Friends prompted me to look back at the flying I did this past year.
Tallying the hours, it was a pretty typical year with about 75 hours on the Hobbs meter.
The year can be broken down into three categories: test flights, training, and visiting friends. (There may have been a little sight seeing thrown in for good measure.)
The airplane received a new “instrument capable” panel at the end of 2014 and that meant getting acclimated to some buttonology for getting my instrument rating current again. I flew 6 flights dedicated to instrument training and several more flights had a segment dedicated to being fluent with the procedures necessary to fly instrument approaches into some of the local airports. I also had my biannual flight review.
While the plane is running exceptionally well, the new avionics required several software updates. This resulted in a number of short local flights that lasted less than an hour each.
The majority of hours were flying to see friends. One location accounted for five trips to help with a fellow RV-8 owner who was upgrading his panel. Most of the time, two heads were better than one – most of the time (grin).
October saw a set of “butt buster” flights. There were three separate 6+ hour days.
An interesting fact: I did not end up with a single overnight trip in 2015. Every flight was a day trip including Knoxville, TN and Portsmouth, NH.
There was only one regret in my 2015 flight log (more accurately absent from it). I didn’t plan very well for my niece’s wedding in Maine and foul weather kept me on the ground. Better planning on my part would have lead to a road trip or a commercial flight. That’s one of thereabouts of being a pilot.
Here’s looking forward to 2016 flying!
There is a reddit subgroup discussing the open source project called Stratux.
The project combines open source software with commercially off the shelf (COTS) hardware to deliver in-flight weather (and traffic) to tablets and smart phones being used as Aviation navigation sources. The most popular of the apps is called ForeFlight.
I’ll be writing more about the software side in a separate post highlighting the agile methodology and user centered design strategy.
For now, I just wanted to show off my own Stratux box and the web status page telling me it’s working. It’s powered by a 6Ah battery pack and contained in an inexpensive HDD storage case.
Since I’m sitting in my home office, it won’t pick up any FAA towers but I’ve flown with it and it comes alive at 500′ and is receiving data smartly by 1500′ !
basic Stratux receiver and its web UI
Windsocks take a lot of abuse from the environment and eventually they need to be replaced.
Windsock Replacement and Cleanup
This windsock has been in duty for four years and with the exception of two hurricanes, it has not been lowered.
It was time to bring down the mast and replace the windsock.
The new windsock is 8′ rather than the old 6′ sock. It is also of a lighter fabric. I doubt the new one will hold up as well as the first but time will tell.
In addition to replacing the windsock, it was time to cut back 3+ years of growth.
The new windsock is more visible and should provide a few good years of service before then next intervention.
RWY03 at 6AM
Maintaining a grass runway is a lot of work but sometimes, just the ability to look at it, makes it all worth while.
I wanted to go fly and the weather was looking good for some “leg stretching” so I decided I’d equip the Devastator for a long range bombing run with 62 gallons of fuel and head north! The destination is a little airport in Freehold New York, just south of Albany. It’s a public airport that doesn’t see too many visitors these days. It sits right near a ridge line so it does Glider training when the occasional student drops in. The trip is just 300 nautical miles from home. That’s easily in range of the RV-8 but since the fields does not sell fuel, it would be 600 nautical miles round trip. I was going to be pushing the total trip time so the option to avoid a fuel stop somewhere along the way was a good enough excuse to put the new AUX tank to use. I packed the plane, tossed in swimming trunks and a towel and set out for the 2hr flight … yes, 300 nautical miles in about 2 hours – RV’s a very capable airplanes ! The trip was uneventful and after a bit of a bumpy decent after the small mountain ridge, I was on final for 1I5 (Freehold Airport). I opted for the deteriorating paved runway because I could not tell how soft or long the turf was. It was a good call because the turf had not been mowed for a week or so and was long. I guess the local group was already planning to do some flying because about as soon as I landed, they mowing tractor pulled out to start cutting the turf runway. The Devastator was safely on the other side of the runway, near the “soaring shack”.
After chatting with Randal and the other soaring staff, It was time to get down to the task of swimming. I caught a ride in one of the golf carts over to the easiest access to the river. After a quick change into the proper clothing – Randall said they occasionally have “clothing optional” swimmers take advantage of the river – I carefully made my way down river a bit. They’ve had a lot of rain so the river has swollen and was moving pretty quick. Turns out that made the requisite “photographic proof” easy !
There I am ! … and again, and again, and …
After the swim, and while I warmed up – the water was COLD! – I had a quick box lunch (all they way from the Amazon.com jungle).
Erik’s smoked lamb sandwich – yum!
Well, Nick was waiting patiently at home so there was no more time to be spent on the ground. I did my pre-flight, run-up, and was soon back in the air … using the newly mowed turn runway ! A little more than two hours later and I was on short final for the home field. An easy flight. A cold swim. And a great way to burn up about 30 gallons of gas!
I wont go into a lot of details for now but I wanted to post several pictures of airplanes … because what better way to celebrate turning 50 than to have a bunch of guys fly in, eat food, and tell tall tales !
Six line up for their photo!
A fly-by, hello, and happy birthday on the radio, but could not stay
Ralph starts the arrivals
Bruce helps control mosquitos
Bill’s co-pilot is ready with a camera
Jack, all the way from the west coast (but not just for the party) …
Vlad, waive for the camera
Wrong view for the camera !
"you grab ahold, like this and then …"
Sunrise … but the overnight pilots seem to have missed it for some reason …
I earned my Russian 50 year wings !
Thanks to all the pilots who made the day so much fun. Thanks also to all of my local friends who came out for a night of great food and wonderful conversation. I pretty nice way to celebrate turning 50 !