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.