February 22, 2009
Last year your help was needed to try and put a halt on the implementation of users fees. Now you are needed to once again write your representatives and share your feedback with the government officials over the TSA's proposed Large Aircraft Security Program (LASP).
Max Trescott wrote a great post explaining why this should be the number one aviation issue on your mind this weekend. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association "The proposed Large Aircraft Security Program, or LASP, would impose a whole range of expensive and burdensome requirements on Part 91 operators of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs. Those requirements include criminal history record checks for crew members, matching passengers to TSA watch and no-fly lists, checking passengers and baggage for dangerous weapons or prohibited items, and paying for biennial third-party audits".
Please don't assume that because this does not effect the type of aircraft you fly that this is not a serious issue for you to be concerned about. AOPA's VP of Government Affairs Andy Cebula makes a great point saying "We're also concerned that the regulations could easily be expanded to include all aircraft, regardless of size or type of operation, because the TSA hasn't said anything to justify the 12,500-lb limit."
Max Trescott referenced a very appropriate quote from Benjamin Franklin in his post on this matter "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." What concerns me is that there is not validation of any of the alleged security benefits.
You have until February 27, 2009 to share your comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). There have been nearly 3,000 comments posted thus far, but that is a fraction of the aviation community.
So, I urge you to read Max Trescott's post on the matter and visit AOPAs online member action center. Than take a few minutes to craft a message to share with your representative and submit a formal response to the notice of proposed rulemaking. If you need help figuring out just what to say write AOPA's guide to writing your response to this issue.
February 21, 2009
John Purner, author of "The $100 Hamburger: A Guide to Pilot's Favorite Fly-In Restaurants" recently announced his Best of the Best list for 2009. Leading the pack as the best $100 Hamburger was Southern Flyer Diner in Brenham, Texas (11R).
In addition to announcing the Top Burger he also published a list of top ten $100 Hamburger's in the United States. Chicago was represented by Pilot Pete's which is located on the field at Schaumburg (06C). It is one of my favorite airport restaurants not only because it has good food but because of its location on the second floor of the terminal which provides a great vantage point to watch the planes come and go.
Also on the Top Ten list was Sky Galley located in the historic terminal at Cincinnati's Lunken Airport (KLUK). I lived no more than five minutes away from Lunken for several years and loved sitting on their outdoor patio and watching the flightline. When I finally decided to learn to fly I started my training at Lunken and that gave me even more excuses to stop by Sky Galley. If you are looking for a great place for a bite to fly to in the Cincinnati area check them out.
The last one on the list that I have tried is Rick's Café Boatyard located across the street from the Eagle Creek Airpark (KEYE) in Indianapolis, IN. They have excellent food and a beautiful view of the Eagle Creek Reservoir. What it misses is a nice view of the airport operations but if you have been in a plane all day and are looking for a place to relax with a nice view then relax on their patio and enjoy the great food at Rick's Cafe Boatyard.
Many of the other top 10 $100 Hamburgers were located a long flight from Chicago but I did notice that Final Approach Steak House in Sheboygan, WI (KSBM) made the list. After checking out their website, I think I just figured out my next cross country flight.
Take a look at the Top ten list and the 15 runner-ups and let me know what restaurant you think is missing or was over-rated.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Brent613
February 8, 2009
In preparing for my last cross country flight I took advantage of some newer tools. I started my planning with the new online version of the AOPA Flight Planner powered by Jeppesen. I have used the software based version of the flight planner in the past and enjoyed checking out their web-based version. It was fairly intuitive and only took me a few minutes to build my desired route. I was able to add GPS waypoints and airports simply by clicking on the appropriate icons on the online chart. I also wished to add one custom waypoint for the Arlington Park racetrack which was easy enough to do with a right-click.
After you select your route if you have aircraft entered into the system it will generate a navlog with the appropriate speeds. As you get closer to flight time you can run weather reports for the route of flight and then the AOPA flightplanner updates your navlog with the appropriate speeds and headings accounting for the winds. If you plan on filing a flightplan you can do that too from the system. All routes your create can then be saved for future reference. If you are an AOPA member I highly recommend you check it out.
For this flight I brought along my traditional sectionals but left them in the backseat. Instead the Jeppesen VFR+GPS Great Lakes (GL-3) Chart sat in my lap for most the flight. I first learned about these maps while at AirVenture this summer. Most of my flying takes place in northern Illinois and throughout Wisconsin which would require a few sectionals. With this chart I could fly from Champaign, IL to Cherryland Airport in Door County, WI with a single chart.
These new charts have ditched the greenish color we all are familiar with from our sectionals and instead is white allowing colors used for airspace, airways and airports to pop more. I feel they have made these charts easier to read. One major improvement was the very clear markings of ceilings and floors of airspace. These charts took into account that so many pilots are using GPS in flight and are designed with that type of flight in mind.
Many pilot shops are starting to stock them but if you can't find them at your local shop you can purchase one directly from Jeppesen. I now keep one in my flightbag for all flights.
February 1, 2009
On Saturday I went for my second familiarization flight in the G1000 enabled Cessna. On my first flight last week we spent most the time reviewing the basic functionality of the G1000 system. Saturday's focus was on how to handle failures and also how to use some of the advanced options such as flight planning and working with the autopilot.
I planned a 120NM cross country flight from Chicago Executive to Rockford (KRFD), De Kalb (KDKB), Schaumburg (06C) and then back to Chicago Executive. After firing up the Cessna my CFI showed me how to enter the entire flightplan into the G1000. We used two GPS waypoints and each airport to set our course. It took only a few minutes to get the hang of it and get the entire flight entered into the system.
My preflight briefing with Flight Service warned me of some light to moderate chop along the route and also some stiff winds. Sure enough as we climbed out of Chicago Executive we got tossed around a bit until we climbed above 2,500 feet at which point the ride became smoother. As I turned the plane west for Rockford we took on a direct 53 knot headwind slowing our forward progression to a measly 52 knots. I felt like I was back in my trusty Cessna 152 I used to train in. I did not mine the slow progression though as we had a beautiful view of the snow-covered farm lands below. It also allowed some time for me to learn how to use the autopilot feature. I was able to engage the autopilot to maintain our flightplan path and to maintain our altitude. It made for a very relaxing flight to Rockford.
As we approached Rockford we learned we would be following in a Boeing 767 which was cool. I have on shared runways with the big tin when flying into Midway. After making a nice landing at Rockford we taxied around to depart on their westbound runway. We had a beautiful view as I lined the airplane up on the centerline the setting sun was directly in front of us. I regret now not snapping a photo before departing. It has been a long time since I have been airborne during a sunset and forgot what a wonderful way it is to enjoy the end of a day.
From Rockford we headed southeast to De Kalb which allowed us to partially benefit from the strong winds from the West. It was after departing De Kalb that we started flying east and now enjoyed the 53 knots of wind as a tailwind. All of a sudden we were cruising along at a ground speed of just over 170 knots.
As we approached Schaumburg it became apparent we were going to have an extremely strong direct crosswind so we decided not to make an landing. Instead we continued on to Chicago Executive for my first night landing in nearly two years. I forgot how your perspective changes at night and flared earlier than I should have and our landing was not nearly as smooth as I would have liked. Though, not even a less than stellar landing could dampen my mood. I love flying this 2 year old Cessna with the G1000. I am now signed off to fly it and look forward to enjoying flights in this plan in 2009!