Expect Left Traffic

Flight 21 – 3 Full Pages in the Log

vol3-216Yesterday we had another really good flight. We started out with some IR turns to heading, and I now have a full hour under the hood. After that we did some approach stalls and then back to the pattern for some touch and goes. Approach stalls are done by setting the plane up in a landing configuration, slow down to pattern speed, and then enter a 20 degree bank, and keep pulling back until well after the stall horn starts. Once the plane starts buffeting you go to full throttle (carb heat on of course), level the wings and once you get a positive climb rate slowly bring in flaps. The goal is to lose as little altitude as possible during the maneuver, practical test standards dictate ±100 feet of assigned altitude, and I climbed a bit (even with the engine at idle). Back in the pattern I got in 4 touch and goes, with no assistance this time around. I bounced one of them but was able to recover it nicely. We also did a power off landing, as a simulated engine failure. That went well and such a short approach with no power was a lot of fun. My instructor noticed how much more loose and relaxed I am while we’re flying, and if the next few session go as well, I should be soloing soon.

Now that I’ve got three full pages in my log book, I’ve got to get Zululog caught up. Cheers.

April 28th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 20 – Air Work

turns Today we did some more air work out in the practice area. It was a little bumpy, but only enough to make it hard to stay within PTS standards for the maneuvers we practiced. We did a couple of departure stalls, a number of steep turns and instrument reference turns. We then did two full stop landings at BJC, and then had to get the plane back. I’ve got a small bit of home work (some arm chair flying) to take care of before lessons next week.

April 24th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

Flight 19 – Lunchtime Practice

Today I took a long lunch and sneaked in a lesson, one of the advantages of living and working so close to the airport. We did some practice maneuvering with or just shy of the stall horn, some zig zagging turns (sort of like a S turns without a ground reference) and a failed engine procedure. Although it’s been six months or more since my last go at the latter, everything comes rushing back in a hurry (plus, there’s not much to do in a 172). After that it was back to BJC for some touch and goes until we had to return the plane. It was nice to get out of the pattern and the turns were a lot of fun. It seems both instructors agree I’m about on the verge of soloing, and I think if I squeeze in two lessons a week it shouldn’t be too much l longer now before I can get to that milestone. Now if only the Colorado weather would get with the program.

April 21st, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

Dreamliner

787No lesson this weekend. My son had a nasty cold that turned in to conjunctivitis, which in turn migrated to an ear infection. That means very little sleep since Thursday, and two pediatrician visits in as many days. Luckily he’s feeling much much better today, and we even got out to the park and flew a little biplane kite I found. Now before you accuse me of not having my head in the clouds, I did finish up my 787 project last night.

April 20th, 2008 Posted by | Toys |

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Flight 18 – Stalked by clouds

Yesterday I had a surprise lesson! I had forgotten I booked time in the late afternoon. Luckily my calendar had it for lunch time, so when my phone started giving me reminders I was puzzled. So puzzled that I rushed to the web scheduler to confirm that I wasn’t supposed to be flying at noon (a mere 15 minutes away at this point). Turns out I was right, I didn’t have a lesson booked. On a whim I started checking the remaining time slots, and sure enough I had something booked a few hours away. My wife was nice enough to drop my flight bag off at work for me so I wouldn’t have to leave early and run all over the place (BJC is a five minute drive from my work). I’ve already put in a request with the company who hosts the schedule for some email update and ical love, but in the mean time I’ll have to be better about booking stuff on my calendar as well as theirs.

We did actual landings this time instead of a handful of low passes to start. As we were making our way around the pattern we got to watch some interesting weather develop and work it’s way out of Eldorado Canyon. This wall of precipitation was visible back up in to the mountains, and came surprisingly closer with each climb out. Of course we lost sight on the downwind leg, but it was amazing how much it moved in the few minutes our backs were to it. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures but it reminded me of “Blink“, the least cheesy Doctor Who episode ever. If clouds had teeth I don’t think I could have flown, and that video clip still freaks me out.

April 18th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 17 – More low passes

These are fun! I was with a new instructor Saturday (more on that in a minute) and we did more low passes, only even closer to the ground. It’s a challenge to keep a plane in landing configuration just barely off the ground. Not only do you need the same control inputs as landing, but you have to be on top of the throttle as you don’t want to go around just yet, nor do you really want to land. I’m starting to get the hang of this flying just off the ground thing, and it sounds like a first solo isn’t too far off.

As for the instructor, he’s been with the school for quite some time now I believe, and it seems I see him in the office pretty much any day I fly. My usual CFI had a sudden bout of illness (mid-lesson it sounds like, that’s rough), and I got to fly with this other gentleman. I think we got along well, and we both enjoyed the flying. I’ve been thinking of ramping up the frequency of my lessons now that the weather is turning, and this guy is available every day. I’m thinking of trying to fly with him once a week, and my usual CFI once a week as well.

Which brings me to something I’m very grateful for, my flight school. I’ve heard quite a few stories from both CFIs and students about territorial instructors, overly small fleets (does one plane count as a fleet?), poor maintenance, etc. While my school has had some ups and downs on the maintenance front, it seems that they’re all very normal issues for a fleet that isn’t 10 years new, or for unfamiliar planes coming online. Pretty much everything I’ve squawked has been fixed by the next time I’ve flown the same plane, only 48 hours in one case. My school also has a very comfortable, club-like feel to it. On days that we don’t end up flying, it’s not unusual for me to hang out the entire time I was scheduled, chatting with the employees, students and other pilots the entire time. They always make me feel welcome, and I’m very glad I was referred there.

April 15th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Holy weather, Batman

I have another flying post coming up, but it’s late because I’m apparently a sysadmin first, and a blogger second. If you’re visiting the site you’ll notice I’m not on blogspot anymore, otherwise feedburner should just be redirecting on it’s own, and all of this was seamless for you. Anyway, we’ve had two 70 degree days in a row, and today is shaping up just as nice. I’ve switched over to commuting on the Triumph for the most part, but rain and maybe snow is in the forecast for tomorrow (gotta love Colorado). We’ll be back to warmer days this weekend and the forecast looks promising for getting in to the air.

April 15th, 2008 Posted by | Leisure, Motorbikes |

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Flight 16 – Best Landing Yet


It’s been awhile, last weekend was scrubbed due to turbulence, and the makeup flight I scheduled Thursday didn’t happen either. I need to get together with Peter Griffin and pick up some cloud insurance. Look at them up there… plotting. At 10:00 it was legally VFR, but on my way over to the airport (fortunately Metro is only about five minutes from my work) I noticed clouds in the pattern. Weather cleared up very nicely, and I ended up being able to get a 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm slot. Unfortunately the weather was scheduled to shift around that time, as not long after getting to the airport the winds had picked up considerably. About five minutes later we had a mix of rain and snow, falling sideways. Once that had tapered off, I got the photo of the parking area. Planes and buildings were fading in and out, and was fascinating to watch. There were a handful of brave bizjet pilots taking off in this mess, but mostly we went over weather, and chatted with the employees.

Today I finally got back in the air in a new addition to the fleet. There were a few technical difficulties that made the flight interesting. The tach reported about 200 or more rpms higher than actual, airspeed indicator was very sluggish and possibly just wrong, there was quite a strong smell of petrol in climbing attitudes, and the nose gear had a hell of a shimmy. Fortunately we really only did two landings after a series of low passes just trying to keep the plane five to ten feet off the runway. This seemed to have helped a lot as the next two landings were my best yet. I suppose the massive shimmy was also a good motivation to keep holding the nose off as long as possible. If I can keep this up and the weather holds out, it sounds like I’m not terribly far off from a first solo.

The weather is really starting to warm up, which is good for the motorcycles. It’s been a few months since I could go on a ride of any length, and today I got to ride out to the airport and back. My wife caught me trying to figure out how to attach my seat pad to my messenger bag, so she gave me our anniversary present a few weeks early. She got me this fancy cross-country backpack from Sporty’s. It’s got a ton of room, and the beaver tail worked great for attaching the cushion. It’s finally warm enough to break out the bikes on a regular basis, and once I have a rain cover for the pack I won’t be stuck in the truck for trips to the airport.

April 5th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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