Powered by Lycoming

About 80% of general aviation aircraft fly using Lycoming engines. Clearing the trees at the end of the runway. Leaving 4500ft for 6500ft. Maintaining airflow and generating lift across the wings. All are impossible without a reliable engine. Lycoming powers my training aircraft and so fuels my quest for a private pilot certificate. This blog is a record of my thoughts and experiences on life, flight, and learning.

23 June 2007

Rock Hill, SC

The weather was nice for a trip on Thursday down to Rock Hill, SC, although somewhat hazy. We took off around 7:30AM and headed south to Rock Hill with a nice 15-20kt tailwind at our backs. You can see the morning haze from 5500ft as we flew over south towards the Ohio River. The last time that I had made this trip, the weather was phenomenal - over 100 mile visibility. Today was not a 100 mile day....we could realistically only see about 35-40miles, but it was still beautiful. Things cleared up as we headed past Charleston, WV and I'm always struck by the endless ridges of the Appalchians as they run past the Virginia border. I think that the morning haze gives them an air of mystery...like Tokien's Misty Mountains....
After we had our business meetings and played a little golf (supplier relations, you know), we grabbed a quick bite at Steak N' Shake, and headed back to the excellent terminal/FBO at Rock Hill. For all you transient aviators, Rock Hill is really a top-notch airport, with great service. I talked to the line worker that was rolling up red carpets and asked him what it took to get the "red carpet treatment". He laughed and said "Oh, it just depends on what mood I'm in -but seriously, you can call Unicom and request it." I'm guessing that the typical Cherokee or Diamond owner doesn't rate for automatic red-carpet - maybe the Pilatus or Piper Meridian owner, but it was nice to know it's available for my next grand entrance. We taxied out to runway 20 and took off, keeping a close eye on the Charlotte Class B airspace. We then headed directly into the sun, and realized that the forest fire TFR west of Charlotte was real and appropriate! Visibility (as evidenced by the below photo) was horrendous. We were really glad to have the Traffic Awareness System (TAS) on the G1000 - it was pretty tough to pick out other planes through the glare and haze.

It was smoky for the first 45 minutes of the flight as we climbed out over the mountains, and then as we crossed the Virgina border, things cleared up slightly, but it was still pretty hazy. Because we had elected to play a round of golf, we were getting back a little on the late side, but that just gave us an opportunity to see a beautiful mountain sunset from the air!
Here you can see the joys of having real-time, in-cockpit weather information via XM weather. There was a line of thunderstorms heading southeast over the Coshocton area, but we were able to monitor lightning strikes, cell movement, and check all the local METARs and winds while enroute. This amount of information at your fingertips to truly indispensible, and really helps you to better make safe flying decisions. We had flight following ask us if we were VFR, because they were worried about us at our location, but we were just fine and knew exactly where the weather was with our G1000. It was a good cross-country trip.


Last Saturday, I took my brother Sam for a short cross-country trip in the Cessna. For the past few weeks, I had heard this constant mantra. "Yeah, airplanes are fun, but BOATS......now BOATS are fun." Then, he usually launches into his favorite quote from Kenneth Graham's The Wind in The Willows: "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Well, I had my work cut out for me. Here I was, a typical airplane geek, with a fresh PPL certificate in my hand, going to beat my boat-loving brother (Ratty) over the head with all the similarities between boats and aircraft, and then take him to a for a ride somewhere in an airplane. I called him up on Friday evening:

"Hey, Sam.....are you interested in flying tomorrow?"


"How about we fly up to Lake Erie - Kelley's Island, maybe?"

"That would be great!"

"Let's meet at the airport at 6:30AM."

(silence)....."Uh, how about 7:00AM?"

"7 it is. See you there!"

So, with the goal of converting a boat-lover to an airplane-lover, I started planning a flight to Kelley's Island. You know, combine the best of both worlds - aeronautical and nautical. However, the Airnav listing for Kelley's Island (89D) showed that the 2200ft runway was in poor condition, faded with cracks. Hmmmm...2200ft - that's definitely a shortfield landing. I took a look over to South Bass Island (3W2), and their runway was in much better shape, and 700ft longer! Put-in-Bay was the destination!

Saturday morning came, and the air was clear and calm. We took off in the Cessna and headed north. For better viewing, I flew along at 2500ft, so that Sam could get the best use out of his new digital camera. There was not a lick of turbulence on the whole trip up, and as we got towards the lake, the excitement started. There's the lake! There's Cedar Point! Look that marina!
Cedar Point - America's Amusement Park - Best Roller Coasters Ever!

Looking towards South Bass, Rattlesnake, and Middle Bass Island from over Sandusky, OH

As we headed over the short lake, I informed Sam of the evacuation procedures in case of a forced water landing. However, judging from the literally hundreds of small boats littering the water north of Sandusky on a clear summer's day, I don't think that rescue and recovery would be an issue. I think that executing a forced water landing without taking out a fisherman would be the greater challenge! We quickly entered the pattern at South Bass, and turned quickly to avoid Perry's Monument (only 200ft below pattern altitude!).

Perry's Monument from the base leg of runway 21 at Put-In-Bay

Final for Runwasy 21 at Put-In-Bay - Big thresholds on both ends!

Upon landing, we tied the airplane down, checked the fuel (9-10gals/hr fuel burn with the new powerflow exhaust!), noted the hundreds of mayflies littered on a brand-new Cirrus, and paid our $10 landing fee. Well, once on the ground, our tummies started growling, and we started the 1 mile trek into town. Once into town, we headed over to Perry's Peace Monument, and had speaks with a Beretta-toting NPS ranger about the repairs to the monument. Apparently, a 500lb chunk of granite had fallen recently, and the top of the monument was closed. I decided to help out and put a little piece back. It was right about that time that Sam spotted some boats, and we were headed over to the Marina to ogle and drool. Sam began to educate me on the various differences and relative merits of one yacht over another. I got the feeling that this is how non-aviators feel when I'm arguing for the differences between a Cirrus SR22 and a Diamond DA42. Still, I could see why Sam was so jazzed about boats - some of these boats were dang nice! We zeroed in on the nicest sloop in the slip and drooled from a distance. A 68ft SeaRay sport yacht....check out the seating area....totally beautiful. I can't imagine how many gals/hr this puppy burns...probably twin diesels.

Well, it was enough dreaming, and while I don't think that we had a full conversion from boat-lover to airplane-lover, I think that Sam gained a little more appreciation for the mobility that traveling by air gives you. The smile says it all...

11 June 2007

Traverse City, MI

This weekend, Beth & I flew up to Traverse City for a quick getaway. Beth had just finished her job for the school year, and we were headed to the Lansing area for her grandmother's 90th birthday party. Since we were flying up to avoid the 6-7 hours in a car, I was sitting in our living room at home planning the flight, and just for kicks I measured the distance to Traverse City. 134NM. (pause) 134NM!!!! That's only an hour flight in the Diamond! So, we quickly booked a hotel room, and since the weather was good, we decided to stay up here for a day or so. On our flight out of Coshocton, we were surrounded by balloons for the Coshocton Hot Air Balloon races. I circled up and over them, and Beth snapped this nice picture of a hot air balloon off our wing. We then climbed to our cruise altitude and headed for Charlotte, MI (KFPK), a small airport close to Lansing, MI. The air was cool and smooth, and great visibility as we flew quickly up to Toledo. The sunlight glinting off the lake, with some small patches of clouds over Toledo was quite dramatic, and what was really dramatic was the time - only 57minutes to Toledo! Is flying great or what? Look at those smiling faces!

After the birthday party, swimming in the pool, and hobnobbing with Beth's Michigander relatives, we took off again for Traverse City, one of Beth's mostest favoritest summer vacation spots. It is a beautiful area, surrounded by lakes and water, and usually very cleaer blue skies and low humidity in the summer. We stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort, which has a Jack Nicklaus and a Gary Player designed golf course on the grounds. Unfortunately, I will not be losing 3 sleeves of balls in Jack Nicklaus' pinball machine because of time, but maybe I'll get up here sometime in the near future for a round. The flight up from Charlotte was very nice. Clear skies, with some scattered clouds at 7500ft or so. We managed to get right into the inversion layer at 6500ft (it was a fairly hot day), and had smooth air for the ride up. I didn't really feel like climbing to 8500 to get over the layer, since the air was so nice. You can see the twin lakes of Cadillac, MI in the pictures here - very pretty! In the photo with the reflection of sunlight off the lakes, and if you look very closely on the horizon, you can see the shore of Lake Michigan off in the distance. Neato! The airspace was pretty dead up here - nothing much going on as we made our descent into Traverse City. The tower controller gave us a straight-in approach to runway 36 in front of a Lear, winds were 5 kts out of 330, so there were no problems. We taxied up to the gate, and were met by a very helpful representative of Harbour Air, the GA service provider at KTVC. He took us and our baggage to the terminal in a golf cart, and then got us into a rental car with lightning speed. Great service, and very friendly. Oh, and it only took 58 minutes from Charlotte, MI to shutdown at Traverse City.

09 June 2007

Go Tribe!

On Wednesday, I was privileged to attend a major league baseball game with my older and wiser brother, Joshua. Although I had attended many games during my teen years, my brother had alway bowed out, and watched THX1138 and listened to Verdi or Wagner at home. It was somewhat satisfying to see him in a folding chair at Jacobs Field in Cleveland. The Indians didn't do so hot - fairly dry until the 8th inning, then they got a couple of people on base and started swinging for the fence. My observations? We need more people like Pete Rose and Ty Cobb in baseball. Contact hitters, not home run hitters. There's too much glamour and individual fame that pollutes the game nowadays via the home run derbys. Players seem to be going for individual stats, and not making smart hitting and base-running decisions. Not many team players out there...at least on Wednesday. As a result, the first-place Indians lost to the last place Royals for the second night in a row. Not even my giant foam finger worked to rally the team!

08 June 2007

Ramp Checked!

On Friday, I went out to take N7016G up for the first time in nearly 6 months. The last time I had flown our Cessna 172 was on the way back from my checkride. Long story short, it had thrown a valve through one of the pistons (thankfully NOT on my checkride) and had been waiting at Dillons Aviation in Washington, NC (KOCW) for an engine replacement and fresh annual. I started walking across the ramp to the aircraft, and noticed a couple of guys closely inspecting the aircraft. The FBO line worker on duty said "FAA's here doin' ramp checks." Based upon everything bad that I had read about the FAA, I considered just waiting in the FBO until they went away. But then, I thought "I'm legal, and the plane is fresh out of annual - what do I have to worry about?" So, I walked up and introduced myself. The FAA inspectors were genuinely very friendly and very chatty, and I think that they were just glad to have someone talk to them and not run screaming away or hiding behind tie-down ropes. The two guys (both were named Wayne) asked for my pilot's license and current medical and the registration and airworthiness certificate for the Cessna, which I produced promptly. They looked over the whole airplane and didn't note any discrepancies, so I was pleased! I have to tell you, it wasn't bad at all, and I was actually glad to talk to someone from the big scary FAA and have a positive outcome.

Well, after all that fun, I went out to become legal for carrying passengers in the 172. 3 full landings to a full stop were completed, and it was like an old friend. I just kept instinctively doing all the right things - you spend 50+hrs in an airplane, and you really get to know it! We had a Powerflow Exhaust and RAM160 STC'd piston upgrade along with the engine overhaul. It was a hot, humid day - 32°C, and about 2800ft density altitude, but that bird climbed like a Diamond! I was seeing 1000-1200fpm climb rates at 80mph. It stood on its tail and headed for the sky. Truly amazing performance from a tired 172. It was also faster at cruise -- I trimmed for level flight at 2500ft and saw the speed creep up to about 125-130mph, which is about 5mph faster than I saw before the upgrade.

04 June 2007

Treating a Sick Pilot

Last Wendesday, I flew over to Newark, OH on a wonderfully warm day (32°C & 2700'DA) to pick up Beth on our way to visit my friend Steve, who had previously hangared an RV-6 in his basement. Unfortunately, said RV-6 had recently been sold (no royalty payments for riveting to the writer, mind you). In the absence of having sole ownership of a high-performance aircraft, Steve was afflicted with a severe case of "Yokeitis". Steve had many terrible tales of having to fly an yoke-equipped Archer (coincidentally rhymes with "farture") and exalted dreams of finding the perfect Mooney for under $30,000. I thought that the best therapy for his malady was a little stick time behind a glass display. Of course, when he grabbed control of the stick, I was more than a little worried. I suddenly had a flashback of Terry Thomas in "Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines". After wrenching the stick from his hands, we taxied out and took off to show him that some planes can fly themselves! Yup - nothing like a KAP140 autopilot crabbing into the wind following a GPS nav trace to make a pilot's mouth drop wide open. "This is so cool!" I know, and it's good to be continually reminded of just how cool the DA40 is (I still dream about flying it.....alot). I'm truly blessed to be able to fly it, and it was really fun to let Steve play around with it. We only logged 0.6hrs, but hopefully we'll swing by sometime this summer for some more fun. Maybe next time we can take Amelia, an aspiring pilot like her daddy, for a ride in the Diamond! You can see the results of Diamond therapy below.

Incidentally, I passed the 100hr mark on this trip - I'll post more stats, when I have a chance to crunch the numbers.

Baby DA-40!

I went up to the airport today, and I thought something had happened to the DA40! It was like somebody had taken a giant heat gun and shrunk it, then taken the canopy off and turned it around. And then I looked a little closer...Ahh...a DA-20! How could I have missed that! I spent a little time walking around, pointing and going "ooh" and "ahh" and dreaming about fully developed spins (the DA20 is spin-certified). My Uncle "UP" was taking a marathon flight lesson - 2-3 hours or something like that, with 15 landings, high air work, and a bunch of other stuff. Here you can see a happy student ready to get fed into the Cuisinart of the sky. Ceilings were about 3500ft and it was gusty - 11 gusting to 17, but right down the runway.