November 30, 2004
My infatuation with all things Alaska continues. I read this amazing story of pilot Mike Holman who was stranded in the Alaskan wilderness for over six days before being rescued. Holman, a pilot for United Airlines, was on vacation and flying his Maule ML-7 plane to a cabin 140 southwest of Anchorage but made a crucial error in judgment and went away from his projected flight path to explore the surrounding area. He landed the plane on a beach in the Koyuktolik Bay. Unfortunately, he could not restart the plane when he was ready to depart and the quick Alaskan tide submerged the plane shortly after. He had only enough time to get his survival gear from the plane but did not retrieve the emergency locator transmitter.
I remember being amazed while camping after a night of kayaking in Prince William Sound how quickly the tide came in and how it nearly swallowed the entire campsite while at full tide making the peninsula I was camped on an island for a few hours.
For three days Holman waited near the site of his landing hoping to spot rescue planes or boats but saw nothing. He determined his error of deviating from his intended path put him outside of the search box. He realized he would need to hike for help. The map he had with him showed a cabin within five miles of his location. After a 17-hour trek across treacherous terrain, he was blessed to find a functioning radio within the empty fishing lodge and was able to radio for help. The first rescue attempt on Saturday was called off due to high winds but on Sunday, after six days in the wilderness, Holman was rescued.
CAPBlog wrote some posts on the rescue efforts and the involvement of the Civil Air Patrol. He also gave credit to the Air Force Academy and its training of Holman, as "a graduate of the Air Force Academy, he was prepared for the situation. He had survival gear aboard, and he knew how to use it."
Photo Note: Pilot Mike Holman is greeted by his wife, Nicki, and their children, Charlie, 12, and Laura, 9, Sunday at Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage. Holman was picked up by an Alaska Air National Guard Pave Hawk helicopter Sunday morning after rescuers found him in a remote bay south of Seldovia. (Photo by Bill Roth / Anchorage Daily News)
November 24, 2004
I just read an exclusive first review of Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Roger Friedman of Fox News wrote that the movie about the life of Howard Hughes "is an action-packed, stylish epic that is easily the most involving motion picture of 2004."
The film is a three hour-long epic based on the life of eccentric billionaire and Hollywood film mogul Howard Hughes. The movie focuses on the period between the late 1920s through the 1940s when Hughes was directing and producing Hollywood movies while also test flying innovative aircrafts he designed and created.
I am surprised that I have not heard much about the film before now especially since the movie has such an impressive cast. The cast include Leonardo Dicaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Frances Conroy, Adam Scott, Danny Huston, Ian Holm and Gwen Stefani.
After reading the great review from Roger Friedman and watching the trailer I am very excited to see this film. I have to admit to not knowing much about Howard Hughes other than some of the basics and once taking a tour of the Spruce Goose. I think I might have to read up on him prior to seeing the movie, which is slated for release in December.
If you are interested in learning more about Howard Huges read Wikipedia's account of his life.
November 23, 2004
With the holidays approaching and having the opportunity to visit friends and family I thought I should learn about the process for being checked out to fly rented aircraft from Fixed Based Operators (FBO) at airports in cities I plan to visit.
Not knowing what the process is I posted a message to one of my favorite pilot resources, StudentPilot.com. I asked "What is the process for getting checked out by an FBO to rent planes? Do you simply go up and prove you are proficient then they sign you off? Is that sign-off usually good for only a certain amount of time? Do they charge an instructor rate for that person to go up with you?"
I received some great feedback. What I learned is that a checkout usually consists of a verbal knowledge test that proves the pilot is aware of the critical information found in the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) - V-Speeds, fuel burn, emergency procedures, etc. Additionally, you fly with an instructor and prove proficiency in common maneuvers that were part of the practical test: slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures and pattern work. Most people estimated it would be about an hour of flight and instructor time. Personally, I think when flying in a new area it is beneficial to spend some time with an instructor who is familiar with the area anyway.
If you pass the checkride that you get signed off and are approved to rent aircraft from that FBO. If you fly regularly they may not require another checkride unless you want to fly different types of planes. If you fly there infrequently they may require a new checkride as recently as within 90 days of your last flight with them.
Lastly, if you are flying in areas with terrain or weather conditions that vary from your home base it is wise to spend additional time learning about local conditions and concerns.
There are several flying related blogs that I read while on the ground. Instead of keeping them to myself I thought I should share them with my readers. I added links to the flying blogs I am currently reading on the right side of the My Flight Blog main page. Some of them write infrequently while others post on regular basis with some great information. If you enjoy reading my blog I know you will enjoy reading a few of these.
Make sure to check out some of my favorites:
- StronglyTyped - Thoughts on software development, flying and anything else
- CAPBlog - An Unofficial Journal of the Civil Air Patrol, the United States Air Force Auxiliary
- Miller Weblog - Random notes on aviation, family and stuff. He is working on his Instrument Rating.
My list of blogs is powered by my Bloglines account. If you are new to reading blogs you should sign up for Bloglines. It is the most comprehensive, integrated service for searching, subscribing, publishing, and sharing news feeds, blogs and rich Web content and it is free.
November 22, 2004
Since September 11th the general aviation industry has been in recovery mode. Today the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) released some findings the show that industry is showing signs of strong recovery.
The general aviation industry continued a strong recovery through the third quarter of 2004, according to the GAMA. Billings were up 15.9% to $7.8 billion for the first nine months of 2004, while total units rose 7.7% to 1,928.
"Recovery of the U.S. economy and accelerated depreciation enacted by Congress for operators of new airplanes stimulated every segment of our industry," said Ron Swanda, GAMA's interim president. "But the growing, worldwide attraction of using general aviation airplanes for safe and efficient air travel is a fundamental growth factor that should not be overlooked."
One of the biggest growth areas was in the production and sales of business jets which is up 10.4%, from 355 units last year to 392 units this year. Read the whole report on the GAMA site.
November 13, 2004
The recent issue of AOPA Pilot magazine featured an article on corn mazes. AOPA Pilot wrote, "The folks on the ground may never see this art that seems to have been created just for pilots." I had visited a corn maze once in Wisconsin and had fun navigating my way through the design. I decided now I should try to view a maze from above.
I did a Google search and came across two websites that support corn mazes across the country: CornFieldMaze.com and MazePlay.com. The MazePlay.com site has a great gallery of designs. The CornFieldMaze.com site had a variety of corn fields in Ohio including one about 20 miles north of my airport - The Incredible Maize of Warren County.
According to the Incredible Maize website, they closed for the season at the end of October. Although there was a chance the maze had been cut shortly after closing I was hoping it would still be intact. So my wife and I plotted the approximate location of the corn maze on my sectional chart and departed Blue Ash Airport. As we neared the area where we expected to find the maze we found a huge field that looked like it was recently harvested. I was worried we were to late and the maze had been cut. A minute later, however, we spotted the maze fully intact. This design was of the United States with the word "Democracy" cut below it. Inside the states were two faces of each of the 2004 Presidential Candidates - President George Bush and Senator John Kerry. I was amazed at the detail of the design. I am sure a ton of people found themselves lost within the maze this Fall.
I started to wonder how they cut these precise designs. I did another brief search and found a company called Precision Mazes that assists farm owners in cutting mazes. They use precision GPS to cut the maps.
Many corn mazes are open through the end of the month so pull up one of the websites listed above and chart your course so you to can view great artwork from above.
November 12, 2004
"Why do you fly?", a question I have been asked many times. I have briefly touched on this subject in some previous posts (Joy of Flying, Seeing America from the Cockpit of a Small Plane). I read a post on StudentPilot.com this week asking this very question. I came across many of the common responses such as flying was something the person has always wanted to do since they saw their first airshow or Top Gun; or reasons like "because I can". But it was interesting to see so many thoughtful answers and such almost spiritual responses. I enjoyed reading many of the posts:
- "enjoyment and the feeling of accomplishment everytime i step out of the aircraft." ~jaunt10
- "I always love the way birds soar through the sky. The ability to defy gravity and move about in an ocean of air." ~PilotDamien
- "The first things that come to mind are the concepts such as freedom, self-discipline, achievement, fun and comradarie which all mix together to create an irresistible combination for me. However, even deeper than these ideas, perspective really moves me as well. I love how different things look from the sky...the different visual perspective frees my mind and soul." ~ceflyer
- "flying creates a very spiritual experience for me." ~HIGHwing
- "Because it sings to my soul." ~Dot_AK
- "The same reason I always have flown: I need it. I cannot describe why, and probably never will. -I simply need to fly." ~Sabrina
I cannot put my finger on the one reason I fly. I have many similar thoughts to those that were posted on StudentPilot.com. Part of it is the achievement of making a dream a reality and finally learning to fly after years of looking up at the skies wishing I could fly.
Another part might be the ability to lose oneself in thought while flying. Flight can be such a relaxing experience. There is so much to do when flying but yet I feel like the entire time I am at the airport or in the skies my batteries are recharging.
In life I have learned that having a good and varying perspective on life's situations better prepares you to handle any situation. NASA Astronaut Donald Williams said, "For those who have seen the Earth from space, and for the hundreds and perhaps thousands more who will, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." I find that flying just gives me a broader perspective on life and makes life just that much more enjoyable.
I may never put my finger on why I love to fly, nor will I spend much more time thinking on it. I will just continue to fly and hope I can share the enjoyment of doing so with many more!
November 9, 2004
I think I might have found a new favorite time to fly. I left work on time today, which was nice change from the average day. Since I work close to the airport I was airborne a little after 5:30. I was going to be flying South East from Blue Ash, taking me over Interstate 275, the bypass around Cincinnati. It was fun cruising along at 115 knots looking down at the cars stuck in the evening commute home at the end of the business day.
What made the flight even more perfect was the beautiful pink sunset that was taking place out my right side window. Many pilots warn of the dangers of flying at night, that it is easier to get disoriented or that if you have engine problems the chances of spotting a safe landing area is more difficult. I personally love taking off just before sunset and enjoying the sunset from the sky then flying for a while in the evening sky before landing to the lights of the airport.
I have not yet flown during a sunrise but I imagine only it can compare to the beauty of a flight by sunset.
November 8, 2004
I have been hosting my blog about my experiences learning to fly for a little over six months. The first four months were hassle free. Then around early September, I started to notice comment spam showing up on my posts and recently it has become a big problem that needs to be resolved.
Spammers have frustrated e-mail users by filling e-mail boxes with unsolicited messages for many years. Now spammers have turned their attention to blogs. According to Wikipedia spammers post comments to blogs in order to "increase the page rankings for the site in the search engine Google. An increased page rank means the spammer's commercial site would be listed ahead of other sites for certain Google searches, increasing the number of potential visitors and paying customers."
Originally, I was receiving just a few spam comments a week and I manually deleted them. Recently I received 200+ spam comments in one day. As a result I will turn off the comments option a few days after each post and see if this cuts back on the spam. In the meantime, I will evaluate plugins like Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist that can help eradicate comment spam. Another option will be to upgrade to a newer version of Moveable Type. If anyone has suggestions please let me know.
November 4, 2004
According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA), 18 of it's members will serve in Congress as a result of the most recent election. Additionally, 95% of the 105 candidates for Congress in this past election won their seat they were running for. As a pilot it is great to know there is such great representation by supporters of General Aviation. You can read the press release by AOPA on their website.