Short Field Landings

4:13 PM Monday, November 8, 2010

Ughhh. That is all. Ughhh. Ok I have a bit more to say. I hate short field landings. Everything about them feels wrong to me. I don't want to come in high. I don't want to descend steeper. I certainly don't want to do it all slower. Grrr. So in case you can't tell, I suck at these. I was so angry today that I didn't get at least one good one. I just kept thumping the plane in. I know that the short field landing is going to be a bit harder than a normal landing but I want it to be a bit gentler than what I was getting today.

Everything about the short field landing feels wrong to me. Which means that it is very hard for me to make the landing when I want to fix the fact that I am high, slow, and descending at a faster rate. I need practice with them to let my brain adjust and understand that it is ok. So this is something we will work on more.

Next up, apparently taking my written test. I think I am ready for it, but I am still nervous about it. I need to take a couple of the stage exams before I can take the written so I am taking those in the morning. Then everyone will sign-off and I will take my written. I am sure it will be fine, I just need to take my time and read everything thoroughly.

Wish me luck!!

2nd Solo Cross Country

1:36 PM Friday, October 29, 2010

Today was my second solo cross country. I was really itching to go flying today since it has been over a week since I had been up. I had all my planning done and my course mapped out. I met with Tim quickly so he could sign-off on everything then I headed out to pre-flight.

Oh my goodness it was cold today. The maintenance guys had the plane plugged in, which I was thankful for. I hopped in and did flipped her master switch, I see that I don't have much fuel, so I will have to get her filled before I leave. I do the rest of my pre-flight without issue. Maintenance pulls the plane out of the hanger and I ask him to fill her up. Now I am gassed up, preflighted and ready to go. Yay! Weather has me on either 33 or 21 (wind sock says calm which is 15) I pick 33 since it will put me pretty close the heading I want to fly anyway.

Take-off is smooth and I am thankful for the smooth air after last weeks bumpy ride. Level at 1700ft while I cruise under QC airspace then climb for 4500ft and settle in for my ride to CR. Tim said that I could do a touch and go at CR, which is great because it will save me quite a bit of time (and money). I am originally cleared for a right base for 31, and later changed to a straight in for 27. I make an excellent landing and take back off. Eventually I am cleared to turn course for burlington. I am advised of traffic (which I never see, I think they were several thousand feet below me).

I am well on my way to burlington and I am seeing all my checkpoints, I am right on course. Then I do something stupid (I guess I have one of these moments every flight) I second guess my position. I turn and head to the town I just passed to check out the name on the water tower to see if I am right, it was Wappollo Iowa, I am exactly where I thought I was, oh well, I get back on course and head into burlington. Weather says they winds are calm, so I head for calm wind runway 36. I enter a left downwind as someone is radioing burlington traffic for 18 (which is same runway as me, opposite direction). He is a ways out and I let him know that I will make a full stop so he can land on 18. I wanted to reset my dg on the runway anyway, so it worked out ok.

I have a good landing, and a good take-off (after the other plane lands of course) and I am headed back to Davenport. I am diligent about keeping track of where I am on the map this time and it goes very well. I radio Quad Cities that I will be passing through. I am cleared and head for davenport.

Davenport landing is just as good as the rest of them today. Again I have traffic around but I extend my downwind and let him land before heading in. Park it, breath, gather my stuff, breath, go in and pay for my excursion. Today I am proud, I had good landings, I navigated well (and learned I don't need to second guess myself) and made it to a new airport and back in one piece. I feel like I could conquer the world today, but I might settle for a nap :)

Hours today: 2.6
Total Hours: 46.1

Solo Cross Country

2:39 PM Thursday, October 21, 2010

Well today marked another milestone in my piloting career. I made my first solo cross country trek. Last night I made the plans for a trip from Davenport to Cedar Rapids to Dubuque and back to Davenport. The weather was going to be pretty nice except for quite windy. I did some quick calculating and I was pretty sure I could handle the winds that were predicted.

I met with Tim this morning to go over my plan and have him sign-off on my cross country. Everything I had planned looked good. He signed me off and out I went to preflight. During preflight I noticed the plane needed some oil so after finishing the rest of preflight I went back in to get oil. One of the mechanics was nice enough to put it in for me (I think this is because I am a girl, but oh well, maybe someday I will let on that I know more about engines than they probably think). Oiled up, preflighted, papers organized, time to start her up. It was pretty cold today so I primed it a couple times before trying to start her. She stuttered and quit, so I primed again and tried, this time she just wouldn't kick over. I primed a few more stokes and got a kick but she wouldn't stay started. One more time (now I am praying that it starts because that is just embarrassing to not be able to get it started) this time she kicked and stayed started (thank god!). Weather was favoring 33, which sucks because it is a long taxi to get out there, so off I went.

I took off on 33 and made a slight turn to head out to the NW. I leveled at 1700 feet to stay out of QC airspace then I climbed up to 4500 for the ride to Cedar Rapids. I tuned into the CR VORTAC and it had me off of course a bit, so I turned to track on that. At this point I decided my DG was not right (although I specifically set it while I was sitting on 33 ready to take off) not sure what happened here but that is ok, I will fly via the vortac and reset my dg based on the compass. I hit my landmarks and saw tiptop off the nose of the aircraft. When I reached Tipton I radioed CR approach. They gave me a left base for 27. Before I had left, Tim told me to request 31 if they gave me 27, so I radioed back and asked for 31. They cleared me for a right base for 31. I crawled along (winds were right at my head) until I got to CR airport. Tower cleared me to land. I had a pretty good landing and then a stupid mistake, I took a right on taxiway alpha when I should have taken a left. Ground had me turn around and go back, no big deal, but kind of stupid. I parked and gathered my thoughts. Got my papers organized and called up for a VFR clearance to Dubuque. All cleared, taxi to 27. When I got to 27, they held me for a delta jet and a Cessna that were landing. Since I was just sitting there, I snapped a quick picture. When I was finally cleared, I got on the runway, reset my DG, and took off.

Yay, off the ground at CR and headed for dubuque. CR departure had me turn to 040 and climb for my altitude of 3500. Shortly after I reached altitude, they cleared me to proceed on course, which was 045 so not much change. I was looking for my first landmark (Marion Airport) and I couldn't find it, I was looking, and looking, and I was thinking dang I should be right over it, I look down and wouldn't you know, I was right over it. Continuing on course to Dubuque, not much else happened. It was pretty dang bumpy at 3500ft today and I was wishing that I had picked 5500ft to head to Dubuque, but I made it work. Right about over Cascade Cedar Rapids terminated Radar Contact, I got the weather for Dubuque and radioed that I was about 10 to the SW. They gave me a straight in for 36 report 3 miles south. I was out a bit to the west so I turned so I would be able to do a straight in for 36. I reported 3 miles south, and was cleared for 36. About 2 miles out, tower asked me to do a Land and hold short of 31 (a citation who was much faster than me was landing via 31). As a student I am not allowed to participate in land and hold shorts so I declined and was given the instruction to do a 360 degree turn to the left. I had never been asked that before, but I did it anyway (I had read about it). I went ahead and did the 360 and got back on course for a landing on 36, this time I was cleared and was actually allowed to land. The landing was decent, not my best, but I wasn't ashamed of it. Ground had me taxi via charlie and hold short of 31 for another plane coming in. Once cleared I went to the FBO and parked. I should have taken another picture but I forgot. I texted Tim since he requested notification when I was at each airport. I called up and got clearance to taxi via alpha to runway 31 for takeoff.

Take-off on 31 cleared for a south departure from the area. On my way back home! Bittersweet at this point because I am on my last leg which is exciting, but sad that I am almost done for the day. I hit my checkpoints along the way. Dubuque terminates radar contact and I get the weather for Davenport. 330@12, I can handle that, pretty much straight down the runway. I radio that I am 10 to the north inbound for landing runway 33. I decide to go out and around to enter the downwind for 33 (instead of crossing midfield, I like the long downwind set-up). I line up and all looks good, however, I flared a bit to high and ended up dropping in, which makes me angry because my other landings for the day were pretty good.

I taxi in and park. A nice big smile on my face as I realize I just did it all on my own. Air Traffic Control was easy today, navigation went smooth, tank-off and landings were decent. Well, son-of-a-bitch, it looks like I am a pilot! I went in and talked to Tim a bit about how things went. I had questions about the 360 degree turn that Dubuque had me do so we discussed that a bit and that was about all. Next up I get to pick where I want to go, I will have to take a look at the maps tonight and decide.

WooHoo!!! I am so excited, I am almost there!

Hours logged today 2.6.

Night Cross Country

1:24 PM Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday night I arrived at the airport with my flight plan in hand and I was ready to go flying. The plan was to fly direct from davenport to Peoria and Peoria to Whiteside Co. Tim said we were going to deviate from that plan (training exercise) and fly from Peoria to Whiteside Co. via the Bradford VOR. I redrew my path and marked a couple of landmarks, wrote down the VOR frequency and now I was ready to go.

I headed out to do my preflight and had a little bit of trouble orienting myself in the dark plane and juggling the flashlight along with my checklist and fuel tester, but I eventually worked it all out.

Alright, ready to go. Taxi and Take-off went fine. Once we were up we called Moline to set-up flight tracking and we were cleared through QC airspace. Due to wind direction we were literally booking it to Peoria. Our calculated ground speed was around 130kts (which is fast for our little Cherokee). We came up on Peoria airspace quite quickly.

Moline handed us off to Peoria approach. We listened to the weather (which was extremely staticy, in fact, Tim had to give me the phonetic code because I couldn't understand it). I called up Peoria and got a clearance for a touch and go with departure to the north via the Bradford VOR.

As we were coming in, I had a very hard time identifying the airport and then once I had it, I had a hard time orienting myself with the runway. Thus I had a shitty landing and was uncomfortable all around. Oh well, on to the next destination. We were given a departure heading of 360 so we turned to that and headed on our way.

We dialed in the Bradford VOR and we tracked to it. The wind was pretty much right at our head so we were crawling. My calculated ground speed was about 88. I think we might have been a little bit slower, maybe around 85ish. We flew along for what seemed like forever (which i was ok with) and we finally passed the VOR. I set it to track out on the 355 radial (which would take us right to whiteside) and intercepted the radial. When we finally made it to whiteside, there was another plane working on night landings so we picked up the 07 runway that they were using. I crossed midfield but I didn't account for the wind and ended up getting blown into the runway on my downwind which made my base leg non-existent. My landing wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't great.

We took off and departed to the west and started climbing to 6500ft. I had planned for 4500 but Tim said I could go higher if I wanted. Of course I did!

By the time the little Cherokee got to 6500 it was pretty much time to start descending so we could get below quad cities airspace before we got to davenport. I enriched the mixture and started the descent. We were descending at about 800ft a minute so we reached altitude in plenty of time to get below Quad Cities Airspace. We were flying in from the east so we were pretty much coming in on a right base for 33 (which is the runway we wanted). However, traffic is left at Davenport. It was pretty late and there had been absolutely no radio traffic the entire ride in, so Tim said I could do a right base if I wanted. I did, I needed some practice with my right traffic anyway. Made right base, turned final, lined up, and had a pretty decent landing, one I am pretty proud of anyway.

All in all, I think it went well. Time said he was confident in my night flying abilities that if they did solo cross country's at Carver he would have no problem sending me on one. That made me feel pretty good. We have one more together cross country, we are doing a short one to Cedar Rapids, Moline and back. Then it will be time to do some solo work. I am really excited to get up there by myself and actually get to visit other airports. I have to go into at least one class C airport but the other I get to pick. Hmmm, where should I go.

Where I've Landed

9:47 AM Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I thought I should start this now while the list is small. I think it will be interesting to keep track of all the airports I have visited.

View Airports Visited in a larger map

First Cross Country Flight

2:34 PM Monday, October 11, 2010

This morning I got up bright and early to finish my preparations for my very first cross country flight. The plan was to fly from Davenport (KDVN) to Cedar Rapids (CID) to Dubuque (DBQ). I had done the flight plan with Tim on Friday, but needed to adjust for today's winds. I check duats when I got up and it had the forcast for the 12th, which is tomorrow so I was confused as to what to use. So I finished up printing airport maps and going over my other plans. Then I packed up and went to the airport to ask Tim what I should use. When I got there Tim was up with another student so I continued going over my stuff. When Tim got back he showed me what to use and I readjusted my numbers. Everything looked good to Tim so I went ahead and preflighted and then we were off.

First checkpoint was the walcott truckstop, also known as the worlds largest truckstop, not so large from 4500ft by the way. I almost missed this checkpoint because I was thinking it would take longer to get there. This was a good thing for me to note because all the check points come up pretty fast. I had to be diligent for the rest of the flight.

First stop, Cedar Rapids. When we were over Tipton, I radioed for airspace clearance and was given a squawk and cleared to enter for a straight in for 27. This was my first straight in approach and it honestly felt like we were moving very slow and taking forever to get to the runway, but I was on my airspeeds and lined up with the center line so I felt good. The landing went really well, and I held my own with Air Traffic Control. I felt quite good when we got to the ground and parked. Clearance, Taxi, Take-off and departure we well.

Next Stop, Dubuque. We hit our checkpoints and were flying at 5500 for Dubuque. It was pretty hazy up there, so I had a bit of trouble finding a couple of check points, but Tim made sure I knew how to identify them based on roads and surrounding landmarks. Headed into the airport, I knew where it should be but I couldn't see the runways. Then all of a sudden it was there. I was cleared for a right base for runway 18. Right traffic patterns have me a bit off my game lately since I have only flown them twice, but I was sure I could handle that fine. I almost made a huge mistake though, I turned base to line up with 13 instead of 18. Tim warned me and I got turned back to line up with 18. The runway seemed to come up a bit quicker than I was expecting and I got a bounce, but it wasn't a terrible landing. We taxied to the FBO and parked. Got a VFR clearance to head south to Davenport, and taxi and take-off went as expected.

On this leg, I picked a couple of check points that were not good choices, I am glad this happened though, because now I know what is a good check point and what isn't. It was a pretty easy flight back to Davenport and I enjoyed it a lot. I did have a bit of trouble holding my altitude on this leg, I think I let myself get to complacent behind the yoke knowing that I was headed somewhere familiar.

Back at Davenport, I had a pretty decent landing. I had a bit of a balloon but I held it firm and we decended for a nice soft landing. My crosswind correction was lacking slightly, but it was pretty decent.

All in all, I really enjoyed my first cross country. I actually felt like a pilot today. All my other times up, my workload was so heavy and my concentration was so focused on the manuevers or the touch and gos that I didn't really have time to enjoy the fact that I was flying a plane. I am a pilot! I enjoyed today very much!

Next up, night cross country, Davenport > Peoria > Whiteside Co > Davenport. Very excited!!

Air Traffic Control

2:59 PM Thursday, October 7, 2010

Up until today I have done all my training at Davenport Municipal which is a Class E airport which means it is not towered. Everything is self-announce via the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF). However, today we flew over to Moline International Airport which is a Class C airport and has a tower. Tim and I worked on what we would say to ATC before we went up and I felt I had a pretty good handle on it. However, once ATC started talking, and boy do they talk fast, I quickly realized I didn't have a handle on it. I couldn't even process what they were saying, let alone write it down and say it back. I screwed it up more than once, luckily the ATC guys are pretty nice, even if they do talk extremely fast.

I should back up a little bit, once we were off the ground, we listed to the weather for Moline and called up approach for a landing. Approach gave us a squawk code (transponder code for radar contact) we put it in, and nothing, we smacked it a few times and again nothing. ATC came back with "no radar contact." This meant that we could not enter their airspace. Fortunately ATC had us as a primary on the radar but just couldn't get our transponder, we confirmed that we were in the location that they thought we were in, and they cleared us for a right base for runway 27.

Fast forward to landing, which sucked, and then the hard part, taxi instructions. My instructions were to taxi via bravo, November, and kilo crossing runway 31 to Elliot's. Seems simple enough now that I am sitting in front of my computer, but when someone says that very quickly in your ear while you are still slowing the plane and expects you to read it back, for some reason it seems much harder. What I think I actually heard when he read this set of instructions was, blah blah, blah November, blah blah, runway, blah.

Once we get to the FBO, we park the plane and discuss what just happened. Tim asks, "how do you think that went." I say, "poorly." Actually I think it wasn't that bad, I mostly got things right, I just got the taxi instructions wrong on the first try.

Next up we are ready to head back to Davenport. I need to call clearance to get cleared to depart. I ask clearance for "547ca vfr to davenport 2000ft." Then I miss everything they say back, which I later learn was, 547ca direct to davenport maintain 2000ft departure 118.2 squawk 0302. Thankfully Tim responded to them and helped me to understand everything they said. Then my dreaded contact with ground and my new taxi instructions. This time I was ready and had an idea of what they were going to say. Me: 547ca at Elliot's ready to taxi. Ground: 547ca taxi via kilo, November crossing 31 for a November/27 departure. This time I got it, and read it back correctly!!! Take off goes fine, then tower turns me over to departure and things go back downhill. I was not expecting a heading, since clearance didn't give me one on the ground. But departure gave me a heading of 290. Again, Tim saved my butt by helping me read it back.

Aw, relief, back to familiar territory of davenport airport where I can announce and not worry about the crazy speed talkers known as ATC. Next trip is to Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. We shall see how that ATC adventure goes.

Night Flying

9:51 AM Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Last night I went on my first night flight ever. It was amazing. When we first took off, the air was so smooth, it was so quiet and peaceful, I was in awe. Tim had asked me to climb to 2500 ft and as we were climbing I mentioned that I had never been up at night and how amazing it was. He was like, well, if you have never been up at night lets climb a bit higher, so we climbed to 3000 ft. It felt like heaven. I could have stayed up there until sunrise.

Well enough fun, time for work. We did some stalls and steep turns. Not too much different from daytime other than I didn't have road visuals to tell me if I was on heading, so it was a lot more instruments to reference. I did alright on those things.

Next up landings. Not gonna lie, I was slightly apprehensive about these. I had one really good landing and 5 kind of drop ins, and one simulated engine out that was nothing to write home about. I had really wanted it to go better but I will take it for my first time ever being up at night.

Well it sounds like next up is a "trip" to Moline for some Air Traffic Control Work. Then our first cross country which sounds like it will be Davenport (KDVN) to Cedar Rapids (CID) to Dubuque (DBQ) then back to Davenport. I am super excited to "depart the area".

Learning from my mistakes

3:34 PM Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tuesday I went on a stage 1 checkride with another instructor. Basically we just went up and did a few maneuvers and a landing to make sure I was on track. All went well, in fact I felt awesome up there. I dropped Elwyn off and went back up by myself for a while. I went out and worked on my stalls and steep turns trying to make sure I was within standards on all of them. Those went pretty well. I came back and wanted to practice a few more landings before I was due in class for ground school. My first landing was a bit shaky, I was not pleased with it at all. As I was climbing on departure, I heard a radio call that a bonanza was 2 miles out entering a left downwind. I scanned and didn't see him so I turned cross, scanned again and still didn't see him. I assumed he must have been further out than he thought, so I turned downwind. Just as I am turning downwind, I see him off my nose and slightly above me. Now I don't really know what to do, I radioed that I turned and he was behind me. The bonanza was quite understanding and extended his downwind to allow me to land. Now I know that I should have diverted to line up behind him when I saw him, but it was a bit unnerving to know that I had made such a mistake that could have been quite bad, since the bonanza didn't have me in sight at the time. I am now being much more diligent in finding aircraft before making any movements of my own. Next time I will stay on departure until I have him in sight or I know he is far enough on downwind that we will be separated.

Total Hours Logged: 32.8

Today was pretty sad but very exciting at the same time. I haven't had much time to fly recently so it was my first time back up in about 5 days. We were supposed to work on short and soft field take-offs and landings. After going over the ground information I pre-flighted and we taxied to runway 15. The weather was questionable today, but our visual scan and the weather report led us to believe we would be able to get in a little bit of time. However, as Tim was demonstrating the first maneuver (soft field take-off) we were climbing and when we hit 1200 feet we were in a cloud. This was very disappointing because I knew we were going to stop. Tim demonstrated a soft field landing and we stopped in the middle of runway. We evaluated the weather and Tim said it would be ok if I tried one take-off and landing. So I did a short field take-off (because we were in the middle of the runway). It went pretty well. It could have been a bit better. I didn't quite hold 65kts long enough, but not bad for the first one. We flew a modified pattern (to avoid the clouds) and set-up for a soft field landing. During a soft-field landing you keep the weight of the plane on wings as much as possible. To do this you rev the engine as the mains touch down and keep the planes nose wheel off the ground (basically looks like a wheelie down the runway). Now this is the exciting part of today. I have traditionally struggled with getting the nose up on the plane. So I wasn't sure how this was going to go. But on my very first (and only) try I came pretty close. The nose touched for a second but I had it right back up, so I just needed to get that power in a little bit sooner and i would have had it. I felt pretty good about it and wanted to go again, but the weather wasn't going to have it. We quit for the day, which sucks. I rescheduled for Friday, but I really want to go now.

Total Hours Logged: 28

Solo Outside the Pattern

8:18 AM Friday, September 17, 2010

After my solo on Monday I was so excited to go again that I scheduled my next session for Tuesday (even though I had work I should be doing). When I arrived Tim told me that we would go up together and practice some performance maneuvers (stalls, slow flight and steep turns) then I would bring him back and I would go do them by myself. WooHoo!!! Not only was I excited to be leaving the pattern, I would get to leave the pattern by myself! So we went up and discussed the maneuvers as well as distances from the airport I needed to be (basically stay between the town of Eldridge and the wapsi river) how high I needed to stay and the radio calls I needed to be diligent about making.

A few stalls and steep turns later we were on our way back to the airport. I was uncomfortable on my first landing so I went around. Second one was really pretty good though. I dropped Tim off at alpha-bravo and taxied back out to 15. Flipped my transponder and fuel pump back on and radioed for take-off.

On the climb I was grinning like a fool again. I absolutely love this flying thing. I turned cross wind and radioed that I was departing the pattern to the north. Flying out to the practice area seemed very calming. I had the river in sight so I was almost there. I made my radio call (Davenport Traffic, Cherokee 545 Charlie Alpha maneuvering 8 miles to the north at 2500 feet, davenport). I did a clearing turn and did a power-off stall. During the stall something didn't seem quite right, when I recovered I realized I didn't do a prelanding checklist. Ok, prelanding check done, now for a power on stall. And again, and again and again. Next up steep turns, my favorite. My steep turn to the left was pretty good, I held altitude and rolled out within standards. My turn to the right however was not so good. I lost about 200 feet of altitude so I need to work on that next time.

Time to head back to the airport. I turn south toward the airport, I have it in sight. As I am headed there I radio that I am about 6 miles out, I decide to cross mid field for left downwind, although at the time I wasn't sure if that was the correct choice (I later confirmed with Tim that it was). I cross over the airport and set-up for landing on 15. As I am turning base I am wondering if I can do more than one landing. Then I think, why the hell not, I am paying for it. So I get my approach stabilized and make a pretty decent landing. Flaps up and full throttle, climbing for a second round at the pattern. This landing is also pretty good and I quit for the day feeling pretty good about my second solo flight.

Total hours logged: 27.4

My First Solo

8:33 AM Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It has been quite a while since I have written. Lots of things have kept me out of the air recently. I only logged a few hours in the past couple of weeks, but one of those hours was one of the greatest moments of my life. I FINALLY GOT TO SOLO!!!

Yesterday I went to the airport with no expectations because I didn't want to be devastated if I didn't get to solo. So I pre-flighted and Tim joined me in the airplane. We went up and on the first landing, I ballooned and did a go around. I felt like it was a bad omen, but I chose to shake it off and do well on the next one. Three more landings and I was feeling good. Tim said go ahead and exit on delta. WHAT!!! FOR REAL????? I pulled off on delta and did my post landing checklist. He started filling out paper work and said taxi to alpha-bravo and hold. When I got to alpha-bravo he said "have fun" and got out. Holy hell I was going up alone. I took a couple of deep breaths, turned around and taxied back to 33. I flipped my transponder and fuel pump back on, checked for traffic and radioed that I was taking off.

Climb out on the first take-off was surreal. Tim is a pretty small guy but I noticed the weight difference in the plane in take-off and climb. The cabin is also a lot roomier when you are by yourself. I am pretty sure I was talking to myself while climbing. I think it went a bit like this. Holy shit, you now two choices, fly around until you run out of gas and crash or land this thing, what are you going to do. Then I turned cross wind and a huge smile broke out across my face, I am flying an airplane! I turned downwind and did my checklist and everything fell back into routine. That first landing wasn't my best, but it was a good landing. While I was turning final for my second landing Tim radioed that I should make it a touch and go and do a third landing because I had plenty of time. I said ok, but I forgot an important factor, he wasn't in the plane to hear me, I probably should have answered him via radio, but I was quite focused on landing. My second landing was good, I was pretty proud of it and kind of wished Tim was in the plane to see it. The third one was good as well. I exited on delta and taxied back to Carver. I parked (which I suck at, but am getting better). Put the chocks in and Tim was there to congratulate me!!! I think I might have been in a bit of shock because I wasn't as excited as I thought I would be.

When I left the airport I could not stop grinning. I grinned like an idiot for the next 10 hours until I went to bed. The first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was OMG I flew a plane yesterday. I am still grinning. I am practically bouncing off the walls just thinking about it. I can't wait to get up there again today. My first solo was amazing and I won't forget it for a very long time. September 13th will always hold a special place in my heart! My first solo ranks up there with some of the greatest days of my life.

Total Hours Logged: 26

Clouds you suck!

2:07 PM Monday, August 30, 2010

I am starting to feel as if someone doesn't want me to solo. Today I was ready, I was sure this was the day. I had been over the landing time and time again this morning in my head, I could visualize everything. I had studied the wind conditions, I was prepared for the crosswind. I was ready!! Then I got to the airport and the ceiling was dropping. By the time my instructor arrived back at the airport I was not optimistic. He finished up with his other student and I could tell by the look on his face as he approached me that I was not going to solo.

The clouds were now at 1300 ft above ground level. I need to stay 500ft below them to abide with federal aviation rules. Which meant I would be at 7ooft above ground level, which is not high enough for pattern work :( Not high enough by about 49ft, so close, so very close :( I think on any other day we would have gone up, but Tim did not want me to get stuck in a cloud on my first solo. I can't say that I blame him, I don't want to solo in poor conditions either.

So I packed up and left, hoping for a better day on Wednesday afternoon. I will get a solo in sometime!

Wind, I hate you

9:02 AM Friday, August 27, 2010

I really thought I was going to get to solo yesterday. Well, the wind had other things in mind for me. The unwritten rule of soloing is that you take your instructor up and show them that you can handle a couple of landings in the conditions on that day, then you drop them off and you go by yourself a couple of times. I knew the wind had been pretty unpredictable so far that day, so I was trying not to get my hopes up so that I wouldn't be disappointed if it didn't happen.

We started off in Tim's office and he signed off on all my stuff except the final endorsement for solo. I went out and pre-flighted. Once Tim was in the plane we started up and listened to the weather. Winds were 250 at 03kts, no problem, I could handle that. I radioed that we would be taxing to Runway 21. Another plane came back that he was lining up on 15. Tim asked me to taxi out so we could see the wind sock. Sure enough it was calm, calm wind runway is 15, I radioed in the change in plans and headed to 15. As we were taxing out, a wind came up that pushed us on the taxiway. The first bad sign of many. I did the run-up, all was well. Radioed my take off and lined up on the runway. Off we went. As soon as I rotated we were getting pushed around, I took a look back and sure enough that wind sock was active. We stayed with the pattern for 15 for about 3 times, then we decided we needed to switch to 21. Made the switch and I now had a bit of a crosswind from the left. Next time around I had a crosswind from the right. I was doing my best to keep up with the changes, but I just wasn't doing it quick enough or well enough that I could go by myself. I agree with Tim's decision not to let me solo, I was uncomfortable with the changing wind and would probably have turned down the chance at a solo if he had given it to me.

I was very disappointed that I didn't get to solo. However, I feel that Saturday is a great day for a solo flight, lets hope for calm winds, or at the very least consistent winds.

Almost There

4:09 PM Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So today we again worked on landings. My approaches now rock. My airspeeds are pretty consistent and I can fix the problem when I am too high, too low, too fast, too slow or a combo there of. The only thing that is holding me back is my flare is not always consistent because I am not always judging my height off the runway correctly. It is getting better and I actually had one really good landing and a bunch of decent landings today.

The scary part. I think it is time for my solo. Part of me is super super super excited, but part of me wants to shit my pants. Right now I would say the ratio of excited to scared is about 50/50. I know that I spend part of a day with Tim in the plane and then he gets out so I can solo so I think if I hit 3 good landings before he gets out the ratio will go down to about 90 percent excited 10 percent scared.

Holy crap they are actually going to let me fly alone!!

OMG Instinct

9:11 AM Friday, August 20, 2010

Well it turns out that I am going to have about 4 days off. I am already going into with drawl and it is only day 2 :( Tim had some personal things to take care of yesterday and had to cancel and he is booked for today and I am going to the Cubs game tomorrow (Go Cubs Go!). I guess maybe a few days off won't kill me. I might actually get through reading the weather chapters in my book (I am not very interested in the science of weather so this section is a bit hard for me to study).

Anyway, I had a few experiences I wanted to share that haven't made it into the blog yet. My first couple of landings seems like a good place to start. The first few times up Tim took care of landing the plane each time, we were simply working on in air stuff. So once we were in the pattern I would give the plane controls to Tim and he would land, having me keep my hands on the controls to feel what he was doing (and explaining). It seemed pretty straight forward as he was doing it, and I understood the science involved in getting the plane to the ground, so I thought no problem, I can do this. Well what nobody tells you is that when you are aimed at the ground, your subconscious (at least mine does) pulls back so that you go back up. I will call this the OMG I don't want to crash instinct. Although my mind knows that I will not crash, I will in fact land quite gently (assuming all goes well) that OMG instinct just doesn't want the plane to point at the ground. So landing number one, actually wasn't a landing at all, but a high balloon (pitching back up near the ground) and then a go-around (full power and climb back up to altitude).

Landing two. As we were climbing back up to 1500 feet I realized I was sweating like a pig, partly because it is hot in July in Iowa but mostly because of the OMG I am going to crash incident. Interestingly enough I was thinking about how the plane should smell much worse than it does, considering for at least 5 hours a day someone is sweating profusely in this seat. Then I realized we were at 1200' and I should be thinking about landing not about sweat. Downwind goes well, checklist goes well, approach goes poorly. Although now after 58 landings the steps are almost automatic, the second time around they are overwhelming. So while Tim is saying turn onto base for 060, pitch for 80kts, call your base, 2nd notch of mind is saying wait wait wait you are going to fast. But I quickly found out there is no waiting, it is do or die literally, we are sinking at a rate of 1000 feet per minute when I am not doing what I am supposed to on base (1000' per minute is pretty quick when you are 800' off the ground). So I try to quickly follow his instructions and then he is saying turn final, pitch for 70 kts, call your final, line up with the runway (I am not even close at this point), 3rd notch of flaps, power to idle, catch the plane, flare the plane (nose up to land on the main wheels). Well in this scenario I got as far as turning final, then we were much too low, not even close to being lined up with the runway and certianly not at 70kts. Tim fixed it and we (of course I mean he) landed the plane. Thankfully from here I have only gotten better. I mostly have the OMG I am aimed at the ground thing under control. I occasionally still think it, but I no longer act on it. The steps are pretty automatic although my mental checklist is still going all the way through because although the goal is to make landing a plane look easy, I have realized that it is very mentally and physically demanding.

Well this has gone on long enough. I am sure there will be plenty more antics to tell in the coming months, so stay tuned.


10:40 AM Thursday, August 19, 2010

So, yesterday things finally clicked into place for me. The winds were fairly calm and mostly at a headwind for landing which gave me the first chance at a non-crosswind landing in a while. I got a couple of really decent landings! I am super excited! I was getting pretty discouraged that I wasn't getting a smooth transition from decent to landing attitude, but now I am pumped because it is all coming together. Which is great because I think Tim is getting bored going in circles all day :)

Tim also covered up all of my instruments yesterday (he let me keep my airspeed indicator). This was actually very helpful for me. I tend to want to get everything perfect and in my mind the instruments tell me when it is perfect so I look at them a lot. What the cover-up experiment taught me is that I am a better pilot when I am not looking at them and my instincts are pretty good as to pitch, altitude and bank.

I am disappointed because my lesson got cancelled this morning. I was ready to get a few more landings in. Oh, well, hopefully we can go up later today or tomorrow.

Total Flight Time: 14.5 hrs

Getting an FAA Flight Physical

12:38 PM Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Part of being a pilot is the flight physical. Any of you who actually know me, know that my body type is not that ideal (aka: fat). Well being fat doesn't disqualify you to fly and I am otherwise pretty healthy so I didn't think this was going to be an issue.

Well, I have had issues with my blood pressure over the years (damn heredity and being fat). All my tests fall within the FAA standards so I thought I was golden. However, the FAA requires a note from my doctor that states that she thinks I am ok to fly given that I have had blood pressure issues in the past. No problem...or so I thought. My doctor says she has no problem giving the note but that she needs to see me first (first available appointment 1 week out) and then it will take 2 days to get the note after that. The FAA needs the stuff within the week, now I am faced with a conundrum. I have pushed my doctor to get it done ASAP, so now all I can do is cross my fingers that it all works out! I will keep you posted, it would suck if they deferred my license because my doctor couldn't write out three lines of information and fax it to a number.

For those of you interested in what happens during a flight physical (3rd class) here it is. You fill out a bunch of paper work. You talk to the doctor (hearing test). The doctor listens to your heart and lungs. The doctor checks your feet (diabetes I assume). The doctor gives you a color blind test and a couple of other vision tests. You pee in a cup. Blood work may be required depending on medical history. Then you are on your way. Pretty simple and nothing to worry about.

Oh, I almost forgot the most interesting part of my flight physical, the location. There are not very many doctors that perform the exams required by the FAA (I am going to assume it is because of the amount of paperwork involved), so I didn't have too many choices. I chose the guy closest to me. When I arrived at his office I walked in and immediately felt like I had walked through a time warp. Everything was from the 70's. The chairs, the counters, the carpet, everything! I almost stepped back outside to see if the rest of the world jumped back in time too. As I progressed from the waiting room to the back area, it was even more apparent that this office needed an update. Nothing was electronic, there were not even computers anywhere that I could see. They had weird wooden benches between counter tops that you sat on. I even passed through a secondary waiting room that had orange shag carpet and wood paneled walls. By the time I left, I really was convinced that everything outside the office would be 1970's as well.

I haven't written for a few days, but I have been flying a lot. Since I last wrote 10 days ago I have been up 5 times and will go again today if the rain passes.

We have mainly been working on landings. Obviously this is an important part of flying a plane and I am not sure why I can't seem to get it right consistently. I have landed a couple of pretty good landings, but I have also had a quite a few not so good landings. My approach is getting better every time. I have been able to get a pretty good stabilized approach in most of my recent landings. However, when it comes time to flare I am either to fast or too slow. Today my goal is to do two really good landings before we quit.

We have also really been working on slow flight recently. I actually kind of like slow flight, it gives you the sensation of floating, especially on a windy day. In the plane I am training in (Piper Cherokee 140) slow flight is maintaining an airspeed of 50kts and cruising around. I am not sure what I find so interesting about slow flight, but it is probably one of my favorite maneuvers to do at this point.

I am also liking steep turns (banks of 45 degrees). I actually have trouble sticking to the no more than 30 degree bank rule on most days. After talking to my dad this week I realized why. Most of my flying time was riding behind him in his airplane. He says that he almost always banks at higher than 30 degrees bank (granted his plane is an aerobatic plane) but this would explain why 30 degrees seems so small to me, and 45 seems much more fun :)

Keep those fingers crossed for no rain, I wanna go flying this afternoon.


5:34 PM Monday, August 2, 2010

Today, I struggled. Today, I felt uncomfortable behind the yoke. Today, I was discouraged. I still love flying, but today had me questioning whether or not I should be flying. As the adage goes, if you fall off the horse get back on and keep riding, so I go back up at 0700 tomorrow.

Today, we did do some ground maneuvers which went ok. Turns around a point and s-turns. The object of turns around a point is to keep equidistant from the point on all sides of a 360 degree turn. The wind wasn't too bad today, but I did not keep equidistant from it very well. It was my first try and the science makes sense to me, but the execution is lacking. S-turns, I felt, went pretty well. The object of the s-turn is to keep two 180 degree turns with an equal radius. Wings are level each time you cross your reference road (a road running perpendicular to the wind). I think I got this one pretty well. It wasn't perfect, but for a first try I almost made the turn both times.

We did a bit more foggles work, boo foggles. I don't feel like that went well at all today. I was having a lot of trouble holding headings and altitude. My mind was all over the place. I need to work on concentrating on the tasks at hand during each stage of flight instead of trying to be ahead to the next step.

I do feel like landings went better today. We only did two, but on the second one I felt I almost had it. I might see if we can spend a day working on just landings in the near future because that seems to be where my mental hang-up is. I guess I feel that if I can't land the plane, then, I probably shouldn't be learning to fly the plane.

Hours logged today 1.1 (.2 ifr)
Total hours logged 5.1

A lot of things happened during my lesson today! We did some review of somethings, we did instrument training, and we did an emergency landing (almost).

During review Tim asked me to do a power off stall. I realized that I had learned how to get out of a stall, but I did not study how to cause the stall. So that got me a little off my game to start. But no worries there, getting out of the stall is no problem.

Next we did steep turns, 45 degree angle of bank, these were actually a lot of fun for me! I was pretty decent at it for my first try, so I hope we do a lot more of these.

We also did some instrument training. Tim handed me some super sexy glasses called foggles. They prevent me from looking out of the airplane and only allow me to look at the instruments. The actual training wasn't too bad, but I did not enjoy that my view was taken away. I love flying for the ability to see everywhere and enjoy it. I also felt a bit awkward but oh well.

Next up, Tim shut down my throttle, and my reaction was WTF, well not really I knew it was coming today. In the future I imagine, I will probably have a WTF reaction. So with no engine, I needed to make a emergency landing in a field somewhere. Luckily we live in the midwest and there are plenty to choose from. We are having some flooding though, so my choices were a bit limited. So I chose a field, and headed for it. Then I freaked a bit, I think Tim did most of the flying here, but I am not sure, like I said I was a bit freaked. So it appears that I could have landed there if I wanted to (which I didn't) so we were free to go-around. Woohoo, I can use the power again, no more plummeting to my death.

We landed, check listed and taxied back to the FBO. Once we arrived at the FBO I admitted that the emergency landing had me a bit freaked. Tim was not surprised by this (thankfully) and agreed to work on it some more with me during the next lesson.

It appears I am about ready to take the Stage I exam. I guess that is my weekend plan.

Hours logged today .9 (IFR .2)
Total Hours logged 4

More Stalls, slow flight and fog

10:55 AM Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This morning I was scheduled to go out at 7am. At about 6am Tim let me know that visibility was too low and we wouldn't be able to fly. I was heartbroken, I was really looking forward to it. Well by 6:45 it was clearing out and he still has some time, so I headed to the airport. The ride there was pretty yucky looking so I wasn't sure I was going to get to go up, but low and behold about 3 miles from the airport it was sunny and beautiful.

We did all the pre-flight stuff and soon we were in the air. Today was awe inspiring to say the least. The sun was glinting off the bit of fog that remained in the air and I was reminded of how lucky I am to be learning to do something that makes me so happy.

We climbed up and did some work on stalls. We started with the Power-off stall which we had done once before. It seemed scarier today for some reason, I guess because I feel more comfortable in the airplane and I am able to think more about what is going on around me. I think I over thought it as we were setting up because I felt my heart rate skyrocket. Of course everything went fine. We did a couple of power-on stalls as well. Today was the first day for those and they were interesting. Not a big deal to do or pull out of, but definitely something I need some more practice on.

We also worked on slow flight. Which is flying the airplane at its minimum sustainable airspeed, in this airplane it is 50kts. By using pitch for airspeed and power for altitude, you need to maintain the airspeed for 50kts and the altitude of 2500 MSL. I was not so good at keeping it to 50kts, I wanted to pick up speed because we felt like we were going to fall out of the sky (granted I know that doesn't happen).

I am hoping to go up again tomorrow at 7:30am. We are working on emergency landings, that should be interesting to say the least.

Hours logged today: 1.1
Total hours logged: 3.1

100 Hour Inspection

9:33 AM Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Today, I am sad. I haven't gotten to fly since Friday due to tiling our laundry room over the weekend and work priorities on Monday. I was supposed to go up today but Tim called to let me know that the plane we had scheduled was getting its 100 hour inspection, and therefor we couldn't take it today. I rescheduled for tomorrow evening but it seems really far away. I was really looking forward to flying today.

So weather plays a big part in my training. On Friday, we went up and came right back down. We knew storms were coming, we could see the clouds, but you never really can tell how quickly they are going to be at your doorstep.

During Pre-Flight, Tim walked up to the plane and said that we might have to make it short today. By the time we had loaded up, started up and were taxing to runway 21, we were both thinking that maybe it would be a real short ride. By the time we had done our runup, we thought wow that storm looks really bad. By the time we were at the end of the runway on liftoff, we decided to change the lesson plan for the day. Touch and Go's it is.

Round one, pretty bumpy and windier than any of the other rides. But all went smoothly as far as procedure. The crosswind made landing more troublesome and since I am still pretty new, Tim did the majority of the landing.

Round two, bumpier and windier yet, Tim still landed. We actually came to a full stop on this round, took a look at the dark looming clouds headed for us and decided that we could fit one more round in. This required a back taxi since we were in the middle of the runway.

Round three, those clouds looked scary, we brought it down, did a post landing check, and taxied back to Carver Aero. We parked the plane. Shut her down and closed her up. As soon as we had gotten inside and started reviewing the skies opened up. It rained lightly on my way as I was driving away from the storm. The brunt of it hit my house about 4 minutes after I got here. It was also nice enough to knock out our power for the next 20 hours.

Although I didn't do much flying during my lesson this time around, I think I learned something much more valuable. Watch the weather, it can sneak in, and it can kill. This time around I am thankful Tim was watching as close as he was, and next time around, I will be sure to watch just as close.

My First Flight Lesson

4:00 PM Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today, I went up for lesson number one. After my intro flight yesterday I couldn't wait to get back in the air. We did some overview of the lessons I read overnight (all 180 pgs of them) and then we discussed how the runways were laid out and how the wind affects which runway we take.

Next we did an extensive pre-flight. Going over everything in detail and why we go over each part. All of that made perfect sense. Next we got in and went over the start-up procedures (while sweating buckets, it was 100 degrees in the parking area). With the start up procedure finished, we listened to the weather and picked our runway (03).

After taxing, we did a quick runup, with all systems go we back taxied and lined up for take off. Full throttle, 60knts and a pull back on the yoke and we were flying, climbing t0 1200 ft at around 75knts. We did some "straight and level" (if you can call it that) flying and worked on some turns. I have a tendency to bank too steep, but I am working on it.

After a while, Tim said, take her up to 2500 feet and do a clearing turn. So I took her up and did two 90 degree turns to ensure I was clear. Then he said we are going to practice a stall. WHAT!?!?! "Tim, you do remember this is my first lesson right?" He said I would be fine so I prepared to stall the plane. Tim took the controls and walked me through the steps and showed me how to react at each step. It all went very quickly. But he brought down the throttle, put down the first step of flaps. As our airspeed slowed he put down the second step of flaps. And then the third. As the stall alarm is going off, inside I am panicking, but outside I am trying to pay attention to what he says. The controls get sloppy and over goes the nose, I am tempted to throw my hands up and scream like a roller coaster, but I know that isn't the correct reaction as we are plummeting for the ground. Pull back, throttle to full, flaps up, climb to 2600 ft, fuel pump off. Yay, we didn't die! Now Tim gives the controls back and says make it happen. Oh, well, then, this should be fun.

So I survived the stall, I am happy to say. Next up, as if that wasn't enough excitement. Time for some touch and go's. Three landings later. I am not entirely ready to quit for the day, but my time is up. A quick taxi back to the parking area and a post flight check and shutdown and we are good to go.

Friday = I might have to land by myself, eek!

Yesterday I went for my intro flight to be sure I wanted to continue on and get my license. Well of course I did. I forgot how much I love to fly! The intro flight went well. We did some ground instruction and pre-flight then we got in and had some fun. We did some straight and level flying and some turns. Just a quick half hour in the air which went by really quickly. When I left my mind was racing with information. I couldn't believe I just flew a plane, I was so immersed in learning that I forgot to enjoy it. I will have to work on that for next time.

My trainer is a Piper Cherokee 140 and my instructor is Tim. Tim is pretty new at the instructor thing but I am willing to give him a shot since everyone has to start somewhere.

Getting Started

10:43 AM Thursday, July 15, 2010

In just a few short days I will start my journey to obtain my private pilots license. This dream has been 20 years in the making and I am very excited to get started. Flying is in my blood, my Grandpa, Dad and 2 of my uncles fly and I am excited to say that I will be a 3rd generation pilot in my family.

My first lesson is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20th. Look for my next update then, and be sure to follow my journey as I learn to fly!