Category Archives: maintenance

Back to blogging! Gusty winds in New Bedford

So as I’m sure readers of this blog have noticed I have been slacking on my write-ups! I have been flying but between busyness in my work life and some of the various frustrations of flying in the winter weather we’ve had this year I haven’t managed to blog about the times I have been able to go flying. So I resolved that this weekend would be different and a blog entry would be posted. Watch for some back issues later. If I have time I might try to fill in some of the interesting experiences from earlier this year.

Despite my resolution to blog this weekend did not get off to a good start. I planned to go up to the airport on Saturday by myself and do some solo flying. The weather was lingering unpleasant on Saturday morning but I headed up to the airport after it began to clear.

As soon as I drove up to the airplane it was immediately clear that the right side main gear tire was as flat as it could be. This was the only tire&tube combination to not be changed out at the annual but the tread was in excellent shape. I borrowed some air from the Air Direct hangar and tried pumping the tire back up to see if it would hold any pressure. With the tire up at the normal 68 PSI I could hear a hissing sound. The valve stem on the tire tube was definitely leaking right where it attaches to the tube. There was no way this tire would hold enough pressure to remain airworthy.

I headed back into the Air Direct Airways office and discussed the problem with my CFII Doug. The Air Direct A&P would not be around until tomorrow and if they had a new tube the plane could be airworthy again for a Sunday flight. Doug also mentioned that several planes on the ramp had recently experienced flat tires – perhaps the springtime temperature change was to blame. I crossed my fingers that a tube would be available and headed home.

On Sunday morning I got a text around 10AM that the plane was ready! This was welcome news. The weather was once again proving to be a bit slow to clear and in particular Burlington, VT, a destination that Abby and I had previously discussed, was sketchy VFR with terrain in the clouds around. Instead, I suggested we head to the south towards New Bedford, MA. There is an airport restaurant there and I hadn’t been there before so it would be a new destination.

The tire looked better today when we pulled up. I paid for the replacement tube and labor and thanked the folks at Air Direct. Fortunately the tire tread itself was in excellent shape and so only the tube needed to be replaced. This made me wonder if the tread was previously replaced without the tube. The logbook entry was not specific enough to determine with certainty.

The weather was brisk and chilly with winds gusting out of the northwest, aligned with Nashua’s runway 32. Lift off was rapid and even with two people on board and more than half fuel load I was much higher than usual when I passed my tie down spot, because of the headwind. The ride was definitely bumpy in the climbout but nothing too serious (I’d call it “light”).

Since there were some lingering lower clouds over the middle part of the trip I only climbed to 3500 feet. True airspeeds are a bit slower down there but we weren’t going that far. I had flight following from Boston Approach and after being handed off to the 124.4 sector I knew to ask for a Bravo airspace clearance which was immediately issued “direct New Bedford, 3500″. Traffic was relatively light although a Citation did pass beneath us between Mansfield and Taunton.

Lately I’ve done a lot of solo flying and it was nice to have Abby as copilot. She will handle switching radio frequencies and getting the ATIS using the Garmin audio panel’s split com feature. New Bedford runway 32 was in use (just like Nashua) and the winds were more or less straight down the runway but shifting back and forth and gusting somewhat. I flew a right downwind pattern for runway 32. I decided to go a few knots faster on the approach because of the gusts and this worked well. With a slight balloon in a wind gust I added a bit of power to cushion the touchdown and still turned off easily at the first taxiway. Higher winds are a mixed blessing!

I pulled up to Sandpiper Air and we were marshaled in by the manager. I asked for a top up and inquired if they had a crew car. They had a solid old Dodge Caravan. This was my first time using the crew car phenomenon. Airport FBOs will often have a car they will lend out to visiting pilots who buy fuel or pay for services, anything from a beat up Crown Victoria to a brand new Mercedes depending on the airport and FBO.

Since I’d done the flying Abby gave up her driver’s license for photocopy and took the keys to the crew car. We got directions to the New Bedford Whaling Museum and a recommendation for a dining spot nearby. Despite getting slightly lost on the way we soon pulled onto cobble stoned streets and found the restaurant called “Freestones” and the Whaling Museum.

The whaling museum had a charge for admission so we decided to save it for some time when we had more free time. Instead we walked through the historic part of the city and checked out the pier where many fishing boats were docked. There are nice displays throughout the historic area highlighting information about the whaling era.

Finally we headed back to Freestones and had a nice lunch before driving back to Sandpiper Air. The plane was fully fueled when we got back and after paying I did a quick preflight while Abby stayed warm in the plane. I’d deliberately reinserted the cowl plugs to try and keep the engine warm in the brisk wind and I did a very short prime then did a regular hot start procedure. The engine started up nice and quickly.

Departure was as quick as Nashua had been and soon we were fighting headwinds and cleared into the Boston Class Bravo direct to Nashua at 4500 feet. The trip was mostly quiet but around Bedford/Hanscom airport there was a fair amount of business jet traffic and we were again treated to the sight of a small jet crossing just below. Always a very cool view!

Abby retrieved Nashua’s ATIS via the split com while I continued descending. The winds were straight down the runway at 10 gusting 20 knots. On initial contact the tower told me to report a four mile final and so I maneuvered slightly to meet up with the Merrimack river then dropped flaps 10 and the landing gear as I approached the point where I would turn final. This is definitely a longer final approach compared to a typical full pattern and I just used the PAPI to keep myself on a 3 degree glidepath, slowly reducing airspeed down to just a hair under 70 knots with flaps 20. This higher airspeed and lower flap setting is good for gusty conditions, giving some extra margin if the headwind dies off suddenly.

I worked the throttle and controls the whole way down. For the most part the wind was straight down the runway but there was definitely turbulence rocking my wings. I kept the power in a bit longer than I normally do then pulled it back crossing the threshold and made a very nice touchdown, one of my best landings in the last few months. Of course, I’m sure the 10-20 knot headwind didn’t hurt!

2012 in Review

Readers of this blog may be wondering what happened with no posts in several months! Unfortunately the answer is that I have been suffering through the airplane owner’s ritual of the Annual Inspection and resulting maintenance. Between parts sent out for overhaul, additional parts needing to be ordered, and the holidays it has taken a long time to get the Cardinal back to airworthy state. The good news is that the airplane is now in great shape.

While everything was apart for the annual inspection two new upgrades would be installed. The first was a Reiff engine preheater. This is an electric cylinder and oil heater that plugs in to preheat the engine for winter flying. This will make for much easier winter starts and greatly reduce the wear seen in a cold start.

The second upgrade was installation of a Rosen Sunvisor kit. The old visors in the Cardinal were in terrible shape and frequently flopped down and hit the pilot and copilot in the head! Plus, some velcro had been previously used to try and stick the visors to the ceiling and it was a gooey, sticky, not adhesive enough mess. Unfortunately the Rosen sunvisors turned out to be a bit more of a project than expected because much of the plastic trim pieces were very brittle. Now there are fresh plastic pieces which look very nice along with the sunvisors.

Several issues were discovered during the annual inspection. The several big items were the discovery of loose baffles (by borescope inspection) in both left and right mufflers. This required sending the exhaust off for refabrication. The new exhaust is nice and shiny and should last many years.

Another major surprise was the discovery that an airworthiness directive on the Prop governor oil line was previously not properly complied with. The AD calls for a specific type of hose that must be replaced at engine overhaul. The hose type was not correct and the fittings were also not compliant. By replacing the rubber hose with a stainless steel line the AD is permanently complied with, so it is now resolved.

The left hand aileron bearing was becoming seized. I hadn’t noticed much control stiffness but in retrospect the ailerons were getting a bit stiff. I had assumed this was related to lubrication that would be refreshed at the annual but it turned out to be the bearing where the aileron attaches to the wing. There is not much difference in cruise due to the higher aerodynamic forces but in slow flight and landing and taxiing the ailerons move much smoother now. This might help my landings too!

And, considerable work was done on the landing gear to make sure it was in the best shape. The left hand main and nosegear tires were very worn and were replaced. The nose gear actuator was leaking slightly and was rebuilt. The nose gear strut was leaking at the seal, and after opening it up the steering bearing inside was found to be rusted and freezing up. In fact, this can be lubricated with a grease fitting (and should be at each annual) but it had not been done in some time. During the process of replacing the tire a crack was seen in the wheel halves. This was due to a previous mechanic over tightening the wheel bolts which stretched the bolt hole and cracked it! A good lesson in why you use a torque wrench. Fortunately the shop was able to find a pair of servicable used wheel halves.

On the engine a few small oil leaks were fixed and some hairline cracks were observed in fuel injector lines. The old style lines are susceptible to cracking like this. Two lines were previously replaced with the new style lines and now all lines are the new style. Compressions, oil filter cut open, and oil analysis all showed excellent results.

Finally, faced with the need to install a doubler plate around the ADF antenna in the belly I elected to remove the ADF entirely. It didn’t work anyway and technically if it’s in the plane it is supposed to work. Especially with my instrument rating checkride presumably in the next year I would prefer not to have to deal with questions about the nonworking ADF. Perhaps a knot of cruise airspeed will be gained with the removal of the long wire ADF antenna up top and a bit over 6 pounds of useful load was increased by removing the ADF and antennas!

Overall I’m very pleased with the quality of the inspection by Twin City Airmotive in Fitchburg, MA. The work did take a long time to complete and that is my one regret. From what I have seen the quality of the work they have done is meticulous and I definitely feel safer in the airplane knowing it has just had this work done. And, because the annual is due one year from the logbook sign off then the next annual inspect won’t be due until January 2014!

I’ve only flown 0.4 in the plane so far, ferrying it back from Fitchburg. Mark from Twin City Airmotive flew his Piper Cherokee 140 up from Fitchburg to Nashua to meet me so I didn’t have to deal with car shuffling. It was weird to sit right seat and also this was my first time in a low wing (other than big jets). Mark let me fly for a bit and while I didn’t log it I suppose I have about 10 minutes of Cherokee time! The good news is that the Cardinal flew great and despite almost two and a half months of hiatus I actually made an excellent smooth landing in Nashua.

2012 in Review

I flew 2.9 total in two flights in a Cessna Cutlass (172RG) in January. Then, after closing on the Cardinal in March I flew 88.1 hours in N52667. That means 91 hours flown in 2012. My total time at the end of 2012 was 175.9. This compares to 77.8 hours flown in 2011.

My aviation goals for 2013 include:

  • Obtain my instrument rating. I have about 20 hours to go to meet the minimum requirement and take the check ride. I also still need to pass my instrument written.
  • Fly more than 100 hours. I would easily have done this in 2012 if it weren’t for the lengthy annual so I think I will easily meet this goal.
  • Fly to San Antonio, Texas for Lone Star Con. I want to make a long cross country trip. Lone Star Con (around Labor day weekend next year) is the perfect opportunity to do this with an overnight stop in a different city in each direction. The straight line distance is just over 1500 nautical miles.
  • Fly to Canada. My sister in law is in Toronto and Quebec would be a great destination too.
  • Take some flying videos. I made a few when I was flying the rental 172 but haven’t yet in the Cardinal.

It’s been a great year and I’ve developed tremendously as a pilot. The ability to fly on a whim and the other benefits of ownership were definitely a big factor. Overnight XC trips have led me to experience more various weather conditions. I’m sure 2013 will bring even more fun and new experiences.

Finally, back in the air!

Forgive me, it has been 3 weeks since I have been flying! My last post ended with a gear hydraulic pump problem and this has been the primary reason. In fact, there were two problems with the gear. The hydraulic actuator for the main gear had an ancient O-ring which essentially disintegrated when my A&P removed it from the actuator. Obviously a problem! However, even after reassembling the hydraulic actuator the gear pump continued to run rapidly indicating an internal leak and had to be sent off to be rebuilt.

Unfortunately this meant that Abby and I couldn’t fly up to Burlington, VT last weekend for our anniversary. We drove instead. Turning a 1 hour flight into a three and and half hour drive is a nice reminder of the utility of flying. But my disappointment turned out to be somewhat moot as the weather (while beautiful in Burlington) was IFR or marginal at home all weekend. More motivation to work on my instrument rating!

Finally I got the call I was waiting for and the pump was back in, the gear swing checked out on the jacks, and everything looked good. I went up to the airport on Saturday morning and chatted for a bit before taking the Cardinal for a test flight. I planned to do three trips around the pattern and if everything looked good I’d stop back at the shop and settle the bill.

Well, after a month of not flying I have to say the plane was flying better than I was! Nothing too bad but the greaser landings I was getting used to were nowhere to be found. All three landings were fine but I was just a hair behind the plane and the approaches were on speed but required more fiddling with power than I like. Each one was a bit better than the last. The only blip to the alternator needle was the typical tiny pulse as the rotating beacon goes on and off.

I taxied back and paid the bill, then headed off to Fitchburg (FIT). Adding to my anxiety about getting the plane back is the fact that Nashua airport will be closing a week from Monday for three weeks due to construction. For many months now they have been constructing a new long, wider runway next to the old runway. The goal is to have a new longer runway which has greater taxiway separation required by standards for larger jets. The existing parallel taxiway Alpha will remain in the same location and the old runway will be removed. Right now the new runway is essentially done but unmarked and has no taxiway connections. In the next three weeks both runways will be closed as the old runway is demolished to extend taxiways to the new runway before it opens on September 3rd.

Fitchburg airport has been kind enough to offer free tie down space for the month to “refugees” from Nashua (along with Manchester airport). I’ll buy fuel from them and otherwise support the airport so this is a mutually beneficial deal. Fitchburg is about the same distance from home for me so this arrangement is great. But I needed to stop by the airport and sign some paperwork and make arrangements so Saturday was perfect.

The gear pump didn’t run at all (except when I wanted it too :) on the way over to Fitchburg. The pattern was busy with several planes approaching the airport so I kept my head on a swivel. Most of the traffic was following in behind me and a helicopter just west of the airport had me in sight (and I had them in sight) so I made my pattern. The landing was fine but still not a “greaser”. Fitchburg’s runway and taxiway surfaces are not as smooth as even the old runway at Nashua so that adds to the roughness.

I taxied up to a spot in front of the building which contains the airport operations office and a small restaurant. I chatted for a bit with the person at the desk there, signed my paperwork, and arranged to bring the Cardinal into its temporary home on Wednesday evening. I also got a temporary card to let me in the gate at Fitchburg. Now I just need to figure out the logistics for getting my to Nashua airport and my wife to Fitchburg to pick me up Wednesday evening!

Since it was noon time I checked out the restaurant and got a tasty bacon cheeseburger with swiss cheese and grilled onions. Friendly folks and a typical airport restaurant with several groups of pilots flying in. I’m sure they will get some additional business from other pilots displaced from Nashua for the month.

My flight back to Nashua was quick and bumpy with cumulus towers building. No gear issues. Still not a super smooth landing but this time with the winds reported as 6 knots gusting to 12 I can at least attempt blame the wind! I suspect it will not take long before I am back to making those greasers.

Meeting a commercial flight

My wife found some quite cheap commercial flight tickets to visit a friend out in Madison, WI. The only downside was that she flew out from Boston and back into Providence, RI. I told her that was no problem, and depending on the weather I would pick her up in either the plane or by car. Fortunately the weather cooperated. Her flight was originally scheduled to arrive in Providence at just after 6PM on Tuesday. I figured I’d leave work a bit early and head down. I called the FBO there ahead of time and verified that they could give a ride between the commercial terminal and the FBO.

In fact, my sister and her family were up visiting this week because my niece is looking at Boston area colleges. My sister is nervous even on bigger planes but my niece was quite keen to accompany me down to Providence to pick up Abby. Since her college visiting schedule was too late to get her up to meet me in Nashua I decided instead to fly to Norwood (OWD) airport and pick her up and then make the very short flight from there to Providence. It would mean meeting Abby a bit later than 6PM but not a big deal.

On the way up to Nashua I learned that Abby’s flight (Delta Connection/ExpressJet from Detroit) was delayed. This was not due to weather but the fact that apparently the nose wheel tire had to be replaced on the CRJ. This worked out well for me – her ETA was revised to 8PM. I advised my niece to grab food in Norwood with her parents and grabbed some food for myself before heading south to Norwood.

I’ve been to Norwood once before for my Pilots N Paws flight with Doodle the poodle. Norwood is a nice airport with a control tower and great views of Boston on the way in. I did talk to Boston Approach for advisories but my descent path kept me clear of the Boston Bravo air space. After a fairly tight pattern I made a good landing on runway 28 (the opposite direction from my Pilots N Paws flight).

As I taxied up to the ramp and shut down I noticed that my relatives were already waiting at the gate and had watched me come in. Hoping to avoid any FBO fees I hurried my niece through the gate and gave a passenger briefing and a quick walk around. Some line guys showed up to chock the plane but I waved them off because I was already ready to start up and depart.

Upon departure I noticed a small mechanical issue. I’ve observed this on one or two occasions before. The ammeter blips to full discharge deflection briefly. This is known to be an issue with the gear pump cycling on briefly to pump the pressure back up and once an hour it was doing it more often than that. It stopped blipping and I made a note to check the hydraulic fluid level in the gear pump before departure. If the fluid level is fine then the likely cause is an internal leak down across an o-ring in one or more of the hydraulic actuators.

My niece was pretty excited about being in the air and the views of Boston and Providence. With the trip so short – only 30 nautical miles or around 15 minutes – I cruised at only 2500 feet. I was cleared to land pretty far our for straight in runway 23 and made an excellent landing. As I taxied to the ramp I heard Abby’s flight – Acey 4988 – cleared to land behind me and saw the CRJ land just as I pulled up to the ramp.

The ramp itself was quite busy with both UPS and FedEx 757s loading. The FBO itself was quiet and I parked out front. I explained I wouldn’t be there for long and I’d called ahead to ask about going over to the passenger terminal. He said he’d give us a ride over to pick her up. It was only 10 gallons total to waive the ramp fee but I figured I’d get 10 per side to be nice since the FBO was doing me a favor. The airport itself charged $5 for landing which is reasonable for a Class C airport.

As Mike the line guy was finishing up fueling Abby called to say she was ready and waiting at the arrivals area. Mike gave us a ride over and picked Abby up at the courtesy van area in front of the passenger terminal. Then we drove back around the perimeter road to the FBO. I gave a tip – always nice to thank folks for going out of their way.

As I checked and sumped the fuel tank and the hydraulic fluid level in the reservoir the UPS 757 pushed back and started up behind us! Obviously it won the race against FedEx. It was getting pretty hot and windy on the ramp as I finished up my preflight. The good news is the hydraulic fluid reservoir was completely full indicating no external leak (the bad kind).

Parked at PVD with much bigger neighbors pushing back and starting up behind me!

We watched UPS depart then departure required only a short taxi back to the approach end of runway 23. I had to wait a short minute for departure clearance then received “turn right heading 300 maintain 2500 or below”. Cleared for takeoff I was wheels up and a climbing right turn to 300 as the sunset peaked. Almost immediately after contacting departure I was cleared on course with no altitude restriction.

Soon the gear pump was definitely acting up again and with the blip happening several times a minute and no signed of abating I told my wife I’d pull the gear pump circuit breaker to keep it from wearing out the pump. This caused the gear to hang down awkwardly (like a wounded bird!) and took some knots off of our cruise speed but on this trip of such a short duration that wasn’t a big deal. Upon arrival I could use the handle to pump it down if the pump was balky but first I’d try pushing the breaker back in and using the pump.

Sure enough pulling the circuit breaker confirmed that the cause of the ammeter blip was unquestionably the hydraulic leakdown issue. It was getting dark as we approached Nashua and once in range I popped the circuit breaker back in. As expected initially it ran to suck the gear back up. Then I cycled the handle and the gear came down, green light, and I could see the main gear in the window. Good stuff. I didn’t even need to pump it down.

With the gear down I concentrated on the night landing. The tower was closed since it was after 9PM and winds were calm with no one else in the area so I flew left traffic for Runway 32. Due to construction the runway threshold is temporarily displaced 1000 feet and the VASI is out but the displaced threshold is well marked. I had no trouble making a good night landing and taxied back to my tie-down. The worst part of a night landing this time of year is all the bugs swarming as you attempt to push the plane back into the parking spot!

So, I left the plane in the capable hands of my A&P this weekend to diagnose the hydraulic problem. Hopefully it will be fixed soon. Good timing – my two instrument lessons this weekend were in a Frasca simulator working some hardcore instrument scanning skills!

Haze

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.

Hobbs

I saw this quote in a forum sig:

Student Pilot’s Prayer; “Dear Lord, if we must have an instrument failure today, please let it be the Hobbs Meter.”

For those who don’t already know the Hobbs meter is an hour meter which measures hours and tenths of engine running time. When you rent an airplane usually you are billed by Hobbs time and the ending Hobbs time minus starting Hobbs time is also what you log in your logbook. The exact mechanism varies but usually the meter is tied to an oil pressure switch or similar so when the engine starts the meter starts running.

When you own an airplane the Hobbs meter isn’t so important. The tachometer also contains an hour meter which is scaled relative to the engine RPM. It is designed so that it advances in real time if you are at a cruise RPM. This means that ground operations and lower RPM operations count less on the tach hour meter. The tach hour meter is useful for maintenance intervals like oil changes because it is a reasonable proxy for accumulated load on the engine.

All of this is good because the Hobbs meter in N52667 doesn’t work. Before departing Statesville we wrote it down along with the current time as backup for determining the flight time for logbooks. However, upon arriving in Hagerstown the Hobbs meter definitely hadn’t budged. A bit more math is required to figure out your flight time to log when you just have two absolute times to subtract (and decimalize the result) but it isn’t too much of a pain.

The quote reminded me of my hate of the Hobbs. If you are a renter pilot the worst case scenario is slow ground operations. On a nice weekend especially in the spring or fall Nashua can get very busy. There might be a few planes chasing each other around the pattern and numerous planes arriving and departing. When I was working on my Complex Endorsement in the rental Cessna 172RG we were number six in line leaving the run up pad and there was an arrival for practically every departure. All this time you are waiting in line to take off going nowhere the Hobbs meter is clicking over, $2/minute. Of course with ‘667 at the end of the day I still need to pay the gas bill but during ground operations a piston engine airplane is burning a lot less gas than in flight.

Since my Hobbs appears to be inoperative I could fix it. Hobbs meters aren’t particularly expensive – Aircraft Spruce has one similar to mine for $26. Right now it isn’t a necessity since as long as I write down the start time and stop time and do the clock math right I can get my hours from that for my logbook. Having a Hobbs meter would make that easier. So maybe some day I will replace the Hobbs meter but for now I am happy to be rid of it.