Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Flying the Hudson River Corridor

This weekend, I took a friend (Claire) on her first flight.  The weather was perfect and I decided to take her on one my favorite sightseeing destinations, which is NYC Skyline as seen from the Hudson River.  

The best way I have found to do this is the following the rules laid out by the FAA for the Hudson River Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).

You can download a cool kneeboard cheat sheet that shows all of the frequencies and procedures from the FAA site here

You can see the video recap of the flight here:

== T.J.==

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Landing in a Snowstorm

This week I had a really unusual flight.  It started out as a simple VFR takeoff in clear blue skies.  I was bringing the plane home to Poughkeepsie from maintenance in Danbury.  Simple, short flight... Or so I thought...  This was me in the hanger just before takeoff:

But the weather forecast looked a little sketchy.  There was a squall line filled with snow and high winds west of Poughkeepsie.  My weather briefing led me to think I could easily land in advance of that squall line reaching the airport.

Wow... Was I ever wrong.  When I was ~ 15 miles out from Poughkeepsie, the tower controller told me conditions were deteriorating fast and the airport was going IFR.  From there, things continued to get harder and harder.

First, while on ~8 miles out on the RNAV GPS 24 approach to runway 24, I had to get a "popup IFR clearance" from NY approach.  Then, I had to declare a missed approach.  This was my first REAL missed approach because I could not see the runway when I reached minimums on the RNAV 24.

But the squall line was moving fast, and I thought I could just hold at the missed approach point and then try it again.  The second time worked ... But it was quite possibly the toughest landing I have ever done!   In fact, after I landed, I just stopped on the runway for a few minutes because I couldn't see the taxiways.  During the whole experience, I had cameras rolling ... So you can see and hear for yourself in the video below:

After reviewing the footage, I realized how important it is to always be ready to go missed and the practicing proper IFR procedures.  I didn't do this one perfectly... (You might see a couple of my mistakes in the video... including flying the missed by hand instead of autopilot).  But I sure learned on this flight!!

== T.J.==

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Puppy's First Flight

Today was a historic day... It was my puppy's first flight!

We tried last weekend for the first time... But she was terrified by the sound of the engine and so we just shut down and "called it a day".  During the week we bought "Mutt Muffs" for her, which you can see below (notice that Lisa insisted on them being Pink):

So after practicing at home we headed to the airport on Sunday morning.  You can see how she did in the short Youtube video below:

Now that she has had her first flight, we need to find somewhere to go with a dog friendly hotel!

== T.J.==

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tail Number Change & Grounded

I am grounded this weekend for a bunch of reasons (weather, good maintenance  and bad maintenance) :-(

First we are having a snowstorm in the Northeast and Lisa doesn't want to go flying anywhere.  She is very much a fair weather flyer.

Second, the FAA finally approved my request to change tail numbers! ...  I know it is little vain... But for each plane I have owned, I changed the tail number so that it ends in "Tango Juliet" ...  The first was N514TJ, the SR20 that I got my instrument rating on and really learned to fly in.  N346TJ, which I spent ~ 900 hours in and explored the entire US and some of the Caribbean.  

Having done this 3 times, I have figured out the process pretty well:

  1. You need to find a tail # you want that has not been assigned to anyone else at this site: FAA N Number Inquiry database
  2. You must reserve your desired N Number at this site FAA N Number Registry site
  3. After you have received written confirmation that your number has been reserved for you, then you have to submit a written request that your reserved N Number be assigned to a specific aircraft and specify the current tail number and aircrafts' Make/Model/Serial #.
  4. Then you wait and wait and wait for the FAA to review your request and respond.
  5. After you have received the written authorization for assignment, then you can go to your favorite local A&P mechanic who can make the change.
  6. The change itself is more than just decals.  The ELT has to be reprogrammed.  The avionics have to be reprogrammed. The subscriptions to Garmin, Jeppessen and SiriusXM all have to be changed to the new tail number for everything to work.
  7. And of course you have to let your insurance company know...

But now, my latest plane has finally been christened as N547TJ !!

Unfortunately, I have not taken my first flight yet because I ran into an unusual maintenance problem.  Last weekend, when I started the plane, I heard a loud pop and then smoke came out of the front of the hood.  Naturally, I was a little panicked.  While I was fumbling around looking for Engine fire emergency checklist, the smoke stopped and the engine gauges were all in the green.  The only indication of anything wrong was a warning annunciator that said "Check Alt 2" ...

I decided to to scrub the flight, shut down to be safe and call my mechanic.  After describing the problem and showing him a couple of pics, he told me I had a dead Alt 2 and the plane was safe and legal to fly in VFR day conditions only as per the Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) as long as everything else was working properly.  So I brought it to him to repair and do the tail number change at the same time.  When the cowling was removed, here is what we saw: 

A piece of the alternator somehow broke off and then shredded the belt!  (In my Cirrus, Alt 1 is gear driven and Alt 2 is belt driven.) After experiencing this first hand, I got to thinking "what if this happened while I was in flight?"  Luckily due to the brilliant redundant design, it would have been a safe outcome (of course other than the panic and terror of thinking you have an engine fire in flight) !!

So in the end, between maintenance and the snowstorm this weekend, I have been grounded.  Hopefully, I will get the bird back in time for first flight next weekend.

== T.J.==

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New Camera and New Possibilities

After watching a bunch of other Youtube flying videos, I realized I just didn't have the right equipment to make the kind of videos I wanted to.  Up until now, I have been using a couple of old GoPros (Hero 3 and Hero 4), a basic Canon camcorder and of course my iPhone.

So today I just got my newest toy (I mean equipment), the Garmin Virb Ultra 30.

This camera was recommended by a fellow Cirrus pilot and I am amazed at what it can do.  It looks like a GoPro and even uses the same mounting brackets.  Today I tried to test it out by making a  simple video. Have a look and let me know what you think in the comments:
After the flight, I realized I didn't have the audio setup correctly.  But I figured out what I did wrong ... So next flight should include ATC audio.

With this new gear, now I need to do dream up a few more things for my aviation bucket list :-)

== T.J.==