Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year (with a look back)

This is the third year that I've used this post title on 31 December. A year ago, I looked back on 2010 in this post, and a year earlier I reviewed 2009 in this one.

N631S finished the year with 4,207.3 hours on the tach, having flown 175.8 hours in 2011. That's really very close to the 2010 total of 177.9 hours. I made the round trip from KVKX in Maryland to KBDR in Connecticut and back 34 times this year, three and a half fewer than last year. That's in addition to a trip from the DC area down to the Carolina Outer Banks, thence inland to Nashville and back to home plate.

I logged 10.0 hours in actual IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) this year, compared with 2010's 12.9 hours. The weather has been good! The down-side of this is that this year's total of 10 instrument approaches flown in actual conditions is down from last year by four. Time logged as night this year was 10.2 hours, not materially different from last year's 9.2.

Since N631S came to us in 2004, it has been a remarkably reliable machine. But age may be catching up with it a bit, for this year has been – shall we say – maintenance intensive:

And the last item in the above list calls for a mea culpa from me regarding the recent absence of posts here. The December weather has been remarkably cooperative, allowing flight from KBDR to KVKX on the Friday before Christmas (with due attention paid to potential icing), then a return to KBDR after the holiday weekend, and finally, back to the DC area this Friday past to end the year. Each of these trips was completed uneventfully. Let me just offer this video clip, collected over central New Jersey whilst headed south at 6,000 feet on the 23rd, just above the solid, cold and icy undercast. As always, ATC was concerned and helpful:

And finally, may I wish all who may visit here a healthy, prosperous and safe 2012.


Toriafly said...

Happy New Year, Frank! I wish you less airplane maintenance in 2012 :)

Frank Van Haste said...

Thanks, Tori; Happy New Year to you as well. And thanks for the wish, but as N631S's 35th birthday is coming in a couple of months, it's probably not the way to bet. (Still cheaper than a new airplane.)


Gary said...

Happy New Year!!

Sounds like you had a busy year flying. Maintenance can be a PITA but we have to keep up. I'm looking to upgrade my com/nav #2 system this year so maintenance I hope is easy on me.

Looking forward to reading this years posts of travels and IMC flights.

sam finfrock said...

Hi Frank, I'm Sam Finfrock. I flew N631S when she was almost new. Erect-A-Tube bought 631S from Jack Stahl here in Harvard, IL. We used 631 as an additional aircraft. At the time we also owned a Beach Bonanza V35-A. At the time of purchase we had four active flying pilots. I flew both the aircraft. 631S is a great machine.

Frank Van Haste said...

Sam, great to hear from you! I thank you for taking good care of N631S when you were flying it.

That had to be about '79 - '80, right? The airplane is coming up on its 35th birthday in March and at a bit over 4,200 hours still going strong.

I exchanged correspondence with Mr. Stahl a few years ago and learned where the "N" number comes from. I haven't been able to fly out to the mid-West to see some of '31S's old haunts but maybe in a few years.

Thanks for visiting; if you are in touch with any of N631S's other past pilots, please pass along the address for this blog to them.

Fly safe!


N8300N said...

Frank, Check out this site http://n631s.com/N631S_story.html
It's a complete story of N631S


Frank Van Haste said...

Umm...Sam...the reason that looks familiar is 'cause I wrote it. Sat down with all of the logs a while back and timelined all of it. You remind me, however, that I need to get caught up!

Hope all is well. '31S is fine and sends regards.