Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Repair Job

On firing up the GNS 480 the other day in preparation for a morning breakfast run, an error message popped up. The internal battery needs replacement. Apparently, this happens about once every blue moon (Section 6.4 of the installation manual says the battery lasts "about 10 years"). And even though the prior owner had just sent the unit in for a software upgrade, no one bothered to check the battery while they were poking around inside the unit.

So, the IFR Pilot dropped the unit off today at the Avionics Shop at Constant Aviation, located at "The Big Airport" here in town. One hour of labor and $50 for a battery (plus shipping and tax). Should be returned tomorrow, just in time for a lunch run on Saturday.

As luck would have it, the internal battery on the Garmin 396 ALSO needs replacement. Sheesh! This one, we might tackle ourselves.

Oh, the joys of aircraft ownership!

Speaking of Garmin 396, we have an extra one for sale. E-mail me (address in the upper right corner of the blog) if you are interested. Asking price is $950. Includes all cables, mount, case, and user guide. Some signs of wear and tear, but otherwise completely functional.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


MS and the IFR Pilot made it home safely yesterday afternoon. 2.5 days, 2100 NM covered. Hard IFR, scud running, CAVU, haze, mountains, flat lands, Columbia River Gorge, and more! N62TB was put through all of its paces on the ferry flight home, and the squawk list is pretty short, thank goodness. Here is a plot of our final route of flight, with overnight stops in Spokane and Sioux City, Iowa:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lots of Ground Covered

MS and the IFR Pilot blasted out of Spokane early this morning, eager to conquer the Rocky Mountains during good weather. Tailwinds were with us, and we consistently saw 160 knots on about 12-13 gallons per hour. We decreed that performance to be "most excellent."

Today's route of flight covered about 1000 NM in 6.7 hours of flying:

The sights were incredible and pictures will be posted after we arrive home. Barring an unforeseen mechanical problem, we should be back at the Home Base by noon or so tomorrow. Time for some shut eye.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ferry Home Begins

MS and the IFR Pilot are residents of Spokane, WA tonight. It's Day One of The Ferry Flight, bringing N62TB to its hangar at The Home Base. No longer to be a resident of Friday Harbor, Washington, Two Tango Bravo can expect to be plying the skies to Connecticut, Florida, and New Orleans on a regular basis. A full recap will follow when we return. In the meantime, here's today's route - a total of about 450 nautical miles to cover about 220 nautical miles straight-line. Thanks Mother Nature!

Here's a couple other pics for your viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flight Planning

MS and the IFR Pilot are kibitzing on alternative routes for transporting 2TB from KFHR to the Home Base. Transiting the Cascade and Rocky Mountains in November is certainly an -- pardon the pun -- "uphill" challenge. Here's what we've come up with so far:

Leg 1: KFHR to KCOE

This is the current intended first leg:

Assuming 160 knots in a Trinidad, this leg would take about 2 hours.

As a possible alternative, if weather in Stampede Pass prevents passage there, we will go further south. Thusly:

This leg would take about three hours.

UPDATE: It's always been a mystery to the IFR Pilot why the AOPA Real Time Flight Planner didn't display a profile view of a selected route. As it turns out, it does. You just have to click on the "Profile View" link that is to the left of "Print Chart." So, here's the profile view of Leg 1A:

Assuming it
ever stops raining in Seattle, both routes should provide great sights. We intend to stop in Oregon, where we will switch seats. That way, we can both check off Oregon in our respective "States Visited" map.

Leg 2: KCOE to KCTB or KGTR

We're still working on this one, but right now we're strongly considering this route:

It's a bit circuitous, but it spends much of the trip in river valleys. Only the final leg requires us to cross over the top of the peaks.

Obviously, the biggest challenge at this time of the year will be the weather. We've got time to spare, so we won't rush it. It should be relatively straightforward flying once we are clear of the Rockies, territory that the IFR Pilot knows somewhat from the Great Alaska Flying Adventure of 2005. Here's hope for a nice high pressure system to arrive in Washington around Wednesday morning of next week!/span>

Friday, November 06, 2009

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

V-tail Bonanza.

Turbo Arrow.


1985 Socata Trinidad TB-20? Yep, that's the one.

Airframe Total Time: 2525 Hours
Engine Time: 598 SMOH

  • PAI 700 Vertical Card Compass
  • King KAP-100 Autopilot coupled to NAV, HSI and GPS
  • Stec 60 PSS Pitch Stabilization System with Alt Hold, Vertical Speed and G/S Intercept
  • DAC GPSS Roll Steering
  • King KCS-55 Slaved HSI
  • King KMA 24 Audio Panel/Marker Beacon
  • Garmin 480 with CDI, coupled to A/P and HSI
  • King KX-155 Nav/Com with Glideslope
  • King KT-76A Transponder
  • King KR-87 Digital ADF w/ Combined Loop/Sense Antenna
  • King KN-64 DME
  • EDM 700 Graphic Engine Monitor with Fuel Flow
  • 4 Place Panel Mount Intercom with Music Input and 4 Headsets
  • Backup Garmin 396 with XM Weather and Terrain

  • Gami Injectors
  • Tinted Windows and Windshield (New Windshield 1/08)
  • Reclining Front Seats
  • Tail Strobe Light
  • Electric Standby Vacuum
  • External Power Receptacle
  • True Airspeed Indicator
  • IFR Certified
  • 88 Gal Fuel
  • 1.5 HP Power Tow
The pre-buy is set for next week. Financing is in place. Insurance quoted and ready to bind.

If all goes well during the prebuy, we'll be picking up Six Two Tango Bravo during the week of November 16. Currently located in Puget Sound, the flight home should be another blogworthy adventure for MS and the IFR Pilot!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Change of Plans...

Now considering another option. Details later. But, a possibility exists that we might have to bring the plane home from Washington state. So, the IFR Pilot is seeking free advice on best strategies from crossing the Continental Divide.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving Beyond Evaluations

Bank has OK'd the loan.

Insurance quote in hand. It is reasonable, and no additional dual required.

The prepurchase inspection and test flight are set for tomorrow.

There could be a new "star" on My Flying Blog soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Evaluations Continue

Candidate #2 was evaluated in person yesterday. The seller brought it from Michigan to BKL in exchange for our picking up the cost of fuel. A fair trade.

Impressions: Striking ramp presence. Sits very high. Had trouble inspecting the top blade of the two-blade prop when it was straight vertical. Paint scheme is very nice and it's definitely new, but some finishing work is needed. Engine compartment very clean. Like the Continental engine design that puts the alternator in the back, so you don't have to deal with the prop if you have to change the alternator belt. Cowling requires a screwdriver to open, unlike the newer designs that have push button release mechanisms. Tip tanks provide for an increase in MTOW, so if you don't fill them (80 gallons in the mains is plenty), you get a nice increase in useful load. Interior is newer but still shows a degree of aging.

The panel was very nice, and the avionics very workable. Interestingly, instead of building-up the wiring harness by hand, the owner went with an avionics hub and connection cables from these guys. The idea is that once you install the hub, anytime you want to change a radio or other item, you just contact them and purchase the appropriate connector cable. Plug one end of the the cable into the radio and the other into the hub, and -- voila! -- all the necessary interconnections are accomplished without your avionics technician having to do them wire by wire. GENIUS!!!

The rubber met the road, however, when MS sat in it. His knees were interfering with just about every control you need. Throttle and mixture were abutting the outside of his kneecap, and the tops of his knees interfered with the control arm on which the yokes are mounted. In an instant, the dream was over. No way that MS could fly that plane. While it's unclear whether the next plane with be purchased solo or in co-ownership, what is clear is that there will no plane will be purchased that can't be flown by someone who is very, very likely to spend time in the cockpit with the IFR Pilot.

We spent an hour or so this morning examining a local Bonanza A36 as another potential option. More on that later. Back to work!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mike Hotel Farewell Pictures

MS took the first, IFR Pilot the second and third while MS was at the controls of Mike Hotel.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Candidate #2

Here's the #2 candidate. Based in Michigan, the owner reports he's willing to fly it here for a personal inspection.

Detail specifications:

1961 Beech Bonanza N35
  • 5318 TTAF
  • 104 TSOH on IO-470-B
  • 104 SPOH
  • New interior 2004 and new paint 2008
  • Avonics include PMA 7000B audio panel, Garmin 430, NSD360 HSI, KX155 w/ GS, STEC 50 auto pilot w/GPSS
  • PAV80 DVD driving display for rear seat
  • JPI EDM 700 engine analyzer
  • GAMI Injectors
  • Beryl d' Shannon tip tanks
  • Speed slope windshield

A nice, relatively understated paint scheme.

Clean panel. An HSI would be awesome step up from 2MH.

The transponder screams for an upgrade to a GTX-327 or -330. But, that could wait until the classic Narco goes Tango Uniform.

Despite being new, the seats suggest "old school." And, no heatrests.

This aircraft was involved in an incident in 1968. During a go-around, the commercial pilot/flight instructor, who was age 70 and had 17,000 hours total time and 5000 hours in type, inadvertently retracted the landing gear during a go-around. Damage was described as "substantial." No further details are presently available. Once again, an order has been placed with the FAA for the airplane's detailed records.

The owner appears to have taken great care of the airplane and invested heavily in it to make it a fine traveling machine. He has upgraded to a Baron and a Navajo, and has now decided to reduce the size of his fleet to just the Navajo. Asking price is $99,500 and is listed as "must sell."

Conclusion: Also still in the running. Working to gather more information about having a pre-buy done by someone with substantial experience with Bonanzas.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Candidate #1

In-person airplane browsing has commenced. Here is the first prospect:

1977 Mooney M20J
  • 4041 TT, 1043 SMOH, 685 SPOH
  • Garmin 430 WAAS, KX 155
  • Century 2000 A/P
  • Apollo GX-55 (VFR Only)
  • True Flight GPS WAAS with XM
  • Speedbrakes
  • New interior in 2006
  • Some new paint, but some leading edge surfaces needing attention
Based nearby, with maintenance apparently done by an independent A&P based at The Home Base.

Does have some damage. In 2000, it was damaged during a landing accident involving wake turbulence from a nearby helicopter that was in hover. According to the NTSB report, "The right wing contacted the ground and the nose of the airplane rotated 90 degrees to the right. The flight instructor then closed the throttle and the airplane impacted the runway landing gear first. The airplane came to rest upright on its landing gear." Careful examination of the top and bottom of the wing surfaces make it hard to discern the specific area of repair, so that's a good thing. The current owner (who did not own the aircraft at the time) reported that there was also an engine tear down.

FAA records have been ordered for further examination. He also offered to provide copies of the logs that could be reviewed on my own time.

Pictures and commentary:

N number erased to protect my competitive shopping advantage. Overall condition looks good.

Some leading edge surfaces need a bit of TLC.

Engine, obviously.

Interior still has that "new leather" smell.

The dark floor carpeting and black panel are a bit, well, dark for my liking. The True Flight GPS, which is velcroed below the throttle quadrant, banged right up against my knee. And I worry that having to look down at the display for weather and then back to the panel to fly is a bad recipe for potential vertigo or vestibular disruption during prolonged instrument flight.

Conclusion: Still in the running.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Nostalgia

Recently unearthed on a website for plane spotters based in Philly is this awesome photo of MS in the process of landing during an Angel Flight a couple years back:

You gotta admire the skills of the unknown photographer, to whom we tip our proverbial hat.

In the continuing saga of what to do for a replacement airplane, the IFR Pilot is off to look at an M20J tonight.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


In the wake of Mike Hotel's transfer to warmer climates, a sanguine IFR Pilot continues his search for a replacement steed. Beech Sierra, anyone?

Meanwhile, from the depths of the photo archives comes this gem from one of our last breakfast runs in N72MH:

Rumor has it that this little lad knows all too well how to retract gear and flaps on the Microsoft Flight Simulator at MS's house...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saying Goodbye

The buyers showed on Friday and did a thorough prebuy on Mike Hotel. They poked and prodded, checked and rechecked. Having found the airplane to be as represented in our ads, an agreement was reached to sell our beloved Mike Hotel, subject only to a test flight that would occur the next morning when the forecast was set to improve.

Saturday morning was a big improvement from Friday, weatherwise. Still not great, but doable. MS handled the test flight with aplomb. Fitting that he'd get the last flight, because the IFR Pilot was the first leg pilot, way back in May of '06 when we began the ferry flight home from KSEE.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye.

Here are the final numbers:
  • Total flights -115
  • Total time - 219.9
  • Night time - 11.8
  • Cross-country time - 167.9
  • Solo hours - 64.3
  • Day landings - 162
  • Night landings - 31
  • Instrument time - 29.4
  • Instrument approaches - 51
  • Best trip - ALL OF THEM
Now, for the $64,000 question. Mooney M20J, Beech Bonanza F33A, or Cirrus SR22?

Friday, October 09, 2009


Mike Hotel was sold today. Thanks to those that expressed an interest. Stay turned for further flying adventures!

Friday, September 25, 2009


93 octane for the 30 statute mile ride south to work - $5.00.

100LL for the 35 nautical mile trip north to work - $10.00.

Flying to work on a beautiful fall Friday morning just because you can - priceless.

(Old and tired, I know, but still true. Also, sorry for the crummy blackberry photo. Left both of the good cameras at home. )

Meanwhile, Mike Hotel is parked on the ramp at KBKL near N794AJ, the Zero G Experience B-727. For a mere $5000 (plus tax), you too can have a trip on the only private Vomit Comet in the USA. Sold out while in Cleveland, but look for a visit to your town.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Morning Flying

Real Life has interfered with Flying Life for far too long. When there has been good flying weather, there's been more work than you can imagine. When work has been slack, the weather has been unacceptable. And on at least one occasion, when both items aligned, the IFR Pilot couldn't get the engine started, flooded it, and then ran the battery down. Due in Columbus shortly thereafter, Mike Hotel had to be return to the hangar pronto and the A4 was flown to the meeting.

Translation: Not a lot of hours in the logbook so far.

This morning, however, everything aligned. Weather was just about CAVU with the exception of some morning ground fog/mist in low lying areas. With the boss out of town, work could wait.

I met with CFI DC, and we blasted off for a bit of instrument work. After 1.5 hours, we had knocked out ILS 1 @ CAK twice, LOC 25 @ AKR (runways closed!), and the GPS 2 @ 3G3 (love that LNAV+V on the Garmin 430W) with a procedure turn/hold at DALTS.

Notable deficiencies:

1. Late turn onto the localizer the first time at CAK.

2. Failure to retract gear following low approach at AKR. Which explains why it took forever to get to DALTS for the procedure turn.

3. Neglected to add the last notch of flaps when landing at The Home Base.

Things done well:

1. Kept all altitudes within tolerances.

2. Accurately anticipated parallel entry to the hold.

3. Checked the identifier on the localizers.

With that, the Mrs. and I are off to Connecticut this weekend to visit with mi familia.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trip Report Forthcoming

Here's a recap of what MS and the IFR Pilot did last week:

A trip report is forthcoming. In the meantime, enjoy this hair-raising video delight:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lazy Web Request

The IFR Pilot will be giving a PowerPoint presentation on Sunday. Anyone have any links to a good general aviation template?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Off-Airport Landing Captured on Video

If you haven't seen this already, here's a video of an off-airport emergency landing -- in the middle of a city street!

Absolutely amazing to see on video.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Night Current

After two ILS 23's at CAK (visual conditions only, left the darn foggles in the back someplace) to a full stop, and one "firm" landing at the Home Base, the IFR Pilot is officially night current. Flew for the first time with CFI DC. Enjoyed that very much, and talked to him about resuming the commercial training. Definite possibilities there.

Off to KNEW next week with ML for the 15 year law school reunion at Galatoire's. Going to New Orleans in one's own aircraft never gets old -- at least not for this pilot.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Way To Travel

Recently, the IFR Pilot had BSF had occasion to attend a week-long trial in a southern locale. Due to the necessity to be on time, we had to fly commercially even though Mike Hotel would have provided far more expedient travel. Nevertheless, the flight home was about as close to private jet travel as the IFR Pilot is ever likely to experience.

We had flown on full fare tickets because of the need for flexibility. Sometimes trials end early or last longer than expected. With the amount most airlines charge now for change fees, it's often easy to justify the added expense of full fare tickets so that change fees can be avoided.

So, when I sat down at the computer that morning to change our return flight, I was presented with a list of five available flights home. I had expected four of them, but there was one that wasn't on the list that my assistant had sent me. It was a few minutes earlier than the flight I had intended to book us on, and so with BSF and I both desiring to get home sooner rather than later, that's the one I picked.

We waited at a fairly uncrowded gate for the late arriving aircraft. It discharged a whole group of young ladies and their parents, who turned about to be traveling for a sports tournament. Suddenly, the IFR Pilot and BSF were paged to see the gate agent. We were asked a whole bunch of questions about when and how we had made our reservation. All in all, a rather strange experience.

It turns out that the IFR Pilot had managed to book passage on the return leg of a charter flight. The young ladies were actually a sports team whose flight the prior evening had been canceled due to weather. As there was not going to be any easy way to scatter them on other regularly-scheduled flights, the airline had set up a special flight to take them to their destination. The plane was due to return to our neck of the woods empty.

And that, kids, is the story of how the IFR Pilot and BSF were the only two passengers on a 75-seat Embraer 145 from Atlanta to Cleveland. Here are the (crummy cell phone camera) pictures to prove it. The FA, shown in one of the pictures, was also kind enough to give me part of the passenger manifest, showing a final passenger count of "2."

Truly, this is the way to travel!

Monday, March 09, 2009

143 Days...

It's been 143 days since the IFR Pilot last flew in Mike Hotel. Since then, it's been trips via the pressurized aluminum tube of discomfort. At last count, I've logged "back seat time" aboard an E145, CRJ, A320, and a Saab 340, among others. Unfortunately, none of that keeps a passenger current as PIC.

So, last week, when the weather broke and it was possibly to play hookey for an hour, the IFR Pilot attempted to get current. Unfortunately, the evil spirits were still at work and the flight had to be aborted due to an abnormal fuel pressure reading. As it turns out, when it's 10 degrees F outside, things don't always work they way they are supposed to.

However, the weather gods smiled on Northeast Ohio tonight and the IFR Pilot was able to scoot out of work unnoticed. An hour later, the hangar doors were open and Mike Hotel was being readied for flight into the dusky twilight skies. The first takeoff was uneventful, and soon we were level at 2500 feet, making a beeline for KBJJ.

Entering the downwind for Runway 10, everything was copacetic. Three in the green, mixture rich, prop full forward, holding 75 knots on final. Flare, hold it, hold it, hold it, bzzzzzzzzz - the stall horn goes off, chirp go the tires. Now that's a landing for the first time back in nearly 5 months.

Taxi back, takeoff, let's do it again, then we're headed back to the Home Base. The landing there was a bit less perfect, with the stall horn going off a little higher than desired and the resulting smack a bit harder than you might like. But any landing at the Home Base that gets braking action before the yellow line is good! (Just kidding.)

Thirty minutes after takeoff, the IFR Pilot is PIC current again. Just in time for a business meeting in Columbus on Friday that's about 2 miles from KOSU airport....

Monday, February 02, 2009

Tried to Knock the Rust Off. No Joy.

The IFR Pilot tried twice this weekend to return Mike Hotel to the skies. No joy either time, despite clear blue skies and crisp temperatures that would have allowed the IO-360-C1C6 to taste flight for the first time since October!

Saturday, the only accomplishment was to get the A4 stuck in the snow. "All Wheel Drive Quattro" does not make an A4 into a snowmobile. As a result, my visit to the hangar consisted of removing the snow shovel, digging out the A4, and returning the snow shovel. After which, I drove home. Ugh.

Sunday, following a melting spell that extinguished Saturday's snow drifts, and with MS at the wheel, we tried using the Home Base's snow plow to clear the hangar apron. Once again, foiled. The snow was simply too wet and heavy to move. Plus, the tires on the plow seemed to be lacking in traction. We even tried bringing the IFR Pilot's snow blower back to life. Not having run in the several years that it has been stored in the hangar, the outlook wasn't optimistic. It turned out that we could bring it back to life, but the motor just didn't sound right -- it was revving way to high and even when we attacked the snow, we just could make a dent in it. FOILED ONCE AGAIN.

So, the IFR Pilot replaced the GPS chips and the IFR charts, and we went home. Bummer, dude. We'll try again this weekend, if Momma Nature cooperates.