N111RW Annual – 2015

The FAA regulations on aircraft inspections are very specific and rigorous.  Regardless of how many hours flown in a year my airplane is required to have a detailed inspection completed each year.  This inspection usually takes a full 3-5 days and consists of a detailed list of areas that need to be inspected and items that need to be serviced.  This not only leads to increased safety and reliability of the aircraft but helps the owner uphold the value of the aircraft.  I have been involved with assisting in the annuals for the past few years as it helps me learn about each plane but also be involved in understanding what issues.  Click here to read my post from the annual completed in 2011.  In 2012 I actually helped my mechanic replace the engine on N2893Z which was quite a learning experience!

This year would be the first annual inspection since purchasing N111RW.  There is always a lot of unknowns going into an annual inspection which can lead to increased costs if something major is found.  I had a thorough pre-purchase inspection done last June and I was confident going into the inspection that nothing major would be identified.  I planned the week with Dominion Aviation a couple of months ago and asked if I could assist in the annual.  Dominion Aviation is located right on the field at KFCI – Richmond Executive Airport where N111RW is hangared so it would be very convenient.

On Monday morning I arrived and met with my lead inspector Bill and we discussed the plan for the week.  I told him I wanted to be as involved as possible but that I didn’t want to get in his way.  Bill joined me in taking the plane out to the run-up area to perform the pre-checks to ensure the engine was creating power and everything was working properly.  We then brought the plane into the hangar and performed compression checks on all of the cylinders of which all were 76/80 or better (good start!).  I then got to work opening all of the inspection covers under the wings, fuselage and tail.  I also removed all of the seats.  Late in the afternoon I cleaned the spark plugs using the bead blaster.

I started Tuesday by getting dirty removing wheels, cleaning the bearings and repacking each of them.  We then “swung” the gear and performed all of the tests which went flawlessly.  Since I’ve never had a retractable gear before this was a new experience for me.  Bill had completed the inspection inside the wings with only minor issues identified so I was able to close up most of the inspection covers.  Wednesday  I tried to stay out of the way as much as I could as the inspection and minor repairs were taking place.  The biennial pitot static, transponder and IFR certifications were also due this year so another couple of techs started on that and completed on Thursday morning.  These checks which are done every two years ensure that your altimeters and airspeed indicators are reporting accurate readings to both the pilot and air traffic control.  I also spent time conditioning the leather seats and cleaning misc items on the plane.  One of the line guys William did an excellent job using PBS stripper and conditioner on the boots which really produced amazing results.  The boots look like new now!  The remainder of Thursday I spent cleaning and vacuuming out the cabin and re-installing the seats.

I didn’t arrive until lunch time on Friday due to other commitments but when I arrived Bill had completed all the minor repairs and was putting the cowling back on the airplane.  We then went for a check similar to the initial run-up we did and everything performed well.  Bill would spend the afternoon completing all of the paperwork and putting a coat of paint on the back of the prop.  I thanked everyone at Dominion for letting me be involved.  It was a very good experience and I’m glad that I joined them in the inspection.  Bill did an excellent job of explaining things in detail whenever I had questions and helped me more than once when I struggled with something.

N111RW is fully airworthy and legal for another year!  Here are the pictures I took throughout the process:

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N111RW 2015 Annual - 0102-Mar-2015 09:26, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 160
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 0602-Mar-2015 14:14, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 320
 
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 0702-Mar-2015 14:47, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 320
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 0802-Mar-2015 14:47, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 320
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 0902-Mar-2015 14:47, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.059 sec, ISO 320
 
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 1503-Mar-2015 12:03, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.042 sec, ISO 320
 
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 1803-Mar-2015 13:06, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 200
 
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 2004-Mar-2015 13:37, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 80
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 2206-Mar-2015 12:25, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64
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N111RW 2015 Annual - 2306-Mar-2015 12:28, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 50
 

You can also view all the pictures directly from my Picasa Web Albums using the following link:  N111RW Annual – 2015 Pictures

Weekend in Charleston

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Charleston - February 2015 - 17914-Feb-2015 14:13, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 32
 

The family had a long weekend for President’s Day so we decided to fly to Charleston, SC.  This was a place that we had heard so many good things about but had never made the trip.  We discussed going somewhere but didn’t finalize the plans until just a couple of days prior to leaving.  Weather is always a factor in our planning but February is usually a very tough month to plan too far in advance.  The outlook looked like it would be a little chilly but overall good for the trip down to South Carolina.  We got up early on Saturday morning and made the familiar trip to the airport.  It was a cold preflight but the engine heater had been on all night so the plane was ready to go.  Lori said she wanted remote start and heated seats and I told her that we would work on that in future upgrades but for now this is was the best I could do.

The flight down to Charleston was absolutely beautiful.  I had decided to fly at 12,000 feet to get some higher altitude practice with the family.  We all put on our oxygen cannulas and the trip down was uneventful at about two hours and fifteen minutes.  I had filed a route using victor airways but when I picked up my clearance the controller asked if I just wanted direct and I said “Yes!”  We landed at KCHS – Charleston International Airport and Air Force Base.  It is a good sized airport but fees were low and they waived overnights with fuel that wasn’t too terribly expensive.  As soon as we shutdown the line guys had the rental car at the plane for us and assisted in unloading the luggage.  Great service!

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Charleston - February 2015 - 18314-Feb-2015 14:33, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 32
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Charleston - February 2015 - 18514-Feb-2015 15:31, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 32
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Charleston - February 2015 - 17714-Feb-2015 14:11, Apple iPhone 5s, 2.2, 4.15mm, ISO 32
 

We had no plan and didn’t even have a hotel room yet but we headed into Charleston.  When we arrived we went to the Visitors Center and were surprised how busy things were for February.  The Southeast Wildlife Expo was happening and there were a lot of people in town.  A Carnival cruise ship was also docked for the day which added to the business.  I got on Priceline and was able to find a decent deal on a Holiday Inn Express just a few miles outside of the city that we would stay at.  We then struggled a bit to find parking but finally found a garage that wasn’t full.  By this time the air was warming up nicely and it was turning into a beautiful day.  We spent the day exploring Charleston on foot.  We went through the entire City Market and had lunch at Southend Brewery.  We then walked some more along the pier, along Rainbow Row and then to the Battery.  The wind had really picked up in the afternoon and we were starting to get tired so we made the trek back to the car.  In total we walked over 6 miles on Saturday!  We then found the hotel and then after a short rest we went to dinner at a The Green Goat not to far from where we were staying.

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Charleston - February 2015 - 12415-Feb-2015 12:48, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 8.0, 55.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 100
 

Sunday was another busy day for the family.  We had a good breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the USS Yorktown.  The temperature was forecasted to be cool and windy on Sunday.  The USS Yorktown was a great tour that we enjoyed for a few hours.  There was much more to see but some of the exhibits were outside and the wind was making it feel very cold.  We also wanted to go to the South Carolina Aquarium as well.  We crossed back over the bridge and went back into Charleston and spent a few more hours in the aquarium.  We had missed lunch and were very hungry so we decided on an early dinner at Fleet Landing Restaurant.  It would be an early night though as we had had a busy couple of days and we would be leaving early the next morning.

On Monday morning we woke early, got dressed and packed and had breakfast at the hotel.  We then headed back to the airport.  Winds again favored flying high so I filed for 13,000 feet.  The plane did a great job climbing this high and we were cruising at around 180 knots (207 MPH).  The trip back only took about 2 hours.  When we got close to Richmond there were some layers of clouds that we had to go through on our decent and we picked up a bit of rime ice on the leading edges of the wings and the windshield.  Nothing to really worry about but I did activate the deicing boots and most of the ice quickly popped off.  It was very good experience but I will still be very careful when flying around ice as I don’t want to have to rely on these.

We had an excellent weekend in Charleston.  As I type this it is a few hours after we landed and it is now snowing hard.  I’m glad the weather held out for us and that we were able to enjoy the weekend.  Click here to see all of our pictures from the weekend in Charleston. We already know that we will be back as 2 days in Charleston isn’t enough to see everything.

2014 Aviation Update

This year my flying was significantly different than in the prior couple of years.  In retrospect there are a few reasons for that.  For one, we moved to Virginia and many of my flights have been local or to closer airports getting familiar with the area.  Secondly, I sold N2893Z and purchased a new airplane this year – N111RW – a 1981 Piper Saratoga.  I had to spend a considerable amount of time locally getting training in the new plane since it has retractable gear, a constant speed prop and is high performance.  My 3rd excuse is a very demanding year at work had the plane sitting longer than normal.  All that being said I still consider 2014 a very successful year from an aviation perspective.  I look forward to setting some goals for 2015 and really spreading our “wings” in our new and very capable airplane.  The new plane will fly us faster and higher than we have previously had the capability to fly.  This will of course get us to our destinations quicker but also allow us to get above some of the weather and be more comfortable since it has 6-seats.

Here is a summary of 2014:

2014 Hours: 57.8

Total Hours: 757.9

2014 Approximate Mileage: >6,500 miles.

New Airports: 10 – KRIC, KFYJ, KPGD, KAQX, KART, KHRJ, KEMV, KSHD, KMMU, KUNV

Map of all the flights made in 2014:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New States:  No new states added in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year in review:  January and February I had just a couple of flights to places relatively close to Richmond.  The family flew a very short trip to see Colonial Williamsburg on a beautiful day in early March.  Also in March I flew up to Lancaster, PA to spend time with my Pap in his last days while he was in hospice care.  In April the family spent Spring Break in Myrtle Beach with Jeff’s parents at their new beach house.  N2893Z was sold in May and N111RW was purchased in June.  On June 17th (my birthday) I flew N111RW from Punta Gorda, FL to Richmond, then to Watertown, NY and back to Richmond in one day.  I wasn’t able to log all of this time as I flew with the prior owner from Punta Gorda up to Richmond and then picked up my instructor who spent time learning the systems on the way up to Watertown, NY.  My first logged flight in N111RW was from Watertown, NY back to Richmond and it was quite a memorable experience!  The next few weeks were spent with my instructor learning the new airplane.  The family flew in N111RW for the first time  in the end of July when we took an overnight trip up to the Shenandoah Valley.  It was a very quick flight but a milestone for the family.  In August we flew up to Morristown, NJ where enjoyed our good friend Bobby James’ wedding.  We dropped the kids off in Lancaster, PA and they spent the weekend with Jeff’s parents.  At the end of August Jeff flew up to Cambridge, MD with new friend Kevin R. to meet up with old friends Gary Mascelli & Frank Dorrin to show off the new airplane.  In November Jeff flew up to Penn State University with his friend Jeff G. to pickup his son David for Thanksgiving break.  Finally in December the family again flew to Myrtle Beach for a weekend trip over Christmas Break.

So even though I didn’t accumulate as many hours in 2014 we still got good use out of our airplanes.  We are starting to plan our adventures for 2015 and look forward to a productive year.

Here is more data for my pilot friends (2014/Total):

Cross-country: 45/508.2

Night: 1.5/59.9 (Didn’t even try to stay night current in 2014 – wanted to get more familiar with new plane)

IMC: 5.9/47.9

Approaches: 21/190

Landings: 47/994

Click here to last years update:  2013 Aviation Update

2013 Aviation Update

I look forward to this point every year where I can look back on the flying that I did throughout the year.  It is fun to look in the logbook, remember the adventures and tally up all the hours I flew.  I was again fortunate enough to be able to exceed my yearly goal of flying over 100 hours.  I also barely exceeded 700 hours of total time which is a goal that I set for myself this year.  The plane and newly rebuilt engine are doing well and I look forward to exploring the airports of Virginia next year as we have just recently relocated to Richmond, VA.  As I review the logbook, 2013 was another great year of flying and family adventures!  Here is a summary of 2013:

2013 Hours: 106.7

Total Hours: 700.1

2013 Approximate Mileage: >10,500 miles.

New Airports: 21 – KMGY, C56, K96, KHTS, KBKW, KDET, 2V3 (First Grass Strip), KDTW, KUNU, KOSH (AirVenture!), KUMP, KPPO, KMKC, 2IL9, M97, KFCI, 0I8, KDWU, KAKQ, KPTD, KXSA

Map of all the flights made in 2013:

2013 Flights
New States:  No new states added in 2013.  I would like to add the New England States so that will be the goal over the next couple of years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notable flights: As you can see from the flight map we definitely got good use out of the plane this year.  January and February flying was just relatively local flights from Champaign with trips to West Layfayette, Indianapolis and the Chicago area.  In March Hannah and Lori went out to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for the week so Bryan and I decided to fly to Dayton for a couple of days to see the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.  Bryan and I even flew up to the Chicago area to pickup Hannah & Lori after their trip.  Surprisingly the only flight in April that I took was a flight with my friend Jeff B. up the Chicago skyline and to Schaumberg to meet our other friend Jeff P. for dinner.  In May I made a couple of local flights and the family took an overnight trip up to Allegan, MI to see Lori’s family.  In early June the family flew to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to meet with Jeff’s parents and grandparents for the week.  On this trip Bryan and I took my parents on a flight tour of the Outer Banks.  We flew all the way down to Ocracoke Island and as far north as Currituck.  We even made a stop a KFFA (First Flight Airport) and walked up to the Wright Monument.  In July I made two trips to Detroit in two weeks.  The first was a quick day trip with Bryan and our friends Jay and Caden G. to see a Detroit Tiger game.  We flew up in the morning, met with my friend Bob for the game and then flew back in the evening.  It was really fun to go up there with the boys.  A couple of weeks later the family flew up to Detroit for Jeff’s 20 Year High School Reunion and actually kept the plane at KDTW (Detroit Metro Airport).  Probably the biggest aviation adventure yet was mine & Bryan’s trip to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013 at the end of July.  Bryan and I flew in and camped for a few days, enjoyed the unbelievable show and met up with old & new friends.  Right after we got back from Oshkosh, Lori and I flew over to Indy for the night to see Maroon 5 in concert.  I then flew Lori’s Mom back to Allegan, MI as she stayed with the kids while we were at the show.  In September Jeff and his friend Jay went on another adventure to see the Detroit Tigers play in Kansas City for the weekend.  The two spent the weekend in Kansas City, went to 2 baseball games and enjoyed exploring a new city.  In October we flew to Richmond, VA to house hunt for our new home.  After returning to Illinois I put the plane in annual and my next trip would be in late November to relocate the plane to its new home at KFCI (Richmond Executive Airport) in Chesterfield, VA.  The new airport is only about 10 minutes from our new house!  Finally, I was able to take a couple of flights in late December in Virginia.  One was to meetup with a good friend – Gary M. – and fly with a new friend Scott A.  We met for breakfast in Cambridge, MD.

So even though there were some breaks in my flying this year due to weather and relocating to Virginia I was still able to accumulate a good amount of hours on some really big cross countries this year.  I’m so happy that I get the opportunity to fly and I hope that I can continue to utilize this great form of travel!  I’m looking forward to a productive 2014!

Here is more data for my pilot friends (2013/Total):

Cross-country: 94.3/463.2

Night: 6.4/58.4 (Not enough – need to increase in 2014!)

IMC: 13.1/42 (Some really good IFR experience this year!)

Landings: 88/947

Click here to last years update:  2012 Aviation Update

Oshkosh – EAA Airventure 2013

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 02228-Jul-2013 12:31, Apple iPhone 4, 2.8, 3.85mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80
 
If I had to sum it up in one word it would be…….”WOW!”  I finally made the journey to the yearly gathering of pilots and aviation enthusiasts to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for EAA AirVenture!  For many years it has been something that I have thought that I would someday do but now that I live only about a 2 hour flight from Oshkosh it seemed like something that I had to make plans to do.  A few months ago I blocked the time off my calendar and the closer we came the plans started to take form.  I didn’t have a hotel reservation and I had decided that I would attempt to camp even though I haven’t camped in over 20 years!  Lot’s of planning and even a night of practice in the backyard with Bryan & Hannah earlier in the summer and we would hopefully be ready.  Bryan and I would make the trip up to Oshkosh while Lori and Hannah went up to Michigan to spend a week with family and friends.

Jeff’s friend and instructor for his instrument rating Frank Dorrin and his wife Beverly flew to Champaign in their Twin Comanche the Saturday before AirVenture.  The plan was that we would head up to Oshkosh on Sunday morning.  The weather wasn’t VFR at Oshkosh so we decided to file up to Juneau, WI – KUNU where we both ended up flying an approach down to about 1000′ AGL.  We landed at KUNU, got fuel and explored our options.  Frank was able to get a slot reservation and filed IFR which worked out well for him.  Bryan and I waited on the ground for about an hour and the ceiling had lifted enough for us to make the 30nm hop up to Oshkosh.  There wasn’t too much traffic and we were able to easily navigate our way to Ripon and proceed on the VFR arrival.  When we arrived at Fiske we were directed to “continue along the tracks to the gravel pit and enter a right downwind for runway 27”.  My heart was pumping and I was excited and on downwind I was cleared to land on the orange dot which is about 1/3 down the runway and then asked to land on the green dot about 1/2 the way down the runway.  After landing I quickly pulled off the runway and marshaled to the general aviation camping (GAC) area where we would spend the next few days.  The next couple of hours we were busy meeting our neighbors and setting up camp.  That afternoon we spent time exploring the grounds and caught up with Frank & Bev at their campsite where they had an excellent view of the planes landing on 36L&R.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 06229-Jul-2013 12:19, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 9.0, 24.0mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 100
 
After a very cool night we woke up on Monday morning, ate breakfast at the camp and then headed into the show for a very busy day.  There was so much to see and it was quite overwhelming.  I can’t explain to you how many planes and exhibits there were at AirVenture.  There was also a lot of walking and by mid-afternoon both Bryan and I were wore out.  We even met up with a group of Sunday Morning Breakfast Club (SMBC) members at the “Brown Arch” where they meet everyday at 1PM and we took a picture.  We then spent the afternoon at the camp and even got a very good view of the airshow from the tent.  That evening we went back into the show grounds and we saw the band Chicago play for awhile.  We also ran into Mike Bennett from 110Knots.com and his son.  Mike and I had met a few years ago in Reading, PA and at NE Flyers meetup.  Monday was over as quickly as it started and both Bryan and I were ready for a good night’s sleep.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 10130-Jul-2013 06:31, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 7.1, 36.0mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 100
 
Tuesday morning Bryan and I woke up early and went to the shower house to try to beat the crowd.  The facilities at Oshkosh in the North 40 were really nice and we both felt good after a shower.  It was amazing that we would be at the tent and see warbirds like P-51 Mustangs, Corsairs, B-17’s and many other aircraft taking off not far from where we were camped.  We had a quick breakfast and headed towards KidVenture which was by the EAA Museum where Bryan had a great time learning about aviation and even getting a flight lesson in a simulator.  Check out these two videos links of: Bryan Preflighting an Airplane, and  Bryan’s First Flight Lesson.  He even got a logbook signed with 0.3 hours after the lesson.  We enjoyed the afternoon again with the Dorrin’s watching the airshow from their camp and then spent the evening in Camp Scholler at a party with a group of people from the Pilots of America Forum.  It was a great meal and good company!

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 11930-Jul-2013 10:22, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 3.5, 18.0mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 400
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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 12030-Jul-2013 10:32, NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D3200, 3.5, 18.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 400
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Wednesday was another eventful day.  It would end up being our last full day at Oshkosh so Bryan and I did a lot of shopping for things that we had seen throughout the week that we wanted to get.  We ended up going through all 4 of the big buildings that had vendors from the aviation industry.  We also spent a couple of hours in the EAA Museum but will definitely have to go back at some point when we have more time.  On Wednesday night we spent the evening seeing the night airshow which was amazing.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it and the fireworks at the end were awesome!  Bryan went right asleep when we got back to the tent and I spent the last couple of hours with a few of our fun neighbors.  They were from all over the place.  Mike and his daughter Jeanette from New York in a Bonanza, Ron & Woody from Montana in an RV, Walt from Texas in a Cessna, and Pat & Aaron in a Piper Cherokee 180  from Oregon.

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Thursday morning we woke up and were busy.  A quick trip to the shower house and then we started packing up.  We got everything loaded up, got a refund for the days we didn’t camp and then grabbed a quick breakfast at the food tent near our campsite.  I briefed the departure procedure again and then got some help pulling the plane out from Mike & Pat.  The engine was soon running but then we had to wait in line about an hour behind a bunch of other planes that were trying to depart at the same time.  When I took off there were 3 other planes that had been cleared to take off right in front of me.  I wish I could have taken a picture but I was too busy making sure I didn’t run into them.  The flight home was VFR the whole way and the controllers were so busy that I didn’t even bother trying to pickup flight following until I contacted Champaign approach about 40nm from home.

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Oshkosh EAA AirVenture - July 2013 - 24701-Aug-2013 11:09, Apple iPhone 4S, 2.4, 4.28mm, ISO 50
 
Oshkosh was a great experience that I will remember forever!  I’m already thinking that I am going to try to make it an annual event whenever possible.  I mentioned it to Lori about coming but I don’t think she is too interested in the camping experience which I understand.  Maybe sometime we can get a house or hotel and I will be able to get her to it.  Bryan and I both had a great time and I’m sure he is ready to go back!

 Click here for all the pictures of our Oshkosh trip.

First Grass Landing!

It only took 10 years but in July of 2013 I finally made my first landing on grass.  The Sunday Morning Breakfast Club – SMBC was meeting up at Hartenbower Airport – 2v3.  I called my pilot friend Jeff B. the night before and we met early at the Champaign airport on Sunday morning.  The weather was beautiful and we beat most of the crowd to Hartenbower but within a short time there were a lot of planes all coming in to land at the same time.  The field was in great condition and the landing was uneventful.  We parked on the edge of the field and had a good breakfast.  Jeff had to get back to Champaign for another engagement so we didn’t stay long.  My soft-field takeoff wasn’t perfect but we were soon off the ground and heading back.  We had planned to stop in Pontiac for fuel but luckily we realized prior to landing that the FBO wasn’t open and the fuel pumps were not self-serve so we continued back to Champaign.  I’m looking forward to landing at some other grass strips now that I have finally landed on one.  There are quite a few here in Illinois.

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Two Trips to Detroit in Two Weeks

Although it probably seems like we are always flying somewhere, up until a few weeks ago I was behind on the amount of hours that I target for flying of at least 100 hours per year.  This summer would changed that though as we have a lot of opportunities to use the plane.  The weather has been very good and we have had a lot of places to go.  In July I was able to fly to Detroit twice!

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Flight to Detroit Tiger Game - 07112013 - 5011-Jul-2013 16:32, Apple iPhone 4, 2.8, 3.85mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 80
 
The first trip was just for the day to go to a Tiger game against the Chicago White Sox.  A few days before I looked at my work schedule and the weather and they both looked good to accommodate a day off.  I sent a text message to my friend Jay and fellow Tiger fan to see if he wanted to fly up with our sons that Thursday.  He couldn’t pass it up so we planned to meet at the Champaign airport early in the morning.  Within no time we were on our way to Detroit in smooth air with the boys having a good time with their electronic toys in the backseat.  We made it to Detroit in just about 2 hours and were routed a bit over Lake Erie and up the Detroit River over Canada and we landed at Detroit City Airport (KDET).  On the way up the river we got a great view and a bunch of pictures of Grosse Ile, MI which is where I grew up.  We took a quick cab ride from the airport to Comerica Park and got to the stadium early enough to look around and have some lunch.  This was Jay, Caden & Bryan’s first time at Comerica but I had been there a few times before.  Bob, my best friend who lives in the Detroit area also met us at the game.  Unfortunately the Tigers didn’t win but we still had a great time at the game.  After the game Bob dropped us off at the airport and we were in the air shortly for another good flight back to Champaign.

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Flight to & from Detroit for Jeff's 20 Year Reunion - 0319-Jul-2013 09:19, Apple iPhone 4, 2.8, 3.85mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 80
 
A week later I was heading back to Detroit for my 20 Year High School Reunion.  The whole family loaded up into the plane for an early departure and this time we were planning to land at Detroit Metro Airport (KDTW).  We were planning on staying for the weekend and surprisingly the fees were very reasonable and it was the most convenient option for us.  We had a great tailwind but then got routed all the way around the city again and up the Detroit River which took quite a bit of time.  Again I got some good pictures of Grosse Ile and one of these days I will actually land at the airport on the island.  Bob picked us up at the airport and we went up to Henry Ford Museum for the day and met Lori’s Mom Kathy there.  After a fun few hours at the museum the kids and Kathy headed back to Allegan where they would stay for the weekend while Lori, Bob and I would attend Grosse Ile High Schools Class of 1993 20 Year Reunion.  Bob, Lori and I went to the “Island” for dinner on Friday night and met up with a bunch of people from Jeff & Bob’s class.  We then went back on Saturday at the Grosse Ile Pilot House and had a fun time at the reunion.

We stayed at a hotel near the airport and left early Sunday morning.  Lori and I made the quick hop across the state to Allegan where we picked up the kids and then headed back home to Champaign.  Another good flight and we were back home after a fun weekend.  Each of these trips would have been around 6 hours driving each way and the plane helped cut that time down significantly!  Click on the links below to see pictures of the two trips to Detroit.

Click here to see pictures from our trip to the Detroit Tiger Game on July 11th, 2013

Click here to see pictures from our flights to Detroit for Jeff’s Reunion – July 19th-21st, 2013

The Outer Banks – June 2013

In early June of 2013 the Frey Family flew to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our summer vacation.  We rented a house in S. Nags head with Jeff’s Parents and Grand Parents.  There were a bunch of storms and a front that came through the night before we planned to leave.  When I woke up in the morning the weather didn’t look good at all and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to fly that day.  As I continually checked the weather and looked into my options I decided I could get to the north of all the real bad weather but we would have to leave quickly.  We were already packed so we headed to the airport, efficiently loaded the plane and were off the ground in no time.  The family has really gotten to a point where we can get the plane loaded up and ready to go in no time.  Despite some light to moderate rain, the flight was very good.  I planned to stop in Huntington, WV (KHTS) for fuel in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.  It was windy and gusty when we landed there but nothing that I couldn’t handle.  The kids stomachs were a little uneasy but we were all able to get lunch at a restaurant in the terminal.  After departing Huntington we had to dodge a couple of buildups and storms.  We usually get an earlier start to avoid these but with the late departure I ended up having to navigate around some of the weather.  The new Stratus 2 and my XM Weather on the Garmin 496 both came in handy and helped me get around the small cells relatively easy.

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We landed at Dare County Regional Airport (KMQI) in Manteo, NC.  We had planned to get a rental car from Enterprise but they didn’t drop off the car as expected and were already closed when we arrived late Saturday afternoon.  Luckily the FBO at the airport had a rental car for $60/day but we didn’t have any other options so we had to rent it.  I ended up using it for a couple of days and then dealt with Enterprise on Monday morning.  We arrived at the house that was just across the street from the beach on the south end of Nags head.  The view was beautiful.  From the front of the house we could see the Atlantic Ocean and from the back of the house we could see the Albemarle Sound.  It was great to see the family and after getting settled in we all went to dinner at the Lucky 12 Tavern.

We had a great week spending time with family and enjoying the good weather.  Many of the group took daily long walks on the beach.  Sunday was a beach day and the weather was beautiful.  Later in the afternoon we all drove through the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and took a hike on a walking path in the middle of the refuge.  Monday it rained pretty hard but we ended up using the time to run some errands and get some things done that we needed to do.  We had lunch at Awful Arthur’s, which is one of our favorites in the Outer Banks.  On Tuesday Jeff, Hannah, Peggy & Jeff Sr. went out to the Bodie Island Lighthouse.  We were able to climb it as it was recently opened to the public for the first time.  In the evening Jeff, Hannah, Bryan, Peggy & Jeff Sr. went to dinner at the Outer Banks Brewing Station and then went to see the Outer Banks Daredevils baseball game.  Wednesday was a very eventful day for everyone.  Jeff, Bryan, Peggy & Jeff Sr. went on a flight tour of the Outer Banks.  We flew all the way down to Ocracoke, around all the lighthouses and even landed at First Flight Airport (KFFA) in Kill Devil Hills where we climbed up to the monument for some pictures.  During this same time Lori & Hannah, went up to Corolla where they went on a tour to see the wild horses out on the beach.  That evening everyone in the family including Jeff’s grandparents went to see “The Lost Colony”.  Thursday was another relaxation day where we spent time on the beach and in the pool.  Tropical Storm Andrea ended up hitting us and the weather Friday was very windy.  We spent Friday afternoon inside at the North Carolina Aquarium and then had dinner with everyone at Pamlico Jacks.  The week flew by but as you can see we did a lot and had a wonderful time.

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Fortunately by Saturday morning the tropical storm had already passed.  We departed Manteo early and ended up having to fly in more weather than I had expected on the way home.  Some of it was even in moderate rain with a couple of good bumps.  We stopped in Beckley, WV (KBKW) to get fuel and were surprised the airport restaurant closed and no courtesy car.  We had a quick snack and then just decided to jump back in the plane and push to get home for the last 3 hours.  After getting bumped around in the clouds for a while we made it home mid-afternoon, quickly unloaded and put the plane away.  Another successful adventure for the Frey Family!  The drive to the Outer Banks from Illinois would have been about 16 hours but the flights were just over 6 hours each way.  We are looking forward to using the plane a lot more this summer and Jeff & Bryan are even making plans to go to Oshkosh for the first time.

As always we took a lot of pictures on this trip.  Click here to see the photo albums.

Click on these links to see the flight track data:  KCMI-KHTS-KMQIOuter Banks Tour (KMQI-KFFA-KMQI), KMQI-KBKW-KCMI

 

Spring Break – March 2013

It’s hard to believe that Spring Break 2013 has already come and gone.  This year the family went two different ways but we all had a great time.  Lori & Hannah had been planning a trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with Lori’s Mom – Kathy & good friend – Judy.  Lori has been to Best Friends multiple times but this would be Hannah’s first trip to enjoy the sanctuary and to volunteer.  We drove up to the Chicago suburbs and met up with Judy & Kathy at Lansing Airport – KIGQ so they could all drive up to O’Hare Airport together.  We would have flown up the Lansing Airport but the ceiling was very low and it was very cold…a perfect recipe for icing conditions.

Bryan and I then headed back to Monticello where we would stay very busy for a few days.  We had a good time and got a lot of things done.  The weather continued to be poor with cold & windy conditions but started to look up about mid-week.  Bryan and I had a plan to try to go to Dayton to checkout the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  We were all set to get up early on Wednesday morning to head out but late Tuesday night the house felt unusually cold and I realized that the furnace had stopped working.  A late call to the repairman and with plans for them to come the following morning postponed us.  The house got really cold that night but the repair was fairly painless.  We decided to postpone until the following day since we wouldn’t get in until late afternoon anyway.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -002Early Thursday morning we woke up before the sun, secured the house and headed out to the airport.  It was a cold!  Less than 15*F.  Despite that it was looking clear and we got to the hangar where the engine had been preheating for the prior 2 days and I even turned on a small heater in the cabin on the way to the field.  I have a cell phone activated switch now with 2 outlets on it that has reduced some of the challenges of cold weather flying.  Right as the sun started to come up Bryan and I lifted off on schedule and headed for Dayton.  We had a decent tailwind and the flight was only about an hour and a half.  This was also the first flight with my new iPad mini that I recently purchased.  The mini fit much nicer on the RAM yoke mount and was plenty big enough to see.  I can now see the engine instruments and fuel gauges easier as well.  Surprisingly there were some small isolated snow cells right around Dayton when we got there but nothing I couldn’t handle.  We landed at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (KMGY) early enough to where we had plenty of time to explore for the day.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -004 Our first stop was the Wright “B” Flyer museum which just happened to be right next to the FBO.  This was a neat little hangar that had a lot of action going on it.  These organization operates a look alike of the Wright “B” Flyer at airshows and other events.  They happened to be performing the annual inspection on the aircraft when we came in and we were able to meet one of the pilots that flies it.  We were only there a short time but were given some good information about what we should go see.  We hopped into the rental car and after an early lunch at Wendy’s, Bryan and I arrived at the National Museum just a little before noon.  I had been to the museum before but it was many years ago.  I didn’t remember much of it and a lot had been added in the past 20 years.  I can’t express how great this museum is.  I can honestly say that it is the best aviation museum I have EVER been to.  The Smithsonian in Washington, DC is great, but this museum had a much larger array of aircraft from the early days of aviation, to WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and even the Cold War Era.  Some of my favorites were the Bockscar – the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a P-51 Mustang, a B-52 Stratofortress, a B-1B Lancer, a B-2 Bomber, a F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter, a F-15 Eagle & F-22 Raptor, and of course the SR-71 Blackbird.  I could go on.

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We had made a reservation to take a the 3:30PM bus over to the remote hangar where they house many Presidential and experimental aircraft.  Here we saw an unbelievable collection of experimental planes including the Lockheed YF-12A, the Bell X-1B, and the North American X-15.  On the Presidential side of the hangar we were actually able to walk through many past presidential airplanes including the Boeing VC-137C (707) SAM 26000 also known as Air Force One when used by President’s Kennedy through Clinton.  I am so glad that we were able to go through this hangar as it sounds like it will be closed in the near future due to budget cuts, which is very unfortunate.  I highly recommend visiting this museum if you get a chance but in the meantime take a look at the many pictures I took and also at the National Museum of the United States Air Force  website.

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Bryan and I had spent all afternoon at the museum and I could have spent many more hours but the museum was closing and Bryan was getting a little anxious.  I promised myself that I would be back though and not take 20+ years before my next visit.  We headed to the hotel, checked in and then met up with Steve who authors the excellent “A mile of runway will take you anywhere” blog.  Steve and I had never met in person but we are both Western Michigan University graduates who happen to be pilots and we have been Facebook “friends” for a couple of years now.  Steve picked us up at the hotel and we headed to a great pub where we met his wife and enjoyed a very good dinner, a couple of good beers and most importantly, great company!  It had been a long day and Bryan and I were both ready for our pillows when we eventually made it back to the hotel.

Dayton Trip - March 2013 -165Dayton Trip - March 2013 -169We awoke to an absolutely beautiful day and had breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites we were staying.  We then headed out to check out a couple more sites before we left town.  The Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and the Wright Cycle Company are in Downtown Dayton and we spent a bit of time checking out the exhibits.  I made note of a couple of other destinations that we must visit on our return but didn’t have time to visit on this trip.  We then headed back to the airport so we could get the rental car back on time and were soon in the air.  I usually file IFR on longer trips like this but the weather forecast was perfect so I decided just to head back VFR.  We were back in Champaign before lunch.  Spring Break was almost over but the following day we were able to fly again.  This time it was back to Lansing Airport to pickup Lori & Hannah on their return from Best Friends.  Luckily the weather was much better for this trip.  It definitely made the trip shorter by being able to fly.

Everyone had a great Spring Break even though we weren’t all together.  We have a family trip planned in early June to head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Click here to see all of the pictures from our trip to Dayton, OH.

2012 Aviation Update

It is that time of year where we pilots (yea, we are all analytical) look back on all the flights and summarize our stats.  Even with a significant amount of downtime on the plane due to avionics upgrades/repairs and the engine being replaced at annual I was still able to meet my yearly goal of flying over 100 hours.  We also had some great adventures.  Here is a summary of 2012:

2012 Hours: 109.3

Total Hours: 593.4 – I’ll break 600 hours early in 2013.  Next year I’m shooting to break 700 hours.

2012 Approximate Mileage: >10,000 miles.

New Airports: 24 – KOXI, 2H0, KSKY,KSPI, 06C, 3A1, KDTS, 2M2, KPIA, KSUS, KDKB, C09, KMDW, M01, KNEW, KJWN, KBBG, KIND, KRCR, KVPZ, C20, KRPJ, KVGT, U30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New States:  4 – Missouri, Louisiana, Nevada & Arizona.  The picture below is all the states that I have landed in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notable flights:  Wow, there were a ton this year.  The family was able to get good use of the plane even in the winter months with a trip to Allegan, Michigan in early January to see Lori’s family and a trip in February to Sandusky, OH to meet Jeff’s sister and family at Kalahari Water Park Resort.  In March for Spring Break we flew to Destin, FL and enjoyed a great week with great flights.  In April we were back in Michigan for Easter.  In June Jeff and a friend flew up to Chicago Midway to go to the Tiger-Cubs game at Wrigley.  In July Jeff & Lori flew to Memphis, New Orleans & Nashville for their 10th Anniversary.  In August the family flew to Branson, MO to enjoy a weekend just before school started.  The plane was in annual for most of October & November getting a new engine installed but in December the family was again able to fly up to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with Lori’s family.  In early December Jeff and a group of friends went to Las Vegas and rented a plane where we flew around Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon & the Hoover Dam.  You can click on each of these links to see pictures and more details of these adventures.

Along with all these trips I was also able to fly with an instructor friend from the University of Illinois numerous times to stay current and sometimes find a good place to eat.  On one of these flights I was able to experience my first approach to minimums.  I was also able to meet up with the SMBC – “Sunday Morning Breakfast Club” on quite a few occasions throughout the year.  This is a group of Chicagoland pilots who meet up a different airports in Illinois & Indiana every Sunday morning.  Hopefully we will be able to attend more of these meetups in the coming year!

2012 has been a great year from an aviation perspective!  I only hope that the coming years are as exciting and productive!

Here is more data for my pilot friends (2012/Total):

Cross-country: 91/369

Night: 11/52

IMC: 7/29

Simulated Instrument: 6/56

Landings: 84/856

Approaches: 30/153