October 12, 2005

Escape Adulthood with Paper Airplanes

paper_airplanes.jpgOne of the non-aviation blogs that I have been enjoying lately is Escape Adulthood by the creator of the Kim & Jason comic strip, Jason Kotecki. Jason has also recently authored a book called Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up. I hope to pick up a copy of the book soon (I will let you know what I think). His blog and podcast talk about the effects of settting the child inside of all of us free more often.

Today when I was in Barnes and Noble I came across Mini Flyers a small book on creating paper airplanes. So I came home and decided to make a few cool airplanes and let the child in me play. While doing this, my wife admitted that she had never had success making and flying paper airplanes. So I folded one up and we had fun tossing it across the house. She is quite the paper airplane pilot.

I think most of us pilots by nature are in touch with the child within as we have all followed our childhood dreams of flying. But next time you can't make it out to the airport fold up some paper and take to the air like you did when you were a kid dreaming of flying. Here are some paper plane resources: Alex's Paper Airplanes and BestPaperAirplanes.com.

Posted at 9:36 PM | Post Category: Non Sequitur | Save & Share This Story

October 9, 2005

Scenic Fall Flying

ephraim_airport_3d2.jpgI just returned from enjoying a beautiful fall weekend in Northern Wisconsin. While there, I rented a Cessna 172 from Orion Flight Service at the the Sturgeon Bay Cherryland Airport. Since I had not rented with Orion since the Fourth of July weekend, I flew with one of their instructors so I could be cleared to rent with them for the next few months.

I met an Rob at 8 o'clock on a chilly Saturday morning. I think the temperature was about 40 degrees when I arrived at the airport, the winds were calm and the skies were overcast at 3,500 feet. I took off on runway 02 and quickly turned north towards the Ephraim Airport in the northern portion of the Door Peninsula. Although there were overcast skies the visibility was excellent underneath the clouds. Shortly after taking off and climbing to 2,500 feet I could see clear across Lake Michigan to the Sleeping Bear Dunes of Michigan which meant we had at least 75 miles of visibility.

The view below was beautiful as well as fall has taken effect in Wisconsin and there was a nice range of yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees below. The flight to Ephraim is a short 20 minute flight. Ephraim is a small airport that has two runways, a grass runway and an asphalt runway. The City of Ephraim and their airport were featured in the Summer 2004 issue of Pilot Getaways. I was anxious to make my first landing there. Even better was the winds were favoring the turf runway so I entered the pattern for my first turf landing in over a year.

Soft-field runways require a slower than normal touchdown speed. Additionally, you need to keep pressure off the nose wheel during the landing by using continuous back pressure on the yoke. I executed a nice pattern and followed that up with a great soft landing on the turf at Ephraim. I then back taxied to prepare for the departure. Departing from a soft-field you try to again minimize pressure on the front wheel and apply back pressure to get the plane off the ground into ground effect quickly. Once in ground effect you fly a few feet above the ground and let the airplane build up airspeed before beginning your climb. Departing from this Turf runway you climb over a forest of trees followed by a beautiful view of the bay and the city of Ephraim. After such a great experience on the turf I decided to next practice a crosswind landing and entered the downwind leg for the asphalt runway. In a crosswind landing you spend a much of the time on final approach making small adjustments to the rudders and the ailerons to adjust for the wind and then land the rear wheel on the side of the wind first befor bringing down the other rear wheel then finally the nose gear. I made another great landing and was feeling pretty good about how well I was flying.

From there Rob and I flew back towards the Cherryland Airport. Rob was nice to point out some great sites along the shore including tone of the most photographed lighthouses in Wisconsin, the Cana Island Lighthouse. We also flew over the City of Glasgow shipwreck. I really enjoyed flying with Rob, we had a great time talking aviation while enjoying a fun flight.

When we returned to the Cherryland Airport the AWOS stated the winds were coming directly down runway 02. I knew it would allow me to make a perfect landing to finish the day. Sure enough I made a nice smooth landing completing a great flight.

This was my first flight in a few months outside of the busy airspace of Midway Airport in Chicago. When flying in Midway you don't always get the benefit of flying a standard pattern and instead commonly fly a straight in landing approach. I have found that makes it harder to consistently make great landings since most training for landings is within a standard left traffic pattern. Getting back into an environment where I could perform the standard pattern I felt much more comfortable and confident and it showed in my landings. I think I may continue to look at airports in the Chicago area and see if I can find one that has that small airport feel I had in Cincinnati and I enjoy when I am in Door County.

Posted at 10:33 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

October 3, 2005

Blue Ash Airport - An Endangered Airport?

On a regular basis I visit the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association website to see what's new in the world of General Aviation. One of AOPAs charges is to protect the interests of general aviation pilots, in doing so they tirelessly work to protect small airports from being closed. Almost weekly there is an article outlining how AOPA is working to save an airport.

I was saddened to see that AOPA now has to step in to help ensure the future of the airport I earned my Private Pilots License at, Blue Ash Airport. Blue Ash Airport is a ideal general aviation airport located in the suburb of Cincinnati, it would be a shame to see it closed.

Blue Ash Airport is currently owned by the City of Cincinnati and due to a budget crisis Cincinnati is thinking of selling the property. Although the city of Blue Ash is interested in buying the property and keeping the airport open there is significant concerns that the City of Cincinnati could get more money selling the property to a third party that would close the airport in order to develop the land.

According to Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports, "AOPA is working with the local pilots and businesses as well as the City of Blue Ash to ensure that ISZ continues to be the healthy general aviation public-use facility that it is today with about 40,000 operations a year." You can learn more about on the AOPA website.

Seeing AOPA stepping up to defend issues close to my heart makes me glad I am a member. I will be watching this issue and will offer any assistance I can offer to keep this airport open.

Posted at 7:14 PM | Post Category: In the News | Save & Share This Story