Archive for March, 2006


Mooney to Announce New Model?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Rumors are flying on the internet to the effect that the Mooney Airplane Company will announce a new model on April 4, the first day of Sun-N-Fun.

Mooney Logo

The new aircraft model is believed to be a ‘Mooney 311′, aka M20TN.   N311TN is belived to be the prototype. The speculation is that this will be a turbo-normalized high horsepower version of the Mooney Bravo. Flight Aware has picked up another M20TN, this one up at 24,000 feet going 230 knots. That’s fast enough to blow the doors off any Cirrus.

Expect this new Mooney to sport the latest version of the Garmin G1000, complete with flight director and Garmin autopilot. I expect it will offer known-ice certification, air conditioning, and long range tanks as options. Maybe it will have a useful load increase over current models.

I would not be surprised to see a maximum cruise speed of 236 knots, one knot more than the Columbia 400.

The number ‘311’ probably isn’t top speed, 311mph = 270 knots. That’s really smoking. But 311 is one more than 310, which is the Columbia’s horsepower. A 1/16th turn of the turbo adjustment might give Mooney bragging rights over Columbia in the horsepower department.

Is Mooney about to unleash a ‘Columbia Killer’? Perhaps a Mooney with a tad more speed and a tad more range than the Columbia? Made of good honest metal instead of recycled clorox bottles? Stranger things have happened.

It’s certainly great to see this Texas company manufacturing complex machines, many for export.

Update 3/31/2006: N312TN filed at 260 knots, tracked at 266 knots in level flight! The Mooney mailing list is going nuts. That’s almost 300 mph!!!!! And why the heck would anyone go to Hinton, Oklahoma????

Update to the update, April 3: It’s on its way to Sun-N-Fun, filed at FL250/235 knots. Meanwhile the currently reigning speedking, the Columbia 400, is behind it at a mere 200 knots.

Update to the update update: The new Mooney is the Acclaim, 280 horsepower, turbo-normalized, very long range. The offical web site lists the cruise at 230 knots, but the rumor still says that 236 knots (one knot faster than Columbia) is well within reach. Its there already, if Flight Aware is to be believed. In any case, this new model is a terrific update to this American Classic vehicle.


Yet More Eagles

Monday, March 27th, 2006

I went back and took some more eagle pictures up between Llano and Burnet.

I really enjoy watching these magnificent birds.

Rumor is that they hang around through most of May. I hope so, I want to visit them again.

eagles, texas,birds


Was it a dream? It did seem real!

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

Somebody posted a link to this video on Clear and a Million. It really took me back. It gave me a weird feeling as I watched it.

Part of me remembers flying F-111s like it was yesterday. That part could walk up to one , climb in, and take off like I had done it yesterday. To that part of me, the 15 years since my last F-111 ride seems like 15 minutes. To him, 500 feet and 500 knots across Europe is a normal part of everyday life.

The other part of me doesn’t believe I ever did it at all. It seems too incredible. I’m a small business person and a software developer. How could someone as humdrum as me ever have done such things?

Perhaps it was all a dream.



The Eagles of Burnet County

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

I’d heard about the Eagles of Burnet County, but had never seen them. I had some time this afternoon so on the spur of the moment I drove out there, arriving with only a few minutes of daylight left. There was drizzle and a solid overcast. I am frankly astonished that I got a useable picture. The Nikon D50 rules!!

There seem to be two adults who take turns guarding this nest.

While I was there the pattern was that one adult would go flying while the other sat motionless in the tree with the nest. When the flyer was on final approach to the tree he or she would let out a screech and the roosting bird would take flight.
I think I heard babies, but my bird book says that it is a little early for them to have hatched.

Once they both flew together, but circled around the tree, never going far from it.

There is a graded out viewing area for these birds between Burent and Llano in Burnet County, Texas, USA. It is about 200 feet from the nest.

I’m going back as soon as I can, I’d like to see them in real daylight. The rumor is that they are planning to leave for Alaska pretty soon.


Angel Flight Mission #13803

Saturday, March 18th, 2006 Track Map

I flew an Angel Flight last Wednesday in the Cardinal. It went pretty well. I took a passenger from Austin to Mesquite. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it could have been a lot worse. There was an 8000 foot overcast with pretty strong winds. I went IFR both going and returning.

I was assigned a slightly different route than I expected, so I got to practice programing the GPS with both a new “departure procedure” (which I think of as a ‘SID’) and a new “arrival procedure” (which I still think of as a ‘STAR’).

Fortunately there was little turbulence on the passenger leg, my passenger slept most of the way.

It’s always fun flying into the Dallas Class B airspace. There is just a lot going on there, the radio is busy and you see a lot of other airplanes. If you are flying to the Dallas area I can recommend the Mesquite Metro airport (KHQZ).

It has large smooth ramps, a really nice passenger waiting area, and cheap gas. It is under the Class B 1500′ floor and is not surrounded by buildings yet.

To depart IFR you have to get your clearance from the FSS which has a dedicated clearance delivery guy who handles all the many uncontrolled airports in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. Mesquite was supposed to have one of these new-fangled radio to telephone autopatch systems to get your clearance from the FSS, but sadly it didn’t work for me. I wound up having to call with my cellphone. I couldn’t get my phone to work with the engine running, so I shut down to make the call. He gave me a five minute window to depart that opened in five minutes. I was glad I’d perfected my hot start technique. After I made the phone call I had a minute of stress when my headset jack pulled out. It plugs in under the instrument panel and it’s hard to reach the jack when your strapped in. Especially when you have a small departure time window. I managed it though, and was glad it didn’t happen with a passenger on board.

The wind was running 30 or 40 knots from the south, so the flight up went very quickly. My groundspeed was running less than 100knots for the flight back.

Because I wanted the practice I didn’t cancel IFR on the trip back even when they gave me 8000 feet instead of the requested 6000. The higher altitude put me into the clouds and strong winds for most of the trip back. I figured I could use the actual IFR time so I just ate the headwind. I did a fair amount of the flying by hand even thought the Cardinal has a good autopilot, just for practice.

I don’t think I made too many bonehead mistakes. The only one that comes to mind was when I returned to the Signature ramp back at Austin. As I got out of the Cardinal a Navy T-39 taxied up and parked behind me.

It was full of Air Force navigation students, so I went over to chat with them. While I was doing that the ramp guy came up and asked me if I intended to leave my strobe lights on. Doh! Forgot to turn off the master switch.

I recorded the audio for both legs of the trip, and I may use some of it for a podcast, but there isn’t any excitement on it. There really wasn’t much remarkable that happened, it was a really routine flight.

Routine is the best kind when you fly Angel Flight, our passengers are not there for excitement.

aviation,aircraft, angel flight


Live Blogging Trump’s Apprentice

Monday, March 13th, 2006

I admit it. I’m an Apprentice fan. There really isn’t much reason for me to blog about it though, because Michael and Marjorie Carrion do such a good job with it.

But I’m sitting here watching these two teams go completely off the rails. Their task tonight is to host a GM dealer meeting which will introduce the dealers to the 2007 Chevy Tahoe.

One of them is creating some kind of faux wedding reception, that looks like a total disaster. Horses, open bar, putting green, just fluff.

The other is working on ways to sell the car, talking about its rich Corinthian leather or something. “Nature refined” is their theme. They rented a shotgun and skeet launcher, but were surprised when gun-phobic New York City wouldn’t allow such a thing in the park.

I thought these people were supposed to have prior experience in business.

Does the first team think that the dealers are there to have a kiddy park experience??????????? Sure they’d like a bar and a nice environment, but they didn’t come to New York to go to a kiddy park.

The second team seems to think its job is to sell Chevy Tahoe’s. They are not as far into left field as the kiddy ride team, but they are significantly off target. Here’s a free clue guys. The Chevy Dealers drive any car they want. They don’t really buy cars at all for themselves, they have a lot full of cars to choose from.

If there was a single business person on either team they would try an answer the real question the dealers are going to have about the car? That question is ‘How will the Chevy Tahoe increase my bottom line?’. That’s all that matters to the dealers. These guys will want to know how they can sell the Tahoe to their customers. Give them some reasons why the Tahoe is better than the competition. Show the dealers where the profit is in the Tahoe. Convince them that they should order a lot of Tahoe’s because the dealers will make a profit selling them!!!

For what its worth the kiddie park team lost big, but neither team seemed to have anyone who thought like a business person.

If Trump wants pretty ass-kissers he’s got a good crowd, but if he wants to make more money he should fire all of them.

Listen to Michael and Marjorie for the gory details about the show.



Abajo Fidel

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

   Abajo Fidel!

For my whole life the left wing in this country has been in love with the vicious dictator Fidel Castro.

The American left will strain at gnats like the NSA anti-terrorist collection program, but they’ll line up and swallow camels for Fidel. McGovern, Rather, Babs, Hillary. They all wear their kneepads for Castro.

Well, mighty Castro is freaking out this old guy and his little sign. I’m waiting to hear Howard Dean rant against Castro about it.

Right Wing Nuthouse nails this story.

Castro, baseball, moonbats


F-16 Bailout Audio

Friday, March 10th, 2006

I was in the Air Force for 20 years. Because the service really is a lot like a big semi-functional family, I could tell you a million things that are screwed up about the military in general (and the generals in the military) and the Air Force in particular. Because I was part of the family for such a long time. Like all families, our Air Force family has its odd quirks, crazy uncles and black sheep.

But despite all its many failings, the Air Force somehow manages to produce really exceptional young people, the kind of people this country needs from time to time. I was reminded of how excellent the Air Force worker bees are when I heard this audio file of a 1991 F-16 engine failure over Iraq: .

You’ll need to register with the forum to download the file, but its worth the trouble if hearing real aviation professionals at work is interesting to you.

aviation, military, air force, f-16, usaf,air force


A Black Airship, White in Color

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

In my post on the Blackstar rumors, I asked a retorical question about “the giant boomerang shaped airships that are rumored to exist”.

I still subscribe to a number of dead tree magazines. I know that’s not cool, but there it is. Anyway I have about a six inch pile of “magazines waiting for reading”. Last night I pulled out the February 5 issue of of Aviation Week. I was surprised to find an article complete with a number of photographs about “the first realistic tests of a hybrid airship” made by none other than the mad scientists at the Lockheed Skunk Works!.

You have to get the dead tree edition to see all the pictures, but it is a very weird looking thing , it looks like three white Goodyear blimps joined in a Siamese triplet configuration. It has strange disk shape “landing pads” that look like huge versions of the metal disks that are used as feet on stereo equipment.

AW&ST obviously got some comment from Lockheed, how else would they know the pilot’s name? This program clearly isn’t “blacker than black” as the rumored Blackstar would have been. But “they” aren’t saying much about it, so it almost certainly in some kind of restricted access program.

So it is a black white airship.

I’m still watching for the triangle shaped airship.

blimp, airship, skunk works, lockheed,black program,aviation


Yet More GPS Fun

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Podcast Icon Podcast 5 : Yet More GPS
(39:07, ~9.1M)

Well, I finally figured it out. Well, I didn’t figure out everything about the KLN-89b GPS, but I did solve the problem that was vexing me.

This podcast is a recording of a further practice flight with the KLN-89b in Cardinal N8035G.

If you listened to Podcasts 2b, and 2c you heard me struggle trying to get the KLN-89b to help me fly a second IFR GPS runway 35 approach to Giddings (KGYB) after I had flown the missed approach procedure at the end of the first approach.

If you fly a GPS approach with the KLN-89b and elect to go around and reattempt the approach you have to delete the approach from your active flight plan (flight plan zero) and re-insert it. I think you could also use the ‘change active approach’ function, but I didn’t test that. I did find that the second approach went fine after the first was deleted, so the mission of this flight was accomplished.

Early in the podcast you’ll hear safety pilot Chris point out an unusual ground feature, located between Austin and Smithville. It’s so big that it is visible from space.

During the podcast Chris and I discuss the various parts of a GPS approach, which are illustrated in this figure:

The specific approach we fly in this podcast is this one:

You will hear us discussing the ‘course deviation indictor’ (CDI):

When I talk about deleting the approach, this is the display that I use:

I had a lot of fun and learned a lot on this flight, I hope you also benefit from listening to the podcast.