Asheville in the Bonanza


My family has travelled to the western North Carolina mountains since I was a small child. To this day, any chance to escape Florida for the mountains is quickly taken advantage of. For us, a dreary 9 hour car drive is replaced by a 170 knot, 2-1/2 hour flight.

Flying instead of driving essentially frees up two additional days for a trip that is otherwise spent on the road. This time is better spent hiking and exploring.

Signature Flight Support is just north of the passenger terminal at Asheville, KAVL. They always treat us well, even though my A-36 is usually the smallest plane on the ramp.

Asheville is a busy Class C airport, with a mix of Allegiant and Delta jets, as well as Gulfstreams , Citations and Cessnas. The airport is sandwiched between two mountain ranges, near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Coming in on a visual to RW 17 is over the mountains with the right downwind flown at 4,000 feet.

Here is a shot the French Broad River on our approach into Asheville.

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Creature Comforts


If you are lucky enough to own a plane, you are lucky enough. If you have an enclosed T-hangar at your home airport, you are really lucky. Many airports have long waiting lines for hangars, and they are usually very expensive once your name comes to the top of the wait list.

Once you are able to buy or lease a hangar of your own, the first thing you want to do is create an environment that is comfortable and functional for yourself and passengers. Also a place where you can hang out and socialize with other pilots when you are not flying.

For me, having a fully stocked refrigerator, some comfortable chairs, a large floor fan and some storage for tools is important.

My ‘fridge is stocked with bottled water, cervesas, Gatorade and Coke Zero Cherry flavored drinks. Perfect for those passengers about to embark on a longer flight, or as a refreshment after returning home.

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The next best investment we made was to purchase a Power Tow EZ40 gas tug. Pushing 3,000 pounds of aluminum up an inclined ramp into the hangar is challenging, especially with leather soles.

The unit clamps onto the nose gear axel, and moves up to 4,000 pounds quickly and easily. It starts on the first pull, and I use sumped avgas as its fuel supply.

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And of course, no hangar is complete without the requisite #hangardog, just for company.

 

Now all that I am lacking is that 4 burner stainless steel gas grill!

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Oil Temp Probe Failure


On my last few flights in the Bonanza, during my instrument scan, I noticed that the oil temp started fluctuating slowly, up or down by  15*C.  It never reached red line, and the oil pressure stayed very stable at 40lbs. It appeared to be an instrumentation problem rather than an engine problem.

On a Continental IO-550, the normal operating temperature is 80*C and redline is 116*.

At first, I thought it was the vernitherm on the oil cooler unit that was stuck, but a call to the America Bonanza Society put me in touch with a tech that quickly diagnosed the problem over the phone.

It turns out it was a defective oil temperature probe. This probe screws into the bottom of the oil coolers on IO-550 Continental engines.

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A newly installed probe runs about $225 and it now works perfectly. The indicated temperature is lower and there is no fluctuation in the gauge in cruise flight. We accomplished this switch during a regular oil change so there was no additional down time.

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GAMI #2 Baffle Cooling Kit


I fly behind an IO-550 Continental engine. Last year I had the GAMI #6 cooling baffle kit installed. This is an aftermarket kit that keeps the front left cylinder cool on climb out, especially on warm days. Temps dropped an average of 40 degrees on the cylinder on climb and cruise.

I was so impressed with cylinder head temps drops on this cylinder, I added the #2 baffle kit this year. On climb out this weekend, my #2 cylinder never went over 375* and dropped to 290* in cruise, LOP. The baffle replaces the factory baffle at the rear of the cylinder and improves airflow behind the fins.

The #2 and #6 cylinders are notoriously hot, and I’m convinced these upgrades will help prolong cylinder life.

 

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Rejected Take Off


I was on my take off roll in the A-36 when I saw this indication on my Insight G-2 graphic engine monitor. So I aborted and coasted to the end of the runway and taxied off. The EGT on the #3 cylinder was way high and fluctuating.

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After an engine run-up, there was no roughness and it turned out to be just a bad EGT probe as evidenced by the diagnostic page.  Mission scrubbed but better safe than sorry. Its always better to sort this stuff out on the ground than in the clouds.

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Tavares Sea Plane Base Fly In


At the end of April, the Tavares Sea Plane Base (FA1) held its annual seaplane fly in. In addition to some large crowds, 25 or more seaplanes flew in for the event.

About a dozen seaplanes participated in a “bomb drop” that comprised a crewmember dropping a watermelon at a target anchored offshore, while the pilot concentrated on flying the aircraft.

The highlight was “Zeus”, an HU-16C Grumman Albatross that flew in for the event. She was built in 1954 and served in the US military. A quick search shows only 2 of these rare aircraft still on the FAA registry.

Powered by supercharged Wright R-1820 radial engines, she made a loud statement as she took off from Lake Dora, in Tavares, FL for a series of fly-bys. Each engine puts out over 1,425 horsepower, and the crowd nodded their approval as she thundered past.

After the second fly-by, Zeus took up a bearing for home, Lone Star Executive Airport, Conroe, TX.

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Expanded Taxi Chart Coverage, Taxi Chart Improvements Land in ForeFlight Mobile 6.8


Great idea having the FBO Markers show up on a taxi diagram. This will eliminate a lot of confusion taxiing around new airports

ForeFlight

We are pleased to announce that ForeFlight Mobile version 6.8 is now available for download on the App Store! This update focuses on improving airport surface operations with more taxi chart coverage and more information on taxi charts for improved guidance. A new ownship setting makes compliance easy for customers operating under the guidance of FAA AC 120-76C. Version 6.8 also moves the app to a new minimum level of iOS support, paving the way to better product efficiency and more feature capability in the future.

FBOs on Airport Diagrams

Taxiing to the FBO just got easier—over 2700 FBO locations are now mapped on both FAA and ForeFlight Airport Diagrams for better ground-based taxi guidance. When coupled with ownship display capability in ForeFlight Mobile Pro, you can easily see where your aircraft is in relation to the FBO. We continue to add more FBO markers with each Business Directory update.

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Evening Flight Over Florida


A business trip took me to south Florida in the Bonanza this week; a quick down and back to Ft. Lauderdale. (KFXE)

On the return flight home, I had planned to be back in the air in order to land before dark at my home base, but a fueling error at Fort Lauderdale Exec delayed my departure for over an hour, until near sunset.

This was a poignant reminder to always visually check your fuel tanks, rather than rely on the FBO invoice indicating the plane was fueled.

Looking at the silver lining, it did allow me to capture some great photos while cruising past Lake Okeechobee on my northbound track, just before dusk. And there was a tailwind for once.

Approaching Leesburg (KLEE) after dark, I cancelled IFR 10 miles out with Orlando Approach, to yield the protected airspace to a Cirrus flying an instrument procedure. I extended my downwind and followed the Cirrus on final.

These shots were taken just before sunset from 6,000 MSL.

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Mountain Flying Into Asheville, NC


With the cooler mountain weather, it was time for our annual pilgrimage to Western North Carolina. There is nothing prettier than the southern Appalachian mountains in the Fall. Some of my earliest memories are of family visits to Tweetsie Railroad, near Blowing Rock, and Clingmans Dome, near the Cherokee Reservation.

Flying into mountainous airports can be challenging, but especially rewarding. Under certain conditions, it can also be dangerous. The Mountain Flying Bible is an invaluable resource for GA pilots flying in and around of mountainous terrain. (Sadly the author lost his life in 2009 in a mountain flying accident.)sparky

Asheville Regional Airport (KAVL) is located at a 2,000′ elevation, in a valley surrounded by 6,000′ mountain peaks. Runway 16/34 is 8,000 feet long and is served by several instrument approaches, making it a busy airport for commercial airliners.

When we departed Florida for our 2+ hour flight, the weather in Asheville was still reported as low IFR with fog and 100′ ceilings. The weather was predicted to lift before our arrival, but I mentally prepared to fly an ILS approach, just in case.

Fortunately, the weather did improve just before we flew over higher terrain and we landed in VFR conditions. Not long before our arrival, at least one airliner and a Cessna 421 diverted after seeing nothing on the approach. Approaching the airport, we were number five for landing.

As we taxied in, we could see Asheville was a very popular destination as the GA ramp was full of private jets. The FBO, Landmark Aviation, treated us quite well, in spite of being one of the smallest aircraft on the ramp.

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After nearly a week of hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain biking and visiting the Biltmore Estate, it was time to head home. We lifted off just before an approaching front, and fought 40 knot headwinds out of the southwest for most of the flight. Even so, a three hour flight is always more palatable than a 9 hour drive.

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Bob White Airport (X61) Fall Fly-in 2014


I am fortunate enough to fly the Bonanza out of a modern airport. At my home base, there are two crossing runways of 5,000 feet or more, multiple GPS approaches, inexpensive 100LL self-serve avgas, a friendly ATC tower, and excellent maintenance shops. What could be missing?

My airport exists within in a very efficient and sterile environment. There are lots of corporate aircraft and jets, but I rarely see my hangar-row mates. There are no social activities or hangar parties, unlike the days when I was learning to fly out of X04, Orlando Country Airport.

Even with all its benefits, part of me wishes my airport had the “soul” of Bob White Field, X61. Bob White is a 3,300′ pristine grass strip about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, nestled among farms and country homes. It serves as home for many tail draggers, warbirds, experimental aircraft and home-built. X61 offers no fancy hangars, ATC towers or instrument approaches, but it has a history, lots of aviation supporters and many stories to tell.

Last weekend was the 23rd annual Fall fly-in and barbecue at Bob White Field. The fly-in is always the last Saturday of October, and while it’s open to anyone, you only know about it by word of mouth. This year, over 80 aircraft from all over Central Florida, and at least 200 people were in attendance. Many of the same aircraft and pilots that flew into to the Bob White Flyin 2010 also participated this year.

The grass was freshly mowed and the temperatures were in the low 70’s, with a slight breeze out of the northwest.

The aircraft were vintage, some being built in the 30’s and 40’s. There were Luscombes, Piper Pacers, Aeronicas, Stinsons and Stearmans. Most of the pilots flying them were “vintage” as well. There were more than a few retired airline captains in attendance. One distinguished gentlemen started his career flying ag planes in the 40’s and retired in the 80’s, having flown just about every piston and jet aircraft in the National Airlines livery.

Many of the aircraft on display at Bob White have been restored and were in pristine flying condition. Most had no radios, or came with the original panel and tube-type avionics they left the factory with. No glass panels here!

For a $7 donation, we feasted on grilled hamburgers, jumbo hot dogs, homemade potato salad and chili, and an array of deserts that I suspect had many pilots re-running weight and balance calculations before departure.

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