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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.

20 July 2007

More Vacation!

Yesterday, we went canoeing down the Platte River to Lake Michigan in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It was a shallow, sandy-bottomed river that wound through the pines through a lake to end up at Lake Michigan. Despite having to navigate around floating cities of tube-riding water buffalos, we managed to avoid capsizing and incurring any serious marital struggles. It was a beautiful ride, and really reminded me of paddling through Kibble Lake up in Canada. It made me remember a lot of the trips that I took as a young child up to Northern Ontario, where we spent most of the time in a canoe, or in the water in one way or another.

On Tuesday, we took my nephew, Adam out to a par-3 course down the street. He was really excited to be able to play on a REAL course, and actually didn't do too bad. He shot a 56 for nine, which was very respectable!

Today, we played the golf course down the street, Mistwood, which was surprisingly very nice and well manicured. There were a lot of tough approach shots, narrow greens and bunkered fairways. We picked up the "after 1PM" rate, and played 18 holes. I scored very well - 44 on the front, and a not so hot 51 on the back, but I was pretty pleased with my playing because the course was so challenging. It's not often that I break 100 on an easy course! I would've scored a 41 on the front, but I four-putted the green on the 9th hole. Frustrating! The back nine was a series of bad second shots, coupled with 20+kt winds. They were really a factor when you were pitching towards the hole - changed many a shot from bad to good and good to bad. My new driver, a Cleveland HiBore driver, which was my birthday present from my golf-crazy parental units, performed quite nicely, putting out a couple of nice 270yd drives. I can't believe that I've been playing with persimmon woods for so long! It was a really nice course, and a wonderful day to be outside playing.

Beth enjoying the brisk breezes by the shores of the West Grand Traverse Bay

17 July 2007

Michigan Vacation!

Well, our summer vacation finally came. I prepared my flight plan to Traverse City, Michigan with care and we carefully packed our bags to keep our weight low and to fit in the Cessna 172. We had the oil changed, and were all ready to leave for Michigan. "Three hours, fifteen minutes - no traffic!" I kept telling my wife....just to get her all excited about flying up. Sunday morning, we drove up to the airport, loaded the plane, did our preflight and started off down the runway. Engine's good, check!, Airspeed's alive, check! Okay, rotate at 60mph and pull the nose up....I looked down again to make sure that I was climbing out at 80mph and saw a big fat "zero" on the airspeed indicator. What?!?!? I thought....well, maybe it just needs to be tapped. I flicked my finger against the dial a few times, and then announced to my wife that we would be taking the scenic driving tour of Michigan. I turned it back into the pattern and landed smoothly - I don't NEED an airspeed indicator to fly the Cessna 172...can practically do it by ear and control feel. However, it is on the minimum equipment list and it is a pretty important instrument to keep the aircraft from stalling, especially on a high density altitude day. So, we un-packed the airplane and packed up the car.

It didn't take that long - about 8 hours - to drive up to Traverse City, where the cherries are plentiful, the skies are clear, and the air is cool. It's really nice up here, and I've already played golf two times! It's shaping up to be a wonderful week! And, I've got a fully developed flight plan for the next time I take a trip up here!

07 July 2007

X-Country to Sauk-Prairie (91C)

Last weekend, I took a couple of friends on a long cross-country flight to Sauk-Prairie, WI (91C), just a few mile from the Wisconsin Dells, and near Madison, WI. Dan & I left on Friday afternoon, under a medium overcast (4500ft), and picked up Steve in Piqua along the way. We had a two-fold purpose to our trip: 1.) Dan & I were planning to visit a good friend of ours that had left the paradise of Coshocton for cheese curds and snowmobiles in WI. 2.) Steve, suffering from RV-6 withdrawals, had found the perfect Mooney M-20C in WI, and wanted to take a look at it before buying an RV-10 kit.

Because our intended route of flight took us right over the Chicago Class B airspace, during my flight planning, I had two options. 1.) Fly to Joliet, then vector north over Rockford or 2.) fly the VFR corridor under the Chicago Class B. Since Joliet looks like Indiana, which looks like Western OH, I opted for the much more scenic Lakeshore Drive tour. I was practically giddy with excitement about getting to see the Chicago skyline from 1500ft AGL!

We flew under a medium overcast pretty much the entire way across Ohio and Indiana on the way up. We considered climbing up through some holes to fly on top (probably 6000-7000ft), but since we would have to descent for the Chicago Class B and the air wasn't bad, we just stayed low. As we flew, I gave Steve the opportunity to explore the G1000 and all of the nifty-neato functions, and I told him "Feel free to play around!" Steve then promptly switched over to the fuel page and pressed the RST FUEL softkey on the G1000, setting our fuel quantity to 0.0gals. AHHHHH!!!!!! Nothing like flying for another 2 hours with unknown fuel in the tanks! Fortunately, I had been tracking fuel consumption and flight time independently of the G1000, and had just checked the fuel consumption 5 minutes prior. So, it wasn't too big of a stretch to simply add the fuel back on board, plus I had planned my trip to use about 35 gals at a rate of 9.5gal/hr, so I knew that I was okay. This taught me the value of performing independent flight planning and monitoring, and not relying 100% on the G1000.

Well, as we neared Chicago, we began our descent under the class B, and could just see the skyline of Chicago peeking out from the haze and smog. We flew through Gary Class D airspace, and over all of the cool steel mills and petroleum refineries in Gary. I finally had a chance to ogle from 1500ft AGL instead of trying to sneak glances over my shoulder as I hurtled at 85mph down the Chicago Skyway, while my wife is shouting "Dan, keep it on the road! He's BRAKING! BRAKE LIGHTS!!!!" Flying is so cool. I wish that I could fly everywhere. We cruised on past the Chicago skyline and watched the other traffic carefully overlaid on the G1000. I love that Traffic Information Service - you just can't beat situational awareness like that when other aircraft are headed your way! Below are some lovely photos of the Chicago skyline - it was really an experience.
After transiting the Chicago Class B, we climbed up over Waukegan (KUGN) and headed for Sauk-Prairie. As soon as we crossed the Wisconsin border, While we were listening in on the Madison approach, from about 30 miles out, the controller and another pilot were having a conversation about flying over his mom's house, seeing if she was out weeding the carrots...it was hilarious, and must've been a really slow evening in Madison. I've never heard that much chatter from an approach controller, but it was fun to listen to. As we flew over Madison, the the sun was just setting, and the view was again....beautiful.
We arrived at Sauk-Prairie, which was a very nicely-kept airport with a 3000ft runway. There were a bunch of hangars, with propane tanks out back. Those Wisconsin winters must be c-c-cold! We scrounged the $5 parking fee, and headed out for some chow. Kendall took us to the happening down-town district of Prarie-du-sac, which was totally sweet. We drove past the world headquarters of the Culver's Franchising System and decided to partake of the bounty of their newest venture, Blue Spoon Cafe. It was a departure from their typical butterburger fare, but in a good way. They served soups and euro-style panini sandwiches and gelato, instead of frozen custard. I ordered a local micro-brew, and the server asked me if I wanted a frosted glass, to which I replied "Yes, please!". They plunked down a non-frosted, warm glass on my tray. "Uh...what if I want a frosted glass?" I asked. The server apologized and rummaged around in the cooler for a cold frosty, but no such luck. A voice behind me said "Greg, just put some ice in that glass and roll it around." I said, "No, that's okay, I'll drink it out of the bottle." "No, you want this - it's better." The frosted-mug angel then walked out the door. Kendall said "THAT WAS MR. CULVERS!" I had been personally helped by Mr. Craig Culvers. I was in awe. It was like having Dave Thomas serve up your hamburger!

We had a nice time visiting with Kendall & Kristen. We went flying, swimming, go-karting, and midnight bowling in Baraboo. It was a great time, and we woke up on Sunday to a beautiful, clear day. Time for the return trip!

Chicago Skyline from 2000ft MSL

Check out the Skyscrapers on the G1000 Terrain!

US Steel Gary Works - over 3000 acres of industrial fun!