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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.

29 July 2008

The Maryland-SC-Ohio Triangle

I've been flying a fair bit recently, so now that I have a little "ground time", I'll take the opportunity to catch up on a little blogging. I recently flew a neat little trip with Dad - we headed to the Maryland coast and then south to Rock Hill, SC, and the back home. All right through a wonderful high with nice weather and clear skies. A monster storm had blown through that night, and it was just clearing up as we made our initial descent into Salisbury. I have to say that the 60NM perpetual TFR around Washington is just totally stupid. Is the strongest, most powerful nation in the world scared of a 2300lb Cessna 172 with a max useful load of 900lbs, when anyone can rent a 26ft Ryder truck and drive it within 60NM of Washington? Golly gee whiz! I think it's a good idea.....I mean, who would protect all of the poor Beltway lobbyists and policy pundits from scary "GA" airplanes? Sheesh.

Okay, well, enough complaining. Our intended route of flight flew well south of all those freaked out people, and over the Chesapeake Bay, which is a huge body of water. There were a lot of barges, fishing boats, and a lot of choice beach spots. I could almost taste all of those lobsters and soft shell crabs, just flying over! Here's a photo of some of the shifting sandbars just off the west coast of the bay. That some pretty clear water for the bay, but I guess if you have the right angle and there's not too much slit in the water...you can see lots!

Can you see any soft-shell crabs in that sand?

I'll bet that it's pretty fun to hang out on that little sandbar and fight the sandflies away:).

Just one of the thousands of tidal rivers on the Chesapeake Bay - I love how squiggly these rivers are!

Tangier Island, right in the center of the Bay - I'd like to go there someday - apparently the residents of this island have a very unique dialect and they serve really good soft shell crab sandwiches....MMmmm.....

We talked to Patuxent Approach and steered well clear of the restricted military flying zones (they were HOT) and ran downhill into Salisbury, MD and touched down.

Short final for Runway 32 at KSBY - just 50ft higher than the ocean!

We stopped in to admire the FBO and got a quote for hand-washing a plane - only $200 for a hand-wash & wax! Not too shabby.....if you have $200 more than you need. The people were really friendly and helpful, and we felt right at home. After having some of Tim's Pizza & Subs, we were back in the air and heading to South Carolina. The air was really calm, although really hot, and I was pretty happy at 4500ft for a while, until I needed to climb up to 8500ft to stay up sort of above the clouds. This is one of my favorite things about flying....just gently weaving in-and-out between big puffy clouds. It really gives the sky texture and gives you a sense of how fast you are going. The relative motion of 150kts at 10,000ft above the ground isn't too impressive.
Cloud shooting over Virginia at 8500ft - Check out the wrap-around view!

The Surry Nuclear Power Plant on the James River. This powerplant had a really unique cooling pond that cut a channel all the way across the Hog Back Island Peninnsula to take advantage of the river flow.

Lake Gaston, VA - a huge lake system on the Virginia/NC border. It looked like a lot of people were enjoying the water as we flew over.

Just west of Lake Gaston on the Roanoke River is Kerr Lake, another giant reservoir

Taking a quick look at the Old North State Club, a golf course on Badin Lake, NC

We landed in Rock Hill and surprise of surprise - we saw a Diamond DA40XL on the ramp! I think that it's the first time (other than Oshkosh) where I've landed at an airport with another Diamond. We tried chatting with the pilot, but he was a chartered jet pilot flying alongside the owner as a safety pilot and he was very grumpy. Apparently, he was sorely disappointed to stoop low to fly the DA40 because it wasn't a jet and it wasn't super fast. WELL, EXCUUUSE ME! I know a bunch of pilots that would be tickled pink to fly the DA40 (myself included). Sheesh....the attitude of that guy was unbelievable. Well, we packed it up and headed out to dinner at Harry & Jeans - a nice little eatery only about 4-5 miles from the Rock Hill Airport. I had some absolutely delicious crab cakes (all that flying over the Chesapeake bay made me hungry for crab) and then went to sleep at the Crampton Inn. The next day, we arose, played a little golf at the Waterford Golf Club (a Hale Irwin course), and I managed to almost break 100, so I wasn't ready to buy a new set of clubs.....just not yet:). We packed it all in the plane and headed back north to the arms of my loving wife. The trip back had us flying over some interesting altostratus undulatus cloud layers over the Appalachians. These clouds are typically indicative of icing conditions in the winter time and can be pretty hazardous when it's chilly out....but in the summer, there's little occasion to drop below the freezing level. We tried flying along at 8500ft, but quickly saw that the clouds were higher still. So, we managed to get the ol' DA40 flying along at 12,500ft....which is the highest that I have ever personally flown. We needed a couple of degrees of nose-up attitude to keep flying at that altitude and could only muster about 130kts of true airspeed at that altitude. The DA40 really is a lot happier flying at 7500-8500ft - that's where you get the best combo of performance and fuel economy.

Cruising above the altostratus undulatus clouds at 12,500ft.

Heading north over a high cloud deck at 12,500ft.

Checking the calibration of our altimeter with a snack bag of Hot Fries!

Swooping back down into Coshocton over the Conesville Power Station.

15 July 2008

Lake Ann, Michigan

It's that time of year again - back in the northern part of the Lower Penninsula of Michigan, right around Lake Ann, MI. I did not fly up, because....well....rental cars for a week are fairly expensive and Dad gets sad puppy dog eyes when his favorite toy is missing from its hangar for a WHOLE WEEK. So, to make things easier, we just drove up to Michigan. This week has been fun so far - I went hiking with Beth and her Dad at Sleeping Bear Point in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We avoided the bushes of poison ivy and managed to catch some pretty incredible views of the point, and of North and South Manitou Islands, just a couple of miles offshore. Follow that up with a little impromptu boxer short dip in the refreshing waters of Lake Michigan, and you have the recipe for a pretty fun day. Also, you get some pretty funny stares from the people that see you with wet shorts looking like you have just peed your pants in a big way.

The steep climb up the dunes - watch out for Poison Ivy!

Looking out over Sleeping Bear Point towards South Manitou Island

Look! A Big Great Lakes Freighter passing off shore! Ship, SHIP!

Not much of a beach to stroll on! There were some pretty good waves at the point, but as you walked further into Glen Haven, then settled down.

We're staying on a little lake that is called Lakeview Lake, just north of Lake Ann, which is probably about 20 acres in size, and is fairly nice and shallow - great for swimming and some light fishing. It's very close to a really fine golf course (Mistwood), and has some fun facilities for the kids - shuffleboard and a nice sandy (pebbly) beach.
Align CenterTeeing off at Mistwood Golf Course, Lake Ann, MI

Boats lined up along the shore of Lakeview Lake, near Lake Ann, MI

I also discovered that Big Head Todd & the Monsters were playing at a local concert venue (Interlochen Center for the Arts) only about 15 minutes away from Lake Ann. As usual, it was an awesome show, but a little different that most BHTM shows that I have been too. Very diverse mix of people from people in their 60's to kids. One funny thingut kind of funny, because this Interlochen place is a boarding school, so there were all these kids in blue polos and navy blue shorts. It was like the real live “School of Rock” (one of my favorite movies). The teenagers kept trying to jump up and rush the stage to stand in front, and the dorm mothers kept sending them back to their seats. It was hilarious, with all the camp staff talking on their walkie-talkies throughout the whole concert (“So and So is getting a BUTTLOAD of demerits tonight!”) The rock finally won, and the teenagers got to see Todd Park Mohr's nimble fingers up close and personal. Beth went along and enjoyed herself, so that was lots of fun for me - we're going to tour the country together following BHTM to every concert. They're in Cleveland on August 31st! Woohoo!

I even managed to catch a rockin' Big Head Todd & The Monsters show at Interlochen! Awesome!

04 July 2008

KNEW Redeux

It was just a few days after the beginning of summer, so what better place to visit that hot, humid, New Orleans, Louisiana? Hmmm.....Seattle, San Francisco, Milwaukee, Traverse City...a few places come to mind, but I was headed down to the Gulf Coast for a couple of days at another tradeshow in New Orleans. We left early on Saturday, so as to make it down in time to 1.) set up the booth, 2.) check into our hotel room, and 3.) play golf by the gulf.

The flight down was right through the disapppating aftermath of a huge line of storms that had raced across Ohio and Kentucky earlier that morning. When we took off from Coshocton, we had to fly just under a cloud deck at about 2500ft that cleared up shortly after we passed Zanesville, OH. We climbed up over the cloud deck and danced among the shrinking clouds at 7500ftMSL.
Dillon Reservoir, near Zanesville, OH - The June rains have filled it back up!

Climbing through the clouds to the clear air on top!

Clear of clouds and cruising in the morning sunshiune on top....

We had some pretty stiff winds to cope with on the way down - 30-35kt cross-winds from the west, so our time enroute wasn't speedy. It really makes a big difference when you're only traveling at 100-105kts groundspeed versus 135-145, Those extra knots really start to add up over a couple of hours. One of the really cool things about this flight was that there were still some patches of virga or rain at these higher altitudes, and the sun was just at the right angle to catch a few really cool rainbows. Here's a photo of the best one - A giant, sweeping bow of color across the sky....and look! A Diamond right at the end of it! No pots o' gold in these rainbows!
A Diamond at the end of a rainbow - that thing about Pots o' Gold are definitely not accurate!

As we headed further south to our first fuel stop, the skies cleared up over Oak Ridge, TN and continued to be clear as we descended over Chattanooga Class C airspace into Barwick-Lafayette (9A5) municipal airport. We flew over the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Station, just north of Chattanooga, apparently one of the most efficient producers of electricity in the nation between 2000 and 2002 - only 1.14 cents per kW! That's some cheap, clean energy!

The Sequoyah Nuclear Power Station, just north of Chattanooga, TN

Entering the pattern at Barwick-Lafayette (9A5)

Turning final for runway 20 at Barwick-Lafayette.

Upon landing at Barwick-Lafayette, we landed and were greeted by an friendly gentleman that helped us with refueling and gave me a quick tour of his home-built biplane project (a Sorrell Hiperbipe) in a nearby hangar. This little aerobatic biplane had a Lycoming IO-360 installed on the front, had side-by-side seating, and looked like a very hot little ride! In that same hangar, was a Taylorcraft F-22, serial number 1, from the newer Taylorcraft production line! Pretty cool! After we packed up, and switched pilots, we headed down south over Birmingham, AL, over Meridian, MS, and straight to New Orleans. We had to fly fairly high - 8500ft to get in-between the clouds, but the air was fairly stable, so not much turbulence, and it was really cool to zig and zag between the towering clouds, knowing that they were not full of rain.

A Southwest 737 landing at Birmingham Airport

Navigating the cloud canyons over Mississippi

Towering cumulus clouds sparkling bright white in the morning sunlight

Clouds over northern Mississippi

One of the really weird things that we continued to see as we flew over Mississippi, where these huge lots of what looked to be white semi-trailers. They were scattered in a couple of different places, and Dad & I were wondering what they were, when we suddenly realized that these were FEMA trailers that were in "storage". What a tremendous waste of money to have all these trailers just sitting in a field rotting and not being used or sold...but then, who would want them? Isn't central planning great?

Anyone need a couple of thousand FEMA trailers?

We managed to sneak into New Orleans, right before a torrential downpour that was making its way up from the Gulf. We managed to accomplish our goals of setting up the booth, checking into our squallid hotel, and playing a round of golf at The Player's Club of Louisiana. That was a pretty nice golf course, with difficult approach shots, and very deceiving distances. I kept playing my 100yd clubs, when I should've been playing my 150yd clubs. Oh well - it was a good time, and they had really great food at the clubhouse.