Archive for September, 2009

Saving an amphib of another kind: Meridian Day Two

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I saved a toad today. Actually, Bill Inglis, SimCom instructor and center manager at the Piper facility saved the toad. And then the little guy peed on Bill! Just as we were about to close up the right side cowling of the Meridian during the preflight I spied the critter. He was just hanging out, unaware that he might be about to be launched to FL250 to be freeze dried! Bill tried to gather him up, but he jumped farther into the cowling among the Pratt & Whitney’s innards. Eventually he was scooped up and sent to the grass behind the airplane.

Meanwhile, we launched this evening for some approaches at Melbourne. The GFC 700 autopilot is amazingly capable, but learning all its tricks will take some time–especially the Vnav modes. Check out the varied missed approaches MLB handed us for ILS, GPS, and VOR approaches–always to the south: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N6101G

We spent the morning in the classroom further looking into the Pratt and details about the pressurization system. In the sim, I roasted about $1 million worth of simulated engines, but then just flew away–hot starts, hung starts, wet starts.

Tomorrow promises more emergencies and other maladies to haunt me in the sim and perhaps in the airplane too. Follow N6101G at FlightWare.

Still looking for your G1000 and Meridian operating tricks.

Mastering the Meridian: Day One

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I watched the Pratt & Whitney turboprop engine’s Ng stabilize at about 15 percent and then I lifted the fuel control lever up and slid it forward. The Piper Meridian’s engine lit and within a few seconds it was clear this was going to be a “good” start. It doesn’t always happen that way. A miscue or a few seconds inattention can turn that $400,000 engine into an expensive conversation-starter coffee table.

With the Pratt spooled up, SimCom instructor and center manager Bill Inglis and I were soon launched into the steamy Florida sky over Vero Beach. After some introductory maneuvers we came back to KVRB for some stop-and-go-landings, a fitting and rewarding end to a challenging day of training that had started 11 hours earlier.

 Ground school on systems and then a pass through the Meridian FTD led up to the late-day flight.

Tomorrow is day two of this five-day initial course. At the end of it, I hope to be able to fly away in a new Meridian with its flashy Garmin G1000 panel.

More ground school and sim sessions tomorrow and then back in the airplane for some approaches to Melbourne.

Do you have any Meridian or G1000 tips and advice to pass along? All input welcome.

Sorry about your wings, old chap

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

What appears to be a British news reel from 1942 reveals a stealthy looking airplane in Baltimore, Maryland, that is “…about to go into production.” The announcer seems quite excited about an airplane with no wings. We’re still waiting on that production thing. And why does the announcer have a British asccent?

Happy news from Wasilla

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I first learned about Wasilla, Alaska, a city of about 10,000, while researching an article about mentors and student pilots. That article profiled a student pilot named Chad Speer from Wasilla, and it appeared in the May 2008 AOPA Flight Training.  In September 2008, Wasilla became extremely well known for another of its inhabitants–then-Gov. Sarah Palin, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee in the presidential election. Palin had been Wasilla’s mayor before she was elected governor. While all that was going on, Chad Speer and his dad, Rob, were plugging away at Chad’s training, flying Rob’s Super Cub in some of the most beautiful country imaginable, if the photos sent by his mom, Pamela, are any indication. (That’s Chad flying up the Knik Glacier.) On August 4, 17-year-old Chad passed his private pilot checkride. Congratulations to Chad!

Want a Ford Tri-Motor type rating?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

With employment the way it is during this economic recession you may want to cover all your bases. With an $11,000 type rating you could be hopping rides to tourists above the Grand Canyon in one of the heavier models of the Ford Tri-Motor. (Only three Tri-Motors now flying require a type rating. The models that operate at a lower gross weight under a supplemental type certificate do not require a type rating.) Read about it here.

Chitty Chitty Thud Thud

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Glenn Curtiss gets credit for the first flying car with his 1917 Autoplane that married a flivver (resembling a Model T) to a biplane–make that triplaneAerofiles.com found the photos and drawings. The car, patented in 1919, was capable of short hops–bunny hops, to be exact. It tried but never achieved sustained flight. By the way, if you think the old Curtiss company is long gone, meet today’s Curtiss-Wright Corporation, the same company formed in 1929 with the merger of 12 Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies. It’s still there, and still in aviation.

An airplane for a clunker?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

In the `70s a California Ford dealer (still in business today) offered a Flying Pinto that had only one problem; it wasn’t fully developed yet. It needed a bracing strut across the bottom of the car, linking the two wing struts. A wing later came off the car used for this 1970s video , killing the pilot and the inventor, but another Pinto prepped to fly remains with the dealer. Some people doubt that the Pinto actually is flying in the video. The video runs 10 minutes, so if you are short of time move the slider to these time spots: between minute 5 and minute 6 you will see a complete description of the Mizar Flying Pinto; at time 7:27 you will learn that an option is a parachute to float car and wings to the ground. Those are the highlights. Backing up a bit, at time 3:05 you will see how frustrated the pilot is with an airplane that can’t convert to a car. At time 2:11 you will notice that when the wife flies with her husband and family, she always knits. At time 1:34 you will learn that there are 1.5 million pilots, or about double the total today. (There’s no sound until 26 seconds into the video.)