January 9, 2005
With the holidays, snowstorms and weeks of rain behind me I was finally able to make it out to the Blue Ash Airport today to fly. I last flew in the first week of December. Being so long since I last flew I spent some time this week refreshing my memory on the Cessna 152 and how weather effects flying in the winter. I went back to my Jeppessen books, my Sporty's Private Pilot Flight Training DVD Course and my Cessna 152 manual. I also took extra time with my pre-flight inspection including some time re-familiarizing myself with the cockpit.
I think every pilot in the Cincinnati area today decided to take advantage of the first nice day for flying in weeks. The airport was a buzz with activity when I arrived. The plane I was renting was the only one of six from my fixed based operator that was not in the sky yet. Since the skies above were filled with aircraft working in the pattern, I took off and flew east of the Blue Ash Airport.
The Ohio Valley has dealt with terrible rain for the past week and most rivers are flooding over in amazing form. From the sky, pilots have a unique vantage point of this devastating force of Mother Nature. I flew for almost an hour viewing overflowing rivers and lakes.
When I returned to Blue Ash the airport was still busy with traffic. There was one pilot who had angered two other pilots by cutting them off in the traffic pattern. It was interesting to listen to their argument, I was glad the reckless pilot landed before I entered the pattern. My first landing of 2005 was under cross wind conditions and was a little bouncy but satisfactory nonetheless since I am here writing to you.
It was great to get airborne again. I am hoping the weather gets better allowing me to fly more in January.
December 5, 2004
After a three-week hiatus I found some time to get back in the cockpit of the trusty Cessna 152. This is the longest break I have had between flights so I decided I would spend the day in the pattern re-familiarizing myself with the plane and work on my landings.
As I expected, my first few landings were sloppy. In each case I found that I was too fast on my final approach, causing the plane to bounce a little on the first landing and float longer than planned on the second landing. Realizing the problem was my speed in the pattern, I made a conscious effort to fly a slower pattern the next time around and made a much better landing. I continued to improve on the next three and was completely satisfied with my final landing of the day.
It was great to get back in the air and I hope I will be able to fly again this week. With this flight I completed the fourth page in my logbook. I thought now would be a good time to summarize some of the statistics:
- Total hours flown: 63.3 hrs
- Dual hours flown: 37.1 hrs
- Solo hours flown: 26.2 hrs
- Cross-country hours flown: 13.5 hrs
- Night flight hours flown: 5.6 hrs
- IFR Hood flight time: 3.2 hrs
- Landings: 206
- Airports flown to: 15
September 15, 2004
Tonight, as I would be flying alone, I decided to take a flight in the Cessna 152 which I had not flown in the past few weeks. I really enjoy this plane. I think it is an ideal aircraft if one is flying alone and not worried about traveling long distances; perfect for a night like tonight.
I took off from Blue Ash with a nice crosswind. I had not flown a take-off or landing in a crosswind in a while so it was nice to get a few take-offs and landings in these conditions under the belt. I then flew to Lebanon-Warren County Airport, a small airport about 15 miles north of my home base. It is a nice airport because they have some pretty land surrounding it, a nice long runway, and very little traffic. I performed two really nice landings there before returning to Blue Ash.
I logged 1.1 hours tonight and enjoyed every minute of it. I had been having troubles with my landings in the 172 as of late. It was nice to see I still had the touch in the 152.
August 6, 2004
The Midwest is being blessed with a beautiful weekend. Temperatures are in the mid-seventies and the skies look to be clear for a few days. The wife and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and the new pilot's license with an after-work flight today. We met at the airport and decided to fly to Oxford, Ohio home of Miami University.
The winds and turbulence made for a bumpy ride to Oxford but once we made it there the ride seemed to smooth itself out. It only took us about 15 minutes to get there while by car it easily takes an hour.
Prior to our flight today, I had visited one of my favorite aviation resources, AirNav.com, that offers great airport information. For most airport listings they provide a variety of pertinent information and often the display a photo of the airport. I noticed they did not have a photograph on file for Miami University Airport in Oxford. It is the first time I had found an airport on their site without a photo.
So I decided to bring the digital camera along for our flight. My wife captured a nice photograph of the airport that I will submit to AirNav.com later today (view the photo). As you can see the airport is in the process of building a taxi-way. Currently pilots need to taxi back down the runway after landing.
I fly next on Monday when I will take my first flight in the Cessna 172. The 172 is a four passenger Cessna that is not only bigger than the 152, but more powerful too. I will be flying with my instructor in that just to ensure I am comfortable with the transition to the larger plane.
July 12, 2004
This afternoon I had the Cessna 152 scheduled for a solo flight. I had decided earlier this week that I wanted to work on landings at a controlled airport while flying alone. In my one my recent flights with my CFI we spent some time making landings at Lunken, the closest towered airport to my home field.
As a solo student you can only land at airports that you have been endorsed for by your instructor and mine had recently signed me off for Lunken. After departing Blue Ash, I flew north away from the airport, and from Lunken, and did some S-turns and steep turn practice. After checking the weather at Lunken, I contacted the tower and was cleared to land on runway 21R. I made two touch and gos then followed those with two stop and gos. I felt really comfortable in my communication with the tower and made some nice crosswind landings.
After that I returned to Blue Ash. Tonight's flight was a lot of fun. I originally planned to do just the two landings and spend about an hour in the plane but things were going so well I just wanted to continue the practice and ended up earning 1.5 more solo hours.
July 3, 2004
My flight training has progressed well and most of my remaining requirements are related to solo flight time. I reserved the Cessna 152 for this morning, but unfortunately when I arrived at the airport, the visibility was poor. It was below the 5 statue miles that I am approved to solo in. So I rescheduled for later in the day. I was disappointed but am learning that patience is important an important virtue for pilots. By 11:30 it was beautiful so I returned to the airport and I flew northeast to the practice area we use. There I practiced slow flight, S-turns and steep turns.
While I was doing my steep turns I noticed a cool old factory along a river. It looked to be abandoned but was a beautiful site surrounded by trees on all but one side where the river ran by it. I was intrigued by it so I circled a few times looking for the roads leading to it. They were hard to follow due to the canopy of trees. I was, however, able to track a road back to the highway. I returned to the airport and performed a nice crosswind landing.
I drove home and asked my wife to join me on an adventure. I drove back north of Cincinnati to the King's Mills area. We meandered through a set of winding roads before we crossed a river where we found the Peters Cartridge Company building. It looked to have been abandoned for several years, it might have been the trees growing inside that gave it away. We looked around for a little bit and took some pictures.
There is some interesting history behind this factory. It was built in the 1860s and served as a munitions manufacturing plant for the Union Army during the Civil War making cannonballs and bullets. Later on the factory was used to make munitions for Remington then most recently before being closed it was managed by Columbia Records who used it to press and store vinyl discs. ForgottenOhio.com has some interesting history and photos about this plant including a few ghost stories.
Discovering sites I would have otherwise never seen is just another wonderful benefit of learning to fly.
July 1, 2004
After a great cross-country night flight I was anxious to get back in the plane. My CFI and I headed out to the run-up area next to the runway to do our pre-flight checklist. The airplane has two sets of magnetos which provide the spark for the engine's spark plugs. There are right and left magnetos to provide a redundancy. While the plane can fly with just one set, you would not want to initiate a flight with only one set functioning. Prior to take-off you check to ensure that both sets work on their own just in case one set fails during flight.
To test the magnetos you run the engine up to about 1700 RPM (for the Cessna 152) and then you go from using both to using each individually. You should not see more than a 100 RPM drop when you go from both magnetos to just one nor should there be more than a 50 RPM difference between RPM level each displayed individually.
Unfortunately, last night the left magneto kept dropping dramatically. This is often caused by a carbon build which is in turn caused from the fuel mixture not being leaned properly in flight. The built up carbon can often be burned off by running the engine at a higher RPM for a short period of time. My CFI and I have done that several times in the past. Today, however, it did not solve the problem. in fact, the problem became worse.
Sadly, we decided to scrub the flight. We took the plane back in and talked to the mechanics. They mentioned the spark plugs probably need to be cleaned or replaced. I am hoping they can get that taken care of today so I can fly tonight.
It is tough to miss out on a night of flying but obviously the smart decision.
June 1, 2004
After dreaming of becoming a private pilot for so many years, I took one step closer to realizing that dream tonight. I flew the plane solo for the first time. After my last lesson, my CFI urged me to get my Medical Certificate and Student Pilot License, as I was ready to be signed off for solo flight. That was both exciting and a little nerve wracking to hear. But surprisingly for most of the Memorial Day weekend I thought about things other than flying and was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.
Terrible storms came through the Midwest over the holiday but left cooler weather with clear skies behind. The weather looked great all day but as the day continued the winds began too pick up. I was worried they might become to strong for my instructor to feel comfortable with me soloing. I thought I might arrive at the airport nervous, instead I arrived focused and excited for today's opportunity. I checked the weather and although the winds were strong, they were coming straight down the runway. It was a perfect night to fly with or without an instructor.
After pre-flighting the aircraft, my instructor and I took off to do some landing practice. She had me execute a few regular landings followed by a simulated flap failure landing and then an emergency landing with no engine. I remembered my earlier lesson that with the strong tailwind on downwind that I needed to turn early on base if my engine was dead in order to ensure the plan could reach the runway safely. After successfully completing that maneuver my CFI asked me to bring the plane to a full stop and return to the terminal. She asked if I was ready to solo and I said I was. She got out and sent me on my way.
I taxied to the runway and without hesitation took to the air once my pre-takeoff check list was complete. There was little traffic around Blue Ash today which allowed me to focus on my flying. When I didn't have my instructor their monitoring my every move, I was much more vigilant, ensuring I was flying the perfect pattern. On my first approach, I looked down to see I was hitting my airspeed and descent rate perfectly and I brought the plane down for a soft landing. I followed that up with two more great trips around the pattern. My last landing was the best one I have made to date. I am sure that was partially due to the excitement of having completed my first solo flight.
All in all, I flew solo for only .3 hours with three take-offs and landings. It may seem small but I am sure any pilot will tell you the time spent on their first solo will always be remembered. I know that June 1, 2004 will be a date I will remember for the rest of my flying days.
This seems to be a great time to recap my flight training. I started my training 34 days ago and have had 12 lessons to date. I have logged 13.7 hours of flight time, with 0.3 of those hours solo. During those lessons I have made 55 take-offs and landings. In a perfect world this is where I am supposed to say joy of flight - priceless. In the real world the cost for this great experience thus far is $1529.70. I share this for those who are thinking of learning to fly and want to know what it will really takes to earn a private pilots license.
I am now cleared to train solo at my leisure. I plan to fly with my instructor twice this week with the next flight on Thursday. Next week I might take advantage of my new privileges and do some solo training. Thanks to my wife, my family, friends and instructor for all the support!
May 28, 2004
Prior to being endorsed by a CFI to fly the plane solo a student must pass a written pre-solo exam, review the required flight maneuvers, receive a Class III Medical Certificate with Student Pilot License and meet the approval of the instructor. Today's lesson was my opportunity to show off the knowledge and skills I had learned in my first 10 lessons.
I arrived at the airport excited for the flight. For the first time in almost five flights the weather was beautiful with no threat of storms. The weather also helped by offering up a crosswind at the airport. This allowed me to practice and demonstrate the crosswind landing. For the past few flights, the wind was coming straight down the runway not providing a crosswind landing training environment.
We decided to start with the crosswind landings just in case the weather changed before we returned. In a crosswind landing you dip the wing on the wind side of the plane slightly to keep the wind from getting under the wing and rolling the airplane or supplying one wing with more lift than the other. We did two crosswind landings without fault and moved on to the practice area.
In the practice area we reviewed everything I have learned to date including: power-on and power-off stalls, steep turns, emergency landing maneuvers, ground reference maneuvers, traffic patterns, radio communications and landing with the use of slips. We also decided to do a few touch and gos at Warren Co. Lebanon Airport (KI68), a new airport for me.
After returning to Blue Ash and performing a simulated emergency landing with power off, we taxied back to the flight school tarmac. Next, I took a 21-question written exam used to evaluate my knowledge of regulations, safety procedures and other required knowledge needed to fly a plane safely without an instructor in the cockpit. I did very well on the exam and afterwards my instructor flipped to the back of the logbook. There she signed the "Pre-solo aeronautical knowledge" for the C-152 and Blue Ash Airport. At first the CFI endorses you to only fly from the airport where training was received.
This is the first of many endorsements during my flight training. The next one will be my "Pre-solo flight training" which my instructor hinted she will sign on Tuesday when I am scheduled to fly next. With those two endorsements and the student pilot license/medical certificate class III I will be legal to solo.
If the weather conditions are right I will likely fly with my CFI for a little while on Tuesday and then she will step out and have me fly a few touch and gos solo while she watches from the ground while manning a radio in case I need assistance. I am very excited for Tuesday and think I am ready to fly the plane alone.
May 22, 2004
While learning to fly I have seen proof that pilots will use any excuse to fly. One of the more famous excuses is to enjoy the $100 Hamburger. When a pilot flies to another airport to get lunch in another town it is considered a $100 hamburger because of the cost of the flight. In today's lesson I came across some more excuses to fly.
My local airport was having a pancake breakfast fly-in this morning. Pilots were invited to fly in for a pancake breakfast and while the pilots eat they could have their aircraft washed for a fee. My airport was not the only one in the area inviting pilots in for food today. Sporty's Pilot Shop based at the Clermont Airport was offering free hot dogs for pilots who flew in.
So this morning before my flight my Wife and I drove over to Blue Ash and ate some pancakes, cooked by members of the international aviation fraternity, Alpha Eta Rho. My wife then had her first opportunity to watch me pre-flight with the instructor and take-off towards Clermont.
I am finding that each lesson becomes my best lesson yet. I really enjoyed today's flight because instead of just doing maneuvers, we really went out and flew to a few different airports. When we were in the downwind leg of the traffic pattern at Clermont, my instructor pulled the throttle out and asked me to simulate an engine-out emergency landing. I was able to complete the final turns and line the plane up on final approach and glide the plane down for a smooth landing. Since I had filled up on pancakes back at Blue Ash, we passed on the free hot dogs and took off towards Lunken.
Lunken is the first airport I trained at and is a controlled airport. After spending the last two lessons at uncontrolled fields it took a moment to remember the protocol. I think my tower tour helped my confidence in talking with the tower. We made a nice landing at Lunken then turned north to return to a busy traffic pattern at Blue Ash. We flew into line following two planes ahead of us and 1 behind us and maneuvered through the traffic pattern. Once the plane ahead of me cleared the runway I brought the C-152 down nice and easy onto the runway, completing my longest flight yet. I logged 1.5 hours, performing 5 take-off and landings at three different airports.
I am not sure I will need excuses like pancakes, hot dogs or hamburgers to go flying on a beautiful Saturday but it sure doesn't hurt.