Thursday, April 14, 2016


It was only Wednesday but had already been a difficult week. I was ready to exit the "real world" for a few hours to enjoy a vacation in the sky.

The weather was good. A weak cold front had stalled in northern Florida which had the potential of bringing clouds and rain later in the day, but when I arrived at KVDF I was welcomed with blue skies and light winds. The preflight went well, she burped with less than twenty pulls. I'm still learning how to start using the new ignition modules.  As I waited for her to warm up two Cessnas, one belonging to C.A.P. joined me in the runup area. I let them go first while I waited for 122°F. When it was my turn I got the low oil pressure and low fuel pressure alerts when I added take off power. The engine sounded great, gave no other indications so I continued.  CAP announced he would stay in the pattern and I saw him on downwind as I departed to the east. When I leveled at 1500' all engine indications were normal.

Sally and I explored the area just east of the airport for awhile. First we traveled over to see Plant City (KPCM) but stayed clear of the area and didn't land there. Next we went south to see Wimauma, a private grass strip. We passed east of the five giant TV towers south of Riverview. They scare me. At 1500' I was still looking up at them and on a hazy humid day they could be all but invisible. It would not be good to wander too close.

Next we flew down to Parrish to overfly the housing development we currently live in and see the surrounding community. It always looks different from the air. The SRQ Class C airport has a shelf  with a base at 1200' so we went down a bit to enjoy the view. There are a lot of houses being built in Florida. We returned north by following Rt 301 and staying under the 3000' shelf of the Tampa Class B. Sally reported low pressure problems only a few times during our travels, and immediately recovered without any additional indications.

We did about 5 turns in the pattern. Again with a few low pressure annunciations but no other adverse indications. I am convinced we need a new oil pressure sensor.

Video Notes: I inadvertently left previous video on the chip and ran out of space to record this flight. Too bad as I had made meticulous audio notes of each indication whenever we had a low pressure annunciation. So instead, I offer this video from US Sport Aircraft: Takeoff

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lakeland 2016

2016 Sun 'n Fun
The thundering roar of an old warbird. Everything else stops as heads turn toward the sound. I couldn't see anything until slowly the beautiful beast climbed above the viewers tents. A B17 was taking off. WOW! Throughout the day we would be awed by P51s, F4Us, P39, B25 and some others I couldn't identify. But the sound, the thunder, had me turn my head every time.

Best looking planes at the show
Later in the day came the new guys. F22 is an old friend, but this was the first time I had seen a demonstration flight. I didn't see the F35 but it was there. Neither of the big military demonstration teams performed, but the Golden Knights opened each morning by bringing in the Flag. (My friend Duane told me that about half the crowd understood the phrase "Remove your covers" on opening day.)
Nose art...on the tail
Former training squadron

The aircraft displays were great. To spend the day just walking around new airplanes and equipment is a real pleasure. But as often been said, the real joy is the people. These shows are in fact, Homecomings.  While 90% of the conversation is centered around things that fly, talk of family and work and health also occasionally crept in. Off limits this year was any discussion about politics. The aerobatic performers and the numerous formation teams were all spectacular. But for me the best was the final act of the day. A flyby of a P51 with an F4U in tight formation. Breathtaking.

I'm told this show isn't as big as Oshkosh. We'll see.

Video Notes: Lakeland Departure

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lake Parker Arrival

I got started later then planned, but was still airborne before 10:00am. The weather was clear blue skies but gusty. A cold front was predicted for the evening. I would have to pay attention to the weather to insure I wouldn't be spending the night in Lakeland.

Sally still has some sensor issues. It seems if running at a high RPM (>5200) she starts to report out of limit readings. It is nerve wracking, but I'm convinced its a gremlin and not a real reading. Still, getting a low oil pressure annunciation gets immediate attention!

Lakeland (KLAL) is only about 18 miles from Tampa Executive (KVDF) so the flight is relatively short. This would be a busy flight as I had to understand and follow the NOTAM for the Lake Parker Arrival. Inbound, the beautiful clear sky made it easy to pick out traffic. As I turned in toward the power station on the northeast corner of the lake I spotted a number of airplanes starting their procedure.  I took interval behind a "high wing" and was happy to "Rock my Wings" over the power station for positive identification. I maintained a westerly heading at 1200' and 100KTS but strong winds from the east increased my groundspeed by about 20KTS. It was fun looking for the landmarks along the way.

The controllers did an outstanding job keeping everyone informed and the tower was just great handling the huge amount of traffic. The key to flying into an event like this is to study the procedure, listen to what is being said, and respond to the commands. There simply isn't any bandwidth available for chatter.

The only problem I had was spotting my intended point of landing. I didn't see the "orange dot" until well down the runway, but I understood that this was a heavy traffic situation and the tower wanted me out of the way and off the runway as soon as possible. (I misjudged the gusty winds and landed just short of the dot, argh!)

The ground crew and linesman did a superb job of getting me to my parking spot. After shut down a linesman came by to remind me to double check my "Master -Off" and asked if I need tie downs. After the episode a few years ago, tie downs are mandatory. (I brought my own...The Claw)

Once I was sure she was secure, I took the L O N G walk to the display area and immediately found some old friends.

Video Notes: Lake Parker Approach