Tag Archives: airplane

ACR Firefly Strobe- Product Failure

I take my survival gear very serious. When I product meets our demands, we let you know. When it fails….you get that side as well.

I have been a long time fan of ACR, and I am surprised that the Firefly strobe failed….epically failed.
The device is designed to be a beacon signal should you get in trouble when out doing any number of activites such as boating, skiing, hunting, hiking, etc. It includes a lanyard ideal for securing to your gear. It has an O-ring designed to keep it water-proof and the beacon is omni-directional to improve the odds it is seen by rescuers for a rated distance of two miles. It also tested true to the ability to float. It uses easy to find AA batteries, which is what most of my lights, GPS, FSR, and other electronics use. Easy to find anywhere or I can simply scavenge from another device.

Where the Firefly Plus has failed is in construction of the battery compartment. When any of my electronic gear is not in use, I store it with out the batteries (although I do velcro a fresh set to the device so I don’t forget them). This morning as I opened up the strobe to place a couple of AA’s in the battery tray, one of the springs popped out. Thisnunit is less than a year old. (4 May 2012).

After several attempts to fix it, I have determined that it is not repairable. So here is the issue: Imagine I was depending on this unit to signal a rescue craft it would have failed me. If I had been using the strobe to attract attention, and needed to change batteries, it would have failed me. If this was in my kid’s survival pack (and there is) and she needed it if she was lost….you get the point.

Like my Spot GPS and other devices, I have carried my strobe with me in the Jeep on overlanding trips, in the kayak on river expeditions and island hopping trips, in my back country aviation trips, even carry-on luggage when flying commercial aircraft (especially third-world trips).

Again, I think ACR makes great products and still have many in my bag. Unfortunatly, until this one is rectified, this one will not be in our survival kits, nor will we present it at our seminars. At present time we do not recommend. I have attempted, but not been in contact with ACR on the issue and the retailer has recommended I contact ACR since I could not find my receipt.

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Emergency Decents

My instructor and I met for a few hours this afternoon to go over emergency procedures and practice both gliding and descents.

We met at 6 pm and it was still roasting outside. I had shown up to the hangar about 30 minutes prior to the meeting so I could pre-flight the aircraft. Checking the fuel I noted that there was less than 6 gallons in the plane. Now our 152 burns 6 gallons per hour- so I knew right away I was going to have to drag it down to the pumps before we met. I like to gas up before my instructor gets there. I would rather pay for time he actually instructs and I know he would rather actually teach me during our time together.

During the preflight I noted a few loose screws that hold the aircraft fabric to the frame. I had always wondered why my fuel strainer had a screw driver on the end of it—now I know why. I tightened the screws and completed my pre-flight inspection.

Jeff and I met for about an hour before we flew. During this time we went over various reasons for emergencies, the different scenarios, possible actions, and the procedures for dealing with emergencies. We also discussed places around our own airport where I could ditch the airplane if needed.

One we were airborne I quickly got myself established in the pattern and properly turned out of the pattern once I was out of the downwind leg, this is called a downwind departure. By the time I departed the pattern we had climbed from 2537 ft (our airport elevation) to 3500 ft. I continued our climb to 4500 ft.

The first procedure we did was loss of power. For this I immediately established our glide (best glide) at 60 knots. I picked a spot to land if we needed to. Then I trimmed for glide and then went through the procedure of checking to see if fuel was on, mixture, throttle, ignition key/attempt to restart, and the check the primer. Once we established (simulated) that my aircraft was not going to start we prepared for our (simulated) emergency landing.

The next procedure was emergency descents. Here we put in full flaps, pitched the aircraft for 80 knots, and dove for the deck. At 1000 feet AGL we leveled the plane and picked a spot we could land at if needed.

On the way back I made two landings. I’m still leveling two low and I think I’m giving Jeff a heart attack. After we had a chance to talk through it- I understand better what is expected.

We took the aircraft back a little earlier than we wanted to because someone else had booked it. Unfortunately hey never showed. I wish people would cancel their bookings or at least cancel them sooner, especially when the schedule get filled up. We could have used the extra 15-20 minutes for practicing landings.

Total Flight Time: .9
Landings: 2

Flying Date with my Wife and Flying a 172

We have been planning a special way to get my wife involved in flying with me and an opportunity for her to see what my training is like. So a few weeks ago I asked my instructor if we would be able to take a Cessna 172 out for the day and let my wife fly in the back. Fortunately, Jeff was very cool with this so over the next few flying sessions we discussed various options of where to go.

This also gave me the chance to fly a different airplane. I normally train in a Cessna 152. Since it only seats two people, I would have to checkout a Cessna 172 from the club I belong to. There is a significant cost between the two airplanes. I pay $52 an hour for the 152 I fly each week. This includes fuel. For the 172 I pay $73 an hour. I’m on a tight budget as it is for flying- I don’t think I can afford to do this very often. But this wa a special situation so I was willing to pay extra. I had budgeted myself for 2 hours of flight time and 3 hours of instructor time. I figured for aircraft and instructor this would run me about $250. Still, this would be a good experience for my wife as well as giving me a chance to try something different.

The club has two C-172s for use and our original plane wa booked for 1030 am. I wasn’t real keen on flying during the heat of the day. So when I woke up on Sunday morning- I checked the schedule through an on-line program we use in the club. I couldn’t believe it- One of the 172’s was available all day! So I booked it for 9 am, called my instructor to make sure he could go earlier and left for the airfield immediately.

Now our 172 is quite different from our 152. I had printed off a checklist earlier in the week and knew I would have some questions for Jeff when he got to the hangar. I was still able to preflight the aircraft including checking the fuel quantity as well as draining the sumps to check for contamination.

After Jeff talked me through some of the differences, we gave Melissa a passenger briefing, boarded the aircraft and went through our start up procedure.

As we began our taxi to the runway, I immediately noticed a difference in handling. The 172 requires a bit more assertiveness than my 152.

As soon as we completed the run-up we headed out to the active runway – put in full throttle and started our adventure.

We took our time flying around the south practice area, allowing me to get an idea of the 172’s characteristics.

Our point of interest was to fly to the main airport in Boise. This is class C airspace so we have to contact Air Traffic Control to both fly in the airspace as well as getting set up on landing instructions. The ATC operator provided us with a squak identification on the transponder so they would know which aircraft we were. The controller then vectored us to different heading while under her control as well as telling us about other aircraft in the area. The ATC also cleared us to land on the left runway at Boise for a Touch and Go.

Landing the 172 was a challenge for me. I have gotten so used to the characteristics of the smaller plane I fly. I felt like I was landing a bus. There was also a crosswind to fight so this added to the challenge. We got the plane down- and I admit I had a lot of help from Jeff, did our touch and go, and headed for downtown.

We performed our touch and go and she vectored us to a point we could turn and head towards the area we wanted to go. Melissa got some great shots of downtown. Jeff worked with me on understanding the calls that were coming from the air traffic controller and setting up our vectoring path.

Something I noticed right away is that while I can hear the controller, I could not always hear the other aircraft. That is because the controller actually broadcast on several frequencies. This made it clear that I want to make sure that I’m not transmitting over anyone else.

After flying over downtown, we headed back towards the Snake River which gave Melissa a birds eye view of the areas we often 4×4 in. We also did two power-on stalls with her and she loved it.

With over an hour of flight time we headed back for the Nampa airfield where we entered the downwind part of the pattern at a 45 degree angle and again I got to take a shot at landing the aircraft. I had about a 12 kt wind so again I was challenged in getting the plane down.

It was a good day. Melissa had a blast flying with me and I had a chance to try a new aircraft and learn about working in class C airspace.

Flight Time: 1.5 Hours
Landings: 2
Total Time to Date: 12.7
Total Landings: 43