Sunday, December 19, 2010

Skywriting Results

The weather was slightly better today.  But still not good enough for regular VFR flying.  The ATIS showed Winds 310 @ 8, Overcast layer @ 300 FT.  The only good news was that the fog and low clouds were expected to burn off later in the day.  We reviewed the plan and waited for some weather improvement. Our improvised flight plan was as follows:

We had every turn mapped out and by the time we were ready to go, the weather had improved to 500 Overcast.  Since that was still not that great, I filed IFR and we took off northbound.  After breaking out on top of the clouds between 5000 and 6000FT we canceled IFR and began to get in position, which was ~ 10 miles west of Crystal River @ 6500 FT on a heading of 090.
My copilot Joe did a great job of calling out headings and distances.  I was trying to focus on making steep coordinated turns with the R9 Vector mode.  My R9/STEC 's configuration tends to make roughly standard rate turns.  However, for this exercise, we needed much sharper turns.  So I made the turns by hand at ~ 45 degrees of bank and then used the R9 vector mode to hold my heading in order to get straight lines.  This was particular challenging due to the 23 knot winds from the west.

Soooo.... Here is the resulting GPS track:

View GPS Skywriting (First Attempt) in a larger map here:

As you can see, we made a couple of mistakes (the top of the "T" and the bottom of the "J").  In hindsight, we realized that these were errors in planning rather than errors in flying.  In addition, I am still learning how to import/embed Google Maps, which is is why the last period is shown in a different format on the map.  But overall, we were satisfied and it was time to head home. 

Unfortunately, mother nature would not give us a break.  The cloud deck below us was absolutely solid.  We had to get an IFR clearance and fly the GPS 23 Approach @ Tampa Executive Airport down to within 100 FT of minimums!  This was the first time Joe got to experience a real approach in IMC and he seemed quite relieved when we landed. 

So while it was not exactly as intended, we still declared "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"!

== T.J.==

PS- Now I am on the lookout for the next cool flight exercise/experience.  Send me any suggestions you have.

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