Friday, February 15, 2013

Planning the great escape

We are in the middle of snow-boarding season up here in flyover country. It's waterboarding, basically, with snow. Every day, we get about an inch of snow -- which doesn't melt -- and suddenly you look out the window and realize there's two feet of snow on the ground and we've not had a single big storm. It's like death by a thousand paper cuts and it only serves to make winter longer than it really is. It makes you confess to crimes you didn't commit, if only to make it stop.

The ice and snow around the hangar is preventing N614EF from getting outside. I'm still working on getting the wheelpants gussied up now that the intersection fairings have been strengthened and improved. The engine preheating system has been installed, although now I wonder if it was worth it if I can't get the plane out to fly, and what I believe was a bad #1 EGT probe from Grand Rapids Technology has now been replaced ($36), but I can't start the engine to see if it's fixed the problem.

I still need to get up in the air to take video of the Tru Trak wing leveler to send to TT to figure out why it won't track the flight plan in the Garmin 296, but apparently that will have to wait.

So what does an RV pilot do during these times? Plans an escape.

My son, Patrick, and I -- both big Cleveland Indians fans, are planning a trip to the Phoenix area to watch the Tribe play some spring baseball.

I've never flown a plane outside Minnesota. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever flown a plane for more than 2 or 3 hours, so this is a big deal for us.

My pal, Darwin Barrie, has offered to put the plane up at his airpark in Chandler, so this week I gathered all the charts and books to begin planning the trip. It appears the first refueling stop will be in Lexington, Nebraska (on the Kansas border), the second will be in Dalhart, TX, and then we'll try to put some air underneath us to get up over the mountains, probably stopping for a load of fuel in Saint John's Industrial, about an hour outside of Phoenix.

Assuming good VFR weather, none of that bothers me too much -- except for the question of whether we'll have enough oxygen in the bottle . But Phoenix airspace? Man, it looks difficult.

First, you've got mountains to the East to get over, and then you've got to drop altitude -- a lot of altitude -- to get under the Class B. It's obviously doable, but should be a challenge, and I'm not sure all the examining of charts really prepares you as much as one should be prepared.

Here, for example, is the Phoenix VFR flyway map.

It doesn't look simple, but it looks manageable.

Here's what it looks like in real life:

It'd be a lot easier, Phoenix, if you'd paint a big blue stripe across yourself.

I'll be on the phone with Darwin this week looking for advice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Maybe I don't really have an airplane

In the January 2013 issue of EAA's Sport Aviation magazine, Budd Davisson wrote a really nice piece about my struggle to build the RV-7A.

But in the process, a picture of the wrong airplane slipped through (I failed to catch it when Budd sent me a list of pictures they were considering for the article) and, instead, a picture of Gary Speketer's very nice RV-10 ran instead.

In this week's February issue, the problem was rectified by publishing yet another picture of Gary's airplane.

It's a good issue, though, as usual. Find it here. Just select February 2013.