Monday, December 22, 2008

A New Hope.

I just checked the 10 day forecast - after Christmas it looks like we'll be getting clear skies and mid-20s temps for awhile, so I might actually be able to get this stuff finished up!

Right now it's a balmy -5°F, so it's at least warmed up a bit since this morning's -14°F.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

S-s-so very c-c-cold...

I'm feeling far too lazy to type up a full report of everything so a summary will have to do. Basically, I took the stage check, did pretty well on everything except the short field landings. Ah yes, the short field landings, which I was oh-so confident about just a couple of weeks ago.

Well the check instructor wants me to polish them up a bit and retake that part of the stage check. In a way, it's good to find the rough spots now, rather than on the checkride, but the problme now is that the weather has been horrific lately. It's either snowing, cloudy, or clear and very, very cold. I flew with Peter a few days after the checkride and the engine just never really heated up. So, I've decided to just lay low until the holidays are over and I get some decent weather.

I've got another flight schedule for tomorrow morning but since it's supposed to be -10°F, I'm going to deep six the reservation and wait for better times.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Because Knowledge is Power!

I used a precious half a day of vacation this morning and sauntered on down to Thunderbird Aviation for my Stage III Check Ride. This is the last step before the final FAA Checkride can be scheduled.

My appointment was from 9am to 1pm, with two hours each for knowledge test and flight test. The Stage III Check Ride is a practice FAA Check Ride, so I knew if I did well today, the actual checkride should go well too.

I got there at 7:30 so I could finish my cross country navigation computations and cram a little more info in before "show time". The knowledge exam portion is an oral exam with a check instructor, so it's a face to face discussion about aviation. I'm pretty comfortable in this format so I wasn't too stressed about it.

We talked for about 90 minutes about all the various aspects of aviation, and though he did stump me on a couple of things, I felt pretty confident about most of my answers, even getting airspace designations correct for once (very confusing, I'll have to post about them someday). He did tell me one thing that I'm pretty sure he's wrong about - he asked me about the electrical system of the airplane, which I've been told is similar to that of a car. He asked how many volts were in the system, I answered that while the system components were designed to run on 12v, the alternator put out closer to 13.5 volts, and the battery, at peak charge, would output the same. He said the battery couldn't output more than 12 volts, which I believe is incorrect. In the end I nodded my head as it's not at all critical to airplane operations as far as I'm personally concerned. It will never lead to this scenario:

Me: What is wrong with this plane? She won't respond to any of my control inputs!
CoPilot: Oh no...the voltage output from the battery is reading 13.5 volts! It's only supposed to be 12 volts!
Me and CoPilot: AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!(cut off by sound of explosion).

So after my stellar performance regarding aviation fun facts, I headed upstairs to study a bit more on the flying portion. Our plane landed and parked so I checked the weather. Uh oh, ceilings are at 1600 feet and dropping. For a lot of stuff we do during training, this wouldn't usually be an issue but for stalls and slow flight you need to be at 2500 feet AGL (above ground level). So, I told Dan the check instructor that I'd rather do it all at once and not have to worry about the weather. Dan agreed and we rescheduled the flight portion for Sunday at 3pm. I feel pretty good about it so it shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Last Flight with an Instructor.

Friday I flew what was most likely my last dual flight with an instructor. We worked on Short Field landings and Soft Field takeoffs. My re-education came along nicely and I think I've conquered those demons now. The next two milestones are the final Stage Check (a mock checkride to make sure I'm ready for the checkride) and, of course, the actual checkride, which is a test to FAA standards to see if I'm ready to be a pilot.

The weather is the critical factor here, so if it cooperates, I may be able to take my checkride before Christmas. I'd also like to practice solo a couple times too, just to keep from getting too rusty.