Monday, March 28, 2011


A beautiful Sunday morning. Temperatures were just above freezing, but the skies were clear and visibility was at least 1K miles. It tokk about 175 props to burp (and I did try moving the blades v-e-r-y slowly for about 20 of them) and the rest of her looked just fine. I flew direct to the ETX VOR while climbing to 6500 feet letting the autopilot handle the chores. She tends to chase the needle with VOR as the Nav source and loses the NAV source passing the VOR. (This might be user error and I'll dig into the books to find out how it is documented.)

Climb performance was good (+700 ft/min) all the way up in the crisp air. Smooth sailing our to SEG VOR and then over the last ridge to Lock Haven. I really paid attention to the oil temperature during my descent and intentionally kept high RPMs to stay warm. Even so I got the warning as I passed 3000 ft. I probably removed  the cold weather kit too soon. At least I was prepared for it and wasn't surprised when she stated chanting "RPM too high".

LHV is located between two ridges next to a river. This makes for an interesting entry to one of its parallel runways (paved or turf) and I chose 27R. The trip was almost exactly 100 miles. Anyone that has Piper written on the side of their airplane should be familiar with William T. Piper Memorial Field.

On March 16, 1937  Piper relocated to an abandoned silk mill in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. By November, 1937, all traces of Taylors' involvement with the company were erased when it was renamed Piper Aircraft Corporation

The Lock Haven facility was nearly destroyed in 1972 when torrential rains from Hurricane Agnes caused the great Susquehanna River flood of 1972, flooding the manufacturing plant and destroying airframes, parts, and much of the tooling necessary for production of several designs, including the Aztec, Navajo, and Comanche. The company decided to end production of the Piper PA-24 Comanche and Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, neither of which were selling particularly well (and were very expensive to produce), move the production of remaining models to Florida, and within 5 years close all operations in Pennsylvania.

So in some respects it was a home coming. We had purchased 4PS in Vero Beach and now I was able to sit on the ramp at Lock Haven. I waited for about 20 minutes for the oil temp to climb back up, did some checklist items and departed. I hope to be back for the Sentimental Journey event.

The trip home was at 7500 ft and smooth as glass. I enjoyed checking the 'nearest button' and searching for airports, trying guess the distance. The GPS direct NAV mode was rock solid.Wings level, nice crab with very little searching. Altitude hold was also very good with no complaints.

I landed just in time to run into the cafe and get a cup of coffee before it closed and sat in the car getting warm before I tied her down. I found a new spot where all the tires are supported by concrete slabs. I didn't use it before because no tie down anchors were available. I solved that with 'the claw'.

She needs a bath! I found a faucet, just need some WARM weather. The calendar says its spring, I'm still not too sure.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I put my pants back on.

The initial oil change was a bit late and  I'm glad I got it done. The plane just seems to fly better with clean oil. Harry was very good, pointing out aspects of the Rotax, recommending improvements like an oil filter with a larger diameter, etc. I enjoyed watching him work. The oil sample should be back shortly and will serve as a good baseline for future analysis. I will definitely need to take the Rotax Owners maintenance course this year. After a good run-up I took her up for about a half-hour just to insure everything was buttoned up correctly.

I was away for two weeks on business trip and will confess I thought a lot about 4PS, so I was anxious to get airborne when I got home. I decided to celebrate St Patrick's day with a little local tour down to N47. My preflight took a little longer since I've incorporated some of the items Harry said I should look at, but still pretty simple compared to many other aircraft I've flown. No water in the sumps after two weeks of very wet weather. She burped after ~120 props. The rest of the ground operations were all normal. (I flashed my landing light at two golf carts to let them pass in front of me before I crossed over the cart path to the runway.)

It was just great to get airborne. Just a little choppy in the air before a weak cold front, the temperatures are starting to be spring-like. It really registered when she called out a high cylinder head temperature on the top of climb. Obviously time to "de-winterize". About an hour total, 2 landings at N47, 3 back home. Basic airwork was sloppy, and headwork was weak. It doesn't take long to get rusty.

Yesterday I went out and put the wheel pants back on and took the intake baffles off. It must be Spring....finally. (I couldn't go flying because we had an appointment with the tax accountant...another sure sign of Spring.)