I have been dreaming for quite some time of trips I have wanted to take in the Garaggio Ez, in fact it started even before we bought the project. On the days in the shop that were frustrating, I would think of cool places I was going to see. All the while I was hoping the experience would make the pain of whatever particular issue I was solving worth it. When I fly over cool places in the jets I fly for work, I often think to myself it would be fun to be able to fly lower and see the landscape more closely. Maybe fly up that valley over there and see where it leads.
Since the Garaggio Ez is now a flying airplane, I have taken those thoughts and tuned them into a loosely defined plan. A ton of places are on the list of potential destinations, and I have a few goals to accomplish along the way. I am calling it my Victory Tour.
Our trip to Hops and Props in Oshkosh this past weekend were the first two legs of the tour. I am now on vacation and the next planned leg was from St. Paul to Granbury, TX via Branson, MO. Granbury, TX is where Pecan Plantation is, a residential fly in community where my long time aviation mentor, Dick Keyt, lives. He is one of the people that got me started in aviation and certainly in building airplanes. It is going to be a working visit as we have a plan to do some work on Betty while I am at Pecan.
Dick and I immediately following the airworthiness inspection for the airplane in October 2015.
The original plan was to break up the 5 hour flight into two shorter flights to make it more fun. Branson is 100ish miles out of the way, but only about an extra 30 minutes of travel time. I planned this stop so I could have lunch with my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Dave. But, as I am sure will happen many more times on the Victory Tour, the weather dictated other plans. Kathy and Dave, I promise you are still in mind and I hope the weather lets me stop in sometime on my way through.
I mentioned an instrumentation failure in the previous blog post. Yesterday, was supposed to be the day that I departed for Texas. Actually, I did depart intending to fly to Texas. The plan was to fly above a thin broken layer of clouds to Butler, MO get gas and continue to Pecan Plantation. Well, wouldn’t you know it that the first cross country I plan on using the IFR capability of the avionics, they fail. I had an attitude and heading failure of my Garmin G3X. Luckily it was right after takeoff and I was VMC and still close to home.
I did not get any failure messages about it and the only reason I could tell It failed was it showed a descending turn when I was level. To the software’s credit, it did realize something was amiss after 30-45 seconds and did a soft realignment of the AHRS. The EFIS was showing accurate attitude and heading by the time I was in the pattern to land back home. I am still waiting to hear back from Garmin on what the issue is.
In talking about the failure I have learned something that disturbs me. The Garmin G3X requires GPS to give accurate attitude. The AHRS cross checks itself to detect precession using the GPS. So if you get a degraded GPS signal the attitude will fail. That is a serious disadvantage of the Garmin G3X system. I now consider my airplane limited to VMC only until I get a permanent standby instrument installed. The stand by instrument will be of a different manufacturer, different software, different database, and not GPS dependent. It will be a completely independent standby.
As luck would have it, today gave me an opportunity to fly the entire trip VFR. It required me to deviate west from a straight line, but the mission was do-able while remaining clear of clouds. As a back up in case the attitude on the EFIS failed again, I borrowed Greg’s Dynon D1. If you haven’t seen the D1 or D2, go check it out on the website. It is a completely self contained portable standby instrument. It shows attitude, turn coordinator, ground speed, and GPS altitude. They are both GPS dependent. But since I am limiting myself to VFR this is more of a convenience to have as a back up.
The planned routing was Flemming (KSGS) Great Bend (KGBD) Pecan Plantation (0TX1) with a fuel (and potty) stop at KGBD. The headwinds were hellacious and got worse as you got higher. Lucky for me (YAY) the low altitudes were bumpy. I stuck it out down low for the first 90 miles, and then got sick of the crummy ride. I then climbed for smooth air and was greeted with 50 knot head winds. I was down to 130 KTS. I compromised in between with a somewhat bumpy somewhat smooth ride, and 140 KT ground speed.
About the time I was 125 miles from the destination the yellow light came on (I had to pee). Doing the math, I was up to 170 KTS ground speed at this point, it was something like 45-ish minutes to landing. Ok, I can do that. About a minute later I started looking to my left and wondering if I could make it on a straight line from my location to Pecan Plantation, or if I needed to go further west to stay VFR. ADSB to the rescue. I have onboard weather and could find out. Not quite. I still needed to go further west.
About 95 miles from KGBD I really had to go. So I started looking at the weather to the left again and you know it looked decent actually. Salina, KS (KSLN) was directly off my left 45 miles away, about 10 minutes. Salina is a much bigger airport than KGBD and I started thinking that fuel was probably more expensive since I chose KGBD specifically for cheap fuel prices. At the end of the day it didn’t matter how much the fuel there was, I had to pee, and KSLN was 10 minutes closer than KGBD. I would have paid $10 per gallon.
Anyone who has worked the line at an FBO knows ‘the look’ when a pilot dismounts, cant put 2 words together, and is looking around for the nearest building that has any chance of a bathroom.
It was a quick gas and go at KSLN as I was racing daylight, I don’t have landing lights yet. The second leg, direct 0TX1 went well and at ground speeds up to 182 KTS in level flight. I did one minor weather deviation about 10 miles west of course.
Upon arrival, I followed standard operating procedure for the airport here and did the overhead approach to check for deer. There was an audience and it figures that I did a crappy landing for all 10 or 15 of the neighbors that were watching.
The best part is taxiing up to the hangar home of one of your mentors in aviation, shutting down, and being handed a cold beer by a pretty young gal even before you can unstrap.
Victory Tour Summary to Date
| KSGS KOSH KSGS KSLN 0TX1 | 1,200 Nautical Miles |