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IFR flight to Bay Bridge W29

Flight log 2/19/2012 Bay Bridge with Stephen T
As mentioned in my previous writ-up I have cut back on flying so I could save for my Commercial Pilots License. I hadn’t flown in about two moths so when Stephen sent me a message asking if I would like to fly down to W29 -Bay Bridge- I figured it was about time I got back in the air.

Stephen told me that he was trying to arrange a group meet-up with the Princeton Flying Tigers but he was a little concerned about an approaching winter storm. I looked at the weather forecast on weather dot com and agreed that flying south of DE probably wouldn’t happen.

We touched base a few times during the previous day and discussed the option of flying north to CT for lunch later in the day if the WX turned out as forecast. To be honest, I went to bed that night with the thought that the trip south was off and we would be flying somewhere in CT later in the day, but I kept my phone next to me just incase.

The next morning I woke up at 7:30 and checked my phone… The trip was on! Stephen was getting ready to leave for the airport and wanted to know when I would be up there. OOPS I told him I should be there in about an hour. I still needed to get ready and drive to the airport. And to think.. I pay money for this? My original plan was to take my son but he was more interested in playing Madden 2011 on his Wii then freezing his but off waiting for daddy and Stephen to get the airplane ready. I can’t say I blame him. J. Well I made it to the airport in 1:15

WX (Weather):
For the first part of our trip the weather was good VFR, some bumps at lower altitudes and scattered clouds along our route that we had to keep an eye on (icing). But outside of that, we looked good. The winter storm that we were watching was now forecast to pass a little to the south of W29 but we planned on leaving before 3pm as the weather was going to eventually move into the area.

The flight: KMMU -> W29

Route: KMMU SBJ V30 LANNA V30 ETX V39 LRP V499 BAL W29
I asked Stephen to fly the first leg as I didn’t have the time to file and plan my flight. I would file from Bay Bridge and fly the leg home.
We departed KMMU on the Morristown 6 SID and were soon cleared to our cruising altitude of 8000 feet. The flight was super smooth and Steve did a good job with everything. I sat back and enjoyed the view. I wish I remembered my camera but it wasn’t a pretty day so you didn’t miss much. ATC did a good job of issuing shortcuts for us and eventually just cleared us direct to W29 from about 50 miles out. We let the final controller know that we wanted to shoot the practice RNAV 11 approach and we were soon cleared direct GEEMO.

We were meeting another PAFT member at W29 so when we heard him call and request the same approach we were happy the timing was going to work out. But then he opted to cancel on the ground vs. in the air. I started to worry that our approach was going to turn into a hold (ATC can not clear another IFR aircraft into an uncontrolled field until the lead aircraft closes their IFR flight plan).  We could have just requested the Visual and canceled in the air, but we were in the SFRA so we figured it might be a good idea to at least give it a try. As we got closer it became obvious that we were about to get a hold. The controller had us enter a vectored hold “fly heading 180” “fly heading 360” etc around the IAF.

The cool part was that we were vectored around the Naval Academy at Annapolis MD. After the first circuit ATC “suggested” that we could request the visual and cancel IFR. We took his suggestion, kept our beacon code as we were still in the SFRA. We let him know that we were going to shoot the approach anyway and with some quick GPS programming (real quick). I had Steve all set for the approach. He flew the approach and landed.

As we walked into the FBO the pilot ahead of us was standing ready to apologize. As he started I quickly let him know that it was okay (I did the same thing once) I also knew Steve was behind me and he was going to ask about it anyway. With that out of the way we called for our ride to Hemmingway’s. They sent the sue chef to pick us up. So far, pretty good service. 🙂

Hemingway’s restaurant has been recently rebuilt and is very nice. The food, service and company were great. After eating and chatting for a bit we decided to head home again.

Heading home:
On our way back to the airport I checked the weather and filed my flight plan via my iPhone (isn’t technology great)! With the freezing level at the surface I chose to file for 7000 feet, clouds in the area were all at 5000 feet and relatively thin (1000 feet or less) with no reports of icing. Once we got back to the FBO I called flight service for a briefing (back to old school). They reported pretty much exactly what I knew from reviewing the TAFs / METARS and area forecasts, but it is always a good idea to check twice.


Route: W29 V378 MXE V3 SBJ KMMU
We discussed how we were going to get our clearance and release since there wasn’t an RCO or clearance frequency listed on the charts. I went ahead and called the clearance delivery telephone number but was told to call the local TRACON. We got our clearance and I let the controller know I would call back once ready for takeoff. We called back and were given a release. There was a Cessna 172 departing ahead of us VFR so I gave him a few minutes before I departed. The 182RG climbs really well and in the winter we see 1500 FPM or better on initial climb-out. Sure enough, at about 1000 feet AGL we passed 172 like he was standing still.

We contacted departure and were cleared direct MXE and instructed to climb to 7000 feet. We remained clear of clouds for the first part of the trip, but just south of Philadelphia we were cleared back down to 5000 feet where I would be on ICE watch in the scattered cloud layer.

Failing Attitude Indicator:
Just before entering a small cloud I noticed an anomaly with the attitude indicator. I had leveled out from a small course correction but the AI still showed a bank. I checked for any flags and confirmed that the vacuum pressure was normal. Next, I asked Steve to confirm that I wasn’t crazy (I was also under the hood). He confirmed… Not crazy. Bad AI.  I passed thru the first clouds without a problem but notified ATC about the failing AI (as required by FAR) and requested 4000 to remain clear.

I flew the rest of the trip in the bumpy air below the clouds, under the hood and somewhat partial panel as I did not trust the AI. The AI was failing much like the last one did (just a few months earlier). It would act fine for about 90% of the time and then all of a sudden it would show either incorrect pitch or bank information. My first tip that something was a miss was after level off I had to adjust the horizon bar all the way up and it still wasn’t right. See picture.

We requested and flew the RNAV 5 at Morristown. Outside of a slightly steeper then normal vectored decent the approach went well ATC: N4757T descend and maintain 2000 until established on the approach, cleared RNAV 5 at Morristown… And give me your best forward speed. All this just 2 miles out from the FAF! Great practice!

The landing was good but I missed my intended touchdown point by about +100 feet. Need to tighten that up if I plan on passing my Commercial Pilot check ride.

Can’t wait to start my flight training!

Click to view Photos

Flight description: Morristown NJ KMMU to Bay Bridge W29 with Stephen T.
Aircraft: Cessna 182RG N4757T
Pilot: Stephen T (KMMU to W29) Mike B. (W29 to KMMU)
Flight rules: IFR
Weather conditions: VMC.
Ceiling: Skt at 5000.

Until next time; happy safe flying everyone!

Thanks for taking the time to read about our latest adventure. Please feel free to add your comments below.

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Amanda Michelle (Younkin) Franklin 3/14/1986 – 5/27/2011 Click for information on Amanda