Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Block Island Photo Blog

Trying something new here...

Thursday through Sunday saw the IFR Pilot and ML depart the strangely-mid-October-warm confines of the Home Base for the warm confines of Block Island, RI and then on to CT to visit with Dadster and other relatives. Rather than write a lengthy recap that mostly only serves to entertain me, presented for your perusal if you happen upon this entry is the first My Flying Blog "photo essay" blog entry.

Check out the slides, read the captions, look for the occasional note embedded in the pictures. (Click on the lower right corner to switch to full screen mode, they are more impressive that way.) Some of them turned out quite good, IMHO. I'm sure those are the ones that ML took, not me.

Tomorrow, the IFR Pilot is off to Rockford, IL for work. Thankfully, having Mike Hotel available allows one to avoid arriving at Hopkins an hour early, taking an hour flight to O'Hare (can you say "DELAYS"), busing over to the rental car facility, waiting for rental car, and driving 1.5 hours from Chicago to Rockford. Instead, 2:40 in Mike Hotel direct to Chicago Rockford International Airport. (Well, really, it's Home Base - JOT - KRFD, but that's close enough....)

Anyone for dinner in Rockford tomorrow night?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lunch Anyone?

For some strange reason, we couldn't get any lunch delivered to us yesterday...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Feet Wet!

A full report will have to wait until we return home (and have access to the USB cable necessary to offload pictures from the camera). In the meantime, you'll have to settle for the crummy camera phone picture, taken out of the window of our hotel room:

Even after Labor Day, Block Island is wonderful and you need to come visit. My only complaint was that the Narragansett Inn ran out of lobster before we arrived for the $25 all-you-can-eat special. Rumor has it they are doing it again tomorrow night; this time, we'll be EARLY, not late!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Instrument Current

Yes, Mike Hotel and the IFR Pilot return to the skies on Saturday, more than 2 months since ML and I went north. (Report still pending...) The goal was to renew the IFR Pilot's instrument currency in anticipation of a trip to RI and CT this weekend. Currency had completely lapsed, so this necessitated a full renewal, a/k/a 6 approaches, hold, etc., etc., etc.

AW was summoned to be safety pilot since MS was "unavailable." After two months in the hangar, Mike Hotel needed a bit of TLC, including lots of av gas and some air in the tires. With those necessities out of the way, and cool air in abundance, AW and the IFR Pilot rocketed off The Home Base's Runway 3.

First up was the VOR-A at 3G4, which included the IFR Pilot creating his own course reversal just outside the FAF instead of flying another 10 miles to the VOR for the published reversal. Sorta like own nav to the FAF, I suppose.

Then, we did the GPS 10 into BJJ. Done this a million times, so no sweat, except for having to go around early so as to avoid messing with the local traffic pattern much.

From there, it was the ILS 1 at CAK twice. AW observed that the IFR Pilot flew the needles much more accurately the closer we got to the runway threshold -- the opposite of most people, who are accurate further out but then have trouble holding the needles inside the donut near the runway. What can I say, I work best under pressure. The second time around included a touch 'n go.

Fifth approach was the LOC 25 at AKR. This is a bit of a slam dunk, especially if you don't get down early enough. Once again we did, but had to go around early to avoid traffic that we departing runway 7.

We skedaddled over to RITZS, did the required hold thingy, and then popped out the GPS 2 into 3G3.

All that remained was to land the aircraft in one piece. We did, but only after we deftly negotiated with other inbound traffic that was headed to the same place we were at the same time. AW was handling radios at that point and in his best airline pilot voice piped up with "Where are you now and do you see us?!?!?!?" Fortunately, our position reporting was a bit more accurate than theirs, and so we elected to proceed #1 to land.

If it hadn't been for the last bit of unexpected wind gust, the IFR Pilot would have managed a spot landing on the target. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

Currency renewed, vacation awaits. See you on the backside!

(P.S. - signed up for MGMT 317, "Organizational Behavior," in the October session of ERAU Worldwide. We'll see how interesting this one is.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Still Among the Living

Yes, yes, yes, the IFR Pilot is still with y'all. Been quiet on the aviating front since July, when I went Up North for a bit and still haven't had time to post a Pirep of our Adventures On The Georgian Bay (tm).

However, things are looking up. Nice weather tomorrow evening may allow a return to active flight status with a few night currency takeoffs and landings. And then, next week? "Beautiful" Rockford, Illinois for work. Keep yer fingers crossed.

Oh, yeah, got an "A" in Principles of Management. Starting another class in mid-November, haven't decided which yet.

Check back soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Schoolhouse Recap

As previously noted, the IFR Pilot is tackling the challenge of obtaining a Certificate in Management Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University via its Worldwide Online offering. As the name implies, it's a totally on-line experience -- a dramatic change from the last schoolhouse I attended in 1994. (Side note: I was literally laughed at in my first year Torts class in the Fall of 1991 when I broke out a notebook computer to take notes during a lecture; today it's pretty much standard practice for the kids in law school to use laptop computers and most law schools, of course, have wireless internet access. How things have changed in a mere 17 years!)

Anyhow, the current class is MGMT 201, "Principles of Management." Class consists of:

1. Reading two chapters each week in the assigned textbook.
2. Completing a case illustration assignment from each chapter.
3. Posting a response to a discussion question on a classroom bulletin board.

The reading is relatively straightforward and, seeing as how it is a first- or second-year college level class, it's not all that complex. The case illustration questions generally consist of a set of hypothetical facts followed by somewhere between two and five discussion questions. Answering them essentially involves processing key concepts from the chapter and applying those concepts to the hypothetical facts. Each weekly posting is worth 10 points, so 50 available so far.

The bulletin board discussion questions are not complicated to answer, but have on some occasions proven to be fairly provocative. I've done my best to avoid doing what others do, which is just posting a few random thoughts. Instead, I've tried my best to relate the question to something that's been covered in the chapters we've read that week, and to annotate the posting with hyperlinks to relevant third-party materials. Each week, students can earn an additional 10 points if they fully participate in the discussion (post a response, respond to others, be courteous, etc.), so that's another 50 available so far.

This week, we took the mid-term examination. Open book, 40 questions (true/false and multiple choice) and two essays. Total points available: 100.

IFR Pilot's total points to date: 200.

As I commented to ML today, "Everyone should wait until they are 40 to go to college. You really take it seriously then, especially when you are paying for it!"

Six weeks down, six to go.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Captain, We Need More Power!

Interesting times at the Home Base since MS and the IFR Pilot returned from NOLA. Unmentioned in the prior post was the borderline scary takeoff from the Home Base's 2350 foot runway. Picture this: It was about 91 degrees F outside. We had some baggage, fuel to the tabs, and two bigger-than-FAA-standard people on board. In other words, we were right at the edge of the W&B envelope. Then, add in what seemed to be a 60 degree crosswind (instead of a helpful headwind!). The result was a meager, meager, meager climb rate off the Home Base's Runway 3, which has these pesky little TREES just beyond it. We cleared 'em, but I swear I could count the leaves...

So, when the mechanic called the next morning and said, "I saw that takeoff. Your plane's coming into the shop when you get home," MS and I both knew we needed to heed his advice. (Of course, every other takeoff during the trip was absolutely fine, though we did consciously choose to refuel at airports that had generous runway lengths.)

Upon our return, mechanic extraordinaire B fetched Mike Hotel from the hangar and began checking things. Compressions. Exhaust system. Lobe wear on the camshaft. Alternate induction air door. Everything. MS and the IFR Pilot scoured the internets for data about the Arrow IV and the Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 that powers it. We had run all kinds of experiments on the way home to see how Mike Hotel's performance compared to the POH; the results showed that we were in the target range for an that's 1500 hours toward a 2000 hour TBO.

The only thing that B uncovered was an enlarged hole on a plate or some other kind of thingamajiggy on the propeller governor. His theory was that although we had the prop control full forward, we might not actually have been getting the full bite of the prop because it was taking whatever pitch it wanted. So, he pulled the governor and shipped it across the state to our new friends at Tiffin Aire for a rebuild. I'll admit I wasn't sure I understood all the details about how this could explain what we were seeing, but I understood that something was out of spec and needed to be fixed. I also sucked in a deep breath when B delivered the foreboding announcement that the rebuild was going to be expensive.

A couple days later, B installed the new governor and MS and I convened at the Home Base for the test flight. We had already determined that he'd be the guinea pig, I mean, test pilot, so by the time I arrived, he was already doing the run up. I watched with baited breath as he accelerated down the runway, Mike Hotel pitched up, and then soared into the sky. It was a glorious sight, right up until MS landed. Let's just say that it wasn't one of his best -- though the wind was being a bit squirrely.

The IFR Pilot then jumped aboard and we did another takeoff. We paid particular attention to acceleration and where on the runway we were achieving each 10 knots of airspeed. We had sufficient airspeed by the halfway point to perform a short field takeoff in accordance with the POH, and by the time we had cleaned up and hit the end of the runway, we were established in a 500 FPM climb at 70 KIAS. Looking good!

Down to BJJ we went for a few more takeoffs in different configurations. Everything was on the money (well, except for MS allowing us to get blown way past final on the first landing), so we turned tail and headed back to the Home Base. We decided to add fuel to the tabs and go for one more takeoff.

Things went like a charm on the final trip around the pattern, and we concluded that it was acceptable to declare Mike Hotel operational. It's a happy, happy plane now, as it also got an oil change and a new pilot-side vent window while it was in the shop.

Back to normal flight ops here at My Flying Blog. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Big Easy, Re-Re-Re-Dux

MS and the IFR Pilot are back from what has become an annual rite of passage: Taking in New Orleans. A quick review of the logbook shows we were there in April of '05 with 78S, and in December of '06, March of '07, and now May of '08, all with Mike Hotel.

Flying down on Sunday, we battled serious headwinds and hot temperatures, stopping twice for fuel. Our first refuel was in KBWG (Bowling Green, Kentucky). We nearly had a heart attacks when the FBO quoted us $6.77 for avgas! Fortunately, we had spotted a self-serve pump. The list price of $5.50 suddenly seemed far more reasonable.

Skipping lunch, we blasted back off and dodged thunderstorms throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Mississippi wasn't much better, either, but we pulled it off and remained VFR the entire way. Our first fuel stop was aborted when ATC advised that they -- unsolicitedly (is that a word?) -- had called ahead and the FBO had just closed. Of course, we could pay an extra $50 for a call-out. Umm, no thanks, we still had lots of fuel, we'll push on. Ended up stopping at Bobby L. Chain Memorial Airport in Hattiesburg, for a super-quick fill up that wasn't unreasonably priced. After that, it was just 45 minutes direct to the Big Easy, where MS made the nice landing that was the subject of the prior post. Also captured some of those nice images you saw in June 2nd's "Guess The IFR Pilot's Location, Part Deux," so no pictures here of that flight.

We did what most folk visiting New Orleans do: In between MS attending a conference and the IFR Pilot hanging out with former co-workers, we ate unreasonable amounts of food and walked around the French Quarter. List of establishments visited in our Sunday evening to Wednesday-morning whirlwind visit:
Waddling back to the W for lights-out, I aptly remarked to MS: "Good thing no dessert, or we'd have to redo the weight and balance for sure!"

Wednesday morning, we jetted off, enjoying a fierce tailwind that gave us 150+ KIAS groundspeeds. We made it from Lakefront to our refueling stop in Tullahoma, Tennessee in 2.7 short hours, VFR all the way. The radar picture in Ohio was pretty ugly at the time:

Weighing our options, we elected to grab the crew car and go for lunch. Unfortunately, the culinary talents of Tullahoma, Tennessee do not favorably compare to those of New Orleans. As a result, we ended up at Applebees. Being the world-renowned gastronomes that we are, however, we didn't let this stop us. We'll have two of those "Ultimate Trios," and MS threw in a salad to boot. (He's always pretending to be health-conscious, you know.)

One interesting sight at KTHA was the DC-3 parked on the ramp. While MS fuddled with the weather computer, the IFR Pilot grabbed the camera and attempted some "artistic" photography:

Also, the airport had a wind tetrahedron. It looked to be balanced rather precariously, though I suspect it's actually perfectly balanced so that it can rotate with the wind.

Shortly, MS had a plan. Instead of proceeding northeast direct for the Home Base, we'd fly more to the north, wait for things to move to the east, and sneak in around the back end of things. And that's pretty much how things worked out. If memory serves (and I'll admit I read the USA Today and slept while MS was carrying the laboring oar), our route ended up being something like:

According to the flight planner, this route added maybe twenty minutes to the flight, but it kept us very, very safe. The route also took us over a couple of intersections that reinforced the notion that, despite widespread opinion to the contrary, the FAA really does have a sense of humor:

Let's just hope that no one ever misconstrues ATC's instruction to proceed "Direct Jim Beam, then Bourbon."

As we made our way around Cincinnati's airspace toward Dayton, we could see the ominous remains of the front we had avoided and which was headed further east. The display on the 396 reinforced what we could tell just from looking at this beast -- it wasn't to be taken lightly!

Amazingly, however, we remained dry throughout, and MS recorded only about .2 in IMC after we received a pop-up clearance from Mansfield Approach so we could descend through the clouds to VFR below. Some of it was captured for your viewing pleasure:

Once clear of the clouds, it was a milk run back to the Home Base to test MS's landing skills once again. Once again, you get to judge for yourself:

With that, our latest junket came to a conclusion.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lest You Think I Lied

Every single guess has been correct: MS and the IFR Pilot have once again descended upon New Orleans. Pictures later, video will have to suffice for now!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Guess the IFR Pilot's Location, Part Deux

We'll have to make it a bit harder this time. MS and the IFR Pilot flew Mike Hotel yesterday. We dodged a variety of thunderstorms that were racing across America. The Flight Aware track shows a bit of what we were doing, and offers some insight as to the direction we were headed -- but it doesn't reveal where we ended our day. You'll have to guess that yourself.

1. Elapsed time: between 6 and 7 hours.
2. Landed on Runway 18R.
3. Flew over water for a bit.
4. At today's lunch, MS wanted to know what "filé" was.

(A cool griffin-like cloud encountered near sunset.)

Landing video to be uploaded to You Tube later.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Low and Slow

Ventured back to the edges of Texas Hill Country on Wednesday to take advantage of a hidden gem: Rental of a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub from Boerne Stage Airfield (info here, website here; note that Boerne is pronounced "BERN-ie," not "bohrne"). My host for the afternoon was CFI Jordan Schultz, who's been instructing for about seven months.

We began with a brief overview of the IFR Pilot's overall flight experience, experience flying a Cub (none), and experience with tailwheel aircraft (none). We quickly decided that in the couple of hours that we had available, a complete checkout and tailwheel endorsement wasn't in the cards, but we could certainly tackle some aerial flightseeing. Given that the airplane cruises slower than most pickup trucks drive on a Texas Interstate Highway, the reality was that we weren't going to go that far. Then again, it wasn't about seeing anything in particular, but more about honing some stick and rudder skills, flying low and slow, and communing with one of my aviation heroes, Rinker Buck, author of Flight of Passage, a memoir of two young brothers who fly their Cub from New Jersey to California in the mid-1960's.

Predictably, we started with the preflight inspection. Our faithful steed for the day was NC70997, a 1946 J-3. She was in immaculate condition, with nary a scratch on the doped linen, and the classic yellow Piper Cub paint scheme.

There wasn't all that much to check on the preflight: oil (at least 3 quarts), fuel, rigging lines (free movement, no corrosion), cotter pins in the cowling, and a couple of other do-dads. As the panel shows, this Cub is all-original -- no electrical system. Just an RPM gauge, airspeed indicator, whiskey compass, (non-functional) altimeter, and oil pressure and temperature gauges. The red-lines on the RPM and airspeed gauges appeared to have been added by red pain pen on the outside of the glass!

Jordan also reviewed the cockpit controls (pretty simple: stick, carb heat, magneto switch), although the separate pedals for the heel brakes were a revelation. He also reviewed the mechanics of hand propping, which he'd be doing. The IFR Pilot was quite attentive to this, as it would have been quite a downer if Jordan had been run over during the start sequence!!!

Preflight complete, the biggest challenge of the day arrived: Stuffing my non-1946 sized body into the cub. This involved no small amount of gymnastics on my part, all of them attempted with a delicate touch lest so damage be done to the airplane. The challenge is that you can't step in the base of the strut like you may be used to doing in your favorite Cessna. I finally grabbed the upper bars and literally pulled myself into the seat.

Jordan dutifully hand propped the Cub -- after making sure several times that yours truly was standing on the heel brakes hard enough! Then we taxied for some fuel. S-turns were in order, as was a lot of the IFR Pilot's head sticking out of both sides of the cockpit to look for obstructions. After adding a couple of gallons of 100LL, we started up again and taxied to the runway. A quick run ensued, basically just a mag check and a check of the flight controls -- and then it was onto Runway 17 for takeoff.

Jordan primarily handled the takeoff, although I kept hands and feet on the controls to get a sense of the delicate touch needed with a tailwheel airplane. Moments after takeoff, however, Jordan turned the controls over to the IFR Pilot and away we went. We climbed for a while at 55 MPH, eventually leveling off at 1000 to 1500 AGL. We flew with the right side door down and the window up, so it was a new experience to stick my head out of the cockpit and look down at the trees and scrub passing below us.

Our destination was Medina Lake, a man-made lake southwest of the airport. We circumnavigated a particularly large transmitting tower, and then dropped down to a couple of hundred feet off the surface of the lake and flew over the entire length of it. See for yourself:

And, there's even some video available as well!

After we finished out tour of the lake, we climbed back up to altitude and I put us on a reciprocal heading back to 5C1. All too soon we were in the pattern, and Jordan handled the landing. We called it quits after that, as he had another student arriving for a lesson.

All in all, it was a great time, and well worth the $120 that it ended up costing. If you find yourself in the San Antonio area with some free time on your hands, get out to Boerne Stage airport and get some stick time in NC70997. When it's done, you'll end up with a smile on your face bigger than mine!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Grabbed a rental car from the hotel this morning, plugged in the Tom Tom, and sped 65 miles west into the Texas Hill Country. Destination? Well, that should be readily obvious:

Earlier this year, the IFR Pilot had the opportunity to spend some quality time with a couple of senior executives from Mooney Airplane Company. When they learned that Yours Faithful Narrator would be in San Antonio for a week with little to do (shhhh, don't tell The Boss), they kindly offered a factory tour and the chance to fly one of their hand-crafted masterpieces.

Arriving around 10:30 this morning, it was already 85+ degrees F, and -- smartly dressed in LONG pants and polo shirt with undershirt -- I was reminded why I do enjoy living on the shores of Lake Erie. In any event, I was given an in-depth tour by Mr. Stanley Fuller, who has been a Mooney employee for 48 years, including by his count seven different ownership groups. He took me through the machine shop, the upholstery and electronics shops, the subassembly and assembly lines, and other places I can't remember. The factory employs about 430-440 people, each of whom obviously takes great pride in their craftsmanship. Stanley also pointed out some marks on the concrete floor where Mooney used to assemble the wood wings of their original M20 and M20A models.

After the factory tour concluded, I had lunch with Tom Canavera, the Senior Director-Delivery. Tom's job involves making Mooney customers happy, and with his quick wit and amiable personality, it's easy to see why he was selected for this position. We went to a local Kerrville establishment and caught up on some business issues.

We returned to the factory, and Tom had to take another employee to San Marcos to pick up another Mooney. I quickly jumped at the offer to tag along, and so climbed into the back seat of N509RT, an Ovation2 GX. Tom and his partner in crime did their best to one-up each other with various insults and verbal taunts, making it quite clear that you'll need a thick skin to work with them!

Taxiing to the active, we had to hold short for the departing jet traffic:

I took the opportunity to capture an image of the cockpit, dominated of course by the twin screens of the Garmin G1000 electronic flight display:

Shortly thereafter, Tom blasted us off. Watch it for yourself:

I knew that we were in a speedier steed than 2MH when we hit 120 knots IN THE CLIMB! That's the same speed I use for flight planning. Upon reaching our cruise altitude of 3500, we trued out at 170+ knots, and with the push from the winds, our ground speed was nearly 180 knots. All of that on about 15 gallons. Not too shabby.

We had company for the part of the flight, an Air Force T-6A Texan II. It was flying low, maybe 500' off the deck and maneuvering. Fortunately, we had TIS overlaid on the G1000 and it was but a fool's errand to monitor the traffic at our 9:00! Fearless, we are.

All too quickly, it was time for Tom to prove his mettle and land this thing. He did it with aplomb. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

We did a quick swap, and I assumed my "rightful" position in the front seat. We taxiied for 72 miles (don't believe me? look at the airport diagram yourself!) to get to Runway 17. Tom once again handled the takeoff duties with expertise, but shortly after demonstrating some of the niceties of the Garmin GFC700 autopilot, he turned the controls over to the IFR Pilot.

Now, truth be told, I don't have all that much experience in flying from the right seat. A bit here and there, but it hasn't been a deliberate focus of my flying activity. But let's not have that stand in the way of taking control of this fine piece of aviation technology. Shut that autopilot off and let the IFR Pilot see if he can keep us straight-and-level and on course.

I did that more or less, and all too soon, we were in the Kerrville arrival area. Tom took control, and then we flew a 27-mile extended downwind to permit a Skyhawk complete its VOR-A approach. OK, it wasn't quite 27 miles, but it was without doubt the single longest downwind leg I've ever flown. Moments later, however, we were on the ground.

And that's the story of the first Mooney time that's made it's way into my log book. I'm quite a fan, although trying to cram MS and I into the cockpit would be a substantial challenge. Of course, that's a moot consideration until I win this week's lottery....

By the way, the plane's for sale, if you need a new ride. She's a beauty:

Tomorrow, we visit the polar opposite of the aviation technology spectrum: A 65-hp, all-original Piper J-3 Cub!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Update from KSAT

It seems that reader John is geographically knowledgeable. He promptly guessed the IFR Pilot's whereabouts as San Antonio, Texas. Tomorrow's plan involves test flying a very, very fast airplane. Look for a ride report in the evening. In the meantime, feast on some more pictures:

Cruising along on the Rio Taxi.

San Antonio's finest, watching the Spurs beat the Lakers 103-84.

(Yes, we went to the top of the Tower of the Americas. It was cool, but I was very, very happy to get back to terra firma.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guess the IFR Pilot's Location

Currently, the IFR Pilot is on location (a/k/a "vacation"). Clues to his current whereabouts:

1. Total flight time from Delta's hub in CVG: about 2.75 hours.

2. Local temperature: Freaking hot. Really freaking hot.

3. Photographic evidence:

If current plans materialize, stay tuned for ride reports in a J-3 Cub and a high performance G-1000 equipped speedster.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Requiem for an Airline

Sorry for the silence on the blogging front. There has been much flying, but little time to blog about it. We shall endeavor to play catch-up this week.

Late April say the IFR Pilot make a short-hop to Columbus, Ohio for the Spring meeting of the Ohio Aviation Association. Upon landing on runway 28L (after the proverbial "cleared to land runway 28L, keep your speed up") and taxiing to Land Aviation, I had a good chuckle at the irony of it. ATC certainly wasn't asking for an expedited approach to make room for Skybus. After all, they had gone bust and Port Columbus was chock full of bright orange aircraft. It was actually kind of sad:

The reality of the matter is that far too many members of the general public treat transportation by air as if it were nothing more than a flying bus. The cold, hard truth is that this view could not be further from the truth. Air transportation involves exponentially more variables that impact operations, not the least of which are the multitudinous regulations of the FAA.

It used to be that travel by air was a special occasion; today, its a hair's width -- if that -- above being a fungible commodity. No longer do people put on their Sunday best to travel, perhaps in large part because the TSA is going to make you remove your belt, shoes, coat, and more before you submit to the metal detectors.

Only time will tell which of the legacy carriers will survive the gauntlet thrown down by $120+ oil. Time will also tell when the price of 100LL reaches the breaking point.

In the interim, Mike Hotel and the IFR Pilot will continue to ply the skies.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Buffalo. Again.

The work gods saw fit to dispatch the IFR Pilot back to Buffalo for the umpteenth time in the last few months. So, after rising at 5:30 a.m. yesterday to fly to Columbus for the ORBAA meeting, your faithful narrator was up at 5:00 a.m. and out the door at 5:45 this morning for a 6:30 launch for Buffalo.

MS, faithful co-pilot that he was, decided to accompany. It was, after all, the beautiful CAVU day and who wants to spend such a glorious day cooped up in a downtown office building when you can be in Buffalo? Well, at least the Anchor Bar, home of the original chicken wing is in Buffalo!

Court was convening at 9:00 a.m., and there's no being late when you've been summoned by a federal judge. Thus, the 20 knot headwind that we stumbled upon at our cruise altitude of 4000 feet was most unwelcome. Even after we climbed to 6000 feet, we barely saw the ground speed exceed 100 knots. In fact, I think the highest we saw until we descended was 104 knots. That sure makes for a long, long trip to Buffalo.

The Garmin 496, mounted in a new fully articulable mount that MS scored from Aircraft Spruce, showed an arrival time of 8:28 a.m. That was cutting it close. Our descent at 140 knots shaved a couple of minutes off things, but then we were confounded by ATC. Although winds were calm, the traffic was landing runway 23. So, even though we were set up perfectly for a direct to runway 5, approach sent us around to runway 14.

The IFR Pilot made a nice landing on 14, we made the first turnoff to taxiway Q, and were at Prior Aviation by 8:30. They were kind enough to have driven the rental car onto the ramp. So we jumped in and sped for downtown Buffalo. The traffic demons were at rest, and MS dropped the IFR Pilot off at the federal courthouse with 10 minutes to spare. Perfect!!!

Several grueling hours later, boosted by a "healthy" lunch at Chili's, we were back at Prior Aviation. A little friend was waiting for us on the ramp:

Departing VFR, shortly we caught sight of something we hadn't noticed before: Apparently, there is a windmill farm just south of downtown Buffalo. We've got one of these in downtown Cleveland at the Great Lakes Science Center, but it was neat to see several of them in a row:

Turning southwest, we enjoyed a nice 140 knot ground speed all the way to the Home Base. MS did one of the few things at which he is especially talented:

Oh well, at least he wasn't bitching at me about leaning the mixture or listening to "crappy music." Truly, he's delightful company in the cockpit of Mike Hotel.

Tomorrow calls for a 7:00 a.m. blast off, with Nashville as the destination. The justification? Attending the 2008 Aviation Insurance Association meeting/conference. There's some weather headed this way, so we'll see if perhaps an early start will help us avoid cumulonimbus buildups that are sure to afflict the route by the afternoon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick Summary

Spring has arrived here in Northeast Ohio. Not soon enough, truth be told. This was a long, crazy winter, typified by the previous week. On Sunday, the IFR Pilot found himself wearing four shirts, gloves, and shorts, refereeing soccer games in temperatures that were barely in the mid-30s. But, by Friday, it was 70 degrees and leaves were returning to the trees.

Anyway, as the weather patterns have trended toward the flyable, the IFR Pilot and Mike Hotel have returned to the friendly skies. So far, we've:

1. Flown to TZR for ribs at JP's.

2. Renewed instrument currency with MS as the Safety Pilot. Returned the favor by safety piloting for MS, too.

3. Renewed night currency.

4. Flown to Dayton for dinner with ML's niece.

In lieu of taking the time to write something substantive, here's some pictures to prove that I'm not just making this up!

"A light lunch at JP's."

"IFR Pilot-In-Command."

"Short Final at TZR." (new desktop wallpaper)

"A little more to the left, please..."

"Wright-Patterson Overflight."
"Me Taking Picture Of You Taking Picture Of Me"

Friday, we're off to Nashville for the Aviation Insurance Association 2008 annual meeting. Then, next week, Atlantic City for the AOPA Legal Services Plan seminar. Good times, indeed. Momma Nature, please send good weather!!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Flew the Cirrus SR-22!!!

Despite the current crushing workload, the IFR Pilot stole away from the office for a couple of hours yesterday to visit with the Cirrus representative who was attending an open house at BKL. What I thought might be an up close and personal inspection, with perhaps a right seat trip around the pattern, turned into a full-out test flight in the left seat.

We flew N576SR, a 2006 SR-22GTS. This was the IFR Pilot's first experience with a Cirrus and with any kind of glass cockpit. There was a tremendous amount of button pushing and knob twisting to get us going (and in the air), and, truth be told, it was a bit hard to keep track of all the details. Nevertheless, after a brief orientation, we taxiied into position and held short of BKL's Runway 6R.

The Indians were playing during the day yesterday, so that meant the Stadium TFR was in effect for Jacobs Progressive Field, so touch and goes became out of the question, as were any kind of operations inside BKL's Class Delta airspace. We had to get the heck out of dodge, so we went southeast for some maneuvers, including slow flight and steep turns.

Not surprisingly, the sight picture out the front of the Cirrus is vastly different from both 78S and 2MH. I felt that we were consistently in a nose-down pitch attitude, and apparently I kept pulling back on the sidestick (which was pretty easy to operate); meanwhile, the demo pilot said we were climbing at 1500 FPM!

The maneuvers went well, and the traffic-enabled Garmin 430 was helpful in alerting us to other maneuvering traffic nearby. Much easier to spot than just based on the callout from ATC.

We then punched the GPS 27 for 1G5 into the 430 and watched as the autopilot maneuvered us onto the final approach segment. I disconnected the autopilot inside the FAF and hand flew 6SR from there. The demo pilot said I did a pretty nice job on the landing, but I think it was just OK. After taxiing to the turnaround, we did a "hot swap" of pilot and backseat passenger and the other gentlemen flew us back to BKL.

I left the DSLR at home, but remembered to grab the point-and-shoot that was given to me for my recent 40th birthday (thanks M!). So, I took some stills, and even filmed the takeoff and landing using the video function.

Takeoff Video

Landing Video

It would be great to own a Cirrus; clearly, it is a serious cross-country machine. But the finances of it are absolutely daunting (I reserve the right to amend this after I win the MegaMillions tonight!). Even assuming you could manage the 10% down payment and monthly installment payments, the insurance could be something like 400% of what we now pay. Plus, I think operating it out of the Home Base's 2350' foot runway would be a dubious proposition. That means finding a new place to house the airplane. So, I won't be buying one.

Waiting on the tarmac was a nice surprise, a DA-42. Didn't get a chance to see it in flight, but even on the ground, it has a striking ramp presence.

Finally, if the weather gods cooperate, 2MH is bound for Rick's this evening. Spring's here, it's time to get out a see some sights!!!