January 24, 2013
Nine States, four aircraft and nearly 40 hours of flying capped of a spectacular 2012. Just two years ago I logged the fewest hours since earning my license in 2004 with just 6.2 hours. About that time I joined the Leading Edge Flying Club. A club focused on the perfect combination of Great People and Great planes. Since then I have continued to increase my annual hours, 18.2 in 2011 and back to the level I hope to maintain 39.1 in 2012.
The year started off with a bang helping to ferry a Navy SNJ often referred to as the T-6 Texan from Chicago to Chino, CA. I flew back seat on the ferry flight that helped position the aircraft at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School where it would be used for a few weeks of training. During two days we logged 14+ hours in the Texan and added six states and 9 airports to my logbook. This will surely go down as one of my best flying experiences since earning my license in 2004.
The rest of the summer I spent time familiarizing myself with a variety of new aircraft. Nearly 75% of my 200 hours of flight time has been logged in Cessnas . However, the Leading Edge Flying Club has a fleet that includes a Cirrus SR20, Piper Dakota, Piper Archer and a sKy Arrow. Missing from the fleet is anything from Cessna. As a result I decided I finally had to convert and take the deep dive into the Piper Family, a move I have been very satisfied with.
My first big trip in the Piper Archer was in June when I planned another multi-state cross country, this time for trip down memory lane. As part of my checkout flight in the Archer I flew with Simple Flight Radio Host and CFI, Al Waterloo, to Blue Ash Airport just outside of Cincinnati. It was there that I did most of my primary training and successfully passed my checkout ride. I remember well the warm afternoon that I passed my test and then was surprised to find my wife there waiting to be the first to go for a ride. Unfortunately, this trip would be my last to Blue Ash as it was shuttered just a few months after this flight. I was glad to get one more flight through the pattern at Blue Ash before the closed it down.
One of my favorite flight experiences of the year was a corn run with my Dad. We flew to a little grass strip in Harvard, Illinois which is just minutes from Twin Garden Farms, suppliers of some of the best corn in the world. We took the Archer up and filled it with corn. This was a flight that kept on giving, at least for a few weeks.
Determined to log more cross country time than in any other year I joined several club members on a flyout to Gastons, AK in September. I logged several of the legs as Pilot in Command including the initial leg from Chicago Executive Airport to St. Louis' Lambert Field. The landing there was my first Class B experience, a great learning experience for sure. After an enjoyable time at a resort in Gastons I flew the first of the return legs from Gastons to Champaign, IL. Low ceilings on departure necessitated and instrument flight plan. We quickly flew up out of the soup and found ourselves with a lovely view looking down at the clouds. I loved getting some experience in actual instrument conditions and am further inspired to seek my instrument rating as a result.
One last highlight of 2012 was being a guest on Simple Flight Radio on two occasions. In September I was invited as guest to talk about my flight experiences any MyFlightBlog.com. Then in November I joined Marc and Al as an honorary co-host for an evening in which we interviewed AOPA's Adam Smith and talked about the role Flying Clubs play in rebuilding the aviation industry. It was a ton of fun on both occasions and I look forward to helping them out more in the future!
With my flight experiences in 2012 I feel like I successfully converted from being a Cessna guy to a Piper guy. That being said I am excited about expanding the number of Piper's I am signed off to fly. Late in 2012 I started logging some time in the Piper Dakota which is a Complex plane, those are not my words but literally the classification for the aircraft. Weather was not my friend in late December and I was unable to complete the checkout. However, in the coming weeks I hope to finalize the checkout in the Dakota and my first complex aircraft.
I am hoping to make 2013 another great year of aviation. I look forward to sharing the experiences with you!