Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Week in Review

Summertime in Pennsylvania means warm fronts and cold fronts and fronts that really don't know what they are. The mix of weather makes for a challenging topic for new flight students and really disrupts a flight schedule.

Speed, Speed, Speed
Tuesday, after a sunny afternoon with light winds I made the decision to cancel an evening flight. Usually one of the best times to fly, a cold front was coming trough like a freight train bringing thunderstorms and heavy rain along with it. Estimated time of arrival was our take off time. Sometimes the forecasters get it wrong, not this time. I made a good decision.

"S" Turns and Turns Around a Point
Turning Around a Point
Wednesday, after the storm had passed we experienced a calm cool morning. Great flying weather, but by the time the student was available to fly the winds had started gusting up. We canceled the afternoon flight with winds gusting to 14 knots and trending higher. This meant the late afternoon flight was also canceled. (Nearby airports were reporting: 28010G18KT, 31010G18KT, 32014G20KT)

Thursday was much, much better. The afternoon flight was an introduction to landings. The evening flight was Ground Reference Maneuvers.
Both students are progressing well and more importantly seem to be enjoying the lessons. I know I am.

The week finished up on Saturday with a Discovery Flight. We had canceled the flight at least a half dozen times due to poor weather, but Saturday was near perfect. The family met us at the terminal building at KDYL. The airport was busy on a beautiful Saturday morning. The gentleman had wanted to fly in a small plane for years and this flight would be a gift from his son. When I pushed the throttle in I knew he was excited and he had fun finding familiar landmarks as we traveled south toward Philadelphia, which we could clearly see on the horizon. The next challenge was to find his house near some stone quarries close to the Delaware River. "There it is, I see it!" Then I let him take the controls and make some basic maneuvers before returning to Doylestown. We had a blast.

Hangar #2
After a short debrief. Kathy and I jumped in the plane and headed back to Quakertown. The Airport Manager had asked us to change hangars, stating it would be an improvement for us since it was south facing and wouldn't suffer the ice dams blocking the door like we had this past year. So after a few hours of lugging gear, Sally has a new home at Hangar #2. 

Although I lost my Mic Muff and had to buy a new one from Sporty's ($5.50 + shipping for a tiny piece of foam), it was still a pretty good week.

Video Notes: Weekly Review

Friday, July 17, 2015

Exhaust Gas Temperature

Flying might not be all plain sailing,
but the fun of it is worth the price. 
~ Amelia Earhart ~

Ceiling and visibility unlimited. Finally, a good weather day. Two training flights scheduled and the weather would be perfect. The briefing and preflight went well. The engine run-up was normal and the static ground check just before take-off had the shaft spinning just over 4900RPM. Winds were light and out of the east. We departed to the south heading toward Pottstown Muni (N47) for some landing practice.

As I prepared the student for his entry procedures I noticed the left EGT* was high. Oil pressure & temperature normal, CHT normal, no abnormal noise or shuttering, just an occasional yellow blip on the instrument.  I elected to proceed. 

As we descended it cooled off but leveling at pattern altitude it started to rise again. We did a low pass and departed to fly north up the Lehigh Valley. Level flight, power at about 5000RPM the temperature started to rise again. Time to go home.

I added maximum power and raised the nose. The temperature dropped. Leveled off in cruise, it rose. Descended at at idle power it dropped. No other indications.

I did an uneventful straight in approach at Quakertown. With the engine running at idle on the ramp we had no abnormal indications.  I was stumped.

Until I turned the key to shut her down. Only two clicks, not three.

When the student had performed the magneto check during the engine run-up he had returned the switch to the Left, not Both position.

I should have thought of that. 

*An exhaust gas temperature gauge (EGT gauge) is a meter used to monitor the exhaust gas temperature of an internal combustion engine in conjunction with a thermocouple-type pyrometer. EGT is an indication of how hot the combustion process is in the cylinders, and the amount of "afterburning" that is occurring in the exhaust manifold. EGT is also directly related to the air/fuel ratio. The excess fuel will act as a coolant. The richer the air/fuel ratio, the higher lower the EGT will be. Reference: http://www.scflier.com/

Saturday, July 11, 2015


The slow moving cold front was still west of State College but due to arrive in our area about 2:00pm. I decided that we could go if I altered our lesson plan and skipped ahead to introduce landings. I thought we could stay at the airport and do 3 or 4 landings before the bad weather arrived. There was no defined ceiling but there were layers of scattered clouds at 2000' and above. Visibility was good. When the student arrived he mentioned that he was surprised I said "Go".

The preflight went well and as we finished the Run-Up it started to rain. Just a local shower. A small cell. We launched.

During the crosswind leg I looked over my left shoulder toward Quakertown. The rain shower was beautiful, but we weren't going to practice landings there for awhile. Instead we headed for the relatively clear air out east toward Lake Nockamixon. I took advantage of the situation by describing the weather functions on the 696, pressed the nearest button to display the closest alternate airports  and discussed the dangers of getting too close to rain showers that you can't see through.

Eventually the cell moved to the south and provided a window for us to get back in. We didn't follow the lesson plan but hopefully the student gained much more from the real life experience.

Video Notes: Rain