Walt Disney World – June 2011

For our 2011 Family Vacation we decided to go to Walt Disney World in Florida again.  Surprisingly it has been almost 3 years since we went in September of 2008.  Hannah is now 7 and Bryan is 5 so we thought that they would really enjoy it at this age.  Lori and I really had a good time a couple of years ago as well so we decided to make our plans.  This time however we planned to fly our airplane down rather than to drive or fly commercially.  A few months ago we looked at schedules and decided to go as soon as Hannah finished school in early June since it wouldn’t be as hot and busy yet.

For the week leading up to the trip the weather was looking good all the way to Florida.  As with most of our flights, we left the house at the crack of dawn.  The weather is usually much better in the early hours of the day as the afternoon heat and humidity brings on bumpy clouds and thunderstorm possibilities.  We were off the ground just before 6 AM and were flying direct to Paulding Executive Airport (KPUJ) which is in the northwest Atlanta area, just under the Class B airspace.  We had excellent tailwinds at 9,000 feet and were getting a ground speed around 150 knots (173 mph).  We were on the ground in the Atlanta area in about 3 hours.  At Paulding Airport we were treated like we flew a corporate jet in.  This airport is less than a year old and the restaurant on the field is not yet open.  L.J. knew we were coming and picked up some breakfast for us – oatmeal, donuts, fruit and juice were waiting when we arrived!  We couldn’t believe how beautiful the facility was and how well we were treated.  Fuel was also reasonable at $4.99/gallon compared to more than $6/gallon at other airports in the area.  After breakfast and filling up we all piled back into the plane for the next hop down to Kissimmee (KISM).  It was hot, humid and hazy as we departed, but still no storms.  We bumped around a bit as we climbed out but it wasn’t too bad.  Soon we were again cruising along in the cooler air at 9,000 feet.  I was getting some erroneous readings on my engine temperature monitor on cylinder #2 exhaust gas temperature.  They were very erratic but there were no other indications of anything wrong so I suspected a bad probe.  I paid close attention, but decided to continue on as all other CHTs, EGTs, RPM, oil temp & pressure were all normal and the engine was running smoothly.  In no time we were descending and getting vectors to our destination.  I noticed that we were getting close to the Disney TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) but since I was on an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight plan this wouldn’t be an issue.  We were able to get a very good view of Walt Disney World including The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the All-Star Music Resort where we would be staying.  We were soon on the ground and the crew at Kissimmee Jet Center had us parked and brought the rental car right up to the plane for us to load.  Total flight time down was less than 6.5 hours and we were on the ground by about 2 PM.  Not too bad for over 925 miles!

We were very happy to be in Florida two days earlier than our original plan.  We found a Country Inn & Suites resort that gave us a good rate for the two nights prior to us checking into Disney.  The resort had multiple pools with water slides, a miniature golf course and many other nice amenities.  We found a Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner which has somehow become a tradition for us to eat at when we fly somewhere.  That evening we just enjoyed the resort and spent time in the pool.  The next morning (Saturday) we spent time checking out Walt Disney World and shopping at Downtown Disney.  In the afternoon we again enjoyed the pool at the hotel and then we went out to dinner at the Bonefish Grill.  On Sunday we woke up early, had breakfast at the Country Inn & Suites and then headed over to Disney where we were able to check into the All-Star Music Resort.  Disappointingly the room wasn’t as nice as the Country Inn & Suites and it was more expensive, but it was nice to be staying right on the resort.  We decided to make the best of it and enjoy the trip.  We wouldn’t be spending a ton of time in the room anyway and we were quickly saddled up and heading to the Magic Kingdom for the day.

We all had a great time at the Magic Kingdom and rode many of the rides throughout the day.  Hannah’s favorite was Splash Mountain and Bryan’s was The Haunted Mansion.  We stayed all day until after dark when the Electric Parade completed.  It was a long day and we were all tired but everyone really enjoyed themselves.  Monday we planned on going to Hollywood Studios and George Anthony (Jeff’s step-dad) met us in the morning.  He was down visiting a friend and was able to spend a couple of days with us.  Hollywood Studios was fun but the kids didn’t enjoy it as much because everything was more of a show than a ride.  In the afternoon we went back to the resort and enjoyed the pool for a couple of hours before being treated to dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.

On Tuesday morning I woke up early and went out to the airport to check on the plane and to troubleshoot the engine temperature issue that I had on the trip down.  George met me out there and I pulled off the cowling and swapped a couple of the probes to see if I could isolate the issue.  I noticed that the wire may have been sitting on an exhaust tube and addressed this.  After a couple of tests I did not see the erroneous indications anymore so I fired up the engine and we did three laps around the pattern.  A short flight but piece of mind as all indications were normal.  We then met the rest of the family and headed off to Epcot for the day.  Epcot had quite a few more things for the kids to do and we went on just about everything that we could.  We had lunch with the Princesses in a Norwegian restaurant in the World Showcase that was very good.  Everyone really enjoyed Test Track and Hannah and Lori even went on the intense Mission Space ride and both loved it.  We stayed for the light show at the end of the day and walked around the whole World Showcase.  We were very tired by the end of the day and returned to the room where we all crashed for the night.

Wednesday was our “off” day.  Instead of going to one of the big parks we decided to go to Blizzard Beach which is one of the water parks.  We had a good time trying out the water slides.  Our favorite was Teamboat Springs which was a family raft ride down a long water slide.  In the afternoon we went to Disney Quest which is an indoor park that has a lot of video games and virtual reality adventures.  We then had a great dinner at The Cheesecake Factory where we were able to sit outside and the weather was beautiful.

 

On Thursday we were back at it and visited Animal Kingdom.  We enjoyed the Safari, the Lion King show and a few other things.  We finished everything we wanted to see around mid-afternoon and headed back to Downtown Disney where we all picked out our souvenirs.  Hannah bought a Rapunzel doll, Bryan bought Phineas & Ferb, Lori a photo album and Jeff got a shot glass.  We returned back to the the resort for dinner and to enjoy the pool for awhile.

Friday was our last full day in Florida.  We woke up in the morning and went to Typhoon Lagoon – Disney’s other waterpark.  Hannah and Bryan both went on some of the larger water slides with Daddy and enjoyed them.  We were all getting a little burnt out by this time so we decided to head back to the hotel to rest for awhile before going out to dinner at The Olive Garden for our last night.  We had an early day planned the next morning so we packed up everything and called it an early night.

It was Saturday morning and the week had flown by.  We had a great time but it was hard to believe that we were heading back to the airport already.  We loaded up the plane and soon were taxiing out for departure.  The leg from Kissimmee to Atlanta was uneventful and smooth sailing.  It was a little more hazy than the trip down.  It was smooth sailing but we were not making as good of time and received some re-routes on the way up to Paulding.  I actually received my first STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) which was the DIFFI ONE.  It was so hazy and visibility wasn’t much more than about 3 miles so I requested the GPS-A approach into Paulding.  We purchased fuel and borrowed the courtesy car to grab a quick lunch in Paulding.  I had been watching the weather radar and I was concerned that we would have to contend with some storms over Kentucky & Illinois.  We departed and it wasn’t long before I was weaving around some buildups that were just starting to grow.  Surprisingly the XM Weather radar showed some yellows and reds just over the mountains by Chattanooga that had suddenly popped up.  At first I was looking for a route around this but it became quickly apparent that I wasn’t going to have any good options.  Bryan had been watching a video and with the addition of the weaving he started getting sick.  It wasn’t a bumpy ride at all as I was remaining clear of clouds.  With limited options I called ATC and asked them for some vectors to the closest field.  I got a quick descent and vectors to Chattanooga (KCHA) which was only a few miles away.  On the way down Hannah also got sick and Lori was quick on the draw with the bowl!  In no time we were on the ground though and we beat the line of storms that came over the area.  After an hour or so it looked like it was starting to clear but the storms I had originally been concerned with looked like they would be more of an issue so we decided to stay in Chattanooga for the night.  We were checked into another Country Inn & Suites which was beautiful and we had dinner at the Cracker Barrel.  We were all tired so it was an early evening.

On Sunday morning we had a quick breakfast at the hotel and were on our way back to the airport in the taxi.  The flight plan was filed direct from Chattanooga (KCHA) to Champaign (KCMI) and we were soon climbing out over the mountains.  It was a very smooth flight.  We were above some clouds but there was no “weather” to contend with.  Ground speeds on the return were around 115 to 120 knots (135 mph) which isn’t bad at all.  It was about a 3 hour flight home from Chattanooga and total flight time for the return trip from Florida was roughly 7.5 hours.  We were on the ground, unpacked and the plane was secured in the hangar by around 10:30 AM.

So that’s the story about our trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.  We all had a wonderful time and it was a great week with the family.  Even with the diversion due to weather it was well worth using the airplane.  The family is getting much more experienced in traveling this way and it is opening up new opportunities the way we had planned it to.  I had never landed in Tennessee, Georgia or Florida and added all of these to my map of states that I’ve landed in.  Now we need to start planning our next family getaway!  Click here to be taken to the photo album with all of the pictures that we took for the week.

2010 Aviation Update

Well, everyone else is doing it so I thought that I would as well.  I noticed both Rob and Gary put similar summaries on their blog so I thought I’d review my data as well.  Here is a summary of my flying experience gained in 2010.

2010 Hours: 136.1 – First time to break 100 hours in a calendar year!

Total Hours: 407

2010 Approximate Mileage: > 11,000 miles

Ratings: Instrument Rating – 3/19/2010

New Airports: 10 – KRDG, KACY, KMFV, KONX, KGWW, KSFQ, KLDJ, KPKB, KCMI, KVTA

Notable flights:  Flew the family to Myrtle Beach for a week vacation over Spring Break, Two trips to MI (Memorial Day and late September), a couple of trips to Champaign, IL to check out new area, flew in twice to Linden, NJ to go to Yankee games, Flew family to Concord, NC to see family friends for Labor Day.

It was a very productive year!  Hopefully now that we have moved to Champaign, IL (KCMI) I will get to explore some new areas!

Happy New Year to all of you!

Flight to Michigan – Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Flights - MI Trip - May 2010 - 23

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Flights – MI Trip – May 2010 – 2327-May-2010 11:05, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.6, 5.8mm, 0.005 sec

 

We flew the airplane to Michigan for Memorial Day weekend in May 2010.  The trip had been planned for a couple of months and I started looking at the weather earlier in the week.  The outlook was good for the whole weekend.  To reduce the possibility of running into an afternoon thunderstorm we planned to leave early in the morning on Thursday 5/27/2010.  We were at the airplane before 6 AM and the loading and preflight were quickly completed.  Flight plans were filed and weight and balance checked the night before so we were ready to go.  We were off the ground right around 6:30 AM which was the plan.  The air was smooth but a bit hazy and I was glad to be on an IFR flight plan.  I was cleared west directly over Baltimore, MD and climbed up to 10,000 feet.  Luckily we had a slight tailwind even though we were heading west which is unusual.  It wasn’t much, but we were still getting ground speeds around 125 to 130 knots (143-150 MPH).  We settled in for the 2.5 hour flight to our planned fuel stop in Conshocton, OH (Richard Downing Airport – I40).  Lori kept busy by reading a book and listening to music, Hannah played with her toys and Daddy’s iPad, and Bryan watched a DVD and eventually fell asleep for awhile.  We landed in Choshocton on schedule and had a quick stop to take on fuel and use the restrooms.  After a quick snack of popcorn we hopped back in the plane as we were excited to get back in the air and get to Allegan.  I wasn’t able to get Indianapolis Center on the radio so I departed VFR and quickly was able to pickup my IFR clearance in the air.  The leg from Conshocton to Allegan was only about 2 hours and before long we were handed off to Grand Rapids Approach and cleared for the GPS29 approach into Allegan (Padgham Field – 35D).  It isn’t unusual to have good landings when the plane is full and has an aft CG but my landing in Allegan was one of my best ever.  Too bad no one was watching!

Flights - MI Trip - May 2010 - 90 - Baltimore, MD

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Flights – MI Trip – May 2010 – 90 – Baltimore, MD30-May-2010 15:12, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.0, 18.633mm, 0.002 sec

 

We spent Thursday, Friday & Saturday in Allegan seeing family and friends in the area.  Lori’s family all got together at her parent’s house on Saturday and we had a very nice time.  Lori also was able to see one of her best friends from school that she has not seen in many years.  I didn’t see many of my friends but I did catch up with Troy for one evening who also lives in Allegan.  I had a very busy week planned at work the following week and it looked like weather might affect us if we decided to stay until Monday.  We opted to leave on Sunday morning and were off the ground right around 11 AM.  Again the flights went very well and we stopped in Conshocton for fuel.  They had an outdoor grill open so we decided to sit down and have lunch.  It was very hot and there was hardly a breeze.  After lunch we hopped back into the plane and were off for the final leg of our journey.  There were some scattered clouds that had popped up and we brushed up against a few of them as we climbed up to our assigned altitude of 9,000 feet.  I took quite a few pictures of this as it is a fun experience for me since prior to getting my instrument rating I could not do this.  We also flew into the Washington, DC Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) and right over Baltimore.  Another great flight and we were on the ground back in Delaware (33N), tied down and unloaded before 5 PM.  It was hot and everyone was tired but it was definitely better than the 13 hour drive or flying commercially.  It is great that we are able to use the airplane for longer trips now with the whole family!

Click this link to view more pictures of the flights

Hannah Dancing at Her Talent Show

Here’s a video of Hannah dancing at her talent show.  She is 6 years old and in kindergarten.

Myrtle Beach Vacation – April 2010

Flight to Myrtle Beach - 040210 - 04

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Flight to Myrtle Beach – 040210 – 0402-Apr-2010 07:59, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.6, 5.8mm, 0.004 sec

 

Early in the year we were planning a family vacation for Spring Break.  The plan was to fly the airplane to wherever we decided to go.  When we first started making the plans we thought that Disney in Orlando, FL might be the destination.  At the time I was still working on my instrument rating and the goal was to complete it before April so that I could use it and weather wouldn’t be as big of a factor.  After looking into Disney it was obvious that over Spring Break it would be very busy and the prices would be very high because there were no discount specials.  I also wasn’t sure if I would complete the rating in time so we started looking at other destinations up the east coast.  Someplace that was far enough away but not too far in case we ended up having to drive.  After looking at a few destinations and getting recommendations we settled on Myrtle Beach.  My parents (Jeff & Peggy) own a house in Myrtle Beach that they rent out and they stay at a place called Compass Cove when they go to Myrtle Beach to check on the house a couple of times per year.  We looked into it and found out that it has numerous water attractions including pools, hot tubs, lazy rivers, kids pools and even water slides.  The prices were also very reasonable and the rooms were well setup with efficiencies that included a microwave and a refrigerator so that you could eat breakfast and lunch in the room.

On Friday, April 2nd we loaded up early in the morning into N2893Z and departed for Myrtle Beach.  I filed IFR even though the weather was perfect which I plan to do most of the time.  Total flight time was planned to be around 3 hours and 30 minutes due to the headwinds.  This is just a bit too far without a stop for the kids so we decided to find somewhere in North Carolina to stop for fuel and to eat lunch.  We ended up planning a stop in Goldsboro, NC (KGWW) as this was not far off the airway and also had reasonable fuel prices that I found on AirNav.com.  Goldsboro is also where Grandpa Anthony now lives.  We had a very nice flight down and as we got closer the haze started to increase a bit but it was still a beautiful VFR day.  It actually was forecasted to be the hottest day of the year with temperatures in the mid-80s in Goldsboro.  When we landed in Goldsboro Grandpa Anthony was waiting for us.  He had a great picnic lunch all setup for us with lunch meats, peanut butter and jelly, chips, drinks and even ice cream!  It was a great lunch and great to see Grandpa for a short time.  We took on fuel, paid the bill and all hopped back into the plane for the short hop to Myrtle Beach.  It was very warm and I quickly got the engine running to cool us down.

We departed Goldsboro and climbed up back onto the airway down to Myrtle Beach.  The haze had increased significantly and I was glad to be IFR.  This leg of the flight was a little less than an hour and it went by very quickly.  I requested the ILS 18 approach into Myrtle Beach (KMYR).  I’m glad I did because it was very hazy and even at the final approach fix I could barely see the airport.  I flew the approach down to below 1000′ and had a nice landing while 2 commercial jets waited for us.  The line man at Myrtle Beach Aviation was very helpful and helped me tie-down and load everything into a van.  We all piled into the van and the family stayed in the van while I checked in and got the rental car keys.  Then we were driven to the rental car lot and again helped with the bags into the car.  Great service!

Compass Cove - Myrtle Beach - 01

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Compass Cove – Myrtle Beach – 0103-Apr-2010 17:23, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec

 

Compass Cove was only a few minute drive from the airport.  We checked in and checked out the facilities.  Everyone was excited to be at the beach and the weather couldn’t have been better!  For the next few days we had a great vacation in Myrtle Beach!  We spent a few hours each day in the pools or on the beach.  Most days we ate breakfast and lunch in the room and then went out on the town in the afternoon.  One afternoon we visited Broadway at the Beach and another day we went to Barefoot Landing.  We also visited a park and a new shopping center called The Market Common.  On our last day we went out for breakfast at a pancake house and then walked on the new boardwalk in downtown Myrtle Beach that is currently being built.   We had a great time as a family and enjoyed many of the sites of Myrtle Beach including a round of miniature golf.  On Monday evening we went back to Barefoot Landing and the family got our picture taken with a white tiger cub at Preservation Station.  Each evening we went to someplace different for dinner including Liberty Taproom, Cici’s Pizza, Outback Steakhouse, Gordon Bierch Brewery, El Cerro Grande.  By the end of the day we were all very worn out from the pools and running around.  We got to sleep in later than normal each day as well.

Pools at Compass Cove in Myrtle Beach - 040410 - 04

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Pools at Compass Cove in Myrtle Beach – 040410 – 0404-Apr-2010 15:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.5, 23.2mm, 0.005 sec

Broadway at the Beach - Myrtle Beach - 040310 - 08

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Broadway at the Beach – Myrtle Beach – 040310 – 0803-Apr-2010 13:29, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec

Worn out in Myrtle Beach - 040410

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Worn out in Myrtle Beach – 04041004-Apr-2010 20:07, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.017 sec

 
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Flight – 040810 – KMYR to KILM – 0508-Apr-2010 07:03, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.6, 5.8mm, 0.001 sec

 

On Thursday morning we woke up early as we were planning to check out and go up to Wilmington, NC on our way home.  The weather forecast was calling for a very windy day so we got rolling early to beat the weather and wind.  Not long after dawn we got to the airport and loaded up the plane.  I filed IFR to Wilmington the night before and it would only be about a 45 minute flight.  We departed and climbed out to about 5000′.  There was a layer of clouds at about 5500′ so I asked ATC if I could climb to 6000′ which was granted.  This was one of the highlights of the trip for me as it was the first time that I was using my instrument rating.  I took some unbelievable pictures right above the clouds.  We quickly approached Wilmington and I flew the ILS 24 into KILM.  It was already starting to get a little windy and bumpy and I had to fly through some small clouds on the approach which was really fun!  Lori was a bit nervous but I had a nice landing and we taxied to ISO Aero Services on the north ramp.  Interestingly enough I completed my primary flight training at KILM and took my checkride right out of the same ramp where we parked.  I hadn’t been back to KILM since 2004.

We stayed at the Jameson Inn in Wilmington on Thursday and Friday nights.  We spent time driving around Wilmington on Thursday and saw the old neighborhood and house that we built and lived in from 2001 through 2004.  We also drove out to Wrightsville Beach.  We stopped at a vet clinic where a couple of Lori’s friends and past co-workers work (Tammy McCloud and Dr. Audrey Mizrahi).  On Thursday evening we went to Buffalo Wild Wings where we met up with a group of friends that I used to work with at Corning.  It was great to see all of them and catch up.  On Friday we met up with another friend of Jeff’s (Dr. Doug Dixon), saw his office and had lunch together in downtown Wilmington.  We then went downtown by the waterfront for a couple of hours.  The Azalea Festival was getting kicked off and vendors were setting up and a lot of people were around.  There was a tall ship that was docked that we also got to tour.  Grandpa Anthony drove down and met us for dinner that evening and we had a nice dinner and visit at Carrabas.

Lori, Audrey Mizrahi and Tammy McCloud in Wilmington - 040810 - 02

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Lori, Audrey Mizrahi and Tammy McCloud in Wilmington – 040810 – 0208-Apr-2010 12:31, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 6.63mm, 0.017 sec

Grandpa Anthony and Bryan in Wilmington - 040910 - 02

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Grandpa Anthony and Bryan in Wilmington – 040910 – 0209-Apr-2010 17:26, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.017 sec

Grandpa Anthony and Hannah in Wilmington - 040910 - 02

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Grandpa Anthony and Hannah in Wilmington – 040910 – 0209-Apr-2010 18:41, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.017 sec

 

Unbelievably the vacation was almost over.  Saturday morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel.  We drove to the airport and got everything loaded into the plane.  Surprisingly the FBO hadn’t filled us up with fuel as I had requested and there was an issue with the truck.  I think the kid working the line could tell I was a bit upset and he went to try to get the truck running.  Within a few minutes the truck was going and he was filling us up.  It was frustrating because the plane had been sitting for two days and could have been serviced much earlier.  I had filed IFR for KILM to 33N.  Unfortunately we were again going to be fighting a headwind back.  It was slow going at 7000′ and only getting about 100-110 knots of ground speed.  About 90 minutes into the flight Bryan had to use the bathroom so I looked at the Garmin 496 for a place to divert to.  I decided on Suffolk, VA (KSFQ).   After a quick pit stop we jumped back into the plane and I departed VFR as there was a lot of traffic and I wanted to get on my way.  Once I got in the air I called up Norfolk Approach and requested a pop-up IFR clearance to 33N and was cleared direct.  This would take us pretty much straight up the Chesapeake Bay which was a very beautiful flight.  Originally I requested 5000′ to try to get a little more ground speed but it was a bit bumpy so I requested 7000′ which smoothed everything out.  I flew the VOR27 Approach into 33N.  It was a bit gusty and turbulent on the approach and I could hear Lori in the back gasping.  She was glad to be back on the ground after a not so good landing in which I bounced a bit due to the winds.

Back home in Delaware - 041010

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Back home in Delaware – 04101010-Apr-2010 13:18, Canon Canon PowerShot SD700 IS, 5.6, 5.8mm, 0.004 sec

 

We had a great trip!  The week went by fast but it was nice to come home.  It gave me great satisfaction to be able to load up my whole family with luggage and take a week long vacation with the airplane.  I was well prepared and we had great weather!  I look forward to many more opportunities to use the airplane and take the family places.  Please check out all of our pictures of the trip by following this link:  Myrtle Beach Vacation Pictures – April 2010

I’m an Instrument Rated Pilot!

When I purchased N2893Z I was given a stipulation from my wife Lori.  She said that she wanted to use the plane to go places and that if I didn’t have my instrument rating within one year that I would have to sell the plane.  She also said that she would support the training and give me the time to do what I needed to do to get it.  I feel that this was a very fair and valid request and I appreciate the kick in the butt as it has been something that I’ve been talking about for years.  I started my formal training in October.  I decided to train with Frank Dorrin who is an experienced pilot and CFII.  Frank is a great instructor who uses an Elite Simulator to supplement the flight and ground instruction.  The Elite Simulator is a great tool that can help build skills that otherwise might not be encountered during the training.  Despite being grounded most of February due to 2 major snowstorms, Frank and I got together at least once per week and I was ready for the checkride in early March.  Finally the big day came on Friday March 19th, 2010.  Here is a detailed recap of my practical exam:

I arrived in Easton around 9:30AM. I was about an hour early but the examiner was there and ready to go. He told me about himself and how he worked for the FAA at one time. He also pulled out some old reference materials like showing an old AIM and Instrument PTS from the 60’s that were only a few pages. He had lots and lots and lots and lots of stories to tell. On any normal day they would be very interesting but on a checkride day some were painful because I just wanted to get on with it.

The first 2 hours were pretty much reviewing qualifications and doing paperwork. The practical test hadn’t actually started yet but I’m sure the DE was evaluating at this time making sure that I knew the requirements. He reviewed the aircraft logs, my licenses, medical, and my SFRA course completion certificate. He told me a story about a guy the day before who hadn’t completed the course so the person had to go online there at the FBO and do it right then. He asked me to show him in my logbook my long cross country and then he added up my dual time to ensure that I had enough to meet the requirements. As previously discussed, Frank was very much by the books and spent a lot of time explaining why he was doing what he was doing. We also reviewed the recent updates to the PTS and he showed me how to look in the FAR/AIM and tell when modifications were made to certain sections. The last part was completing the IACRA information. He entered everything into the computer and then I had to sign it electronically as well.

After that we left for lunch at Applebees. I took my FAR/AIM, sectional and the information that I prepped for the flight from KESN-KCRE. On the way to lunch he started asking me questions. The first were around currency requirements. He used scenario based questions like, “If you were busy on a project with work and didn’t get to fly again until October what would you have to consider.” He was looking for “6 approaches in 6 months, holding & intercepting”. He also asked about what I would have to do if I had only been flying VFR for the next year and then wanted to take a trip next April. Of course he was looking for requirements around an IPC.

At lunch he pulled out some weather scenarios that he had prepared. It was a spreadsheet that showed conditions (temp, dewpoint, ceiling, winds, and the types of approaches available) at 3 airports around KESN and 3 airports around KCRE. He had 4 different scenarios that he only showed me one at a time. The first one was showing good weather around KESN but lower weather around KCRE. On this one he was looking for requirments around filing an alternate. I told him that it was my intention to always file an alternate but that the requirement are the “1-2-3” rule which he asked me to explain. The other two airports had ceilings/vis of 800-2 or 600-2 and we discussed which would be legal alternates. The second scenario was showing low visibility and a close temp/dewpoint spread at KESN. He asked if I could depart and I told him legally yes but that I would not depart an airport that I couldn’t fly an approach back into. The third scenario was showing a possibilty of icing with lower temperatures. We had a lengthy discussion about icing and what to do if it was encoutered. The last scenario showed a large difference in temp/dewpoint spread between the departure and destination. What he was looking for here was to identify that there was a front that would have to be crossed and that thunderstorms would be a hazzard to consider. Then he asked me which of the scenarios was most dangerous. We discussed the thunderstorms we could go around and that icing we could avoid or get out of and both agreed that they could be very dangerous situations. He actually felt that the low visibility close temp/dewpoint spread was the most dangerous because of the fog would make an approach very difficult.

After lunch we returned to the airport. He asked me to file a flightplan from KESN to KSBY. I asked him if it was okay to do on the computer and he was fine with it. I decided to file victor airways which would also take me around R-4006. I filed KESN CHOPS V308 LAFLN V29 KSBY. I think it would have also been okay if I filed direct underneath R-4006. We then sat down and discussed the flight from KESN to KCRE some more. We pulled out the sectional and started at KESN and he asked me about minimum altitudes and what they guaranteed. We discussed a lot of the symbology on the chart and he asked me about mileage markings and crossing altitudes and I was encouraged to use the legend. When we got towards KCRE it led into a discussion of the approaches. We discussed the ILS approach into KCRE and from what points a procedure turn would be required. I briefed the chart for him. We also talked about lost comms and when I could proceed in for the approach.

After all that discussion we packed up and I went outside to pre-flight the airplane. There was a lot of aircraft on the ground and Frank was rushing me a bit to try to pick up my clearance so I could beat another plane out. There were 2 jets getting ready to take off too. I taxied out, did my instrument cockpit check and then had to wait for release for a couple of minutes. When we took off I was cleared getting vectors and then Frank gave me a scenario where there was a TFR over Salisbury that didn’t lift in time and that we would have to divert. I was allowed to use the autopilot and Frank actually suggested it. We diverted to KCGE. I checked the weather and requested the GPS34 approach. Approach was a little slow today and they cleared me for the LOC34 approach and I corrected them right away. Frank then covered up my AI and DG so I turned off the autopilot. I immediately switched the 496 to the artificial 6-pack and he was okay with this. Approach was slow to give me a descent from 3000 so I asked for it. The response I got back was “roger” so they didn’t specifically clear me to descend. Frank took the radio and cancelled with them at that time. I performed the approach very well under partial panel and took it down to MDA and went missed and stayed in the holding pattern for 2 turns. After that we climbed back up to 2700 and Frank took the controls and we did 2 unusual attitudes under partial panel. They weren’t too bad to recover from. After that we contacted Easton tower and negotiated for the ILS04 approach. I was cleared to RIKME and was told to fly straight in without doing the procedure turn. I did well with this approach and when I was just about DA Frank told me he saw the lighting but not the runway. I then descended to 100 feet above TDZE and then he told me he had the runway. I had to quickly drop in the flaps and configure the plane for landing which caused me to land a little bit long but I still made the turnoff at Delta. Not to mention that winds had shifted and I had a slight tailwind. We taxied to RW22 and departed. Frank gave me vectors and we did an abbreviated LOC04 approach from WEGRO with a circle to land. I did well with the approach and was directed to circle to the left. I maintained MDA well but then started to descend when I was turning base and had a good landing. I felt that the maneuver was safe but Frank recommended not descending below MDA until aligned with the runway.

So, that’s about it for the checkride. We went in and signed my logbook and he printed out my certificate. We didn’t finish until about 5 pm so it was a full day. Frank was very thorough and experienced. Even though the checkride was long I feel that it was very fair and wasn’t “hard”. He was very clear about the expectations and followed the PTS explicitly. If you aren’t well prepared for a checkride I believe that you will not pass Frank’s checkride. He told me many stories throughout the day of where people made certain mistakes that he had to stop the checkride. All the discussions actually made me nervous a bit and I was wondering if he ever passed anyone. Also, there was an FAA examiner in the FBO and on the ramp throughout the day with someone else which added to the tension a bit.

I’m now an instrument rated pilot! I’m looking forward to getting more actual time. I received an email from my instructor who said that he had a conversation with the DE and the feedback was that he was impressed that I was well prepared, professional and organized. I still have a lot of experience to gain and I’m looking forward to taking my family on longer trips.

Started my IFR training!

It has been something that I have wanted to do for quite sometime, but I have finally gotten serious about my IFR flight training.  I had plans to start earlier in the year after I had some new panel lights installed in N9526J but that had to be put on hold for awhile after the plane was totalled in an unfortunate accident.  After going through the spring and most of the summer without a good airplane to fly, I finally got the bug again over our family vacation to Michigan in early July.  I rented planes from Dodgen Aircraft in Allegan, MI and got quite a few hours of flight time in West Michigan on the trip.  In August I purchased a 1979 Piper Archer II that is loaded and all setup for IFR flight.   Click on the picture below to see the specs of the new airplane and to see more pictures.

Before I purchased the new plane I received a stipulation from Lori.  She said that she supported the purchase of the new plane as long as I studied and got my IFR within a year.  What an ultimatum!  Lori wants to be able to use the plane to travel places and to see family more often and I totally understand why she is pushing me to get it.  I thought it was a great idea and I immediately started studying again for the IFR written exam.  I’m about ready to take the test within a couple of weeks as I’m taking practice tests and scoring in the low 90% range.

I’ve also started the flight portion of my IFR rating.  Frank Dorrin is an instructor that I met through flying out of Delaware Airpark (33N).  Frank and I have talked a couple of times about the rating and what is required.  He is very much down to business and uses a structured syllabus.  He also owns a simulator which will help in my training.  I’ve decided to start working with Frank and have now completed two flights with him that were both very productive.  So far we have practiced the instrument scan, four fundamentals, constant rate climbs and descents, timed turns and we are currently working on patterns.  We’ve spent some time on the ground as well and he is preparing me for what I need to know by showing the reference materials that I should use.  What I really like about working with Frank as I know what to expect.  He lays out the plans and we execute them.  Both flights have been at night which is also helping me with my night proficiency.  I’ve attached the flight tracks of the two lessons that I’ve completed so far that I downloaded from my Garmin 496.  Technology never ceases to amaze me and this data is a great tool to evaluate the flight performance.  You can also view the speed and altitude information as well as the flight tracks by clicking on these links: IFR Lesson #1 and IFR Lesson #2.

West Michigan Flying – July 2009

In July of 2009 the Frey Family took a trip to West Michigan to see friends and family.  I hadn’t had any good rental options over the previous few months as my plane (N9526J) had been totaled by a pilot flying the plane that I used to rent (N41568).  I took the opportunity on the trip to West Michigan to fly some of the planes at Dodgen Aircraft in Allegan, MI where Lori’s family lives.  The owner of Dodgen is Jason Blair who is a National Association of Flight Instructors Master CFI. I had heard about Jason from flying in Allegan and he recently was teaching on a video blog that I have been following presented by the EAA.  Here is a link:  Earning My Wings

I contacted Jason and we met on the Monday morning of our vacation. I used the opportunity to not only get checked out but to complete a Biennial Flight Review (BFR).  I was a bit nervous and studied for a few things prior to the review.  When I met with Jason the nervousness went away.  We went for a beautiful flight in a Piper Warrior up the coast of Lake Michigan and did a few procedures and returned back to Allegan.  The ground portion was also very laid back and I easily got signed off to rent their planes and my BFR completed.

The next day I offered to take Kathy (Lori’s Mom) and Hannah flying.  Kathy is originally from Muskegon so we decided to fly there (KMKG).  We had a very nice flight again up the coast of Lake Michigan.  I even let Kathy take the controls for a bit and she did very well.  I think she was nervous when I was reviewing charts and pretending to look away but I still kept an eye on things.  We had a very nice lunch at the airport in Muskegon and returned home.  Kathy even let me do some steep turns and she enjoyed them.

 

 

I was determined to get a bunch of flying in so the following day I rented another Piper Warrior from Dodgen and flew up to Saginaw, MI (KMBS).  My friend Bob was teaching summer school up there and we met up for about an hour just to catch up.  It was a good excuse to get up and fly for a couple of hours (as if I needed one).  I logged almost 6 hours of flying in the 3 days.  I also believe that this week gave me the bug again and that is why only a couple of weeks later I made an offer on another plane that I now own.

Click this link to view more pictures of the flights

Dover NASCAR Weekend

It is already that time of year again when the NASCAR races come to Dover.  We only live a couple of miles from Dover International Speedway.  Over the few years that we have lived here I have had a couple of opportunities to go to the races but none quite as good as this year.   A friend of mine at work was able to get me a “Cold” pit pass that was good for the whole weekend.  On Friday we got together and spent some time touring the pits, the Nationwide Series garages and the inside of the track.  We were down on the track when the guys were practicing.  On Friday afternoon we went down to pit road for the introductions and to see Samantha Doorn sing the National Anthem.  Samantha is the daughter of one of Jeff’s co-workers at Kraft.  It was quite an experience to be right in the middle of the action.  Unfortunately, right after the drivers started their engines it started to rain.  The race was rained out and postponed until Saturday.  That evening my friends and I hung out in Dover Downs and got a tour of the facility.  There were a lot of events going on and we even got into a celebrity pool tournament that had a few of the drivers and Hershel Walker.

The crew started the day early on Saturday morning with Jeff, Andy, Eric and Kenny meeting up and tailgating in the parking lot.  Andy cooked up some excellent brats and we had a burger, chips and of course a few beers.  Jeff and Eric went into the infield for the start of the race.  It was neat to be so close to the drivers and see all the action on pit road.  Pit road isn’t the best place to see the race so after a few laps Jeff and Eric went out to catch up with Andy and Kenny.  On the way they stopped in one of Eric’s friend’s suites just to say hi.  Then they continued on to the Turn 4 area where Andy and Kenny were camped out for the race.  It was great to get all those different perspectives of the track.  Jeff picked Joey Lagano to win the race and right up until the end of the race it looked like Kyle Busch was going to win it.  In the last few laps Kyle had a tire issue and Brad Kaslowski swooped in to take the win.  Joey came in second.  Most everyone was happy that Kyle didn’t win though.

We weren’t sure if we were going to stay for the truck race.  It had been a long day.  Right at the last minute Andy and I decided that we would stay.  I have never seen the truck race so it was something I wanted to.  Andy and I went back into the track and took a seat in Turn 1.  It was a good race.  Again Kyle Busch dominated and made it look easy at each restart weaving in and out of the others.  Right at the end of the race he had another tire problem and wasn’t able to recover.  There were a lot of cautions for tire problems but it was still a good race.  Afterwards, Andy and I dragged ourselves out of the stands and headed home.  It was a very long day but also a very fun one!

Even though I had a pass that would get me into the infield I decided that two days of racing was enough for me and I’ll watch the Sprint Cup on TV.  It was an excellent experience and I’m thankful to have good friends to be able to share the experience with!

 

Lawn Care Season….

troy-bilt-lawn-tractor-040509aFor the last few years I’ve contemplated getting a lawn tractor.  I was either being too cheap or felt guilty for riding around so I would find an excuse to put it off another year.  Our yard isn’t really that big but it does grow very fast and I have been finding it increasingly more difficult to find the time to mow it.  In the peak of summer I usually have to mow about every 4 to 5 days or it gets too long and is very difficult.  This year I finally broke down and upgraded the Troy-Bilt self-propelled mower to a nice 46″ Troy-Bilt lawn tractor.  I even got a baggingtroy-bilt-mower-040509b attachment which should help keep the yard looking clean and ready for the kids to play in the backyard.  My wife calls it a toy….I call it a tool.  Whatever you want to call it, hopefully it will save me some time and help keep my yard looking the way I like it.  Here a pictures of both my mowers.  I also have a Troy-Bilt pressure washer.  My neighbors are going to think I own their stock!