Name: Frank


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    Apr 5, 2022 – Weather Flying – Avidyne Cool Features

    April 6th, 2022

    I was just a little nervous about the annual for N833DF this year. With all the treasure I’ve put into this airplane, I was very much looking forward to sailing through another annual with no issues. I had put fresh engines, props, an upgraded Aspen, and the Avidyne IFD550 in there over the lat two years. Subsequently, I’ve enjoyed two years of uninterrupted reliable operation. Kudos to Paul and Ralph down at Phill-Air (33N)

    This years annual was completed with no unexpected squawks, which is what I’d been hoping for. Paul did suggest that I order two fuel boost pumps for next year, stating that wear is evident and losing one would prevent you from starting an injected engine. They’ll be good for another year of operation, however, so I’ll get those ordered for next year. We’ll also be refurbishing the fuel selector at the same time.

    I repositioned the airplane back to my KILG Wilmington, DE home base; arriving back home an hour before Biden’s recurring TFR went into effect. I didn’t do any flying this past weekend to avoid the hassle, but I’m going to have to start using the TFR process they have in place. Biden comes home more than a school boy in third grade, so I’m going to have to fly while he is here.

    Weekend Reading: This has to be the wettest spring in awhile, so I stayed in while it rained and found the Avidyne book I received with my new navigator. I tried to master the new equipment by reading the basics and flying it. It’s much more fun flying than reading, but when you hit enough snags it is time to read the book.

    When I did open the book and started reading again – page for page this time – I was able to better understand a number of things that have been troubling me. The IFD550 is a vastly more powerful tool than the Garmin 530W I was used to, and requires will require overcoming negative transfer.

    I’ll layout what I’ve learned or re-learned later in the post. For now – let’s talk about those things I was able to experiment with during a flight in the rain yesterday.

    Flying in the rain: I had planned on taking an instructor/safety pilot/friend for a ride yesterday (Monday) to fly three approaches. Before I could do that, however, I was reminded by a phone call that reminded me I had already promised to take a friend flying that day. Fred is a former Marine and was looking forward to going flying, so we flew south and into the incoming rain for a few approaches at Delaware Coastal Airport (KGED).

    On this flight I managed to log two precision RNAV approaches on this flight, as well as intercepts and holds. I’ll do another flight and log another four approaches to maintain instrument currency later this month.

    Since I had a passenger this day, and was busy with IMC and rain, I didn’t get to do much experimenting with what I’d just learned. This first talk about those things I was able to accomplish. After that I’ll get into what is next.

    GPS Status: You can go to the SYS page and cycle through the LSK to reach the GPS Status. I needed to do this when my GPS indicator on the upper right was yellow. I sincerely thought my unit had failed to acquire a GPS signal and didn’t know how to check that signal.

    As it turns out, the GPS indicator for this unit remains YELLOW if there is no flight plan entered, as was the case when I left Jekyll Island in February. It will also remain YELLOW if the flight plan is not been activated; if there is no active flight plan leg; or if no GPS signal is being received. This is critical to understand, and is mentioned in a single sentence in maybe two places in this manual.

    Note that the Flight Plan will activate itself if you takeoff without doing so.

    Oil Change Timer: Apparently, the TIMERS feature can be used to track hours flown. I’ve added a timer, labeled it ‘Oil Change’, and now I’ll get a reminder when I’m within 5 hours of the 50 hour oil change mark. This is also a legal AD inspection requirement for me, so this can be helpful. I’ve never ever forgotten this restriction, so this feature is less than ground-breaking. Still – it’s there and I’m using it.

    Adding waypoints to an arrival or departure procedure is possible if you have version or later. I verified that I’m operating with version I may get to use this at some point, but I’ll wonder if I will remember it when I need it. To check your version, go to the SYS page and cycle the LSK until you see Software Status.

    Clearing a Flight Plan: Here is one I really wanted to know. When I am flying a complicated flight plan for training or a cross-country trip, I’ve wanted to clean up the waypoints to make it easier to manage changes. Previously I would delete each waypoint individually. During Monday’s flight I had just gone missed from an approach into Delaware Coastal and was cleared direct to my home airport, KILG.

    I could add that to the end of the flight plan (which already had two destinations and two approaches). Instead, I added KILG to the end and selected GPS Direct. Then I used the Aspen to go into heading mode for the autopilot. Next I went to the FMS FPL tab; selected Current Route; then pressed CLR. You have to then go back to the FPL tab and add KILG again, but that is all that is there at this point. I do plan to use this procedure and like that I found this approach. In many cases, it will be easier to modify the plan in ForeFlight and simply upload it.

    Uploading Data: I’ve had issues twice loading updated Electronic Charts. The solution has been to clear the cache in the JDM application, and also to reformat the USB Key as FAT32. This works to resolve the issues. I’m considering reformatting the USB Key each time as a safeguard.

    The features I’ll document a few of the features I that I feel I’ve implemented. Many were rediscovered during this re-read

    Mini Flight Plan: This one both excites and frustrates me. I’ve been able to see it efficiently shrink the size of my flight plan by NOT showing me every intersection. Instead it might show me KILG ENO V29.LAFLN KGED instead of all of the intermediate waypoints. While I have this option selected, I haven’t seen it use the more efficient presentation yet. What is missing is effective documentation on what it DOES DO and what I SHOULD EXPECT TO SEE. Frustrating.

    Multiple Destinations in a flight plan. Finding out that simply hitting the PROC key multiple times will cycle you through the approaches for destinations in your flight plan was a big learning for me. That was a WIN! On the other hand, I have decided not to use this feature to add repeated approaches to the same airport. I find that far too confusing in the heat of battle.

    [FPL] [INFO]: Using the info page. It is more useful if you highlight one of the waypoints on the FPL Tab (airport or VOR, for example) and then go to the INFO Tab. Look on the left side for PASTE and you’ll quickly get the information available for that waypoint. Cool feature I’ll use all the time!

    [NRST]: This is a reminder that you can find the nearest VORs, and from there also get the frequency you are looking for. See also the [FPL] [INFO] feature.

    [AUX] [AUDIO]: Comm Presets. I added several of these under my user profile ‘Frank’. Now that I’ve loaded them, I need to back them up.

    OBS Mode: Upper right button (CDI Nav/Source Knob) switches from GPS into OBS mode. Use this to fly a heading that will intercept a radial to a waypoint (the next one). Reaching the waypoint, GPS mode is reactivated. You can use this method to intercept a DME ARC by activating the ARC leg and then flying an intercept heading.

    • ASPEN: Set heading bug to desired heading (current)
    • IFD550: Select the TO Waypoint and activate the leg (LSK)
    • IFD550: Press the CDI Nav/Source Knob (upper right) to enter into OBS mode
    • ASPEN: Set desired course (radial) to the waypoint you’d like to follow
    • IFD550: Automatically re-activates GPS upon intercept and continues with FPL

    North Up / Track Up: Switch North Up / Track Up by pressing lower right knob (Multi-Function Knob). Look for north symbol upper right and TRK symbol next to heading or track top/center. I use this all the time.

    View Cursor: On MAP page; use View Cursor to walk through and center each waypoint on the screen as you check your flight plan.

    Course Offset: On FPL, select the TO Waypoint. Select left side Offset LSK and set value by turning the multi-function knob.

    Retry Approach: This LSK only shows up after a Vector-To-Final approach

    Bypass a Procedure Turn within an approach: These waypoints cannot be deleted. Simply select the next waypoint and activate the leg instead to bypass the procedure turn.

    Random Hold: Go to the FPL page and position the Insert Cursor after the waypoint you’d like to hold at. Press Enter; Select Hold; Fill in the data that ATC directed. Note that ATC gives a holding RADIAL to follow whereas the IFD uses a TO Radial. Therefore you must add or subtract 180 degrees!

    Verify the hold is correct by observing that the ‘Hold South of’ type message is appropriate to the instructions given.

    Published HOLD: On the FPL tab, place the Insert Cursor after the waypoint you’d like to hold at. Enter / Select Hold. If there is a published Hold or Holds here, you’ll be presented choices.

    Present Position Hold: On the MAP tab, rubber band a new waypoint in front of the airplane. On the FPL tab, place the Insert Cursor after the new waypoint you just created. Enter / Select Hold. Accept default or alter data.

    Admittedly there still remains a few features that I do not understand, or they simply do not work. In any event, I’ll have to continue researching those until resolved. I do plan to send these unanswered questions to tech support. I’ll read the FAQ first, however.

    • How does one uploading checklists from Trainer to the IFD550?
    • I need to try out my wireless keyboard again.
    • Consider checklists / exporting. I’m having a tough time understanding how to enter these, and then how to use them. Seems I get stuck in edit mode on the highest level and can‘t get out.
    • I turned on the Mini Format of the FPL; Turned ON SBAS Channels; and Turned OFF High Altitude Airways. I have no idea if anything has changed, nor do I know what to expect and when.
    • I’d like to backup my feature set, checklists, and Comm Presets. Not sure how.

    That’s it for now – I’m off to research further.

    Fly Safe! Frank

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    Apr 4, 2022 – Retiree in Training

    April 4th, 2022

    Good Morning everyone!

    I’ve been gone for awhile, but I’m back now. It’s time to update you on what has been going on, and where my beautiful Twin Comanche is these days.

    To review; Back on Aug 19th, 2021 I had submitted my resignation letter to FlightSafety. At that time I stated ‘This was not an easy decision to make, but my wife and I would like to enjoy the successes we’ve worked for before we get too old to play. I can only do that if I take control of my own schedule.’ I knew if I kept working there I would not be able to travel or do the things that my wife and I had been planning on.

    Being Retired: So how do people do this? Be retired, I mean. I’m into my fourth month and I can tell you that you’ll figure it out. The biggest challenge I face is keeping my brain busy and fighting the inevitable boredom that happens when the weather is bad. The activities I love happen in Spring, Summer, and Fall; but rarely in winter.

    I’ll start by saying that my highest personal goal will be to lose at least 40# this year. Personal weight management has been the only goal that has eluded me. I’m down 20# since Christmas, and hovering at this weight for a month now. I’m confident as the weather improves and my bicycling increases, I continue to lose this weight.

    The balance of my time will be dedicated to traveling with my wife while using my toys. The Twin Comanche will take us places all year, and we’ll use the Harley on local rides and our first trailer trip to more distant locations.

    Learning Electronics: I’ve also been self-teaching electronics while building a lab in my house. My grandson and I are designing a prosthetic hand for his school project, and I’m pushing the limits of my understanding to get this done. There is no end to the details I can dive into, and that fascinates me. I’ve always wanted to to this, so I’ll work on this when the weather sucks.

    G280 Contract Flying: This has been an interesting twist as spring comes to a close. I’ve turned down 6 different trips since I’ve retired, but finally relented and went for my first class medical just last week. The moment I was given that paperwork I had a trip – my first time flying the machine I’d been teaching in. There was definitely rust I had to shake off, but I was with a great friend and I caught on readily.

    I’ll remain current in the G280 through October, so I plan to keep doing trips until then. I believe there will be a demand for it, but I’ll also give a priority to the trips Bev and I plan to take. There is some talk among my friends about coming back to FSI part time, but there are no current plans to do that. These G280 trips are admittedly enticing, so it is possible I could work with them again in order to stay current. We’ll see what develops.

    Blocking Raptor Access

    N833DF Update: The airplane is even more phenomenal. The weather is finally nice today, but I have a sinus infection that is keeping me at home.

    Last Friday, I flew my airplane home just ahead of the presidential TFR to get it back in my hangar. The annual was completed for this year and no issues were found, except for evidence of a birds nest in the left wing.

    I suspect that the nest happened while it sat on the ramp waiting for the annual, as I could not find any evidence of activity in the hangar itself. None-the-less, I added foam pool noodles to block the holes behind the ailerons. Birds will not quit once they find a home. Pool Noodles should do the trick and even blow off the airplane if I am completely brain dead during the pre-flight.

    PowerTow: While the airplane was down, I also changed the oil and plug in my PowerTow. It had rust on it, so I applied my deplorable painting skills to clean that up as well.

    I had neglected the oil for far too long, so it felt great getting my equipment back in order and cleaning up the hangar.

    N833DF Avidyne IFD550: This radio is amazing and frustrating at the same time. Mind you – the frustration part is ALL ME. Between the jets and my Garmin experience, negative transfer is making the typical training flights I do for proficiency a little bit more difficult. Avidyne Technical Support has been right on it though. The three times I reported major technical problems with my radio/FMS/Navigator – it was quickly and accurately diagnosed as User Error.

    Typically, I learn by doing and just go fly and figure it out. I was warned that this approach would not work well with this FMS, so I did read quite a bit before I went flying. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, experienced significant frustration trying to ‘just fly’, but am slowly getting more proficient and understanding how to interface with it.

    Since I can’t fly today, I opened the Avidyne book by Michael F Bauer (“Flying the the Avidyne IFD”) and decided to read it from cover to cover. Every page this time, which will mean more now that I have real world experience with it. I’m excited to say that I learned several new things that explain some of my frustration (negative transfer) and will make this investment really pay off. I can’t wait to go try them! Just a few of the features I re-discovered include the mini flight plan option; adding multiple destinations and being able to hit the PROC key to cycle through those destinations to set approaches at each one; additional details about entering unplanned HOLDS and verifying them; clearing an entire flight plan easily; and understanding flight plan activation.

    Flying the Twin Comanche: Part of our retirement plan is to travel more. Bev and I decided to start checking out destinations within three hours flying time of home base (KILG). The idea was to look for destinations where we’d like to hang out for a week, and be able to travel using our airplane or the Harley.

    Our initial experiment was the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee. I got to know this areas as I flew N833DF back and forth to Dallas, Tx last year. Stopping in western Tennessee and in Kentucky I witnessed beautiful landscapes and busy recreational lakes. The area looked lush and beautiful, and I wanted Bev to see it.

    The idea was to fly into an airport near Pigeon Forge; then look for places we might want to rent on a routine basis. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a cabin on a mountain or a lakeside view that would give us an annual adventure to fill our time.

    The flight southwest took about 3 hours at 9,000′, and was the first time I had both Beverly and myself on oxygen. We had a smooth ride in mostly VFR conditions, and the scenery was spectacular. I have occasionally been preoccupied and taken this for granted, but not today. I was enjoying Bev’s company and pointing out where I’d been.

    N833DF did have a glitch on the trip down. I noticed an intermittent voltage fluctuation, and identified a potential problem with the right alternator shortly. I performed a post-flight check and everything was fine, so I covered the airplane and picked up our rental car. We had landed in Sevierville, just to the north of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

    The town of Sevierville was awash with electric buggies of all kinds. We were surprised at the activity in the town, and apparently timed our arrival to the start of an area wide car show. It looked like this was the place to be (for car lovers) and everyone from the surrounding area had come into the valley towns to fill them up. I went there expecting solitude and beautiful views, but landed among electric golf carts and buggies of all sorts carried senior citizens on the main roads. Ok – let’s see what is here.

    Our room was nice enough, so we dropped our gear and started sniffing around on our iPads for a direction to go exploring in. That’s when I realized that the Tail of the Dragon was right here! The tail is a motorcycle route that is infamous for its challenging twists and switchbacks, and it’s be good to see it first in a rented Camry. We headed off to find it, with the secondary goal of spotting a place to rent cabins.

    We rode the Tail of the Dragon to its southern end, where we found the Topaco Lounge. This restaurant was full of motorcycle riders with a flowing mountain stream adjacent to the dining area. It was really very nice. My hands were at 10 and 2 all the way over, but getting back by any other route would have added 2 hours around mountains. We headed back over the tail and cautiously drove the tail on back. I will NOT be taking Beverly two up on the trail, thank you. Box checked!

    The Tennessee trip was worth doing and we very much enjoyed the trip. We did not find an obvious place to rent, however, so we aren’t planning a return trip any time soon. I do recommend this as a destination if you haven’t see it.

    On the flight home I lost the right alternator completely. My A&P came up to meet me; found and repaired a broken field wire.

    February 8, 2022. I’d been retired at this point for a month, so we decided to fly someplace warmer than Chesapeake City. Jekyll Island, Georgia had warm enough temperatures and was reachable with reasonable travel day in the Twin.

    The trip included a stop in Lumberton, NC for fuel and comfort. We took the time to have lunch is their nicely appointed and clean lobby. I planned this to be a 5 hour trip with the winds we had, but could do it today in 4 hours. Having said that, I want to ensure my wife has the best time possible, so I make sure not to exceed 3 hour legs unless she is dead-to-the-world asleep. In the later case – we’re goin’!

    I decided not to land on Jekyll island, but instead to use St Simon’s Island. I wanted a rental car and there are none on Jekyll; only open golf carts. My wife isn’t picky, but she does get cold. We drove the 20 or 30 minutes from St Simon’s to Jekyll and began exploring the island.

    Let me just say we are going back. Granted, we were there in February and no one else was. Still, there is endless beaches; you can land on the island and be just fine with a golf cart; and the hotels are very nice. Bev and I plan to return in September, landing on the island this time. There is fuel there.

    N833DF is going to our timeshare again in Florida in July. Last year we visited friends on the Gulf Coast and other friends in the Wilmington, NC coastal area. We did that trip by car then because I had an injured leg, but this year we’ll do it in style.

    Motorcycle Trips: It’s still damn cold so I hope it warms up by next week. Bev and I have signed up with friends for a local ‘Ride to the Tide’ motorcycle ride. I’m definitely going, but Bev might hang back if it’s too cold. Like the airplane, I want her to be comfortable so we can properly enjoy these toys in our retirement.

    Another trip is happening less than two weeks from now too. We’ll use our motorcycle trailer for the first time, and drive the Harley out to Huntington, WV for several rides in that area. This time we found an Air B&B to rent right on the river, and will use that as our base of operations. I’m nervous about using the trailer for the first time, and wondering what the Air B&B experience will be like as well. You don’t know until you try, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

    That’s enough for now. Fly safe and be well!


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    Jan 8, 2022 – Winter Flight and a New Year

    January 8th, 2022

    I have actually retired from FlightSafety at the end of 2021. I am not out there looking for anything either, and getting used to the idea of not working for the first time since I was 14 years old. Now that weekly work schedules are a thing of the past, I have to learn how to do this retirement thing. It’s not coming natural to me, but Bev and I will figure it out.

    N833DF State of the Union Address

    Avionics Updates: In the past two years I have updated my Aspen to a ProMax, replaced my aging Garmin 530W with an Avidyne 550, repaired my radio stack structure, and ordered a new 30k$ autopilot. I’ve been very happy with the path I’ve taken, and it’s given me something to train up on (which I enjoy). My panel updates are working well together. Upon my retirement, I’ve decided to cancel the new autopilot and continually maintain my Altimatic IIIB.

    The IFD550 is a very powerful NAV/COMM that continues to throw me curve balls now and again. While the learning curve has been noticeable, I have finally been able to re-train my brain away from the Garmin 430/530 paradigm.

    Engines: The Penn Yan overhauled engines now have 200 hours on them. That is only 10% of TBO life, even after all that Dallas flying. They start well and run smoothly, so no complaints at all. The only fly in the ointment is from the Blackstone Oil analysis where they believe the level of Chrome in the samples is showing higher wear than it should. The trends are the same for both engines, so I’m less concerned that there is a problem. Oil filters are clear and operation is normal.

    I had a telephone discussion about this with Tim Hansen at Penn Yan (responsive customer service!). Tim reviewed my JPI data and the Blackstone reports with me, and I relayed the discussion to Paul, my A&P. We all feel there really is nothing to worry about here, but will plan on a bore scope inspection of both engines at the annual inspection to be sure. Tim suggested I call him back with those inspections (including pictures of the cylinder walls) in hand so we can put this concern to rest.

    Remaining Current

    There had been a snow storm earlier in the week that covered the airport with ice. Prior to that, Biden had been zapping Delaware flying for the week between Christmas and New Years, and prior to that I’d been working damn near everyday in December. The result was that I hadn’t flown my airplane for an entire month!

    The embedded video is from my breakout flight on January 6th down to KGED Delaware Coastal. There was another storm coming that night, so it was bumpy as hell on the northern segment of the flight. It smoothed out somewhat to the south, and the airplane was comfortable in the sun without the heat on.

    Throughout the flight I could feel my reflexes were unnatural. The rust in my process was obvious to me. I was spending far too much head-down time managing and monitoring systems inside the airplane. Far too little time looking outside for traffic. Adding that new radio and the associated monitoring, debugging, and setup is a distraction. Adding cameras is yet another distraction (I only did a quick grab from my phone for this one). This airplane can be a hand-full when you haven’t flown recently; are dealing with traffic down low on a clear day; and trying to practice instrument approaches into a VFR airport.

    Throughout the year I’m planning on working with Steve, a fellow PA30 owner and Flight Instructor, to do some practice and stay current in 2022. When it gets warmer, we’ll do single engine work in my airplane; stalls and proficiency work; instrument approaches. I’ll get to practice my own MEI skills by returning the favor for him, so that will be good for me as well.

    I’ll be more active in the Northeast Twin Comanche tribe, attending more of the fly-ins that these folks arrange. I’ve only ever been able to attend one of these in Williamsburg earlier this year. I might also return to flying Angel Flights now that I’m retired and available.

    Travel while you can!

    Bev and I plan to figure out the best use of our new freedom this year. For me, that means seeing where I can insert my toys into the process. We did a 3 day trip to Tennessee a few months back that we still talk about. I’d like to do more trips like that in the airplane this year.

    I recently purchased a single motorcycle trailer that works with my Honda CRV and our Harley Ultra-Limited. I’ve been following this young girl on YouTube (#RideForFood) who has inspired me to plan rides in both Tennessee (where we flew the airplane), and Arkansas. When it gets warm (April), we plan to trailer the bike to Tennessee first, and then out to Arkansas. I’ve planned about 15 rides and we’ll do a few of those.

    We are in no rush. I am interested to see how much we both enjoy using these toys in this way. If it isn’t fun or worth the trouble, we’ll do something else. I’m not wedded to the toys and can entertain myself with those anytime. The entire point of retiring is to spend more time together while we can still move about the country. There will be plenty of time to sit around when we are old!

    Fly Safe! Frank

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    Aug 25, 2021 – Summer Flying

    August 26th, 2021

    Catching You Up on my news since the last post. I have been busy with life and I haven’t been blogging much. That may change as I have more time, and you’ll see why in the next post.

    We launched a major update of our home on the C&D canal, which has absolutely dominated the scene is our house. After my wonderful father in-law and then mother in-law both passed away relatively recently, it was time to update a significant portion of our house. In order for that to happen, I had to move the Harley to my hangar and get into the habit of moving the cars around every morning to make a work space. That part has been mildly painful.

    Airshow Incident: Back on Jun 19th of this year, I had the pleasure of attending the Ocean City Airshow. After the second day of the airshow, after having had a number of beverages during the day, I decided to go in the water for a quick swim. I waded in to find the surf to be very rough and the sand to be on a considerable incline down to the waves. Ok – maybe I should try this tomorrow morning when it might be more fun. I turned around to rejoin my wife on the beach and find something else to do.

    Just as I turned I was hit from behind by an aggressive wave. Attempting to recover my balance, I stepped in a 2 foot deep hole with my left leg fully extended and the wave pushing me down. The weight of the water and my forward momentum fractured my left tibia. That didn’t feel very good – although the Grey Goose prep work I’d done did help for awhile.

    Vacation Interruptus: We had a planned flying vacation to Florida; to both coasts and the Keys. That had to change to accommodate driving instead of flying. Now I am generally adverse to staying in other peoples homes when we travel, being concerned that we’ll impose on them without realizing it. I tend to find a hotel to stay in to ensure that doesn’t happen, but in this case, was convinced to do otherwise. We were met with open arms on both coasts and suddenly spending time and staying with good friends looked like great opportunities to explore.

    We had a blast visiting with Charles and Kathy on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and then Ed and Simone on the Inter-coastal Waterway in North Carolina.

    Charles and Kathy invited us to stay, but the timing didn’t work out for us this trip. They made us very comfortable while we were there for the day, however, and insisted we stay with them the next time. Eddie and Simone were similarly accommodating on our trip home. While we had planned to stop for just a meal with them, since we hadn’t seen them in so long, they convinced us to start home early on Friday and stay the weekend. Ed even set up a fishing trip off the NC coast for me that Saturday that was an awesome surprise! I am incredibly lucky to have such friends. Bev relaxed at their beautiful home with Simone for the day. We had a great time, and look forward to flying down to see them the next time as well. Both of these couples have beautiful homes and are all set up for their retirement. That got me thinking…..

    The trip to Florida was a great success and I’m glad Bev and I got away. We returned to see some progress in the construction at home, but there was still a ways to go on the project.

    July 30, 2021 – Special Programs in Dallas: I was able to start flying again at the end of August, and the first trip was back to Dallas. The leg was still sore, but I could apply full rudder pressure as necessary. The airplane flew flawlessly, and it was good to get moving again. An additional plus was being away from the construction as home for a few more days. I love getting the WOW factor when I come back and see progress.

    August Play Time: Bev and I are so very blessed. We were invited out on a boat for the day with some very good friends early in the month. That led us to several places throughout today, ending up at a Rum Bar in Chesapeake City South. I cannot tell you how relaxing that day was. Following that, we had a wonder beach party with 10 or so couples we see just a few times a year.

    Still – with all those captured opportunities, there were others that Bev and I had to forego because I’m working. These events would enable us to stay in touch with a wide net of friends we both value, and enjoy the successes we’ve earned. I’m getting frustrated saying no too often (mostly in the summer).

    August here in Chesapeake City is almost over at this point. It has been wet, hot, and muggy. My work schedule continues to frustrate me with its unpredictability. The next blog will cover an important IFD550 experience on a flight I just completed, and a change in career direction for me.

    Fly Safe!!


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    Jun 9, 2021 – Flying the IFD550

    June 11th, 2021

    N833DF has been updated: I’ve recently updated my comms and cleared up ALL of my squawks in the panel. The engines are running great and I have an awesome machine. I’ve done 5 or so flights since the IFD550 was installed to replace the Garmin 530WAAS/FlightStream 210 combination, and I’m still trying things out.

    I’ve learned enough that my personal minimums are back to that – minimums.

    Advice: If you want to get up to speed quickly on the basics of your new IFD540/550, I suggest you start by watching Martin Pauly videos on YouTube (link below). This guy puts the time in and produces quality videos that are easy to watch and listen to. After you’ve seen what quality video editing looks like and begin to understand what the IFD550 unit is capable of, you can then search for AirDorrin and watch my own videos as I implement his suggestions. You’ll see that the devil is in the details. you can learn from my mistakes, and send suggestions.

    I began my journey in learning this new equipment by reading the pilot guide, and then loading the IFD100 and IFD540/550 Trainer on my iPad. I had done all that before my radio installation was complete. While I flew the trainer and read the book, I also surfed YouTube and found Martin Pauly’s video, 12 Favorite Things [that he likes about the Avidyne units]. This stood out as a great starting point after the very basic stuff was mastered.

    This blog will be a discussion of what I learned trying to implement Martin’s top 12 things he liked about the unit. I agree with him on most of it, but found effective testing while flying an approach in a light twin to be challenging at best. Be careful and take someone with you to be eyes up if you can.

    In my opinion, the radio is not necessarily intuitive to the Garmin crowd. The steps in each process are not vastly different than other FMS systems or the old Garmin units I have used. They are different enough, however, to cost you precious button pushing and head scratching time in the middle of critical flight processes. In other words, flying a light twin on an approach while trying to observe subtle differences in radio Idiosynchronicity can be challenging.

    Bullshit – it is challenging and my hands were full.

    What follows here is a focused discussion of the features Martin called out. I’ll add my own opinions on each one, and more importantly, tell you how I tested and implemented them in the training app and in the airplane. Keep in mind that Martin has had his unit since 2019 and I’ve had mine for maybe a month or so. I’ll give myself time before I declare myself competent.

    12 things Martin Likes about the Avidyne units:

    • QWERTY KEYBOARD: On the screen primarily. Small bluetooth keyboard is mentioned.In general, I’ve had to get used to touching my radio’s screen. The kids that worked for me in energy trading used to chuckle at my lack of tolerance for people touching my screen while they leaned over me to make a point. Back then touchscreens did not exist, and I just hated people putting their hands all over my clean screen to explain anything. I just hated it. Do that and I generally stopped listening.
      They learned.Fast forward to today – I use an iPad all day long and touch my phone screen constantly. I’ve had to adapt.  I’m getting used to it because I had to. I’ll have to learn to effectively and safely clean my screen now, but that will happen.I have only one Avidyne unit, so the QWERTY screen appears on my one screen.
      Martin has two Avidyne units, so entries on one screen pop up the keyboard on the other. Cool feature. In order to minimize screen touching on my brand new radio, which I aspire to, I will use the Avidyne IFD100 app on the iPad. It works fine, but I’m not in a routine yet.The mini bluetooth keyboard is a footnote. It is a joke, in my current estimation. I can’t see mounting this in any other place than the yoke where my iPad sits, which I won’t do. I can’t see using this thing in turbulence – ever. I could be wrong, and I will try it eventually, but I doubt anyone uses it. Ever.   Yes – I jumped to this conclusion and put it back in it’s box.
      Scheduled Flight Testing: Nothing specific. I’ll be using this from iPad and from the box as required, and you’ll figure it out too. I’ll report back any issues or useful findings.
    • Datablock Customization:This is over the top outstanding, in my estimation. I’m not sure what ultimate selections I’ll make, but holy S$h!t this is freakin’ cool. I have a traffic radar embedded where I want it, and just found out I can add a CDI in there too. Very Very Very excellent feature.Easy to configure. Tremendously useful.
      Scheduled Flight Testing: I want to have traffic, the CDI, ground speed, vertical descent rate, and next waypoint items up and ready. On longer flights I’ll have the opportunity to play more with these.The trouble with a PA30 is that it is so fast that you don’t have much time to fiddle with radios while you are preparing for an approach that is only 30 minutes away. Flying professionally while also learning and being solo is not easy.
    • Multiple Approaches:  I’d never thought of this nor heard of this capability in any other system until I saw Martin’s video. The user manual documents it, but do not try it in the air for the first time.In order to make this work, you have to enter in a route or flight plan that includes two approaches to the 33N airport. In my example, I initially enter the RNAV 9 into 33N airport from the JOSEM intersection with a procedure turn. After the missed,  I wanted to fly the RNAV 27 from JODSI to the same airport.Martin says you can do it, and the book verifies his assertion, calling it a ‘Cool Feature’. I don’t see the steps required to do it anywhere, however, so I tested the process and have documented the steps to make it work.
      Note: Bonus points if you find details in the documentation that I missed.You basically follow the normal process for the first approach. Add the same airport as a waypoint after the missed approach (bottom of the active route). Then enter the data block for that airport and directly enter the next approach you want. In other words, DO NOT try to use PROC to manage the second approach.
      Note: If you fly this approach and go missed, you may not get auto sequenced to the missed approach waypoint on the first approach. I’m currently attempting to document what happens on each page, but finding it difficult while flying solo. Manual sequencing may be required.
      Note: If the first missed approach waypoint from the initial approach calls for a turn, you might get busy trying to over-rule it by activating the second approach waypoint. In my example, the second approach was in the opposite direction.
    • AHRS and Synthetic Vision:  This is what sold me on changing out the Garmin 530W/FlightStream 210 combination. Not primarily, but useful in emergencies.The display is beautiful and packed with information. The sidebar data is retractible and very useful. The lateral and vertical direction indicators are very useful as an emergency backup and alternate approach display.
    • Airway Navigation:  I was so bedazzled by the features and functions in the basic demonstrations I’d seen that I fully expected to see low enroute charts for planning. For awhile there I was even thinking that Foreflight, the preeminent aviation application might be threatened by the power of this thing. Fear not, however, that hasn’t happened.
      The IFD550 data subscription includes Jepp charts along with SIDs, STARs, and airport diagrams. The low and high enroute charts are not included, so I’ll use the powerful ForeFlight app to get that done.
      I do have to consider whether I need to buy a Jepp chart subscription for the iPad or just use live with the free NOS charts. I can use them for work to be consistent, but I haven’t done that just yet.
      I do have to figure out the why and when I need to switch from the SVS, FMS, and MAP pages. There are messages related to missed approaches and such that pop up when you are on one page versus another, and I just managed to notice the differences there. More work to do.
      * SVS to get lateral and vertical guidance.
      * FMS to change the route or activate a leg or approach (I think)
      * MAP to monitor flight progress
    • Custom Holds: Present position hold easily done. The other holds are readily implemented, and I did manage to reprogram an approach I’d entered at the last minute to include an extended hold.Note:  One challenge with this new equipment is that things done infrequently will not come to me quickly in a pinch. I’ll focus on the basics that will allow me to stumble through anything when I have to, including a manually flown hold if I cannot get it programmed in time. It’s all possible, but flying a twin in weather gets busy.
    • Vertical Navigation: I like seeing the top and bottom of descent. You get to see a Green Banana showing where you’ll achieve your altitude goal (up or down). It is not driving the autopilot, but it is useful already.
    • Ease of Database Updates: I’ve done this once so far by using the Jepp JSUM application I already had for the 530waas, but downloading the data to a simple USB. You get all the obstacle, nav data, and charts that way.
      One difference with this process – uploading data into the radio instead of Garmin’s approach where the data stays on a static card – is that I have to power up the airplane to update the radio. Minor thing but it changes my process.
    • IFD100 and iPad: This free additional application works directly with the radio via wifi. I’m very surprised by how useful this can be, and have been playing with it quite a bit. It’s early yet, but this is a game changer for N833DF.
      In order to use this I’ve learned to run dual apps on my iPad side-by-side. Foreflight on one side and the IFD100 on the other with the iPad oriented in landscape. I’ve changed from mounting my iPad in portrait mode on the yoke with just ForeFlight, so I can try this out and develop a process.
    • Flight Plan transfer via wifi: Thus far I’ve tested and shown that I can plan my flight on ForeFlight and upload in the airplane directly. Shorter flights can be developed on the IFD100 by itself and that new route will be available on the airplane’s radio when they link. Foreflight uploads and downloads, but on demand and not automatically.
      It’s early, but I think I already have everything I need and I’ll continue to find more capabilities there. I’ll evaluate what displays to have up enroute as we go.
      Note: I run in split screen with an iPad mini5, so half screen is pretty small for controlling the IFD550.  Controlling this way keeps wear down on the radio, so I like that approach. More playing is required.
    • Weather and Traffic on the map:  GTX345 does a nice job passing along the weather. Another decision I have to make at this point is how effective the weather displays at this point. The higher resolution on both the IFD550 and the IFD100 is noticeable.  I am wondering again if I need to continue with Sirius XM weather.
    • Fuel Endurance and range rings: The primary page I’ve been using is better than the Garmin equivalent. Truth be told, I never really researched the 530’s full capabilities since I had so many other new things going on in the airplane since the new engines went in.
      Note: I see Martin zooming out to see fuel range limits, so I’ll try that this afternoon. I carry almost 7 hours of fuel and move at 175 kts, so I’ll have to scroll out to see those ranges.

    Martin also calls out a wish list of things he’d like to see added to the software. Automatic Syncing would be nice between ForeFlight and the IFD550. It’d be nice to have the radio signal the autopilot to fly the VNAV profile, and it’d be nice to be able to build custom holds at waypoints along the track. I’d like to see present position hold done more easily.

    My next steps are to reposition my radios to provide better information on actions page by page. The excellent simulator they provide does not do everything the same as the radio, so you can’t do all your testing on the ground.

    Enough for now….   Fly Safe and thanks for reading along.


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    May 20, 2021 – Garmin 530W versus the Avidyne IFD550

    May 28th, 2021

    Nav/Comm reliability: I recently experienced escalating radio issues with my radio stack. The primary (#1) NAV/Comm Garmin 530WAAS had been having squelch issues which the shop had addressed once already, so I began to suspect antenna the connections were compromised. The KI-209 that acts as a backup localizer / glideslope indicator for my #2 Nav/Comm, the KX-155, failed it’s glideslope indicator.  Finally, my historically strong and trustworthy KX-155 (#2 NAV/COMM) began to develop intermittent power issues on it’s own, requiring it to be taken out and re-installed just to get it turned on. Something had to be done.

    I’d already decided to replace the Garmin 530WAAS with something newer. Working with my shop, they told me the newer Garmin was physically larger there was no room for it without panel modifications. I like my panel, and didn’t want to change it.

    Introducing the Avidyne IFD550: Paul Phillips is my A&P working out of 33N as Phill-Air. Paul owns lots of STCs on these birds, and was the guy who actually convinced me to consider this type in the first place when twin shopping. I was there for an oil change a month or so ago, and Paul and I got to talking. He shared with me that he was working on becoming a dealer for Avidyne, and had become familiar with their radios. He wanted me to look at the IFD units before I committed to Garmin, and at least think about it. Paul had an airplane in the shop at the moment with an IFD550 up and running, and insisted I take a look at it. We did just that.

    Based that on previous experience flying SR20 displays some years back, Avidyne products weren’t even on my radar. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with the units or the company, just that there was nothing amazing about them that might pull me away from proven Garmin units.

    So we fired up the Avidyne in this airplane to play with it. My level of knowledge on the new FMS style interface wasn’t enough to figure out how to drive the unit without any preparation. I’d heard that these units weren’t intuitive to the Garmin crowd, and I’d say that is true. I paged through what I could until I stumbled across the SVS page showing that this unit had its own internal AHRS and a useful (beautiful) AHRS display. I sat up and took notice. No – it was more than that. I decided right then that I’d consider one of these if I used the trainer and liked the way it operated after having some experience.

    Deciding: I downloaded the IFD550 Trainer for my iPad, read quite a bit about the radio, and spent some time understanding how to use the trainer itself. YouTube videos helped in all regards, and a particular shout out to

    I began to see how powerful this approach might turn out to be. It would also solve the panel problem, and slip right in as a Garmin 530W replacement. I’d have an ADI with synthetic vision in the center panel for the right seater and as a ProMax backup. I can’t believe it but I decided to order the Avidyne IFD550 to replace my Garmin 530WAAS.  Let’s do this.

    At this point I’d be getting a new #1 GPS NAV/Comm that would ensure my reliability from that position. That replaces a 20 year old radio and if the new radio showed any signs of weakness, I’ll know for sure I have antenna and/or connection issues.

    Plot complication: I had ordered the new #1 radio and scheduled the installation when my #2 NAV/Comm started having sympathy issues. I’d power up the airplane only to have the KX-155 panel completely dark. What fresh hell is this? This radio has been a reliable stalwart of my airplane, so this experience supported my suspicion that there was an issue with the radio rack(s) themselves. When the #1 radio was out, I asked that both radios taken out and the racks and connections looked at closely.

    When the IFD550 went in, the rack was found to be broken in the back. I happily paid for new rack components and now have a brand new #1 IFD550 and a solid KX-155 as my #2 NAV/Comm. While they were at it, we swapped my failed KI-209 so I’d have a functional glideslope on my #2. I am actually at zero squawks at this point and looking forward to learning the new system.

    I continued to use the IFD550 simulator, and then set up an additional iPad to simulate a panel mounted IFD550 talking with an IFD100 on the other iPad. Avidyne had done quite allot of geeky work to support the learning process.

    Teething Pains: Avidyne had an offer out there to extend the warranty to four years. The process for doing that was not smooth and their website seemed to be playing catch-up. That seemed odd given all the quality I’d seen with the products in the field, and finding the right person to talk to was a pain. I got that done though.

    I took the new unit flying and it worked great. However, I could not get the WiFi to link to the iPad. I wasn’t concerned and looked into it after I’d landed. You need know the wifi password for one thing, and know where to find that (AUX pages). Once that is in, you will get no error messages or indications as to why it won’t link. I did find a reference to data related issues that prohibit the units from tying together if the data in each doesn’t match, or if the data is out of date.

    My unit was new and the sample data had expired by 1 day. I went home and updated the data via JDM to a conventional USB, then downloaded the same data onto my iPad. The two connected readily on the next flight.

    Understanding Jeppesen subscriptions was the next thing I had to do. I wanted that 60 day trial, but it wasn’t clear to me if the shop had signed me up or I had to do it. Communication from the shop on these issues were unclear because the shop hadn’t done many of these, and they didn’t fully understand the steps required after installation. Jeppesen cleared that up over the phone and got me set up on my trial data. I’ll wait to buy a subscription at the point where the trial runs out.

    Note that I used to get a free Jepp subscription for one iPad, but that isn’t available for the Avidyne units. Interestingly enough – you may not need one.

    Foreflight works well with the new unit, as you’d expect. The route transmission takes slightly longer and looks different than Garmin’s, but it basically stays the same. Traffic and weather data moves freely.

    I started using the new iPad features that allow two applications to run simultaneously as well. Having Foreflight running along side the IFD100 app is interesting. It is giving me more capability than I need at the moment, given that the radio itself is so much more capable. I may even start flying without a yoke mounted iPad, depending on what failure modes I decide to prepare for.

    First trip with the boss: Beverly and I took the airplane down to Newport News for an overnight. I thought I had everything sorted out at this point, but noticed that the boresight showed an inappropriate pitch attitude on the Synthetic Vision display. It was showing 2.5 degrees nose low and that was confirmed by my Aspen display.

    I fumbled around with FB groups and other resources, thinking that’d be faster. I did get some guidance there to give me confidence that this was easily adjustable.

    My avionics shop did help, but was really learning along with me. Next I sent an email to Avidyne, but was thinking they might not want me touching the maintenance screens. I delayed this communication because I suspected they’d  want me to fly to the shop to have them adjust the unit.

    Not so! Within an hour I had the instructions in my hand and they were clear. I decided to try it before leaving Newport News for home. My excitement faded, however, when I found a maintenance PIN was required. Avidyne did a poor job on this particular page, because it made me stop there for a moment.

    In order to continue, I decided to try a simple ‘1234’ entry as a code, but that didn’t work. I didn’t know this, but as it turns out, all I had to do was use the big knob to right past this screen and do what I had to do. I flew home wondering if my shop put in their special code, and that started pissing my off a little. Assumptions!

    Once I got home I called the shop and figured out what actually had happened. They confirmed I could have skipped right by this page, but what I accomplished by trying 1234 was to initialize a maintenance PIN which is normally blank. What a pain in my ass. Now I had to document that PIN so maintenance can access these pages in the future. Grrrrrrrrr. Avidyne didn’t make this page clear at all. Remember though that I don’t have the installation manual, so maybe they do make it clear to the installers.

    So I did find the page and added a 2.5 degree adjustment to fix the issue. I assume that the adjustment I added will do the trick, but can easily do it again once I see the results. I’m going to fly again this morning just for that test.

    Reliable radios once again. The IFD550 is far superior to Garmin GTNs, in my humble opinion. Hands down more powerful and intuitive once you use it. I’ll make some objective points here:

      • Weather displays on the information page are higher resolution and clear
      • Fuel range rings are included, and usage information is better
      • Jepp charts right on the IFD550 is useful, convenient, and easily readable
      • Jepp charts repeated on the IFD100 are another excellent option, although if the IFD550 fails you’ll lose this too. Foreflight NOS charts can back you up.
      • The Garmin 530 data package included Jeppesen charts for my iPad. The Avidyne package does not.
      • Training and practice is required, but I love the unit. My jet training on Rockwell-Collins Proline units helps, I think, but you’ll master it if you take the time.
      • Traffic is much better in the 550, but different. I missed the big rings, but after 5 flights I have learned where to look now, and find the Avidyne more powerful.
      • This unit changes the way I will use Foreflight
      • The SVS display has no heading bug. Interesting. Not sure if that is normal yet – investigating
      • Routes / Flight plan updates in flight flow from ForeFlight into the 550 and then to the IFD100
      • Update process: Proprietary card and USB uploader for Garmin is now gone. Avidyne uses a standard USB key that includes Nav and Obstacle data (at least in the trial)Note that updating the Garmin could be done with a card swap with the airplane powered down. Updating the Avidyne takes a few minutes with the radio powered up and the USB inserted. Not a big deal, but different.

    Traveling again: Bev and I are flying to Florida in July, and I’ll be taking it to Dallas again right after that. Pulling out the oxygen again and using this new equipment.

    Fly safe!



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    April 14, 2021 Today, I went flying in the rain

    April 14th, 2021

    I just came back from a wonderful flight in rain and lowering visibility. It was by no means IFR, but a small step toward lowering my minimums again.

    I’ve had pretty high minimums in my airplane for the past year. Mostly because I’ve been distracted while continuously diagnosing issues related the the new equipment I installed. The left engine seemed to be running hot after rebuild, as reported by the EDM 760. The EDM 760 kept giving false alarms related to CHT for a few months, and then fuel flow for the last few.

    All that is behind me. I spoke with Lycoming, read the manual, and listened to what my A&P was telling me. The engines have both been running fine with temps that are well within range. I did read Mike Busch on Engines, but much of what he has to stay just doesn’t apply to my smaller lycomings. I spent countless hours trying to reproduced the EGT/CHT relationships and simply couldn’t do it. Now that might of been because I added GAMI injectors and Electro-Air ignition to the mix, but I’m absolutely done thinking about it. Done. My engines are fine.

    The engine monitor is finally, finally, reporting all data channels without fail. It took connector replacements to make that happen, but whatever it took I’m happy. Now I’ll use that monitor for accurate fuel management, leaning to a GPH, looking for cylinder anomalies over time, and general engine care. I just wanted it ALL to work. Finally – it does!

    So my minimums went high because I recognized the distractions and didn’t fly the practice approaches very well as a result. I have been keeping current, but now I’m refocusing my efforts on driving my PA30 minimums safely back down. You can only do that with practice.

    Today, I went flying in the rain. After going to work for a few hours this morning to dig deeper into G280 avionics, I stopped at my hangar and went flying in the rain. It was a short flight in smooth air and lowering visibilities, so my VFR climb to 3000′ was cut short initially. I checked in VFR with Dover and flew the RNAV 27 from BLARE at 2000′ initially. I was able to climb to 3000′ before getting to the final approach course inbound, so the weather wasn’t all that bad.

    The altimatic IIIB worked flawlessly, though I decided to step down to 1800′ by the FAF. That meant I would engage LOC mode late, so the vertical guidance did not arm in time for the autopilot to fly us down. No problem – I managed power, retained lateral autopilot, and flew the glideslope manually.

    I went missed and flew the RNAV 9, also with vertical guidance. This time I locked and loaded the autopilot and let it do lateral and vertical nav down to circling minimums. During this approach I set up a return IFR flight plan back to Wilmington, and filed while still airborne it as soon as I got a cell signal. I thought it might be tight going back up north in lowering clouds.

    The RNAV 9 circle 27 was fun, and I landed out of that just fine.  Truth be told, I landed a bit flat, but no bounce.

    Taxi back and depart VFR, I picked up my IFR with Dover. The cleared me direct 5000′ and I asked tor and got 3000′.  Philly cleared me for the RNAV 27 from Woodstown, but I read the NOTAM that this was out of service. I requested VOR 27 full approach, and flew that to a better landing (long landing to expedite taxi to the West Tees).

    This is what I love to do. Take a few hours and go practice approaches in weather. I’ll look for 1000′ ceilings next when there isn’t ice or lightning about. That’ll be a great next step on the way to minimums or misses.

    Nice flight today and the airplane, avionics, and autopilot all worked like new.

    Fly Safe!


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    Apr 9, 2021 – Peace, Harmony, and a Path Forward

    April 9th, 2021

    My wife, Beverly, and I just flew down to Maneo (Dare County) airport for the afternoon a few days ago. We enjoyed smooth engines, a 60 kt tailwind, and mostly clear skies on the way down. The airplane is running very well, and with a recent connector replacement, every single data channel on the EDM 760 is finally working. What a pain that has been – running down diagnostics and tolerating false alarms.

    Even the autopilot, my 1967 Altimatic IIIb is running great. Hard to believe that it does so well in turbulence. I don’t use the altitude select mode, nor fly the airplane via pitch mode, but everything else works great.

    Reaching ZEN on the engines: Now that everything is working in the airplane and the engines are clearly broken in, it was time to rethink how best to operate them. I read Mike Busch, but had difficult reproducing the EGT relationships he describes. Ditto the Cirrus Red Fin crowd.  I have come to the conclusion that my small Lycoming engines simply won’t hurt themselves if you keep the heat reasonable.

    I’ve been worried about nothing.  My A&P has been telling me to just fly the damn things for some time now, but I wasn’t ready to listen. After not being able to apply the ‘new concepts’ effectively, I reached out to my friend Zach – a known Comanche expert, for his thoughts.

    I sent Zach charts of actual EGT, CHT, and fuel flow trends from a recent flight. He responded by saying:

    Don’t overthink it!  In a normally aspirated Lycoming, it is safe to say that nobody has blown an engine up that is designed to run on 91 octane but is running 100LL.  It can’t be done!  Sure the pressures are higher in the “red box” but they are lower than design, and the engine has lots of margin.  

    Lean to power loss, enrich to power recovery and that is as good as you’re going to get! Big bore Continentals are different animals with much different characteristics running much thinner strength margins on top ends and the fuel control system is totally different.  They are more critical but still not as fragile as they are made out to be.  

    As far as temps go, EGT raw numbers don’t mean anything except when compared to peak.  CHT numbers in a Lycoming are stated by Lycoming that you can’t get any more life or reliability out of the engine if you keep the temps below 435 continuous for high performance and 400 for economy power settings.  

    That is continuous power not takeoff and climb.  If you haven’t done so, download the IO-320 operators manual.  It’s well worth the read.  It also has all the spaghetti charts you would ever want to look at.

    I hope this helps a little.  Remember these engines did just fine for many years before anyone started to over analyze things! 

    This is a guy I trust – so I’m done thinking about it. I’ll keep the temps manageable in the climb and lean to about 8gph in cruise.  Thanks Paul and Zach – for the peace of mind.

    Planning an improvement path forward: When Garmin decided to stop supporting the GNS530 WAAS units, and at the same time, changed the size of the equivalent GTN units, I started thinking about updating my equipment to stay ahead of aging components. the two oldest pieces of equipment in the panel are my Garmin 530W NAV/COMM and my antique autopilot. Everything else has recently been overhauled.
    Planning for the NAV/COMM:
    Failure of the Garmin #1 NAV/COMM would require the panel to be changed, since the new GTN is a larger physical box. I don’t want to do that. Early on I took a cursory look at an Avidyne alternative, but didn’t think I’d be happy leaving Garmin. I also didn’t have fond memories of Avidyne while training in Cirrus aircraft,
    My A&P, Paul, recently completed my 2021 annual. When I arrived to pick up my airplane, he was working on a single Comanche that happened to already have an Avidyne IFD550 installed. He insisted that I look at it seriously; told me it was a slide in replacement for the Garmin 530W, and powered it up so I could have a look.
    On that visit, we didn’t make much progress because neither of us were familiar enough to do much of anything with it. It wasn’t intuitive, and did require some re-thinking of normal procedures. I left unimpressed, but promised I’d research it.
    Some weeks later I attended a webinar. Intrigued, I downloaded the Avidyne iPad simulator. After only a few minutes I realize that, not only is this a viable solution, I might actually prefer this over Garmin. It has it’s own ARS and can back up my Aspen. It will put an attitude indicator center panel for me, included in the box. I can go on, but the benefits of this box are significant.
    Paul (my A&P) is trying to evolve his shop to include avionics work. He may be able to get me a discount that I will consider as we go. My concern will be on the trouble shooting side of the house after installation. The people he hires may not have the experience an established and experienced avionics shop would have. I’m not sure how challenging the swap will be, given the ARS that it comes with.
    I am continuing to evaluate the IFD550 on the simulator, but have pretty much decided to go with it as the leading alternative.
    Planning for the AutoPilot:
    At the same time, my Altimatic IIIB continues to truck along as an effective autopilot. It does require maintenance from time to time; the altitude needs to be biased up in a turn a bit; and there are slight S turns in the vertical plan at GS intercept. It works though, and to date there has been no replacement alternatives available other than the STEC 55X.
    The autopilot was designed more than 50 years ago with the technology of the time. Normal operation requires a myriad of button pushing to transition through the various phases of flight. It is inelegant, to say the least.
    It does work though, so my close friends tell me I’d be crazy to replace it. They are correct – it is crazy and would cost about $40k to complete the project. So why am I doing it anyway?  I’m replacing the autopilot because I have an incredibly capable machine at my fingertips, the new technology will bring amazing capabilities to my fingertips, and I want it.  Emphasis on the later.
    So what’s the plan? I ordered the S-TEC Genesys 3100 autopilot yesterday. I’m really looking forward to it’s tight integration with the Aspen ProMax I put in last year. I’m also continuing to evaluate and shop deals on an IFD550 to replace my Garmin 530WAAS / FlightStream 210 combination.
    I’m working with the 550 simulator and really liking what I see. I’ve also learned what it will take to get 8130 forms for the equipment I want to trade or sell, so this might happen sooner rather than later.
    We’ll see how this goes.
    Fly Safe!


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    Jan 2, 2021 – Ready to go Flying!!

    January 3rd, 2021

    2020 sucked for me too. Last month I lost my sister at the young age of 63. She was a smoker and paid the ultimate price for it. Last week I lost my live-in mother inlaw. She lived a good life and was receiving the best care possible here in my home. My wife has been dedicated to her, having lost her father in the last year or so. He had been living with us as well.

    So now I’m in a unique situation. We’ve had people living with us since we moved into our home in Chesapeake City. That meant we really weren’t free to enjoy the home or the area as we might have, due to the more important business of senior care. That has all changed at this point, so we are re-arranging the house and starting to go out to dinner more. Bev and I went out yesterday – together – and the house was empty for the first time in 3 years.

    What does this have to do with flying?, you ask. Everything, I’d tell you.  During the downtime and house arrest, I’ve continued to re-work our airplane to be ready to go flying. N833DF has a new Aspen ProMax, new engines, and freshly overhauled props. All of the squawks have been, and are being, addressed. The squawk list will never ever be zero, however, and it isn’t now with both the 530W and #2 Nav Head giving me trouble. I will, however, not be defeated. I’ll fix and replace as long as I own it!

    The Altimatic IIIB is also giving me trouble. It tries to kill me once a year. I get it worked on and it runs great for another 12 months. I’m tired of baby sitting it though, and just watched a video showing the basic features of the STEC 3100. The embedded Cessna 310 pilot video was very well done, and I’ve taken a lesson for them both on not only the equipment, but on video production as well. I want this autopilot!!


    So I’ve decided today on my next project. I’m putting a deposit down to encourage the STC process by Genesys. That is, after I get a few basic questions answered. With my existing ProMax investment, I’ll be able to get altitude pre-select, a new Flight Director, IAS and VS vertical speed modes, and a reliable autopilot that is warranted for three full years. I’m so excited.

    I also spent some time this morning trolling for places to fly my wife to. She has been a very patient person to set her life aside for both of her parents, and now I’m looking forward to enjoying some time traveling with her.

    Most will be 3 day trips or so, built around my work schedule. One will be a longer trip, and we’ll also start planning to make an around-the-CONUS trip over the next few years. No matter what – this is what we worked for.

    Fly safe!  I’ll get back to posting as my life comes back online.

    Out of the bad comes something good.


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    Nov 9, 2020 – Anniversary Flying

    November 9th, 2020

    These are crazy times. I’m not at all happy with the politics of today, but ready to get on with my life. It will all be fine – the pendulum swings for both sides.

    We are still caring for Bev’s mom and scheduling time away continues to be complicated and involve a good number of people and calendars. I also have an ill sister, so I’ve added a bit of travel and logistics to do what I can there as well.

    Work is going well and the G280 program is slowly accelerating in activity. My work calendar was recently changed on Friday to include new Monday activity (today), so I’m working with my program manager to not do that to me. The late change in schedule hit several appointments I had made for this week, but we are getting through it.

    N833DF flew very well from KILG down to KJGG; Williamsburg-Jamestown airport. This was Bev’s first flight in her airplane in probably 4 years, and it was awesome having her back. I treated her like the VIP that she is, and appreciated the beautiful clear weekend we had ahead of us.

    Our actually anniversary is the 9th, and I’m sitting in the Alliance FBO while Lancaster Avionics tweaks my autopilot and replaces my Aspen Pro-Max. Alliance is very nice to accommodate my stay. I’ll complete this blog and hopefully put out another autopilot video while I’m here.

    The flight down was smooth at 6000′ and I crossed the field at mid-field for the preferred right downwind to RW13. That runway seems a bit downhill, but it worked out. Turning base, Beverly told me that she hadn’t heard me call ‘Gear Down’. What a partner!  So proud of her!

    I have been using GUMPS for some time, and reminded her that undercarriage means the same thing. I verified the gear was down and we landed uneventfully. How’s that for her situational awareness after years of not flying!  What a girl!

    We taxied to overnight parking to tied down and cover the airplane. I made sure to keep Bev safe from airport operations and from the hot props on our airplane as well. It’s been awhile for her, but I very much enjoyed having here there to help unload, cover, and secure.

    We didn’t take on any fuel since I had tankered a full load from Wilmington. The car was ready for our overnight, and we loaded it up and were on our way to enjoy walking around on a beautiful day.

    Williamsburg-Jamestown airport is in good shape. The runway is aged but good. The taxiway and ramp space has been redone and improved since my last visit as well. I called for a car a few days ago, and that process went without a hitch. The ramp fee was $15 and well worth it. The car only cost me $45, and I think the ability to do this type of day trip is awesome!!

    I love this girl!  Forgive me the diversion from flying. I’m writing this on the 9th, our 23 anniversary. Beverly is home caring for her mom, and I’m in Lancaster while Lancaster Avionics is working to refine my Twin Comanche’s older autopilot. My wife is directly responsible for my success, and her support and encouragement is why I own an incredibly well maintained PA30.

    Williamsburg during the pandemic is lightly populated. Bev suggested we walk everywhere, and we did just that! I’ve finally found a method to lose weight, and walking is helpful in that regard. No breakfast, bread, or beer has helped me lose 15# already, and I feel it is continuing to come off.

    The weather was PERFECT. Chowning’s Tavern holds childhood memories for me, but I was disappointed to see a significantly downsized menu. Burgers and bar food was the rule of the day, and the only drink options were sitting out in the sun and completely unappealing. We decided to forfeit our reservation and found a surprisingly good dinner at Sal’s Italian restaurant on the way home.

    Sunday morning came with more awesome weather and we walked again. This time we found an excellent breakfast on the main drag, and headed back to the car. We’d pretty much walked ourselves out of energy by the time we reached the car, and decided to fly home a little earlier than planned. The idea was to go out to dinner before resuming our duties for Bev’s mom and sending the help home.

    Unfortunately, we were exhausted when we landed. I even put the airplane away and forgot to unload the luggage. I’ll get it tomorrow.

    There is so much more to tell, but I’m going to attempt to get another YouTube video out this morning too.

    Fly Safe!


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