Friday, May 30, 2008

Big Brass Balls

From Short Final

Overheard in IFR Magazine's "On the Air"

While on a trip in a Grumman Cheetah from Marathon, Florida Keys to Exuma in the Bahamas, I ran into a large area of clouds hanging over Andros Island. They'd been classified as benign when I'd received my weather briefing about an hour and a half earlier. I penetrated with a warning from Miami Center:

Miami Center: "Grumman XXXXX, I show a large area of weather ahead of you. How would you like to proceed?"

Grumman: "My Stormscope shows it's not active. I'll continue on course."

[a few minutes later]
Miami Center: "Grumman XXXXX, say flight conditions."

Grumman: "It's a little bumpy, but other than that it's fine."

[a few minutes later, after it suddenly turned active]
Grumman: "Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, experiencing ... severe ... turbulence. Request ... lower."
[I went up and down at about 2000 feet per minute. The Stormscope lit up all around us. We were tossed on our side.]

Miami Center: "Grumman XXXXX, unable lower at this time. I'll have to call Nassau to get lower."
I righted the airplane. Everything flew around the cockpit. I saw a hole and aimed for it.

[a few minutes later]
Grumman: "Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, we're out of the weather now. Sorry about the deviation, but I could not hold altitude or course."

Miami Center: "Not a problem, I understand."

A passing airliner overheard this ...
Airliner: "Miami, Airliner XXXX, that guy that penetrated the weather over Andros — what kind of airplane did he say he was flying?"

Miami Center: "A Grumman."

Airliner: "Like a big Grumman?"

Miami Center: "No, like a little Grumman Cheetah.

Airliner: "A Cheetah? Wow, he's got a lot of balls."

Miami Center: "Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you broke up. Say again?"

Airliner: "I said, he's got a lot of balls."

Miami Center: "Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you are coming in broken up again. I believe you said (ahem) that he was a very brave man?"

Bob Brayman - Marathon, Florida Keys

Monday, May 12, 2008

RVator #2 Is Online

Issue #2 of the RVator is online. The biggest write-up surrounds the RV-12 and answers many of the questions concerning E-LSA vs. S-LSA.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Summer Survival

Okay, it's the time of year where everyone dusts off the cobwebs and takes to the air. We have current charts, we've done our T&G's until we feel like we won't scare ourselves, or our passengers. So, what's left?

Looking back to the loss of Steve Fossett, I wonder if he survived the crash, yet succumbed to the desert. We are all great pilots and the odds of crashing are minute....but.

Humans can live for weeks or even months without food (maybe a year in my case [wink]), Humans are hard-pressed to go 3 days in summer heat without water. At 8.3370 pounds per gallon and hoping for enough water to potentially last for weeks, I would have to offload passengers, fuel or baggage. Not always an option. So, how can I get water? I've spent a lot of time in the desert Southwest and can attest that a solar still works and the components weigh in at a few ounces.

So, water is taken care of...what's next? Food. Now before you start packing in those packs of Oberto® Beef Jerky, think about this: Jerky = salted protein. Yes, you want some salt, but protein digestion requires vast quantities of water (we crashed in the desert, remember?). The foods that you want are fats, sugars, starch and a bit of salt. I find that dehydrated fruits are a great source of energy, weigh little and travel well. For pure energy, nothing can beat a Snickers® Bar for packed calories and fat with a bit of sodium and protein. Only downside is the melt factor.

Let's see...water, food. What's next? How about fixing any injuries to ourselves or our passengers. Is our first aid kit going to do it? I worked many years as a Trauma Tech and I can tell you that band aids and a bit of Neosporin® won't be worth @#%! in a major accident. What do you have in your first aid kit to stop REAL bleeding? I wanted something compact, sterile, individually wrapped with something to tie around an affected limb and it had to be absorbent. Hmmmm....Viola! Maternity pads fit every criteria. For those going “EWWWwww”, think back to Vietnam and the field dressings. Basically a maternity pad in army green...No? These pads are cheap ($44.99 for a case of 288 works out to a little over 15¢ each) and you could split the case among other flying friends. Last, always carry a Leatherman-type tool with you. A knife is a wonderful survival tool, but the pliers can be used to break off parts of the airplane. Longerons make a great splint.

Even though we are stuck in the desert, the nights can become bitterly cold and there is still no substitute for a space blanket. I must admit, as I've aged and the weight of sleeping bags have come down, my space blanket is augmented with the sleeping bag. A very light summer bag can become a 3-season bag with the addition of the space blanket.

Next I want to signal rescuers. A few options here. Fire works, but if I'm out in dry scrub, I would really hate to start a major range fire. You quit smoking and don't carry matches or lighters anymore. Good for you. But, what do you do for a fire? You have all of the tools right on your plane. A few lengths of wire and your plane's battery will work pretty well. For those of you who want a bit “more power” (insert testosterone grunts here), put a bag of fine steel wool in your survival kit. Take a piece of steel wool as big as your fist and pull and twist two “arms” on opposite sides to a length of about 12”. Place your kindling on top of the steel wool and connect your wires to the ends of the protruding arms. Touch the wires to the battery terminals and instant fire. It can become quite bright with a fully charged battery and the flash may be enough to signal help. If you don't believe that steel wool burns, take some ØØØ steel wool from your shop and touch a 9 volt battery to the wool. What if fire is too risky? Those CD's you listen to make excellent reflectors and you can use the center hole to aim the reflection. I carry a 5mw green laser that will shine to about 20,000 feet. No, I do not want to shine it in the cockpit, but it leaves a visible “track” that can be shone ahead of the aircraft flying overhead.

Finally, what doomed Steve Fossett was that he failed to file a flight plan. He was only going for a local flight and they have yet to find him. ALWAYS file a flight plan and hopefully you'll use little of your emergency kit. But, take it along, just in case.

Safe flying.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Good News For West Coast Pilots

The FAA has issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM)

(notice item 9, highlighted in red)

This proposed rule would--

1. Replace sport pilot privileges with aircraft category and class ratings on all pilot certificates.

2. Replace sport pilot flight instructor privileges with aircraft category ratings on all flight instructor certificates.

3. Remove current provisions for the conduct of proficiency checks by flight instructors and include provisions for the issuance of category and class ratings by designated pilot examiners.

4. Place all requirements for flight instructors under a single subpart (subpart H) of part 61.

5. Require 1 hour of flight training on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments for student pilots seeking a sport pilot certificate to operate an airplane with a VH greater than 87 knots CAS and sport pilots operating airplanes with a VH greater than 87 knots CAS.

6. Remove the requirement for persons exercising sport pilot privileges and flight instructors with a sport pilot rating to carry their logbooks while in flight.

7. Remove the requirement that persons exercising sport pilot privileges have an aircraft make-and-model endorsement to operate a specific set of aircraft while adding specific regulatory provisions for endorsements for the operation of powered parachutes with elliptical wings and aircraft with a VH less than or equal to 87 knots CAS.

8. Remove the requirement for all flight instructors to log at least 5 hours of flight time in a make and model of light-sport aircraft before providing training in any aircraft from the same set of aircraft in which that training is given.

9. Permit persons exercising sport pilot privileges and the privileges of a student pilot seeking a sport pilot certificate to fly up to an altitude of not more than 10,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) or 2,000 feet above ground level (AGL), whichever is higher.

10. Permit private pilots to receive compensation for production flight testing powered parachutes and weight-shift-control aircraft intended for certification in the light-sport category under §21.190.

11. Revise student sport pilot solo cross-country navigation and communication flight training requirements.

12. Clarify cross-country distance requirements for private pilots seeking to operate weight-shift-control aircraft.

13. Revise aeronautical experience requirements at towered airports for persons seeking to operate a powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft as a private pilot.

14. Remove the requirement for pilots with only a powered parachute or a weight-shift-control aircraft rating to take a knowledge test for an additional rating at the same certificate level.

15. Revise the amount of hours of flight training an applicant for a sport pilot certificate must log within 60 days prior to taking the practical test.

16. Remove expired ultralight transition provisions and limit the use of aeronautical experience obtained in ultralight vehicles.

17. Add a requirement for student pilots to obtain endorsements identical to those proposed for sport pilots in §§61.324 and 61.327.

18. Clarify that an authorized instructor must be in a powered parachute when providing flight instruction to a student pilot.

19. Remove the requirement for aircraft certificated as experimental aircraft in the light-sport category to comply with the applicable maintenance and preventive maintenance requirements of part 43 when those aircraft have been previously issued a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category.

20. Require aircraft owners or operators to retain a record of the current status of applicable safety directives for special light-sport aircraft.

21. Provide for the use of aircraft with a special airworthiness certificate in the light-sport category in training courses approved under part 141.

22. Revise the minimum safe-altitude requirements for powered parachutes and weight-shift-control aircraft.