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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 December 2007

Google Ron Paul for President!

He's the Six Million Dollar Man...more money in one day than any other presidental candidate in history. More than Obama, more than Hillary, more than Kerry, more than Dean...and all planned and executed solely by his bi-partisan supporters. That's right. No central plan from Ron Paul to raise money - just spontaneous, overwhelming support from average Americans that want their country back. Do yourself (and your country) a favor. Google Ron Paul, read for yourself about his message of freedom and prosperity for America, watch how he consistently speaks the truth on YouTube, see him make the Fed Chairman squirm, and join the rEVOLution!

Even Bill Maher likes him!

19 December 2007

Winter Flying over the Appalachians

It had been almost two months since I had last been flying. Things have been busy at work, and at home, and the weather has settled into that low Great Lakes scud that blows across Ohio for most of the winter. Yesterday was a welcome change - low humidity, high pressure and great visibility from Lake Erie to Florida. It was a perfect opportunity to fly south for some long-overdue business. I was also excited about the beautiful weather for another reason - Christmas came a little early for Dan this year! That's right, I am the proud owner of a slightly-used Nikon D70 digital SLR with an 18-70mm zoom lens, purchased for $418 on eBay. Now, I can finally take the pictures that I have been longing to take!

Tuesday morning came cold and clear. It was only 19°F on my drive to the airport, and even though the plane had been hangared and the Tanis heater was plugged in, the oil temperature was only 53°F before engine start. The KAP140 autopilot was just not going to cooperate, and didn't want to power-up until we had been running the cabin heater in flight for about 1hr. It finally came on over Charleston, WV. After take-off, we got VERY healthy climb rates of 1500ft/min....that's what nice cold, dense air will do for you! The winds were light at 6500ft - about a 20kt cross-wind from the west, and we made it to our destination in the usual time - about 2.7hrs from Coshocton, OH to Rock Hill, SC.

The visibility was truly breathtaking - probably the most clear air that I have seen over the Appalachian mountains. I always love watching the morning mists clear over the hills and the mountains. I got Dad to fly the leg down so that I could take lots of pictures. There was something very magical about flying over this barren winter wasteland.

Smoke and mist from a powerplant down on the Muskingum River

Look closely! There are ice floes on the Muskingum River!

Jackson County, WV (I18) - Watch out for the smokestack while on left downwind for 4!

Simply Beautiful! Mist rising off the Kanawah River south of Charleston, looking east.

Frosty treetops on a typical West Virginia river bend. I love this zoom lens!

One of the things that I've really been frustrated with when taking photos with my Sony point-n-shoot is the field of view. The DA40 has such an open canopy, and you really feel like you're sitting out in the open, on a bench 8000ft up in the sky when you're flying, and you just can't communicate that with a narrow lens. Hopefully the next few photos will give you a feeling of what the view is like from the DA40 cockpit!

Mountain ridges along the Virgina border - I calculated that we were seeing peaks about 75-80NM away!

Delicate cirrus brushstrokes across a deep blue sky - amazing!

Here we are turning left final for runway 2 at Rock Hill. You can see the nuke power plant on Lake Wylie, and just check out that wrap-around view. This is what I love about flying patterns in the DA40 - the runway is always in sight through the turns. Rock Hill was pleasant as usual, but not much warmer than Ohio. Weather was about 40-45°F during the day. After our meetings, we packed up the airplane and headed off into the sunset - it was a beautiful finish to a beautiful day.

HID Lights for the DA40 (FAA 337)

In a previous post, I lambasted the weak pathetic lights installed on the DA40. These weak 35watt halogen candlelights just didn't cut it when it came to illuminating anything on the runway that you might want to see and avoid. This month, just in time for Christmas, a solution to this problem has appeared. XeVision offers a 50watt HID landing light that registers in at 8300lumens, which is about 10-15 times brighter than the stock halogen lights (500-800lumens). This landing light is model number XV19-W, and is designed as a direct replacement for the factory-spec'd Wheelen lights installed in the leading edge of the DA40 wing. Of course, if you buy a new DA40XLS, it comes with the lights. However, when we contacted Diamond support to see if we could get a service bulletin for the install, they did not provide much assistance (even though it's a drop-in replacement). So, until Diamond gets off their collective butt and gives some support for this much needed upgrade, the other option is to file a 337 form with the FAA that gives approval for a major repair or alteration (FAA form 337 discussion linked to here).

Apparently, all it took was someone to invest in the lighting upgrade and some brave FAA office to sign off on the 337 form. The maintenance shop that completed the upgrade was Advanced Aircraft Services in Lancaster, PA. An excerpt from the Diamond Aviators Association forums is as follows:

"My name is Jim Mazzante and I am a managing partner with Advanced Aircraft Services in Lancaster, PA (KLNS). We are an Authorized Diamond Service Center and have been working on Diamond Aircraft for about 5 years. Some of you may have know me and my Technicians when we worked at Airways. We are currently in the process of installing the HID lights from XeVision and should have them completely installed Thursday or Friday. I will try to post some pictures of the final install and a copy of the 337 once I get it approved from my FSDO. If any of you would like to have the install done, please feel free to contact me. Our direct line is 717-735-5179 or by email: Service@AdvancedAircraftServices.com."

Here's also the FAA Form 337 that Advanced Aircraft Services filed with the FAA and got approved. It's a public document, so any DA40 pilots may wish to use it with your local FAA offices. We've sent this to our trusty mechanics up at Winner Aviation in Youngstown, and are waiting for a quote on the HID light install......with those short Ohio winter nights, we are really looking forward to being able to see down the runway at night!

07 December 2007

Chinese Refueling Drill

If the Chinese build a Cessna Skycatcher with the same care and precision that they refuel a piston aircraft, I'm not so sure I want to take a ride. Hey, Ping Tsao....watch out, or you might get a mouthful of 100LL! Makes me REALLY appreciate the service that we get up at Coshocton Richard Downing for free. Here's the link to where I found this: James Fallows