July 30, 2009

Celebrating Five Years as a Private Pilot

ChicagoAirandWaterShow2008_t-6.jpgI spent much of my childhood and adult life looking up at the sky and dreaming of flying. In April of 2004 I decided to stop dreaming and making learning to fly a reality. Ninety-five days after taking my first introductory flight and after logging 47.2 hours I earned my Private Pilots license on August 1, 2004.

On Saturday, I celebrate five great years enjoying the benefits of my license including all the great places I have flown and experiences I have gained. To honor this milestone I am heading to Oshkosh, I can think of no more appropriate way to enjoy this achievement then a weekend of aviation fun at AirVenture.

In addition to my own personal flying experiences through this blog and the wonderful people I have met I have enjoyed some amazing flying experiences. Below are links to some of my favorite flights, experiences and lessons from the past five years.

Enjoy, I know I have:



Posted at 12:06 AM | Post Category: Flight Experiences | Comments (6) | Save & Share This Story

July 27, 2009

Pilots Unite to Celebrate Aviation at AirVenture

av09_logo.jpgPilots and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world have once again begun to converge on Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for AirVenture, the annual celebration of aviation. This event helps to stoke the fire of enthusiasm for aviation dreamers. I vividly remember attending this event and dreaming of coming back some day as a pilot. This week, I will be making my third visit to AirVenture since realizing my dream. On Saturday I will celebrate the five year anniversary of earning my Pilot's License in the best way possible: surrounded by fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts at Oshkosh.

One of the biggest challenges for a visit to AirVenture is planning your days. I will have little more than two days at this event and will do my best to fit all I can during my time there. The AirVenture website offers a nice planning tool that allows you to search the vast list of activities and meetings and filter them by your own preferences. You can save and print your personalized itinerary. Sadly, they have not figured out a solution to clone speakers or attendees so I am going to have to miss some exciting events to participate in others.

Here are just a few of the events, meetings or sights I plan to enjoy during my visit to AirVenture.


Posted at 7:19 PM | Post Category: AirVenture, Airshows | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

July 22, 2009

Island Hoping to Washington Island

washingtonislandhangar.jpgJulie Summers Walker, Managing Editor of AOPA Flight Training, wrote a great article about 10 "Island Hoping" destinations in the United States. She writes "'Island hopping' may bring to mind Caribbean blue water, but in the United States, there are a number of island escapes, each with its own personality and hue, best visited in a small airplane. Your newly minted private pilot certificate can get you access to places few people get to see."

She recommends ten great island destinations to fly to and even provides some tips for planning an trip to an island based airstrip. Here list of ten Island destinations included:

  1. Tangier Island Airport (TGI), Tangier, Virginia
  2. Mackinac Island Airport (MCD), Mackinac Island, Michigan
  3. Catalina Airport (AVX), Catalina Island, California
  4. Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK), Nantucket Island, Massachusetts
  5. Put in Bay Airport (3W2), South Bass Island, Ohio
  6. Ocracoke Island Airport (W95), Ocracoke, North Carolina
  7. George T. Lewis Airport (CDK), Cedar Key, Florida
  8. Friday Harbor Airport (FHR), Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
  9. Jekyll Island Airport (09J), Jekyll Island, Georgia
  10. Katama Airpark (1B2), Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

washingtonislandairportdeparture.jpgMissing from the authors list was one of my favorite island airports, Washington Island, situated six miles of the northern tip of Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula. If you are planning on visiting Washington Island you will need to arrive by boat, bring your bike or car by ferry or fly into Washington Island Airport. Flying to Washington Island from anywhere south of the Island provides a scenic flight along the Door County Peninsula. The Peninsula is 75 miles long and 10 miles wide and narrows as you travel northeast and culminates with the quaint Washington Island. You will enjoy viewing corn mazes and beautiful bays and lighthouses along the route. On Washington Island there are several great places to catch a bite to eat.

For the 56th year the Lion's Club of Washington Island hosted their Annual Fly-In Fish Boil this past weekend. Typically the event draws planes from all over the Midwest and Canada. The island airport features two runways, one of which was recently closed to be expanded from a 1,300 feet to a more manageable 2,250 feet. When completed the airport will feature two turf runways each with a length of 2,250 feet which will surely make this airport more accessible on those windy days.

Below are some of my photos from a visit to Washington Island Airport last year. If you are looking for a fun place to fly to this summer, I recommend you check out Washington Island.

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Posted at 10:09 PM | Post Category: Door County, Fly-in, Flying Destinations | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

July 12, 2009

Identifying Your Aircraft in Uncontrolled Airspace

In the most recent issue of AOPA Flight Training Rod Machado answers a reader's question about the proper way to describe your airplane when making radio calls in uncontrolled airspace. The Aeronautical Information Manual is unclear stating that pilots should state the "aircraft type, model or manufacturer's name followed by the digits, letters." As soon as I read the question I knew my preference and was interested to read Machado's response which turned out to be in agreement with my method.

Machado suggests identifying your aircraft by manufacturer name rather than model as "some folks may not know all the different models of airplanes." However he explains "most people can tell the difference between a Cessna and a Piper aircraft" based on their wing position.

While approaching an uncontrolled airport last week there were two other aircraft in the vicinity and one was departing the airport toward the direction I was arriving from and I was scanning the horizon for him. The plane in the pattern was a Piper and the departing aircraft announced himself as a Centurion, which sounded familiar but I could not picture the plane. Moments later I saw a high wing planned and assumed that was the southbound traffic. It turns out the Centurion is a Cessna 210. Had he announced that he was flying a Cessna I would have known immediately that this was the plane I was looking for based on its raised wings.

For this reason I have always used "Cessna" in my calls no matter whether I am piloting a Cessna 152, Cessna 172 Skyhawk, or a Cessna 182 Skylane. The only exception is when I am talking to controllers I will often provide both the manufacturer and model as the controllers are often interested in the model to estimate your speed, however at uncontrolled airports I believe the shorter and simpler manufacturer name will suffice.

What is your preference?


Posted at 7:19 PM | Post Category: In the News | Comments (5) | Save & Share This Story