Thursday, December 23, 2010

Night Flying

My wife twisted my arm to get night current again. She wanted to try looking at Xmas lights from the air. So it was time to go out night flying in our airplane, our Cessna 182.

A couple years ago I had fun getting more night time for my commercial certificate. It happened during the Christmas time, and it was fun looking at Xmas lights. Night flying is pretty cool with air being calm (usually), less crowded airspace, and things being very pretty with lights.

So this night currency made me think that I should make a list of things to think about when getting night current again. Or maybe it can be things people think about when they are new to it. This is not a full list, but are things that came to mind that I like while I was flying last night.

Day(s) before: Night Flying
  • Check all lights before the flight if possible; so they could be fixed: interior panel lights and exterior lights.
  • Find good flashlights to bring for inside cockpit. More than one.
  • Bring approach plates if IFR rated. Review IFR refresher notes.
  • Have inside organized and thought out. It will be harder to find all the controls in the dark and better to know where everything is with using the flashlight minimally. Maybe take a picture of the inside of your airplane and think it through; here is a picture of my inside panel, but every plane is a bit different.
  • Know where heat and other controls are for passenger comfort. It will be colder.
  • Think ahead where you will be flying; know altitudes; know obstructions/towers; know freqs. It is way easier on the ground in the daylight to think about this.
  • Remember FAA regulations for nighttime currency. (Night is 1 hour after sunset, 1 hour before sunrise; Need 3 full stop landing and takeoffs within 90 days; Nav lights need to be on from sunset to sunrise).
  • Know how to turn lights on at airports you will be going to. Usually 3,5,or 7 clicks on mike.
  • Have a handheld radio if possible at least to turn on runway lights in an electrical emergency.

Taxi: Night Flying
  • Do IFR taxi checks even if not IFR rated (airspeed correct, AI flat and zeroed out, Altimeter correct, Turn Coordinator turning, DG adjusted and not precessing, VSI at or near zero)
  • Turn on your navigation lights; check and remember where the switches are.
  • Click on the airport runway/taxi lights.
  • Taxi light use only now.
  • Use the taxi center lines. It is hard to tell correct spacing to parked planes. Be real cautious of wingtips and any other planes/buildings.
  • Notice color of airport lights and where to go. Blue is taxi, white is runway edges.
  • Exit the runway onto the taxiway watching for path between two parallel rows of blue lights
  • Practice taxi backs instead of just stop&goes. That needs practice and you will feel better with the practice. Also, it gives you the entire runway for takeoff.

Takeoff: Night Flying
  • Normal Takeoff stuff
  • Landing light on
  • Look outside but also use AI, DG, airspeed when departing upwind. (As you take off you are pointing high, the runway lights are behind you and likely will not have much horizon to see. My wife commented last night about this. It is disorienting if you are not prepared.)
  • Climb near Vy, but not below.

Cruise: Night Flying
  • Beautiful and smooth flying usually. Lots to look at, but always be the pilot and not just site seeing.
  • Normal Cruise stuff: LCGUMPS and other mnemonics
  • Landing light off? Maybe keep Taxi light for extra visibility. Definitely all other lights.
  • Watch for planes. Edges of eye is best.
  • Watch engine gauges. It will feel better to know your plane is operating well. (It is strange, but psychologically the engine will sound different at night. You hear every change in tone in the engine sounds. )
  • Remember to check Voltage or Amp gauge. Very important at night since you need lights.
  • GPS helps tremendously but be prepared if it goes out.
  • Know where you are on a map and relation to roads/cities.
  • Always guess where you think the airport is.
  • Turn on the runway lights and see if you are right.

Landing: Night Flying
  • Normal landing stuff including LCGUMPS
  • Turn on appropriate lights including landing light.
  • Be prepared to turn the airport lights back on if it has been a while since you first activated them or click them again just to be safe they will stay on.
  • Remember the runway edge lights are a little above the ground and remember not to flare to early or late.
  • Use glide slope (right on preferably, never on low side.) It is harder to judge the right angle at night, so a VASI glide slope indication helps a lot.
  • Make your approach perfect. I like turning final about 400' above the field.
  • Flaring at night can be challenging, so I like to use an approach similar to a float plane glassy water landing. I have read about it, but not actually done a real float plane landing yet. I dream of getting a seaplane rating. But the glassy water landing sounds good and I read somebody else did it too. They do it when it is difficult to see where water level is
  • Land with some power
  • Land with appropriate airspeed, not to fast or slow. Too fast or too slow will make flare harder.
  • Land with flaps so you are slow and pointing down more on approach
  • Level out parallel with the ground when getting close to landing.
  • Nose higher as you get close to landing but leave some power until main wheels touch
  • Pull power when the main wheels are on the ground
  • Basically a soft field landing too. Don't bother with the short field unless you are a confident night flier. Longer runways are your friend at night.

General Nighttime Flying tips
Know where your hills and antennas are. Avoid them. Leave the mountains for the daytime. Bright moon can help make things easier and more comfortable; it will light up the ground a bit. Also, stay near roads, cities, and lit up areas. Night time flying in dark areas counts as actual IFR, so stay away from that unless IFR rated.

Get some IFR training if you don't have it. It will help in general and be good for unexpected entry into clouds or dark areas

I found these other websites with some other good tips:


So I went up two nights ago to get current again and had fun with both the practice and the site seeing. Then again last night. I found an awesome house from the air and then went and found it on the ground. I never would have found it otherwise. Go check out your area for houses; it is fun!

Xmas House Lights Aerial

We got lots of other pictures too..

Denver Xmas Lights Aerial
Downtown Denver with the baseball field at the bottom. It is surprising how the skyscrapers blend in with everything. It is very pretty and hard to capture in pictures.

Denver City Building Xmas Lights Aerial Our Denver City and County building is lit up at Christmas time. Very pretty as well.


Go out and have fun, but be careful. If you are nervous at all or are learning, take an instructor. Most instructors love night flights.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Update on things

Hello everybody!

I am still hear and still love your e-mails. I just been having problems thinking up a good new topic. My favorite thing to do is to emphasize a great topic that might have a lot of interest.

So let me think and ramble here a bit. I have been flying. I typically fly around 100 hours a year. These days it is for our Colorado Aerial Photography business or it is for a long trip where we are usually also trying to get some good photography at the same time. We didn't end up having a flying trip this summer, bummer! It just didn't happen, not sure why.

Colorado Aerial Photography has been a lot of fun. It is a lot more work than it might first seem. I am glad that my wife is making it her full-time work, but I am very happy to help out on the side where I can usually as a pilot or brainstorming. Taking high quality pictures with a high quality camera/lenses while the plane is bumping around in turbulence can often be a challenge. We have had some interesting things to circle and take pictures such as a dynamite plant, a prison, and a bunch of other things. We even helped out with a promotion to try to get Google to come to Longmont for high speed internet. Here is the local newspaper article about Longmont Loves Google. You certainly go concentrate and circle on areas that you never would otherwise. And there is a lot of time and energy that has to be put into the business other than flying and taking pictures. But this blog isn't about the Aerial Photography. It is just an update...

We just had our local air show, the Rocky Mountain Regional Fly-in. It was a great time and I had the opportunity to take a father/son on their first ride in a small airplane and we arrived at the show by plane. A big hit with them. Even though the son was a bit quiet, his dad told me that he really, really enjoyed. He is a super airplane nut. The most exciting things to me was the F16, F18, and the Team Chaos Jet Truck with pyrotechnics. I have never seen anything like the jet truck before. Oh.. on the ground they had a MV-22 Osprey parked that you could walk around and inside.

I just had my annual. This I think will be the cheapest annual since I owned the plane. Nothing major was found. Just a few small cowling fixes; loose rivets, etc. So I think the bill will come in around $1500; probably a bit more.

Another interesting, but sad thing to watch is the Four Mile Fire. We live pretty near it and saw it blow up right at the beginning. Before getting a bagel, nothing. After a bagel, big huge cloud. One of the biggest I have seen from a fire. I didn't get a picture, but it looked about like this picture within a 1/2 hour of it starting. If you check out the stuff on the internet, it shows it pretty well. We had huge 30-50 mph winds and it went from 0 -> 3000 acres -> 6500 acres super quick. Luckily, it has not continued to grow, and it rained today.

The air tankers are amazing to watch. There is one in particular that facinates me. Here is a link to Air tanker 45 pictures on It is a Lockheed Neptune P2H and the strange part about it is that it has 2 3,500-hp Write R-3350-32 Radial engines and 2 3,400-lb thrust Westinghouse J34-WE-36 auxillary jets. Now it looks like Tanker 45 has the jets, but they are not in use. Pretty strange. If you look at other Neptune P2 planes, you will see some in operation. And I am pretty sure I saw one in Idaho and heard the auxillary jets spinning up. I have a picture of Tanker 44 in my Idaho pictures from my McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminar experience.

So I guess not much has happened in some ways, but maybe a bit has happened in others. Maybe I should have split up the above into separate blogs... Oh well. If you have any specific ideas or questions, please E-mail me . I am still here.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

IFR pictures

It is that rare time of year for us in Colorado to get good small plane IFR practice. It seems crazy that somebody would want to go into the clouds for fun, but that is what I do this time of year. It has been cloudy this past week and I have gone flying twice.... for fun in the clouds (or soup as many call it).

IFR picture

This golden time seems to happen around April/May in the spring and September/October in the fall for Colorado. The problem is getting clouds that are not below freezing at low altitudes and do not have thunderstorms. In the winter, we get clouds sometimes, but the freezing level is at the ground. In the summer, the clouds are either at 20,000' or they are thunderstorms. So now is the time of year to look at my IFR refresher notes.

I have used my IFR on many past cross country trips especially to California due to the coastal marine layer, and I want to feel comfortable. One way to feel comfortable is to get some hood time with a safety pilot, but it is not the same. Flying with an IFR flight plan or with flight following is good to feel comfortable with the radios. But nothing is as good as getting real time in the clouds. So, I like to get practice in the real thing as much as I can doing the approaches I am familiar with. This way I am not nervous about approaches while getting comfortable with the clouds again. Then when I do approaches I am not familiar with and in the clouds, there is less new items.

I really like the real thing. It is a bit different. Hoods are a pain; they sometimes mess up my vision since something is right next to my eyes, and most are cumbersome. See my review on IFR hoods I have used for my preferences.

Entering the Clouds

So what is it like. For some reason, entering the clouds is a little different than my insides think it should feel. When you go into a cloud, it is not at all like going into a cotton ball. There is almost no perceptable change in flight. Sometimes there is a little more turbulence in certain areas of the cloud, but many times not. For me, it is kind of like when you are driving a car and you enter the fog. Or if you have ever been driving in the mountains and a cloud has passed over the road.

In the clouds

Inside the clouds it is often like being in a very dense fog again. You can see your wing tips, but not much further. Look at the top picture. You often have moisture on the windshield or wings. If you are near or below freezing levels, make sure that moisture is not icing.

Sometimes the cloud has some definition inside instead of just being white. This can mess with your senses. If you see any sort of line, your mind wants it to be the horizon. This is a good time to keep the good scan going and double check your backup instruments and make sure you are not correcting in the wrong way.

Looking down sometimes you see more than looking forward over the nose, but beware in this case. If you are looking down, you are not looking at your guages and you don't have a horizon, so you can end up in a turn or other unusual attitude. An unusual attitude would especially be bad on an approach and this is when you might likely see more looking down rather than over the nose. If you have a real missed approach you are pretty close to the ground.

IFR looking down

Above the clouds or between clouds

Getting above the clouds can be very pretty, and the passengers really like it too. While getting my cloud practice, I try to get altitudes where I stay in the clouds, but sometimes you don't have a choice.

But sometimes it is not all bad:
IFR above the clouds picture

And then sometimes the clouds start breaking up in one area, so it is time to try another airport that might still have clouds.
IFR scattered clouds picture

Going back into the clouds

Sometimes it feels strange for me going back into the clouds after being above the clouds. It feels like I am flying into the ground which would not be a good thing. So I pick this as another cue to check everything well: on the approach, keep the scan going, needles lined up, altitude good and what was that MDA again.

The Illusions

Of course remember that there are illusions your body is feeling. You may not notice it completely when under the hood. Just slight views of the ground can prevent the full effect. Accelerating feels like climbing. Slowing down feels like descending. A turn with a little Gs probably feels like a slight climb too. A missed approach where you are climbing, turning, and accelerating will feel like you are going to the moon. Watch the airspeed and keep the scan of instruments going well. Your body tells you one thing and you have to ignore it. Double check the backup instruments instead of believing your body.

Turbulence of course messes up your body when there is no horizon. Trust the instruments.


I really like flying with a GPS. If you have your course plotted in and flying the magenta line as well as the needles, there are lots of clues to indicate you are turning. I imagine a glass panel is nice for the same reason a GPS is nice, but even better. Maybe someday I can get one of those Aspen Avionics devices some day.


As I write this, a few days have past, and now it is snowing again. Well, usually April/May is a mixed back, but there should still be a lot more good, safe IFR days left.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

California Flying Trip 2010

I just got back from our yearly spring break trek to California from Colorado. It has been a fun destination for us in the past in 2006 to San Diego, 2007 to Carlsbad, 2009 to Disneyland. And it was fun again this year both for the flying route and the visiting in San Diego.

Below is my track on this year's California trek using the method I described in a past block entry using my Spot Satellite messager. The route between KHII and KCRQ is missing below, but I will describe it further below.

The flying back and forth was similar to past years. It seems we typically have good weather on the way out, and then have weather to divert around on the way back. The one difference this year was that the marine cloud layer in San Diego was not around on departure or arrival, so IFR was not required. If we had arrived or left on any other days, we would have had the clouds, but not on our days.

We break our path each direction into three pieces. Two pieces done in the first day, and then we leave the last short piece for second day.

Getting there: Day 1

Starting off, we had to wait a day before leaving due to weather. But this worked out. We had an extra day to get ready and plan. The weather also left behind a nice blanketing of snow on the mountains for our route. Very pretty!

Our starting path between Longmont, CO and Page, AZ was roughly by klmo-dobee-funds-kege-kpga and weaving over Rollins Pass and through valleys and over Vail Pass. Along the way we looked at Breckenridge, Copper, Vail, and Beaver Creek ski areas.

Page, AZ (KPGA) is a great place for a inexpensive fuel stop and picnic lunch. The view on the approach over either Lake Powell or Grand Canyon are incredible. The view from the ramp is pretty nice too.

Page Arizona Airport Ramp

Our next path from Page, AZ to Lake Havasu, AZ was roughly by kpga-kgcn-khii and following some of the Grand Canyon cooridors as described in my earlier post.

In more detail, I went from kpga to Zuni north, Dragon north, Dragon south to khii. I went ahead and made waypoints in my GPS and followed that flight path. I also watched my altitudes so that I am in compliance with the needed altitudes in the Grand Canyon area. Basically 8500' initially, and then up to 10,500' when got closer to the Zuni North Corridor point. See the Grand Canyon chart on-line at and click the Grand Canyon VFR button.

Desert Skies FBO in Lake Havasu (KHII) was very helpful and had a wonderful free slushy machine. We stayed at the Travelodge at Lake Havasu; it was ok. We heard that the Desert Skies FBO had a deal on the Hampton Inn for $89 and we might try that next time. We found a nice beach/park area to park and walk around near the London Bridge; this part is worth looking around more next time.

London Bridge at night

Getting there: Day 2

For getting in and out of the San Diego area and just in case of a marine layer, I filed IFR. I received the following clearance: khii-tnp-v208-ocn-kcrq. In the end, I did not have to go to OCN and flew this route: khii-tnp-trm-jli-escon-kcrq. The Western Flight Services FBO at Carlsbad/Palomar Airport (KCRQ) greeted us and was very helpful and nice. We selected KCRQ since they had the best deal on rental cars ($33/day) and KCRQ was still convenient to San Diego.

Visiting San Diego

We found our hotel by searching on and clicking the best deals button. We ended up at the Best Western Island Palms Hotel on Shelter Island ($123/night including taxes); it was very nice!.

Island Palms balcony view

This trip, we visited the San Diego Wild Animal Park and fed the giraffes on the Photo Caravan Tour. The next day was San Diego Zoo. Then we visited the La Jolla seals. Then Cabrillo National Monument. Then it was time to head home. The highlights of the trip were feeding the giraffes and the pandas.

San Diego Wild Animal Park Photo Caravan

San Diego Zoo Panda

Coming Back: Day 1

Snowy weather was in the mountains of Colorado and expected to stay there for a while, so we plotted our path towards the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area. This works well when the mountains are snowed in.

I filed IFR to get out even though it was clear. I ended up receiving this clearance: kcrq-ocn-jli-shadi-blh-v16-pxr-kffz. I did not quite fly to OCN at the beginning and Luke AFB approach sent me on the 100° radial of the BXK VOR. So in the end I flew this path between KCRQ and KFFZ.

Falcon Field (KFFZ)in Phoenix has cheap fuel and good food. We ate at the Anzio Landing Italian restaurant on the field like we did last year, and it was very good again. We did the self serve gas and that worked well too.

Our last path for this day was a straight shot to Santa Fe: kffz-ksaf. There was clouds, nearby snow, and wind at Santa Fe when we left Phoenix, but it cleared out about a 1/2 hour before we got there. This took some planning and required some backup plans.

Santa Fe Air Center FBO in Santa Fe (KSAF) was very nice and helped us with parking and a hotel. In the end, we bought fuel at the self serve pumps on the other side of the tower, but this was fine with them and did not change the service. We stayed at Courtyard Marriot for $75 using the FBO. It has an indoor pool and some restaurants near by and a shuttle back and forth to the airport. It was a ways from downtown, but we heard there was a bus that went into town. We might have to come back to Santa Fe again and try this.

Coming Back: Day 2

Our last part back was approximately ksaf-1v8-larks-klmo, but stayed east of the course along the west side of sangre de cristos then over hayden pass.

Possible Return Path Next Time

There is another similar return path I want to possibly try next time. Phoenix and KFFZ is nice, but for something different, we might try Sedona (KSEZ) next time as a lunch break on a southern route. Sedona is beautiful, fuel appears to be reasonably priced, and it appears there is a restaurant on the Sedona field. Maybe we will do a path like this next time between KCRQ and KSAF: kcrq-ocn-jli-trm-pke-ksez-ksaf.

I am not sure how Bagdad 1 MOA between pke and ksez would be if filing IFR if flying Mon-Fri when active. It seems like you could fly below it since the bottom is 7000'MSL or 5000'AGL whichever is higher. But would ATC give it to you since there is no airway and it might depend on the Minimum IFR altitude in that area. You might get the following between KCRQ and KSEZ which is still not too bad: crq-ocn-jli-trm-tnp-jotnu-zelma-eed-drk-sez


Once again the Colorado to Southern California trip is a winner. A recommended trip if you are in the Colorado area.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Remember AWOS and FBO phone numbers

I just got back from our yearly spring break trek to California from Colorado. It has been a fun destination for us in 2006 to San Diego, 2007 to Carlsbad, 2009 to Disneyland. So hopefully I will have some blogs coming up including a trip report. Here is my track on this year's California trek.

One thing I remembered and used on this trip was the use of AWOS and FBO phone numbers: at the destination and also in between points. On the way back, the weather was mixed. A storm system was moving through, and I wanted to see how it was progressing especially through the mountains of Colorado. You can get some idea from surface charts, METARs, Radar, and Satellite, but more is always good. Here is a past blog post about some of what I check for weather planning a cross country flight.

On the way back from Phoenix to Santa Fe, the weather was changing. In this case, I called the FBO and asked what they saw from the ground. In this case, I heard not only the weather right above the airport which was windy, but that there was snow northeast of the airport. Albuquerque was more clear. By the time I got there the wind was not bad and there was no clouds, but it was nice to know what might be possible so that I could make my backup plans.

From Santa Fe to Longmont, I got the METARs from the Aviation Weather Metar Java site. Along the way, there is Taos (SKX), Alamosa (ALS), La Veta Pass (VTP), Pueblo (PUB), and Colorado Springs (COS). I was wondering about going a little further north from Alamos before crossing over the Sangre De Cristo mountains and there is no METAR for that area. There is however a few airports: Salida (ANK) and Canon City/Fremont County (1V6). Canon City is nice as well since it could indicate if there is clouds just past the divide. Both were clear below 10,000. Just to the west, Monarch pass (MYP) was clouded in.

Having AWOS information before, at the pass, and after the pass is good. I have noticed one time where the pass was clear, but there was a massive buildup of clouds just past the divide for 10 miles. So this time I planned on flying the west side and watching the clouds along the Sangre De Cristo range and look over the edge to see if there was any buildup on the other side. I like flying the windward west side when possible because it is a little less turbulent and will get updrafts if anything. The leeward east side is more turbulent with downdrafts being more consistent.

These AWOS phone numbers are available in the Air Guide Flight Guide, Airnav, and other places. The Colorado Mountain AWOS information is available from the CDOT AWOS web page.

So I checked these AWOS phone numbers during my weather briefing and just before starting the engine. I also watched the clouds and had a backup if things did not go as planned. You have to be flexible in the mountains.

Be safe out there and careful in the mountains and questionable weather. Always have a backup plan.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Ice Pilots

I just ran into a fun new tv show on flying called Ice Pilots. I first saw Ice Pilots mentioned on an AOPA blog. They also mention another show called R5Sons which is about the Rainy Pass Alaskan lodge that is only accessible by plane.

The Ice Pilots is a show about a cargo plane company in the Northwest Territories, Canada that uses DC-3, DC-4, and C-46 planes. There is an episode or two using a Lockheed Electra as well. It talks about the challenges of running these old planes in the cold ( down to -40C) and the different maintenance problems they encounter (sometimes in the air). It also talks a lot about the copilot wannabees that have to work the ramp before getting the priveledge to sit in the copilot seat. It reminds me of one of my favorite flying books called Moondog's Academy of the Air and Other Disasters by Peter Fusco.

I have been able to find some clips for both shows on YouTube and on the individual tv show sites. I also found out the 13 first season episodes of Ice Pilots are available here. I haven't been able to find the R5Sons anywhere yet, and I don't get the TV channel it is on. I hope both these shows come out on DVD sometime.

Does anybody know where to watch R5Sons?

Does anybody have any other favorite shows?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Elevator Trim Slack Repair

This year, my extra maintenance cost for my Cessna 182 was a fix to the Elevator Trim Actuator. If you have a problem here, this article will hopefully be interesting directly. If not, hopefully it will be interesting in how I describe my thought process on working through the problem and repair.

The problem

This problem is not catastrophic and develops over time. It is noticed by checking the slack in the elevator trim at the elevator. It is something we all do during preflight; wiggle the trim portion by the elevator. Well, mine moved more than desired if a small amount of pressure was applied. It kind of clicked between two extremes. It was within tolerance last year, but this year it needed to be fixed. By the way, this problem is not noticed inside the plane at all. The problem in my case was with the actuator inside the horizontal stabilizer which a linkage attaches to. The actuator changes the direction of movement and translates a cable/chain movement to moving the linkage connected to the trim.

Here is a picture of how the cables make it back to the actuator. The actuator is labeled 6.

Elevator Trim connections

Here is a picture of the overhauled actuator which was eventually installed inside the horizontal stabilizer:

Elevator Trim Actuator

How to solve it?
  • Start with A&P
  • Read Service Manual and Parts Manual
  • Check with Cessna Pilots Association or Mike Busch from Savvy Owner Seminars
  • Check with A&P again
  • Try to find parts or documentation myself
  • Discuss and work with A&P to finish the repair (help where possible)

Start with A&P

First step was to talk with the A&P about it. He mentioned that it was probably the actuator and was going to be expensive to fix. Like $1500+... Ouch! But these large expenses seem to happen when you own a plane, and hopefully more than one problem does not happen in one year. I talk about some of my past operating expenses here and past thoughts on general plane maintenance here. This year during the annual it was time for this one. We looked up inside the elevator inspection port and confirmed the actuator was where the slack was occuring.

Read Service Manual and Parts Manual

I think it is valuable to look through and try to understand the repair myself. I am an engineer and also like mechanical things, so it is not too bad. I often do not understand it completely, but I get the general idea.

You can get some on-line parts and service manuals for free here. If your year is not available here, I would still suggest getting the manuals. When I got my manual pdfs, I did not know about the free manual website, so I purchased my parts manual from McCurtain Technology Group. The PDFs or CDROM of the PDFs are around $20 which seems reasonable. I also got my O-470R manual from Continental, but this is more expensive: $80. Maybe that one is not so necessary, but I like having them. I also found MA-4-5 Carburator overhaul instructions on-line and Marvel-Schebler/Facet/Precision Airmotive Carburator Handbook and Troubleshooting techniques PDF for looking at carburator questions.

So I found information on my problem in the parts manual on Page 201D, and my part number is 1260074-1. The area which talks about my problem in the service manual is Page 9-7. It talks about how to check the allowed free play in the system as well removal and installation procedures.

Check with Cessna Pilots Association or Mike Busch

The three main resources I like to use for figuring out complicated or expensive repairs are:

In this case, I started with the CPA member technical support request. If you don't own a Cessna, I am sure there are similar groups to ask for help from. Within a day, I had a good start to figuring out my problem. Evidently, CPA had done an article in the October 2006 issue of the CPA magazine on my problem and how to overhaul the actuator. The magazine is even available on-line to members. $183 in parts and some labor. Perfect!

Check with A&P again

So then I went back to the A&P to discuss what I found. I really like that my A&P appreciates my working with him this way. I think over time I am getting better at digging, and it is saving him time in the end. He can spend his time actually fixing the problem. If I don't get it quite right, I have some ownership in the fix so that makes me feel better too.

So this time, one of the A&Ps remembered doing the actuator overhaul repair in the past and said it was not easy. The key hard part was drilling a hole in a round bearing. It is like drilling a hole off center in a ring made of hardened bearing material. When I saw what was necessary, it did not look easy. Maybe with the right equipment it would be, but without it would be hard. They were willing to do it, but they warned it could be a fair amount of labor time.

Check for new parts

So how much would it be to get a new part, used part, or overhauled part, or repair a part??

Then I start with for checking on new aircraft parts. They have a good method for showing if parts are superceded by another part number. They also have good prices as far as new parts go, but mine was $1500. Ouch! Maybe I could get one used, repaired, or have the A&P repair it.

Check for used parts

There is a long list of used parts places available in the Cessna Pilots Association member section.

It was also possible to find used parts on-line with these two methods:

I found it for $250, but getting a used one could have a similar problem as the one I am replacing, or it could be somewhere in between for tolerance. So there is some risk there. I think you check with them and send it back if it is not acceptable, but you do incur the shipping costs.

I also asked on the CPA forums for advice on the trim actuator, and people mentioned getting the actuator through eBay and possibly getting an overhauled or repaired part.

Checking on Repaired or Overhauled parts

The Aviation Group was mentioned for getting an overhauled elevator trim actuator. It appears that actuators are their specialty. I mentioned the part number and they could get me one for $450 plus shipping and return of my core including the 8130-3 approval form. Not bad... I also found Robair Repair and they could do the repair for $500. When I had to replace my spinner bulkhead at my last annual, a repaired part worked well.

So I decided to head this route. It was similar price to if my A&P did it, but it was by somebody very familiar with doing the work, and it was a guaranteed price.

Finish up with the A&P

Now it was time to finish up. A plan was in place. I had the A&P finish taking out the actuator, I ordered the part from The Aviation Group, and watched things come together. I didn't swing any of the wrenches for this repair since it wasn't an owner maintenance item, but I watched it at many steps. This is the way I like to work and my A&P is ok with this as well as owner obtained parts.


In the end, I saved quite a bit over a new part and ended up with what I think is the best solution. It did take a bit of time, but I understand my plane better and understand the expense better. I think it falls in line with the concepts I learned at the Savvy Aviators Seminar. If you don't have time for this kind of watchful eye, I think Savvy Aircraft Maintenance Management might be a good idea. I haven't tried it, but it sounds interesting for people without the time or interest in understanding maintenance.


Friday, January 15, 2010

States Travelled maps

Sometimes it is fun to look back and see what places and states you have flown your airplane to. I have used two different methods to look back in time.

This is also the time of year that I start thinking about long flying trips for the rest of the year. These maps can help me think of new places to fly and help me remember some of my old favorites. is a site dedicated to aviation and actually has the ability to list comments on airports. It can also be used for people traveling as passengers in airplanes.

Here is my map from this website:

Here is another more generic site for generating a map of states that you have been.

Here is my map using this method:
States Flown to

For me, it is definitely a little bit lopsided near where I live. Lots of places left to explore, especially in the East and Northwest.