Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, GA

I was lucky enough to have this year's Veterans Day off so Kevin (my friend and pastor) and I made a day trip to Macon, GA.  I found the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base online a while ago and finally found the right opportunity to check it out.  The museum is located on the southwest side of the Robins AFB, but is outside the gate (so you don't need a DoD ID) and admission is free!  The museum also has a cafe, but it was unfortunately closed for our visit due to the holiday.  That didn't make sense, but oh well.

The weather was perfect with nearly clear skies and cool temps.  We took off around 8 am and landed at Middle Georgia Regional Airport (KMCN) an hour and a half later.  Be bucked a little bit of a headwind, but the ride was smooth.  KMCN lies a few miles north of Robins AFB and since it was a federal holiday and base tower was closed, we got to make our approach right over the middle of it!  That 12,000 foot runway is huge!

The controllers at KMCN were easy to work with and in no time we were securely parked on the ramp of the only FBO, Lowe Aviation.  They were kind enough to call us a taxi.  The one way fare to the museum was $18 so I just gave the driver $20 to include a tip.  I asked about a cheap rental car, but was told their rates from Hertz puts the car a little over $40 per day plus taxes and fees.  In hindsight I should have just rented a car since it would have been only a couple dollars more in the end, but we would have had a little bit more freedom.  Remember, we didn't find out the cafe was closed until after we got there!

Anyway, we started our perusing in the main building where we found displays on the Flying Tigers complete with a P-40 Warhawk, exhibits from the Korean War, and a few items from the Cold War/Modern Era of flight.  Also in the main building, on the third floor with an amazing overlook of the static displays outside, is the museum cafe, but it was closed ;) !

From there we went to the next hangar which housed aircraft and exhibits from the Vietnam War.  You can sit in a UH-1 Huey and a cockpit from the the F-105.  I really liked that this museum had quite a few cockpit exhibits you can sit in and even play with all the buttons and switches.  I did consistently notice that at 6' 1" I was uncomfortably tall for most of them.  I could not imagine spending hours in those planes.  I definitely have it better in my plane and at least no one is shooting at me either!

Next we went to a hangar that had some great displays from the Cold War and Modern times.  They have a USAF Thunderbirds F-16, a U-2, a SR-71 Blackbird, and more.

The last hangar housed a great display & exhibit on WWII that focused on D-Day and the battle for Europe.  There was also a B-29 Superfortress.  The museum also uses this hangar to work on future displays.  Even though you couldn't get close to everything, there was definitely a lot to see and get excited about.

Finally we ventured outside to see the massive aircraft out on static display on the museum grounds.  I was surprised to see some of the planes outside.  There were a few that looked like they had just recently been decommissioned.

Tired and famished, we called to get a taxi back to the airport.  The only fast food options on the way back was a Krystal.  I'm not a fan of their tiny burgers, but I was starving.  To both of our surprise, Krystal has added full size, Angus burgers to their menu so we quickly got ours to go and enjoyed them in the lobby of the FBO.  And let me just say, we both thought those were some pretty tasty burgers!  We finished up and took off for home.  We enjoyed a little tailwind and in no time we were back in Jacksonville.  I'll have to make that trip again as there is plenty to see and enjoy.  Next time I'll call ahead and make sure the cafe is open though!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A little of this and a little of that....

It has been too long since I made any update to this blog and unfortunately even longer since we have made a trip anywhere.  That's not to say I haven't been flying!  The annual inspection went well.  Nothing major was found and everything appeared to be in good working order.  The only two big items that were accomplished were the spark plugs were changed out and the universal joints on the control yoke shafts were replaced.  Both items were due to wear and I was able to plan and budget for them.  I will say the plane "feels" much better with the new universal joints.

Anyway, I try to fly at least once a week to keep the plane exercised.  I always try to find something to do with each flight to explore, play with, fiddle, or whatever to give it a little more purpose.  For instance, I found out the automatic gear extension system in the plane does work!  I tried it when I first bought it, but no joy.  During the annual I stopped by the shop after they did the gear swing checks and they told me everything was good including the automatic system.  It is?  Sure enough! I tried it out and down they dropped.  I guess I'll have to adjust my routine and checklist to disengage the override during descent & landing.  Hey, you never know!

So here are a few pictures to share of my recent wanderings:

Yeah......they were worn out.

Came in to get an update and found this pretty gal getting some TLC too!

This Lockheed 12A is owned locally by the Marco family.  They have some amazing planes in their collection.  I've also seen their De Havilland Beaver and P-51 Mustang.  You can read more about the family and their planes here:  Generations In Aviation  I need to find out if they give tours!  Anyway, I came out the next day and I briefly met David Marco during the post maintenance checks.  Watching and listening to her start-up was awesome!

And I thought polishing the spinner on my plane was laborious!  This gal really shines!

I really like the iPad mini on the yoke with ADS-B weather from the Stratus 2 receiver.  I played with it a lot and felt very comfortable about cancelling my XM Weather subscription.  Here you can see what was received on the iPad and what it looked like out the window.

Every once in a while, I'd chase little areas of rain to rinse off the plane.  Sometimes I'd even drop the landing gear to give them a good rinse too!  I'm lazy at times, but with the heat indexes well over 100 degrees this summer, I'm waiting for cooler weather to give the plane a proper bath.

Climbed up to cooler air one afternoon and found a few sprinkles.  Saw this rainbow behind me after I went through.  It went around a lot further than the picture could capture.

That's about it.  Unfortunately our next scheduled Family Flying adventure is a little ways off.  We are looking forward to visiting family in Arkansas and Texas over Christmas and New Years.

But.......before that is the next Bahamas Habitat Fly In to Serve Others event and I'm blessed to be able to go!  It will be from October 23 -26.  If you are interested in experiencing this journey too, please contact the Bahamas Habitat and find out how!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Great Customer Service -

When we moved to Jacksonville, FL almost 8 years ago, I was finally able to get back in to flying.  After taking Abby flying for the first time when she was 4, I quickly realized that I didn't have a headset that would really fit her kid head.  So I eventually purchased a pink (of course) Pilot Cadet headset from Pilot Communications USA.  It has been perfect in many respects.  Most importantly it fits, but it also has an aux audio input which has allowed both my girls to listen to their own music, games, movies, etc.

The company still sells this headset and advertises that as you child outgrows it, they will send you a full size headband to replace the child size one free of charge.  After 8 years it was time for me to call.  Only problem was, we somehow managed to lose both the clear plastic pieces on the headband where you adjust and tighten for fit.

Image from w/ my notation
Image from
So I called and explained that I'd like to get the larger headband and buy two replacement pieces for the ones I lost.  I talked to Abram Akradi and he was very pleasant and helpful.  To my complete appreciation, a box arrived from California in just a few days with everything I needed.  On top of all that, no charge.  Not even for shipping!  It was a quick and easy fix/change out and we were back in business.

I am a few months late in sharing this experience, but I wanted to make sure I did.  Positive customer experiences should be shared just as much as any critique.  If someone out there is in need of a child size headset, I highly recommend!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Burning Holes In The Sky and Dancing In Orlando

Unfortunately our summer schedule has been so busy, there really hasn't been any opportunities to take a trip and fly somewhere.  I try to at least once a week, work and weather permitting, to go fly.  I usually take off and climb out towards the west over downtown Jacksonville and then turn north over Jacksonville International Airport.  I'll cruise that way for about 15 mins or so then turn back to the east and head for the coast.
 Descending all the time, I'll cruise home along the shoreline at about 1500' enjoying the views from all around.  This little jaunt usually takes me about an hour and is good exercise for the plane and me!

Last week, Abby attended the Tremaine National Dance Finals and Convention in Orlando.  Unfortunately I could couldn't head down with them because of work.  Luckily the work schedule slowed enough that I was able to hop down there and see Abby dance on the only day she was competing.  I was so glad the Papa Ken flew out from Shreveport to join the girls for the week.  I was also excited that Grandma & Grandpa Nelson, who were in town selling at an event, were also able to come see the family and watch Abby compete.  I had a great time entertaining Mary in the hotel/resort pool and play area.  She finally got a little brave and tried the water slide and........loved it!  Surprise, surprise!

It's only a three hour drive to Orlando, but I despise that drive!  So lucky me, I flew down on Tuesday morning before the afternoon thunderstorms had a chance to fire up.  I was surprised that during the short 1 hour flight I was given 3 re-routes from ATC, but what surprised me most was the amount of traffic called out around Daytona Beach.  Most about the traffic was maneuvering, non ATC participating (think VFR instructional flights) planes that were doing so at IFR cruising altitudes.  That didn't make sense to me.  Oh well, after flying through the swarm around Daytona, I was vectored around Orlando a bit then put on a nice long, straight in approach over Disney World to Runway 15 at Kissimmee Gateway Airport (KISM).

Papa took me back to KISM Thursday morning to fly home.  I kept the plane with Kissimmee Jet Center during the stay.  Their fuel was the least expensive at the airport at $5.40 per gallon and as long as you bought at least 10 gallons there were no tie-down or handling fees charged.  Not a bad deal.  Upon departure I was vectored to the west then north for a bit before being turned on course for home.  My takeoff took me over Disney World again.  The parks look so much smaller from the air than in person!?!?  The cumulus was already starting to build, but the main area of weather at the time was safely well off to the west near Gainsville.

As I got closer to home, some of the cumulus clouds started to build past my cruising altitude of 7000'.  Since I was flying alone, I decided to punch through a few of them instead of asking for permission to make slight deviations in order to avoid them.  After the second one I decided the few seconds of bumps in the clouds really was uncomfortable so I was given permission to deviate to the east as needed.  I made it home without incident and knew I had enjoyed the easy way.  My poor wife still had to endure the jam packed schedule and one more sleepless night before loading up and driving home the next day.

We don't have any big trips planned in the near future, but hope the weather cooperates so we can fly down to Treasure Island near St Petersburg, Fl at the end of the month to enjoy a week on the beach with Grandma & Grandpa.  In the mean time, the plane's annual inspection started yesterday.  I'll gladly accept donations from my sympathetic family , friends, and followers! ;-)  I hope y'all are having a great summer!

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