29 November 2008

How Rude!

Following a couple days of rainy weather here in the desert, we had a bright sunny day. 70F and little or no wind.

I told the boy to get his shoes on. The SCQueen asked where we were going. "To wash the airplane" I announced. She agreed the boy needed to go along and help. With a warm sun but cool air temps, it was a very nice day to give it a bath.

Following the wash it's customary to take it for a flight, also known as "the dry cycle". I decided to head down to a nearby airport with the $2.95/gallon AvGas. However nearing the airport we were advised the runway was closed due to a gear up landing.

How Rude!

We flew by on downwind and sure enough the runway was fouled with emergency vehicles and a stuck airplane. Someone had forgotten one of the critical factors in aviation.

There a several schools of thought on how to ensure the critical tasks are completed prior to touchdown:

The GUMPS check is a common one (Gas on fullest, Undercarriage down, Mixture rich, Prop forward). Some add the S but I don't know what it's supposed to stand for. Perhaps Speed. Conjured acronyms don't work for me. Also, when I was taught GUMP, it always seemed the tasks needed to be done at different times.

A USAF trained pilot related they were taught to check aircraft configuration at every turn in the pattern and again on short final. IOW, Entering the pattern: Gear down three green, Flaps 10. Turning base, Gear down three green, flaps 20. Turning final, Gear down three green flaps 30. Short final confirm gear down full flaps. Great, but what happens on a straight in approach?

I was taught by an airline pilot to fly a speed schedule. The arrival process starts back at the top of descent from cruise with a power reduction schedule which is designed to get the plane to flap speed and pattern altitude 6 miles from the airport. There we drop in 15deg flaps which slows the plane to gear speed. As the plane slows to gear speed now about 4 miles from the field the gear comes out. I don't let go of the gear handle until we have 3 green. As we enter the pattern we drop to 20deg flaps. Turning final, recheck three green and drop full flaps.

Find a method that works for you and your plane. (If you have another method, feel free to chime in via the comments)

Some say, there are those that have and those that will. They say the same thing about taildraggers and groundloops. I don't subscribe to such fatalism. My goal is to prove the adage wrong and go to my grave having done neither.

Still it was a beautiful day for a nice flight with the boy. On the way back he asked if we could fly over the SandCastle. Since the airport owning the airspace over the SandCastle wasn't busy they were happy to oblige. He found his school and the house. Completing the first turn we noticed the SCQueen waving out front. We waved back with the wings. Finishing the second turn we headed back to home field.

There may be better moments in life, but this one will be tough to top.

Update: Here's the boy's drawing of the event. Obviously this is a bird's eye view as we flew over the airport at about 1000 ft AGL (Above Ground Level).
So we have a twin engine aircraft disabled on the runway. The large vehicle in the upper left is a fire truck with a firehose at the ready. The smaller vehicle is a police cruiser.

(Interesting... when editing an existing post, it apparently pulls down the original until reposted. I did not expect that. Stay tuned for update 2 tomorrow when the preliminary report is posted. The plan was to do one update covering both, but apparently blogger doesn't work that way).

Update 2: FAA Preliminary Accident Report:
** Report created 12/1/2008 Record 1 **

Regis#: 12VB Make/Model: BE95 Description: 95 Travel Air
Date: 11/29/2008 Time: 2035

Event Type: Incident Highest Injury: None Mid Air: N Missing: N
Damage: Minor

City: CASA GRANDE State: AZ Country: US


INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 0
# Crew: 1 Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Pass: 1 Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Grnd: Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:

26 November 2008

Day off range day

The home range closes only four days a year (New Years, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas). Since the range will be closed tomorrow and Weekends are SRO as will be Friday after Thanksgiving, I hit the range today.

Today's missions were to a) check SKS sighting and b) check the Sig mags. I still need to prep for the Fall/Winter GBRM and the SCQ had complained that one mag wasn't feeding. Half way there, I realized I'd forgotten the big SR1 target and the spotting scope. Oh well, I can buy/rent both at the range for less than the gas to turn around and go back home. (Yes these are the calculation running through my head).
I pulled up to see a lot of shooters standing around. Figured "Rats we're in a cease fire and I won't have time to post a target". That means sitting around for the next shooting period until I can put a target out. But some days you just live right. The red flag was still out so I grabbed the big bag, signed in and found a bench. Just in time to hear "One minute warning..." Cool perfect timing.

Head to the target hut where I find a frame with an unused target, exactly the target I intended to shoot! The cold winds are howling and it's drizzling a bit. Guess it exceeded someone's threshold of pain. I took the target and posted it at 100 yards. The sights were set where I thought appropriate for 100 yards and proceeded to put 40 rounds down range. (then warmed my digits on the barrel)

Set up another target frame for minimum range to check out the Sig mags.

Cease fire called. Set new target at 11yards and collected the 100 yd target. All SKS rounds hit high. Looking close at the sight, it can go down a bit more. Good info, just what I wanted to know.

Loaded up all Sig mags and ran them through without issue. The SCQ and I need to have a talk about limp wristing and grip 20% harder. Poked a bunch more holes with the .22. Can't wait for the ePostal matches to start up again.

24 November 2008

Bogus headline

"Man Found Dead at Usery Mountain Shooting Range"

Story here

Which immediately makes one think someone was accidentally shot.

Actual story
"The victim ... was found on a roadway around 7 a.m. Monday near the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club..."
The death has nothing to do with the club but of course that's not the impression left by the headline.

Update: This morning's print edition has a more accurate headline:
"Man found dead on road near shooting range"

23 November 2008

New shooter range report

Note to self: When making a range trip, don't forget the bullets!

I'll have to check, but I'm pretty sure that's really high on the priority list.


1. Eyes & ears.
2. LEDs* to shoot
3. Ammunition as appropriate to the LEDs.
4. Clips/Magazines as appropriate to the LEDs.
5. Targets
6. spotting scope (if rifle distances are involved).
7. etc

Yea, #3 on the list. I can get targets at the range and most can be used single shot mode without the clips or magazines. Heck I can even rent a spotting scope for a buck. But bullets are not available at the range.

The whole Raison d^etre was to give the Sister In Law (SIL) some experience with the 9mm. As a secondary goal, I grabbed the SKS to check sight alignment in preparation for the Fall/Winter GBRM, and a couple .22s just because they are cheap and fun to shoot.

The range was crowded and we had to wait for a bench. While standing there waiting, it occurred to me I forgot the 9mm ammo. Checked the range bag. Sure enough, a big box of .22 and a couple 7.62s but no 9mm. The SCQueen headed to the nearest Wally world to get more while we waited for our bench.

A cease fire was called and we were notified of an available bench. We posted a target at the 100yd line to check the SKS while waiting for the 9mm. I put about 10 on target, the let the SIL try. She later commented favorably on the "low recoil". The M1 Garand she shot during the last range trip apparently left quite an impression on her.

The SCQ returned with a box of shells for the 9mm. I was surprised she only bought one box of 50. She pled sticker shock, $19 for a box 50 WWB, and only bought one. As soon as I started to load a magazine, the reason for the price was obvious. These were hollowpoints. Checking the box, they were 147gr FMJ-HPs. Now this isn't the SCQs first ammo trip to Wally world. She said the guy behind the counter was clueless and she didn't catch the error. It's also possible they were out of the cheaper 115gr round nose WWB and this was all they had left. It's also not like I haven't made a similar error recently so this should not be taken in a disparaging tone. It's not meant that way.

I pulled the target in to 11yds (range minimum) and put up a pair of 8inch Shoot*N*Cs. many of her shots missed entirely. I tried and put one in the 8 ring at 11 O'Clock. I think we need to talk some about sight picture.

We shot some of the 147gr FMJ-HPs. Rummaging around the range bag, I found some magazines were preloaded with 9mm. Between those, the SKS and the .22s, we made a decent range trip for the family and SIL who took home a very nicely perforated target. But it severely crippled the reason excuse for the trip. Oh well, we'll just have to make another trip! And the SIL is good with that.

* LED = Lead Emitting Devices

21 November 2008

Beautiful day for a layoff

Our CEO at the dayjob(tm) has decided that business conditions dictate shutting down the manufacturing side for a week to prevent over building inventory. This of course represents a paycut to those in manufacturing. And to prevent hard feelings within the company, he had dictated that the rest of the company will also take the same paycut. However while the manufacturing side has a specific week to be layed off, the rest of us get to choose when to take our unpaid week, so long as it's within this quarter.

Ok, this is a paycut. But it's a paycut of the best kind. The money comes back when the work comes back and in the meantime I reclaim something of value (a day off). It also avoid the unpleasant alternative: An actual layoff.

When the news came out, I checked my calendar and realized there were only 7 remaining fridays in the quarter. So I told the boss I'm taking five of em off.

Days one and two were spent wrenching on airplanes as annual inspections were due.
Today was layoff day #3 and could end up as a perfect day:

1. Slept in but woke up in time for Rush (10 am local). Temps in the high 70's, pushing low 80';s.
2. Headed out to the range to test out some new powder in the .223 loads. Scored about 20 really nice Springfield 30.06 brass! Woo Hoo
3. Washed the car (Couldn't see through the rear vinyl rear window)
4. Post annual test flight. The first flight out of annual is always a bit of a test flight. Not quite testing out a new theory, but rather a test of the plane to see what was left unattached. Much as I would have liked to take the SandCastle Son with me, these flights are strictly solo. Today was a loose screw and a quarter turn fastener. Nothing fatal. It also offered the opportunity to fill up on some 100LL at $2.95. Yea, Avgas just under three bucks a gallon. Over the summer we saw prices pushing $6 and even now the best price at the homefield is $4.30 so this is really quite a bargain. Saved about $75.

Add it up: Day off, warm temps, shooting, flying, etc. Does life get any better?
(There are other elements to a "perfect day", but to since this is a family friendly blog, I'll leave those unwritten)

19 November 2008


Blogger published a post long before it was ready. I can't figure out how to delete it but I can edit it. That means you get VACATION PICTURES!

So here's the story. We (SCQ and myself) were sitting on a log at Old Faithful eating lunch. SC boy was standing facing us munching on his sandwich. Suddenly his eyes turned to saucers. We turned around to see this guy moseying about 30 feet behind us. Even though he was trailing a pack of paparazzi(some of which may be seen in the upper right of the frame). I set lunch down, grabbed the camera and came up with this shot.

17 November 2008

Most Annoying Feature Ever Imposed on Users..

Sometime back a year or so ago, the Dayjob(tm) switched over from Notes to Outlook. In someways Outlook was quite an improvement as Notes was a veritable Jabba the Hutt definition of bloated software, while the current incantation of Outlook was much lighter and faster.

But somewhere along the line it came with the Most Annoying Feature Ever: "Reading View".

Opening a .DOC file attached to a message, instead of just opening up in Word's normal WYSISYG mode, it opens in "Reading View". On my system it comes up in a two page book format, but the text in each "page" is blown up to the point that it might get three or four words per line without discernable formatting at all.

Q: How does this help?
A: It does not. It's really quite annoying.

Why does this feel like a feature dreamed up by some PHd candidate on how to make computers easier for older users? The idea seems to be to blow up the text so it can be read without putting on ones reading glasses. But of course when the text is blown up like that, the formatting gets trashed... so they just don't format it at all! Gee Thanks. The formatting was there for a reason. It clarifies the meaning of the text and makes it easier to read. Oh, and BTW, if I'm working on the computer, I already have my readers on! Thanks for nothing.

I had asked around to see if anyone knew the proper MSIncantation to disable this "feature". No one did, but heads shook in agreement at the annoyance of it all. Today the annoyance reached critical mass which caused me enough to pop up the paperclip and type in "I never want to see the reading view ever again". And Low and behold, it told me where I could turn it off!

Halleluja! Tip of the day: Tools|Options|General tab, uncheck Open in reading view.
The checkbox is a little hard to find as it's not in the left hand column. Instead it's all alone at the top of the right column.

15 November 2008

'Twas the ides of November...

... and all through the Castle,
not a creature was stirring
'cept... um ... a couple of cats.

That opening rhyme needs work... Sorry, a poet I'm not. No apology. (Feel free to post your rhymes in the comments)

The SandCastle Son is off at a weekend long birthday bash, and the SandCastle Queen (SCQ) is taking a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) class. After taking the Babes with Bullets class, she felt confident with the weapon and wanted to get her CCW.

Arizona mandates an length and content of the class. Leading up to the class she was apprehensive that she was the only woman in the class and that their might be some yea-hoo in the class. You know the one... Wears combat boots and camo while bragging about covert operations. But the beer belly physique and beater car suggests quite a different background. I promised her there would be one of those in the class, all the while hoping that with a class of only 8, she might get lucky.

From the stories she reports, it was even worse than expected. The day started with the Yea-Hoo, er, Socially Inept Character (SIC guy) bragging "I killed a man with my bare hands in New York. I head butted him three times but the sucker wouldn't go down...", and "I was required to register myself as a deadly weapon". The class rolled their eyes in unison and the stories got worse as the day wore on.

I happened to be chatting with the Arizona Rifleman FTF when she called on lunch break. She was disappointed in her shooting only 90% on the qualifier (5 shots at 5 yds, 5 more at 10 yds on "the biggest target we have"). She said a breeze in the range caused the target to flap about. She asked to try again. The instructor shooed her away saying "This is a 70% government test. You passed, now go away!"

She further related how whenever the SIC guy spoke up the two guys a the table with her would pick up the application form and point to the "Adjudicated Mentally Defective" question.

Since she had completed her shooting qualification, I took her weapon home. Good thing since as class wore on they talked about different confrontations. For every story the instructor told, the SIC guy always had to top him. Ugg.

JR the instructor kept the class lively and entertaining. Most of the class is on is justifiable and what is not. They teach the basics - your CCW is for protection of yourself and immediate family. Anything else, you don't have enough information. Call 911 and hope for the best. The discussion of different scenarios alone are worth the price of admission. "As you arrive home and open the garage door, someone runs out and heads down the street with your stuff. SCQ answer: "Call the insurance company and say I want new stuff!" She also now understands my suggestion for the umbrella insurance policy. Of course the SIC guy wants to engage and shoot 'em in the back.

She's tired and her application is almost complete 'cept the state required processing fee money order (no, the state doesn't take checks or cash). SandCastle Son is also tired and ready to sleep in his own bed too. Expect din to resume normal levels in the AM.

13 November 2008

No it won't...

A flying car based on a Ferrari could be ferrying wealthy commuters to work within two years, designers have predicted.

No it won't. Story here

The first line of the story told the tale: "... is being developed by "Moller International"". Moller has been working on the topic for decades and never actually produced anything that's flown untethered. I don't buy their "insurance requirements" excuse. If you're going to sell a flying machine at some point you have to take off the leash and they never have.

Further, I do not recall ever hearing that they have taken a vehicle through FAA certification. Quite the contrary, they intended to sell the M400 with a 10 foot AGL limitation to avoid having to get FAA Certification.

Certification of flying machines using a proven configuration that the FAA understands, is a demanding process. Now you want to certify an unproven configuration? Expect that effort and cost to multiply. By what factor? 2x? 3x? 5x? 10x? Any of these would be reasonable guesses.

And good luck getting an FAA waiver to let you take off and land on public roads. That means you're limited to existing airports and heliports. Which negates the vehicles main feature - leaping out of and over traffic.

So lets look at the finances. You've got this machine that's worth the better part of a $million. Aircraft are built light. A soccer mom yakking on a cell phone backing into it is going to cause significant damage. Not to mention the distracted driver that blows a red light taking off the back end. Good thing you weren't T-boned because you probably wouldn't survive. Instead just the car is totalled. His insurance limits won't cover the loss and he doesn't have two nickles to rub together. Can you afford to write off that $1E6 as a total loss? You'll need collision insurance and that's going to run something like $30k a year. That $30k buys a pretty nice new car to leave at the other airport and the other half million you didn't spend having your $350k Ferrari converted to fly buys a pretty nice plane that will fly faster and cheaper, including the pilot, to fly you to that airport.

The bottom line is that when you try to build a machine that does two such vastly different tasks, you end up with a compromise that does neither very well. Car-boats (like the Amphicar) work but they don't stack up very well against cars or boats. Amphibious boat-planes do better but the boat hull, floats and wheel retraction mechanism extracts a significant performance penalty. Heck I'll even throw helicopters into the mix. The ability to fly at zero forward airspeed greatly increases complexity, reduces useful load and limits maximum speed over a conventional airplane. Efforts to build convertables such as the Osprey just make the complexity problem worse.

However they seem to be going after the "money is no object" crowd. When you've just spent 40 minutes in a traffic jam, been passed by three snails and now are late for the Board of Directors meeting for your $1B company. How much would you pay right now to get out of this mess? At a million bucks or ten, you'll probably get a couple takers.

10 November 2008


We have a winner!

Subtitle: Michael Ramirez +1

Though if I may quibble; to my eye the figure above the heels more resembles "ThunderThighs" Hillary than Sarah...

(Link blatantly stolen from Kevin)

07 November 2008

Friday afternoon rant...

Two things...

When you leave a voicemail and expect a callback, DO NOT leave a long rambling message describing the problem, then rattle off your phone number like a lawyer in the last two seconds of a used car commercial. Say it slow and say it twice. I may not be ready to copy the first time, and if I have to start the voicemail and listen to the rant again, I'm gonna be annoyed. And that's going to delay the response.

Two, if you're tailgating me down an eight lane freeway (4 lanes each direction) honking and generally acting like a jerk is not a very good way to get me to speed up or move over*. I'm already 6 over the limit and passing a car in the next lane. You have 4 lanes to choose from, pick a different one.

This is especially a bad thing to do when I'm headed to the range and have several weapons to choose from. BTW, given that I was fairly lightly armed today with only a pair of .22s and a 9mm, which weapon did I reach for? Answer: None of the above, not even the proverbial middle finger salute. I reached for the cellphone. Once he figured out I was dialing 911, he found another way past me two lanes over with nary even an evil glance.

Sometimes just the threat of a 911 call is enough to end a tense situation. When it's not, what's your plan B?

* My general attitude towards faster drivers is "Hey knock yourselves out. Go find those DPS officers laying in wait. " I always like a blocker if you get the Burt Reynolds reference.... Just come up easy and I'll move over as soon as I get to a safe place to pull over. Then you can take off and attract all the unwanted attention, letting me cruise on by while Officer Friendly writes you a ticket.

PS.. I need to find that old digital camera and keep it in the car for just such occasions...

06 November 2008

Aw Nuts!

Stopped by the local Sportsmans Warehouse the other day for powder & primers. As mentioned the other day, for small quantities the hazmat fee kills any savings from mail order places.

But opening the bag tonight, I see instead of buying CCI 500 Small Pistol Primers, I actually brought home CCI 550 Magnum small pistol primers. While I missed the word "Magnum" on the package, I recall reading CCI 550 and thinking, "yea that's right". So its my bad for not reading carefully before buying

No store is going to take them back, no matter how unopened the package is. Seems my options are to either find someone locally to take them, or buy a gun that uses them.

Looking through my databooks, only Lyman's 48 shows the CCI550 as applicable to the .357 Magnum. Are there any other uses for the primers?

04 November 2008

We are so screwed.

MSM has called the election for the most socialist ever.

I have a number of scenarios how this plays out, and even the best case is pretty bleak (I keep my Dayjob(tm) but taxes take all my money(Earnings, 401k, healthcare)). The worst case leads to a second civil war as the old maxim of "A democracy will only last until the majority learns it can vote itself largess from the treasury."

I'll have more to say later on the quality of the campaign later... for now we'll let the drowning of sorrows begin....

We are so screwed.

03 November 2008

Reloading Blues

Ain't got no primers (ba ba ba ba bah)
Ain't got no Brass (ba ba ba ba bah)
I'm almost outta powder (ba ba ba ba bah)
I think I'm gonna crash.. Cuz I got those..

Reloading Blues....
Reloading Blues....
I wanna pull the handle
But I just don't have the news...

Ok, ok.. I'm gonna keep the Dayjob(tm).

I've loaded up everything I have to the limits of the raw materials.
9mm - out of bullets, but fat on brass.
.40 - out of powder, way low on brass, just a handful of mixed headstamps.
.223 - out of powder. Bullets and brass are critically low.
.30 Carbine - no Brass.

The SandCastle Queen made a trip out to Sportsmans Warehouse today in search of IMR4895. For small quantities, the hazmat fee is significant so I prefer to buy locally. SW was out of the 1lb jars, but had 8lb kegs. I passed. I shoot far more pistol than rifle and 8lbs would last me a really long time. Also, their price was ~150 something. Powder Valley's price on the 8lb keg is thirtysomething dollars less which easily covers the hazmat & shipping. Besides, I really don't want 8lbs of powder sitting around the house.

Oh well... FedEx has custody of 26 lbs of 9mm & 223, should be here on Thursday.