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KPHL to 4N1

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Gaiiden

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This time out I hopped into a Mooney Bravo because I had a lot of ground to cover, and the Mooney cruises at 160 kts while the Cessna 172 cruises at only 100 kts. The flight plan called for a departure from KPHL (where I arrived yesterday), then I would follow the Delaware River Northeast until I intercepted the 115° radial inbound to the Robbinsville VOR, which would let me skirt around the restricted airspace surrounding McGuire AFB. This would put me in line with KBLM, where I would enter the pattern, do a touch and go, then depart Northeast to fly over my house and out to the tip of Sandy Hook. Turning East at Sandy Hook, I would track the 110° radial inbound to the Solberg VOR, then track out on the 30° radial which points me straight at VOR Sparta. Upon hitting Sparta, I track the 90° radial outbound until I establish visual on Runway 6 at 4N1, then take it straight in for a landing.

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Starting off at KPHL, my first impression of the Bravo was that I couldn't see over my nose very well, and this bothered me a lot initially. I jacked up the seat, which made things better, but damn that thing has a snout. The views out the side and rear quarter windows though are fantastic. Remembering how I was unable to comply with taxi instructions upon landing yesterday because I hadn't pulled up an APD beforehand, I had it all set to go this time, with a notepad and pen ready to jot down instructions. After checking out the layout of the instrument panel, setting up my NAV radios, and performing the pre-flight checklist, I contacted Ground and requested taxi for takeoff. Ironically, they tell me to taxi to Runway 8 via Delta... and that's it. It's the small runway right next to the GA parking, so I didn't even need the damn APD! :P

So I taxied up to Runway 8 and held short as per my instructions from Ground. Tuning to the tower and requesting clearance, I was told to continue to hold as a C172 completed its final approach and landed. Once it was clear of the runway and got its taxi directions the tower gave me clearance for my takeoff and departure. After leaving the ground and turning upriver, my climb kept my speed below 105 ktas, which was good because I totally forgot until like 17oo feet that I needed to retract my gear! I leveled off at 2500 (for reals this time) and trimmed for level flight, setting the throttle to cruise at 160 ktas. The Bravo is definitely more responsive than the Skyhawk, which is both good and bad of course, but I like how she handles.

I got handed off to Philly Departure who tracked me out of the airspace and then handed me back over to the general frequency. I passed Trenton and then turned to intercept my 115° radial towards KBLM. Zooming across the state I spotted the airport in the distance and, after announcing my position, started my descent and entry into the pattern, which I did somewhere between the Upwind and Crosswind legs. I meant to do a 45° entry into the Upwind but ended up a little too far up. Turning Downwind and turning Base, I announced my touch and go intentions and started to take her in. This is where the nose came back as an issue, although it was also partly because I was way below glide slope. Regardless, I couldn't see the damn runway during the last few seconds of my approach, which was scary. Even worse, I was so low I had to pull up, announce a go around and climb back out to fly the pattern again. But, it was my first attempt at landing this bird, so it wasn't too bad. My second time around was better, I was at least able to touch and go as planned.

Heading back Northeast I circled around my home town a few times, looking for my house which I eventually spotted, then flew up the coast to the tip of Sandy Hook, where I picked up the 110° radial that would lead me to Solberg. I also contacted New York Approach for Class B airspace transition. I picked up a few bumps clearing Sandy Hook, but things smoothed out quickly and stayed calm until I hit the mountains around Sparta. At 10nm out from Sparta I slowed to 110kts and descended towards 1500 ft, though I had to level off a bit higher because of the terrain. Updrafts gave me a good buffeting here and there. I switched from NY Approach to 4N1's traffic frequency and announced my position as I set up for a straight-in approach. A minute later a Piper announced herself three miles behind me on approach, so I didn't dilly-dally and brought the bird down as quick as I could. The landing went off slightly better, but I'm still too used to seeing over my nose, and to do so in the Mooney means I'll always set myself way low on the glide path. Just need more practice - I hit the middle of the runway (not center, middle) so I was lucky it was long enough.

Again, a few minor mistakes on this flight. Although I set my NAV radios to frequency prior to taxi, I forgot to set my OBS, so I did that prior to takeoff but after I had received clearance (when I thought about it) so that wasn't such a great idea. In addition to forgetting to put my gear up I forgot to put them down for my approach to KBLM. Luckily the plane beeps at you if you descend too low without them - but at first I misinterpreted it as the stall warning. Then I forgot and left them down when I flew the pattern the second time :P I also mixed up my degree settings a bit once again on the compass.

Next flight is most likely going to take me East to Long Island to KFRG, which is the farthest East my VFR scenery goes. I'll touch and go there, fly West to Manhattan for a buzz of the city, then head back to home base - KBLM. After that it's back to the classroom for my IFR rating.

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