With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

Trip to Austin, Part 3

2017 February 12 17:30

Sleeping overnight in Meridian, Mississippi on the way back home, I was figuring the trip was going pretty well. I'd been delayed by half a day by weather, but that was vastly better than several of my colleagues. So I headed to the airport first thing Monday morning to fly the last leg home.

.....aaaaaand there was no response from the electrical fuel pump. It's not NECESSARY to fly the plane, or even to start it, but it IS the backup in case the engine-driven fuel pump fails. So I had it towed to the local repair place:

Here's the culprit, ready to be shipped off as an exchange for an overhauled pump:

The shop on the field was mostly a turbine-airplane place, but I was able to help a mechanic get the proper access panel off and get him to the electric fuel pump. I then arranged to overnight the bad pump to the people with spares, and my wonderful wife (thanks darling!) shipped a check to the repair place (they don't take credit cards). Then I rented a car a drove back home, and left the plane there to be fixed once they got the pump back.

I ended up renting a Hyundai of some sort. I felt it was good omen when songs like this kept coming on the satellite radio:

Obligatory instrument panel photo (pretty efficient car):

And a nice underpass on the way home.

I did get the airplane back eventually. But first, other house stuff.

Trip to Austin, Part 2

2017 February 10 09:07

Back in Austin, the plan was to fly my plane to Kerrville to the Mooney fly-in, so that I could, finally, have my plan parked on the field in front of the Mooney factory. The weather was crappy enough that I decided to leave it tied down in Austin

and rent a car and drive to Austin instead.

My vague memory of the original planned sequence was this. I flew commercial from Oregon to Austin Friday morning. I got into Austin mid-afternoon Friday. I had planned then to fly my airplane to Kerrville and stay Friday and Saturday nights, and then fly all the way home on Sunday.

(My vague recollection is): The weather was bad in Austin when I got there, so I decided to wait to Saturday morning to fly. I was so tired I mostly went to bed. Saturday morning, the weather was slightly better but I'd have to be doing an instrument approach into crappy weather into Kerrville, so I decided not to. I rented a car to drive to Kerrville and back. (A lot of this is because I was giving a talk on electronic flight bag solutions that I hadn't finished yet. I'm a really really bad procrastinator sometimes.)

I rented the car in a huge hurry Saturday morning because I had to get on the road. I drove to the hotel in Kerrville and then sat in my hotel room for an hour finishing my talk. I gave the talk, that was fine, and then that evening was the banquet, which I stayed for the food and about the first half of the entertainment part. Since I was leaving so early the next morning, I ditched out of the rest of the evening.

I left super-early Sunday morning, like 4am. My plan was to race the thunderstorms that were coming in to Austin and try to get off the ground going east before they hit. It was interesting to drive with thunderstorms right behind you in the dark on roads you don't know. I got to Austin, and before I could get out of the rental car, it was bucketing down rain.

The car was GREAT to drive; I found out later one of the reasons it accelerated so smoothly is that it has a continuously-varable transmission. What with all the hurrying, I never got a photo of the outside of it. I just have these three instrument panel shots. I managed to figure out from screenshots that this is a Nissan Maxima. Very nice car.

Mooney was prototyping a plane that they're going to be selling. A small two-seater. Here's a couple of shots inside.

Note the single-level engine control in the center console. All glass-panel; I think that's a Garmin 500? And with an iPad mount already built-in. And USB power jacks in the center console:

As usual, there were tours of the Mooney factory. Here's the final assembly area:

And the wing assembly jigs:

The oval holes in the wings are fuel tank inspection/service hatches. These mooneys will have fuel tanks that fill more of the wing than mine. My tanks only have three service hatches per side.

I dropped of the rental car just as the storms hit. So I ended up chilling in the FBO for several hours. I actually used their pilot nap room to make up for having such a short night. I left mid-afternoon; too late to make it halfway home but early enough to get fuel in Meridian Mississippi again.

So I grabbed a hotel there for the night.

The saga of leaving Meridian the next morning will be the next post.

Trip to Austin, Part 1

2017 February 10 08:40

Ok, so we're up to May 2015. After the long annual, I had another trip scheduled. This one was a weird double-trip that happened because a work event ended up being the the week that I had a (previously scheduled) Mooney event in Texas the following weekend. So what I ended up doing was combining the travel for the trips. I few myself to Austin, Texas in my plane, then the next morning, grabbed a United flight to Oregon via LAX. I did the work event in Oregon, then flew back to Austin. The Mooney event was in Kerrville, which is near San Antonio. My plan had been to fly my plane from Austin to Kerrville, but when I got to Austin from Oregon, the weather was crappy enough that I just rented a car instead. I drove the car to Kerrville, went to part of the event, and then drove back to Austin early early the next (Sunday) morning. The trip back is another story.

The trip down was exciting. The whole lower midwest, including a lot of Texas, was being hit by thunderstorms that day. Here's the view on my iPad dodging the storms on the way down.

I stopped for fuel in Meridian, Mississippi. It's an army pilot training base, so my Mooney was parked among a bunch of army training airplanes.

I staying in Meridian for a while, waiting for the storms to pass. I left there with enough time to get to Austin just before dark.

The next morning, flying out of Austin, United had a fantastic system for getting boarding groups lined up. This is so much better than most other airlines where people sort of hover around the boarding gate until their group is called. It was noticably faster.

Leaving Austin in someone else's plane.

Coming into LAX, we could see the big canals that are used in lots of movies.

And lots of big interchages.

At work in Oregon, this is the villiage just down the street from the resort where our meetings were. Here's my "Prisoner" throwback selfie.

The weather for most of the trip was pretty temperate (if stormy), but one morning during the trip we got snow. This is the view out of my room in the evening.

All for now. The next entry will continue with being back in Austin.