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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.

24 May 2008

Hilton Head Island (KHXD)

Last weekend, I flew with my wife and two friends of ours (Dan & Krista) down for a brief visit to Hilton Head. I'd been wanting to fly into Hilton Head ever since I got my license...well, actually, ever since I visite Hilton Head Island, and rode my bike over to the FBO, and poked my nose through the chain-link fence and watched aircraft takeoff and land. How cool would it be to fly to the beach? Well, as it turns out....pretty stinkin' cool. Early Saturday morning, we drove to the airport and pulled the Diamond out of the hangar. Dan (a fellow pilot) was kind enough to manage the preflight and to figure out how to sump the tanks for water. We packed our meager changes of clothes into the back of the DA40, crammed the ladies in the back (note the very spacious accomodations in the rear of the DA40), and headed south as fast as we could (which was about 145kts ground speed). We took off just in front of a sweeping cold front that was blistering its way south from Canada. In Coshocton, there was a high overcast...perhaps 14,000-16,000ft..but the further we went south, the sunnier it got...and the more cloudy it got on the ground. South of Charleston, WV, the light poofy clouds at 3000ft began to consolidate and join forces to become a beautiful low overcast layer. It was really smooth and peaceful on top, and Dan did an excellent job of hand-flying the Diamond all the way down to our first stop for fuel in Shelby County, NC (KEHO).

Bright Sunny VFR on Top over West Virginia

A hilltop farm in Virginia peeking through the breaking clouds

Midfield turn over Shelby County, NC (KEHO) to join the downwind pattern for Rnwy 23

Short Final for Rnwy 23 at Shelby County - I like this photo (obviously NOT taken by me)

Once we arrived at the peaceful airport of Shelby County, we discovered that the FBO was closed. Hmmm. We all needed to hit the bathroom, and I had specifically picked this stop because it had a newer terminal building. Well, fortunately, one of the hangars was open, and there was a very friendly guy just sitting in there reading a book. I love small airports! He offered us bottled water and the use of the bathroom, which the ladies appreciated. And, then, we sat outside in the early morning sun until 10:00AM rolled around and we could buy some 100LL to continue our journey. Sure enough, at 9:50AM, the weekend calvary appeared and brewed a pot of coffee, filled us up with AvGas, and sent us on our way with a cheerful smile. Did I mention that I love small airports? We had a short leg (1hr20min) in front of us to get down to Hilton Head, and we all wanted to feel the sand between our toes soon. So, it was on down over Columbia, SC's airspace, and straight towards Hilton Head. Upon arrival into the Hilton Head airspace....it was pretty busy! There was a US Airways Dash-8 and a couple of other aircraft ready and waiting for departure, and four planes in the pattern and getting in line for landing. It was BUSY!

After landing, we were met immediately by a line attendant that took our fuel order, and let us borrow his golf cart to take our luggage back to the terminal. Talk about service! I was really impressed with the service that we got from the FBO at Hilton Head - even though we just had a small single, we felt like we were treated as if we had just stepped off a Gulfstream jet. we stood in line F-O-R-E-V-E-R at Hertz for our rental. Person after person was turned away because there weren't any cars left. I was starting to get a little worried about the status of our rental reservation, and when we went up to the counter, the lady said "You're not going to believe what car I have left." Oh no, I thought...we'll be in a full-size van or a truck or something - I had just reserved a mid-size rental, but at this point, I didn't really care as long as it had wheels to take us to the beach. We ended up with a brand-new Volvo S80, which the ladies fell in love with immediately. I did have to admit that it was fairly nice, although not quite as nice as my nearly 200,000mile Passat. Well, we were whisked quickly to the beach, swerving in and out of traffic between the blue-haired ladies with dark sunglasses hunched over their steering wheels.

Relaxing by the pool...trying to get a little sun exposure before we hit the beach.

The wide, wide hard-packed beaches at Hilton Head Island

Seashells on the beach at Hilton Head Island

Scaring the locals with our red, red sun-burns.

Preflighting the plane to head back to Ohio.

After one short day, unfortunately, we had to start heading back. There was a thick line of rain that was moving over the Appalachian mountains towards Charlotte. I was fairly nervous about flying back, and thought that we might just have to wait it out for another day, but duty called - or actually, Dad called and wanted the airplane for travel the next day. Cloud tops were about 5500-6000feet over charlotte, and patchy rain, but no real convection or thunderstorms, so I figured that we'd be okay, although we might have to dodge some rainstorms. Since we were needed a reliable fuel stop on the way back, I planned to stop at a destination I'd hit before - Rock Hill, SC. Their FBO is really nice, a beautifully-equipped lobby, and is very spouse-friendly:). After a quick fill-up and some fresh coffee, we climbed back into the airplane and headed back to Ohio. Leaving the Charlotte area was very pretty with the fading light of the sun streaming in under the clouds. It wasn't meant to last, however, as we headed towards the grey abyss of the rainclouds over the mountains.

Departing Hilton Head Island - Overlooking the southern end of the island.

Tybee Island, GA - a wonderful little island just outside Savannah, Ga

Fading light under the clouds over Charlotte, NC

Here's a little view of the high overcast with some rain showers - even though it was rainy in places, the visibility was really very good.

After the mountains, we were rewarded with a little sunshine.

22 May 2008

Muirfield Village Golf Club

Since next week is Memorial day, and the start of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH, I thought that I would share a couple of photos of that famed golf course for your viewing pleasure. I'd love to play a round (or two) on this golf course. I know that I'd be lucky to score under 100 and I'd probably lose about 4 sleeves of balls, but I'd still like to try it.
Muirfield Village Course Overview

The 1st, 9th, 10th, and 18th hole at Muirfield

The front nine holes at Muirfield

15 May 2008

Dayton & Indianapolis

I've been really busy recently (so what else is new). On Tuesday (May 13th), I flew to Dayton, OH to pick up my good friend Charlie who was in the US for a couple of weeks. It was a beautiful day for flying, and it was fun to share my new hobby with him. We used to work together for a major wheel & brake supplier to the aerospace industry. It was fun to get back together with him and to catch up and talk about all the changes and things happening in our lives. Life sure does move fast! We had a nice lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Dayton, then it was back to Ohio for some golf and some fun times together. Tuesday was really nice and clear, just cool enough that it was perfect for flying - great visibility! On the way, I snapped a couple of photos of the Newark and Columbus area.
The city of Newark, OH from 6500ft

Moundbuilders Country Club - Check out the circular Native American mounds that are part of the course!

I'm not positive, but I believe that this large estate in New Albany, OH is probably owned by Les Wexner of "The Limited" - It's simply outrageous!

The corner of Columbus, OH where I grew up - Just across the street from Don Scott OSU Airport

The Columbus Zoo - I've spent many a day here looking at the elephants and gorillas

Left Base for Runway 18 at Dayton, just over Tipp City, OH

3 mile Final for Runway 18 at Dayton-Cox International Airport

It was pretty fun to fly into Dayton, probably because I had been to that airport so much when I worked for Goodrich AWB traveling around the world, and because I had seen so many airshows from the tarmac when I was a kid. It was really neat to be able to talk to the controllers and land on the runway myself. Very cool. I'm really getting more comfortable talking to approach, tower, and clearance delivery controllers, which is encouraging, since I'm trying to study for my instrument rating (in my copius free time). Here's a couple of photos of the Goodrich Aircraft Wheels & Brakes plant in Troy, OH that I worked at for several years after school. Lots of good memories, good friends, and cool engineering stuff going on down there!
Goodrich AWB in Troy, OH

Later that week, I flew over to Indianapolis, IN with Dad. We had a little business to attend to, and it meant flying under some low scud to get into Indianapolis, IN. It was a high overcast when we were in Columbus, but as we headed west of Dayton, the clouds descended and we were cruising along at 2000ft, dodging the radio towers. It was pretty exciting, especially when the controller gave us a slight tail-wind landing on Runway 32 - good thing that there is 8000ft to play with!
Flying between an interstate and a hard place East of Indianapolis, IN

Check out the crab! Established on final for runway 32 at KIND

Helicopter Saw!

I was up at the airport today and saw this super-cool saw attached to a Hughes 369 helicopter. There's a separate motor for powering the saw blades, but I still can't imagine hovering and swinging this saw blade through the trees....it must be over 100ft long! I found a video of a similar helicopter in action on YouTube. I think I'll stick to fixed wing flying, myself.......click HERE for the YouTube video.

08 May 2008

See the Light!

So, we're scheduled to get some bright 50watt XeVision HID XV-19-W lights to replace our weak, weak, halogen lights sometime this month (or maybe next month). Whenever the FAA office in Cleveland decides that they have taken enough time to process the 337 form. In the meantime, I found this super-cool step-by-step instruction manual on the web for installing said HID lights into a Diamond DA40's wingtip. Click HERE for the instructions. I wonder if I could just replace them myself....

03 May 2008

Cross-Country to Linden, NJ (KLDJ)

This past week was a busy one. I flew with Dad out to Linden, New Jersey (KLDJ) for a tradeshow appearance at the Meadowlands. We were scheduled to leave on Monday via car (ugh. 9 hours in a car to New Jersey), because it was low, low IFR all across PA, but Dad came down with a bad cough and waws sick, so we postponed our trip to the following day. Tuesday morning arrived, and Dad was all hopped up on anti-histamines, so he felt good enough to fly. Also, the weather had moved on down futher east and south and the clouds over Pennsylvania were clearing up.

We got the plane all ready - during our last annual, we had an oil separator put on the engine, and does it ever make a difference in the cleanliness of the aircraft. Not only is the bottom of our aircraft NOT coated with a thick film of oxidized 20W50, but we don't have to add as much oil to the engine. Very, very nice....and environmentally friendly - Al Gore would be proud. We took off and climbed above above a nice broken layer at about 4000-4500ft MSL and headed towards Pittsburgh Class B. I neatly executed my very first Class B transition (thanks to Jason Miller of the Finer Points), and captured the momentus occasion on film (er..um..flashcard).

First Class B transition for me ever! I'd like to thank my wife, my parents, and my flight instructor.....

So, that was it. Inside Class B - it wasn't hard at all to talk to the yinzers at Pittsburgh Approach - they were very friendly and helpful (unlike Chicago Approach), and were happy to offer advice and information. They gave us a squawk code for flight following all the way to Linden, NJ. I liked them....or at least the specific controller on duty. So, I headed north of KPIT to Zelienople, PA where I picked a direct course to Linden, and climbed to 7500ft to stay on top of the overcast layer. It was fairly broken, and I kept monitoring the METARs in Eastern PA and NJ to ensure that 1.) It was VFR under the layer, and 2.) I would be able to get down closer to my destination. We cruised along and listened to the chatter - snapped a couple of photos of some powerplants along the way.

Plume from a power station along the Ohio River, pushing lots of water vapor up in the sky.

Another power station along the Allegheny River

We also flew over Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA, where my brother, sister-in-law, and other good friends graduated. It's funny to think of all those students, rushing around, trying to get to their classes, stressing out about their finals, and wondering if they're going to find any girls after they graduate, and all those things...as I'm crusing serenely at 145KTAS over a mile above their stressful lives.

Geneva College, Beaver Falls, PA from 7500MSL

We continued on our way across PA at 7500ft, and as we got north of the Harrisburg TRSA, the sky started to become a rather full overcast. We talked to Harrisburg approach, and they had a 747 in the pattern doing touch and goes. Everyone was giving it a wide berth (as well they should). Going inverted because of wake turbulence would not be super-cool:). We started heading down through the clouds over Allentown, PA and ended up slipping under the New York Class B shelf.
Turning Base for runway 27 at Linden, NJ (KLDJ) over the NJ Turnpike

We entered the downwind for Linden, NJ (KLDJ) after monitoring the AWOS. It was windy - 14G21 from 310. Runway's at 27...so, we'll be fine. Well, the approach was a little dicey. There were aircraft on final for Newark International (KEWR) about 1000ft overhead, and there were a lot of ground obstructions to look out for - the ConocoPhillips Bayway Refinery, tall petroleum tanks and power lines on final for runway 27 at LDJ. As I neared the ground, the forward slip that I had the DA40 in took about all the rudder that I had. I made it on the ground, but it wasn't pretty.....and as I rolled down the runway, I say why. That windsock was standing straight out and was at 90° to the runway! It was the toughest landing that I have ever done....so, 14G21 from 90°......it was definitely exciting, that's for sure! I took a look over at Dad, and his knuckles were just a little white from gripping the sides of the aircraft. More exciting than Cedar Point!

Short Final for 27 at Linden - check out that smokestack!

After the tradeshow was over, complete with a dinner at Frankie & Johnnie's on the Waterfront in Hoboken, NJ (which is an excellent steakhouse, and apparently where "On the Waterfront" with Marlin Brando was filmed), we headed back west. It was a very nice evening for flying. Clear, relatively calm, and great visibility. We flew low (about 1000-1200ft above ground level) to stay under the westerly winds to make better time. We stopped in Lancaster, PA to fuel up, and then headed to Columbus, OH (CMH) to drop off a colleague and then home to Coshocton. It was a fun trip, and most importantly, we didn't have to fly commercial!

Butter Valley Golf Port (7N8) - Where you go from Cessna to golf cart.....All golfers in the pattern, please advise...FORE!

Butter Valley Golf Port (7N8) - a golfing/flying paradise! I'm heading back there someday.

Colorful sunset over the Susquehenna River south of Harrisburg, PA

Three Mile Island Power Station - Harrisburg, PA

Fading light over the Lehigh Tunnel on the Pennsylvania Turnpike underneath Blue Mountain