Septemer 2009 find Wild Mama heading for cooler weather

September 11th: It has been a while since Wild Mama  embarked on a good meandering flight and she seemed to be getting a little antsy to go. Unfortunately, the beautiful VFR trip that she had hoped for was not to be. The skiess991.jpg were blue but the build-ups had already started by the time we blasted off out of X14. It was going to be a flight in to the heat of the day so low would be a rather hot and bumpy option. The good news is that there was a tailwind aloft at 4,000'. I filed for 4,000' and got "as filed". Sweet!
Just south of Lakeland I get a call to amend the route. I wonder what that could be? "N614WM: Climb to and maintain 6,000'. Rest of the route unchanged." Darn. There goes my killer tailwind. As I climb, I hear N63RJ departing from Punta Gorda at 4,000'. Hey - that Cheryl Lynn and she took my altitude. She is going to 40J to visit Stan again. We travel along together for the remainder of the State of Florida. I cannot say a word to her until she breaks off to 122.8 to make her final approach to Perry-Foley. She did not recognize Wild Mama's tail number and was surprised to her that it was me on the radio. What a hoot. ATC gave her a hard time most of the route while I skated through quite easily ... other than the loss of my most favorable altitude. But by now I really did not care as I was whipping along at ground speeds up to 165 kts!
That nice little wind made short work of the trip and arrival at Sparta was in a short 4 hours, even though the bulk of the trip was in IMC. Back to see my friends. Everyone up there was getting ready for the big air show on September 19th. That was one of the reasons that I came this time as I had missed the last show. I grab the car, put Wild Mama on her tie down space and head to the house for some rest. I am tired.

September 12th weekend is Mountaineer Days at Fall Creek Falls State Park - which is probably one of the reasons that the cabins are both s992.jpgrented. I am staying at John & Debbie's house in Sparta. I have missed this annual event each year as well, so it was time to play tourist and make a visit. The park was packed and the event looked to be a success. There were all sorts of "old-timey" demonstrations; vendors, crafts and just lots of other nature-type of activities.

I had not gone out to the north entrance to the Park that I can remember in a long time. So I thought it might be nice to head out the other end - that plus trying to get back through the traffic to the south lookeds993.jpg to be a real bear. I finally found the swinging bridge that everyone said was so nice. I found another restaurant that I had not seen before - the "Front Porch"; and I saw the first glimmer of fall creeping into the forest as a hint of color change to the yellows and reds was ever so slightly woven into the masses of the end of summery greenery. This will be a pretty leaf season for sure.

I did not have the luxury of returning to the Park on Sunday as it was my day to house clean the cabin for the next guests to arrive. I stopped at the airport early on the way up the mountain and met Bob and his 4 year old son, Logan. Seems Logan really likes airplanes and they were out there just to see what they could see. The day was a glorious day. I wanted to fly but knew that I had work to do. Hmmm ... the temptation was too compelling and I invited Logan and Bob for a ride in Wild Mama. This would be Logan's first EVER airplane ride. s999.jpgAlthough he was a bit apprehensive at first, once he got inside for a look, he was ready to go. We made a quick flight toward the southwest over Center Hill Lake. The air was cool and still and there was not a cloud to be found. It was a perfect day for a first ride. We landed a short 20 minutes later but that did not matter. Logan was thrilled and ran up and hugged my leg and thanked me when we got out of the plane. This is what is so cool about aviation.

September 19th: The week has been rainy with flash flooding and the forecast for the Saturday air show was not the best but the show was tos994.jpg go on rain or shine. I volunteered to help out in whatever way they might need. Sometimes volunteers can be difficult to get a hold of. We met at 0700 and I was put to work as a ticket taker so I got to visit with all the folks as they came through the door. It was good to see some familiar faces and I was particularly delighted to little Logan and his dad, Bob with Logan's s995.jpgtwin brother. I heard Logan say "there's Terwy" as he came to give me a hug. That just made my day! I was glad to see them here but I was even happier to see that Logan remembered me and his airplane ride. He has another promised ride when we come back in October. 
The remainder of the day went just as well as I got to enjoy most of the air shos996.jpgw even while manning the ticket taking. CC Gerner and Bryan Jensen gave awesome performances. It is the first time I had seen them perform and the routines were a breath of fresh air from some of the others which I had seen time and time again. Greg Koontz did his J-3 Cub comedy routine which was really good ... then the rains came and the ramp was a sea of umbrellas. The rains did not last too long, fortunately, and the air show continued. 
The precision flight teams came out and did their performance but the second part of the jumper performance could not s997.jpgbe seen due to a low ceiling - well, low for jumpers. The grand finale of the air show was the A-10 Warthog showing its stuff. All and all a great day!s998.jpg

September 24th: I have no pins for New Jersey on my map at home so a small side trip was in order. I wanted to head off for some placeas1.jpg different, scenic and in New Jersey. The obvious NJ location would have been Atlantic City; but I was not interested in glitz. I was interested in peace and quiet. I found a small airport called Aeroflex Andover. It is a 1900' paved strip surrounded by a lake on either end. Perfect. The departure was a bit delayed due to fog. I watched as the Direct TV blimp parked on the south end of Carroll County Airport disappeared into the thick fog, then re-appear again moments later. The sun came out and it was time to go.

The whole trip was shrouded in haze so the visibility was quite poor; but good enough to see the colors of as2.jpgfall creeping throughout the countryside. As I came to Andover, I had difficulty locating the strip. The GPS said it was there but it was neatly tucked away next to a hillside, obscured from my vantage point. The first pass was a miss and I had to go around only to make the second landing attempt by a hair. Wild Mama was floating down the runway in spite of a rather low air speed indication. I plopped just past the half-way mark and got stopped with a few feet to spare - Everglades City had been good practice. I enjoyed the lake with a family of geese stopping by for entertainment while I feasted on my G & M crab cake, salad and fruit. It was nice to relax but the visit to this picturesque point was all too short and it was time to get back to Carroll County.

I dropped 10 degrees of flaps and started the runway roll glancing at the airspeed as I lifted off at 45 kts .... only to watch the airspeedas3.jpg indicator flop to 0. This is not good. Well, I am already airborne so there is no point on going back to land on a short runway. I continued on to Carroll County and landed without incident and without my airspeed indicator. The mechanic there was prompt to get Wild Mama in the shop only to discover that a piece of debris (he called it "rust") had dislodged and plugged the system. Although it was an easy fix, it certainly makes me wonder where the d"rust"came from as I am quite meticulous about the pitot cover. Better today than tomorrow as I expect to have to shoot an approach in Asheville, NC, an area plagued with rain and low visibility the last couple of weeks.

September 25th weekend:  I expected to be flying in the soup today but not quite as fast as it happened. Once I departed DMW, I never saw as4.jpgthe Westminster VOR as the cloud layer was quite low. From that point for the next 2 hours, Wild Mama slogged her way through the thick, wet clouds enroute to Asheville, NC and the SE Section 99s conference. After a short time in the clouds Wild Mama started becoming really wild. She started with 100 fpm oscillations that got progressively worse until they were approaching 1,000 fpm. I cut off the altitude hold on the autopilot and hand flew to stabilize her and she was OK; but I think the auto pilot has an issue.

I broke out of the soup 40 minutes outside of Asheville and got to make a visual approach - the scenery was spectacular. Asheville is tucked away in a valley nestled up against the Blue Ridge Mountains. Approaching from the east, I had to cross the hills at 5,000' then dump down to land at 2,100' in way too short of a distance. I descended at 1500 fpm and still was too high and fast so I made another go-around - my specialty for this trip! Approaching like a normal airplane, the landing was good and the airspeed indicator was working well.as5.jpg

This is my first Section Meeting so I was excited to see old friends and make new friends. I met Ellen for lunch at the TGI Fridays at the Doubletree Hotel, then we registered and started the friend meeting process instantly. I brought the quilt so we could sell tickets to keep raising money for the Paradise Coast Chapter for the ARC start in Fort Myers is 2010. The evening found us at a nice reception at the hotel followed by an early evening to bed. I was pooped!

Our business meeting was Saturday morning. I congratulate Lisa on a great job. She kept the meeting light, while being informative and relatively brief. My kind of meeting. Lunch followed where Denise as6.jpgWaters spoke on ... my favorite topic .... air racing!!! I had planned to go out and about the town but heavy rains and flash flood warnings kept me up in the hospitality suite hangar flying with friends - both new and old - then heading out to dinner at Renez Restaurant. Mary Wunder and I shared a room and we were both ready to sleep by the time we left the restaurant after 9 p.m. Lots of flying to do tomorrow.

September 26th: I was hoping to get out VFR this morning but I made both VFR and IFR flight plans. IFR it was. The fog settled into the valley with a vengeance and the ceiling was only 200'. We were going nowhere fast so we wandered over to the Doubletree for breakfast with a fewas7.jpg other 99s before departing for the airport. Mary rode to the airport with me even though she way flying back up north with Judy Bowser as all her stuff was in my car and it made life so much easier.

By the time we got to the airport the fog was lifting and I had blue skies for departure. The forecast winds favored a 3000' route but I needed higher to get out. I filed for 3000' for giggles and grins and decided to take what they gave me which was 8,000'. My departure to the south started to the north then to the northwest, eventually turning southward. I had filed nearly a direct route figuring the MOA's would be cold on Sunday morning early. Not so. I was re-routed around Bulldog to the southwest and into a 20 kt headwind. It was not until I turned back around on course - now to the southeast - that I picked up some as8.jpgspeed from 125 kts to over 150 kts ground speed.I was pleased.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful through Ocala. Southern NC, SC and Georgia were all fogged over so I saw the tops of clouds. The oscillations on the autopilot started again but stopped after about an hour. It is still broken as far as I am concerned. Once I hit Ocala, the storms were popping and deviations were necessary. I had dropped down to 7,000' by now but the CB's were still quite easy to spot. It was an interesting time as my eyeballs were telling me huge CB's were to the left; but the NEXRAD was showing moderate to heavy precipitation to the right. I saw blue skies to the right. I trusted my eyeballs and flew behind the storms to the left as I could see all the way around them. I was not sure what was going on to the right. This pattern remained for the rest of the trip home. At 15 miles north of LaBelle, I had descended to 3000' and had storms right in front of me again. It looked like they were hanging on the north  end of the airport. ATC recommended goingas9.jpgaround to the west as the storms were moving east; but that would have necessitated staying at 3000' in the clouds - the ceiling to the west looked much lower than on the east. I canceled IFR, dropped to 1200' and headed east figuring I could best the rain to the east and approach LaBelle (X14) from the south in the best weather. The plan worked and I actually landed on dry pavement: the north half of the runway was being drenched but the south was still dry. Home safe and sound from another fine adventure.