Saturday, November 15, 2014

Turning Back

The forecast wasn't great, but it wasn't all that bad either. The City Council wouldn't be out grabbing photos to update their tourism brochures with, but with a 4,000' ceiling and 5,000' between it and the next higher layer, it was certainly good enough to get to Jackson, OH.

In theory, anyway.

But it was cold, ever so cold. Twenty degrees in the shade, and with the cloud cover, shade was the rule rather than the exception. This wouldn't present too much of a problem since I would be flying alone, but I recently discovered that the passenger side is quite a bit breezier than my side, Temporary fixes can be put in place, but....

.... it's still not popular.  It doesn't help that the radiator, which doubles as the source of cabin heat, over-performs when it gets super cold. The cylinder heads work at a relatively cold 145 - 150 degrees, and the air that finally reaches the cockpit is an even chiller 50-something degrees.

Not everyone enjoys the brisk temps.




Things didn't look much like I expected them to - that ugly ceiling was overcast, not broken, but things looked okay further south,


Sure enough, it got a lot better.

There came a point, though, when I thought out would be a good idea to get below the 4,000' layer as the weather was getting noticeably worse. No sense getting stuck on top when 3,500' would be plenty enough, even when considering that I would be over hilly, wooded terrain when I got further south.

Off to the right, there was a great break in the clouds that I would be able to descend through in a straight line, which is slightly preferable to circling down through a hole.  As I throttled back to descend, the engine began running rough enough to show as a vibration in the instrument panel. The right side EGT value also starting jumping around in a most alarming way. You can see a 200 degree differential in the picture below, but it would commonly drop even lower than that.  My guess is a fouled plug - the roughness wasn't noticeable at higher RPMs and if the entire cylinder was gone the vibration would have been much worse and definitely noticeable at higher RPMs.

Not thrilled with the idea of a lower than forecast ceiling that would have me down to 1,500' to 1,000' above the hills combined with a rough running engine, I turned around and headed back, but not before accidentally plowing into a the wispy edge of the ceiling, I was only in the clouds for 10 - 15 seconds, which is not enough to be truly dangerous, but it's not supposed to happen at all. It was hard to see where the edge of the clouds was and I had simply not started the descent or turn soon enough.

Heading back was the right thing to do - it was becoming obvious that the forecast (well, it was actually an observation, so it should have been more accurate) was wrong and that there would have been some question as to what would be going on a few hours later when I came back, had I continued on south,

The poor quality of the observation was explained by the ADSB: it was nearly an hour old.

The 7 miles of visibility was pretty close to accurate though, but 7 miles isn't as much as you might think it is. It doesn't matter in the world of GPS, but looking out the window showed very little that wasn't muted by the hazy air. If push had come to shove, though, I would have been able to find my way back in the same way the early airmail pilots did it: I could have just homed on the flame beacon.

These obviously aren't navigation beacons; these are the methane burns from the local landfill. We have a rather more indelicate name for them in my family: we call them "The Fart Flames."

Even three miles out from the runway, it was still somewhat difficult to see:

I had at least one maintenance issue to deal with when I got back to the airport, but that soon became two. I had a bit of a crosswind on landing and I botched the touchdown such that I landed with some side loads on the landing gear. 

That's not normally a problem, but I also let the nose wheel touchdown. I could tell right away from the rumbling and griping from the nose wheel that I had broken another of the notably weak wheel bearings.


They're not expensive, but you need a hydraulic arbor press to remove and replace them. I was able to have it done last time by virtue of finding someone that has one, but this seems as if it's going to be a regular task. Off to Harbor Freight for the 12-ton press they had on sale for $109.99 which, as is my luck, they were out of. Not that you could tell from the plentiful 'Take This Tag to the Register' slips, of which there were many.  

Irritating, that, but I won in the end. I was able to order one from their web site for $99.99 and $5.99 shipping.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Weather or not?

It's a pun, but of course you won't get the joke without knowing what prompted it. As it happens, I had two decisions to make, both related to weather.  They were:

  - Whether or not to move the date of Delta Golf's FAA-mandated annual condition inspection forward, or to leave it where it was and suffer the tribulations of days spent in the cold, cold hangar, and
  - Whether or not to spend the not inconsequential $1,150 to upgrade my Skyview with the ADS-B module.

The first decision was easy.

The second, not so much, but not for the reason you may suspect.  It came down to cost/benefit decision, but not with regards to the lucre. It came down to the difficulty of the installation.

As you may not be aware of the benefits arguing in favor of taking on the challenge of installation, here's some dry, descriptive text:
Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS–B) is a cooperative surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked. The information can be received by air traffic control ground stations as a replacement for secondary radar. It can also be received by other aircraft to provide situational awareness and allow self separation.

ADS–B is "automatic" in that it requires no pilot or external input. It is "dependent" in that it depends on data from the aircraft's navigation system.
ADS–B is an element of the US Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR). ADS–B equipment is currently mandatory in portions of Australian airspace, the United States requires some aircraft to be equipped by 2020 and the equipment will be mandatory for some aircraft in
Europe from 2017.

ADS-B, which consists of two different services, "ADS-B Out" and "ADS-B In", could be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. In the United States, ADS-B is an integral component of the NextGen national airspace strategy for upgrading or enhancing aviation infrastructure and operations. The ADS-B system can also provide traffic and government generated graphical weather information through TIS-B and FIS-B applications. ADS-B enhances safety by making an aircraft visible, realtime, to air traffic control (ATC) and to other appropriately equipped ADS-B aircraft with position and velocity data transmitted every second. ADS-B data can be recorded and downloaded for post-flight analysis. ADS-B also provides the data infrastructure for inexpensive flight tracking, planning, and dispatch.

"ADS-B Out" periodically broadcasts information about each aircraft, such as identification, current position, altitude, and velocity, through an onboard transmitter. ADS-B Out provides air traffic controllers with real-time position information that is, in most cases, more accurate than the information available with current radar-based systems. With more accurate information, ATC will be able to position and separate aircraft with improved precision and timing.
So, yeah, dry as overcooked turkey, that. I did you the favor of highlighting the two most salient parts: with ADS-B, I will get weather information displayed on the Skyview, along with improved traffic detection.

The weather capability will provide 'big picture' information by displaying weather radar data directly onto the map screen, and more importantly will also have wind, visibility, and cloud ceiling data for every airport that has weather reporting capability. It looks something (well, "precisely" if you want to argue about word selection) like this:

In the picture above, consider the right side. Imagine this is me arriving in a area of unforecast bad weather, trying to figure out where to land. You might guess I would head for either KTCM or KGRF since they are unquestionably VFR (going in ascending order of desirability: IFR, LIFR, MVFR, VFR), but I probably wouldn't. My first choice would be KTIW because of the much higher winds at both KTCM and KGRF.  I saw 'probably' because other factors would enter into the decision making, particularly the topology of the area. If it was mountainous, for example, I might be more leery of the 2,200' ceiling at KTIW.

Let's hope I never get a forecast quite that erroneous, but.... it can and does happen. Best to be prepared.

This next picture (borrowed from an RV-12 builder who borrowed it from "Karl's picture of the Dynon SkyView installed in his RV-8 displaying ADSB weather and traffic on the right half of the screen"), also shows the traffic display. Note that the Skyview I have also displays traffic, but it does so based on signals received from ground ATC stations. There are places, such as the southeastern region of Ohio, that have radar blindspots and thus provide no traffic information.

That's how a Beech Bonanza ended up nose-to-nose with Kyle and me one day, but luckily a few hundred feet lower.

This next one is an official Dynon screen shot, demonstrating (unintentionally) precisely what not to do with ADS-B. This shows a pilot headed directly into a thunderstorm that appears to be northwest of the airport. The pilot is presumably going to "thread the needle" between the storm and the airport. This is ill-advised because 1) thunderstorms can move pretty fast, and 2) there is an inherent lag in the update rate of the radar information - the data is commonly 15 or so minutes out of date by the time it gets to the screen.  Still, it's representative of 'big picture' weather information which, if used properly, can be of tremendous benefit to someone flying a 700 lb. airplane.

You know, like me.

This is the level of data available if you dig down a little deeper:

So, with all of the glorious benefits, what kind of installation hurdle would give me pause?

Good question.

The problem is with Van's. In the directions provided with the retrofit kit, they detail an installation process that would require me to run a big, thick antenna cable from the top of the comm radio, where they have us mount the new box, all the way back down through the tunnel and into the tail cone, behind the aft baggage bulkhead.  

No one, and I mean NO ONE, wants to do this.

The reason for this lengthy wire run is to provide separation between the existing transponder antenna and the new ADS-B antenna. Let's stipulate for a minute that that distance is an absolute requirement. Others have looked at this and echoed my "No *!^#~} WAY!" sentiment. They have decided instead to mount the electronic box in the tail cone and buy a new wiring harness to carry the signals from the tail cone up to the front of the plane. 

The presumption here is that the wiring harness will be easier to push through the very crowded tunnel than the thicker antenna cable would have been. Even then, at least one or two people have decided against that as well and run the wires forward by routing them along the side of the interior fuselage skin.

Being a good little Van's citizen, I decided I would take the harder road and do it Van's way. As much as I hated the idea of dealing with those little plastic wire-retaining blocks on the fuselage floor, it seemed do-able. Having decided to lean in that direction, I did something I seldom do: I read through the entire process. That's how I came across "remove both flaperon torque tubes."

"No *!^#~} WAY!"

Let's leave it at that for a few moments.

I decided to do some of the routine maintenance first, while I thought about how to proceed on the ADS-B installation.

So, up on the jacks she went. The brake pads were worn just about to where the wear indication would indicate sufficient wear to be aware of the need to replace them, so off came the wheels, if case you're wondering where they are.

This is one of the outer pads compared to a brand new pad. They aren't completely worn away, but at $33 for the replacement set, why wouldn't I just do this every year?

It does require a special tool to de-rivet the old pads and rivet on the new ones, but since any airplane owner, whether the plane is certificated as Experimental or not, can replace brake pads, I've had this tool for years.

Even if I hadn't, it is a very reasonably priced tool at $36.50.

The first step is, of course, the removal of the old pads. This is done by leaving the outer/bottom part of the tool 'open', which gives the rivet head somewhere to go as it is pushed out by the pointy part of the inner/upper part of the tool.

I work on one piece at a time so I always have an assembled piece to use as a reference so I don't get the pad mounted on the wrong side. Here is a new pad laid into position.

The pointy part of the tool is replaced with the conical part, which will squeeze the new rivet into place, and the hole in the outer/bottom part of the tool is filled with what I call the anvil. This will press against the head of the rivet while it is being squeezed.

This is the first new rivet being squeezed into place. There is another rivet in place at the other end of the pad - it's function is to keep the pad from moving out of alignment while the first rivet is being squeezed.

I failed to do this once.


It's not a mistake that you make a second time.

Before and after: the new pads are in place on the mounting plate to the left. The mounting plate on the right makes me wonder if I've been leaking some brake fluid - it needed quite a bit of cleaning.

The inner mounts are done in pretty much the same way, although they use the larger size of the two rivet sizes included with the pads.

Another before and after:

The oil had been draining (sharp readers will have noticed from the sawhorse picture that the oil preheater was plugged in - this would be why) while I was working on the brakes, so by the time they were done the oil was gone and I could remove the magnetic plug for inspection. There was still oil to leak out once the plug was removed, but it was less, I guess, than it would have been.

The magnetic plug is intended to catch ferrous metals as they swim by in the oil stream to provide early warning of an engine that has decided to self-cannibalize.

Looks okay to me.

There's also a recurring inspection to make - this little probe is intended to show if the PTO journal has cracked.

And no, I really don't know what function a PTO journal is intended to provide for, but my guess is that it provides rotational force for engine attachments like a second alternator.  The RV-12 doesn't come with this second alternator, but planes with heavier electrical load requirements do.  In any event, it can apparently crack without showing any visible distress, so we test for it.

With all of that done, the wheels went back on. I finally broke down and bought a sufficiently big socket for the axle nut. I had been doing this with a big adjustable metric crescent wrench (inside joke), but I couldn't get the nut tight enough to hold the bearing seals in place. As opposed to every other airplane that I have had, these Matco wheels have a rubber seal on the outside of the wheel bearings. This is intended, I think, to keep sand and grime from getting into the bearings. It seems to work; I took the bearings over to the airport mechanic shop to use their cleaning sink to clean out the old grease before repacking with new and the head mechanic there wondered why I was even bothering. The old grease still looked brand new.

Alas, the bearings get repacked every year whether they need it or not. It's really kind of a pain because the rubber seals make it much, much harder to push the grease into the bearings. I tried using the little needle valve that Matco sells, but I was only able to get a little grease in the tiny gap between the bearing and its race (if that's the right word) before having to push the rest in my hand.

So, why the big socket?

The Matco wheels, because of the integral rubber seal, are tightened differently than the older style wheels. With these wheels, you have to tighten the axle nut until the black rubber seal won't turn when the wheel is turned. It takes more torque to get them that tight than can be delivered by a wrench that can only achieve partial grip on the nut due to the nut being down inside the wheel.

Fooling around with all of that routine work gave me time to ponder the ADS-B job. It also gave me time to research why Van's put the antenna so far back in the airframe. Van's (correctly) has a tendency to expect the builder to use the instructions and procedures detailed in the manuals that come with things that Van's doesn't actually make, like the engine, wheels, brakes, and avionics. Oddly, they also have a tendency to provide directions that don't always reflect those provided by the manufacturer.

As such, I thought it might be instructive to consult the ADS-B installation instructions as provided by Dynon. This seemed particularly instructive:
- The SV-ADSB-470 antenna should not be installed within 2 feet (24 inches) of the
transponder antenna.
There's a heckuva lot of difference between 24" and 10'!!

I started looking for a more suitable (for installation, anyway) location for the antenna.

I found one.

Now, before I proceed, I want to say that anyone choosing to install a Dynon ADS-B with the antenna located where I put mine does so at their own risk! At the time of this writing, this antenna location has not been tested in flight.

Disclaimers out of the way, I found a spot over on the passenger side. This location on the pilot's side houses the autopilot pitch servo. Over on the passenger side, it just sits there empty.

I originally thought about putting the antenna doubler on the inner side of the bay, but later decided to move it to the outboard side to ensure that I was getting it as far away from the transponder antenna as possible. Also note that the doubler is turned 90 degrees from its proper orientation in this picture.

I was still a little reluctant to drill a big hole in the belly of the plane, so I procrastinated by installing the electronic unit first.

The radio is easy to remove from the tray, so I got it out of the way. The radio tray stays in because that's what the ADS-B box is going to mount to.

I went ahead and drilled a new hole for the antenna cable to go through.

The next step was to prepare the mounting brackets by installing nutplates. I haven't done nutplates for a year or so, but after doing literally hundreds during the build I figured it would come back to me easily enough.

Maybe not.

I missed capturing the nutplate 'ear' on the first rivet. Note the existence of the rivet but the stunning absence of anything else.


It takes some studying of the picture in the installation instructions to realize that the mounts will offset the ADS-B box from the radio underneath it.  Note also that I have screwdrivers that are too long for the job, and screwdrivers that are too short for the job. I had to kludge together a "just right" screwdriver.

The downside of this solution was the reminder that my nice Craftsman 1/4" drive ratchet is slightly broken - it won't hold the socket on anymore. I must have dropped the screwdriver head off of it a dozen times, each occurrence eliciting a harsher or louder epithet than the previous, and in some notable occasions, both.

I'm tempted to test the Craftsman Lifetime Warranty on this thing, but I imagine I would be disappointed.

Here you can see the proper orientation of the mounts. Study it carefully - it's easy to get them backwards, and if you're struggling with a slightly broken tool, the last thing you want to have to do is re-do the installation.

Yes, yes, ask me how I know.

So, again about Van's. I sometimes wonder if they actually field test their instructions. Consider the wiring harness. Just so you can imagine what is to follow, here is the harness as it comes from Van's, albeit after I wrapped it with the plastic wrapper that I use to keep the individual wires getting tangled up like Christmas lights, or angel hair pasta, whichever analogy you prefer. Pay particular attention to the size of the connectors.

Now see if you think that cable is going to be routable as depicted in the instructions.

It wouldn't fit even if that hole wasn't already filled with wires!

I solve that problem in my usual way: I ignored their instructions.

Oh, and the antenna? Easy-peasy to mount, and the location exceeds the Dynon-specified distance requirement by a 10% margin.

Here's how you know it's working well enough to justify a test in the air (the antenna can't pick up the ADS-B signals while sitting on the ground in a hangar) - note here that Van's gave incorrect directions on how to get to this page. You use the System Settings menu, not the Local Display Settings menu. The TX and RX counters indicate that the ADS-B unit is in communication with the Skyview. To be fair, the communication setup was easily accomplished by importing a config file provided by Van's.

They usually get the big things right.

There's still work to do on the ADS-B - the antenna cable needs to be restrained from floating around loose under the floorboards and a new weight & balance needs to be computed. There's also more work to be done on the annual inspection.

Once all that is done, stay tuned for an in-air test of the ADS-B!


It works just fine with the antenna location I selected:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Search Of... The Oil Can

As I may have mentioned, or perhaps not, I have been heavily involved in the completion of an "almost done" RV-12, purchased by a guy that used to hangar his Cessna 172 a couple of rows over from my own hangar. As it turns out, "almost done" in reference to what he bought fits with the old plane builders pithy "eight percent done, eighty percent to go."

The fundamental truth in that statement arises in the same way it does when you're having a house built: once the frame is up, the roof is one, and the walls are covered, the first-time owner thinks the house is almost done, when in reality there are not many things in life that are further from the truth. It's the finish work - the multitudinous fine details - that takes the lion's share of the time and effort.

And so it was with the "almost built" RV-12, although to be fair, quite a few of the most time consuming things have been introduced by the initial builder. I may or may not have shared the story about a thick white wire that had an inexplicably located piece of electrical tape around it. Peeling off the tape out of idle curiosity exposed a cable of five wires, all five of which were cut through. All that was holding the cable together was a small unmolested piece of the outer insulation and the aforementioned electrical tape. There are only two possible explanations for the tape: it was either put in place my someone with so little understanding of electricity that he thought he could repair it in the same way you would "fix" a leaking hose, or it was put on there to hide the fact that the wires were cut.

Being generous in nature, I think it was the former.

Hey, who just laughed?

The wire bundle ended up being the control wires for the elevator trim, which in most people's opinion is not an optional component. Kind of a must-have, really.

As far as the trim goes, that was the first of many fixes, only one of which seems to be a result of my own carelessness or mental incapacity. Once I got it all working, it turned out that despite my best efforts, the direction of travel was opposite to that required. I figured it would be easier to just change the UP/DOWN labeling on the switch that controls it, but I was overruled by the owner.

No, not really.  I just went ahead and rewired the two responsible wires.

So, it has been things like that from day one. The most recent endeavor was getting the autopilot to work. The original builder had decided that he had no need of the optional autopilot, and he acted accordingly: he didn't install the servo mounts back when it would have taken ten minutes, so the much, MUCH tougher task of installing them after a whole lot of airplane had been built around the installation area.

And.. the wiring. I had to fix the wiring. No fun, that, especially when two of the three wiring problems were introduced by Van's as part of the conversion from the old, obsolete Dynon to the new Dynon Skyview.

All of those fiascoes aside, the worst had to be putting brake fluid into the braking system. There are a few different strategies for that, but based on the experiences of my build and that of The Jackson Two, our preferred method is to fill a thumb-pump oil can with brake fluid and pump the fluid UP into the airplane through the bleed valves on each brake assembly. Easy-peasy.

Easy, that is, as long as you aren't depending on a cheap Harbor Freight (Home of Dysfunctional Pumping Products the Frustrate Your Every Need) oil pump.

We pumped that thing for what seemed like hours, yet despite the misleading appearances, no oil was getting pumped anywhere.  Frack!! (Heh, see what I did there?)

The problem was eventually solved when The Jackson Two flew up with the oil can they use - the job was done in minutes. I simply had to have one of those oil cans for myself, but they had purchased it at a place called Rural Heaven or Wal*Rural or some such. As such, none were locally available. That was just fine since I had no pressing need for one, but I filed it away as something to be pursued next time I was down south.

Coincidentally, I flew down south the other day. I had no real reason to go, other than to burn off some of the fuel that I purchased after the Put-in-Bay trip with Annie Girl. You might remember that I lost my fuel cap just prior to that trip, having presumably left it sitting on the wing on the flight prior to that flight. The fuel that needed to be burned off was purchased at the same airport that I lost the fuel cap at, which was not a coincidence. I went there specifically to see if someone had picked up the stray fuel cap and returned it to the small terminal building there to be added to the Last & Found collection.

Sadly, the door to the building was locked and there was no one there to pick through the Lost & Found box, assuming that they actually have one. I walked dejectedly back to the plane, where I was met by a friendly guy in a pickup truck who seems to have assumed that my woeful look was somehow directly related to a frustrated attempt at using a men's room. I thanked him for his concern and turned back to the plane. As I did so, my eyes were drawn to a small object placed on top of the big metal box that encompasses the fuel pump. Sure enough, it was my wayward fuel cap, which had been rendered invisible to me as I concentrated on figuring out the self-service terminal off to the side.

So, all of the fuel has been sitting in the tank patiently awaiting the good flying weather that would be necessary for flying some of it off. Said weather had to date not been forthcoming.

Until, of course, a few days ago. 

I arrived at Jackson after a scenic flight down south, albeit at an altitude that provided a smooth ride at the cost of being able to fully enjoy the vibrant fall colors, at least until I was approaching the Jackson Co. airport for landing. As you can see, the colors were nice, but unless you watch the video you won't be able to tell how choppy it was. If you don't want to watch the video, well, just take my word for it: it was choppy.

The Jackson Two are deep into their own annual inspection, as it turns out. Further, they ran into a problem with a stuck hex head bolt, and the only solution appeared to be the use of a screw extractor, or an E-Z Out as they are commonly known. 

Even though there is precious little about them that is E-Z.

"Perfect! We can go get one at Rural World. And I can get an oil can!"

Kyle, radio spokesman for both The Jackson Two and the Jackson County International Airport Runway Maintenance Division, asked if we should "drive for fly."

I answered with the same perplexed look my dog gets when I ask him if he folds or crumples.

"It's not in Jackson, it's in Gallipolis."

Oh, I see.  The answer was obvious: "Fly."

It's not a lengthy flight - it's only about 15 minutes. Scenic, though, so it was a good thing that I hadn't violated my oft-violated "never fly without a camera" rule.

The loaner car was available at Gallipolis (I have no idea what our Plan B was had it not been), so the trip to Rural King netted the oil can that I wanted and the E-Z Out that Kyle needed, so we were soon back in the air. The landing back at Jackson Co. was somewhat delayed by another airplane in the landing pattern and the need to give him plenty of room to turn around and back taxi (just as you saw me do in the video, right?), although I ended up leaving more space than necessary as he landed that Cessna in an astonishingly short amount of runway.

I did okay with my landing, but not nearly as well as the Cessna guy did.

I needed to get headed back north as the day was getting late and I am not allowed to fly at night anymore. I started gathering stuff up and doing a quick inventory - it didn't take long to notice that I no longer had my camera. It didn't take very long at all to determine that the only place it could be was back at Gallipolis, either lying broken on the runway after falling off of the wing, or still sitting in the loaner car.

I was hoping for the car, but I couldn't see how I would have left it there.

With time being short, I made an expeditious trip back to Gallipolis (by which I mean I went ahead and burned the volume of gas required to fly as fast as my little 100hp kite will go) to see if I could find the camera. Sure enough, and to be great relief, it was in the car. There was a brief moment of concern when I peeked in the window and didn't see it, though, but it was pushed back under the seat. Which, as I think about it, is probably how I managed to miss seeing it in the first place.

From Gallipolis I headed straight back to the home field. There was no longer any time pressure; I would land well within the allowable time frame. The skies had calmed down too, so it was a smooth, relaxing ride as I went over 100 hours of flight time in the plane.

Arriving back at the Home Drome, I ran into a little problem with a Cessna approaching the airport at the same time. I was closer, but the tower must have felt that the Cessna was better positioned - he cleared the Cessna to land and cleared me as "Number two, follow the Cessna."  As it turned out, the Cessna was both slower and not actually better positioned. He either fibbed about his actual position, or didn't know it. It's always hard to say with a renter.  In any event, he flew an insanely wide and slow approach, so I had to counter by dragging along at 70 knots waiting for him to get out of the way. He dragged it out so far that I was right on the edge of breaking into the Port Columbus airspace before I was able to make my turn back towards the airport.

At least I had my camera with me.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Last Gasp, The Movie

Two cameras this time, which worked well enough, but I need to build a little sound mixer to get some of the engine sounds in with the ATC sounds.

The Six Seasons of Ohio: The Last Gasp of Summer

While there are four commonly accepted seasons to the year, I contend that there can be more than that, or less, depending on the location. Los Angeles: one, or so I hear. Ohio: six.

The Six Seasons of Ohio are Winter, Fake Spring (also known as "Ha! Just kidding!"), Spring, Summer, Last Gasp, Fall, and Winter.

We're in the dead of Last Gasp now. One week of gorgeous weather before it all starts down the inexorable path to winter. Winter: the home of February, the worst month of my life.

The thing about Last Gasp is you really have to get as much out of it as you can. I started on Myday when what was supposed to be a simple flight for breakfast became anything but.

I had been pestering a co-worker to take a ride with me - we will refer to her as Annie Girl - for awhile, and we were finally able to get a day scheduled. I decided it would be a good time to try a place that I've been wanting to go to. The attraction of the Plaza Inn is that it has its own grass runway. So does Urbana, of course, but I was in the mood for something new. I checked in with The Jackson Two to see if they would like to join in, and it soon became a group of four.

Annie Girl met me at the airport gate bright and early on what had to be one of the prettiest days of the year. Things had cleared up in her afternoon schedule, so we would have the entire day to use if we so desired.

I desired. I wanted to get up to Put-in-Bay as Last Gasp is the very best time to go. The crowds are down, but the stores and restaurants are still open. That was just fine with Annie Girl, so it looked like everything was falling into line.  Right up until I started the preflight and noticed the glaring lack of a fuel cap.  I thought that to be somewhat odd, and definitely out of the ordinary. Where could it have gone.....

I must have left it sitting on the wing when I filled up at Circleville (KCYO) last week.

Suddenly, the Best Myday Ever looked like it was about to take a turn for the worse. Luckily it was still early enough to alert The Two that I wouldn't be able to join them, unlesssssss.......

Yep, they had a spare fuel cap and would be happy (I'm assuming that part) to drop it off.

Getting the replacement cap fitted didn't go as well as you imagine a simple task should go, but it didn't matter. No harm, no foul, and brunch is just as good as breakfast.

Off to Mt. Victory we went, with The Two leading the way. It's a short flight of only 40 nm or so, but it was as enjoyable as could be. Smooth and clear air made it very simple to fly just off of the left wing of the leader.

As we got close to the airport, we dropped back and let Lead reconnoiter the runway. Hmmm, there's a guy mowing the runway, and he's completely oblivious to the two airplanes circling the airport. What to do....

A low pass with airshow smoke (Kyle was right - there is a productive use for a smoke system!) did the trick and we were soon parked by the restaurant.

I'm so selfie!

I've had corned beef hash on my mind lately, and although I am usually disappointed in the canned stuff they serve at restaurants, I always hope that they will get it right.

I was again disappointed.

This is what it's supposed to look like:

After breakfast brunch, we headed north to the islands.

The Two trailed behind us far enough to leave Annie Girl and I room for what could have been fairly erratic and unpredictable flying, but she turned out to be a very steady stick.

 I think from now on, whenever someone asks me why you would go to all the trouble of building an airplane, I'm just going to show them this picture - it's the RV Grin!

The Put-in-Bay airport office is now guarded by a vicious Doberman that is the fear of all transient pilots, except one:

The weather was still simply fantastic, so while The Jackson Two puttered off in a rented golf cart, Annie Girl and I made the hike around the perimeter of the island. This is a well documented walk on this blog, but in case you have missed it before, here are some reminders: