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

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Why yes, yes you should find more excuses to fly. I was thinking we should meet up at either the USAF museum or the NFL Hall of Fame. Let’s make it happen!

I absolutely love the USAF Museum! It’s the best one I’ve ever been to but I haven’t been to the Udvar-Hazy Center yet. I’ve also never been to the NFL Hall of Fame. Both of these would be great meet-ups! We can do it once the weather gets a little better this spring.

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