June 30, 2004

Completing Night Flight Requirements

bolton.jpgOne downside to learning to fly in the summer is that earning night flight hours requires you to commit to a few late nights. I had logged one hour of night flight with two landings before today. The goal tonight was to complete my night flight requirements which included making a cross-country flight of over 50 nautical miles and execute 8 full stop landings and log 2.0 hours of night flight.

I selected Bolton Field (KTZR) a few miles south and west of Columbus. I figured that way I would have Interstate 71 as a visual reference if necessary. I also planned to use a Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and a Very high frequency Omni-Directional Range station (VOR) to assist with navigation to Bolton field which is approximately 65 nautical miles from Blue Ash.

The evening was absolutely perfect for flying. The winds were calm and the moon was an almost full, making it easier to see ground references. We cruised to Bolton at 5,500 feet and made it there in just about 45 minutes. After landing, my CFI & I walked around the airport for a second to stretch our legs. Then we decided to get back in the air so I could work on the landing requirements.

At Bolton we conducted 7 landings including two with a simulated landing light failure and one simulated engine failure. I was extremelly proud of my landings. I decided I land much better at night then by day. I think the runway lights help me run my eyes up and down the runway rather than fixating on a point. During my daylight flight tomorrow, I will make sure to run my eyes up and down the runway when I land. During our practice at Bolton we were in constant communication with a helicopter that was flying just north of the field about a 1,000 feet of the ground searching for a runaway eight-year-old. We had a friendly conversation with him. I hope they found the child.

The return trip went just as smooth as the first leg. About midway between Cincinnati and Columbus is Wilmington. There is an Airborne Express distribution center that include a multi-runway airport. The traffic had picked up by the time we were passing back past there. It was fun listening to their traffic and watching them come from all directions and landing at a frequent basis.

As we arrived in the Blue Ash area there was no traffic, that might have had something to do with it being one o'clock in the morning. Despite the early hour I was sad the flight was over. I have never felt more like a pilot and closer to earning my license then tonight. My CFI said this was a textbook flight and was really proud of my flight planning and execution. I too was extremelly satisfied especially since this flight helped me complete my night flight requirements of 3.0 hours including 10 full stop landings and a cross-country of 50nm or more.


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June 27, 2004

Airspeed Showoff

sr71.jpgStronglyTyped.com recently posted "Tales From Above", a collection of interesting short flying stories. Below is the one I enjoyed the most. You can read them all at StronglyTyped.com.


In his book, "Sled Driver", SR- 71/ Blackbird pilot Brian Shul writes:
I'll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt (my backseater) and I were screaming across Southern California 13 miles high. We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles airspace. Though they didn't really control us, they did monitor our movement cross their scope. I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its groundspeed. "90 knots" Center replied. Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same. "120 knots" Center answered. We weren't the only ones proud of our groundspeed that day as almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests groundspeed readout." There was a slight pause, then the response, "525knots on the ground, Dusty". Another silent pause. As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my backseater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew, for we were both thinking in unison. "Center, Aspen 20, you got a groundspeed readout for us?" There was a longer than normal pause. "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots" No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.


Posted at 2:35 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

June 26, 2004

Exploring New Turf

When I woke up and looked outside I knew it would be a nice day to fly. I was scheduled to fly at noon. By then the temperature would be rising, causing for a more turbulent flight so I regretted not picking an earlier time slot. Despite a little bit of turbulence it was a nice clear day and I think everyone decided to fly today the traffic frequency was busy with airport traffic calls.

We departed the Blue Ash airport and headed north to a new airport for me
Middletown Airport (KMWO). I put the instrument hood on shortly after departure and flew to Middletown under simulated instrument conditions. I chipped away at the instrument training requirement and now I am only .4 hours short of meeting it.

When we arrived at Middletown we entered the pattern for runway 23 which is the paved runway. After a landing there we slid around and entered the pattern for runway 26, the turf runway. I did two full stop turf landings that I was proud off. After each landing I would taxi back on the turf runway then execute a short-field & turf takeoff.

After departing Middletown we headed back for Blue Ash, practicing some steep turns on the way back. On my first approach at Blue Ash I found myself high and the crosswind had pushed me to the side of the center line. As I was making my final descent I also noticed my speed was too high. I followed the three strikes you're out rule my instructor shared with me and decided to abort the landing and go around.

The next landing was better but not perfect. All in all I was happy with the day.

My next flight is Tuesday when I will be doing a night cross-country towards the Columbus area.


Posted at 6:46 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (67) | Save & Share This Story

June 25, 2004

Seeing America from the Cockpit of a Small Plane

www.AirportMainStreet.comOne of the things I have enjoyed most about my flying experiences to date has been seeing new places. I love looking at a view from above after being constrained to the view from the ground previously. It's like going from the one dimensional Atari games to the multi-dimensional vidoe games available today. I also enjoy visiting airports that I have never been to before.

When I complete might flight training I look forward to the freedom of being able to fly to new places to enjoy new experiences. One resource I have found that appears to be great for planning a weekend getaway by air is Pilot Getaways Magazine.

There are also two sites I have stumbled upon recently that I wanted to share. The first site is AirportMainStreet.com. This site contains the log of a Mooney pilot that is flying around the country visiting America's small airports. I enjoyed the posts and the photos on this site.

The other site is Coast to Coast a log of a Cessna 172 flight across the United States from California to Florida and back with a lot of interesting stops along the way. The site includes flight planning details, photos, and movies.


Posted at 3:20 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

June 24, 2004

Mastering Landings While Exploring New Airports

Tonight's flight was my best flight in weeks. I mentioned to my CFI that I have not been happy with my landings as of late. I know that pilots go through funks but I was frustrated by it. So we started off with two landings at Blue Ash (KISZ) with the wind running straight down the runway. I think tonight I was just more focused as I had thought about landings for the last two days but it paid off as the landings were great.

So we departed Blue Ash towards Butler County Regional Airport (KHAO) to the west. There we had almost a direct crosswind with winds at about 10 knots. That challenged me a little more but again my landings were on. I would say that the crosswind landings take more concentration but are more gratifying. You dip the wing towards the wind so you can land the wind side wheel first, then bring down the far side wheel followed by the nose gear, preventing the wind from lifting the wind side wing. We executed two landings there then headed farther west.

The next stop was Cincinnati West (KI67) near Harrison, OH. This airport was small. How small you ask? It was so small it did not have a taxiway. Seriously, on an airport this size, you back taxi on the runway. I almost flew past the airport before I saw it. We were landing on runway 19, which is great for practicing short-field landings. There are trees that you need to clear before you quickly descend the last hundred feet to ensure there is time to stop or to perform a touch and go. We did two touch and gos that felt great. I think I prefer the short narrow runways. My instructor explained it is common to have your best landings in those situations because you have to concentrate harder.

On the way back to Blue Ash I put on the hood to do more instrument training. I have less than an hour of instrument training left to meet those requirements. As we reached Blue Ash, my CFI said I could perform a full stop landing or a touch and go. Having such a great night there was no way I was ready to stop so we did a nice touch and go. I knew that I was going to pay for pushing it though. Sure enough on the final landing she pushed my flaps up and told me my flaps failed so I had to execute a landing without use of my flaps. The descent through the pattern was good but I was a little fast on my approach but I was able to bleed the speed on my flare and finished the night with a nice full-stop landing.

I enjoyed seeing two new airports. I have always been one who enjoys new experiences and I find each new airport to be a great experience. As you can imagine, I cannot wait to fly on Saturday when I plan to knock out the rest of my required instrument training.


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June 22, 2004

Back in the Air

After my longest break from flying since I began learning to fly, I returned to the skies this evening. My last flight was a brief solo flight a week and a day ago. In that flight I had a frustrating night where I just did not feel comfortable behind the yoke. Many of my pilot friends have mentioned this happens from time to time.

The flight got off to an interesting start. I started my roll-out for takeoff and noticed my door was open. I had not yet started to rotate and had plenty of runway so my instructor showed me how to execute an aborted takeoff. After that, things started to pick up. We made a good crosswind take-off and then executed some practice touch-and-gos with a stiff crosswind which I had not had much opportunity to practice before.

We then went to Lunken (KLUK) for some landings at a towered airport which was fun after having not flown to a towered airport in some time. I like the towered pattern since they are monitoring your movement and can advise you of traffic.

After departing the Lunken area, I put the instrument training hood on and did some simulated instrument flying. To make things more interesting, my instructor covered my attitude indicator and my heading indicator simulating a partial instrumentation failure. I was flying without the ability to look outside the window and without two crucial instruments. Surprisingly, flying under these conditions was not as difficult as I originally thought. We flew for 0.6 hours under simulated instrument conditions, getting me closer to having that training checked off my to-do list.

When we returned to the airport we conducted a few simulated short and soft-field landings that require a slower than normal approach and both were executed to within testing standards. When we finished what was a busy evening of flying I had logged another 1.9 hours with 0.6 of simulated instrument training. I next fly on Thursday.


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June 21, 2004

A Flight into Space

spaceshipone.jpgI am back from a much enjoyed vacation. While I was out an exciting leap into privatized space flight took place.

SpaceShipOne piloted by Mike Melvill flew into the edge of space, over 62 miles in altitude and leaving the Earth's atmosphere, then returning to earth safely.

Space.com has put together a variety of great articles about this historic event. Additionally, they have a image gallery showing the history of flight from the Wright Brothers to Mike Melvill's flight this weekend.


Posted at 10:13 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

June 15, 2004

Flight of Discovery - Lewis and Clark

flightofdiscovery.jpgI was unable to fly this evening due to work commitments. But, I was not so bummed out when I looked outside an saw it was raining.

So instead, I thought I would share a cool site with you. I am bit of a history buff and enjoy the history of Lewis & Clark's great adventure. There is a neat site that combines my passion for flying with my passion for history - www.flightofdiscovery.com.

Their site explains their mission best "The Flight of Discovery is a team of general aviation pilot/scientists who will fly the river corridors and overland routes of the Lewis and Clark expedition - the trail of the Corps of Discovery - during the 200th anniversary of the search for the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. The expedition is slated to depart from Clark County Airport (JVY) and the Falls of the Ohio on June 1, 2004."

They have some really great aerial photography of Lewis & Clark's path to the west like the photo displayed to the right. Visit their site for photos from each leg of their trip.


Posted at 10:23 PM | Post Category: General | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

June 14, 2004

Logging Some Solo Hours

After a flying-free weekend, I returned to the airport for some solo flying. I knew today would be challenging in that it would be the first time I was soloing without first flying with my instructor. My two previous solo flights were conducted after first flying with instructor for a little while then dropping her off at the airport.

When I arrived at the airport, I conducted the pre-flight. The plane was a little low on oil so I took a quart from the FBO's office and filled it back to 5 quarts, a safe level. When I was satisfied the plane was airworthy I started the engine and taxied out to runway 24. I departed the pattern and flew north of Blue Ash to the practice area where I did a few 45° turns. Then I decided to return to the pattern for some continued work on landings.

I am not sure if my concentration was lacking or if it was my confidence but today I conducted three landings, none of which I was happy with. I think in tomorrow's lesson with my instructor I will ask that we spend some time continuing the practice in effort to get more consistent with nailing perfect landings. I hope to also get some more experience in at towered fields in preparation for my long cross-country, which requires at least one towered field landing. My long cross-country is coming up in little over a week.


Posted at 8:57 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (3) | Save & Share This Story

June 12, 2004

Blue Ash Airshow - Airport Days

castrol_small.jpgThe airport where I am doing my training is hosting the Eigth Annual Blue Ash Airport Days Airshow. I figured if I could not fly I might as well go spend some time around planes and watching others fly. Unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative.

When I arrived at the airshow they had some radio controlled planes flying. A friend of mine owns a few RC planes and I have enjoyed learning more about them from him. It was great to see some of the detailed models they had. Next up were some sky divers. One of the divers came down with the American flag streaming behind him and the airshow announcer, Rob Reider, sang the National Anthem. While the skydiver was coming down the Red Baron Squadron of Stearman Bi-Planes took to the skies. They circled the skydiver and the flag a few times during the flag's descent.

The next performer was Michael Hunter in the Flight for Diabetes plane. He put on a great aerobatics show. Michael is the only insulin-dependent aerobatics pilot in the world.

Unfortunately, shortly after his performance the rain started and the show was postponed. I choose to head home and was glad I did when it was still raining a few hours later. Hopefully, they will have better weather for tomorrows visitors. I have posted some photos I took from the airshow.


Posted at 8:16 PM | Post Category: Airshows | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story