Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring is in the Air!

And so am I! After patronizing AmTrak last weekend I've been anxious to get myself and N631S aloft. Last evening after work I met my friend Glen at KBDR and went flying. The mission was to log some approaches under the hood to maintain my IFR currency.

We started out with the ILS 36 at nearby KOXC (Waterbury-Oxford Airport), which was uneventful. I haven't flown an ILS in quite some time so I used this one to exercise the Approach mode on the STEC-50 autopilot. "George" did really well tracking the localizer and I did OK tracking the glideslope. We flew the missed approach and then asked for vectors for the VOR 24 at KBDR.

The only problem with this approach to KBDR was that the very bright setting sun flooded the cabin and made it quite difficult to see the panel through the lower part of the "foggles". But upon reaching the MDA the runway was pretty much where it belonged.

The airport switched to Runway 29, so after we missed again we asked the NY Approach controller to take us around for the RNAV 29 for a full stop. There was a bit of confusion here because the controller thought I asked for the VOR 29 (I dont think I did). But pretty soon his vectors were seeming a little odd and I asked the question and we straightened it out. We completed the RNAV 29 into an even more distracting setting sun. It's a good thing that for most instrument approaches in actual IMC sun glare isn't a problem!

I felt reasonably good about all three approaches. I don't think I'm a menace to navigation.

Southbound Tomorrow

The weather for tomorrow's flight from KBDR down to home plate at Potomac Airfield (KVKX) is looking remarkably good. The TAF's are calling for light variable winds and scattered clouds at 25,000 feet through 00Z. And FlightPlan.com is projecting 2 hours + 15 minutes enroute. It ought to be an excellent flight.

Looking Ahead to Monday

The weekend is forecast to be sparkling up and down the east coast, but clouds should be arriving overnight Sunday into Monday with rain developing early in the day. The key to whether Monday morning will be flyable will of course be the temperatures aloft. And there seems to be cause for some optimism. Below, a graphic of the 850 mb pressure level (about 5,000 feet MSL) chart for 12Z Monday with isotherms:
The colored features show expected precipitation for the preceding six hours. Observe the 0 degree isotherm. It curves to the west of my intended flight track which would be from DC out to Dover AFB then up the New Jersey coast to JFK and thence into KBDR. If something like this forecast happens, I should be good for a damp but safe trip back to Connecticut.

It's That Time Again

Assuming the Monday flight works out, on arrival back at KBDR I will be entrusting N631S to Skip and his colleagues at Three Wing Flying Services for the 2010 Annual Inspection. Much more about that, anon!

Happy Birthday!

Finally, today is N631S's 33rd birthday. It was on 18 March 1977 that this great machine first left the ground and rose into its element from Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. 3,866 tach hours later it's a healthy airplane, well broken in and with lots of years and hours still to come. I'm honored to be its current custodian.

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