minutes.