August 1, 2004

Mission Accomplished - Private Pilot ASEL Earned!

post_cride_200.jpgNinety-five days ago, I set out to make a dream become a reality - to earn my private pilots license. Today, I passed my oral exam and private pilot check ride and earned my Private Pilot - Airplane Single Engine Land license.

I will write a more detailed post in the coming hours or days about the specifics of my oral exam and flight test. I really appreciated the detailed accounts that other pilots posted on the message boards. My exam took a little over two hours, evenly split between flight time and the oral exam, and was an enjoyable process.

As I touched down on runway 6 the instructor said "all that is left is for me to fill out some forms, congratulations". I knew I had a great flight but hearing him say that was awesome. Even better was that my wife was waiting at the airport willing and ready to be the first passenger despite some fears of flying in a small plane. After the paperwork was completed, I thanked the examiner and my instructor and went off to exercise some of my new privileges.

kingsisland_small.jpgMy wife and I fueled up and took off for a brief sight seeing tour. We flew north and circled King's Island amusement park when she took a photograph or two. We decided to make this a nice short flight to get her acclimated to the small plane experience. But I was proud of her as she was very confident flying with me really seemed to enjoy it.

My goal of earning my private pilots license is complete but my flying adventures have just begun. I will continue to post about my flying experience on this blog on a regular basis. Additionally, if at some point I decided to get my instrument rating I will track those experiences as well.

Posted at 3:30 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Save & Share This Story

July 28, 2004

Flight Requirements Fulfilled

navlog.jpgIn order to earn a Private Pilot's license, a candidate must complete 40 hours of flight training. Additionally, one must meet many sub-requirements. I have completed over 40 hours of training but had one remaining outage. I was 0.8 hours short of the 5.0 hours of solo cross country flight time requirement.

So today I flew from my home base of Blue Ash to Fleming-Mason Airport in Kentucky, which was the site of my first cross-country flight. Tonight was a perfect night for flying with a high ceiling, great visibility and smooth skies. The flight there took just over 40 minutes. I realized since this airport is somewhat off the beaten path for motorists, I probably made the trip in half the time it would have taken by car. In fact I map-blasted the route and it would have taken an estimated 1 hour and 37 minutes by car. Flying is nice, isn't it?

The return flight was great. I climbed to 4,500 feet and had a wonderful view of Cincinnati along the river. The sun dropped beyond the horizon and the lights of the city and its many bridges were magnificent. I really enjoy evening flying. I arrived back to a quiet Blue Ash Airport, satisfied that all my flight requirements are complete.

Tomorrow I will fly with my instructor to review for my flight exam which is scheduled for Saturday weather permitting.

Posted at 10:38 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

July 22, 2004

Preparing for the Flight Test

With my long cross-country completed, my focus now is preparing for my check flight exam in little over a week. So my instructor and I planned to spend today's lesson reviewing all flight maneuvers.

When I walked out the front door of my office I felt like I walked into an oven. It was really humid and still very hot, in the low 90s. I was sweating by the time I completed my pre-flight of the plane. When we got in the plane it was even hotter in there with as there was no breeze. My instructor decided to quiz me on equipment within the plane. I was having a hard time concentrating due to the heat. All I wanted to do was start the engine so we could get some air moving around the cabin.

I felt much better once we got up in the air. We flew much of the flight with the windows open which can be fun and provide a nice cooling effect for the cockpit. My instructor would tell me to fly to one location then another, testing my ability to navigate using ground references, my navigational devices and my maps. One destination was to Hook Field in Middletown. That field has an asphalt runway and a turf runway. But when we arrived we noticed the storms from the previous night had left the turf runway in bad shape so we simulated turf landing on the asphalt runway.

After that, we went further north to the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport and did a touch and go there. After I proved I could navigate my way around the Cincinnati & Dayton areas, I performed slow flight maneuvers followed by stalls. We then moved right into the turning maneuvers; s-turns, turns around a point and 45-degree bank turns. Then we finished the day with an emergency landing procedure.

At the end of the flight, my instructor mentioned that I completed most of the maneuvers within practical test standards (PTS) but she did want me to practice a few maneuvers before my flight exam. I need to work on verbally saying my checklists so the check flight instructor knows that I know what I am doing. I also need to work on my power-off stalls and s-turns. I think I will have two or three more lessons before my test so I will plan to master those manuevers before the exam.

Posted at 10:49 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 20, 2004

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

The adage, "Good things come to those who wait", proved true this evening. For the past two weeks I have been prepared and excited to fly my long cross-country trip. But each time weather prevented me from making the flight. After the last let down I prepared myself for another attempt today. Yesterday it looked like there was still a chance of bad weather but as the afternoon came around the weather report was looking great.

I arrived at the airport and my CFI quickly signed off on my flight plan. I think it was easy for her to do so since she had several times before reviewed my flight planning and been satisfied with my abilities to accurately plan a cross-country. That is the bright side of all the bad weather was having many opportunties to re-architect the flight.

With the appropriate endorsements in the book I pre-flighted the plan and took off to the north. It was a beautiful night with light winds and great visibility. Once airborne I contacted the Dayton Flight Watch Center and opened my flight plan. The flight to Columbus went smoothly. When I was within 10 miles of my first stop, Bolton Field in Columbus, I contacted the tower. They asked me to contact them on the downwind leg. The problem was I was having troubles locating the field. I had flown there during my night cross-country and it was much easier to see at night. I had to contact the tower and get vectors to the field. The tower was very friendly and soon enough I found myself on the ground enjoying a nice barbeque sandwich at JP's Barbeque Ribs. It was my first "$100 Hamburger" of my young flying career and it was wonderful.

When pre-flighting the aircraft for the next leg I had a nice chat with the pilot of the plane next to me. I am continuously amazed at how friendly the brotherhood of pilots is. After departing from Bolton I flew to Green Country Lewis A. Jackson Airport just outside of Xenia, Ohio. This was a fun airport to fly into, as the airport sat atop a hill and the runway edge was about 100 feet above the road below it and there were lakes to the side. I made a quick full stop landing then departed to the south-west.

I flew south of Dayton and enjoyed seeing Dayton from the sky. After Dayton there was little but farms and open land until I arrived over Oxford, Ohio home of the great Miami University. I flew over Yager Stadium home of the Miami Redskins (err Redhawks) football team who went 13-1 last seaon. After overflying Yager Stadium I made a left turn onto a 2-mile final for runway 23 at Miami University Airport. After landing, I had to taxi back on the runway as the field does not have a taxiway. I then departed on Runway 23 for my short trip back to my home field at Blue Ash.

The final leg went quickly and soon enough I found myself making a picture perfect landing on runway 24 at Blue Ash. It is hard to explain the excitement and sense of accomplishment I felt as I taxied in at Blue Ash. I had just flown to four different airports, filing flight plans along the way, making four great approaches and landings all while covering over 170 miles and did it all on my own. I really felt like a pilot today and that felt great!

Posted at 11:23 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Save & Share This Story

July 17, 2004

Practice, Practice, Practice

The weather prevented me from flying my cross-country flight once again. The weather was not too bad locally but the forecast for the Columbus and Dayton areas was not promising with high probability of thunderstorms and low level cloud cover.

So my instructor and I agreed I should continue practicing my maneuvers in preparation for the flight exam. I flew out to the practice area and worked on slow flight, stalls and emergency procedures. I think the area I need the most improvement on is my slow flight maneuvers. Keeping my altitude and speed consistent while in slow flight is my biggest challenge. So, I will continue to work on that.

When I returned I scheduled the plane for Tuesday in hopes of being able to complete my long cross-country then. I also spoke to my instructor and we scheduled a few lessons in which she will simulate the role of an FAA examiner and help me get comfortable with test environment and conditions. Then we scheduled my FAA checkride for Saturday, July 31 - two weeks from today!

Posted at 8:14 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 15, 2004

Wind Gusts Call Off Cross Country

windsock.jpgLast weekend I canceled my first attempt at my long cross country flight. My flight to three airports and over a distance of 150 nautical miles could not be made due to thunderstorms throughout my flight path. So I decided I would plan on a second attempt at this flight for this upcoming weekend. Sadly all week the forecast for the weekend had been deteriorating while the skies were clear all day yesterday and today. So I decided I might try to sneak it in this evening.

I quickly recalculated my navigation log numbers based on today's condition. The log helps in the navigation of the multi-destination flight and includes my checkpoints and my and ground speed corrected for winds. The winds aloft were high at 16-20 knots but the winds along the surface were not too bad. The flight plan was looking good.

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the airport the winds had begun to pick up and to my dismay they were at almost completely perpendicular to the runway. I have become much more comfortable with my crosswind landings recently so that did not concern me so much. When I learned that my home base airport and one of my destination airports were experiencing periodic gusts up to 25 knots, however, I knew I had been stopped again by the weather. I called flight service and they confirmed these conditions would remain for a few more hours. I decided to abort the trip.

Now I will have to hope for an opening of nice weather sometime this weekend as I am anxious to get this long cross-country flight completed.

Posted at 7:48 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 12, 2004

Flying Solo to Controlled Airport

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.

Posted at 8:38 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 10, 2004

Stormy Day Illustrates a Change of Priorities

footy.jpgFor the past four years I have spent most of the spring, summer and fall playing and promoting the sport of Australian Rules Football with the Cincinnati Dockers. The Dockers are members of the United States Australian Football League which started in Cincinnati about 8 years ago. On any nice day I would often get outside to have a kick of the footy or to promote the game. This season I have played several games with the Dockers but have missed several practices and a road game so that I could fly.

This week I knew I was ready to make my long cross-country. Despite having a home football match scheduled versus the Pittsburgh Wallabies I decided I would miss the game so I could fly the cross-country flight. When I woke up and called the Dayton Flight Service Station for a weather update, however they recommended against my Visual Flight Rules(VFR) cross-country trip due to low visibility, low cloud ceilings and pop-up thunderstorms.

After planning for this trip all week I was disappointed but realized this meant I could atleast make it to my football game. But after breakfast I looked outside and the weather looked great. I waited an hour and called flight service again. They still recommended I pass on the VFR cross-country as the weather to the north was still poor. They did mention I would be safe if I stayed near my home base airport. This is when I realized my hobby priorities had shifted from Aussie Rules to aviation. Without much hesitation I decided to take advantage of the acceptable weather at Blue Ash and fly instead of playing in today's game.

The flight went well. I stayed near Blue Ash for most of the flight and worked on my landings and pattern work. It was one of those days when I felt comfortable flying but did not feel confident enough in the weather to wander far from the airport.

I am inching closer to completing the requirements for my pilots license with my only remaining requirement prior to the flight exam being my long cross-country. While learning to fly I have had to be very single minded and have spent much of my free time studying or spending time in the plane or at the airport. Once I complete my license I am sure flying will be my number one hobby but I look forward to being able to return to the football field to play the great sport of Aussie Rules.

Posted at 2:07 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 8, 2004

Mastering Flight Operations at a Towered Field

My goal for today's flight was to get to the point where I feel as comfortable flying to and around a towered field as I currently do at an uncontrolled tower. When I first started flying I was flying from Lunken, an airport with a control tower and felt comfortable in that environment. But when I had to move my training to the Blue Ash airport, a smaller uncontrolled field, I fell out of practice for communicating with a tower instead of directly to the traffic around the airport on a common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).

I listened to the Automatic Terminal Traffic Information Service (ATIS) to get the current conditions at the airport and then contacted the tower to advise them of my intent to do stop and go landings. The tower asked me to contact them on a 2-mile final for runway 21R. As I passed the three mile mark I contacted them to notify them of my position. At which point I was cleared for the stop and go. I made a nice touchdown in crosswind conditions and came to a complete stop before I was a third of the way down the runway. I then powered up and departed using the next third of the runway.

I stayed in the pattern and would communicate with the tower just prior to my base leg to get the appropriate clearances. After four landings I requested to depart to the north which the tower approved.

On the way back to Blue Ash I put on the instrument training hood. My .4 hours of simulated instrument training brought me to a total 3.2 hours, completing that requirement for earning a private pilots license.

My next flight will be on Saturday when I fly my long solo cross country where I will fly over 150nm, planning to land at four airports. I am off to plan that trip.

Posted at 8:57 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

July 6, 2004

Flight Shortened by Storms

I was scheduled to fly with my instructor this evening but she was delayed on her return trip from her vacation so I decided to work on more solo hours. When I arrived at the airport the weather did not look great but it was within my solo limits. So I fueled up and taxied off.

After making one landing I headed north toward the practice area. About halfway out I did a steep 360° turn and noticed that it looked like the storms were approaching my home airport quicker than expected. So I decided to return to the airport. I made a full stop landing and taxied back after just a half hour of flying. I was happy with my decision, as about 15 minutes later it started to rain and I could see lightning in the distance.

Posted at 7:48 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story