Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Back to the Skies At Last


After a few weeks on the ground with no flying, I was pretty excited to pick up Gladys from her scheduled maintenance in Mesa. I think she was happy to see me, too.


As you can see above, she had some work done cosmetically! Look at that bright work on the metal surfaces! They buffed them out to avoid corrosion, and now she glows!

It’s so shiny that even the birds don’t dare poop on her…for now.


In addition, after they worked on her for a few weeks, the maintenance folks gave her a bath. A real bath! She just glistened under the early morning sun last Friday. It was good to see Gladys again. I was excited to have a busy weekend of flying ahead!


Sparkle sparkle sparkle. Glisten glisten glisten.


The only downside was that all of her work actually caused some damage on the inside. I think a mechanic’s screwdriver poked a hole in one of our nice, new, beautiful leather seats in the cabin. I was bummed to see it. The hole is about 1/2 inch wide.

Wop wop.

Just yesterday, I was with a mechanic to get this patched up before we flew out again this morning for two weeks on the road. At least our guys fessed up and paid to get it fixed. They take good care of us at Embraer.


I always do a very careful preflight, but especially so after picking Gladys up from maintenance. They had been working on some of the flight controls the past few weeks, so I made sure everything was in its proper place with its proper function before we taxied out to Runway 30L at Mesa-Gateway Airport.

Flight controls are always a good thing when working properly, you know?

As we taxied to depart, we passed one of the airplanes that I flew in North Dakota, eh! This green-and-white Piper Warrior was brand-new when it came to Grand Forks just before I left in 2006. Now it operates at one of the multiple satellite campuses across the nation…here in Mesa!

So, if you’re looking for a good local flight school, I know just who you should consider!

Go Sioux!


With all of the wild fires running rampant, I wasn’t surprised to see a DC-10 conversion tanker full of fire suppressant sitting on the local ramp. This guy can hold a lot of liquid…and hopefully he will be able to make a dent in the damage being done across the western states by fires.


Hubby and I have flown Allegiant Airlines out of here before. Remember our trip to Arkansas? Cue the banjos! It was awesome!


Ready for takeoff. Line up and wait, Runway 30L. I think the pink stuff on the runway is from that DC-10 fire tanker. He drips.


Climbing through four-hundred feet AGL (Above Ground Level), we begin our turn to heading one-two-zero as we continue our climb to 4,000 MSL (Mean Sea Level). Once we stopped talking to Gateway Tower and began talking to Phoenix Approach Control, we continued our climb up to 7,000 feet, with their permission.


Despite carefully checking things before we left, some excitement happened on the flight. About an hour after takeoff, we started to get some yellow annunciators on the Primary Flight Displays. Creepy!

Can you see all of the yellow numbers? Those are numbers that are usually white because they receive proper information. They are yellow because they are no longer accurate. Great.

I opened the checklist to find some guidance for just such a problem, but it was no help. It just let me know that the GPS wasn’t receiving information, but I knew that from looking at the CAS (Crew Alerting System) messages in the box on the lower right-hand side of the screen.


Well, this isn’t good. The AHRS1 and AHRS2 (Attitude Heading and Reference System) are the independent computer systems on board that tell us everything the airplane needs to know to navigate. It also gives us heading, airspeed, rate of turn, etc. Pretty important information when flying an airplane, if you ask me.

Usually, when one AHRS system is lost, we can switch to the backup system. But you can see here that both of them were not working properly. And then you can see why at the bottom…insufficient satellites.

So I called up Salt Lake Center to let them know what was going on, and to ask if anyone else was having problems. This would let us know if it was something to do with just Gladys, or if everyone was suffering from the same insufficient GPS coverage.


“You’re almost out of the satellite-jamming area. They are running some jamming tests today,” came the reply from Salt Lake. Ahhhhh. Good to know. The military was randomly testing their ability to jam satellites used for, among other things, airplane navigation. It wasn’t a post-maintenance Gladys that was having problems…it was the satellites being jammed on purpose! Phew!

So we waited for the necessary six GPS satellites to come back into range for us. We just used heading mode to stay on track, changing a few degrees here and there to compensate for the wind variation. One by one, the satellites came back online. At last, yellow numbers turned white, Gladys found her way, and we continued towards the Seattle area.

It was like a mini adventure, but not the type that I like having in an airplane.


After the half-hour excitement during the flight, we were getting closer to our destination. I know that because I can see Mount Rainier outside my window. Isn’t it pretty? Maybe there are some cherries on it? Man, these folks make some good cherries.


Our descent into the Seattle area was pretty unique. Usually, it’s overcast and rainy beneath us, and nothing can be seen except gray clouds. Today, however, I got to enjoy a cloud-free day! And the sites were breathtaking. There are mountains up here?!

I am voting right now that it should always stay like this. Are you listening, Seattle?


We flew over the south end of the city of Seattle on our way to Bremerton across the sound. Towards the top of this picture is downtown Seattle, and to the top-right is Renton Airport, where I used to fly for my previous job.


We flew right over Seattle-Tacoma Airport on our way to Runway 19 at Bremerton. This keeps us out of the way of both arriving and departing traffic using this busy airspace!


I love bridges, and I could actually see some today. Look at this beautiful weather! To the lower-left of this picture, you can see the tiny Tacoma Narrows Airport. I’ve never been, but it’s easy to miss it if you blink.

Can you see it? Yeah, me, neither.


Here we are 2.6 hours after leaving Mesa. We are descending through 4,000 feet MSL to enter the very busy traffic pattern at Bremerton. We were #4 in the traffic pattern and passed three other airplanes in nearby practice areas. I guess everyone takes advantage of such rare and gorgeous weather in these parts by going flying.

And I can’t say I blame them one bit.


There aren’t any pictures of our final approach because I was too busy looking for airplanes to avoid. But we landed safely and taxied to the ramp to pick up two passengers and get some gas. We were here just forty-five minutes before being on our way again!

I told you that this weekend was going to be busy! I love it!

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