Saturday, May 28, 2016

KVDF Arrival

Its 16 miles from the new house to the Tampa Executive Airport. (About that far to Lakeland Linder as well.) Fortunately I can make the trip by taking Dover Road up to MLK, then Williams Street up to the airport and avoid all the heavy traffic on I75. (The trip takes about 30 minutes, not too bad.)

Sally has had the flu lately and this was to be another validation flight. It started with a very detailed preflight. As the plugs and covers were removed I found numerous spiders and their webs draped all over the fuselage. She burped after 12 pulls. It was a warm day with fresh, clean oil in the reservoir. When I sumped the right tank I got some debris in the tube, a dead spider. Everything else checked out good so I climbed up and strapped in. I held my breath for just an instant then turned the key. She roared to life. "Hello Sally."

We taxied to RWY5 and I paid close attention to the EMS. All nominal. OAT was about 30C so I kept an especially close eye on the CHT. She got into the 240 range and stayed there until takeoff, then she quickly cooled in the climb out. We departed to the southeast training area. We practiced some steep turns, stalls and S-Turns over Dover Road. No out of limit indications or verbal alerts. Sally was quiet.

So we returned to KVDF for some landing practice. After a particularly long wait for landing traffic she announced "Cylinder Head One - High".  It was at the upper end of 250's. I added some throttle and she cooled back down. I learned that there has been an update in the POH:

During the airplane waiting maintain the engine speed within the range from 2,100 to 2,300 rpm.
For hot temperature conditions:
• Restrict engine running at ground to the shortest time only
• Avoid or limit taxiing in downwind or “wind blowing from the right side ” position if possible
• In case the CHT (which indicates the CT actually) is close to the limit, reduce the temperature by turning the airplane in a head-wind or “wind from the left side" position and set rpm to 2,100-2,300
Good to know, it will probably get hot in Florida.

Video Notes: KVDF Arrival

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Friday, May 13, 2016


It takes a lot of planning and coordination to make a take off on time.

I had tracked the weather for a week and it looked like great conditions for our Mother's Day flight to Atlanta. This is nearly 350 miles and would include one fuel stop. I checked about a dozen candidates before narrowing my choices to a primary and alternate. I rechecked the Navlog many times. We carefully packed our overnight bag with only the essentials and set the alarm to get up early for a 9:00am ETD.  A careful preflight followed by loading the plane had us in the seat ready to start on time!


The frustration was nearly unbearable. I uttered an expletive. Kathy called the FBO who sent out a service truck. After 45 minutes the charger showed complete but the battery discharged immediately after turning the key. Next we jumped her from a car, she started immediately. I let her run for about 15 minutes hoping the generator would complete a recharge and then shut her down. I sat for moment, held my breath and turned the key. Click. We threw in the towel at 12:00pm, unpacked the plane and put our luggage in the car. We drove to Atlanta (and had a great weekend.)

Monday had me back out to the airport to get the numbers off the battery. I sat in my car and made phone calls to local shops to see if anyone had one in stock. Florida is a land of electric golf carts, shopping buggies and all sorts of other electric vehicles. Autozone had one.

Time for a check flight.

As I taxied to RWY23 a C17 flew overhead on final to MacDill AFB. A Hillsborough Police helicopter was in the landing pattern practicing his technique. It was a beautiful day. Sally performed well.

As I taxied back in a P3 was on final to MacDill. I always view that as a good omen.

Video Notes: Battery Check

Windows 10
Camtasia 8.6 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Summer Breeze

Oil pressure sender.
More than one sensor was providing out of limit alerts. CHT was just out of range, but an extra long wait on the ground might justify that one. Fuel pressure low right after take off was bothersome, but did not recur during the climb or leveling at cruise altitude. EGT happened once. The real problem was oil pressure low. It would usually happen during the take off roll, then subside during climb out. After 20 minutes of flight it would sound off again. Each fluctuation would trigger it and the frequency of alerts would increase over time. By the time I got to Sebring the oil pressure indicator was flat lined. No vibration or temperature rise, no other visible indication that anything was wrong. We sent my D120 to Dynon for analysis. Lockwood lent me a spare that they had sitting on the shelf.

The D120 is an amazing piece of equipment. It turns out you just can't pop one out and slap another in. It has to know the fuel status and that takes calibration, two gallons at a time (for each tank.) It also knows each senor and what the limits are to trigger an alert. It also knows the Hobbs time. All of this information (and more) is customized for each airframe. So work had to be done for the loaner, then redone when my box returned. I spent Tuesday in Sebring getting this work done. Fortunately the IAC trials were going on so I got to watch some great performances while the tanks were being calibrated.

Rwy 23 at KVDF
While at Sun 'n Fun I discussed my problem and all of the experts had the same conclusion: bad oil pressure sender unit. So in addition to replacing a card in the D120, I also replaced the sensor. The flight home on Tuesday was uneventful (Yes!)

Wednesday was a washout. A cold front with driving rain came through the area. Thursday I went out to KVDF to preflight for a validation flight. Choppy, gusty winds were forecast for the afternoon. We took off by 9:00am. The cold front had left us with beautiful blue skies and puffy scattered clouds at 4000ft. We would stay at 1500ft to stay under the Tampa Class B shelf and head west to the gulf.

I4 & Rt 301
It was already getting bumpy. The autopilot would occasionally have problems holding heading. The little arrow on my display showed 20kts from the west. It was choppy but not as bad as one might expect. The trip down the gulf coast was fun. On a calm day I would fly down to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but not today. We settled for over flying Clearwater Airpark (which was pretty busy with two in the pattern and a Helicopter preparing to join them). We departed to the north and made the 20 minute trip back to Tampa Executive. 310@14G22

A routine flight. No sensors reported out of limits.

Video notes: Florida Scenery

Virb Edit  3.5.2

Sunday, May 1, 2016


I closed out the house in Parrish. After turning over the keys to the Leasing Agent I jumped on I75 and headed north to Tampa Executive. It was time to get away from the moving boxes and clear my head from all of the issues involved with moving household goods from one location to another.

Sally was dirty. All of the upper surfaces were spotted with dirt and pollen. (The belly was clean.)  I'll need to give her a good cleaning before we fly down to Sebring to get the D120 replaced. But not today. Today we would go flying.

Twelve pulls was all it took. I would have expected 4x that, but the engine is much tighter now. Full choke, throttle at idle, she caught immediately but I removed the choke too quickly and she sputtered. Sorry Sally. She started cleanly on the second attempt. I'll get the soft start modules figured out sooner or later.

Over 5000RPM for the static check, 10 degrees of flaps, the take of would be normal except for the oil pressure low warning. That warning would go of many times during the flight. Each time I would carefully check the validity and each time I would silence the alert and continue the flight. So after a visit to Tampa North and Pilot's Country I headed back to Tampa Exec. The Gulf Coast was within reach and my plan had been to fly down the beach for awhile. But not with an engine alert. This is how a bad habit gets developed and I didn't want to continue even though I'm sure it is just a bad sensor. But what if it isn't?