May 28, 2004
Prior to being endorsed by a CFI to fly the plane solo a student must pass a written pre-solo exam, review the required flight maneuvers, receive a Class III Medical Certificate with Student Pilot License and meet the approval of the instructor. Today's lesson was my opportunity to show off the knowledge and skills I had learned in my first 10 lessons.
I arrived at the airport excited for the flight. For the first time in almost five flights the weather was beautiful with no threat of storms. The weather also helped by offering up a crosswind at the airport. This allowed me to practice and demonstrate the crosswind landing. For the past few flights, the wind was coming straight down the runway not providing a crosswind landing training environment.
We decided to start with the crosswind landings just in case the weather changed before we returned. In a crosswind landing you dip the wing on the wind side of the plane slightly to keep the wind from getting under the wing and rolling the airplane or supplying one wing with more lift than the other. We did two crosswind landings without fault and moved on to the practice area.
In the practice area we reviewed everything I have learned to date including: power-on and power-off stalls, steep turns, emergency landing maneuvers, ground reference maneuvers, traffic patterns, radio communications and landing with the use of slips. We also decided to do a few touch and gos at Warren Co. Lebanon Airport (KI68), a new airport for me.
After returning to Blue Ash and performing a simulated emergency landing with power off, we taxied back to the flight school tarmac. Next, I took a 21-question written exam used to evaluate my knowledge of regulations, safety procedures and other required knowledge needed to fly a plane safely without an instructor in the cockpit. I did very well on the exam and afterwards my instructor flipped to the back of the logbook. There she signed the "Pre-solo aeronautical knowledge" for the C-152 and Blue Ash Airport. At first the CFI endorses you to only fly from the airport where training was received.
This is the first of many endorsements during my flight training. The next one will be my "Pre-solo flight training" which my instructor hinted she will sign on Tuesday when I am scheduled to fly next. With those two endorsements and the student pilot license/medical certificate class III I will be legal to solo.
If the weather conditions are right I will likely fly with my CFI for a little while on Tuesday and then she will step out and have me fly a few touch and gos solo while she watches from the ground while manning a radio in case I need assistance. I am very excited for Tuesday and think I am ready to fly the plane alone.
May 27, 2004
My tenth lesson barely made it in before the storms. For the past few weeks I have been forced to monitor the weather reports frequently to decide whether I would be able to fly. Tonight, I arrived at the airport before my instructor so I conducted the pre-flight checklist and weather analysis. After reviewing the weather, I felt most comfortable staying near the airport. When my CFI arrived she agreed. So we passed on plans to review my experiences with ground reference maneuvers and stalls that would have required us to fly away from the airport and decided to stay within the pattern and work on landings.
In this lesson we worked with some slips. A slip is defined by the Jeppessen Manuals as "A flight condition in which the rate of turn is too slow for the angle of bank." In a slip the ailerons and the rudder go opposite directions, causing the plane to slip partially sideways through the air. The plane slides partially sideways through the air and the drag of the side of the plane allows the plane to lose more altitude in a short distance. This is great if you are slightly high on approach. I thought it was a fun maneuver and a good learning experience.
Additionally, my CFI put me in an engine failure condition while having a tailwind on my downwind leg while in the pattern. The tailwind kept the plane moving at a quick pace. But when I turned to base and final without an engine and flying into the wind, I lost significant speed. The plane began to lose altitude and had the engine actually been dead, I would not have made it to the runway. This was an extremely important lesson; I learned that if I were to lose an engine while in the pattern with a tailwind I should turn early to ensure I can make the runway. If I overshoot the runway and land halfway down the runway that is fine. Much better than landing short and landing the plane on the patio of the Watson Brother's Pub Patio. I love that the so much of the training is centered on safety maneuvers!
I return to flying tomorrow night. Weather permitting, I will review all my learnings then take my written pre-solo exam. Wish me luck!
May 25, 2004
My Instructor called me a few hours before our lesson and suggested we move our lesson up by an hour or two to avoid an incoming storm. When I arrived at the airport the weather still looked safe to fly and the weather reports we reviewed indicated we would have about an hour window before the storm. We agreed it would be best to stay near the airport. This worked well with my curriculum because I was due for some landing practice.
So we took off down runway 24 at Blue Ash with a slight crosswind and entered the pattern. As I turned onto final approach for my first landing of the day, I found myself too high with little room to maneuver and I made the decision to go around. So I increased speed and flew over the runway at about 600 feet. My instructor advised me to pick a ground reference a little further out on my downwind leg to use as my cue to turn onto the base leg prior to final.
There are four legs of the traffic pattern. The first is the departure leg, a continuation of the path down the runway and in the same direction as the final leg just at the other end of the runway. If you are not departing the airport by then you turn 90° staying in the traffic pattern and you are on the crosswind leg. This is the short side of the rectangular pattern. The next turn finds you flying parallel to the runway and this leg is called downwind leg. After passing the edge and waiting for the runway to fall 45° behind the wing, the plane is turned 90° again and is on the base leg. This is again a short leg of the pattern. The final turn brings the plane onto final leg. It is here that the plane gets lined up and the pilot needs to bring the aircraft down over a nice steady glideslope.
The next time around the pattern, my CFI helped me pick a reference point to use to help me determine when to turn onto the base leg. By being more patient I was able to turn onto base and then final with plenty of time to align for the landing.
Working within the pattern uses all the skills I have learned thus far. I needed to be vary vigilent in watching for traffic and communicating with traffic in and around the pattern. Meanwhile I had to depart the runway on a appropriate heading and climb at the proper rate. By the time I was parallel to the runway and at the midway point of the runway I needed to be at pattern altitude, approximately 1,000 feet. At this point I needed to begin reducing speed and work the flaps, rudder, aileron and airspeed in order to execute a smooth descent during the last part of the downwind leg, base and onto the final leg. After three or four tries I was becoming much more comfortable with each aspect of the pattern work. By executing the proper climb rate followed by descent and making sure my timing was right it put me in a situation that gave me a high probability of executing a great landing. With each landing I felt much more intune with the plane and was making better and better landings.
I also had the opportunity to execute one emergency landing procedure with the engine idling and another one without the use of the flaps. By the end of the lesson I had 10 more landings under my belt and a ton of confidence. I am anxious to get back up in the skies on Thursday.
May 23, 2004
I was reading the June issue of Men's Health, in their Guy Wisdom section they referenced a book by Gregory Duncan, Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air. The book contains more than 70 aerial photographs and a foldout map of common flight paths in North America.
The maps and photos are meant to help the window seat passenger to decipher what they are seeing below. Whenever I travel I always select the window seat. I usually plan ahead and think about what direction we will be approaching the destination city and choose which side of the plane to sit on in order to have the best view of the city. For instance flying into Newark I find more often than not sitting on the left side yields a great view of New York. During flights like the one to New York I often see a ton of towns and cities and wish I knew what they were. The only landmark I usually recognize is Niagara Falls. I always regret not having brought along some sort of map.
This book sounds like it helps readers see cities, landmarks and geography from 30,000 feet and understand what they are and what is coming up next. Photographs in this book are said to include the Rockies at Aspen, Mississippi River, the GM Lansing assembly plant, the San Andreas fault, Disney World, Niagara Falls, the Chesapeake Bay, Chicago and much more.
In an Arizona Daily Star book review, the author was quoted, "A century ago, nobody on Earth could have hoped to see this view, and yet it's yours -- free -- with every flight you take."
As soon as I read the reviews about this book I decided I needed to check it out. I ordered a copy today. I will keep you posted.
May 22, 2004
While learning to fly I have seen proof that pilots will use any excuse to fly. One of the more famous excuses is to enjoy the $100 Hamburger. When a pilot flies to another airport to get lunch in another town it is considered a $100 hamburger because of the cost of the flight. In today's lesson I came across some more excuses to fly.
My local airport was having a pancake breakfast fly-in this morning. Pilots were invited to fly in for a pancake breakfast and while the pilots eat they could have their aircraft washed for a fee. My airport was not the only one in the area inviting pilots in for food today. Sporty's Pilot Shop based at the Clermont Airport was offering free hot dogs for pilots who flew in.
So this morning before my flight my Wife and I drove over to Blue Ash and ate some pancakes, cooked by members of the international aviation fraternity, Alpha Eta Rho. My wife then had her first opportunity to watch me pre-flight with the instructor and take-off towards Clermont.
I am finding that each lesson becomes my best lesson yet. I really enjoyed today's flight because instead of just doing maneuvers, we really went out and flew to a few different airports. When we were in the downwind leg of the traffic pattern at Clermont, my instructor pulled the throttle out and asked me to simulate an engine-out emergency landing. I was able to complete the final turns and line the plane up on final approach and glide the plane down for a smooth landing. Since I had filled up on pancakes back at Blue Ash, we passed on the free hot dogs and took off towards Lunken.
Lunken is the first airport I trained at and is a controlled airport. After spending the last two lessons at uncontrolled fields it took a moment to remember the protocol. I think my tower tour helped my confidence in talking with the tower. We made a nice landing at Lunken then turned north to return to a busy traffic pattern at Blue Ash. We flew into line following two planes ahead of us and 1 behind us and maneuvered through the traffic pattern. Once the plane ahead of me cleared the runway I brought the C-152 down nice and easy onto the runway, completing my longest flight yet. I logged 1.5 hours, performing 5 take-off and landings at three different airports.
I am not sure I will need excuses like pancakes, hot dogs or hamburgers to go flying on a beautiful Saturday but it sure doesn't hurt.
May 20, 2004
The title is not referencing my attitude but that of the C-152 I am learning to fly. As you may have read, I have moved my flight training to Blue Ash Airport, a small uncontrolled field. Today's lesson was my first in almost a week. It felt great to get back in the plane. We took off and flew out near Paramount King's Island, the very theme park where Mike Brady lost his theme park expansion plans - good times. Just east of King's Island is the training area for Blue Ash students.
Here my instructor told me about unusual attitudes and how sometimes pilots look up to realize the plane is in an unusual attitude. For instance it might be nose high, turning left and losing speed. I guess this can happen when the pilot comes disoriented from looking at a map in their lap too long or from weather. If you were gaining speed, the proper way to recover from unusual attitude is to reduct power and level the wings. If you were losing airspeed, you should add power, push the nose down and level the wings.
After mastering those moves we worked on to ground reference maneuvers. In ground reference maneuvers we brought the aircraft down to about 1,000 feet off the ground. Then we looked for a nice straight road. I then started doing "S" turns back and forth over the road with the top the "S" beginning on the road and then having the plane cross the road again, wings straight and level at the middle of the S before turning the other direction to intercept the road one last time. I learned how to gauge the wind and vary my degree of bank in order to execute an S turn while staying on target along my course.
After the "S" turns we picked a tree in the middle of a field and I practiced circling the tree at a steady distance. This also required bank and speed adjustments in order to stay equidistant from the tree at all times.
Today's lesson was one that I really enjoyed. I felt I really got the chance to fly on my own with little assistance from my CFI and I am feeling much more comfortable flying the plane. We finished the day with four touch-and-gos and a full stop landing. All of the landings I performed on my own. I was satisfied with my progress landing especially since this runway is shorter and more narrow than the one I was accustomed to at Lunken.
I fly next on Saturday morning.
The Cincinnati City Council voted Wednesday on three issues related to Cincinnati's Lunken Airport. The council approved two motions - extending the main runway (21L/3R) by 900 feet to 7,000 feet and increasing the weight limit for planes to 100,000 pounds from 70,000. The City Council unanimously voted down a motion to allow regularly scheduled commercial service.
This issue has been a hot one in Cincinnati as neighbors of the airport have been complaining about the noise the airport generates. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported, "Neighbors feared that scheduled service would lead to more noise and hurt their property values. They formed the Lunken Neighborhood Coalition four years ago."
Councilman Jim Tarbell, who at times has been open to commercial service at Lunken told the Enquirer "I would hope as time progresses there will be options to revisit this again. But, for the time being, it's better to just get this part behind us and focus on the noise study and master plan." I think the time to review this matter again may come as soon as June when a current study of noise generated by aircraft using Lunken is going to be presented to the City Council.
A local radio station 550 WKRC is hosting a poll on their website "Should commercial passenger flights be allowed at Lunken Airport?" As of Thursday morning 84% were in support of passenger flights. I live in the area near Lunken and I too would support the easy access to commercial flights.
May 19, 2004
Today I had the opportunity to tour the control tower at the Cincinnati Lunken Airport. I have been watching the "Learning to Fly" series on Discovery Wings and in a recent episode the CFI and student took a tour of the tower to better understand how the control tower works. The theory was that by meeting the people in the tower and learning more about what they do it would make the student more comfortable communicating with them.
I decided I too wanted an opportunity to see the inside of the control tower at my airport. I was not sure how easy it would be to get in touch with the right person about taking a tour. I submitted a post on StudentPilot.com asking if others had taken control tower tours. Consensus was that it was a great idea to take a tour and could probably be accomplished by simply calling the main tower number and asking for a tour.
When I called, the tower manager was more than happy to offer me an opportunity to see the facility. Today I stopped in and talked with him for about 15-20 minutes then went up to the main control tower room. There I met two controllers, one in charge of ground communications (for taxiing) and another that handled takeoff and approach clearances. I was amazed at how open they were to sharing with me what they do. They spent time explaining how they can read their radar scope and learn the location, altitude and speed of an aircraft.
The controllers walked me through some more of their many duties in addition to managing traffic, such as recording the ATIS weather report (Automatic Terminal Information Service) used prior to taking off. This helped me put in prespective some their responsibilities other than simply manageing aircraft flow. So pilots, be patient when the control tower takes a moment or two to get back to you.
One of the most interesting things I learned was that this facility is privately managed. The government started privatizing smaller towers in order to save money. The Lunken Tower is managed by Midwest Air Traffic Control, Inc. The FAA will not hire Air Traffic Controllers over the age of 32. So, retired military controllers do not have the opportunity to work for the FAA towers. But since the move to privatize towers many of them have found employment with small to mid-size towers such as Lunken. Of the seven tower employees at Lunken, at least four are former military controllers.
For those non-pilots reading this blog, you can listen to what pilot-to-tower communication is like at some of the busiest airports in the country from these two sites: www.LiveATC.com and www.4VFR.com
All-in-all it was an eye-opening experience that I recommend every pilot take advantage of. In departing, the controllers continually expressed that I should encourage other pilots to take the tour. So get out there and learn more about your fellow airport inhabitants.
May 18, 2004
I was disappointed to learn today that my flight school has been temporarily closed due to some problems with airport permits after changing business entities. From what I have learned thus far Queen City Flight Training was in the process of changing its name to Queen City Aviation, LLC. and had to reapply for the necessary permits to manage a flight school at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati. The closure is expected to last until mid or late June.
This puts me in a difficult situation as I do not want to postpone my training by waiting for the appropriate permits to be approved. There is no guarantee the permits will be approved before the end of June.
I was not satisfied with the other two flight schools at Lunken (Cincinnati Flight Training or Franklin Aviation). So, at this point I am thinking of looking at other flight school options at Blue Ash airport (view aerial shot from Terra Server), a single strip, uncontrolled airport in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati. I think in the coming days I will be talking to Blue Ash Aviation and Co-op Aircraft Services also based at Blue Ash.
I am sure this will be just a bit of turbulence along my path to completing the Private Pilot requirements so I will journey on...
May 14, 2004
For the inaugural edition of Careers in Aviation I interviewed Tom a captain in the United States Air Force. Tom also happens to be a good friend of mine.
When did you know you wanted to learn to fly?
I grew up right down the road from the Galion Airport--a small municipal airfield. From age 4 on I think I went down to sit on the side of the runway and watch the planes take-off and land. I'm not sure if I can give you a good idea how many hours of my young life I sat down there and watched. Flying has always intrigued me--but I think I could trace it back to then.
Where did you learn to fly?
All my training is military except for a few hours at the Galion Airport. I started by learning and then soloing in a glider at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. I also soloed in a Cessna 172 there. Then it was to pilot training. I started in a Cessna T-37 twin engine jet in Enid, Oklahoma (Vance AFB) and then went to Corpus Christi, TX (Naval Air Station Corpus Christi) to fly the T-44 (Beechcraft 90 Queen-airs). That's where I got my wings, and the total time for T-37 and T-44's was just over a year. Then it was 5 more months learning C-130's at Little Rock AFB, AR before I went to my first operational flying assignment at Pope Air Force Base, NC.
What type of plane do you typically fly? What do you like, dislike about that plane?
Almost all my flight time is in the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, which I am an instructor in and have over 2200 hours. I love it because it is very versatile and forgiving, is capable of multiple missions, and has taken me in and out of some really cool places. The only downside to it is that sometimes I wish it was a little faster!
What is your most exciting flying experience?
I would have to say still the coolest thing I have done in the air is flying formation in the T-37 at pilot training. It still amazes me that in 6 months you go from barely being able to fly the plane at all to being proficient in flying it 3 feet from another plane right next to you and doing maneuvers from this position as well--very cool for sure. It the C-130, flying low level (300 feet AGL) mountain routes is tops.
I have a wonderful aerial photograph from your website, www.rock36photography.com on my desktop (shown to the right). Is aerial photography something you think you will pursue?
I always take a camera when I fly in Alaska as there is no telling what we will see--and I usually take one anytime I'm off-station as well. Its the times I don't have one that I am bitter about like flying over Yosemite Valley and not having my camera handy. However, I doubt that this will ever become my photographic specialty. Equipment to specialize in that is very expensive.
Tells about your aviation career. What are you doing now and what do you plan to be doing in the near and distant future?
Right now I am working more at a desk than the airplane, but that will change in September. I'm going to Little Rock AFB to teach initial pilots how to fly the C-130. lots of flying time comes with that and I'm sure I will become a much better pilot by teaching these totally inexperienced guys as well. Most Air Force pilots who stay in one airframe for 6 years or more end up eventually teaching brand new guys to that aircraft, so this is a common assignment for someone in my shoes.
Would you recommend this career path to others?
Definitely, I have been all over the world and had so many opportunities that other people never have. Sometimes like any career, it can get old, but it only takes a great flight on a beautiful day to remind you how fortunate you are.
If you had one full day to fly, where would you go, what would you do?
Weather of course would be perfect, and I would take off in a C-130 from Elmendorf, head to Valdez and back through the mountains, and then to Cape Lisburne on the Arctic Ocean for a dirt assault runway landing. On the way home I would drop into the mountains around Mt McKinley for a short low-level before heading back to Elmendorf! Afterwards my crew would head to a good restaurant, share some food and beer, and make fun of sissy sports like soccer!
Note: For my readers that last comment was a slam on a favorite sport of mine. The opinions of the interviewee do not necessarily represent those of the interviewer.