Thursday, December 28, 2017

Minor Maintenance

Kathy called our Christmas activities as "Happy Chaos". Certainly one of the most joyous times we've had since moving to Florida. But the children left and it was time to go back to work. I headed out to the airport to get Sally ready for some student flights.

I changed out the voltage rectifier. The symptom was a low voltage annunciator at low RPM, usually when clearing the runway after landing but occasionally at other times during taxi. Never in flight. I pulled the connector to see if it might just be corrosion, but the Corrosion X used the last time had protected the connectors. They were clean.  It seems I replace this part about once every 18 months, but it is really sensitive to heat so the hotter the flight time the more often it needs to be changed. This one only lasted about 150 hours. (Reference:

The nose wheel seemed to shimmy more that usual during my flight review. This is usually due to low tire pressure. Cooler winter temperatures can cause the pressure to decrease. And this one is a bit tricky to visually check due to the wheel pants. Typically you need to remove the pant to get to the stem to pump the tire but I was lucky this time. Feeling up under the pant I felt the stem and was able to push Sally back enough to rotate the stem to the small notch in the pant to get the compressor attached. 18lbs.

It was close to time for an oil change. I gathered my tools and supplies and removed the upper cowling. After burping the engine (still in the top third, she uses very little oil) I placed my drip pan and positioned my empty gallon jug under the reservoir to get started. I couldn't find the plastic tube to go from the quick drain to the bottle. Rats. So many moves in the past year I just misplaced it somewhere. So that is still on my list.

I went flying instead. Winds were calm so I chose RWY23. Moderate traffic today with a twin in the runup area as I arrived. There was one Cessna 172 on downwind and a Citation called 5 miles out on an extended left base for RWY23. A Piper was on final for RWY36 with another C172 just entering for that runway about 5 miles south. Good flying weather in Florida (low 80°s). When it was our turn we took off and departed to the southeast to overfly the house, then flew north past Plant City (KPCM) to test all of the avionics. Sally performed well.

Back in the pattern things were still pretty busy. We took interval between a Piper making a downwind departure to the north and a Cessna making his base turn. It seemed that most folks had abandoned RWY36 for RWY23 although the winds were still very light. I got three in and really enjoyed the practice.

I like winter flying in Florida.

Video Notes: Local Area Dec2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017


§61.56 Flight Review
(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (f) of this section, a flight review consists of a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training. The review must include:
(1) A review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91 of this chapter; and
(2) A review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.
(f) A person who holds a flight instructor certificate and who has, within the period specified in paragraph (c) of this section, satisfactorily completed a renewal of a flight instructor certificate under the provisions in §61.197 need not accomplish the one hour of ground training specified in paragraph (a) of this section.

I arrived at the airport an hour before my scheduled appointment time. A beautiful day to fly. A thorough preflight was done.  I made sure that Sally had enough fuel for the flight plus an hour reserve, which meant 6 gallons in each tank. I had done the weight and balance sheet and calculated that we would be good as long as the CFI weighed less than 220 lbs. I met Stacy in the office of Superior Aviation Gateway at Tampa Executive Airport. Weight would NOT be a problem.

I handed over my identification and logbook for copies to be made for my record and Stacy asked me if there were any maneuvers I would like to try. I have been spending so much time doing landing pattern work that all of my high work was rusty. We went to a "training area" about 10 miles east of Zephyr Hills and did a stall series, some steep turns and some emergencies. Then she talked me trough a Chandelle and some Lazy Eights. Fun. I must take time to do this more often as it is pure joy to fly these maneuvers in a plane like Sally. The visibility is fantastic.

Back to KVDF for some landings. It got busy as we were using RWY36 and the Corporate Jets were using RWY5. Eyes outside, I did two (demonstrated a slip on the second) and she did one. Stacy and Sally got along just fine. I hope she takes the opportunity to fly with me again. (Before 24 calendar months go by.)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


The progress is always slow. Each landing fine tunes the previous effort resulting in small but significant improvements. "You're slow. Go around!" Then, "You're too high", "Nose attitude controls airspeed, power controls rate of descent." Each circuit adds that little bit of experience. The pattern fits together like a chain, a weak link and it all falls apart. "Let's do it again." Slowly, overtime, the CFI becomes silent as the student makes corrections without being prompted. Typically, it takes from 10 to 30 hours of flight time before a pilot has the instinctive feel of an aircraft to be safe flying solo in other than perfect (no wind) weather. And typically, it takes an Instructor about that much time to trust a student to fly his airplane.

Bruce made good progress but just didn't see the roundout and flare. So I added a few exercises to our routine. We departed our home airport to try other venues (KZPH). We exercised. One circuit after another. "Let's try it again, this time hold the speed a little longer." Again....again...and then he saw it. We entered the pattern at home field and I stayed quiet. Nice landing. Again. Nice pattern, good corrections, safe landing.

Today we went out and I did the customary three circuits. It was perfect weather. He let me out on the ramp and went off on his own.

Nice job.

Reference: Flying
"But you will want to share the event with your friends and family afterwards. My biggest regret with my solo flight is that I didn’t get any pictures. And while the experience is still fresh in my mind, it would have been nice to be able to look back at that moment. Make sure that your first solo gets recorded. Pictures are great and video is even better."
Video Notes: Solo

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flying Season

6 Turns in the pattern at KVDF.
61°F fog at 7:00am EST. I look out the window and can barely see my neighbor's house just a few yards away due to the dense fog. Welcome to central Florida. But it isn't time to go back to bed. I start the coffee pot and go look at weather briefings on the computer. By 9:00am it should be in the high 60°s and beautiful blue skies. I get myself ready, grab my gear and head out to Tampa Executive.

The weather looks great by the time I finish the preflight. One last check to insure I have everything before I pull her out of the hangar.  "Hello Sally" as I start the prestart checklist. I use the choke now as it's cold enough to make a difference. The oil pressure was a bit higher, about 80psi. OAT read about 20°C. I closed the canopy for taxi over to the FBO.

I've been doing training flights. I enjoy the work. The wonderful Florida climate makes it a joy to fly this time of year.

After a Discovery Flight
We were coming back from a Discovery Flight just south of Plant City, 15 miles east of the field. The active runway at KVDF was 05 and there were no planes in the pattern at my initial call. I opted for a crosswind entry and headed for I75 where it passes north of the runway. Nearing the departure end of 05 I heard a position call from a Cessna "Upwind Rwy 05". I looked over my left shoulder for the traffic. Nope. You know that "itchy feeling" on the back of your neck? Where is this guy? His next report was crosswind Rwy 05. There he is, just in front, right off my nose. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." There is a difference in the nomenclature. The Departure leg is an extension of the runway centerline. The upwind leg is offset from, and parallel to the runway. We called crosswind, #2, traffic in sight.  (BTW, he flew a lousy pattern.)

Be safe out there.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deland 2nd LSA Showcase

The weather at Tampa Executive was foggy. This time of year the temperature and dew point meet at about 60°F and the high humidity condenses into a thick fog or mist (BR). I waited until the sun warmed the earth enough to get VFR conditions then took off to the north east. Deland is about 85 miles away, very close to Daytona Beach. The trip would take about an hour. Along the way I was vectored around the parachutes at Zephyr Hills and  cleared through the Tampa
Class B and later, the Orlando Class B. Flight following alerted me to numerous targets and I was able to visually confirm most of them.

Sally's numbers were good.
  • 5400 RPM
  • 5.6 gph
  • 113 kts TAS
  • 3500 ft and 20°C
When I switched to the temporary tower at KDED I was instructed to make a straight in approach for runway 5 and call a 6 mile final. Soon a Mooney came in behind me at 8 miles. I was asked to keep my speed up. So I came down the glideslope at about 115kts (indicated) with the trailing traffic closing at about 160kts. The trick was to transition to a "normal" approach speed. I made the no flap landing, touched down long and made the exit just before the Mooney landed. All of the controllers at the field did a great job as ATC.

The show was just a little bigger than last year. Some of the majors were there including Bristell and CTLS. All brands of Auto Gyro were there and constantly providing demonstration flights. I did not see Icon but their competition was there and I spent some time in the booths talking about amphibians. But the "foot traffic" was very slow for a Saturday afternoon. Sebring draws a much bigger crowd.

The weather that had given us morning fog now changed to afternoon cumulus. The bottoms were right about 3500'. R2910 was active. We were given a vector of 220° but that was driving me right into the clouds. So I asked for higher and was given 4500'.  That gave us a smooth ride. The view was fantastic.

The trip home was uneventful.

video notes: Deland2

Friday, October 20, 2017

Going to Work

Bruce asked if we could get an earlier start. He would be checking in at work and wanted to get as much time in as feasible before going into the office. I set my alarm for 0dark-thirty and got up to do the preflight planning. The weather looked good for early morning but winds would be picking up later in the day. It was a good decision to go early. As I scanned the NOTAMS I found one a bit different for Plant City. I'll watch out for that.

The flight went well. We accomplished everything on my agenda and headed back to KVDF to take a break. Bruce was ready for more so I planned to give him an introduction to the landing pattern. Bad decision. Those gusty winds came in sooner than anticipated and made all of the local airports unusable for pattern practice. However it was an opportunity to review procedures and radio calls. We departed VDF and went over to PCM and did a 45° entry.  All of his calls were good and he did a nice job with the pattern, although it wasn't fair to have him turn on final with winds gusting to 18kts. We "shared" the landing and taxied back for takeoff. We bounced a bit on the departure and made our way back home. Another opportunity to practice procedures in the pattern ended with a full stop landing. Good effort today.

I still had the intermittent GPS problem. So after the debrief I brought Sally back to the hangar for some trouble shooting. After a few tightened connectors and some strategically placed tie-wraps I got the purple GPS needle back on the HSI.

Just maybe I got it fixed. Bruce and I are scheduled for an early flight tomorrow, I can check it again in the morning.*

*Saturday Morning Update: It works! After a short flight with a number of landings the GPS interface to the Dynon Smart Aviation Bus (DSAB) stayed strong and consistent.

Reference: User guide

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Trouble Shooting the GPS

On Final
Saturday: Just canceled. It would have been high work, steep turns, slow flight, stalls, etc. When I left my house it was still dense fog, most local stations reporting IFR in mist or fog. I was betting that the fog/mist would clear to blue sky, unfortunately, it just lifted the base up about 1000'. VDF was still reporting IFR by the time I got home, and PCM had wind gusts up to 14kts. Rain showers predicted for the afternoon.

So it was a good call.

Wednesday: I drove out to the airport to prepare for a short maintenance hop. The Dynon (D100) HSI and autopilot are not capturing GPS data from the Garmin 696. Everything seems to work fine on the ground but one airborne the HSI needle goes away and the autopilot will not activate the "Nav" mode. (The VOR works fine.) I hate intermittent problems. 

So I suspect a loose connection somewhere. I removed the pilot side panel to get a good look at the back of the EFIS, nothing found except a possibly loose ground wire. I pulled the 696 out of it's mount and checked the connections. Possibly a loose antenna connection. All of the version levels of software are good. So I put everything back together and prepare for a maintenance check flight. 

I decided to go north for a change and dialed in Zephyr Hills (KZPH).  Everything looked great during taxi and runup. An Icon A5 was in the pattern for touch and goes.The purple needle held strong on the HSI without flicker or fluctuation. We taxied to the hold short line and waited for arriving traffic. I watched the CHT start to climb as the second airplane (twin Beech) announced his turn from base to final.  I waited for him to clear as the CHT nudged up to 250°. I took the runway in front of a plane on a 3 mile final and departed to the north. We cooled down immediately. The purple needle was gone.

The clear blue sky had begun its Florida summer weather cycle. Puffy clouds had started to form at about 2000' so we climbed to get above them. The Tampa Class B has a shelf out here that starts at 3000' and goes up to 6000' so not much headroom to use today. I decided to go back down to 1500' to stay clear. It was beautiful trip up and down, dancing with the clouds.

The pattern at ZPH had a Cessna and an Autogyro practicing landings. I entered behind the Cessna on downwind. The landing was good and we turned off at the first taxiway. No purple needle. I taxied back, waited for a plane to depart, the Cessna to land and the Gyro to land, then made my departure to the east. This time I stayed below the puffy cumulous clouds that were continuing to build skyward.

We passed just under a bird.

The pattern was still busy at KVDF. I got in line behind a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cessna. A normal approach to a 5 Star landing. (The kind when it just "rolls" onto the runway.) 

Now, back to that GPS. Worked great once I taxied clear of RWY 5. 

Notes: I changed the camera setting to "wide" from "ultra zoom" and like the effect. Upgraded the firmware on the Virb cameras. I have the latest version of Camtasia and Virb Edit installed. 

Video notes: Happy

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Flight South

Paul bought a new plane. It had less than 200 hours on the Hobbs. But it was up in Wisconsin, Paul lives in Florida. It was my job to help him get it home. We planned the trip a few times. Weather made us cancel. It is really difficult to find a weather window that will allow VFR flight across the whole country. And then Irma got in the way.

But the weather window did finally open up. I flew United into O'Hare, John met me with the big ugly Suburban and we drove over to General Mitchel International to get Todd, then waited for a later flight to get Paul. We had dinner, made some plans and decided to get up before the crack of dawn to start flying his airplane home. Along the way I would act as safety pilot and provide some instruction on the SportCruiser.

Thursday September 28th.
The way home.

When the dawn came we were climbing into the plane. 0720 CDT, we took off into the sunrise and headed south. I was glad to find that Paul had a nice touch for the airplane already, gently holding the stick and punching the buttons for the electric trim as we headed toward Chicago. We climbed to 7500ft and found smooth air and...a tailwind. Just a few knots, but still helping us move along. Wow.

First stop was Mount Vernon, Illinois,  a nice airport and very friendly FBO. They host the Midwest LSA show and always welcome Light Sport Airplanes. We listened to the CTAF chatter as we approached counting at least three other airplanes in the pattern. The GPS said we coming up quickly but no field in sight. Ten miles, five miles, oops, right in front of us. How did that happen? Still 1000ft above pattern altitude we circled out to come back in,which forced us to be high and fast. Paul handled it well. Once he got slow enough to drop the flaps, he made the base turn, then when on final applied a slip. Round out and flare led to a nice landing. A great salvage to a horrible entry. We asked to top off the tanks, made a quick rest stop and got airborne again at 10:30 CDT.

The next stop was Auburn, Alabama, home of the War Eagle, the Plainsmen and Aubie the Tiger. This trip would take us through the controlled airspace (MOA) of Fort Campbell, the home to the only Air Assault Division in the world. The Dynon system gave us an alert that the MOA was hot and highlighted the airspace in orange. Soon after the controller asked us if we wanted to proceed east or west around the restricted airspace. Paul decided to go west and we were given a heading to stay clear. (Pushed the button to change the autopilot to Heading mode and adjusted 10° right. Just that easy.) Once clear of the airspace we were handed back to Memphis Center, and eventually over to Atlanta.  As we approached Auburn we started to see a lot of "black dots" on the Dynon SkyView display. The controller told us "multiple targets, squawk VFR, frequency change approved" and let us fight it out for ourselves. I think there were probably 6-10 "dots" in the pattern with more on the entry. We picked out one on downwind and Paul followed him around. He landed a bit long, but got us off at the right exit and promptly cleared the runway. Nice job. We asked to top off the tanks, made a quick rest stop and got airborne again at 2:25 CDT.

Preflighting a new airplane.
The final stop of the day was Tampa Executive Airport, Florida. Home. This trip had us encounter our first headwinds. Not bad, only a few knots, but enough to slow us down. Visibility was poor due to haze but smooth air made for enjoyable flying conditions. As we snuck below the Tampa Class B we cancelled Flight Following and made our way into the airport. Surprisingly, there were 2 or 3 in the pattern here, including a Piper Cub. Another safe landing and we taxied in toward the FBO. It was 6:45 EDT. We tied her down and headed home for some rest. Time for the trip was about 9.4 hours. A good days work.

Friday September 29th

I met Paul at the hotel and drove him to the airport. We did some preflight planning and found the weather was "marginal". A tropical disturbance in the Florida straights was sending crud (meteorological term) up into southern Florida. But we both decided that it was worth a "look see" and he departed about 10:00EDT heading south. I would get a text message later that he had diverted into Stuart (KSUA) to wait out some of the bad parts of the storm. (Good headwork.) He got his airplane home to Pompano (KPMP) by 1:00EDT.

What an Excellent learning experience!

So, we had a lot of time in a cockpit together. We talked about a lot of things, mostly aviation. We avoided politics. I'm delighted to have a new friend.

Not Sally.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Aftermath: Irma

We were fortunate. Being on the west side of the storm meant we didn't get nearly the damage those towns to the east got. Our electricity came back on in less than a day. While the power companies did a fantastic job, some places were without power or water for days. The keys were devastated.

It all looks good from 1500'.
On Tuesday, I drove north on Dover Road and found a few spots where water was rushing over the street about 10" deep. The traffic lights in Dover and Seffner on MLK were out. (Treat as a 4x stop and the guy on the right has priority) Lots of minor debris and a few mighty oaks were chain sawed out of the way. Lots of standing water on the side of the road. The road back to the airport is "rustic" and I was pleasantly surprised to find it clear. The airport was still in "lockdown mode" due to loss of electrical power. (Generators for essentials only. Hangar doors and security gates were down.) They assured me that no damage or flooding occurred on site. I'll feel better once I see Sally, but am comforted by the fact that the hangar was still there. The FBO promised me they would notify me when the power came back on.

I got the phone message Friday morning. This time all of the traffic lights worked on my trip to the airport. The major debris was piled on the side of the road and traffic was moving along normally. It was quiet at the airport as I pulled up in front of the hangar. I held my breath as I opened the door and turned on the lights.  All was well. I did a thorough preflight in the hangar and then pulled her out into the sunlight to get a better look. We were indeed fortunate.

There wasn't much traffic today. I heard nothing on the radios while I taxied out to RWY23. All ground operations were normal. After takeoff I headed southeast to overfly my house and planned to take pictures of the surrounding neighborhood. As I leveled at 1500' I saw a red lined running horizontally across the 696GPS. A pop up TFR? It ran right along Rt60 going out toward Lakeland. I hadn't seen this during my preflight planning. When I scrolled over the area the text said from surface to 18,000'. No neighborhood video today. I flew north instead.

I ran through a systems check and found that the autopilot wasn't capturing the GPS track. A few more checks found the GPS was intermittent on the HSI as well. I did a DSAB configuration check but it didn't clear the fault. Switching source to VOR did work correctly. I suspect a loose cable. A gripe to check during my next "Hangar Day"

The areas I flew over didn't look to be impacted by the storm. The view from 1500' can mask a lot of problems. I knew that there were some folks down there sweltering in hot homes without water. We were indeed fortunate this time.

Video: Aftermath

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


We watched in horror at the devastation Harvey brought to Texas. While the winds were brutal the flooding was the real killer. At first reports, Irma wasn't going to develop into a major storm and its track probably wouldn't impact the United States. It would NOT be another Harvey. The forecast soon began to change. It would grow to be a major storm and would probably hit Florida, and it would become one of the strongest storms in the state's history.
After the storm formed, it intensified quickly. In the span of 24 hours, Irma became a hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. The storm then idled as it moved west across the Atlantic — before warmer waters gave it another growth spurt.

On Monday, Sept. 4, Irma's sustained winds were 120 mph. On Sept. 5, they were 185 mph, with gusts of 213 mph. When it finally hit land, it devastated Barbuda, St. Martin and other Leeward islands with direct hits, and brought massive flooding to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Reference here
We had to make a decision. What options to consider:

  1. Bug out. We have family in Atlanta so we could "batten down the hatches", leave Florida until the crisis passed, staying safe away from the storm.
  2. Stay in place. It would greatly depend on where this beast was going. If it stayed on the Atlantic side of the Florida peninsula the likely damage to us would be minimal. 
  3. Sally is in a hangar. I've seen too many pictures of beautiful airplanes trapped in collapsed hangars. The FBO assured me that my hangar could withstand a Category 3 storm. This monster would become a Category 5! I could fly her far away from the storm, up to Atlanta and wait it out there. No hangar available so she would need to be securely tied down on the line.
We watched the news. We gathered recommendations.
Dave, if you have a chance to get away from the storm, take it. I stayed through a cat 3 because of staying for the hospital. But never again. I would stay for a cat 1, but even that is not very smart. We ended up with 7 feet of water in the house. In the process of cleaning up now. ~ My friend Duane from Texas
Take your plane and get the hell out of Dodge. Head up to Auburn, Ala at least. ~ My friend JW 
I would strongly advise, get out of Fl. Not the storm I worry about, the aftermath and lack of infrastructure. ~ My friend Todd
The news was uncertain so we made our plans on the best available forecast. On Wednesday Sept 6th  I wrote this note:

It is still too early to tell what this monster is going to do. Earlier this morning we had some "positive" news that the forecast projected (spaghetti models) an eastward track to go up the Atlantic side of the state. However, this is still only a guess. We continue to monitor the weather stations and will have a better sense of reality Thursday evening.

Our plans, given current best guess:

1.) Stay in Tampa. Fuel the cars, buy all groceries and plan for power outages. We will remove all debris from outside and move Kathy's car into the garage. The truck will weather the storm. Sally is in a hangar. I do not plan to relocate her. Should the hangar fail the insurance company will buy a 2010 PiperSport. 
2.) After Thursday, if the forecast dictates that we must leave, we will evacuate to Atlanta. In that case, I expect massive prolonged power outages and chaos in Florida. We will monitor conditions until it is safe for us to return.
But the forecast was still uncertain on Friday morning.

"For 10 days, computer-forecast models had struggled with how the high was going to push Irma around and when it was going to stop, said Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at AIR Worldwide. “I have never watched a forecast more carefully than Irma. I was very surprised not by how one model was going back and forth -- but by how all the models were going back and forth.”  Reference here

Evidently, the science of forecasting isn't as robust as we thought it was. The models continued to move the forecast west. Mandatory evacuations for south Florida put millions of cars on the Interstates going north. Traffic was crawling at 5 mph in many places. Gas became a problem.

We could still fly Sally to get away, but where? The forecast didn't help. I could take her out of a safe hangar only to tie her down in the direct path of the storm. This was a very difficult Go/No Go decision.

No Go. We "hunkered down" and waited out Hurricane Irma. She arrived on Sunday, September 10th.
Close miss. We live about 5 miles west of the track.
    Reference: "Again, it could have been a lot worse than it was. I think Harvey, the impact Harvey had on Texas was probably worse than Irma. But you know, these disasters, there's nothing you can do about them." Joe Bastardi. See video here

    Sunday, September 3, 2017

    Behind the Power Curve


    I've heard about this one since the time I started flying. "Don't get behind the power curve." Every airplane has a power curve. And every power curve has a backside. It's an area of the performance envelope in which induced drag rises dramatically, necessitating considerably more power to maintain a given airspeed and altitude.

    So what?

    I've been following a post by Rod Machado on Facebook in which he has taken issue with the FAA for changing the test requirements for flying at minimum controllable airspeed.
    Isn't it ironic that the FAA wants all pilots to have better stick-and-rudder skills while, at the same time, it dumbs down the flying skills required to obtain a pilot certificate? In case you've been in the Himalayas practicing chants with the Maharaji for the past year, the private pilot ACS no longer requires a demonstration of flight at minimum controllable airspeed. Same with the commercial ACS, but the FAA goes a bit further in dumbing down pilot skills in this document. The link is here.

    Which brings us back to the Power Curve.

    My airplane doesn't have a stall warning claxon. The pilot must figure out (on his own) if she is getting into a situation where she might stall. It is pretty obvious with a PiperSport. As I reduce airspeed (by reducing power), the controls become mushy, the wind noise increases and she desperately wants to descend. Unless you forcefully increase the Angle of Attack she'll just mush along in a slow descent. If she does stall it is a very gentle nose over, seldom dropping one wing or the other. Recovery is to let the nose drop and add power.

    But what if I held my altitude by adding power as I raised the nose? At high enough AoA I could fly at a slower speed by increasing power. See how the red line on the graph starts to bend up on the left as you get close to minimum airspeed? Flying slower by increasing power. That's the "back side of the curve".

    So what?
    You’re on final, and see you’re losing altitude. The VASI lights are all red. The trees are getting closer. It’s clear that on your present approach path you’re on target to land well short of the runway. In an attempt to arrest the descent and set things right, you add power and raise the nose.

    Bad move. You’re still sinking, even though you’ve gone to full power in what is now a desperate effort to climb. Welcome to what’s commonly known as the back side of the power curve, or the “region of reversed command.” It’s not a happy place, and it’s worth a review of some basics in order to avoid it. These basics have to do with the relationship between drag and power. The link is here.
    Finally a break in the weather pattern for central Florida. Sally really need some exercise and I wanted to experiment with the power curve. After takeoff we flew over to the training area near Kidney Lake. Smooth air and good visibility and all of the instruments were green. I always like to start with a few steep turns (45°) and use them for clearing turns.

    This "back side power theory" seems to work. Try it for yourself, just not on final.

    Video: The Backside of the Power Curve.

    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." Reference: here
    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.