Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year (with a look back)

New Year's Eve is a good time to look back at the twelve months just passed, as I did just a year ago in this posting. Now I have a second full year of experience with my nearly-every-week commute between Virginia and Connecticut so comparisons are possible.

N631S finished the year with 4,031.5 hours on the tach, having flown 177.9 hours in 2010. That's about 14% less than the 2009 total of 207.2 hours. Yet I made the round trip 37 and 1/2 times this year, twice more than last year. Maybe 31 Sierra is getting faster?

Actually, I suspect that the difference is attributable, at least in part, to better weather. (I discussed this earlier, in part, in this posting.) I logged 12.9 hours in actual IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) this year, less than half of 2009's 26.7 hours. Oddly, this year's total of 14 approaches flown in actual conditions is only down from last year by one.

Here's a possible partial explanation: This year many more of these approaches were flown into Bridgeport (KBDR), and those approaches can be flown rather efficiently. Not one was into Potomac Airfield (KVKX), in contrast with 2009 when I flew the RNAV Rwy 6 approach there eight times. That approach requires a considerable excursion to the southwest and will add a fair bit of time to the flight.

The same rationale may explain, in part, the fact that time logged at night for 2010 at 9.2 hours was just half the 18.4 night hours logged in 2009.

It's obvious that all of this couldn't have occurred unless N631S was an admirably reliable machine. In 2010 I experienced only two equipment failures and neither of these caused me to miss a flight I'd otherwise have taken. In July a brake master cylinder attachment bracket failed while taxiing after landing (discussed in this posting), and in August a wiring problem caused the autopilot to fail in IMC (discussed in this posting and in this one).

For me, 2010 has been a rewarding and enjoyable year of aviating. I hope it's been so for all of you as well. As always I am grateful for your visits (and especially comments!), and I hope you've found this blog interesting and perhaps on occasion even useful. So, Happy New Year! I hope that we all will enjoy a healthful, prosperous and safe 2011.


Dave Starr said...

Thanks for documenting the year this way, Frank. Many years ago I thought by this century many more people would make use of a 'family-size' airplanes as much more of a transportation tool.

Well my predictions were, to say the least, optimistic, but at least today we can see 'real people' running a business, living a life and otherwise acting 'normally', but still using an airplane as something other than a luxury toy.

Many happy hours in 2011 for you and N631S.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dave, thanks for reading and for the good wishes. I hope for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year for you and yours.



Greg said...

Best wishes for the new year to you and yours from a frequent reader of your blog and controller of your flight to and from VKX. You do a great job, thanks for posting! Its great to see what happens on the other side of the mic here in the DC airspace.

Frank Van Haste said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Greg! I really appreciate all that you and your colleagues do to keep us safe. I always feel that I'm in good hands in PCT airspace.

Warm regards,