Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dane's Trip to Washington Pt. I

My fellow Man Friends,
I have put together these posts for your viewing and reading pleasure. Please, feel free to take a while to read them. There is a lot of verbiage here. I am of the opinion that there are few things manlier than taming a wild machine and forcing it to fly you to far off lands. You tell me if you agree after reading these posts. I have broken them up into 4 parts for your convenience.

I am currently working on my commercial license and I have been busy trying to balance being a stay-at-home dad, flying,a full load of classes, work and my church calling. About 2 months ago my flight instructor, Matt, and I were discussing how I would accomplish some of the flight requirements for my license. I told him that I really wanted to fly back home to Washington and fly into the little airport in the town my parents live in. He thought it would be fun, but he is also as busy (if not more) as I am, and said it would have to wait until the end of the semester. We decided on a date at the end of April and hoped for great weather.
We got to the week before the flight, and Matt and my eyes were checking the weather forecasts a dozen times a day. We were checking the forecasts for 3 cities too... Provo, Boise (a halfway stop for the trip to Washington) and Prosser (my "hometown"). We were actually biting our nails all week long because of precipitation. That was surprising, because of the (for you weather buffs) relative high pressure over the entire area, Provo included. In fact, Provo was looking the most threatening as far as cloud cover and precipitation (For those of you who don't know, we can't fly through clouds in UVU planes because of insurance risks, even though Matt and I are technically certified for flight through and in clouds).
Our day of anticipation came and Matt came to our house for breakfast and to be my ride out to the airport. We had a delicious breakfast bagel, did a last minute check of the weather, called in our flight plan (again, FYI... we have to call a "flight briefer" and give them our planned route so they can work us into the routes of all the other air traffic out there. They also give us a weather observations, forecasts, special notices for airmen, etc), and brought all of our maps, charts, calculations, info manuals, emergency gear and overnight clothes. As you can see, a lot to prepare for!

This is an example of a "sectional chart". It is one of two types of maps I used to plan my route to Washington and back. 
Matt and I got out to the airport, dispatched our airplane (334TS), and printed off some last minute weather reports for the flight. On a side note, I have to tell you about our plane from a plane nerds perspective. Our plane is a DA42 Twin Star. It's a twin engine, carbon fiber airplane with turbo charged diesel engines. In normal planes without turbochargers, performance decreases dramatically as you climb. In our turbocharged aircraft you can keep climbing to significant altitude without degraded performance. Well, our specific plane, 334TS (you have to say it like this... three three four tango sierra) was fresh off of a visit to the Diamond Aircraft factory to get a new set of engines... upgraded engines! The old ones had a lot of problems, but were still great. They produced 135 horsepower and were a great upgrade from the single engine planes I've trained in as far as speed and climb performance. Let's be honest, those are two of the funnest parts of flying... horizontal and vertical speed! Well, these new engines have 168 horsepower each, and have bigger turbos too. What does that mean? Better high-altitude performance... more on that later.
Matt and I did our pre-flight inspection and walk around. We had all the tanks topped off (we have four fuel tanks... one 25 gallon tank in each wing, and one 13.5 gallon auxiliary tank in each engine nacelle. About 77 gallons total... enough for almost 6 hours of non-stop flying) with Jet A and got settled in the plane.

The weather looking east. Normally you would have a beautiful shot of Mt. Timpanogos here.

The weather looking west. Much better, with some holes in the clouds to shoot through.

A great view of the new engines and fresh paint job.

334TS. You can see here that the flaps are down for part of the pre-flight check. Matt is in blue.
Matt and I did all of our necessary preflight prep, including hooking up the oxygen (we would be flying at 18,000 feet to stay out of the clouds, pick up favorable winds, and... just because we could! Above 12.500 in an unpressurized aircraft it is required to be on oxygen per Federal Aviation Regulations), getting local weather conditions and other info from the tower and taxiing to the runway.

video
This is a boring video of us leaving the parking spot...


video
Our departure out of Provo (KPVU). If you listen carefully, you'll hear Provo's tower controller begin to address us at the end of the video.

More to come on the rest of my trip...


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