Friday, March 5, 2010

Getting to know the plane and Az

Today Todd picked me up from the Holiday Inn and we went to the shop in Prescott that replaced my magneto, Granite Mountain Aviation.  I needed to pay the bill for the mag and while I was at it I also wanted them to look at a few other niggling items.  The armrest on the copilot door wasn't secured properly when they did the interior job, it really needed to be anchored better.  Also the door handle has a little cotter pin mechanism that somehow lost its little through bolt, so it could fall out and cause the interior door handle to come off.  That happened to Todd and I the night before, and for a sec I thought we might be stuck in the plane... eventually we found the pin, but it's not a good feeling and a safety issue really, so I wanted to make sure it was fixed.  Also when we went to test the windshield alcohol, it didn't work.  Turns out that was an RTFM issue (read the f-ing manual), the windshield alchy doesn't work unless the prop alchy is also turned on.  Finally, I wanted them to check & clean the oil screen on the engine with the new cylinders to see how they were breaking in.  A few hours later everything was good to go, the armrest was secured, the door handle fixed and the oil filter screen showed nothing much of anything.  I'd also really like to check it on the other engine, but it was noon at this point... time to go fly.

We spent the afternoon continuing with training and flying all over Az.  The highlight was definitely Sedona, the runway runs up at a good slope and is up on a mesa surrounded by the most beautiful red rock/mountain formations.  We landed upslope, taxied around and took off downslope, turned around and headed up the canyons towards Flagstaff.  As we headed up the canyon Todd said, "whoooaa"... I was questioning whether he was going to pull another surprise engine failure on me when he said, "my airplane" (meaning give me the controls) and he banked it around into a 60 deg turn and said look down there... I looked and there was a spectacular waterfall pouring off the red rocks from the snow melt on the mesa.  Awesome... I looked further down the cliffs and there were at least 3 more just like it.  Awesome!

We flew up to Flagstaff and landed there (7000 ft).  I've been to Arizona a few times before but I'd forgotten how beautiful it is and also how mountainous.  It actually gets a lot of snow and Prescott is really a mountain town.  We headed back to KPRC and Todd showed me how glideslope capture and approach mode work on the Century IV, and we let the autopilot fly us down the localizer to 200 ft.  We landed and Todd wrote up my logbook entries.  I made a mental note to come back soon for my sea plane rating, and then blasted off solo on my way home to California.  The flight home took about 3.5 hours with a stop for gas in Lake Havasu.  I caught some favorable winds, here is the G600 showing a ground speed of 213 kts.  It actually got up to 234 at one point.

For most of the flight home I was enjoying the view and running 22 inches at 2450 RPM at 8500 ft, burning 26 GPH and getting 190 kts TAS.  Crank the RPM and you can do 200+ kts on 30 GPH.  I'd love to get an engine analyzer and run it lean of peak.  I'm thinking I could get 185 kts on 22 GPH or less... but anyway I'm finally back in California and the plane is snug in her hangar at CCR.  At least I'm finally flying now and I've actually knocked off all the hours I needed for insurance in order to take passengers.  Can't wait for the next flight!

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