Monthly Archives: May 2012

Pilots N Paws

I’ve wanted to do a rescue flight for Pilots N Paws for a while now. Earlier this week I saw a listing for a 6 pound toy poodle coming from Columbus, OH to Norwood, MA and figured that a leg of that journey with such a small dog would be an excellent introduction to doing the animal rescue flights. For this particular journey three pilots were participating with a leg from Ohio State University airport in Columbus to Johnstown, PA followed by a leg which we met in Bridgeport.

With my on the journey was my wife Abby and my father in law Bill. Bill has done some flying in the past and many years ago his father flew a Bonanza. I haven’t been flying with him yet but this was a good opportunity. With just one 6 pound dog (and about 50 pounds of accompanying dog stuff) there weren’t any serious W&B issues with three adults in the plane so on the Bridgeport to Norwood leg Abby could be in the back with the dog and Bill could sit up front.

Since Abby prefers to follow along on paper charts instead of Foreflight I spent some time last night marking up our course lines on the New York Sectional chart and the Boston Terminal Area Chart. She sat up front. The weather was hazy like yesterday but not quite as bad. I elected to cruise at 6500 which meant I had to descend a bit at times to stay legal below a few thin cumulus clouds. The hazy scud layer obviously terminated just above my cruising altitude and if this was a longer journey I would certainly have been up at 8500 in the cooler, smoother, clearer air.

Our arrival at Bridgeport was a bit later than expected due to a headwind and leaving Nashua a bit later than anticipated. This turned out to be OK since the arriving flight had to pick its way around some isolated thunderstorms west of New York City. I was prepared for the possibility that we’d need to do some similar diversions around convective activity but it was not a factor.

Bridgeport was busy and I picked up traffic to follow. The tower controller sounded a bit overwhelmed with the amount of traffic and I don’t think there was a separate controller working the ground frequency. After arriving he gave me taxi instructions to the Atlantic FBO where we would be meeting the pilot of the previous leg and Doodle, the 6 pound rescue poodle. As it turns out Doodle was relaxing in the posh pilot lounge with the clerk at Atlantic while the pilot gathered up the bundle of extra stuff traveling with the dog – a heavy bag and soft sided crate.

Abby at Bridgeport after meeting Doodle. We found Doodle relaxing in the posh pilot lounge at Atlantic Aviation, and connected with the pilot of the previous leg from Johnstown, PA. We are the third airplane to transport Doodle today, with the first leg originating in Columbus, OH.

With everything loaded I redid the weight and balance calculations with the heavy bag in the back. A 6 pound dog is not much of a factor but the cargo could be, and I’d told Atlantic to go ahead and top off the plane to waive the ramp fees! Fortunately everything was confirmed to be within the proper weight and balance envelope.

Abby and Doodle in the back seat of the Cardinal (shot from outside the door).

The Cardinal performed well on the takeoff despite being near gross weight on a relatively hot day. We had plenty of runway, a safe altitude crossing the departure end of the runway, and a good rate of climb once the gear and flaps were up. The RG definitely isn’t as good as I understand the 182 to be in hot/heavy/high situations but with the 200HP injection engine it has a good bit more power than the fixed gear Cardinal.

Bill followed along with the charts, input frequencies into the radio and transponder codes as we talked to Approach, and retrieved and wrote down the ATIS for me. I do usually fly VFR cross countries with the destination “Direct To” in the 430 but I love verifying my position using the chart and pilotage. I also have a Garmin GMA340 audio panel with the excellent Split 1/2 comm feature which means the copilot position headset can get the ATIS while the pilot position continues listening to Approach. On a busy frequency it can sometimes be quite difficult to hear the ATIS and flying solo it can often take a few repeats before I’ve gotten all of it. In this case I had a knowledgeable non-pilot passenger write it down perfectly organized!

We were below the shelf of the Boston class Bravo by the time we reached it and Boston Approach terminated radar services 10 miles out. Upon contacting Norwood Tower some traffic ahead of us was pointed out to follow. We are number three with the first plane on short final. It was pretty close to straight in and initially I was following the traffic with the airport barely visible in the haze. I think the final approach course was about 20 degrees right from the heading I was on following the other airplane.

The Blue Hill observatory from Norwood. You can't really see the observatory so I guess it is just a Blue Hill!

Norwood ground asked if I was familiar with the airport and then gave very good progressive taxi instructions to the FBO. It turns out in the hubbub of loading the extra bag I’d forgotten to give our ETA to the recipient of dog who was meeting us in Norwood and she called me just after we shut down. Fortunately she was nearby so we didn’t have to wait long. The FBO was kind enough to waive any fees since we were flying for Pilots N Paws.

Abby at Norwood, Doodle exploring the grass.

There was a nice grassy area with some families watching planes come and go just outside the ground side of the FBO. It was the perfect place to wait for Sue from Toy Poodle Rescue and let the dog stretch its legs on something nicer than an airport ramp (though that Atlantic FBO lounge was pretty nice too!). It didn’t take long for Sue to show up

Sue from Toy Poodle Rescue with Doodle.

Departing Norwood I asked Ground to enter our information into the System for flight following and a Bravo clearance, Nashua, 4500 feet. They’ll give you a transponder code on the ground just like an IFR flight and after departure on initial call up with Boston approach I get “Cleared to climb into the Boston Class Bravo 4500 direct Nashua” before I even have to slow my climb. I do love working with Boston Approach – he also gave me “altitude your discretion” just before I wanted to start descending!

The total flying ended up being 2.9 hours. Flying for Pilots N Paws was rewarding and it went off without any major hitches. I also think that today was a valuable experience booster in that I explored the weight and balance envelope of the Cardinal, experienced a near gross weight takeoff on a hot day, flew in weather that while legal VFR was often hazy enough to make the horizon hard to discern at altitude, and made my first flight with a non human passenger!


I’m going to do a Pilots ‘n Paws flight tomorrow and since the weather was IFR after I completed yesterday’s oil change I wanted to do a quick test flight today.

I spent some time before the flight cleaning off my nose gear strut. The piston of the strut had some ugly sticky gunk on it, dirt buildup basically. While it was on the area where the strut does not normally travel it seemed prudent to clean it off to avoid any possible movement of the gunk past the strut seal. The best solvent is just to use a bit of fuel from the preflight sample I take (usually I dump it from the GATS jar back into the tank). The fuel evaporates completely and left the strut piston completely clean.

It was quite hot and hazy today. Since this was the first flight after the oil change I remained in the pattern for one circuit. If the engine decides to loose all the oil suddenly I want to be close to the airport! But, no oil pressure fluctuations and the pattern at Nashua had several planes already in it – I was number 3 to land on a looong downwind – so I told Tower I’d be departing to the west landing.

The haze was already obvious from the 1000 feet above ground pattern altitude and as I climbed the visibility was really quite bad. This was still plenty legal VFR visibility but visibility around 7-10 miles looks quite soupy. I did some turns around the practice area but solo I was a bit nervous about spotting any maneuvering traffic and elected to return to the airport.

I certainly could not see the airport from 10 miles out and when I called the Tower I told him I’d enter on a 45 downwind if there really was an airport out there! When I reported that I’d entered the downwind he remarked “I see you found the airport!”

It ended up being 0.6 and 2 landings. I’d like to spend some more time in the haze soon. Today’s weather was perfectly suitable for a VFR XC flight but it takes some getting used to. Tomorrow’s flight might end up being similar. I also need to get serious about my instrument rating because if I had it I’d certainly be filing on a day like today. I did one first step and updated the database in my 430!

Oil Change

Just like cars airplane engines need periodic oil changes. Depending on the engine and usage frequency and pattern most casual airplane owners change their oil at intervals of between 25 and 50 hours. Since the Cardinal was not flown for several months while the purchase process was ongoing I wanted to change it out at the early end of that range.

After my last flight the oil was at 34 hours so I definitely wanted to change it out. I’ve been flying the airplane a fair amount and with many of those hours being long XC trips I will stretch out the next interval a bit father towards 40 or 45 hours.

I wanted to help out as much as I could and also get a chance to see under the cowling and to see the oil change procedure. So I did it together with my A&P but he did most of the work! The first step is to remove the cowling which comes off in a top and bottom half. The bottom half includes the landing light and taxi lights so you need to detach the wire connection to remove the lower cowl. It is also necessary to disconnect the cowl flap control cables and the nose gear door from the gear mechanism.

With the cowl off the oil can be drained. The drain fitting is a “quick drain” style so all that is needed is to put a rubber hose on it and push up to start it draining. We just left the oil draining while moving on to the filter and draining the oil cooler.

Draining the oil with the cowling off.

The oil filter is a spin-on type much like many automotive applications. One difference is that the aviation oil filter includes a tab for attaching safety wire. The safety wire is twisted tight to oppose the direction of loosening and helps to ensure that while unlikely any vibration loosening of the filter causes a slow leak instead of a catastrophic failure. The oil cooler drain nut also received the safety wire treatment.

At this point we pushed the plane out of the hangar and did a very brief start and run up with the cowl off while my A&P walked around looking for any leaks. With everything checked out we pushed the plane back into the hangar and wrestled the cowling on. Getting the cowling on is definitely easiest with two people and requires a fair amount of jockeying to get everything lined up.

I am using Philips XC 20W-50 oil. From the research I have done it seems to offer a good price/performance point relative to multigrade oils from Aeroshell and Exxon. It seems to enjoy a good popularity among airport locals. A straight weight oil would be OK for the summer months here but New England weather is unpredictable enough that I’d rather just stick with a multigrade oil year round.

Impromptu Flying

Abby and I were in Nashua this afternoon to meet with someone at a bank. Things wrapped up around 16:30 and since the weather was nice I suggested we drop by the airport and fly for a bit. I believe my initial request was a “coupla laps around the pattern” but we did a bit more than that.

This is truly the benefit of ownership. I had my flight bag and everything needed in the back of the car since I knew we were going to be up in Nashua. By the time I got to the airport my typical renter FBO was already wrapped up for the day and there was no way I could have rented a plane on such short notice. But I was able to head over to the airport and fly an hour without arranging anything in advance.

I decided to start with two laps in the pattern. By the time I finished my run-up and pulled up to the hold short line there was a business jet waiting behind me. So why not stay in the pattern and get to see them takeoff? I did two nice landings in the pattern following a Civil Air Patrol plane then told Nashua tower we’d like to depart to the West.

Abby’s parents live in Hollis, NH which neighbors Nashua to the west. Many times I’ve flown over the general vicinity approaching the airport but generally I don’t have the extra mental energy to look around for the house during that phase of flight. This time I specifically requested from Tower to maneuver in the Hollis area at 2000 feet and this was readily approved (the house is well within Nashua’s class Delta airspace).

Abby spotted the house and then we headed out to the west. There was an area of VFR rain showers to the south and I stuck relatively low – around 2500 feet – and asked Abby if she wanted to do some flying. Everything was nicely trimmed for level flight so I introduced her to turns with rudder coordination and adding the appropriate amount of back pressure for a level turn. With some turn practice in and a few drops on the windshield I turned away for one last demonstration. I told Abby to look forward at the sight picture and then do whatever she needed to do to keep us flying straight and level. At that point I began to roll in nose down trim. Once she felt what it was like to fight against the trim I had her continue to fly straight and level while she adjusted the trim and she did a good job.

I tried to keep Abby with me on the controls to feel my inputs as we headed back to the airport but once we got close I was concentrating on the landing and she was back to being a passenger. Afterwards I suggested that next time we should try some “slow flight” in the practice area with flaps and gear down to see how different things feel in this configuration. Teaching is fun!

Wings FlyBQ Philadelphia, PA

On Saturday I attended the Wings FlyBQ at Wings field in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania which is near Philadelphia. This event was a “fly in” gathering of pilots mostly associated with the online forum Pilots of America (“The Blue Board”). The event benefits Angel Flight East, an organization which connects pilots donating transportation to medical patients who lack the means to travel to treatment centers.

My wife was busy with an Ultimate frisbee tournament so I asked my friend Steve if he would like to come along. The weather was forecast to be near perfect with high pressure settled over the New York metro area. I picked Steve up from the Alewife MBTA (Boston mass transit) station and we headed up to Nashua. I explained what the flight would be like on the drive up and gave my best explanation of what the fly in was all about. Unless otherwise noted, the photos in this post were taken by Steve.

For the trip down I elected to cruise at 8500. The plane loves to fly in this altitude range. The air is smooth and true airspeeds are highest here. On the way down a light tailwind of around 10 knots was expected. Flying at 8500 would also eliminate the need to obtain a Class Bravo clearance through some of the busiest NYC airspace around Newark airport since the Bravo ceiling is 7000.

View of the fuselage as reflected in the gear mirror

As is typical for a long XC like this I did not file a VFR flight plan but did request VFR advisories from Nashua ground during my taxi. They will put your information into the computer and you will generally be handed off like an IFR aircraft including Center handoffs. In my experience this also increases the likelihood of the trip track showing up on Flightaware.

I advised New York approach of my intention to begin descent a bit before Morristown, NJ and requested a Class Bravo clearance for my descent in case I needed it. I was cleared into the class Bravo at or above 4500 and shortly afterwards given a vector of 180 for my descent. This only took us a few miles out of our way as the controller soon allowed us to proceed on course.

The author flying

When I was around 15 miles out the New York Approach controller asked if I wanted to be handed off to Philly or just switch to the Wings CTAF (self announce traffic advisory frequency). I was happy to go over to the CTAF early with lots of fly-in traffic in the area so I squawked 1200 and went over to CTAF. Sadly as usual here in the northeast the CTAF frequency is a mess of many airports sharing the same frequency and many stepped on transmissions.

The Wings field automated weather indicated calms winds and there is no designated calm wind runway in the remarks section of the airport info. In this case the correct runway (or rather correct direction as Wings has one runway) is whichever one is currently in use if other people are in the area! I caught a radio call for another airplane maneuvering to land on runway 24 so that is how I planned. My direction of flight took me almost aligned on a final course for runway 24 but with lots of other VFR traffic at a pilot controlled field I wanted to fly a full traffic pattern. I ended up flying an upwind past the runway, crosswind a good distance out due to noise abatement requirements at the airport, and turned onto the downwind behind a Grumman Tiger. I was third in line so people were definitely starting to arrive for the FlyBQ (it was around 11:15).

My landing was uneventful. By now the windsock was showing a very slight tailwind. Still, no issues getting off at the midfield turnoff. Line service folk from the Wings FBO marshaled me in next to the Tiger and I told them I was there for the FlyBQ and that I’d like to top off the fuel tanks.

The actual event was on an area of grass near the parallel taxiway. Some folks from the PoA forums had flown in the night prior and some had driven or flown in commercially to Philadelphia international the night before so there were plenty of people there already. I soon met AdamZ who was running the FlyBQ and I began to circulate and talk to people many of whom knew me as “Dan with the Cardinal blog”. Of course, I spent some time showing off the Cardinal to other forum members and also sitting in a Diamond DA40 and generally wandering around to check out various aircraft.

Showing off the Cardinal to some folks. Photo by BrianR.

At some point someone showed up in a Bell JetRanger (a very fancy turbine helicopter!) and landed right on the grass next to the fly-in gathering. It was quite impressive and costs a LOT to operate. There was considerable activity on the airport and when the JetRanger was getting ready to takeoff one of the locally based Penn Star Emergency Medical helicopters returned and there was a lot of BIG helicopter action. And, of course, between the fly in and the beautiful weather there were a lot of fixed wing aircraft landing and departing all day.

It was great to put names to faces. I met a pilot who flew down from Lawrence, MA which is near here. Some of the people that were at the FlyBQ have commented on this blog. It was also nice to see lots of families and young kids (the youngest of which was quite young, husband wife and nearly newborn flew down from Buffalo).

When it came time to depart runway 6 was definitely the choice. Winds were not serious and if I recall correctly were 040 at 6 or 7 knots. Since Wings field is under the Philadelphia class Bravo outer ring after takeoff I limited my climb to below 3800 feet while I contacted Philly Approach. By the time I’d given her my info I’d reached my altitude limit but I was very close to leaving the Bravo airspace so I kept climb power in and pushed to level off briefly. Once clear of the Bravo I traded that extra airspeed in a zoom climb at quite a rate for a short while.

In this direction we flew at 7500 feet. With the time of day the sun had heated the ground significantly and even at our cruising altitude there were occasional bumps. On climb out there was light-moderate turbulence. I was already at cruising altitude by the time I reached the New York Bravo so I didn’t need any clearance at 7500 feet. We could see airliners below us and excellent views of Manhattan.

Manhattan - the streets line up perfect even across central park.

The Tappan Zee bridge over the Hudson River.

There was some interesting storm damage near Springfield. This is damage from the rare tornado that moved through this area last summer. I’ve flown a similar route before and didn’t notice the damage but I think it was more visible now because the trees left standing have gotten there leaves on.

Tornado damage in western MA.

Just like before I was number three in line to land at Nashua. My approach was a right base to runway 14. There was a little bit of right crosswind and I was right on the center line and the flare was decent.

The flight down was 1.9 of logged time and the flight back was 2.2 for a total of 4.1 hours. That’s a nice good bit of flying for a beautiful Saturday, and puts me over 30 Cardinal hours too. Next up: I need to do an oil change.

How to get the Wilkes-Barre (AVP) ATIS

Looking through Google analytics I noticed someone got to this blog by searching for the phrase “how to get wilkes barre atis.” Inevitably this is because of my old post about flying to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport (AVP). I figured I should write something here about how to get the ATIS at Wilkes-Barre because I was confused by it too and since I was diverting there I had to figure it out in the air!

A bit of background: the ATIS or Automated Terminal Information System is used as towered airports to broadcast prerecorded (usually changing hourly) information about the weather, runway in use, special procedures, and any notices to airmen. Each ATIS update is coded with a letter that cycles through so when you call up the tower controller initially you tell them you have “Information Alpha” (or whichever letter is current). In all of the planes I have flown we have two radios and I usually use the second radio to grab the ATIS with the primary radio remaining tuned to an approach or center controller frequency.

I looked up the ATIS frequency for AVP and found it was 111.6. But my second radio does not tune this frequency! Each radio has both a navigation receiver and a communications receiver. The ATIS frequency for AVP is in the range for the Nav radio, not the com radio! In fact, you can listen in to the nav radio so that you can positively identify a navigation beacon (and sometimes weather information is broadcast from them). So I just tuned the ATIS frequency 111.6 into the Nav2 receiver and selected to receive the Nav2 audio in my headset. At this point I don’t remember if I had to open the squelch on the receiver but sometimes I need to do this with a distant ATIS anyway.

My guess is this was done because the area suffers from a lot of frequency congestion. The 111.6 MHz frequency is actually the same frequency for the VOR navigation beacon which is located on a ridge near the airport. So another possibility is it was easiest or cheapest to re-use the VOR transmitter to get good ATIS coverage. And next time you know, if it looks like a nav frequency, tune it in the nav radio!

Glens Falls with Niranjan and Arayana

I was planning to fly today already with good weather forecast and a free schedule. My plan had been to fly to Glens Falls, NY, for lunch, then to somewhere in Maine. Last night I was at a wedding and found out that my niece Arayana was in Glens Falls for her gymnastics regionals (with grandparents). So with my brother in law Niranjan we hatched a plan: I could fly to Northampton, MA and pick him up then fly to Glens Falls to meet with Arayana. If she was comfortable with taking the plane back then it would save a lot of grandparent driving and be a very cool experience.

Northampton (7B2) is a great little (narrow) strip along the side of the Connecticut River. I did my first dual and solo XCs here in the Cessna 172, N7242G. There is a very active flight training operation at the airport with a number of Light Sport Aircraft active in the pattern or going out to their typical practice area over Amherst, MA.

Unlike the last two times I landed at Northampton Runway 14 was in use (my past times were with runway 32, which is just the opposite direction). Unlike some of my prior experiences with uncontrolled fields the airport was quite active and so there was no hunting around for weather information to figure out which runway to use (Northampton does not have automated weather). I’m sure the good weather was a factor here with scattered cumulus clouds bases at 4-5k feet very good visibility and light winds.

I turned off at the “reverse high speed” exit about midway down the runway after what was probably my best landing of the day. I have a theory that my solo practice has made me quite used to landing with my weight and balance and I am still adjusting to the feel when the weight and balance is changed. The point where I turned off was at 1500 feet and I wasn’t braking excessively.

I met up with Niranjan and gave him a quick passenger briefing. Some phone calls were made to arrange for Arayana to meet us at Glens Falls while I did a postflight/preflight. Mostly just a walk around, oil check, and fuel level check. Even though I left Nashua with partially filled tanks we had over two hours of fuel left so no need to fill up before departure. I do really love the flexibility of 60 gallon tanks.

Niranjan took this photo of me after I arrived at Northampton.

I have been doing at least a quick but full runup flow even on quick turns like this. I may develop a reduced flow for this scenario but I do like to see the engine develop some power and cycle the prop once at minimum. I have come a long way from fumbling through a runup in the 172 using the checklist as a “do-list”.

Niranjan took this photo of me in flight enroute to Glens Falls.

Arrival into Glens Falls was uneventful. By the time we passed over the final ridge the cumulus clouds disappeared with the Hudson River valley in excellent visibility and clear above with light chop. I am very used to right pattern entries from Nashua’s towered operations and I almost started to make a downwind turn for runway 01 before I caught myself and overflew the field for a proper left pattern. The final approach was a bit fast but with plenty of runway we just floated a bit longer than optimal.

Arayana and her grandparents had just arrived as we pulled up. Much like Northampton the FBO at Glens Falls never does any fancy marshaling you to a spot and I just picked a spot on the ramp with tie downs and parked there. I stopped inside to let them know I was there and would be going to the restaurant and that just seems to be the protocol.

We ate a late, quick lunch and chatted for a bit. I also heard from my dad who was apparently in the area near Northampton last night. So he decided to meet us at the airport when we got back to Northampton. Niranjan confirmed that Arayana was comfortable with flying and in fact she seemed pretty excited about it. How often do you get to go home from your gymnastics meet in an airplane?

As we were getting ready to go another pilot asked if the Cardinal was mine and I said yes and he complimented it and said it was a beautiful plane. It turns out he used to travel frequently to Winston-Salem, NC and was quite familiar with the route I took back north with N52667. I couldn’t see what he was flying and I didn’t think to ask but he was flying up from Stewart Airport in the lower Hudson River valley.

I do not fully understand the significance of Flat Stanley.

I gave a briefing and did the usual preflight. Still enough fuel to go all the way back to Nashua and then some. Arayana’s bags were loaded into the baggage compartment (weight judged by feel). I gave my dad a quick call to say we were heading out.

Obligatory passenger-wearing-headset picture.

I talked the way through the taxi and runup (which I usually describe as a “pre-takeoff engine check” or something along those lines). I confirmed every was good before turning onto runway 01. With a very light crosswind from the right the takeoff was nice and smooth. Gear up . . . . . . flaps up, turning on course, and I checked in again breaking the “sterile cockpit” as we climbed through 2000 feet.

My concerns were unfounded and she was having fun. Things really do look different from the air. You never notice how many small lakes and ponds there are. Rivers bends much more in real life than ever depicted on a map. And there is a lot more farmland and green space than many people seem to think.

Especially near the ridge lines in North Adams, MA the air got a bit bumpier. Previously Arayana had expressed some concern about turbulence (she has experience with airline flight). So I kept checking in. After what was probably the most extreme bordering “moderate” turbulence was jolt that lifted us up a fair bit. She said it was fun and . Her only concern was that she was cold which was because I’d left the eyeball vent full open fearing motion sickness! So I reminded her of my briefing about the vents and she closed it and was comfortable. At cruise airspeeds the eyeball vents flow a ton of air and in fact are some of the bigger sources of noise in cruise flight.

I tried to keep the descent at a comfortable rate and soon I was back in the busy pattern environment around Northampton. I overflew the approach end of runway 14 and entered on a downwind following a Piper Warrior. On short final after passing the tree obstruction I configured with full flaps and power off.

Turning final for runway 14 at Northampton.

The landing was fine. This is where I felt the weight and balance was different from what I was expecting and I underflared slightly and bounced a bit. It was still a perfectly safe landing and again I turned off at the midfield taxiway. If I had bounced again (or harder the first time) I would have done a go-around unconditionally.

My dad was beside the runway and took some pictures as I came in and taxied by. I haven’t seen them yet, so I’ll add some more photos here later or make another post if he got any good shots.

At this point I decided to go straight to the self service fueling area. At $5.66/gallon the self service 100LL at Northampton is a good $0.40/gallon cheaper than full serve at Nashua. So I could pull up to the self service area and unload people and baggage and refuel.

Pulled up to the self service avgas pump at Northampton.

This was my first time using a self service fueling station. Back when I was a renter pilot I very rarely got fuel outside of Nashua and so far my fuel stops in the Cardinal have been full service. The self service avgas stations are a bit more complex than your typical automotive pay at the pump setup.

First you need to ground the aircraft (full service fueling always involves this step). This is needed because the aircraft can accumulate a static charge in flight and you do not want the fueling nozzle to be the point of discharge. So the first step is to ground things by attaching a clamp and cable from the fueling station to the exhaust pipe.

Much like an automotive pay at the pump setup you start by swiping your card. What happens next is different. The display says, “Have you grounded the aircraft?” and you have to enter Yes. Next it asks for your tail number. This will be printed on the receipt but I think they also retain this information to notify pilots if any issue is discovered with the fuel pumped from that tank.

It also asked me to enter a dollar amount. This I was confused by since obviously I didn’t know exactly how much fuel would be needed to top the tanks. So I typed in $300 as a conservative estimate and hoped this would not obligate me to purchase extra fuel! It turns out this is the amount used for the initial authorization “hold” with the credit card company. I think automotive stations usually have a fixed value here but it is nice to see the ability to select something variable for avgas pumps. A full tank fueling on some larger airplanes could be a thousand dollars or more!

The fueling itself was not difficult. The airport provides a ladder next to the fuel pump so you can get on top of the wing and the only trick was inserting the pump nozzle nice and far into the tank to avoid splash back. Once the pump is turned off the pay at the pump machine prints out a nice receipt with quantity, price and tail number. Topping off the tanks took 38.9 gallons (4.7 hours Hobbs since the last top off).

My trip back to Nashua was uneventful and quick. Since the distance is so low (barely over 50 nm) and I was in no hurry I experimented with rolling the power back to 22″ and 2300 rpm and running lean of peak. The engine seemed to run smoothly with this power setting although airspeed was reduced. I had a tailwind and was making the same groundspeeds I would be making with calm winds and higher power settings. The analog fuel flow gauge in the Cardinal is not to be trusted (it is really a poorly calibrated fuel pressure gauge) but showed around 8 gph. Some day I will install real fuel flow instrumentation – it would be a safety asset and enable more efficient operation.

Total logged time was 3.0 with 4 landings. This brings me past a milestone with more than 25 hours in the Cardinal now. It will be time for an oil change soon, yet another ownership adventure!