From the World of Richard


Citation Jet

This particular blog entry is going to start a section on how I came about owning a Mooney Bravo and what it took to get it home and get it exactly the way that I wanted it. Watch for other entries on the Mooney!

Well, like most things in my life, I am never quite content with the way things are or how I get from place-to-place. It was not long ago that I loved the smell of jet fuel, the whine of the Williams engines and the exhilaration of the acceleration to V1 in the CJ as I headed for Phoenix. It started to wear off  as I realized that flying a jet capable of carrying seven people by myself was pretty boring. It really started to wear off when I realized that getting into and out of Phoenix, even in a jet capable if FL410 was a game for the airlines and I got jerked around by ATC pretty much every time. Often I was told to descend to 17,000′ right after crossing into Arizona. OUCH…the CJ burns a LOT of fuel at that altitude!

So my trips back and forth to Phoenix were running about 1,000 pounds of Jet-A each way at those altitudes. Thats about 150 gallons for those in the av-gas world. Let’s see…at $5.00 a gallon, 300 gallons round trip…hummm…..$1,500.00 round trip to DVT in the CJ. That does not count my Tap-Elite engine costs, etc – just the fuel costs. And I was going almost every weekend.

It became obvious that I needed something a lot more economical from my little trips to Phoenix, the fuel along was costing a small fortune.

So I set out to research another airplane. I have the 500 for times when I am not in a hurry and the weather is nice. I have the CJ for times when the weather is really bad or when I need to move 7 people all at once, but I needed something in-between. Something that was inexpensive to purchase, yet quick enough to make a short run out of the 350ish mile trip. I had owned the Cirrus SR22 and it was a great plane, but I was hoping for something a little bit quicker and nicer on the eyes. So I looked at, and discarded the idea of the SR22, the F33, A36, PA-46 and others. Nothing was catching my eye.

Then I ran into an article on the Mooney Bravo. Ah…now that was a good looking plane. It looked like it was doing 200 mph sitting still on the ramp. Not too big, four seats, plenty of power, plenty of fuel and most importantly, pretty inexpensive to operate. Now I had to actually find one that I wanted and was priced just right.

So after searching high and low and looking at engine times, avionics, interiors and talking to a lot of different folks that owned Mooneys, I choose a Bravo (N1087M) in Florida. Due to a mishap with its former owner, it had a factory new engine, factory new prop, a Garmin G600 and the EDM930 already installed in the airplane. I didn’t much care for the interior, the panel layout or the tail number, but all of those things can be changed.

N1087M

So here is a picture of N1087M after we got her home. I will be posting several more articles chronicling the trip home from Florida in the Bravo with Mary!

Stay Tuned and thanks for reading.

 

 

A different kind of camping…

I have always enjoyed camping. From the time I was a young boy and had the opportunity to camp out with friends or just by myself, I enjoyed camping. I enjoyed the allurer of pitching a tent and sitting around a camp fire, waking the next morning smelling like smoke and ready for another day of adventure.

As I have gotten older, my perception of camping changed a bit. Once attached to the fleet while a US Marine, I had the opportunity to “camp” in some really interesting places during some really interesting weather. These spots ranged from Camp Pendleton here in Southern California, to the Northern Training Area (better known as NTA) of Okinawa Japan, to Camp Lejune back east and beyond. Pouring rain and freezing weather did nothing to slow us down as we huddled in out shelter half (so named as it took two of you to end up with a shelter “whole”), freezing to death (or so we thought). Eventually we resorted to wearing our gas masks and “heating” our tent by burning the triox heat tabs that came with our MREs! We had to wear the masks as the fumes from the trioxane were toxic! But we were warm and that was all that mattered. Those triox tabs were worth their weight in gold during are much loved Marine Corps camp outs!

One would think that I learned my lesson utilizing tens to camp with, but even after the Corps I kept at it. Friends and I would load out campe gear and head for the Sierra Mountains in California to camp out next to some stream or other in the national parks. Again, we learned as we went and generally had a great time.

Part of “tent” camping is figuring out what you can take, who you can take and how long you can go. As some of you have seen my other “tent”, a lot of those questions are not relevant. At 43′ in length and enough room to sleep 17 (yes, we have had 17 people in out trailer sleeping) the only two questions you need to ask yourself’s are 1) How much is diesel and 2) Where can I stuff a 43′ 5th wheel!

Trailer Camping

 

So now I am even older yet and still enjoy camping. I enjoy the entire process of camping. To me, simply “camping” is not the joy. Planning for the camping is part of the fun. Where are we going? How are we getting there? What are we taking? Who are we gong to take with us? (this of course is dependent on the “What are we taking” question). Once we figure out all of those questions, then we get to figure out the logistics.

First we plan, then we pack, then we travel and then we set up, then we start the fire, then we burn everything in sight (if you have the boys with you), then we set up the portable toilet (if you have the girls with you) then we figure out what we are going to eat, then we figure out how we are going to cook it, then we spent two hours messing with our miniature multi-fuel stove until it reaches the temperature of the sun like it is advertised to do, a single degree cooler just won’t do it, then we burn ourselves boiling water on our “hotter-than-the-center-of-the-sun” multi-fule stove, then we eat our wonderful dehydrated Mountain House meals (which I might add taste far better than Marine Corps MREs)!

So all of this, including the final tearing down and cleaning up and returning home are fun times for me. I like to include others and we have a great time. The goal, of course, is lasting memories. Create great memories in the minds of the kids and they, in turn, will do the same for their kids. That is the hope anyway.

So this last camping trip that I took really pushed the limits of all of those things. First, it was a camping trip for just three of us. It would just be Tommy, Carter and me on this trip. One reason was the selected mode of transportation and the amount of camping equipment we had to take with us.

The first step of the trip started with me flying the Mooney (1990 Mooney M20M Bravo) from Carlsbad, California to Phoenix Arizona at 17,500′ and roughly 200 knots ground speed (230 mph). I topped off the Bravo with 120 gallons of 100 octane fuel. You might ask why I needed so much fuel for such a short trip.

Well, in my mind, the ONLY time you can have too much fuel is if you are on fire!

 

Flight from CRQ to DVT

 

Mooney Bravo Panel at 17,500′

So I climbed aboard my fire-breathing piston steed, climbed from sea level to 17,500′ in just under 15 minutes, leaned out my mixture and winged my way towards KDVT – better knows as Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix Arizona. I leveled out at 17,500′ and utilizing the EDM930 (far right of the screen) was able to lean out my fuel mixture to about 17gph and then I sat back and enjoyed the flight. One hour and forty-six minutes from startup, I shut down at Atlantic Aviation at the Deer Valley Airport!

Savvy Analysis Data Dump from my EDM 930

 

Once I picked up the boys at Deer Valley, we climbed aboard the Mooney for the return trip.  Since I didn’t have enough oxygen canulas to go around and I figured the boys would not appreciate the bad headache (or worse) they may have after flying home any higher than 12,500′, that is where we stayed for the return trip. A little slower and a little higher fuel burn, but they enjoyed themselves on the way home and we had great fun completing the first leg of our journey.

The boys in the Mooney

 

So the next morning after a healthy breakfast at our local Starbucks, we head for the airport.

Breakfast At Starbucks

 

Ok, so now the next part of the trip comes into play. We are heading for the open desert to go camping. No phones, no water, no electricity, no civilization, no anything that we do not bring with us. That means we have to bring everything with us! Food, shelter, water, sleeping bags, firewood, cooking equipment, kids, you name it, we have to take it. Needless to say, loading our “camper” took some time and a lot of reshuffling and repacking and (eventually) deciding what did not have to actually go with us. We ended up sitting on the ground since we took almost everything but the chairs!

 

Packing Job!

 

After finally making sure everything we really needed was packed (notice the chips on top?) we finally get ready to pull pitch and head for the Arizona desert. Our target is a secluded mesa about 50 miles South East of Blythe. Besides myself and other campers with me, I have only seen one other person at this site ever! It makes for a perfect get-away, no noise from other people or campers, no traffic, nothing. You need a helicopter, a parachute or a lot of rope and determination to visit this particular campsite as no known roads exist to get to it and even if there were, its difficult to drive almost straight up!Thankfully I carry enough fuel in the 500 to get from CRQ to DVT non-stop, so we were able to make our camping spot with enough time to setup camp before losing daylight!

After a very exciting flight out, we prepared to set up camp!

 

See how excited he is?

 

Unloaded camping gear

 

And of course, what would camping be without a camp fire? Sadly someone forgot the hot chocolate AND the marshmallows! Guess I better check that list better next time!

 

Nice Campfire

 

One of the nice things about being out in the middle of nowhere (in the winter) is that it gets dark very quickly. Eventually the boys run out of  scraps of stuff they can burn, and they are only willing to go so far from the campsite to find other dead stuff, so its off to the tent we go where the boy splay cards and I read my ipad.

 

Game of Cards

 

So off to sleep we go (at 8PM). Our queen sized North Face 20 degree sleeping bags and REI mats keep us completely warm and toasty during the 40 degree night. No animals (human or otherwise) sneak up on our campsite, there are no no blowing winds or weird noises to bother us during the night. And thankfully (for me) no need for the boys to go visit the “bathroom” in the middle of the night!

 

Camping gear ready to be packed back in the 500

 

After a great night of camping, we are ready to pack up the helicopter and take the short flight back to Phoenix. The boys decide the camp needs an official gideon and head out on the hunt for an “all natural” flag that can be left to identify our camping spot the next time we fly over.

 

Camp Gideon

 

We managed to get everything (and everyone) back into the helicopter for the short hop back to Phoenix. A great time was had by all and we are already looking forward to our next Helicopter Camping Trip.

Once more great memory to add to the books!

 

Tommy in the rear with the gear!

 

 

Carter rides up front on the way home

 

 

 

If you have someone on your Christmas list that may be a little difficult to find something for, you might want to check out the great folks over at Scheme Designers. Those of you who has read my blog for any time knew that I had used Scheme Designers to design my paint scheme on my MD500.  It was a time consuming process, but in the end, it turned out very well and met all of my needs.

They sent a very comprehensive package to me to forward to my painter that covered all aspects of the paint scheme, dimensional layout, etc. I would highly recommend them anytime you are going to paint your aircraft and want something that does not look everyone else on the flight line.

MD500e Paint Scheme

 

As part of the process, I was offered a scale replica of my helicopter as well. When Scheme Designers approached me with the project idea (and price). I jumped at the chance to have my helicopter, one that I had painstakingly configured exactly as I wanted it, sitting on my desk. I worked very closely with Ronnie Hartmann on what would become a very lengthly project.

In the end, it was very much worth the effort. Every detail was looked at, many emails and pictures passed back and forth – they wanted to make sure it was exactly how I wanted it before finishing the project. And they did a fantastic job!

 

 

 

 

Great job Scheme Designers – next project – my 1990 Mooney Bravo!

 

 

 

Now entering Dead Horse State Park. This was the sign that greeted us as we arrived at our Thanksgiving campsite located in Cottonwood Arizona, about an hour and a half north of Phoenix.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

The plan was simple, I would take the day off on Wednesday, hook up to the trailer, drive to Phoenix and then we would all take off early on Thanksgiving morning and drive to Cottonwood for a Thanksgiving campout!

Cottonwood Camp Site

 

The trip started as most of our camping trips start – a lot later than I would like. I hit starbucks and headed up to Perris California where our trailer is stored. After hooking up, it was off and running to Phoenix. My trusty GPS told me that I would need almost 6 hours to get there and would consume a lot of fuel doing so! The F-450 I had purchased to tow the 17,000 pound trailer does not sip the fuel when pulling, but it also has absolutely no trouble pulling the trailer up any of the grades I encountered on the 79, 60 and 10 interstates. I loved my F-350, but it was not up to the task of pulling the new trailer.

F450 Mileage

 

On a whim, I decided to get the truck and trailer weighed after fueling (70 gallons in this truck). Not too bad for a pickup and a toy hauler:

Almost 27,000 Pounds!

 

So Thursday morning arrived and we once again hit starbucks before hitting the road. It was a nice drive up with not too much traffic to have to contend with on the way up. It was a nice ride with Josh, Tommy and Abby keeping me company on the way up.

Once we arrived and set up base camp, it was time to get started on our turkey dinner. Mary had it all planned out and I brought my trusty deep fat fryer. The goal was to eat our dinner by 6pm and by 3pm we had not started cooking the turkey yet! The nice thing about the fryer is that it only took 80 minutes from raw turkey to total perfection!

80 minutes from Raw to perfection!

 

Juicy!

 

That didn’t last long…

 

After a wonderful turkey dinner and a beautiful sunset and campfire, we were ready for more fun adventures.

Getting ready for a camp fire!

 

A warm fire

 

The next morning my sister Johanna and niece Naomi arrived and we all set off for the lagoons to go fishing. We were hoping to catch a bunch because the darn fishing licenses and trout stamps cost us almost $100 for two days of fishing! The day was awesome, and the lagoons were very pretty.

Fishing Lagoon

 

Johanna and Naomi

 

Mary busy with the kids

 

As luck would have it, we ended up with about 12 trout. Josh and Tommy each caught their first fish. Mary and Joey caught some and I caught some. It was a good couple of days of fishing and great time spent with people we love.

 

Look at all the fish!

 

Of course, catching fish also meant cleaning the fish and this was a first for everyone as well. Mary and Josh jumped right in to help with the cleaning which was a good thing since I stabbed myself with a very sharp filet knife necessitating my overseeing most of the actual cleaning as opposed to helping with it. Emma and Abby got to carry some fish heads from the cleaning area to the trash and they did a wonderful job! Josh and Mary really plunged into their work and soon all the fish were clean!

Blood and Guts

 

The finished product…

 

Of course, what else would a 13 year old boy do with fish heads…?

 

A great fashion statement!

 

A good time as had by all, but soon it was time to pull up camp and head back to Phoenix and then back to Escondido for me and the trailer. Everyone was worn out from all of the hiking, running around with new friends they met at the camp ground, and all of the fishing!

All-in-all, another wonderful camping trip and more great memories for the kids!

Ah…sleep….

 

 

 

 

Pecatonica Illinois – My best foster home as a teenager!

Holidays always seem to bring people together and this Thanksgiving was no different. I am blessed to be surrounded by people that are truly friends and each Thanksgiving is a little different. This year I had two different Thanksgiving get togethers and they were both awesome.

The month started out pretty busy at LOFT where I do a little CJ flying, teaching, selling an generally enjoying being involved in aviation on daily basis.  The schedule was set and I decided to head off to Illinois where I have family. My foster sister Ann and her daughter Rebecca had come to California to spend some time with me and meet Mary and the kids, so we decided that Emma would go back with me to Illinois this year since her and Becca had gotten along so well.

 

Rebecca in the back of the Mooney Bravo

 

So Emma and I boarded an airliner (no CJ flights this time) and headed towards Rockford, Illinois in what would be Emma’s first commercial plane flight ever. I was touched when she said she would rather have me flying the plane, but something told me that they were not going to let me in the cockpit on this particular trip!

 

1st Commercial Jet Ride

 

Emma has ridden with me on the CJ, the R44, the MD500 and the Mooney Bravo, but she has never been on a commercial jet. I think she enjoyed it but not as much as having her own pilot and only 8 seats on the entire airplane like the CJ!

 

Yummy Airport Food

 

We had an amazing time in Rockford, Winnebago, Pecatonica and Byron. We saw old friends, family and the amazing countryside where we used to ride our horses as kids. We had opportunities to ride again, hike through the forest preserves and enjoy time with loved ones. It really was a lot of fun. So much fun that Emma and I will be heading back in May to see everyone again!

 

Wow…are we really in our 40s already?

 

Seward Forest Preserve

 

Can you believe that I used to babysit their mom when she was 9!

 

Overall it was a wonderful trip with lots of exciting things to do, people to see and places to go. We are looking forward to our return trip in May! Emma wants to go in our plane, so we will see what the weather holds for us!

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