Way back when I was in VF-32, the rule was No Drinking within 50 ft of aircraft; No smoking 12 hours prior to a flight…at least that’s what we went by back then.
Up next leg 2, KSAV to KATL.
We will be fly an a A319 with 147 people and hauling 5126 lbs of toys and games
Apparently we are under IFR conditions,
Thats it for now, A day or two of sight seeing in Atlanta before we continue on to LAX
Meanwhile, at the Tocumen Airport…
“Mister, we heard that Guy Martin bloke was unavailable. We’d like an excentric lad that speaks funny, has a taste for suicidal stunts and can’t finish half his sentences. Are you in?”
I blinked nervously.
“What? I, I wasn’t listening, sorry… I… I… Mate, I think, I think I was just staring at the awesome… at that bloody beautiful hunk of british greatness behind you, sir…”
The RAF officer smiled.
Oh, wow! PR-9. This was the one with isopropyl nitrate starters, if I’m not mistaken, as opposed to the cartridge starters. Really looking forward to the customary treatment of this one…
LEG 5 - PA-28 Warrior - New Orleans, LA (KNEW) - Beaumont, TX (KBPT)
So to recap, as I work my way through my real life logbook in an attempt to fly all of the types I have in there on the way to Pago Pago:
LEG 1 - Cessna 152 - Gastonia, NC (KAKH) - Mountain Air, NC (2NCO)
LEG 2 - Cessna 172 - Mountain Air, NC (2NC0) - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP)
LEG 3 - Cessna 182 - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP) - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM)
LEG 4 - T-34 Mentor - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM) - New Orleans, LA (KNEW)
So the fifth plane making an appearance in my logbook occurs a few years after my first solo flight and check outs in the 152 and 172. I scaled back my flying significantly while I was in college due to the expense and the discovery of beer and girls. While I would occasionally rent a plane and do some casual flying, it wouldn’t be until I graduated from college and found myself pumping gas on the flight line at North Myrtle Beach airport (KCRE) just after graduation. Each pay period, I’d deduct a little money from my check for rent and drinking, then sign my check back over to the FBO to put into renting planes and earning my Instrument, Commercial, Multi, CFI, and CFII ratings.
So it was April 20, 1994 when I got checked out in one of the FBO rental fleets Piper PA-28 Warriors N215SA. After having mostly just flown Cessna high wings over the previous few years (amassing a whopping total of 160 hours to this point), the low wing Warrior just seemed like a really airplaney feeling airplane.
Off we go from New Orleans, and keeping with the hurricane visitation theme I have going on during this Christmas Flight so far, I’m hopping two hours west to Beaumont, TX - a location I visited in real life last year during the Hurricane Harvey evacuations after Beaumont’s power and drinking water distribution systems were put under water by severe flooding.
TheVFlyteAir Cherokees are simply awesome, and take me back to those single engine Warrior days where I flew up and down coastal North and South Carolina taking in the sights, building hours toward my 250 hour Commercial license requirement…
It is a bit of a murky day, with weather coming in off the Gulf and marginal VFR conditions toward Texas. Just after takeoff, I fly over the Mississippi River and take a glance toward downtown New Orleans…most recently the scene of the crime of the slaying of my Philadelphia Eagles. I believe I can still see feathers and blood down there…
The VFlyteAir “classic” Cherokee is fun to fly - and I’m lucky in that it has an autopilot, something the Cherokees I flew back in the early 90s did not have (nor GPS…even Loran C was out of the realm of cost effectiveness back then!)…
Coming up on the weather toward the end of the flight. Not bad…just some light rain and turbulence, and no icing of course this far south and at 4,500’…
Approaching Beaumont, it is easy to see why these Gulf Coast areas are so prone to damage and surge from hurricanes. They are just all swampy already. Throw in 10 or 15’ of additional water on top of that and, well…there is just nowhere for it to go…
After about two hours of flying I turn in for Beaumont, Texas. It looks better in the sim than it did in real life. The pall of the burning chemical plant, the dozens of rescue helicopters, and the buzz of many dozens of fixed wing air ambulance planes was missing. I’m sure Beaumont is largely back on its feet a full year after Harvey…but I’m sure they keep a nervous eye towards the Gulf each late summer.
So in five legs, I’ve only knocked out a bit over 700 miles in my journey from North Carolina to Pago Pago with 712nm flown and 5,162nm remaining. Obviously as I work through my logbook, these light trainers have shorter legs, so we’ll start to pick up miles as we find some other planes that I was checked out in. So hang in there!
Of interest (or not), is that the next logbook entry after the PA-28 is lots and lots of time in the FBO’s ATC 610 simulator. This was a really interesting piece of hardware. It had no visuals at all, it was simply an IFR trainer. By selecting different radio frequencies, you would position yourself at different airports. Then you just used the simulator to fly and practice instrument procedures, holds, approaches…all with no visuals at all. Later models of the ATC sims would add screens and visuals…but these early sims were all about procedures.
LOL! It is of interest, to me. I’ve got ten hours on one, as well, as part of the IR program. A retired Vickers Viscount commander was my instructor for it. A few years later, when I was staff at the same school, we got an Elite PCATD, with visuals, and then the local Authority did not want to certify it. To them, it was no longer a pure instrument trainer, as the 610 was, because it had visuals. And because it had visuals, it was a flight simulator, and did not qualify because the instruments were not of true size, and nor did it represent a specific aircraft.
I was given the task of trying to get it certified, and I produced an FAA Part 61 Advisory Circular (a superceded one, now, but equivalent to AC-61-136B), which specified why it was a valid PCATD for flight training. Long story short; I eventually did get it certified, and the local Regulation amended.
PS: I did not say, this was of course in Ecuador, and quite a few years ago now.
This is why I love this community so much.
Ah…through sheer persistence and volume of paperwork, even the FAA ship can be turned. I should brush up in the ATC 610, I’m being observed in December on my King Air sim ride…or rather…the check airman is being observed administering the check ride. I’m thinking about doing a Split-S as my procedure turn for the mundane JFK VOR 4L approach.
LOL! I know, right? X-Plane does not come anywhere near the realism of it.
So, events in the Christmas trip…
Sailing around again
It seemed I had been picked up by an offshoot of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, or something similar. The naval branch of it. I was on board a replica of a late 1600’s ketch rigged vessel, the builders of which had gone to great lengths to ascertain the authenticity of a privateer operated example. The crew were good actors, too. Whatever their real world jobs were, in whatever office in whatever city, they certainly fell with great ease into the role of handling a sailing vessel with the contempt of familiarity. And they did it consistently, simulating a form of pre-industrial ignorance to exemplary perfection, while they fished out some drifting cargo…
My first night on board was sore. My cuts and grazes were water logged and painful, and I was generally run down to the point that I could not get to my feet. They left me propped up against the gunwale, among some barrels that smelled of rancid fish…
The Captain, aloof and gruff when approached, wearing his tricorne and tatty tunic, confided that he had only prevented me from being keel hauled upon being fished out of the sea because I had said my name was Parrot. I cannot remember having mentioned this, but I suppose I must have. It seems Parrot was his name, too, and he figured we were related.
“Gurrold nayem, Parrot be, amongst our brethren,” he had said. “Ye’ll do well on the for’d stays’l. We needs a body for’rit.”
They would do a great job on International Speak Like a Pirate Day. The crew’s standard answer to anything I asked was a momentary blank stare, followed by a simultaneous eruption of “Ha! Ha! Harr!” from all who had heard me. Then they would continue going about their business on deck, like nothing.
At one point, we fought a mock battle that seemed very real, and the cutter we “attacked” actually did sink…
I was enjoying it, following the Captain’s orders (fortunately, I knew a bit about sailing after a world circumnavigation), and I was joining in with the “Har-harring”, at one point. It was infectious. We left the crew of the cutter floating there. I assumed they would be picked up by a motorboat waiting around some cove or another for the purpose…
Then we sailed to an island and “took over” a base of operations…
Ahem! I opted to stay away from some of the installations, fake as they might be…
I braced myself and faced Captain Parrot again, when I found a moment to get him alone. I asked him if, on our “adventure”, we might sail near Cuba. He made a very convincing act of not knowing what I was talking about.
“Yer sounds loyek old Des, the cook. Ye’az spoiders 'niz oyez. Sees things that ain’t thar, does old Des.”
I dared to insist one more time. After all, he was not a real privateer captain. He looked exasperated, and pulled out a chart. He turned it around for me to see.
“Yer shows me wurr this Cube ploice be 'ere, lad.”
I looked at the chart. It only rendered a bad representation of the coast of Venezuela…
I pointed off the top of the chart, my finger in the air above it.
“It is here,” I grinned. He was sucking me into the fantasy adventure, and I was beginning to believe him. “Oh, come on!”
Leave it to the pilot to find the brothel. Might need to run a side Mudspike Air Cargo run in with some penicillin…
Just some more sailing…
Cuba ahoy! Nearly there...
It was beginning to dawn on me that these people really did not know the locations of other places in the world. That there was more to it, they did understand, but were unconcerned. Their interest in it had declined, and thereby their knowledge.
I ruled out time travel, of course. My view of that subject was very Vonnegutian.
So, eventually, I began to have some more influence on the Captain. It came about because of one thing: Making money. He had no idea how to do it. Needless to say, I had an ulterior motive when I began to tactfully execute a three phase plan.
Phase one: I started by demonstrating that a little thought when purchasing goods at one port to sell in another went a long way in slowly filling the coffers. Study prices, record them, average them, know your vessel’s maximum capacity, and how much of what you can buy, based on its weight and the available funds to purchase it. Just basic business considerations…
Success bred success. It had been hard convincing them that I did not have anything up my sleeve. Which I did, in fact, but not what they were thinking. Once Captain Parrot started seeing some favorable results, he was ready to hear my next idea.
Phase two: They were always ready to go and fight another vessel. To them, it seemed like profit on the cheap just to pick up some spilled cargo. It did not work that way. They never seemed to realize that by the time they had repaired the damage from the battle, they had spent as much as they had made, all told. Choosing a good target with some hold space for trade, capturing it instead of sinking it, and hanging onto it was much more profitable, as the monetary capability to buy more cargo to fill those holds increased…
Once they had accumulated a bit of a fleet of captured vessels, they were able to detach some of them on “Swashbuckling Adventures” which made extra money. They had never known times like these…
Phase three: Finally, the master stroke. Now that I had made effective traders of them, it was time to get them to broaden their horizons. Once they started inquiring about more maps, they started appearing, and provided more options of ports for trade…
Maps came at a price. An increasing price with each successive one. But now they had the money to buy them. The only problem was they were buying maps to the east, and not to the north as I wanted. Fair enough, I suppose. We would eventually work around to Cuba. First came a chart of the Windward Islands, with more ports, then another of Puerto Rico…
Then Hispañola Island…
Their core fleet was now a brigantine and two ketches, with several cutters out on their own. They were becoming quite an enterprise…
And they were making loads of cash. There seemed to be something up with the rum, though. I was not sure exactly how it made a vessel faster, but it seemed to work…
Then they got a map of Bahamas. I was really having to bite my lip and be patient. I wanted them to start going west now, but they were still set on going north. Cuba, tantalizingly, was just on the chart. I pointed it out to Captain Parrot.
“See, here. That be Cuba, right there. Not all of it, but there,” I was beginning to talk like them, slightly.
“Ha! Harr! Roight ye’as be, 'tis thar o’rite!” he looked at me suspiciously. What he had in ignorance he made up for with cunning. “Me thinks yer a wont tay scarper thar? Y’ad becker rum’nate long and tender’d on a milk yald’n barn’kle whim loikes daran, lad.”
I still could not understand everything he said, but I got enough of it to know he was effectively guessing my intentions.
It’s like Elite Dangerous…hundreds of years ago…
I love the rum added point bonus. As it well should be.
Winging my way across East Texas…going to drop in to the location for one of our FEMA deployments last year…
How’s that for odd. Flew all day in real life, come home, go flying. Nuts.
Eighth entry for the Christmas Challenge.
Panama to Columbia, this time.
Click to reveal AAR
This time, I’m going solo in Just Flight’s English Electric Canberra PR.9.
That’s one sexy plane. A bit uncomfortable for the navigator though.
I scribbled a couple of notes to get me going.
Setting my throttles to OFF
Exploring the electrical panel
Checking fuel tank layout before refueling to 18,000 lbs
Ready for engine start
Better make sure I don’t forget these fuel cocks as well (So many cocks!).
Gotta run through some last checks again.
Finally ready for taxi
Entering the flight plan
Ready for takeoff
Recommended procedure for takeoff:
Except under conditions of operational necessity, limit take-off thrust from each engine to 90% RPM.
If a sustained climb is intended, allow the speed to increase to the full throttle safety speed (170 knots) then set climbing RPM and increase to climbing speed. For circuit practice it is recommended that the speed be kept below 220 knots. For the climb to circuit height, 80% RPM is more than enough.
I take a deep breath and start throttling up to 90 % RPM
Unstick speed should be somewhere around 130 kts
These Avon Mk 206 engines are powerful as hell
Climbing like a rocket
Climbing some more
Lots of clouds
Notes on Autopilot
- After engine start, ensure flaps are UP and No. 2 inverter has cut in before starting checks on AP
- Pull on the POWER switch and check that the READY indicator shows black/white stripes after approx. 1 min
- Switch IN rudder (set to RIGHT), aileron and elevator channel switches
- Ensure trim indicators are within white sector and trim the aircraft to fly hands and feet off in the required flight attitude
- Pull ON the ENGAGE switch and note that the IN indicator shows white and the READY indicator black.
- CLIMB/DESCENT: disengage the ALT switch, move PITCH control to achieve necessary pitch.
- ALTITUDE LOCK: When flying straight and level, engage the ALT (Altitude Lock) switch.
- TURNING: Use PRE-SELECT TURN ENGAGEMENT button on the compass repeater
- To disengage, set ENGAGE switch to OFF, then push OFF the POWER switch.
Autopilot ready (POWER Knob pulled, READY light hatched)
Autopilot Engaged (ENGAGE knob pulled, IN light white)
To control heading, we set the desired heading with the Autopilot Heading Setting knob, then we press the Pre-select Turn Engagement button.
We control Autopilot pitch with a small DIVE/CLIMB switch.
I think I finally got this autopilot thing figured out.
Reaching 25,000 ft. Let’s see if we can make it to 42,000 ft. I hear the Canberra PR9 we have can get up to 48,000 ft!
So far so good
Some data on fuel. Better keep an eye on those fuel gauges.
Reaching 34,000 ft
Flying over the Reserva Forestal Punta Patino, I can barely hold 38,000 ft. However, that might be because I’m very heavily loaded on fuel and unwilling to push the engines past 90 % RPM.
The beginning of the Andes Mountain Range is completely covered with clouds
A little looksie at the GPS
So many clouds
Approaching Cordillera Oriental
Starting my descent, deploying some funny-looking airbrakes on the wings
Diving into the soup
Rio Magdalena. Catching some light rain on the way
Starting the approach. I gotta be careful: Bogota is about 8350 ft high.
Those are some really terrible conditions now that I think about it…
I tune my ILS frequency to 110.7 (Runway 13R)
Aaand… there’s a signal! Yes! Let’s hope I can remember my ILS approaches in the VEAO Hawk.
Crew-only being approx. 29,000 lbs,… with approx. 13,000 lbs of fuel remaining… that gives about 42,000 lbs total, which gives a threshold speed of about 105 kts. Approach speed is threshold speed + 15 kts, so 120 kts.
Oh my god… am I really gonna land into THAT?
I keep saying “8350” out loud to remind myself that the airport is at that altitude. I need to be exceedingly careful since the runway is on top of a very steep cliff. Coming in too low means crashing into the mountain.
I also need to be extra careful to land as smoothly as possible. The landing gear on this plane is really, reaaaally low. A tail strike is certainly possible if I try to flare.
Runway in sight
I’ve got to be butter smooth on that one
Wow… I did it! I can’t help but feel an exhilarating sense of accomplishment.
There we are. We have finally arrived to El Dorado Airport in Bogota, Colombia.
Shutting down engines
Great report. 50’s Cold War jets…
Up next leg 3 KATL to KLAX
We will be flying a 767 with 261 people and hauling 49,336 lbs of hunting clothes, household goods, and drums
Holding short of the rwy at KATL awaiting clearance.
Up next a Thanksgiving day flight to Hawaii
Yes. You appear to be surrounded by cocks.
Yeah…that is a no joke airport where you have to be careful…