Friday, December 4, 2020

No particular place to go

 This covid stuff is getting old...   no particular place to go these days since everything is shut basically. California has turned to a hazy shade of winter... no end to the sunshine but we could sure use some rain and some snow in the mountains would be great. I'm glad we got a few summer trips in when we did. Yesterday I took her out with no particular place to go, just shot a few practice approaches. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Santa Catalina

Since the cruise ships have all gone Tango Uniform now is a great time to go to Santa Catalina. Still lively but not overrun when the motel boatel docks. Not too pricey either I got a deluxo suite right on the water with 3rd night free.  The approach is a bit lively because it really does feel like the "Airport in the Sky" and has some weird visual illusions since it's literally sitting on a small mesa up a 1600 ft cliff.  Good fun!

Monday, August 24, 2020

ATP and CE500 type

 I finally wrapped up my ATP.  I went to Loft in San Diego.  I did the ride as a CE500 type rating because a type rating is to ATP standards and it's basically the same check ride, so I might as well kill two birds with one stone.  

The timing worked out great because my training date coincided with a vicious set of Northern California fires.  My chest was tight, my eyes were itchy and a sore throat from all the ash and smoke in the air.  So I gathered up the family including the dog and headed down to San Diego for a sea breeze and fresh air.  The flight down was straight up gnarly...  spent basically a solid 1.5 hrs in smoke IMC.  I was just shocked at the extent of the fire and even at 11,000 ft it was smokey.  We basically couldn't see anything until VNY.  Unreal.  

The ATP went well.  The training was good and pretty much all focussed on systems.  Then they threw me in the sim and since I'm pretty sharp on instruments all I really needed to focus on was the Primus 1000 and all the various switches and the Citation Ultra panel.  It's a two pilot jet and all my stuff thus far has been single pilot, so that took a little getting used to to.  Basically instead of think-do, it's think-tell-to-do.  All good though.  

The check ride was about 6 hours, 2.5 hour oral and 2 hours flying, plus paperwork.  I had no trouble with the oral portion since I studied a fair bit and it was totally focussed on systems.  Also didn't hurt that I got 98% on the written test.  I think the only question I missed was about one of the air inlets.  The flight portion started with a hung start, followed by a below v1 abort, then a normal takeoff into 100 ft overcast, steep turns, stalls, unusual attitudes, and back for the ILS into JFK.  Setting up for the approach, the flaps failed so it would be a no flap landing, then the autopilot failed so hand fly the ILS down to minimums with a disabled aircraft on the ground so a go-around.  On the climb out got a fire on the right engine.  Run the procedure and come back around for a single engine ILS...  luckily he gave me back the flaps but the auto-pilot was still failed.  So hand flew the ILS single engine to a full stop.  Then another takeoff with a failed engine right after V1, continue the takeoff, climb away at v2 and this time it was not a fire but a flameout so we did an airborne restart.  From there came back for the RNAV but fog came in and we never broke out at minimums, so another go around with the published missed approach to the hold.  One turn in the hold and then the GPS failed and the ILS was out of service, and the disabled aircraft was still stuck on the runway so we'd need to shoot the VOR approach with a circle to land to the other runway.  Got that all set up, flew it and broke out at 1,000 ft and flew the visual maneuver to a full stop.  

Overall my advice for any check ride is to just try to relax and take whatever comes your way...  never get frazzled, what's behind you is done and just take whatever comes next as best you can.. .  just like you would in the real world.  Before I knew it was time for the shutdown checklist and paperwork.  

Examiner said I nailed it and I think I did.  They pair you with different copilots and some of the ones I got during the training portion were hit or miss.  On my check ride I had a really good copilot, so that made it a lot easier.  

So that's done.  Time to shop for a 501SP!  <--  that's a joke.  I've got a Tbone budget for now.  I do think I'll stay in San Diego until the air clears up at home however.  I don't want to fly through that ash again.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

Dynamic balance on geared engines

After flying in Ben's and Aaron's planes, I felt like mine wasn't quite as smooth. Ben's is ridiculously smooth, like turbine smooth. Aaron's is also super smooth. Mine was fairly smooth but not like theirs. At cruise I felt a slight vibration in the yoke. I'd heard mixed things about dynamic balance. Some said it was BS... some said you can't dynamic balance a geared prop, especially if there is any slop.  

I talked to DynaVibe who make the tool. They referred me to a shop just 20 miles from my home base. I called the guy and he said it would work. He hadn't done a TwinBo but had done 421's. Said RPM's are RPM's... well for $400 /side I figured it was worth a shot. It took all day with about 5 runs on each engine. Right side went from .4 IPS to .02. Left side went from .1 IPS to .02. Flight home no more vibration in the yoke.  

I'll have a longer flight on Weds to test. What say you, $800 down the toilet or $ well spent?

no reason for the attached photo other than I took it while waiting around...

Contact info:
Tracy Van Iwarden
Aviation Specialties
(707) 451 2860

Friday, July 10, 2020

It works

Got a chance to test it out the ArticAir AC today. After the initial one didn't work and a return for repair, I'm happy to report I'm pretty dang happy with it. I feel nice cool air hitting the back of my head. It was over 100 degF today and it definitely made a huge improvement. It didn't freeze me out but it did bring me from dripping sweat solidly into no worries territory. If I had to guess I'd say it lowered cabin temps by about 15-20 degrees. I went for a gas run and there was a line at the pump, so I just let the engines idle at 1400 rpm and let the AC rip and was happy as Larry sitting inside with the storm windows shut and cool air blowing. definitely a leg up for this Tbone!

Friday, July 3, 2020

TBone Aircon

After a bit of a snafu I finally got the ArcticAir real AC 24v installed. Takes up about 2/3 of the extended baggage compartment but no biggie since I primarily use mine as a 4 seater. It's also technically a "portable" unit and I can fairly easily remove it in winter.  The first one they sent me didn't work... it blew air but wasn't cooling. I had to send it back for repair and now it blows cold. I had my mechanic install some anchors for it, since I don't want a 50 pound box becoming a projectile, and they also install a 60 amp breaker, power, exhaust out the tailbone and drilled some holes to route the blow tubes through the hat shelf.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Covid escape

After being virtually locked up for nearly 4 months it was time for a break, luckily the Tbone is a great family escape machine.  This sounds crazy but it's hard for me to imagine taking family trips in a plane much smaller than my Tbone.  I still don't have the air-conditioner back though...  going to Arizona with no AC!  grrr...  

But wee really wanted to find some place that was 100% open and Arizona fit the bill... Montana looked good but the restaurants were take out only...  MOAB is open but it was scorching hot.  Arizona is hot too, but at 5k ft it's actually perfect.  Mid 90's in the mid-afternoon, but that's perfect since you're hiking to the places like Slide Rock and the water there is cold.  It took about 3:45 but was thankfully mostly smooth, except for the descent into Sedona which was typical teeth breaking severe turbulence.  Oh well.  Great trip though, awesome hiking, great restaurants, spa and always beautiful there...   and a smooth flight home.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Return from annual

The plane out of annual finally.  I had them install an ArcticAir real air conditioner.  They did a fabulous job with the install with nice safety straps and hooks to secure it.  Unfortunately, I'm now the owner of a super heavy and expensive fan...  it blows but doesn't cool.  Arggh, a few days on the phone with customer support and no fix so far.  I'm really hoping I don't have to send it back...

The other nice thing about this unit is it's easily removable in about 10 minutes, so there will be no need to lug it around in the winter.  I just gotta get it working, it's 100 deg+ already.  

On the bright side I 3D printed this awesome little Beechcraft keyboard holder for the Avidyne bluetooth keyboard.

Friday, May 8, 2020


Opened up my 60 year old airplane for annual and it looks like it just came off the factory floor.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Annual time

Dropped off my plane for its 3rd annual in my ownership.  The main thing is I'm having them install a real air conditioner.  I bought the ArcticAir 24 volt real ac unit.  It just seems like summers are getting hotter and hotter and it's just so much nicer to have a cool cabin and not be drenched with sweat by the time you're airborne.  Also my older son is prone to air-sickness and I've noticed he does better with nice cool air blowing on him.  The B-Kool ice cooler works reasonably well but it's just a bit of a hassle to load it with ice.  Otherwise no real squawks this year and hoping for a quick turn around.

Since the shelter order my Pilatus flights have been few and far between.  Oh well, In the mean time, I always have my sim.  The new x-plane 11 beta with Vulkan update is really good.  Here I'm having fun flying the C90.

With the huge curved flat screen it's super immersive.  Here I had to back up a few feet just to get the whole thing in the frame.

Monday, April 27, 2020

GeeBee airstair door seal

A few people have asked about my door seal, which looks great and fits nice and snug with no wind leakage.  I changed it out in Feb 2018 and it's still holding up like new.

Looking back through my email here is what I have from Guy for the seal:

12.5 ft

his part number was:  115122

I remember it being a tight fit but I only had to trim it a bit in a few places.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Shoulder harnesses done!  Came out great, super stoked to finally have these done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Inertial reel shoulder harness

Today I received my inertial reel shoulder harness kit from Alpha Aviation.

Mine was $200 off because it doesn't include the STC, which they don't offer for the Tbone.  So it's going to get installed as a minor alteration based on a liberal policy from the FAA in the name of safety... finally some sanity at the federal level.

The only tricky part is finding a shop willing to understand this.  I'm guessing it will be at least 2k to install, but it's always felt so anachronistic getting in the plane and doing the lap belt up with no shoulder harness.  will be worth it.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Windows done!

The windows came out great and I'm really glad I redid them.  I also felt like the plane was noticeably quieter.  When I get the new interior done with the super soundproofing it should really drop the decibel level on the inside.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Pimp my ride - tinted windows

I wanted to tint my rear windows for style and also to reduce heat in the summer. I bought some "justplanetint" film tint but it couldn't get it to work.. came out with bubbles and looked like %#$@. So I just bought new windows from LP aero with solar gray dark tint. Also decided to remove the double pane because it would get dirty in between the two windows and too difficult to clean. I hear the LPAero windows are quieter so hopefully that won't make a noise level difference. Also doing new emergency window seals. Coming along!

Saturday, February 15, 2020


I'm constantly surprised by how many incredible places there are in California to visit by light aircraft within an hour or so of flying.  I've recently discovered the San Luis Obispo area of central California, Paso Robles, Los Osos, Moro Bay, Cayucos.  Dog friendly and just an hour flight from my house.  Good restaurants abound, stunning scenery, mellow vibe and a burgeoning wine region...  love it down there!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020


I've decided to do new carpet and sidewalls, since my carpets are puke brown and dirty, and my sidewalls are a bit too 70's retro for my taste.  

At first I thought I might do the whole interior including the seats, but upon further consideration I decided that seats are in good shape.  The problem is they have no contrast against the carpet.  I decided to keep the the seats and have them cleaned and detailed.  They ended up coming out great, and they look new.  The leather and foam are still in great condition and people often remark at how comfortable they are.  Those sidewalls are just hideous though.  I had the headliner done when I got the plane, and it's great and has touch led lights.  The window frames will get wrapped in ultra leather  white to match the headliner, and I'll go with a nice darker color wool carpet which will show a nice contrast with the seats.  Still undecided in the sidewalls though.  Not doing the seats will save a bunch of money, but will still cost a small fortune I'm sure...