CSIP Complete : 2021-05

After a week and a big bill, I garnered my CSIP qualification. CSIP is a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot. I wanted to get it so I could help Cirrus pilots get the training needed to begin using their aircraft. They're also very capable aircraft and there's always value in learning new equipment. The training was well done and we flew brand new aircraft. On top of that, the scenery was hard to beat. Flew in and around airfields nestled in the Smoky Mountains.

The first bird I flew - she was made in January of 2021. Belle is a '79.

Although the airplanes are made in Duluth, Cirrus training is now in Knoxville TN, which seems like a nice city. The pic (above, left) is on the former fairgrounds of the 1982 World's Fair hosted in Knoxville. The badge was given upon arrival which seemed a bit like the cart before the horse. I would have preferred to get it after I passed. Or had it read, "Possible CSIP" - that would've worked. And some of the beautiful fields we were able to use...

Gatlinburg, TN (KGKT).

Jackson County, NC (24A) and Macon County, NC (1A5).  Epic.

First Knoxville salad - was great!

Overall, it was a great week and I'm glad I took the training. Hopefully, it will prove fruitful.

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Why I Love Airfields 22 : 2021-05

So were doing an out-n-back to Telluride. Unfortunately, we didn't land because the winds were a bit out of control.  We saw the airfield so there was some value in gaining situational awareness. Also, we were able to do some excellent ridge crossings and hone our skills at reading the mountains - including passes I hadn't used - priceless experience.

We took the south route around Telluride to avoid some weather.  The route passes near Pagosa Springs (KPSO) and Astronaut Kent (KRCV).  Astronaut Kent? The full name is Del Norte - Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport. There was no way I was going to say "Del Norte" on the radio. Not with a name like Astronaut Kent.

And this is why I love airfields. You never know what you'll see and you can't make it up. This airfield was unattended but had one of the coolest FBOs I've seen.  Maybe a 40'x 40' building (totally open), with a kitchenette, a great bathroom (with shower), cookies on the table, a guest book, and food in the fridge! But then you look outside and couldn't paint a better picture. I'm sure Astronaut Kent has nothing to do with the landscape, but it sure does match.

The hillscape was incredible.  As was the sky.

You can't make this up.

Taking Runway 6 to depart for Hayden Pass.

Pictures seldom do justice to reality, but if you see pictures like this, you can only imagine how it looked in real life! It looked amazing. As a side note, if you want to practice some challenging traffic patterns (with obstacles)…go here!

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Why I Love Airfields 21 : 2021-05

One of my favorite reasons to love airfields...you can't make this type of scenery up! It's bold, it beckons you while calling you back, often beyond belief and makes a permanent impression on your soul.

This is Sweet Pea atop the highest airport in North America - Leadville.

It really is a Rocky Mountain high.

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Summer Trough : 2021-05

Summer trough is back! If you've read my blog you know I eat from the "trough" which is essentially a supreme salad without the lettuce. It's somewhat controversial. However, since we know lettuce provides no nutritional value, we should acknowledge all it really does is throw dressing on your clothes. The difference between summer and winter trough is if it's heated or eaten cold. The enduring theme in both is vinegar. Check this shot of the first summer (cold) trough of 2021...

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Mooney Move: 2021-05

I enjoy ferrying aircraft or picking them up with their new owner.  My latest adventure was getting a Mooney from Terrell TX (KTRL) to Colorado Springs CO (KCOS).  We flew commercial into DFW and the new owner's dad drove us to Terrell.  They aircraft was a 1961 M20B.  The earliest I'd flow was an M20E so I was excited to see what it was all about.

With any ferry flight (and/or purchase) there's always some admin and last-minute details.  On this particular day, the weather wasn't really cooperating so there was a bit more time for 'admin'.  I had to take this picture of the previous owner and the new owner's dad checking things out.

The only way to get out of Terrell was to file IFR and push north to better weather.  We didn't want to stay overnight as the weather was supposed to be worse.  It was good for me as I hadn't filed IFR for awhile, but not so great in an airplane you've never used.  It worked out and we saw some epic skies.

We made it.  Clear skies and perfect temperatures in Wiley Post OK (KWPA).  We used Atlantic as our FBO and they treated us very well.  The Mooney was solid and took us to OK with no problems.

Departing Wiley Post was a bit ironic.  The weather was the same as we'd left in Terrell and Terrell was VFR.  So again, we departed IFR to expected better weather.  We filed to Woodward (KWWR), entered great weather and found a cool FBO.  It's an old Army Airfield so they have the classic triangle layout but only use two sides of the triangle.  The FBO is show on the left above and the Mooney having the airport to itself is on the right.  This is why I love airports and flying.  You never know what you'll encounter.

This is the same picture as earlier, but I had to show that sky.  Amazing!

We then hopped to Liberal KS (KLBL), Lamar (KLAA) and finally to the Mooney's new home of Colorado Springs (KCOS).  We made a multiple stops so the new owner could get familiar with bringing the plane into traffic patterns while seeing different airport configurations and runway sizes.  To our amazement, we parked next to another Mooney in Lamar!  I'm going to guess an M20B has never set next to an M20C in Lamar's history.  At first we thought it was another M20B, but the back window is noticeable different.  Aside from that are essentially identical.  Like I said, you never know what you'll see at an airport/FBO. 

It was a great trip and the new owner was very happy with the training he received.  Winning!

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Why I Love Airfields 20 : 2021-04

I know I've said it before, but one of the greatest things of general aviation is the variety of FBOs you'll encounter.  Or the people you may or may not meet.

This is Trinidad (KTAD).  Great building zero people, but not really accessible.  My copilot made me a breakfast burrito and we ate them on one of their picnic benches. Great moment. The right-center window reads "AIRPORT".  Classic.

This white-brick building is Raton's (KRTN) FBO. On the topic of "what do I call this place", I use the 'public knowledge' answer.  This is Raton but technically, Raton Municipal Airport/Crews Field. I will never say "Crews Field".  Never.  It's "Raton traffic"... Let's use Leadville as another example.  It's the highest field in North America, and known as Leadville.  If anyone thinks I'll say "Lake County", they will be surprised.  Regardless, this was an excellent FBO with a cool building and great views. Beyond all of that, they will make you a hamburger.  And it is NOT a 'take from the warmer burger', it is a burger made by someone who cares.  It was fantastic!

Cameras never really capture the moment.  This was a shot across from Coppertop's tail trying to show the landscape.  In person, it was very cool. Taken at Trinidad.

This was another shot trying to show the unique landscape at Trinidad.  The mountains, hills, and mesas are much better in person. Point being, go there yourself, take in the landscape, and get a free burger!

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Belle gets avionics upgrade : 2021-03

I flew Belle a couple times before I even realized she didn't have an attitude indicator. So I sprang for an upgrade. Since I was already going down that road, I actually upgraded two instruments. There are a couple of things I'd change, but overall I was quite pleased with the finished panel.

Kinda funny that Belle's predominant instrument is the turn and slip indicator (center, top).  That should be where the attitude indicator should be. In fact, this is the traditional "six pack" arrangement...

The attitude indicator and the heading indicator (below it in the traditional setup) are driven by gyros which often use a vacuum pump. Belle does not have a vacuum pump, so she knows not her attitude or her heading. She does, however, know her turn and skid/slip because that gyro is electric (and installed). Maybe even more surprising is that of the four (actual) instruments in Belle's six pack, only two are required to be legal. 

The Concept: Joke, but not a Joke. First of all, I don't mind the missing instruments. But I had two black circles looking back at me. So I replaced them - with paper. The 'attitude indicator' reminds people to look outside. An attitude indicator can never compete with God's attitude indicator (the earth). The 'heading indicator' gives people a checklist of sorts for 1) recovering from unusual (or upset) attitudes and 2) recovering from a spin. Once you cross the line of an unusual attitude and enter a spin, the UPRT acronym no longer works. You can't simply push your way out of a spin. You have to stop the rotation. That can get lost in the UPRT enterprise where it's simply push, roll, thrust. A spin requires the PARE method. You should always go idle, ailerons neutral, rudder opposite of rotation and finally nose over (elevator) so you get flying airspeed.  UPRT and PARE are not the same!  Flying is great!

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Why I Love Aviation 7 : 2021-03

Living in Colorado gives me the opportunity to give people instruction in mountain flying. I'm no legend in the mountains but I share what I know. Whether they get much out of it or not, I love doing it. I think the favorite thing for most people is landing at Leadville (aka Lake County, KLXV). They can get a certificate for landing at the highest airport in North America (9934 feet). They also get to make ridge crossings, course reversals, and a short-field takeoff and landing at Glenwood Springs (KGWS).

Here is Sweet Pea (740) sitting atop North America - the views are epic.

Southbound from Eagle (KEGE) to Weston Pass - pure mountains.

One of the best sections of the flight - the canyon between Glenwood Springs
and Eagle. You really have no where to go, but it's beautiful.

Painting of N19127 hanging in KIBM

Completely unrelated, but the within a day of a mountain flight, I landed at Kimball Municipal (KIBM) with Coppertop. First of all, to span that type of geography in that amount of time is only possible through airpower. Second, and more powerful to me, is my fascination in GA and its FBOs. You never know what you'll encounter and the people are almost 100% fantastic. Kimball is about 3 miles south of a 2600-person town in the middle of nowhere. When we landed there were exactly zero people at the airport. However, we could still get fuel, use a courtesy car (if desired), enter the FBO, use the restroom and even get water in the fridge! There really is nothing like the GA community. I made the owner of Coppertop follow me to the FBO just to showcase this incredible world. And he did concur that it was wowsers. I thank God to be a part of this world and I thank orgs like AOPA who fight for these freedoms.

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Are you a low-wing or high-wing fan? I would like to say I'm indifferent, but I have to go with high-wing. First, you can always give yourself shade. Second, there's less to hit when you land (forced landing). Third, you have a lot more freedom in strong crosswinds. Other than that, I would be indifferent.

I raise the topic because of this picture in my Citabria. When I saw all those windows, I realized it actually has great visibility. I'm pretty sure I knew that, but seeing it makes one a believer. She even has the window above.

But above all that, it's hard not to smile when you're flying. You can fake a picture and you can fake a smile but it's pretty obvious when you're not doing either.

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