June 27, 2005
I just returned from a three day weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. One of the highlights of the weekend was taking a flight out of Cherryland Airport (KSUE) in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Since I had never flown from there before I had to be checked out by the fixed based operator that rents planes from that airport, Orion Flight Services.
They had me take a brief written exam prior to the check out flight. The written exam consisted of questions that would prove I knew how to fly safely - questions about icing, weights and balances and emergency procedures. After passing that I went flying with Jason, a flight instructor with Orion. We did a basic checkride spending time covering the basic manuevers: 45° turns, stalls, simulated engine outage and some landings. I passed the checkride and am cleared to fly with Orion.
Sturgeon Bay is a beautiful place to fly as it is situated on the Door peninsula just north of Green Bay. The peninsula is a narrow swatch of land between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It makes for a scenic flight. The folks at Orion pointed out some great places to fly next time I am up that included flying over a shipwreck that is visible from the sky, historic lighthouses and several islands.
I would also like to fly to the Ephraim airport in the northern part of Door County. Ephraim was featured in a 2004 issue of Pilot Getaways Magazine.
June 20, 2005
I always sit in a window seat when I fly commercially. I love to look out the window and look for recognizable cities, airports and other landmarks. Sometimes I will even bring a sectional map along since you can't count on the captain pointing out all the great sites.
Some airlines offer a little assistance with maps that look like they were built on the Atari platform showing you generally where on the flight path you are. But, these maps are of little use other than giving you an idea of how far along the route you are. Luftansa-Technik has developed an in-flight gadget that provides much more detailed information while also fulfilling a pure entertainment need of seeing satellite imagery of your current location.
It is called AirTrek and provides passengers satellite imagery to display their current location. According to Luftansa's website the 2D and 3D maps allow the user to "clearly see take-off and landing as well as points of interest and discover ground terrain with detailed topographical maps along the flight path (eg. cities, countries, oceans, mountains, lakes, rivers)." Users can choose between window, cockpit and overhead views.
Sadly, this functionality is not widely available yet. So you may need to rely on a section or pick up a copy of window seat .
June 10, 2005
Over the past few months as I prepared for the move to Chicago and during the move I had to cut back my flight time. As a result when I would get out once every month and it would take me a while to feel perfectly comfortable in the plane again. It is not to say I ever felt unsafe because that is not the case but instead I felt like I needed to concentrate twice as hard and rely on checklists much more that when I was flying more regularly.
Today I had my first flight where I felt as comfortable again as I did when I was in the height of my training. It was one of those days where I really felt at one with the plane. I flew northwest to Lake in the Hills Airport. This is a nice little uncontrolled airport. I wonder if it was flying in an uncontrolled environment like I did for so much of my training that helped me feel so at home today. Lake in the Hills is a typical small field with a 50 foot wide runway and about 3000 feet in length. I loved it!
After completing three nice full stop landings I flew north to Campbell Airport in Gray Lake, IL. At Grays Lake I made a nice smooth landing only to have it be bounced around once on the ground by a runway that is in need of being flattened and resurfaced.
At that point it was time to return back to Palwaukee airport. As I prepared to turn my base leg for runway 34 I had a great view of O'Hare International Airport which was quite a site.
As usual it was wonderful spending a little over an hour in the air tonight and I look forward to my next flight.