Winter Project: Flight Simulator

Dolly and I have reduced our flight time this winter as Covid damped our enthusiasm for eating out.  Result: Fewer hundred dollar hamburgers and a new flight simulator.

I have been thinking about a flight sim for several years.  Dolly was a real motivator for getting the project started.  She loves to fly with me yet has not wanted to learn to fly or touch the controls.  When she said she wanted to try a simulator that kicked off the start of the build.

The sim sits in a space between the two halves of our China cabinet that used to house an old (2001) 52″ projection TV.  We hardly ever watch television anymore.  I avoid uncontrolled advertising and keep up to date via the internet.

The sim has three 27″ monitors that display scenery and the cockpit above the glare shield.  Below the scenery screens are two ~16″ touch screens showing Garmin G1000 Primary and Multi-function Flight Displays.  Mounted between them is Dolly’s old IPad that displays a Garmin 305 autopilot control head.  My IPad is on the right displaying instrument approach charts.  Finally, there are rudder pedals on the floor and a Thrustmaster Joystick on the desk.

All of these components communicate with the computer on the floor.  It has one terabyte solid state memory and a Nvidia 3080 graphics card. Those three blue lights are cooling fans. Software housed on the machine includes XPlane and Microsoft Flight Simulators. 

The four touch screens make the sim close to the Garmin glass touch panel instruments in our RV7.  The flight sim community is heavy into developing new sim instruments.  I hope to soon see a radio and GPS navigator like the real instruments.

Obviously the flight sim is not used 24/7.  However, the computer has all the bells and whistles necessary to make it a good bitcoin miner … but that’s another story.

 

 

Brunch

Brunch Today

Dolly and I flew down to Sebring this morning and had brunch on the restaurant porch with the Old Farts Flying Club.  The club is an informal organization run by Roger Brown who maintains an Email list and chooses an airport restaurant for lunch each winter season Thursday.  He follows up with a newsletter including photos of participants and their planes.

Today’s weather – strong crosswinds – reduced the attendance.  Before Covid I’ve seen fifty to seventy planes fly in.  Today we social distanced and masked.  Dolly and I arrived early and picked an upwind table.  The food, omelet and pancakes was delicious.

Ignition Wire Guards

Considering there has been no formal advertising, sales of the aircraft Ignition Wire Guards is growing nicely just by word of mouth.

Until now, the only DKFL product available has been Guards for amateur built aircraft having four cylinder engines with automotive eight millimeter diameter ignition wires.

Currently the store is building inventory of Guards for five millimeter diameter ignition cables used with Slick and Bendix magnetos.  Also, the product line is being expanded to include Guards for six cylinder engines in Amateur Built aircraft.  They will be available in six colors to blend with engine or air baffle colors.

No more lost pencils?

Pilots flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) make a practice of recording instructions from air traffic control (ATC), usually with pencil and paper.  Pity the poor pilot who lost their pencil to the cabin floor and can’t retrieve it because the seat belt and shoulder harness are tight and the plane is flying through turbulence while ATC is issuing an amended route clearance.

With a 3D printer and idled hands I made a solution for Van’s RV aircraft. 

The blue double ended thingy sturdily clips onto both the plane control stick and standard sized pencils.

I’ve started giving them to other fumble fingered pilots.

You know who you are.  Just ask the next time we see each other.

For RV deprived pilot friends, I also have a version that clips onto standard aviation chromalloy 3/4″ tubeing.

200 Knot Club

In the world of Van’s RV Homebuilt Aircraft there is an event known as “joining the 200 knot club”.  It’s for aircraft that have surpassed 200kts (230mph) groundspeed in level cruise flight.  By far the majority of Van’s RVs have a top speed in level cruise around 175 kts or 200 mph.  So a pretty good tailwind is required.

Thursday 4/7 on a flight retrieving N50KB from Michigan to Florida we (I and the plane) joined the club.  Click on the photos to see the detail.  What a ride!

There was a 72 kt tailwind component at 14,500 ft msl. That plus the 143 kt full throttle (59% power) true airspeed pushed and pulled us at 215 kts over the ground.

215 kts

9.9 gallons per hour.  24.9 miles per gallon. Hooah!!!

Over Michigan last week

Last Monday (03/30/2020) I relocated the Dream Weaver from Florida to Bishop Airport in Flint, Michigan. Then, I took our mini motorhome out of the hangar and drove back to Florida. Eight hours including two fuel stops going up; three days sanitizing gas pump handles driving South.

Michigan and northern Indiana were totally socked in. The photo is from 9,500 ft. Ceilings were 4000; scattered 1300 ft. Outside air temp flitted between 27 and 32F. When ATC cleared me lower for the approach I dove at 2,000+ fpm to pass through the layer as quickly as reasonable. Even so the plane picked up some light rime ice on the leading edges and windscreen. Fortunately it quickly melted below the deck. The approach and landing were uneventful.

The relocation was done because the plane is ten months into its last twelve month condition inspection; all of my tools and hangar are in Michigan, while Dolly and I expect we will be stuck in Florida till late July.

1929 Ford Trimotor

Volunteer Perks:–

[KGVID]http://bambas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ford-Trimotor.mp4[/KGVID]

Last week Dolly and I volunteered as ground crew for the EAA’s 1929 Ford Trimotor that was visiting Brooksville Florida.  On Sunday the ten passenger plane had eleven flights.  On the last flight there were only nine paid passengers.  From the volunteers, Dolly was selected to fill the last seat.  It was a beautiful yet blustery day.  Winds were 10 gusting to 24.

Dolly”s seat

I worked as flagman, signaling to the starter that my side of the ramp was clear of people.

This trimotor has a 235 gallon tank.  The pilot climbs up through a cabin roof hatch, drops a rope and pulls up the fuel hose.

Night Ops

The alarm went off at 3:00 AM.  Dolly heard it an woke me.

The plan was to regain nighttime currency, three takeoff and landings to a full stop at night.  We want to fly to St. Petersburg tomorrow to see the Kratt brothers show at the Mahaffee theater, a short walk from the airport.  The return will be at night.

Everything went just as it should.  The tires and tanks were full; all the nuts were on their bolts.  I taxied from the hangar pad and clicked the mike to turn on the taxi and runway lights…clicked the mike to turn on the taxi and runway lights…clicked the mike to turn on the taxi and runway lights…clicked the mike to turn on the taxi and runway lights.  No lights.  I tried both tower and ground frequencies.  I tried three, five and seven clicks.  No lights.  Frustration and nice photo.