Friday, August 18, 2017

48X - Airport Manatee

Florida summer weather, I woke just before the sun came up to check the computer for my daily forecast. Blue sky in the morning, clouds developing by noon, thunderstorms later in the day, the same forecast I've seen all summer long. One variable was mist or fog in the early hours, which we had today. It would burn off by our ETD of 9:00am. Marcel called as I was on my in to the airport. I had started the commute early to get ahead of the school buses and wanted to get a jump on the preflight. I confirmed that it was a "Go".

He arrived before the preflight was completed. Already knowledgeable about the Rotax 912 ULS, I took some time to point out some of it's idiosyncrasies including letting him experience the infamous "burp". We pulled her out, parked our cars and climbed in.

All ground operations were normal. Marcel made a nice takeoff from RWY23 and we picked up the highway to the fly the 30 minutes south to Airport Manatee. The trip required good airmanship because we were sandwiched under the 1200' shelf of the Tampa Class B and near to cell phone towers reaching well above 1000'. Marcel has a light touch and did a very nice job of controlling Sally while picking out landmarks along the way.

Runway Information

Runway 7/25

Dimensions: 3120 x 100 ft. / 951 x 30 m
Surface: turf, in good condition
Runway edge lights: low intensity
Latitude: 27-38.496667N27-38.615000N
Longitude: 082-31.476667W082-30.913333W
Traffic pattern: rightleft
Obstructions: 32 ft. trees, 729 ft. from runway, 110 ft. left of centerline, 23:1 slope to clear
15 ft. brush, 364 ft. from runway, 80 ft. right of centerline, 25:1 slope to clear

Marcel made a good landing and I took the plane back to taxi over to the FBO. This a nice little airport! About 50 airplanes of all types on the field in hangars and covered tie downs. Great fuel prices, this place is a gem. As we walked the line I met Shayne, a Facebook friend who was working on a beautiful Jabiru. The four place airplane has the rear seats removed to allow it to be LSA compliant. This one was already has ADSB in/out installed.

After our visit we took off and followed I75 north again staying below the Class B. I did a little demo but mostly we just chatted about aviation and enjoyed being in the air. I talked Marcel though the landing checklist and watched him make a beautiful landing back at KVDF. 

What a wonderful way to spend a summer morning.

Video Notes: 48X

"Landing on grass is like walking in comfortable slippers" ~ Marcel Rivard

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Punta Gorda: KPGD

No Go.

I hate that. Sally was ready. We had an interesting event to go to. I had a pilot who had never flown in an LSA to fly with me. Less than an hour away. But the weather was "iffy". At 8:00am the thunderstorms were already crossing the coast up to the north. Many cells were popping up east of us. Tampa was fine, Punta Gorda was fine, but in-between blotches of heavy rain were starting to show up on radar. And it was forecast to get worse as the day wore on.

No Go.

I told my passenger we would try another day. I decided to drive the hour and a half down I75 South. I double guessed my decision the whole way down. I could see blue skies and to the west quickly building cumulous monsters. To the east mostly blue with a thin low scud layer. I could have done it. Only a thirty minute flight. But I have learned to abide by my decisions. Make it then put it behind you. I arrived just in time for the session.

LSA Sport Pilot Flight Instruction
This presentation will familiarize Flight Instructors with Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) and Sport Pilots. Upon completion, participants will have knowledge of this subject and directions to rules and other sources of important information. Light Sport Aviation continues to grow and it is essential that the nation’s certified flight instructors and other aviation professionals become involved.

About 30 CFIs and pilots were provided a good presentation by Dick Solar, a CFI and Sport Pilot Examiner. I'm sure I will be able to use him a future resource.

So Sally stayed in the barn this time. I had her out yesterday to get some exercise and insure she was ready for the trip today. All systems are working well. My updates haven't caused any unforeseen compatibility issues. 

And it's nice to have her in a dry hangar out of the Florida sun and rain. It was raining really hard by the time I got home.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Nuts, Bolts and Screws

Last week I Flew down to KFMY to give a demo flight. Scud and mist delayed an early morning takeoff from KVDF, but once south of Tampa the tops were below me at 1500'. Around Punta Gorda the low stuff cleared and I had smooth weather into Page Field. The FBO at Page is one of the nicest I've seen. A P51 hangs in the two story lobby and takes your breath away as you enter the place. The trip took just about an hour in my PiperSport. The demo flight went  well and the prospect enjoyed the LSA.

We discussed "share", lease and purchase options. II talked about the positive aspects of ownership and my personal use of the airplane. This was the first time in a light sport airplane. This was his first time flying a glass panel. I briefed him on the safety features and the technology as well as the Rotax engine. We discussed cost of ownership. I allowed him to make the takeoff and departure.  We spent 0.6 over the islands close to the gulf. I demo'd autopilot, gps and the various screens available on Dynon. He made the landing back at KMFY (very nice). We debriefed as I got fuel.

I left by 1200 to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and it was good that I did. The "big uglies" were just a few minutes away by the time I put Sally in her hangar. 

Yesterday was a maintenance day. I find it takes about one day a month as a "Stand Down" to go over the plane from spinner to tail and go beyond the preflight for an overall health check. The screws on the rudder cap showed corrosion.  I found a missing screw on the left wheel pant. The temperature probe on the belly was dirty with light corrosion. Two of the nuts on the flap mechanism had light corrosion. Both steps had some minor corrosion. etc.

I replaced about a dozen screws. A couple of clean rags got dirty. I used Corrosion X everywhere. I gave the upper surfaces another coat of wax. Preflight complete I was ready to fly! About that time I heard the first sound of thunder. The sea breeze was pushing in from the gulf sooner than normal. Not flying today.

Ah, Florida weather!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A little high and fast

I always check the winds before going out to the airport. My personal limit is 18kts for students or pleasure flying. I may make an exception for a cross country flight if I'm flying into improving weather, but 24kts is always a firm "No Go". So when the reported winds were light and variable I was anxious to go out for some landing practice.

I routinely teach "power off" approaches. The throttle is pulled to idle abeam the numbers and the airplane is allowed to slow below 75kts when the full flaps are lowered. Speed continues to slow to 60-65kts while maintaining pattern altitude.  That transition is usually sufficient to provide interval for the base leg. I like to stabilize the approach trimmed hands off for 60kts by the mid point on the base leg. This is a good point to evaluate the glideslope and make a power adjustment if low. I want to be fully stabilized following the base to final turn. Raising the nose to slow to 55kts over the fence followed by minor power adjustment to control the rate of descent is done until the field is made, then power off into the round out and flare. Usually two turns in the pattern is enough for me to calibrate my pattern to adjust for winds such that I can keep the power at idle for the entire approach. Not today.

"Light and variable", is not to be confused with "no wind". I listened to the AWOS then to other pilots already in the pattern and the preferred runway this morning was RWY5. The windsock hung limp on its post on the other side of the runway. Two C172s landed as I did the runup, each landed a bit long which is normal in light wind situations. All systems were good so I took the runway once the last plane cleared at the end. Temperature was in the mid 80°F but the climb out was very good. I reached pattern altitude before turning downwind. The wind vector arrow on the SkyView showed a 5kt westerly crosswind and I adjusted my heading to fly parallel to the runway on the downwind leg. I hit my point "abeam" just right, made the transition but turned in a bit early. At the mid point on base I was high and when I stabilized on final I was high and fast. So I raised the nose to get my airspeed and found my touch down point would take me far beyond the numbers. I could settle for that, or I could go around. But I had a third option: Slip.
A slip is an aerodynamic state where an aircraft is moving somewhat sideways as well as forward relative to the oncoming airflow or relative wind. In other words, for a conventional aircraft, the nose will be pointing in the opposite direction to the bank of the wing(s). Reference: Mastering the forward Slip
I default to full right rudder, but in practice you should bank into the wind and use full opposite rudder. Today, with light winds, it didn't make mush difference. (However I did land right of centerline.)  Some cautions must be noted:
  • A slip is not a skid. A skid is an uncoordinated turn in the direction of bank. Here's a common scenario: You're turning left base to final, but you're going to overshoot the runway. What do you do? Here's what you absolutely shouldn't do: You add left rudder to tighten the turn, but you don't keep the bank and rudder coordinated - putting the airplane into a skid. As the inside wing exceeds the critical angle of attack, it stalls and drops. The deflected aileron on the low wing is still generating drag, which pulls the aircraft's nose further into the turn. And, the aircraft is still yawing into the turn from the rudder, which accelerates the roll. The result is a quick roll into the turn, and your entry into an incipient spin. That is why CFI's get nervous  during the base-to-final turn.
  • Speed is key. You changed the speed "vector" (from normal glide path) to increase vertical speed. When you take the slip out be very cautious that vertical speed doesn't translate into excess approach speed.
  • Always be ready to go around. Neutralized the controls BEFORE applying power.
In this case I landed a little long and had to take the second taxiway. Time to try another. But I was disappointed once again. Too high, too fast. This time I executed a "go around" (wave off). The wind vector on the SkyView showed "LT". I extended my transition deeper but when I turned final I was still too high. My speed was right on so I continued with the approach and allowed myself to land long. What the heck was going on?!?

I checked the sock. I had been landing with a tailwind. Not much, but with a Light Sport Airplane it doesn't take much. I switched to RWY 23.

The next two circuits made more sense. With the light winds I still landed a bit long but both were acceptable. I can always use more practice and felt this session was very valuable. Always respect the winds, even the little ones.

Video Notes: Comparison

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Summer Morning

The early appointment got me out of the house just as the sun was rising. Fortunately the sun's rays glimmered off the newly built spider's web that hung across the entrance to the front porch and I was able to avoid the mess. I took a few minutes to brush it away before it surprised Kathy.
Sally and me.

Step brother?
Tropical Storm Cindy passed us by, taking a western track out in the gulf before slamming the Florida panhandle and flooding low country as it moved inland. The eastern edge created very unstable air over Tampa. Fog and mist in the morning with low overcast throughout much of the day. Then very active thunderstorms in the afternoon and early evening. I think this ended the water restrictions in Hillsborough County. It wasn't good for VFR Flying. So when I found the spider's web early Friday morning I was at least glad to see the sun shining. It would finally be a good day to fly. My appointment was finished early so I headed out to the airport. A pink flamingo flew by as I parked the car behind Sally. We had a new neighbor, a Piper Tomahawk.

I think an airplane should be exercised at least twice a month. Obviously I would like to do it more often but any longer than every other week risks damage to any of the moving parts. The same rule applies to me. If I go longer than two weeks without flying I feel rusty. The training is still there, the procedures are still good, but my finesse is affected, I'm no longer smooth and I feel it.

The beauty of the world around us.
More spiders. I pulled the canopy cover off onto the right wing and a few little spiders scurried off the edges. There was a web around the pitot tube cover. A little spider got washed out of the right fuel vent when I sumped the tank. And as I taxied out, one dropped from the glare shield onto my D120. He didn't survive to make the flight.

We took off on RWY18 and departed to the east. The clear blue sky was starting to get spotted with little puffy white clouds. Friendly now, they could easily turn into monsters when fed by the hot humid Florida air. I stayed below them at 2000'. We practiced some basic air work maneuvers, I tested all of the navigation systems and Sally's autopilot modes, then we headed over to Plant City for a landing. They were using RWY10 and another Light Sport was getting ready to depart. A Caravan was in the pattern already but by the time I entered on a 45° he was on final, no factor. I made a nice landing, 4 stars out of 5, we turned off on the first taxiway and I went through the takeoff checklist for departure. I use 10° of flaps for take off, especially on a high density altitude kind of day. (OAT 30°C)

I wanted to get above the clouds, so we wove our way through the layer on a rough heading of south. Sometimes we forget about this part of aviation. Experiencing the pure beauty of flight. We were above the tops by 5000' and we had fun in the smooth air by making easy turns and watching the cloud shadows on the earth beneath us.

It was a great day to start the summer flying season.

Video Notes: Summer Morning

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Sport Pilot rules do not require the pilot to carry a 3rd Class Medical. Medical certificates, or "medicals" for short, are required for anyone other than a sport pilot who is acting as pilot in command. Usually the medical certificate and student pilot certificate are combined on one form, FAA Form 8420-2, and are issued by a doctor, called an aviation medical examiner (AME), who has been approved by the FAA to administer the medical exam. Some pilots looked at the sport pilot rule as an option to return to flying after some medical condition had sidelined them from using the local Aviation Medical Examiner. However sometimes overlooked was the additional requirement that the PIC: "Not know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make that person unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner." The "Driver's License Rule" is not valid if you know you have something wrong that could inhibit your ability to fly an airplane.

My normal practice has been to get a 2nd class medical every other year to take advantage of potential commercial privileges. After a year my medical would default to 3rd class allowing me to continue to perform the duties of a Certified Flight Instructor. Then I read this:
"John King confirmed to Flying a personal issue that has been rumored for many months: the FAA has denied the well-known aviation educator’s medical certificate, leaving him unable to act as co-captain aboard the Dassault Falcon 10 he and his wife, Martha, fly. John King is, of course, half of the legendary John and Martha King duo who founded the King Schools, known for online and video education courses responsible for thousands of pilots successfully navigating the FAA’s pilot knowledge exams (the couple also write a regular column for Flying).

King was officially denied his third-class medical certificate in November 2015, based on a seizure he’d experienced while on a family trip to Indiana earlier the previous year. He said a trip to the hospital following the seizure episode in early 2014 led doctors, as well as both him and his wife, to believe there was no cause for alarm, so he continued to fly. At his regular aviation medical exam later that year, the FAA cited safety of the public, as well as of the airman himself, for the denial.

Since John was turned down for his medical 18 months ago, the Kings have engaged a number of aeromedical professionals and attorneys, spending tens of thousands of dollars along the way, attempting to convince the FAA that he is healthy enough to warrant reissuing his medical. King told Flying the agency has denied every appeal route they’ve tried."
His career was over. The FAA bureaucracy had dictated that he was medically unfit to fly even though Doctors specializing in his condition said he was good to go. There was a happy ending for John.
"King Schools co-owner John King confirmed to AVweb Thursday the FAA has restored his medical certification without explanation after the well-publicized appeal of his suspension. “Amazingly enough, I have my medical certificate in my pocket,” he said in an email. “I had written an email to the FAA Associate Administrator for Safety urging them to employ the core values that created the compliance philosophy in the medical certification of pilots. That letter along with the publicity that you helped create might have made the difference.” As we reported last week, King was denied his medical because of a seizure he experienced in 2014.

King told AVweb he consulted top neurologists but their assessment that the seizure was an explainable one-time thing was rejected all the way to top by the Federal Air Surgeon. That’s when he wrote his letter to the top floor of the FAA and went public with his concerns. With the restored medical he will be able to share pilot duties with his wife Martha in their Falcon 10 rather than continue to hire a second pilot or buy a new aircraft with single-pilot capability."
Thousands of dollars spend to restore his flight status. Pilots are taught to avoid risk when possible. There is a potential risk using the AME that I no longer wanted to take. Something new was available to me this year: BasicMed.

How do I take advantage of BasicMed? At least every 48 months, visit a state licensed physician where he or she will perform an examination and affirm the absence of any medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft. Every 24 calendar months, take a free, online medical education course. AOPA’s online medical education course will be available to all individuals, free of charge. AOPA recommends taking the following steps, in order:

1. Complete the pilot information and medical history portion of the FAA Medical Examination Checklist prior to your examination;
2. Schedule and attend an examination with a state-licensed physician who will complete the FAA Medical Examination Checklist;
3. Successfully complete the AOPA Medical Self-Assessment Course;
4. Print the certificate of completion following the online course and keep it in your logbook or in an accurate and legible electronic format, along with the completed Medical Examination Checklist;
5. Ensure that you meet the flight review requirements of FAR 61.56 and any other applicable flight or instrument proficiency requirements, as necessary for you to act as pilot in command.

Why is this important to me? I don't have to fear the situation John King experienced. I can go to my own physician, one who already knows my medical history and works with me to cure my ailments, recommends specialists when required, and helps me asses my fitness to fly.
Can I fly under these rules as a CFI? Yes, the FAA final rule for BasicMed does apply to the person acting as PIC, including flight instructors. As an example, the FAA has noted that flight instructors meeting the requirements of the new rule may act as PIC while giving flight training without holding a medical certificate, regardless of whether the person receiving flight training holds a medical certificate
Where can I find the FAA’s BasicMed form? You can find the form at

My own PCP signed me off yesterday. I'm fit to fly. I meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.23(c)(2). Remember, use IMSAFE prior to every flight.

Reference: Faa Brief

#aviation #avgeek #piper #pipersport #airplane #pilot #flight #flying #lessons #aviationdaily #instapilot #navy #veteran #aeroplane #aviatrix #plane #piloteyes #dayflight #bestjobever
#ps28 #cruiser #sportcruiser #czechaircraft #etpz #aviation #aviationphotography #aviationgeek #aviationlovers #aviationdaily #aviator #aviators #pilot #pilotlife #pilots #garmin #efis #abovetheclouds #lsa #lightsportaircraft

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Working with Sally

The student contacted me asking if we could spend the Memorial Day weekend flying. I was excited with the opportunity but cautioned that an accelerated program was difficult and I would only go as fast as he could absorb the material. I put together a curriculum of five flights focused on high work but including some ground reference maneuvers and if we were comfortable, introduction to the landing pattern. An aggressive schedule to be sure, but again customized to the student's ability to learn.

He arrived on Friday and that evening we met to go over the plan. He was very well prepared and had obviously studied for the weekend. After the brief we went over to Sally and did the preflight. The first preflight takes time. Each line item on the checklist must not only be done, but often a detailed explanation is required as to WHY it is done.  Next task is getting into the airplane the proper way (yes, there is an improper way), getting the seatbelts secured, adjusting the pedals and headset and generally getting accustomed to the cockpit. Finally, we did the start. The rest of the lesson was devoted to taxi practice and the use of brakes and typical ground procedures. It all went well.

We were lucky to have great weather on Saturday and got two flights in. Sunday we woke to fog, so I delayed our takeoff for an hour. When the fog lifted we were left low thin scattered ceiling and mist. I elected to spend time in the landing pattern. It went well. After landing we scheduled some time for Sunday afternoon. When I arrived at the airport for that flight, winds had picked up with gusts too high for a new student. We canceled the flight and ended the session. It was very successful and I would offer this type of accelerated training again, depending on the student.

...AND I was especially glad to be able to work with Sally again. She is a great training platform, fun to fly and very forgiving. Stalls are almost a non-event. The visibility for doing all of the basic airwork exercises is super. And teaching a glass panel is fun for the student (as well as the instructor).

Video Notes:

Welcome home Sally.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flying Sally

I got a call to do a demonstration flight with one of our new SportCruisers. I was excited with the opportunity and drove out to the hangar to prepare for the flight. First I had to carefully maneuver the plane away from Sally and then pull her out of the hangar. Next I removed the car dollies and checked tire pressures. Then I put the wheel pants on and completed the rest of the preflight. After the workout I grabbed a bottle of water, changed my shirt and flew to the demonstration airport.

Upon my return I reversed the steps and very carefully pushed the new plane back into the hangar. Both planes fit but from a practical standpoint it just wasn't going to work. If I was tired after a busy flight and lost any concentration putting a plane back in there would definitely be some "hangar rash". Also, Sally was trapped by the other plane. So to get her out, I would have to reposition the other plane first. I decided to move Sally back to her covered tiedown spot on the other side of the field.

I listened to the weather forecast on our local news station on the way to the airport. We could reach a record high of 94°F. (He said it would actually get cooler in the summer once the sea breeze started.) I was glad I got an early start. It was only in the mid-70's.

I gave Sally a thorough preflight and was once again impressed by the work that the Certus Team had done to clean her up. The engine compartment is spotless with all of the tubes, cables and hoses properly dressed. The cowlings are as clean as I have ever seen them, and Corrosion X has been applied to the firewall and everything forward. Scratches, dents and other exterior finish problems have been addressed. (New carpet in the wing lockers.) The prop looks great.

Inside, the leather and carpets have been cleaned. The pilot's map pocket has been restiched and most of the scratches on the canopy have been polished out.

Time to fly.

It took me a few moments to get my scan pattern back. This wasn't SkyView. She started easily, taxied well without the funny noises coming from the breaks. Runup went well, but then I had to wait. Sally doesn't have a thermostat so it took a few minutes to get the oil temperature up to 122°F. The CHT stayed in the 200°F range as I waited.

There was a thin-scattered-broken layer at ~1500ft. We decided to stay in the pattern. We took off on RWY05, winds were light an variable, but as the temperature increased, so did the winds. Soon they were 110° @ 6, then 120° @8G18. My final landing was no-flap and the gusts were greater than reported. 6 landings, a great work out and NO engine annunciations. This was a fantastic way to get back in the saddle.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Little Bit of Repair Work

Services: Annual Condition Inspection, Transponder Check, BRS Parachute Repack and Shipping, Sensenich Propeller Reconditioning and Shipping, Aircraft Carpet Cleaning, Wing Tip and Antenna Paint, Left Flap Dent Removal, Degreased Inside Engine Cowlings, Engine Detail Wash, Overflow Hose Installation to Overflow Bottle.

Part: Firewall Reinforcement Kit, Third Generation Nose Strut and Painting, Oil Pressure Sensor, 500-5 6Ply Aero Classic LSA Tire, Aircraft Detail/ Wash and Wax.

An Explanation: Sally had been sick. Soon after the mandatory ROTAX rubber replacement she started issuing "Low Oil Pressure" annunciations. I tried replacing the sender unit a few times, but the problem always came back. In addition, the nose strut (2nd generation) was bent. I hoped it was just the fork but it needed to be examined by a pro. Finally, she was due for a BRS parachute repack. 

I took her up to CERTUS in Wisconsin to get the work done. 

  1. Sensenich Propeller Reconditioning: The prop was starting to show wear. I called Sensenich (near here at Plant City), and they told me the delamination would be covered by warranty.
  2. Wing Tip and Antenna Paint: It was a very cold February morning at Quakertown. Ice had accumulated in the hangar door tracks. I had an ice chipper and some salt to clear the track to get Sally out for a training flight. The work was slow, about fifteen minutes to gain an inch. I got the doors open just wide enough to pull her out (or so I thought). I scraped both wingtips. Hangar rash. The antenna was just old and showing some chipped paint.
  3. Left Flap Dent Removal: A student showed up for his flight wearing flip flops. I cautioned him about footwear and "let it go". He slipped on the step and planted his knee in the flap.
  4. Deep cleaning & refurbishing: She was starting to show some age. Now she looks better than new. Corrosion X on the whole engine compartment to inhibit the damaging effects of the Florida salt air.
The weather in the middle of the United States has been horrible for weeks. Each day I would wake up and check the METARS and Prog Charts only to find KVDF or KBUU or something in-between was hard IFR. A week passed, then another, and then a few more days. Finally a weather window started to open. But it wouldn't stay open long. Meghan suggested she fly Sally down to Auburn and I fly "Tweety" up to meet her and exchange keys. It would be about a 6 hour round trip for me, 12 hours for her. 

Yesterday I departed about 10:00am EDT from KVDF to KAUO. Fantastic weather, we climbed to 6500ft and found smooth air above the haze layer. I pushed the button and sat back and relaxed. As we traveled north of Florida the smoke from multiple forest fires stated reach our level so we climbed up to 8500ft to stay clear. There is a MOA enroute to KAUO with a floor at 8000ft, so I started my descent early to stay clear of that. At about 50 miles out I heard Meghan call for landing with N674PS. Pretty cool.

We chatted for a bit at the FBO. Met Rick, the Airport Operations Manager, said our Goodbyes and departed. The flight home was uneventful. No lights, no warnings, just smooth air with a 10kt tailwind. It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


It was a different kind of show for me. I was working. My job was to fly prospective customers on demonstration flights but since that was difficult to do at Lakeland, we had two planes positioned at Plant City (KPCM) and flew from there. The logistics worked out well. When not flying, I worked the display area for Cruiser Aircraft Inc, the new importer for the western hemisphere. It was great talking to other pilots about the features of the airplane, the Sport Pilot license, and to dispel some myths about LSA limitations. It was hard work and by the end of the day I was tired.

The Florida weather was beautiful for us, but a very strong line of storms to the north kept many folks from making the trip down early in the week.  We got some thunder and lightning, but really not as bad as previous storms. I met my friend Duane who had spent the night in a tent under the wing of his plane. Brave man! It was just great to trade #SportCruiser stories with him.

I took the day off on Friday so that Kathy and I could watch the airshow. It's been years since we've seen the Blue Angels and once again we were thrilled. After the airshow we walked the grounds visiting other vendors. Kathy sat in a #SeaRey, we talked to an owner/rep about the #Petrel. Then we went over to the #AOPA tent for a Flying Club social. They served us some pulled pork sandwiches and some wine as we mingled. They didn't offer as much info as I wanted about starting a club, but I got Jamie's card and will make an appointment with him.

It was back to work on Saturday and Sunday. Large crowds with lots of interesting questions. People came to this event from all over the world. What are the performance characteristics for flying out of the high Andes mountains of Columbia? Can we import directly or must the plane come into the USA first? Why would I want to be a Sport Pilot if I can only fly 50 nm? I explained he was confusing the license with the Recreational Pilot, there are no distance limitations with Sport Pilot. The press says that this event had the most attendance ever for SNF, even though it was in direct competition with Aero in Europe.

Hopefully the interest will convert to sales.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Appointments to Keep

Flying home from south Florida.
I had two 5 gallon jugs full of Premium Mogas and some coffee and a bagel from Wawa. The rush hour traffic to get across Valrico Road and MLK Highway was heavier than expected, so it took longer to get to the airport than planned. Fortunately, the construction team hadn't started their work on the I4 exit ramp. I still made my departure time before 9:00am EDT.

I contacted Tampa Departure immediately after takeoff but got no response. Checked the frequency on my Waypoint Info page and reselected 119.9 just to be sure. No joy. huh. So I chose KLAL for some additional information and used that page for the Miami Center frequency. That worked. I was level at 5500', burning just under 6 gal/hr and True Airspeed read 115kts. Checklist complete, autopilot engaged...I left my coffee in the car. Rats!

It was an uneventful flight down to KHWO. I had a potential client to meet there. Our preflight conversation went well so we proceeded with the Discovery Flight. I'm always cautious finding a suitable area to do some maneuvering. This time we headed west to get out the Class B/C/D airspace and climbed to altitude over the Everglades. The student did some basic airwork (BAW) and followed instructions well. He has potential.

Next we had an appointment to visit a client down at Miami Executive Airport, formerly known as Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (KTMB). Parallel runways, under the Class B, this is a very busy airport. After landing we taxied over to the "Tiki" and sat in the shade to discuss marketing strategies and options. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. (*BTW, this was the farthest south I have ever flown a GA airplane.)

Then it was back to North Perry for some fuel before returning home. Self Serve is always a challenge for me. I don't know why I always find it difficult, but it never goes well. I carefully read the instructions, put the nozzle in the tank and...nothing. Read the instructions again carefully, again nothing. As I walked back to read the instructions for the third time I noticed the placard on the front of the pump. "Cash Only". The credit card pump was to the left. Success!

An uneventful flight home. I landed at the end of civil twilight. It had been a beautiful Florida sunset.

Notes from Sally. After lots on investigation, the oil pressure sender problem is FINALLY resolved. Thank You CERTUS!

Monday, March 13, 2017

New Sounds

Flying with SkyView over central Florida
Kathy came back from her early morning bike ride and announced thick Fog. I rolled out of bed and looked out the back window. Definitely IFR.

After few cups of coffee I was on my way to the airport. The fog had lifted leaving some haze and blustery winds. Good enough for me to bounce out to the local training area and get some much needed time with SkyView.

After a thorough preflight I climbed into the right seat and got comfortable. The seats are a bit different, the arm rest is nice. The throttle felt a bit tighter, the vents are different, and few other ergonomic upgrades are nice. I flicked the switches (different position order) and waited for the system to boot. There are an infinite number of ways to layout the screens. I wasn't sure which one would best suit my scan pattern but eventually settled on 2/3 EFIS and 1/3 EMS. I put 1/2 map on the pilot side with 1/2 EMS. Next I adjusted my Garmin 796 for North Up. I had added 5 gallons of fuel. The sensor knew this and asked if I wanted validate the new quantity for the computer. Yes, please. Then I looked for the Oil Pressure gauge to make sure I could find it quickly once she started. I turned the key. All seemed well. A warning from the map page said I was out of date. Todd had shown me how to do updates. I'll bring a memory stick with the new changes out with me next time.

It was a bit warm so I decided to open the canopy for taxi. My first new sound; Canopy Open. This would take getting used to. The rest of the ground operations were normal. I closed the canopy and was glad to have the canopy vent windows. They supplement the cockpit vents nicely.

The airport was a bit busy. They've picked up a small cargo carrier firm so I waited for a twin to clear before I took the runway. A brisk right to left crosswind got my immediate attention and I crabbed a bit to stay on track. My next new sound: Flap Overspeed. I pulled back a bit on the stick and raised the flaps. Almost immediately the next new sound: A twitter/screech alerting me I was close to Class B airspace. We departed to the south east and stayed clear of the Bravo.

I had kept the canopy side windows open. Wind Noise. I slid them closed and opened the small vents instead. Just as much air circulation and a LOT less noise. I turned the radio down a few notches.

Next I concentrated on routine operations. It was choppy so I found the Touch screens a bit awkward to use. Dynon has smart button backup for all screen operations, but the 796 doesn't. It took me a few seconds to find a place to brace my hand to touch the portion of the GPS I wanted. That will take some practice. After awhile I noticed an airplane symbol on the GPS with a swirled flag beneath it. OK, I'm game. I pushed it and found it went to track up. But no symbol to switch back? OK, more book time required.

I tried a few more system operations. Played with the Autopilot modes. Noted the different power settings and what airspeed was delivered with each. Transitioned to slow flight and did a stall. Another new sound: Stall warning claxon. (I determined I didn't want that blaring at me on short final so pulled the CB.)

This is a GREAT system! My friend Paul said he has been flying it for a few years now and is still learning. I really look forward to this adventure.

Video Notes: SkyView Landing

It took forever to process this short bit of video. Virb Edit just isn't doing it for me anymore so I looked for an alternative. I used DashWare to process this video. I requires you to sync the GPS data with the video, and as you can see I didn't get it quite right. Overall I was pleased with the results. The big benefit, it only took a few hours to process the video.

Getting a look at the fuel lines.
News from Sally: She is being tenderly(?) cared for at Certus Aircraft Inc up in the cold and snowy land of Cheddar Cheese. The latest report has her wings off checking the rubber connection from fuel tanks to engine. The BRS parachute repack is still underway, and a number of other adjustments and repairs are planned.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from a Long Trip

After a lot of consideration we decided it would be best to fly Sally up to Burlington, Wisconsin to have some needed maintenance done and return flying "Blue" a 2016 SkyView equipped SportCruiser to use for sales. The trip would be just under a 1000 miles each way and cross three weather systems. Since I typically plan 600 miles per day I planned on taking two days in each direction with a buffer thrown in for poor weather.

Tuesday morning Sally and I took off from KVDF about 8:00am EST enroute to our first fuel stop at KBGE. (214 NM). The weather was MVFR with ragged ceilings at 2500' and winds on the nose at 10kts. We found a hole near KBKV and got Flight Following while VFR Over The Top through most of Florida. I elected to stay "Feet Dry" passing Withlacoochee Bay until I reached the pan handle of Florida. When I checked in with Tallahassee Approach the undercast thinned out so I could see land again. Relief for a VFR pilot.   I've never been to Decatur County Industrial Airpark before. So as I descended at 10 miles I got confused by what appeared to be crossing runways surrounded by some very tall radio towers. GPS said I was still a few miles south, so I climbed back up to see this huge runway out in front of me. A former military base, I landed well before the first turnoff. It was a good fuel stop.

We left KBGE by 11:00am EST under clear sky enoute to KMSL (271 NM), a little long for me, but definitely within range for the PiperSport. Weather was good. I checked in on the CTAF and heard a Columba check in at 10 miles on an ILS final, so I deferred to him. As I reached abeam I spotted him still at about 3 miles out. I called #2 and extended my downwind. He called for a Touch and Go so I adjusted my pattern accordingly. I was deep so held my altitude as I slowed down to drop flaps, turned base and waited. Turned final and waited. I watched him roll to the end of the runway and was glad I had given him some extra interval. I began my descent on final, made the call still #2 waiting for him to clear.Waited still. Into the roundout I added some power to hold Sally off the runway. At midfield we went around. After I made the call the Columbia came back with a terse "Cooling the turbo". ummm. OK, I fly because it's fun. Going around just gives a little bit more time in the air. Still...?

We left KMSL under an overcast at 8500' enroute to KMVN (223 NM). The weather guesser said I should easily get under the clouds and to expect VFR conditions for the leg. About halfway there we entered some rain showers. Sirius XM showed a line from west to east of light green surrounding some dark green with a few splotches of yellow in the middle. Memphis Center said to expect some "moderate showers" in about 15 miles. I was nervous and prepared to do a 180.  I checked the OAT and the wings for possible icing. Nope all clear. I adjusted course to the west to stay clear of the worst of it, and saw the yellow patches dissipate as I traveled north. We broke out just over the river, exactly were the display said we would. GREAT technology. It started getting cold. I pulled my hood over my headset and found some gloves to wear. Cold and tired, we tied down for the night here. It was a good stay. (Crew car and a new hotel with an airport discount.)

I went out to preflight about 8:00am CST Wednesday morning. Cold breeze was blowing but the sun was shining. I should have had my winter baffle to cover the oil cooler. KMVN to KBUU (263 NM) would take us through the Chicago Class B. Not a problem with the Garmin 696 GPS. As we approached the airspace we were given permission to enter which cut a few minutes off the trip. It was cold. We were now under an overcast so were deprived any solar heating. The heater (if you call it that) was useless. By the time I landed I was shivering and ready for a hot cup of coffee.

Approaching the Gulf of Mexico
I slept well at the hotel. Meghan picked me up at 7:30am CST Thursday and took me over to the airport. It was cold, but I did the preflight in a heated hangar. We left KBUU back to KMVN. I had read the book on SkyView and had some training by both Todd and Meghan, but it is different flying a new system solo for the first time. Invigorating. This heater sort of worked. I took my winter coat off at MVN.

I left KMVN enroute to KAUO (381 NM). This leg would be a stretch for me. The weather was good and I was becoming more comfortable with the systems. I was directed around an active MOA by Fort Campbell Approach and was way ahead by easily seeing the restricted area and being able to use the autopilot to maneuver clear. A great system! As I turned the corner I had a pleasant surprise, an actual tailwind. I set 5350RPM at 5,500', and got a fuel burn of 5.9gph, 118TAS and 140KTS over the ground! I spent the night and slept very well. (The Italian Restaurant next to the Hilton Garden Inn is great.) BTW the staff at the airport is nearly all students and you couldn't meet a nicer group of people. This was a great stop.

I left KAUO for KVDF (319 NM) by 9:00am CST Friday. By this time the airplane and I are good friends. I settled in and enjoyed the flight. It was good to be back in the warm sunny climate of Florida.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Flying with Glass

Dynon SkyView Touch

  1. Radio: In addition to being much clearer, new radios can transfer frequency information to the screen. With the additional encoded information you can see if Center, Tower or Approach is assigned to the frequency you are using. An Example:I was approaching KMVN, an airport I've never been to before. I told Flight Following that I wanted to check the weather and would check back in once I had it. I pushed the Waypoint button to see all of the frequencies associated with the airport. Touch the AWOS frequency and it was put in the Standby mode on my Nav radio. It also popped up on my display as MVN AWOS with the proper frequency. Memphis Center was listed on the Comm Radio as my Primary. No Confusion.
  2. Wind Vector: I remember using all sorts of arcane means to determine the wind vector, all so you could plug it into a time/speed/distance problem to calculate your position. Now it is derived from the GPS as a given. An Example: I was landing at KMSL. I looked at the wind vector to see what the most likely runway would be and matched it to the HSI to see how I would set up for my entry. Nice to have when descending into the landing pattern.
  3. Runway Extensions: I LOVE these! Little green and black extensions to the runway which provide a clear visual on how to set up for a VFR entry. An Example: After a 2.5 hour flight I approached KAUO, another airport I've never been to. I was approaching from the northwest, they were landing on RWY36. At 10 miles it was easy to see where I needed to fly for my 45° entry.
  4. Autopilot: All of the modes are displayed on the screen so you immediately know if the plane is flying on a fixed heading or using a Nav Source to follow a track to the next waypoint. An Example: I got a call from Ft Campbell Control that the MOA was hot and to adjust my heading 10° right. The autopilot was in Nav mode. I reached over an clicked the heading button and turned the knob. I could immediately see that I was still in altitude mode and now flying in heading mode, because that's what it said on the top of my screen.
  5. Voice Annunciation: Sally talks to me. She directs my attention to the screen when something isn't quite right. An Example: "Fuel Pressure Low", gets your immediate attention, and flashing gauge on the panel can be analyzed quickly.
  6. ADSB: Traffic and weather. You often see the traffic on the screen before Flight Following calls it. With the vectors attached to the targets it makes avoidance easier.
  7. Weather: To be able to see the weather on the screen is nothing short of miraculous. Yes, there are drawbacks and we can misinterpret what is being shown, but it is so much better than just looking out the window at the dark gray stuff. An Example: Flying north from MSL to MVN I encountered a line of muck running west to east.  The forecaster had said to expect it and that I should be able to stay under it VFR. He was wrong. Center said I was running into "moderate" rain. My weather display showed light green, turning to dark green with small patches of yellow. The largest yellow patch was directly on my route. Visibility was about 5 miles. I was nervous. I adjusted to the west and over time watched the patch slowly dissipate. I popped out of the rain just about where the display said I would. Nice to have the extra information on this flight.
  8. Airspace: Is there a TFR active? What is the height of the shelf on that Class B? How far does the Class C extend under the shelf? All this and more is available on the screen. An Example: I was flying north to KBUU from KMVN, which would take me through the Chicago Class B. I could clearly see the airspace, had complete confidence on the heights of the extensions and was able to easily navigate around that space, as well as the numerous Class D spaces nearby.
  9. Toys: Synthetic vision and all of the derivatives are just "plane" fun. 
Video Notes: Dynon Skyview

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 US Sport Aviation Expo at Sebring KSEF

Landing on the Orange Dot
Adding Wawa premium
A few weeks ago I was asked to fly a new SportCruiser across the country to be used for the show. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to fly a brand new plane, loaded with the latest avionics, nearly 1000 miles to attend the premiere event for Light Sport Aircraft? But it was not to be. Weather at the departure airport was crap. Twice I flew the airlines to get the LSA, twice I flew the airlines home. Maybe February will be kinder.

Cruiser Aircraft Inc debut.
So I flew Sally instead, not a bad deal. The flight from KVDF to KSEF takes just under an hour. I commuted each day. The weather in Florida has been perfect. (Sally and I delayed one morning for fog, otherwise we had just beautiful flying conditions.) On Saturday Kathy flew with me. She took all of the pictures on the video while spending her time solo exploring the show. I spent time at the new Cruiser Aircraft Inc tent talking to prospective customers. We both had a great day.

Having read a number of news reports, the Expo seems to have been a huge success. Good weather, beautiful airplanes, and a wonderful group of aviation enthusiasts all contributed to make this event a great kick off to the 2017 season. See you at Lakeland Sun 'n Fun!

Video Notes: Sebring 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Disney Tour

We woke to foggy conditions. The winter weather in Florida is still producing a lot of advection fog as the winds bring moist air from the gulf over the central Florida airports. I knew the sun would burn it off by mid morning.

We arrived about 10:00am to start the preflight. Mandy was a big help getting Sally ready to fly. As we were taking the tiedown ropes off we could hear the whine of engines coming from the terminal. The Direct TV blimp was taking off and flew right over us. I love blimps.

Even though it was a week day, the airport was busy. As we taxied out I could hear planes announcing arrivals and departures for RWY23. We chose RWY18. It was Mandy's first ever take off and though nervous, did fine. We made a downwind departure to the northeast and climbed to 2500'. It was hazy but over 10 miles of visibility. The haze layer provide an excellent horizon to work on basic air work.

After awhile we passed just south of Zephyr Hills and she pointed out some sky divers. As we approached Orlando I noticed some strange looking clouds. Soon I realized that they were sky writers. I called approach to let them know we would be wandering around in nearby airspace (under the Class B and over the Disney TFR) just touring and taking pictures. He gave us a squawk code. It was exciting to see all of the Orlando attractions from the air. The theme parks seem so big when your looking for "Country Bear Jamboree" but not so large from 3200'. We saw "The Orlando Eye", "Epcot" and Universal Studios in addition to Disney World. The tour lasted a little more than 30 minutes and was a lot of fun.

The trip back to KVDF was uneventful. We enjoyed the Florida scenery and I thought about flying over our home but reconsidered. Not everyone enjoys being in a small airplane for over 2 hours. So instead I briefed Mandy on landing pattern operations. She was NOT anxious about making the landing. But I coached her through and she did great!

So in summary; a blimp, some sky divers, sky writing, pictures of Orlando attractions, a take off and a landing. Not a bad discovery Flight.

A Great Discovery Flight

Video Notes: The Disney Tour