Sierra Del Barón Rojo

The epics of my Beechcraft Sierra.

Sunday, June 14, 2009



Weekend flying

I got my tail-dragger endorsement on Saturday and landed on a 400m strip and then a 200m strip. This was great practice and I want a Citabria, or maybe a C180.

I took a photo of the Sunset on the way back home to Canberra - isn't it nice?

Monday, July 10, 2006


Tamworth and Armidale 08-09 July 2006

The big trip, it was a toss-up between flying to Lightning Ridge or Tamworth Armidale.

Tamworth is a Class D airspace with Class C airspace above it. The Tamworth controller controls both airspaces from the tower frequency.

I have never flown into Tamworth before, and have only flown into the Albury Class-D airspace as part of my training. I have, however, flown into Bankstown several times, but it is a GAAP with special procedures.

Tamworth used to a simpler class-D airport only requiring a holding-point ready call, but now there is a NOTAM stating that Taxi Clearance is required, so it is a bit of a mixture. They also expect a departure report so that other traffic and the controller knows what you are doing. In fact, all through the area you hear departure reports from the non-towered aerodromes, however, you do not seem to hear them when departing Wagga Wagga, for example.

The trip up was over fairly friendly country with lots of places to land. I knew approximately where the airport was, but I couldn't see the runways, nor the tower until I got 4 nm away from R30R. What assisted greatly was that a Dash 8 was on final approach, so I got to follow that aircraft to the centre-line. Needless to say I asked for copious taxi instructions and I was shown the fuel bowsers and several access gates to leave the airside.

What was fairly interesting was that both tower frequencies were locked together and the tower controller was also the SMC.

The trip between Tamworth and Armidale was quite interesting because I had to climb at Vx to clear the range and climbed to 7500'. Uralla was directly on track and conveniently it is 10nm from Armidale making inbound calls very easy.

I have also not flown into Armidale's aerodrome but I was reasonably familiar with its location and orientation because I used to visit it. I spent 5 years in Armidale during my University days and have fond memories of the town. The main runway R23/15 is on top of an escarpment, and the runway itself is elevated slightly above the surrounding land - maybe to assist with drainage, but such a situation is a trap causing pilots to approach the threshold too low. R23 has PAPI lights which assist, and when you fly just north of the town at 5000' and aligned with the centreline you are right on the glideslope. Of course I do not have such long finals, but the Dash 8's do.

There was a southerly wind, and as you approach the threshold of R23 the wind is blowing down a slight downslope and then suddenly drops into the valley where Armidale lays. This causes a considerable amount of sink which requires more and more power on the approach until closer to the landing blocks. One way to avoid this is to be higher than the PAPI lights and to land further into the runway. To make matters worse the wind was a cross-wind as well, more inclined for R27 than for R23, however R27 is grass and a long way is a long way to taxi and backtrack along.

Well I visited my best man and his family and the next day I took the number 2 son over the Gorges near Armidale, a 36 minute flight, and my friend and his number 3 son on a city flight before departing for home.

I was delayed as I had a call of nature and then I decided to buy a chocolate, one of my vices, and I eventually got to leave at 0255. I had a severe headwind of 20 - 25 Kts so I decided that morning that I would fly directly from Armidale, to Nundle, cut-across the Tamworth Class C airspace (with permission) direct to Scone and thence direct to Canberra. The trip from Armidale to Nundle was over a fair bit of the great divide but there were several good looking flat spots I felt I could land in should I need to execute a forced landing. When I arrived at Scone there were quite a few paddocks and a good airstrip, but then I really hit the tiger country.

The country between Scone and Wallerawang is the worse country I have ever seen to fly over. On my direct track there was absolutely nowhere to land. I would have felt more comfortable had I tracked further to the west.

Here is a shot of Wolgan River in the tiger country that ripped from my video camera.
Wolgan River.

You can explore my tracks at Canberra, Tamworth Armidale
Armidale to the gorges near Hillgrove
Armidale Scone back to Canberra


Burning hours 03 Jul to 04 Jul

I needed to use up the remaining hours in order to perform the 25 hour oil change before the weekend because I was planning a long trip.

9 circuits were performed on 3 July, which used up 36 minutes.

One City Charlie (clockwise) 2 was flown for 13 minutes on the 3 July.

One City Alpha (anti-clockwise) 2 was flown twice for 28 minutes on the 4 July.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Exercise at Merimbula - 1 Jul 2006

I needed to put about 4.5 hours on UMS before the next oil change and so I planned a trip to Merimbula and then Moruya as the weather was better in those directions, otherwise I would have headed North West to Parkes and then back via Wagga Wagga.

I left CB fairly late because I was waiting for the weather to break a little before I left home for the airport. Start permission was required for circuits and General Aviation aircraft, probably due to the volume of RPT traffic and the weather conditions.

The wind was quite interesting on takeoff from R35 comming from 290 degrees magnetic varying between 15 and 25 Kts (290/15G25), this is 60 degrees to the runway heading making the crosswind component of 13 to 22 Kts. R35 was used because R30/12 has not been available for a couple of months due to work in progress.

The flying conditions were not ideal with some turbulence being caused by wave conditions. While I was flying South East to Merimbula my Gliding compatriots were at Bunyan gliding field contacting wave.

I performed a right-hand circuit onto R03 at Meriumbula due to the prevailing wind conditions and local regulations: all circuits to the east.

After landing I exited on the one and only taxi-way and had to turn past a Rex Saab that was about to embark on its journey. I tied UMS down on the grass using my ropes and sand-pegs I carry on board for such occassions, and I stood on the wing and videod the Saab's takeoff.

A Rex Saab
on takeoff roll.

Video of the Saab taking off.

The plan then was to walk into town for my weekly exercise, having decided that it was too much bother to carry my foldup bike onto the plane because it would involve two trips. For those who have travelled with me they will note that I carry a large flight bag and headset, a cooler bag that contains my Gell-Cell battery pack and GPS equipment, and usually a bag of supplies, which amounts to full hands.

The walking trip into town was interesting because one of the locals kept stopping their ute every 500 m and I walked passed them several times, but then I worked out that it was his young son riding a bicycle on the bike path I was using. I also passed several local pedestrians and other bike riders using the path for their exercise as well, including a grand-mother on a bike with her two grand-children on bikes, one of whom was on a tricycle.

It certainly would keep you fit going to and from town to the airport. The journey is not too long and the rewards of the restaurants and a good sea-food lunch are quite enticing.

I didn't have enough time left before last light to hang around for a snack so this time I walked to the bridge and crossed the road to the local garage to purchase an ice-cream and a bottle of ginger beer. Of course I walked that ice-cream off on the way back to the airport.

The next leg of the journey was to head to Moruya up the coast and over the ocean. I put my helicopter pilot's life vest on but I needn't have as I was always within gliding distance of the beaches. I almost flew over to Montague island and buzzed around but I was concerned with the time and prevailing conditions.

When I got to Moruya VH-VEZ was practicing circuits, a Cessna 441 twin. I overflew the airfield at 2,500' and positioned myself so I could watch a couple of takeoffs and landings. Due to the time factor I decided not to land and decided to head home, this saves me a few dollars in landing fees anyway.

The weather deteriorated with cloud base dropping from 7000' to 5000' near Braidwood.
I decided to decent to 4,500' to avoid cloud and to fly around Mt Pallerang ELEV 4146' to avoid most of the turbulence. I even thought that I might have to approach Canberra via the Burbong route but the cloud base lifted once I got closer to Bungendore.

Just after I received my airways clearance a medical emergency was declared on a Qantas RPT flight and I was set into orbit until instructed otherwise. The orbits just seemed to go for ever, and with the westerly wind I was swept back a nautical mile on each turn. Just like gliding but I wasn't allowed to change level.

When I was permitted to head to R35 the wind was 270/15G25 and it seemed to take forever to reach the threshold. Once I established white arc speed I looked at the GPS and it indicated 67 Kts - I was doing 90 Kts IAS. After deploying the gear and 15 degrees of flaps I was at 80 Kts indicated and it felt like I was just hanging in the air.

I yawed UMS into wind because it feels cool to do rather than drop the wing and fly with crossed-controls. I was careful to maintain my approach speed of 80 Kts on base and final. As I drew closer to the ground I maintained left ailerons, wings level and right rudder to straighten up, and back-pressure to keep the nose wheel high until the speed dropped off. This landing was better than my takeoff and UMS certainly has no trouble in this cross-wind. It is great to own and fly a low wing aircraft, and all that glider training has been very helpful with cross-wind and down-wind takeoff handling.

VH-UMS tracks for google earth.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Bankstown and back - 18 Jun 2006

We had another family social affair in Sydney, and despite the fact that a flight to Sydney from Canberra is a marginal flight (because you can almost drive door to door faster than you can fly up and arrange transport) I decided to fly again - I need the hours.

UMS seemed to zip along at almost the same speeds as it did before I polished the whole aircraft because this trip took the same time as the previous, the return trip was slightly faster however. It does look nice now it is polished,

This flight was uneventful because I am now used to the speeds this machine does on descent and coordinating the tasks when I get busy. I was number two for R29 right, with all 3 runways R29 Centre and R29 left active (yes there are 3 parallel runways).

Bankstown airport

Bankstown airport adjoins the Sydney CTR.
The crowded airspace

More later - I have to go to a training course for work.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Canberra - 17 June 2006

What a wonderful day to go flying. My day started at about 8:00 am and I went to Super Cheap Auto and purchased a tube of 1-minute Araldite, and picked up a nozzle for my window sealing caulk tube that I forgot last time I was there, and some Wax and paper towels.

The next trip saw me at JayCar, a local electronics supplier, where I purchased some cable armour, a super-bright LED tourch and some other items and headed out to the airport.

I removed the covers from the plane and undid the pilot-side plastic trim and got out my socket set and undid the nuts holding the pilot-side windscreen in the door. This screen had been put in with Silicon Rubber sealant (silastic) and leaks like a seive when it rains. It took about 1/2 an hour and I had the screen out. The next job was to run around the fibreglass lip and cut the silastic away. The silastic grips very well to the fibreglass but not very well to the plastic screen at all.

Once I was satisfied it was clean I then laid a bead of caulking compound right around this lip and then replaced the screen. I pressed the screen down onto this compound so it spread out across the lip and then held the screen in place with the original screws, washers and the nylock nuts. I then went around the lip and ensured that the bead has spread so it covered all the gaps. I also added additional bead around the outside bottom of the screen to ensure that the bottom of the screen was doubly sealed. I then replaced the trim when I was satisifed I had done enough.

The next job was to polish the aircraft. I applied the polish to a small rag and rubbed it over the wing and it dissappeared! So I had to put more on. I did the upper surface of the wing, the stabilator the top and sides of the fuselage first. Then I got on my back and crawled underneath the aircraft and added polished to the entire bottom of the fuselage from the front cowling to the back tail-cone. Then I added polish to the bottom of the stabilator, and to the bottom of both wings. The whole process took ages.

When I inspected the upper sections of the wing to remove the polish I noticed that it didn't have any powered wax on it, so I applied more polish and did the wings again. Perhaps the polish had been sucked into the paint.

Anyway I then went around the whole plane, top and bottom and removed the dried wax which came off easily and left the paint very shiny. In fact the green stripes look very green and I could see my face reflecting from the bottom of the fuselage.
The polishing took about two hours and boy am I sore.

I then grabbed my can of trusty white-lithium spray-on grease (what will they think of next) and lubricated both control columns. Wow what a difference that made to the friction!

I also greased the seat rails and they slide very well too, and I lubricated the chain on the trim wheel - what a difference that made as well. Almost as good as the difference in the aircraft after we lubricated the aileron hinges and control linkages with Slick 50 One Lube.

I had been at the airport since 9:00am and it was now 13:30 and I was getting hungry so I packed up my gear and broke for lunch, well not quite. When I got to my truck I realised that I had not wound the cable armour onto my battery-pack cable and splitters, so I spent half-an-hour winding the split armour up all the cables. The hope is that this armour will protect the cables while in the aircraft from things such as the trim pulley chain, the seat latches, and feet when the cable is lying on the aircraft floor because I place the battery supply behind the front seats and run the cable forward to the PDA on the control column and the GPS receiver on the dashboard.

So I bought some lunch close to the airport, but not at the airport because I hate airport food, and when I got back I took my flight back and started the plane and refuelled. To my horror I noticed that any spashes of AvGas instantly take the polish of the wings, so when I parked it I had to add more wax to the wings near the fuel caps and will remove the dry wax in the morning.

Anyway I warmed the engine and 25 minutes later I took UMS for a City Charlie 2 flight. Charlie stands for clockwise and 2 is the longer flight path. This long flight is about 30 nm which is not far at all and takes about 15 to 20 minutes in my plane.

I was cleared for takeoff and 1102' later I was in the air, this is one up with full fuel at an airfield elevation of 1885' and an OAT 55.4 F, which I think is pretty impressive for a heavy machine. I turned right at about 500' and backed the manifold pressure back to 25" and the revs to 2500rpm and I had to lean it and it climbed like a homesick Angel. It loves the cold air and it wasn't long before I had climbed to 4000' AMSL.

I was a little bit off track because I haven't flown a clockwise city flight for a long time, everything was backwards and almost unfamiliar from this way round.

Since Canberra airport is running with only one active runway due to extension works on the cross runway it is very busy and I was delayed to permit 737s to land.
I took this as an opportunity and requested permission to orbit Kambah. The response was orbit as much and where you like, so I circled my house 2.5 times (3 passes) and headed towards Mt Stromlo where again I was advised there would be delays. So I requested some additional airwork and was given the instruction fly wherever you like but remain west of Black Mountain tower, so I got to buz around in the West of the city as well.

I was eventually cleared to track back to Lk Ginninderra and then to the Race Track and over the Ainslie ridge for right-base onto R17. All these delays and orbits extended my flight to a long 22 minutes, almost the same amount of time I spent warming the aircraft up.

The C2 flight path

Monday, June 12, 2006


Bankstown - Sydney 12 June 2006

I took UMS up to Bankstown to pick up my wife.

I was delayed again, as usual, due to the heavy loading of frost, plus I refueled the aircraft and stopped the engine and got out to wipe the ice off the wings and had some trouble restarting.

I managed to take off 1.5 hours later than planned.

The trip to Bankstown was initially flown at 7500' and took 1h 2m and I saw ground speeds of 143 Knots and used a total of 47 litres of fuel.

The circuit on arrival at Bankstown

You cannot fly directly from Canberra to Bankstown because of Restricted Airspace and Dangar zones, of note is the Wilton Parachute drop zone, which must be flown around, hence the large deviation in my track from Mitagong to Picton and then back to Menagle.

Deviation around Wilton Parachute drop zone

The Wilton runways and drop zone are relatively easy to see from the air, you often see the Parachute canopies and Paracutists decending to either side of the Hume highway. I think they have an Eastern drop zone for those that fail to make it across the highway.

The Wilton runways

The return trip took longer with the headwind and the later half was flown at 8500', with ground speeds of 123 Knots, and a total of 40 Litres of fuel used in 1h 12m. I wasn't flying as hard to minimize the cabin noise for passenger comfort.

The air was crystal smooth above 6500' on the way back and perfect at all levels on the way up to Sydney.

Bankstown Takeoff

It is a little difficult to takeoff from R29 and turn south as runway heading must be extended and flown at 1000' to underfly the approach path that is maintained at 1500' and until you are right of the 2RN radio mast, because 2RN at 1500' is the inbound reporting point for joining cross-wind onto R29.

Hoxton park is also fairly close to 2RN, and with the inbound traffic, you need to keep a very keen lookout. I saw 3 aircraft on the inbound track and several aircraft to the west of me. I always feel uncomfortable in this airspace because there are many helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on days when the weather is great and they are concentrated in the airspace below the radar control steps.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Inclement weather - 10 & 11 June 2006

The onset of inclement weather
The infrared image

Well today I couldn't see the horizon, so no flying.

I went to the airport and took an old bedsheet as a rag and cleaned the streaks of the landing gear hydraulic oil from underneath the aircraft. UMS has had a serious haydraulic leak before I bought it and the inside under the floor boards the belly skins are coated with landing gear fluid, which is rather tacky like treacle and some of this fluid still manages to flow and exit between the skin at the rear of the wing root and then flows along the under belly.

At the annual, when we lifted the floor boards, and removed inspection plates to service the pulleys and torque-tube bushes we noticed that the floor was covered in this stuff and it was so tacky that we found a $25 socket glued to the floor.

The fluid is quite difficult to remove. It came off once I wet the rag with AvGas from the fuel drains though, and half an hour later the outside belly skins were cleaned from the front to the tip of the enpennage. I also removed the dirt and grease left behind in the airstream of the landing gear from underneath the wing and the flaps and cleaned the engine oil overflow from the nose wheel hosing so now the bottom of the aircraft is relatively spotless.

The orignal source was caused by a problem in the hydraulics which was fixed before I bought the plane, but even so, I will keep an eye on this, and the level in the gear-motor reservoir, because we had to top it up at the annual.

The contanimation made the under-belly skin quite rough, aerodynamically speaking, which would have increased the drag a little. I also intend to polish the aircraft when the weather is better and I should start seeing a better speed or economy as a result.


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