Nice flight here

Vicki and I flew the club’s Lance to Barnes Muni (KBAF) yesterday so we could be at Stevie’s last Parents Weekend. Vicki’s sister Sherri is here, but she came on a more conventional flight. It was a great flight, in wonderfully clear and smooth air. There was mist below and to the south of us, but in front and to the north side it was “clear and a million”. We did see a strange phenomena at one point where it looked like a dark streak that that went across the ground and then crossed in front of us and up into the sky, all as one very straight line. I wasn’t sure if we were seeing the shadow of the solid sharp-edged layer of clouds behind us (the sun was close to it) or if somebody with a very smokey jet engine had taken off from the north of us and climbed across our flight path.

We flew because I don’t get to fly as much as I’d like, and also because Vicki wanted to go to the Accapella Jam, which Stevie was performing in. If we’d driven, there is no way in hell we’d get there in time. Vicki was later getting to the airport than we planned for so we ended up arriving a few minutes after sunset. According to this extremely cool web site (which will only show our flight for a few more days), we arrived at 6:22pm. And were met by a FBO person who did NOT know how to fill in the rental car agreement. But we got out of there and up to campus just a hair after 7pm, which was plenty of time.

They’ve dropped me off in the school library because they’re doing stuff that’s a lot of walking, more specifically that start-stop wandering like shopping, and that’s hell on my knees. And it will give me a chance to do some work and make up for leaving work hellaciously early.

I’m a little concerned with the weather for the flight home. Today is showing very low ceilings and rain, which I can handle (although I haven’t done an ILS to minimums in actual since last year’s trip here), but there’s also an AIRMET for some occassional icing from freezing level to way high. Freezing level today was just about 6,000 feet, which is the sort of altitude I usually fly, and it’s going to be a little bit colder tomorrow. I think I can manage it if I file for a lower altitude and keep an eye on the temperature probe, or if I can get tops reports that indicate the clouds end below the freezing level, which is frequently the case in this weather. But we may have to stop en-route or stay here another couple of days. Oh well, such is flying. Better to play it safe and be down here wishing I was up there than up there wishing I was down here.

Oshawa Airport

I took some pictures at Oshawa Airport last weekend. You can find them all here. The airport has a bunch of old classics hanging around.

oshawa_airport/DSCN0382This DC-3, and another that has the Bassler turboprop conversion (which was in the hangar with one engine off), are used to fly cargo down to research stations in the Antarctic. I beleive they also fly cargo for the local GM plant.

oshawa_airport/DSCN0383There are two AN-2s there. I don’t know what they are used for.

oshawa_airport/DSCN0391This is the other one.

oshawa_airport/DSCN0390A Beaver. On floats. It doesn’t get any better than this. Unless it were mine.

Winne the Pooh has nothing on me

It was a very blustery day today. As I was sitting in the airplane getting it ready for departure, the wind gusts where shaking it around quite a bit. The tower was reporting winds at 15 to 24 knots, and the forecast for Rochester was even higher winds, 25 to 35 knot gusts. Good thing I was in the Lance which, being heavier and faster than the other planes, can handle those gusts better.

Last time I was in Oshawa, I was giving Liane a sight seeing ride when I heard somebody request an IFR clearance to Rochester and given “YYZ V31 ROC”, so that time that’s what I filed and what I was cleared for. Of course, no flight plan survives contact with Toronto ATC, so that isn’t what I ended up flying.

This time, I filed the same “YYZ V31 ROC”, but instead I was given “A21 V224(?) AIRCO V31 ROC”. Aha, I thought, a reroute that keeps me more out of Toronto’s airspace, maybe they’ll actually let me fly the cleared route this time. So after reprogramming my GPS, I was ready to go.

It was really bumpy on the climb out to 2,500 feet. The clouds stated at about 2,600 feet and it wasn’t so bumpy in the clouds, but I was still getting updrafts and downdrafts. What didn’t help is that I had to spend all this time in the clouds arguing^Wnegotiating with Toronto ATC over my route. They asked me to go direct to Rochester, and I said I didn’t want to be that far off shore. So they said they’d have to keep me at 3,000 feet 10 miles off shore. I said that was totally unacceptable, and they said then I’d have to go north of Pearson and then down the other side. Faced with the prospect of doubling the distance home, I said “how about I go direct to Buffalo at 8,000 feet”. I hadn’t realized that I’d gone far enoug that I was now a little to the north west of Buffalo, so they offered me 7,000 feet which fits in the “hemispheric rule” and I accepted. Not a great routing, but I realized I probably wasn’t going to get a better one. They cleared me direct to Buffalo and told me to let them know when I could accept direct to Rochester.

I was squared away on about a 170 heading towards Buffalo and reprogramming the GPS when I broke out over a solid cloud layer at about 4,000 feet. It was a few degrees over freezing still, and I hadn’t picked up any ice. As I continued up, I went into a few small clouds, still not picking up ice. I was making pretty good time over the ground – I think I had about a 50 knot tail wind on that segment.

Once the GPS was showing me getting close to the shore again, I accepted a direct clearance to Rochester, and lost a bit of tail wind. And then they started me down. First down to 5,000 feet, which put me in solid clouds. Ok, I thought, as long as there’s no ice, this will be good practice. But they quickly had me down to 4,000, which was getting a bit bumpy, and then down to 2,500. As I was passing 3,000, they asked me if I had the airport in sight, because otherwise they’d have to send me through the localizer and out a bit to re-intercept it. They just turned me to 060, which is away from the airport, and as I was turning I broke out of the clouds at 2,600. I told them, and they offered me the visual to 25, which I took.

Trying to do a base leg for 25, it was turning into quite a roller coaster. I think the winds were 330@30, and of course runway 28 was closed. I turned on final, and had to hold about 40 degrees of crab. Up and down drafts where making it impossible to stay on the good side of the VASI, and my airspeed control was in the toilet. Over the numbers I tried to kick out the crab, but didn’t have enough rudder authority to get rid of all of it. Not a pretty landing, but not hard either.

The huge tail wind got me there a good ten minutes before the customs guy, which suited me. Lots of time to get my paperwork in order. Aas well as a completed CF-178 form, I had my passport, green card, and aircraft registration all ready. So of course the customs guy was the one who recognizes me, and he just asked for the CF-178 and said “see you next time” and left.

In conclusion, all I can say is what a difference a bit of practice makes. I still had a few altitude and heading excursions in IMC when I tried to multi-task, but much less so than on Friday. And I remembered to turn on the auto-pilot before I needed to look away from the panel for a second rather than after I was 30 degrees off course.

S turns down the localizer

Today I flew up to Oshawa. It’s not a long flight – almost not worth it, really, but I haven’t flown in months and I figured I needed the practice – especially since there is a nice overcast layer at about 1000 feet AGL and the freezing level is still up over 10,000 feet, so I could get some IMC time without worrying about ice.

Next weekend I’m hoping to fly Vicki to Barnes MA, so it would be good to knock the rust off without her in the plane.

It’s a good thing I did, too, because as soon as I got into the clouds, I found that I couldn’t take my attention off the panel for even a second without ending up way off course. Even a simple frequency change or copying down a altitude restriction and I’d be in a thirty degree bank. Bad. Not dangerous, but bad practice and not conducive to passengere comfort. After a few minutes, I settled down and didn’t have the wild deviations, but I still wasn’t what I’d call proficient. And soon after that, I was on top, out in the brilliant sunshine which we haven’t seen on the ground for a week.

On the other side of the lake, I was being vectored for the LOC/DME RWY 12 at Oshawa, and there was a solid layer between 1200 and 2000 AGL (and a MDA of 960), so it was a real loggable approach. I was only 2 DME outside the FAF and the controller said “turn right 030 for the base leg”. I turned, and almost immediately blew right through the localizer. I asked if he’d meant me to intercept, and he turned me to 150 and gave me a proper approach clearance. But by the time I intercepted, I was right at the FAF and I had to start down before I got stabilized. It was not a pretty approach going between three dots left and three dots right, but it got me to a point where I could see the runway (and the VASI was all white), so I landed uneventfully.

I really need to get out and practice approaches in real IMC. Practicing in foggles just doesn’t seem to do it for me.


I hate where I sit at work. It’s at the corner of two heavily traffic hallways, and right across from the largest conference room in our area. So consequently at least once a day there are people hanging around right outside my cube talking. Plus the guy kitty corner from me uses his speaker phone way too fucking much (ie. ever).

So when they did a massive reorganization of our space, which involved 70 people moving from one cubicle to another, guess who didn’t move? Yup. As far as I can tell, I’m the only one in our development group who didn’t move.