Archive for the 'Aviation' Category

Neil – Citabria Flying

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Nice video, edited and published by Neil showing he and I flying the Citabria last year, viewable here


Low and Slow over PA

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Lynne got a ride with Roger today, flying low and slow in his Piper Cub over the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside.


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Fighter Escort to Lock Haven

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Flying with Jeff F today in his beautiful Piper Aztec Twin, to Sentimental Journey – the annual aviation pilgrimage of many Piper Owners to the factory, airport and museum where most of the Piper fleet was constructed, Lock Haven PA. Three aircraft departed New Garden; Jeff’s Aztec, a de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk and the Grumman FM-2 Wildcat.

Wildcat Fighter Escort

Being escorted by the Wildcat was a unique aviation experience. The World War 2 fighter, in the hands of Everitt D, ensured our safe passage to KLHV, The William T. Piper Memorial Airport.

Fighter Escort, Bob

Piper Museum, Lock Haven PA Everitt warming up the Wildcat

The Piper Museum at The William T. Piper Memorial Airport, and Everitt at the controls of the FM-2

Watching Roger

Thursday, April 10th, 2008


Lynne calls me at the airport. “Hi. Watcha doin’?”.

“…. watching Roger” is invariably my response.

There are certain places, and certain people that naturally draw others in. At our local airport we have both – the place is ‘The Ghetto Hangar’ and the person is the occupant – Roger.

After a flying trip, when the aircraft are hangared, wiped-down, pre-heats attached, cowling blankets placed, and log books are updated many pilot gravitate toward the Ghetto Hangar, and Roger.

He’s always working at something. One of a disappearing breed of aviators capable not only of displaying exceptional flying skills but also in the construction and maintenance of airplanes. A specialist in Piper Cub J3’s (flying and building) he has a number of projects underway. At the time of writing he’s repairing and re-covering the wings of a Piper Vagabond, circa 1940’s. The airplane is a metal tubular frame, with fabric covering the flying surfaces, the engine is a 65hp Continental. The expertise, skills and know-how to accomplish all this is hugely rare. And the quality in the work he turns out is just incredible.

Rogers additional accomplishment is in maintaining a pot of excellent coffee – available all-day, and some beers for sunset enjoyment. Dropping in to Watch Roger at work while enjoying his coffee you get to see this craftsman in action and learn a good deal from him and his stories and anecdotes (and dreadful jokes!). His stock of cold beers, accessible only when all flying is complete and all aircraft are hangared, is in-part replenished by his visitors (like me) who are happy to gather at the Ghetto Hangar, sitting amongst some of America’s aviation historic aircraft (Piper J3 Cub, Piper Vagabond, ErCoupe, Whitman Tailwind, Skybolt bi-plane) and recount the aviation accomplishments of the day.

A great end to the aviation day.

Part 91 AC61-98A

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Recurrent Training Flight Rules Part 91 AC61-91C requires all pilots to undertake a bi-annual flight review. Objective – “A review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate”.

Took mine last weekend, with Captain Ron, my instructor.We completed all the exercises necessary for the evaluation and combined this with four instrument approaches, sufficient for an addition ’sign-off’, the Instrument Proficiency review. And we had fun doing it all.

With winds out of the north west (340d at 14mph, gusting 20) we selected Harrisburg International Airport (KMDT), Lancaster and home-base New Garden for the approaches, each having northwest oriented runways with instrument approaches of various types. Flying between these airports we completed the required evaluations for the flight review, including engine-out procedures (emergency landings), stalls (challenging in the Cirrus), slow flight etc.

Now flying ‘under-the-hood’ (that is, a view-limiting device fitted to my sunglasses that lets me see just the cockpit instruments, nothing outside the airplane, simulating ‘instrument’, in-cloud conditions) we were directed to the flight path at Harrisburg International by Air Traffic Control (ATC), placing us behind an inbound Cessna on the same approach. I flew the first ILS runway 31 approach using all the impressive technology available in the Cirrus SR22. The autopilot, correctly setup to the specifics of the approach I needed, flew the Cirrus down the flight path with me adjusting the speed and altitude, and setting the flaps. I took flight control at the 2-mile mark, disconnected all the technology and hand-flew the final leg down to the permitted minimums (height and visibility), and ended with a low-pass over the runway. We returned for a second approach flown by entirely hand and under-the hood, with me interpreting the indicators and aligning the aircraft appropriately down the glideslope. With both ILS approaches completed satisfactorily we departed Harrisburg, still under ATC, to Lancaster Regional Airport requesting the GPS Runway 8 approach. And in competing this satisfactorily we departed VFR to our home base at New Garden for the VOR Runway 24 approach.

My debrief with Captain Ron provided some areas for my future attention (optimum speed in engine-out circumstances, flap-settings etc). All very helpful.

The EAA240 Boys do Cambridge (Maryland, that is)

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008


Aviation Chapter fly-out south to Cambridge, Maryland today. Cold but good flying weather, as five aircraft flew down the very scenic Chesapeake Bay, across from Annapolis and Baltimore. Thirteen of us enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the airport amongst good company. Wonderful way to kick-off the weekend. Trip photographs (by Harv) here.

Forgiving the Citabria

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

We’ve had to have the Citabria engine rebuilt, and this after just 500 hours. Not fair. Expensive. Annoying.
The boys at New Garden found copper in the oil during the annual aircraft check, and suspected a pin keeping the piston aligned had worked loose. The cams had become worn too, not sure if for the same reason. And all of this after co-owner Steve and I both for some time have experienced increasing problems getting the thing started when it was hot. We planned to replace the magneto’s to hopefully cure that disconcerting trait. (yes, we know about vapour lock and fuel lines etc etc – wasn’t it). The new mags now sit on the rebuilt engine, and hopefully it will be a cure-all.

This beautiful and really-fun-to-drive airplane has come-in for some harsh words of late, from both Steve and I. But it will be good to get it back into the air. If all goes as we hope, with problems resolved and reliability restored, forgiveness will be in the air too.

(BTW – Citabria backwards; Airbatic)


Will Fly for Food

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

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First flight of the new year was to York Pennsylvania KTHV this morning, for breakfast at Orville’s Restaurant. The aviation group I’m associated with needs little excuse to get into the air, but food – and particularly breakfasts – are close to the top of that list. Seven aircraft, including my own, made up the fleet, with nineteen aviation friends, partners, club members all enjoying a crisp and clear morning. Wheel’s-up at 8.30 into a calm and smooth sky, and just 52 miles to our destination, west of our home-base at New Garden N57. The aircraft was full, my cockpit companions – Jim, Jeff, Harv – presented the Cirrus with no problems. All aircraft enjoy the cold air and generally leap off the runway even when loaded, the excellent Cirrus is no exception.

With accomplished pilots alongside you and paying close attention to everything that’s happening there’s a certain amount of added pressure to ‘get-it-right’. It seemed to work well today, with reasonably good landings and take-offs, and no surprises. My pattern circuit at York was too tight, I didn’t make enough allowance for the additional weight onboard and had to re-align for the final approach….. but all fine in the end. Another learning added to the never-ending list, and one of the reasons I really enjoy the challenge of flying – it’s new every time.

Not Just Yet

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

There it was. Right on the screen. I hadn’t expected it. It was a jolt I didn’t need. Dan’s name and his cell phone number, ready for me to call him. Dan, a good friend, fellow pilot, fellow sporting clays shooter, was killed just two weeks ago while piloting his aircraft here in Delaware. A tragic accident and devastating loss to his very young family, his friends, his colleagues and to the clients of his specialised software products – just about to be released in the new year after years of development and of which he was very proud.

And here’s the dilemma. When is it ok to delete Dan’s phone number from my contact list, or to remove his address from my email list? Despite the jolt of seeing his name scroll up on the car phone display it was good that I thought of him again. We’d conversed by email a week or so before the accident. Shall we go shooting this weekend? Yes, lets. We had to cancel, my fault, and we didn’t meet. Damn.

So, I’ll keep his name out-there some more. I don’t mind being prompted into remembering him as fondly as I do. I’m not ready for that minor act of removal or distancing. Not just yet.

Miss you Dan.

Dan and I in the Beech Duke

Thanksgiving Dinner – with relatives!

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

It took the transfer of cous’ Graham F and family from Germany to Greenville South Carolina for us to enjoy the American tradition of visiting and eating with family over Thanksgiving. We flew down in the Cirrus in just 3 hrs (a 12-hour drive was avoided!). An IFR flight but very smooth and uneventful, and were met at the airport by Graham, Ricarda and Oliver. The next two days passed too quickly, enjoying strolls in warm temperatures, the children looked over the aircraft, but mostly just relaxing in good company. The excellent food prepared by Barbara included the traditional Turkey but also delicious German Stollen Bread and other European delicacies.

We reminisced over family matters past and present, catching-up on more recent happenings, here, in the UK and in Germany. We discussed the intricacies of languages and marveled at the children’s ability to thrive amongst it all. Oliver in particular, with just three months in the US and at just 6 years old, had learned very good English and was keen to exercise it with Lynne and I. Very impressive.

The return flight, with the aid of a tail-wind and speed-over-the-ground of 222 mph at 11,000 feet, was just 2.2 hrs. It was a challenging cross-wind landing at the home airport New Garden and took two attempts, but was safety done. Nice to be met at the airport by Neil, who’d flown home for a weekend with his chums

A great break for us, challenging and enjoyable flying, and wonderful to see Graham and the family, and to fulfill another American tradition – Thanksgiving Dinner on the road!

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Fall Colours

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Nice flight today in the Cirrus, to Latrobe Pennsylvania. The airport is know as Arnold Palmer Regional airport, and is the home of the great man – Arnie. He’s a pilot, flies his own Citation and I’ve seen him at the airport on a previous visit. Interesting flight out, with lots of cloud cover but the gizmos in the airplane telling us all was well at Latrobe, 7 miles vis, calm winds, runway 21 in-use (lookout for the displaced threshold)…… which is just what we found. We dropped over the mountain range to a rapid descent into the airport in the valley below.

Fall Scene from 3000 ft
The scenery on route (between the clouds) was just wonderful, with Fall Colours or reds and golds just everywhere. Some snow on the Appalachian Peaks too, amongst the pines. The plane ran just fine, a 59 minute flight.

A Buffet Lunch was on offer at the Latrobe Airport Restaurant, which we consumed while the plane was being refueled. Jim flew us back, with improved weather en route. A nice way to spend Sunday.
Cirrus Johnstown Stacks, PA Susquehanna River, PA Appalation Mountain CloudsCirrus Cockpit

Oh my gosh – Oshkosh

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007


Just returned from the ‘world’s greatest’ General Aviation event – Air Adventure 2007, known as Oshkosh ‘cos that’s where it’s held. UK-based friend and colleague Rodger made a US visit to accompany me (I’d been pestering him for years to do so).

We departed N57 Thursday in the Cirrus, IFR, headed west through rain showers, past Cleveland and Detroit, across Lake Eire through Canadian airspace, and stopped-over for fuel and bladder relief at Muskegon. Appleton – our destination across Lake Michigan – was weathered-in but the bad stuff was tracking south so we stayed on the east side of the lake, flew IFR up north to Manistee, then across the great lake towards Green Bay. We diverted to our destination – Appleton – as the weather cleared, per our revised plan. Great flight. We joined a whole gaggle of aircraft and pilots on the ground at  Appleton, all going to the Oshkosh show.

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The air show, Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday was just great with aerobatics by both teams and singles. The weather improved each day, with Saturday being stunningly beautiful – the blue skies being the perfect backcloth for all the action. The C-17 Globemaster reversing down the runway under it’s own power was a highlight for me, the display of power was just awesome. The B-2 Stealth Bomber made several passes, each quiet and sinister. The F-22 Raptor was the opposite – intentionally noisy and in-yer-face brute force. The WW2 fleets of aircraft flying in formation at different altitudes was stunning.

We both made the required purchases of aviation must-have’s, and some trivia from the numerous aviation stands.
The return flight was as challenging (but as enjoyable) as the outgoing trip. We flew VFR then IFR, with ugly weather at our home-base showing up on our Cirrus displays. We put-down in Franklyn PA for fuel and lunch.

Departing Franklyn IFR we’d worked up several options if we couldn’t get into N57 due to the string of thunderstorms showing on the NexRad in the Cirrus. Flying around heavy cells was favoured and supported by ATC. By the time we reached Harrisburg the weather was clearing. I canceled IFR at Lancaster after getting below the cloud-base, then flew VFR into N57 with 1700ft ceilings.

A great experience, a great airplane and great company – my pal Rodger.

Trip photo’s here

Old Rhinebeck

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Seven of the EAA Chapter 240 flew three aircraft to Old Rhinebeck Saturday. A magnificent day with blue skies and scattered billowing clouds, but I filed IFR – just for the practice. And practice I got, as ATC changed my routing three times during the flight. My N57-MXE-20N Direct just didn’t work! I soon got N57-MXE-Allentown-v149 -LHY-v408-v483-FILPS-direct 20N, 3000, expect 6000 after 10, squawk 4224, 124.35. And this changes twice more on the way up, in what was a 60 minute flight in the Cirrus SR22 GTS. Anyway….


Old Rhinebeck puts on a ‘barn-storming’ – type airshow each weekend, using actual or replica WW1 aircraft. They have a collection of airplanes, engines, cars and the enthusiastic showstaff are in period costume. Lotsa fun, good bbq food and pleasant company as we EAA-types wandered about the place, shared a van-ride to/from the show. Uneventful VFR return flight and overall a memorable days aviating.

Lunch   Rhinebeck  Waiting for the airport ride

Flying with Roger

Monday, June 25th, 2007

A rare treat and experience this weekend as I flew with Roger. Who he? He The Master of the Piper Cub, for building, piloting, air-show performing and all-round aviation buff…but a Piper Cub aficionado without any dispute. And known for it nationally. The story? Roger and Jim had purchased the remnants of a Piper Vagabond PA-15. These aircraft are quite rare, built by Piper, out of nearby Lock Haven PA and only 222 still registered to fly. The airplane is smaller than the famous Cub, but the 65 hp Continental engine will drive the craft to 102 mph. Roger (with occasional ‘help’ from Jim) completely rebuilt and re-equipped the PA-15, restoring it to perfection – and then adding hand-held radio’s and a GPS! Its side-by-side seating configuration makes for pleasant flying, as I found on Sunday.
I first flew with Jim, always fun – a great pilot.
But questions about it’s handling brought Roger to the cockpit, with me in the right-seat. Now this is rare. For anyone to fly with The Master is rare. For me to accompany him on this flight, as we completed several take-offs and landings, both on the grass-strip and the runway, was special. Wanting to learn how I can add to my tail-dragger skills I watched him closely, while trying not to look like I was watching him closely. What a treat. You will always learn when you sit next to and watch a Master at work. I did.

Chili in Maryland

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

The annual Chili-Fest Fly-In at Massey Airport Maryland MD1 was the best ever today, and attracted ~100 aircraft (my count). The grass-strip limits the type of aircraft and pilots but the turnout today was about double last year.

The weather for our brief flight south in the two-seater Citabria N76ML was ‘iffy’, with low ceilings and threatening showers. But non developed and indeed the grass-strip was dry and just fine. My buddy Harv and I touched down about 11.30.
The choice of chili’s equaled the variety of aircraft. Pots of various strengths, heat-levels and contents were provided by volunteers and aviators, with hot-dogs on-hand for the faint-of-heart. Food lines lengthened at various points as waves of aircraft and hungry pilots descended from the Maryland skies.

MP142   Massey Fly-In 4-29-06054    Massey Fly-In 4-29-06043

‘Hangar flying’ broke-out, with aviators exchanging stories, experiences and the best places for cheap(er) aviation fuel.

The flightline included every variety of tail-dragger, sports and production aircraft, impressively filling every vacant spot on Jim Douglas’s airport. The airport is a ‘grassroots-aviation’ and museum spot, with several projects underway to keep antique aircraft flying.

Harv flew us back to New Garden, but not until he’d experienced some aerobatics courtesy of Roger and his Stearman.