Friday, September 28, 2018

Flying - Lighter Winds Are More Conducive to Learning

So today was Day 2 in the Piper Dakota checkout experience.

The weather while overcast was high enough for good VFR conditions around Pontiac and the Instructor announced we would be doing pattern as my landings in the Dakota needed to be better to get checked out.

Winds varied from 360 all the way to 280 at 4-9 knots with very few gusts, and it was a much nicer day for flying.

So I performed the preflight, no issues except it needed 2 quarts of oil.

Then on to the taxi and run-up which I did perfectly, including running the constant speed prop through its paces.

A nice takeoff, a good time around the pattern and down for an ok landing but I was fast and did a nice float while the speed bled off.

We chatted a bit about getting the power settings down.

In short, at pattern altitude reduce the manifold pressure to 1800 and then once abeam the numbers reduce the RPMs to 1800 and keep it around there all the way to the flare.

Following that made it all much better. If you're at pattern altitude and 100 knots on downwind you're in a good position for a decent landing. Much faster than that and you can't slow the plane enough in time to make for a good landing and you should go around.

Following that, I really hit my stride.

The pattern got a bit busy and tower asked us to keep the base in close.

The instructor then had me reduce to 1500 RPM and turn early instead of over the Golf dome, he said - "Aim for the nursing home over there". A bemused pause followed.

That probably wasn't the best word choice, and it was pretty funny at the time.

So I avoided any contact with the nursing home and turned in a tight base and made an excellent landing.

Then we went up and did it again, and again.

There was fun with a very extended downwind, where another plane in front of us in the pattern plane didn't hear a call to turn base and he headed way, way downwind, and we were stuck following him until the tower had us turn back in and then he came in second once his radio got sorted out.

Then we were following a student pilot that flew a B-52 pattern.

Then working with a helicopter also flying in the pattern, not to mention lots of jets coming in on 27L.

The Dakota is very stable to fly and once I had the speed and settings down it landed like it was on rails - very predictable and it made for excellent stable approaches.

Then we terminated as a storm was coming in and we put the plane back in the hangar and wiped it down.

Lots of fun and he's ready to sign me off as he said I have the handling for the plane now. I felt a heckuva lot better flying it and really got the handle on it. Certainly better to learn a new plane in calmer conditions.

I just need .6 more to meet the requirements. So I think we'll do a lunch cross-country to Jackson or maybe Lansing and then come back after lunch and it'll be done.

2.3 and 15 landings, .6 to go for the endorsement and checkout clearance.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Stupid Criminals: Yeah, Don't Do That

Fleeing the police is not a good idea.

Ending that flight by pointing a gun at a police officer makes it a tad worse.

Predictable results ensued, and a fleeing felon named Flores flunked his flight attempt, and it came to a full stop.

Oh, and Flores did this in South Bend, Indiana while on probation in Michigan for armed robbery and so in addition to being shot will be charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and pointing a firearm.

Detroit News: Authorities: Officer shoots, wounds man who pointed gun

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Flying - The First Dakota Flight

Today the club's checkout instructor and I finally had a schedule that coordinated so i could begin my High performance endorsement and get checked out in the Dakota.

Unfortunately, weather conditions were a bit challenging, even as they were better than forecast.

After the preflight, I got the briefing on use of the constant speed prop and did the takeoff. The Dakota with 236 horses has a lot more pep than the Archer and took off and started climbing like a homesick angel.

The cloud layer varied but was around 3,000 so we stayed around 2,500, climbing up a large hole to do some ascents and descents. The prop sound does not change as you climb or descend so your sense of hearing isn't as helpful as it is in a fixed prop plane.

Getting it through your head that the throttle controls the manifold pressure and the prop control controls the RPM takes a bit of getting used to, as does the need to keep power in all the away until the flare. Also the sheer amount of trim to keep this thing where you want it is a heckuva lot more than in an Archer. Amazing what two more cylinders will do for you.

The Dakota will also climb if you take your eyes off what you're doing for an instant. Lots of trim needed to be used at all times. It's definitely a pay attention kind of aircraft.

At 65% power, we were still going as fast as an Archer at full. Kinda fun. It feels like a much heavier aircraft than the Archer, and has much better payload capacity.

At Lapeer, there were 13-21 knot gusting direct crosswinds that made landing a bit too sporty for the first time out. I did two go-rounds and the instructor said I showed good judgment by doing so. It was kinda hairy. Annoying as Lapeer is one of my favorite airports to land at, and I tend to have excellent landings there.

Then we headed west to Howell. Winds were 14-21 gusting at Howell but almost in line with the runway so only a slight crosswind factor and correction needed to be added. Two good landings there, and on the third a huge gust of wind caught me as I was in the flare and ballooned us up, causing a go round. Good training with very gusty winds.

On the upside, my go-round procedure is right on, safe, and properly done each time, so there's that.

Then we headed back to Pontiac, a beautiful downwind pattern entry to 27L and making a change over to 27R on base which I expected, and a nice approach, excellent final, about to touch down like a dream it's looking and feeling perfect and . . .

A really strong gust of wind had to come along just then and balloon us up, making the landing not nearly as pretty but serviceable.

The instructor says I'm doing very well, and just need more hours to satisfy the insurance requirements.

2.1 hours and 3 landings.

Monday, September 24, 2018

TOM2018 - The Amazing Sean Tucker In The Oracle Challenger III

To say that Sean Tucker is a master aerobatic pilot would be a massive understatement.

Hammerhead rolls, loops, inverted maneuvers by the ton, and many more thrilling maneuvers were done and he made them all look easy.

Sean Tucker is the only pilot to perform a triple ribbon cut during a show. He flies through the ribbons, which are only 25 feet off the ground, at speed in a right knife-edge for the first ribbon, then left knife-edge, and finally inverted.

Here he zooms in toward the ribbon hanging between the poles, then  turning to make a knife-edge approach.

   He then snaps over to cut the ribbon in a knife-edge pass (Click to embiggen, I rather like this shot that I got just as he hit the ribbon):

All passes were low, fast, and perfect ribbon cuts. He didn't miss at any time.

Later, he landed with ease and taxi'd on by, waving to the audience to thunderous and well-deserved applause.

The incredible custom-built Oracle Challenger III is being donated by Sean Tucker to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

An Amazing talent and a thrilling aerobatic display.

Ensure Your Safety Before You Take A Selfie

Darwin claimed a Californian visiting Michigan recently.

The Detroit Free Press: Woman falls to her death taking selfies at Michigan landmark

A California woman slipped and fell to her death while taking selfies at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Wednesday afternoon.

[The woman], 32, was hiking solo on the North Country Trail and paused to take selfies near a 200-foot cliff edge that looked over Lake Superior. While taking pictures, she fatally fell into the lake, according to upper-Michigan based television station, WLUC.

In short a completely needless and preventable death.

The amount of people injured or indeed killed from taking selfies or otherwise burying their head in their phone is rather considerable. Being aware of your surroundings, especially when said surroundings lack guardrails to protect you from your own lack of awareness and footing, is rather paramount. Unfortunately, people often fail to be aware of their surroundings and think they live in a safe bubble. Reality sets in and their bubble pops, and often they do as well.

Now I'm not saying that taking selfies should be banned or anything, just some common-sense selfie control laws clearly need to be instituted, right? After all if it saves just one life . . . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How About No - Wayne County Councilman Proposes Ammo Restrictions

Yet another reason why Michigan's state level preemption on firearms law is a good thing.

The Detroit Free Press:'Bullet bill' would make ammo more expensive, harder to get

It's the old, Sure there's a right of the free press, but we can level a 1,000% tax on printing ink dodge. That really doesn't work.

Davis' "bullet bill" ordinance would build a new structure for purchasing ammunition around law enforcement approval. Potential buyers would need to undergo a mental illness background check with their local police department or the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. They would also need approval for each purchase – except at gun shows, where showing a certificate of a previous mental illness check would be sufficient.

Finally, the ordinance would raise taxes on ammunition and use the funds for gun safety and gun rights education – teaching "about the second amendment, about how to use a gun safely and about gun violence," Davis said.

Police departments and Sheriff's offices of course don't do mental background checks nor assessments, nor are they qualified to do so.

Of course, the councilman tries to portray himself as a pro-gun rights person who changed his mind due to a personal tragedy.

But before 2001, Davis admits, "had a fetish with guns. I had sniper rifles, double barrel sawed-offs, glocks," he said.

Really, I doubt this claim of his. I'd love to see if he had any NFA paperwork for those "double barrel sawed-offs", or is he admitting to committing some federal felonies?

Then again, Mr. Davis may not be doing this due to a personal tragedy but due to a personal failing of his own. He seems to have a rather violent streak himself, of a domestic violence kind and likely lost his guns due to that rather than any concern over the loss of his brother: Detroit politician admits to threatening woman, denies hitting another

Mr. Davis, based on his own acts should certainly be subject to some existing firearm and ammunition restrictions. Those of us who have not committed crimes, not so much.

Indeed if the PPOs against him are still active, there's yet another reason why he can't legally possess a gun, which may again explain why he wants gun control against law-abiding citizens. Easier to hit unarmed women after all, right Reggie?

In short his proposal is political pandering at its worst - claiming to take on the NRA knowing state law prevents his bill in the first place and portraying someone with a history of domestic violence as doing something about crime.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Delta County Gun Owners Picnic

Delta County Gun Owners and Michigan Open Carry were having a picnic in Escanaba and we were invited. 

We arrived at Escanaba airport at 12:30 and they kindly picked us all up and drove us the 5 minutes or so to the park where the event was taking place.

One of the passengers on the Seneca was Rick Ector, a notable Detroit Gun Rights Activist:

His first flight on a General Aviation aircraft.  A most excellent passenger and a real nice guy.  He enjoyed the ride.

A few local political candidates attended, and it was a large turnout with a very nice bunch of folks.  7 of us flew up from the lower peninsula to join the event.

Lots of families, kids, and dogs were present and it was a very nice time indeed.  Lots of good conversation, food, hospitality and good-natured ribbing of us Trolls (Trolls because were live in the lower Peninsula - under the bridge as it were to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). 

Most people present were open carrying and did so without any issues.

Since Escanaba is Michigan's first line of defense from Wisconsin, this is a good thing.

 Holsters were quite diverse and ranged the gamut from Safariland ALS and similar with excellent retention, which make a lot of sense when open carrying, to some decent kydex, to some leather with retention straps, to Serpas, to Fobus, to nylon floppies on a floppy belt, all the way to a shoulder holster that did not even cover the trigger on the firearm that was in it.  

There's a lot of diverse options for holsters out there.

A very nice and hospitable event.  Then we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport.

Arriving back to the airport, we then had a fun experience.

As we headed into the airport via the General Aviation entrance and GA pilot's lounge, an airport worker saw the fellows who were open carrying and stated that firearms were illegal in the airport.

He was politely told this was not true.  He then said he'd call the Sheriff, which he did.

As we were pre-flighting the planes, a Sheriff Sargent pulled up to the airport and then came out on the tarmac with the airport worker.  He had a discussion with him and then chatted with us. 

The Sargent was a nice fellow and pointed out to the airport worker that he was wrong and all of this was perfectly legal, which it was.   We had a nice chat, everyone shook hands and the Sargent then left and went about his business and we then took off. 

It was a great visit to the Upper Peninsula and the first one I've done since going up there with Murph a long time ago.  Now that I can fly and have use of a plane to get there, future trips will be in store.

Saturday Fly Day - To Escanaba In Da Daylight

Yesterday the day began with weather that was less than promising, with Low IFR conditions at Pontiac and along and at the intended destination.

I had been invited to fly up to Escanaba for an event. A day in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

This being a fun idea and getting a calendar clearance from she-who-must-be-obeyed,  I said yes and arrived at Pontiac at 10:30 instead of 9:30 as originally planned due to the weather delay.

I was given an opportunity to fly right-seat in this:

A Piper Seneca.  My first multi-engine flying experience.

Since the Pilot also happened to be a CFII MEI, this would be a good opportunity to learn. We also had a couple passengers on board.

So we completed the checklist, got our IFR clearance and headed off to Escanaba, climbing up to 12,000 feet.

It was very smooth at altitude.

A very nice aircraft, the owner has upgraded the avionics most impressively with all the digital upgrades which made for very easy flight management.

After the event we headed back in VFR condiitons.

I handled the taxi and takeoff, which was a lot of fun, and hand flew it for awhile before George the autopilot took over.

Then we linked up with a fellow aircraft that had gone to the event for some pictures. Both our pilot and the pilot flying the Diamond at the time had prior training in formation flying and this was pre-arranged.

I managed to get some decent pictures and after a bit we broke off (video by Eric Coggin in the DA-40): 


After that we picked up flight following from Saginaw and returned to Pontiac, landing on 9L.

That was a darn nice couple of flights.

3.9 dual received, 2 landings.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Car Maintenance And Car Browsing

So the car is in the shop again. At 120,000 miles its time for some major maintenance including coolant and brake flush and fill, new spark plugs and wires, and yet another ball joint has decided to become disjointed. Mucho expensivo.

On the upside the car has been reliable and has been paid off for awhile now so this is the price of keeping it in action. It will soon be going to Abby as she will start driving imminently. This will mean a "new" (read used) car for me.

Anyways, due to the expense and time of the repair and ordering parts in, the shop threw in a "free" rental for me today and it was upgraded (as the rental place was out of sedans) to a 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

Upside is I really like this beast. It's got ridiculously good visibility and it feels like it has no blind spots at all. Good seating height which is more comfortable than my current car, and surprisingly the suspension is very good and you don't feel the bums bumps in our Michigan roads as much. As an unlimited, it has got 4 doors, plenty of room in back and front, and handles like a dream.

Downside to this one model is it clearly had a repair to the driver's side door and requires extra effort to close and has some weird wind noise/pressure feel while driving as a result. Not a detraction from the model overall though.

As a Jeep itself, it has the weirdest placement for the all the window controls - they're all together in the center of the dashboard, so if a rear-seat passenger wants to open a window, they have to ask the driver to do so. Kinda strange placement. The A/C isn't quite as powerful as it could be but that's about all the negatives I've got so far.

However, both the kids and Tash were unanimous in pronouncing it ugly as sin. Apparently the white body with a rear black cap and overall styling is unappealing to them. Just no appreciation for the functional lines of the original SUV, what can I say?

So yep, kinda tempted to make my next purchase a 4-door Wrangler, but the spousal/child veto will be strong, and checking out the price of 3-year old+ Wrangler Unlimited models they don't seems to depreciate too much. Maybe one of the newer Cherokees will meet with their approval. The next car will need 4 wheel drive to handle the Driveway of Doom™.

Still, there's no immediate rush and plenty of time for contemplation and smart shopping before any choices need to be made.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Discovery Of The Oldest Brewery in The World

An archeological discovery of a most important and historic sort was recently found in Israel.

The Times of Israel: 13,000-year-old brewery discovered in Israel, the oldest in the world

Finding the oldest known brewery in Israel should not come as a surprise.

After all, the Bible itself says: He brews.

Monday, September 10, 2018

L'Shanah Tovah!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the first day of the year 5779.

May all my readers be inscribed in the book of life and have a good and sweet year ahead.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

At The Renaissance Faire

Many a store would accept not only coins of the realm, but cards of note as well:

As such delicious turkey legs were eaten.

The children sipped upon cider while the adults enjoyed some mead.

Then off to see more sights.

There were birds of prey:

Verily, there were armored beasts:

And a viking settlement and smith demonstration:

The helm, along with the chainmail was made by the smiths.

Jugglers with wands of fire

There were feats of skill on the tourney fields:

Rings Speared from posts:

Rings caught after being thrown in the air:

And There Was Jousting:

The winner and tourney champion was Sir Edward:

Then it began to rain and having seen all there was to see, we headed for the car and home.

It 'twas a grand time indeed.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Flying - A Nice Little Practice Flight

So yesterday afternoon, after a very long week it was time to leave the surly bonds of earth.

Peter had just joined the same flying club and since he had never flown a Piper before I had arranged to take him up again before his checkout with the club's CFI.

We did a comprehensive preflight as usual and I had home do it and showed him the differences between the Archer and the Cessna. Pretty easy stuf with minor differences only.

I flew the left seat as I was not comfortable in the right, am not an instructor and no point pushing thing.

The wind was light out of the north eastand we did the run up and I showed him each step and we took off from Runway 9L and headed northeast.

Once at a reasonable altitude I let him fly it around and he had no problems, but remarked flying from the right seat felt weird.

I then went through the procedures and demonstrated slow flight, power off, and power on stalls and steep turns. As usual, my steep turns sucked -- I need to practice those more and haven't been doing these maneuvers much lately. We then did turns around a point. I also showed how the Garmin 430 has a message reminder to change fuel tanks and showed how that works.

Then we headed back to Pontiac.

We initially received instructions to enter the downwind for 9L and I was setting up for that and ready to show him each phase of the pattern for landing in an Archer.

Then another controller came on and said "28S, I've got no one in the pattern right now and winds are straight out of the north, would you like to land on 27R?"

Why not? I said sure, and she said that would be more efficient as I was closer to the approach for 27R and no point having to fly along the runway to go to 9L at that moment. Very kind of her, and she's always a cheerful and helpful controller.

So a slight angle and then a straight in approach for 27R it was.

Not by best landing in the world, but still reasonably smooth.

We then headed back to the hangar and we then got some fuel to get the tanks filled back to tabs and then I showed him how we put the plane away and we used the winch, which is happy making and best hauling the plane uphill into the hangar. We then washed all the bugs off the leading edges and were done. I figure his checkout will go a fair bit smoother now that he's more familiar with the plane.

A nice relaxing .9 and 1 landing.

Friday, September 07, 2018

TOM2018: The B17s

The Yankee Air Museum's Yankee Lady took to the skies as soon as the weather was decent to give rides, and then took a beak from giving rides and made some passes just for the airshow.

In addition to the Yankee Lady, The Commemorative Air Force had brought their own B17 to the show - Texas Raiders.

Both B-17s Did a simulated bombing run on the World War 2 reenactment that was taking place.

Some nice close shots as they both came in for landings. Yankee Lady then kept flying the rest of the day giving rides:

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Michigan State Fair

The Michigan State Fair is this weekend.

We headed there Friday afternoon, taking one of Leah's friends along with us.

There were prize-winning crops on display:

There were many cute animals.

Lots of judging and showing of the animals was going on. You could tell the exhibitors all cared for their animals and had a lot of pride in them.

Leah, her friend, and Abby all participated in a hat decorating contest. Leah won first prze in her age division with eah's fiend taking third and Abby winning third in her division.

After hat decorating there was much more to see and do.

There was a statue of a cow made out of butter. A lot of butter.

We sampled various samples of food and bought some meat sticks. I got venison and elk and they were quite good indeed.

The Shriner Circus, going on at the fair for over a hundred years now, really stepped up its game this year.

From an aerobatic horse rider who leapt off a horse, through a ring of fire, to land back on the horse:

To an amazing juggler:

To elephants:

A death-defying act over a rotating contraption high in the air, including skipping rope while walking it, sans safety net.

Of course, the kids were there for the rides and the unlimited chocolate milk:

Magic Carpet

The hang glider ride, which is a family favorite:

The swing:

The orbiter - rotating around in multiple directions at once.

Getting off of the Orbiter, they were actually staggering around, it messed with their inner ear very nicely.

However, there was one ride they abjectly refused to go on, and I can't say I blame them.

It was a grand time indeed and the kids had a fantastic time.

Pretty amazing how Leah is an absolute no-quit, nothing scares her ride-goer now.   Of course she didn't want to back out in front of her friend who is also an adrenaline junkie so they kind of pushed each other beyond their normal ride comfort zones. It was all good. We then went out to dinner and came back home. After all that they were completely exhausted.

The Fair is well worth checking out this Labor Day weekend.