February 23, 2013

Sporty's Instrument Rating Course App Review

ifr_app_potbelly.jpgSporty's recently released their Complete Instrument Rating Course as an app for Apple's iPad and iPhone. The app takes DVDs full of content and makes it portable so you that spare time can turn into aviation training opportunities.

I recently had the opportunity to take the Sporty's Instrument Rating Course App for a test flight and am loving the experience. I am about half way through the content. I have a feeling I will go through the series once then return frequently to the content during my training and in preparing for a written exam. I have used Sporty's courses before both on DVD and via online courses. Both were good but posed challenges. DVDs meant I had to carry around a DVD in my computer or be near a DVD player, while the online courses required I have internet connectivity which prevented me from enjoying the content on long commercial flights. Although with online courses from Sporty's you can stream to an iPad, that did not help me much though since I don't currently pay for a data plan. One nice benefit of the app is the ability to download content for offline viewing which has allowed me to enjoy the content over lunch, at the gym and on my commute.

This app allows me to consume the information whenever I might have some downtime. The series is broken into seven categories then within each category are topics that typically range from 4 to 15 minutes in length. Perfect for watching a few when I have an hour or one or two while waiting for an oil change on my car. Another nice feature is that you don't need to worry about lugging around your iPad as a single purchase allows you to use the content on both iPad and iPhone. The course does allow users to earn the written test endorsement and receive FAA WINGS credit directly from within the app.

ifr_70s.jpgThe content is a mix of new and old content. Much of the content has been recently updated and included both analog and digital cockpit discussions. For topics that may not have changed much there are some old clips that Sporty's may have been using for the better part of forty years including the controller to the right, who is sporting glasses that look to be 70s era glasses which goes along with the entire look. Despite some quirky old footage spattered about the content is great.

I will state I am a bit biased by their content since I learned to fly at a neighboring airport to Claremont County where Sporty's is based. So I love seeing clips of some of the airports I spent so much time at. Even without that connection I think this is a valuable tool in Instrument training. Sporty's VP John Zimmerman said "Any pilot who has earned his instrument rating will tell you it's nothing to take lightly. Our course goes beyond simple test prep to prepare pilots for real-world instrument flying conditions."

The app can be downloaded for free which includes some demo content, but a $199.99 subscription is required to access all the content.

Posted at Feb 23, 9:29 PM | Post Category: IFR Training | Comments (7) | Save & Share This Story

February 7, 2013

The First Ever Flying Club Scholarship

I am proud to announce my participation in the creation of the first ever Flying Club Scholarship. It all started several months ago I had the opportunity to join Marc Epner and Al Waterloo, hosts of Simple Flight Radio, for an episode of their show. We spent a few hours talking with Adam Smith, AOPA's Senior Vice President of the Center to Advance the Pilot Community. One of his key initiatives is growing the number of successful flying clubs in the United States. AOPA through its research has determined that flying clubs help decrease the cost of flying while creating more social opportunities for pilots and are great places to foster aviation in perspective pilots.

startaflyingclub.gifAll three of us are firm believers in the value flying clubs can provide to the general aviation industry. As members of a successful flying club, Leading Edge Flying Club, we felt we could help share with others ideas and tips for creating a successful flying club. We looped in another aviation blogger and aviator, Louis Bowers and formed Ground Effect Advisors. Just a few months later we launched StartAFlyingClub.com a blog dedicated to assist in development of America's next great flying club.

We believe to date most aviation scholarships have been focused on the individual pilot. We believe our scholarship will help an entire community of pilots. AOPA's Adam Smith said "I love the idea of scholarships to help start flying clubs. Like a scholarship to help someone learn to fly, but a gift that keeps on giving back to aviation."

We are in the process of building out content in the form of checklists, playbooks, blog posts, audio and video tips all related to creating and growing a successful flying club. We thought there would be no better way to start things off then to offer a scholarship to help someone create a flying club from the ground up. We have been overwhelmed with the response we have received from the industry and our partners that include: AOPA, Sporty's Pilot Shop, David Clark, Signature Flight Support, PilotEdge and LiveATC.net. They are all donating products or resources that will help us build a flying club for the winner.

The Flying Club Scholarship application window is now open and will run through May 1, 2013. We will then narrow the submissions down to ten finalist and select a winner on June 1, 2013. We look forward to working with the winner to open the new flying club before the end of summer.

If you or anyone you know is interested in creating America's next great flying club, please apply today at StartAFlyingClub.com.

Posted at Feb 07, 10:31 PM | Post Category: Flying Clubs | Comments (7) | Save & Share This Story

January 24, 2013

2012 Year of Flying in Review

annual_hours.jpgNine States, four aircraft and nearly 40 hours of flying capped of a spectacular 2012. Just two years ago I logged the fewest hours since earning my license in 2004 with just 6.2 hours. About that time I joined the Leading Edge Flying Club. A club focused on the perfect combination of Great People and Great planes. Since then I have continued to increase my annual hours, 18.2 in 2011 and back to the level I hope to maintain 39.1 in 2012.

The year started off with a bang helping to ferry a Navy SNJ often referred to as the T-6 Texan from Chicago to Chino, CA. I flew back seat on the ferry flight that helped position the aircraft at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School where it would be used for a few weeks of training. During two days we logged 14+ hours in the Texan and added six states and 9 airports to my logbook. This will surely go down as one of my best flying experiences since earning my license in 2004.

The rest of the summer I spent time familiarizing myself with a variety of new aircraft. Nearly 75% of my 200 hours of flight time has been logged in Cessnas . However, the Leading Edge Flying Club has a fleet that includes a Cirrus SR20, Piper Dakota, Piper Archer and a sKy Arrow. Missing from the fleet is anything from Cessna. As a result I decided I finally had to convert and take the deep dive into the Piper Family, a move I have been very satisfied with.

t6texanflight2.jpgMy first big trip in the Piper Archer was in June when I planned another multi-state cross country, this time for trip down memory lane. As part of my checkout flight in the Archer I flew with Simple Flight Radio Host and CFI, Al Waterloo, to Blue Ash Airport just outside of Cincinnati. It was there that I did most of my primary training and successfully passed my checkout ride. I remember well the warm afternoon that I passed my test and then was surprised to find my wife there waiting to be the first to go for a ride. Unfortunately, this trip would be my last to Blue Ash as it was shuttered just a few months after this flight. I was glad to get one more flight through the pattern at Blue Ash before the closed it down.

One of my favorite flight experiences of the year was a corn run with my Dad. We flew to a little grass strip in Harvard, Illinois which is just minutes from Twin Garden Farms, suppliers of some of the best corn in the world. We took the Archer up and filled it with corn. This was a flight that kept on giving, at least for a few weeks.

Determined to log more cross country time than in any other year I joined several club members on a flyout to Gastons, AK in September. I logged several of the legs as Pilot in Command including the initial leg from Chicago Executive Airport to St. Louis' Lambert Field. The landing there was my first Class B experience, a great learning experience for sure. After an enjoyable time at a resort in Gastons I flew the first of the return legs from Gastons to Champaign, IL. Low ceilings on departure necessitated and instrument flight plan. We quickly flew up out of the soup and found ourselves with a lovely view looking down at the clouds. I loved getting some experience in actual instrument conditions and am further inspired to seek my instrument rating as a result.

One last highlight of 2012 was being a guest on Simple Flight Radio on two occasions. In September I was invited as guest to talk about my flight experiences any MyFlightBlog.com. Then in November I joined Marc and Al as an honorary co-host for an evening in which we interviewed AOPA's Adam Smith and talked about the role Flying Clubs play in rebuilding the aviation industry. It was a ton of fun on both occasions and I look forward to helping them out more in the future!

With my flight experiences in 2012 I feel like I successfully converted from being a Cessna guy to a Piper guy. That being said I am excited about expanding the number of Piper's I am signed off to fly. Late in 2012 I started logging some time in the Piper Dakota which is a Complex plane, those are not my words but literally the classification for the aircraft. Weather was not my friend in late December and I was unable to complete the checkout. However, in the coming weeks I hope to finalize the checkout in the Dakota and my first complex aircraft.

I am hoping to make 2013 another great year of aviation. I look forward to sharing the experiences with you!

Posted at Jan 24, 8:00 PM | Post Category: | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

November 29, 2012

Flying Eyes Review: Protected Eyes and Comfortable Ears

flying_eyes_todd3.jpgI recently had the opportunity to test a new take on aviation sunglasses. Flying Eyes have created a pair of sunglasses made specifically for pilots that solve the problems of the temple bar of the sunglasses breaking the seal of ANR headset and the pain associated with that bar. The Flying Eyes can be worn in two different states that I am calling "cockpit mode" and "gravity-enforced" mode.

When in cockpit mode, you simply replace the temples with the adjustable webbing that can be tightened for a perfect fit, securing the sunglasses in place. The webbing passes seamlessly under the seal of your headset for a comfortable feel. Creator Dean Siracusa pointed out that, "If you're paying upwards of $1,000 for quality headsets, don't you want to ensure that you're getting the best performance out of them?" So why wear sunglasses the cause noise leaks? Although comfortable, in this state the sunglasses might earn you some odd looks when you are among your ground-dwelling friends. To combat this, simply replace the webbing with standard temples when you leave the airport, and you have an everyday pair of sunglasses.

The lenses themselves are perfect for the cockpit. They are non-polarized lenses with UV400 sun protection and medium lense density that protect your eyes and ensure you can use your in-cockpit gadgets like the iPad and Glass panels with ease.

Classify this product in the "why didn't I think of this?" category. After many hours in the cockpit and enduring the discomfort from wearing sunglasses with thick temples under a headset, Dean Siracusa, a pilot for 14 years, decided he might as well create a solution. Three years later he has a patent pending and has been selling his Flying Eyes since September.

My only complaint was the first few times you make the transition the clips are very difficult to release. However, after a few transitions they work smoothly.

I think Dean has a great thing going and his Flying Eyes now have a permanent spot in my flightbag.

Posted at Nov 29, 6:10 AM | Post Category: Aviation Product Review | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

November 1, 2012

Flying Clubs can Save the Pilot Population One Pilot at a Time

flyingclub1.jpgIn a dimly-lit doctor's office in 2009, my wife and I looked at two beating hearts on an ultrasound and immediately realized our lives were about to change. At the time we could never have known how positive the experience would be, but that is for another post. In the weeks after the ultrasound I started to think about what role flying should have in my life. Flying has always been extremely important to me so the thought of walking away was an unpleasant one. However with the risks of flying and its costs, it was hard not to think seriously about whether I should stay committed to this hobby.

I spent a great deal of time mulling over my options and talking with my family and other pilots. Learning to fly was a lifelong dream that I did not achieve until I was thirty. Since then it has been one of the brightest parts of my life. During my soul searching I realized that I wanted to be sure to teach my kids to follow their dreams, and how could I do that if I walked away from mine? That being said, I still needed to determine how to mitigate some of the other, more "practical" factors including risk and cost.

I determined if I was going to continue to fly I would continually work on becoming the safest pilot possible and I would need to find ways to fly more efficiently. However, that was easier said than done. In most of the country, and definitely in Chicago, the costs of flying continues to rise so it makes it harder to be more proficient on the same budget as a few years ago. As a result of all the life changes and my lack of a plan, 2010 represented the fewest hours flown in a year for me since I started flying in 2004.

hours_by_year.jpgI believe if it were not for Leading Edge Flying Club, my hours would have continued to dwindle away and I would have contributed to the pilot population decline. In Hangar Flying: a Dying Art Form?, I wrote about the Flight School I had been flying with from 2005 to 2010. I knew if I was going to continue to fly I needed to find somewhere new, because while that club had a healthy membership roster, they did nothing to foster social activities between those members, including sharing the cockpit. My trips to the airport were to log an hour or two by myself then return home and those experiences were not doing much to help me grow as a pilot.

I needed and wanted something more out of my aviation experience. AOPA President Craig Fuller said it well when speaking of Flying Clubs, "They make flying more affordable and accessible, often in a social environment that keeps pilots active and engaged." He couldn't have been more accurate. Since joining Leading Edge Flying Club I have been able to get so much more out of my aviation endeavors. Prior to joining Leading Edge I was primarily flying by myself. If I had a budget of two to three hours a month to fly then I was very limited in what I could do with those hours. I essentially had two choices: burn most of my hours in one longer, more fun flight, or spend them all in the pattern and practice area in a groundhog day kind of loop. I was primarily limited to learning from my own experiences and mistakes. Now, I am more frequently sharing the cockpit with one or many pilots. It allows me to seek out better and more fun flying experiences. When I am not Pilot in Command I am still learning from all the other pilots I am flying with, both those more and less experienced than I.

Prior to joining Leading Edge Flying Club my most distant trip was just a few hours away from my home base, primarily due to the cost. This year alone I have gone on a slew of multi-state cross-country flights, including two overnight trips and visited seven states for the first time by General Aviation aircraft. These are aviation adventures that just were not something I could accomplish within my flying budget when I was flying on my own. During those flights I have packed a ton of learning in as well. I landed at my first Class B airport and enjoyed the best vantage point for watching Instrument pilots fly a perfect approaches to minimums. I also have logged time in complex and hi-performance aircraft for the first time since earning my license. These are the exact experiences I was missing out on and their absence could have contributed to me drifting out of the pilot community.

I am not the only pilot and blogger to realize the value of a Flight Club community. Check out fellow Leading Edge Flying Club member Louis Bowers' post "Flying Clubs - Ceiling Unlimited" on his blog, Sky Conditions Clear. Last weekend Louis and I along with four other fellow Leading Edge Flying Club members took three planes and flew out to breakfast. I logged & paid for just under an hour but enjoyed a few hours of flying and aviation conversation and learned a bunch along the way. The photo to the right is from that flight.

It is no wonder AOPA has made their first goal for the newly created Center to Advance the Pilot Community to support the development of a network of Flying Clubs. This Sunday I will be joining Simple Flight Radio hosts Al Waterloo and Marc Epner in a Sunday evening conversation with Adam Smith, Senior V.P. AOPA Center to Advance the Pilot Community and look forward to speaking with him about the role Flying Clubs will play in their efforts. The show is recorded live at 8pm CT so tune in and join in on the conversation!

Posted at Nov 01, 10:15 PM | Post Category: Flying Clubs | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

October 12, 2012

Simple Flight Radio: An Online Radio Show for General Aviation Pilots

simple_flight_radio.jpgI recently had the opportunity to be a featured guest on Simple Flight Radio, a weekly two hour online radio show focused on general aviation. Hosts Al Waterloo and Marc Epner are on a quest to find amazing people doing amazing things in aviation and share their stories with Simple Flight listeners.

Last week they talked with Charles Stites, Executive Director of Able Flight. The Able Flight organization mission statement is "to offer people with disabilities a unique way to challenge themselves through flight training, and by doing so, to gain greater self-confidence and self-reliance." Although the show is live you can check-out the Simple Flight archive to listen on your computer or via podcast on your phone or iPod.

If you visit the archives, be sure to check out the Ahoy MyFlightblog episode in which I was a guest. I had a great time hangar flying with Marc and Al and discussing a variety of apps, websites and technologies relevant to general aviation pilots.

This week's show "What's on Your Runway" will feature Jim Krieger (Manager at ORD, and Chairman of the Airport Construction Advisory Council - ACAC) and David Siewert (Air Traffic Manager at JFK and member of the ACAC). Jim and Dave are focused on making airport operations safer. Both of them are pilots which will help them bring a valuable perspective to their ACAC work, as well as to ATC.

Al Waterloo, the founder of Simple Flight Radio, has held nearly every job in aviation from delivering lost airline luggage to being a professional pilot. Co-Host, Marc Epner, has been a lifelong aviation addict who flies for both business and recreation.

You can tune in live at 8pm CT to listen to the show. Since it is a live show listeners can participate in the conversations via phone, twitter (#SimpleFlight) and e-mail.

If you have not listened to Simple Flight Radio, I encourage you to give it a listen this week.

Posted at Oct 12, 6:02 AM | Post Category: Aviation Podcasts, MyFlightBlog in the Press | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

October 5, 2012

CloudAhoy Review: A Flight Data Recorder in your Pocket

datalogger.jpgOn my most recent cross country flight I tested out the CloudAhoy app to track and store flight data including route of flight, altitude and speed for the entire flight.

CloudAhoy is a free app for the iPhone and iPad that lets you keep a visual record of each flight. For whatever reason I have always enjoyed the idea of documenting flights. The process of tracking and creating a visual representation of a flight used to be much more intense, so much so that I think few people did it. For me it required bringing along a GPS Data Logger then somewhat manually merging that data with a Google Earth to create a map of my flight including speed and altitude information (see such a flight). The process was kind of messy and time consuming.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well CloudAhoy accomplished this task. Before my last cross country I downloaded the app and signed up for a free account. Prior to take off I signed into the app and then entered the aircraft tail Number, my name as the pilot and clicked "Start". Simple as that. When I landed in St. Louis and came to a complete stop it automatically stopped, which is a nice feature as I would never remember to stop it on my own.

After a flight you can debrief on an iPad or on the CloudAhoy website. From there you can see your flight track from various views. Overhead gives a good view of the path of flight, from the side or at an angle provides great information on altitude. But, the most fun view is "Cockpit" view where it shows you what the view would look like based on a Google Earth image. You can view my public debrief of this flight here. I saved out a flash video where you can view my takeoff from Chicago Executive from Cockpit View. I should note I manually added in the LiveATC communications from that flight.


cloudahoy_inset.jpgI reached out to Chuck Shavit, creator of the app to learn more about what his goals were for this app. Chuck has been a certificated pilot for more than five years and holds and instrument rating and is working on a commercial license. He basically developed the prototype for this app while he was pursuing his Instrument Rating as a way to debrief after each training lesson. In fact I think that is one of the most valuable features of this tool is to be able to merge data from your actual Instrument Approach with the published approach to see how you did (as shown to the right). I believe this product could be extremely beneficial for private pilot students too to track their cross countries and to track maneuvers like turns around a point and then review with their instructor. Check out this video of an ILS Approach via Cockpit view.

Chuck mentions he tracks ever flight but does not necessarily with the intention to debrief each flight. He mentions that you never know when that flight might occur that you would wish you had this data. For him it was a year ago on an IFR flight in an Arrow with no auto pilot. He lost electric power and went NORDO while in Class B over Boston and continued to his destination. He debriefed after the flight and looked at how he handled the plan while working to restore power. He mentioned it was a reminder why pilots are taught to Aviate first.

I expected this app to be a battery hog, but it was not. It is also important to point out you can use this app in conjunction with other apps like ForeFlight, it just continues to run in the background then stops tracking when you land.

I had video from my landing at my destination from this flight. Below I have merged a small snippet of the CloudAhoy Cockpit view with actual video from an iPhone of that landing.. I was not able to sync them up perfectly or add in LiveATC but you will get the picture. This sure makes for a fun way to keep enhance a memory from a flight.

Download CloudAhoy and give it a try on your next flight!


September 27, 2012

Loop Magazine The Best Aviation Magazine You're Not Reading

loop_magazine.jpgI am an aviation content devourer, someone who consumes magazines, blogs and podcasts greedily or voraciously. I am not embarrassed to admit that, as I know most pilots are the same way. With less than a half a percent of the population being pilots we don't get our aviation fill talking at the water cooler. We need to get out to the airport or seek out aviation content to keep us satisfied. So when I receive a notification that my most recent AOPA Pilot magazine is available for download, a smile hits my face as I fire up the iPad and download the magazine. Within a few hours and usually in one sitting I have devoured the magazine and my smile erodes as I realize it could be days or weeks before another enjoyable aviation magazine is delivered.

I recently stumbled upon Loop Magazine which is a European aviation magazine that is now exclusively available by iPad, and it is FREE. I would venture to say this is the best aviation magazine you are not reading today, but you should be.

I was thrilled to learn they offer not only well written and interesting aviation articles but deliver their content in a format that takes advantage of the power of the iPad. Each article offers additional photos and interactivity that would not be available in a print magazine. This is a magazine that was reborn as a digital magazine and instead of having a version adapted for the iPad the entire magazine is designed and developed to maximize the power of the tablet. They have seamlessly integrated animation and video throughout the magazine.. The only complaint I have is that the magazine is not long enough, but that is me just being greedy again.

If you have an iPad download the Loop App then begin downloading the current and past issues. The same company also publishes P1 Aviation Magazine, a business aviation magazine and Blades a magazine dedicated to rotor-craft, both of which are free. They also offer an annual magazine called FlightTest for $0.99 per issue. Flighttest features a collection of stunning aircraft highlighted through beautiful photos and video. In the 2011 edition there are more than 250 photos and 40 minutes of video. The magazine reads completely different in horizontal or vertical mode so there is a ton of content to discover.

Discovering Loop makes me wonder what other great aviation content is out there that I am missing out on. What is your favorite hidden gem for aviation content?

Posted at Sep 27, 6:30 AM | Post Category: In the News | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

September 21, 2012

Gaston's Fly Out Adventure

troutfishing.jpgI have never been much of a fisherman and frankly I am not all that fond of eating fish. So why would I find myself at The #1 Trout Fishing Resort in the country this weekend? Because their 79 cabins are wedged between the picturesque White River and a well maintained turf runway.

A few weeks ago, I signed up to join some fellow pilots and Leading Edge Flying Club members on a fly-out adventure from Chicago to Lakeview, Arkansas. Six pilots in two airplanes made the journey. Al Waterloo and Travis Ammon, Flight Instructors at Leading Edge Flight Club and Founders of SimpleFlight.net, organized this fly-out trip to Gaston's White River Resort as an excuse to go have fun with airplanes. Travis and Al are preachers of a similar message I have believed in for some time: Aviation is supposed to be fun and not much is more fun than a long cross-country overnight fly-out.

They had devised an itinerary that attempted to offer a wide variety of flying experiences including flying under Class B shelves, into a Class B airport, over a Class C airport and into a back country grass strip. As luck would have it as the weekend approached, the only place rain was developing was in the southern Midwest right over Arkansas. Rather than scrub because of rain we selected an alternate airport we could use if the weather prevented landing at the resort. We figured those of us without Instrument Ratings could get a good learning experience from the flight and those with Instrument Ratings could log some actual IFR and show off their skills.

I drew the first leg which was from Chicago Executive (KPWK) to Lambert Field (KSTL), a Class B airport. After calling flight service for my weather briefing I learned the busy St. Louis arrival and departure traffic would be funneling through just one of their four runways due to some construction work planned for the day. Despite only having one runway available they were more than happy to work us into their flow that afternoon.

I learned to fly at a small uncontrolled airport, so there was a time I was concerned about going into busier controlled environments. However, my experiences in flying in and around Chicago have helped me hone my air traffic control communications and helped make flying into a Class B airport a non-event. And while it was not too challenging it was a lot of fun. It is neat to share airspace, runways, and taxiways with the commercial pilots and aircraft.

Not only was this my first flight into a Class B airspace it was my first flight in the club's Piper Dakota which I fell in love with during the flight. It comfortably fit four pilots and our bags as well as 50 gallons of fuel which was plenty to make the first leg of this flight.

Once at St. Louis we checked the weather and confirmed that it would prevent us from making it to the Gaston's airstrip. So we filed to the nearest airport with instrument approaches, Baxter County Airport (KBPK). I moved from the front to the back of the plane for the next leg and I enjoyed watching Steve and Al fly on instruments the majority of the 2.1 hours of the second leg. The leg was capped off with a perfect instrument approach to minimums at Mountain Home Airport (see video below). I have only flown along on a few IFR flights but continue to enjoy the experience and am further motivated to seek my instrument rating.

thecrew.jpgWe enjoyed a great 24 hours in Gaston's. Most of our non-flying itinerary centered on great meals that included BBQ, catfish, and a delicious brunch at the Gaston's resort. I enjoyed spending some of our down time walking the trails within the Bull Shoals State Park. Some photos from the weekend can be found in the photo player below. The main dining room at Gaston's offers a scenic view of the White River out their massive windows and a look back at history within the restaurant with a collection of old motors, bikes and typewriters that would make the guys from American Pickers salivate.

We had hoped weather would improve so we could bring the plane over to Gaston's later in the weekend for some turf landings but the stationary front lived up to its name and cloud cover barely ever rose above a few hundred feet. I moved back to the front of the cockpit for the first leg home. Travis flew us on instruments out of Baxter County Airport and I had the best seat in the house as we climbed through the clouds up to the beautiful clear skies above the rain. He tossed me controls after a while and I enjoyed flying in and out of the clouds and even logged 0.8 hours of actual Instrument Flight enroute to Champaign, Illinois. Although the Dakota is a dream to fly, I am still figuring out how to land her right. Al has given me some good tips that I need to bring to my next flight in the Dakota.

I returned to the spacious back seat of the Dakota for the last leg as we cruised back to Chicago using pilotage and flying at 2,500 feet. We capped the flight off by flying over the top of Midway then taking the 290 corridor west to skirt around O'Hare before turning north to Palwaukee. We logged just over eight and a half hours on the Dakota which sure would have beaten the 20 hours it would have taken in the car. But, who are we kidding. We did not fly so we would not have to drive. Instead we made this trip as an excuse to fly.

What a great trip it was. We saw neat places, took in some great flying experiences, enjoyed some great conversations and, most importantly, I learned a lot from flying with and watching other pilots. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Here are some photos from the weekend.

September 13, 2012

NFlightcam Wants to Record Your First Solo

nflightcam.jpgNFlightcam has launched an interesting campaign called the Solo Hall of Fame. It is their goal to help students share the accomplishment of their solo flight by documenting the experience with an in-cokpit video of the achievement. The great thing about this program is they will send you a free Nflightcam+ and suction cup mount for you to use on the day of your solo.

Once you come down from the cloud none that is soloing, you simply send them the video camera back and a week later they send you a link to a professional edited video of your flight for you to share with the world. I absolutely love this program and applaud them for giving students this opportunity. With a shrinking pilot population we all have a bigger burden to inspire others to fly and here is a company that at no cost to pilots is giving students a great means to inspire others and to celebrate their own achievement.

That being said would you have wanted a camera in the airplane for your first flight? I seem to remember bouncing with excitement and maybe even talking words of encouragement & celebration to myself on downwind leg of my first solo. Maybe those are private moments that should live on in my own memory only. But, I think instead I would have enjoyed having that video for my own personal collection and to share with others.

Check out the video below of Emily Carter on her first solo flight. She is the wife of NFlightcam's founder Patrick Carter and author behind The Pilot's Wife blog. Any pilot who has soloed will see a bit of themselves in this video. At the beginning there is that slight apprehension about stepping of the ledge and agreeing to let your instructor out of the plane. We all have the confidence needed, but it takes a moment for it to manifest itself when we were asked if we wished to solo, or atleast that is how I recall it from my experience. My favorite part of this video is the smirk at the end of the video (see the 3:32 mark in the film) which captures in visual format the sheer joy of flying and the thrill of an amazing achievement.

I think we all have the photo of us standing next to the plane or holding a slice of t-shirt post solo, but I would trade any of those for video or a picture of my version of that smirk when I successfully completed my first solo flight.

Do you know of a student that is close to soloing? If so make them aware of the Solo Hall of Fame program. NFlightcam is a small camera that records HD video, plus audio from the intercom; it is unobtrusive and self-contained, weighing a mere 5 ounces and has limitless mounting options for both inside and outside the aircraft. The Solo Cam kit includes an easy-to-use suction cup mount that works on any smooth flat surface inside the cockpit.

Posted at Sep 13, 6:55 AM | Post Category: Aviation Products | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story
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