Showing posts from 2010

Redline Sidewinder

I went out to the airport today hoping to get some flying in, but with a heavy fog settled in and not going anywhere fast, I decided to just test out a battery powered tug, the Redline Sidewinder . I've always had a hard time pushing the airplane back into the shadeport, especially after a long tiring flight. The plane weighs nearly 3,000 lbs so even though the slope into the parking spot is only 1-2 degrees, it's quite a tough bird to push. Add in slipping feet, no great place to push against, bad angles for applying force, and a squirrelly castering nose wheel (doesn't like to go backwards) and it's a great recipe to hurt my back. Thankfully the Redline did a great job with the task. It's designed to have minimal weight, yet still be strong. It is powered by a heavy duty drill that drives gears and chains to apply rolling force to the nose wheel, moving the airplane at a nice slow pace. Hooking it up to the airplane is not much harder than hooking up the basic

Longest flight yet gets me over 500 hours

This weekend I made my longest airplane trip to date - from KUZA in SC out to KCFD in TX - about 850 miles. The trip was for our quarterly ForeFlight strategy meeting, where the company gets together to plan out the next 3 months of work. Leaving KUZA I took off and picked up my IFR clearance in the air. Sometimes, like this time, the Charlotte controller knows what I wanted before I can even ask. After I called in with my tail number he just automatically gave me a transponder code and told me to standby for the clearance. Very nice, makes you feel almost welcomed. :) I made a fuel stop at KMEI in Meridian, MS. It's a great little towered airport with plenty of young navy pilots stopping in for a break from various practice missions in the area. My stop was a short one - I got the tanks topped off, grabbed a free hot dog and drink, filed my next leg on the iPad via ForeFlight Mobile, and went out to the airplane to blast off again. The next leg was also uneventful, and aft

Anniversary date over the mountains

K and I had our 11th anniversary this weekend so we celebrated with a flight over the Appalachian mountains. The goal was the see the Fall colors and just have some fun. For this flight I tried out a new iPad knee strap - the MyClip Thigh. It worked really well - I used the iPad in both landscape and portrait orientations and the clip worked perfectly. I like how minimalist it is - doesn't get in your way at all and is easy to transport to the plane and home again. It is designed for an iPad without a case, so it won't work with the Apple case, but would likely work with less-bulky cases and certainly with a simple screen protector setup (as in my case). Here's the MyClip helping us use ForeFlight Mobile to navigate to Mountain Air airport: On the way to the mountains I tried something I have never done before: an in-flight magneto check. I learned details about this from an article by Mike Busch - a source of great knowledge when it comes to piston aircraft. We leve

Meeting Scott Dennstaedt

Today I met up with another local aviation guy, Scott Dennstaedt, for lunch. Not only is he an accomplished CFI, he's an aviation weather expert. His company, AvWx Workshops provides all sorts of education on aviation weather topics. It was obvious just a few minutes into our conversation that's he's a bright, experienced guy that also has the ability to teach clearly - quite a combo. I plan to get his help on flights in the future when I need an expert's knowledge for better preflight planning. Weather has always felt like a grey area in the flight training I've received, so working with Scott will no doubt help me become a better, and safer, pilot.

Flight to Williamsburg

We took a long weekend to visit my co-workers and our friends up in Williamsburg. My flying buddy John not only loaned us a vehicle for the weekend, but also room & board! We fought a slight headwind heading up to VA, but like the typical October weather in the south east the skies were gorgeous and clear. We brought along our younger son Grady for this trip, equipped with orange ear plugs for noise reduction. For my ears I tried out a brand new Lightspeed Zulu headset. At first I thought it was going to be uncomfortable after the 1.7 hours of flying, but it turned out not to be. They are not as easy on the head as the Bose X's are, but they reduce the noise levels a good bit better. The bluetooth audio input was also handy when the XM radio stopped working on the return flight (my airplane partner had to give XM a series of frustrating phone calls to get that sorted out). The only other hit I have against the Zulu's is that they are wider than the Bose (which is pa

$200 hamburger run

Today my Dad and I took a mid-day flight to grab lunch at 57 Alpha, the cafe at Rutherford Co airport, KFQD. We made a detour on the way there to overfly KCEU, Clemson, SC. We both went to school there so it was nice to take a quick peek. After landing at KFQD we found the place fairly deserted, no doubt due to some cloudiness in the area. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the cafe: I had a chicken burrito with banana pudding (their specialty - very good) and my dad had a hamburger. After that we just walked around the airport a bit to enjoy the scenery. It's in the foothills of the mountains, so the skyline was nice to look at. For the crank up to leave FQD, I was a little worried the engine might be tough to start. It had been turned off for about 45 minutes, and I wasn't sure if priming the engine a bit would be bad or good. Normally if I've shut down for just 15-30 minutes I don't prime, so that's what I did this time. It actually started quite quickly with no

Flying home from OSH

Today I grabbed a ride from my co-worker to get back down to KFLD for the trip home. When we arrived my airplane was tied up right in front of the FBO. Most of the hundreds of other planes were already gone. A pair of guys cranked up a DA-20 while I preflighted, and what I think was a C-210 took off just before I did. I filed IFR from KFLD to the Chicago VOR (ORD) to KUZA. When I called up approach they told me I couldn't pick up IFR within 100nm of OSH. That surprised me a bit because I had read that Sunday was the last day of unusual rules, but I guess I missed that one. After thinking a second I realized that going VFR for a while would actually be really great. So I pointed my nose at Chicago and climbed out to 11,500' to get over their airspace. I used the autopilot to follow the shoreline of Lake Michigan and worked my way south. Plugging in the iPhone to the intercom gave me a good soundtrack for the trip. Once I cleared Chicago's airspace I was plenty far

At Oshkosh 2010

My week actually in Oshkosh was pretty amazing. I saw very little of the airshow, but spent the majority of my time manning the ForeFlight booth in Hangar D. We setup Sunday afternoon after I arrived at KFLD. ForeFlight rented a house and borrowed a car from the home owner. We used that and another rental car to drive to the airport/show and park by Hangar D. A colleague went ahead to grab up our credentials so, with that all set, we brought our literature, posters, and other materials into Hangar D. The booth was there waiting on us (I had shipped it UPS to the show) so within an hour or so my Dad, co-worker, and I had the booth setup and ready to go. It really went about as well as it could have. The next day, Monday, was the first day of the show. We were swamped from the beginning of the day until the end, 9-5. It was really great getting to talk to everyone - existing customers, well wishers, people that had never seen an iPad before, the whole gamut. My co-worker and

Oshkosh in the Cirrus

I got the chance to attend AirVenture (Oshkosh) this year as an exhibitor - we ForeFlight-ers had our first booth ever at the biggest general aviation airshow there is! My dad joined me for the flight up to Osh. We flew on an IFR flight plan from KUZA up to KCEV first, for a cheap fuel and bathroom stop. A CFI was manning the small FBO there and gave me great instructions on parking by the self-serve pumps - he went so far as to pump the gas for us before he started a lesson with a student. He wouldn't accept the tip I tried to give him, instead he set me up in his office so I could check the weather. They're giving southern hospitality a run for its money up there! The airport was gorgeous, surrounding by lush farmland, but we didn't have time to soak it in - soon we were blasting off for KFLD (Fond du lac) and talking to Dayton approach to pick up our clearance. As we neared Chicago they routed us well west of the airport, adding 10-15 minutes of flight time to the

Grady's first flight

Just like his older brother, Grady's first flight was in a Cirrus SR22 - in style! I flew the family over to Anderson to drop them off for a visit with the grandparents. I got a bit of IFR practice in, which I enjoyed, and the kids got to see their grandparents a few days earlier than if they waited to drive! I posted a couple of pictures on Facebook . When shooting the approach into KAND I had to get some radio relay help to talk to Greer Approach - I guess they don't have a repeater near Lake Hartwell. That added a bit of spice to the approach as I worked with a guy in a Piper to relay my IFR cancelation request. Glad that Piper flying gentleman came to my rescue. ;) The return trip home was good practice as well - the clouds had built even more then and I was right in the thick of them. When I hopped off of KAND and called up Greer they immediately knew I was looking for a clearance and just started rattling it off to me - that made it nice and easy as I was climbing

Going to Cirrus Migration 8 in Dayton

I just recently returned from Dayton, having attended the annual Cirrus Migration get-together. This was my first time at Migration, and Migration's first time not being held in Duluth. I attended partly to see if ForeFlight should exhibit there next year, partly to make new acquaintances, and partly to learn more about Cirrus. I managed to tackle all three goals quite nicely. I flew up to OH on Thursday with great weather. I had a 10-15 kt headwind for the trip so it took a bit over 2 hours to get there. Charlotte approach gave me a few vector headings around their airspace but shortly cleared me to point directly to my destination - very cool. As I crossed the mountains they sent me up to 10,000' (I was at 8,000' before, just below ATC's minimal altitudes for that area). I used ForeFlight Mobile HD on my iPad to follow my progress along the IFR low altitude charts. It was also handy for frequency lookups - I like to guess at the next frequency ATC will give me

Actual approaches

Today I took my brother in law, Zack, up for a flight in a bit of weather. We had clouds from around 1,000' - 2,500' in the area so it was great IFR practice. We shot an approach at Rutherford CO, KFQD, then pointed south to Spartanburg for an ILS approach. After Spartanburg we were directed straight back to Rock Hill, with a few vectors to get around traffic and the heaviest of the precip. XM WX was quite handy to have on hand. I also made great use of ForeFlight Mobile HD, mainly to view approach plates, but also to keep track of our progress on the sectional display. Some of the recent changes I made (based on what I learned during my last flight with FFM) definitely helped me out. The big one was not letting the iPad sleep while FFM is running. That keeps me from worrying about the screen blanking out and having to wake it up again. As always, I picked up a few new ideas to add as well. We ended the flight with an ILS into Rock Hill. We hit some heavy precip on th

IFR radio practice

Today I made an early flight over to KCEU and back. For the leg to Clemson I went IFR to get some practice on the radio. Just before takeoff I found out that both GPSs were not getting a good signal. I took off anyway since it was severe clear and expected they would get fixed up on there own. However, they never really did start working again until I was almost back to Rock Hill 1.5 hours later. Turns out that the antenna is mounted under the glaresheild using velcro of all things. It had come loose and so was no longer seeing the entire sky. That's where ForeFlight Mobile helped out a great deal. I was able to watch my GPS-derived position on the VFR sectional charts as I motored along. Helped out a great deal - I was surprised how tough it can be to determine your exact location in a Cirrus when the GPSs are inoperative. You go from massive amounts of positional info to very little. Always a good idea to have an independent backup!

Solo in the Cirrus again

Since buying into the SR22, I've had two chances to take her flying. The first was to do some ForeFlight testing and just get used to the airplane again. I did that flight solo, since I was home alone at the time. The weather that morning was too nice to pass up. I also spent some time going over the aircraft logbooks so I would better know when the next inspections, etc. are due. The next morning I got to take my wife and son up for their first flight in the airplane. Both have been in an SR22 a few times, but not in this one! We stayed local, and made it a short flight. This was his first time using a headset and he did exceptionally well, especially considering he's just 2.5 years old. I ended the flight with a landing to be happy with and taxied back to park.

IPC, BFR, new airplane!

This evening I had a special treat. I got to fly "my" new airplane (well, part of it is mine) for the first time. I bought part of a Cirrus SR22 based at the local airport and today was "checkout" day. I went up with my co-owner's instructor to get re-aclimated with the airplane - it's been at least a year since I had PIC time in a Cirrus - and knock out a BFR (bi-annual flight review) and IPC (instrument proficiency check) at the same time. Needless to say, it was tough work, but loads of fun. We started out in the FBO talking about the performance and systems of the SR22. From there it was on to weather briefings and what to look out for. After that he gave me our route of flight (KUZA->KFLO->KCRE->KUZA) and I went off to brief and file it. ForeFlight Mobile 3 came in quite handy for that task, but I took my time doing it as I wanted to be completely thorough. This was not only my first Cirrus flight in a while, but my first flight as pil

The science of ATC

Ars Technica posted a good article on the inner workings of air traffic control last week. It reminded me of my visit to the Potomac TRACON a few years back, and how impressive their facility was.

Setting up a mock up - time lapse

This video shows the setup of a Cirrus mock-up - pretty neat to watch! I've seen this SF50 mock-up in person at AOPA Summit - it was larger than I expected and, like everything Cirrus makes, quite pretty to look at.

Closed up shop

On the way home from the in-laws after Christmas I checked my iPhone email. I found a new message letting me know my flight school, where I was renting an airplane, has gone bankrupt. I had noticed for a while that there wasn't much activity there so it wasn't a big surprise, but it's still a big disappointment. I feel quite bad for the owners, of course, but that also means I have no way of flying now. So now I'm once again looking to buy an plane or find an existing aircraft at KUZA that I can buy a share of. I looked closely at a Piper Warrior for a bit but that was scoped up by another buyer. I had a goal to keep enough money aside to put a Aspen PFD in it - all the better for safer IFR flying. Now I'm looking around some more and trying to find something that fits my purchase budget without having too high of an ongoing cost. Taking a look at older Mooneys and Piper Arrows now.