Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Turbo the Flying Dog - Photos

As Turbo has flown five hours in the past few weeks and knowing his adoring fan base, here are some recent photos of your favorite flying dog :) You can follow him at Facebook.com/TurbotheFlyingDog!

Monday, November 18, 2013

QT Halo Headset - Four Flights

My first review for the QT Halo headset involved a flight to and from Reading, PA for dinner at Malibooz Bar & Grill. This weekend we had an unfortunate last minute flight to Bob's parents for a funeral. The flight there was smooth, bright and beautiful. Turbo slept in the back seat with Bob's sister. The sunshine and scenery from above had us snapping photos and almost forgetting the somber event that lay before us.

I've noticed that the only difficulty I have with the headset is when I first put it on, it's a bit too wide for my thin face therefore falls off my ears. But, shortly after it seems to find some balance and the top of my ear holds it in. Bob suggested maybe putting some foam around the ears to help it fit better. I'm not excited about that idea as I love the feel and don't want to add any weight, as light as that added weight would be. Due to the need for an extra seat, we took the Cessna 172 which is much quieter than the Glasair. Upon putting in the ear pieces, the 180 hp engine became a gentle hum. 

As the sun was bright, I wore my sunglasses and they clamped my head more than the Halo ever will. Even with the Halo on my ears, it did not feel uncomfortable having the sunglasses on. Goodbye days of trying to find a comfortable way of wearing my shades while flying! The tubes still stuck out quite a bit and I realized later it was because I took out the bendy thingies (yes that's the technical term) when putting on new foam tips. The foam tips do fit on the bendy thingies, but I did it in the dark during my last review and it is definitely something that you need to take some time on in decent lighting. I later fixed this so we are good to go where the tubes are a loop just behind my ear now and don't just out as far. Enjoy the selfie.

The flight home mimicked the feelings the weekend had left us with. Clouds were coming in so we opted to spend the night Saturday and wait for a gap in the weather on Sunday. That wait lasted until 2:30pm when the clouds finally started to rise. We departed out of grey and gloomy Doylstown and climbed to 2,500 feet, later we had to drop to 2,000 as conditions deteriorated halfway to Frederick. About 45 miles east of Frederick I was forced to 1,600 feet above ground due to the clouds and visibility was quickly deteriorating. I increased the throttle and made the decision to land at Carol County (DMW) just 15 miles ahead, dreading the 45 minute drive back to Frederick we would have ahead of us and kicking myself for constantly delaying my IPC. But, as many pilots say "always have an out!" I picked my out. Luckily, the clouds lifted and I was back to 2,000 feet as we overflew Carol County and landed at Frederick just 15 minutes later. That was close! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SMAC060 – Precision GPS Approaches, Midair Collisions, And Parachutes

Episode 60 is on the air with your favorite group of aviation insomniacs - Carl, Victoria, Rick, Sean, and Len. We’ve got the whole gang together!
In today's episode we talk about how Len learned something new at work in the past couple of weeks. Have you ever made a GLS approach? Learn everything you need to know about this new precision approach making its way to an airport near you. There’s also video floating around the internet of two skydiving planes colliding while the jumpers and one of the pilots parachute to safety. The co-hosts talk about their reactions to that video as well as what might happen if they find themselves in a similar situation including their thoughts on the merits and uses of parachutes for pilots and for airplanes.
So lets kick the tires and light the fires cuz it's SMAC time! Here we go.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

$100 Hamburger - Malibooz Bar and Grill

On Thursday Bob and I decided to do a $100 hamburger which was the perfect time to test out my new QT Halo headset. You can check out my first review on it here. Since it was a work night (yes, I'm an old lady who has a bedtime!) we wanted something a tad closer, so I picked out Reading, PA (pronounced Red-ding) KRDG just 87NM. They have a museum on the airport that we'll have to go back and check out sometime as well as an annual WWII airshow. That night, we were on our way to the airport restaurant, Malibooz Bar & Grill, for dinner.

While I played around with and tested out my new headset, Bob flew us to RDG in the calm night air, the airplane loved the cold as it was climbing at 1,500 feet per minute and a good speed. It was cool, but I refused to turn on the heat just yet! We arrived after about a half hour flight and Bob called up tower to come in for landing, but they transferred him to approach. So we called approach, got a squak code and just moments later were transferred back to tower. We learned next that if you want to talk to tower first, just let them know "negative radar", otherwise they have to send you back to approach for radar contact.
Restaurant that-a-way!
We had quickly spotted the beacon to the airport (which is behind the tower, not on top of it), however, the runway lights only worked in one direction, making it hard to line up on the correct runway which caused Bob to slightly overshoot the turn to final. The controllers were really friendly and we were soon given taxi directions to Malibooz. A King Air landed before us, another aircraft soon after us and we passed a Citation loading up so there was a decent amount of activity on a Thursday evening.

There is ample aircraft parking in front of the restaurant and you are allowed to stay for three hours. We could see through the large windows filling the walls of Malibooz that it was a popular place as many people were seated inside. We used the side general aviation entrance and noted the code needed to get back out. The door takes you through the small airline terminal and the restaurant entrance is halfway down on your left.
Despite it being quite full, we were seated in a decent amount of time and not long after, eating our salads that came with our entrées. Upon checking in to Yelp I noticed Malibooz only received 1 1/2 stars, so I was worried we were about to have a bad experience. However, we didn't. Everything was just mediocre. Nothing to call home about. You may visit my more detailed Yelp review here. Despite being an average stop, it also proved to be a popular $100 hamburger as two other planes pulled in as we were back in the plane ready to leave.

The flight home was also smooth and I took the controls, satisfied with my new headset. Halfway, home we got to hear Air Force One over the radio. Later, there was a Cessna 150 practicing approaches when we came in and the pilot was generous enough to let us go ahead so he would not slow us down. We passed below the C150, I intercepted the ILS and came down for a smooth (but long) landing on runway 23. There was actually a noticeable temperature inversion, it was 48 degrees in the air and in the low 30s on the ground. This was also noticeable as we drove up the mountain to get home. It was warmer higher up that it was at the lower airport altitude as we put the airplane away.
Nighttime Garmin abstract "art"
Flying? Check! Food? Check! New headset? Check! Air Force One? Check! Good day? Check!

Friday, November 15, 2013

QT Halo Headset Review - 1st Flight

Thanks to many glowing recommendations, two weeks ago I became the new owner of a Quiet Technologies Halo Tubephone headset. I was wanting a headset that was lightweight and didn't feel like my head was being clamped after a long flight. It also would be nice to not have headset hair anymore, too-and-there are no need for batteries-bonus! Similar headsets, such as the Clarity Alofts range from $525 to $795. The QT Halo is only $359. It has been windy and gross and we've been pretty busy. Yesterday after work we took the break in the weather (albeit it was still chilly!) to fly to RDG for a $100 hamburger dinner (review tomorrow). So as promised, the following is my thoughts on the QT Halo after my first round-trip flight trying it out.

There are three ways to wear the Halo. 1. Behind the head 2. On top of the head (like most headsets) and 3. On the shoulders. I noticed I had quiet a bit of extra tube that made it look like I had giant hoop earrings on. Luckily, they can be trimmed to suit your own head shape (be sure to follow the instructions on where to trim!) I started with just an inch. I wanted to be sure I had enough tube so that when I wouldn't have trouble wearing the headset in each position, as well as be able to turn my head without it getting too tight. Also, I noted in the instructions that it could effect the sound quality, but very slightly, if so.

We hopped into the plane for our 1/2 hour flight and I was already fiddling and testing out the Halo. First, I ditched the rubber tips. Perhaps they were made for people with larger ear holes, but I didn't have a tight fit with those or notice a difference in dimming aircraft sounds. While Bob taxied, I unplugged the rubber tips and popped in some foam ones (the smaller, beige ones). Easier said than done. I recommend doing so when you are in a well lit area and not bumping around, although, I got it eventually. Much, much, better. I noticed a definite seal, the noise around me quieted, and we took off. As you can see in the photo on the right, I started off with the headset resting on my shoulders. It was light and comfortable, however, the microphone does not follow you as you turn your head.

So, I switched the resting on the ears, behind the head option. This was super comfy since it was so light. I still had a bit of giant hoop tube earrings going on, and they didn't seem to want to wrap around my ears or tuck in anywhere. I could opt for shortening the tubes a bit more, or just hooking them up to the headset with a twist tie. For the remainder of the flight to dinner and the flight home I wore the Halo in this configuration. There is a way to tighten it up a few inches around the head and I put it to the tightest setting. I do wish there was a setting for the adjusting the width, as it could be easily knocked off my tiny head when resting on the ears.

Comfort: Despite a temperature inversion, it was quiet a bit chilly at 5,000 feet and was happy to see that the Halo works just as great with a hat on. It should be no problem for sunglasses then, too! For sunglasses, it may be easier or more comfortable to wear them in the over the head or shoulders position. That's a test for my next flight, when I can see the sun! In addition, I found that I adapted to the ear plugs quite quickly and it wasn't something that I had to try to get used to like I originally assumed. The only time it felt the slightest bit strange was after landing when I think my ears had a little more trouble than usual equalizing. 

I'm sure you're asking me to hurry up and tell you about the sound quality and noise cancellation. Both were superb. I had no trouble hearing my voice, Bob's or air traffic control. Bob said that I sounded crisp and clear when talking to him. The noise cancellation was also excellent. Try as I might, I could not find a difference between this and my old headset. I didn't notice immediately that it was any worse or better than an ANR headset. In fact, upon landing we put the airplane into a high RPM and I switched between the Bose and the Halo. I couldn't tell which one was better!

I purchased my Halo new from Ebay. I've been stalking the site for Halos so I could take advantage of their Bill Me Later 0% for 6 months offers. I noticed that these are popular headsets and the price quickly reaches in the high $200 range for used headsets. Each one listed has always had 20+ watchers. So, when I saw a new headset on Ebay with a buy me now option I immediately jumped on it. It arrived with a slight separation in the volume control box. I emailed the seller and he stated that it was not damaged in his care and that his personal pair had the same gap and that he thought it was a manufacturing issue. I did not see that it effected the Halo performance, although I hope it doesn't get worse in the future.

To conclude, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I quickly adapted to and enjoyed the QT Halo. I'll be sure to report back on my second flight with the Halo.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

I got the Halo headset!

I didn't NEED a new headset, but I WANTED one. I wanted something very light, with no head clamping and that would leave me without headset hair. So, I caved and got myself an early Christmas gift. Thanks to everyone who recommended the Halo. Now I need to get my bootie in a plane and test this baby out!

Friday, November 1, 2013

SMAC059 – Aircraft Salvage, Recovery, and Transport with @FastAviationFL

Episode 59 is on the air with your favorite group of aviation junkies - Victoria, Rick, Sean, and Len. Carl couldn't join us on this recording as he recently got MARRIED and was away on his honeymoon! Make sure to send a big congrats to Carl when you get a chance, we're sure he'll appreciate it.

We've got a cool guest today to talk about aircraft salvage, recovery, transport, and all kinds of other cool topics like growing up with some of aviation's legends. Not only does she have an amazing story and background, but she's also overcome some pretty difficult heath issues on the road to pursing her pilot's license. In fact, we are proud to also announce her recent completion of her Private Pilot Certificate!