2022 Aviation Update

Its that time again where I look back on my prior year’s aviation activities and typically get disappointed that I’m not flying more.  I have several months in 2022 where I was flying quite a bit but the last couple of months I was extremely busy with work travel and the weather was really poor with multiple snow storms and long stretches of overcast days.  I’ve always thought that if I fly 100 hours per year I’m staying proficient while getting decent utilization out of my airplane.  Since I purchased the Saratoga N111RW I haven’t gotten 100 in a year.  In 2022 I was able to add a couple of airports in California when I rented a plane while we were there on Spring Break in the Anaheim/Los Angeles area.  This was really fun to be able to fly directly over LAX in the VFR corridor!  I also was able to utilize the plane on multiple work trips to Chicago and Rockford, Illinois as well as Louisville, Kentucky.  Bryan and I flew to Mackinac Island for a week with the Boy Scouts participating in the Honor Guard.  We also flew to Oshkosh in July and camped for a few days.  In August after my trip to Louisville I dropped the plane off in Tiffin, Ohio for the deice boots to be replaced an also ended up replacing the propeller hub after an inspection required it.  The remainder of the flights were relatively local where I was training with my friend Todd or grabbing a breakfast somewhere in Michigan.  Even though this is one of my lower yearly totals we didn’t use the plane for Spring Break since we flew commercial to California.  As I write this I already have flown twice in 2023 so again I’m hopeful that I will have a full year of flight.  Time to plan some trips!

Here is a summary of 2022:

2022 Hours: 46.3

Total Hours: 1210.1

2022 Approximate Mileage: 4,758 miles.

New Airports: 7 – KSNA,KVNY,KRFD,KDPA,83D,KJVY,16G

Map of all the flights made in 2022:





















New States:  California!








Here is more data for my pilot friends (2022/Total):

Cross-country: 39.2/835.2

Night: 0.0/69.2

IMC: 4.4/96.4

Approaches: 10/323

Landings: 51/1422

Click here to review prior years updates:  2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 201520142013201220112010

2021 Aviation Update

Its that time again where I look back on my prior year’s aviation activities and typically get disappointed that I’m not flying more.  As I look back at 2021 though I’m just happy that I had the ability to fly even though I didn’t get the amount of hours I feel I should be getting.  I’ve always thought that if I fly 100 hours per year I’m staying proficient while getting decent utilization out of my airplane.  Since I purchased the Saratoga N111RW I haven’t gotten 100 in a year.  In 2021 I flew every month and didn’t have any significant downtime for maintenance issues.  I did however have a lot of shorter and local flights and was able to stay proficient throughout the year with several training missions with many in actual instrument conditions.

Here is a summary of 2021:

2021 Hours: 57.2

Total Hours: 1163.8

2021 Approximate Mileage: 5,492 miles.

New Airports: 6 – KCXY, KRWN, KOLV, 6Y1, KFFX, 6D6

Map of all the flights made in 2021:












Here’s a summary of some of my notable flights in 2021.  I unfortunately lost 2 of my 3 grandmothers in 2021.  In March I flew solo to Lancaster, PA for my Grandma Smythe’s funeral.  She was 102 years young and it was nice to be able to use the plane to spend time with family for her services.  I was able to take my Dad and Grandma Smythe’s oldest son Leon for a flight while I was there.  A month later I lost my Nan (Dad’s mother) and she was 90 years old.  Thankfully I was able to see her just a few week’s before her passing.  Later in April, Bryan and I flew to Memphis for the first PA32 Fly-in at the Olive Branch Airport (KOLV).  The PA32 is the model of our airplane and includes several similar airplanes that Piper produced since the mid 1960’s.  It was a great event where more PA32s were gathered than any other event in history including Piper’s 100th anniversary!  We stayed at the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis and enjoyed a couple of days catching up with old friends and making new ones.  Most of the summer was just local flights in Michigan meeting up or flying with friends to breakfast somewhere.  In August I flew to Grosse Ile, MI (KONZ) where I grew up to be with my best friend Bob and his family to mourn the loss of their mother Marilyn.  Many people called her “Mom” Buckley.  As I write this I realize that 2021 was a year of significant loss of loved ones.  In September the whole Frey Family including Hannah’s dog Bessie flew for the first time together in about a year.   We flew up to Bois Blanc Island (6Y1) where we met Lori’s brother Abe and sister-in-law Marie to camp for Labor Day weekend.  This was an awesome and relaxing trip!

So 33 logbook entries in 2021 and most of them were shorter local flights.  N111RW got a few upgrades in 2021 as well which have been on my list for awhile.  At annual inspection in February I installed a new LED landing light.  In July Mayday Avionics installed a new Garmin G5 as my backup for my primary flight display and I was able to remove the vacuum system, artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and really clean up the panel a lot.  In December I had a new lightweight SkyTec starter installed and also replaced my wing-tip lights and rear position indicator with an LED.  Now the only exterior lights on the plane that aren’t LEDs are the strobes and the beacon.

So to wrap it up I’m not disappointed with 2021’s aviation events.  I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy such an amazing “hobby”.  I can’t explain the feeling that you get when you climb out above the clouds and get to see the sun that others haven’t seen in several days.  I got that yesterday and in reinvigorates me.  I am hopeful that in 2022 I can utilize the plane as much as possible and spread my wings a bit more.

New States:  No new states in 2021.








Here is more data for my pilot friends (2021/Total):

Cross-country: 38.2/796

Night: 1.5/69.2

IMC: 6.9/92.0

Approaches: 17/313

Landings: 67/1371

Click here to review prior years updates:  2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 201520142013201220112010

2020 Aviation Update

I didn’t do this update timely for 2020 but for the sake of tracking I finally put it together at the end of 2021.  I’m not going to add a lot of details other than the data here.

Here is a summary of 2020:

2020 Hours: 49.9

Total Hours: 1106.6

2020 Approximate Mileage: 4,840 miles.

New Airports: 4 – Z98, KRNP, KFNT, KLAN

Map of all the flights made in 2020:

No new states added in 2020.

Here is more data for my pilot friends (2020/Total):

Cross-country: 30.4/757.8

Night: 0.0/67.7

IMC: 4.2/85.1

Approaches: 20/296

Landings: 56/1304

Click here to review prior years updates:  2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 201520142013201220112010

2019 Aviation Update

I thought I would complete my aviation update on time this year as last year’s wasn’t done until late March.  I’m very happy to report that I logged hours in every month of 2019 except for January.  The plane was in annual and Michigan weather isn’t conducive to much flying in January anyway.  I broke 60 hours in 2019 but of course this isn’t as my as I would have liked to have flown.  N111RW had a couple of intermittent maintenance issues that set me back a bit in both aviation funds as well as lack of flying time while the plane was in the shop.  The first issue was an autopilot servo that was intermittent and only wanted to fail when I was in IMC or on final approach.  I had the plane at the shop a couple of times troubleshooting the issue and finally changing out the roll servo solved the problem.  Another intermittent issue I had was that I would get an AHRS (attitude indicator error) at rotation on my primary flight display.  Again, this took a couple of times at my avionics shop but finally changing out the AHRS unit has eliminated the issues (*knock on wood*).  When I have avionics or autopilot issues I always put the plane through a number of flights in good weather to ensure that the problem has indeed been solved prior to loading up the family and flying cross-country in instrument conditions.  Luckily I started flying with Todd J who I met at the airport and owns a Piper Seneca that is the same year as my Saratoga.  The Seneca is essentially the same airframe as the Saratoga except that it has 2 engines.  Todd and I have flown together a number of times over the last few months practicing approaches and working through the various issues that I had.  Todd also happens to be a CFI and he owns a Aeronca Champ.  We’ve been able to log a number of dual instruction hours during our flights which is good to keep us both current.

Here is a summary of 2019:

2019 Hours: 60.2

Total Hours: 1056.7

2019 Approximate Mileage: 5,900 miles.


Map of all the flights made in 2019:

Here’s a quick summary of my flights in 2019.  My first flight of the year wasn’t until February 22nd.  This was just a local solo flight after the annual inspection.  This year’s annual took a little longer than expected as couple of wing braces needed to be replaced which required removal of the wings.  In March I flew a few times locally to maintain my currency and also fly some instrument approaches.  Once was with Bryan and another with a friend Blair from work.  On one solo IFR flight I finally broke the 1000 hour flying mark.  At the end of March the family and I flew to Florida for Spring Break where we again stayed on Anna Maria Island.  We stopped in Kentucky and Georgia on the way down and our final destination was Sarasota.  During the week we decided to jump down to Key West for the day as it was only about an hour flight.  We were only there for the day but got to see quite a bit.  This would have been over 6 hours each way driving but the plane made it achievable in a day trip.  After a fun filled week in Florida we returned home and again stopped in Georgia and Kentucky.  When we were about to land in Georgia my autopilot stopped working and I had to hand fly an approach to about 200 feet above minimums.  The weather wasn’t horrible but it was a low ceiling with rain and fog.  We waited out the weather a bit and then proceeded home.  The autopilot still wasn’t working so I ended up hand flying the plane from Georgia to Michigan.  It was a long day and I became aware of why the autopilot failed as the plane was rolling to the left and I had to put constant pressure on the yoke.  This was due to the ailerons not being properly adjusted after the annual inspection which eventually led to the autopilot servo being overworked and led to its failure.  This took me a few flights to troubleshoot though after returning from Florida as the problem was intermittent.  There were a few flights between April and July between Holland and Grand Rapids testing out the autopilot and flying it to Mayday Avionics for service.  Finally replacing the servo solved the issue.  In August, Lori, Bryan and I finally got some more cross-country time in and flew a Pilots N Paws mission to pick up Lexi the Schnauzer in Indianapolis and bring her back to Michigan.  Also in August my parents (Jeff & Peggy) came to visit and I flew them across the state where we landed on Grosse Ile which is the island in the Detroit River where I grew up.  Surprisingly this was my first time landing on Grosse Ile.  We borrowed the courtesy car, drove around the Island and had lunch at a local bar & grill.  At the end of August I added another solo flight to Dowagiac just to get in the air and get fuel.  In September I again encountered another issue that would require multiple rounds of test flights.  Todd and I were getting ready to do a local IFR flight in actual conditions (perfect for proficiency practice) when on rotation my primary flight display gave me an AHRS failure.  Basically the main instrument that I use to ensure I keep the plane level while in instrument conditions failed.  This issue was again intermittent and the next few flights were back and forth between Holland and Grand Rapids to test it out.  Finally the AHRS unit was replaced and the issue was resolved.  Todd was very helpful with this during troubleshooting and even helped fly me in his Seneca to pick up N111RW.  The issue was finally fixed in late October and then Todd and I flew locally a few times where we got a considerable amount of instrument practice time in and also verification that the issues were resolved.  Also in October I met Todd down in South Haven and he gave me an intro to tail-wheel lesson in his Aeronca Champ!  In November I was able to log 6 hours of flying all of which was local to Michigan but one was a breakfast flight to Jackson with Bryan and our friends Scott and his son Andrew who are in Scouts with us.  December was also a busy month with over 8 hours of flying but again all local to Michigan.  Todd and I flew a bit with another breakfast run to Jackson.  I took Hannah and her friend Drew on a flight around Holland and Grand Rapids and finally my last flight of the year was to take the family up to Manistee to see Lori’s Aunt Tina & Uncle Bill.  When we arrived I took Hannah, Uncle Bill and cousin Michael for a quick local flight around the area as we have been talking about it for at least 2 years.  We had a great evening flight back to Holland to finish up the year of flying.

So that’s my update for 2019.  I usually put a bunch of goals or hopes at this point in my yearly update but this year I’m not going to do that.  I’m just going to enjoy every opportunity I get to fly and use the plane as much as possible.  We will see where 2020 takes us!

New States:  No new states in 2019 unless you count The Conch Republic (Key West) as a different country/state.  This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.








Here is more data for my pilot friends (2019/Total):

Cross-country: 32.7/727.4

Night: 1.8/67.7

IMC: 6.4/80.9

Approaches: 18/276

Landings: 64/1248

Click here to review prior years updates:  2018, 2017, 2016, 201520142013201220112010

2018 Aviation Update

I’m long overdue for putting out my annual summary of all my prior year’s flights.   I’m actually very discouraged that I didn’t fly more than 50 hours in 2018.    The past 4 years in a row have only been about half as much as I would consider a sufficient amount of flying to maintain proficiency and also get a decent amount of utilization out of the airplane.  I’m not going to make excuses like I have in prior years but I’m going to use this as motivation to have a stronger year in 2019.  I do love my airplane and while we didn’t use the plane a ton in 2018 we do have some good memories from the trips that we did.

Here is a summary of 2018:

2018 Hours: 49.3

Total Hours: 996.5

2018 Approximate Mileage: 5,106 miles.

New Airports: 13 – KJXN, 08C, 3GM, KLOT, KTVC, KMCD, KFZI, KAKR, KSTP, KRAP, KFRM, 8D4, KRMY

Map of all the flights made in 2018:

Here’s a quick summary of my flights in 2018.  I started out with a couple of flights in January.  One was a local solo flight to Grand Rapids, the other was with a another pilot Kevin J. who is also based at KBIV.  We practiced multiple instrument approaches to maintain my currency.  The ironic thing I learned this day is that Kevin owns a Piper Warrior that I have in my logbook multiple times in my 16 years of flying.  I rented it from the Dodgen Aviation at the Allegan airport back in 2003 after I got my private pilot license, I had a BFR in it with Jason Blair and also flew with Hannah and Lori’s Mom Kathy in 2009.  The aviation world is very small!  I did not fly in February due to very poor weather.  In March I flew with Tommy W. who is a pilot in training to Jackson, MI for breakfast and a stop in Kalamazoo for fuel.  I also flew with John S. who has a Mooney in the hangar next to mine.  John and I practices a few approaches in Muskegon.  In April I had a solo flight where I went to Riverview and Grand Haven and worked on my short-field procedures.  In May I again flew to Riverview and participated in an EAA Young Eagles and Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badge event.  That day I was able to fly 15 Young Eagles and they all received their merit badge.  It was great to see their faces light up while flying!  In June I had a couple of flights.  I had a solo flight to Kalamazoo early in the month and late in the month I flew solo to Chicago to meet Bobby J. for the weekend and attend the NASCAR races.  I returned home on July 1st.  July was a very busy month of flying.  The family and I took a day trip up to Mackinac Island.  We left the house around 6:30 AM, loaded into the plane, stopped for fuel in Traverse City and were on Mackinac Island around 9AM.  We had a great day on Mackinac seeing the sites, riding bikes around the full island and having a late lunch.  We returned home and were back in Holland around 8PM.  This was a great way to use the plane and I need to make this an annual event!  Less than a week later the family flew to Lancaster, PA for the weekend where we were able to attend my Grandma Smythe’s (Peggy’s mother) 100th birthday party!  It was nice to see family for the weekend.  I was also able to catch up with Frank Dorrin for a day and we used the excuse to complete a BFR to go flying.  Frank was my instrument instructor and I really miss flying with him.  We’ve met up a couple of Oshkosh AirVentures and it was great to see him again even for just a few hours.  We came home from Pennsylvania and a week later we were off on our summer vacation.  We flew to Minneapolis, MN where we spent 2 days with our friend Bobby J.  We stayed in one of the hotels at the Mall of America and Bobby was a great host showing us all around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  On Monday we loaded up the plane and flew almost a 4 hour leg west direct to Rapid City, South Dakota.  We had an unbelievable week and were able to see many great sites including Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Devils Tower, Deadwood, The Badlands, Wall Drug, Jewel Cave and many other scenic areas.  Rapid City was a perfect central location for lodging and each day we went a different direction to explore.  We really were able to use N111RW’s capabilities on our way home as we flew at 17,000 feet and were all on oxygen.  We stopped once for fuel and made it home from South Dakota to Michigan in less than 5 hours of flying!  In July 2018 I flew 27.6 hours which was more than half of my hours for the year.  In August I flew with my neighbor Jerry L to an EAA pancake breakfast in Sparta, MI and then took him to an EAA chapter meeting at Riverview airport.  Then for some reason I took a long break from flying until November.  In November I flew a couple of times, one was solo and the 2nd was with a couple of CFIs from Western Michigan University to practice some approaches.

So now its already March of 2019.  I’ve flown a couple of times this year already and getting some practice in.  N111RW had a fairly extensive annual in January which kept is grounded for most of the month and then the weather has also been really poor for flying.  I’m trying to take every opportunity to get out on nicer days.  I’m learning that I’m just going to have to be patient in the winters.  The family is planning to go on Spring Break to Anna Maria Island later this month and we are all looking forward to this.  We are staying in the same house we had a few years ago.  So now looking back on 2018 I realized that it wasn’t a bad year for aviation, but I should have taken the opportunity to fly more in the fall.  I currently have 999.7 hours now and will break 1000 hours on my next flight.

New States:  I added Minnesota and South Dakota in 2018.  This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.








Here is more data for my pilot friends (2018/Total):

Cross-country: 35.2/694.7

Night: 1.0/65.9 (I’m not even trying to maintain this now)

IMC: 4.5/74.5

Approaches: 15/258

Landings: 52/1284

Click here to review prior years updates:  2017, 2016, 201520142013201220112010

2017 Aviation Update

I’m over a month behind in putting out my annual summary of all my prior year’s flights.   As with the past couple of years I did not fly as much as I would have liked to have flown.  The past 3 years in a row have only been about half as much as I would consider a sufficient amount of flying to maintain proficiency and also get a decent amount of utilization out of the airplane.  Putting this list of excuses together makes me hopeful that I will have a better year in 2018 as I’ve already flown a couple of times in January.  Winter weather in Michigan makes flying very challenging.  Between November and February there are very few opportunities to fly as there seems to be a constant lake effect overcast layer.  This year there has been a lot of snow as well.  On the “nice” days it is likely quite cold and windy which doesn’t make for fun flying.  Again, lots of excuses not to fly.  I have been keeping the preheater on N111RW at all times so that the plane is ready to go when I am.  Maintenance also has continued to be a factor in the amount of flying I’ve been doing.  I work diligently to stay on top of any maintenance issues with the airplane.  In January I had a relatively expensive issue related to the turbocharger on my airplane.  I also had to replace the air conditioner compressor at the end of the summer after a family trip to the east coast which cost a few bucks.  The annual inspection in December went relatively well with only minor squawks to address.  I’ve owned N111RW for almost 4 years now and this plane has definitely cost a lot more to operate and maintain than N2893Z (1979 Piper Archer II) was to maintain.

Here is a summary of 2017:

2017 Hours: 60.1

Total Hours: 947.2

2017 Approximate Mileage: 7,043 miles.


Map of all the flights made in 2017:





















Here’s a quick summary of my flights in 2017.  In January I only flew once with my brother-in-law David to Coldwater for breakfast.  When we got back is when I determined that I wasn’t getting any manifold pressure boost and thus the airplane went into the shop for the repair.  In February I flew a couple of times.  Once was with another local pilot named Jeff as my safety pilot for approaches and currency.  The next day the family and I flew up to Manistee on a beautiful day to see her Aunt Tina & Uncle Bill.  In March I flew a few times which included flights to and from Grand Rapids for my IFR Certification.  I took one night flight which was my only one of the year.  At the end of the month the family flew to Gulf Shores, Alabama for our Spring Break.  In April I also was able to fly a few times as while we were on Spring Break the family flew to New Orleans for a quick day trip.  Bryan and I also flew with Nate, one of my college roommates, and his son for a quick flight around Gulf Shores.  In May another brother-in-law and I flew to Chicago and went to Pilot Pete’s at Shaumberg Airport (06C).  On the return flight we flew down the Chicago Skyline and got some great pictures and videos.  In June Lori, Bryan and I did our only Pilots N Paws mission of the year where we flew Roody the Deaf Australian Shepherd across lake Michigan to Madison, WI.  July was a busy month of flying with multiple currency flights and a great trip with Bryan and I to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2017!  August was probably the busiest month of the year with two family trips.  The first was to Rhode Island and Pennsylvania to see all of my grandmothers.  The second trip was to St. Louis to spend the weekend with the Gaddy’s.  At the end of September I flew on a work trip to Wisconsin for a few days which was a great time savings.  Unfortunately in October, November & December I only flew once as I became very busy with work & school and the weather wasn’t as good for flying.  Looking back to 2016 it was a similar story for me.  I need to make sure that this year I make an effort to find good days to fly in the fall.

2018 is here and already a month has gone by but I’ve already flown a couple of times, got some good proficiency flights in and I’m ready to take every advantage of good weather days in the spring.  My family and I need to plan our trips this year but we currently don’t have anything planned for Spring Break or Summer Vacation.  This will definitely be a priority over the next few weeks.

New States:  Rhode Island was the only new state added in 2017.  This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.








Here is more data for my pilot friends (2017/Total):

Cross-country: 51.1/659.5

Night: 1.0/64.9 (I’m not even trying to maintain this now)

IMC: 10.2/70

Approaches: 15/243

Landings: 42/1132

Click here to review prior years updates:  2016, 201520142013201220112010

2016 Aviation Update

I usually like the annual event where I review my year in aviation and reminisce on the flights that I had.  This year there aren’t as many memories and hours as I would have liked.  There are a lot of excuses for that.  For one, the year started out challenging with still working out issues following the damage to N111RW in 2015.  I started out the year on Jan 1, 2016 in an attempt to visit the National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport with Bryan and friends Kevin & Ben R.  Unfortunately just after takeoff we were getting an erroneous indication on the landing gear and after some minor troubleshooting decided to abort and come back to Richmond.   Kevin and I did get a flight in to Tappahanock later in the month for lunch and I had a couple of other local flights including a night solo to reset my night currency.  In February I took another job that would relocate the family to Western Michigan but before I left I was able to get in a flight from Richmond, VA to Georgetown, DE with Mark E. to meet-up with friends Gary Mascelli & Frank Dorrin for lunch.  Frank gave us a backstage tour of Panchito – a B-25 that he was learning to fly.  What a lucky guy!  I have a lot of pictures of this day but Gary who is a much better at keeping up on his blog than I posted this: Lunch Run & Bomber Tour.

Here is a summary of 2016:

2016 Hours: 53.0

Total Hours: 887.1

2016 Approximate Mileage: 5,135 miles.

New Airports: 6 – KFDY, KBUF, KGRR, KIRS, 6D9, C65

Map of all the flights made in 2016:

The next couple of months flying was limited because I had started my new job in Michigan and had not relocated the plane or the family yet.  I was going back to Virginia every couple of weeks and then in early April I started to relocate N111RW to Michigan.  On my flight from Richmond to Michigan I encountered some significant headwinds of about 75 knots and I knew it was going to be a long & challenging day.  Then a few minutes later I received a message on the G500 that there was a charging system malfunction and the ALT light came on.  I checked fuses which were fine and recycled the alternator but still had an issue so I shed as much of my electrical load as I could and found the closest airport which was KSHD – Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.  Winds at KSHD were pretty brisk and of course a 90* cross-wind but I made a nice landing anyway.  Kyle from Classic Aviation came out even though it was a Sunday to help troubleshoot.  We found that one of the lugs on the alternator had broken off.  They couldn’t get an alternator for a couple of days so I left the plane in their hangar and rented a car to drive the rest of the way to Michigan.  It was a long drive and I returned the following Saturday to pick-up the plane.  Kyle & Classic were very accommodating though and got N111RW airworthy again.  The flight from Shenandoah to Allegan, MI (35D) was uneventful after that even though I initially had some concern of incoming snow.

N111RW was hangared  and based at Allegan (35D) from April through October of 2016.  I flew back to Virginia again later in April to see the family for the weekend and then in May I flew to Buffalo across Canada for a work trip.  On approach back into 35D after the Buffalo trip I started getting an alarm from the autopilot so I shut it down.  One of the roll-servos had failed…good grief.  N111RW then got to spend the next month up at the avionics shop at KGRR – Grand Rapids airport.  While the roll-servo was being repaired I had asked them to upgrade the firmware in my Garmin devices & also the JPI 830 Engine Monitor.  The JPI had issues with this upgrade and had to be sent in to the manufacturer which of course cost much more than I had expected.  What I learned though is that “If it ain’t broke…..don’t fix it!”.

We finally sold our house and bought one in Michigan in late July.  I made one more flight back to Virginia for the final move and Bryan flew back to Michigan with me while Lori & Hannah made the trek in the minivan.  In August, September & October my flying was very limited with only a handful of flights.  My excuse for this is that we had just moved into the new house and that kept me very busy.  N111RW was relocated to KBIV – West Michigan Regional Airport in Holland, MI which is a little closer to our new home than 35D.  It also is longer, has more approaches and much better services available.  Tulip City Air Services performed the annual on N111RW and I was able to spend a day helping with it.  I felt they were very efficient and fair and I’m looking forward to having them maintain the plane.  Just prior to the annual I took my Dad, Peggy & Bryan on a flight along the coast of Lake Michigan down to Benton Harbor and gave them a tour of the lighthouses along the way.

Unfortunately since the annual I’ve only flown one time in November and then the weather has been really awful since then.  Lake effect snow and low ceilings in West Michigan in the winter is going to be a challenge.  I missed a couple of opportunities but it also seems like the nice days from a visibility standpoint are also very windy.  I’m going to have to make the adjustment and learn to take every opportunity I can during the winter, even if it means skipping out of work early to take a mid-week flight.  When I started putting this post together I was a little embarrassed and discouraged about the amount of flying I did in 2016.  53 hours is not enough to stay current and be a good pilot in my opinion especially in N111RW which is more advanced and powerful than other machines that I’ve flown.  Now that I’m completing it though I’m recharged and excited for 2017 and the opportunities that I have to be able to enjoy flight.  It truly is amazing and I’m lucky to be able to have the resources to do it.  Here’s to making 2017 a more productive year of aviation!


New States:  No new states added in 2016.  This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.









Here is more data for my pilot friends (2016/Total):

Cross-country: 38.5/608.4

Night: 1.5/63.9 (I’m not even trying to maintain this now)

IMC: 5.2/59.8

Approaches: 14/228

Landings: 41/1090

Click here to review prior years updates:  201520142013201220112010

2015 Aviation Update

I love looking back on all of my flights from the year and summarizing them for everyone to review.  I was actually surprised that I flew as much as I did this year when I summed up all of my flights.  We had a couple of big trips and really were able to use the capability of N111RW – our 1981 Piper Saratoga.  I really learned a lot about our new airplane and have become more proficient in it.  N111RW was also grounded for about 3 months (Aug-Oct) as well due to it needing its engine inspected after the prop was struck by a tug at the airport while it was tied down.  Nothing significant was found and the FBO took care of all of it including an overhaul of the propeller and a new lower cowling.  During this time they also gave me access to one of their Cirrus SR22’s which was a great experience learning to fly.  On top of our vacations we also flew 5 rescue missions for Pilots N Paws.  Of course I didn’t have nearly enough hours but I am grateful that I have the resources and support from my family to be able to fly such an excellent airplane!  I look forward to 2016 to be able to continue to fly many more exciting trips.

Here is a summary of 2015:

2015 Hours: 76.2

Total Hours: 834.1

2015 Approximate Mileage: >8,000 miles.


Map of all the flights made in 2015:

2015 Flights





















New States:  No new states added in 2015.  This map shows all the states I’ve landed a GA airplane to date.








Year in review:  In January I only had one local flight with a quick stop in Wakefield to get fuel with my friend Mark.  We had some decent weather in February so the family and I spent a weekend in Charleston, SC.  I took the week off of work and assisted with the annual inspection for N111RW the first week of March and met up with some good friends Gary and Bob in Georgetown, DE the weekend after it was complete.  Later in March the family completed our first Pilots N Paws mission where we helped “Lady” and her 11 puppies get from North Carolina up to Rhode Island.  We flew the 2nd leg from Richmond, VA to Trenton, NJ.  We had a lot of flying hours in April when we went to Florida for Spring Break.  On our way down we stopped in Wilmington, NC for a night and picked up “Jack the Border Collie” who flew with us to Sarasota, FL on our 2nd Pilots N Paws rescue of the year.  In May I had a bunch of flights but they were all relatively local to Richmond.  I was able to fly with a few friends including a flight with my Kevin to Franklin for an EAA breakfast.  Gary came down to Richmond at the end of the month and we took turns flying in each other’s airplanes and practiced a few approaches to update our currency.  In June Bryan and I flew with Jake to the AOPA Homecoming Fly-In in Frederick, MD and surprisingly this was my only flight that month.  July I would make up for it though with a flight to Michigan to spend the week with Lori’s family.  Bryan and I flew over to Oshkosh, WI to spend a couple of nights camping and meeting up with our friends Frank and Bev.  N111RW was grounded after we returned from Michigan so August I spent a few hours learning how to fly N544CD – A Cirrus SR22.  Bryan and I flew with Kevin and his son Ben to Wildwood NAS for lunch and to see the museum in the Cirrus.  Also in August we flew the Cirrus to Myrtle Beach,SC for a long weekend.  September was a quiet month as I waited for the repairs to N111RW to be completed and then October & early November were just been local flights testing and working through a few issues with the shop after the maintenance work.  In November I completed 2 additional Pilots N Paws missions.  The first was with Jake where we flew the SR22 to Charlotte, NC to pickup Taco & Betsy.  After Thanksgiving, Bob, Hannah & I flew back to Charlotte in our plane to meet the same people to pickup Snowflake, Butterfly & Smoki.  On both of these missions we met other pilots here in Richmond for them to take the next legs.  December has not been an active month for my flying this year either.  On multiple occasions I had plans to fly but I was either sick or the weather got in the way.  That’s okay though,  in looking back I had a great year of flying!  I look forward to 2016 where I already have my first flight planned for January 1st to go with Bryan, Kevin & Ben to Washington Dulles to go to the Air & Space Museum.

Here is more data for my pilot friends (2015/Total):

Cross-country: 61.7/569.9

Night: 2.5/62.4

IMC: 6.7/54.6

Approaches: 24/214

Landings: 53/1047 (Ask me how many of these were good….)

Click here to review prior years updates:  20142013201220112010

AOPA Fly-In – Frederick, MD (KFDK)

aopalogo2It is always a great day to meet-up with a bunch of other aviators and aviation enthusiasts and today was a excellent opportunity to do that.  I had planned to attend this event for the last couple of months and was glad to be able to attend.  The weather was decent and it looked like a few clouds and patchy fog might delay us but when I looked at the weather forecast first thing this morning I was confident that we wouldn’t have any issues.  Bryan and I met a friend Jake L. at the Chesterfield County Airport (KFCI) at 7AM and headed north to Frederick in Saratoga N111RW.  We flew up on an IFR flight plan but only encountered a few areas of clouds.  As expect we had to deal with quite a few other planes as we got close to the airport and when we were handed off from Approach to Tower Control there was a little confusion because there was VFR traffic paralleling us in.  We took the right of way and landed ahead of them as the Mooney in front of us was turning off the runway.

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AOPA Fly-In - 06062015 - 0806-Jun-2015 12:24, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32

After parking and securing the plane we started exploring.  Jeff & Bryan attended a seminar on engines while Jake checked out the vendor tent.  After that Bryan got to enjoy the Kid’s area for a bit which was very well done with bounce houses and other activities.  A quick tour through the vendor tent with a couple of interesting finds but without spending too much money is always good thing.  We then met back up with Jake for lunch where a bunch of food trucks gave us a great selection.  Bryan and I both had a piece of pizza and shared some tater tots.  After lunch we explored a bit more and looked at the static aircraft displays.  The Breitling Jet Team did a few flyovers and Mike Goulian performed an aerobatic routine which was very good.  Here are the links to a couple of videos that I took of the Breitling Jet Team: Video 1, Video 2.  We wanted to get good seats for Rod Machado’s presentation, which is always a favorite.  He has a knack of having a humorous presentation that you still learn something from.  After Rod’s presentation we spent a little time back in the Kid’s area and then returned to the main tent for the AOPA Town Hall which included updates from Mark Baker, president and CEO of AOPA, FAA Dep. Admin. Michael Whitaker and NTSB Chairman Chris Hart.  They did a great job of succinctly updating us on the current issues they are all working together on including ADS-B and 3rd Class Medical reform.  It was very interesting.

The last mission of the day was to enjoy the free ice cream!  While eating ice cream I ended up having a nice conversation with Melissa Rudinger who is AOPA Vice President Government Affairs and one of the hosts of the weekly AOPA Live.  Earlier in the day Bryan and I met Tom Haines’ who is the Editor in Chief and Sr. Vice President Media and the other host of AOPA Live.  Both were very nice and I thanked them for the work they do for us.

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AOPA Fly-In - 06062015 - 2306-Jun-2015 16:03, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32

We then made our way back to the plane, did a quick pre-flight and briefed the departure procedures.  We would depart west VFR to the Martinsburg VOR and then pickup the IFR flight plan that I had filed from Martinsburg back to Chesterfield.  Everything went as plan and we leveled out at 2000 under the cloud deck while we picked up the clearance.  In short order we were cleared to 7,000 and direct to KFCI.  We went through a few clouds but didn’t really get bumped around too much.  I topped off the day with an ILS approach into Richmond Executive Airport with Jake as my Safety Pilot.  We put the Saratoga back in the hangar, and cleaned the bugs off the cowling and leading edges.  It was such a great day and I was glad to be able to share it with both Jake and Bryan!

Click here to see all of the pictures from the AOPA Fly-In on June 6th, 2015.

Florida Spring Break – April 2015

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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 02004-Apr-2015 14:30, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32

We have already been home from Spring Break for a month but I wanted to make sure I wrote about our awesome Spring Break in Florida this year.  We had such an enjoyable time and it was really hard to come back from.  We left Richmond after the kids got out of school on Good Friday and flew to Wilmington, NC (KILM).  We spent a nice evening seeing the sites from the city we used to live in.  We saw our old house, went to Wrightsville Beach where Lori and I got engaged and had dinner at Flaming Amy’s, which was one of our favorite places to eat.  The reason we went to Wilmington is we were planning to fly another Pilots N Paws mission on our way down to Florida.  Jack the Border Collie needed to get to Florida and he would join us on our trip down the following day.

We woke early on Saturday morning, had a quick breakfast at McDonald’s and then arrived at the airport.  Jack met us and we started our trip down the coast.  The weather wasn’t bad but we did spend a considerable amount of time in the clouds over South Carolina and Georgia.  I even started to pickup some trace ice over the Myrtle Beach area but a small altitude change and this wasn’t an issue anymore.  We stopped in Gainesville, Florida (KGNV) for fuel and then made the quick 1 hour hop to our final destination of Sarasota, Florida (KSRQ).  After saying goodbye and wishing Jack the best at his new home we made our way to Anna Maria Island which is off the coast of Bradenton.  We had a house rented for the week that was a very short walk from the beach.  We couldn’t have been happier with the rental house and the area was absolutely beautiful.  The weather outlook for the week was also perfect with every day forecast to be in the mid-80’s, reasonable humidity and low probability of rain.  We knew it would be a perfect week!

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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 01504-Apr-2015 16:32, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 40
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 01604-Apr-2015 17:53, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 03405-Apr-2015 19:45, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32

Sunday was Easter and somehow the Easter Bunny found us even though we were on vacation.  After a relaxing morning we spent a few hours on the beach and Jeff & the kids enjoyed the water.  The water was very clear and not too terribly cold – very refreshing.  After lunch and getting cleaned up we explored Anna Maria Island.  Not much was open due to the holiday but we made notes of places we would return to later in the week.  We went to dinner at Swordfish Grill just off the island in Cortez and had seats out on the bay.  A band playing, beautiful view of the White Pelicans and water and great weather.  The atmosphere was perfect!

On Monday we headed into Tampa to go to Busch Gardens.  We had previously purchased Busch Gardens season passes here in Williamsburg, VA that are also good for the parks in Florida – including Sea World.  We had an excellent time and really enjoyed the rides and shows.  The family enjoyed the flume and the Congo River Rapids.  Hannah and Jeff rode a couple of the roller coasters together too that they really enjoyed.  The Sheikra was very intense with a 200 foot vertical drop!  The only rain we saw all week was a thunderstorm on the way back to the rental from Tampa.  Tuesday was another beach day for us.  We then spent time again exploring and shopping on Anna Maria Island.  We went out to the Anna Maria City Pier and then had dinner at The Beach House.

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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 03505-Apr-2015 19:46, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 64
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 06207-Apr-2015 19:11, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 02905-Apr-2015 19:20, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32

We don’t like to stay in one place for too long so on Wednesday we were back in the Tampa area.  Lori and Hannah spent a couple of hours on a tour at Big Cat Rescue.  This happened to be very close to where Jeff lived for a few years as a child so he drove around seeing his old house and school.  Afterwards the family spent the afternoon at Adventure Island which is the water park across from Busch Gardens.  We had a great time enjoying the park!  On Thursday we were on the go again and drove all the way over to Orlando where we spent the day at Sea World.  We’ve already gotten excellent use out of passes that we purchased and now will have the rest of the summer.

Vacation time seems to fly much faster than normal time.  Friday was our last day and we spent more time on the beach than prior days.  The water was warmer than any prior day and it was a very relaxing day.  We ended up back at Swordfish Grill for dinner as we had really enjoyed it there earlier in the week and decided this would be good for our last night in Florida.  We were off early Saturday morning and after reviewing the weather Jeff had determined we could make the trip back to Richmond non-stop.  Jeff filed for 17,000 feet and at the appropriate time all put on our oxygen cannulas.  Jeff had the oxygen system filled the prior day and we had previously all practiced using oxygen at lower altitudes.  We were prepared for this and it paid off.  Less than 4 hours later we were landing at our home airport in Richmond and it was only lunchtime!  Click here to see our track on FlightAware.  At times we were getting ground speeds in the 180-190 knot range (210-220 mph).  At one point we started to pickup a little ice at 17,000 feet but I utilized my de-ice boots and then descended to 13,000 to complete the flight and the ice was a non-issue

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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 09609-Apr-2015 15:50, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 12410-Apr-2015 14:09, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 13010-Apr-2015 20:02, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.042 sec, ISO 320
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Florida Spring Break - April 2015 - 17811-Apr-2015 08:54, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32

You know you have had a good vacation when you don’t want it to end.  This trip was one of those times where we couldn’t have asked for a better family trip.  We experienced near perfect weather, warm water, multiple beautiful sunsets, fun times in the amusement parks, and most importantly much needed family time.  Time to start planning the next one!  Click here to see all of our pictures from our week in Florida.