August 26, 2004
I am about a week from being completing my first month of being a Private Pilot. I did not expect to be concerned with how long it has been since I earned my license. Today, I came across an article on AOPA.com that made me think about it: FAA experiences delay in issuing airman certificates.
I earned my license on August 1, 2004. I was then handed my Temporary Airman Certificate which is valid through September 30, 2004. According the article, "The FAA is experiencing a delay in issuing airman certificates, and in some cases, it is taking the full 120 days for pilots to receive their permanent certificate." It explains that you can contact the FAA Airman Certification Branch at 866-878-2498 in order to check on the status of a license. If it is, in fact, late in being processed, new pilots can file for an extension through the local flight standards district office (FSDO) at no extra charge.
I will let you know when my license arrives.
August 22, 2004
This weekend I came across some of the most amazing aerial photography I have ever seen. It is all from a visionary photographer named Yann Arthus-Bertrand who has compiled his aerial photographs into a book and a collection called Earth from the Air. Yann spent 10 years taking photographs over more than 75 countries and consuming more than 3,000 hours in a helicopter.
His overall collection has more than 100,000 photographs. Many of which can be seen his book Earth from the Air or at his current exhibit in Birmingham City, England. Additionally, you can explore his photos on his website: www.yannarthusbertrand.com. The photo to the right is from his collection that can be found on his website. It is titled "Agricultural Landscape Near Cognac - Charente, France"
Yann's work can be found on a few other sites of interest. The first is the website for Altitude Agency, founded by Yann in 1990. His agency specializes in aerial photography from around the world.
Lastly you can visit www.yannarthusbertrand2.org to view not only aerial photographs but also photos of horse, cattle and, my favorite, French people.
August 18, 2004
I went flying for the first time in over a week tonight. Actually, I have flown four times in the past week but all commercally. I still love to fly commercially but, am learning that to really enjoy flying, you need to be in a smaller plane. Tonight I flew around Cincinnati with the windows open enjoying the breeze and the beautiful view from above.
I am currently reading A Gift of Wings by Richard Bach, which was a gift from my wife. It was this book that inspired me to open the windows and enjoy flying with the wind in my hair. His book of short stories include tales of his days barnstorming across America in an open cockpit of his bi-plane, adventures in his Piper Cub, and a few stories from his military days. He often writes that the point of flying is to live. He writes when he is flying, "I am living".
While at a wedding this weekend, I shared some of my tales of learning to fly. I was often asked the question why I wanted to fly. Was it to save money? To get somewhere? Why? The more I have thought about it the reason I learned to fly is not all that different than most pilots or Richard Bach's. I do it to live. To enjoy the most of life. Flying is a new and great challenge that I enjoy immensly. I am sure it will take me to places I would not have gone and it may even allow me to travel more efficiently at times but in the end it will be for pure satisfaction of flying.
August 16, 2004
I have done a lot of commercial flying in the past couple of days but on all the flights but the one this evening I have sat in a window seat. Tonight I felt like a prisoner in the skies when due to an overbooked flight I had to take a middle seat. Making it even worse was that the row I was sitting in did not have even have a window at all. So I could not even sneak a peak over the shoulder of the sleeping passenger next to me.
I have always loved looking out the window of a plane. But, since I started training for my license I have found I am even more addicted to monitoring our flight from my window seat.
Often when I pick seats for personal travel I choose my seats based on recommendations from SeatGuru.com. Had I checked the Delta 757 on SeatGuru.com it would have told me to be aware "Seat 22A is missing a window. If you like the view, choose another seat."
Make sure to check out SeatGuru.com before you book your next flight.
August 11, 2004
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were flying and the pilot became incapacitated? In the legendary movie Airplane all the pilots pass out from food poisoning and a washed-up war pilot needs to save the day ("I think you ought to know what our chances are. The life of everyone on board depends on one thing: finding someone on board who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."). I always wondered would I be able to help out in a pinch like this? Now that I have my license I am sure I could probably be of assistance.
I just read an incredible story of a passenger landing a Piper Malibu after the pilot, her father, was incapacitated from carbon monoxide. While her mother tended to her father, she used the radio to ask for help landing the plane. The air traffic controllers were able to help familiarize her with the flight controls and help her land the plane safely. She had only limited flying experience prior to this event.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association offers a great program that can help make more near disasters turn out as positively as this one. They call their program the Pinch Hitter Program. AOPA's website describes the program as follows; "The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Pinch-Hitter® Seminar was developed to assist flying companions in understanding and participating in the flight. Pinch-Hitters are pilot companions who want to know more about flying and learn how to control and land an airplane."
AOPA is offering such a course this fall in a nearby city. I might see if my wife would be interested in taking the class. Not only would she learn what to do in an emergency,but she would learn how the instruments and navigational tools work allowing her to help in the cockpit management.
August 9, 2004
Tonight I took my first flight in the Cessna 172. The 172 is a four passenger plane compared to the two person Cessna 152 that I trained in. An additional bonus to the 172 is the increased power, providing for better climb and cruise speeds.
Although I knew all that before the flight, I had no idea how obvious the extra power would be. I expected the extra power would evenly counter the extra weight of the plane and that it would perform somewhat similarly to the 152. I was wrong. The plane powered down the runway and into the air. I was at traffic pattern altitude much quicker than I expected. We immediatly left the pattern to go out to the practice area so I could get comfortable with the plane. We did some stalls and tight turns and after a few minutes I began to feel a little more in touch with the plane. But I was still having troubles keeping it in steady flight as it wanted to climb. I guess that is not all bad.
After flying for about a half hour, we returned to the field to practice landings. Here I noticed the biggest difference. The Cessna has three flap settings of 10°, 20° and 30°. The 172 has variable flaps that can be set at any degree between 0° and 40° and the gauge is not very accurate so you have to watch as the flaps retract and guesstimate when they are in the right location. That took some getting used too. The 172 handles at about 5 knots faster in the pattern than the 152 and the difference in speed was difficult to get used to. The other difference was this plane is much heavier during the flare to land. As I reduced power prior to touching down, I needed to apply a lot of back pressure on the yoke and even then came down in a less than soft manner.
My instructor and I plan on taking one more flight in the 172 before I will plan on renting it on my own. I think I will feel more confident in it with a few more landings under my belt. Although challenging, the 172 was a joy to fly.
August 8, 2004
This Saturday I attended my first Radio Control Airshow. A friend of mine bought his first radio control airplane about a year ago and has enjoyed himself so much that he has practically built a full fleet with 10 aircraft. He let me know about this airshow and I knew I had to check it out.
The airshow was being held by the Greater Cincinnati Radio Control Club. I did not know what to expect but was surprised by the size of the show. They basically closed down the Butler County Airport for their show, an airport my wife and I flew over just the night before. The show was taking place on the taxiway and regular traffic was asked to avoid the airport.
The airshow had some wild demonstrations that included flying road signs (turn signs, interstate signs, stop signs), military replicas, planes made from foam and much more. They had mock dogfights and some amazing aerobatic demonstrations.
It was fun being introduced to some RC pilots as a pilot of "full-scale" planes. I was happy to see they had a nice collection of full scale planes at the airport for viewing in addition to the RC planes. I liked the stearman bi-plane the most. I took a photo of the full-size Stearman and many of the RC planes and posted a few for viewing.
I can honestly say I will visit an RC airshow again. Everyone there has a similar passion for flight and an absolute love for airplanes. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
August 6, 2004
The Midwest is being blessed with a beautiful weekend. Temperatures are in the mid-seventies and the skies look to be clear for a few days. The wife and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and the new pilot's license with an after-work flight today. We met at the airport and decided to fly to Oxford, Ohio home of Miami University.
The winds and turbulence made for a bumpy ride to Oxford but once we made it there the ride seemed to smooth itself out. It only took us about 15 minutes to get there while by car it easily takes an hour.
Prior to our flight today, I had visited one of my favorite aviation resources, AirNav.com, that offers great airport information. For most airport listings they provide a variety of pertinent information and often the display a photo of the airport. I noticed they did not have a photograph on file for Miami University Airport in Oxford. It is the first time I had found an airport on their site without a photo.
So I decided to bring the digital camera along for our flight. My wife captured a nice photograph of the airport that I will submit to AirNav.com later today (view the photo). As you can see the airport is in the process of building a taxi-way. Currently pilots need to taxi back down the runway after landing.
I fly next on Monday when I will take my first flight in the Cessna 172. The 172 is a four passenger Cessna that is not only bigger than the 152, but more powerful too. I will be flying with my instructor in that just to ensure I am comfortable with the transition to the larger plane.
August 5, 2004
I believe that you have love or at least enjoy what you do for a living in order to be satisfied at the end of the day. Cliff Muskiet is doing just that. According to his site UniformFreak.com, he has always been fascinated with the world of aviation and dreamed of being a flight attendant since he was a young boy.
Cliff is fulfilling his dreams by not only being a flight attendant but also building what might be the most comprehensive stock of flight attendant uniforms. You can check out old and new uniforms from almost any airline on his website. I enjoyed spending some time looking at some of the old uniforms. In total he has over 325 uniforms.
August 1, 2004
I have a variety of people I would like to thank for their support during my experiences learning to fly.
First off, I want to thank my wife, who so unselfishly has let me spend so much time, effort, and money achieving this dream. Her unrelenting support helped drive me to my goal.
Additionally, I am so lucky to have a huge family (including my wife, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, nieces and nephews) that may not realize how much they influenced me. My family instilled in me the idea that you can achieve anything you want to and through the ups and downs of any adventure they are there for support and encouragement. My family makes an amazing safety net.
I need to thank my flight instructor who was great. As you may have known from reading my blog I started with her at another school. But when that school closed I was able to follow her to another airport and I am glad I did. She is an extremely talented pilot with great instructional skill. If anyone is looking for an instructor in Cincinnati let me know!
Lastly, special thanks to all of my friend and internet supporters. Aaron - thanks for helping me create the blog. Doug - thanks for being such a frequent reader and supporter. Richard - I learned a lot from your blog - one of the best flying blogs on the web. And to everyone else that came to the site whether you posted or just lurked!