October 30, 2004
Did you know both presidential candidates are pilots? President George Bush's military experience in the National Guard has been discussed regularly during the campaign so I am sure many people knew of his experiences flying F-102 fighters in the Texas Air National Guard. Senator John Kerry is also a pilot and has been flying for over 30 years.
With the election less than 72 hours away I thought I would share with you a recent article written by the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association (AOPA). AOPA asked each candidate some questions about general aviation. You can view the responses to the questions on AOPA's webiste - AOPA Interviews the Candidates on GA. Of course you should not vote on one issue alone but it is important for pilots to see where each candidate stands on issues that are near and dear to us.
Daylight savings ends tonight for most of the country that is affected by it. That will bring earlier nighttime skies meaning most pilots will be flying more night hours. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Website has a good night flying review called, "Safety Hot Spot: Night VFR Checkup." Check it out.
All of my flying experience has taken place during daylight savings. During daylight savings, in Eastern timezone pilots in the eastern timezone you simply add four hours to military time (24 hour clock) to get Zulu time, the Universal Coordinated Time used for aviation. With the return to standard time pilots in the Eastern timezone should now add 5 hours to the current military time.
The most recent ePilot Newsletter from AOPA provided the chart above for converting your local time to Zulu time. They also wrote "To convert Zulu to local time, if the United States is on standard time, subtract five hours from Zulu to get Eastern Time, six hours for Central, seven hours for Mountain, and eight hours for Pacific Time. If the country is on daylight-saving time, subtract one hour less for each time zone."
October 28, 2004
Tonight I had supurb weather to fly in. When I arrived at the airport winds were light and variable, the visibility was unrestricted and it was a nice cool evening. I left Blue Ash airport and did some sightseeing with the windows open which is always enjoyable. As I was flying, the sun dropped below the horizon and I flew by the light of the moon.
The moon was close to full and started off a nice orange that seemed appropriate with Halloween approaching. My goal with tonight's flight was to enjoy the weather and then finish up with some night flying. In order to fly passengers at night you need to make three full-stop landings at night within 90 days. As daylight savings is ending the evenings will start sooner so I figured brushing up on night flying and staying current with regulations would be a great idea.
It had been a month or so since I last flew at night and somehow I had forgotten what a neat experience it was. I enjoyed flying over a night football game on my way back to the airport. At Blue Ash I made three full stop landings all along enjoying the aura of the airport lights. I think there are few colors or lights as stunning as taxiway lights. I just enjoy that color.
Don't forget to set your clock back Saturday night. Winter night flying is soon to be upon us.
A pilot based out of my home airport had a surprise escort back to Blue Ash today by two United States Air Force fighter jets after he flew too close to a rally for President George W. Bush.
The local NBC affiliate's website, ChannelCincinnati.com, stated, "The Secret Service determined the pilot made an honest mistake and didn't pose a security risk, and he was freed to go." Although he was freed by the Secret Service I would expect it is likely he could suffer penalties or suspensions of his license for flying into a restricted area.
Here in a battleground state for presidential election pilots should be well aware of the need to check prior to every flight as to whether a Temporary Flight Restriction is in place due to Presidential candidates being in the area.
October 25, 2004
I passed my FAA checkride about three months ago. That day I was presented with my temporary license a paper duplicate of the original that is mailed into the FAA processing center. Although the privileges that came with the temporary license are great and equal to the actual license the document itself is less than impressive.
When I arrived home from work today and saw the envelope from the FAA I guessed what was inside. I was correct with my guess that it was my Private Pilot's License. It is neat to hold after all the work that I put into it the actual card.
I think I will have to celebrate by going flying this week!
October 24, 2004
It was a beautiful day in Cincinnati but I did not have an airplane reserved so I needed to find another way to enjoy the day. I recently purchased a Garmin Venture GPS device so I decided to use it and take a crack at a "sport" called Geocaching.
According to Geocaching.com, "Geocaching is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. "
I did a search on Geocaching.com for caches near me and found an intriguing one called Starry-Starry Cache. My wife and I walked to the first waypoint which was provided on the website. From there we followed some directions to find a hidden case that provided the coordinates of the prize. We entered the coordinates into the GPS and went off searching, which took longer than I expected, as it was hidden well. But, it was a ton of fun tracking our progress on the GPS and finally locating the box after about thirty minutes of searching.
I believe the fun of Geocaching is the hunt but it is custom that when the cache is found it is usually a waterproof container that holds a prize. The person that discovers the cache usually takes something from the cache but also deposits something new in its place. We had several items to select from. We selected to pick up a Travel Bug called IGeoJoe. A travel bug is an action hero with a dog tag attached. By visiting the Geocaching website and entering the code from the dog tag you can see the many locations the bug has traveled to. This bug started its journey in Illinois but has visited Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. I will leave him in the next cache I visit. Before we put the cache back we left a Backpacker magazine Adventure Log as our donation to the cache.
All in all this was a fun way to spend a beatiful day. I did some searching on the various aviation boards including studentpilot.com to see if there were many pilots who Geocache and was surprised to see only a few references. I think it will be fun when flying cross-country flights to search for geocaches near the airports I am visiting.
October 21, 2004
In Patrick Smith's October 8th edition of "Ask the Pilot" he asks "What's that they say about imitation and flattery?" Just recently USA Today has started publishing a weekly column called "Ask the Captain" by Meryl Getline. Patrick humorously discusses the fact that there may be room for two similarly targeted authors but USA Today could have been more creative with the name and some of the topics. Patrick writes "This 'Ask the [pilot, captain, lion tamer, etc.]' concept is never the most imaginative choice of wording, but feathers get ruffled when both the topic (air travel) and arena (news Web sites) are snugly mutual. "
Since the middle of 2002 Patrick Smith has been writing a weekly column on Salon.com* called Ask the Pilot. I have enjoyed reading his articles for some time now. He does a nice job of merging-aviation related topics through to the broader air travel category with a fun wit. It appears that Captain Getline has been writing articles for some time as well but has just recently started publishing her works in USAToday.com.
If you have enjoyed reading my blog from time to time than I am sure you will enjoy reading both of their columns. For now I will hold off on choosing one over the other and read them both weekly. I hope you will check them out. Enjoy!
* Please note to view content on Salon.com you need to either pay for access or view an advertisement. By viewing the advertisement you are granted a one day pass to most site content.
October 19, 2004
What was I thinking about in my post yesterday "Bumpy Cross Country" when I complained about the difficulty of landing a Cessna 152 on a 40 foot wide runway? After all, the Cessna wheel base is probably between 5 - 7 feet wide. That gives plenty of room on either side to land on a 40-foot wide runway even under windy conditions.
The photos to the right are of a South African Airways 747 being flown for a single landing at the Rand Airport in South Africa. It was being flown there to become a permanent exhibit for the SAA Museum air museum. The runway dimensions are 4898 long x 50 feet wide which is amazing considering the 747 outer-to-outer main gear width is 41.33 feet. Nice landing!
October 17, 2004
Today, I woke up to see beautiful clear skies for my cross-country flight to Indiana. I checked in with the Dayton Flight Service Station to get a weather report and everything looked great except the warning that there was light to moderate turbulence expected below 10,000 feet.
As I climbed away from the Blue Ash Airport the plane started to bounce around in the turbulence and light winds. I reached my cruising altitude, leveled off and then flew for a few minutes trying to determine whether I was prepared to make the flight. Due to the presence of turbulence I slowed the plane down to maneuvering speed and determined the turbulence would not be a safety concern. I flew northeast to Oxford and then turned west towards Greensburg, Indiana.
As I arrived in the area of the Greensburg-Decatur Airport I asked for an airport advisory over the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). I learned I would need to circle a few miles east of the airport as skydivers were being dropped over the airport. As I circled I enjoyed watching three parachutes open and glide to the ground. Meanwhile as I bounced around in the turbulence I prepared for my landing at Greensburg.
My landing would be on a narrow runway that had a width of only 40 feet about half the width of the runways I have landed on before. The plane continued to bounce in the turbulence and the gusty crosswind started to complicate the landing. Despite all that I felt like I was making a good approach until I got down to the final 100 - 200 feet then a gust of wind caused the plane to drift off the center line and in fact almost over where the left edge of the runway would be. I made the decision to abort the landing and put in full power to perform a go around maneuver.
As I climbed away I was notified another group of skydivers were going to be making the jump over the field. So, I decided instead of waiting for the skydivers to clear that I would head home without ever touching down at Greensburg. I am normally not one to quit but I realized the combination of the turbulence, gusting crosswind, and the narrow runway was more than I wanted to contend with today. I learned that I need some more crosswind landing practice before I can master a crosswind landing on such a narrow field.
The flight home was uneventful although bumpy. It was nice to fly a cross-country flight and see new sites though I was disappointed not to have completed the landing at Greensburg.
October 12, 2004
I am quickly learning that I love flying in the Fall. In the late days of April, when I started learning to fly, it was already warming up quiet rapidly in the Cincinnati area. Throughout most of my training the air outside was hot with high humidity. It was often uncomfortable sitting in the non-air conditioned cockpit. Additionally, it usually meant changing from the clothes I wore to work to shorts and a t-shirt before flying.
But with Fall taking full effect I am finding out what a great season this is for flying. I can often go straight from work to airport, without having to change clothes which is a great way to finish the day. Additionally, there are not as many thunderstorms that can dangerously pop-up with little notice, meaning there are fewer flights canceled due to weather. Lastly, I am really enjoying watching the changing of the fall colors from the skies above. Today, as I flew around the pattern over the nearby golf course I noticed the great variety of fall colors below. It was absolutely beautiful.
The only downside of Fall and Winter flying will be the lack of daylight hours. Though the optimist in me says that is more time to work on my night flying skills.