Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Flying to Disneyland KFUL

This Thanksgiving really reminded me how awesome it is to own a private airplane.  A week before the holiday I hopped in the plane at 8am, flew across the state to pickup some family and brought them back to Northern California and still made it back in time to work half a day.  Amazing!  Then I flew them back the day before Thanksgiving, making the two legs effortlessly with three adults, a toddler and a baby on board, and all their stuff.  Then Thanksgiving morning I headed out with my immediate family to join them. I had a minor incident with a stuck hangar door and thought I might be screwed.  I called a guy who referred a guy, and long story short the GA community rules!  He came out within 20 minutes on Thanksgiving day and got my door unjammed and we were on our way.

I was keeping an airplane car in LA but recently sold it because it wasn't getting the use and I figured I might as well rent.  That turned out to be a good call, we arrive at Pentastar and are given the usual red carpet treatment, rental car ready and waiting.  Gotta love it.

Transfer the stuff and on our way, full sized shampoo bottles and shoes in tact, yay!  A few days in socal we partied LA style and then had setup to take the kids to Disney.  Drive across 2.5 hours worth of urban sprawl?  Hell no!  15 minutes in the Baron and we arrive at KFUL.  My first visit but that place rocks.  Super nice folks at AFI, free tie downs, helpful line crew grabbed all our bags and called our taxi.  I practically had to force him to take a $5 tip.  Didn't need gas so that's all I spent there... unreal.  It's a quick cab ride to Disney and we had an amazing two days at the park.  Took our time on the second day and left on our schedule, about when we all had enough.  Quick cab ride back to KFUL and we blast off for home at sunset, home in time to get the kids to bed early for school the next day.  All of this would have been a colossal pain in the butt on commercial and easily taken twice as long.  How cool is it to not worry if a line might be too long because you might miss your flight?  Priceless.  The topper was a most beautiful flight home with 20kt tailwinds.  KFUL to KCCR in 1:45.  Woot!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

cloud surfing in the Baron

Today I got a nice warm up for the IFR season.  Day before Thanksgiving it was nice to see plenty of air traffic out there, but for my IFR routing ATC wanted to keep me low... 8k or below which put me right in the top of the cloud layer.  I love this kind of flying, you really get the sensation of hauling ass when you see the clouds fly by at 230 mph.  It's also too warm for ice yet so a stress free IFR flight with 45 minutes of actual all inside a 2000 ft thick cloud layer.  Good fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

GA vs Airlines Schadenfreude

Took a little weekend jaunt to Vegas this weekend with friends. We took the Baron, they took the airlines. Am I the only one that gets some level of schadenfreude when friends suffer the misery that is commercial airline travel while we get to enjoy the awesomeness that comes with flying your own plane?

So on Thursday Vegas was hit with a slew of heavy thunderstorms, so after a 1 hour bart ride to get to SFO an hour early for their flight, our poor friends spent 5 more hours waiting for delays. If the airlines aren't flying neither are we... stayed home and had a glass of wine and relaxed. No non-refundable tickets to worry about!

The next morning we set off, the bay area was covered in thick clouds but the thunderstorms were gone... VFR is preferable on this trip due to routing, but with the cloud layer it wasn't to be... got half a day of work in Friday, filed IFR and then blasted off for Vegas on our own schedule and arrived before sunset. Friends spent 35 minutes at the taxi stand, we were guided by a "follow me" truck, then whisked the FBO in a golf cart by a guy who chocked us and loaded our bag, handed fresh water bottles and offered a free shuttle to our hotel.

Typical good fun two nights in Vegas... drink, wine, dine, spa, pool, show, etc... then return trip. Our airline bound friends wake up at 7 am, quick breakfast and rush out at 8:15 to catch their 10 am flight. SFO fogged in like usual... delayed two hours. We wake up at 8:30, have a leisurely breakfast, pack up on our own time and take a taxi back to Atlantic at 11 am. We "suffer" a 10 minute ATC delay waiting at the runway, then blast off VFR direct for home and just more than two hours later we swap the plane for the car waiting for us in the hangar just 15 mins from our house. Our friends still hadn't touched down at SFO...

Cost... airlines $250 pp each way, or $1000 for both, somewhat late booked but hardly last minute. Baron, variable cost total flight time both ways 5.4 hrs * 25 gph + $100 parking fee (KLAS is ridiculous). Ya, ya I'm ignoring Mx, tbo, insurance and the rest but humor me on the cost side I guess.

Bottom line... awesome weekend bracketed by the miracle of flight vs. awesome weekend bracketed by hassle and frustration. GA wins!  Here is the landing at KLAS

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

back from annual

Finally got my plane back from annual last week.  They spent a lot of time on the rigging, put some new hardware in to correct some sloppiness I complained about in the trim tab, and rerigged the landing gear to stop some chaffing in the gear well.  Maybe it's placebo effect but it definitely felt tighter in roll. It will be interesting to see if I pickup a few knots.  I still need to saw off my huge battery drain and that should reduce drag somewhat too.  All in all I'm super psyched to have my plane back but of course now I'm slammed at work and have no time to flyer her.  Planning a trip to Vegas here shortly so that should be a good time to wring her out.

Friday, September 21, 2012

good news bad news

Bad news first?  My plane won't be ready until next Wednesday, making it exactly 1 month since I brought her in.  I'm a little shocked by it really since the primary issues seem to be engine and landing gear related and I just spent 125k last year on a complete firewall forward job and just six months before I had the shop go through the landing gear.  The cost is obviously painful but the worst part is I've missed an insanely beautiful month for flying.  I had to rent a plane to fly to the Reno air races.

Speaking of... that was freakin awesome!  I went with Dave Lawlor a fellow Baron owner from back east.  I had originally planned to take him in my plane until this annual from hell.  We had a ridiculous time though... spent the day in the shaded VIP Breitling tent with an incredible front row view, a scattered group of french dudes and their super model girlfriends, flat screen TV showing football, full open bar (I was flying though), full spread of amazing food including fresh hand made omelet's for breakfast and through the afternoon seared ahi, grilled halibut, steak, pasta, heirloom tomato salad, pelegrino's and bottles of water, full cappuccino bar, and the full pit crew from Precious Metal and other assorted awesomeness. All that on comfy chairs in front of the awesome races... pretty much the pinnacle of airshow/race experiences for me in my lifetime I'm sure...  here was the view from our comfy perch, literally there was no better place to be.

I'd also forgotten how much more pucker factor there is flying over the mountains in a single.  The trip back was at night too, made me really appreciate my plane, if I can just get her back.

In other news Pilotica mobile was approved and is now in the app store.  If you need an online pilot logbook app check it out,  I'd love to get more feedback.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Electronic pilot logbook now for iPhone

I just submitted a mobile version of the Pilotica free pilot logbook to Apple for review so the iOS version will be available any day.  I've been using it myself as I've noodled it along and it works really well, simple and so nice to have all my flights in my pocket.  I also added the ability to quickly keep track of the engine and airframe times and upload images to flights and airplanes from the phone.  Some screenshots...  should be available in the app store in a few days, free of course.  Can't wait to update it for iOS 6, looks awesome.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Squawk list

Got the squawk list from MxExpress for the annual, some engine stuff from the new engines settling in, the left engine has a leak on the left alternator drive seal, which I'm hoping will be under TCM warranty since we're just under 1 year, but that's 6 hours of labor to replace alone.  There is a long list of discretionary items, some things that are just worn out, and a broken floor board which apparently was putting pressure on one of the ribs and when someone stepped on it it bent the rib.  All in about 20 hours of general airframe labor, 20 hours of landing gear labor and 15 hours of engine labor.  Not too bad but of course at $95 an hour it all ads up quick!

Looks like I'm looking at about 9 grand if I decide to do everything, including the inspection and some rigging to get the controls balanced perfectly... maybe I'll pick up a few extra knots.  Probably 4k if I just did the airworthiness items... but I know myself and will probably just fix everything... Ouch! Note that nearly all of it is labor... If I had the time and inclination to do an owner assisted I could sure save some dough, but unfortunately I don't have the time and in truth my free time is probably better spent on things I'm good at.  Those Baron guys that are claiming $1500 annuals sure aren't tossing the keys to the mechanic and saying "fix it again Tony and send me the bill when it's done".  No one said this was a cheap endeavor, the flying part sure is cool though.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Annual Progress

The annual is well under way at MaintenancExpress / Tri-Valley aviation in Livermore.  I dropped it off Sunday night and from the sound of it the fellas were well into it before I even woke up Monday morning.

So far the biggest thing is a broken exhaust hangar on the left engine... how the heck did that happen?

That doesn't look pretty, but doesn't sound like too big a deal cost wise... it all ads up though!  No idea if this is under warranty.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Annual Time

Today I dropped the plane off for the annual inspection.  Hard to believe it's been a year since I put the new engines on.  The plane has basically been totally transformed since I bought it, new leather interior, reskinned elevator, double firewall forward job including engines, exhausts, mounts, props, etc.  New panel with G500, GTN-750, GTN-650 and GTS-800 traffic radar.  I had a nice 3.7 hour flight before dropping it off, it was cool to hear ATC call traffic to a Saratoga driver and tell him that a Baron would be passing off his left, 80 kts faster..  Are Saratoga's really that slow?  In any event I'm hopeful the annual goes smoothly and since everything should be in tip top shape at this point I think this should be indicative of what an annual on a clean, well maintained and low time 55 Baron should cost.  Fingers crossed...

Monday, August 20, 2012

2 hour rule

This weekend we had planned a little family camping trip to Mendocino, a friend was having 100 odd people out for camping, mountain biking, and general fun romping through beautiful forests filled with 400 ft high coastal redwoods.  Easy flight, only 110 miles by air which is 45 minutes max.  I planned it out, figured out the fog patterns for KLLR which would put us an easy 20 minute drive from the site, coordinated a shuttle and we were good to go... the morning rolled around and I dutifully loaded the car with the stuff my darling wife had sourced for the trip... for our two night camping excursion I spent the next hour stuffing the car with enough stuff for a family of ten to survive an Alaskan winter.

We had the biggest of big suitcases stuffed with clothes, all manner of sleeping bags, thermarests, lanterns and stuffed animals, bags of food and booze, pillows and lord knows what else.  Once we had it loaded and set out for the airport I made the mistake of thinking... gee, my plane can easily fit it all, but did I really want to unload/load the stuff I had just loaded?  And then 45 mins later unload/load it yet again into the shuttle?  And then unload/load it from the shuttle to the campsite?  Maybe it would be easier to just have the car there...  it was then I uttered the words a pilot should never utter... "Maybe we should just drive".

The next 5 hours were spent in miserable bumper to bumper traffic, road construction delays, "are we there yet" inquiries, peepee stops and the worst... multiple child vomit launches induced by 2.5 hours of two lane, curvy roads that would make even the most stalwart acro pilot sick.  There I was, kicking myself the whole way wondering what kind of idiot signs up for this when he has a perfectly amazing magic carpet sitting in the hangar.  Now I have a dust covered and filthy puke smelling car and for my trouble I burned an equivalent amount of gas.  New family rule... if it's more than 2 hrs weather permitting, we FLY damnit!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A day in the life

A few years ago I somehow managed to con the FAA out of a commercial rating, but I'd never used it. Truth is, there is very little you actually do with a commercial rating, short of banner towing or flight instructing.  Once it's time to carry passengers the rules generally fall into different set of FAA regs, either part 135 for commercial charter or 121 for airline travel.  An exception that keeps things under part 91 is if an owner operator operates their own aircraft in pursuit of their own business, they can hire a commercial pilot to facilitate that.  A friend of mine works for a law firm that has a Cheyenne, a 401 and a Bonanza A36 which they use to shuttle their high power lawyers around the state to various municipalities to blast the local podunk lawyer to smithereens.  Yesterday they needed an extra pilot so I got the call, took a PTO day from work and got to be a commercial pilot for a day.  It was a great learning experience and gave me some perspective on real world work a day pilot life.  Basically it's what you'd expect, a lot of flying and a lot of waiting around.

First mission was to drop lawyer one off at Fresno Chandler Executive.  Woke up at 5:30 got everything planned and the airplane ready to have him down there by 8:30.  Easy mission as it was VFR all the way, although it was already 92 degrees on the ground there before 9am.  I had some time before the next mission, so I grabbed breakfast in the new little cafe there called "Tailspin Tommy's"  which was sadly deserted, but they make a pretty good omelette.   Eventually an old timer came in and we got to chatting and he had quite a history as a navy fighter pilot in Korea, a solar business owner, a civil engineer, a professor, an amateur historian and was sitting in the cafe there working on his memoir.  He owned a Debonair and was a fascinating guy, wish I could remember his name ;(

Next mission, back to Concord to get attorney number two for drop off at Eureka Arcata airport.  Ceiling was 400 ft and visibility 1 mile.  Went VFR most of the way and then got a popup IFR clearance from Seattle center.  The landing turned out to be no problem, got the LPV which has 200 ft minimums and broke out at 400 ft.  I parked next to the freight dogs and dropped off my passenger.

Now I had some time to kill while he went and did his deposition.  Hmmm, might as well go fly and shoot some approaches in actual IFR, so I filed for Arcata and took off.  I came around for the first approach got the weather, an to my dismay it had significantly deteriorated in the 20 minutes or so since I had taken off.  The field was now reporting 200 ft ceilings and 1/4 mile vis.  Oh no, what if I couldn't get back in?  I decided if I could land I would, however I got down to minimums and couldn't see the runway, so I made a missed approach.  Actually that was my first real missed approach to minimums ever.  I went missed and did the hold, then went back around for another try.  Luckily the second time I caught the RAIL lights and then saw the runway at minimums so I landed.  Had lunch in the airport terminal and waited around for 2 hours.  Got my passenger eventually and blasted off IFR for Concord.

All in all a fun day as well as a little taste of the real world.  I spend my days sitting in meetings and hacking on computers, which for me doesn't really feel much like work and I get paid well to do it.  Conversely this was a solid 12 hour tiring day to make about enough money to pay for dinner... but it sure was fun.

Friday, July 20, 2012

125 Hours

I now have 125 hours on the new engines since they were installed last August.  Not bad considering I had over a month of downtime for the panel.  Today I flew over to LVK to see Chris and the fellas at MxExpress and got an oil change and some cheap gas.  No idea why, but Livermore has now surpassed Tracy as the cheap gas destination... funny when "cheap" is $4.98 a gallon.

I'm converting over to Blackstone for analysis, I just couldn't deal with Aviations Labs... even though they had a quicker turnaround their reports suck.  I also dropped a couple quarts of Camguard in there.  The engines were installed last August, but that was also when the annual was signed off so I'm fast coming up on my next one.  I'm hoping this one will be a good barometer of what I can expect ongoing, since I've now finally got the plane up to my standards.  Everything is new, so their will be nothing to fix right?  hahaha...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best free pilot logbook

Why does the world need another online logbook app? Well, maybe the world doesn't, but I decided I did. I've been looking at the online pilot logbook apps for some time and even though I used one, I decided that it sucked... so recently I built my own.   It supports custom columns.. it's already mobile friendly but I'll build a native iOS version soon. I don't use Android so not sure about that. Right now I'm working on a new report, when that's done I want to add the ability for instructors to be able to add digital sigs and endorsements, then I'm going to add some weather briefing functions. It's also designed to be more fun and with a sharing component, so you can easily add photos and youtube videos and publish to Facebook, add your own custom columns, filters, etc... Why do all these tools read like an ugly boring grid?

For my logbook, I wanted to fix all that and create the best free online pilot logbook The IPhone version is IN PROGRESS

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Big gun

My hangar has a pretty big lip where the concrete meets the asphalt, and my electric Robotow struggled with getting my relatively heavy Baron over the lip.  I bought some little metal ramps but putting them down every flight is a pain... anything lighter would be fine, but my plane's empty weight is over 3300 lbs.  I gave up and bought the big gun... a gas powered tow.

I don't really need both so the Robotow is up for sale, the new one is seriously beefy and whips the Baron around like a toy.  That's more like it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

She's home! Finally

I finally got her home, safe and snug in the hangar.  Yesterday I recruited my friend to join me on an all day mission to go fetch her in Arizona.  We are in the same flying club but unfortunately, this time the 182RG was not available, and so we decided to make the nearly 600 mile trip in the venerable 172...

Great trainer, fun to fly, but slooooooow.  We set out at just after 7:30AM and with little to no wind we were getting along at about 105-115 kts over the ground.  Stopped for fuel at APV about 3 hours later, and made the mistake of not getting food despite a waitress that looked like Angelina Jolie's doppelganger.  Another 3 hour leg to Scottsdale which was bumpy and the little bird struggled to hold 9500 ft.

We arrived and my plane was in the hangar waiting for me.

I was happy to see they had carefully washed it, even oiled and cleaned the wheels.  Note to shops, that stuff makes a difference!  When someone drops a lot of money in your shop, hand them back a clean plane!  E.A.M. rocks.  The installation job is top notch.  I hopped in and the protective plastic was still on there, my fingers would be the first to smudge those beautiful screens.  :)

I'm really happy I replaced my G600, the new unit has an updated software system and I noticed some subtle differences, and more importantly the knobs are more crisp and the buttons snappy and new.  I peeled off the plastic and set out for a test flight with one of the techs.  Of course, there were some squawks.  The sidetone was too loud, the system called out traffic warnings when we on the ground, and a few other niggling things.  Oh yeah, and the pilot headset jack was inop.  I flew the plane up to Prescott to shoot an approach and the tech took notes.

 Tested out the XM music, the autopilot, the radar, and everything else.  It was pretty much spot on, other than the items noted.  Unfortunately at this point it was too late in the day to get all the stuff adjusted so they gave me a crew car and I hit the Thunderbird Suites for the night.  That turned out to be a good call because I had already flown 7.5 hours that day and was tired.  Bonus was Russ Demeray and his wife Pam came down from Sedona to meet me for dinner and showed me an awesome nearby restaurant with food right up my alley.

Did I mention Arizona has beautiful women and amazing sunsets?  The next morning I got everything sorted with the plane, wrote the big check, and flew her home.  Wow, what a difference in speed, comfort, power and style over the flight out in the 172.  Poor Rick had a long 7 hour flight home in the 172 the day before while I stayed over night, thanks Rick!  My return trip was awesome, my plane is now very seriously bad ass.  The new one piece panel makes a huge difference in terms of the modern feel, it doesn't vibrate at all.  Rock solid!  Here I am hauling ass over the desert at 185 kts on 22 gph.

Made it home in under 3 hours, that's more like it!  But I did have enough time to play with my new toys...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lit up

Here she is, all lit up.  The glove box is painted and all the work is done, except the most painful part which is writing the check.  Wow I can't wait.  Looks like I'm heading down to pick her up on Tuesday.  If all goes well I'll fly her home.  The big disadvantage of going to an avionics shop 550 miles away is that it's a bit far to go back if we need to make adjustments.  I'll test fly it up to Prescott and shoot some approaches, and perhaps stick around until Wednesday to get any squawks taken care of... fingers crossed it's all perfect... it certainly looks perfect!

Friday, June 15, 2012


Wow, it's really coming along.  It looks amazing.  What a difference!  Can you tell I'm fired up?? ;)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Panel Progress

The panel is progressing nicely, everything fits well in the frame and it looks good.  I'm having the frame for the avionics powder coated to match the same light tan (Beech) color as the panel, figuring the black from the avionics will give enough of a contrast.  Also on Russ's suggestion I'm having the front of the radio trays sprayed black to hide the aluminum color from showing around the edge.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Proposed panel layout

Here is my new proposed panel layout.  It's pretty much exactly as I described to them verbally, man these guys at EAM are good!  The only things not reflected are the location of the data port for the JPI, and the new location for the co-pilot side jacks.  I really want to move the copilot side jacks because they are down low on the right side, below the panel which is the perfect place for the wires to get caught on your foot as you step out.  The new location will go somewhere up higher, probably near the ELT activation switch which is the middle instrument on the far right side.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Next upgrade

Out with the old...

In with the new...

Wait a minute you say... you're ditching the G600??  Yes.  I'm replacing it with a G500.  The bottom line is that for my plane, with SVT installed the units are identical.  For planes larger than 6000 pounds the only option is to buy the more expensive G600, so the shop offered me a trade down for mine plus $2000 credit towards my upgrade.  Basically I get 2k credit, a brand new unit with a warranty, and a $1500 Garmin rebate to swap the two.  A guy with an Aero Commander 500 get's to save some dough on a used G600.  Sounded like a win-win to me!   Along with that I'm getting a new single piece powder coated metal panel.  The old style floating panel and wood grain subpanel are getting pulled out.  The result will be something like this, without the Auracle unit.

I'm also getting a 750 up top and the smaller 650 underneath.  The result will be a very clean, modern looking and extremely capable IFR panel.  I'm also having a 406 Mghz ELT installed, the copilots headset jacks moved up, LED landing gear position lights put in, and last but not least, the new Garmin active traffic system.  My already quite capable plane is going to be completely insanely awesome.

Super nice guys down there at EAM in Scottsdale.  The flight was great on the way down with 60 kt tailwinds.  Here I am running LOP at 11.5k, 185 kts true on 20 GPH with nearly 240 kt ground speeds.

My friend Rick flew chase in the 182RG so I could fly that back.  Scottsdale was a terrible mess of blustery wind, 100 deg heat, turbulence and limited visibility in blowing dust, gusts and haze...

I paid for those awesome tailwinds on the flight back...  5.2 hours of slogging it out against heavy headwinds, turbulence, and cumulous layers in a plane far far less capable than a Baron.  I climbed to over 13k ft to get over a layer and was showing 85 kts over the ground.  Sure made me appreciate my Baron!  The 182RG is a nice little plane though, great views of the ground once the haze cleared and a fun and stable bird.  It was a long day of nearly 9 hours of flying but it was fun, with some beautiful moments.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mission: Fetch Fido

My friend H is a hunter and had taken his new hunting dog up to a little town in the Sierra Nevada called Bridgeport, where there is a guy who does gun training for dogs.  We were hanging out this weekend and he mentioned he wasn't looking forward to the all day drive to go fetch her... dropping her off had taken him five and half hours of driving just to get up there.... hello?  I've got a Baron dude, it's a 45 minute flight.  So this morning we set off to go get the dog.  The winds were blowing 42 kts over the peaks at 9am this morning, and were forecast to increase through the day so I was a anticipating a rough ride, but it turned out to be quite tolerable.

It was also gorgeous.  On the leeward side of the Sierra the flow was very much downward... at one point I was at full power at Vy and she wouldn't climb... granted I was at 13k.   Normally I can still climb at 800-900 fpm at 13.

On the ground at 6400 ft the wind was calm.  Here is little video of the landing at Bryant Field.

Mission accomplished!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Owner maintenance

When it comes to owner maintenance thus far I have not been very adventurous.  The most I've really done is a couple oil changes with an A&P doing all the safety wiring and me really just draining the oil and standing around.  For everything else, I've handed the keys to the mechanic and paid the bill.  It's not that I don't want to do it, or that I'm mechanically inept or anything, it's just that I've been afraid to mess anything up, and when it comes to flying safely it just seems like the prudent action to have the pros take care of my plane.  That said, I do want to learn more about the plane, and that's a big part of the draw of owning.  I'm interested in learning more and I'm sure by knowing more about the inner workings of my airplane that would only enhance safety, right?

That all said, the new stinger lens cover on the tail and the new storm window seal seemed like something even I could do.  I was a bit nervous about the stinger lens... as I mentioned in another post the thing was ridiculously overpriced, required drilling, and I was worried I would crack it.  Here is a shot of the old (right) and the new (left). 

Notice the little black marks.  I removed the old lens first, stuck the new one in place and then marked the screw holes with a sharpie pen.  I can't take credit for this burst of genius, Dave Monte the superstar A&P from BPPP told me to do that.  I then bought a special drill bit for glass, wrapped a water bottle in a towel and stuck it inside the lens to provide some support, I did come up with that part though!  I then drilled out the black marks and remarkably, it didn't crack!

Beauty eh?  Okay onwards...  The instructions for the storm window seal say you can put it on with the window attached, but Dave told me it was much easier to remove it first, so I did.  Here is the old window removed.

Not a great photo but you can see how old and corroded the seal is.  Basically I just pulled it off like it was an old band-aid, took a baby wipe and rubbed for 10 minutes with with a little alcohol to get all the sticky gunk off, then lay down the new seal starting at the bottom until you get round to the other side, cut it with a razor blade and then super glue the ends together.  Easy!

The trickiest part was reinstalling the window as it's kind hard unless you have someone holding it from the outside, but I managed it.

Beauty! Now it makes a great seal too.  Inspired by my handiwork, I attempted one last effort.  The BPPP guys had done a preflight inspection on my airplane and discovered that my left elevator attach bolt had some wiggle in it.  It really should be tight, so I wanted to try and tighten it.  Doing so requires removing the tail cone though.

It came off with about 12 or so screws.  So far so good, I could now see and get to the bolt. 

However when I turned it with a wrench, it simply spun in place.  The bolt goes through the bearing there, and when I turned the nut the bolt head rotated with it.  Notice the hole at the top of the elevator attach point, presumably you're supposed to be able to put a socket wrench into that hole in order to hold the nut head.  Nothing I had would fit in there through any contortion I could conceive of... stumped!

Time to pull out the big guns... my hangar neighbor Ken Wiley is pretty much the Jedi master of airplanes, and he's always in his hangar because he is building a replica WW1 vintage tail dragger.  Here it is in his hangar.

Despite having every airplane tool imaginable, even Ken couldn't figure out how to secure the bolt.  Oh well, time for a trip back to MaintenanceExpress!  My plane is even starring on their facebook page now!

Monday, April 30, 2012

BPPP number 3

This weekend I completed my third BPPP.  It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend the course for Baron and Bonanza pilots who haven't done it.  It's a bit pricey at $1395 for the weekend, but the training is top notch and worth it as there is nowhere else I know of that a person can get access to such a large number of extremely experienced pilots in person.  Some of these guys are ridiculously experienced, I mean thousands and thousands of hours, carrier landings, etc.  It's also great to meet the other pilots who are local to me and generally all a super cool group, they are flying Beechcrafts after all!  A shot of the last row of the Hotel ramp, how cool is it to see thirty odd of the finest Bo's and Baron's all on the same ramp?

My instructor for the weekend was Erik Slayback, a JetBlue captain and he was awesome.  My Saturday morning flight started at 8am.  We went through all the paper work,  and he quizzed me a bit on the IFR charts, the textual descriptions and symbols, etc.  Then we blasted off and did steep turns, accelerated stall, power on/off stalls, emergency decent, some "flying by the numbers" stuff, failed the left engine and simulated step downs for getting all the numbers, failed and feathered the critical engine and then held it at blue line max climb configuration until she could climb no more at about 8500 ft, ILS to MOD to published missed and hold, single engine ILS, single engine partial panel RNAV (he failed my AHRS by pulling the breaker) to circle to land, eng failure on takeoff, popped door, VOR approach to SCK, emergency gear extension and back to CCR. 3.5 hrs and an IPC in the books. My thigh is actually sore today from stomping on the rudder so hard.  What a work out!