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.