May 14, 2007
On Friday night I was made aware of two aviation incidents both of which hit close to home. The first was a multiple fatality accident that involved two planes in a midair collision in which they clipped wings just north of Blue Ash Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. Blue Ash Airport was my home airport for a few years and where I earned my license.
I was relieved to learn it did not involve anyone I knew but scary none the less. Martha Lunken a retired inspector for the FAA was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirerand stated it was a classic situation - "It's within five miles of the airport on a nice sunny day...that's where airplanes congregate." I recall that on beautiful days the traffic around Blue Ash could get very busy and it required all the pilots near the uncontrolled field to fly defensively and to over communicate.
The second incident was here in Chicago in which a Piper Cherokee ran out of gas and needed to make an emergency landing on a highway. The plane clipped a power line and a car but landed without any injuries to the pilot or those on the ground. I don't know all the details of this incident but do wonder how it is pilots continually make the mistake of running out of gas. Incidents like these are scary and sad but would be a further waste if other pilots did not learn from them.
So, when I arrived at the airport on Saturday to fly on another beautiful day in Chicago I had those incidents in the back of my head. I flew with a CFI as I continue to work back to a level of proficiency that I had a year or so ago when I was flying more regularly. We decided to delay our flight for 10 minutes so we could top off with fuel, seemed to us to be well worth the time to ensure we had plenty of fuel for our flight.
As I flew northwest from Chicago Executive there was plenty of traffic and I ensured that I was doing a good job of scanning the horizon and working to avoid traffic. I also changed my checklist habits to ensure I could spend more time looking for traffic. In a recent episode of The Finer Points podcast Jason Miller talked about holding up your checklist so you are not having to divert your eyes so much to see it. So I clipped the checklist to a yoke clip so I would not have to look down as much as I did when using the lapboard.
After ensuring we found a safe area with little traffic around I performed a simulated engine failure. I was able to select a suitable place to land if it were needed and guided the plane down without power to the point it was obvious we could have landed there if necessary at which point we powered off and climbed away.
We finished the day with a series of crosswind landings at Dupage airport including one without flaps, simulating a flap failure. I continue to perform safe but somewhat sloppy crosswinds and am looking forward to flying more frequently so I can iron them out.
May 11, 2007
I have often been disappointed in the lack of quality aviation themed apparel. Every pilot has seen in every pilot shop they have ever been in the lame ladies t-shirt that says "Remove Before Flight" or the men's boxer shorts version with the same phrase. At every air show there is booth after booth of military themed t-shirts with loud designs and of course you will also find the tasteless t-shirts as well.
I always enjoy it when I can find aviation apparel with a nice clean and simple design that communicates my love for aviation without clashing with any other item of clothing. That is why I was so excited when I stumbled upon Red Canoe Brands. Sure the name does not give away that the company would have a strong focus on aviation themed clothing, but they do. Half their inventory is part of their National Heritage Brands line, which is a line of Canadian heritage apparel. The other focus is in vintage aviation apparel mainly using logos from companies like Cessna, De Havilland, American Airlines, Austin Airways and Stearman. They have a nice line of t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats.
I like to wear a hat when I fly to help with the sun and to be a buffer between my head and my headset. I noticed they had a nice selection of hats including a De Havilland branded hat. I thoroughly enjoyed a flight in a De Havilland Beaver while in Alaska a few years back so I decided that would be the right one for me. I rounded out the order with a Cessna sweatshirt. Though, I have a feeling I might be back to pick up a vintage looking Cessna Stow Bag.
May 6, 2007
I have a 45-minute daily commute on Chicago's El. Lately, I have been taking advantage of the time to watch aviation videos on my video iPod. There are several sources of videos that I have enjoyed thus far.
I started off by downloading iSquint which allowed me to easily convert my Sporty's Private Pilot Flight Training Course, a series of six DVDs dedicated to the techniques and knowledge needed to earn your private pilots license. These were a powerful resource while learning to fly and I continue to refer to them from time to time to keep current.
Sporty's recently created a Download Center on their site where training videos can be downloaded for use on personal computers or mobile devices. I downloaded the 25-minute Descent & Landing Air Facts video. I enjoyed the content and having the ability to watch it on my iPod but wished they could provide this quality content for less than $9.95, which is a bit steep for less than 30 minutes of content.
For more than a year I have been enjoying Jason Miller's "The Finer Points" aviation podcast. I have always enjoyed listening to his podcasts during my commute. From time to time his podcast includes video content as well. He recently launched a new site, OnTheFlightLine.com, where he is publishing some aviation videos. So far there is limited content there but I look forward to seeing future videos.