January 30, 2006
I have been doing a lot of flying lately, unfortunately I have not been in the cockpit but a passenger on commercial flights. Though I should not complain as I have been lucky to visit places like London, England and Buenos Aires, Argentina. But it was on a short flight from Indianapolis to Chicago that I had the pleasure of sitting next to an elderly gentleman who shared his wisdom from seat 13A.
It was a small commuter flight and I was bummed to be walking towards seat 13B not only because I would not have a window but because I was to be seated next to the lavatory. When I arrived my neighbor for the flight smiled and asked how I was doing today and that started up a very interesting conversation and my frustrations were quickly forgotten.
The gentleman mentioned he was enroute to Seattle which got us talking about travelling. He told me one of his favorite things in life is travelling and seeing places he has never seen before and doing things he had never done before. He looked me in the eye and said "You don't know how much time you have in life so you got to get out and see the world while you can." He expressed how important it is to do it when you are young and able as it gets much harder to travel as the body ages.
He also told me a lot about his family and how he had outlived all of his brothers and sisters and that he was sad that many of them did not go out and do what they loved to do or fulfill their dreams like he did. It was neat that he shared his wisdom through conversation and sharing life experiences and did not try to push his thoughts down my throat. It was not a revolutionary idea but it was great to see someone who was so proud of living his life to the most.
I think I was moved by our conversation so much because I had just finished reading No Opportunity Wasted by Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race. The book aims to inspire people to seek out memorable experiences, follow their dreams, and live a fuller life, something I am a big proponent of.
I sought out my life long dream of learning to fly and am thankful every day that I did. I tell anyone who dreamed of learning to fly to not waste time and start taking some lessons. I am working on my list as the book suggests of other dreams to fulfill, experiences to enjoy and fears to conquer, cause as the passenger in 13A said "You don't know how much time you have in life".
January 12, 2006
You may notice some new tools and features on the website. First, I have added several new aviation based blogs to the blogroll on the right. My favorite new blog is Av8rdan's World of Flying. If you have not checked it out, do so today.
Additionally, I have added a sidebar section called "Sharing My Learning to Fly Knowledge". Here you will find links to other sites where I share my experiences of learning to fly. The first site linked to is Squidoo.com which allows people to host a page about something they are passionate or knowledgeable about. My Learn to Fly page is currently featured in their Top 100 list.
Another place I am sharing my experiences regarding learning to fly is on offered a favor in which I offer to share my thoughts on what it takes to earn a license and to help explain how to decide where and how to train. I signed up today and have already helped one gentleman from Ontario with a few questions he had about the steps needed to earn a private pilots license.
Lastly, I came across a cool site yesterday for viewing sectionals online - www.skyvector.com. The site also allows you to add a mini-map to your own website. I have added a map showing the Chicago area where I fly. Dave, the owner of the site, does warn not to use the online maps for flying and I would have to agree with him. But it is a great use of technology and fun to look at. Nice work, Dave!
January 8, 2006
On Saturday I took my first step towards my goal of spending more time behind the yoke than I did in 2004. As part of my goal, I decided I need to find an airport and FBO that I will fly from on a regular basis. After having flown at Midway and Palwaukee, two nearby towered fields, I decided to check out Northwest Aviation based at Schaumburg Regional.
Northwest Aviation has a wide variety of planes in their fleet ranging from the newer Diamond products to the more traditional Pipers and Cessnas. I scheduled time in a Cessna 172. Schaumburg is a busy single-strip airport just miles from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. I was originally worried about how the weather would be for the flight since Chicago had not seen the sun in 2006. I was pleasantly surprised to see the sun and blue sky when I went outside early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, by early afternoon when I had scheduled my flight the clouds had returned and the ceiling was little more than 3,000 feet.
We departed on runway 29 and departed to the west. Due to Schaumburg's proximity to O'Hare almost all departures head west initially to get out from under the first shelf of the O'Hare airspace which limits you to flying below 1,900 feet. Once clear of the airspace restriction I climbed up to about 2,500 and realized I could not go much higher due to the cloud cover above. Since there was no sign the weather would improve and the chance that it could get worse was good, we turned back towards the airport. But we decided to do a few landings at Dupage Airport first. The Dupage Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) weather was stating winds that were coming straight down runway 20. On short final it was obvious the winds had changed to be a steady crosswind. I made two less than perfect crosswind landings at Dupage before we decided to return to Schaumburg.
The flight from Schaumburg including the landings at Dupage represented the 24th and 25th unique airports I have visited and have updated my google map of airports I have visited. I look forward to scheduling some cross country flights in the not to distant future where I can continue to add some new airports to the tally. It was fun to get back out to the airport and get a flight in. Unfortunately, I did not get to enjoy a meal at Schaumburg's Pilot Pete's which is supposedly one of the best airport restaurants in the area.
After the flight I am not sure that I am any closer to selecting an airport or FBO. I enjoyed my experience with both Northwest Aviation and the Schaumburg airport but it is a bit of a hike for me to get to from downtown Chicago. I think I will select from the three airports and FBOs I have flown from thus far: Midway, Palwaukee and Schaumburg. But before I make a decision and commit to a flying club and FBO I may need to make a few more flights and weigh out the pros and cons of each based on convenience, costs, types of airports, planes available, atmosphere, etc. I will keep you posted.
January 5, 2006
As I have written here on many occassions I have many passions; two of which are aviation and the Internet. I love when I find ways to mix the two interests. Today I came accross a new tool offered by fboweb.com. The site's charter is to simplify and streamline the processes involved in all aspects of aviation. In doing that they have created a suite of flight tracking software that makes them the Internet's most popular web-based flight tracking service.
In the past I have used their site to track status of a a commercial flight that a friend or family member might be travelling on. The traditional display was a basic map displayed in the browser. fboweb.com recently began integrating Google Earth into its service offerings, allowing users to track flights in 3D.
If you search for a flight you will be see an icon to map the flight on Google Earth and to see a 3D rendering of the flight plan with relevant information such as flight number, altitude and air speed. Even more fun is that they offer Google Earth add-ons that show traffic going to some of the country's most popular airports including: Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago's O'Hare, Atlanta and New York's John F. Kennedy. Download the files for these airports for use in Google Maps.
Once you load the map, be sure to zoom in towards each airport and tilt the camera up from the runways to watch them land! The picture to the right is showing the flights coming in over Lake Michigan landing on 27L and 27R.
January 3, 2006
I have been a subscriber to Pilot Getaways for almost two years and am always looking forward to the arrival of the next issue. Pilot Getaways does an excellent job of providing pilot destinations for pilots all over the country. For years I used to be a subscriber to Backpacker magazine. But I would be frustrated that the only trails and hikes they discussed were ones that would require significant traveling for a Midwesterner.
Pilot Getaways does a great job of highlighting at least one destination for each region of the United States in each issue. In a previous issue they featured the town of Ephraim, Wisconsin. In October I enjoyed a flight to the Ephraim-Gibraltor airport where I had the opportunity to land on both their turf and asphalt runways.
In this most recent issue they have a "Weekend Getaway" spotlight on Cincinnati, Ohio. They feature the Cincinnati Lunken Airport. I lived less than a mile from Lunken for almost 8 years. It is a great General Aviation Airport with a historic terminal building and great on-airport restaurant, The Sky Galley.
There was also another Midwest story about the El Greco restaurant near Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Even when Pilot Getaways writes about a destination that may not be close I alwasy find them interesting. This issue's feature story is about flying the Manhattan Corridor, something I would like to do next time I am in the area.
If you are not already subscribed to Pilot Getaways I highly recommend you subscribe today!
January 2, 2006
I am sure most pilots set goals to fly more hours each year. I started flying in April of 2004 with a heavy concentration between April and August, in which I flew 47.2 hours, culminating in earning my Private Pilots License on August 1, 2004. I continued to fly frequently into the winter of 2004, completing the year with 63.3 hours of flight time.
My flight time was decreased in 2005 in a year of transition where I moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois. Between a new job and new city I had less free time to get out to the airport. In 2005 I only logged 12.6 hours, just over an hour per month. My goal for 2006 is to at least double that number. I plan on doing that by finally buckling down and choosing a home base airport and FBO. I am looking at a variety of airports and FBOs ranging from Midway Aviators based at Midway, Windy City Flyers at Palwaukee, Stick & Rudder Club at Waukegan and an FBO at Schamburg. Additionally, in 2006, I would like to fly some more solo cross-country flights exploring new airports and scenery.
I look forward to sharing my 2006 flight experiences with you!