Thursday, May 30, 2013

Which stripe?

My deposit is in to Don Copeland for paint.  I'm probably looking at October at the earliest to get my slot into his packed schedule, but I've been experimenting with Photoshop and testing out various schemes.  I'm pretty much settled on the base colors and overall scheme, but I can't decide on the color for the stripes... hmmm..



Or Blue?

Tough decision!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Redbird Baron

My friend and CFI Mark called me up and said that the FBO at KCCR (Sterling Aviation) had just bought a full motion Baron simulator.  Ironically the line guy had just told me about it while I was fueling up that very morning and I had made a mental note to go check it out.  It turns out Mark will be doing some training in it, and being a high integrity instructor he figured he'd better learn the mechanics of it before charging his students.  So would I be his guinea pig?  Hell yes!

Here is the cockpit, setup as a G58.  I haven't flown a G1000 in awhile, and not since I installed the GTN's in my plane.  The logic is mostly the same but without the touch interface it's nowhere near as easy to use.  The G1000 is a great system, but to be frank I don't consider it an upgrade over a G500 + GTN 750.  The G2000 on the other hand is in another league.  But I digress, the RedBird does a pretty decent job of simulating the Baron.

There are few missing details such as there are no mag switches, you just just turn the keys to fire up both engines.  Like nearly every simulator I've flown, the sensitivity is a little over done and the throttle and prop controls are way too smooth and precise.  Also I noticed it does a strange turbulence type of simulation whenever you pull the props back.  I think it's trying to simulate a slowdown but that's not how it feels in the real world when you retard the props.  All that said, this simulator is actually really really cool.  The wrap around screens really give you a sense of being in the cockpit, and the motion simulation is quite realistic.

There are a few other niggling things that are either small issues or just things we just couldn't figure out.  Mark drained the fuel from one of my tanks via the instructor station, and the fuel annunciator came on and the fuel gauge went to zero, but the engine kept right on humming.  I didn't see a crossfeed switch and I certainly didn't enable it, at least not intentionally so maybe chock that up to a bug or a shortcoming.  Then he failed the engine completely and it had a nice yaw, but not quite the real thing.  I caged it and it feathered nicely, but then he gave me the engine back and it stayed feathered after I put it all back.  No accumulators?  Okay, I had to restart it with the key.  Overall though these pesky details are pretty trivial... the simulator is extremely cool and realistic, and the motion sensations are very good.  To learn the basics or even to practice procedures and simulated emergencies, the RedBird sim is a winner.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beautiful misery

This weekend we hopped in the Baron and flew to Sedona.  Despite my best intentions, we got a late start on Friday.  I had to finish up some work in the morning, and by the time we got to the airport and were all loaded up it was mid day and the winds were already picking up.  Arizona was calling for scattered thunderstorms,  but no big deal... my plan was to go VFR, fly to Palmdale and hang a big left and then scoot across the Mohave desert straight to KSEZ with an agenda to see and avoid any build ups.  Besides, I have onboard XM for nexrad and onboard radar... what could go wrong?

Problem was, the flight started out with light chop and by the time we passed Bakersfield we were well into the afternoon thermals.  I'm not a big fan of turbulence, but flying alone or with another pilot would have been fine, but with the family in tote it was no fun... no fun at all.  We slogged through another hour and a half of continuous moderate chop and occasional 500-1000 fpm up and down drafts.  There was a scattered to broken layer at 11,000 which went on up to 30,000 in places where the CB and TS were towering so there was no getting on top.  My boys were miserable and accusatory glances and tone of voice from my wife were piercing.  Finally I decided to stop and take a break so we landed at A09 which is a shit hole airport in Bullhead City Nevada, with no toilet and not much else except a narrow strip, and both boys stumbled out of the plane and curled up in the fetal position on the concrete.  Terrible.

But we're only 45 minutes away at this point, and muscle on we must!  We gave the boys some turkey jerky and some coconut water and revived them slightly, hopped back in after finding a bush to pee on and soldiered on... a thousand feet into the climb the bumps hit again and we were getting tossed around on the laborious climb to 7500 ft, dodging the buildups and struggling to keep the nose pointed towards Sedona... when my younger son utters those famous last words... "MY TUMMY HURTS!!"   and then 30 seconds later pops like a water balloon and spews vomit everywhere.  Then my older boy in the back yells "IT SMELLS BAD" followed by my wife saying "Oh my god, oh my god" while my six year old proceeds to projectile vomit and she struggles to catch it... meanwhile we're getting pelted with hail as the nearby TS starts throwing rain and hail our the top and tossing it 30 miles away.  misery!  Worst flight ever...  until the red cliffs of Sedona finally appeared and we all marveled at their beauty... sorry but my poor photography skills don't even come close to doing it justice...

We landed, the boys tumbled out and we proceeded to clean up the barf.  Within 20 minutes, all was forgotten as we absorbed the beauty of the place, and then the TS's closed in and it started raining.  What a beautiful airport, and what a stunning town.  I've been there before but I forgot just how beautiful those red bluffs are and what a cool little town Sedona is. Despite the rough start we met some friends and an amazing weekend.

My wife resolved to return on a commercial flight, but I finally sold her on a zero dark thirty departure. We got as close as we could and ended up getting out wheels up by 7:30, which is pretty darn good for us late night folks... and had a smooth ride as we hauled ass across the desert with the tired pax sleeping soundly....

All in all an awesome weekend, but I'm resigned now to no family flights across the desert unless it's early morning or night, or else I'm in something pressurized and capable of cruising at FL 230.  Hmmm... those TBM's do look nice...

Friday, May 3, 2013

Missed the missed

I flew down to Camarillo to have lunch with some friends and visit my company's team in Westlake.  I went VFR.  I knew it was overcast at KCMA but figured it was just the marine layer and would burn off by the time I got there. It became clear it wasn't going to burn off (XM) and so I requested a popup IFR. In fact the weather deteriorated and the field went IFR. LA center kept telling me to ask the next sector controller for IFR and it wasn't until I got to Mugu approach and was 10 miles from the airport that they finally acknowledged my request, but there were 5 or 6 planes ahead of me so he told me to maintain VFR and started to vector me on a long final. Since I was VFR I had to stay out of the clouds obviously, and that meant staying at 7500 ft since the clouds were up to 5000 ft. 

I got the ATIS again and they were calling for 2300 overcast, 1300 broken. I finally got vectored onto the GPS-Z 26 approach course but I was still super high and well above the glideslope. I went into the clouds and then heard the girl ahead of me go missed. hmmm... with such high ceilings people going missed is usually an indication that the field reports are optimistic at best.  Generally I don't like to descend at more than 1000 fpm while in IMC, so I stuck to that rule and came down slower than I needed to in order to intercept the glideslope. I realized I'd be high but the tower repeated ceiling 1300 broken. I figured I'd pop out and have plenty of time to descend more rapidly in VMC. Instead I was still in the clouds at 700 ft. Just as I was about to go missed I popped out and there was the runway but I still felt I was too high to safely land on the remaining runway, the tower ask if I was going missed and I replied "request special VFR circle to land 26". He told me squawk VFR make left traffic and so I did and came screaming overhead the cafe at 500 ft.  :)  Got a good ribbing from the guys on that one.  

Crappy weather!  Pretty unusual for Los Angeles to be cold and overcast when Northern California is 20 degrees warmer, sunny and gorgeous.