Archive for the ‘Hangar Chat’ Category

Great Day for Pilot/Builder

March 29th, 2015 No comments


Following up on the prior post made a month ago, I did it! I am now a Commercial Pilot. The Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) did note that he’s never seen a limitation like that, but hey…it happens. For those wondering why the limitation, I don’t have my Instrument Rating yet. I did complete these a little out of the “normal” routine, but I had my reasons.

Civil Air Patrol allows for pilots who wish to get advanced ratings, the opportunity to do so. This ends up being a significant cost savings over public offerings as the aircraft are cheaper to use, and the instructors are very happy to help. Since the Commercial Certificate requires the use of a Complex airplane to get the rating, sometimes you have to go with the flow. CAP has very few complex airplanes in the fleet. I was able to snag and transfer in one from Colorado on a loaner basis. The fear was that it is old, and CAP looks to be wanting to consolidate and reduce the expensive aircraft in the fleet. So…this one could go to the bone yard quick as it is on the “expensive to operate” list. Therefore, time was of the essence.

I passed my written a month ago. Once I was able to clear my schedule and work with my instructor’s schedule, we knocked it out. We flew 4 times in 1 week and I soloed the rest. I had 10.1 Dual Complex and another 5 solo all said and done. In there were all the maneuvers, landings, ground, complex, etc. to meet the regs. It was a MARATHON!

Needless to say, I am pretty pleased with myself and feel that the process made me a better pilot. Now on to the instrument rating, so I can remove that limitation.

Eventually, I may actually get to building again. I do believe I am building in some fashion…at least it’s aviation related.

Categories: Hangar Chat

Good Day for Pilot/Builder

February 23rd, 2015 No comments
Commercial Knowledge Test Passed

Commercial Knowledge Test Passed

I am sure that some have seen that I haven’t been building much and are worried. Fear not, I am still going strong in other Aviation areas and will get back to the build very soon.

Based on some prodding by several pilot friends (one in particular), I have decided to pursue/complete my instrument rating and commercial certificate. Due to “CHEAP” access to a T182 RG, I am knocking out the commercial first, which I know is unusual, but as one that isn’t flying for a living, the instrument restrictions don’t bother me and I will take care of them soon enough anyway. I need to get it done now in case the access to the RG goes away.

I was able to knock out the last “big” commercial requirement the weekend of Presidents Day when I flew the bird home, at night, with my instructor, with enough time to get my Dual Night XC done. All that I have left is a little simulated instrument time and the maneuvers. I also completed my complex endorsement that weekend as well.

TODAY however, I took a big load of stress off, and PASSED my written for Commercial Pilot Airplane. I’ll let the report speak for itself. I am pretty pleased.

I did clean up the shop some this weekend, gearing up to get back at and finish the tanks soon. Onward and upward!

Categories: Hangar Chat


November 11th, 2014 No comments
N216KW - Nice to have good friends with great planes.

N216KW – Nice to have good friends with great planes.

So, since I work in Banking, I had the “option” of working or not today. I looked out my window after waking a little later than I usually do and noticed that the sky was nice and clear. Knowing that the weather was going to deteriorate in the latter portion of the week, I decided on a whim to see if my fellow CAP pilot/Osh’12 companion/CFI/RV-6 owner extraordinaire was available for some more tail wheel/RV transition training. To my great excitement he said he was and was more than willing to let me buy the gas today. Kent is a heck of a guy.

So we decided I would meet him at KOGD in a few hours and go up for an hour or so in the pattern. I usually fly the Sundowner up there from U42, but unfortunately in the business of life, I let the Pitot Static Cert lapse. No worries, I have a car. So I ran a few errands and then met him at his hangar at 1030. We were airborne in about 30 more.

We stayed local, had some cross wind, and the pattern all to ourselves. It was a good day to fly/demonstrate landings. Flew for 1.2 and in the end had a working plane, nearly empty tanks, and a good smattering of various landings ranging from Good to Meh. 😉

I paid half the fuel bill and asked…”so, good enough for a signature?”


So, I am now officially endorsed to fly tail wheel/conventional landing gear aircraft as PIC!

TW endorsement…check!

Kent did ask if he and some other builders needed to effect an intervention on my build. 😉 Maybe, but today was sure a shot in the arm as far as motivation goes.

Good Veterans Day, with a great Veteran!

Categories: Hangar Chat

First Trip to Airventure

January 8th, 2013 No comments

Anyone who is anyone in Aviation knows that at some point, you have to make the trip to Airventure. Oshkosh, Wisconsin hosts the biggest General Aviation Fly-in/Airshow every year. If you are a home builder, the requirement is increased as it is hosted by the EAA and draws many “experimental” aircraft and pilots to it. I have always wanted to attend since I was young, but more so since deciding to build a plane myself. I figured someday it would happen but never this soon.

A fellow CAP pilot and RV-6 owner Kent and I were chatting early one morning in July after he had just finished a check ride. He asked me if I was going this year. Turns out this was a big year for RV guys as the RV-1 was being flown in and donated to the EAA museum. Additionally, the EAA was going to have some special events to recognize Richard VanGrunsven, the owner and designer of RV aircraft, due to it being the 40th anniversary of Vans Aircraft. Needless to say, it was the year for an RV builder to go.

I responded to Kent that I was not sure as I had no real way of getting there. He then said the magic words, “I have an extra seat, why don’t you come along?” Say WHAT?!? I told him that I would need to check with the wife first, but I was all for it. There were several reasons I was really excited at the prospect. 1. I get to go to Airventure 2012. 2. I get to fly in a RV-6 which is the predecessor of the plane I am building. 3. His plane is a tail dragger, and I need to get some familiarity with it to better make a decision as to the configuration of my landing gear. I figured I could get some serious time and education. It was a heck of a deal for me. Kent on the other hand would have to deal with a guy that would be geeking out the whole time. Poor Sucker!

After a conversation with my lovely bride, we decided I could go. (More like she relented and I ran with it!) I do love my wife! So it was settled, I was going to Oshkosh in style. It was decided that we would go for as much of the week as possible. We would also camp at the Home Built Camping area. Talk about a full immersion, I was going to be in Mecca, in a RV, camping in the middle of many other RV’s for a whole week. This is going to be SWEET!

I nearly could not stand the next 2 1/2 weeks left due to the anticipation of the trip. We decided that we would head out Saturday the 21st as early as we were able. We started chatting about weight and balance, routes, fuel requirements, etc. It became clear that me and Kent, full fuel, and day bag would be all we could carry and stay at gross for his RV-6. (I guess I am a big boy…translation…fat.) This meant that we needed to ship our clothes and camping gear to KOSH a week in advance. Apparently this is a common thing for participants/attendees because Airventure has a system set up that takes care of this very situation. So I packed a 34 pound box with my tent, sleeping bag, bed roll, clothes, and toiletries and shipped them off on the 17th. Kent did the same. We were committed now. If we did not go, we would have to work with Airventure to return our gear as soon as it arrived. Not a fun prospect either of us were planning on.

The weather looked to be good for the weekend out of KOGD. At this point, it was painful to go to work. After all, I was going to be having a blast in a few days. Saturday rolled around and I got up around 0400. I showered, kissed my wife goodbye and headed out the door attempting to drive the 45 minutes or so to KOGD to meet my ride and pilot. It is amazing how quiet Utah is at 0430. I arrived at about 0545 and there was the plane on the ramp with no pilot. Kent apparently was talking with some other guys that we were going to head to KOSH as well. He showed up and we quickly jumped in N216KW and started our adventure.

Airventure Bound

Wheels up was shortly after 0600. Kent had me follow along on the takeoff on the stick. Admittedly, I was more excited than paying attention, so I cannot say I learned anything on that one. 😉 We started out as a 2 ship flight. Phil in his RV-4 was in tight tow as we took off RWY21 and departed to the east. I was able to borrow a Spot ® to use for our trip. This way friends and family could track us on our way. Additionally, I set up the alerts so that at fuel stops and destinations, the device would notify our wives we were OK. As you can see from the map above, it works really well.

The sun was just coming up as we left. It made for a really nice view as we headed east. Fortunately we had some cloud cover to keep it out of our eyes. The Mountains of Utah are beautiful in the morning. Kent told me I had the plane shortly after takeoff and simply advised, via his Garmin 496, where I should point the nose. Phil tucked in nicely under the wing of Kent’s RV for a good portion of our first leg. I had never flown formation before, it was neat to be in that close proximity to another airplane and see just how pretty these birds are. Flying lead was fun. This was my second time flying an RV. I do not have a lot of center stick time, but I can tell you, it is soooo natural feeling. It was not long before I had a feel for the inputs required to control the plane. Kent’s RV-6 and the prior RV-6A I have flown are very neutral on the stick and very responsive. Already…I was in love with the way these planes fly. The other thing I immediately noticed is the speed. These planes can move.

We were on our way. There was another flight of two, a RV-6a and a RV-7 that took off about 10 minutes behind us. Eventually we all gathered up together and became a flight of four. Our first fuel stop was planned to be Torrington, WY (KTOR) which was 357 nm or just over 2 hours as fast as these RV’s can move. The flight over Wyoming was uneventful. We stayed at about 7500 MSL for this leg to find cool air. There is a lot of barren land and not much to see. Fortunately, the formation flying was entertaining enough. Winds were out of the west and air was smooth. I was on the stick the entire time and was getting a good feel for the plane.

We arrived into KTOR and set up for a RWY28 downwind. Once established, I gave the plane back to Kent to land. He got us down with a nice landing. I watched and observed as this was officially my first landing in a tail dragger. He made it look easy. We taxied in and got fuel.

Gaggle of RV’s Gathering for Fuel

We hopped out, and introductions were made with all the other plane crews in our flight. We also picked up two more planes in the flight. Roland and Al in RV-6’s. We got organized, paid for fuel, took a bathroom break and then piled in and departed. KTOR is a nice place. Nice FBO, nice facilities, nice dog. It was starting to warm up. It was time to get flying again. Kent had me on the stick a bit more on this takeoff. With the tail on the ground, it is different on the takeoff. You cannot see down the runway over the nose. So you get the plane rolling, push the stick forward to get the tail up, then it feels the same as the tricycles. The pushing the nose forward will be something I will need to work on as I am so used to just holding a little back pressure to start. We were off and forming up again.

This time Phil took lead. This gave me a chance to fly formation on him. That is a LOT of work. I gave it a good try for about 5 minutes and then backed off some. I loved the challenge, but I can see it making one tired really fast. So I stayed in loose trail for most of the flight over Nebraska and South Dakota. That was very educational. I love learning all this new type of flying. Kent got a seat full of excitement next to him.

We flew past some large fires in SD. The smoke was pretty thick in places, but we avoided it. There is a whole lot of prairie out there. Ripe for burning. Next stop planned was Quentin Aanenson Airport in Luverne, MN (KLYV) which was another 362 nm away. After another 2+ hours we lined up for a nice arrival on RWY18. Kent had me follow along with the stick to get a feel for the view angle and power management. He set it down nicely and we taxied over to fuel. To our surprise, the fuel was $4.85 a gallon. However, nothing is cheap in aviation, as the pump kept having issues while all six planes were trying to fill up. The FBO building was very nice and well air-conditioned. At this point the humidity was starting to become noticeable. We were now hitting mid day and it was clear, we were no longer in the west. After briefing the arrival into KOSH and getting some water and using the facilities, we jumped back into the planes for the last leg. Kent really had me on the stick this time for the take-off. Again that whole muscle memory of holding back on the stick was hard to overcome. Kent gently reminded me to push forward and let the tail come up and we were flying in no time.

The Crew In Flight

We took lead again. It was decided since Kent had flown to KOSH several times before, that he would take lead and bring us all in. We stayed a bit lower as a cloud layer was above. Minnesota and Wisconsin are much greener than South Dakota. We dodged radio towers and windmill farms as we chugged along. We did have some patches of rain that cleaned a few bugs off, but other than that…it was a nice scenic flight. We crossed the Great Mississippi River at LaCrosse MN. I had forgotten how green the Mid West was. Staying low was nice, I liked the sense of speed it gave the flight.

KOSH is 333 nm from KLYV. With the tail wind, that put us about 2 hours until arrival. The time was close to entering what can aptly be described as “The Hornets Nest.” For those that have done it before, it seems they handle it like old hats. For newbies like me, it seems like orchestrated chaos. Basically the fun begins at the town of Ripon, WI. Prior to arriving at Ripon, I pulled out the NOTAM describing the procedure for arrivals so I could stay ahead of the tasks. Just before Ripon, I turned the controls back to Kent and began looking for the called out visual points. That is when it became clear, this approach was going to be fun.

We arrived at Ripon and found the requisite railroad tracks. At this point you are monitoring a frequency and acknowledging calls with wing rocks. We got slowed down to 90 KIAS and followed in behind a high wing. My head was on a swivel as airplanes were sneaking inside of the conga line and then realizing they were too close, exiting. Planes were starting to converge from all directions. Our flight of six were trying to stay in line together with our required 1/2 nm spacing and planes just appeared in between. Apparently, there are controllers that are sitting in a field with binoculars and a radio calling out planes as we entered the procedure. Occasionally, they would tell an offending plane to move out and start over. It gave the feeling of some level of order, but it felt much different.

So there we were, a flight of 6 RV’s aligned along the tracks heading for FISKE, a nav fix just outside KOSH Class D airspace. At this point you should be monitoring the Tower at KOSH and getting ready to enter the pattern to land. You still are only acknowledging calls from the controllers with wing rocks. They don’t have time to listen to your call backs. A basic controller instruction set goes something like “RV, red and white tail, rock your wings. Good, now make right close traffic RWY27, keep behind aircraft in front of you.” You simply do, not reply. Interestingly enough, we had planes trying to sneak in at FISKE. Tower would call them on it and tell them to get out and start at RIPON. It does not pay to cheat.

Now, we were in the pattern and getting ready to land. You would think at this point the end is near…Oh No. As we were getting ready to get the call for cleared to land, something happened on the runway. The controllers called it an “incident” yet from my vantage point, I could not see anything. The call was simply “All aircraft in the pattern for RWY27, go around.” So we did. I think we had 10 airplanes at least in the pattern at this point with others still trying to enter from FISKE or sneaking elsewhere. The concept of following the guy in front appeared to be a suggestion to some pilots as they would turn tighter patterns than others and the line would become a mess.

We lined up again and settled in for another attempt at landing. As we got our second clearance to land, someone did not make his assigned spot and the call came again, “All aircraft in the pattern for RWY27, go around.” Around we went. More airplanes entered the pattern at this point. We were really stacking up. I was calling out planes to Kent left and right, up and down. I could not believe what I was seeing. Kent meanwhile was cool and calm…flying like a pro. He seemed like it was all normal…I think. Let’s see if 3rd time really is a charm. We lined up behind a Cessna and made a little wider pattern to allow room for all the other planes that had snuck in. At this point the flight of six RV’s was just a bunch of RV’s blended in with the rest. We were cleared to land…again.

Now here is the real beauty of KOSH arrivals. They land 3 planes at once…on the same runway! They have painted large dots on the surface and as they clear you to land, they call your landing spot. Talk about pressure. Here you have 3 planes descending at the same time for the same runway cleared to land at the same time with enough separation to let you roll out and clear the runway at nearly the same time. Say WHAT? You spend most of your flying time waiting for runways to clear before you are cleared and they are clearing 3 at time…wow! We got our call….again…”RV, red and white tail, cleared to land on the numbers!” The Cessna ahead was cleared for the spot ahead of us. Well, here we go. Kent got settled in on final nice and stable. We kept the speed on target and watched the Cessna ahead. Cessna appeared to be lower and not heading for his assigned dot. “Oh no…are we going to have to go around again?” Cessna get the call to continue to his spot and then land but does not quite make it. At this point Kent is nearly about to flare right over the numbers. A go around at this point would be bad, but we may have too. Fortunately the Cessna kept his roll out speed up and we were able to get on the ground and off the runway in good time for the folks behind.

We had arrived. Kent popped the canopy open and immediately it was clear, it was hot and it was VERY humid. Welcome to Oshkosh. We pulled out our “HBC” sign and the flag men started to direct us to Home Built Camping. We taxied for what felt like 20 minutes and finally got to home for the next week. Eventually all the other guys in our flight made it too. We shut down, hopped out, and stretched. Immediately I was geeking out. Look at all these RV’s. And we were early! That was the way to arrive at Airventure 2012.

Having a Great Time

As you can see above, this was home for the week. First things first, we tied N216KW down. Remember how we had to ship our gear? Well, Kent and I had to trek across the airport grounds to the location where the shipped goods were stored and waiting for us. Apparently, we made it just in time as the gal guarding the boxes said they closed at 1700 hours. It was 1705. We were sure it was 1730 when they closed up, but no matter, we got our gear and hauled it back. It did not seem like a long walk to get there, but the walk back was sure long. Once we hit our site again we set up camp. About this time a RV-9a out of Florida, flown by a former Utah resident showed up. Steve was planning on getting there before us and picking up our stuff. Thankfully we got there first or we would have had to snuggle with him for the night until we could get our own. 😉 He got lucky. Once all the guys got settled, we headed out for dinner. Time to sit back, relax and get ready for the weeks adventure.

The Famous Brown Arch Photo

I did not take too many pictures this trip. I suppose I could have, but I was just too busy seeing the show. Below is the list of highlights I found interesting from the show.

  1. Vendor Displays
    1. Garmin (G3X, GNS 750, GNS 650)
    2. Stein Air (All the pretty panels)
    3. Advance Flight Systems (AFS5600)
    4. TruTrak (Auto Pilots)
    5. AeroLeds (Lights)
    6. Vertical Power (VX-Pro)
    7. Aerosport Products (Carbon Panels)
    8. Lycoming (IO-390)
    9. ECI (Engines)
    10. EMAG (Electronic Ignitions)
    11. Trio (Autopilots)
    12. Beechcraft (Had to get a shirt)
    13. Vans (RV-14)
    14. AnywhereMap (Flight software for Android)
    15. Click Bond (Nifty way to install fasteners)
  2. Forums
    1. Mountain Flying
    2. Rod Machado
    3. Proper Leaning
  3. Meeting people I have chatted with on Vans Air Force, especially Paul Dye.
  4. All the static planes on display I could see.
  5. The Museum
  6. The Weather
  7. My blistered feet
  8. My terrible allergies

Needless to say, it would be hard to summarize all the things I took in at the show, but all of it was great. I snagged some freebies. Chatted with some folks about products I wanted to see and possibly put in my plane someday, and watched some good airshow performances. There was simply too much to take in all at once, I was glad we had a week to get through it all.

Micro Bursts will Flip You (borrowed from Rob Reece)

For the most part, the weather was HOT and HUMID. There was some reprieve for a day from the heat, but the muggy persisted. We had one day where it rained pretty heavily. That same day a micro burst of wind made a mess of the forum pavilions and tossed a plane on top of another. As you can see above, the planes in question are not your average aircraft. One was a replica of a German Fokker and the other was a 2/3 scale Mustang that was a real jewel. Once they separated the planes, the Mustang actually fared OK compared to the Fokker. Needless to say, good tie-downs in the grass are a must. The same micro burst tore tents to shreds and had them all over camp. Kent’s tent had a broken tent pole that tore through his rain fly. We were able to repair the pole and tape up the fly, but he still had a lot of water in the tent. He was able to dry out and even his soaked camera began working again. There were plenty others heading to Target to get a new tent. It also rained pretty good Wednesday and Thursday nights. I think Kent was found in a different location in his tent then where he started. Thanks to his air mattress, he was able to float it out.

The View in the Early AM. Look at All Those Planes

Here is a shot Wednesday morning after the storm had passed. Sunrise was pretty. The planes were prettier. You can also see my little 2 man tent I took. For $35.00, this little tent was a great performer. While other tents were getting tossed, bent, torn, etc. this little tent just sat there and took the beating. I was dry and sturdy all week.

By Friday, we had seen most of the show, seen all the vendors, gone to most of the sights, so Kent and I decided we should head home and be hero’s for our wives. We woke up early, packed up camp, ran our now soggy boxes over to FedEx to ship, and packed into the RV.

Kent however tossed a cookie my way and as we were getting ready to jump in said, “You take left seat.” Really?!? Don’t have to tell me twice! We jumped, started up and got in line with the other departures heading out. They lined us up in a staggered formation on RWY36. Four aircraft at a time in a box-like setup. Once ready, the controllers, sitting right on the side of the runway call out the plane and release you for departure. Seemed like a pretty slick setup all in all.

I put in the power, waited some, then gave the stick a little nose down to raise the tail and we rolled right off. We then made a right turn out and reversed course and once clear of the airspace, pointed westward.

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound

We decided to simply reverse our course that got us to KOSH with the same fuel stops. I could have been told to go anywhere, I was flying Kent’s RV left seat!

Kent claims this was the runoff from his tent after Thursday

Kent claims this was the runoff from his tent after Thursday

We crossed the Mississippi at La Crosse, WI again and Kent snapped the above photo. We simply do not see this kind of water in Utah. The Tower Controller both on our way there and returning, was a real nice guy.

Ahhh...Left Seat in an RV

Ahhh…Left Seat in an RV

We had to stay low again with the cloud deck, and the turbulence was a little more on the way home, but really, I did not notice it much, I was having fun. Above you see the “RV Grin” that so commonly happens when you fly an RV Airplane. I have heard about it, almost as if it where mythical, but Kent snapped this picture somewhere over Minnesota to prove it does in fact exist. Notice all the green outside? Beautiful.

We stopped again for fuel in Luverne, MN (KLYV). This was my first official tail dragger landing. I got it stable and Kent talked me through it (He’s a darn good CFI BTW). I felt I did a decent job getting it on the ground. We hopped out and checked the fuel price again. They must have caught on to the low price, because it was much higher now. As we walked into the FBO to take a stretch/pee break, the Airport Manager met us and informed us that they were serving a BBQ sandwich lunch and to help ourselves. Apparently they do this for KOSH attendees as it must be a popular stop along the way. We told them that we were leaving rather than going, but no matter, we got a nice free lunch. Nice people, nice airport. After the break, I looked over at Kent to see if I still had left seat privileges. To my delight, he climbed into the right seat so I took my place in the left again. I did another decent job of getting us off the ground and pointed west once more.

It was becoming clear we were heading home about half way to Torrington, WY. The landscape was changing from a lush green to a lovely (yah right) brown. Southern SD/Northern NE, and WY are pretty…bleh. We stopped, as we did on the trip out, in Torrington, WY. My landing there was not as clean as the previous. I let the plane get a little ahead of me and Kent stepped in and calmed it down. In then end, I carried a little too much speed. We’ll chalk it up to learning. He looked the plane over as we topped off and said all was well. Thinking I had lost my left seat privileges for sure, I again waited to see where Kent was heading as we strapped in. Looks like Kent is also a generous CFI and he again jumped into the right seat. One more leg to go and we’d be back in Utah.

Dry...but Barren

Dry…and Barren

Kent snapped this photo shortly after we departed. As you can see, we were clearly getting close to home. I could not believe the vast open area we were flying over. Then once I realized what it looked like, my disbelief changed to understanding. Who in their right mind would want to live out here. Occasionally you could see a rancher or two, maybe a head of cattle, but that was all. I spent most of this final leg trying to assess the last landing in WY. I was determined to do better upon arriving in Utah.

Near Rock Springs, we hit some weather. Rain was falling and there were a couple of cells around. Thank goodness Kent pays for the XM weather for his Garmin 496. I also own one, but have not used the XM Weather feature. It is very nice and a great tool for assessing the situation. We were able to find a path that kept us out of the big stuff with little deviation from our course. The turbulence was pretty good however and both of us had to tighten our harnesses. We hit a few rain showers, but nothing major.

Next up was the Wasatch Mountains and on to home. Having spent two hours analyzing the last landing, I had a plan to grease this bird onto the runway at KOGD. We took a route that nearly put us on a straight in for RWY21. Fortunately for me, that is what we got. I got it stable, on glide path, slowed down, flaps in, and wind correction set up. There was a slight cross wind, but nothing drastic. I was set to cap this trip off with a high note….


It was a great 3rd tail wheel landing and Kent confirmed it. 🙂

Airventure 2012 was a great trip. I can’t say enough about Kent’s generosity for offering to take a newbie along, let him hang out with his group of friends, fly his bird, and instruct the whole time flying. It was certainly a trip I would love to repeat…and repeat soon. It certainly was a shot in the arm for me to get more done on my build. Kent and I flying to Airventure in formation with the other guys is now on the list of to do’s once my RV is done.

Thanks Kent!



Categories: Hangar Chat

Inspired by…

February 13th, 2012 No comments


Each year, my family attempts to give hand made gifts at Christmas to the siblings on a rotating schedule. We do not always succeed, but we try.

This last year my sister Amy had me on the rotation. Since she was aware that I had just built a shop to build a plane in, she commissioned a neighbor of mine that cuts vinyl to cut the motto of our Grandfather.

The idea was that I could put it somewhere on my shop walls for inspiration and encouragement.

I finally was able to get it stuck on the wall. It is now a central focus of the shop.

Thanks AMIS!


Categories: Hangar Chat

Fun with Blimps

February 8th, 2012 No comments

Glamor Shot

One of the things I love to do is give back to my community. If it can involve flying, all the better. While the particulars of the above are not public, the photo is. That is me sitting left seat as we were permitted to do a promo photo shoot for CAP. Needless to say, we are assisting the U.S. Army to help keep you safer at home. I love to fly and this is a neat project to be a part of.

Categories: Hangar Chat

Weekend Adventures in a Baby Beech…Virtual Log!

September 29th, 2011 No comments

Oh the places a Baby Beech will take you!

This last weekend was my birthday. It was also my wife’s 15 year High School Reunion in Southern Utah (near KDXZ). Most can imagine where a guy would rather be on his birthday. (Some examples include; Dentist for a root canal, Proctologist, beauty salon getting leg hair waxed off….you get the idea) She really wanted to go (dang cheerleaders) so I proposed a compromise. “Let’s Fly!” She agreed.

The weather was forecasted to be severe clear with a large chance of sun. Temperatures were to top off at 85 degrees in SLC so that put the DA at about 6500+ MSL. Not bad, but something to consider when potentially loading a plane to gross and heading off for a cross country flight. I spent the next couple of days planning the trip, doing performance calculations, getting W&B worked out, and watching the extended forecasts.

Turns out, it was going to be a perfect weekend to fly. We have made the trip to Southern Utah once before as a whole family, but everyone was a little smaller then. My kids are growing up too fast. Needless to say, the math all worked out and as long as we did not pack the kitchen sink, we’d be OK.

Seeing that it was my birthday after all, my generous mother-in-law offered to watch the kids for the night once we arrived so my lovely bride and I could get away to a B&B or something. That again got my wheels a spinning in my head. We looked at options locally down south but all were pricey and not easy to get in short notice. Then it hit me….”Let’s go to Vegas, Baby!” Again, she agreed!

I had heard that North Las Vegas can present a challenge getting in an out. I like a good challenge, and I really like showing my wife how fun interacting with ATC can be. So KVGT it was.

The day of the trip arrived. I decided to take the day off work. As such, I was asked to fly a CAP mission flight that morning. The kids were not out of school until at least 1400L so heck, why not. By noon I had logged another 3.9 hours in a CAP G1000 Turbo 182. Spoiled I know, but I rarely argue when the US tax payers are paying for my flight time. On my way back home, I stopped off at my home base and pre-flighted the Sundowner, got all my charts in order, plugged in all the headsets, and generally got the bird ready to show and go.

Got home, loaded the kids and wife into the van, and headed off back to the airport. Shoe horned all them into the Sundowner and started the engine. At this point, we were at the height of the day as far as temps and density altitude. I quickly checked my takeoff and climb numbers to insure we were good to go. With the math giving a green light, we taxied on to Runway 34 and throttled up.

For those of us that operate at higher altitude airports, we are used to reduced performance from the get go. I chuckle at times when other owners of my type of aircraft will get on the forums and comment how they had to get to 4500 feet to get cool temps and smoother air. U42 is at 4620 MSL! 🙂 Climbs of 250 fpm at gross are a godsend here. I love it when I can get over 500 fpm solo. You guys down near sea level have it good.

The takeoff was as expected, slow and the climb was shallow. We got to pattern altitude about mid field on the downwind. The stall horn chirped a little on the upwind climb. Needless to say, I was watching the airspeed like a hawk. I have been using the mousevator flap technique for some time and it made a ton of difference with this departure. Once established on the departure to the south, the Sundowner climbed OK to our cruise altitude of 8500 MSL after we dodged the SLC Class B and a few Restricted Airspace areas over Camp Williams (you don’t want to be shot at by a tank do you?).

Interestingly enough, I had an Piper Archer from a local college flight school just ahead and below us. Either he was throttled back a little, or I was going faster with a tail wind at my altitude, but we kept pace with each for half of my flight until he landed. I was pleased with my little bird as we chatted back and forth a bit on the radio. The other pilot was clearly a CFI in the right seat.

GPSMAP 496 Resolution shows turbulence!

One of the items I love to fly with is my Garmin 496. The refresh rate and the information it provides are simply excellent. I love to download my tracks when I make long flights like this to see how the plane behaved and the route I took and the telemetry it shows. Here you can see an overlay of the route at altitude. The left track is my track down south and the right is the return leg back home. Notice anything? The route down was pretty bumpy. While it is typical this time of year to get turbulence, this particular afternoon posed a bit of work for me. I love how the recording resolution of the 496 actually captures the subtle changes in altitude and directions. I was constantly having to adjust the altitude and power with all the thermal activity. At some points I was getting 1000 fpm swings.

I apologized to my wife for all the bumps. The kids were clueless as they had long passed out. She told me she prefers the turbulence at times as it makes the ride fun. If she knew how much more work it was, she may change her mind. I love that she loves to fly with me. I cannot wait when the RV is done and we can travel faster and higher and farther together. The pattern of bumps continued the entire 2 hours of this leg.

There really is an airport there!

We kept chugging along to KDXZ. As you can see from the shot above, KDXZ is too new for even Google Earth. It was finished late last year and replaced the long time operating KSGU airport. This was the first time I had made it down both personally and with CAP, so I was anxious to try out this new facility. The approach was pretty straight forward. I began a decent at KCDC and called straight in runway 19. At this point I was 20 gallons lighter and I had a perfect touchdown. The surface of KDXZ is VERY smooth. I had to check to see if we had landed because the roll out was sooo nice. The fact I was no longer getting bumped around actually should have clued me in we were down. 🙂

We had arrived. The FBO came out to greet us and asked if we needed anything. I asked for fuel to the slots again and if he had internet capability. The FBO is sooo new, the building really was a shell still in process. The bathroom at least had a working sink and toilet. The tile for the pilot/crew shower was still being installed. Looks like it will be a great facility when complete.

My In-Laws arrived at 1800L and we discussed options again. At this point, I had not booked our room in Vegas just in case our plans may change or something came up. It was then decided that my wife and I would ditch the kids and continue on to KVGT. I asked the FBO if I could use his computer and then checked Hotwire for a room in Vegas. They came back with a couple of cheap 4 star rooms downtown so I snagged one. If you don’t know how Hotwire runs their really good deals, you do not know the hotel until after you book and pay. So to this point I was rolling the dice. Turns out, our room was at the Golden Nugget and we were confirmed…so time to get going.

We said goodbye to the kids, thanked the in-laws for taking them, and piled back in to the Sundowner for 1 more hour of fun.

A friend of mine once worked for Vision Airlines (based at KVGT) helped me get a plan of action together to deal with the LAS Class Bravo and get into KVGT. He said to get a TAC for LAS and once off KDXZ, contact LA Center for Flight Following. They would then hand me off and then follow directions to the letter and I should be OK.

Plan in hand, TAC in hand, wife strapped in, we took runway 19 at KDXZ for departure at about 1830L. With 1 hour in flight, we should be at the hotel near 1900L with the time change. Once off KDXZ, I called LA Center. The controller was really nice and I declared my intentions. He gave me a squawk and off we headed VFR and own navigation to KVGT.

As we got over Mesquite NV, I briefed my wife on the fact that LAS Class Bravo will be busier than anything she and I had experienced in SLC Class Bravo and the need for a sterile cockpit when LA Center hands us off to LAS Approach. She understood and we prepped for the decent from 8500 in. Up to this point, LA Center was pretty quiet. It turned out to be a foreshadow of things to come.

As I was 45 miles out of KLAS, LA Center handed me off to Nellis Approach and wished us a good night. I thanked him for the help and switched to Nellis. Upon initial contact, Nellis Approach gave me the following; “Sundowner 76R, cleared into Class Bravo, direct North Las Vegas, own nav, maintain VFR, decent at pilot discretion.” I was 45 nm out and he gave me a path right to KVGT. I could not believe my ears. I figured it would change as I got closer. After all, it was still only 1815L now that I had made the time change. I was almost a little bummed as I wanted a challenge.

We continued inbound and began a nice shallow decent. I stayed under Class Bravo until I reached the segment that went to the ground. I was cleared so I went. I told my wife…”ok, now it should get busy.” I kept on inbound until I was abeam Nellis on the South end when Nellis called and said; “Sundowner 76R, contact North Las Vegas Tower, goodnight.” Between my initial clearance and instructions to now, there were NO other calls to me or anyone else. I could not believe it. Am I really going to get into KVGT this easy?

Land and Depart from KVGT

I read back my instructions and switched over to KVGT Tower. A nice happy sounding controller acknowledged and gave me one traffic advisory for a student doing T&G’s and then said, “Sundowner 76R, make left base, cleared to land runway 12R.” Did I really get cleared to land? Is that really it? Did Vegas shut down? Is there something wrong? After a couple more traffic advisories, I was on final with 12R in sight. Had a great flare, touch down, and roll-out! Where are my check pilots when I need them. 🙂

Tower advise to contact ground off runway and have a nice night. I looked at my wife and said…I have had more trouble getting on the ground at U42, and uncontrolled airport, than this was. She was surprised too. We taxied up and followed the “follow me” van and parked. Nice ramp worker got out, grabbed our bags, helped me tie down and put our cover on, and hauled us off to the terminal. He called dispatch to get us a cab.

After check in at the desk was complete, we headed out front and there was our cab. We headed into town, got checked in, got our room, liked it, then headed out for dinner. Vegas is not exactly our kind of town. In fact, the primary reason for us going there was the challenge (or perceived) of getting into the area via a general aviation plane, and to just be together and have a break from the kids. Being in Vegas was not a high priority. She and I feel that if you are somewhere you cannot take your kids, then you should not be there. Vegas is not for the kids. None the less, the food is good and the room was nice, so we focused on those aspects. We had a good Italian dinner at the Grotto in the Nugget and then walked around a bit. That was enough for both of us. After all, I had already logged 7.2 for the day in 2 separate planes at 4 different airports and travel to/over 4 separate states. That was a great birthday present.

We called it a night and headed back to the room. Golden Nugget as really done a nice job renovating the hotel. Nice place…especially for the rate we got it for.

After a restful night ;-), my wife and I packed up and headed down for breakfast. We found a nice restaurant and sat there smiling as we watch the morning in Vegas start. Needless to say…it is REALLY quiet in the AM. It was actually nice.

Caught a cab and headed back to KVGT. I thought again, maybe now we can get some ATC busy action. No such luck.

In-N-Out of Vegas

Once pre-flighted and running ground gave me a heading and a frequency to call when established. Run up complete, call made to tower, and we were cleared for departure runway 7. I turned to 340 when off and contacted Nellis Approach. His response was; “Cleared into Class Bravo, direct KDXZ, own nav, altitude at pilots discretion, maintain VFR.” That was it until I was cut loose outside of Bravo.

I could not believe it. Being that it was morning and temps were cooler and it was just the 2 of us, the Sundowner climbed like a champ. Being at 2200 MSL did not hurt either. We were at 9500 MSL by the outer limit of the Class Bravo and heading NE.

The air was smooth as glass and the visibility was unlimited. Sun was just above the mountains and we had a great view of Lake Mead. Stupid me forgot to get out the camera. Did not matter, I was flying my plane with the love of my life next to me holding my hand. We had a little head wind slowing us down, but I had all morning to burn as the reunion was not until later that day. I love to fly, but I really love to fly with my wife.

I declined flight following on this leg. I wanted to just enjoy the view and enjoy chatting with my wife. The leg is relatively short and the traffic apparently was light. Was a good choice.

As we began our decent into the KDXZ area, a King Air called in and stated that he was on the RNAV approach for Runway 1. He called out his DME and we were at the time, about matched in distance and on converging courses. I opted to let him continue in on the approach and I simply executed a 360 degree turn to give him room. He was spinning 2 engines and I only had one and lots of time. I then resumed the inbound course as he executed a circle to land for a T&G on runway 19. I watched as he did his landing and climb-out and off he went. He thanked me for my help and was gone.

Now it was my turn. I called established on downwind and noticed that a local freight carrier had taxied to and was holding short of runway 19. I pressed on thinking he was waiting for me to land and would then go. WRONG!!!!

As I called my base turn, he began to roll out on the runway….I thought…”seriously, is he going now? I just called Base genius!” I then decided, I do not want to be anywhere near this guy when he departs…so I will do a base 360 degree turn to the outside. Not exactly standard, but I did not want to do a go around and have him climb right into me even if I side stepped the runway. I advised that I was doing my 360 and got no reply from him. After coming around to complete my base, I looked over and HE WAS STILL ON THE THRESHOLD!!! So I called another 360 at which point he simply said “OK” and then throttled up and went along his merry way.

After the second turn around, I saw him climbing out and I said to myself, “Let’s get down and off the runway before he realizes he left his brain on the ground and comes back for it!” I came in and made another sweet soft landing and taxied off. Shortly after I pulled in, a nice guy in a REALLY nice Comanche 250 landed and taxied in. Turns out he was one of the original creators of SkyWest Airlines. Nice guy. He and I got to talking about the tool that just took off as he heard all the traffic and he said, you did the right thing…stayed alert and out of the way since he and I were the only ones that were clearly paying attention.

The FBO guy came out and also said he did not know what the dudes issue was, but he felt that he was not all there either. Apparently he seemed off in the next dimension when he was prepping to leave. Both the FBO and I agreed that we would submit complaints to the Company advising that there was a near incursion by a clearly dysfunctional pilot within their ranks.

The rest of the day was pretty routine. In-laws picked us up, we reunited with our kids, went to the reunion, and ended up at the in-laws house. I advised them all we needed to get to bed early because I wanted to be wheels up no later than 0730 the next morning. They complied and we all went to sleep.

The next morning we arose to a perfectly clear, star filled sky with the hint of sunrise to the east. I saw a couple of shooting stars as we loaded all the family up. Then we drove for 20 minutes back to the new airport. For those familiar with KSGU, it was centrally located right in the middle of town on a mesa. It was a unique airport as the terrain fell off on both ends of the runway. If you missed it, it was a bad miss. It is a shame it had to go, but progress is progress.

The new airport is out in the middle of nowhere and the road to get to it is very long. You nearly have to go to Arizona and then back north to get there. Not as convenient, but the facility is very nice and will support future expansion. As a side note, one of our CAP Cessna 182’s was the first Piston Single to ever land on the new strip. Governors order.

We arrived, pre-flighted, checked the WX, packed in, and got going. The early AM departure was sooo much better for the climb and the smoothness. The FBO let my in-laws drive his golf cart to the edge of the taxi way to send us off. Nice guy.

As you can see in the second picture, the return trip was super smooth. Once I got to cruise and leaned out the engine and trimmed it, I think I touched the yoke maybe 4 times until decent. The rest was a simple rudder peddle press or two. All the kids and the wife were asleep and the traffic was super light. It was heaven on earth. I had the mountains to the right, the desert to the left and home ahead. This is peace.

Decent in was uneventful. Had to dodge a few local guys doing pattern work and then snuck in. Another sweet landing at the end of the trip capped it off. We taxied back and unloaded and waited for the fuel truck to arrive.

Always know where your Prop is!

Once I unloaded and got everything ready to push back, I noticed a couple of guys looking at a hangar mate’s plane. It is an old Cessna 152 he uses for flight training. Apparently in runup before a flight, his wing met another planes propeller. Neither won the battle, but I think this poor old bird is done. The prop went right through the spar so a new wing will need to be located. I do not know the extent of the damage to the other planes prop/engine, but I imagine it will not be cheap. I wish them luck. It is a gnarly reminder to always be vigilant in all phases of aircraft operation.

We were fueled, pushed back, tied down, loaded into the minivan and headed for home. We had just enough time to get to church! Good thing, cause I had many things to be grateful for over the weekend and needed to focus on Him for a bit. After all, I did just have a great birthday weekend and logged 11.2 more hours!


Categories: Hangar Chat

Short Build Hiatus

July 5th, 2011 No comments

So, to the followers of my log, fear not, I am not dead nor have I stopped building. Life has been a little hectic around here. I have been spending some time cleaning up the yard since the shop is complete, spending a bit more time with Civil Air Patrol, work, and sneaking in some actual flying.

I intended to spend some time this weekend building, but between barbeque hosting, setting up the pool for the kids, Church, CAP duties, building time was eaten up. Stay tuned as I hope to get my priming rack done this week and resume the Vertical Stab work.

Happy July to all and be safe out there.

Oh…and check your ELT’s and 121.5MHz 😉

Categories: Hangar Chat

Good Friend…Good Logo

May 20th, 2011 No comments


When I decided to create a builders log site, I knew I needed a simple little logo to identify it. A fellow CAP member, pilot, and friend has some graphics skills. So I asked him if he had any ideas. He came up with the above. I like it. As you can see in your browser, it shows up as the favicon next to the address too. Simple, clean, and fitting. Thanks Matt!

On another note, Matt is looking for a FLYING job. He is instrument rated with a commercial pilots certificate in both ASEL and AMEL aircraft. He has 1000+ hours total time and a very professional pilot. If you have or know of any jobs, please use the email link in the upper right corner to let me know. He will fly for food! 😉

Categories: Hangar Chat


May 4th, 2011 No comments

Photo Courtesy of Byron Graves N507RV

As I was pondering which plane to build, I came across this photo. I love the look, the lines, the scheme. So much so, that I emailed the builder and asked if I could copy the scheme. He said as long as I did not use the same colors, not a problem. Simply stated, this specimen is pure inspiration. He did a fantastic job. I only hope to get something that looks close to as good.

Photo Courtesy of Byron Graves N507RV

And for the interior:

Photo Courtesy of Byron Graves N507RV

Categories: Hangar Chat

Once a sturdy crate, now a set of shelves.

April 28th, 2011 No comments

Formerly the Tail Kit Crate

The crates that Van’s kits are shipped in are VERY sturdy. It is even more surprising that they are built buy a gentlemen that is BLIND! It is a shame to just dismantle and toss them. So…what do you do? I chose to turn the tail crate into a sturdy set of shelves for the house garage. Just had to buy some 1″x 10″ x 6′ pine planks to blend in with the case and shazam!

I think I will do the same with the others as I get to emptying them.

Categories: Hangar Chat

Welcome to

April 20th, 2011 No comments

Stay tuned as this site is brand spanking new.

Kit Crates and Builder

Categories: Hangar Chat