Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In the paint shop

I've never flown N614EF somewhere and then left it behind but I had to do that last Friday night/Saturday morning when we flew it up to Hibbing to drop it off at Midwest Aircraft Refinishing.

Here's the story I posted to Van's Air Force:

Over the years, I've often said the best part about building an RV is you make a bunch of friends along the way and at the end, you also have an airplane.

N614EF is due in the paint shop in Hibbing -- about 200 miles away if you drive -- on Tuesday and because I lost my medical, I need another pilot to ferry it up with me, which means we need two RVs to ferry the both of us back. Because of that fact, if it doesn't get done on the weekend, it doesn't get done.

Naturally, because that's just the way it goes with me, it often seems, the weekend weather was due to deteriorate.

As Friday dawned (I get up for my day job at 5:30), there seemed to be a good chance we could do it on Saturday, though it would be iffy. But as the day went on, the TAF deteriorated.

I was sitting at the Minnesota Timberwolves game on Friday night fretting (even though it was a great game). There was no way Saturday would work, Sunday didn't look any better, and giving up the slot seemed like a real possibility.

"You know, if we leave now, we could do it tonight. Just saying," Bryan Flood, RV-9A driver, posted in the Facebook conversation we were having on the subject.

I thought he was kidding. He wasn't.

"I'm in," Mike Hilger responded.

"Me too," said Brad Benson.

The game was still close and I was in Minneapolis, so I said I probably couldn't reach KSGS until 10:30. Fortunately, with Corey Brewer's 51 points and a last-second Ricky Rubio steal, the game didn't go to overtime (we would've left), and so the scurrying began.

Carolie and I had separate cars, so we said goodbye and I headed to the airport where my three friends were waiting. Still, this seemed like a crazy idea. The TAF in Hibbing wasn't that great starting at midnight.

But we launched with a general spirit of adventure, and, frankly, a little bit of trepidation. I haven't done a long X country at night in quite awhile.

We ran into some showers around Mora, the strobes lighting up the droplets like fireworks, but the visibility remained outstanding. But up in that area, it's no man's land at night. There's no place to go but down, and don't think I didn't think of that as we approached the area where Paul Wellstone was killed in 2002.

We landed, in crystal clear conditions, found a place to tie down, and scurried back in the waiting RVs for the ride home. Visibility remained fine but the turbulence was pretty rough. Armed with his high falutin' ADS-B, Bryan and Brad went East around it, we went West, Bryan calling out the likely smooth areas, and Mike flying like the old freighter driver he is.

Things did, indeed, smooth out around Princeton for us and as we approached KSGS, we saw the 9A landing ahead of us.

There was nothing left to do but buy some fuel, then stand around at 2:30 in the morning at the tanks recalling the adventure we just had.

"Where are we going tonight?" Brad messaged later on Facebook.

Tomorrow, I'll drive to Hibbing ( 3 1/2 hours each way) to finalize the paint colors etc.

That trip won't be anywhere near as fun.

I'll be by myself.

So yesterday I drove up to Hibbing to go over the final details of the project and to meet the owners, who got their start working for Cirrus when Cirrus was based out of the same two hangars and now spend the bulk of their time working on and painting Cirrus aircraft.

But, they've got a soft spot for RVers who have discovered this jewel of a shop.

In selecting the colors, I "blued" up the teal just a bit and eliminated the "olive" accent stripe that barely showed up in the designs I've posted over the last few months. First, I really hate olive. Second, I think olive and teal suck together mostly because olive sucks alone. And, third, when I looked at the paint sample, it was obvious that it would pull the eye away from where I want it to end up, on the polished metal.

We also arranged that the prop will be painted and balanced.

People who get their planes painted don't talk about the cost and that's always driven me crazy. They'll point out the cost of an instrument panel and the goodies they put into it, but they treat the cost of their paint jobs like it's their Social Security number.

The original estimate -- based on a very quick email many months ago -- was somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000. But in the design process, we got pretty fancy and I think it was worth it so the finally ballpark is $8,000, which includes the design work and the prop. I put $1,000 down months ago to reserve the spot.

Granted, I don't have $7,000, but I've been paying down the home equity loan on the engine in the last few years so I should be able to just add to it and it'll get paid off. Heck, the mortgage will be paid off in a few years; I should be OK.

It's also one of the reasons I said, "Take all the time you need," as I walked out the door.

They liked that. Those Cirrus owners are in a hurry.

But I need a BFR and, of course, I still don't have a medical, so it's not like there's a lot of flying to do. I have a neurotologist appointment on May 7 and that will begin the long process of trying to get pilot-in-command privileges back. We'll see.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Landing on a frozen lake

I've always called Minnesota "the land of 10,000 emergency runways" in the winter. It always seemed so simple: Lose an engine, just put it down on a frozen lake.

Then, in February, my wife and I went up to Backus, MN., for a weekend of cross country skiing and we stayed at a cabin by a frozen lake, so I decided to go take a look. And that's the last time I'll consider landing on a frozen lake. There were drifts hip-deep and it was clearly no place for a pilot to want to be.

Did I say the last time I'll consider landing on a frozen lake? I take that back. This recently posted video from Alton Bay, NH might be the lone exception.

Lunch at Alton Bay, NH from j3adventures on Vimeo.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A medical setback

I haven't posted much about the fight against Meniere's Disease and my attempt to get my FAA medical back so I can fly as pilot in command again because there hasn't been much to tell. After the gentamicin treatment in December and the expected "attack" five days, everything has been just fine. There've been no dizzy spells and the only "discomfort" is the fact I'm deaf in one ear and there's a constant loud sound of my heart pushing blood. My neurotologist says this is the brain doing its thing; it is reacting to the absence of sound in the ear. Stupid brain.

The plane hasn't flown much because of the horrible winter weather. The few days when it's been above freezing (and we've had 50 days this winter of below zero temperatures) only serves to soften up things to make even worse ice when it refreezes.

I had planned to have a big followup round of tests in May to present to the FAA by June, figuring six months is about the usual time the FAA likes to have people be symptom free. But apparently, the FAA has moved the goalposts.

According to a contact at the FAA who's been good enough to walk me through this, the FAA now wants a year of symptom-free life.

"There are several reasons for this," he wrote, "First is to make sure that it is really Meniere's and that the Airman is being controlled with the interventions being used. Sometimes it takes months to establish control with multiple interventions which can include surgery. It also takes time to get through all the Rehab and get fully compensated vestibularly. I am working with HQ to see if they will shorten it to 6 months which I think is adequate to assess whether a therapy is working or not."

A year puts me past the entire 2014 flying season, of course, and judging by this year's weather, doesn't put me back in the air until the spring of 2015.

It's on odd thing to be sitting here during Minnesota's endless winter of 2014, hoping the one in 2015 will hurry up and get here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Paint scheme finalized

The paint scheme has been finalized for the RV-7A. Many thanks for all of the advice from those of you who read the earlier post on the subject. This closes the window on anyone saying anything bad about the scheme.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

For AOPA, it's the same old story

I've written many times about the need for pilots to be better ambassadors of their sport where the local media is concerned. And I've written many times about how much I detest the Aircraft Pilot and Owners Association (AOPA) for constantly poisoning the waters of that relationship.

Unfortunately, AOPA is at it again with its juvenile response to this story by Milwaukee TV station WTMJ this week, which focused on the airport at Palmyra, Wisconsin.

It's a crappy little story with all the usual words you find in crappy little stories. Phrases like "some people complain." And, yes, it tries to tell a policy story by focusing on one airport. But, and this is a big but, it doesn't mean it's wrong.

The reason I note that is because the chief complainant in the story is a pilot. It's not a NIMBY neighbor; it's someone who runs the flying club at the airport. It's someone who knows more about the situation than just about anyone else.

But that didn't stop AOPA from sending out its usual e-mail blast, calling on people to inundate the TV station with comments and complaining that the tired report showing how much GA brings in to a local economy wasn't included in the report.

Of course it wasn't included in the report because it may not apply to 88C. All small airports are not created equal and there's no indication that 88C is a net benefactor to the economy. AOPA and every pilot also knows that one of the reasons we encourage municipalities to accept federal funds for airport improvements, is it ties the hands of local officials and makes it harder for them to close the airport. We should just admit this instead of pretending its all about the economy. It's not.

Dutifully, the sheep members of AOPA are complying with AOPA's request, judging by the station's Facebook page, because they're not even considering the possibility that the guy at 88C may be right.,

I posted this response on the AOPA posting. I don't know whether it will be approved by moderators:

It doesn't really make sense to trot out the "GA makes money" report every time there's a story about spending at a local airport. It's the typical stuff we get from trade groups when reporting on a particular airport. The question is: Does Palmyra make money for the local economy and if so, how much does it make?

If you can't answer THAT question, then, no, you don't belong in the WTMJ report, which I acknowledge was pretty superficial. Specifically, what was the money at the "small airports" used for? And why was it needed?

It's quite possible, actually, that it wasn't needed at all. The lack of any explanation in the report is a real black mark against the piece.

That said, and as someone who has worked as a journalist for almost 40 years, I've always hated the way AOPA portrays the media in its "us against them" mentality. A lot of people who fly ARE in the media and the media actually does some really good stories about general aviation. But AOPA poisons the relationship as much as some media organizations do and that has to change someday soon.

Your call to flood the TV station with complaints is just stupid and ignores a key component of the piece: THE COMPLAINANT IS A PILOT AT THE AIRPORT!!! He runs the flying club there. He restores planes with the kids. He knows what's going on at his airport.
That carries a lot of weight in my book; more weight than someone sitting in a cubicle in Maryland carries, and yet AOPA responds the way it usually does -- by playing victim at the hands of the media.

Maybe Steve Sorge knows what he's talking about. Maybe he knows more than the people you sent your e-mail call-to-arms too. Maybe, at least this one time and this one airport, he's right.

Second, we all know that one of the tactics we supporters of airports use is to try to get federal funds spent on them, not because they really need the upgrade, but because the federal funds are the golden handcuffs on local officials that keep them from closing the airport.

As much as GA brings in to the economy at many airports -- my home field of KSGS is a great example -- maybe -- just maybe -- 88C is a waste of money.

I don't want to see airports close, obviously. I don't like crappy little pieces of journalism, either. And I don't like to acknowledge that my insufferable but lovable Tea Party friends -- whom I hear from ad nauseum during their annual convention every July in Oshkosh -- may occasionally be right (even by accident): Sometimes a waste of money is just a waste of money.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A paint job for N614EF

The plane goes into the paint shop in mid-April, so the design team contacted me last week to begin working on what the possibilities might be. As you may know, I want to stress the polished aluminum, blending in the fiberglass components without straight lines, so you don't have the usual "this is where the fiberglass ends and the metal begins" that I see with a lot of polished RVs. I also want to modernize the classic Cessna-style paint job, which also takes care of the problem of having a fiberglass buildup on a section of the top forward skin.

Again, here is the "canvas."

Here are the three initial proposals.




I should point out here that like the rest of the project, the paint job is a "working man's project." That is: I have a budget and I have a limited supply of money. Lots of people have suggested painting the whole thing but (a) I like polished aluminum and (b) I have a limited supply of cash.

I tossed 3A out of the mix right away, mostly because it didn't draw my eye where I wanted it drawn to: the polish. And I'm trying to avoid having too many colors of paint, especially on the cowling. To me, silver says "this isn't really polished aluminum but we want you to think it is." Also, I don't like the fully-painted tail.

I liked 2A but it didn't accomplish what I needed it to. I have fiberglass "skirts" I put on the side of the metal side skirts around my canopy. They must be painted without drawing attention to them. This didn't do that. A

That left me with 1A, but I didn't like the bottom stripe, so I suggested eliminating that. My flying partner, Joe, also noted the size of the stripe on the VS is too thick.  And also, since the rudder has a fiberglass cap, the paint job doesn't work there. The color has to be taken all the way to the back.

I also suggested changing the wheelpants to eliminate the third color.

With those notations, I got these updates.



The first thing that was confirmed for me is I'm not a designer. I really hated my idea for the wheelpants. So I've suggested going back to the original 1A wheelpants. You can also see the lower "weight" of the stripe on the VS and you can see that the bottom stripe is gone. I like that. My motto here is "less is more", and, besides, everybody is doing the big "swoopy " paint schemes. I also liked how the fiberglass wing tips (although mine are the "batman" style, which are cooler and suggest a manlier man) are blended into the wing.  I didn't care for the silver gear leg fairings.

From the front, 1C looks quite Lancair-like, which is cool. But, again, I didn't like the wheelpant style.

So, I'm going with 1B so far with the original 1A gear leg fairings. There's also the empenage fairing, which will block that stripe, that needs to be accounted for.

But I think for the most part this will be close to the final design.

How much will all this cost? Well, it's interesting. RVers are terribly reluctant to reveal the price of their paint jobs, which makes it very difficult to compare things. Judged only on my original one-color  picture of the old Cessna 195, the original quote was $5k-$8k. I presume adding in some colors here is going to push that a bit higher. I'll let you know.

Feel free to contribute to the paint fund. :*)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Installing an APRS system with Pete Howell

I've had an APRS antenna hanging around three different hangars for at least six years now. Pete Howell sent it along on the day I gave his wife and son a tour of Minnesota Public Radio. At the time, I believe, journalism was a possibility for the lad, who was still in high school. Last time I checked, he's in college now and, hopefully, the Howells successfully beat (metaphorically, of course) the idea of a career out of his head. No matter, I ended up with an APRS antenna anyway.

Then about two years ago, following the excellent instructions from Sam Buchanan, I ordered this gizmo, which has sat unused in that time.

This is the small Byonics transmitter and GPS encoder, which will -- if it works -- send signals to earth stations, allowing people to follow me via Google (aprs.fi). I think it's a really great safety feature to have.

I move slowly, though. Last summer when N614EF was down for the annual, I ran the power cable out to the wingtip, but you need a Ham Radio Technicians license to use one of these things and I didn't have one. So the wire dangles. Stupidly, I didn't run a data line from the GPS 296 connection at the same time. No matter, it's almost time for another annual.

I passed the ham test a week ago, and, of course, that provided an interesting story. I'd studied for weeks and was taking the online practice tests and scoring in the 90s. When I took the test that Saturday morning, I figured I had maybe one or two wrong -- three at the most.

"Robert," the VEC said as he glumly walked toward me.

"You missed by one," he said. I had 10 questions wrong.

I gathered up my material and left the room in embarrassment, adding yet another "checkride" to my ongoing list of failures. Driving home, I couldn't imagine how I possibly could have gotten 10 questions wrong. I knew that material. Then the phone rang. "There's been a mistake," he said. "There was another Robert taking the test; you passed." I had one wrong. But at least I had the license.

The next step was pulling out all the stuff I've accumulated for this project over the years. I didn't have any instructions and several of the online guides either aren't setting up the way I am, or have broken picture links, which kind of critical.

So I faced the usual dilemma that people building airplanes and APRS systems have: Where do I start?

You can get a lot of answers to these sorts of questions when you live near Pete Howell. Pete is practically the godfather of APRS for RVers. When I visited him on Saturday, all the required tools were out because he was working on building an electric vest -- presumably, to battle the icy Minnesota winters. "Just bring your wingtip, antenna, some velcro, and the encoder with you," Pete said. He had everything else necessary.

The first step was how the heck to attach the 9 pin D-sub connector to the computer board. Simple, as it turned out. It goes on the end, the connectors touching the solder joints on the board, and add a little solder to keep there. Then a 9-volt battery connector is attached to the same spot the wires for ship power (in my case I'm using ship power rather than tap into the navigation light power because in the summer, the light tends to melt the lens) and ground, use the appropriate cable (you can make them or buy them here). Sam Buchanan provides additional information on the VAF sticky. The configuration identifies your call sign (in my case N614EF and several other standard parameters). By the way, I am KD0WSO. If you're in the Twin Cities sometime, give me a call on the 146.850 repeater.

The tracker comes in a plastic case which Pete cut down, and then used a solder iron to put a hole in the end cap, cut holes where the power/ground are attached and combined the whole operation enclosed in the plastic. Pretty slick.

Then it was simply a matter of putting it in the wing tip (after he checked to be sure the antenna still works), and running the antenna wire along the base of the wingtip, and up to the top, making a big J.) For now, anyway, we attached the tracker with velcro and the antenna with some gorilla tape until we see how it works.

One note: Pete coils the coax and ties it up with some zip ties before installing, I believe in order to eliminate any RF interference. The how's and why's of the electronics of this escape me completely. Pete is brilliant. I write a blog.

Originally, I was going to run wire from the GPS 296 output out to the wing and into the traker, but Pete had an old GPS puck he wasn't using (Byonics has them here) and so he gave it to me, in exchange for later favors. Done!

And that was pretty much it, in about 45 minutes I was good to go.

The next step is to bring it all back to the hangar when it's not 7 degrees, put a molex connector on the power line from the cabin, and the locally ground wire, and then run two wires from the other gender connector into the tracker so that it will be easy to take the wing tip off.

I'm running the power from the last VP-50 small-amp connector I have left. By the way, I was upside down under the instrument panel running those wires to the switch location on the panel, and did not experience any dizziness or discomfort. Those of you following my Meniere's story will note the importance of that since I had the Gentamicin treatment in December. I'm feeling very confident now that I can get my medical back.

In the meantime, I'll finish up the wiring tomorrow (a holiday) and at some point we'll take it up flying and see if anyone can "see" me.

Update: The installation was pretty straight-forward. I velcroed in the transmitter unit and the GPS puck, and used the little sticky tabs to zip-tie the power/ground wires (I always put some blue RTV in those tabs to further secure the wires. I added D-sub connectors (didn't have Molex connectors handy)...

I powered it up and got the flashing green light on the transmitter, indicating that (a) it's getting power fine and (b) it doesn't have a GPS signal, which makes sense considering the hangar door was closed as it was only 10 degrees outsides. So I opened the door and pulled the plane out far enough to get a solid green light and then waited... and waited.... and got the flashing red for a second, indicating it was sending a beacon. Unfortunately it didn't hit a repeater so I can't prove it fully works yet. Perhaps later this week, we'll take it up when it warms into the 20s.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Goodbye, DC-9

Farewell, DC-9's. The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal says Delta is retiring the fleet of the aircraft it got when it bought Northwest Airlines.

The last flight will be January 6th. The last of the DC-9's flown by a major carrier will leave Minneapolis St. Paul for Atlanta, one last takeoff for the plane that was the biggest noisemaker of all of the planes that have flown into MSP, and no fun for passengers sitting in the last rows of the plane.

The average age of the remaining DC-9s in the fleet is 35 years. They looked their age:

The particular plane in this video was retired six weeks ago.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How planes land at wrong airports

(Cross posted from the day job)

A few years ago, I took an MPR News website producer for a ride in an airplane to show him his colleague's outstanding airmanship.

This is our approach to the airport in South St. Paul at the time. As we approach the Wakota Bridge, the speed is good, the engine is performing normally, seat belts secured, and it looks like this will be an uneventful landing. There's just one slight problem...

That's not the airport in South St. Paul. That's the downtown Saint Paul airport five miles away. The actual airport -- the runways point in roughly the same direction as most runways in Minnesota do -- is just off our left wing. I had, obviously, mistaken the two airports.

It happens, although usually not with a 747 cargo jet, like the one that landed by mistake at Wichita's Jabara Airport last night. It was supposed to land at McConnell Air Force Base, just a few miles away. The runways face the same direction. Stop me if you've heard this story before.

Here's the sectional map of Wichita that pilots refer to:

The goal of a flight crew is to match -- in the dark -- the lights below (on the map, the yellow indicates the pattern of the lights of Wichita) and the flickering lights of a runway (which can be extremely difficult to pick out when you're flying at night) and select the right one. They selected incorrectly, obviously.

There's no tower at the airport they landed at so there was no one to ask for permission to land and no one to say "you're at the wrong airport."

Sure, there are instruments that the pilots could've used -- and probably even an autopilot -- to land the jet at the right airport, but sometimes pilots like to fly the old fashioned way: by themselves. And, afterall, wasn't the news just talking about the problem of pilots being too dependent on computers?

There's not much you can do after landing at the wrong airport but say "whoops" and check the job listings.

The early news stories made a bigger deal out of the "problem" of getting the jet out. CBS, for example, said the plane was stranded because the runway is too short:

A Dreamlifter is supposed to need a runway 9,199 feet long to take off at maximum takeoff weight, and 7,000 feet to land at maximum landing weight. The runway at Jabara is 6,101 feet long.

That's an easy one to solve. Don't be at maximum takeoff weight. Take everything out (we don't even know if was carrying anything), point the thing in the right direction, and takeoff. They might have already done it by the time you read this.

The incident is similar to one last year when an Air Force cargo plane landed near Tampa, at a small airport half the size of the one in Wichita.

It took a few days to strip the plane of much of its weight.

"There's no way" they'll get the plane off the ground again, the person who took the video said.


Planes are built to fly; they don't know they're in the wrong spot.

Dbag plane buyer stories

Because I've discovered this last-ditch procedure that the FAA might -- might -- look favorably upon, I won't be selling the plane in the next few months; not until I find out whether this works (the procedure is scheduled on 12/4) and the FAA gives me a special issuance. It would be insane not to wait to see if it pays off.

I mentioned that last night to a really nice gentleman who called from Des Moines and has been looking at RVs. I mentioned the situation but said I'm still showing the plane because it might have to go. That didn't disappoint him at all and I'm hoping he can fly up to see it in the not-too-distant future. Having the plane go to a good home, if it has to go, is very important to me and you can tell a lot about a fellow-aviator in a hurry. I like him and wouldn't have a problem handing off the plane to him.

You can also tell the other kind of potential buyers in a hurry too and I'm realizing that I need a place to collect their stories, so I might as well do so here.

There are people who just want something for nothing. Granted, I'm asking a lot for the plane, but it's an airplane, a great airplane. An affordable airplane and I'll get pretty close to what I'm asking or we'll negotiate a lower price. It's worth pointing out that the plane is going into the paint shop at April 15 and that when it's done, the price won't go up. That's just the way I roll.

The first conversation you have with a buyer shouldn't be about how much you'll pay, although it does help to weed out the people you'd never want to sell your plane to.

The full listing for the plane is here. Unfortunately, Trade A Plane doesn't let you put URLs in your print ads, I guess. The print version came out this week.

2012 RV-7A, 100 TT, IO-360M1B, FP, VFR, Polished. Fiberglass unpainted but ready. D100. EIS4000, VP-50, $83,900. bcollinsrv7a@comcast.net 1712730

There's not a lot of information there, you may have noticed, so a logical first contact with a seller might include the phrase, "tell me more."

The e-mail I got yesterday didn't bother going there:
"I have a budget of $75,000. Your plane looks very nice but needs paint and cs prop. Let's discuss."

It was a pretty short discussion:

"I can't help you. You probably need to be looking for a $75,000 plane with paint and cs prop."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Remembering Alex Cuellar

(Courtesy of Alejandro Cuellar)

We were all enriched last week with the story of Bat Kid, the five-year-old who beat cancer and wanted to be a superhero. So San Francisco turned out last Friday to make Bat Kid a superhero. Nice story. If only they all ended that way.

Alex Cuellar of Colorado dreamed of becoming a pilot; he mowed lawns to raise money for a ride at the local airport. But then he was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. He didn't lose his love of flying and while visiting a man who was building his own plane, he mentioned he'd like to visit Oshkosh someday, the largest gathering of pilots and planes in the world. The airplane builder put out a call for help and within a few weeks had raised enough money to take him and his father to Oshkosh.

He sent his Van's Air Force friends this note after the week-long endeavor:

Going to Oshkosh was a lot of fun; I sat in Johnny Depp's seat on the Tri-motor, got to fly in the one of a kind B-29, saw George Lucas with the Tuskeegee Airmen, and got see so many great Airplanes. The coolest part of the trip was the B-29 ride, because it had such a great view from the gunners position on the top and in the back, and you could feel the history of such an aircraft. It was the type of plane that is terrifying and peacemaking at the same time.

You all made this trip so Amazing and you will forever be in my heart.

I was hosting a daily talk show in Oshkosh and pulled him, his dad, and two RV pals who organized the effort in for a chat.

On Saturday, a memorial service was held for Alex; he died on November 9. A group of Denver-area pilots organized a fly-by in the missing man formation in the young man's honor.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Go around!

Although we're taught that the decision to 'go around' during a landing as a matter of basic flight training, somewhere along the line it is embedded in our consciousness that this is a sign of failure: You blew the landing. Because we are human -- and quite often, I surmise, because we are (mostly) men, we don't want to "go around" and acknowledge our failure any more than we want to pull over and ask directions.

But our fellow pilots -- and us if we're not careful -- are dying unnecessarily because of this.

This morning, the NTSB released the report on a Cirrus crash last month in Illinois. It's only the preliminary information, but see if you can determine where the fate was sealed:

On September 25, 2013, about 1715 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR20 airplane, N406DC, impacted terrain after executing a go-around near Bolingbrook’s Clow International Airport, (1C5), Bolingbrook, Illinois. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to GDK International LLC and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Georgetown Scott County Airport (27K), Georgetown, Kentucky about 1500 and was destined for 1C5.

The airplane was captured on 1C5 airport surveillance cameras while attempting to land. A review of the video showed that the airplane touched down multiple times about half way down the runway. The airplane was observed making a left turn after takeoff, descending, and then proceeding out of camera view.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane depart the runway and make a left turn at a low altitude. The airplane continued to descend, struck a tree and a light pole before impacting a parking lot and sidewalk. A post impact fire ensued and consumed most of the airplane.

The automated weather reporting station at Lewis University Airport which was 5 miles south of the accident site reported at 1715: wind from 070 degrees at 8 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear sky, temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 9 degrees C, and a barometric pressure 29.94 inches of mercury.

During the on-scene examination investigators confirmed flight control continuity and that the flaps were in the retracted position. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) rocket and parachute were found in the main wreckage. The position of the CAPS activation handle could not be verified due to thermal damage. The parachute was found in a packed state and received thermal damage. The CAPS activation cable was examined and no stretching was found.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

They were so young

Chris Henry at EAA has spent this year reuniting old-timers with a B-17. If you follow him on Facebook, you've perhaps seen some of the individual stories brought to life by a ride on Aluminum Overcast.

Today he uploaded this.