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Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:39 pm
by Sven
Congratulations on four fantastic years. I started listening about a year and a half ago and I'm all caught up on your episodes. I'm looking forward to many years to come. On that happy note, let me offer a criticism. I think Mr. Higdon was robbed of an even better title for this episode, "Airframes Keep Fallin' on my Head." I look forward to hearing that catchy tune played by Mr. Wynbrandt. It would be worth my 99¢ on iTunes.

Congrats again, guys. You brighten my week!

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:17 am
by ATC_Ben
I'd also like to offer my congrats!

I know they can't understand it but I started at Ep #1 in May this year and worked through them all! Now I'm up to date!

I've had a smirk from time to time as you guys discuss some of the happenings over there, especially user fees and flight service stations and ADS-B where we Aussies have ventured into (or out of) those domains. We have user fees (for just about everything!), still have an excise on our fuel (oh and a GST (Goods and Services Tax) on that!), flight service is gone, briefings are computerised or pay to talk or fax someone, detailed weather briefings (given by a human experienced in the actual area) are only available via the actual Bureau of Meterology people and that's only if you want more details on what it's doing other than the forecasts available. What I'd call an FSS is only 1 (that's right count 'em ONE) office in Brisbane, they do the breifing, NOTAM, and HF radio services for the entire country (and a heck of a lot of ocean!). ADS-B is now operational nation wide at high levels (FL300+) with improved low level coverage. But low uptake in the GA segment (thus far) limits what you can do down low. But it has improved the upper level effieicency somewhat (yes the Airlines benefit!) especially in the majority of Australia that had little or no radar coverage. Our radar coverage is predominately on the east coast (what we call the J curve) from Cairns in northern Queensland to Melbourne in Victoria and around to Adelaide in South Australia. Other parts are around Perth Western Australia and Darwin and Katherine in the Northern Territory (the last two mainly because they are large Royal Australian Air Force bases). Tasmainia has 'radar-like' coverage in Wide Area Multi-Lateration and ADS-B systems.

But enough of my rambling from this side of the planet, keep up the great work!

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:06 pm
by Andrew B
Congrats on the 4 year milestone! Now Boys, I need to know, would you like a Maytag or Kenmore appliance better? :D

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:39 am
by champguy
The key to making those "flights of fancy" is "arrested development".
If you follow the American Dream, always needing more speed, comfort, or the latest gadget, you will live behind the curve, never quite getting good enough, and never make those dream trips happen.
Remember how simple and clear things were as a teenager.
By accepting "arrested development" as a condition of your life you can abandon all hope and start to live out your dreams in the here and now.
There are planes out there that can be had for fifteen grand fully capable of flying anywere, and bringing you home safely. You may be a day or two late, but never a dollar short.
Now is a great time to go flying.
And think of the benefits to your spouse and children who will live with the knowledge that they have to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and live up to their own full potential. What greater gift could there be for your loved ones.

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:25 pm
by Sven
Amen, champguy! Very well said. That could be a chapter in the Aviators Bible. Brilliant!

We are a partnership of 3 guys who picked up a Mooney for $12K. We put a lot of sweat-equity into it, rented a hangar, and are now living our dream. Our bird has no glass in it. We fly by dead reckoning and old-fashioned pilotage which was how we all learned it 25 years ago. Sure, we back it all up with a Garmin 196 but that's been our only upgrade. And we do not plan on "upgrading" our panel. Our auto pilot sits in the right seat. We even have an airline pilot as a friend who keeps us all updated. "Arrested Development" is a brilliant metaphor, champguy. If we would have waited until we could have afforded a Cirrus Jet, we wouldn't be flying right now.

There's nothing shameful or embarrassing about owning an older plane that needs paint and a new interior. When I'm flying over the Golden Gate Bridge at night looking down at the lights of an amazing city, no one on the ground is judging my old plane. And my passengers forget that the trim is letting loose, I have seat covers, and it smells like oil instead of "new car." What I love about my old plane is that I'm flying it the entire trip. No robot takes over for me. I don't sit back and listen to my iPhone or read a book. I'm holding my heading and altitude myself. I'm watching my checkpoints on the penciled line on my chart. I'm following my script and making adjustments along the way. And I know every nut, bolt, washer and cotter pin on that plane because I've replaced most of them myself.

Kudos to you, champguy. I'm going to copy and paste that into my notes to show those folks hanging out at the fence looking inside at my old Mooney. All it takes is a little Arrested Development.

-Captain Sven, Mooney Driver

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:24 pm
by Andrew B
Way-To-Go Champguy!

I think aviation is a totally different beast one you throw autopilots and glass panels and automation. Right now im rated for a 1976 Warrior II. It has a six pack and a new radio stack, but thats it. Next to the Warrior I fly sits a DA-42 with a Glass-Panel. I look at it like, wow that would be fun to fly, but enjoy watching the needles and using the trim wheel and reaching to the floor for the flaps and even dealing personally with the backpressure on the yoke in the Piper. Isn't that what flying is, for the pure joy of controlling a machine thousands of feet in the air doing what you want to do, seeing what you want to see?

Of course I want an airplane eventually, but I dont have dreams of Curris's or 172SPs with glass (well I kinda do....), I would be as happy as a person could get with 1976 Warrior with a six-pack.

And Sven,

I agree, Champguy's quote should be placed in the Aviation Bible on the first page with the Title "Arrested Development"

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:38 pm
by ruckin
The comment about wanting to fly to the northern, southern, eastern, and western most states reminded me about the sucker bet:
Name the northern, southern, eastern, and western most states

Most people can guess Alaska is the northern most, and a good fraction of the people will correctly identify Hawaii as the southern most state. They usually fail on the eastern and western ones (both Alaska btw). Everyone seems to forget about the Aleutian islands :)

Ruckin (not that I would ever use this to get someone to buy me a beer)

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 2:53 pm
by denverpilot

You got it buddy... old airplanes (that are well-maintained) rock.

Spent 5.3 hours in the ol' 1975 C-182 Saturday doing the flight portion of the Colorado Pilot's Association Mountain Flying course with a CFI, and I sure wasn't thinking, "Boy, I need a G1000."

I admit that I was thinking... "I need more horsepower or a turbo-charger" once in a while. Density Altitude leaving KLXV was 11,200'.

I had a chart in my lap the whole time, and the instructor insisted I put the ChartCase Pro laptop away and pay attention to what was outside the window, right from the start.

Pilotage and Dead Reckoning up in the 14,000' peaks means you fly the right headings and do NOT go up the wrong valley.

Oh, and it was such a grand view out that window anyway, who'd want to look inside? ;-)

Yeah, like all owners, we'd like a fresh interior, and a fancy panel without all the plastic cracks and double-sided tape holding it up, and yadda yadda yadda, but meanwhile we're out F-L-Y-I-N-G.

Ain't that the whole point? :-)

Meanwhile, loved the conversation about "Routes around the Rockies" in the episode. Brian has some decent routes *through* the Rockies on his blog, below... but I do not recommend them without Mountain Flying specific training from a qualified CFI that has plenty of time up in the cumulo-granite. ... ckies.html

I disagree with his leaning technique, as does CPA in their course. But y'all can come out to Denver, grab a CFI, and go see how it works...

Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:32 pm
by Comanche Sue
Thanks for the discussion about the pilot who flew to his mechanic's airport when he couldn't get his gear down. This information came in very handy Friday night.

[It’s a long post]

I was on an after work mission from Pompano (FL east coast) to Fort Myers Page Field (FL west coast), which I fly every couple of weeks. There were T-storms brewing in the middle of the state, heading northwest, so I flew a southern route along Alligator Alley to Naples then up the coast. I didn't file IFR but got flight-following since flying in the rain and build-up is not my preference but is usually the routing if you file. Flying up the coast past Fort Myers International, which is south of Page Field, it was apparent the weather was pushing a lot stronger than the sea breeze and heading toward the coast but I would be landing with plenty of miles between me and the storms. I turned inland and headed northeast toward the field, made my call to Page tower and established myself on downwind. I moved the gear switch down and moved my hand down to follow the gear handle. There was the sound of the gear transmission, but nothing else. No lights, no gear handle moving, nothing. No matter, I thought, I've done this plenty of times before, both for practice and for real. I called the tower, told him I had a problem and made a turn back to the coast to orbit and sort this out.

I kept in contact with the tower but could not get the gear to come down. It's a very simple process in my airplane - slow down the airplane, disconnect the landing gear from the gear motor/transmission assembly and use a lever/handle to push the gear down using the same mechanisms the motor uses. It's simple and it's easy if you are going slow (below 100 mph). But it wasn't working this night. I have an autopilot so that comes in real handy at times like this so as not to fall out of the sky while working on 'issues'. I slowed down, I turned, I sped up, and I pushed with arms and a foot. Still nothing. I was get further down the list of the seven stages of grief as time passed, fuel burned, and weather deteriorated behind me. I talked to the controller who talked with my friend and former owner of the airplane, but we could not come up with a reason why the manual extension wouldn't work or how to get the gear down. I knew I had to go somewhere so after consulting about where the weather was, it was recommended that I go back to the east coast and land at Pompano (tower would be closed) or Fort Lauderdale Executive where I could get help locally after I landed.

I was switched back to the controller at Fort Myers International who helped me get around the weather north of them. It was the saddest time I've ever spent in an airplane since I knew I had no choice but to land with the gear up - not an easy pill to swallow. Flying east for 10 minutes or so I started weighing the choices between my home airport (no emergency services) and Fort Lauderdale Executive (lots of services) and I was leaning toward the no services option, so why not divert to the airport where my mechanic is a la the Nashua pilot story? My “satanic mechanic, man in black” Roger Smith is at Carter Aviation in Sebring. It would be a very lonely place to belly into at 9:00 on a Friday night but the airplane would be on where she needed to be for repairs.

I asked the controller to check the weather between me and Sebring and he said it looked clear. He vectored me northeast and started asking me questions:
“Do you have an emergency checklist?”
“Have you followed the steps?”
“Did you try the pump?”
“There is no pump.”
“Did you try the crank?”
“There is no crank.”
“Did you try diving?”
“No. I’ll try that. It’ll take me a few minutes to climb.” I climbed above 4,000, paused, then pushed the nose over. “This is never going to work” was my immediate thought since now my airspeed was high and there is no way to push the gear lever forward when the airspeed is high. I pushed anyway and realized I wanted to do just the opposite. What might help was to unload the drag so I pulled the stick back, zoomed backed up and slowed way down, all the while pushing with both feet (and obviously not coordinated).

The gear dropped and the green light glowed. The pilot beamed.

I told the controller I would like to land at Page or his airport, wherever the weather would permit. Page was still IFR so he turned me back to RSW. He turned the lights up to “Las Vegas Strip” but there were clouds in between me and airport for a short time. I loaded the RNAV approach for comfort and validation that I was going in the right direction, and flew the glideslope and VASI down to the runway, landing very, very gingerly. They said there would be flashing lights from the emergency vehicles and there were lots of them. Exactly two hours had passed since I stared the engine at Pompano.

I rolled to the next taxiway, exited, and was totally mesmerized by all of the lights. I had to ask three times for help getting to the ramp, I was so afraid I was going the wrong way. Green lights in the taxiways? Haven’t seen those lately. They finally came with a Suburban to get me to the ramp. So much for my navigation skills.

The controllers were all great. I called them and thanked them all. I’ll be calling their boss tomorrow, too, to sing their praises. They helped a lot.

I flew my airplane up to Sebring in the morning after an inspection was performed on the ground. No obvious cause of the problem but I’m confident it will be determined.

Here’s what I learned. New learning: 1) Declare “scared” and get that out of the way. I was lucky to have people on the ground I could talk with and I let them know in no uncertain terms I was scared. 2) Once I got through the process of deciding I was going to slide over the ground and scrape my airplane up, I had brain capacity to actually think more logically but you do have to go through some thinking to get there. 3) The Nashua pilot had daylight, I didn’t. In retrospect, landing at Sebring would have been very risky. Big, long runways with services available are the best option. Confirmed learning: 1) Have lots of fuel, no matter where you’re going. 2) Don’t wallow in pool of resignation too long. It’s OK to dip your toe in and look at the dark water, but don’t let it suck you in either. You are the pilot of all you learned, all you’ve read and all you’ve listened to on podcasts. I appreciate the hangar flying and that’s why I listen.


Re: Episode #205 "Holy Parachute Water"

Posted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 2:59 pm
by PilotBillFromTexas
Great story! Glad you're okay and it all worked out, Sue.