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Flight 36 – Third Solo, EIK

DSC00769-640 Today was my third solo, and third airport.  This was by no means my best work, but it was also at my least favorite airport. Erie’s runway is only a little shorter than Longmont, but it’s got a decent amount of grade and rising terrain on both sides.  Usually you climb out of an airport at Vy (see last post) but the first touch and go reminded me of how slow this particular 172 climbs so most of my takeoffs were at Vx, the best angle of climb speed.  This is used to get off short fields and over obstacles, and a new housing development adds a couple dozen feet to the hills already around the field.  My instructor gives nervous situations like this a “pucker factor”, of which I rate EIK fairly high.  I finally remembered to snap a picture while I was downwind for my second solo landing, so now I have proof I can land safely.  Flying’s the easy part.

September 4th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 34 – Second Solo

Today (yesterday, I forgot to publish this last night) I got nine more landings and 1.5 hours in my log book.  .6 of those hours and four landings were all on my lonesome.  This time around I made some of my finest landings, I even compensated for being alone right off the bat.  BJC has nice long runways so I was able to do touch and goes instead of full stop landings.  We almost weren’t able to get even that in, as there was an odd extension to the temporary flight restriction from the Democratic National Convention.  For some reason VFR aircraft in the normal TFR, and the Delta airspace surrounding Metro needed an ATC assigned squawk code, similar to an instrument flight.  This was taking a good deal of time, so initially we thought we’d head up to Fort Collins to practice.  As we were waiting for our code and taxiing out to the runway there were a pair of Colorado National Guard CH-60s.  This was my first up close look at one, and boy are they big.  After we finished our run-up we asked ground about our code, right when the TFR lifted.  What ever big wig was coming in or out of the airport had gone, so we decided to stay in our home pattern and make the best use of the time we had left.  What normally takes us 15 to 20 minutes took nearly 40.  All the same, I got in 5 landings with my instructor and 4 solo!  Turns out I really am a pilot, and safely landing a plane on my son’s birthday wasn’t a fluke!

Sunday we’re planning to do my first cross country flight.  A cross country is defined as any flight where you land at any airport other than the one you took off from, but for it to qualify for most certifications that airport must be at least 50 nautical miles away.  Further for some of them.  We’re going to use a flight plan I put together to Cheyenne a few weeks ago, and I’ll just plug in the weather numbers.  This week I gleaned a bit of good information from the AOPA news feed that calculates best speed and fuel economy, which I’m going to post about tomorrow or Saturday.

I’m hoping I can keep this rate up and get my ticket while 2008 is still in session.  In the mean time I’ll follow the advice of my friend Mariko and what CFI Jason Miller say a lot (in their respective languages), “do your best”.

August 29th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 23 – Big Day!

Today was a big day! It’s way past my bed time, but I didn’t feel right letting this post sit until tomorrow. My wife is busy putting together a cake she’s made from scratch. No mixes or packets involved. It’s a yellow cake with banana pudding layers and absolutely loaded with whipped cream instead of frosting. Our son will love it, as tomorrow is his birthday party. Today however, was his first birthday. I took the day off to spend time with him, and we went out for dinner with the immediate family.

Yesterday afternoon I had a flight booked, that ended up getting scrubbed thanks to a number of thunderstorms and some crazy wind. It was fun watching other people in the pattern, switching runways about and some just calling it quits on final and heading across town. This led me to book an early morning flight today, which worked out quite well. We went over to Vance Brand up in Longmont again where I did a full-stop landing, a touch and go and finally another full stop. I kept coming in a little fast so I had a tendency to float, but altogether the landings were pretty good. After those three landing, my instructor pulled around to the ramp, asked if I was comfortable with the conditions and the landings, signed my log book, told me the game plan (three full stop landings, time permitting) and then hopped out of the plane telling me to “have fun, it’ll be the flight of my life”. And was it. You only get to have your first solo once, and even though they weren’t my best landings, I did them all on my own. Without a second person in the plane, a 172 climbs like a different animal. It also sinks (or doesn’t) different as well. Without the added weight she was happy to just glide along. This created a tendency for me to point the nose at the numbers, which of course meant coming in too hot and floating a good way down the runway (and bouncing in one case). I managed to get in three full-stop landings before we had to rush the plane back to BJC, where I had a great landing. It wasn’t solo but it was totally without help, so I’ve got it in me and just need practice. We pulled up to the line exactly when the plane was due (after showing up a bit early) which milked every minute we had booked. It took a little while for the whole experience to sink in, and I didn’t start grinning like an idiot until one of the chief pilots emphatically shook my hand (shortly followed by about everyone in the building). I half drove half floated home, and called my grandpa to tell him how things went. He sounded almost as excited as I am.

Monday we’re planning to do a practice stage check and try to get in some solo time at Metro. Of course, I’ll let you all know how that goes. Today was a day with a lot of firsts!

PS: Pardon the formatting, I’m arguing with my current blogging tools.

May 9th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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