July 31, 2004
With my checkride cancelled I found myself with an open day and I felt I should do something aviation related. So my wife and I decided to drive up to Dayton to visit the United States Air Force Museum. I had often heard that it is a great museum. I had no idea it was so big.
We arrived in Dayton about two and half hours before the museum was set to close and I thought that would be a sufficient amount of time. As we drove into the parking lot I realized I was wrong. The aerial photo of the musuem on thier website does not do it justice - it is huge.
The musuem had a neat feature display on military nose art. What is nose art you ask? Carmen C. Anderson explains on Bombergirl.com that "Man has a long history of war. A tradition that is associated with this is the warrior's desire to decorate their instruments of war. During the Twentieth Century this tradition continued primarily by decorating the vehicles of war � the airplane. Nose art is the genre of art used to decorate combat aircraft". Artwork fell into a few categories; pin-up girls, humor and warnings to the enemy. All in all, they were very interesting.
I knew the musuem would have a lot of the current aircraft but it was fun to see so many historic planes. It is amazing that in just over a 100 years of aviation the wide variety of aircraft desgins it is hard to believe some of these planes could even fly let alone be taken into combat.
The only downside of the museum is they keep it pretty dim in there, making it difficult to capture good photographs. I guess that is to help the gift store. I was on able to take a few photographs. Spending a day amongst all those planes just made me more excited for my check ride tomorrow.
I was scheduled to take my Private Pilot oral exam and checkride this morning but the weather did not cooperate. When I woke up this morning the thunderstorms that rolled in late last night were still causing havoc. I checked the weather forecast and put a call into the Dayton Flight Service Station. It looked like the weather would not clear up until about 1pm a full three hours after my exam was to begin.
I called the examiner to see if he had freedom in his schedule to push the exam to this afternoon but he could not. Luckily he has an opening tomorrow morning. So, I have rescheduled the exam for tomorrow morning from 10am - 2pm. The forecast for tomorrow looks to be clear with calm winds which should be nice for the exam.
July 29, 2004
So I am another step closer to earning my Private Pilot's License. Over lunch today I drove out to Sporty's at the Clermont County Airport to take the written exam. I spent about ten minutes with the test administrator filling out paperwork and reviewing the computer training system before starting the test.
Although I knew I was prepared, I was still a bit nervous. Even more so when the first question was an obscure question about whether a motorboat or a floatplane has the right of way on a lake. I no longer felt so well prepared. But after answering that question incorrectly, I moved on and the questions became much more familiar.
Although you are allotted over two hours for the exam it took me a little over 30 minutes to finish. When I completed the test there was no drumroll or a long wait for the results from the test administrator. Instead it quickly displayed on screen - Pass 87% - 52 of 60 questions answered correctly. I should be happy with that score but I keep thinking if I had not been asked the bogus floatplane question and answered one other question right, I would have scored a 90%. But I should stop thinking about the written exam and start focusing on the the flight exam.
July 28, 2004
In order to earn a Private Pilot's license, a candidate must complete 40 hours of flight training. Additionally, one must meet many sub-requirements. I have completed over 40 hours of training but had one remaining outage. I was 0.8 hours short of the 5.0 hours of solo cross country flight time requirement.
So today I flew from my home base of Blue Ash to Fleming-Mason Airport in Kentucky, which was the site of my first cross-country flight. Tonight was a perfect night for flying with a high ceiling, great visibility and smooth skies. The flight there took just over 40 minutes. I realized since this airport is somewhat off the beaten path for motorists, I probably made the trip in half the time it would have taken by car. In fact I map-blasted the route and it would have taken an estimated 1 hour and 37 minutes by car. Flying is nice, isn't it?
The return flight was great. I climbed to 4,500 feet and had a wonderful view of Cincinnati along the river. The sun dropped beyond the horizon and the lights of the city and its many bridges were magnificent. I really enjoy evening flying. I arrived back to a quiet Blue Ash Airport, satisfied that all my flight requirements are complete.
Tomorrow I will fly with my instructor to review for my flight exam which is scheduled for Saturday weather permitting.
July 26, 2004
I have passed the FAA written exam twice in my life, both times over 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to take the flight training at that time. But having completed formal aviation ground school training once before I elected to home study for the written exam this time around.
I feel like I am back in college cramming for a final that I will likely take on Wednesday or Thursday. I have used a few different resources to help me prepare including the Jeppesen Private Pilot textbook, Jeppesen Private Pilot FAA Airmen Knowledge Test Guide and the Sporty's Private Pilot Flight Training DVD Course. Additionally, my CFI has given me about 8 hours of formal ground training in addition to all that I have learned from her while flying.
The exam will consist of 60 questions pulled from a database of 600 possible questions. The 600 questions are not closely guarded as you might think. In fact, they are readily available, for example, my test guide has all 600 questions to review.
Sporty's has a great FAA Practice Test on their site. It randomly selects 60 questions from the database each time you take the exam. When you complete the exam it displays your final score and provides analysis of your answers and even breaking down your score by subject area. It is a really great resource for preparing for the written exam. Tonight I scored 84% on my first attempt and an 89% on my second attempt. I plan to take the exam a few more times to ensure I am ready but am feeling good about it.
July 23, 2004
According to AOPA's ePilot Newsletter I did not win the 2004 Sporty's Skyhawk Sweepstakes. Sporty's gives each customer an entry in their yearly sweepstakes each time a purchase is made. I had purchase items from Sportys.com and from their store in Batavia, OH.
Lucky A.C. Douglass of Tallahassee, Florida won thanks to a purchase of Serengeti sunglasses. According to AOPA Mr. Douglass almost did not qualify to win the prize "The sweepstake rules stipulate that the winner of the 2004 Cessna Skyhawk (or a member of his or her immediate family) must be a pilot or student pilot on the day of the drawing. Within three hours, the retired IBM field manager had visited an aviation medical examiner, obtained a medical and student pilot certificate, and faxed proof of his new student pilot status to Sporty's."
But the good news is Sporty's will be giving away another plane in September as part of their 20th Anniversary Sweepstakes.
July 22, 2004
With my long cross-country completed, my focus now is preparing for my check flight exam in little over a week. So my instructor and I planned to spend today's lesson reviewing all flight maneuvers.
When I walked out the front door of my office I felt like I walked into an oven. It was really humid and still very hot, in the low 90s. I was sweating by the time I completed my pre-flight of the plane. When we got in the plane it was even hotter in there with as there was no breeze. My instructor decided to quiz me on equipment within the plane. I was having a hard time concentrating due to the heat. All I wanted to do was start the engine so we could get some air moving around the cabin.
I felt much better once we got up in the air. We flew much of the flight with the windows open which can be fun and provide a nice cooling effect for the cockpit. My instructor would tell me to fly to one location then another, testing my ability to navigate using ground references, my navigational devices and my maps. One destination was to Hook Field in Middletown. That field has an asphalt runway and a turf runway. But when we arrived we noticed the storms from the previous night had left the turf runway in bad shape so we simulated turf landing on the asphalt runway.
After that, we went further north to the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport and did a touch and go there. After I proved I could navigate my way around the Cincinnati & Dayton areas, I performed slow flight maneuvers followed by stalls. We then moved right into the turning maneuvers; s-turns, turns around a point and 45-degree bank turns. Then we finished the day with an emergency landing procedure.
At the end of the flight, my instructor mentioned that I completed most of the maneuvers within practical test standards (PTS) but she did want me to practice a few maneuvers before my flight exam. I need to work on verbally saying my checklists so the check flight instructor knows that I know what I am doing. I also need to work on my power-off stalls and s-turns. I think I will have two or three more lessons before my test so I will plan to master those manuevers before the exam.
July 20, 2004
The adage, "Good things come to those who wait", proved true this evening. For the past two weeks I have been prepared and excited to fly my long cross-country trip. But each time weather prevented me from making the flight. After the last let down I prepared myself for another attempt today. Yesterday it looked like there was still a chance of bad weather but as the afternoon came around the weather report was looking great.
I arrived at the airport and my CFI quickly signed off on my flight plan. I think it was easy for her to do so since she had several times before reviewed my flight planning and been satisfied with my abilities to accurately plan a cross-country. That is the bright side of all the bad weather was having many opportunties to re-architect the flight.
With the appropriate endorsements in the book I pre-flighted the plan and took off to the north. It was a beautiful night with light winds and great visibility. Once airborne I contacted the Dayton Flight Watch Center and opened my flight plan. The flight to Columbus went smoothly. When I was within 10 miles of my first stop, Bolton Field in Columbus, I contacted the tower. They asked me to contact them on the downwind leg. The problem was I was having troubles locating the field. I had flown there during my night cross-country and it was much easier to see at night. I had to contact the tower and get vectors to the field. The tower was very friendly and soon enough I found myself on the ground enjoying a nice barbeque sandwich at JP's Barbeque Ribs. It was my first "$100 Hamburger" of my young flying career and it was wonderful.
When pre-flighting the aircraft for the next leg I had a nice chat with the pilot of the plane next to me. I am continuously amazed at how friendly the brotherhood of pilots is. After departing from Bolton I flew to Green Country Lewis A. Jackson Airport just outside of Xenia, Ohio. This was a fun airport to fly into, as the airport sat atop a hill and the runway edge was about 100 feet above the road below it and there were lakes to the side. I made a quick full stop landing then departed to the south-west.
I flew south of Dayton and enjoyed seeing Dayton from the sky. After Dayton there was little but farms and open land until I arrived over Oxford, Ohio home of the great Miami University. I flew over Yager Stadium home of the Miami Redskins (err Redhawks) football team who went 13-1 last seaon. After overflying Yager Stadium I made a left turn onto a 2-mile final for runway 23 at Miami University Airport. After landing, I had to taxi back on the runway as the field does not have a taxiway. I then departed on Runway 23 for my short trip back to my home field at Blue Ash.
The final leg went quickly and soon enough I found myself making a picture perfect landing on runway 24 at Blue Ash. It is hard to explain the excitement and sense of accomplishment I felt as I taxied in at Blue Ash. I had just flown to four different airports, filing flight plans along the way, making four great approaches and landings all while covering over 170 miles and did it all on my own. I really felt like a pilot today and that felt great!
July 17, 2004
There are days when I wonder if our society is spinning out of control. Last night was one of those nights. My wife and I went to see Spider Man 2 at our local theater. I used to enjoy going to see the movies but as of late my ability to enjoy the experience has been diminished by fellow movie patrons that forget they are not watching the film from their private screening room at home. The people a row behind me talked through much of the film while down the aisle there were the now so common pair of bare feet resting on the chair in the row infront of us - this especially grosses me out. Of course there was also the kids sitting in the handicap seats in the theater which is just one more example of poor movie theater etiquette. Speaking of movie theater etiquette here are two good articles on the subject, one from epinions.com and one from IntoLiquidSky.net though both need to add a note to keep feet in their shoes and on the floor.
Just when I start to feel down about the direction our society is going I hear a great story of unselfish acts like the one reported on CNN this month. Earlier this month, passengers on a flight from Atlanta to Chicago gave up their first class seats so that eight United States Soldiers who were on their long journey home from Iraq for a two week break, could fly in comfort. Stories like this help to restore my faith in our society.
The weather prevented me from flying my cross-country flight once again. The weather was not too bad locally but the forecast for the Columbus and Dayton areas was not promising with high probability of thunderstorms and low level cloud cover.
So my instructor and I agreed I should continue practicing my maneuvers in preparation for the flight exam. I flew out to the practice area and worked on slow flight, stalls and emergency procedures. I think the area I need the most improvement on is my slow flight maneuvers. Keeping my altitude and speed consistent while in slow flight is my biggest challenge. So, I will continue to work on that.
When I returned I scheduled the plane for Tuesday in hopes of being able to complete my long cross-country then. I also spoke to my instructor and we scheduled a few lessons in which she will simulate the role of an FAA examiner and help me get comfortable with test environment and conditions. Then we scheduled my FAA checkride for Saturday, July 31 - two weeks from today!