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Blog Archive 2008

Blog Archive
['10, '09, '08, '07, '06, '05]

[December 24, 2008]
Back in the Good 'Ole US of A!!!!!
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[November 15, 2008]
2009 Cockpits & Canopies Wall Calendar Now Available
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Get your copy here:  http://www.cafepress.com/TimsAviation

[November 8, 2008]
Cockpits & Canopies 2009 Wall Calendar To Be Released
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 I am excited to announce that Tim's Aviation Adventures will release its first MS Flight Simulator 2009 wall calendar titled "Cockpits & Canopies" on Saturday, 15 November 2008.  The calendar will be published in a 17"x11" oversized format and feature external and cockpit photos of the best aircraft add-on's for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and FSX.  Just a few of the aircraft to be featured include Eaglesoft's Cirrus SR22, A2A's Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, Just Flight's Lockheed C-130, MAAM's Douglas DC-3, Aerosoft's Dehaviland Beaver, Carenado's Cessna 182 and many more.  This is the only calendar I am aware of that showcases MS FS aircraft and will make an excellent holiday gift for any flight simulator enthusiast. j

[September 24, 2008]
Tim's Aviation Adventures Book Club
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I don't know who reads this blog, but somebody must because the little map in the left hand window has a whole lot of red dots on it from all around the world.  Anyway, Oprah's got her book club and now I think Tim's Aviation Adventures should have one too.  I'm reading another outstanding aviation non-fiction book titled "North Star Over My Shoulder" by Robert Buck.  I recommend it, go get it, you will enjoy it!  And with any book save yourself some money and buy it used on Amazon.

Other aviation non-fiction books I have recommended in this blog include: "Fate is the Hunter" by Ernest Gann and "Nothing by Chance" by Richard Bach. j   

[September 23, 2008]
New Year's Resolution
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January first may be a little ways off but it's never too early to make resolutions and I plan on making 2009 a banner year for my aviation adventures.  Of course I have had 15 months to map this out so here it is:

1. Experience Sun-n-Fun in Lakeland, Florida (flying in), EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.
2. Complete my instrument rating, sea plane rating, and tail wheel endorsement.
3. Finish visiting every airport in the state of Virginia and thus complete the VA Aviation Ambassadors Program.
4. Cross country flight to Key West, Florida.
5. Log over 90 hours of flight time.

Ambitious?  Yes, but I like to take life in big bites.j

[September 15, 2008]
Where Little Planes Come From
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A mother and her 5yr old son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago. The son (who had been looking out the window) turned to his mother and asked, "If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?"

The mother, who couldn't think of an answer, told her son to ask the stewardess.

So the boy asked the stewardess, "If big dogs have baby dogs and big cats have baby cats, why don't big planes have baby planes?"

The stewardess responded, "Did your mother tell you to ask me?"

The boy said, "Yes, she did...."

"Well, then, tell your mother that there are no baby planes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Have your mother explain that to you." j

[August 6-22, 2008]
R&R Flying                                                        3.4
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Back from R&R in the good ‘ole US of A and what I grand time I had.  While flying was only a small side show to the wonderful time spent with family I was able to log 3.4 hours on two separate days.  I went back to my old stomping ground Rick Aviation, where I had done my Private Pilot training.  Most of the faces had changed except for a few of the line men.  My CFI, Tony, was also new.  I told him my situation and how I just wanted to get re-familiarized with the airplane and fly some PTS maneuvers, do some hood work, and maybe a cross country in time permitted.  I had to redo all the obligatory paperwork and tests to get updated in the FBOs system.  Wow, I had forgotten a lot, trying to work the charts for weight and balance and emergency procedures.  Tony started by reviewing all the PTS maneuvers we would fly, power on/off stalls, steep turns, emergency procedures, etc.  We then headed off to the airplane, 733AG, a Cessna 172N.  A plane that I had flown before when it belonged to the Langley Aero Club, apparently it had been sold and Rick purchased it, repainted it and made some cosmetic changes.  The skin of the aircraft still showed the pock marks from its encounter with hail a few years back (I never did get the story behind that one).  I had not flown an N model in a while so I knew the carb heat was going to be a constant reminder from the CFI.  I was embarrassed to not be able to locate the fuel drain points on the wings and had to ask the CFI, amazing what you forget in such a short time! 

The first flight was 1.5 hours.  We went north of KPHF to the practice area and worked steep turns, slow flight, and power on & off stalls.  I had a heck of a time maintaining altitude on the way out to the training area and I would like to think it was due to thermals.  I would trim her out and then start ballooning to the point where I had to point the nose down several degrees below the horizon just to check the accent.  The stalls were tough as I have a habit of not just releasing back pressure on the yoke but pushing forward giving us a nice unobstructed view of the ground.  It never fails to get the CFI excited (or the DE for that matter).  Of course the goal is to lose as little altitude as possible, so I have some work to do in this area.  We then went into an engine out scenario and I set up a beautiful approach to an open field.   The CFI said it was one of the best he had ever seen.   By that time we were ready to head back to the airport.  I went under the hood for the trip back while the CFI had me turn to headings and climb and descend.  The landing, a power off, was pretty decent though I prefer a little bit of power to keep things smooth.   

The second flight was 1.9 hours and was planned as a cross country to Ahoskie, North Carolina.  Ahoskie is where I took my Private Pilot checkride in January of 2006.  I had not been back since, but remembered that it was a nice quiet single strip in the country.  The CFI had me go through all the pre-flight planning using the old school method of paper map, paper flight planner, E6B slide-rule computer, and protractor.  In all actuality I love the old school method and while we are on the subject I am partial to steam/analog gauges over glass cockpits as well.  It’s a connection to the past and I am big on nostalgia.  The CFI did not know that I had been doing a lot of analog flight planning and working of the whiz wheel back in Iraq using Flight Simulator so he started out giving me the Navigation 101 class, I tried to be the good student and listen but soon was grabbing the E6B away from him as he tried to figure out a fuel burn problem.  Having done so many of these problems before I quickly worked the slide rule for the answer.  This is the second CFI I have seen that was really rusty on the E6B.  I have got to remember not to let that happen to me when I make it to that level.  While fancy computers and electronics are great, when everything goes dark in the cockpit you can always count on your E6B, so best to know how to use it.  We finished up the plan and I called down to the FSS to file the flight plan.  Weather looks clear all the way to Ahoskie with some isolated cells popping up to the south, nothing unusual for a steamy August afternoon.  We rolled out and held short of R/W 7 only to have a large corporate jet do a go around.  The tower gave us takeoff clearance but cautious of wake turbulence I asked for R/W 2 instead.  Tower cleared us on 2 and we were off.  All of the pre-flight calculations were on and it was pretty uneventful leisurely trip down and back from Ahoskie.  I wish I had gone under the hood for some of the trip.  We did have a near miss on a turkey buzzard at 2500ft.  It was close enough to almost peg out the pucker factor.  Birds at 2500ft are not unusual especially in the summer with the thermals, it’s the rare bug splat at 2500ft that amazes me.   

I did have one very interesting conversion on the way back from Ahoskie that helped validate my long term plans to fly for a living.  My CFI was a retired police officer who had gotten his private ticket years before his retirement, once retired he started actively pursuing his commercial certificate, got his CFI, and now fly’s corporate in a King Air 300 (I love that airplane!) and teaches on the side.  Well if he can do that AFTER retiring, surely I can be flying corporate when I retire if I complete my training roadmap over the next four years (see my Bucket List).

   Arriving back over Newport News we worked a couple touch and goes and called it a day.  The CFI commented that my flying was pretty good and he found it hard to believe I had not flown in 10 months.  I explained my Flight Sim set up back in Iraq but I don’t think he comprehended just how sophisticated my set-up was.  Regardless, I know that is the reason why I was able to get back in the saddle so fast.  I think it will only take one flight with a CFI when I return in January to be back on my own.  For now back to the sandbox and virtual flying. j

[July 30, 2008]
SR-71 Pilot's Tale
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The setting:  The O'Club at Kadena AFB... circa late 60's or early 70's.

The participants:  A SR-71 crew, a Captain and Co-pilot from
Continental... and two young female school teachers for the US Government schools in Okinawa (actually, the last two should be called targets of opportunity).

Ain't no way to say it nicely; but 'Round Eyes' were a hot commodity in those days... especially unmarried ones.. Our two young ladies were enjoying the unabashed and total focus of the four gentlemen sitting at the two
tables on either side of them... 'Fights on'!

  Since it was a 'Dirty Shirt' bar... our two young studs were in flight suits, hepped up a little from their latest 'overflight'
mission... fearless and bullet proof... they surveyed the opposition and knew they were already in the saddle... or soon would be... no real threat on the scope.

    The Captain, while still handsome... was a bit long in tooth, a former Spad driver he was...his co-pilot was of the jet age, having flown 'Scooters' on little boats, until opting for the 'Good Life' that the airlines promised.

    Our two young damsels, were almost immediately overwhelmed by the two young 'flat bellies'.... in their form fit flight suits... covered with patches... they represented all that was good... about virile, young, American manhood. They were in awe.

    Even though the good Captain had bought their drinks... it was obvious, our two SR types had the upper hand. One of the young ladies, looking at a patch on the shoulder of one of the two studs, asked what it meant... the patch was red (compliments green, Air Force guys know about such things).

  In the middle was the word 'Habu'... and just above it was a sinister looking snake. Above it was written... Lockheed Super Bird SR-71... just below that was... MACH 3 +... and just below that was written... 80,000 +. 'Studley do right'; knew it was time for the kill... he told the young ladies that 'Habu' was the nickname of the airplane he flew...since they
 were new on the island, they weren't familiar with the notorious venomous snake that lived in the jungles surrounding them.

    At this point the prettier of the two sweet young things asked,'What does match three mean'?
Our steely eyed young buck knew it was all over but the shouting... loud enough for most of the club to hear... he firmly, but politely corrected her mis-pronunciation and explained that Mach was a technical word that stood for the speed of sound... 'Mach 3+ means I've flown over 3 times
the speed of sound'... and in a moment of sheer
    brilliance, he looks at the two airline types and says to the Captain,  'Hey old man, you ever been above Mach 3'? In a humble mumble... the good Captain acknowledged he had not.

    Studley knew her next question... and before she could even ask...he went on to explain that the 80,000+ stood for flying above 80,000 feet.
And then Studley went too far... in a final move intended  to seal the deal.... Studley, erect and steely eyed, looked at our humble Captain and said what he should not have said; 'Ever been above 80,000 old man'?

    Our humble Captain looked at Studley; then ignoring his
protagonist... he cracked a half smile, stared at the two young sweet things, looking for signs of understanding for what he was about to say... He then very calmly and eloquently said, 'Only on my W-2 form hotshot, only on my W-2'!

  Studley had no idea he'd just been smoked!    He had no idea; that the other gender,no matter what degree of blondness, or air filling of head... wouldn't know Mach from match... but they all knew what a W-2 was..it  was a 'woman thing'... it  was innate... it was in their bones...
and shortly it was over...our good Captain then said, 'Why don't you ladies join us for dinner'?

  An agreement was quick in coming and as they left for parts unknown... Studley sat there stunned... having no idea what went wrong.
As Corkey was fond of saying, 'The genies of fate had just urinated on the best intentions of a young man'. A simple government form, had just trumped the fastest and highest flyer in the world.

  ..... ain't life a bitch? j
 

[July 8, 2008]
A Glimpse at the Past
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AOPA released a digital copy of their March 1958 edition of The AOPA Pilot magazine, I have posted a copy here (75MB) for your enjoyment.j

[June 24, 2008]
Good Read & Flying Soon
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I am working my way through Ernest Gann's "Fate is the Hunter" and once again cannot put this book down. I will be sure to give a full write up when I am complete.  I'll be home in a little over a month for R&R.  I can't wait to see my family again and fly a real airplane!  I'm looking to log 3-5 hours with a CFI to knock the rust off.  I'm actually looking forward to the suffocating heat of a cockpit warmed by the mid-day sun in August for it only takes a few minutes to climb up to the cool air waiting a mile above the earth at 5,500+ feet.j

[May 17, 2008]
New Miniature R/C 3 Channel Helicopter
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Miniature R/C technology has made some serious advances in the last few years with the wide spread use of lithium polymer batteries and ever smaller electronics.  I recently purchased a miniature helicopter, no larger then the palm of my hand and I have to say it is one of the most entertaining gadgets I have seen in some time.  No need to even leave the office with this r/c helicopter.  Taking off from one desk and landing on another becomes and all consuming challenge.  I have even built a helipad on my desk for spot landings.  As tiny and delicate as this flying machine appears it is very durable.  I have collided with walls, ceiling fans, and other obstacles common to the office landscape and the helicopter continues to recover intact.  My particular helicopter appears to be one of the more sophisticated models on the market with three channel control.  For only $29 you can't go wrong.  I purchased mine from Raidentech.  You can find them here. j

[April 24, 2008]
A Change to the Game Plan
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If you have ever taken a look at my To-Do List link on the left side of this web page you know I have a pretty detailed roadmap to get me the required experience and certifications needed to be a professional pilot by the time I retire from the military (T minus 5 years).  The biggest challenge currently being how to get the 120 hours still needed to meet the 250hr Commercial Pilot requirement.  Instrument training will get me about 40 more hours.  After that the plan was to get as wide an experience as possible with the remaining hours - sea planes, tail draggers, high performance, complex - check all the blocks as opposed to just burning holes in the sky in a C-172.  I want to be as well rounded a pilot as possible, every hour of flight should be meaningful.  Of course after commercial is Flight Instructor.  From there I can start to build hours while getting paid instead of forking a $100+ for each and every hour.  Well today I found out I can be an instructor, build hours, and get paid a lot sooner than I originally thought.  I came across an article in the May issue of AOPA's Flight Training magazine that discusses the Sport Instructor Certificate.  The Sport Instructor is not required to hold a commercial certificate or instrument rating.  That's right - you can become an instructor with only 150 hours logged.  That means logging additional hours, getting paid, and gaining valuable experience toward full CFI certification down the road.  Eureka!  This looks very interesting!
j

[April 6, 2008]
Nothing By Chance
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Just received a well worn copy of Richard Bach's "Nothing By Chance," and can't put the book down.  In the book Bach recounts his adventures across middle America during the mid 1960's as he and two friends attempt to recreate the barn storming days with their Great American Flying Circus.  They fly from town to town performing aerobatics, skydiving, and mock dogfights while making end's meet by charging for $3 airplane rides.  Each town brings new adventures and mayhem. 
j

[March 23, 2008]
Touchdown
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Landed at KPHF in Newport News just after sundown to complete the trip in my trusty King Air B200. 

Leg Distance Flight Time
Tallil, Iraq - Al Asad, Iraq 286 NM 1:16
Al Asad, Iraq - Van, Turkey 186 NM 0:58
Van, Turkey - Megas Alexandros Int, Greece 874 NM 3:47
Megas Alexandros Int, Greece - Villafranca, Italy 657 NM 2:52
Villafranca, Italy - Vatry, France 341 NM 1:37
Vatry, France - Wick, UK 635 NM 3:13
Wick, UK - Reykjavik, Iceland 637 NM 2:47
Reykjavik, Iceland - Narsarsuaq, Greenland 665 NM 2:46
Narsarsuaq, Greenland - Goose Bay, Canada 674 NM 3:28
Goose Bay, Canada - Bangor, Maine 606 NM 2:37
Bangor, Maine - JFK, New York 331 NM 1:40
JFK, New York - Newport News, Virginia 246 NM 1:18
Totals 6138 NM 28:33

[March 20, 2008]
Almost There!
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I am currently in Bangor, Maine preparing for the final leg of my journey.  The King Air has been flying like a dream.  I've finally got a handle on how to grease the landings without floating by slowly throttling back to idle as I cross the numbers and begin settling into ground effect.  The visual approach into Bangor was the sweetest landing yet.  Speaking of King Airs and landings check out this real world video of a King Air pilot performing a gear up emergency landing.  Outstanding piloting!
j

[March 16, 2008]
Trans-Atlantic Crossing
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To make the hop across the "pond" I did a little research on the Internet as to how the GA ferry pilots make the trip, many doing so on aircraft much less capable than the King Air.  It appears the standard route going from east to west is Wick, UK to Reykjavik, Iceland to Narsarsuaq, Greenland and finally arriving on the North American continent at Goose Bay, Canada.  Total distance is 1976 NM.  Most of this flight was actually uneventful save for the landing at Narsarsuaq, Greenland.  Flying at 24,000ft allowed me to fly over most of the slog below.  Coming into Narsarsuaq from the northeast I began my descent in the undercast only to find the visibility begin to deteriorate substantially as I began my final approach.  There is no precision approach at Narsarsuaq and you can only land on runway 07 due to mountains on the other end.  From my research ferry pilots will not even take off for Narsarsuaq unless the weather is going to be good two hours +/- from ETA.  So I found myself on short final barely able to make out the runway edge identifier lights and then suddenly they disappear.  With zero visibility, no glide slope or localizer to fall back on, and the two Pratt & Whitney PT6A's spooling down I am committed to meeting mother earth, hopefully on my terms.  There is no option for a go around as the mountains rise quickly on all sides at the other end of the runway.  I keep the decent rate steady at 500fpm and continue to correct for a wicked crosswind.  At about 50 feet I finally see the runway, OFF TO MY LEFT by about 50 feet.  I had overcorrected for the crosswind, I gently coax the plane back over the runway while in the flare.  I get her down and stopped but not without abusing the landing gear.  Just taxiing to the terminal becomes a challenge with zero vis.  Next time I think I'll ensure the weather is good before heading to "Nar" as the ferry pilots call it. 
j

[March 7, 2008]
Flying Home....Virtually
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While discussing things to do in Flight Simulator with a friend the other night, he suggested I fly from Iraq back to the states.  I found that extremely interesting and decided last night to give it a go.  I fired up the King Air and taxied onto the runway here at Tallil and launched into the night sky on an adventure that will take me half way around the world and probably several weeks to complete.  Last night was just a short hop to Al Asad, about 258NM, which is north of Baghdad.  Took a little over an hour.  From here I will fly into Turkey and start heading west.  I am using Flight Commander 7 to track the flight and obtain pertinent navigation and runway data to plan each leg of the flight.  ActiveSky 6.5 provides real world dynamic weather injects into FS so I am flying in real time weather conditions.  I'll keep you posted on my progress.
j

[March 5, 2008]
Checking In
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It has been awhile since I last checked in.  Still here in Iraq, really not much excitement to report.  I have been staying busy logging crazy hours on the flight simulator and reading my many flight magazines and FAA manuals.  My latest love is the Beech Super King Air B200 which I have been learning the in's and out's of turboprop aircraft.  Now that I am comfortable in the cockpit I am working engine out training scenarios.  Learning Vmc and Vyse, those little red and blue lines on the airspeed indicator really mean something!  The King Air is a joy to fly but coming from singles and reciprocating engines it does take time getting used to the delay between applying power and when power is actually delivered by the turbine engines.  Thinking ahead of the aircraft takes on all new meaning as there is no instantaneous surge of power to get you out of a bad situation like you would find in the traditional engine.  I have also finally got my arms around cabin pressurization and bleed air systems, both of which you will find in almost any serious commercial aircraft all the way up to the big boys.

I would like to share with you some wonderful aviation Podcast's by Budd Davidson on the Flight Journal web site.  Budd talks about flying various different aircraft in a manner that is fascinating to listen to.  You can download the Podcast from here.  An IPOD is not needed as these are MP3 files that will play on your computer.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

A couple of new videos for you.  The first one is of a DH Beaver with floats taking off from a trailer being pulled by a pick up truck.  The second one is of a Russian IL-76 (we have a lot of them here at Tallil) cargo plane using every inch of runway to take off down under.

Some great quotes I have come across recently:
"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Never stop being a kid.  Never stop feeling and seeing and being excited with great things like air and engines and sounds of sunlight within you.  Wear your little mask if you must to protect you from the world but if you let the kid disappear you are grown up and you are dead." - Richard Bach

Till next time, blue skies! j

[January 18, 2008]
Navy P-3 Orion Mission Over Iraq
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I was able to finagle a ride in the Navy’s P-3 Orion on a mission over Iraq.  I showed up about three hours before the flight and sat in on the crew briefing from the Intel Analyst and then the crew chief.  The flight had three pilots and two flight engineers.  The P-3 only requires two pilots and one engineer, but the other two are for backup and rotation since we would be in the air for over eight hours.  The engineers left the brief early to preflight the aircraft.  After the briefing we went into an old Iraqi reinforced concrete hanger to draw our survival gear and helmet and then proceeded to the flight line to board the aircraft.  The P-3 is based on the Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was the first turboprop airliner built in the US, so the airframe is fairly narrow.  We were given a tour of the aircraft and its many systems by the junior tech.  The interior is fairly sparse.  There is a galley in the aft part of the aircraft along with a latrine, forward of that there is an open area with observer stations on the port and starboard side and several tubes in the floor of the aircraft for launching sonobuoys out.  Moving forward there are several workstations with CRTs for the analyst to work at.  This mission would only utilize the aircraft’s high fidelity camera located on the belly of the aircraft.  And then we come to the front office where the business of flying is conducted. 

The cockpit is a mix of glass and steam gauges with a massive overhead panel.  The attitude indicator and heading indicator are glass but there are not tapes.  Airspeed, altitude, and VSI are all depicted on legacy analog gauges.  The center console is taken up by gauges in sets of four for the four turboprops.  The engineer sits between the pilots and can easily monitor the gauges and work the overhead panel.  The PIC was a LT CDR (O-4) but the pilot was a LT JG (O-2).  The third pilot was also a LT JG.  With preflight complete, the engines were started one by one, ATIS was dialed in for the current info and then ground contacted for taxi clearance.  We rolled a few feet forward and then conducted a left and right brake test (sound like a typical GA flight?  You would be amazed how similar everything is even though we are flying a sophisticated four engine aircraft).  We roll a few yards and the PIC is on the LT for not tracking the yellow taxi line (it reminded me of being in the airplane with a CFI during training!)  She uses a tiller instead of the rudder pedals to steer the nose wheel.  We taxi out and hold short of the runway to turn all the lights on and contact tower for takeoff clearance.  The PF (pilot flying) briefs the takeoff and it’s all the same stuff of GA – when we will rotate, what we will do if things go south prior to rotation, what we will do if things go south after rotation, climb out speed, etc.  We get clearance and line the nose up with the center line.  With brakes on the engineer spools up the engines to full power, brake release and we are on the move.  I think we rotated at 120 knots and we climb out.  The PF calls out “positive rate” and the gear comes up.  We climb out at 200 knots and over 2000 fps.

Once at cruising altitude (which I will not disclose) we are flying at 300kts.  The PF continues to hand fly.  I ask her afterwards about using the autopilot, she answers “we do, when it works.”  The aircraft is moving so fast that it is flown at what appears from the attitude indicator to be a negative AOA just to keep from climbing.  Fifteen minutes into the flight and the engineer reports a problem with the #1 engine.  A flap to the oil cooler is stuck in the closed position and no amount of button toggling or breaker resetting is fixing the problem.  The pilot works the throttle to ease the burden on the engine and keep the engine temps within parameters.  What transpires next is an excellent example of ADM (aeronautical decision making).  In a few minutes the flight deck is pretty crowded.  The third pilot and the other engineer come up to take part in the discussion.  The PIC talks through the different courses of action and queries everyone for their thoughts.  The COAs as I remember were shut down #1 then restart and see if problem corrects itself,  continue mission and keep #1 within operating parameters by reducing power, etc, keep #1 running, dump fuel, return to base (RTB) and get the problem fixed.  The agreement is to RTB and fix the problem even though everyone knows that we just added about three hours to the mission.  I’m happy because I get to observe two landing and two takeoffs for the price of one!

We dump 4000 pounds of fuel which gets us under the max gross landing weight and turn 180 degrees back to base.  I notice that when the engineer activates the fuel dump switch no indicator lights illuminate on the panel to remind the crew that fuel is being dumped.  When I ask her about it afterwards she tells me it’s her job to remember that fuel is being dumped.  I told her I understand that but it’s easy to get distracted and the next thing you know you have a “low fuel warning” light blinking in your face.  We make a combat descent (see description later in the write up), a tight pattern (would put any small plane pilot to shame!) and grease the landing.  Taxi to park and the mechanics are all over #1 within minutes of shutdown.  After about two hours we are ready to go again.  This time the PIC is in the left seat and the other LT JG is in the right.  We repeat the takeoff sequence and are soon at cruising altitude.  It takes about an hour to get to the target area after which we commence flying circular patterns for the entire night.

On the return flight we are treated to a beautiful sun rise.  Practically on top of our base and still at cruising altitude we begin a combat descent.  The combat descent is something to behold.  (This procedure was written about in an article in Air & Space so I don't think I am disclosing any state secrets by describing it here.) We slow to about 170 knots and put the gear down to get dirty.  Then we pitch down, so far down that there is nothing but earth in the wind shield.  We are descending at 6000fps and 300kts, with the gear down!  We continue this rather unnatural approach for several minutes before leveling off at 1000 ft in the base leg.  Flaps come in and we are over the runway and settling in for landing.  Pretty impressive.  We roll out, clear the runway and clean up the aircraft before taxiing back to our parking position.   The pilots joke about making the lineman work for their money.  The LT follows the lineman’s commands verbatim which leads to a lot of minor corrections.  Everyone has a good laugh.  The engines are shut down and the mission comes to an end.  It was an incredible learning experience to see professional pilots at work.  Equally eye opening was seeing how all the fundamentals and basics learned as a GA pilot are very much present in a sophisticated cockpit.  j

[January 10, 2008]
Just Fly!
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I came across this quote in an article from Flying magazine.


"If you start putting too many strictures on when and where it's safe to fly, like no single engine night, or IFR, or even rough terrain, or water, or isolated areas in winter, or without a ballistic parachute, or your St Christopher medal, you're down to weekend, VFR, hamburger flights.

Here it is for me: Take pride in being the best airman you can possibly be; fly good, well-maintained equipment; know that the safety of your passengers is a sacred responsibility. Then chill out a little and accept the reality that when it's your time it's your time, that 'Fate is (truly) the Hunter' and that crashing alone sure beats pureed peas running down your chin in the old ladies' home."
j

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