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!