Old Blind Dog

Location: Texas

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sunrise today

Toledo Bend Reservoir

This is the haze previously blogged. It is the west bank of Toledo Bend about 0830.

Refueling @ PWG

Cessna 340

King Air C-90B

I've been flying this airplane for 11 years.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Politics of the San Francisco Bay area

Qualifications include watching Law & Order and possibly staying at a Holiday Inn Express.

Yeah, right. Why am I not surprised?

Office Shuttle

I've been running an office shuttle in the C340 fairly frequently. It's about a 20 minute flight in the 340 but a 2 hour drive by car from the corporate offices to plant 3.

Plant 3 is new. It has only been in operation since the middle of May and has had multiple personnel problems so it is not only the "suits" but also the office personnel that are flying back and forth. It makes for a long day. Even though it is a short flight arrivals are scheduled for before 0730 local and departures are after 1730.

I've been running this primarily as a VFR trip because it is short and it would take as much time to get a clearance as to make the flight. Yesterday it was borderline whether I might need a clearance or not. Everybody was reporting 3-4 miles in haze and that was just about right. Not many are out and about at 0700 so I wasn't too worried but I checked in with Polk AAF approach control ASAP just the same. When I was about 20 miles out he advised an inbound Jetlink flight that Polk had 1 3/4 miles in haze. I crossed my fingers hoping that the 4 miles of flight visibility I had would hold across town at the municiple airport. There are GPS and NDB approaches available. The 340 no longer has an ADF so the NDB approach is not an option. The KLN-90B works well however so I got the chart out in case I had to obtain an impromptu clearance and started down from my cruising altitude of 3000'. At 2000' the vis improved to about 5 miles and not long after that I got the airport in sight (4.7 mi. on the KLN-90B) and cancelled flight following.

I have some pics of Toledo Bend Reservoir on the afternoon return flight which illustrate the haze well that I'll post soon.

I'm scheduled to do the "office shuttle" again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Botox and the Evolution of Alcohol Synthesis

My wife suffers from migraines and her neurologist administers botox shots to alleviate her symptoms about every three months. The botox is far and away better than any other type of treatment. She has tried them all. The process of getting the shots is (or could be) painful to watch as well as endure. Her doctor is well practiced and quite dexterous and the process goes exceedingly fast.

Earlier this afternoon while out back doing some chores I had bent down to turn off a water hose. Upon standing I was immediately hit in the upper left eyelid by a red wasp. It was extremely painful to say the least. Not apparent was how painful it would become. I'm not allergic to the stings, thankfully, but any sting in soft tissue about the face causes quite a lot of pain and swelling. I've been stung on the head before. It hurts!

My wife had gone to bed with one of her (infrequent due to botox) migraines so she was of no immediate help. About that time a neighbor phoned wanting something or another. To say that I was about to spaz is something of an understatement. I handled the neighbor's request about the time my eye began to shut. A few minutes later it is about more than I can stand, so I woke her up, hoping that her "pill" had killed the headache. Fortunately, it had. She couldn't really offer anything but moral support, but that was enough. And she got me a couple of aspirin.

So, after about an hour, the fire inside by eyeball began to subside, I'm thinking about what it must be like to get ten botox shots in your face compared to a wasp sting over the eye and drinking a Dos Equis Lager when I run across this.

He says,"We need to appreciate beer more."

Dude! I'm there!


The following was sent to me via e-mail...

Here's a quote from a government employee who witnessed a recent interaction between an elderly woman and an antiwar protester in a Metro station in DC:

"There were protesters on the train platform handing out pamphlets on the evils of America. I politely declined to take one. An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20ish) female protester offered her a pamphlet, which she politely declined. The young protester put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a gesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of Iraq?"

The old woman looked up at her and said, "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II, my second husband died in Korea so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth our country. If you touch me again I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it."

...my sentiments exactly.

Friday, June 17, 2005


...on airplanes, not cakes.

Over at Freight Dog Tales John mentioned some of the characteristics of the Caravan in icing conditions. The airplanes reaction to ice does not inspire confidence and, indeed, one or two Caravans go down every year due to icing related conditions.

The problem seems to be the amount of ice the Caravan can carry vs. the amount required for the boots to work properly. In my experience most POH's recommend that the amount of ice needed to break properly when the boots inflate is a minimum of 3/4". Less than that and the boots just push it out away from the wing leaving an air pocket and an arch of ice which then accumulates more ice. The pocket of air in which the boots are now moving renders them useless.

My experience with icing involves several types of aircraft. In a Lear, for instance, icing concerns are almost non-existent; the airplane literally goes so fast that the wing heats up from friction. The wing is heated with bleed air from the engines (which is anti-ice not de-ice) but is only necessary in the most severe conditions. I have departed (I was the co-pilot) in conditions that I would have questioned the wisdom of doing in a King Air or other turboprop and never collected a speck of ice. This was after needing 3 hours in a heated hangar to de-ice the airplane before the flight. We never utilized the wing heat and were through the conditions so fast that they were not a concern.

This is not usually the case with turboprop airplanes. The sales brochures have always touted flying at FL250 "above the weather". Well it isn't practical for most turboprop aircraft to go to those kind of altitudes on the trips they fly. Also, the average King Air 90/100 is a 16,000' airplane which puts it smack in the middle of most icing conditions over most of the country. I imagine the Piper Cheyennes are the same and I know the Commanders are. They can get high if they need to but it takes some doing.

Icing conditions can be encountered at any time of the year at turboprop altitudes but sometimes it is better to seek a lower altitude that is ice free. Many times in Texas it may be freezing on the ground and up to six or seven thousand at which point you may encounter a temperature inversion that is two to three thousand feet thick and then freezing from ten up into the twenties. I have flown all over Texas in a King Air at 9000' and remained free from ice. I have also flown from Nebraska to Texas and was unable to be free of ice at any available altitude until south of Dallas. I had accumulations of ice on the inboard sections of wing (which has no boot) that exceeded three inches in thickness and the airplane was approaching its minimum icing penetration speed of 140 KIAS. These conditions are what I consider to be the maximum of what would be called moderate icing. I could keep the wing clean with the boots but eventually it was going to be a losing battle and was a relief to fly out of the icing on passing Dallas enroute to Houston. This was an E-90, btw.

The Commander has a laminar flow wing which is quite thin. It is easily affected by ice since anything that "dirties it up" degrades performance immediately. As I mentioned in the comments on John's blog the Commander POH spells out that a minimum of 3/4" of ice buildup is required before activating the boots. Activating them too soon results in ineffective and disappointing performance. In my opinion the Commanders will not carry much ice. Other pilots that have flown them disagree. YMMV

The Commanders also had an annoying habit of flaming out both engines on short final when exiting icing by descending on the ILS glideslope. What happened was that ice formed around the air inlet was ingested by the engine upon entering warmer air near the surface. The fix was an AD that required installation of a passive auto-ignition system. Passive in that it is always on and no pilot action is required. The annoying incidents of landing short of the runway stopped.

I have only minimally encountered any ice in a Baron. My impression is that it behaved pretty much like a King Air would. They do have the same wing so performance characteristics should be similar although I would not want to seek out any ice while flying a Baron in order to verify.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A Thrill Before Dying

"...we don't have any passengers on board, so we decided to have a little fun..."

Update: Another take on this story from Sam over at Blogging at FL250 who also linked us in his blogroll along with another aviation blog that you ought to read.

Update II: More commentary from Glenn at Rant Air.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Landings and Takeoffs

Think you are pretty good? Well check out this landing and takeoff.

Family History

1908 Quick Monoplane

This is the plane flown by my grandfather at age 16. The beginning of a family tradition. He became a geologist and flew his own plane (a Cessna Airmaster) in furtherance of his business.

Dad was a corporate pilot and flew Learjets.

Aviation Blogging

Okay. Here is the promised aviation blogging. I am a corporate pilot. I hold an ATP certificate, have been an FAR part 135 Chief Pilot, and I have been flying for my living for more than 28 years plus a few years aviation maintenance/management in Marine Corps Aviation. I've been a CFI (airplane single and multi, instrument) for 27 years.

Currently I'm flying a King Air C-90B. I've been flying this airplane since it was new in 1994. I've flown every model of King Air there is except the B100 which has Garrett engines for those that don't know. I have experience with Garrett engines, but in the turbo prop Commanders. I've flown most models of those as well. I'm not typed in the 300/350 but most of my recurrent training is done in the 350 sim., usually done at Simcom in Orlando.

I've flown a Learjet and I've flown a Citation but I'm not typed in either. I've also flown TBM 700 s/n 1 and, once, I flew a Bell Longranger (and nearly passed out - I was concentrating so hard on hovering the damn thing that I forgot to breathe).

I also fly a 1974 Cessna 340. I don't know if this should be called an antique, a classic, or a junker(!!). I picked this up about 3 months ago. I was able to get the job because I was the only local pilot with any experience in 300/400 series Cessnas. Even though my experience was all 20+ years ago and not that much to begin with, I could meet the insurance requirements. Quite a few younger pilots grumbling over that one. I don't blame them, but hey, where do they think this gray hair came from?

The 340 is an interesting airplane, not at all like the Baron's that I flew 20-25 years ago. It has auxillary fuel tanks in the wings (the tip tanks are the mains)and not much range since it's TSIO-520-J's suck gas like an early 50's turbojet. It carries 163 gal. useable which gets you about 4 hours if you are lucky. Speed is about like a Baron - 185 to 190, depending on conditions and altitude. Supposedly it will go much faster if you take it up into the low 20's. If you do, however, engine life is considerably reduced. It is nominally a 12 to 13,000' airplane.

The airplane has vortex generators all over the wing and tail. These tame the stall and lower Vmc as well as give you a 300 lb boost in max gross weight (6290 v. 5990). There are 96 total. Only 4 can be missing after which you must revert to the original performance specs. The POH has a split personality because of this, the altered and improved (?) performance specs residing side by side with the originals.

As one of my retired pilot buddies quipped, "Makes you appreciate a King Air doesn't it?"

There is more to tell about the 340 but I'll leave that for future posts. In the meantime go over to Cockpit Conversation and congratulate Aviatrix on her school date.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Aviation Blogs

Something to blog about! Here are a couple that are worth looking into.

Freight Dog Tales



Maybe I'll do a little aviation blogging myself. Life as a corporate pilot has become more interesting lately. More on that later. Go give these guys a read. There are other links to aviation blogs in their blogrolls that might be interesting as well.