Monday, December 14, 2009


One of the rules of most FBOs (Fixed Base Operators) is that you need to be checked out in an airplane to make sure you can safely fly their rental aircraft. In the case of Thunderbird Aviation, where I took my training and rent my planes, is that you need to fly each type of plane you are checked out in at least once every 90 days, or you need to get checked out again. Last week I got an email saying that my currency on the Tecnam Bravo would expire on the 24th of December, so I started watching the long range weather forecasts to see when an opportunity would arise. When saturday rolled around, the weather was very cold (0°F) but calm and sunny. At 9am I rolled up to the FBO and saw they had the heater on the Bravo, which is a very good sign.

I preflighted and fired it up, taking my time in making sure I knew where all the gauges were and re-learning how to program the glass panel and GPS. I made the call to Ground control and taxied over to the run-up area to perform the pre-takeoff engine checks. As I increased the engine RPM, the cowling (engine cover) flapped up on the left side and I had to cut the power to prevent damage. I radioed ground and told them I needed to taxi back to Thunderbird to secure loose equipment. Now, the cowling on the left side isn't accessed as part of the FBO's checklist...BUT...I should have checked to make sure it was secure anyway. Seeing as how I didn't damage the aircraft, I fired up the engine again and called for permission back to the runup area, and soon I was airborne. Tower told me to make left traffic (I was staying in the pattern for full stop landings so left traffic meant to make left hand turns back to the runway) and on downwind, the plane was flying extremely crabbed (angled to the direction of flight).

I was a little worried: what was wrong with this airplane? Was the rudder damaged? There was only a gentle breeze on the ground, so I didn't immediately suspect such strong winds above, but sure enough, as I descended for landing the wind died down. The landing itself was my best in the Bravo by a long shot, a squeaker to be sure. Now, I'm getting to learn this neat little airplane's personality. The Cessna 152 and the Warrior are much different to land, because you start putting in flaps long before your final approach to landing. Because the Tecnam Bravo's safe speed for flaps is so low (70knots) I can't safely put them in until I'm on final approach.

So anyway, I'm current again in the Bravo and I hope to fly enough this winter to keep my skills from getting too rusty. I'd like to budget enough money to fly a lot more next spring, and possibly look into a flying club to cut expenses a bit.

Until next time, fly safe!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I haven't stopped flying.

I apologize for the lack of updates but my last two flights were done solo and were more to keep my skills updated than anything else.

I flew the Tecnam Bravo in September for some takeoffs and landings, and to maintain currency with the outfit that rents planes to me. The landings were a bit rough but overall it's a pretty easy airplane to fly and it was a lot of fun.

In the beginning of November I took a Warrior out for a jaunt around my stomping grounds, just to relax and enjoy flying.

I have obtained a small HD quality video camera that I will mount on my next flight, so expect some high quality video soon. I'm curious to see how it works in the plane.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Passenger Service

Like many Americans, I had Labor Day off, which happily coincided with a visit from my Dad who lives in Colorado. So when I mentioned that I'd be flying that day, four of my family members in all asked for a ride:

Joe, my younger brother and veteran of many of my flights;
Susan, my baby sister (who happens to be an archaeologist);
Julie, my other baby sister, who expressed both a desire to fly with me and serious reservations against, and
Dad, who has flown quite a bit as a passenger in small airplanes, mostly while I was in diapers.

Four adults would be a full load and an unnecessary risk, as well as leaving someone behind anyway, so I decided to fly two "sorties".

Sortie Alpha

My first flight was with my two little sisters, neither of which had flown in a small airplane before. Julie, the older of the two, was the most nervous, so I made a point of explaining in detail the emergency procedures in case of engine failure, flight into IMC, electrical fire, and inflight structural failure.

The wind was almost nonexistant, so the takeoff was smooth as silk and straight as an arrow. We climbed out to 2500 msl and I did my usual tour of the countryside, lakes, and my house. The visibility was about 8 miles or so with ground haze but no clouds to speak of.

Julie was sitting up front and I offered her the controls. She put her hands on it, clearly afraid she was going to crash the plane. I said I wouldn't allow that, and did she want to make a gentle right turn to follow the highway? Nope, she didn't want to, but I had her keep her hands on the yoke so she could see what the control input for a turn felt like. She seemed relieved to take her hands off the controls.

Soon we turned back towards Flying Cloud, I dialed up the weather (hadn't changed) and made a nice straight in approach for landing, and even greased it a bit. I taxied back to the FBO and shut down the engine. After disembarking my passengers, I embarked the second set - my Dad and my youngest brother Joe.

Sortie Bravo

With my second load of passengers loaded, I performed a hot start procedure on the Warrior, which started without any trouble (I'm told some engines can be fussy about hot starts). We launched into the hazy blue sky and cruised over Lake Minnetonka and watched a sailboat regatta, and did some lazy flying around the countryside again.

My Dad took the controls for awhile and I decided to head for my house. Just as we were getting near, my brother, who was in the back seat, said "Traffic, behind and to the left". I immediately spotted the plane and noticed it wasn't moving in relation to my plane which meant we were going to get closer to each other than I was comfortable with, so I lost some altitude and watched the other plane cruise over me without so much as a sign that he'd seen me. I bought my brother lunch that day - his experience as a passenger and traffic spotter kept the other plane out of my safety zone.

We headed back again to the familiar runways of Flying Cloud, which was difficult to see with the sun illuminating the haze. I was about 4 miles out when I could finally see the runways. I greased up the landing and wheeled onto the ramp, having successfully completed Sortie Bravo.

Logbook: Logshare
Google Earth Track - Sortie Alpha
Google Earth Track - Sortie Bravo

VIDEO - Takeoffs and Landings

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Crosswind Practice

So, I got an email from an old high school buddy ("Rob") who reads my blog, and he asked if I'd take him flying. So I scheduled a plane and we met at the local aerodrome.

It was a bit breezy, but not gusty, and the wind was pretty much aligned with the runway, so I felt pretty confident that we'd have a nice smooth flight.

Rob walked through the preflight with me and after I was satisfied that the airplane was airworthy, we saddled up and got in the air.

However, the air was fairly bumpy, but both pilot and co-pilot were holding lunch down well, so we pressed on. Rob snapped some pictures (finding out along the way how hard it is to take good photos from a plane) and then I gave him the airplane. He made the same mistakes, at first, that everyone makes the first time they get the controls of an airplane. After awhile, he got the hang of straight and level flight, and even some turns. I had him continue with my IFR flight plan (I Follow Roads) and we flew back to Flying Cloud along Highway 212.

I got a little surprise with the ATIS weather report...winds at 16 gusting to 24. Now, this isn't a dangerous situation, as I have plenty of crosswind landing experience and the Warrior is very stable in crosswind situations. But it means I would have to work a little harder to get in a good landing.

So, I made a decent pattern and set up for a crabbed crosswind landing. A couple of times, the gusts blew the plane almost 45° to the runway (briefly), but I kept the plane on the glide path, kicked the tail over as we crossed the threshold. I felt plane float just a bit, then the tires kissed the pavement for a brief moment, then we were up a few inches, floating along again. The tires yelped a bit and we were down. Rob thought it was a good landing, so we'll go with his assessment.

Here are some pictures for your amusement. The batteries for the GPS tracker were dead so no track for you!

Next flight I'd like to take the bravo up again so I don't forget how to fly that little go kart with wings.

Rob is more or less in control of the aircraft.

A view of the beautiful Minnesota countryside.

Coney Island on Lake Waconia. Once a resort paradise...

Oh yeah, the plane is still airworthy, yessir!

Pictured here: Rob

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Go Kart With Wings

"Wow this thing looks like a go-kart with wings!"

That's what my brother said when he saw the Tecnam Bravo that I was preflighting on Sunday the 5th.

I decided to ask my brother to grab his fancy new digital SLR camera and come to the airport for some awesome flying photography action, as the weather was just about as perfect as a guy could ask for. 80°F, low humidity, good visibility and just a few scattered clouds meant that I couldn't in good conscience do yard work while the Bravo sat idle at the FBO.

Now, I just got checked out in the Bravo last week and I wanted to fly it on my own to get more comfortable with it, and with the winds a little calmer than the gales that I had for the checkout, it seemed like a good opportunity.

So, we launched and took some pics of my house, my in-laws house, the local church, and a popular lake. I also wanted to get a landing in at a nearby airport (KGYL) instead of just working from my home base (KFCM).

It was gorgeous up there with good visibility, smooth air, and not too much traffic, though for the first time a passenger of mine spotted traffic before me (a plane flying near my home airport but not in the pattern).

All in all, it was a great flight. I had a lot of fun flying this nimble little go-kart with wings and my brother snapped a ton of pictures, some of which are included here. If you get the chance, fly one of these cool little buggers, they are way too much fun.

Tecnam P2004 Bravo

Flooded Gravel Pit

My House

A Church

Lake Waconia

GPS Track: Google Earth


Friday, June 26, 2009

New Airplane

Many months ago they took away the Cessna 152s I was training in. So, they finally replaced them with a Tecnam P2004 Bravo airplane, a neat little 2 seat Light Sport airplane. I've wanted to get checked out in the airplane for awhile (meaning, trained on the specific airplane to satisfy the rental facility's insurance demands) so finally I went in and did it. Well, it's a neat little airplane and I'm going to have a lot of fun flying it.

First, it's a nimble little airplane with plenty of zip. It doesn't hurt that the plane is brand new - 32 hours total. It still smells new inside. Also, it is a stick instead of a yoke, which at first I thought would be hard to get used to but it's not at all. It feels very natural and more "free" than a yoke at times.

First thing we did was takeoff and do some turns around a point. Amazingly I can still pull that off, so then we climbed to 4000 feet and did power-on and power-off stalls (these simulate stalls in takeoff and landing configurations). I recovered from them easily, but I noticed it stalls more like the 152 than the Warrior - it tends to drop off the cliff after the stall, whereas the Warrior kind of vibrates and mushes along until you push the nose down.

After the stalls, we did steeps turns which I messed up at first. Here, the stick vs. yoke was throwing me off because of the way I am used to holding my steep turn in the Warrior. It's easier to hold the yoke perfectly still than a stick - but after a couple of tries I was getting it. The other thing that was throwing me off was that the attitude indicator is in the glass panel display...and with the bright sun it was difficult to see the tiny hash marks for the bank angle.

So after steep turns we headed back to the airport, and Jim showed me the GPS system where you can lock onto your airport and it draws a line right to it. From the practice area I could probably find my way to the airport on pure instruments (hope I never have to!) but it was nice seeing how it worked.

The first landing was ugly due to me overcontrolling. The Warrior has a robust control system that requires a bit of effort to manipulate, but the Bravo has smooth as silk movement in the full range of motion. I did land the plane without breaking anything and my second landing was very smooth. I forgot, though, how much a crosswind throws these little planes around, so the Bravo is not for flying in gale force / hurricane force winds.

All in all, it was a lot of fun to fly and it's nice having another option if I'm just going up with 1 other person. It doesn't hurt that it's a new airplane with glass panel and GPS displays, either.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rusty but trusty

I'm sad to admit that I let my currency for carrying passengers lapse. Regulations (FAR 61.57 to be precise) says that I have to have 3 full stop take offs and landings in the preceding 90 days to be able to carry passengers with me. As of June 9, I only had 2 T.O.s and landings. When my wife starts to hound me about staying current, I know I'm overdue for some stick time.

So I toddled on out to the airport and flew in the pattern for an hour. Here are the results of my landing attempts:

1. Too high, too fast - REJECT REJECT REJECT
2. Trying to remember how to fly the pattern. Landing was smooth as silk.
3. Figuring out how to fly the pattern. Landing was good but not perfect.
4. ATC threw me a bunch curve balls. First, they had me extend upwind (takeoff heading). Next, they had me extend my downwind (opposite takeoff heading) for an incoming medical helicopter. But my training and experience finally started to drizzle back into my head and I adjusted my pattern nicely for a greaser landing.

There were a few planes flying around but it was congested due to one runway being out of service to be extended from 3900' to 5000'.

The weather was partly cloudy, no wind to speak of, 75°F. I'm now current to carry passengers again. Woohoo!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flight Status: **ACTIVE**

I went up for a half an hour today with my brother Joe, to see if I remembered how to fly. Turns out I do!

It was cool finally seeing green things from the air, instead of white and brown. There was a little turbulence aloft but nothing too bad. All I can say is thank goodness for checklists. Going through them really jogged my memory on procedures.

My GPS tracker decided to work today so I'll post the flight log tonight when I get home from work.

Google Earth:
Flight Track


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I haven't given up flying.

Seriously. But Minnesota springs are not known for good flying weather. It looks like there is some good weather in the next week or two so I can go out and see if I still remember how to fly.

On a related note, I got my "plastic" pilot certificate in the mail a few days back. It's a welcome addition to my wallet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Positive Role Model.

My sister-in-law "Candice" called me up and asked me if I could give her foreign exchange student "Lars" an airplane ride. I told her that I would be able to make that sacrifice, and made the arrangements.

Now, some backstory is in order. This young man has been with a family since September of 2008, and apparently they are now going through a divorce and the environment Lars was in deteriorated significantly, until he actually started showing signs of depression. When Candice went to pick up Lars from his family (and get all his stuff) she said there were dirty dishes stacked almost to the ceiling, and dog hair and filth everywhere.

So, Candice had agreed to take the boy for the rest of the school year. Unfortunately, Lars was with another foreign exchange student who into some trouble, and he became collatoral damage. The organization that runs the foreign exchange decreed that Lars was to be sent home. In my mind Lars has been dealt a crappy deal, seeing as how much money these kids' families have to pony up for the experience.

So I decided that I would use this opportunity to give Lars a fun experience to temper the bad experience he had with his first dysfunctional host family.

First of all, Lars is a great kid, thanking me for the opportunity and joking around. On the drive to the airport I quickly briefed Lars and Candice on the what they needed to know about the flight.

Besides the overcast, the weather was good for flying and things went very well. After I configured for cruise, I gave Lars the controls and let him fly almost the whole time. He very naturally was able to hold course and altitude (flying right seat even!) and kept saying he couldn't believe he was flying a plane. He had a grin on his face almost the whole time and seemed to genuinely be having a great time. Candice took video and pictures which I burned onto a CD for him to take home.

I really hope when he thinks about his time in the US, that things like this stick out in his mind, and not the filthy hole he was trapped in for months on end. I present for your enjoyment a video and some pictures:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Full Airplane

Yesterday, at my wife's request, I reserved a plane for noon and met my wife, son, and neice at the aiport. We climbed into the rusty but trusty (she's old but she'll hold!) N2240G, the airplane that I used for my long solo cross country flight. You know, the one where the starter failed and some kind soul hand propped it for me, saving my bacon?

Anyway, I fired her up and we took off (I could tell I had a full load, we used a bit more runway than I'm used to) and headed out to the west to snap some pics and take some video, and let the kids have some fun looking out the window.

Having gathered all the pics and vids that we wanted, I headed back to Flying Cloud airport and learned that the winds had picked up from 9 knots to 14. Funny thing was, though, that on final approach, I hardly had to correct for any wind, but about 20 feet above the ground I could feel it pushing me off to the side. Right before touchdown it swung the airplane ever so slightly to the right so when the wheels hit the pavement we were a little sideways...this made for a bit of a "clunk" when we hit. Glad my smooth landing was on my wife's FIRST flight!

Some photos from the flight:

My house:

Pilot In Command™:

My neice:

My little boy:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

First Passengers!

After looking marginal this morning, the weather decided to cooperate with me this afternoon and I took my wife and 4 year old son to the airport for some flying. After checking and double checking the weight and balance, I did one last check of the weather: scattered clouds, 9 knots of wind, and 15°F. The TAF spoke of improving conditions, with the cloud deck clearing out and the wind dying down. So, I preflighted the bird, got the family all situated in the cabin (wife and child in back) and took off.

I'll have to admit, it doesn't happen very often, but everything with the flight went very well. Taxied to the active runway, did my runup (mags were fine), and launched into the cold air. A couple seconds after we lifted off I heard my little boy shout "woo-hoo!". That was a good sign!

We climbed up to 1500 agl and set a course for our house. On the way we flew over my in-law's house and snapped some pics, but it was hard because I didn't fly low and slow (for safety reasons). My wife tried to take a pic of our house but with a low wing going 100 knots and her in the back seat, the shot didn't turn out.

Next stop was a large nearby lake, Lake Waconia. It has a nice little ice fishing house town and a cool island. We circled for a bit then decided to head back to Flying Cloud. My wife took a couple pics of the airport, then the runway when I was on short final. Red over white, you're alright!

I squeaked the landing, I have to admit. My wife told me that if I hadn't bragged about the landing, she would have thought they were all like that. To be honest, it was the first non-short field landing I've done in a long time, so it seemed easy to do a regular landing.

On the ride home my wife admitted to feeling queasy (yes, we had sick sacks on board) but not nauseous, and it passed within an hour or so. I had the same feeling on my first few flights too. I tried to make all my maneuvers as gentle as possible, but we did get a little turbulence while we were up there.

All in all, it was a lot of fun but I can't wait for it to be warmer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Student Pilot Stories.

Since I'll be flying less frequently as a private pilot than I did as a student, I'll fill in some gaps with random experiences I had during my training, but didn't get included in the previous blogs (or wasn't described in detail.)

Close Call

After winter set in, the airport line crew would pull the plane out of the hangar and plug in the engine block heater and plug the air inlets with foam blocks. One time I preflighted the whole plane, and got to the part where I turn the key to start the engine. I actually put pressure on the key but at the last second, stopped. Something (I don't remember what) prompted me to think about the extension cord that was plugged into the engine block. I jumped out and sure enough, there was the cord. Had I started the engine, many bad things would have happened. I was fanatical about pulling that cord off before the preflight after that incident.

Silly Truck You Are Not An Airplane

I never blogged this flight due to the incredible amount of time I was spending studying for my checkride. Just prior to my Stage III check, I recieved an endorsement to fly to Glencoe airport to practice nontowered airport operations and short / soft field landings and takeoffs in a new environment. I got to the airport, circled, noted the windsock, and noticed a snowblower working along the side of the runway. He was clear of the runway, but I wasn't all that sure, so I kept my eye on him as I approached for landing. At 300 feet I noted that he was almost to the far end of the runway and was no factor to my landing. Just then a truck drives out onto the runway and hauls ass down to the other end. I shoved the throttle in and took the flaps out and got out of there. There was enough self-doubt to abort the landing. I checked the NOTAMs (Notices To Airmen) when I got back to Flying Cloud but there wasn't anything about Glencoe being closed. I found out that another CFI had gone there about 30 mins after I did and aborted his landing too, so I felt like I did the right thing.

More next week!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One week later.

I've decided to continue this blog into the next chapter of my aviation adventures. I still haven't flown since my checkride, but my wife's schedule is very busy right now and she is quite adamant about being the first passenger. We've got Feb. 22nd down as our day to fly.

Sadly, today was absolutely perfect flying weather and I was committed to helping with a fundraiser with my wife, so no flying today. Pity.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Checkride passed.

My first flight lesson as a student pilot was on May 8, 2008, almost exactly nine months ago.

Today, I took the checkride, which was a 4 hour test of my knowledge and flying skills that I've accumulated over the last nine months.

The first two hours was slated for the oral exam portion of the test. The examiner, Marsha, quizzed me on weather, airman privileges, airspace, and more. Except for a few really obscure things she threw at me for the heck of it, I did very well on this portion of the test.

Then I went to preflight the plane, but alas, it was not there! Some commercial student had taken it up to St. Cloud and was fueling it up when he called in. Knowing that he was at least 30-45 minutes away, I elected to take the solid but clunkier sister ship, 2240G. Marsha did not watch me preflight the airplane, which was sped things up a bit (seeing as I didn't have to explain everything I was doing). We started up the plane and she had me dive right into on my planned flight to Des Moines.

I hit my closely spaced and easily recognizable checkpoints. One thing I wasn't happy about was the insane windspeed at 2500 feet. Marsha told me to calculate my ground speed vs. airspeed. The first time I used my E6B flight computer to determine our groundspeed, I looked at her and told her I wasn't sure my answer was right. But it was...our groundspeed was 68 knots, or about 78mph. Our airspeed was 110 knots, so we were facing a 42 knot headwind.

After the first couple of waypoints, she had me divert to the airport I assumed she would choose. Unfortunately it was lousy with traffic. I made an over pass, and then had to circle before I could see the tiny windsock. After I overflew, I attempted a cloverleaf to 45 entry to downwind, but I started too close the airport. After I flew south a bit to get some space, I made a nice 45 to downwind and thought I was doing a nice pattern when she started acting a little nervous and saying "look how close we are to the ground!". I kind of looked at her and said, "uh, the altimeter says were at 700 feet" (plenty of altitude). She kind of backed down and said "oh yeah it does". I then made the only real mistake that came close to a bust...I made a hard soft-field landing. The reason was, it was very windy and gusty, and just getting the bird down was a chore. I know she gave me some credit for the windy conditions, plus, the landing wasn't bad, just firm and a little left of center.

She said I was still within the standards, but if I busted I could still continue (then reminded me I hadn't busted). I gritted my teeth and told myself "I am not failing this test".

She then had me perform a short field takeoff, and I cleared her imaginary obstacle by a large margin. She was happy with that, and told me to run the pattern for a short field landing. Turning downwind, we spotted a plane above and to our side, which appeared too low to be just passing through. We watched it as we made our pattern, and I extended my downwind a bit to give me some time to setup my landing. Just then, this guy, who was not on the radio, swooped inside our pattern and landed!

Marsha was NOT happy, and attempted to raise the guy on the radio, but he wasn't talking. She said "this isn't safe, let's depart the area". So we did, and moved onto maneuvers.

She had me do turns around a point, slow flight, instrument maneuvers (no unusual attitudes though), some stalls, and a simulated engine failure. I did all of these well within the standards, thankfully. Then she told me to dial up the Flying Cloud VOR and head home for a full stop landing.

But I knew one more test remained.

The short field landing. I was cleared for a straight in to runway 10L. Marsha said "The threshold is a 50 foot obstacle. Clear it and make a short field landing."

Ok, now, none of my CFIs ever had me practice this way. They always told me to pick a point and hit it, +200 / -0 feet tolerance. I honestly didn't know what point was my target, and maybe that was the intention. So I configured for a sink rate that would bring me over the threshold at about 100 feet, and then I flared hard and I THOUGHT I floated and landed way long, but the touchdown was a greaser. Marsha smiled and said "well that's a nice way to end a checkride!" I didn't argue with her.

I parked the plane and shut it down, and Marsha shook my hand and said "Congratulations, you're a pilot now!" I was exhausted but happy.

They typed up my temporary airmen certificate, and that, ladies and gentlemen, brings the first chapter of my flight training to a close.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Checkride scheduled.

Well folks, it's been a long road full of updrafts and downdrafts, but I'm on the schedule for my checkride. The date is Feb. 6 from 12 to 4.

While there were some frustrating times, I'll have to say that learning to fly is overwhelmingly fun and rewarding. There's just something about nailing a landing that is unlike anything else I've ever done.

So, now I have a week to study for the oral portion of the test, and probably fly at least once more solo to polish up some rough spots. But, I feel confident that I'm ready.

This will be my last entry until after the checkride. Catch all you cool cats on the flip-flop!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stage Check.

Today I completed the last item in the syllabus, the Stage 3 Checkride.

The check instructor, Dan, had me depart the pattern and head to the practice area for some maneuvers. We did a steep turn, in which I gained 150 feet in altitude (100 is allowed) so he let me start over. I did a steep turn in each direction and stayed within the speed, altitude, and heading constraints. We then did some slow flight, which is flight near stall speeds. That also went well. My power off and power on stalls were good, as well as my response to a partial-power emergency.

After that, we did a nice little turn-around-a-point, which I nailed and then we headed back to the airport for takeoffs and landings. I did a short-field landing, hitting my mark PERFECTLY (thank you very much), and a soft field takeoff, which was a little shaky but adequate. Dan had me do a soft field landing (land as softly as possible, no brakes) and I managed to set the plane down as smooth as silk.

We filled out some paperwork and Dan, signed me off to take the final Check Ride. The next step is an "audit" with my CFI to make sure my paperwork, lessons, and endorsements are all in order. Then I'll schedule my checkride with Marsha (head CFI) and I'll be a Private Pilot.

Logbook: Logshare

Total Hours: 53.0
Solo Hours: 12.2
Cross Country: 9.8
Simulated Instrument: 3.0
Day Landings: 111
Night Landings: 10

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wayback machine.

Awhile ago I posted my long solo xc landings video, but I've had some requests for a takeoff video. Here is my takeoff from Brainerd (BRD). It's not the straightest takeoff in the world, but I assure you my takeoffs now are a lot better. Enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quick before the snow gets here!

After not flying for a few weeks, I finally flew again today with Peter to knock the rust off and get my mind right for the remaining items in my student pilot career.

Sadly, the batteries in my GPS tracker went kaput so again, I don't have a track for you (boo hiss).

We did a review on short field landings and ground reference, and overall flying the plane. We also did a soft field takeoff which, in the past, I've been shakey on, but today I nailed it pretty good. Overall I'm feeling pretty good about finishing up, but what worries me is the weather.

Take today, for instance. We had partly sunny skies with almost no wind, but snow flurries to the west. The weather was moving north to south, so it looked like we'd be fine in the practice area. After our maneuvers, we started heading back to Flying Cloud Airport. Both of us noticed the clouds and snow tightening like a noose around the airport. The snow wasn't heavy, but visibility went from 10+ miles to maybe 3-5. The funny thing was, though, that the airport was this isolated island of clear weather. It was the darnedest thing I've ever seen. We flew a normal pattern and I did what would have been a good short field landing, except I held it off too long and floated unnecessarily. I was trying to make a soft landing again...which is NOT a requirement of the short field. If I would have just let it thump down on the runway, I would have been fine.

So, Wednesday I'm flying solo to Glencoe airport (GYL) to practice short fields at an unfamiliar airport so that I can concentrate on doing it right. And yes, I'll put new batteries in my GPS tracker.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thirty Below.

That's right, it got to -30°F last night and it's still only -27°F right now (9am). So, no flying until next week when it warms up.

Global warming my ASS.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ice Road Pilots.

Screw the ice, it's time to fly.

I slipped around the taxiways and runways today and finally figured out the short field landing, I hope. Anyway, I did three landings, and hit my target all three times.

I'm going to fly again with Peter to review a bunch of things I haven't done in awhile, and then take the remedial stage check and the checkride. Again, the weather will dictate the time frame but I'm hoping to have my certificate before Christmas of 2009.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A new perspective.

It's been awhile since I last flew, so when the weather turned out to be gorgeous today, I was fairly upbeat. On the way to the airport, Peter called me and said the runways were pretty icy. I said I was on the way and let's evaluate the situation when I get there.

Well, there were some pireps saying that the runway braking action was fair, so we gave it a shot. The taxiways were glare ice so I had to be super careful. It turns out that the runways weren't much better. After a white knuckle takeoff (the plane wanted to skid down the runway), and a tense but successful short-field landing, we decided to abort the flight. I'd hate to tempt fate by being too impatient to wait for better runway conditions.

I'm flying again tomorrow, so hopefully the ice will have retreated a little by then.