Friday, April 6, 2012

The Archaeopteryx - we want one!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Flying car is no longer a dream, almost - CNN Money

Congratulations to TerraFugia on their recent flight and coverage by CNN!

Flying car is no longer a dream, almost - Video - Business News:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New York Times calls attention to FAA's NextGen

Highlighting a New York Times article which discusses the benefits of the forthcoming Next Generation Air Transportation System. What NextGen will truly mean for general aviation pilots remains to be seen, although many pilots are already experiencing the benefits of ADS-B, a component of NextGen, in the cockpit via permanently installed avionics to tablet accessories.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Roman Rescue

Roman - 2 weeks after being rescued from a negligent home
Recently I had a chance to kick off the new flying season with a long trip involving a Pilots n Paws dog rescue. The call, or rather the email, came a few weeks ago from a PnP rescue coordinator asking for pilots to volunteer to help a 4 year old Doberman named Roman, who was currently in a short term rescue in Greenville, SC get to his new foster home and rescue specializing in dobermans, located in Pittsburgh.

Roman has spent most of his life chained in one place, and was rescued by a local shelter owner in Greenville. Even though Roman was of average height for a grown doberman, he weighed under 40 lbs. By the time I picked him up he had gained almost 15 pounds in two weeks under the rescue's care.

I departed Pittsburgh with great weather, stopping in Charlotte, NC at the Monroe Executive Airport. As an aside, this is a great stopover airport with new facilities and a long newly paved runway. The flight to Charlotte took about 2 1/2 hours and after a stopover for fuel and a work related conference call, I was back on my way to Ridgeland, South Carolina, about an hour hop, for a too-short visit with my parents who live nearby.
Our Piper Arrow (N1963T) at Ridgland Airport in South Carolina

With the visit over it was time to head out to Greenville, SC. It was a windy morning with the airport I was to pick up Roman in Greenville calling for winds gusting to 25. Luckily the airport, Donaldson Center Airport, was an old military base with a 150' wide, 8,000 long runway (just slightly better than Ridgeland at 70' x 2,600'...) and the winds were more or less down the runway. I touched down and headed over to the Donaldson Jet Center FBO to meet Roman and Micki Brown, Roman's rescuer. One great thing is that the Donaldson Airport was literally right across the street for Micki, who was used to typically driving her rescues two plus hours one way to Charlotte.
Donaldson Center Airport
Roman turned out to be just a joy to meet, very friendly and curious about everything. As I filed the flight plan and prepped for was would likely be a long flight due to weather and headwinds, Micki and her husband walked Roman to help him "relieve" himself before the flight. Once we were ready to go we walked Roman over to the airplane and he hopped into his kennel in the luggage compartment, no problems at all. I got in, received my clearance, taxied and was cleared for departure as filed all the way to Zelienople.
Micki, Roman's rescuer, saying one last goodbye

I knew that there was going to be some precipitation along the route but it did not appear, given the forecast, that I would have an issue with thunderstorms and that proved to be the case for the duration of the nearly 4 hour flight to Zelienople (PJC). I was cleared to my filed altitude of 7,000 feet, but once I reached that altitude I was solid IMC. I asked for 9,000 and received it about a minute later and while I was still in and out of IMC there was no turbulence, much better conditions than at 7,000. I was keeping an eye on the outside air temperature (OAT) gauge which was now hovering a degree or two below zero, but the water was streaming on the windshield, no ice, yet.

Skimming the tops of the clouds and in-between layers
ATC then requested that I climb to 10,000 which I acknowledged. Once up at 10,000 and still in some IMC I started to see the first ice form on the aircraft. First on the OAT gauge itself and then on the gas caps and a little on the wings. I informed ATC I would have to head back down to 9k which they gave me after about 2 minutes. As soon as I started descending I started getting some odd indications on the airspeed, VSI And altimiter. I was a bit concerned but then remembered I had not yet turned on the pitot heat yet which cleared up my issue in short order. Once back to 9,000 the ice cleared off of the airplane in a few minutes.

The rest of the flight was rather uneventful, save for the 1/2 hour or so around Clarksburg, WV where I heard one side of a converation with ATC working hard to help an aircraft that had inavertently entered IMC conditions. The controller was a true professional, doing everything he could to help the troubled pilot. I'm not sure how that whole scenario ended as the last I heard the pilot was heading down an ILS that ATC had steered him onto.
Close to home now - near PIT's airspace
Soon I was switched over from Cleveland Center to Pit Approach who sent me direct to the inital approach fix (IAP) for the GPS approach into runway 35 at PJC. The good news was that the ceiling was about 700' above the approach's MDA and everything was working smoothly. Just as important, I had not heard a peep from Roman the entire flight and we were now about 15 minutes away from being on the ground.
The route from Greenville, SC to Zelienople, PA
I crossed the IAP, turned slightly left to get on the final approach course and headed down. I broke out relatively soon after, about 5 miles from the runway end. I cancelled with Pit and was on the ground soon after. Once on the ground I taxied to the fuel pumps and got Roman out immediately for a well-deserved stretch and bathroom break. The guys at the airport helped out immensely (thanks Keith and Jason!) by taking care of Roman with biscuits, water and lots of attention while I buttoned up the Arrow and got ready to head out.

Roman was then soon after handed over to his foster caretaker, and he is now in a much better place thanks to Pilots n Paws.

Back on the ground, some final pictures with Roman