Saturday, December 19, 2009

Flying Again!


After a grueling 5 month wait...I'm flying again! My flying buddy Ron sold his Cherokee 140 just after I completed my IFR cross country flight (that was back on July 29, 2009) and bought a Comanche 250. The Comanche needed a lot of work to get it back in flying shape as it had been sitting for 12 years.

The airplane has been repainted, had a new leather interior installed, the panel retooled, new fuel cells installed, and much more. I will be presenting N7720P as soon as I shoot some beauty shots of her.

My first flight was just the other day and it was with my CFII Steven Wilson to begin the familiarization process and get signed off to fly a Complex and High Performance airplane. That should take somewhere between 5 and 10 hours...but Ron's insurance company wants me to get 10 hours of instruction logged before they will let me fly the airplane anyway so we're going to have some fun and do some learning at the same time.

After the Complex and High Performance instruction is complete I will get back into the IFR training and finish that up as soon as possible.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

2009 Miramar Air Show







I attended my first-ever MCAS air show at Miramar in San Diego, California on Friday, October 2. The show ran from the 2nd to the 4th. Billed as the "World's Largest Military Air Show" but also considered one of the top 10 best airshows by those in the know, the amazing display of aviation hardware and flying skills is the kind of thing that everyone should attend at least once.

The Miramar flight line was filled with static displays ranging from current and historical military equipment to plenty of good food and refreshments...plus souvenirs galore. The U.S. Navy's legendary Blue Angels joined the Canadian Snowbirds (appearing for the first time at Miramar) as the highlight of the precision aerobatic demonstration.

Other performers, including civilians like Bill Leffin in his T-6, showed off the range and agility of their airplanes too. The static displays included the humongous C-5 Galaxy transport plane and even tiny Cessna airplanes that were used for training "back in the day".

Marine Corp Air Station Miramar strives to be a good neighbor in San Diego and participates in numerous community relations activities both on and off the installation. MCAS is open for tours through the Consolidated Public Affairs Office.

More miramar Photos





more Miramar photos





More Miramar Pics





Monday, August 31, 2009

Cherokee 140 sold

yep, the deal is done, and Ron sold the Piper Cherokee 140. got $33,000 for her (was asking $35,000). New airplane deal is in the works, more to follow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Long Cross Country For IFR requirement before Checkride


Had a great time on the long cross country IFR trip today. Went north because the CFII wanted to make sure we got out of the TEC area (for whatever that's worth, decided to stop over-thinking it).

We took off at 9:00 am bound for Santa Barbara. Went well, minus the one time when I got all frustrated trying to figure out where I was (ATC took us off the eastbound EMT departure procedure and vectored us back westbound toward V186)...just a brain fart that was multiplied by my frustration. Funny how you can have 4 out of 5 things going right and you start focusing on that one thing that's not right and pretty soon you've got 4 things screwed up.

Anyway, I recovered from that and had a nice flight. A good portion of it was over a thick cloud bank. Did the ILS to runway 7 and had actual. Broke out about 400 feet above the minimums (actual, just what the Double Eye was hoping for).

We went to Atlantic to bring the fuel back to the tabs (we're both fatties so we can't fill 'er all the way up, so took off from EMT with fuel to the tabs) and, while they were exceptionally nice and the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies were delish, they were really busy and it took about 30 minutes from the time we pulled in till we pulled back out.

Next stop was Santa Maria. Was originally going to go to San Luis Obispo but realized they only had a VOR approach for me (can't do RNAV, no DME for the Back Course) so Santa Maria graciously offered her Localizer approach to runway 12. Nice, little flight there, interesting approach. Had lunch at Pepper Garcias. I've read both good and bad about the place on the Red Board, but we enjoyed it.

Took awhile to find someone to let us back onto the airport though as no one with a key could be found. Someone in operations pulled the short stick and had to come let us in. The longest leg of the trip was SMX to EMT and it was really nice to get that much time under the hood with time to think and plan. I could get 2 or 3 steps ahead and be ready to identify intersections, nail my altitude for giant stretches, hold my headings accurately...well, I'm exaggerating about the headings...the CFII told me I was busted once when I was blissfully tooling along 15 degrees off the heading (I argued that I was on the radial, was merely finishing up my course correcting, etc., etc....he didn't buy it).

Somewhere before Van Nuys we were vectored in a big 360 to make room for an Eclipse that was bearing down on us.

The VOR-A approach into El Monte was about as dead-nuts as I've ever done it. Right on course, timer went off at exactly the right place, I held my altitude and airspeed nearly perfectly the whole way...even joking with the CFII (when he mangled a sentence and used a wrong term I set him straight and said, "Don't worry, I'll get you through this.").

Total flight time 4.7 hours. Won't be flying for a couple of weeks as I'm heading out to Hawaii for vacation, but when we get back we'll be doing our Check Ride prep...I think I'm getting close to being ready....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Put On Your Protective Armor...

***From Stalls, Spins, and Safety by Sammy Mason***

The tail surfaces are all that are identifiable. The twisted and battered wings protrude from a blackened mass of melted aluminum. The engine and the mangled propeller have been shoved into the cockpit area by the authoritative hand of gravity.

The stall and spin and the resultant loss of life were inadvertent. The pilot of this airplane and the unwary friends aboard anticipated only the pleasure of flight, not the termination of their lives.

Only trained reactions and an educated basic intelligence can protect our fragile lives within the realm of flight. Pilots must not only be trained in the skillful manipulation of the controls but also know the deceptive areas of flight where they might become unwilling victims.

The essence of good basic flight training is to provide pilots with a protective armor of knowledge about-and dependable motor reactions to potential hazards in their incipient stages.

A pilot need not be haunted by a lack of confidence and by uncertain reactions. With a properly trained pilot, flying is a reasonably safe mode of transportation. It is certainly the most pleasurable. However, as with any other form of transportation, it is only as safe as the individual at the controls.

AN UNSOLVED PROBLEM

Unfortunately, the undesirable and often unexpected maneuver that killed many pioneer aviators is still killing pilots today. Most modern airplanes are spinnable. The knowledge and skill of the pilot should always match the airplane that is being flown. Because most airplanes are spinnable, spin training should be included in the preparation and licensing of pilots.
Some feel that more lives would be lost because spin training in itself is hazardous. This is true only because of the improper training of flight instructors. If all flight instructors were properly trained, spin training could be carried out with a high degree of safety. Properly implemented, spin training would undoubtedly save many lives. Also, there is a moral aspect to be considered. It seems criminal to license a pilot who has never experienced a spin to carry passengers. Far too many pilots experience their first spin at an altitude from which they are too low to recover.

UNNECESSARY FEAR BREEDS INCOMPETENCE

The fear of spins is understandable. We all fear the unknown. However, a good instructor can guide students through this initial fear and expose them to spins early in their flight training. It is senseless to continue flying with a fear that can be overcome in such a short time.

Pilots who have not been trained in spins and the recognition of incipient conditions from which inadvertent spins emerge develop grotesque flying habits. For example, they tend to fly their approaches with excessive speed, often overshooting runways and either colliding with obstructions at the end of the runway or attempting a last minute go-around, necessitating a steep climb at low speed to clear obstructions. Many accidental spins have been the result of aborted landings that were prompted by panic and incompetence.

Some feel that all that is needed is training in the manner in which inadvertent spins develop so that pilots will learn to avoid those conditions. They argue that there is no need to expose pilots to spins if they know how to avoid them.

This approach to the problem reveals a misunderstanding of how inadvertent spins develop. Simply knowing how to avoid a spin may not prevent a pilot from entering one when distracted by other things.

SPINS EVOLVING FROM ROUTINE FLIGHT SITUATIONS

Stall/Spin accidents occur more frequently than they should, and from everyday flight situations common to normal aircraft utilization.

The answer is not more knowledge, although this is important. Avoiding accidental spins cannot be accomplished through knowledge alone, any more than thinking about placing one foot ahead of the other will improve your ability to walk. The pilot who must devote excessive thought to the manipulation of the controls and maintaining proper flight attitudes has not yet learned to fly well enough. Deciding to not get anywhere near the stall is not the answer. Flying at high angles of attack is part of normal aircraft utilization. Short-field operations, for example, require approaches at minimum speed.

While flying at minimum speed, we might be required to make a sudden pull up, steep turn, or combination of both to avoid other traffic while on final approach. Or we might have to abort a landing well down the runway and pull up steeply at low speed to avoid hitting an obstacle. We may plan and hope that we never become involved in such situations, but flights do not always go according to plans. We must be able to fly an airplane through the complete range of its capabilities, and be able to do it instinctively.

Training in the conditions leading up to a spin and being able to recognize warnings that a spin is about to occur are important and should be a part of a pilot's stall/spin education, but these aspects are only part of the answer. The conditions leading up to the spin may be so completely camouflaged by other factors that demand attention that the pilot may not become aware of them.
Even experienced pilots have become stall/spin victims after complex emergency situations trapped them into hitting the ground in uncontrolled flight.

The answer is more thorough flight training, the type of training that gives one the ability to fly within the realm of a potential stall or spin instinctively and safely.

Incipient stalls and spins are common as acrobatic pilots practice their maneuvers. However, their recoveries are so instant and automatic that the incipient stalls and spins are scarcely recognizable. All the conditions may exist for a spin, but a touch of rudder and a flick of the wrist prevent even a small bobble in an attempted maneuver.

SPINS WITHOUT WARNING

The aerodynamic buffeting that is experienced during stall practice will probably not exist during an inadvertent spin entry. During a ball-centered stall, most wings will stall at the root section first. Because the tail of the airplane is directly behind the root section of the wing, the pilot can feel this disturbance, which results when the turbulent air strikes the tail. However, when the ball is not centered and the nose of the airplane is yawed one way or another, a spanwise flow of air causes the wing to stall in a different manner and the initial stall occurs at or near the wing tip. When the stall is excited at one of the wing tips, a quick spin entry without the benefit of stall buffet warning may occur. There is nothing behind the wing tip for the disturbed air to buffet against. A stall from yawed flight usually results in at least the start of a spin.

As I was writing this portion of the book, I began to wonder whether it was possible to enter a spin without sounding the stall warning. I selected a Cessna Aerobat in which the stall warning was set to go off very close to the stall. Sure enough, after a little experimentation, I was able to enter a spin without actuating the warning. The stall warning port was located on the left wing. By spinning to the right I avoided actuating the warning.

It is evident that in the absence of buffet or audible warning or through unawareness of warnings because of distractions, the first indication of trouble may be the spin itself. How well the pilot flies the airplane at this moment may mean the difference between life and death.

The stall that results in instant-spin aerodynamics also produces instant- spin dynamics. In other words, the yaw and roll that are common to spins are present at the onset.

The more pilots are exposed to these dynamics and correct for them, the better they will be able to recognize and react to them. The full dynamics of a spin can only be experienced when the spin is fully developed.

EXERCISING MENTAL AND PHYSICAL SKILLS

Flying involves mental and physical skills that must be exercised simultaneously. The flight instructor is the coach who should encourage the exercises that develop these abilities.

Race drivers who have never experienced spinouts endanger themselves and other drivers on the track. Going into the first turn in a competitive pack of cars, they can be the catalyst that activates a massive pileup.

Drivers who have practiced recovering from fully developed spinouts on slick pans have developed the reflexes that cause them to react instantly and skillfully when they sense an incipient spinout while rounding a curve within inches of other cars.

Flying skills are best developed when we practice maneuvers that stretch our ability. Our goal should be a proficiency adequate to any situation that we might face while pilot in command. I recognize that on rare occasions pilots are faced with impossible situations which are beyond human skills. However, this isn't the reason for most accidents. Most accidents are preventable. They are usually the result of a pilot's inability to think and fly the airplane at the same time. Often, simple distractions result in serious accidents.

I recommend not only spin training, but also a course in basic aerobatics. An airplane is an all-attitude vehicle, and pilots should be able to recover from any attitude. The elimination of unnecessary fears and the confidence gained will add to the pleasure of flying.

THE HAZARDS

The first step in flying safely is to have a thorough understanding of the hazards involved. You should know from the outset that most conventional airplanes are capable of spinning under the right circumstances. You should also know that most airplanes are not approved for intentional spins. The placards that read "Intentional spins prohibited" mean one of two things: either the airplane has not been spin-tested, or its spin characteristics have been observed only in their very early stages of development.

An airplane is an expression of freedom. It permits humans to ascend heavenward before they permanently leave their earthly station behind. However, a lack of training and knowledge can expedite their permanent departure.

Flying might be compared to a bug in a bun. It's perfectly safe until it's exposed to the teeth of the unexpected. The unexpected might be expressed as the sinister shadow that is reflected by complacent familiarity. The feel of controls that always respond, the soothing sound of an engine that has never failed, and the accumulated hours of uneventful flying that magnify each moment of deceptive intimacy provide a very fickle fortress against any deviation from characteristic routine.
If we spend enough time in a rocking chair, we become incapable of reacting property to even the minor disturbances of life. Vital living demands a constant expansion of the abilities of mind and body. So it is with flying. Real flying skills are developed through exercises that constantly stretch our abilities.

Even the simplest of flying tasks can be performed better if we have been involved in more complex exercises. For example, those who have been exposed to aerobatics feel perfectly comfortable in turbulence that might unnerve the pilot who never exceeds 30° of bank.

You never know when extra flying skills will come in handy. A friend of mine, Johnny Miller, suddenly found himself with a jammed elevator control after a midair collision. As the nose of the airplane pitched upwards, he rolled the airplane into a steep bank and, by the use of top rudder, entered a severe sideslip. He was able to control the nose attitude by the use of top and bottom rudder. When he hit the ground in a dry riverbed, the low wing absorbed most of the shock, and he walked away from the wreckage. I wonder how many pilots know that you can control nose attitude by rolling into a slip and using the rudder in place of the elevators? Johnny exhibited a really slick bit of flying, but he was ready for the unexpected because he had exercised his skills beyond that which is normally expected.

Just practicing stalls and spins will not provide all of the immunization you may need against abnormal flight behavior. A course in basic aerobatics is an excellent insurance policy against unusual and unexpected attitudes.
Flying is fun, but many pilots miss out on the greatest satisfaction of flying, and that is accepting the challenge of increasing and maintaining flying skills. Those who maintain only limited skills will be constantly haunted by the knowledge that they may suddenly and unexpectedly be called upon to do more than they are capable of. This fear is an unnecessary burden for pilots to bear. It can be eliminated with a little effort.

Why not resolve to enter into a flying fitness program today?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chiriaco Summit


Not too long ago my flying buddy Ron and I flew out to Chiriaco Summit (just past Palm Springs) to visit the Gen. George S. Patton tank museum and memorial. It was cool. Lots of tanks, lots of "stuff" and some interesting movies playing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Flying over the California Desert

video
One of the rare times when I have video of me in the left seat (I'm usually videotaping when I'm in the right seat)

It has been hot...



So I thought I'd post this photo of a light dusting of snow that I shot a few months back while out in the California desert.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Modified straight-in for Runway 19 at El Monte Airport

People always say that El Monte Airport (KEMT) is hard to find from the air. My instructor used to say that the river (concrete) is like an arrow that points right to the runway. video

Sunday, June 28, 2009

6794J is For Sale



Ron has decided that it's time to step up and get an airplane that can carry more weight. He has his eyes on a Piper Pathfinder and has put the Piper Cherokee 140/160 up for sale on Trade-A-Plane. We'll see what happens...stay tuned.

$35,000 210hrs SMOH, 210 hrs SPOH

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day


I lost my dad on January 19th this year, so Father's Day was a bit tough this year. My two daughters and my fiance went with me to my dad's grave site with a picnic lunch and a blanket (her idea, and it turned out to be a good one). I wasn't sure that I could handle hanging around there...I just wanted to pop in and see if the headstone had been placed and if everything was spelled right. But, it turned out to be a good thing to do. Time to grieve, time to talk, time to laugh...in that order. I couldn't believe how many people were at the Riverside National Cemetery, it was PACKED.

In the "newer" areas there were lots of tears, in the more established areas you could tell that healing had taken place. That gave us hope for the future.

For dinner we recreated one of my kid's favorite old meals...creamed chicken on a puff pastry...it was awesome. (Oh, and on Saturday we went to a Johnny Cash Festival, that was fun).

I really wanted to take everyone flying on Father's Day but, alas, the airplane I use is awaiting magneto repairs (repairs to be started this a.m.).

All-in-all, it was a good day.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rough Running Engine


While on an IFR training flight today (on the 3rd and final leg) we did the usual runup and the left mag was running rough. Assuming it was a fouled spark plug from our 10-minute delay we did the normal "clean up the plugs" drill with a lean mixture. No improvement. Did the lean drill again. No improvement. Did the drill even longer...no dice. The left mag was dropping 750 rpm when it was isolated.

So, we went over to Howard Aviation (we were at Bracket airport) and they were nice enough to get right on it for us. The troubleshooter thought he had found the problem with the spark plugs as they were gapped way, way too big and after regapping them the test equipment showed dramatic improvement. But, alas, after re-installation the engine was still not perfect. Much better, mind you, but not perfect. It dropped about 200 rpm.

Has to be a mag or a lead problem, the consensus was, and the mags are covered under warranty since they were brand new rebuilts when the engine was rebuilt about 120 hours ago.

Tomorrow we will continue with our trouble shooting. It was a long enough day today, that's for sure.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The REST of the story...realized Lt. Col Brady Glick wasn't done yet...

9. Admit When You Don’t Know Something
There are so many new systems, weapons, regulation changes, acronyms, tactics, and techniques that it’s becoming increasing hard to stay on top of all the things you need to know to do the job. It’s staggering when you think of all the layers of knowledge you are responsible for in the Air Force. You have know your plane, then the sub-systems of the plane (navigation computer, counter measures systems, displays), the mission planning software, the electronic briefing room, the simulator, and the new scheduling software. Add to that the volumes of regulations, the demands of your non-flying duties, death by PowerPoint, and the bombardment of emails from around the base. It’s amazing to me we can do our jobs at all.

The fact is…there is tons of stuff I don’t know. Even in the flying arena, all I have to do is sit through a briefing by a motivated young weapons officer and I’m lucky if I understand half of the material. It’s no sin to not know something. Ask questions and admit when you are clueless.

The same thing applies in flight. You’ve got lots of resources to draw on when you don’t know something. There are your wingmen, your SOF, ATC, Metro, FSS, and the RCO to name a few. If you don’t know something, there may be somebody else you can talk to that does.

10. Don’t Be to Proud to Change Your Mind
There are things that I knew to be true in the past that I can no longer call true. Your perspective can and probably should change with experience. It’s easy to become myopic and parochial. Every clothing outfit you’ve ever worn and every hair style you’ve ever sported, you must have thought was a good idea at the time. All I have to do is pull out pictures from the 80’s to see that I don’t possess perfect judgment and wisdom at all times. I think the ORM constructs we use now can help to put things in perspective in real time. I’m not as passionate about the need to train at 100’ AGL or knife fight BFM in a flat scissors as I used to be. You need to constantly challenge your beliefs and compare them to current realities.

11. When You Train…Make the Most of It
The government is only going to give you so much JP8 to burn in your career. How well you decide to use it is amazingly within your purview. How you train will largely determine if you are destined to be average or will actually be good. It’s easy to get into the rut of doing the same events or exercises every time you fly. In my community, it’s tempting to “mail it in” when you are going to the same weapons delivery ranges every week. Don’t fall into this trap. Push yourself to be really good in the airplane. Be proficient in all the weapons and deliveries, formations and tactics, and fundamental skills. Challenge yourself with difficult target acquisition, go to different airspace, and get realistic training.

Don’t make your training missions so complex that you never get really good at the core competencies. It’s analogous to practicing for a sport. A football team doesn’t go out and scrimmage every day. Although scrimmaging, a full dressed rehearsal for game day is important, most of the time you need to be doing drills; like blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching. It takes a lot of repetition to be good at something. Practice difficult maneuvers and deliveries over and over until you get them right. You’ll be able to do them better and safer during a complex scenario and be better prepared for game day.

It Can Happen To You
Sounds cheesy I know, but it’s true. This is an unforgiving business. Take an active role in your own safety. Supervision is important, but when you are strapping on that jet, mommy and daddy aren’t going along with you. Look in the mirror and make sure you like what you see. Be proactive in your squadron or wing. Pull a buddy aside and tell them if they are screwing up. Learn from other people’s mistakes, don’t get complacent, and listen to that little voice in your head.

You don’t want to be the guy who could have saved a squadron mate and didn’t…and you certainly don’t want to be an example in squadron safety meetings for the next 20 years.

Lt Col Brady Glick is command pilot and combat veteran with more than 4000 hours in the A-10. He is a graduate of the Air Force Weapons School, Advance Instrument School, and Flight Safety Officer Course.

Things I've Learned, Till Now

1. It’s Usually the Second or Third Bad Decision that Kills You
On flying missions, even when you’ve made a bad decision, there’s usually still a chance to rectify the situation. Sometimes you just make a bad call. Your first bad decision might pertain to weather, fuel, mission complexity, or physiological factors. Don’t keep doing it. Get yourself back on a viable course of action. Flying is constant string of decisions that affect your outcomes. There is a lot of pressure to get the mission done. Sometimes the pressure is real and sometimes it’s perceived. Regardless…it can cloud your judgment.

2. Being a Little Bit Scared is a Good Thing
I don’t care who you are…this job is dangerous. I once saw Chuck Yeager in a television interview. He made a statement that struck me as profound. I can’t remember it exactly, but it went roughly, “Every time I strap on an airplane, I say to myself, be careful Yeager, this sucker could bite you today.” If Chuck Yeager is a little bit scared, it’s probably okay for me to be. Call it what you want, maybe it’s a self preservation instinct, or those little hairs on the back of your neck, but you have to have an internal fear mechanism to make it in the long run.

3. Even within the Rules, There’s Plenty of Rope to Hang Yourself
There’s no other type of flying that comes close to what we do in the military. Think about it. What other company is going to let you take out their planes and dogfight within 500’ of each other, or fly a low level at 300’ AGL, or roll-in and drop a string of bombs with a 60 degree dive angle. You don’t have to break the rules to have fun. When you step out the door, the Air Force gives you about a hundred feet of rope to wrap around your neck if you choose to. There’s a lot of trust inherent in that. I’ve broken rules, but as I’ve gotten older, and hopefully wiser, I’m able to see how stupid and gratuitous that is. It’s an insult to yourself and the Air Force. And…if you end up killing yourself while breaking the rules, they’ll make an example of you in safety meetings for a long time. If that’s not motivation to follow the rules, I don’t what is.

4. There is a Lot You Don’t Know
The problem is…you don’t currently know how much you don’t know. Take this simple test. If you a have several thousand hours, think back to when you had 500. If you have 500 hours, think back to when you were in UPT. At each level, you were probably pretty confident and sure of your knowledge. Guess what folks…it never ends. I like to attend forums where there are aircrews from other communities. For no other reason, I’m reminded of how much is going on in military flying that I don’t know about. It’s humbling. If you fly fighters, talk to an AFSOC helicopter pilot, or a C-17 pilot who’s just back from one of the “Stans,” or even a FAIP who puts his life on the line with some young punk who’s trying to kill him everyday. You’ll find out real quick that nobody has “cornered the market” on risk and danger.

5. It’s Best to Keep Your Plan Simple
Don’t make things harder than they need to be. This business is hard enough without incorporating the “double-rat’s-ass” plan for no reason. In my anecdotal experience, a tactical plan’s chance of success is inversely proportional to its complexity. Concentrate on basics and be really, really good at them. If you are a fighter pilot, those things are probably de-confliction, target acquisition, weapons delivery, and mutual support. Those basics apply to just about every type of tactical mission, whether it’s air-to-air or air-to-mud. Make those the tenets of your objectives for every training or combat flight. If you are good at the basics, you’ll be able to adapt to complex situations.

6. You Need to Visualize Yourself in Emergency Situations
We can all sight examples of pilots who have “screwed up” in emergency situations. It’s easy to point a finger. How does a seasoned veteran forget to jettison his stores after being hit by a missile, or forget to put his speed brakes in with a failed engine and stall the plane, or make a landing 100 knots too fast and go off the end of the runway? Guess what…emergencies are stressful. There’s time dilation and the possibility of having the proverbial “seat cushion” where the sun don’t shine. Go through your boldface frequently. Don’t just say the words; translate the words into the physical actions you’d actually make in the plane. Move your hands to the switches as you say the words. If you reinforce the words with the actions it will help prepare you to act in stressful situations.

7. Good Communication is Imperative
It doesn’t matter whether you are mission briefing, talking to ATC, or calling out a threat reaction…you have to be able to communicate well. You may be the smartest guy in the room, but if nobody else can figure out what the hell you are talking about, you can’t be totally effective in this business. Our job is very technical. It’s important to use the proper terminology and protocol. As an instructor if my wingman has a problem with his HUD, armament control panel, or navigation system, I can’t help him unless he can successfully communicate his problem to me and I can successfully communicate a solution.

Communication not only has to be correct, it has to be timely. CRM is here and it’s important. We need to take care of each other in flight and on the ground. In one of my prior squadrons, an A-10 flight lead flew into the ground while holding at low altitude. He hit the ground at an extremely low angle of impact. He was highly experienced, had flown three different kinds of fighters, and was also a major airline pilot. He essentially mis-prioritized his attention in the cockpit while attack planning and gently descended right into the ground. He had two wingmen with him in tactical formation. Neither one said a word. One of them, a very young pilot, actually admitted to watching lead descend the whole time—all the way to impact. Afterward, he said it looked wrong, but he didn’t say anything, because he figured the guy knew what he was doing. Now he has to live with that.

8. Don’t Get Too Married to Your Plan
Murphy is out there on every mission. If you are like me, it seems like the harder you work on your plan and briefing, the more chance that it will change. Plan properly, but don’t become emotionally invested in your plan. It can lead you to make bad decisions. For a particular mission, you may have created the greatest low altitude attack geometry ever know to man, but if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you may need to shelve it and go to plan B. It’s tempting to push weather or fuel in order to meet your objectives. One of the things that make our job so gratifying is that you can never totally predict what is going to happen. Flying is more like a chess game than filling out a tax form. Stay flexible, keep thinking, and don’t get too married to your plan.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Turn Coordinator Failed...or did it?


So, while doing partial panel timed turns the other day with my CFII we found that the turn coordinator is way off. 2 minute turns, Started at a heading of 180 and ended 2 minutes later at 270. Did it 3 times. Tried making the turn a bit steeper, not enough to matter.

What now? Can that be "adjusted" or must it be rebuilt? I asked around and posted on my two favorite pilot boards, the Purple Board For Pilots, and the AOPA’s red board. Most people encouraged me to take the turn coordinator in to a shop and have it checked. The main fear was that it was an instrument that was on the verge of failing, and you don’t want that while in the clouds.

Ron, the airplane owner, remembered that the TC had been rebuilt by Skywest Instruments at Cable airport in Upland, California so we took it there to have it looked at.

It was tested on the cool equipment they have there...and it's just about perfect....argh....

Must be pilot error, we surmised...although I found that hard to accept. We reinstalled the TC and I headed back out with Steven the “Double Eye” for some testing in VFR conditions.

We did the 2-minute turns again and managed to get it near perfect by holding the little airplane wings on the bottom of the hash mark...that's within tolerances according to Skywest...so we're going with that...on to the clouds tomorrow....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

FlightPrep ChartCase


My flying buddy Ron bought the FlightPrep ChartCase Electronic Fight Bag with GPS and XM weather to use in his Cherokee 140 but the learning curve proved to be too much.

Ron is used to the Lowrance Airmap 1000 GPS and that’s a pretty simple to use GPS. The Chartcase is PC-based and runs on a tablet computer. After turning it on, you have to start the XM. Then you have to open up the ChartCase software. Then you have to turn on the GPS and make sure the computer is reading it. Then you have to go back to the XM weather and tell it what weather information you want downloaded. Then you can choose a flight path (like El Monte to Fullerton, for example). Then you go into the InFlight mode. Then you choose what charts you want to use (Sectional, Terminal, Low Enroute were what he had paid for and, thus, were available for selection). If you want weather info you click a couple more buttons to check that.

I took the unit with me for 3 days to try and get it all figured out and to be able to make it seem simple for him, but the bottom line is that it’s not simple. I can’t say that it’s extremely complicated, but there’s certainly a lot more to do to get ready than when using the Lowrance.

In the end...Ron’s head was spinning. Too much stuff to do in order to get it ready to go flying. He’s going to return it on Monday.

Might be ordering a 696, but I’ve encouraged him to find someone on the field who has one and see how it works before buying one.

(The photo was taken when I was using the GPS in my car to get used to it.)

Friday, May 29, 2009

video
Jim Fackler came out to hangar Tango-4 at El Monte airport to perform a dynamic prop balance on the Cherokee 140. Most props are balanced off of the airplane and that's just fine and dandy. But if you perform a dynamic balance with the prop on the airplane and spinning, you can balance it to include all the rotating parts.

Jim hooked his sensors up to N6794J and then attached his Vibrex 2000. He had Ron run the engine up (I think it was 1000 rpm, then 1500 rpm, then 2000 rpm) and then analyzed the results.

He added a small weight to the outside of the spinner (temporarily) and then ran the engine again. The computer told him what needed to be done, and then he added some more weight in another area. When he was done, the balance was within 0.02!

Jim then took the spinner off the prop to mount the weights on the inside...only to discover that the prop's bulkhead (backing plate, some call it...or dam, others call it) was cracked! Rats! Now the airplane is grounded until we can get another one. Several attempts ended with the part being shipped from the east coast, arrival in 3 days (since we paid the extra 50 bucks).

Jim Fackler Dynamics, 626/358-7568, jfdynamics@verizon.net

DYNAMIC PROP BALANCING






Jim Fackler came out to hangar Tango-4 at El Monte airport to perform a dynamic prop balance on the Cherokee 140. Most props are balanced off of the airplane and that's just fine and dandy. But if you perform a dynamic balance with the prop on the airplane and spinning, you can balance it to include all the rotating parts.

Jim hooked his sensors up to N6794J and then attached his Vibrex 2000. He had Ron run the engine up (I think it was 1000 rpm, then 1500 rpm, then 2000 rpm) and then analyzed the results.

He added a small weight to the outside of the spinner (temporarily) and then ran the engine again. The computer told him what needed to be done, and then he added some more weight in another area. When he was done, the balance was within 0.02!

Jim then took the spinner off the prop to mount the weights on the inside...only to discover that the prop's bulkhead (backing plate, some call it...or dam, others call it) was cracked! Rats! Now the airplane is grounded until we can get another one. Several attempts ended with the part being shipped from the east coast, arrival in 3 days (since we paid the extra 50 bucks).

Jim Fackler Dynamics, More photos






More photos