July 30, 2009
I spent much of my childhood and adult life looking up at the sky and dreaming of flying. In April of 2004 I decided to stop dreaming and making learning to fly a reality. Ninety-five days after taking my first introductory flight and after logging 47.2 hours I earned my Private Pilots license on August 1, 2004.
On Saturday, I celebrate five great years enjoying the benefits of my license including all the great places I have flown and experiences I have gained. To honor this milestone I am heading to Oshkosh, I can think of no more appropriate way to enjoy this achievement then a weekend of aviation fun at AirVenture.
In addition to my own personal flying experiences through this blog and the wonderful people I have met I have enjoyed some amazing flying experiences. Below are links to some of my favorite flights, experiences and lessons from the past five years.
Enjoy, I know I have:
- Solos: First Solo & First Solo Cross Country
- Flying with Family & Friends: First flight with my wife, Flying with my Dad to see Grandma & Taking a good friend flying
- Seeing MyFlightBlog in the Press: Wall Street Journal, AOPA Flight Training, AOPA Pilot & Pilot Getaways Letter to the Editor
- Aviation Fly-Ins and $100 Hamburgers: MyTransponder Fly-In & $150 Eggs & Toast
- Memorable Flight Experiences: Scenic New York City Flight, Flight in the B-17 Flying Fortress, Flights with Lima Lima, Flight in the T-6 Texan & Flying with the AeroShell Performance Team
July 27, 2009
Pilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world have once again begun to converge on Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for AirVenture, the annual celebration of aviation. This event helps to stoke the fire of enthusiasm for aviation dreamers. I vividly remember attending this event and dreaming of coming back some day as a pilot. This week, I will be making my third visit to AirVenture since realizing my dream. On Saturday I will celebrate the five year anniversary of earning my Pilot's License in the best way possible: surrounded by fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts at Oshkosh.
One of the biggest challenges for a visit to AirVenture is planning your days. I will have little more than two days at this event and will do my best to fit all I can during my time there. The AirVenture website offers a nice planning tool that allows you to search the vast list of activities and meetings and filter them by your own preferences. You can save and print your personalized itinerary. Sadly, they have not figured out a solution to clone speakers or attendees so I am going to have to miss some exciting events to participate in others.
Here are just a few of the events, meetings or sights I plan to enjoy during my visit to AirVenture.
- Aviation Social Media Meetup hosted by the folks at MyTransponder
- Night Flying presented by Max Trescott
- US Airways 1549 presented by Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and his crew
- The EAA Runway 5K
- Screening on the A Pilot's Story Documentary
- Screening of the FlyAbout documentary
- Walking the flightline, exhibit booths and enjoying the flight performances
July 22, 2009
Julie Summers Walker, Managing Editor of AOPA Flight Training, wrote a great article about 10 "Island Hoping" destinations in the United States. She writes "'Island hopping' may bring to mind Caribbean blue water, but in the United States, there are a number of island escapes, each with its own personality and hue, best visited in a small airplane. Your newly minted private pilot certificate can get you access to places few people get to see."
She recommends ten great island destinations to fly to and even provides some tips for planning an trip to an island based airstrip. Here list of ten Island destinations included:
- Tangier Island Airport (TGI), Tangier, Virginia
- Mackinac Island Airport (MCD), Mackinac Island, Michigan
- Catalina Airport (AVX), Catalina Island, California
- Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
- Put in Bay Airport (3W2), South Bass Island, Ohio
- Ocracoke Island Airport (W95), Ocracoke, North Carolina
- George T. Lewis Airport (CDK), Cedar Key, Florida
- Friday Harbor Airport (FHR), Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
- Jekyll Island Airport (09J), Jekyll Island, Georgia
- Katama Airpark (1B2), Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Missing from the authors list was one of my favorite island airports, Washington Island, situated six miles of the northern tip of Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula. If you are planning on visiting Washington Island you will need to arrive by boat, bring your bike or car by ferry or fly into Washington Island Airport. Flying to Washington Island from anywhere south of the Island provides a scenic flight along the Door County Peninsula. The Peninsula is 75 miles long and 10 miles wide and narrows as you travel northeast and culminates with the quaint Washington Island. You will enjoy viewing corn mazes and beautiful bays and lighthouses along the route. On Washington Island there are several great places to catch a bite to eat.
For the 56th year the Lion's Club of Washington Island hosted their Annual Fly-In Fish Boil this past weekend. Typically the event draws planes from all over the Midwest and Canada. The island airport features two runways, one of which was recently closed to be expanded from a 1,300 feet to a more manageable 2,250 feet. When completed the airport will feature two turf runways each with a length of 2,250 feet which will surely make this airport more accessible on those windy days.
Below are some of my photos from a visit to Washington Island Airport last year. If you are looking for a fun place to fly to this summer, I recommend you check out Washington Island.
July 12, 2009
In the most recent issue of AOPA Flight Training Rod Machado answers a reader's question about the proper way to describe your airplane when making radio calls in uncontrolled airspace. The Aeronautical Information Manual is unclear stating that pilots should state the "aircraft type, model or manufacturer's name followed by the digits, letters." As soon as I read the question I knew my preference and was interested to read Machado's response which turned out to be in agreement with my method.
Machado suggests identifying your aircraft by manufacturer name rather than model as "some folks may not know all the different models of airplanes." However he explains "most people can tell the difference between a Cessna and a Piper aircraft" based on their wing position.
While approaching an uncontrolled airport last week there were two other aircraft in the vicinity and one was departing the airport toward the direction I was arriving from and I was scanning the horizon for him. The plane in the pattern was a Piper and the departing aircraft announced himself as a Centurion, which sounded familiar but I could not picture the plane. Moments later I saw a high wing planned and assumed that was the southbound traffic. It turns out the Centurion is a Cessna 210. Had he announced that he was flying a Cessna I would have known immediately that this was the plane I was looking for based on its raised wings.
For this reason I have always used "Cessna" in my calls no matter whether I am piloting a Cessna 152, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, or a Cessna 182 Skylane. The only exception is when I am talking to controllers I will often provide both the manufacturer and model as the controllers are often interested in the model to estimate your speed, however at uncontrolled airports I believe the shorter and simpler manufacturer name will suffice.
What is your preference?
June 24, 2009
"I have never been a very frightened person. But there is one thing I am terribly scared of, and that is that I would wake up one day, be 82 years old and realize I didn't live the life I wanted to live."
This one of the opening quotes from Monika Petrillo's documentary, Flyabout. At the age of 24, Petrillo decided to follow a lifelong dream and learn to fly. She explains that learning to fly was a way to prove to herself that she was living the life she wanted to live. Soon after, a funny thing happened: her father was so inspired by her actions that he discovered he also had an interest in flying and earned his license that same year. They then decided to take advantage of their new skills and joined a tour group for a self-fly air safari that would circumnavigate Australia.
I knew this film would be right up my alley because it combines both my love of flying and also my passion for travel. The quote above resonated so well with me because I had similar thoughts several years ago. It was that fear of living with regrets that drove me to start this blog back in April of 2004 and to finally seek my license, one of the best decisions of my life.
For me, this was a wonderful film. It is not nearly as polished as some of the more recent aviation documentaries like One Six Right or the clips we have seen from the in-production film A Pilot's Story. Most of this film was shot from Monika's point of view with her literally holding a hand held camera and often turning the camera onto herself. But it combines aviation, travel and an interesting story of a women who sees herself maturing during this experience. Petrillo spends a lot of time while flying contemplating how her relationship with her family has changed as she grows older. She begins to associate this flying experience, to be similar to an Aboriginal walkabout which is a rite of passage that often takes place during adolesence, hence the name of the film - Flyabout. She experiences many flying and relationship challenges during this trip that she was able to overcome due to her wonderful attitude. She commented that "the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude", a lovely quote I wrote down as soon as I heard it.
I want to thank Dan Pimentel of Av8rdan's World of Flying for his recent review of the film. If you are an aviation enthusiast I am confident you will enjoy this film. You can purchase it on DVD directly from the Flyabout website. If you are planning on attending AirVenture 2009 be sure to check out one of several screenings scheduled for the week. Monika Petrillo will be on hand to discuss her experiences. I recently learned that after several years of not flying due to becoming a mom, Petrillo has just recently completed a BFR and is looking forward to flying frequently again.
June 22, 2009
When I was learning to land my flight instructor spent significant time focusing on how to perform a go-around. She beat into my head that a go-around was not in anyway a failure but the smart and safe thing to do anytime you are unhappy with your approach or landing attempt. I know from conversations with my CFI one of the factors she looked for before signing me off to solo was solid decision making skills. She wanted to see that I was wise enough to recognize when a landing approach was not going well and that I was confident enough to make a snap decision to abort the landing an skilled enough to execute a go-around landing.
Bruce Landsberg wrote in an AOPA article that "...coming back for a second try at the runway is a skill that everyone needs but many lack." Bruce Landsberg. When was the last time you practiced or thought about a go-around?
Pat over at Aviation Chatter recently posted a dramatic video clip of a twin piston, making a landing at St. Barthelemy Airport, a small 2,100 foot airstrip in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, as you will see in the video the pilot failed to make the decision to perform a go-around. Instead the plane floats halfway down the runway before finally touching down then overshooting the runway. Take a look at this video. Then think about whether you have practiced or at least thought through the go-around procedures for your plane recently.
It is vital that as pilots we are accustomed to thinking about the go-around decision during each approach. Budd Davisson writes, "If at any time in the approach or landing, right into final flare, you feel as if it isn't right, go around." Pilots should know when to make the decision and the precise steps to execute the go-around. I had a valuable learning experience just a few months after earning my license that reminded me to keep "Power Up, Pitch Up, Clean Up, Talk Up" in the back of my mind on each approach.
On a turbulent and windy day I flew to Indiana to land at a narrow 40-foot single strip runway. I had a stabilized approach until I was about 100-200 feet above the ground. A gust of wind caused the plane to drift off the centerline and in fact almost over the left edge of the runway. I immediately realized this approach was not going well and I should not try to salvage a landing on this attempt. I made the go-around decision.
Unfortunately, I did not follow standard procedure and accidentally put in full power and retracted the flaps completely putting myself in a precarious position. It took a second or two, which felt more like a minute, to realize I was still descending despite the power increase and the pitch change and I quickly put in an appropriate amount of flaps for the go-around. Sure enough the plane started to accelerate and then climb safely over the obstacles at the end of the runway at which point I began to "clean up". That learning experience helped re-enforce for me the importance of getting muscle memory in place for performing the go-around procedure and also not delaying in making the go-around decision.
June 19, 2009
The folks at the always do an excellent job of bringing in the top aviation attractions to their annual airshow. One of the exciting additions to the 2009 roster will be the Airbus A380. I have enjoyed sneaking peaks of this amazing plane from my window seats on a few commercial aircraft. I am looking forward to having a chance to see this amazing aircraft close and personal later this summer.
The A380 will arrive and conduct a flight performance on Tuesday, July 28th. After the performance they will park it on the tarmac for show visitors to view. It will take to the skies again on July 31st and perform another demonstration flight before making its show departure.
Airbus Americas Chairman T. Allan McARtor commented "It makes perfect sense for the A380 to be featured at Oshkosh - not only because it is the largest passenger aircraft in history, but also because the remarkable A380 would not have been possible without the considerable support of our airline - and supplier-partners from around the world who worked with us over many years to make the aircraft a reality."
Fellow Chicago Aviation Blogger, Rob Mark of Jetwhine, had the opportunity to fly the A380 earlier this month. Visit JetWhine.com to read his write-up and to listen to a podcast interview with Rob about his experiences in the Cockpit of the A380.
The excitement for AirVenture 2009 is definitely building with this recent news.
June 18, 2009
One of the things I love about General Aviation is the great community of pilots. The pilot community is also very active on the Internet as represented by the long yet not exhaustive list of blogs on my blogroll. Two bloggers that I read often, Jason Schappert of m0a.com and Vincent Lambercy of PlasticPilot.net are organizing a cross-country flight in a Cessna 150. When I say cross-country I mean a real cross-country flight not your typical 50NM plus local cross-country.
One year from today they will fuel up Jason's trusty Cessna 150, N512R, and depart from Daytona Beach, FL and fly a yet undetermined route to Catalina Island, CA and back. The two pilots are estimating the trip, with some leisurely stops, will take approximately 70 hours of flight time over a three-week period. They will surely be discussing this trip on their blogs listed above but also on the website dedicated to this journey - FlyingAcrossAmerica.com.
Their reason for making this flight is to spread the word about the benefits of General Aviation. A message that needs to be spread now more than ever before. They are looking for financial and non-financial support for this flight and details can be found on the Support Us section of their website. They estimate the cost of this venture will be approximately $15,000. Any extra donations over the amount needed to cover their expenses will be donated to an aviation-oriented charity.
I look forward to following their updates as the plane this trip then following them once the trip begins.
June 16, 2009
As a regular participant of user review site Yelp, I decided to create a list of my $100 Hamburger experiences. I have added a Yelp $100 Hamburger badge to the right-hand column of my Blog where you will be able to see the seven reviews I have made thus far. For my non-pilot readers, $100 Hamburger is the term used by pilots when they fly to a airport to enjoy a fly-in or on airport restaurant.
John F. Purner publishes a book, The $100 Hamburger, which has cataloged and rated favorite fly-in restaurants nationwide. Earlier this year Purner released his list of Top Ten $100 Hamburgers of 2009. I have had the chance to personally check-out three of the top ten representative. I felt Cincinnati's Sky Galley and Rick's Boatyard in Indianapolis were worthy members of the Top Ten list.
Purner also included Pilot Pete's, Schaumburg, IL in his Top Ten list. I have visited Pilot Pete's on several occasions and have not been equally impressed and gave it a 3-star out of 5-star rating. I would have included Kealy's Kafe in Janesville, WI in Pilot Pete's spot on the list. Kealy's serves a great breakfast and lunch that is reasonably priced. Kealy's also have a great view of the tarmac at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
One of the next restaurants I would like to checkout is Final Approach Steak House in Sheboygan, WI. If you have any Midwest $100 Hamburger suggestions, please leave a comment below.
June 14, 2009
Sporty's recently released Garmin G1000 Checkout ($89.95) a 2-Disc set dedicated to helping pilots transition from flying traditional steam gauges to flying the Garmin based Glass Cockpit. Having recently reviewed four other G1000 products I was interested to see how this latest entry into the G1000 training market would fare.
Included in the package is a DVD training video and a copy of the PC Software Simulator. The DVD is hosted by Airshow Announcer and frequent Sporty's Training DVD host Rob Reider. If you have used other Sporty's DVD products this course will feel familiar right from the start. I preferred this product over the previously reviewed Sporty's Air Facts: Flying Glass Cockpits which split its time between the G1000 and the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra. The Garmin G1000 Checkout provided some great scenario-based training as you fly along on two VFR flights and one IFR cross-country flight.
I enjoyed that this product came bundled with the PC Software Simulator. As expected after watching the video I wanted to jump in the cockpit but I did the next best thing and used the G1000 Simulator to try some of the steps shown in the video. Repetition is one key to learning and retaining lessons and tips learned from the DVD.
I strongly recommend this product as it is a great resource for pilots planning to fly the glass cockpit. However, the one shortfall of all DVDs is they are limited in what they can cover, and follow a pre-determined path. I suggest complimenting this DVD training course with Max Trescott's G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook which will give you an in-depth resource that will help you to continue to learn while also leveraging your new G1000 simulator.
There is still some debate as to whether or not glass cockpits make flying safer. Either way, they sure are fun to fly. So use these DVDs to learn how to enhance your flying experience.