Archive for April, 2008

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.