March 30, 2008

Preparing for A Biennial Flight Review

I had my first back to back weekends of flying after completing a flight yesterday. I am working with a CFI to prepare for a Biennial Flight Review either next weekend or the weekend after that. I wanted to take two flights to prepare for the review. In the first flight last week we worked on landings and crosswind landings.

On Saturday, I was blessed with a beautiful day to fly. The goal of the flight was to work on maneuvers we did not practice on the first flight last week. Those maneuvers included power-on and -off stalls, 45 degree turns, and emergency procedures. I performed all the maneuvers well except the 45 degree turns to the left which were a little sloppy but improved the more of them I performed. Both emergency landing maneuvers went well with my CFI and I both being confident I could have safely landed on some poor farmer's field had it been necessary.

Either next weekend or the weekend after that I will go in for the BFR which will consist of at least one hour of ground verbal review followed by at least an hour of flight review in which I need to perform all maneuvers to test standards. I last successfully performed a BFR in September of 2006. I am looking forward to getting this one behind me.

March 16, 2008

Aviation Meetup Group Fly-In

chicagoflight.jpgToday was one of those rare days in which I was able to devote an entire day to aviation. I took a brief break for Breakfast after my morning flight. Then I met John of FlyingChicago.com at the Old T Hangers at Palwaukee where he keeps his 1967 Mooney M20F.

We departed Palwaukee and headed east for a flight down the Chicago Lakeshore en-route to Lansing on the South side of Chicago. We had a beautiful view of the city of Chicago on our way down and on the way back. We were heading to Lansing for the March meeting of the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group. We had a smooth flight to Lansing that only took about 25 minutes due to a nice tailwind.

We met four other aviation enthusiasts at Shannon's Landing, the on airport restaurant where we enjoyed a bite to eat and sharing some aviation stories. After lunch we met Luke from Sun Aero who talked to the group about the helicopter operations and training they offer at Lansing. I learned there are hobbies more expensive then flying, flying helicopters that is. It was cool checking out the inside of some of the smaller helicopters that although small did feel less cramped the then the Cessna 152 I trained in.

After an enjoyable time learning about Helicopters we jumped back in the Mooney and flew back up the lakeshore to Palwaukee. The return flight took a little longer as we were flying in the wind but the Mooney still made great time and appears to be a great trip plane.

Check out some photos from the event below.



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One Hundred Hours of Flying

Normally, I am not an early riser or at least not a fan of rising early. Though, this morning it was easier because I knew I had a day of aviation in front of me. I got up and quickly checked the weather and verified that it looked like the weather would cooperate with the flights I had scheduled for the day.

I started off the day flying out of Chicago Executive Airport in one of my flight clubs Cessna 172SP. Forest a CFI, joined me for the flight as I need to rebuild currency with Windy City Flyers. We flew north to Waukegan Airport where I worked on landings. I conducted six landings there and one go-around which the tower requested when they spotted a coyote on the runway. That was the first time I had ever performed a go-around for that reason.

Total flight time for the morning flight was 1.7 hours which pushed me over the 100 hours of flight time mark. It was great to be back in the plane and I am looking forward to flying more regularly this Spring. I made sure of that by scheduling my next flight in about two weeks.


Posted at 6:05 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172 SP, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

September 6, 2007

Door County Peninsula Flight

door_county_lighthouse.jpgI was back up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend. We were blessed with three days of perfect weather with temperatures in the low 80s, light winds and clear skies. I rented the Orion Flight Service Cessna 172 for a flight along the Door Peninsula.

Surprisingly, their was not much activity at the airport despite the beautiful weather. A Civil Air Patrol flight departed as I was doing my pre-flight but was the only other airplane I encountered at Cherryland Airport. I flew northeast from the airport along the lakeside of the peninsula taking in beautiful views of lighthouses and the shoreline. I turned south as I reached the Northern most tip of the peninsula where I had a nice few to the left of the peninsula and a few islands off to my right.

From there I flew south to Ephraim all the way to the tip of the peninsula with a few islands and over-flew the Ephraim airport. I watched an aircraft takeoff and depart to the north as I entered the downwind leg for landing. Other than the departing traffic the airport was all mine. I decided on the asphalt runway due to the wind direction and because I was not sure how much rain the area had recently received that might have made the turf runway a bad option. I made on full stop landing and taxied back along the runway.

After that I flew back to Cherryland Airport this time enjoying the view of the bay side of the peninsula. I logged 1.1 hours of flight time during the flight bringing me just over 99 hours of flight time. I had hoped to break the 100 hour mark by taking my Dad flying on Monday morning. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the airport I learned that the latch on pilot side door of the plane had broken and needed to be replaced so we had to cancel the flight.


Posted at 6:56 AM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

August 30, 2007

Flying in Uncontrolled and Controlled Airspace

lake_in_the_hills_3CK.jpgOn Saturday I toured the control tower of Chicago Executive Airport with some fellow aviation enthusiasts. During the tour the controllers talked about how they use the radar to ensure safe separation of aircraft in their airspace. Then they explained for the non-pilots how pilots interact with each other to ensure safety when flying at the airport after the control tower closes or at uncontrolled fields. This served as a great reminder for my flight that day which was from a controlled field to an uncontrolled field and back.

After the tour I flew in a Cessna 172SP from Chicago Exec. (KPWK) about 20 miles northwest to Lake in the Hills(3CK) airport, a small single strip uncontrolled airport. Here I flew around the pattern six or seven times while working on crosswind landings. At times there were as many as four aircraft working in the pattern. At an uncontrolled airport there is no tower so all radio equipped planes communicate over the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) providing position reports and intentions for the other pilots.

At one point I was at pattern altitude when another pilot announced his intention to over fly the airport and then to enter the pattern on the downwind leg on a forty five degree angle. Nothing strange there other than the fact that he announced his current altitude of approximately 1,900 feet which is the same as the pattern altitude. This put him on a collision course with the plane behind me in the pattern that was currently on the downwind leg. When over-flying a field to enter the pattern you should be flying above the traffic in the pattern to alleviate any potential danger. Luckily the other pilot made the decision to exit the pattern and let this idiot land before resuming his pattern.

As a pilot you always need to look out for yourself and assume that all other pilots are a potential danger to you. But, this becomes ever more important at uncontrolled towers.

Upon returning to Chicago Executive it became quickly apparent that traffic had picked up at the airport since I left. Turns out the up tick in traffic was due to a series of flights that were part of the Young Eagles program were arriving at the same time as I was.

I circled Lake Zurich two or three times just waiting to get an opening to start my communications with the tower. I was told to proceed inbound but that I may need to circle from time to time as I was sixth in the order for landing. Sure enough on downwind for landing the tower asked that I please perform a 360° turn to provide greater spacing between aircraft before landing.

It was fun going from a busy uncontrolled field to a busy controlled field and getting a chance to work on both types of radio communications.


Posted at 12:29 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172 SP, Flight Time | Comments (3) | Save & Share This Story

August 18, 2007

Flying Around the Pattern

palwaukee_map.gifI headed out to Chicagoland Executive Airport early this morning to get a flight in before heading back to the city for the 49th Annual Chicago Air & Water Show. It was a nice cool morning with a threat of storms, but after a call to the Flight Service Station I was confident I could get in a flight before storms would arrive.

I spent the entire day in the pattern working on my towered field radio calls and more importantly my landings. During the day I worked on a variety of different scenarios including simulated turf takeoffs and short field takeoffs and landings. A few months back I had been disappointed with my landings but as of late I am feeling like I am back in a groove. As any instructor will tell you it is really about the preparation. As long as I fly a nice stable approach it makes greasing a nice landing so much easier.

It was a very enjoyable flight and I enjoyed sharing the patter with a variety of aircraft including jets and prop planes. All in all I fit in seven takeoffs and landings and logged another 1.7 hours today. I will next get a chance to go flying next Saturday afternoon. Although, flying would have been enough to fill my aviation addict today I also enjoyed taking in the 49th Annual Chicago Air & Water Show which was amazing despite periodic rain. I will write more on the Air Show after tomorrow´┐Żs show.


Posted at 9:45 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172 SP, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

July 8, 2007

Fourth of July Solo Flight over Door County

SturgeonBay.jpgI spent a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. On my last visit to the Door County Peninsula I flew a checkout ride with Orion Flight Services clearing me to rent their Cessna 172 throughout the summer. On the Fourth of July I was able to find a large enough pocket of nice weather between two storms to get in a flight over Door County.

It had been over a year since I had flown solo, when my Dad and I took in a flight from the very same airport. Since that time I have bounced around FBOs in Chicago trying to find a place to fly and am currently checking out with Windy City Flyers.

I took off from runway 28 and was airborne after a short roll due to the wind coming straight down the centerline of the shorter of two runways at Cherryland Airport (KSUE). From their I flew northeast over the town of Sturgeon Bay then out over Lake Michigan taking in a view of the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Station and an aerial view of "The City of Glasgow" a sunken ship off the coast of Lake Michigan.

SB_Cornmaze.jpgDuring the flight I also flew over one of my favorite golf courses, Cherry Hills Golf Course, which looked like it could benefit from the distant storm that was slowly approaching the area. I also enjoyed flying over the Dairy View Corn Maze. A pirate ship had been mowed into the crop which, surely kept maze goers lost for hours trying to navigate their way through.

I returned to Cherryland and made a single full stop landing which was one of my best landing in months. I logged 1.3 hours of solo flight and had a great time. After taxing back to the tarmac I saw an Extra 300, an plane designed for aerobatic flight, on the tarmac. The pilot was in town for a family reunion and was taking members of the family up for flights in which he performed barrel rolls and loops. So, I stayed at the airport for 15 minutes to enjoy a free airshow. All in all a great day at the airport!

You can view a few of my photos that I took during the flight on Flickr.


Posted at 1:33 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

June 19, 2007

Flying Over Sturgeon Bay

I checked out to fly the Cessna 172 with Orion Flight Service in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin this past weekend. My wife and I traveled up there for a four day weekend to relax on the lake and teach Tally, our golden retriever to swim. While up there I took the time to perform the checkout flight so on subsequent trips north to Door County this summer I can rent their Cessna.

I flew with Chris who manages the FBO at Cherryland Airport. Friday's flight was much shorter than that previous time I flew with Chris when he came along on a cross-country flight from Cherryland to Oshkosh last summer. Cherryland Airport is one of my favorite airports and a great example of a general aviation airport. It has two runways both of adequate length it always seems to have some activity but is never too busy. Plus it has a great location situated on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan with a state park at one end of the airport making for great scenery for flying.

This time we flew north east of the airport and performed several common check-out maneuvers including stalls, steep turns, slow flight and and reviewing emergency landing procedures. After that we returned to Cherryland Airport for four landings. I was happy with all four as was Chris. He signed me off to rent for the rest of the summer with Orion Flight Service. I am looking forward to checking out some neighboring airports this summer.


Posted at 11:00 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Door County, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

May 14, 2007

GA Incidents Hit Close to Home

On Friday night I was made aware of two aviation incidents both of which hit close to home. The first was a multiple fatality accident that involved two planes in a midair collision in which they clipped wings just north of Blue Ash Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. Blue Ash Airport was my home airport for a few years and where I earned my license.

I was relieved to learn it did not involve anyone I knew but scary none the less. Martha Lunken a retired inspector for the FAA was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirerand stated it was a classic situation - "It's within five miles of the airport on a nice sunny day...that's where airplanes congregate." I recall that on beautiful days the traffic around Blue Ash could get very busy and it required all the pilots near the uncontrolled field to fly defensively and to over communicate.

The second incident was here in Chicago in which a Piper Cherokee ran out of gas and needed to make an emergency landing on a highway. The plane clipped a power line and a car but landed without any injuries to the pilot or those on the ground. I don't know all the details of this incident but do wonder how it is pilots continually make the mistake of running out of gas. Incidents like these are scary and sad but would be a further waste if other pilots did not learn from them.

So, when I arrived at the airport on Saturday to fly on another beautiful day in Chicago I had those incidents in the back of my head. I flew with a CFI as I continue to work back to a level of proficiency that I had a year or so ago when I was flying more regularly. We decided to delay our flight for 10 minutes so we could top off with fuel, seemed to us to be well worth the time to ensure we had plenty of fuel for our flight.

As I flew northwest from Chicago Executive there was plenty of traffic and I ensured that I was doing a good job of scanning the horizon and working to avoid traffic. I also changed my checklist habits to ensure I could spend more time looking for traffic. In a recent episode of The Finer Points podcast Jason Miller talked about holding up your checklist so you are not having to divert your eyes so much to see it. So I clipped the checklist to a yoke clip so I would not have to look down as much as I did when using the lapboard.

After ensuring we found a safe area with little traffic around I performed a simulated engine failure. I was able to select a suitable place to land if it were needed and guided the plane down without power to the point it was obvious we could have landed there if necessary at which point we powered off and climbed away.

We finished the day with a series of crosswind landings at Dupage airport including one without flaps, simulating a flap failure. I continue to perform safe but somewhat sloppy crosswinds and am looking forward to flying more frequently so I can iron them out.


Posted at 7:32 AM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story

April 28, 2007

Working on Crosswind Landings

All week I was hoping for two things come Saturday, clear skies and a bit of wind. My wishes came true today as Chicago enjoyed a beautiful day with mid seventy-degree weather, few clouds at 5,000 or above and wind. I headed out to Windy City Flyers for my first flight as a member of the club. I talked with my CFI earlier in the week and explained I wanted to schedule 2-3 flights with him to rebuild proficiency in the Cessna 172, as I have not flown as frequently lately as I would have liked.

My first goal was to do some refresher work on crosswind landings and continue to get familiar with the area around Chicago Executive. Then in subsequent flights I want to work on mastering the use of the GPS systems something the Cessna 152 I trained in did not have. I also look forward to taking in a night flight in the coming month or so.

Today with the winds at from 300 at 15 gusting to 26 it was a perfect day to work on the crosswind landings. We departed straight into the wind from Runway 30. With the added 15 knots of the wind we were in the air quickly. We flew northeast past Campbell Airport and conducted some slow flight and a power off stall. Then we headed to Lake In The Hills for the crosswind landings.

The first time around the pattern my speeds were a bit off and I came in a bit high. The wind was pushing me off track and about 15 feet off the ground I realized this landing was not going as well as I would like and I performed a go-around. I am glad I did the next time around the pattern I flew a much more standardized pattern which set me up for better success. The second landing was much smoother. I conducted two more successful landings before coming in for a final landing before heading back. This time right before coming across the threshold a gust of wind drifted the plane off the centerline a bit. I added power and probably could have brought the plane back down and salvaged the landing attempt but again, like the first attempt, opted for the safer option and put in full power raised the flaps to 20° and performed the go around.

The trip back to Chicago Executive was smooth. I am getting more comfortable with identifying the key landmarks and finding my way around the area. I made a full stop landing at Chicago Executive and logged 1.6 hours. It was a great way to spend part of an afternoon!


Posted at 7:48 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172, Flight Time | Save & Share This Story