Home > Flying, Flying to Sun 'n Fun > Flying to Sun ‘n Fun (3)

Flying to Sun ‘n Fun (3)


We got up the next morning and headed for the airport. Armed with the NOTAM for Lakeland and a new found confidence in flying IFR, even if only under simulated conditions, we departed KMLU for Albany GA. We filed an IFR flight plan for this part of the trip as well and I got a lot more experience in flying the Aspen PFD and MFD under IFR. I really like the amount of information and the flexibility of being able to arrange my data on the MFD as I needed. During takeoff I would have the MFD1000 (the MFD to the right of the PFD) showing three windows, displaying the back-up Attitude/speed/altitude in the upper right, traffic in the upper left and the nav map with XM weather and traffic overlay.

On the MFD 500 (the MFD to the left of the PFD) I would have that in the split 2 screen mode. The top half with traffic and the bottom half the Nav Map with terrain turned on. This gave me exceptional situational awareness. When transitioning into cruise I put the MFD500 in single window mode with the map. I used the MFD500 to get info along my path of flight. The flexibility to tailor the system to my way is really remarkable; there is nothing out there that can do this (yes I know I am biased, but it really is true!)

However, I have to admit that after having seen the advanced panning and info functions of version 2.2 in the labs in Albuquerque, I was a bit disappointed with the limited functions of the info and panning feature in version 2.1. I was looking forward to the return flight to use the version 2.2 panning/cursor, info and NACO charts and geo referenced airport diagrams.

After landing in Albany GA, picking up fuel and food, we headed for Lakeland. We decided to take this on VFR. We cruised at 3500 ft for the most part. As we approached central Florida we encountered those “puffy” clouds you typically see on a Florida afternoon. None were building at the time so I got a lot of chances to practice cloud avoidance and separation to ensure we remained in VFR flight. As silly as the next sentence may sound, this was really the first time I had a chance to do this. In Albuquerque and generally in the southwest because of the altitude, surrounding mountains and fast developing storms when there were clouds like this they quickly develop into thunderstorms, not a time to be flying VFR! I really enjoyed this part of the flying, as Anson was really helpful in describing techniques and identifying distances/altitudes to remain safely in VFR.

We quickly converged on Lakeland. There was considerable traffic that was showing up on my TAS and that we saw visually. It was beginning to get tense for me as I was closing in on Lake Parker, the initial point of entry into Lakeland. We both had the NOTAM out even though by now we had it memorized. The NOTAM was laid out very nicely as each page showed a specific part of the approach and was set up so that I could easily fly that portion, have time to turn the page and safely continue on. I thought it was really well done.

We flew towards the power plant, found an airplane to follow and acknowledged the controller’s instructions with an aggressive wing rock! We headed on in keeping a good distance from the 172 or 182 (we couldn’t tell from a distance which it was!). We followed the NOTAM instructions and monitored the appropriate radios and made a smooth landing abeam of the tower.

Landing Rwy 9 KLAL

I'm right behind the windsock

As I taxied off the runway and followed the volunteer’s instructions I could feel that my heart was still racing and the intensity of the experience was sinking in. We taxied to the Aspen Avionics parking area. We had reserved parking for Aspen equipped airplanes that had RSVP’d in advance through our website. During the show we had over 20 aircraft parked there at some time during the show.

Taxi to parking

Taxi to parking

It is easy to write about this experience calmly and factually but almost impossible for me to explain the emotional high it was to have completed the landing at Lakeland. I was proud of myself as a pilot and equally proud of the Aspen avionics that got me there. I am sure any of you that have experienced this know what I am talking about and for those that haven’t you really have to experience flying into an environment like this some time in your flying career. Having the Aspen system provided me great situational awareness lowering my workload and making me safer.

My next posting will chronicle the return flight and equally important my experience using version 2.2. This version added some key features like OBS, enhanced panning/cursor and info pages that give information on not only airports and navaids, but also airspace information and NACO charts and airport diagrams. I can tell you in advance that the features take the Aspen system to whole new level of functionality and information to the pilot.

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