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Dude, Wheres My Clearance?

There are two basic ways to obtain an IFR clearance in the U.S. before departing a non-towered airport. One is to telephone Flight Service directly and get the clearance over the phone. Another is to use a remote communications outlet (RCO) to contact Flight Service or a ground communications outlet (GCO) to reach ATC over your aircrafts communication radio. In both cases, of course, youre likely to receive a clearance with a void time, since ATC cant see you on radar until youre airborne, and has to block off some portion of the airspace around your departure airport to ensure separation, at least until youre in radar contact.

#OSH19

Once again, the Experimental Aircraft Association in July pulled off another great AirVenture fly-in at its home in Oshkosh, Wis. This years event had a little of everything, including torrential rain the Friday evening before Mondays opening day, nighttime air shows and lots of airplanes of every shape, size and purpose. Perhaps because the pre-show rain knocked everyone off-kilter-followed by mid-week heat-the overall event seemed to need more cowbell, but it definitely was worthwhile checking out all the new stuff and checking in with long-time friends.

Air Mass Storms

I used to ground myself when I saw a forecast of thunderstorm weather. I had an immediate visceral response rooted in memories of growing up in Kansas, seeing vast tornado-spawning squall lines, their blue-green tint indicating they were pregnant with hail. At age 11, I watched a barn across the road explode in one of those storms, flying in pieces across the fields, followed by a barrage of baseball-sized hail. Surely you cant fly when convective weather and thunderstorms are nearby or on the way, can you? Well, Dorothy, sometimes you can. You just need to know what to look for and what to avoid.

Mufflers

While carrying out Canadian AD CF90-03-R2, large leaks were found in the area surrounding the muffler tail pipe area under the structure for supporting the heat muff shroud. No defects were noticed in a visual inspection of this area. No data tag was on the muffler, so its assumed it is an original unit. The operators logs dont show it ever being changed.

Catching Up

By the time you read this, Ill be getting my Debonair out of its annual inspection. Its been a lengthy one, in part because of some items I had deferred from previous inspections and in part because the airplane was new to the shop doing the work. Basically, I decided it was time to catch up on a few wear-and-tear items that pop up with any kind of machine, from a Roomba vacuum cleaner to a personal airplane.

Diesel Additive Again Contaminates Jet Fuel

After noting that five incidents of aircraft uncommanded roll events with the ATLAS activated have been reported to EASA and the FAA, the U.S. agency on May 24 issued an airworthiness directive (AD) grounding Cessna CitationJet 525, 525A and 525B models equipped with Tamarack active load alleviation system (ATLAS) winglets. The action is related to an EASA AD and is mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) issued by the aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product.

NTSB Reports

Radar data depicted the airplane flying northerly until about 1138, when it initiated a right turn to the south at about 400 feet msl. Witnesses then saw the airplane turn right to a westerly or northwesterly direction over land while radar depicted the airplane descending to about 200 feet msl. The airplane banked sharply left, and one witness observed the banner twist and separate. The airplane then banked to the right and impacted a 19-story condominium near its top floor. The airplane fell to the second floor deck and came to rest on its left side. Witnesses described the engine sound as either sputtering, operating normally or being at a low throttle setting.

A New Homebuilt And Rusty Pilots

They expressed their nervousness, which was understandable. Who wants to show their flight skills to a critic when those skills are at low proficiency? It is human nature to want to show your best side, but a rusty pilot flight review will show the naked truth. I explained there is nothing wrong with being out of practice, and a flight review is not a test, but an opportunity to learn. Their anxiety acknowledged, we moved on to the needed practice.

Buddy System

Normally, I might have panicked, but with my experienced copilot at my side, I stayed calm. We talked through our options and decisions along as I continued to fly the plane. I began a series of small adjustments to the throttle and mixture to see how the engine responded. We quickly discovered these changes only made matters worse, so we left the settings as is. My buddy reminded me to stay high-altitude is our friend-and we looked for landing spots in case things deteriorated.

Cockpit Stress

Knowing of the low overcast, if that pilots autopilot had this auto-capture feature, his motivation would have been to ease his workload and obviate spatial disorientation during transition into the clag. The effect of his action would have been to capture the airport elevation as target altitude. The TruTrak, at least, takes a few seconds to process and implement settings, so that the airplane would be expected to do exactly what it did: ascend into the clouds and a few seconds later return to the preset target altitude of the runway.

NTSB Reports

As the airplane was vectored to avoid cells and areas of heavy precipitation, the controller queried the pilot about his inability to maintain assigned headings. The pilot reported that his autopilot had kicked off and that the winds are really weird up here. At about 1310, the airplane slowed to about 70 knots groundspeed on a northeasterly heading before it began an accelerating 90-degree right turn to the south. By 1313, the controller again asked, ...appears you've turned back to the northwest and...are you going to turn back eastbound? The pilot replied, I don't know what's going on up here. I'm working on instruments…acting really goofy here. Shortly thereafter, the airplane turned and descended from a northerly heading sharply to its right. The radar track tightened to the right as the target rapidly descended, then disappeared at about 1315 in an area that depicted heavy precipitation.

Local Phenomena

Checking the weather for a short afternoon flight showed visibility of more than 10 sm and clear skies locally, with a barely moving front off to the west. The forecast showed nothing unusual, although clouds and limited visibility were expected to arrive with nightfall several hours after my anticipated landing time. The temperature/dew point spread was narrow, but around the Great Lakes, we often had high humidity content at lower altitudes as moisture blew in off the water. Seeing ground-level dewpoints only a few degrees away from temperatures wasnt concerning. Overall, the weather looked great for a local sightseeing flight in the late afternoon.