Flying the Extra: Seattle to Las Vegas

Each year around the end of September, I fly the Extra 300L from Boeing Field (KBFI) in Seattle to its winter base at Boulder City, NV (KBVU) outside Las Vegas. The video below shows highlights from the flight this year. Enjoy the dramatic changes in the landscape from the well-watered Puget Sound region to the desolate desert in southern Nevada.

BruceAir-Extra-009.jpgPhoto: Felix Knaack

The Extra isn’t designed for long-distance journeys, and I have to make two fuel stops to complete the journey of about 900 nm (1670 km). I usually stop at Bend, OR (KBDN) and Yerrington, NV (O43). The flight itself typically requires 5.5 – 6.0 hours; with the two stops the total block time is usually about 8 hours.

You can view the route that I flew at here.


Stalls at “Any Attitude, Any Airspeed”

Every pilot learns that a wing can stall “in any attitude and at any airspeed.”

But it’s difficult to demonstrate that principle in a typical training aircraft. This video of an exercise that I do with my stall/spin/upset recovery students shows the value of training in an aerobatic aircraft.

I fly a basic loop, but at several points during the maneuver, I intentionally increase the angle of attack by pulling back abruptly on the stick. Each time I pull, the angle of attack quickly reaches the critical angle of attack, and the airplane shudders in an accelerated stall, regardless of the airplane’s airspeed or pitch attitude relative to the horizon.

In other words, you can change the airplane’s attitude (and its angle of attack) almost instantly, but changing its flight path requires more time. That difference between the attitude and the flight path is angle of attack, and when that angle exceeds the wing’s critical angle of attack, the wing stalls.

It’s also helpful to remember that a loop is just a vertical turn. The same principle applies when you bank the wings and turn an airplane in the horizontal plane. If you pull back on the yoke or stick during a turn, you increase the angle of attack. Pull back too aggressively, and the wing will reach its critical angle of attack and stall, regardless of the indicated airspeed.

Flying without Paper Charts

I recently gave a presentation about flying RNAV procedures at the Northwest Aviation Conference. As usual, I asked how many pilots in the audience were using tablets like iPads in the cockpit. Most of the folks raised their hands. It’s astonishing how quickly the aviation community has adopted this technology.

Nevertheless, questions persist about the legality of “going paperless” in the cockpit, at least for typical GA pilots operating light aircraft under 14 CFR Part 91. Here are some key references to help you understand the rules and good operating practices.

The best background is in AC 91-78-Use of Class 1 or Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), which explains:

This advisory circular (AC) provides aircraft owners, operators, and pilots operating aircraft under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91, with information for removal of paper aeronautical charts and other documentation from the cockpit through the use of either portable or installed cockpit displays (electronic flight bags (EFB).

The AC also notes:

This AC is applicable to instrument flight rules (IFR) or visual flight rules (VFR), preflight, flight, and post flight operations conducted under part 91, unless prohibited by a specific section of 14 CFR chapter I.

And it explains:

EFB systems may be used in conjunction with, or to replace, some of the paper reference material that pilots typically carry in the cockpit. EFBs can electronically store and retrieve information required for flight operations, such as the POH and supplements, minimum equipment lists, weight and balance calculations, aeronautical charts and terminal procedures…The in-flight use of an EFB/ECD in lieu of paper reference material is the decision of the aircraft operator and the pilot in command. Any Type A or Type B EFB application, as defined in [AC 120-76] may be substituted for the paper equivalent. It requires no formal operational approval as long as the guidelines of this AC are followed.

You can find further guidance on the FAA website here. And Sporty’s has a good overview of the topicĀ here. For information about using iPads and the like on practical tests, see this item at AOPA.

If you fly IFR using an approved GPS navigation system, you can find additional guidance (and common sense advice) in documents such as theĀ Operational Suitability Report for the Garmin GTN series navigators, published by the FAA in 2011, and available in the FSIMS system, here.

The following Type B applications were evaluated under this report:

(1) Chart capability is limited to Approach Charts, Standard Terminal Arrival Routes, Departure Procedures and Airport Diagrams. Access to the chart information is accomplished by touching the chart symbol on the screen home page. Scaling is accomplished by touching the plus or minus signs on the screen. Chart information is in standard chart layout, oriented in portrait view. It is possible to overlay an approach chart on the navigation display. Navigation Display Approach Chart overlays however, are always oriented so that North on the chart is at the top of the display. Caution should be taken when using this feature, as it can be confusing in some circumstances.

(2) En route charts are not available to view in the GTN 7XX series of units. Airways and associated navigation aids and intersection names are displayed on the navigation display but not in chart format. Because en route chart view is not available, operators will be required to have immediately accessible a suitable approved aeronautical information source of en route charts.

A typical installation includes a GTN 7XX paired with a GTN6XX. Since the GTN6XX series of navigator does not have chart capability a second GTN7XX with charts and an independent power source may be installed to provide the necessary backup. Another method of redundancy could be for the operator to carry an approved stand alone Class I, or Class II EFB device onboard the aircraft. Otherwise, a set of paper charts is required to provide chart redundancy.

In the case of a single unit installation, paper charts (including approach, departure and arrival procedure, airport diagram and en route charts) must be onboard the aircraft or an approved stand alone Class I, or Class II (with a suitable approved source of aeronautical data) device may be substituted for paper charts.

Landing at Yerrington, NV (O43)

I landed the A36 at Yerrington, NV (O43) for fuel on the way home from Las Vegas. Yerrington is a good fuel stop in the Reno area. Relatively inexpensive self-serve avgas and a pilot’s lounge. A strip mall is a short walk away if you need food or other supplies.

A Dose of Vitamin G

I practiced a series of basic aerobatic maneuvers on this flight out of Boulder City, NV (KBVU). I’d been busy working with instrument students in Seattle, so I needed to refresh my G tolerance and get ready for summer aerobatic flights. Keen observers will note lots of bobbles and other flaws. But it was fun to be back in the Extra 300L, which is a thoroughbred.

I mounted one camera so that you can see the control stick in the front cockpit. Note how little the stick has to move during basic maneuvers–only a slight deflection of the ailerons and elevator is required to achieve large effects.


Video: Early Season Solo Aerobatic Practice

Last week, I flew the Extra 300L to its summer base at Seattle’s Boeing Field (KBFI). Today I enjoyed a beautiful summer-like morning in Seattle to get in much needed practice before I start flying with stall/spin/upset customers. I narrated the basic maneuvers in this flight.

FAA Publishes List of Instrument Approaches Set for Cancellation

FAA has published the latest list of 736 VOR and NDB approaches that it wants to cancel. You can download a Microsoft Excel worksheet that includes all of the procedures here.

According to the April 13, 2015 announcement in the Federal Register:

This action proposes to remove certain redundant or underutilized ground-based non-directional beacon and very high frequency, omnidirectional radio range Standard Instrument Approach Procedures based on the criteria established by the FAA’s Policy for Discontinuance of Certain Instrument Approach Procedures.

The announcement offers additional details as background:

On June 27, 2014, the FAA published a policy establishing criteria for cancelling instrument approach procedures (79 FR 36576). Cancelling certain ground-based non-directional beacon (NDB), and very high frequency (VHF), omnidirectional radio range (VOR) SIAPs is one integral part of right-sizing the quantity and type of procedures in the National Airspace System (NAS). As new technology facilitates the introduction of area navigation (RNAV) instrument approach procedures, the number of procedures available in the National Airspace System has nearly doubled over the past decade. The complexity and cost to the FAA of maintaining the existing ground based navigational infrastructure while expanding the new RNAV capability is not sustainable. Therefore, the FAA is proposing the following list of SIAPs for cancellation based on the criteria established in the Policy.

The proposal is open for comments until May 28, 2015.

You can find details about the current inventory of instrument approaches and related procedures at the Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) Inventory Summary website.

To learn more about specific procedures and procedures in development, visit the Instrument Flight Procedures Information Gateway.