March 9, 2011
Did you know that the Garmin Store in Chicago will offer pilots an hour of instruction on the G1000 with a Certified Flight Instructor for free? When Rod Rakic, of MyTransponder, shared this with me I thought he had spent too much time above 10,000 feet without oxygen. Surely he knows nothing in aviation comes free, especially training.
I am happy to report he was spot on. Garmin offers a GPS Academy from which you can select a variety of training options for their GPS devices, most of which require a purchase. However, that is not the case with the G1000 Mentor Simulator Tutorial which is a free course to FAA Certified pilots and student pilots. The course is an hour long one-on-one session in the FRASCA Mentor Simulator featuring the G1000 glass cockpit suite.
Hayley, the Garmin CFI, walked me through the PFD and MFD and we discussed the core functionality of the system which I felt I already had a good handle on. Next, I put in a flightplan for a departure from Midway to South Bend, Indiana. I wanted to get more familiar with the auto pilot functionality and some of the more hidden features like drawing extended runway lines.
Learning the G1000 in actual flight can be daunting. You need to be careful not to get fixated on the G1000, forgetting to keep your head outside the cockpit and flying the plane. Learning on the Garmin store simulator is more efficient. I was able to focus on the G1000 and learning the flows required to successfully use the device with less concern for the plane and no hobbes meter lightening my wallet.
If you are planning to transition to an airplane with a G1000 cockpit and don't have access to the Garmin store, I highly recommend these G1000 Training tools. All of which provide great detailed information on the G1000. Though, in my mind you can't beat flying a simulator in real life conditions with a CFI sitting by your side for free.
Next time you are in Chicago I highly recommend you schedule some time with the Garmin CFI, simply click on GPS Academy on the Garmin Store website to get started. While you are there enjoy the rest of their drool-worthy gadgets in their Michigan Avenue store.
March 7, 2011
An issue of any aviation magazine does not ship to the printer without some reference to hangar flying. The phrase has been around nearly as long as aviation and is used to describe the conversations and discussions had by pilots sitting around a hangar. However, in my experiences, hangar flying is more often a myth then a reality and I was starting to wonder if this art form was slowly dying.
The fact of the matter is less than a half a percent of the population are pilots. So although many people are intrigued by what we do, it can be hard to find people who want to talk about aviation for hours on end. When I was first learning to fly at Blue Ash Airport in Cincinnati, OH, I fell in love with hangar flying. The flight school had a couch that sat in a covered area outside the FBO office where you could sit and listen to and watch the activity on the airport. After a lesson I would sit there with my instructor to debrief and within a few minutes the crowd would grow and the hangar talking would begin. As a student this was a great way to stay motivated and also to learn from others. I wonder if without that bonding experience if I would have stuck with it, I like to think I would have but it is hard to determine the role the camaraderie at the airport played in my ongoing motivation.
Unfortunately, since moving home to Chicago in 2005, I have been unable to find true aviation camaraderie around the airport. I can find it online but it was missing at the airport. I belonged to a flight club that, despite a healthy membership roster, did nothing to foster social activities between members. I came to the airport to fly then left right after.
Finally fed up with that experience I went on the search for something better and came across my new club, Leading Edge Flying Club, which was created out of the same frustration I had been experiencing. This club focuses on the social aspect of flying. They offer monthly fly-outs to encourage pilots to share the costs of flying and to learn from each other. In the summer they organize cook-outs on the tarmac and most importantly, they offer a welcoming environment in the hangar clubhouse with a view of the flightline that encourages loitering. My previous club had metal chairs with their back turned to the airport that encouraged you to go home after flying. I now advise prospective student pilots that if their flight school does not have a couch, walk out.
Beyond the benefits of enjoying aviation on the ground through hangar flying I am learning I am enjoying sharing flight time with a broader group of pilots from novice pilots to airline captains. This past weekend I participated in my second club fly-out. We had nine pilots who saddled up into four aircraft for a day trip from Chicago to Kalamazoo to visit the Air Zoo museum. This is a flight I could have done on my own but it would have cost significantly more and I would have been missing out on the camaraderie and a chance to learn from my fellow pilots. These types of activities will keep new and old pilots engaged in our community.
With the decline in the pilot population I think it is important for us all to find a way to maximize our experiences in aviation. I would never have said my fire for aviation needed to be re-kindled but my experiences with Leading Edge have definitely stoked the fires. I am getting a lot more out of my trips to the airport now that I have found a club that offers more than simply access to a plane.
Let's all do more to continue to make the general aviation community an engaging one and keep everyone active in the community.
March 5, 2011
Since becoming an active member of the aviation community, I have been blessed that people who own or have access to some cool planes have offered to share their aircraft with me. As a result I have been blessed to fly-in the Blue Angels Fat Albert, B-17 Flying Fortress, Waco Bi-plane, T-34 Mentor and the Red Bull aerobatic helicopter to name a few. I have also had the opportunity to fly the T-6 Texan and learn aerobatics in the Extra 300.
A week from today I will have an opportunity to log my first time behind the controls of a jet aircraft. My friends at Gauntlet Warbirds have offered to give me an an hour of instruction in their L-39 Albatros. The Czechoslovakian made L-39 Albatros is a high-performance turbofan jet trainer. At its peak it was used by nearly forty air forces as a light attack aircraft and jet trainer. The L-39 Albatros is still in use by the military of more than 30 countries. I am told this is an easy to fly jet aircraft that packs the ability to fly at just under 500 knots nearly three times as fast anything I fly on a regular basis.
Gauntlet Warbirds is an aerobatic, tailwheel and wardbird training center based outside of Chicago at the Aurora Airport. They offer training and rides in the T-6 Texan, Extra 300 and Decathlon. The L-39 Albatros is not approved by the FAA for rides but Gauntlet Warbirds is one of a dozen schools in the U.S. that offer training in the aircraft. Follow them on Twitter (@gwarbirds) to be entered in a quarterly drawing to win a flight in the T-6 Texan.
I am like a kid before Christmas, filled with anticipation for this flight. I have become a 10-day weather forecast addict (so far the weather looks good) and I might have accounted for the majority of the views of this L-39 video. I look forward to sharing this experience with you all in the coming week!
This flight has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 2nd after the flight on the original date was canceled due to excessive winds.
March 4, 2011
Discovery Channel's wildly successful series Flying Wild Alaska has been greenlighted for a second season. The show debuted on January 14 of this year in record breaking fashion. The premier was the highest-rated new series launch in Discovery Channel's history.
Whew, what a relief. For the past eight weeks this show has been my kick-off to the weekend and although I was hopeful it would be back for another season, I had not seen confirmation until recently that it would return for a second season.
I have enjoyed getting a glimpse into the way of life of the bush pilots and the Tweto family. It seems I am not alone in my love for this show. Clark Bunting, President and General Manager of Discover Channel commented "Viewers have simply fallen in love with the quirky Tweto family and their intrepid team of pilots, and we're excited to see how much more they push the limits next season."
Ariel Tweto one of the stars on the show was a guest on Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show this past week. You can tell from the comments on this video that she is a crowd favorite.