Sunday, October 18, 2015

Long, Overdue Updates

Sorry, I’ve been out learning.  Since my license on April 29th, I have accumulated 44 hours of flying in under 6 months.  While I love the Cherokee Warrior, I have added in the Cessna 152 and the Cessna 172, and fly all three depending on my mission.

The 152 is for puddle jumping.  My flights in the 152 will be no longer than 1 ½ hours round trip. Most of the time when I take the 152, I am not using my GPS, and using the compass, the E6B, and my stopwatch. Many times when I take the 152 it is a solo flight with no particular place to go. I did fly from Cuyahoga County Airport to Mansfield Airport, the return trip was at night, and through Bravo airspace. Generally, I have had no surprises. Yes, the 152 is a great trainer and when I moved back down to it I got a chance to see the difference between a heavier four seater and the two-seat trainer. And I have come to the conclusion that for my needs, the plane is great for calm winds, especially if you are taking up somebody for the first time.  I am sure this is a great cross wind trainer.

I recently checked out in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and initially had problems landing it, but after a few flights most of my landings are full stall and the wheel in my lap. With the weather changing here, I wanted to get some crosswind practice and figure the 172 would be a great plane for me. My first efforts in gusting winds that were almost directly across the runway, did not go well at all. In fact, after one landing I called it quits with my instructor. While taxiing in, the rain started so it pretty much was a good idea to not keep trying and battling the storm that was approaching. In fact, about 100 feet off the runway on the departure we were getting kicked around quite a bit so I pretty much knew this was going to be a short lesson.  Overall I pretty much like the Skyhawk, even though I still love the Warrior much more. 

My cross country flights have been fairly short, all within the state of Ohio. I did, however, get to fly up to Put in Bay, and Port Clinton for lunch on several occasions. I have taken a couple trips to Salem Airport to the newly reopened restaurant. I also visited Carroll County Airport, known for their freshly baked pies, and was able to enjoy the pie and breakfasts they offer there. One overnight flight took me to Mount Vernon Airport, and I did fly down to Columbus to attempt to have lunch at Bolton Airfield, but unfortunately the restaurant was closed for 4 July evening.  I got to visit my old airport, Wadsworth Skypark for a cookout they were having, but unfortunately weather was a problem and we had to leave within an hour and a half, missing some pretty good times at my old hangout.

Like several other pilots that post on YouTube, I also have been making videos to be able to critique my progress. Not only have I mounted the camera on the window over my shoulder, I have recently experimented with mounting the camera on my headset so you would get a true point of view experience, and so far while it has worked, sort of, I will be trying to find a better way to mount the camera so that there is a full view of the panel and over the cowl shot.

So, I have been flying my butt off. Most important of all, I’d look at every flight as a learning experience and as I have been told by several people, I am very safety conscious intake my license very seriously. 

So stay tuned, there is a lot more to follow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Plastic is IN!!

It's HERE!!  What more can I say??

This has been a great experience.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Pilot Updates

Now that I am the pilot (that phrase still sounds quite odd to me) I have been getting out here and there to celebrate my achievement. But also comes the reality of flying versus daily obligations.  There is a battle between flying and daily chores and obligations.  This includes the need to finish other goals including starting my insurance and retirement planning business.  But since achieving my pilot’s license I have been completely enjoying my new freedom and over the last two weeks I really got a chance to completely feel what this really meant to me.

April 29, 2015: Two hours after receiving my private pilot’s license I took a flight with Chris and Lance who are pilots at my old airport. They just happen to be up flying in the area when I sent Chris a text message so they came over to Cuyahoga County Airport I took them up for half an hour ride. My landing was long and hot, but I was thinking more of the Cessna following me and did not transition soon enough to slow down for a landing that was inside of my standards.

May 2, 2015: We had planned for her to be my first ride however due to work that did not happen. But a few days later I woke up and it was a beautiful morning so I sent a text message to Kerry and we move from Cuyahoga County to Carrollton County Airport for lunch and back. I had to do one go-around because I was high on final.  The food was great, it was a little bumpy on the way down and much bumpier on the way back home.  I also got a chance to use the Garman Pilot on my Asus tablet. Now I see why pilots love their tablets.  Kerry needs to get yo more and finish her license also. 

May 3, 2015: On a whim I called up my friend Tammi and she agreed to go up also. She had a lot of reluctance however she was quite excited to do so which sent a lot of mixed feelings. I flew from Cuyahoga County Airport to pick her up at Lost Nations Airport, and we flew up the Lake Erie shoreline to Ashtabula.  Not only did she not let me turn back as planned, she had me take a longer outbound, so I decided to do a touch and go at the Ashtabula airport, flew her back to Lost Nations Airport, and flew back to my home base.  I should have gotten some money from her for that additional 30 minutes in the air.

May 4, 2015: The next day, also on a whim I called my friend Tammi again, but she was getting her hair done and could not go. But she told me I should take her mom up for a flight and I agreed. Within 10 minutes she had contacted her mother, Bonnie, and everything was planned. I flew over to Lost Nations Airport again to pick up Bonnie, and we flew up the Erie shoreline, and then over Painesville, and back to the airport to drop her off. She absolutely loved it, and somehow in the future I think she will hijack me to Florida.

May 8, 2015: I decided to go for a quick flight in the late afternoon, even though they were predicting scattered showers. From my departure time nothing was on the weather radar so I decided to fly down to Geauga County Airport, and then over to Portage County Airport, and then back home. About 10 minutes after takeoff from my home base, something really struck me. A calmness came over me and for the first time as the pilot, I completely felt that everything had finally fallen into place. I felt completely at ease, I confidently knew where I was going, I felt that I could completely enjoy the situation of being up in the plane and truly felt as if I had met my goal.  The landing at Geauga County was uneventful except for the drops of rain on the windshield when I was on downwind. After I took off the skies did not look very appealing and I also noticed on my telephone the cells of weather between Geauga County and my home base. For the first time I used Flight Watch and I found it quite helpful. I decided to not fly to Portage County and flew straight home and all was well.

So, I now pretty much have a good idea of why this license means so much to me.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Wait is Finally Over

I will be short and to the point with today’s entry.

The oral exam was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. And thanks to the DPE, my mind was put at ease almost immediately during the interview.  This was a 'pilot-to-pilot chat', not my annual colonoscopy.  As I was advised by few people if I did not have the answer, I probably did know the answer and would have to talk through the question and find myself at the correct answer. 

The flight evaluation was also a lot less stressful than I anticipated, and early on through this portion of my exam I had to remind myself that this was just like any other flight and handled the situation as such. There were many bumps at lower altitudes, but within reason I was able to hold onto my altitudes during the slow flight portion, and unlike the day before my steep turns were a lot more reasonable.  Also, unlike the day before my landings were much closer to my standard and I felt very comfortable even with the evaluator sitting next to me.

I am still full of many emotions so I am lost for words.  All I can say is that I am now proud to announce that I am finally a Private Pilot.  I wish that my father, step-father, a dear pilot friend, Oakley, and a few friends were alive to receive my call and share my excitement.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Just a Touch More Work

I found my self at the airport to review some information I needed for my check ride, and ended up flying.  Go figure.

Simple flight solo review: 360's, slow flight, power on and power off stalls, turns around a point, and to Lost Nation Airport for some landing practice and slips to landing. 

Since I have been having issues with carrying too much speed on short final, I decided to break that habit and watched my target landing spot more carefully and make sure my final 30 seconds is at 60-65 knots.  End results?  2 landings at Lost Nation and 1 at Cuyahoga County within 200 feet of the target (the threshold).

Prior to my practice, a pilot advised me that my jitters are normal and that I needed to relax and I should do fine. 

Today, I will finish the IACRA on-line with my CFI and hope to get signed off today.  Then today and tonight study the ASA Private Oral Exam Guide, and finish my flight plan for my simulated cross country.

Fingers crossed.   

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Checkride Scheduled

I never experienced this much fear and anticipation of an upcoming event.

Keep in mind that I have gone through two major surgeries, a liver transplant and 10 years later a liver kidney transplant.
Overall, I believe that I am ready. However, being under the watchful eye of an examiner for some reason leaves me somewhat rattled. Back in 2006 I had to take the drivers exam because I let my drivers license expire while going through the process of my second transplant surgery. Having the driving examiner sit next to me I found myself somewhat rattled even though I had been driving for over 30 years with a practically flawless driving record.

Maybe my nerves are rattled because this is a long time goal of mine, and finally for the first time in my life an achievement of something very important to me can happen within the next 3 to 4 days. Also, many of my friends are watching me and supporting me and I do not want to let them down.

Also, maybe I am extremely nervous because I have something to prove to the world that people like myself, organ transplant recipients, are very able and capable people and are no different than any other humans except for the fact that we have a very long and extremely sexy  surgical scars.

I know that I am ready to become one of the less than 1%.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Short Field Work and Hood Time

One thing I noticed at the tail end of my training was that we did not do short fieldwork. While I always try to make sure my landings were near the threshold, one of my biggest problems was that I would find myself on short final with excessive speed which would lead me into a longer float than I wanted. Because of my excessive speed my flares would leave me in a balloon situation time and time again. So my instructor and I went up and executed short field landings which I thought I would be a little queasy over.  Short field landing in the Warrior calls for an approach that is pretty much at the lower end of the white arc. Real close.  Too close for my comfort level.  Now I have to admit, it was much easier than I thought, and my landings were right beyond the threshold, that is within 50 to 100 feet with absolutely no problem. While many times my takeoffs were pretty much close to ‘by the book’ short field takeoffs I pretty much never pushed myself until today. I was never a fan of having my nose at a high departure angle so close to the ground. However, only once did I hear the stall warning chirp at me therefore I pretty much felt comfortable at this high angle of attack during takeoff.  Soft field takeoffs were great.  
As of now I need just a touch less than an hour of hood time, and this latest adventure was pretty taxing to me again. My instructor stated that I did quite well however I was making some standard mistakes and need to pay more attention to flying the airplane with the required instruments that would make me more accurate in my heading holds and also my altitude holds.  No doubt, people hold an instrument rating are exceptional pilots. I was told by one of my instructors that on clear days at low altitudes it is not uncommon to encounter as much turbulence as I did which makes the hood time much more difficult. Therefore I guess training under the hood is pretty difficult for many, as it was for me. Turbulence and low altitude under the hood brings on a lot of sweat and frustration.
Nine more days before the end of the month, therefore I am sweating that issue of obtaining my license before April 30, which is my target date which coincides with the end of Organ Donation Awareness Month. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating and the winds today are 22 to 28 knots.