Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Getting "Trip-Ready"...

The view over Tampa Bay near the FSDO
Monday,June 06th,2011

Up at 06:30, quick coffee and Microtel Breakfast, which really is becoming Groundhog Day at the Buffet and we are off to Tampa to get my US License from the local FSDO office, which stands for Flight Standard District Office and is referred to as "fisdo" down here.
Unmarked building, not even a reference or sign outside nor is it labeled which door or suite at the elevators. But you can google it on Maps and other means to find out were it is. HHMMmm, am I missing something here? Are they trying to confuse you at the very end? The door is locked, always, and you feel like you are about to enter Area 51 and not just an Office trying to get a simple piece of paper that allows you to fly south of the 48th. Did I mention we stood in front of the very same door on Friday, called the posted number on the door to hear it ring behind the door, to set an appointment. This was after we left three failed phone messages to set a date.
Filling in the forms, now comes number 4 with the same info as the one sent out to Oklahoma City to get the process started. That included a "Visit by a Foreign National" form and once again the same form as before. Than it got typed out on a small form that is the in-term license with the actual plastic card being sent out to my home address in Canada. This new card includes the airmans number which gives you access to DUATS for those that are familiar with it. Nice folks though, once you get in, and I am just happy I walked out with a ticket to fly an N numbered aircraft, YEAH!!!
Back in 45 minutes to Zephyrhills and started ripping the panel apart. After several attempts to make the KX135A GPS side work the decision was made to remove it, add to this a complete Com failure during my second Check-ride with Ed and making me extremely uncomfortable thinking of the prospect of a major cross country with some unknown Gremlins living in that radio.

KX 135 A - "King of Gremlins"

Russell being the nice chap he is offered us a Icom A200 as a replacement, if we look after the installation. Some discussions arose around the idea and pretty soon the radio came out and we were re-fitting.
But let me take you back a few days to Friday afternoon, when we did a trip to Lakeland/Linder to visit Gulf Coast Avionics to pick up a mount for my 296. It appears to me that there seemed to be an immediate attraction on Hans's behalf to the Dynon Displays of EFIS's. Do I need to say more? Oh Yeah, the other thing was the compass, that was part of the reason.

The Basic Unit, but there is more...

Maybe panel mount a new one so we don't end up with an ugly hole and cover, in this beauty of an aircraft. Let me add this up, 11.95 for a mount, 89.- for a compass, 6.99.- for a reducing plate from 3 1/8th to 2 1/4 and we are looking at,'ll do the math! But that is like watching Black & White TV on a 2586 mile flight... color for sure would be nice and look what all those features these little gizmos can do?!! OKAY, you had me at color!!! But how to you spell KAAA-CHINNGG?!

Back to the Hangar and the EFIS scheming for N500ME with Russell gets on its way and is picking up momentum. Be aware the man is bad influence when it comes to fancy toys ;-)
Pretty soon an order was placed for an MGL Extreme to make sure we have color TV, other than my trusty Garmin 296, for the way home. No, no,no, it's not that. Now we have fuel flow, yup love it, AHRS, EFIS, EMIS and a bunch more four letter words that are all being usually summed up into one, generally starting with an S or an F, followed by profuse Pilot sweating when lights go out on that one. Redundancy is a key word. So the the airspeed indicator, RPM, engine gauges, and a new compass stay for now. Besides that, we would end up with even more holes and covers. Now, who wants that?
The pressure rises proportionally with the heat in the Hangar and by 5:30 PM, Russell appears with a case of cold beers. Did I mention the he's bad influence? Was it Monday today?

                                      Is it me or the beers? Hey Hans, which way is north-west?

                                       Russell patiently grinding away on the new Overlay Panel.

Tuesday, June 07th, 2011

Back to hangar after Groundhog Bagel and Coffee. While we are enjoying our stay here, be fore-warned of the 60 grit towels and their exfoliating properties. If you are getting a bit short of hair you may want to be careful, if you are looking for a back wax to polish your tattoo, have at her.
Well, time to call in troops at the hangar, in this case Jim the Radio-Tech, to deal with removing the old tray and wiring the new radio. Slightly out of our league and best left to a Pro.
We are concentrating on the simpler things like cutting a new overlay panel, fitting it, adding the sensors and modules, filing, building yet another tray for some of the before mentioned four letter parts, more drilling and filing, gruntingly approving our own handiness of which no one besides us seems to notice. Boy, we do fine work!
                                                          ...adding a few little details
8hrs later, nearly running on empty and the temperature reaching a whopping 102... that is blinkedeeblank HOT even for the local crowd. Never mind a token Canuck! But we are making progress. When we arrived here we found a flight ready aircraft, and it is a beauty, but flight ready certainly differs from trip ready, like a local circuit differs from the anticipated long trip home. But are we ready?

                                ...almost ready! Just needing paint and a few minor adjustments!

Hans really wants to get going, me on the other hand wants to really make sure that when we get going we actually can keep on going and not end up on some strip between here, there and nowhere with no means to fix anything. Better get it done at the source and at this point I can not express enough gratitude to the guys here a Flight Crafters and their efforts in getting this Adventure and us off to the good start. Maybe they just want their hangar back? Did I mention they are a bad influence? GEEE, EASY NOW, I got my current project to finish before I can look at that 750 (as in ...better talk to the much better half first, hint, blink and wink honey) and, YES, we agree they for sure look good! Hey Mike, hurry up and git R dun, maybe we'll be back for that one next spring.

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