Friday, February 25, 2011


Last Sunday, during the Great Blizzard of 2011, I managed to break my left leg on a patch of ice near my house. I'm not thrilled about that but I decided on surgery to speed things along versus a full leg cast for a month (followed by many more weeks in a smaller cast).

So, with a rod down the middle of my tibia secured with surgical lag bolts, my leg is pretty solid and the partial cast will most likely come off in three days. Then I will have five or so weeks with a brace. Doc says I shouldn't have a problem getting back in the air after the brace comes off.

On the brighter side, winter should be over for the most part by the time my leg is healed. But then again, considering the winter so far, it might not be over till June...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Flight Review

So, on Feb. 12th (a week ago) the weather was perfect for some flying. I met Bob, a club CFI, at the hangar for my Flight Review.

The Flight Review is required by regulations and must occur every 24 calendar months, starting from the time the initial checkride is passed. There are some situations that allow you to go longer (such as participation in the FAA's Wings program) but normally if you are beyond the 24 months, you are not current to fly as PIC (pilot in command).

Well, as I mentioned in the previous post, the winter has not been ideal for flying small airplanes. When it's been warm, the clouds have been low and/or it's been snowing, and when there's no clouds, it's been very cold. So I had a 90 day hiatus in flying which put me beyond the 24 month flight review requirement and the 90 day flight currency with the flying club. Thankfully, I knew I could knock both of these out at the same time.

The flight review requires a minimum of 1 hour of ground instruction / review, and 1 hour flight time. So as soon as I got to the airport, Bob was asking questions, sometimes so nonchalantly that I didn't realize they were part of the ground review. I answered most the questions correctly, got a little review on some things, and then we taxied out for some flying.

My steep turns were a bit rough but it had been awhile since I'd done any. We kept them up until Bob was happy, then did some slow flight (flying right above stall speed, and maneuvering without stalling). After that, some stalls. Now, I've never had any problems with stalls, and the last time I did them was last summer when I was checked out in the club 172. But this time, I had a hard time keeping it coordinated during the stall despite my best efforts. The first stall resulted in a spin, which I was glad (after the fact) that I immediately stopped with opposite rudder, neutral ailerons, and throttle. Understandably, Bob wanted to polish stalls a bit more so we did a few more power-on and power-off stalls until I wasn't dropping a wing anymore.

Then we did a bit of "foggle" work (goggles that prevent you from seeing the outside world so you have to fly on instruments). Those skills hadn't atrophied much so we moved on to landings.

I'm proud to say that in general, my landings are pretty good. Granted I don't often land on 1000 foot strips in 30 knot crosswinds, but when it comes to landing, I look forward to it because it's fun and challenging to do a good one.

I did 5 landings with Bob and all of them except the last one were safe but ugly. And the reason is that Bob kept talking during the entire pattern, increasing his chatter and tips during the short final. After landing #4 I asked him to please not talk during short final. He did anyway but I ignored him and had a nice smooth landing.

We did another 30 minutes of ground review and he endorsed me for 2 more years and another club checkout.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The long, cold, brutal winter.

Anyone who lives near me can attest that this winter has not been ideal for small airplane flight. It's either been sunny and too cold, or warm and snowy. So I haven't flown since November.

Every two years, a certificated private pilot must obtain a Flight Review from an instructor to make sure that he or she is safe to fly and is keeping current with their knowledge and skills. Also, a Club member must fly at least once in a 90 day period. I've exceeded both of those timeframes. Since the Club now requires a checkout, and the FAA requires a Flight review, I decided to knock both out at the same time. I had a flight review scheduled with a Club CFI for February 5, but it was foggy and I had to postpone. This Saturday the weather looks like it might cooperate. With any luck, I'll be back in the air soon.