Archive for February, 2011

AIF, 90.6 hours (2.8 hours last flight)

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Eclipse 500, BEAUTY!

Been about two months since the last flight in 4SG, and enjoyed this one as well! It’s not as sexy as this Eclipse 500 that was parked on the ramp next to US Aviation, but still lots of fun!

This flight had Ryan and Doug as my passengers and again we tried to make the run down to Tyler. One of these days, I’m going to get there! This time the weather was nice and VFR to the west and north, but all IFR like to the east. Even two hours later when it was supposed to be cleared up Tyler still showed marginal VFR to IFR conditions. That’s no fun.

So we decided to make a turn north and head up to Ardmore. I’d been there before, and was hoping we could grab lunch after landing. Turns out, The Blue Pig closed over eight months ago. DOH. And that airport was freaking deserted. One guy in the tower, three guys in the FBO, and a Snickers to fight over. So we talked to the guys there and they suggested we hit Gainsville and eat at Dieter Brother’s Restaurant. We took back off and headed south to Gainsville and had an interesting interaction with ATC. We were flying at 4,500 feet mainly because the run to Gainsville from Ardmore is only thirty-three miles (20 minute flight). We’re headed south and get the following call:

ATC: “4SG, traffic between 2- and 3-o’clock, eight miles, traffic is descending through 7,000 feet, type unknown.”

Me: “OK, we’re looking, but don’t have the target in sight, 4SG.”

Essentially what that communication was is a warning to me to avoid traffic that is not in the ATC system. Since there is no requirement to always stay in contact with ATC outside of controlled airspace, you might often run into another plane that is not in the system. At this point, we were looking but didn’t see him, and I looked down at my traffic avoidance system and noticed that it was not functioning (for some reason).

ATC: “4SG, traffic, now 2-o’clock, fife miles, traffic descending through 6,000 feet.”

Me: “We still don’t see him, do you want to give us some vectors to avoid, 4SG?”

ATC: “He’s not in the system, so I have no way to tell you what he is doing. Standby.” (ATC did not want to give me vectors in case it ultimately made things worse for us)

Me: “OK, still looking, don’t see him, 4SG”

ATC: “4SG, traffic now tree miles, descending through fife thousand, do what you need to do.”

That was a new one. I’ve never been given that instruction by ATC before, but I figured if he didn’t have a better option for me, it was time to climb over him and turn right to have him pass below and to our left.

Me: “OK, we’re going to climb over and turn right, 4SG.”

Right about the time we zoomed up 500 feet, I saw this guy. He was moving pretty fast, and possibly headed into the Sherman/Denison area, but would ultimately pass in front of us by about two miles.

Me: “FT. Worth Center, 4SG, we have the traffic in sight and he will pass in front of us. Won’t be a factor.”

ATC: “4SG, good to hear (could almost hear the ‘phew’ in his voice), maintain VFR, resume own navigation.”

Me: “Resuming own navigation, 4SG.”

After that excitement, things went pretty smoothly from then on out. Denton was VERY busy all day with the nice weather, but we didn’t have to hold anywhere on approach and landing. Nice flight!

AIF, 87.8 hours (1.9 hours last flight)

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I’ve been lazy. I had another flight since my last one, and neglected to blog about it. I have one more you will see immediately after this one as well from this past weekend.

After getting rated in the DA-40 with that beautiful glass cockpit, Cayce, Nancy, and I made a run down to Stephenville for some BBQ! The original plan was to go into Tyler, but low ceilings and en-route IFR conditions sent us west.


Initially, we had to hang close to the ground, which makes me very uneasy. We finally got a hold of a flight service station that helped us decipher the clouds we were looking at outside the glass. Sometimes clouds are an optical illusion, and you can’t really tell where the lines are until you are in the clouds. For someone not on an IFR flight plan, that can be terrifying and illegal! After we determined that climbing was acceptable, we shot up a few thousand feet.

We had some serious headwinds on the way down that turned into tail winds on the way back. 160Kts over ground on the way back is pretty fun! Makes for a very short flight.

We had some fun with ATC on the way back as we usually do at some point during the flight. We were cruising at 6,500 feet heading direct to KDTO from KSEP, several miles outside of the Class Bravo airspace (including the 30NM ring around KDFW), and we heard the following conversation from Ft. Worth Center:

ATC: “Eagle 1234: Traffic, twelve o-clock, fife miles, traffic is a Cessna at six thousand, fife hundred.” (At this point, I started looking around because any small plane is often entered into the ATC system incorrectly as a Cessna. Shortly after I started looking around I saw a blip pop up on my traffic avoidance system.)

Eagle 1234: “Roger, we’re looking but don’t see him yet, Eagle 1234.”

Two minutes pass.

ATC: “Eagle 1234: Traffic, twelve o-clock, tree miles, turn left heading 270.”

Eagle 1234: “Turn left, heading 270, Eagle 1234.”

At this point, I looked out the right side of the aircraft and saw the wingspan of an ATR-72 banking away and behind us, but coming up quickly from below. At this point, there is no way the pilots could see us because they would almost have to look through the floor to find us.

Me: “Ft. Worth Center, 4SG, we have that Eagle traffic in sight and he will pass behind us.”

ATC: “Roger 4SG, maintain VFR.”

Then a few minutes later that poor eagle flight got the call to re-intercept the intersection or point they were shooting for on their departure. So thanks to us, fully abiding by regulations, some poor schleps on their way to Abilene or something had to fly around us in our glorified lawn mower in the sky. It’s amazing flying in the system and watching all of the various elements of the air traffic system work to prevent accidents.

Was a great flight, and a great airport! Hard 8 in Stephenville is SO MUCH better than the one in Coppell.