Monday, July 4, 2016

Night Shift

I arrived at the airport later than expected. However the clouds were just starting to build so I was confident I could get an hour of flying in before the bumpers got nasty. The preflight went well, Sally looked ready to fly. I checked my weather app one more time and found that thunderstorms were building over St Petersburg, a mere 30 miles away. There were more building to the east of Lakeland and another line of yellow and brown splotches to the north. Unstable air, high humidity and hot temperatures are not conditions to take lightly. I cancelled for weather.
A beautiful sunset

I went back out around 7:30PM. The convective threat had subsided and most of the sky looked clear. There were still some isolated storms out there, but they were dissipating. I watched as a pair of Powered Parachutes as they flew by the field and inspected the terminal building. They seemed to be the only aircraft flying. But not for long.

Turn Rate displayed by the horizontal line at top left.
Two missions for this flight: 1) I have a student interested in getting his Instrument Rating. Sally is not a great platform for this because she can't fly in actual IMC. (The FARs allow it but I would never let one of my students take their practical test without some actual time in the clouds and least a few real instrument approaches.) However she is superb for teaching the basics and great for seeing how an Electronic Flight Book works. So I wanted to fly some basic IFR patterns and do a simulated  approach or two. 2) Have you ever seen a Fireworks display from above?

The EFIS has a number of options to choose from and if you choose them all the screen gets cluttered, especially if you shrink to 2/3 to show the HSI. I had configured mine for VFR flight. Among other things I had eliminated the turn indicator. I would need that to exercise Standard Rate Turns.

Glide slope is indicated vertical scale right of HSI
I also needed to see how the glide slope performed. I dialed in the ILS RWY23 and pushed the source button to VOR (Green). I adjusted the CDI to the final approach course and pushed the autopilot button.  Sally made the correction, captured the course and flew us inbound to the FAF. At that point I set the altitude to the DH and performed my 6Ts. (I missed having a clock to start and used my watch instead.*Edit; use the function button on the transponder for a stop watch or countdown timer.) I experimented with the power setting that would yield 500ft/min descent.

Setting up the 696 GPS
I did a GPS for RWY23 next. I'm not satisfied with the way I swapped pages on the GPS. I could have the chart, but if I looked at another page I would lose the approach chart and return to the airport diagram. Also, I had to fumble a bit with activating the approach. I spent some time in the run-up area perfecting my technique, but it still takes too many twists and pushes to get the approach set up. This will take more practice to refine. I made progress but will spend more time in the practice area before I'm ready to let a student try.

Finally, it was time to play. I took off on RWY23 and headed to the southeast. Sally and I enjoyed the fireworks from 1500'. While the big community shows were wonderful, I especially enjoyed the backyard patriot displays. And there were a LOT of them to watch. 

Video Notes: Night Shift

We lost Gladys today. I hope she and Bill also enjoy watching the fireworks from above.

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