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