Showing posts from July, 2006

Over the clouds

Today was just a quick 0.9 hour flight to give 8KR some engine run-time. I went down to the FKN VOR and back again. On the way I was just over some tiny clouds that were at 1800'. As I went further south they started getting thick enough that I needed to climb up to 3000'. I like being higher up because the air is cooler - I don't like it because the airwaves seem more polluted. Listening to UNICOM 122.8 from that height has you hearing all kinds of overlapping transmissions with the associated squeals from the radio. Being over that layer of thickening clouds was pretty though - made me feel like I was flying way up high. I ended the flight with a decent landing on 31 back at JGG.

Night Loop

Tonight I took my wife and Maciek up for a little over an hour for night recurrency. I filed an IFR flight plan to get some more practice with that stuff. I filed for an 8:15 departure (sunset was 8:20) leaving PHF for ORF and then back to PHF. FlightAware has some of our track for the IFR portion . We had a leisurely dinner at good ol' Schlotzsky's and made our way over to the airport. We went through the new Mercury Air Center building; it's quite an upgrade compared to the old facility -- very nice. After checking with the nice lady at the desk to get the key and book for 99A, we walked out across the tarmac, up past the Cirrus (drool, drool), and on to our trusty conveyance. Since I wanted to get the requisite three takeoffs and landings in before Mercury closed at 10 pm (in order to return the key/book) but they wouldn't count until 9:20, I took extra time on the preflight, talking Maciek and K through everything as though I was an instructor and having them

No horizon? No problem.

Today's short flight turned into a small exercise in navigation. With no GPS on board I took off with the plan to go to Newport News for a few touch and goes. At 2000' the haze was quite severe. I could see the ground for only about 10 miles out and had no horizon. This made it like a partial IFR flight. Since I could see the ground the potential for getting disoriented was small though (compared to real IMC flying). I pulled out the sectional and found a nearby landmark that I could use to identify myself to the tower as I approached. I ended up using " dead fleet " as my landmark. I made my touch and goes and then headed back to JGG. On the way I saw what looked like a small runway with X's on each end . It seemed kind of short, but I was wondering if it had once been a small private airport that had been closed up. However, after a few seconds I noticed a small white object flying down near the runway. I then realized I was looking at an RC airport.

Some IFR flight plan time

Today was 1.4 hours of IFR flight plan flying. The weather was clear but I wanted to practice "working in the system" with ATC so I filed an IFR flight plan, used the GCO (Ground Communication Outlet) at JGG to get my clearance and headed out for a touch and go at Richmond. The GCO is pretty handy. Since JGG is too far away from any big airports to use the normal radio frequencies to get a clearance the airport provides a phone line that you can access through the radio. You tune in the GCO freq, key the mic 4 times slowly, and then you hear a phone dialing. After a ring or two Norfolk ATC will pick up the line and you can get your clearance from them over the radio. It was another hot flight. In fact, at one point ATC asked if I wanted to climb, even though I was close to starting my next approach. I had to think about it for a second (the cooler air up higher was inviting) but declined since I'd just end up descending soon anyway. On the way to RIC we were at 4

Piper's 35 year old mistake

AOPA's weekly email pointed out a recent Airworthiness Directive request made by New Piper to fix a slight problem in the documentation for the PA28R-200 (the airplane I got my complex endorsement in). Seems the Pilot's Operating Handbook incorrectly states that you should avoid continuous prop RPMs of 2,100 to 2,350 when it was supposed to say 2,000 to 2,350. The fix to this error is to ether install a placard stating the correct range to avoid or replace the entire tachometer. Apparently there have been no troubles with the airplane that can be attributed to this oversight, but they still want to force owners to at least pay the $35 bucks for the placard. AOPA is trying to prevent that. Thankfully this was never a problem for me in the few hours I flew the retractable Arrow – I always had the RPMs at 2400 or higher unless I was landing when they’d be lower than 2,000. Incidentally, the Arrow was one of the first general aviation planes to have auto-extending landing gear

Lunchtime Pilotage

Today I spent 1.4 hours in a C-172 to get a little pilotage experience in again. The goal was to fly "by the seat of the pants" from JGG to EVM. What that means is that I did no pre-flight planning for the route I would take, other than to see that I needed to go generally SW. I wanted to see how I would do with just the sectional - trying to use remote VORs and landmarks from the map to know where I was over the ground. This is fairly hard to do in southern VA as there are very few good landmarks - no big lakes or cities on the route I would take. Part of the time I would just look for landmarks such as small highways intersecting railroads or power line right of ways. The other part of the time I would determine the radial I was on from 2 nearby VORs and see where they intersected on the map. The latter is a pretty good technique to gain positional awareness, but you really need to actually draw the radials on the map to know where exactly they intersect. I did OK