Monday, August 14, 2006

Electric Airplane - 2

The evening weather for the past few weeks has been typical for the deep south. We've had clear blue mornings, high humidity with building thunderstorms by the late afternoon. Our temperatures have been over 100 degrees providing enough energy to the cells to make them nasty. My plan of flying in the evening after their dissipation just wasn't working. I cancelled last Thursday for weather and decided to take some time off from work to try and get up before the weather got too bad. I used the down time to take the written test for the C172s. I needed more time with the operating manuals, and this was a good way to do a review.

Objective of the flight: Instrument work with the G1000 system.

I got to the airport about 10:45 (l) under MVFR conditions. There were lots of scattered and broken layers below 5000 Ft, but no airmets or sigmets. So it was a perfect day for some actual IFR! The plan was to use the G1000 and autopilot to depart RYY, fly over to the Rome VOR, enter holding for the ILS, hand fly the approach to mins, then execute the missed, transition back to cruise and hand fly a GPS back home. I filed a flight plan, got a weather brief, picked up the dispatch kit and went out to the airplane.

Preflight was normal (I found all of the 13 fuel drains) and the prestart checklist went well. I still had a slight problem with the start by probably advancing the mixture to rich too quickly. Overall I feel comfortable with the ground procedures now. I was 'Cleared as filed' and entered the squawk into the transponder. I'm not completely at ease with the softkeys yet, but can get the job done with a little forethought. Entering the flight plan information was a snap, really no different then the GNS430.

Takeoff was normal, and we were 'in the goo' by 1500 Ft. The autopilot worked as advertised by taking us up to 4000ft on course to the Rome VOR. I got the checklists complete, leaned the mixture and prepared for the approach. AWOS for the weather was as expected (bottoms at about 1000 Ft), no gyro to align, we were pretty well set up for the approach. Approach Control told us to report KAREL (IAF) inbound. This fix is defined by the Final Approach Course (007) and a radial (284) from the VOR. I made a mistake here. I misread the active and standby navaids and DEselected ILS from the active box. After a bit of confusion I realized the error and corrected it, but it is a small example of the transition that has to occur using the G1000.

The actual approach went well. The very large attitude indicator and digital VSI make flying the ILS much easier. However I do miss the turn and bank indicator for establishing a standard rate turn following the missed approach. (The little bar at the top doesn't quite do it for me.) Following the missed it was back to the VOR for holding(!) before getting cleared for home. I was only just entering the holding pattern when the "cleared direct" was given.

I went direct to the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) for the GPS RWY 9 with no problems. The transition from IFR back to visual went well as I picked up the runway immediately and made a nice adjustment to reach my touchdown point. Then I made a lousy landing. I hate that. I recovered well, but not the way to end a flight.

Time = 1.4 (with about an hour of actual)

* I had another achievement last week. I passed my medical! I'm good for another two years.

** The 96c is not doing too well. Garmin Tech Support has asked me to send it in for repairs. No track or stats for this flight.

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