Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kyle takes the controls

We have made some considerable upgrades since the last posting. An EDM-700 is added and with the GAMI injectors, we are seeing an average of around 9 GPH, runing LOP. The new cylinders are giving about 9 hrs/quart of oil at 175 hours on the engine since installation. We also have a new vacuum pump. That was discovered after the HSI showed considerable instability and the low vacuum light illuminated. After the pump was changed, a severe leak appeared and after a short IFR test flight about 2 quarts of oil drained from the engine. Fortunately, we were not on a cross country, otherwise we might be talking about a new engine or worse! The leak was corrected and the Mooney has been without problem since. I have abandoned the Samsung Q1 computer as a backup GPS system in favor of a Garmin 696. This is wired into the panel and can display the flight plan entered into the panel GPS units. The mount is attached to the right front seat by a semi-rigid RAM mount. The result is the 696 is lower in the airplane but both front seat occupants can read and adjust it. The latest modification was a GTX330 with traffic which is wired to show on both the 530 and the 696. It seems to be an invaluable tool for finding nearby traffic. I will post some photos of the mount later. Finally, I have a Cannon FS200 camera which can be mounted near the compass. We can input audio from the panel. It makes a great teaching platform. I made the attached video with it.

Speaking of teaching, I shot a few seconds of video with my son at the controls cruising with the Mooney. Normally, I would have included intercom audio but could not find a suitable extension in a hurry. With him in the front seat is Dan, his instructor and former Navy fighter pilot. Nothing like learning with the best. Dan tells me, my son is a great student and has a great temperment for piloting. We all had a great time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On Top in a Columbia 400

In case you are wondering what a Mooney owner is doing in a Columbia, you can check this link. We have just broken out of our IFR climbout at 5000'. I tried to get a video of the climbout, but the batteries in my camera need to be changed. IAS is about 170 and it is bumpy. Things happen fast in the Columbia.

When we got tired of being bounced around and asked for 7000' which is shown in this photo. Being on top is just beautiful. Getting there so fast with a great plane is even better!


Hi, Valerie! This is a real story, which neither of us believe. While planning a day trip with the Mooney, I called ahead to the FBO and asked if I could use the crew car for a few hours. On arrival, I was greeted by a wonderful friendly lady who had a great smile who asked me to fill out the arrival form asking me for the tail number, name, phone number, etc. She handed the keys to me and asked when I would return.

A few hours later, I came back and she was still smiling. But, that was when she started to ask questions, lots of questions. At first, I thought "Oh, my God, not ANOTHER paternity suit!" Thankfully, it was not that problem. After seeing my name, Valerie determined we had probably known each other from High School. Her incisive questioning verified her suspicions after I quietly answered "Yes" to attending the High School, growing up in the area, and being a close friend to Jay, her boyfriend and finally recognizing her!

I was so surprised! I could not believe that I would run into anyone I would remotely know, especially in this circumstance. In High School, I had a few really good friends. Almost all of us had steady girl friends as Seniors, but Valerie and Jay were probably the best know item around our school. Valerie was just about the prettiest girl we had ever seen in real life. Jay intended to go to Vetrinary School after attending Cornell. It sounded pretty nice.

After catching up a bit, Valerie informed me the relationship did not last and finally they went their separate ways. She has a family of her own now and Jay moved to San Diego. I told her, that I had not seen or heard from Jay in a long time. Jay, I know you are out there somewhere. Buddy, as I see it, you made two big mistakes in your life. The first was not going to Vet school. Had you gone, you could be doing doggie cataracts and right now you would be owning that King Air which Valerie is standing next to. The second mistake was Valerie. The photo says it all.

I look forward to stopping by the FBO whenever I can to catch up on more news from Valerie. She is a great person and how nice it is to actually know the person at the desk hundred of miles from home.

Thank you again for being so nice to me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Next Mission

We discovered on the first cross country that the 530WAAS had a receiver problem. We were able to transmit and were heard but had a difficult time to hear ATC. I reported this to the avionics shop and the 530W is replaced with a loaner while the receiver is bench tested. I have also prepared a jumper cable for my Yaesu handheld and will plan to test the emergency antenna on the trip today. It is cold outside and my friend's new Columbia was pulled out of the hangar. I am doing the preflight in a warm hangar while he is clearing the frost off his plane just outside. It was only outside for half an hour.

This is my neighbor inside the hangar. I guess I am keeping pretty good company! When I showed this photo to my wife, she wanted to know "Is that a Boeing? Remember, I'm not Going if it isn't a Boeing!" I'm hoping to get a ride someday. It will probably be a long wait.

Prior to the preflight, I was talking to one of my instructors who did not have good photo of advection fog. Along the trip today, I spotted another example. I did not get a wider photo, but this area included a linear band of lake fog for miles with just a slight spread to land. This is really an interesting photo. In general the whole area today was covered with low valley fog and this limited the photo opportunities.

Just to the North of the lake, later in the day, I shot this of some nearby canals. Actually, it is interesting how the leaves have changed suddenly in the last week. Anyway, the handheld radio works well. The loaner 530W seems to hear find compared to my original radio. Now the best news, I refuel at my destination and calculate the fuel burn. I require just shy of 34 gallons for 420mi, two climbouts and 3.7 hours. This is going to be less than 10 gallons per hour, while maintaining a solid 150kts groundspeed. Nothing like a Mooney for speed and efficiency. The only way I could top this is a diesel conversion. Maybe someday?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

First Cross Country

This is the first cross country for the M20J. I have flight planned for 5000' and George is now flying so I can get a few photos and check the weather at my destination. The autopilot is doing a great job. It frees up one's mind for other tasks and enjoying the flight. My ground speed is averaging 150kts. I figure a bit over 1.5 hrs to my destination in a river valley just South of the mountains. The air is smooth and about 5C. My calculated airspeed is now 170kts. The Mooney is doing a very fine job.

Prior to departure, the only airport with IFR was near this lake. Visibilities were down to 1/2 mile with low ceilings. I grabbed this shot of the nearby town. This shows an interesting interface on the surface of the lake with fog suddenly building over the lake and spreading across the town. Whisps of fog are seen along the ground, but also only downwind. This is a cool example of advection fog.

This windmill farm showed up a few minutes later. There were a dozen or more but this shot seemed particularly interesting on a low hill.

I have time for a self-portrait while George flies the Mooney. My son, Kyle, says the Mooney needs a new interior. He has good taste. Maybe next year.

ATC has vectored me for the ILS and the autopilot is on the glideslope. I wish I had the opportunity to make a video, maybe next time. I decouple the 55X at about 400' above the ground and take it in. The thing is amazing. On the way back, I hand fly it on the ILS. It requires just a bit more concentration. Either way, the more I use the plane, the more comfortable I become.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Maiden Voyage

The plane has been washed and pulled out of the hangar. Thirty gallons of fuel is ordered and the preflight is completed. Thinking back, fourteen months since we first saw the Mooney and four months since our company purchased the plane. This is a long time to wait for the first flight as the new owners of a new airplane. The weight and balance is completed. We have 935# capacity. I haven't even looked at the 530 display yet! I haven't flown this plane for six months, when I did a prebuy flight. Time to run it up, launch and test the autopilot with our avionics man, Mark, on board. He is 90% sure everything will work. Now if we only could decide where to go on this beautiful windy day. Enough talking already.

What a great panel in the sunlight. I am in first, followed by Mark in the back. He will be relaying commands while the 55X is tested. I am not familiar with it. I have flown a Bravo with a King 200 and a flight director, but this is different. I have read the manual, but am glad Mark is here to guide my fumbling fingers. Joe, my colleague, is in the right seat. Little do I know, but he already is familiar with the 55X. The engine fires up easily. After we copy the ATIS, we taxi for departure but need to lean up the plugs. As I take the active, I wonder if I will be able to get this on the ground in the same wonderful shape we are leaving in?

I rotate at 70 and the 201 does its thing. This is cool. Airplanes really want to fly. Back to reality. Gear up, check list complete. At traffic pattern altitude, I ask where they want to go. Joe says South. I suggest Northwest to the practice area. The terrain is flatter there. If we have to make an emergency landing, there is lots of open ground by the swamps. I give ATC a courtesy announcement that we are testing and calibrating new avionics. They help out with flight following. I keep a watchful eye for traffic while the boys have fun. I even have time to grab a couple of photos of the swamp area but no shots of the panel. It has been very dry here and the lake with associated area is much smaller than I remember. Meanwhile Mark is calling out commands to test the GPS roll steering, altitude hold, heading hold. We use the vertical speed control to drop 200' to our 3500' ATC assignment. Everything is working flawlessly.

I use the 530 and the 430 to plot some direct courses to local airports. Next we tune a VOR and intercept a course. We keep circling around the water below. I am running 140kts airspeed in the maneuvers. It is pretty bumpy here today. I am getting kind of tired of the bounce. We turn back and announce to ATC our calibration chores are completed and request the ILS. Now, it is time to test the approach function of the 55X! We dial a 500 fpm decent while I get the ATIS. I am familiar enough with the 201 to drop the speed to around 120 on the extended downwind. As we turn base, the localizer is captured automatically. What fun. At the marker, I slow to 115 for gear down. GUMPS check and adjust the throttle for 90. Two planes in the pattern, one is the Piper Cherokee I used for my instrument rating and he is doing touch and goes. The other is announcing a 45 entry for the pattern. Finally, I see both planes in the pattern. Relief. I want to reach down, manually adjust the trim and grab the yoke, but I resist. All I am doing is keeping speed by throttle only. This is different. As I hear the middle marker, I switch off the autopilot, reduce throttle and put in full flaps. I have the numbers a bit high and there is a considerable left headwind. I am gliding as I glance to the airspeed indicator. I want 70 but will take 75 on the landing. I blip the throttle and hold back as it flares in at 70 for nice centerline landing. Joe and Mark immediately compliment me on the landing. Both have apparently seen Mooney jockeys do much worse. As I taxi off the active, I announce the secret of my technique. "This is really all I did do today, so I wanted to do a good job!" Lots of laughs and smiles as we taxi to the ramp.

The door is open to adventure, but at what cost? All we have to do is mount the standby GPS with the WxWorx to complete the installation. We plan to do regional crosscountry flying and having on board weather is going to be very helpful. That is planned for next week. We also need to place identical chips in the GPS units. For some reason they were delivered with different data bases and can not cross talk yet. More photos to come as we complete the installation.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A photo history of the avionics upgrade

Here is the original panel a year earlier. How little did I know it would go from old to much worse in a hurry.

This is the panel of my M20J about 3 weeks into the new installation. A far cry from the original photo.

Here we are a few more weeks into the transformation. The center stack, from top to bottom, now contains a new Garmin audio panel, a GNS-530 WAAS, a GNS-430 WAAS and the S-TEC 55X Autopilot. We added a new transponder just above the copilot yoke. The new servos have been tested and the interior side panels are back in place.

A new panel was manufactured for the cadre of new or improved instruments to be mounted on the pilot side of the aircraft. This was a beautiful piece of work.

Here is a pre-installation photo of some of the components for the left side of the panel. Pictured is a Castleberry electric AI (backup), a new HSI and a new altimeter. Also photographed is the returning Stormscope, turn coordinator and the new companion Garmin glideslope indicator. Next stop is mating the instruments with the panel. We are getting close.

Everything is now mounted. I showed the layout to many of my friends and they really liked the equipment choice and presentation. The shop is very pleased with the work done and they should be. We are looking for a spot to mount the handheld, which is the standby GPS and are ready to flight test the avionics as soon as the new Weight & Balance is calculated and recorded.