Sunday, January 31, 2010

Knocking the rust off

I realized that I've been so caught up in getting my plane all sorted, work and family I hadn't flown since Dec 6th.  That's just way too long so today Rick and I went out and shot some approaches to knock the rust off.  Despite buying the Baron I'm still in the NRI flying club, which is a good local club in the bay area with 4 well maintained planes, a 172, an Archer, a 182 and a 182 RG.  When I got out to the airport at 9am Rick was preflighting the Archer, but the tower was reporting 100 ft ceiling and 1/4 mile vis in fog.  Well, we're part 91, screw it, let's go!  Actually by the time we lifted off the ceiling had lifted to about 400 ft and was only about 600 ft thick.  I shot the ILS into SAC, the VOR into SAC, the VOR/DME into Rio Vista, the VOR into Nut Tree followed by a hold, the LDA into CCR followed by the VOR back into CCR.  Not a bad haul in only 2.3 hrs.  I recently bought a cheap HD video camera with a plan to start taking some nice shots and videos in the air, but I geeked it an left it at home, so all I got was this shot with my iphone:

When I got home I got a note from Mike with a link to his Picassa gallery and photos from the repositioning flight!

Great shots!  Mike actually didn't take any new photos of the interior though, Advantage is supposed to be sending them my way but nothing yet, I'll probably get some on Monday.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ferry mission accomplished

Today Mike and Dave successfully completed the mission to move my plane for the annual.  Awesome.  They braved the 18 deg F weather, met up and flew Mike's E55 down to N71 to fetch the plane and deliver to the A&P mechanic Jay Shearer at Deck.  Mike reports the engines were not preheated, but they pulled the props through a few times and she started right up.  That's good news since she hadn't been flown since Dec 16th.  Dave flew my plane and is a decorated military hero... he was an air force pilot during Vietnam, and was shot down during a mission and had spent a few days in the jungle on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He also happens to have thousands of hours of Baron time and owns a B55 himself, and he did the job for me for free.  Here is a harrowing account of the shoot down: ... kman&hl=en

Hopefully I can take these guys to dinner when I get out to Deck to pickup the plane after the annual.  It's a great honor to have Dave fly my plane.  Mike reports that the interior looks fantastic.  The pilot and copilot seats are installed as well as the rearmost seats.  The middle two seats are unfinished as well as the headrests.  Advantage will finish those up and deliver them to Deck.  Not a big deal since the seats need to be removed for the annual anyway.  I also bought a Power Tow from Todd when I bought the plane, Mike said it wasn't in the plane so I'll have to ask about that.  They probably just forgot to put it back in after removing it to do the interior. 

I should get some more photos soon.  Mike reports he actually was able to get some formation shots.  Sounds like those guys had a little too much fun.  Can't wait to see those photos!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More progress, and the bill!

Today Advantage sent me the invoice with the balance due... ouch!  Actually, the price was very good overall, relative to most things in aviation and particularly interior jobs.  My only gripe is they charged me $1,500 to redo all six lap and shoulder belts.  That seemed a bit steep!  Oh well, welcome to aviation.  More importantly, I also got some more photos from Advantage, the project is looking great!

I wonder how long that will stay clean...

I really like the gray carpet

Still working on the arm rests...

Compared to what I'm used to, the baggage area looks cavernous

Sidewalls look great and I like the way they match with the carpet color

They also fixed the overhead speaker for me ($40)

Headliner with all the plastic painted

Lookin good!  Just some detail work now and the seats remain.  They're shooting for completion by Friday.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heater AD complied with

Today Jay went out to the plane and performed the heater pressure decay test AD, so the plane is once again legal to fly, at least for the next 7 days.  Unless the timing works out just right, it looks like I will need to get a ferry permit.  Jay said he can also arrange for that for me though.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More progress!

Really moving along now

Wow, it really looks nice.

Love the Dr. Pepper.  Better not spill that!!

Nice looking baggage door!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interior Progress

Today I got some more photos from Advantage.  Looks like the project is progressing, although I must confess.. I don't know enough about this type of work to know if they're doing a great job or not... it's looking good to me though!

The bagage area.  I like the carpet color... should wear well.

Sidewalls look nice too.  I'm happy with the color and the way it matches the gray carpet.

Here's the headliner which is done in white "ultraleather".

I think these are baggage straps?  All the seat belts are being rewebbed so maybe this is showing that as well.


Doesn't look like good VFR out that window.  Hopefully the weather will be nice in Feb for the flight back, I don't want to have to blast off IFR in a brand new plane.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Plan comes together

I've been a bit stressed about how I'm going to get the annual done, and how I'm going to get the plane to wherever it needs to go to get the annual done.  I think I've resolved both issues.  Jim Kreider from recommended Jay Shearer who is based at Deck airport just 19NM from Donegal Springs where the airplane is getting the interior done.  I've spoken with Jay and he understands my situation, and also comes recommended and maintains a few Baron's out at Deck.  Jay is going to do the annual and understands I will be deferring some items like the props until I get the plane home.  There are also a couple prop shops out there and I may in fact have some the Mx items done out in PA.  Either way, Jay will take care of the annual, so that's one less thing I need to coordinate.  Paul McCracken had recommended I fly it up to Kalamazoo MI, but I think that's too far and with Deck being only 19 miles from Donegal, Advantage will be able to finish the seats while the plane is getting annualed.

So the second and more pressing problem was how do I get it up to Deck?  I need a B55 pilot who has 1500 total time, 250 multi engine and 25 B55 time.  This isn't your basic Cessna, so that kind of pilot is not super easy to find.  Luckily today I got a note from Mike Dechnik, also whom I connected with on Beechtalk.

Adam, I spoke with a gentleman, David Breskman, that can fly your plane from Donegal Springs to Deck. He's an ex-military pilot than owns a B55, and has over 1000 hours of time in make and model, and also has a lot of time in D55 which he previously owned. He said he had over 5000 hrs in make and model. His only constraint is that he's been traveling a lot down to DC because he has a relatively new grandchild down there.

I think I would fly him out to Donegal Springs in my E55 and he would fly your plane to Deck, if you needed it moved for the annual. We would basically work for as a favor or as food if we ever got together, since it's an excuse for us to go flying!

Perfect!!  I'm beginning to think that pilots are about the coolest and most friendly people anywhere.  (Actually I think I already knew that) 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Interior Update

Bad news and good news... mostly good news. Good news first? The good news is that I got new photos from Advantage and a job update. From Matthew at Advantage:

I'm attaching some photos to this email, along with more on a second email following it. The first set will be a seat, panels, and pre-insulation. The second will be the insulation installed. Just as before, they'll be in large format, and probably need to be saved before viewed. Also, please let me know if they don't show up properly. I tried to include a few photos of materials and panels along with the insulation photos.

Finally some photos!  I'm attaching them below.  Here is the bad news...

Thank you for the heads up that Jay Shearer is coming, and that is fine anytime. We will try to get done by then, but are projecting as late as the 8th. To be on the safe side, I wouldn't count on it being complete by the 1st.

Doh!  That's bad news because if you've been following my posts you know the annual expires Feb 1. I delivered the plane there on Dec 16th with an estimate of 3-4 weeks to complete. Long story short, the job really didn't start until early Jan and now looks like 5 weeks, so my annual will expire before I can fly it back. I really wanted to fly it back here for the annual, and I really don't want to have to have it ferried across the country because I want to do the flight... on a special flight permit you can only have required crew (1 pilot) and since I don't have the insurance requirements for solo met yet, it can't be me. So I'm looking in to having the annual done out there, which has it's own risks and likely yet more delays.

I spent some time on the phone with Advantage today and tried to coax them into moving it along faster.  They are going to really try to get it completed before the end of the month, but at this point I'm not optimistic.  On the one hand I'd love to get the plane home before Feb due to the annual issue, but on the other hand I want a nice interior and not a rush job.  At least this quote made me feel better:

I also wanted to say, that although the interior was outdated (and the new leather interior is going to look great), your airplane seems to be in great condition, and looks like it was very well-taken care of before. It is super-clean behind all of the panels and framework.

Well that's good news!

Here are some shots:

That's the super soundproofing insulation, which is pretty much where they're at with the job.  They had to cut each piece and place it behind the wiring and tubes.  They are also checking tubes for cracked or brittle old plastic.  As mentioned above, A&P Jay Shearer is going over to look over the plane and perform the heater inspection AD tomorrow.  It will be good to have him look at everything while it's all exposed, maybe I can even have him perform part of the annual this way?

Also covering the roof with insulation.


Here is one of the seats stripped.  I'm not really sure if that is old foam or the new foam.  I'm guessing old.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fun with AD's

In my pre-purchase inspection report Paul noted that there was an overdue AD (Airworthiness Directive) to perform an inspection on the Janitrol heater in the nose cone. Technically this inspection needs to be complied with for the plane to be flown, so today I called Jay at Shearer aviation at Deck airport which is 19NM from N71 where my plane is getting the interior done. Jay is going to head over there tomorrow morning (hopefully) and comply with the "Heater Pressure Decay Test AD". Should be a simple test and will be good to get that one in the books and be legal to fly.

The other AD of note is a somewhat ridiculous circuit breaker AD that has not yet been complied with: Jay is going to check the serial numbers on the breakers and see how many are affected. The breakers cost $100-150 EACH. Ahh isn't aviation fun? What should be a $15 part costs 10X. Good thing is I don't actually have to comply with this AD until March 31, so long as I have the breakers on order, so I can hopefully do this one later after I get the plane home.

On the interior front I asked Advantage for more photos and Matthew is going to try load them and send them over soon. He does report he has some of the stripped seats, insulation, leather, etc... ah progress, that is a good sign. There is still a chance I can get the plane home in January.

On the transcontinental ferry flight front, I now have two good options. Mark Angelos is a local MEI with gobs of experience willing to do the flight with me, which would be good because he comes highly recommended and my buddy Rick did his commercial with him and had nothing but good things to say. My original option is also still available and Todd Underwood comes recommended via a contact on the AOPA forums Ken Reed. He is half the day rate of Mark, but he lives in Arizona so it might be a bit harder to coordinate, and he is also booked at the end of Jan. At this point Either way it's nice to have options and it turns out Rick may want to ride along in back. The big wildcard now is getting the interior job cinched up and mother nature to cooperate.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hangar booked

Today I met with Jerry Alves who owns and leases many of the hangars at KCCR.  By fortuitous coincidence, he also owns a Baron.  This is most fortunate for me because Jerry is not only a great guy, he also knows a ton about Barons and I now have a local contact who seems more than willing to help out a newbie like myself.  He showed me his hangar where he keeps his plane.  The hangar is the same size / layout as the one available.. here it is with his Baron inside...

Yes, his plane looks a heck of a lot like mine!  The big thing for me about the hangar is that it's powered, and I also think KCCR is the airport for me.  Easier TSA restrictions, my flying club NRI is based there, I have some friends who fly out of there, etc.  The hangar faces out to runway 32 which is nice because I can toss a few chairs in there and watch planes land.  Jerry is a great guy and I'm super psyched I connected with him... he even took me for a quick ride in his plane.  What a blast... we were at 3000 ft before the end of the runway on the downwind leg.   The acceleration on the go was more than impressive.  His plane is also a Colemill conversion, although he has the 550 engines so an extra 50 HP.  Wow, these planes perform.  Here is a short video from the flight.

Jerry then took me to his hangar and showed me his other plane, a freakin 421!  How cool is that.

Cabin class and FIKI... nice!  I think (hope) I'll be happy with the Baron for awhile... this thing is a whole nother league!

Here is the hangar location on the east ramp.  It's the east side unit on the very last row.  Being on the east ramp is cool because it's also where the NRI planes live, which I'm used to and I already have a key for that gate.  The only risk I see is that some jackass might try to runup with his prop blast pointing right into my hangar.  If I have the plane opened up at that point it could be disastrous, so I'll have to watch out for that. I was so sold on the hangar and also on Jerry that I called the hangar owner on my way home and said "I'll take it".. turns out that she has some stuff to clear out of it first and was willing to start the lease Feb 1.  Perfect!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hangar Search Continues...

Looks like I have a line on a bigger, powered hangar at KCCR which faces directly to runway 32.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Window frame option

Today Advantage asked if I want to add the $700 option to cover the window frames in ultra leather.  I wasn't sure so I said the window frames look good to me, and asked for some shots of the difference...

Hi Adam,
We looked over all of your window frames. I agree that they look like they're in good condition, and think you're fine not covering them. We leaned in that direction, but wanted to make sure from you. We will repair and paint all of your plastic as part of the job, so they'll look nice. I realized after looking just now, that it's difficult to tell the difference in pictures. The covered frames naturally feel softer, but don't look that much different. I think the only visual difference is the painted plastic has a satin finish to it, where as the material appears flat. I'm attaching two pictures to this email. The first one shows covered window frames sitting on top of covered side panels (all the same material). The second picture shows the baggage area of the same airplane, where the covered window frame sits on top of a painted plastic side panel. The bulkhead beside it is also painted plastic (those pieces couldn't be covered and still fit into the track). I'm hoping that will show the two beside each other sufficiently, and that visually they're very close. If you have any questions, or want any different pictures, please let me know. Thank you.

Here are the two shots, I literally could not tell the difference at all, so I'm passing on that option...

I don't see a difference... do you?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Interior Job

Advantage Interiors sent me photos of the interior job! 

Here she is with the seats removed.

Sidewalls were in good shape

Baggage area looked good too.

Had a nice headliner too

Very clean for 33 years old.

But man those seats are butt ugly.


So it's all coming out... off with the sidewalls.

I must confess, I'm disappointed they are doing this outside and not in a hangar!

They'll be replacing that old insulation with super soundproofing insulation.

Window frames look good, I'll probably pass on the "window lace" option.

Bye bye 1977

Oohhh, the carnage

That's all for now, they should be sending some more updates soon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hangar Search

I looked at a hangar today at KOAK for the Baron.  My old CFI from when I got my commercial out of California Airways gave me the reference... seems like a warm lead is the only way to get a hangar around here.  It is a nice sized T-Hangar at the end of the row on the runway side, which is cool because it means I could pull out a chair and watch runway 27/9 traffic.  There is plenty of space inside for other storage, and the price is pretty reasonable at $375 /mo on a month to month lease.  That's about as cheap as it gets for the Bay Area, and KOAK is class C and reasonably central for me from where I live in Berkeley.  I measured the width and door to door it is a bit more than 41 ft wide.  The B55 is 37 ft 10 inches, so it's pretty tight in width, leaving only about a foot and a half on either side.  If I ever wanted to add the winglet mod I'd probably be out of width.  There is also a bigger T-Hangar available a few rows down for $450, which is big enough to fit the plane and a car or two inside.  Hmmm... not that I need to store a car though...

The hangars at OAK are a ground lease from the port of Oakland and there are no power hookups as far as I know.  I'd have to buy a generator if I need power for any reason, such as maintenance or maybe to operate a small beer fridge :)  If I want to be based at KOAK, this is probably my deal though.  One disadvantage of being based at KOAK is going to be car traffic getting there on the 880 freeway, which can be brutal sometimes.  Also TSA security at Charlie airports is brute force these days. I would have to take a two day TSA class just to get a gate pass.

One alternative is KCCR, which is a great airport and I'm already on a 100 person waiting list for a $350/mo box hangar, which are bigger than the one I just looked into at OAK.  I could also tie the plane down for $60 /mo at KCCR for a standard row spot, or $90 /mo for a taxi-thru spot.  Obviously that saves some dough but I lose the space to store stuff and the plane sits in the sun and rain.  Weather is mild here and there are a lot of planes tied down that look nice, but still my preference is to hangar it if possible. 

Another alternative is San Rafael, which is $495 / mo but has power and even though it's over a toll bridge it's actually about the same distance, and could even be faster depending on traffic.  Problems with San Rafael are no instrument approach and shorter runway, which may affect my insurance.  Kicker is that my business partner and one of my best friends actually owns the airport... well his family does.  Still, it's actually run/managed by a sub-company and so far no "discount" has been forthcoming.  

This KOAK T is not going to be available for a few weeks yet, there was still a nice Citabria inside when I looked at it.   That's perfect though since I still don't have the darned plane.  I'm leaning towards going for it...