Archive for the 'Aviation' Category

Centenarian of Cross Country Time

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Winter and Spring weather put quite a damper on my flying, but when the going got good, I got flying.  And lots of it.  A few weeks back I crossed a new milestone — 100 hours of cross country time.  This was on a trip to Gaston’s for the Pilot’s of America fly-in.  Fun trip.  Met some nice folks.  I’m feverishly working toward another milestone I hope to soon post about crossing..

Reflections on 2012

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

2012 was a whirlwind year.  The theme was travel. We spent a lot of nights in hotels.  To the point that I’m a Hilton HHonors gold member now.  We’ll see if I get enough nights or stays this year to keep it (I doubt it).  In 2012 we went to:

  • Cape Girardeau, MO
  • Chandler, OK
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Destin, FL
  • Fort Smith, AR
  • Gallatin, TN
  • Galveston, TX
  • Halls, TN
  • Hot Springs, AR
  • Houston, TX
  • Key West, FL
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Mountain Home, AR
  • Murfreesboro, TN
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Orange Beach, AL
  • Pensacola, FL
  • Savannah, TN
  • Seattle, WA
  • Shawnee, OK
  • Sikeston, MO
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Stewart, TN
  • Stillwater, OK
  • Tahlequah, OK
  • Tampa, FL
  • Walnut Ridge, AR
  • Washington, DC

In addition, I think I added another 80 or so hours of PIC time.  Most of that was cross-country time and included my longest cross-country yet in a trip back to Oklahoma.  I learned a lot on that trip.  I also got a little more progress in my goal to fly in old aircraft.  In Hot Springs I got a ride in the Missouri CAF Wing’s B-25 “Show Me”.  In Little Rock, I got a ride in the CAF’s C-45 “Bucket of Bolts”.  And from a winning raffle ticket I got to log some time with Dr. Ray in his SNJ.  That was a an exciting flight.  Hopefully 2013 is just as exciting.


Centenarian of PIC Time

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

In a similar vein to my post last year, I’ve hit another milestone in my flying — I’ve now completed 100 hours of PIC time.  It happened on the last leg of a 5.5 hour cross country a few weeks ago.  Hard to believe it’s happened so quickly.  Hopefully, I can do some more long cross country flights while we’ve got long days.

Reflections On 2011

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Wow. 2011. What a year.  Going into it I had some expectations.  I’m not one to have too many expectations as I’m always surprised what a year brings, but 2011 I went into with one — to get back into flying.  And I did.  It took a little more time than I thought.  I think it was about 8 weeks for me to get things lined up and get my third class medical (with restrictions for colorblindness that I didn’t have previously).  Then there were a few more weeks as I went through re-familiarization and a flight review (and getting checked out in plane models I hadn’t flown previously).  I don’t have my exact hour tally here, but I flew close to 50 hours this year and it’s been amazing to be back at it again.  The Cessna 162 I put a lot of that time in even has a glass cockpit.

Technology like that has really changed aviation.  My first experience with using a GPS for flight navigation was last year in a G1000 equipped Cessna 182.  I was amazed.  It was like I was on the Enterprise.  Well, in getting back to flying this year, the two planes I’ve been flying (a Cessna 172S and a Cessna 162) both have GPS.  To top it off (and for when I’m in something else eventually) I got my iPad setup with ForeFlight for geo-referenced electronic sectionals and AFD.  Honestly, I like that setup better than the built-ins on the planes.  I remember cross-countries used to be nerve racking for me as I was sure I’d get off course and mistake landmarks resulting in me getting lost.  No more.  Now it doesn’t take nearly as much concentration and leaves more attention for the flying and scanning for traffic tasks.  One more nice bit of cockpit convenience is my Bose A20 headset.  Past experience had left me weary of noise canceling technology, but enough positive reviews led me to bite the bullet and give them a shot.  I can happily say that they work amazingly well.  Noise fatigue is nothing to mess with and I’d like to keep my hearing, so I consider this a great investment.

One last bit of technology has changed my flying and non-flying life — lasers; specifically LASIK.  I’ve thought about it for years, but finally went for it.  I’m still recovering, so I won’t be flying for at least another couple months, but if everything stabilizes correctly I’ll be able to get around without my glasses.  It sounds innocuous enough, but without my glasses I was totally blind.  If something ever happened to them while flying there would be no possible recovery as I wouldn’t even be able to see the instruments.  Hopefully, I’ll be back in the air this spring.

Being out at the airport I’ve had the chance to see, hear, and feel some beautiful old warbirds and it sparked a desire to get some experience with them.  I decided to make it a goal to fly in as many old aircraft as I can before they’re gone.  I’m not limiting myself to warbirds, but that’s the typical implication.  So, I had some success with this too.  I got 0.7 hours dual in a Boeing Stearman.  That was amazing.  We did basic familiarization maneuvers and a whole series of different stalls (some of which I had never done before).  I’m hoping to get some more time in it.  It gives me the desire to go get my conventional gear and high performance endorsements.  I also got rides in a couple of WWII bombers that came through the area.  First was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Fifi”.  That experience really deserves it’s own post.  It was incredible, though.  Then at the end of the year, EAA’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress “Aluminum Overcast” came through the area offering rides.  That was another experience deserving of its own post.  Most striking was just how much the technology developed and changed in the relatively short time between the development of the two bombers.  I’m looking forward to what 2012 might bring on this front.

One more cool thing to add to my aviation high points for the year — flying under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Yes, we really did it.  I have the photos and video to prove it.  I didn’t think it would be possible, but during a helicopter tour of San Francisco the pilot offered and we hardily took her up on it.  It was incredible.  Definitely a high point.

We’ve done a bit of other travelling as well.  I attended a conference in San Jose and stayed for the weekend to do some sight-seeing in northern California (I’d never been before).  Shinta flew out too and we even met up with some old friends.  We crammed a lot in, but it was a good trip.  Because we were “close”, we had to go see the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This is another one of our “things” now.  We try to see big aquariums.  The other “things” are Segway tours, helicopter tours, and fancy food.  So, on this particular trip we also went to see the giant trees, famous San Francisco landmarks, and Pebble Beach.  Neat, but short trip.

We drove out to Atlanta for Independence Day weekend (returning before the actual day).  That was a whirlwind.  We went to the famous Georgia Aquarium (which was completely awesome), the World of Coke, and got a tour of CNN Center.  We also worked in a Segway tour which led to a dinner at Ted Turner’s Bison steakhouse (very tasty).  Who knew he owned the most bison in the country.  Neat city and we’ll have to visit some more to explore.

We made a trip out to New York City this year too.  We went up to see the sights and hang out with friends.  I absolutely had to have lost some weight with all the walking we did.  I had some good shoes and my feet hurt daily.  We walked all over Manhattan (at least it felt like it, and I have the GPS tracks to prove it).  We also saw a couple of Broadway shows (Spider-Man and Chinglish), ate some awesome food, and saw the sights.  Amazing city.  It’s incredible just how much there is there.

So 2011 was a great year.  I wonder what 2012 will bring.

Centenarian of Flying Hours

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

As a pilot, my way of remembering 9/11 was to try to get out and fly today.  Back in 2001 I was a newly minted pilot and the attack had the national airspace immediately grounded.  I was calling daily to see about scheduling a flight, but we were grounded for 2 weeks.  Small aside —  I now know that flight training was what was grounded so long, but I rented from a flight school and they probably assumed I was just a student.  Anyway, I really wanted to celebrate freedom today and fly.  In some small bit of coincidence, I crossed the 100 hour mark flying today as well.  That’s certainly still low-time, but I’m into 3 digits.  So, where did I go — Gaston’s.  Since the trip last year to see the CubCrafter’s demo, I’ve been wanting to go back for their Sunday brunch.  Well, today was that day.  Funny thing — I wound up parking at Gaston’s next to a plane I fly fairly regularly.  Popular place, apparently.  It was a good brunch buffet.

Solo Again

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

I’d stated in my last post that I got signed off on a Flight Review.  Well, today was my first solo flight in forever.  It’s been about 9 years.  I had been thinking about doing a little cross-country practice going out to an unfamiliar field a little south of Memphis, but the weather was overcast with a fairly low ceiling so I just stayed in the pattern practicing landings.  This was a good thing.  I didn’t have a single landing that I was proud of, but I got in a bunch of practice and they got better.  I did a mix of full-stop and touch-and-go landings to mix it up a little.  A nice plus was that there was actually other traffic in the pattern (and staying in the pattern).  It’s a little more fun when doing pattern work with others.  In the end, I can add 1.1 of solo PIC time to the logbook.

Active and Current

Monday, April 18th, 2011

I’m proud to say that I’m an active and current pilot once again. I’ve been working with a flight instructor for the last few weekends and he signed off on my flight review yesterday. Along the way I logged some time in a couple of Cessna 172s and the new Cessna 162 Skycatcher. I must say, I’m impressed with the Skycatcher. It has got loads of power, a nice comfortable cabin, and nice avionics. It’s certainly different than anything I’ve flown before, but I’m going to try and get more time in it. I would have Saturday if the weather had cooperated. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

One Step Closer

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Today was an exciting day — I got my FAA Third Class Airmen (re)Certification. I’m one step closer to getting back in the air again. I might just be able to make my goal of being current again for the 10th anniversary of earning my Private Pilot License.

Rutan Announces Retirement

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I just saw the news — Burt Rutan has announced his retirement.  I’m sad, but then again he deserves a rest.  He’s done so much and I can only imagine what he must still have in his ideas book.  I wonder what he decides to do with his soon-to-be “free” time.

Armadillo Aerospace in BlackBerry Torch Commercial

Monday, November 1st, 2010

You ever have one of those moments where you see or notice something and you absolutely know that nobody you know would catch it?  I had one last week.  I was fast forwarding through commercials while watching a recorded show and I saw a quick blip of a rocket in flight.  So, naturally, I stopped to see what it was all about.  It turned out to be a commercial for the BlackBerry Torch and they changed between a lot of clips of the phone in action with some context around it.  The rockets and operation seemed familiar and then there it was, a quick flash of text where I made out “arma”.  I knew it had to be Armadillo Aerospace.  I rewatched it to be sure and I was absolutely positive.  Cool stuff.  I know not only will no one I know catch it (even if they see the commercial), but I’ll have a hard time explaining it to anyone.  Here’s a link to an article about it: