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!!!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

No Flight Time, But Back To The Schoolhouse

Despite multiple potential opportunities to use Mike Hotel to facilitate the IFR Pilot's travels last week, the plane never left the hangar. Instead, it sat all week while miles piled up, both on the PT Cruiser and in the Continental Airlines frequent flyer account. Perhaps the most disappointing was the inability to self-aviate to Montreal (Friday's revised destination, much better than yet another trip to Buffalo), for which the commercial ticket cost in excess of $1500.

Oh well, it was the safe bet all the way around. We did get the new actuator for the gear; with installation, MS and I are out only a total of 2.5 AMU's. (That's Aviation Monetary Units, otherwise known as $100 bills.)

Meanwhile, the IFR Pilot returns to the schoolhouse, compliments of the web. I'll be pursuing a certificate in management studies through Embry-Riddle's worldwide campus. Because, you know, I'm not busy enough!