Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Annual Inspection - Back In The Air!!!

I got a call after work yesterday from Northeast Aircraft Maintenance that our plane was all buttoned up and ready to fly. After working early this morning, I got to the airport around 9 am and started my post-annual and very through pre-flight inspection. Everything looked great so I waited a bit till the overcast layer burned off to go fly.  It has been about 2 1/2 weeks since the inspection started, but a lot of that time was eaten up with down time awaiting parts. Overall the inspection went very well and we got a few things done to help 4RM continue to safely take us on our various travels!
The biggest job that was accomplished this year was dealing with corrosion on the belly. The paint was stripped around the affected areas and the corrosion was cleaned off. Luckily it was just a bad case of surface corrosion at this point, but if left unfixed it would have turned into a much worse situation. After the areas were cleaned, they were treated with alodine, primed and painted. It looks much better!  I already shared the before photos so here of some while the work was in progress and upon completion.

The new left stabilator tip turned out great and we touched up the leading edge of the stabilator on that side as well since we were already painting in that area anyway.

We also noted that although my main gear tires were legal, they probably didn't have a lot of landings left in them till they would need replacement.  I decided to replace them now with Desser's Monster Retreads like I had done a few years ago on the Arrow.  They are highly rated by Aviation Consumer and easier on the pocketbook than a lot of other options.  I also like them because they come with some nice deep treads.  A lot of folks get concerned about using retreads and having fit issues especially with retractable gear planes.  I didn't have any problems and they freely fit in the well and spin without interference. 

After the clouds cleared, I started up, taxied out for my run-up, and took off in to the pattern to check systems before proceeding any further from the airport.  With everything looking good I advanced the settings to full power and climbed up to 5,500 feet and headed south towards Flagler County Airport, KXFL for the least expensive fuel around.  The weather was already building to the southwest which gave me an opprotunity to test the repairs to the Strikefinder.  They replaced the AC powered heading input wire and sure enough my Strickfinder display is once again slaved to my heading.  Outstanding!

Upon landing at KXFL I was kindly notified by the ground controller that the self-serve fuel pump was offline.  I needed fuel so I taxied up to the FBO and requested full service fuel since it was my only option.  They topped off the plane and kindly charged me the self serve price.  That's customer service!  I hopped back in the plane and headed north for home.  Within an hour the clouds had gone from what you see above to some rapidly building cells as you see below.  Luckily they were widely  scattered so I cruised home, kept a safe distance, and enjoyed the views!

It was great to be back in the air.  Today's flight made some fresh exhaust stains on the newly painted belly, so I better give my plane a good bath and wax job soon to make sure it stays clean and well protected!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friendship 7

All the various parts for the plane have finally trickled in and things are almost back together.  The annual should be complete on Monday, but that's a separate story.  I always enjoy wandering the shop and the ramp to look at the various planes.  When I arrived at the shop this afternoon there was a 1981 P Baron sitting on the ramp waiting to be moved in to the hangar.  I didn't pay much attention to it other than I noticed the Friendship 7 symbol on the tail.  I thought it was interesting, but proceeded to my plane.

As I was leaving, after helping to finish up a few things on my plane, I noticed two murals painted on the port side of the plane.  It all had to do with Astronaut John Glenn and his Mercury spaceflight in Friendship 7.  I took some pictures and asked the guys what the story was.

Turns out this used to be John Glenn's airplane!  Up until last year, he was the original owner of this plane and flew it quite often.  The new owner lives here in Jacksonville and had the murals added.  I understand he will be flying up to Ohio this month and John Glenn will autograph the plane for him.

Pretty cool!

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