FL-PA Cross Country

Recreational experiences.

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FL-PA Cross Country

Postby Ron Spiker » Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:12 am

My son and I had a whirl-wind weekend. Early Saturday morning we hopped a flight from Pittsburgh to Daytona Beach, with a quick layover in Charlotte. We were 20 minutes late landing at Charlotte, which put our connecting flight 15 minutes into boarding already. And, we were in the last seat on the plane, so pretty much the last ones to get off. We were in concourse C and of course the next flight was in E. We ran and ran and ran to the next gate only for me to see on the sign that it was going to a different city. I was so out of breath that I just held up the boarding pass and asked "where is this one?" She said gate change, it is back at E18. Run way back down that hall and of course way to the end of the next one. The attendant there is waving us to come on, at which point I could hardly walk any more. But we got on about 2 minutes before the door shut. Whew. All this before 7:30AM. Arrived in Daytona Beach a little after 9AM, then an hour or so drive to a little grass strip.

From here I did a preflight and other preparations, and in less than 2 hours we were flying back north ferrying an Enstrom 280C.

This time of the year seems to bring showers and t-storms most days down there in FL and GA, so I didn't know how far we'd get. After landing for fuel at Jesup, GA (JES) the radar showed we could skirt around a building storm. We headed north only 5 miles or so and was looking at pretty much a solid wall building in front of us. So we turned around and headed back to Jesup. After putting the covers on it, we headed into the terminal to wait out what ended up being a pretty hard thunderstorm. We waited 3-4 hours and it was still raining and the forecast was calling for it to last all evening, so I called it a day, called a cab to a local hotel and spent the night there.

I was hoping to get back to the airport by 6AM to get an early start, but the cab driver said he didn't start until 8AM. I called the other cab company listed in the yellow pages and the same guy answered that number too. He said he'd call me in the morning when he got on duty to come give us a ride.

By 8AM Sunday he hadn't called yet so I tried calling him, only to get a voice mail that his phone lines would be down for the next 72 hours! The guy at the hotel desk wasn't any help, so we started walking the several miles to the airport. We passed a gas station and a guy there with a pickup was getting gas, so I asked if I could buy a ride to the airport. After a little hesitation I explained our situation and he gave us a ride. It's now about 8:30. I had already been checking weather for the previous couple of hours, so after a preflight we were ready to go. Most airports north of us were IFR due to fog, but one about a half hour flight was VFR. We headed there to top off the fuel and, if needed, wait until the fog farther north burned off.

By the time we arrived and refueled at Claxton, GA (CWV), everything north was VFR. However, the hot start procedure wasn't listed too well on the checklist, and I ended up killing the battery trying to get the thing started. Thankfully I had a set of jumper cables and a guy brought his car over and jumped us.

It was getting pretty hot and humid already (10:00AM) so we were adjusting the window vents to get more air in the cabin. Only to find out that now my door kept popping open. After a long while we finally got an acceptable combination of fresh air and closed doors to continue without shutting the door every few seconds or minutes. I made one off-airport landing to see if I could get it shut and secured better. That seemed to help for only a little while.

Next fuel stop was scheduled to be Chester, SC (DCM). However, it was full service and we found out the attendant wouldn't be there for another hour, so we continued on to Rock Hill, SC (UZA). After filling up and topping off our water bottles, I ended up once again killing the battery trying to get it started. A guy who had been admiring the helicopter called the FBO for me, asking for the tug to come jump the helicopter. After 10-15 minutes of wondering where they were, he drove up to the FBO to find out. Here his call caused a big urgency at the FBO, and everyone went in high-speed up to the other end of the airport to jump the EMS helicopter based up there. Ugh. No, the little helicopter down by the fuel pumps needs jumped, so they brought the tug down to us. Meanwhile, another pilot came over to see if we needed assistance, and gave me some tips on hot shutdowns and startups. So we got it going and after an hour plus fuel stop, we were on our way again. Even though the Enstrom and Brantly both have a Lycoming, the hot start procedure, at least for my Brantly, is much different and easier.

There were pop up showers and storms all over the place, so we had to do some weaving around them for several hours Sunday. None caused any delays or excessive deviations, but there were lots of showers around.

I next used AKH as a waypoint to get around Charlotte, then up to New River (PSK) in Dublin, VA for the next stop. We then head across the mountains to Clarksburg, WV (CKB) for the last fuel stop. The hot shutdown and startup procedures the guy at UZA had given me helped, and I got it started, not immediately, but with no problem at these two stops. The process still needs some tweaking, but it worked. We were really getting sore and tired at this point, but not much farther to go. The last leg took us over Pittsburgh and then on to Zelienople (PJC) where we finished up.

It was about a 705nm trip and 8.8 flight hours. A really long couple of days.
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Re: FL-PA Cross Country

Postby seneca2e » Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:33 pm

Thanks for posting your latest trip Ron! Now a couple of questions. Will you be using that Enstrom for instruction? What are you using for hot start procedures on your Brantly vrs the Enstrom?
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Re: FL-PA Cross Country

Postby Ron Spiker » Tue Jun 25, 2013 4:24 am

This Enstrom will be used for some instruction and rides. It is replacing the other one I've been flying the last few years that is no longer available. It will soon be equipped for instrument instruction as well. We still have the two Brantlys being used for primary instruction and are quite satisfied with continuing to use them, as long as we can continue to get parts and depending on the blade issue.

For my Brantly on a hot start it is just no prime and no throttle and it fires off almost every time. Sometimes no fuel pump either. My last one was a little different and I remember having difficulty many times with that one. The Enstrom procedure I basically did the POH procedures for both the hot shutdown and startup. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to use the previous owner's technique for the startup. I just have to work on that some more.
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Re: FL-PA Cross Country

Postby scrapper » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:44 am

Thanks for sharing, great read.
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