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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.

30 September 2007

Gathering of Mustangs & Legends

Yesterday, I went to a really good airshow at Lockbourne AFB....er...I mean, Rickenbacker (KLCK) in Columbus, OH. It was the fabled Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, and it lived up to a good portion of the hype. There were about 80 or 90 P-51 Mustangs in attendance, and it was a really cool to have so many P-51s in the air, and on the ground in static display. There were a host of other top-notch airshow acts, Patty Wagstaff, Michael Goulian, John Mohr in his stearman, The Aeroshell team, and the Red Baron Squadron. It was a beautiful, clear, and nearly calm day on Saturday. We toured 1/4 mile of P-51's on static display. So many beautiful machines, polished to a spit-shine, obviously displayed with intense pride by their owners. I enjoyed the look into the ammo cans on Cripes A'mighty, just one of the gleaming P-51's.

50 cal Machine guns w/ Ammo, ready for the crew chief to re-load

The Canopy of Glacier Girl, packed underneath the Rickenbacker Tower.

Ina the Macon Belle, a Red-Tail P-51, flown by the Tuskeegee Airmen

Hmmm...was a Garmin 430/530 GPS Combo standard GI issue for a P-51?

Look at the lineup of Mustangs on static display!

The Horsemen....a precision P-51 Aerobatic team....not that anyone does snap rolls in a P-51,
but super-awesome to hear these babies screaming their way through some high-speed loops!

Beside the P-51's and assorted warbirds, there were a couple of good jet acts. There was a F-16 demo, an F-15 demo, and the F-22 full demonstration, all of which were followed by a P-51 accompanied Heritage flight. The Thunderbirds also showed up - really precision flying! I especially enjoyed seeing the full F-22 demonstration, complete with some flat spins, hairpin loops and sharp attitude changes, all courtesy of the thrust vectoring. I just kept thinking that it was a little too big and heavy to be really nimble. What would the F-22 be like if it was the size of an F-16, but had thrust vectoring? It was still cool to see.....and really cool that my budget telephoto lens (8x50 binoculars stuck to the lens of my digital point-n-shoot) worked well enough to get a nice photo of the action.
F-15 Strike Eagle Heritage Flight - Light 'em up!

Max Moga does a better job of staying in formation with 3 P-51's than he did at Oshkosh

A B-17 Flying Fortress catches the late afternoon sun.

An Avro Lancaster Bomber - 4 V-12's...this aircraft sounds SO COOL!

It wasn't 51 P-51's, but an overflight of 25 P-51's really was a sight to see.

28 September 2007

Last flight in N7106G

Well, it finally sold. N7106G has a new home in Bay Minette, AL (1R8) training wet-behind-the-ears Navy Cadets. Today, I left in the early morning (around 6:30AM), on a long trek in the trusty Cessna 172 from Coshocton, OH all the way down to the Alabama gulf coast. My flight plan was 650NM, but it was shaping up to be a beautiful morning. We were two days into the waning full moon, so there was plenty of light at night, but a large cold front came through on Thursday evening, leaving a wake of low-lying fog scattered in the hollers and valleys of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Things were good in Coshocton early on Friday, but because of all the thick fog, I decided to leave a little later, so that some of the fog would burn off in the rare event that I would need to set the Cessna down in some redneck's whisky still in Kentucky. You can see the mist that gathers and collects in the lower valleys. I took this photo near Hazard, Kentucky. It was really beautiful, and my camera really doesn't do it justice. The way the mist was rising and moving slowly made me think of those verses in Genesis where it talks about the spirit of God moving upon the face of the deep. Well, Hazard, KY isn't the face of the deep.....but it's definitely backwoods. My first gas stop was in Rockwood, TN (KRKW) about 60NM north of Chattanooga, and about 20NM west of Oak Ridge. I considered flying over Oak Ridge, just to get a photo, but I really needed to be down in Bay Minette. I really love flying over the Applachians early in the morning on a clear day. It really hard to describe the awesome beauty of these lush mountains as they emerge from the mist. You'll just have to ponder the pictures....

Looking East at the Kentucky/Tennessee border

Instrument Approach, anyone?

Looking South towards Knoxville, on the descent into Rockwood (KRKW)

Entering the pattern for Runway 4 at Rockwood, TN (KRKW)

It was a pretty quick turn at Rockwood. Just 21gals of gas after flying for 2hrs 45min....only about 8gal/hr! It sure pays to lean it out! The 172 performed beautifully.....very strong with the new pistons and the powerflow exhaust. Gaining an extra thousand feet of altitude was...dare I say...almost as effortless as the Diamond? Well, it is about 600-700lbs lighter with one person and half-tanks at this point in the flight. After refueling, I took a look at the winds aloft, and was seeing about 30kts-35kts at 3000-4000ft headed due south. Well, as soon as I took off, I grabbed ahold of that wave, and surfed it down out of the mountains over Chattanooga, where I was seeing ground speeds as high as 145KTs - in a 172! The winds petered out around Talladega, where my flight plan took me coincidentally right over the famed speedway! I wonder if you can fly in there while a race if going on......

Gentlemen, Start your engines! I've got a 130KT head start on those NASCAR boys at Talladega.

Alabama clouds from 8500ft

While I was whizzing over Chattanooga, TN, I was really astounded at the number of Nuke power plants that were along the Chattanooga river. There were at least three that I counted within a 40-50NM area. I managed to get vectored over one by Chattanooga approach - enjoy the view, Kendall! I guess where you have free cooling water, why not?

It was a pleasant 5.5hrs flight down to Bay Minette......now for the frustrating portion. I left Bay Minette, AL via Cessna 172 at about 3PM EDT. It's now 8PM EDT, and I've just been told that my last leg from Charlotte to Columbus is delayed. It will likely be 7-8hrs to fly back commerical. Did I mention that I love flying myself? Plus, you get to talk to controllers. Plus, you get cool "secret" codes to squawk....I love being a pilot.

25 September 2007

Cessna + Columbia

Read about the acquisition here. I wonder if Shawn Tucker will do aerobatic demonstrations in a Cessna 182 now.....I asked a couple of people about this at Oshkosh this year, and it was all "No, there are no plans....that's crazy...Columbia will always be a stand-alone company" Well, not so crazy, I guess. Here's the press release. Hopefully now, the Columbia 400 will be given the backing that it needs to beat the pants off Cirrus!

19 September 2007

Big Money

Look - it's a bridge! It's a plane! It's two really cool, really big capital spending projects that the EU has undertaken to move people in France. The Millau Viaduct has got to be one of the coolest bridges ever, and the A380 has got to be one of the coolest airplanes ever. Oh wait. Did I say "A380" and "coolest" in the same sentence. I think that I meant to say "Diamond DA50":).

Arrr.....It be a Holiday, Matey!

Avast, there, ye scurvy dogs! Today, September 19th, is the official "Talk Like a Pirate Day" holiday. You have been so warned. Now be off with ye, before I takes a likin' to scuttle yer ship.....er..... um...airplane!

18 September 2007

Buy it Now!

Our Cessna 172 (N7106G) is for sale on eBay! Buy it now (links to eBay)! Once it's gone, it's gone. If you're looking for a really nice C172 that can take you through your IFR training and some serious power upgrades (RAM 160 STC'd pistons, Powerflow Exhaust), look no further. 125KTAS, 9GPH, and 900-1000fpm climb rates are in store for you!

14 September 2007

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

...and the earth shows the work of His hands. Day unto day pours forth speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them, He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run a race. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat. - Psalms 19:1-6

Go West, Young Man!

On Tuesday, we headed West across the great continent. Des Moines, Iowa was the destination....just a short 546NM away. I pulled up the weather progs the day before, and the winds aloft forecast for the day was between 20-30kts headwind, directly on the nose. Well, that's not too bad.....make 135KTAS, cover ground at 110-115KTs, and we're good to go. Unfortunately, immediately after takeoff in Coshocton, we were at 2500ft, and the winds were already 27Kts. It was shaping up to be a long day. Visibility was awesome under a low broken layer...clouds at about 2200ft above the terra firma, and I could see bright blue sky through the clouds. We stopped in Columbus at KOSU to pick up Jack, and then we were on our way across Indiana. It was a beautiful day for flying - awesome visibility, but unfortunately I didn't get any photos because I was hand-flying most of the way. The air was turbulent, and winds were stronger than forecasted (35kts!) This meant that I would barely make that fuel stop, scheduled for the $3.73 100LL at Washington, IA. I played with the gas and the prop settings, trying to find the optimal combination of speed and feed and finally settled on 2300RPM, 24in of manifold pressure. That combo bought me about 135KTAS, which gave way to about 100-105kts on the ground. I have to admit that it was a little unnevering as the G1000 range ring shrunk to zero and I started to eat into the 45minute reserve.

So, here's the internal logic - I've never had the fuel that low in the DA40 before, but knowing that the fuel situation was critical, I took extreme care to switch tanks at regular 5gal intervals, then at 2.5gal intervals under 20gals. I also had carefully kept track of flight time, so I knew that I had 5 hours of fuel on board when I left Coshocton, and I was only 4 hours into the trip. Assuming that 10gal/hr would be the fuel burn (I was acutally only burning about 9-9.3gal/hr), I knew that I had plenty of gas. When I landed at Washington, IA (KAWG - see photo to the left), I had about 8 gals left in the tanks. Winds were 25kts, right down Runway 31. I landed, and probably stopped that airplane in about 500ft. It was definitely a short-field landing.

During this trip, we made our way over the patchwork quilt of fertile farmland stretching across Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. It's really incredible to think about how much God has blessed this land with fertile topsoil. I don't even think that I could conprehend how much food and food-growing potential I flew over during the 6 hrs I was in the air. The combination of the soil, the lakes, the winds, the water. It is truly the breadbasket for the world, and you get a picture of that when you fly for hours and all you see is fields of grain. The few things that broke up the endless landscape of farms was the occasional town, and the mighty Mississippi river. The photo here was taken just south of Muscatine, IA, looking south towards the confluence of the Iowa River and the Mississippi. That's a lot of water flowing into the ocean!
As you can see, the air was extremely clear over the Plains - Even from 2500ft, the lone skyscraper of Des Moines, IA came into view from about 60NM away. Crazy, huh? Approach into Des Moines was fairly straightforward, but I had to give an approaching Lear some room. We parked at Elliott Aviation, which was a really nice FBO, with free parking, a great lobby, and helpful line workers. After our meetings were over, the flight out took us over the very muddy Red Rock Reservoir, and I managed to snap this photo of the dam that keeps this water bottled up for all those Iowans. Winds on the way back were much better - about 20kts tailwind - and the skies were even more clear!

Grand Lake St. Mary's from 11,500ft

An edible oil refinery in Sydney, OH - Hello, Cargill!

Crossing over Tuttle Crossing and I-270 on 5 mile final into Runway 9L at Don Scott. Clear, huh?