Monday, May 29, 2006

We're Home

The boys made it home, safe and sound. It was an incredible journey, second in comparison only last year's Alaska adventure. Among of best parts were that it was VFR for about 93% of the trip! Other than the takeoffs at KSEE and KELD, and a little bit of en route cloud busting, we were able to enjoy the beautiful sights that a 1700 NM trip from California to Ohio can offer.

Further details, pictures, and possibly a video to follow soon. But first, there is laundry to do and other such mundane details of life.

Blue skies to you all!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Rest Stop #3

Mike Hotel is securely tied down on the ramp in El Dorado, Arkansas. AW and the IFR Pilot are camped out at the Country Inn Suites and Hotel, while MS is with relatives.

The day began with an unwelcome awakening. The boys hit Lubbock hard last night -- some more than others, but who's counting -- then retired to the room. MS claimed the big bed, AW grabbed the cot, and the IFR Pilot got the fold out couch. When the sun finally rousted us, no one was really ready to go. But we had to get out of Lubbock before it was too late or too hot.

The IFR Pilot was flying the first (and turns out, only) leg of the day. We carefully briefed out takeoff procedures, including setting a definite abort point. Using KLBB's runway 17L, we taxied all the way to the end of the 11,500 foot runway. When the IFR Pilot moved Mike Hotel into position, he made sure to use every inch of available space. The abort point was the intersecting runway 26. If we weren't off the ground and climbing at least 200 to 300 feet per minute, then we were putting back down. That still left several thousand feet to land and slow. In addition, gear were to stay down until we were assured that we were not going to abort. That made for a bit of a compromise, as we'd obviously climb better with the gear retracted, but we judged it better to leave the wheels hanging until we were sure that we were not going to abort the takeoff and land on the remaining runway.

We quickly accelerated to 70 knots, but getting to 75 took, relatively speaking, a looooong time. Eventually we did, and we climbed into ground effect. Climb rate was meager -- maybe 200 feet per minute -- in the warm, sticky air. We soon committed to continuing and the IFR Pilot called for gear up and flaps up. That helped and we started seeing 400 fpm climb rates.

After that, it was basically a 90 degree turn to a heading of 090, and direct to our destination -- Southern Arkansas Regional Airport at Goodwin Field (KELD). MS wanted to stop here to see Mrs. MS and Young Little MS, who were visiting relatives. Along the way, we passed a Southwest flight inbound to KLBB. It passed perhaps a half-mile north of us. Always cool to have that happen.

It took nearly 3 hours, during which we moved from seeing yellow terrain on the WAC charts to green, truly a welcome sight after so much time in the desert southwest. We passed north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Class Bravo, which was very busy. We even had an American flight pass in front of us, descending for the approach into DFW.

Just east of DFW's airspace, the clouds were rising and there was convective activity to the southeast being depicted on the trusty Garmin 396. So, we descended from the relative comfort of 9,500 MSL to 3,500 MSL to get underneath and hopefully keep ourselves out of any unwanted weather. Fortunately, it was no where near as choppy as you might have thought, flying underneath lots of puffy cumulus clouds.

Eventually, we passed our original intended point of landing, Magnolia Airport, which was rejected because (a) the FBO is closed on Sundays, and (b) the runway is only 4400 feet and we wanted more for our near gross-weight takeoff. ELD offered three runways, so we were confident that we could have a takeoff into the wind with minimal crosswind component and added pavement.

What was supposed to be a couple of hour delayed became an overnight stay when MS phone and advised that Young Master MS was ailing and they were off to visit the local witch doctorphysician. After many hours of waiting and a very short visit, MS phoned and advised that Young Master MS had a possible infection and they were off to fetch some medicine. MS would be crashing with Mrs. MS's family, so the IFR Pilot and AW grabbed a local room at the near-new Country Inn Suites.

The plan is to blast off at 7:00 local tomorrow, before things heat up too much. One fuel stop and we should be at the home base not too late after lunch time. It looks like it might be possible to go direct to the Home Base, but there's no reason to do that. We'll just find the cheapest fuel stop at about the halfway point and put down there. MS and the IFR Pilot can switch seats, and we can each get closer to the 10 hours with CFI that the insurance company wants us to have before we commence solo flight in 2MH.

Sorry no pictures today, the IFR Pilot did all the flying and left the camera in the baggage compartment.... See y'all tomorrow.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rest Stop #2

The boys are safely on the ground in Lubbock, Texas. Another 2.5 hours completed, and this leg had its own fair share of adventure.

We took off -- if you can call it that -- from Santa Teresa at about 5:30 p.m. MS had to nurse 2MH off the ground. The airport is at 4110 MSL, and it was 91 degrees outside. You do the math to determine the density altitude of that!!! (About 7500.) MS did a fine job, but the climb rate was meager at best. Gingerly, we eventually climbed and headed for the Salt Flat VOR. Along the way, we transited through El Paso's airspace, and took in the view of El Paso to the left, Ciudad Juarez to the right. Here's a view out the left side window, showing El Paso International:

And here, you can see downtown El Paso, with Juarez just beyond:

From there, it was on to DILLI intersection, which took us around the Guadalupe Mountains. We rode some thermals up and down, and made it out relatively unscathed. The Guadalupes are spectacular, and if you've ever read Rinker Buck's Flight of Passage, you know that they can provide a wild ride. We chose not to cut through the pass, but instead to circle around the south end of them and avoid most of the mechanical turbulence that is generated inside the pass itself.

After the Guadalupes, there wasn't much scenery. About the only thing that broke up the scrub below us were the West Texas oil patches. They do make for an interesting patchwork on the ground, that's for sure.

We then hauled tail to Lubbock. We had some major-league tailwinds. At one point, we saw groundspeeds reach 180 knots. Couldn't get the camera going fast enough, but did manage to capture this shot of the MX-20 showing 170+ knots.

There was major convective activity off to the east, but we dodged it all. These pictures probably don't quite do it justice, but this baby was reaching 50,000 feet into the atmosphere and wasn't to be messed with. Our original destination was to be Slaton, TX (F49), just southeast of Lubbock. However, checking the AOPA Airport Directory showed that F49 was only attended during daylight hours on the weekend. Thus, rather than chance it, we diverted to Lubbock International. We tried raising Lubbock Aero on UNICOM, but couldn't get a response. Wanted to make sure that we could hangar Mike Hotel for the night, so that he wasn't treated to an overnight dose of West Texas sandstorms.

On right downwind for KLBB's runway 17R, ATC reported "winds 150 at 20, windshear alert, 20 knots on final approach." Well, that was certainly going to make MS's second landing of Mike Hotel a treat. And, to add to the excitement level, when the IFR Pilot decided to snap a picture on short final, the flash went off and made MS and AW jump. (MS later confessed that he thought we might have suffered a lightning strike!) Kudos to them for remaining calm and letting Mike Hotel onto the runway in great fashion. The fact that 17R is 11,500 feet long allowed us to keep large amounts of power on and use only 10 degrees of flaps. Even after we landed and requested a progressive taxi to Lubbock Aero, ATC said, "Taxi about another mile down and then turn right on Foxtrot." Now that's a progressive taxi instruction!

With 2MH safely ensconced in a hangar for the night, the boys caught the Holiday Inn shuttle van for the ride to the hotel. Much debauchery ensued later, but that's protected by the attorney-client privilege and therefore, the IFR Pilot may not comment any further....

Catch up with us later. We're making a beeline for Magnolia, Arkansas for MS to catch up with the wife and son for a few hours. Then, today's final destination: Nash-vegas (a/k/a Nashville).

Rest Stop #1

The boys are 4.8 hours into ferrying Mike Hotel from San Diego to the Home Base in Ohio. Currently, MS and AW (obligatory CFI) are sleeping on the lounge chairs in the pilot lounge/personal residence of the fine proprietors of Blue Feather Aviation at Dona Ana County Airport (5T6), Santa Teresa, NM.

The day began with an early morning launch from Gillespie Field, which included a battle with the thick morning stratus. The IFR Pilot had all of .4 hours in 2MH when he launched into the scud in complicated airspace with a departure procedure that included a minimum climb gradient. I, for one, was sweating bullets until, .3 of an hour later, we were on top, smack in the middle of V6, headed for Chandler Arizona. We're giving a shout-out to SoCal Approach, who helped us quite a bit, by giving us a 360 climbing turn while still in the vicinity of Gillespie, so that we could clear the terrain.

You might be able to see just a bit of it on this graphic from Flight Aware:

Here's a picture of us and the scud:

While the IFR Pilot and AW did the work, here's what MS did:

We landed in Chander 2.3 hours after takeoff, and the IFR Plot managed an acceptable landing, if a bit firm. Not bad for only the third landing in this fantastic bird.

Overall performance wasn't too crummy, given that we're just about at max gross and the air temperature at 9000 was 55 degrees F. In other words, well, well above standard.

After a quick fill up to the tabs, MS took charge and logged his first few hours in 2MH. We made a beeline for 5T6, managing to dodge a variety of SUAs along the way. One of them was R-5115, which consists of a tethered balloon up to 15,000 feet MSL. Unfortunately, the IFR Pilot's digital camera wouldn't pick it up, so we've got no picture for you.

We chose 5T6 because it is has one of the longest runways in this area. The airport elevation is 4116 MSL, and temperatures are running pretty high. But the runway is something like 8500 feet, so we're pretty sure we can bust on out of here at any time.

But really, why challenge the desert in the middle of the day. So we're chillin' like villians, and will blast off around 6:00 p.m. local. That should put us in Lubbock, TX, just in time to hit the town for a bit of trouble making.

Here's a view of the terrain surrounding 5T6. Pretty much your archetypical scrubland:

Stay tuned for further updates!

Good News

MS and AW returned from Tijuana last night, so the IFR Pilot did not have to bail them out from an encounter with the federales. Muy bueno, mi amigos.

We'll be launching in a couple of hours for Chandler, Arizona. Keep your fingers crossed, and check back often as we try to update from the road!

Mike Hotel Acquired

The trip to the Left Coast to fetch Mike Hotel began with a voice mail message from United. "You have been rebooked . . . ." Apparently because of the storms that blew through Northeast Ohio on Thursday night, Friday morning's airline traffic was bollixed up and being rearranged.

The good news was that we'd be leaving Cleveland at 9:27 instead of 6:00. The bad news was that we'd be arriving in San Diego at 12:30 (local) instead of 10:30. Since we had to notify MBNA by 1:00 (San Diego time), that meant there wouldn't be a real chance to examine 2MH. We'd have to roll the dice and fund the loan, and hope that if 2MH turned out to be not what we wanted, we could get the money back and return it to the bank (having already made sure there was no prepayment penalty on the loan).

The wheels began to fall off the plan when the IFR Pilot was 15 minutes late picking MS up at his house. And because the road on which MS lives is bisected by a train which had apparently come through this morning, all of the local traffic was bogged down. A trip that should have taken 20 minutes from his house to KCLE took closer to 45 minutes. So we arrived at Hopkins at 9:00 for our 9:27 flight. Not good - must check in, must traverse the TSA security check minefield, etc.

Fortunately, the flight had been delayed to 9:45. This gave us just enough time to check in, send the bags through (the IFR Pilot hand-carried his logbook!), take off half our clothes so as to not set off the TSA's metal detectors, and scurry along to our gate. When we arrived, people we already boarding.

The delay in Cleveland, however, brought ominous feelings for catching the connecting flight in Denver. We tried to get some help from the flight attendants during the flight, but -- if you can believe it -- they were entirely unfriendly.

We landed in Denver and sprinted for the gate of the connecting flight. It was 20 gates away, which at Denver seemed like about a mile sprint. We must have made quite a sight: MS and the IFR Pilot trying to hurry, carrying several bags, panting like dogs from the physical exertion in the mile-high air of the Mile High City.

We made it with literally seconds to spare. We were the last two people to board that flight. And as the IFR Pilot sat in his seat and checked his voice mail, he retrieved another message from United.

"You have been rebooked . . . ." No way, sucker, got you beat this time.

And so we settled into the Economy Plus seats we had wrangled from the customer service agent on Thursday night, after having berated him and his airline for destroying our carefully crafted travel itinerary for "important business."

Anyway, we made it to San Diego unscathed. The airplane broker picked us up and delivered us to see 2MH and meets its owner, RMH.

God, is 2MH a beauty. Wonderful, like new paint. Meticulously cared for. We spent some time in the cockpit. We walked around him. We pulled the cowling and carefully examined the engine. Threw on the battery and played with the avionics. There's even a 12 v DC adapter so that we can pull the MX-20 and GX-50 from the plane and work with them at home to learn all of their features. RMH surprised us by telling us he had updated the data for the MFD and GPS. That set him back a couple hundred bucks, but he said he was "donating" it to us. Thanks!!!

RMH then took us for a short hop. MS sat in the right seat, the IFR Pilot in the back, running the video camera. We didn't do much, just a right downwind departure for a circle back to the west, overlying MYF (home of John and Martha) and then a normal, changed to short field at the last minute, landing. MS grabbed the controls for a bit, and 2MH was no worse the wear for it.

After landing, we chilled in the broker's office after having signed the final papers. MS and the IFR Pilot were the proud new owners of a 1979 Piper Arrow IV! Yipeekayeye, punk!!!

Our CFI for the trip, AW, showed up an hour or so later, having flown in after us. Although he looked brain dead, he was a trooper and saddled up with the IFR Pilot as he took 2MH for a couple trips around the pattern. MS -- chicken that he is -- was going to wait on the tarmac until we got back, but the IFR Pilot forced him to go.

Two trips around the pattern and the IFR Pilot was confident that he could land the plane without help from AW, if it proved necessary.

After that, it was time to secure a hotel room and feed our faces. The latter we did with extreme gusto. I've never seen 3 guys inhale so much food, so it looks like we've got at least one thing in common.

The IFR Pilot then retired for the night to plan tomorrow's flying. First leg with be KSEE to KCHD (Chandler, Arizona). After that, it's Chander to Dona Ana County Airport in Santa Teresa, Texas (5T6). According to AirNav, it's got cheap fuel and has a nice long runway.

Meanwhile, the MS and AW are in Tijuana. For a little cultural experimentation. Let's hope so! See you in the morning, kids.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Truly, A Cross-Country Cross-Country

When it came time to plan last summer's flight from the Home Base to Alaska, the IFR Pilot had almost two years to prepare. And there actually wasn't that much to plan. I had to figure out how to get from Ohio to Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaska Highway. From there, you simply follow the Highway. Plus, I bought a video, aptly titled Flying to Alaska, that showed you the Highway (and Trench Route) in detail. It could have been called Flying to Alaska For Dummies, it made it that easy. I watched it so many times that by the time I flew the route, I could almost recite verbatim the narration that accompanied the video.

Now, with barely two weeks notice, the IFR Pilot has been tasked with planning the route from San Diego to the Home Base. Making it more of a challenge is that the charts just arrived today, and we leave San Diego on Saturday morning.

And complicating it further are MS's requests: Let's see the Grand Canyon (special chart required). And stop and see some family in Arkansas.

NB: While the Grand Canyon is on the great circle route to the Home Base, Arkansas most certainly is not. And the great circle route from Southern California to Ohio isn't exactly the most prudent way to go, given those pesky little Rocky Mountains. It would be much safer to follow I-5 (I think) into the flatlands of Texas.

Now, while we're throwing personal requests into the flight planning, the IFR Pilot wants to hit NOLA. Haven't been able to get back there to see friends and loved ones since that bitch Katrina laid waste to my favorite town in the whole country (and home to the IFR Pilot's beloved alma mater). So, let's add that to the itinerary while we're at it. Hey, it's only avgas we're burning, right?!?!?!

The upshot of this is that the IFR Pilot has been pouring over charts, AirNav for fuel prices, and playing with the AOPA Flight Planner most of the day, much to the chagrin of my bosses, who would actually like to see me working every now and then....

If you flew the great circle route, it would look something like this:

And the flight plan would come out something like this:

Instead, we get this monstrosity:

And this ridiculous flight plan:

The upside is that the extra couple of hours will help MS and the IFR Pilot whittle away at the 10 hours of dual instruction required by the Insurance Gods. And maybe the IFR Pilot can count one of the legs as the commercial cross-country with CFI.

Clearly, we're going to play this all by ear and we'll see how much Mother Nature wants to cooperate. We really want CAVU -- or at least good VFR -- conditions until we are east of the Rockies. We have all of the low altitude en route charts and an entire country's worth of approach plates on DVD (with a battery powered printer, no less), so if we have to go IFR for all or part of the trip, that's doable. But not necessarily advisable, with three people in an airplane with which none will be all that familiar.

We taking suggestions, comments, and observations on the route planning, especially the leg leaving the Vegas area to our next fuel stop. Ideally, legs of two to three hours. That way we get a chance to use the facilities, switch pilots, etc. Your suggestions appreciated. Also, if you've got ideas as to kewl airports for us to stop at, pipe up. Especially if you know of cheap avgas, defined for our purposes today as anything under $4.00/gal.

On a completely separate note, JS passed his instrument checkride today in 78S. Way to go Bro! First round's on me when we get home!!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Partnership Available

JP, one of the partners in N3978S, would very much like to keep her where she is. So if you are a pilot located in Northeastern Ohio (vicinity of Akron/Canton/Wadsworth/Medina), and are interested in owning a share of a completely pimped-out Cessna 172, contact the IFR Pilot (e-mail link in the upper right corner of the blog), for details.

Friday, May 19, 2006


N3978S, a 1964 Cessna 172E with a 180hp AirPlains conversion, is for sale.

5328 TT, 1010 SFNEW, 1010 SPN. GMA 340, GNS 430 & GI-106 indicator, KX-155 & KI-209 indicator, KT76a, Horton STOL, Flint Aux Tanks, Electric Aileron Trim, more, more, more!

Asking $61,000$58,000 OBO.

Bought an Arrow, the Skyhawk's gotta go!

For pictures and details, go to

E-mail the IFR Pilot (link in the upper right corner) for details.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mike Hotel Update #2

CFI hired.

Plane tickets purchased.

Arrow POH ordered for pre-flight studying.

Digital approach plates DVD ordered. Portable, battery-powered printer borrowed, so we can print approach plates in the airplane. (Easier and lighter than carrying all of the paper approach plates for this lengthy trip.)

List of WAC and low en route charts compiled and will be purchased from the Pilot Shop this weekend.

Bank financing completely approved.

Insurance will be finalized tomorrow.

MS will be near Sporty's this weekend, so he's picking up one of these to replace the TC. Will be a nice addition to the safety level of 2MH.

Everything seems to be moving forward nicely. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mike Hotel Update

Financing appears set. Insurance is bearable, but a bit expensive -- though not surprising given that, combined, the IFR Pilot and MS have 6.1 hours of retractable time (all if it owned by the IFR Pilot). Schedule is cleared to head to the Left Coast next weekend. Working on what to do with 78S.

By all accounts, acquisition of our Piper Arrow IV, N32MH, is going smoothly. Keep your fingers crossed.

The only hitch is that our lovely insurer requires that we each receive 10 hours dual instruction, followed by 10 hours solo flight, before we can carry passengers in 2MH. This means that our plan to ferry Mike Hotel home ourselves won't work. We gotta hire a CFI.

So, we're calling in all our chips to find someone who, on about a week's notice, wants to fly 2000 miles cross-country. For a reasonable price.

Anyone want to volunteer? Drop me an e-mail (the link's in the upper right corner), and offer a price. You must, of course, be within weight and balance considerations, but also must be a skilled teacher of all things aviation-related, patient and understanding, can deal with the incessant needling that goes on between the IFR Pilot and MS when we fly, and won't argue with us on the station to play on the satellite radio...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Movin' On Up (click me!)

Today was a banner day for MS and the IFR Pilot. After some casual conversations, we decided that it was time for us to divest ourselves of our beloved 78S.

*sniff, sniff, tear, tear*



So, we did. We reached an agreement in principle today to acquire a 1979 Piper Arrow IV. Actually, the IFR Pilot's a bit surprised that it happened as fast as it did; thought it might take several months of loooking to find the "right" plane, as 78S was very nicely equipped and there was no reason to settle when it came to a new plane.

But, in life, all things are meant to happen, so you gotta roll with the punches, even if you get hit much sooner than expected.

She's He's** a sweet bird, see fer yerself:

Like with a new child, everyone wants to know the vital statistics. Here they are: 3189 hours total time, 1200 hours since factory engine overhaul, 439 hours since installation of the kickin' McCauley three-blade prop. Apollo GX-50 GPS with MX-20 MFD. Two MAC-1700 digital coms (used to have one of those in 78S before the GNS 430 upgrade, they store 10 frequencies on both the nav and com sides). Garmin 340 audio panel and 327 digital transponder. GEM digital engine monitor. Piper Autocontrol IIIb autopilot. Brand spanking new paint and leather interior.

Kids, the IFR Pilot's in love. Seems like MS is too. He keeps mentioning that he wants to do unmentionable things to this airplane. You all should stop drooling. Sure, the IFR Pilot's going to have to sell one, maybe both, kidneys to afford it. But hey, why should I leave any money for me heirs???? *snicker, snicker*

We're tentatively scheduled to pick her up Memorial Day weekend, if all goes as planned. Stay tuned for updates, 'cuz we gotta fly her from San Diego to our home base in the Buckeye State. Can you spell "
A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E"??? Of course, if any of you would like to explain the best route to cross those pesky little Rocky Mountains, we'd be most pleased to hear from you. Soon. Very, very soon.

We're certainly going to miss 78S. Hopefully JP or JS, or someone else at the Home Base, will want to acquire her, and pamper her like we did. We've got no complaints about how she treated us the last few years, especially given the way she faithfully took the IFR Pilot and Dadster all the way to Alaska and back. I know that we're definitely going to miss that awesome Skytech Flyweight starter that just got installed a couple of weeks ago. We had a great partnership, four great guys that love to fly. Boys, here's to each of you!


** In honor of the fact that the plane will be referred to as "Two Mike Hotel," the IFR Pilot has unilaterally determined that this airplane is a male, not a female!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nothing In Particular

MS and the IFR Pilot went flying twice this week. Monday saw us playing hooky and doing some sighseeing just for the heck of it. We launched from the home base on an IFR flight plan to our first destination, Royalton Airpark. Before we got there, though, we did the aerial tour of Niagara Falls, after taking a bit of a shortcut across the lake.

This was the fourth time the IFR Pilot's done the tour, but MS's first. So the IFR Pilot did the flying and MS did the photographing. We got some nice shots, don't you think?

One interesting development was that we thought we'd be required to cancel IFR to do the tour. Turns out we didn't, they kept us on the instrument plan and we just advised when we were done with the tour and got a clearance direct to 9G5. It sure generated a funny track from Flight Aware.

After that, we launched for Sidney, NY, on the eastern edge of the Catskills/Finger Lakes Region. The entry in the Flight Guide noted that the airport was surrounded by 800' hills, so we were pretty sure we wouldn't see the airport right away. Which turned out to be quite prescient, we saw the airport after we crossed one last hill to the west.

MS, who was doing the flying, got turned around on which runway we were approaching from, and we ended up having to circle the airport. What wasn't helping us was a Cessna 180 that reported it's position rather inaccurately. We forgave her, however, once we saw her on the ground, as she was there to purchase a Panther Navajo. Her French-Canadian accent was rather intoxicating. Did see some interesting birds on the flight line in Sidney, including this one:

We borrowed an old F-150 from the airport geezer (a phrase stolen from Rinker Buck's "Flight of Passage") running the desk and treated oursleves to the local culinary delicacy: Burger King. Yep, Sindey's a right big town with lots of places to try...

We were gonna head home then, but decided to do some more flying since it was still early with good weather. We looked at the map and just picked an airport: York, PA (KTHV). It was uneventful trip, as least the part that I remember was, having managed to sneak in a nice little nap. The views as we passed over the nuclear power plant at Three Mile Island was something to behold.

Then, it was the IFR Pilot's turn to aviate and we made a bee-line for the home base. With the favorable tailwinds, it only took about 2 hours to get home, and we landed just after the sun set. Rats, couldn't log it as a night landing. But, we flew about 8 hours for the day and had one hell of a blast. And, we were treated to some lovely views as the sun was setting:

Yesterday, MS called and rousted the IFR Pilot out of his lazy funk (break-ups do that, don't they?) and made him go flying. We considered going to Pittsburgh, just to add another Class B to the logbook, but decided to be lazy and just go to New Philly and eat junk food at Perfect Landing. So that's what we did.

Strangely, MS decided we didn't need the 396, so we didn't bother to hook it up. Can you see the foreshadowing here???

While there was no convective activity to speak up, there was considerable moisture in the air and we had to dodge a big shower cloud while executing the GPS 14 into PHD. On the way back, it was even worse. Akron Approach advised that it had a large area of "moderate precipitation" between PHD and the Home Base. So we diverted around it and landed before the skies opened up.

Then we zoomed around the airport on MS's newest toy, a golf cart. Sure makes it easier to make that last minute visit to the little boy's room.

Y'all have a good night.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Complex Checkout

This evening, the IFR Pilot went flying with JD. The goal: Earn a complex endorsement in a 182RG so that the IFR Pilot can legally act as PIC in birds that like to fold their gear up.

Before we went flying, the IFR Pilot grabbed the checklist (thanks, JP, for letting me borrow yours since the Pilot Shop was out of them) and did some flow practice in the cockpit. It was a great exercise, as I was able to locate all of the gauges and see how the procedure flows worked.

Then, it was on to the preflight. It is, of course, always a treat to preflight a complex aircraft. You get to lay on the ground and check the wheel wells and microswitches. Must remember that this is not something to do in work clothes!

Then, it was time to fly. First thing I noticed: RIGHT RUDDER. Those addition 55 ponies out front really make the plane want to yaw to the rightleft on takeoff. Unfortunately, the IFR Pilot didn't pull the seat all the way forward and therefore didn't have sufficient leverage to jam the rudder down as necessary. JD covered for me, thank goodness.

We then hopped over to BJJ for our touch 'n goes and other exercises. All in al, it was a rather grueling workout, all 1.6 hours of it. We did normal, short, and soft field takeoffs and landings, power-off landings, aborted takeoff, emergency gear extension, and then for fun, how to use a Cessna autopilot. That device was actually quite capable, as we used in both nav and heading mode, watched it intercept a VOR, hold altitude, etc. Too bad the Stormscope doesn't work, or we could have worked in a little lesson on that too!

It's amazing the speed at which the RG drops out of the sky when you pull the throttle to idle. The first power-off landing didn't quite work out, and a bit of throttle had to be added to make the runway. OK, must remember to keep it a little closer.

JD surprised me a bit with the engine failure on takeoff. I've only experienced one of those before, when I was getting my high performance endorsement. It was a good refresher. How he managed to reach over and pull the landing gear breaker without me noticing still has me wondering. (Note to self: When you own an airplane company someday, make sure that the landing gear breaker is located on the pilot's left side, just to make the CFI's job more challenging....)

When it was all said and done, the logbook received the appropriate endorsement. Therefore, the IFR Pilot is now legally allowed to operate as PIC in complex aircraft. Ladies and gentlemen, please make your planes available to me so that I can fly them!

Before the flight lesson, the IFR Pilot (joined by JP and his daughter H) spent a bit of time washing part of 78S. She's full of grease and grime and hasn't had a good washing since last fall. Now that the temperatures are warming and the bugs are reappearing, there's no excuse for us not to pay a bit more attention to our post-flight activities and keep her in tip-top condition.

Tomorrow, MS and the IFR Pilot are playing hooky and going flying. Just for the fun of it, and just because we can. Hopefully, it will be less exciting than our last adventure together.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Still Alive

The IFR Pilot's still alive, fans. Work has interfered with the ability to think, eat, fly, and blog. But, we managed to get through the last couple of weeks and it should be back to normal, including the return of the almost-famous "Accident of the Week"tm.

Although flying and blogging have been absent, that hasn't stopped 78S from needing a bit of TLC.
It really was too good to be true -- to have gotten through the annual with only one tire and a some sparkplugs.

First, there were the alternator repairs, discussed earlier. Of course, the bracket that our faithful A&P welded broke, and he's had to secure a new one. That's $80. (Sidenote: We've ordered a parts list for the 172 so that in the future, we can try and track some of these parts down ourselves.)

Second, the nose wheel tire and tube had to be replaced. That was $145. That was accompanied by the need to overhaul the front strut. We'll see how much that one costs.

And, proving that bad things do come in threes...

Third, the starter -- which was just replaced with a brand new one in September at a cost of $419, plus labor -- has completely konked out, after barely 200 hours on it, nearly stranding MS in Philadelphia during an Angel Flight. Well, we're not taking that one lying down. MS wrote a nice, nasty demand for our money back. No doubt Lamar is going to merely overhaul it or replace it, but if we can get our money back and replace it with a Sky-Tec starter, that's the preferred option

Hopefully, once this spate of repairs is accomplished, 78S will be purring along nicely.

We just passed 1000 hours on the engine. That's half-way to TBO. Yikes, we better start saving our quarters. And Benjamins!