July 5, 2004

Turning Another Page in the Logbook

With my solo flight tonight I added my 26th logbook entry, completing the second page of the book. All in all, I have now flown 32.7 hours including 115 takeoffs and landings at 11 different airports. Of those hours, 6.1 have been on cross-country flights, 3.9 earned at night and 2.8 of the hours were flown while wearing the simulated instrument condition hood. I am 7.3 hours shy of the minimum hours required before one can attempt to earn their license. I expect to knock out about five more hours this week. I need to start thinking about taking that written exam in the next week or so.

Today's flight helped increase my solo hours to 4.3 out of the 10 solo hours required by the FAA. I would say the hour of solo flight today was my best yet. I felt very comfortable flying the plane alone today. So much so that I had no qualms about pulling out the power and simulating emergency landing maneuvers over a farm northeast of Cincinnati. I also worked on my low-level maneuvers, including turns around a point and S-Turns. On my way home I flew over one of my good friends' house which was fun to see from the sky.

When I returned to Blue Ash I completed two nice landings then decided to challenge myself a little further and pulled the power off on the downwind leg, simulating an engine failure while in the pattern. I successfully brought the plane around and landed without the use of the engine. After the flight although I was on the ground I was flying high with confidence.

Tomorrow I will be flying again with my instructor. I will be getting her assistance with flying to towered fields. I want to review that prior to flying my long cross-country flight this weekend that will include a landing at a towered field near Columbus.

Posted at 9:55 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

July 3, 2004

Discovering History from the Air - Civil War Munitions Factory

factorytrees_small.jpgMy 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.

Posted at 5:13 PM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (3) | Save & Share This Story

July 1, 2004

Back in the Saddle Again

The aircraft mechanics were able to repair my ride so I took to the skies tonight. My CFI and I spent some extra time with our pre-flight as we were the first to fly the plane since having the spark plugs replaced. Our review found the plane to be airworthy so we took off for the practice area.

From this point forward I will be flying less and less with my instructor and more on my own. So we decided tonight would be a great night to again review the maneuvers that are tested for on the private pilot check ride. This way I could determine what areas to focus my practice time on during my solo flights. So we went through the list: steep turns, power-on stalls, power-off stalls, slow flight and simulated emergency landings.

Tonight was good for me in that I was able to determine what maneuvers I still need to work on. I was satisfied with how I performed all of the maneuvers but my stalls. I did not maintain altitude as well so I will need to practice those in my next few flights.

This weekend and next week I will practice these maneuvers while I am working on building up my solo hours. I originally was hoping to complete my training prior to Labor Day. I am starting to think I might be able to do it this month. I am off to continue my studying for the written test.

Posted at 9:55 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

Somethings Not Right

magneto.jpgAfter 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.

Posted at 12:02 AM | Post Category: Cessna 152, Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

June 30, 2004

Completing Night Flight Requirements

bolton.jpgOne downside to learning to fly in the summer is that earning night flight hours requires you to commit to a few late nights. I had logged one hour of night flight with two landings before today. The goal tonight was to complete my night flight requirements which included making a cross-country flight of over 50 nautical miles and execute 8 full stop landings and log 2.0 hours of night flight.

I selected Bolton Field (KTZR) a few miles south and west of Columbus. I figured that way I would have Interstate 71 as a visual reference if necessary. I also planned to use a Non-Directional Beacon (NDB) and a Very high frequency Omni-Directional Range station (VOR) to assist with navigation to Bolton field which is approximately 65 nautical miles from Blue Ash.

The evening was absolutely perfect for flying. The winds were calm and the moon was an almost full, making it easier to see ground references. We cruised to Bolton at 5,500 feet and made it there in just about 45 minutes. After landing, my CFI & I walked around the airport for a second to stretch our legs. Then we decided to get back in the air so I could work on the landing requirements.

At Bolton we conducted 7 landings including two with a simulated landing light failure and one simulated engine failure. I was extremelly proud of my landings. I decided I land much better at night then by day. I think the runway lights help me run my eyes up and down the runway rather than fixating on a point. During my daylight flight tomorrow, I will make sure to run my eyes up and down the runway when I land. During our practice at Bolton we were in constant communication with a helicopter that was flying just north of the field about a 1,000 feet of the ground searching for a runaway eight-year-old. We had a friendly conversation with him. I hope they found the child.

The return trip went just as smooth as the first leg. About midway between Cincinnati and Columbus is Wilmington. There is an Airborne Express distribution center that include a multi-runway airport. The traffic had picked up by the time we were passing back past there. It was fun listening to their traffic and watching them come from all directions and landing at a frequent basis.

As we arrived in the Blue Ash area there was no traffic, that might have had something to do with it being one o'clock in the morning. Despite the early hour I was sad the flight was over. I have never felt more like a pilot and closer to earning my license then tonight. My CFI said this was a textbook flight and was really proud of my flight planning and execution. I too was extremelly satisfied especially since this flight helped me complete my night flight requirements of 3.0 hours including 10 full stop landings and a cross-country of 50nm or more.

Posted at 2:02 AM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

June 26, 2004

Exploring New Turf

When I woke up and looked outside I knew it would be a nice day to fly. I was scheduled to fly at noon. By then the temperature would be rising, causing for a more turbulent flight so I regretted not picking an earlier time slot. Despite a little bit of turbulence it was a nice clear day and I think everyone decided to fly today the traffic frequency was busy with airport traffic calls.

We departed the Blue Ash airport and headed north to a new airport for me
Middletown Airport (KMWO). I put the instrument hood on shortly after departure and flew to Middletown under simulated instrument conditions. I chipped away at the instrument training requirement and now I am only .4 hours short of meeting it.

When we arrived at Middletown we entered the pattern for runway 23 which is the paved runway. After a landing there we slid around and entered the pattern for runway 26, the turf runway. I did two full stop turf landings that I was proud off. After each landing I would taxi back on the turf runway then execute a short-field & turf takeoff.

After departing Middletown we headed back for Blue Ash, practicing some steep turns on the way back. On my first approach at Blue Ash I found myself high and the crosswind had pushed me to the side of the center line. As I was making my final descent I also noticed my speed was too high. I followed the three strikes you're out rule my instructor shared with me and decided to abort the landing and go around.

The next landing was better but not perfect. All in all I was happy with the day.

My next flight is Tuesday when I will be doing a night cross-country towards the Columbus area.

Posted at 6:46 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (67) | Save & Share This Story

June 24, 2004

Mastering Landings While Exploring New Airports

Tonight's flight was my best flight in weeks. I mentioned to my CFI that I have not been happy with my landings as of late. I know that pilots go through funks but I was frustrated by it. So we started off with two landings at Blue Ash (KISZ) with the wind running straight down the runway. I think tonight I was just more focused as I had thought about landings for the last two days but it paid off as the landings were great.

So we departed Blue Ash towards Butler County Regional Airport (KHAO) to the west. There we had almost a direct crosswind with winds at about 10 knots. That challenged me a little more but again my landings were on. I would say that the crosswind landings take more concentration but are more gratifying. You dip the wing towards the wind so you can land the wind side wheel first, then bring down the far side wheel followed by the nose gear, preventing the wind from lifting the wind side wing. We executed two landings there then headed farther west.

The next stop was Cincinnati West (KI67) near Harrison, OH. This airport was small. How small you ask? It was so small it did not have a taxiway. Seriously, on an airport this size, you back taxi on the runway. I almost flew past the airport before I saw it. We were landing on runway 19, which is great for practicing short-field landings. There are trees that you need to clear before you quickly descend the last hundred feet to ensure there is time to stop or to perform a touch and go. We did two touch and gos that felt great. I think I prefer the short narrow runways. My instructor explained it is common to have your best landings in those situations because you have to concentrate harder.

On the way back to Blue Ash I put on the hood to do more instrument training. I have less than an hour of instrument training left to meet those requirements. As we reached Blue Ash, my CFI said I could perform a full stop landing or a touch and go. Having such a great night there was no way I was ready to stop so we did a nice touch and go. I knew that I was going to pay for pushing it though. Sure enough on the final landing she pushed my flaps up and told me my flaps failed so I had to execute a landing without use of my flaps. The descent through the pattern was good but I was a little fast on my approach but I was able to bleed the speed on my flare and finished the night with a nice full-stop landing.

I enjoyed seeing two new airports. I have always been one who enjoys new experiences and I find each new airport to be a great experience. As you can imagine, I cannot wait to fly on Saturday when I plan to knock out the rest of my required instrument training.

Posted at 10:53 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

June 22, 2004

Back in the Air

After my longest break from flying since I began learning to fly, I returned to the skies this evening. My last flight was a brief solo flight a week and a day ago. In that flight I had a frustrating night where I just did not feel comfortable behind the yoke. Many of my pilot friends have mentioned this happens from time to time.

The flight got off to an interesting start. I started my roll-out for takeoff and noticed my door was open. I had not yet started to rotate and had plenty of runway so my instructor showed me how to execute an aborted takeoff. After that, things started to pick up. We made a good crosswind take-off and then executed some practice touch-and-gos with a stiff crosswind which I had not had much opportunity to practice before.

We then went to Lunken (KLUK) for some landings at a towered airport which was fun after having not flown to a towered airport in some time. I like the towered pattern since they are monitoring your movement and can advise you of traffic.

After departing the Lunken area, I put the instrument training hood on and did some simulated instrument flying. To make things more interesting, my instructor covered my attitude indicator and my heading indicator simulating a partial instrumentation failure. I was flying without the ability to look outside the window and without two crucial instruments. Surprisingly, flying under these conditions was not as difficult as I originally thought. We flew for 0.6 hours under simulated instrument conditions, getting me closer to having that training checked off my to-do list.

When we returned to the airport we conducted a few simulated short and soft-field landings that require a slower than normal approach and both were executed to within testing standards. When we finished what was a busy evening of flying I had logged another 1.9 hours with 0.6 of simulated instrument training. I next fly on Thursday.

Posted at 9:56 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

June 14, 2004

Logging Some Solo Hours

After a flying-free weekend, I returned to the airport for some solo flying. I knew today would be challenging in that it would be the first time I was soloing without first flying with my instructor. My two previous solo flights were conducted after first flying with instructor for a little while then dropping her off at the airport.

When I arrived at the airport, I conducted the pre-flight. The plane was a little low on oil so I took a quart from the FBO's office and filled it back to 5 quarts, a safe level. When I was satisfied the plane was airworthy I started the engine and taxied out to runway 24. I departed the pattern and flew north of Blue Ash to the practice area where I did a few 45° turns. Then I decided to return to the pattern for some continued work on landings.

I am not sure if my concentration was lacking or if it was my confidence but today I conducted three landings, none of which I was happy with. I think in tomorrow's lesson with my instructor I will ask that we spend some time continuing the practice in effort to get more consistent with nailing perfect landings. I hope to also get some more experience in at towered fields in preparation for my long cross-country, which requires at least one towered field landing. My long cross-country is coming up in little over a week.

Posted at 8:57 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (3) | Save & Share This Story

June 10, 2004

Reviewing Manuevers

The weather in the area surrounding Blue Ash Airport (KISZ) was not good this evening. There were a bunch of storms north and to the west. I called 1-800-WX-BRIEF and talked about the forecast with the weather briefer. It looked like the storms would hold off for about an hour or two.

We decided to fly out to the practice area and work on steep turns and slow flight. I was able to perform both to within the private pilot testing requirements which was a good feeling. As we completed the maneuvers, the weather started to look like it might deteriorate quickly so we returned to the traffic pattern.

On the way back, my instructor asked me to put the Instrument Flight Training Hood on to practice flying in Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) conditions. This was the second time we had practiced with "The Hood" and I felt much more comfortable this time maintaining my course and altitude. Just when I thought I was feeling comfortable my instructor asked to take the controls and asked that I close my eyes. I guess it was not good enough that the hood prevented me from seeing out of the plane now I could not see in the plane. I felt her moving the plane around but sure enough I had troubles telling if we were climbing or descending or turning left or right. She then gave me back control of the plane asked me to open my eyes but keep the hood on. I noticed the climb indicator showed we were descending quickly even though I did not feel it and we were also turning. I pulled up and leveled the wings and brought the plane back into steady flight. It was a great lesson in learning to trust the instruments.

After this we performed five landings. The first was a regular one then we did a simulated soft-field landing, two simulated short-field landings and one emergency landing then called it a day.

Posted at 9:02 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story