Why We Fly- Instrument Approach Into Queenstown, NZ

This one always sends chills up and down my spine. An Airbus descends into the clouds on an instrument approach, between some tall mountain peaks. Stunning.

There is no better feeling than breaking out on an instrument approach with the runway right where it’s supposed to be.

I’m sure I will be thinking of this video as I fly the Bonanza into the Asheville, NC Airport (KAVL) next month. Asheville is situated in a scenic valley in the Western North Carolina mountains, and low ceilings can be a factor at times.

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Almost a Bad Day at Teterboro

Some pilots blindly follow ATC clearances. Good pilots always question ATC clearances, especially those that make no sense. It pays to have some situational awareness.

And question Authority, always!

This pilot should have spoken up sooner if he had questions about the odd heading that was assigned. The next time, that erroneous 180 degree vector could be into the side of a mountain while in IMC conditions.

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Insight Products Engine Monitor for the Bonanza

In my original Bonanza, I had a GEM 602 engine monitor in the panel. It was a great little unit, but it was developed long before the “lean of peak” engine management era we live in today. It helped me on several occasions to spot small engine issues before they became large ones.

When I bought the A36 Bonanza, it did not have an engine monitor, although the other instrumentation was superior. The plane came only with the single probe CHT in the panel, and you never really knew how the other 5 cylinders were feeling.

So, last week I ordered a new Insight G-2 engine monitor. This unit will help with monitoring EGTs, CHTs and fuel flow. It also has a removable SD datacard that will assist with assessing the overall health of the engine without dissembling it. Clogged fuel injectors, fouled plugs, and low voltage issues will be readily evident. And “lean of peak” engine operations will be a snap.

The plane is in the avionics show now, and I’ll update once we have a chance to fly it. This will make ocean crossings to the Bahamas and the Florida Keys a much less stressful experience, and it should eliminate the “automatic rough” pilots sometimes feel when crossing large bodies of water.


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Summertime Flying

Summertime flying offers different challenges that Wintertime flying. In Florida we get to aviate all year, unlike those folks in the frozen north who “pickle” there planes for a few months when the weather drops below freezing.

Density Altitude (DA) is always a consideration while operating “hot and high” near full gross. Piston engine, propeller and airfoil performance always degrades as the ambient temperature and pressure altitude rises.

Thunderstorms are another consideration. These rain cells below have not yet fully developed into convective storms, but they are very close. The Stormscope showed no strikes during my flight to Williston (X60) for breakfast at the Pyper Cub Café. (yes that’s how its spelled). A few deviations were all that was necessary to stay clear of the weather.

The XM display below shows heavy precip, with some red and occasional purple gradients. It was easily navigable with a smooth ride, VFR, beneath the 2,000 foot bases. Flight visibility was unlimited, and there were no embedded cells.

The iPad Air with a Stratus-2 ADS-b unit radar display concurred with the XM display, but there seemed to be just a tad more latency.

With the temps and humidity in Central Florida today, all I can say is “thank goodness” for air conditioning in the Bonanza. It sure makes those long taxi and departure delays much more bearable.

Happy Flying!


2014-07-26 09.29.40 2014-07-26 09.30.00 2014-07-26 10.53.33

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Vintage Beechcraft Bonanza Video

Amazing to see these original videos of the classic Beechcraft Bonanza. Even more amazing, all of these aircraft were designed by a group of engineers in Wichita with nothing more than a slide ruler.

To this day, there is nothing near as beautiful as an original V-tail Bonanza.


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Much Needed Time in the Sim


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Confusing ATC Clearances

On a flight a couple of weeks ago from Ft. Lauderdale Executive (KFXE) to Fort Myers, Page Field (KFMY), Clearance Delivery issued a clear, concise, straight-forward IFR clearance before taxi.

The clearance read as follows: “Radar vectors to V97, WINCO, LBV, direct FMY”.  I was not issued a departure procedure by ATC as part of this clearance.


After departing RWY 31 at Exec, the tower handed me off to Miami departure, who promptly radar identified me. I was cleared to climb to 3,000 feet and they turned me to a heading of 270.

A few minutes later, on that heading, the controller said to join the “WINCO transition”.

Um, the what? When receiving radar vectors, the controller simply says fly heading XXX, join Victor XX, resume own nav. If they give you a transition route, it’s already part of a previously issued departure procedure. You know it’s coming and are expecting it.

I quickly checked the FXE DP’s. Nothing about a WINCO transition. There was nothing in the Garmin 430 database either.

I then queried the departure controller and asked for clarification. She was a bit exasperated and said the transition route was defined by the DHP 322 radial. Sure enough, a check of the low enroute chart showed the Dolphin 322 radial IS V97, the same as my original clearance. So I asked for present heading to join the airway, and my request was approved.

I was a little frustrated at ATCs annoyance at me. Single Pilot IFR is challenging enough without a confusing clearance thrown in. After I landed at Ft. Myers, I did some research. There is only one departure procedure at KFXE, the Ft. Lauderdale Three. That procedure lists 6 transition routes, but none reference WINCO.

Further research showed that there are three DPs that do reference the WINCO transition, but all of those DPs are out of KMIA, Miami International, 30 miles to the south of Ft. Lauderdale Exec.

So it seems that the Miami controller issued me a transition route to a departure procedure from a completely different airport, despite the fact that no DP was ever issued as part of my original clearance from Ft. Lauderdale.

Confused? So was I. So I called Miami Tracon and spoke with a supervisor. He immediately knew what the problem was, took ownership of it, and apologized.

So the next time you get a confusing clearance, or non-standard phraseology from ATC, speak up. Ask for clarification if you do not understand the clearance. It just might save you a deviation, and your ticket.


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ForeFlight Mobile HD Update

ForeFlight 5 is now in the Apple Store, and the latest iteration is a fairly significant upgrade. FF5 shows colored terrain, allows for user adjustable map orientation, indicates obstacles and offers an auto-taxi function.

The auto-taxi function is a real time saver. Once your aircraft lands and slows to less than 30 knots on the runway, the map page automatically flips over to an airport/taxi diagram, if there is one in the database for that airport. If you have the upgraded version of FF, your ship’s position will be shown on the taxi diagram. This is especially helpful as you exit the runway and clean up the aircraft, while looking for the ramp.

The terrain feature works only on iPad2 versions or later, as it puts a lot of demands on the system.

Normally my panel-mount MFD is always set to track forward, rather than north-up. That has always seemed more intuitive to me.

Until now, the FF Mobile App only offered a north-up orientation in flight, so if you were flying south, the aircraft icon would be pointed in the opposite direction.

ForeFlight now offers several alternatives to map orientation: north-up, track up center, and track-up forward.

After three years of using ForeFlight in north-up only, it does take a bit of an adjustment to get used to track-forward on the iPad. Rather than see the aircraft icon rotate on the map during the turn, the icon remains in track up mode and the map rotates around it.

Below are some screen grabs of both IFR and VFR charts of ForeFlight in track-forward mode.

For more information here is the link to ForeFlight: http://blog.foreflight.com/2013/03/23/new-terrain-foreflight-5-lands-in-app-store/

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Palatka Airport, Kay Larkin Field-Revisited

Two years ago we flew up to Palatka, FL (28J) for an open house and fly in. You can read the original post at 2011 Palatka Florida Fly-in. Palatka is a small town near the NE coast of Florida, not far Jacksonville.

A couple of Saturday’s ago we went back for this years open house. January is a great time to fly in Florida, with clear skies and cool dry air. This time of year we get into the air as much as we can. As expected, the skies and airwaves were busy with traffic, but Jacksonville Approach did an excellent job of separation and service.

The traffic pattern on arrival at Palatka was busy, but it flowed well. There were experimentals, RVs, light twins and ultralights in abundance. 100LL was a bargain at $4.03 a gallon, so I topped off for the trip home.

Today was a reprise of the great time we had in 2011. The pork barbecue was awesome and the aircraft on display were terrific examples of aviation history.

Below are some photos of a T-28, Stearman, Lockheed, a DC-3 and a P-51, all in like new or better condition.

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CloudAhoy and IFR Procedures

The more I use CloudAhoy, a free IOS app for iPhones and iPads, the more impressed I am.

This app is a great tool for debriefing flights with your safety pilot or instrument instructor to show exactly how well you tracked an airway or executed the instrument and missed approaches.CloudAhoy in the cockpit

In the debrief mode, your actual route can be overlaid on Google Earth, a VFR Sectional, an IFR en-route or various published instrument procedures. It is amazingly accurate. The view can be tilted, or put onto 3-D mode, and viewed in north or track up. There is also a demo mode to replay the flight.

On a long cross country you can share your flight with friends or family with a simple email link.

I also use the app for log book purposes, which in my case is a customized excel spreadsheet. It tracks times for each segment of the flight, including airborne and taxi segments.

Here is how the flight segments look. In this case, we flew a total of 220nm in 2 hours and 4 minutes, including taxi times:


To track a flight, simply start the app while on the run-up ramp. It runs in the background using the GPS chip in your iPhone or iPad. CloudAhoy automatically shuts itself off when you land, and sends the telemetry data to the CloudAhoy server once a wi-fi or xG internet connection is re-established.

Below is a series of instrument approaches I flew with a CFII, overlaid on a sectional. We started out from Leesburg, FL, LEE, heading northwest then flew the GPS/RNAV 5 at Williston, X60. After the approach, heading southeast we flew ILS 36 at Ocala, OCF, then full approach to the GPS/RNAV 13 back at Leesburg. On the miss, we continued southeast to the ILS 7 at Orlando, ORL, and finally back to the northwest into Leesburg.


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