Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Big Day Number 1 1/2!!!--May 31, 2010


Woke up at 6:30 to some wild kids outside my window.  Tried to go back to sleep.  Woke up at 7:10 A.M.  Skies were pristine again.  Grabbed breakfast, took a shower, headed to the airport, stopped at the Subway, grabbed a sandwich, pre-flighted (after a delay in fueling as they weren't sure whether to fill me up on the broken fuel cap tank), then headed for the skies.  My flight plan was 83 miles away.  But it was another enjoyable flight...a leisurely climb up to 12,500.

The north-bound lines were a bit tough today, though.  I had to pull the manifold pressure back to 14" in order to stay under the speed parameters.  When I turned and went south-bound, though, I could bump it up to 17" with no problems.  It was like that all day.  I was actually having the time of my life today, too.  I seriously LOVED flying!!!  I was falling back in love with it!  I felt great from a good night's rest, and I was ready for a full day!  And these rocks I was flying over were just as beautiful as yesterday.  But it was smooooooooooth up high!  A perfect day!

I landed after 4.5 hours for fuel and lunch.  I was getting a bit fatigued anyway, and my mind was starting to play tricks on me.  So I didn't hesitate to drop in for a landing!  :)  I walked in and an older man said, "Those Janitrol heaters don't work very well, do they"?  What?!  Who is this guy?!  Then I realized what he was talking about!  I was in my HEAVY winter jacket, and he was the ONLY guy who knew why.  ha!  He later told me that he used to fly Aztecs for a couple of years waaaaaaaaaay back in the day.  Ah, I love the airport life!

I fueled up, ate my sub, drank my Coke, and then headed back out after about 30 minutes.  I tried starting the left engine, but it wouldn't fire.  So I started the right engine, no problem.  I tried the left one again.  Nothing.  And I kid you not, I spent over a half hour out there on that ramp with the right engine running and me cranking the left engine every now and again.  I tried the normal starting procedure.  Nothing.  I tried a hot-start.  Nothing.  I tried priming, fuel pumping, leaning, no fuel at all, EVERYTHING.  I finally shut down the right engine.  I called the owner of the plane.  I called the mechanic.  They both reiterated what I was already doing.

Hmm.  I gave it about 15 minutes, then tried again.  Nothing.  Not even trying to fire.  I started the right one in order to have a charge going to the battery.  I cranked.  Nothing.  Waited.  Cranked.  Nothing.  Waited.  It was nuts.  Plus I was sweating like crazy with my winter jacket on (needed at 12,500).  I shut it down again.

A couple of guys made some comments inside.  "We're pullin' for ya."  "Not startin', huh"?  <sigh>  I waited 20 minutes this time.  Still nothing.  I even had a hard time getting the right engine to fire...it needed a hot-start, but I still couldn't get it.  I gave up.  Called the mechanic again.

I took the panel off the right engine to allow it to cool.  It was 85 degrees on the ramp, although we had a stiff wind by now.  I tried again.  The right engine started, but still not the left.  I was getting pretty frustrated!!!  I just wanted to fly!  I went inside and called my mechanic again.  I asked for a mechanic on the field.  I took the panels off the left engine and looked to make sure the magnetos were all connected (but on shut-down, I did a mag check, and everything was fine).  I left the panels off and tried again.  NOTHING.  <sigh>  I started wondering about where I was going to stay tonight...the airport was 18 miles outside of town in the desert!

I finally went inside and just relaxed.  I lay on the couch for quite awhile.  Most of the people had gone home for the day.  But I just lay there.  I went back outside after a longer wait for one last try.  I fired up the right engine, no problem.  Then I tried the left.  NOTHING.  <sigh>  Oh boy.  I tried it one last time, and it still didn't...wait!  I had literally let go of the starter, but I heard something.  I looked outside, and it was spinning!!!  I was seriously SHOCKED out of my mind.  I had to play with the throttle a bit to get it just right, but it was sure going.  I couldn't believe it.  It was seriously AFTER I had let go!  So weird.

Well, I did one EXTENSIVE warm-up, checking EVERYTHING I knew how on the engines.  They all tested fine.  Hmm.

I had spent FOUR long hours on the ground.  I loaded up the flight plan I had been working on, 61 miles away, and headed that way.  I was eagerly awaiting an engine-out at any time!!!  Density altitude was 7200 feet!  And it was now 17, gusting to 23 (it was 4 knots when I landed).  But she climbed through the air without a concern.  Hmm.  But it was sure bumpy now.  I climbed up to 12,500 and headed west.  I never climbed above the bumps.  And as I neared the mountain ridge to the west, they just got worse.  I tried to turn on station, but I just couldn't do it.  Plus I was doing 167 over the ground.  Way too fast.  The bumps were constant and aggressive, so I called it a day right then and there.  I had flown my last productive line nearly 5 hours ago.  Crazy.  And it had been such a perfect day!!!

I glanced down at the Hobbs meter and realized I wouldn't be getting 8 hours today.  I was kind of disappointed in that.  I was anxious to see how many back-to-back 8-hour days would happen.  But I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

I flew the 118-mile trek back to Grand Junction and landed uneventfully.  Winds were variable at 4 knots.

I had logged 7.5 hours, even with a 4-hour delay.  This would have been one crazy day, for sure.  Agh, I wanted 8 hours so bad!!!  Oh well.

I hopped in the car.  It was 7:08.  I was shocked!  What a long day!  I drove downtown for supper, but I struck out three times.  Most of the restaurants were closed for Memorial Day (respectfully!).  Kudos.  I went back to the place from last night and grabbed a sub.  I sat out in the AMAZING temperature.  It was just perfect.  The sun was low in the sky, but it was just fantastic.

I came back to the hotel and some paperwork that I've let slide for a few days.  I'll have to mail off the drives tomorrow after tomorrow's work.

All in all, certainly not a bad day.  I mean, 7.7 is still quite a bit.  The airplane finished with 69.1 hours for the month of May.  Quite a recovery from the 14.5 hours it had in the first 15 days.  Needless to say, it's been flying as of late.

And it looks like it's going to continue through Friday, at least.  If all goes well (and I've certainly learned that it doesn't always!), I'll be pushing 8-hour days through then.  That's another 32 to go.  yikes.

Went to bed at 10:30.  Alarm is set for 7:10.  I've seen this somewhere before...

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