Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BE50 shoulder harness

One thing I really want taken care of right away on my new TBone is the lack of shoulder harnesses, at least for the pilot and copilot positions.  It just feels strange to settle into a pilot seat and not strap in.  For safety and for my own peace of mind, I need a shoulder harness!  As I researched it I am amazed that there is no STC for them in the TwinBonanza.  I know this was the era of the big Cadilac where no one wore seat belts and kids rode around in the back of pickup trucks... but really?  Even the curmudgeon's at the FAA recognize that they need to be accommodative in this regard.  Someone sent me this missive from the FAA that basically sets policy for FSDO's to be ready to do field approvals in the name of safety.  https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/gen_av/harness_kits/media/shoulderpolicy.pdf

Great.  Now I just need a field approval.  Luckily it seems the TBone community is tight nit and awesome and I found someone who has done it and he sent me the 337.  Score!  That will save a bunch of time and money figuring out how to do this.  In case anyone ever needs it, here it is..

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3zlp36cVxI8OUowME5PeHN2cnM/view


Friday, February 10, 2017

My new ride

Well, something quite amazing and cool fell into my lap and I just fell in love it it.  I'm now the proud new owner of TwinBonanza N787SC.  This is an absolutely gorgeous TBone with low total time, low engine times (250 hrs), and just oozes style and class from a bygone era.  The plane literally drips with nostalgia and although it's not a turboprop, and it's not pressurized, I just had to have it.

I expected I'd go plane-less a bit longer than this, but when I stumbled on 7SC I felt I should move quickly since  I really didn't want anyone else to snatch it up.  She's a top of the market TBone, just out of annual at Todd Thacker's place.  Complete logs, only 4,000 hrs total time and in tip top shape with no deferred maintenance, according to Todd's shop which just finished the annual.

I went out to see her and Todd took me flying.  She was so gorgeous and smooth and obviously well cared for, I just went with my gut and said screw it...  I bought the plane as-is where is with no prebuy!  Yikes, but as soon as I saw it I knew I was going to buy it so why not?  If I understand correctly there just a handful of nice D50E's left flying and I now own one of them.  My friend Aaron has another one which is a stunning example.  Between gawking at Aaron's gorgeous bird and always being enraptured by the steadfast and dedicated work of Gregg Cadieux,  I simply decided I need own a TBone one day... and so one day is now!

I had said I wanted something bigger, faster, higher, further... well I ended up with one of those things at least, bigger!  Basically I traded some speed for size.  The TBone is substantially bigger than my Baron...  in fact it's seems absolutely ginormous and the ramp presence is incredible.  The wingspan is 45 feet!  I'm 6'4" tall and I can basically stand fully upright under the end of the wing, and it's a freakin low wing!  Perfect shade for Oshkosh.  Man this thing is cool.

Panel wise it's actually pretty well equipped.  Like I did with my Baron, the prior owner dropped some serious coin into the panel on this plane although the GPS units are a generation old now.  It's got dual 530w's, an Aspen, a panel mounted 796 and an STEC 60-2 autopilot.  The props are alcohol but no boots so I'll need to be a bit more cautious about avoiding ice.  It's got VGs, the air-stair door, nice interior, leather seats and great windows.  Paint is in very nice condition with just a few specs of filiform corrosion on the tail feathers.  I think there are still a few things I can do to her to make her a real gem and restore her to full glory.  Right now she is at Todd's shop and I'm having a new headliner installed since the old one looked pretty crappy, and I'm installing 4 point harnesses for the pilot and copilot seats since it only has lap belts right now.  My plan is to fly it as is for awhile and then I might consider some more upgrades.

Without further ado, here are a few pics.  In a few weeks when the work is done I'll head back to Georgia to pick her up and fly her back across the country.





Friday, February 3, 2017

Life after the Baron

The rumors are true...  I've just sold my beloved plane and watched her fly away with the new owner into a misty overcast.  I no longer own the "G55" Baron.  Crazy I know, everyone is telling me I'm a dolt and a fool and they're probably right.  I'm pretty confident I had one of the top three nicest BE-55's on the planet, the best Colemill 600 and certainly the best fully deiced 55 I've ever seen.   I went through every detail of the plane...  from the SRS aluminum elevators to the chromed gas caps, to the carbon fiber recessed side panels, glare shield and headliner with touch led overhead lights...   and of course, those plush Tim Hallock seats and carpet which provided a stately view when looking out of those big, beautiful DBM windows.  I literally restored every inch of the entire plane including putting factory engines on it and a stunning Copeland paint job... did I mention the panel?  Everything was done, and at no small expense.  But alas, the song of bigger, faster, further, higher...

Like many planes of this caliber, it never hit the market.  It went to a fellow BTer and all around awesome guy.  Of course I lost my shirt on her, but it was a fair enough deal for a top of the market plane and I didn't have to deal with marketing it or tire kickers.  I'm just tickled that it's going to such a great guy and family.  It served us well for 7 years and 1,000 hrs and I'm sure it will continue to be in great hands.  A frictionless sale with literally not a single argument or point of contention.  Yes, I do have first rights of buyback should he ever decide to sell!

So... what's next?  As I said, I'm thinking bigger, faster, higher, further.  Of course aviation is a compromise so I can probably pick one of those criteria...

You don't have to convince me that a turboprop is a game changer.   The "personal" turbine seems to be the Meridian so I researched it.  I wanted to love it... I really did.  I joined MMOPA (great group),  and even took a test ride with an awesome an knowledgable owner.  But try as I might I just can't fall in love with the plane.  Compared to the expansive view in the Baron it feels like looking out of two tank slits.  I wormed my 6'4" frame into the pilot seat and sat awkwardly and somewhat uncomfortably.  It feels smaller than my Baron inside...  but it's a turboprop!  and pressurized!  and it goes 260 kts!  but oh my the expenses...  The yearly taxes alone would dwarf my entire maintenance budget on the Baron, not to mention the purchase price.   My mission is family trips.  The replacement plane will have no real job.  I fly professionally 400 hrs a year but this bird sees 100-150 hrs a year at most.  A turbine would be great but hard to justify with that amount of usage.  Maybe a partnership in a bigger turbine?  If only one were forthcoming...  

Pressurized piston twin?  Well the cream of the crop is the 421 in my opinion.  Bigger, yes.  Faster?  Not really.  But it's pressurized.  So much junk on the market.  Do I really want to climb the maintenance mountain on a 30 year old pressurized piston twin?  Not really... maybe really definitely most likely no?

My wife would love something pressurized that rides the bumps well.  My oldest son gets airsick super easily.  That would help.  I fly my mother in law a lot, and she always struggled to climb the wing and get in the Baron with her bad back... air stair, cabin class would be nice.  Something faster would be great, could we fly to Minnesota to visit my wife's sister in a reasonable amount of time?   What we really need is a Pilatus or a Honda Jet!  Some day, later...

Anyway it's a tough call.  I've got my mind on one model that tugs at my heart strings, and I bought a big hangar that will fit it.  But we shall see...





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Monster hangar

Well I finally bit the bullet and bought a hangar.  I love my home airport and not planning on going anywhere, so I might as well just own the thing.  If I'm going to own a hangar, I might as well own a big one, just in case I ever own a bigger plane.  Who knows, could happen!  So I bought the biggest hangar on the north west side of the field which is where all the cool kids hang out.  Here she is!


It's a port-o-port executive IIb which is this: http://www.portaportparts.com/executive_2.html  but with 2.5 foot extensions on both sides so it's fifty feet wide!

Sweet.  I couldn't take a photo of it opened up because there is a tenant in there and I need to get him out first.  Oh the joys of being a landlord...  I gave him 30 days notice and I can't wait to it all cleared up and start pimping out the new man cave.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Monster tug

A hangar neighbor down the way was cleaning out a hangar and asked me if I wanted to buy his non-working monster tug.  These things are about $4000 new so I offered him $200 for it and he accepted.  So I'm the proud new owner of this huge tug that I could move a KingAir or a jet with.


Look at that sucker... it makes my old gas tug next to it look tiny by comparison.  I put some fuel in it and it promptly leaked all over the place.  The battery was corroded and totally shot.  The oil sump was bone dry.  I was just hoping it hadn't seized up.  I was going to hire a mechanic to try to fix it but then I decided maybe I could just do it myself.  I bought some oil, a new fuel line and a new battery at AutoZone.  I took the old corroded fuel line off, attached the new one, filled up the oil sump, wired up the new battery, filled the tires with air... pulled the motor through a couple times to get it lubed up, and then...  hit the starter and vroooooom.  She started right up!  Awesome.  The thing belched smoke for a few minutes but then started purring like a kitten.  What a deal.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The big Cessnas

My friend bought a C414 Chancellor.  I've been curious about this plane because all my C400 series time thus far has been in the 421C.  The 414 is an older cousin and this particular model is well equipped.  It's got the RAM IV engines and shows very well.  My friend is not yet multi rated and getting that done through the holidays has taken longer than he expected, so the plane has sat.  He asked me to take it up for a run to give her a little exercise.


She appears to be good overall shape and we spent a good hour at least on the ground checking everything out.  I'm not super familiar with the breed so I went though the POH and checklists in excruciating detail.  Running the aux pump and hopping outside to ensure I could hear it running, identifying and sampling every fuel drain, reading up on the fuel system, etc.  It's a complicated old beast, even more so than the KingAir.

She took off like a rocket though and climbed like crazy.  It's very smooth on the controls and just feels rock solid.  The 414 is noticeably louder than the 421.  The 421 has geared props and settles in at 1900 RPM which keeps things nice and quiet.  The 414 engines are not geared and I was surprised by how loud the plane is, especially on takeoff.  The right engine tach generator failed in flight and so  it was hard to sync the props with no prop RPM indication on one side.  Also the fuel flows were way out of balance.  When both engines were showing the same fuel flow there was more than a two inch split on the mixture knobs.  He's getting these things sorted and we'll go fly it again.  Seems like the one huge downside of these old pressurized turbocharged piston twins is that you're always chasing gremlins, doubly so if you let them sit too long...   cool bird though!


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The best light sport aircraft

I've flown a few different LSA aircraft.  The flight school I used to teach at was a Remos distributor and so I got a fair bit of time in the Remos GX.  The Remos is a nice enough airplane, and fun to fly... it feels like the VW bug of the sky.  It chatters right along at about 100 kts on a good day.  It's fairly loud, and being tall I need to fold myself into it.  The seats are extremely hard and after an hour in the Remos, I'm very much ready to get out.  I couldn't imagine actually flying a cross country in one.  All the light sport airplanes I've flown or sat in at OSH seemed like fun little toys, but not quite anything like a real airplane... until now.

I'm helping my friend teach a light sport student who just bought a brand new Tecnam Astore.



I had seen the Tecnam booth at Oshkosh last year and was impressed with the model. It actually looks like a real airplane.  Today I flew it for the first time and was pretty much blown away by it.  It flies more like a mini Cirrus than your typical light sport.  It's an amazing little aircraft.  The sliding canopy gives a spacious feel, the center stick with a trigger PTT button gives a feeling like you're in a little fighter, the visibility is excellent and it's got plenty of room inside... even for my 6'4" self.  The seats are comfortable and there is a cavernous baggage area behind you that would easily fit a large suitcase.  Turn the key to start it like a car.  The G3X touch screen avionics are better than what you'd find in any modern IFR part 23 aircraft, way overkill for this day VFR cruiser!



Yowza... full synthetic vision, big screen MFD and a Garmin autopilot to rival anything out there.  Sweet.  This one has a turbo charged engine, the Rotax 914S turbo.  The plane easily accelerates to the LSA limit of 120 kts or maybe even a bit more.  The Tecnam flies like it's on rails, light in roll with immediate response and very sporty feeling.  She sticks where you point her and is extremely stable.  Stalls are a non-event... the nose comes down straight ahead and true with just a little bobble.  It does slow flight at 40 kts all day long no problem, although with the AOA indicator beeping at you annoyingly.



For landing she slows right down to 50-55 kts and will stop in a few hundred feet.  Carry a little more speed and she will float down the runway but still land shorter than your average 172.  Not much to do on the checklist for landing, except turn on the landing light.  All in all simple airplane to fly that is just a ton of fun.  I really love this little airplane.  Not sure I'd drop 175k on one but sure is a really an awesome little beast and the first LSA plane I've flown that seemed like more than a toy, this plane will easily outrun a 172.


Friday, October 21, 2016

Typhoon

One thing about flying corporate is that there is a much bigger level of expectation.  As a professional pilot flying turbine aircraft, it has to be really really bad to make the no-go decision.  Last weekend the remnants of a typhoon were battering the left coast, especially western Washington.  Low and behold up comes a trip to Washington.  In the time I've been doing this I really haven't had to face any serious weather.  Mostly it's just been the constant marine layer in Socal and the odd cloud layer, as well as windy and bumpy days.


I awoke to rain and a low overcast and was looking forward to a more challenging flight.  This flight was in the the KingAir, and of course the KingAir has all kinds of excess power to beast through this frontal, non-convective stuff.  Icing at 18k ?  No problem just pop on up to 260.


I spent nearly the whole flight in the clouds which was a big change from the last year or so where most flights have been in severe clear with only a few minutes in cloud.  I let about an 3/4 inch of ice accumulate on the boots, which you can see on the leading edge of the boot above.  Then I popped the boots and most of it flew off.


Here the windshield anti-ice was on but couldn't quite keep up.


The advantage of all that wind was some pretty nice tailwinds on the way up.  Here doing 345 kts!   All in all it was actually a pretty easy, no drama flight... but I was happy to be in a KingAir at 25,000 ft and not my Baron down at 12k !

Thursday, September 22, 2016

CaliPilot

Recently I ran into a friend that said he liked reading my blog, why didn't I update it more?  Well because it's pretty well focussed on my trials and tribulations restoring my old piston twin, and all that is mostly water on the bridge.  Now the plane is what I call the Beechcraft G55.  It's reliable, modern and... well, basically fully restored.  He then said that he liked reading the other stuff more in fact.  The adventures in the Pilatus and what not.  So I decided maybe it's time to rename my blog and talk about other aviation topics, since the Baron is pretty much fully restored and there is not much left to do to it at this point.  So the blog has been renamed to CaliPilot!  At least until I move from California some day, haha never! It's all the same for now, just a new name and a mandate to write more broad topics about my adventures in the Baron, Citabria, Pilatus, KingAir C90, various Citation Jets and all the crazy aircraft I instruct in.  So this is now CaliPilot !

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gojo!

The other day someone recommended non-abrasive Gojo hand cleaner for cleaning turbine exhaust stains off of the KingAir and the Pilatus.  It's only about $8 ordered from Amazon.  I thought about using it to clean up those stubborn combustion heater exhaust stains off my belly that come from the old Janitrol, and yesterday I tried it out.


Some might ask why on earth did I paint my belly white?  Well, for one I like the look of the white bottom, and for another I don't really want to hide things like oil, dirt and grime that might collect on the bottom.  I like to see that stuff so I can clean it and track where it came from.  I just needed an easy way to clean it off.  I generally use MeGuiars quick detail mist to dry wash the plane, but man that soot above is stubborn stuff.


Let's try the Gojo!  I took a dry wash towel and put on a light coat.


I was totally amazed, it just wiped it right off.


Clean as a whistle!  It's supposed to be aluminum safe but afterwards I wiped it down again with a wet towel and cleaned off any residue just to be safe.


Oh yeah...  I also removed my unfeathering accumulators.  The plane is not a trainer so I never really use them.  When I practice shutdowns I can easily restart by hitting the starter.  Also, these suckers together weigh 16 pounds.  I figured I'd just save the weight.