My mechanic had promised to give me the plane on Wednesday afternoon. I came to his shop on Thursday and there was still a lot to do. By Noon Friday the plane was buttoned up. First start of the new engine and we found low fuel flow. Tried adjusting all day long…..and when fuel got adjusted, the oil pressure gauge started reading zero. New project…..added another oil pressure gauge to make sure the original oil pressure gauge was at fault….it turned dark….decided to come back bright and early Saturday morning …. got back today, started around 7:30 am….by 10:30 all looked good….did another thorough pre-flight, taxied to the end of Runway 34, announced my departure from Shelby County Airport in Birmingham, Alabama and applied full power (lights, camera, action)…. 70 Kts, light pressure on the yoke and I was airborne….so far so good.
Climbed to 6000 ft and established in cruise….started circling the airport. Made radio calls to let everyone arriving and departing at Shelby County know that I was circling overhead at 6000. One hour later, landed and taxied to my mechanics shop. Opened up the cowling and engine inspection panels. Inspected to make sure there were no leaks or lose clamps or components. All looked good. By 12:30 pm, filed an IFR (Instrument flight rules) flight plan for Sanford, Florida, and took off. Established in cruise at 7000 ft and found a nice tailwind, giving me a ground speed of 195 Kts…..
The stress from the last two days of flying a plane with an untested/new engine is quite excruciating….gave me a massive headache. A couple of times I tried to think of a good reason why I had gone from a twin engine to a single engine AGAIN ! The trip was uneventful and two hours later I landed at Sanford International Airport (KSFB) in Orlando, Florida on an 11,000 runway…I landed within the first 1000 feet and then taxied the entire length of the rest of the 10,000 feet to get off the active runway.
I was met in the lounge by my dear friend Nasir Usmani, who is my awesome host in Orlando….and immediately started chatting with his son Omair, where we had left off a year or so ago when I stayed with them the last time….it is fun to talk to Omair…..he is truly a great guy….