Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rules to Live by

  1. If the plane is broken, don't fly it.
  2. If the weather is lousy don't fly in it
    • If the weather changes, change your plans
  3. If the pilot shouldn't fly, don't.
    • IMSAFE
    • If you or your passenger are sick, land
  4. Set a "bingo" fuel quantity and land when you reach it.
  5. Know your emergency procedures and be prepared to execute them at any time.
  6. Know your limitations.
So, what is your go/no-go criteria? What is "too" windy? When is the ceiling too low? What should I do if I have a bird strike?

I spoke with one of the pilots involved in the accident and he provided insight as to what occurred. There was a bird strike at 2,500' on the underside of the engine, there were no feathers and only one of the pilots saw the bird,  but the thump was heard and felt by both. Loss of fuel pressure and engine was out within 1.5 minutes of impact. He states that immediately upon the engine going out they both went into automatic mode, relying on their emergency training and not panicking at all. Radio set to 121.5, emergency declared to ATC, transponder set to 7700, adjusting belts to a tighter feel, unlocking the canopy as they were coming in for landing on the road. The road they had chosen had power lines running parallel to the road.....the ONE unexpected surprise was when they both realized there was a power line running across the road. That's the last he recalls as next thing he remembers was being tumbled around after hitting a stop sign, fence and finally resting in the trees. He is grateful that they hit a few things on the way down as each impact deflected energy. 
The parachute lines, that are visible in the picture, are not from a deployment but actually from the separation of the front part (firewall forward) of the SC.  
As of today, he is still hobbling around as his ankles are still swollen and the body aching from the impact. As for the other pilot, he's still in the hospital sedated and on a respirator. A bleed was identified at the scene and the doctors are trying to control said bleed and reducing the swelling of the brain.
-Izzy (reference
Another local accident occurred over the holiday break, 
"I was walking toward my yard, and I heard what sounded like someone kicking over a garbage can," said Mary Ellen Race.
She said the plane clipped a tree, then come to rest at the corner of Papaya Drive and Sailfish Court. Race and her husband immediately checked on the pilot to see if he was OK.
"The pilot was still sitting in the plane, I went over and asked him are you hurt anywhere, do you have any chest pains, he said no I have great harnesses, I'm not hurt at all," said Ralph Race. 
Race says the pilot told them the plane lost power and he tried to glide the aircraft into the Punta Gorda Airport, which is a mile from the neighborhood. 
No one else was on the Piper Sport series plane, and no one on the ground was hurt.
 And finally, tragically another LSA crashed nearby.

LAKELAND — A student pilot died Saturday morning after his plane crashed on his third touch-and-go landing at Lakeland Linder International Airport.
According to Lakeland Police reports, Gary Alan Mansell, 64, of 3316 Ranchdale Drive, Plant City, was doing touch-and-go landings at the airport at 10:12 a.m. when his plane took a hard left and crashed into the ground, bursting into flames.
The investigations are still being completed. It can happen to you so be prepared. Training could make a difference.

Reference: Oil Pressure

Friday, December 14, 2018

Just for Me

There was a scheduling error. I was at the airport but the student wasn't. There was fuel in the tanks, VFR weather and my time was already allocated. So why not?

The winds were 080 at 8 gusting to 10, so I decided to try Plant City which has an east/west runway. 10 minutes away in smooth air, I entered on a 45 for RWY10. I was the only plane in the pattern. The winds were picking up with some pretty good chop on final. I don't get to do many landings myself anymore so it was good practice. The second landing was a very nice "roll on".

I departed to the north to do a system check of all the avionics. The autopilot coupled nicely to the GPS as I wandered up to Tampa North. I flew over the outlet mall and noted lots of new construction. The traffic is already a problem up there, adding more stores and restaurants isn't going to make the situation any better. Progress.

I came back to Tampa Exec for a few more landings. Reported winds were now 090 at 12 gusting 15. My landing on RWY 5 was good so I taxied over to RWY36 for some challenging crosswind practice. There was already a Cessna 172 working there and soon a Mooney came over to join the gaggle.

This a "pilot controlled" (Uncontrolled) airport. As you look at the diagram you can see a potential conflict with crossing traffic. The base leg of  RWY5 overlays the departure leg of RWY36. In addition, the police base of operations for helicopters is located at the south end of RWY36.

My first full flap landing was fine. I planted her pretty well (intentionally) in the gusty 15+kt crosswind. (POH max recommended crosswind component.) I decided to do a no flap landing next. I called my downwind as #2 behind the Cessna. I went a little deeper than normal to give the other airplane plenty of time to clear the runway. (Usually, I start my turn after the other guy passes behind my wing. This time I added a few seconds.) I added about 10kts to my normal speed for the no-flap configuration and an additional 5kts for the gusty wind. The Cessna cleared the runway as I turned final. I was screaming in way too hot. Go around. I announced my intentions just as another Cessna using RWY5 announced his turn to base. I was lower than he was as I was just taking off, he was in his final stage of approach to landing.

§91.113   Right-of-way rules.

As I announced my downwind a helicopter announced a 5 mile final for RWY36. By the time I turned base the helicopter was at 3 miles. I spotted it and we were both at the same altitude.

§91.113   Right-of-way rules.

I made another "roll on" (Two in one day!) and was off at the first exit. A great exercise that convinced me I should fly solo more often.
BTW, don't rely on the other pilot to obey §91.113. We avoided any potential conflict by seeing and communicating with each other.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Including one dual cross country night flight

"Night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac, converted to local time." (3 Definitions of nitght time.)
 Dual flight training minimum in any aircraft at least 20 hrs including:
  •  3 hrs dual night time in a single engine airplane
    • Including one dual cross country night flight over 100 nm

I chose Fort Myers, Page Field because of the distance (89nm) and the complexity of the airspace. The student would need to contact Tampa Departure, get handed over to Miami Center, do the transition to Fort Myers Approach and finally switch to Page Tower and Ground Control. Couple that with changing squawk codes and altimeter settings would be a great exercise in the dark. Plus, its a beautiful trip down Florida's western peninsula.

We departed about 6:00pm (L) from KVDF, the AOPA flight planner said it would take about 45 minutes down (about 55 minutes back). Weather was perfect with clear crisp air (14°C). We briefly leveled off at 2500' to stay below the Class B, then climbed to our cruising altitude of 3500' for the remainder of the flight. Higher is better when flying at night. It gives just a little more time to handle any emergency. We switched to Fort Myers Approach just past Punta Gorda and was soon asked to descend below 2500' to stay clear of the Class C. We leveled at 1800' and searched for the runway environment.

I always start with the green and white beacon. The city lights make the runway lights difficult to spot but once I see that beacon I can usually orient myself. Tower cleared us to land on RWY5.

Video Notes: Radio 2

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Although I learned this mnemonic to help me with IFR flights, it is still very relevant for VFR, especially when working with Ground Control at busy airports.

  • C- Clearance limit, usually your destination
  • R - Route of flight. Usually direct for us.
  • A - Altitude for the first leg.
  • F - Frequency to use to contact ATC after take off.
  • T - Transponder setting
After landing at Fort Myers we contacted Ground Control to taxi back for takeoff on RWY5. I asked him to request Flight Following for our trip back to Tampa Executive. After a few minutes, he called and said he "had the numbers" when I was ready to copy.
"674PS maintain VFR on your route to (C) KVDF. (R) Stay below 2000' until clear of the Class C, then clear to climb (A) to requested altitude. Switch to (F) 126.8 after takeoff. (T) Transponder Squawk: 4733"
Readback correct. 
We check the engine instruments then switched to Tower. It was a beautiful night to fly.

On final RWY5 at KFMY.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Emergency Locator Transmitters

Airworthiness Directives; Ameri-King Corporation Emergency Locator Transmitters
SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Ameri-King Corporation emergency locator transmitters (ELTs) as installed on various aircraft. This AD was prompted by multiple reports of ELT failure and a report of noncompliance to quality standards and manufacturer processes related to Ameri-King Corporation ELTs. This AD requires repetitive inspections of the ELT for discrepancies; repetitive checks, tests, and verifications, as applicable, to ensure the ELT is functioning; and corrective actions if necessary. This AD also allows for optional replacement of affected ELTs and, for certain aircraft, optional removal of affected ELTs. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.
DATES: This AD is effective October 24, 2017.
My Ameri-King ELT needed new batteries.  The 4 D cell batteries are $109 (for all four) and the remote battery cost $9. Any other battery that is not FAA approved is not allowed per the manuals. You can not simply use any lithium D cell battery. It was time to go shopping for a new ELT.

The Kannad Compact ELT units used in the late model SportCruisers do NOT have GPS Position sensing and data stream output reporting, and this cheaper KANNAD Compact ELT Model still relies on “old school” 406 MHz Doppler sensing position estimates from the fast moving COSPAS Satellites above. 

While the late model SportCruisers do not have any improvement - ie reduction -  in the SAR 406 MHz Doppler Search area  vs  the Ameriking AK451 121.5 / 406 MHz  ELT’s, the late Model SportCruiser KANNAD Compact ELT’s do not have the known failure modes, reliability issues, and quality control problems that come with the Ameriking ELT Brand.

Without an LOA, I had no choice but to go with the Kannad Compact ELT.

I hired CERTUS to do the installation. The removal and replacement of the actual ELT was straightforward as just a few bolts hold it down. The complicated part was installing the new remote switch in the instrument panel. The connectors were supplied but a three strand shielded wire had to be soldered to very tiny pins. Finally, the new cable had to be routed from the box behind the seat to the switch on the panel.

It works.

Completing a successful maintenance check flight.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Conducting an Effective Flight Review

Bruce is finishing up his requirements for Private Pilot. We decided to take a lesson to polish up some procedures.

  • Aborted take-off
  • Engine failure in flight
  • Engine fire in flight
  • No flap landing
  • Engine failure in the pattern

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.
 I got a call asking for a Flight Review
FAR §61.56(a) states that a flight review consists of a minimum of one hour of flight training and one hour of ground training. ... The authorized instructor must also endorse the pilot's logbook certifying that the pilot has satisfactorily completed the flight review.
 The purpose of the flight review required by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 61.56 is to provide for a regular evaluation of pilot skills and aeronautical knowledge. AC 61-98B states that the flight review is also intended to offer pilots the opportunity to design a personal currency and proficiency program in consultation with a certificated flight instructor (CFI). In effect, the flight review is the aeronautical equivalent of a regular medical checkup and ongoing health improvement program. Like a physical exam, a flight review may have certain “standard” features (e.g., review of specific regulations and maneuvers).

The training must include a review of the current general operating and flight rules of FAR Part 91 and a review of those maneuvers and procedures that are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate. The authorized instructor giving the flight review has the discretion to determine exactly what maneuvers and procedures are included in the flight review.

In this case, the pilot was a seasoned aviator who flew a 30-minute cross-country flight to meet me at KVDF. He flies an LSA so planned for enough fuel to make the trip and to burn off enough to have us legal for the 1320# MTOW. We met in the FBO and sat down to discuss all things related to Light Sport Airplanes, the state of General Aviation and the future of SportCruisers and their limitations. Next, we pulled up the Miami Sectional and reviewed it in detail especially focusing on controlled airspace around Tampa. I pointed out my "nightmare towers" and talked about how the segment altitudes are defined. A few more questions about regulations and we were ready to go flying.

We went out to his airplane and discussed the preflight. How many turns to burp the engine? Should we be concerned about vapor lock? How do you dispose of fuel after you sump the tanks? When would you use the BRS? He started the engine and we taxied out.

My agenda looked something like this:

  • Aborted take-off.
  • Short field take-off over a 50' obstacle
  • Steep turns
  • Slow flight
  • Power off stall
  • Pattern entry
  • Normal landing
  • Short field landing
  • No flap landing
He did well. I signed his logbook.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


My student had just shut her down following a solo flight. I sat on the bench at the FBO as he finished his post-flight checklist and prepared to exit the airplane. A stranger came out to talk to him, gestured toward Sally and leaned over the wing to take a look at the panel. After a few minutes, the stranger looked back at me then left to start his preflight (a C172). Sally has great ramp appeal.

I get a lot of questions about buying a SportCruiser/PiperSport. I love the airplane, but all planes have their strengths and weaknesses. One major reason for buying Sally was the support I would get from Piper. Well, that didn't last very long. But the viability of support is a big consideration in making an investment for any airplane.

There was a brief discussion on Facebook about specific things to look for when buying a SportCruiser. I think Bryan summed it up best:
Bryan Woodard A few sport cruiser specifics. Verify nose gear upgraded. Firewall strengthened. No nose gear collapse or any other damage history. Check leather glareshields for burn damage. Check both mains thoroughly for cracks up and down all front, back, sides. Verify landing gear box at the bottom and aft of the seat backs is straight and not damaged. Verify no damage to the entire surface of the tail tie down area. Verify proper canopy alignment and latching. If it is an 09/10 check radiator for evidence of coolant leaks. There was a bad batch of radiators. Verify other typical items such as 5 year rubber, ADSB, BRS life limits etc.  Oh and if it’s pre 2012, verify elevator travel to the stop. Where it meets the stop, verify the wear is not excessive and grooved on the part contacting the stop. They remedied this in 2012 with riveted on angle bracket stops. Also, with the elevator in its full nose down resting position, apply slight downward force to the elevator. If it moves or travels more than 1/4” or so you’ve got a problem.  
Sally has had everything mentioned except ADSB. Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS–B) is a surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. It is mandated that any aircraft operating in controlled airspace (which includes most the country east of the Mississippi) have this new technology installed. It comes which significant advantages like traffic information and weather available for free in the cockpit. So I began my shopping for an inexpensive solution and there are many. But there is a glitch. To use my airplane for instruction I must maintain a factory built and approved aircraft. Any changes must be handled by a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the manufacturer (CSA). I waited patiently. Then an announcement was made by CSA on the SCFLIER Forum
Josh Scheid: Wanted to be the first to let everyone know CSA has approved the Garmin GTX 335 Transponder for use in the SportCruisers and Piper Sports that are requiring this type of equipment for the mandated ADS-B out compliance.
Here is the link to the Service Bulletin No. SB-SC-053:
Notice that he says "...ADS-B out  compliance." That means that this box will transmit (broadcast) which will meet the requirements of the mandate, but I won't be able to take advantage of the benefits of ADS-B in. But I have a GDL-39 receiver. (See previous post). So am I good to go? Back to the forum where I asked what else I might need:
Shawn: Nothing Dave, that's all you need. You'd have the complete solution, you just can't legally wire it up.  The problem is you cannot connect your GDL-39 to your 696 to actually DISPLAY traffic and weather in the cockpit. That would be illegal without a LOA from CSA. There's no way for you actually SEE traffic and weather around you on your panel mount 696 as the 696 does not have wifi or bluetooth. You'll have ADS-B out and satisfy the 2020 mandate but you'll see nothing different in the cockpit without a LOA from CSA.
All CSA did was the bare minimum and meet the requirement for the 2020 mandate of ADS-B out only. They did their job, finally. You would have to keep an iPad or other tablet in the cockpit to actually display traffic and weather from your GDL-39. This is just extra clutter in the cockpit in my opinion but if you have no other choice what are you gonna do? Let's hope the next big announcement is the news of CSA actually issuing LOA's so you can request to hardwire your 696 to your GDL-39.Then you'll be golden.
But the LOA never came. I'm not golden. I can't hardwire the GDL-39 to my 696 but I could use Bluetooth to make that connection. A 696 doesn't have Bluetooth, a 796 does. Duane comes into the picture as a Knight in shining armor and makes his 796 available. Now I have all the puzzle pieces, I just need an A&P to put them all together for me. (Certus)

But the original question was about a pre-buy. The answer is don't go it alone. There is help out there if you just ask for it.

Monday, October 8, 2018


Stalls with Ben
Some of my students have decided to pursue their Private Pilot Certificate instead of becoming a Sport Pilot. The reason is that their primary mission requires more than an LSA. That decision changes the amount of training required. My syllabus takes the student through Sport Pilot requirements and allows them to "extend" their training with extra flights for Private Pilot. Major differences include a longer cross-country flight, a different Knowledge Test, and nighttime operations.

Sunday night I flew Sally to get recurrent with nighttime operations. It was fun to fly solo during the quiet hours of the evening. This would be the calm before the storm.

Monday: I arrived at the hangar to perform some minor maintenance and make sure Sally was ready for the busy week ahead.

Tuesday we flew a "Fam-5". This is the first flight in the Private Pilot curriculum:

Fam - 5: Radio Navigation and Communications
OBJECTIVE: To introduce the student to the basics of Radio Navigation and Communications with controlling authorities.
TIME: 45 minutes Ground Instruction; 1 hour Flight Instruction (optional video capture)
NEW LESSON ITEMS: Tuning VOR, identifying stations, intercepting a course, Direct to GPS, entering a Flight Plan, autopilot operations.
COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson has been successfully completed when the student demonstrates proficiency in VOR and GPS operations while maintaining basic handling of the airplane.

I kept a close eye on the outside air temperature (OAT) temperature and decided to give a new student his Fam - 1. He has previous Cessna time but nothing in a low wing airplane. We practiced Basic Airwork (BAW) and discussed Sally's performance characteristics. 

Wednesday: In the morning Ben did his Fam - 2. This is more BAW and includes Power-Off Stalls and Ground Reference Maneuvers. I also introduced him to the landing pattern and was impressed enough to let him try his first landing in a PiperSport. He did well!

Wednesday Night Bruce did his Land- 6: (We did half the requirement)

Land-6: Night Takeoffs and Landings
TIME: 1-2 hours Ground Instruction; 1 hour Flight Instruction
REVIEW LESSON ITEMS: Traffic Pattern Entries; Collision Avoidance and Scanning procedures in the Traffic Pattern; Traffic Patterns to low approaches; takeoffs and landings; go-arounds.
NEW LESSON ITEMS: Definition of night time. Hazards of night flying. Use of airport lighting systems.
COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson will have been successfully completed when the student: is able to show an understanding of nighttime landing procedures including aborted T.O and go-around procedures. The student will be able to make landings without instructor assistance

Thursday: We went over to KLAL and Bruce did:
Fam - 6: Radio Navigation and Communications at Controlled Field
OBJECTIVE: To practice Radio Navigation and Communications with controlling authorities.
TIME: 45 minutes Ground Instruction; 1 hour Flight Instruction (optional video capture)
NEW LESSON ITEMS: Tuning VOR, identifying stations, intercepting a course, Direct to GPS, entering a Flight Plan, autopilot operations.
COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson  has been successfully completed when the student demonstrates proficiency in VOR and GPS operations while maintaining basic handling of the airplane. Student must complete 3 full stop landings at a Tower controlled airport.
Friday: Bruce #2 continued with his landing practice.

REVIEW LESSON ITEMS: Traffic Patterns; Take offs and Landings; Go-arounds.
NEW LESSON ITEMS: Simulated engine failures to a landing; Forward slip to a landing; landing without flaps; communication in the traffic pattern; right-of-way regulations in the pattern. 

 Saturday: Leo continued with his landing practice.

REVIEW LESSON ITEMS: Traffic Patterns; Take offs and Landings; Go-arounds.
NEW LESSON ITEMS: Simulated engine failures to a landing; Forward slip to a landing; landing without flaps; communication in the traffic pattern; right-of-way regulations in the pattern. 

It was a very good week.

A high-ranking FAA source has confirmed that the FAA plans to almost triple the maximum weight for most light sport aircraft to 3600 pounds in rulemaking that will be introduced in January. The source confirmed the scant details of a Facebook post written by AOPA Senior VP of Media and Outreach Tom Haines from the AOPA Regional Fly-In at Carbondale, Illinois. Link Here
Additional information on MOSAIC found here. 

*Updated information about LSA weight limits found here

Monday, October 1, 2018


It is still hot in Florida. I've been keeping a close eye on the Cylinder Head Temperature and carefully inspecting the coolant level during preflight. It seems when the air temperature gets into the 90's the CHT gets up into the 250's. The night temps should be cooler.

I haven't been flying solo lately. My time has been spent with students climbing the learning ladder for their Sport Pilot or Private pilot certificates. When Bruce completed his solo cross country last week he also graduated into the next stage of his education which will include night operations. I needed to get myself current so took time on a beautiful Sunday evening to get a minimum of three full stop landings.

I got to the airport at about an hour before sunset to give me a chance to preflight in the daylight. Sally looked good. My three flashlight all got fresh batteries (as did my headset). The exterior lighting looked good. This would be my first time to try my new landing light. She burped after 20, the coolant level was just above the strap. We were ready to go.

I watched the sun setting as we sat at the hold short line for RWY5. I triggered the CTAF to check the runway lights and completed my checklist. The first two circuits wouldn't qualify for night landings but it sure was fun flying downwind watching the city of Tampa glow in the distance. I was alone in the cool quiet evening air. Just wonderful.

I finished my work and taxied back to the hangar. My new landing light is great, at least twice as bright as the original. I wondered how the lights would be on the taxiway to the hangar. Turns out the whole area is very well lit.

This was a great flight.

Video notes: Night time video

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cylinder Head Temperature

Hurricane Florence was finally dissipating in North Carolina and there were no ill effects in central Florida. It should be a good day to go flying. I asked Alexa about the forecast and the typical response came back with 30% chance of thunderstorms. But the next line got my attention; A high of 93°s. I sat down at my office computer to start my weather briefing. Soon I got a text message from my student. We were good to go.

I met my student at the FBO and drove over to the hangar. I was just after 9:00AM and the Florida temperature was already in the high 80°s. I had done some work on Sally the previous day and left the top cowling off. We reviewed the major parts of the engine and went over the normal preflight engine checks. He burped the engine then buttoned her up. Next, he climbed into the cockpit and pulled the checklist from the side pocket and went through each of the items. As we went through the checklist I pointed out special focus items, answered questions and helped him do a thorough walk-around.  (I also learned how to make some changes on the checklist to make it more efficient.) It took about 45 minutes. As he pulled Sally out of the hangar, I went back to the truck to drive it into the hangar.

We buckled in and completed the Start Checklist. Sally started quickly and smoothly. OAT read 31°s (88°F). Cylinder Head Temperature(CHT) read 220°F. Winds were calm, less than 5kts out of the south, but prevailing traffic was using RWY5. A long taxi for us. When we got to the runup area CHT was up to 240°s. I had already told the student to use the run-up checklist as memory items. In other words, not hesitate with each step but smoothly go from one to the next. By the time he finished his takeoff brief at the hold short line, the CHT was climbing past 250°. A CAP plane was on base turning on final. I asked the student to hold short but add power to 2500-3000 RPM to help cool the cylinder heads. Dropped back to 248°s. When the CAP airplane finally cleared were we back above 250°s. My No Go is 260°s. After the successful take off he chose a "cruise climb" at 70kts. It was 250°s passing 700'. We leveled at 1500' and the temp dropped back to normal.

I wanted to get 5 landings in today. We did three at Plant City and would have done another but it just getting too crowded. I decided to try some more back at Tampa Executive. Although not as bad, there were two in the pattern...and it was hot. We ended the flight with a great landing and taxied back to the FBO. It was hot. OAT read 34°C. (93°F)

The weatherman on the radio said the "feel like" temperature was 101°s. Time to call it a day.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day 2018

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. We celebrate this by ... taking the day off from work.??.
Sally got a new landing light. It's an upgrade from the original. It should be much brighter in the landing pattern at night. It looks like a nice piece of jewelry. I'm looking forward to becoming night time current again. Now, what is night time?  Is it sunset to sunrise, or end of civil twilight, or...

This year the annual discovered a crack on the right main strut hidden behind the brake line. Evidently, this is not an unusual problem, especially for a plane being used in a flight school. Certus had the expertise and tools to do this in my own hangar.

I replaced all of the original wheel pant fasteners with stainless steel screws. Not only will they last longer in the corrosive Florida weather, but I think they look better too.

It was also time to change out the Dzus fasteners on the wing lockers. Even though I have been using Corrosion X, over the years they have become discolored and looked old. These were also changed to stainless steel.

I took some time to clean the cockpit. I used some expensive leather cleaner but wasn't satisfied with the results. Next, I used a clean rag and some nail polish remover to attack some of the stubborn dirt spots. This worked well! I followed up with a good vacuuming.

Finally, I did the belly wash. Certus had said he didn't criticize me for the grime on the bottom of the plane because it was probably a good form of corrosion control. (Just his kind of humor.) So today I got down on the creeper and started at the nose cowling and worked my way back. Three rags later I was cleaning the tail light. (My arms and shoulders will be hurting tomorrow.)

Normally this would be the perfect time to take her for a test flight, but as I stood outside the hangar there was ill wind in the air. It was only noon and the clouds were churning into dark shades of gray. Tropical Storm Gordon had just been born in the gulf.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Landing Analysis

Leo is a new Private Pilot student starting his landing pattern work. I had the FBO fuel the plane with 10 gallons of 100LL while we went into the pilot's lounge to brief for the flight. We discussed the various ways to enter a traffic pattern and I told him that the 45° entry was still my preferred entry because it provides the best opportunity to see other planes in the pattern.

Due to the busy traffic at Tampa Executive, I decided to fly the 10 minutes east to Plant City where it is usually a lot quieter. Today we had a Piper Cub to do our circuits with and I really enjoyed watching him from the hold short line as we waited for our turn.

At this stage of training there is a lot to do:


NEW LESSON ITEMS: Traffic Pattern Entries; Collision Avoidance and Scanning procedures in the Traffic Pattern; Traffic Patterns to low approaches and full stop; takeoffs and landings; go-arounds. Introduction to proper radio procedures.
COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson will have been successfully completed when the student: is able to fly ground reference maneuvers with altitude +/- 150 feet, airspeed +/- 15 knots; has shown an increase in proficiency in flying the rectangular pattern, with altitude +/- 150 feet, airspeed +/- 15 knots, as well as uses proper scanning and collision avoidance procedures; the student will show an understanding of go-around procedures and how to recover from bouncing and ballooning during landings; the student will be able to make landings with occasional instructor assistance. 

I demonstrated a 45° entry and gave the airplane controls to him once we taxied clear of RWY10. I handled the radio so that he could concentrate on his basic airwork. I've found that 4 or 5 attempts are enough stress on the student for one session.

I always try to video the students first attempts. It serves as a baseline to show progress on future flights, but more importantly, the video serves as an analysis tool to provide feedback on the flight.
"I appreciate that you took the time and effort to produce and edit that video and insert your comments, the video is an invaluable tool for illustrating errors. It clearly shows how my perceptions of what was happening differed from reality. I was worried that my track was wildly inconsistent and the GPS track shows that I was extremely consistent with my path (although it was not the correct path), and the GPS also illustrates that my course wandered left more than I perceived, particularly when I started the focusing on my preparations for landing and focused on the altitude, speed, flaps, etc." ~ Leo
Video Notes: Learning to Land 

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Annual Requirements

Annual Condition Inspection. A detailed inspection accomplished once a year on an LSA in accordance with instructions provided in the maintenance manual supplied with the aircraft. The purpose of the inspection is to look for any wear, corrosion, or damage that would cause an aircraft to not be in a condition for safe operation.

The guidebook on who can do what is the maintenance manual (MM) specific to that aircraft. This manual includes information on the condition inspections, repair of the airplane, and authorization for repairs and maintenance. Each task outlined in the MM defines who is authorized to perform that duty—whether it’s the sport pilot certificate (or higher) holder, an A&P, or an LSRMA. 

I decided early on that I was not mechanically inclined. Dad had taught me to turn a wrench on my 1963 Corvair convertible, but I was only average at doing the work. Other car projects came and went with the same results, acceptable but not professional. Sally needs a professional.

I picked Todd up at the Orlando Airport on Saturday night. He had his tools in his checked bag, just under 50#s. After a diner breakfast the next morning, we went out to the hangar to see Sally. I had the cowling and pants off already and was assigned the task of removing inspection plates. He walked around her taking notes, pointing out areas of concern, asking if I had noticed a problem with this or that. Sally has really been running well so I had no complaints to speak of (except the left break occasionally made a "galunka lunka sound). After a while, we headed out to pick up some grease and other lubricants, then stopped for a burger before returning to complete the work. He has some really cool tools. It was a long 8 hour day. But it wasn't over. After dinner, he sat at the kitchen counter and updated my maintenance logs. Certus has created a binder system that provides an owner with an organized view of what has been accomplished and when additional tasks should be completed.

I learned a lot.

I took him back to the Orlando Airport Monday morning.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Should I trim?

I remember when it was a crank on the overhead between the pilot and copilot. Then it as a lever on the side of the cockpit and then  a large wheel on the throttle quadrant. There are other types of trim controls in different locations that I no longer remember but each became second nature to use after a very short period of time. Why? It's just too much work to constantly apply stick (or yoke) pressure to have the airplane fly the path you want it to fly. Once trimmed, you can let her fly (with minor adjustments) and enjoy the ride.

Position the airplane where you want it with the stick, then trim off the pressure. You will need to trim whenever the speed changes.

1) Takeoff: Most checklists tell you to trim to the neutral or takeoff position. This places your trim surface in a position for neutral pressure around Vy. As you lift off, you'll initially need back pressure on the yoke. As you accelerate to Vy, back pressure decreases, and will eventually be neutral.
2) Climb: After liftoff, wait to re-trim the aircraft until you've adjusted your climb configuration. Retracting the flaps will cause your plane to pitch up or down, and you'll need to re-trim to keep the nose pitched for Vy.
3) Cruise: As soon as you level off at your cruise altitude, you start accelerating. Set your cruise power setting and wait for your airspeed to stabilize. While this is happening, start applying nose-down trim in small increments to prevent the aircraft from climbing. (eh, let the airplane accelerate to cruise speed then trim off the pressure.) This requires some fine tuning, but once you're trimmed, you can let go of the yoke, and your plane won't pitch up or down.
4) Maneuvers: You should trim in every maneuver. Whether it's holding altitude setting up for a stall, or relieving control pressures in a steep turn, using trim during maneuvers will make you a master of the airplane. (eh, not so much. If the maneuver is going to happen over a short period of time I recommend you get a feel for the maneuver without trimming off the control stick pressure.)
5) Descent: This one depends on your descent. If you plan to a do a powered descent, you'll need nose-down trim in order to prevent the aircraft from wanting to climb again. If you do a power-off descent, you'll need nose-up trim in order to prevent the aircraft from pitching down too aggressively.
6) Traffic Pattern: You should use trim in each leg of the traffic pattern. Remember to re-trim the aircraft each time you reconfigure or change airspeed!
7) Landing: One place most people don't think to use trim is during the round out and flare. If you have electric trim, it makes landing much easier. As you enter the flare, add some nose-up trim to relieve back pressure. This helps you fine-tune your landing, and grease the plane on to the runway. (eh no, don't do this. Hand fly the round out and flare to get a much better feel for the landing.)

From: Boldmethod

I had a chance to fly with a student in the landing pattern.


TIME: 1-2 hours Ground Instruction; 1-2 hours Flight Instruction; Optional Video Capture

  • REVIEW LESSON ITEMS: Turns around a point; S-Turns along a reference line; Rectangular Patterns, proper radio procedures
  • NEW LESSON ITEMS: Traffic Pattern Entries; Collision Avoidance and Scanning procedures in the Traffic Pattern; Traffic Patterns to low approaches; takeoffs and landings; go-arounds. 
  • COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson will have been successfully completed when the student: is able to fly ground reference maneuvers with altitude +/- 150 feet, airspeed +/- 15 knots; has shown an increase in proficiency in flying the traffic pattern, with altitude +/- 150 feet, airspeed +/- 15 knots, and maintains appropriate headings and distance from the runway, as well as uses proper scanning and collision avoidance procedures; the student will show an understanding of go-around procedures and how to recover from bouncing and ballooning during landings; the student will be able to make landings with occasional instructor assistance. 

With the local weather getting hot by late morning, we decided to just stay in the pattern and bounce.

Video Notes: Landing Project

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Weather Check

I started the week with a full flight schedule. One flight would be a student's solo cross-country flight, the others were early familiarization flights leading up to landing pattern work. The first was cancelled for early morning thunderstorms. An unusual pattern for west central Florida, a high-pressure system in the Gulf was pushing warm moist air east forming cumulous clouds as the air mass crossed the beach. As the sun warmed the humid air the early morning clouds grew into thunder monsters that no pilot would want to play with.

The solo flight was cancelled. I decided to check to see if I could get the other students in before the monsters came ashore. The preflight went well, although it took a bit longer to "burp" Sally since she had been sitting in her hangar for a week. Oil was just shy of the full mark. The sumps were clean. Coolant was good.  I could see the bottoms of both tanks so I added 5 gallons of Mogas from Wawa to the pilot's side. She rolled easily out of the hangar.

Winds were light out of the south. The airport preferred runway was 23, but that was a long hot taxi from the south hangar. I decided to use runway 18 which was a short taxi to the run-up area. I actually had to wait for the oil temp to rise to 122F. Sally was running fine, all systems normal. It was 9:30am when we took off. The clouds to the west were already building.

We headed east to get out away from the airport environment.  The air was stable, no turbulence at 1500ft. Visibility was better than 10 miles with no clouds over the middle of the state. We turned north keeping the line of puffy white clouds to our left. I practiced some steep turns (turns out I needed the practice) as I watched the weather. The clouds were turning gray.

We headed back to the airport for landing practice. It was about 10:30am and I did two turns on RWY23 (each was very good) before changing over to RWY18 for my final landing of the day. The clouds were now dark and I could see showers nearby. I put Sally in the hangar. Kathy sent me a text reporting heavy showers at home.

This was definitely NOT student pilot weather. Maybe next week would be better.

Video Notes: Alone

Monday, July 2, 2018

Heavy Rain

We sat in the restaurant at Sebring. I had a really good BLT and he had the special of the day, a hamburger. As we finished we both started paying more attention to the weather. The puffy clouds were getting darker. He called for the weather brief and put it on the speaker. Typical afternoon Florida weather, "VFR was not advised."

We had lots of options. Most of the heavy stuff was north of KVDF moving south. Plant City and Lakeland were not options.  A few broken lines of cells were building to the south-west but I was sure we could get around them and if we needed to could get back into Venice.  Along the shoreline of Tampa Bay it was still clear and out along the gulf coast it was good. So Clearwater, Albert Whitted, and Peter O. Kight were all in play. (Sarasota was my "Ace in the Hole".)

The chart said it would take less than an hour of flight time to cover the 63 miles from SEF to VDF. Slight headwinds meant it might take a bit longer. We leveled off at 2000' and pushed the autopilot button to let Sally do the work while we discussed options. There was a dark wall of storms to the north clearly visible outside which matched the depiction on the Nexrad weather display. We would not go there. To the west, we could see thin isolated showers and the horizon through them. The south looked good and back to the east was still clear. We proceded on a west-north-westerly heading. It got darker.

There was a gap in the clouds slightly south of our track and we decided to take it. Clear blue skies were visible over the bay extending all the way to the gulf. But the track took us right over my "Nightmare Towers." He asked me for their height and I immediately responded "1650". We were at 2000' and saw the lights flashing on the towers as we passed north of them, Sally yelling "Obstacle" the whole time. It was still dark.

We started to turn the corner after passing I75. Rain to the right, sun to the left, we headed north to see if VDF was possible. AWOS told us that winds were from the south at 9G14 so I planned to go north of the field to set up for a long straight-in to RWY23. But once we had the field in sight we knew that plan wouldn't work. The storm was moving south and engulfed the northern edges of the airport. But RWY18 was still good. I announced an extended right base and made a no-flap landing as the rain started. It was a good landing.

We taxied to the hangar and waited for a moment before opening the canopy. When it let up we popped the canopy went into the hangar and waited for a while to allow the storm to pass. It was a good lesson.

BTW, wing lockers are not waterproof.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Section 5

The POH for Sally doesn't have a lot of information on performance. It provides data "that has been computed from actual flight tests in good conditions using average piloting techniques."

For Sally, the book says the takeoff run is 463' for concrete, 702' for grass. Landing distance is 1188' for concrete, 1109' for grass. The rate of climb (Vy) is 825fpm. But what if conditions are different than "good"?

Since aircraft engines combine air and fuel in their pursuit of power, air with lower density leads to less power. Airfoils also use air pressure for lift, so wings and propellers don’t work as well with air that is less dense. The result is that as temperature and altitude increase, performance decreases—sometimes at an alarming rate. Density altitude accounts for these factors and establishes a theoretical altitude at which the airplane performs. A Rule of Thumb is to increase takeoff distance 100' for every 1000' of density altitude. (It might be a good idea to listen to the ENTIRE ATIS/AWOS report.)  Have you heard of a Koch Chart?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Start of the Journey

Departing Tampa Executive to the East
I sat in the FBO waiting for my next student to arrive. Sally was out on the ramp as a King Air taxied in and parked right next to her. After the passengers deplaned the pilots came out to do a walk around, each taking their own side. After checking the port outboard wing, the pilot looked over at Sally and did a walk around her. Ramp appeal.

They come from different backgrounds and experiences. Usually, they have some aviation knowledge. I have to guard myself against boring them with too much basic information. For some, this is the first time in a small General Aviation airplane. "Small" was considered to be the twin-engine commuter they took on one leg of a long commercial flight. They have never flown RC models as kids or watched "Twelve O'clock High" on TV. I have to guard against throwing too many acronyms or make assumptions when using common terminology.

The Discovery Flight is the start of the journey to getting a pilot's license. I brief each client that it is their opportunity to see if they like it. If they like Sally, if they like me and if they can see themselves doing this. It is also their opportunity to walk away. So far, no one has walked away.

Last month I got a call from Ira. He is on a mission to fly as many different aircraft types as possible and wanted to know if I could help him. I said sure and asked if he had a C R U Z in his logbook. He said no, so I boasted that it would go to the top of his list. He paused for just an instant and explained that he had flown a P51. OK. So I explained that we would call it a Discovery Flight and it would cost $50. "...and how much to rent the plane?" he asked. I said no charge, that it was my way to entice people to get into General Aviation. "Should I charge more?" I asked. "Not until after you've flown with me," he said.

He was a "snowbird" and the wet weather continued until it was time for him to travel back north. Maybe next season.

Video Notes: Sonja

Friday, June 1, 2018

Unusual Florida Weather

Alberto: a subtropical system that spawned in the Gulf of Mexico and traveled north staying about 100 miles off the Tampa coast. Winds reached about 65 mph. Not much of an event except for one thing: RAIN. The eastern side of this system sucked warm moist air from the gulf and deposited rain all across the Florida peninsula. It must have triggered a weather pattern. We were grounded for 3 solid weeks. Lakeland reported the wettest month of May in history.

While waiting I decided to have some maintenance done on my LightSpeed Zulu headset. I like this headset but after 7 years it was starting to show age. I learned that for a very reasonable fee the company would refurbish the unit. If I had a Zulu 2 they would upgrade to a Zulu 3, but mine was older than that so I just got it reconditioned. GREAT! customer service, I would advise anyone to get this done.

I got a call from a prospective client about starting his training for his Sport Pilot Certificate. We waited for the weather to change. When I checked the maps yesterday it was marginal. Foggy mist in the early morning followed by a 60% chance of strong convective rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon. But there was a gap, a small possibility of mid-morning fair weather that might work. I asked him to meet me at the FBO at 9:00am EDT.

I did a thorough preflight on Sally the day before, noting that she could use a good cleaning. Mechanically she was sound, cosmetically she had killed a lot of lovebugs on the previous flight and needed the remains to be cleaned off the leading surfaces. She would go "as is". I burped her again for this flight and sumped the fuel. Next, I pulled her out of the hangar and attached the cameras. I enjoyed the brief taxi over to the FBO. Bruce was waiting for me.

We discussed what a Discovery Flight is, what he should expect and some basic instructions for the flight. I told him just a bit about Sally as we walked to the airplane, then instructed him how to get in and adjust the straps. I adjusted the rudder pedals and made sure he was comfortable before I got in. I suggested his polarized sunglasses might now work with the LCD displays. After a basic brief, we taxied out to RWY23 for takeoff.

The flight went well. We had to avoid some scud and a few scattered clouds at 1,000ft but the air was smooth. We accomplished what we needed and returned home. We are both ready for the next flight, weather permitting.

June 1st is the start of Hurricane season.

Video Notes: Discovery Flight

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Prepare for Emergencies

We have been enjoying great weather in Florida. Unusually low humidity with temperatures starting in the mid-60s before reaching 90 in the hot part of the afternoon. Wonderful flying weather (except for the "Lovebugs").

After the preflight, I asked Bruce to program the GPS with a short round robin to include KPCM - KZPH then back to KVDF. He asked to substitute X39 for Zephyrhills due to the traffic we've encountered there. I told him not to worry as we would never get there.

  1. IMC: After take-off, I asked him to climb to 2,500' and engage the autopilot. I simulated Tampa Departure for him to get Flight Following. At Plant City, Sally turned to a track of 007 to go to KZPH. I told him that we would simulate inadvertent flight into IMC and asked him to put on the "Foggles". He then pressed and held the autopilot button to have Sally execute a 180 to escape the clouds. Next, we disconnected the autopilot so that he could perform basic airwork maneuvers "under the hood".
  2. PPEL: After removing the "Foggles" we resumed our trip to KZPH. At 2500' I simulated fluctuating oil pressure and told him I felt engine vibration. He maneuvered the airplane to hit "High Key" over RWY10 at Plant City. "Low Key" was a little tight in and he carried too much energy onto final but we agreed we could have made the landing.
  3. Fire: We departed KPCM to the north climbing back up to 2,500' en route to KZPH. Once settled in I said I smelled simulated smoke and then complained about simulate heat on my legs. As he started the procedures I said I saw simulated flames and that we had a simulated engine fire. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, Checklist. We would have made that field.
  4. Diversion: Back up to 2,500' again going to KZPH. I told him there was a simulated emergency at our destination and we had to divert. He used the 696 to pick the airport (X39) and set up the autopilot to go direct.
  5. Loss of power in the pattern: Once comfortable, I said let's go home. As we approached abeam the numbers I told him we had a simulated engine failure. (Sally was having a simulated bad day.) We would have made the landing but I had him execute a "go around".
  6. Normal Landing: I told him I was done "simulating" and that this would be a normal landing.  We were number 2 behind a Cessna but didn't spot him. The other plane called base, still no joy. Finally, way out in front, we saw him. Good headwork and corrections for a very long final. I guess there is just no such thing as a normal landing.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Turf - Airport Manatee


•REVIEW LESSON ITEMS: Obtaining a weather briefing; planning a cross-country flight; preparing a flight log; airspace review; pilotage; dead reckoning; emergency procedures; lost procedures; communication procedures.
•NEW LESSON ITEMS: GPS/Radio Navigation; Diversions; Short/Soft field takeoffs and landings; FSS/Flight Watch; Flight Following.
•COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson will have been successfully completed when the student: can successfully plan and fly a cross country flight using pilotage, ded reckoning, and GPS/Radio Navigation; recognizes the need for, and makes timely course corrections; recognizes deteriorating weather, and/or weather forecasts not holding true; demonstrates awareness of the need for timely diversions if necessary; demonstrates awareness of proper emergency procedures, to include a landing after a simulated engine failure; demonstrates proper lost procedures; demonstrates short and soft field take off and landings; demonstrates knowledge of how to contact FSS/Flight Watch; demonstrates how to obtain flight following; uses appropriate radio communication techniques.

What did we Accomplish?

  1. Review sectional chart. Review soft field/short field takeoff procedures.
  2. Discuss cross-country planning.
  3. Preflight airplane.
  4. Ground procedures, taxi, run-up, discuss CHT and cooling options, takeoff and departure procedures.
  5. Use of checklists.
  6. Ground reference navigation.
  7. GPS setup and Direct To procedures. Using the GPS as a database for airport information. Tuning radio while flying airplane in light turbulence.
  8. Entry procedures.
  9. Set up at an airport without customary ground reference markings.
  10. Landing on grass.
  11. Soft field takeoff technique.
  12. Discuss stabilized approach and use of "Go Around".
  13. Departure, checklists, and navigation.
  14. Demonstration and use of the autopilot. Discussion of modes, use of heading bug. Use of altitude bug. Annunciations.
  15. Entry options at home field.
  16. Short field takeoff technique.
  17. No flap landing.
  18. Return to hangar, postflight, debrief.
It was a beautiful day to fly. We took off before the summer heat started to rise and the afternoon cumulous clouds had formed. But the air was bumpy. We wanted to stay low, below the 1200' shelf of the Tampa Class B, so we put up with the ground convection of the rising warm air. It gave Bruce a challenge tuning the radios. Sally was busy squawking "Obstacle" as we flew past the dozen cell phone towers along the route.

I love landing on grass. 48x sits on the southeastern edge of Tampa Bay and I enjoyed looking at the Sunshine Skyway bridge as we made our turns in the pattern. We took our time and enjoyed the day.

When you're lined up with the runway, you want to smoothly add full power, as well as back pressure on the yoke (many airplanes suggest full back pressure initially, but again, it depends on your plane). This does two things: 1) it reduces the weight on your nosewheel, and the stress it receives from the soft/rough field, and 2) it allows you to lift off as soon as possible. 
During the takeoff roll, your nose wheel will lift of first. As it comes off the ground, you want to start reducing back pressure slightly on the yoke to prevent your plane from lifting off too aggressively. As you slowly reduce back-pressure, you want to try to maintain the same nose-high attitude throughout the takeoff roll, and let the airplane fly itself off the runway.
 As you lift off the runway, you need to keep in mind one very important thing:
Ground Effect.

The trip home was uneventful.

Video Notes: Softy

Thursday, April 19, 2018

After the Solo, Now what?

With a couple of solo flights completed in the landing pattern, it is time to move on to more advanced topics. I prefer to have the written test completed by now so that the student can apply all of the topics learned in ground school. The curriculum changes it's focus to cross-country flying. My lesson plan looks like this:

NEW LESSON ITEMS: Obtaining a weather briefing; planning a cross-country flight; preparing a flight log; airspace review; pilotage; ded reckoning; emergency procedures to include loss of oil, electrical failure, vacuum failure, engine failure at altitude; lost procedures; communication procedures.  
COMPLETION STANDARDS: The lesson will have been successfully completed when the student: demonstrates understanding of the procedures to use in obtaining a weather briefing; is able to prepare a flight log with instructor assistance; is able to fly the planned flight making off-course corrections with instructor assistance as necessary; demonstrates understanding of the need to divert, if necessary; demonstrates understanding of the possible emergency situations that might arise during a cross-country flight; demonstrates an understanding of appropriate lost procedures; demonstrates an understanding of proper communication techniques. 

What did we actually cover?

  1. Complete preflight. Burp the engine.
  2. Starting the engine with the choke.
  3. Ground procedures including passenger brief and radio calls.
  4. Run up.
  5. Aborted take off.
  6. Normal take-off/departure and use of checklists.
  7. Clearing turns.
  8. Power on stall/recovery.
  9. Simulated fluctuating oil pressure. Determine the nearest airport.
  10. Use of GPS navigation including setup, split scan, direct to, and use of CDI.
  11. Divert to another airport.
  12. Entry procedures, use of checklists, calling out traffic and landing pattern procedures.
  13. Demonstrate the use of a slip. Compare the rates of descent with/without slip. Discuss skid.
  14. Entry procedures, use of checklists, calling out traffic and landing pattern procedures at home airport.
  15. Power loss in the pattern. Use of slip for landing.
  16. Ground procedures including radio calls.
  17. Engine shutdown using fuel cutoff valve. Discussion of engine fire procedures.
  18. Put airplane in the hangar, complete post-flight.
Homework assignment: What are the Sport Pilot and Private Pilot cross-country requirements? Plan a cross-country flight and be prepared to discuss why the route was chosen.

It was a beautiful day to fly. Wispy clouds wrapped the earth in a woven sweater. Beautiful.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Back in the Saddle

The lyrics of "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" contain the famous Lennon quote "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans."  That is especially true during the pursuit of a pilot's certificate. Priorities change. Many times its financial, but changes in work schedule, moving to a new home, an additional child or personal medical problems can all force a change in priorities.
(A good summation is here.)
But all of those reasons do not necessarily force a change in GOALS. So, take a break. Settle your situation and get back in the saddle.

Video Notes: Back in the Saddle

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cruiser Aircraft Open House

A review of the ADS air traffic control (ATC) recording revealed that at 1642 the pilot called ATC for a departure clearance while holding short of runway 15. At 1643 ATC instructed the pilot to line up and wait on runway 15. At 1644 ATC cleared the airplane for takeoff. At 1646 the pilot stated to ATC "we're having vapor lock, we need to come back and land." There were no further communications from the pilot.  ~ National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Preliminary Report
 It was a PiperSport. One of Sally's older sisters. Same configuration, same engine, and while the final conclusion isn't yet available, the early indicators point to a fuel malfunction. Using MOGAS instead of 100LL may have been a contributing factor. I have learned that refineries change the "blend" of gas from summer to winter to make it easier to start cold engines. In the spring, the blend changes back, but if you are still using winter blend on a hot spring day it could cause some of the liquid fuel to turn into a vapor. To solve that problem, the engineers have added a vapor return line (on new models) that relieves the vapor pressure. Sally has that line installed but it is still unclear if her older sister did. Florida doesn't use winter blended fuels, so my risk is low.  On Friday I had the FBO add 10 gallons of AVGAS just in case. (10 gals of 100LL for $52.10. 10 gals of Mogas for $28.80.)

The Open House was scheduled from 10:00 to 2:00EDT. Saturday morning Kathy and I stopped at Chic-Fil-A for a quick breakfast and then headed out to the airport. My normal route was blocked by construction as the county worked with the railroad to improve a number of deteriorating crossings. Fortunately, traffic was still light and we arrived at the hangar by 9:30. I pushed the heavy doors open and got the cockpit ready as Kathy worked on preflighting the engine including the required "burp"(20 pulls).

The weather forecast was perfect for the 100nm trip. I planned to cross the peninsula at 3500' and get there in just under an hour. NOTAMs said one of the runways at X26 was closed due to construction, and an airport (KMLB) just north had a TFR for an airshow. We took off on RWY5 into light northerly winds and smooth air. Tampa ATC was busy, very busy, but we checked in and got Flight Following. When we were handed over to Miami Center we learned what "busy" really means. It seemed that everyone in Florida wanted to take advantage of this beautiful spring weather. It was an easy flight over and we really enjoyed seeing the Atlantic Ocean as we made our turn to land. Parachutes were busy in the area so we had some extra traffic that required attention.

Izzy had some inventory out on the ramp in front of the Cruiser Aircraft hangar, so it took us a bit of searching to find a parking spot. There were many different types of planes other than LSA, and we ended up parking next to a Cirrus. (Sally looked pretty good there.)

Part of the fun of going to an event like this is to meet, in person, those folks that you have only corresponded with online. Another is meeting some "celebrities".
LAKELAND, Fla., Sun 'n Fun, April 13, 2010 — Piper Aircraft President and CEO Kevin J. Gould handed over the keys to the very first PiperSport, light-sport aircraft to three veteran pilots here today.
"The PiperSport is an amazing entry-level aircraft that will bring new customers to Piper," Gould said. "It fits perfectly into our overall mission of delivering the very best airplanes. It will lead the way for customers to step up into more sophisticated and higher performance aircraft within our line over time." 
The three co-owners -- all from Miami, Fla. -- are Charlie Carlon (ATP/CFI/CFII), 62, a 20,000+ hour, former Delta Airlines Pilot who works for Airbus North America teaching pilots how to fly the Airbus via simulation; Brian Garhammer (ATP/CFI/CFII), 52, a 16,000+ hour, former ATA pilot, who also works for Airbus North America teaching pilots how to fly the Airbus via simulation; and Dr. Mike Morduant, 62, a veterinarian and a pilot for 42 years.
We met Charlie and Mike who are still flying PiperSport #1. Pretty cool. Charlie and I may have been in the same Navy training squadron (VT27) at the same time! We also had a chance to talk with Steve, a fellow member of the SCFlier Forum and chatted briefly with Lukas, Josh, and Izzy our hosts. While we ate a great barbeque lunch we chatted with some local folks, non-pilots, that were aviation enthusiasts that just wanted to enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon with some airplanes. Finally, we talked with Kirk about what I might be able to do to upgrade my legacy Dynon system for ADSB-out. There are some new possibilities to consider.

The winds were picking up, it was time to go.

Video Notes: Open House