Sunday, November 23, 2008

2008 Annual

I've gone to Midwest Mooney for the past several years for 252Q's annual. I figured it's always good to get a second opinion. This time around I decided to go to Northwest Flyer's in Schaumburg, IL, which is located in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago. Northwest Flyer's is the closest Mooney Service Center to Chicago.

The Schaumburg Airport (06C) is very nice. It is well maintained and has an excellent restaurant on the field called Pilot Pete's. The only issue with 06C is that it is located just outside of the inner circle of O'Hare airport (ORD). You have to approach below 1900 feet and there are a number of large antennas in the area. This is a VFR airport (MVFR if you know the area). They don't have a control tower or any IFR approaches into the field.

I was fortunate that the weather was good on October 31, which was the last day of the month before my annual expired.

NOTE: I like doing annuals as close to the last day of the month as possible, so the annual is signed off in the following month.

After leaving GYY I did some simulated practice approaches into Lansing Municipal Airport (IGQ) with my wife Lisa as the safety pilot. Lansing, Illinois is an excellent airport that is only a few miles Southwest of GYY where I'm based. They have GPS approaches to every runway, the traffic is light and it is easy to get in several approaches to holds.

06C is a busy airport because it is so close to the city and we arrived around lunchtime. Lots of jet traffic, light planes and helicopters were flying into the field. There was a bit of confusion with the line crew when I arrived. It took a bit for them to realize I was there for maintenance not lunch, but when they did they taxied me right up to the maintenance hangar door. The drop off was quick and easy. I handed them the logbooks and they moved 252Q into the hangar. We had lunch at Pilot Pete's and then took the Chicago Metra Train back into the city to work.

The Findings
Pretty much nothing! Gene, the IA that runs the Maintenance Facility, said "252Q was the nicest Mooney he's seen in his 30+ year career." He did not find one drop of oil in the engine or anywhere! The compressions were good, the rigging of the gear, flight controls, etc. were perfect. All they had to do was change the oil, clean the fuel injectors, service the O2 tank and install a new ELT battery. It was nice to get out of an annual without spending thousands of dollars.

The Pickup
Lisa and I went out to pickup the plane Saturday, November 23. The annual took less than a week to complete, but the weather in Chicago has been horrendous. Saturday was the first VFR day since dropping it off.

I did careful preflight of the plane. Oil was good, inspection panels were installed properly, etc. I also updated the GPS and MFD databases. All was good form a visual inspection perspective. 252Q started up and I slowly taxed out to the Runway. The run-up was good, but the Mag check failed. The drop was good when running on the Right mag, but it would not drop when running on the Left. I did a static run-up and confirmed that both mags were functioning. The plane had so much power it was dragging the plane forward while the tires were locked! Fortunately, I've seen this issue before. The P-Lead on the mag had to be disconnected!

NOTE: The P-Lead grounds a mag so it will not fire when shut off. This is not a big deal from a flight perspective, but it is very dangerous on the ground. Turning the prop could actually cause the engine to attempt to start!

Unfortunately the maintenance shop was closed on Saturday, so I had to remove the top cowling and reconnect the P-Lead. After getting things back together the run-up was good. We flew back to Chicago and did a few more simulated approaches into IGQ. I then flew the VOR RW 2 approach into GYY with a circle to land on RW20. That was a challenge since Lisa would not let me look out the window until we were right on top of the field. Never the less, I nailed the approach and landing!

Night Currency
I dropped Lisa off at the Southshore Train and went back to the airport to prep the hangar and plane for winter. By the time I was finished it was about 6pm and dark outside. I haven't flown at night in awhile, so I figured I'd do my night currency and test the lights on 252Q. She started up instantly and all of the exterior lights were working. 252Q looks like a Christmas tree at night. I only noticed a couple of lights out inside that I need to fix, but they were on instruments I didn't need and could see with overhead lighting.

I slowly taxied to RW12 at GYY and carefully tested everything. All worked, so I departed. 252Q flew perfectly. She hit a 1500 ft/min climb seconds after breaking ground. I had to back power off quickly or I would have departed the airspace. She was running like a top. I did the first landing to a full stop like I've been doing them every day. The tower controller let me back taxi the runway and I took off again. This time the tower turned on the center line lighting. That looks so cool on final! I back taxied again and then did my final landing. This time I rolled down the runway and turned off onto a taxiway closer to my hangar.

I almost forgot how beautiful Chicago is at night from the sky. The flight was outstanding! The city was awesome, the lake looked like a the abyss with light fog building and the sky was pretty much mine. I can't wait to do it again.