Friday, December 18, 2009


I stood outside the new BestBuy and watched the Cessna 172 fly overhead. "You could almost touch his wheels" said another shopper. "Isn't it Great!", I replied.

Thursday saw the high pressure area arrive bringing some cold crisp air and beautiful clear skies. I have learned to really appreciate VFR weather here as it is seldom seen. However I was a bit discouraged when I checked local METARs and found that many local airports were reporting winds gusting over 20. Wings was still 'blue' but there were a lot of 'pink' airports displayed nearby. TAFs looked promising.

The preflight was cold. I was sorely tempted to skip the fuel sumps as thought of getting that cold fluid on my hands was not at all appealing. Too much training and safety seminars quickly put that foolishness out of my head. (I was careful.). Start/taxi/run up were all normal. It was gusty and the T.O. required a bit of dancing on the rudders but nothing too difficult. Wow, visibility was probably a hundred miles, just gorgeous.

The mission was a simple one. VFR over to Pottstown Muni, and check out the landing pattern to see how it looks from a pilot's perspective flying over BestBuy. The winds weren't too bad, and the 'nuclear windsock' at Limerick they were mostly out of the north west, Unicom confirmed they were using RWY26 with one in the pattern. I flew just a bit deep to enjoy the view, and rolled out on final just prior to the store, about 500 feet or so. People are still very tiny at that height.

Full stop, taxi back, checks complete and off again. Wind was not a factor. Departed to the south to go and find KLOM. Philly could easily be seen in the distance. CTAF had a few doing some work there. I made my call, flew over the field at 2500' outbound to the quarry and turned back inbound descending to pattern altitude. One in the pattern in front of me, I waited until abeam him on final to turn base. The low sun on the horizon made glare a factor, but what a beautiful sunset. So pretty I had to have another view. So once more round the pattern and touched down just before the sun went below the horizon. aahhh.

Time = 1.1 hours.

*  It was 17 December 1903 at Kill Devil Hills that Orville took to the skies in the first powered flight. Wilbur would fly later that day setting a distance record. Today we should all take a moment to thank them for what they did for our obsession.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cold Front

Two weeks ago I scheduled some time with the CFII to practice some IFR procedures (primarily ATC communications). Some of the GPS approaches at KACY looked interesting and I wanted to see how the avionics would handle the missed approach and holding with multiple way points. I planned a cross country that would take me around and through the Philadelphia Class B into a towered airport.

The weather was IFR. A real cold front was moving in from the west and the rain showers and low ceilings arrived by mid morning. Just perfect for the exercise I had planned. A preflight briefing with the CFII cleared a lot of misconceptions (what does pressing the OBS button do?) and refreshed a number of concepts about GPS navigation. I got a weather brief from Flight Service and filed a plan down and another back from KACY. Preflight was soggy but normal.

An idiosyncrasy at Wings is the need to use a cell phone to call Clearance Delivery from the run-up area. My headset allows a cell phone to be attached, but I was unable to get a call out until I disconnected it and called directly. I made a mistake. Cleared as filed, I thought my Void time was in 5 minutes, instead he said call back in 5 minutes. So, I took off without a clearance. Never a good thing to do as it tends to annoy the Air Traffic Controllers.

As I started to enter the overcast at about 3K, the CFII told me to look out at the wing. Ice. A call to (my now friendly) ATC got an immediate clearance to descend and assistance to execute the GPS RWY24 (Mazie). My transitions were sloppy but I made a nice landing back home.

So in addition to getting a release form ATC before T.O, I should have been aware of the OAT on the ground and not relied so heavily on the wx briefing (frz lvl 9k), especially since I knew the weather was related to a winter cold front. Situational Awareness.

An excellent training flight.

Time = 1.0 hours
Actual = 0.2 hours