Sunday, November 7, 2010

River flying and a new passenger.

It was a beautiful day to fly so that's what I did. I arranged for a friend and his 7 year old son to meet me at a small regional airport 20 minutes from my home base of Crystal Airport.

Now this flight contained a series of planned and unplanned "firsts". I carefully planned my flight but forgot to check for TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) until I got to the airport. Then I realized that the Vikings were playing at the Metrodome and my departure from Crystal Airport took me very close to that TFR. Also, the airspace from Crystal to New Richmond has multiple types of controlled airspace that has to be carefully avoided or prudently managed with radio work. So, I called up Minneapolis Approach (at the "big" airport) and got a transponder code that would allow me to plow through everything as long as I was in contact with them. It was much more painless than I anticipated and it reduced my workload considerably.

The second "first" was having someone meet me at a distant airport. I did some careful research and found the most likely place to meet them (self serve lounge at Griggs Aviation). I landed and found them hanging out at a picnic table nearby and we loaded up.

One cool thing we saw was a Republic RC-3 SeaBee airplane right in front of us on the taxiway. I guess that was also a first...I've never seen one in person before.

We cruised around St. Croix county and the little guy picked out his house and his grandma's house and even found a buddy's house. He definitely seemed to be having a great time. Eventually we headed west and picked up the mighty St. Croix river and followed it north. Then it was time to return to New Richmond.

We landed uneventfully and my passenger disembarked. I then flew back to Crystal. As I was on short final approach for 14L, the controller switched me to 14R which was odd but somewhat amusing. I managed to keep my stabilized approach and make a decent landing - ending a very good day of flying.

Google Earth Track

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fully Loaded

It's been a few weeks but I flew again today, and had some company with me. We have an exchange student living with us, Rachchapol, who is from Thailand and is hoping to be an airline pilot with Thai Airways. Now, I've attempted to do this flight 3 times in the past, and had to cancel every time due to high winds. Today it was windy but within my personal limits so Rachchapol (or "Name" as he likes to be called), Joe, and Jake headed over to the airport and got the plane ready. Jake asked if he could help with the preflight, so I said "sure" and he walked around the plane, fussing over a rivet or the tires. He'll be a pilot some day.

Everything looked good so we hopped in and took off. It was a bit bumpy up there but not horrible...nobody complained of nausea so we just motored around, enjoying the flying. Joe took a bunch of photos of farms and houses - he is attempting to grow as a photographer. He gave me permission to share a few here:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Yesterday after work I went up to Crystal Airport to work on getting familiar with the Cessna 172 and the airport layout. I knew Flying Cloud airport like the back of my hand and never had to use an airport taxi diagram, but Crystal is quite a bit different. The penalty for making a wrong turn and getting on a runway without permission can be significant, so I wanted to make sure I learned the layout.

Winds were very light and the air was smooth, so it was a good day to learn the taxiways and the airplane without throwing huge wind corrections in the mix. I made three takeoffs and landings (all three rendering the airplane suitable for further use). I still have some polishing to do on the landings but that just means getting used to the airplane. My brother Joe kindly snapped some pics while I was in the pattern.

I think the next step will be a trip to Duluth/Superior or possibly Brainerd for lunch.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Movin' on up.

I'll spare the suspense - I passed the checkout flight so now I can fly the two Cessna 172s at Yankee flying club.

The checkout flight was pretty straightforward. The CFI gave me a briefing on the plane's communications and navigations systems, went over the differences between the Warrior and the 172, and taxiway navigation at Crystal Airport. Then we took off and headed to the west.

First he started me with steep turns...haven't done those in a long time. I deviated from my altitude a bit on the first run, but the second one was a lot better. Then we did some power-on and power-off stalls, and a simulated engine out to a landing at Buffalo airport. Amazingly, I never did a simulated engine out to a landing during my primary pilot training - we'd approach some hay field and then throttle up and fly away. It was fun, and a little hairy, but my first landing in a 172 was a dead stick landing. Sure it was a little rough, but the plane was flyable afterwards so I counted it a success.

We headed back to Crystal and did 3 landings. The first one was kind of rough...I found it a lot harder to pull the yoke to flare, and I didn't want to pull too hard. The second landing I put some muscle into it and got a good flare and soft landing. The third one was a no-flaps landing, yet another first, and though the speed was higher than what I'm used to, and the landing roll longer, it wasn't too big of a deal.

After wiping off the bug guts and buttoning up the plane, Kevin signed my logbook and said he was very satisfied that I could fly the 172 safely. If the weather is good this week I'll take one of the 172's up and get some pics and video for all the world to see.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All good things must come to an end.

I can definitely say that I had fun while it lasted. Many of my loyal blog readers have noticed a lack of flying on my part, and now I will explain to you why.

Renting is great for taking flying lessons, but not so great for anything else.

A few months ago I started scouting some flying clubs in the twin cities area, limiting my search to Lakeville, Eden Prairie, and Crystal. I found a great club in Crystal (at Crystal Airport, KMIC) that had a good combination of affordable share price, very nice planes, and reasonable plane hourly rates. So the past few weeks I've held off renting so that I could use the money to get going with the Yankee Flying Club.

Now before the nice people who run the club will let me fly their nice planes, I need to do a "check out" flight. Insurance requires a designated instructor to verify that I can fly the plane safely. In this case, I'm going from a low-wing Piper Warrior to a high-wing Cessna 172. Sadly, the last four scheduled checkout flights were cancelled due to daily thunderstorms. Tomorrow is attempt #5...and the morning looks t-storm free so I'm confident that I'll be able to get checked out.

Hopefully this will allow me to fly a lot anemic logbook is begging for more ink.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Artic Blast

Ok, I live in Minnesota and I've been hardened against cold weather. But December and January have been so cold as to test my ability to tolerate it. Nothing works right at -20°F. Motor oil is like grape jelly. Garage door openers fail. The dog can barely take care of his "business" before his feet start to freeze. And nobody in their right mind flies a small airplane unless...nope, they just don't.

The relentless cold subsided a bit on the weeked of January 17 and I decided to do a little pattern work to keep the rust away. I did 5 approaches, with one go-around due to a "technical" runway incursion, and 4 landings.

My brother came along again and took photos and videos. The video is from my nifty new Zi8 HD video camera, and I think the video came out really clear.

The weather was calm with high ceilings but visibility was low at 4 statute miles. The visibility improved while we were flying and ended up at 6-7 statute miles.

Here are some photos my brother took during the flight:

Folks icefishing right next to the airport.

Downtown Minneapolis peeking through the haze.

A view of Flying Cloud Airport from the pattern.

Final approach!

Certificated Aeronaut.

Brother Joe the flight photographer / videographer.