Why I Love Aviation 4 : 2020-10

Flying is great, but the people really make the difference.  Just look how happy these pilots are!  Every time you leave the earth, you can't help but smile.

Clockwise from top left, student pilot in the nursing world, pilot who just loves to fly, student pilot from the world-famous Southwest Airlines (attendant wanting to fly instead) and a formation flight picking up an aircraft from another airfield.  I'm the wingman and suggested the formation (because I didn't want to talk on the radio).

Flying is great!

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Why I Love Airfields 18 : 2020-09

I love airfields for many reasons, but one really big reason is they have prepared surfaces.  Here's a shot of an airplane after its engine quite.  I have to say, one great thing of this event is it got the 'monkey' off my back.  Which monkey?  The engine quitting of a single-engine airplane.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be.  In fact, gravel is a pretty good landing surface.  Very forgiving and helps you slow down.  You can't see it here, but there was a sign for a 90 degree turn after the hill.  I was thinking, "how close is this turn?" but it was no factor.  There was plenty of room to stop.   I'm not suggesting an off-field landing, but I kind of am.  It's a great experience.  What you can't control is people calling 911 (because they care) and that might make your experiment more involved than you intended.

The airplane after I pulled it off the road.

The aerial view of a landing strip vs an airfield.

A great reminder that aviation and it's media are simply incredible.

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Ferry Flight : 1G1 to KFLY : 2020-07

Operation BUCKEYE MINER. 10.9 hours, 1049 nautical miles. I ferried a HAWK XP from 1G1 to KFLY with stops at C56 (Bult Field) and I75 (Osceola Municipal Airport). This was a very straightforward ferry flight with no significant weather or issues on the route. The biggest issue was daylight. I departed at 15:40 due to delays in the purchase process. I would say that was that's almost eight hours later than I planned. It bought an overnight delay because of logistics. If I arrived too late at KFLY, I would be without a vehicle. Normally, that's not an issue with Uber/Lift, but with corona, that landscape has changed. Furthermore, KFLY isn't exactly in the mainstream of traffic.

The XP had autopilot (track a route but not hold altitude) so if you trimmed it out, it would almost fly itself. That was pretty nice. The airplane was N1025V.  People will tell you XPs have 210 HP. They don't. They have 195 HP Continental and a controllable propeller. In a C172, that's a pretty sweet combination. The nose is heavy but you'll cruise faster than any other C172. The XP is the "in-between" as it's more capable than a C172 but not quite a C182. Cessna made 1450 Hawk XPs.

This is the aircraft, N1025V.  I picked it up from Aero-Pro Avionics and got a lot of help from Ohio Air Craftsman. They were next door. They sold me oil and, in the end, got the airplane to start. The airplane wouldn't start (standard GA stuff) and it was likely due to insufficient voltage. In other words, the starter tried to turn, but couldn't. I learned a good lesson on this trip. The power jack (if the airplane has one) doesn't necessarily provide power to the starter. The starter solenoid kept clicking but the starter was essentially dead. After reopening the battery compartment (it's in the back on a Hawk XP) and charging the battery directly, the airplane started just fine. Ohio Air was nice enough to close the battery compartment while I ran at idle.

The mighty C172 HAWK XP II (aka R172K), N1025V

This is the routing 1G1 to KEAR, but it doesn't show the two stops. I learned that about Flight Aware. People love to track you (even if you don't know it) and Flight Aware is the go-to. What I learned is if your stop is (apparently) relatively short Flight Aware seems to connect the flight as if it were continous. Fair enough, but don't rely on it always showing the stops.

Again, another thing I love about GA. Check out this FBO (fixed base operator). It's a castle! People don't have homes like this. But it's an endearing thing about the flying world. You can compare it to the 'house' at my next stop (below) and it's clear that every stop you make is a surprise in its own way.

This was my next stop - Osceola Municipal. Small and quaint. More of what I expect from a small FBO (as opposed to Bult Field). The airport manager (whom I assume was the manager) was working on a kayak at the back of the FBO. I asked if there were restrooms and he said "yep, just inside". Then I asked if I was in Iowa and he said, "you're in Iowa". Love that. The 'house' had great bathrooms, water, pretzels, and cookies! Just another quintessential example of general aviation. 

Random enroute shot. Flying Is Great! And it always makes me smile.

I stopped at Kearney NE. because my parents were close and it save the price of a hotel. The FBO I use at Kearney is Big Air, and they always treat me well. They did surprise me with one thing - the after-hours 'call out'. That'll cost you $100. Even if you call ahead it's $75. Lesson learned (re-learned) always call ahead. Remember, I only stopped because of logistics and time of day. So, the next leg was relatively short and about as simple as you can get. Funny enough, the last 100 miles were like a rodeo even though there were zero clouds.  I don't mind rough rides - smooth air is nice but 'boring' in regards to required skill. To its credit, the autopilot never let go and held on throughout.

The biggest reason to use KFLY.

Landed about 30 minutes before I projected.  Mission complete.  Great adventure!

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Why I Love Airfields 17 : 2020-07

It's pretty obvious why I love airfields, but in this case it's primarily because it was the first flight in an airplane that took forever to get its new engine. But beyond that, the day/weather were epic.

This is Sweet Pea (N62740). I name all the planes I fly with. Several people hate it but interestingly enough, they all start adopting the names. Every plan should be named. I call her Sweet Pea because she has green stripes and green interior. She's also sweet because she's carrying a 180 hp engine. Which, in my opinion all 172s should have. What a perfect ending the the first flight of an airplane...a rainbow!

Here's Sweet Pea on final. If you could just remove the houses in the distance, it would be even more ideal. But who can argue...this is beautiful. As an aside, this is runway 33 which is NOT the normal runway at Meadow Lake.

Airfields are great!

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Why I Love Aviation 3 : 2020-07

Why do I love aviation?  Lots of reasons, but here are three examples of a very tangible 'why'. 

Simply put, look how happy these people are!

Trying to get this guy to smile or laugh is like pulling teeth.
But check out this smile!  He's been debriefed on the two hand technique.

It's easy to get her to smile and she's eating flying up. Green hair?
Yes, but she still flies very well. Also debriefed on the two-hand approach.

This guy gets it.  His right arm is on the throttle.
Even on a rough air day, look how happy he is.

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Distant Shade : 2020-07

The skies in Colorado can be quite amazing. I tried to capture the cloud formations that blow my mind. I titled it "Distant Shade" because I love flying under clouds.  If I can do it, I will.  People think that's weird until I tell them you don't need sunglasses and it's cooler.  This woman is earthbound, but deep inside she knows she should be aloft - airborne and sharing the sky with those clouds.
Distant Shade, 2020, 16" x 20", acrylic on canvas

This is the first application of clouds (left) and adding more definition (R)
On the left is after I darkened the base of the clouds.  On the right is the first woman I painted.  She was way too broad.  I liked the hair, but not how wide she was.

This is the sketch of the woman.  Only sketch for the painting.

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Ferry Flight : KFLY to KCPS : 2020-07

Operation BUFFALO SPIRIT. 7.0 hours. 676 nautical miles. I ferried an aircraft from KFLY to KCPS after further inspections caused the buyer to refuse the aircraft.  After putting in a new starter, the airplane wouldn't start.  Classic GA (general aviation) stuff.  If it happens to you and it seems there's power, just rotate the prop and inch or two. That might realign the starter with the starter ring.

This was the airplane, N82149, or "Rising Sun" as we called her.

When I ferry, I normally divide the overall distance by whatever gives me about an hour short of total fuel. And if the aircraft is a C172, I walk out the door with 8 gal/hr burn and 90 knots ground speed.  It's easy math and it's almost always conservative.  So for this trip, I was able to do it with only one stop.  East to west often helps the ground speed.  The first leg was KFLY to K78 (Abilene Municipal Airport) in Kansas. When I dropped into Abilene one Kansas State Skyhawk was there but they left just in time to let me have the pattern to myself.  As I descended, I was opening all the windows and would have let the doors go if I could. It was all I could do to combat the humidity. Other than the humidity, it was a pretty straightforward leg.

And this was Abilene...about nine hangars and, surprisingly, a nice array of aircraft on the ramp. The FBO was a little space on the right corner of the hangar above (left). I love this about GA.  The door was open, the bathrooms worked, there was water and snacks (with the honesty tip jar), and a sign in book.  There were also instructions on using the courtesy car. You can't find this level of support based completely on honesty in any other industry I can think of.  Love it!

The second leg, K78 to KCPS, was a bit more eventful than the first leg. You can see I diverted north around a cell of thunderstorms. I really wanted to go south (based on visuals) and as you can see, it would have worked out wonderfully. The only reason I went north was because another Skyhawk in front of me also took the north route.  While it was beautiful (lost the videos for some unknown reason) it was also painful. Tracking around a thunderstorm is never someone's plan, but in a Skyhawk, it's like it's in slow motion. The last 50 miles were awesome. You can see there was another thunderstorm right over St Louis. Fortunately, there was just enough room to get to my destination. The air was like a rodeo. Planes were diverting all over the place and ATC was nice enough to ask "149 how are you doing out there?". I told her (with a laugh) that it was very challenging VFR.  SHe asked "to maintain VFR?", and I said, "no, it's the air". Then she gave me direct to KCPS. I love it when people act like a team. Landed about five minutes before the storm waylaid the airport.  Awesome!

A note about flight following. How was it I was speaking with St Louis approach? I had flight following. I don't know when it happened, but I changed my philosophy about flight following. Years ago, I would fly without speaking to anyone. In fact, I would plan to avoid any location that required communication. Now, however, I kind of feel alone when I don't use flight following. It doesn't cost anything, it's easy to pick up, and you have an automatic wingman. And, they smooth over any conflicts ahead. When I flew fighters, we were alone in the cockpit, but we were never alone. There is another jet. Flight following is that other jet. I recommend it.

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Why I Love Airfields 16 : 2020-06

How can you not love airfields?

I hate getting up early, but you really can't argue with a morning view like this. N2830Q sitting outside in all its glory.  And early morning weather in Colorado is pretty epic.

And here are two shots from Pueblo (KPUB).  How perfect are these views?  And Orange Blaze's (I call this plane 'Orange Blaze') paint scheme against that blue sky is basically perfect. What I really love about airfields is the timing...at this time, Orange Blaze had the entire ramp to itself.  You  can't make this up.
Flying IS Great!

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Why I Love Airfields 15 : 2020-05

Sometimes Meadow Lake (KFLY) is a veritable Oshkosh.  Ten aircraft in the pattern, low approaches, plenty of experimental aircraft, formation, vintage, ultralights, etc.  It really only happens on perfect days.  If you want the pattern to yourself, just fly when it's windy and/or cloudy.  I love flying under clouds so the arrangement suits me fine.  Just the other day, a two-ship of classics were flying around.  And the background was epic.

The black object in the lower right is the propeller of the Cessna I'm in.
I was pretty happy with the timing of this photo.

Flying IS Great

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