More About Me

Not much to add. I updated my about page. It has a little more about my history and a mention of appreciation to my support network.  In particular, I’d like to thank bloggers Karlene and Amelia. Your openness to share your experiences and words of wisdom/advice/ thoughts inspire many.

Just so you don’t have to click the About page (and I’ll probably change the About page some day and lose the connection between this post and the About page) I’ll copy it here.

I earned my Private pilot’s license in Dec 1995. I was checked out in the clubs 172, 172RG, 182, T182, and TR182. I got a little time in the T210 but did not get checked out in it. I stopped flying in Jun 1999 due to a career change and move to the west coast.

Around the age of 16 or 17, I told myself I would fly and work in aviation. In 1995, I had it all. Then life happened – Kids, Family. The result of life happening was I wasn’t doing either of the things I set out to do. I thought aviation was just a chapter in my life I could close and I could move on. In 2010 and 2011, I decided I needed to go back to at least one of my goals. I contacted a local CFI in 2011 and got current again. The details of that journey are in this blog. The rest of the story is about keeping flying as a part of my life – a never ending chapter. There is a saying that to fly you need two things – airspeed and money. Actually there is a third, a strong support network. From blogs, friends and family, and groups in the community (EAA and CAP) I am finding that network.

Posted in Flying | Leave a comment

I’m building a plane

For years I marveled at the people who build their own airplane and fly in it. I never thought of myself as having the patience. It sounds like it can take three to five years on average to take that first flight. For many of the builders, it seems if they completed ten rivets, they had a good day.

Well it was time for me to test my skill and patience. I bought a kit. It is a Cessna 150 and the kit is created by Guillows.

If you clicked the link or know about Guillows, then you know I’m talking about a balsa wood kit. This is still significant because while I have made models as a kid, they were always rush jobs and now I have kids taking up my feel time. I have always marveled at the models that people spend many hours on and look fantastic. I decided to get into model building to test and build my patience skills and to have what I hope to be a form of decompressing (or is it escaping) from the daily grind. I’ll post pictures when I take the time to download them off the camera. The skin will be tissue and will be able to fly powered by a rubber band, electric or gas motor. I’m just going to use the rubber band.

Will this lead to building an airplane I can fly in? One airplane at a time please. We’ll see how this goes. I still need to schedule my next flight to get checked out in the 172S and do the take home quiz. I oversaw an “Aerospace Education Activity Day” with the Civil Air Patrol this weekend. It was a success but not the way I thought it would be. I will have to blog about that experience later. Time spent blogging means less time building models, flying, etc. The way I justify blogging is it is the only record I have of what I have done so when I look back on my years, I’ll have something to maybe trigger a memory.

Yes that is Gorilla glue in the background. Seems to work well.

Posted in Flying, Models / RC

Here we go again

Back to regaining skills acquired and lost.

Until yesterday, I haven’t flown since September 2011. I forget the exact date (logbook not with me now) but let’s say it was late September. That means it has been about 3 and a half months and possibly 4 months. Part of the blame for not flying has been the shorter days, time with CAP, the holidays. I cannot blame the weather as we have been very dry for most of the time since September. One of the reasons is I’m only checked out in one of the 172’s. I flew the newer 172S once or twice while getting current last summer. It would not be uncommon for me to try and reserve the older 172 for which I was checked out in and find it was booked and yet the newer 172 was free all day. Therefore, no flying for me that day.

So yesterday since I had the day off. I went with a new instructor to get checked out in the 172S. I;m not sure if it was the new model 172, the fact it had been so long since last flying, nerves about sitting with a new instructor. It was likely a combination of all those things and perhaps other external stresses unrelated to flying. We did about an hour of flying. Used the the GPS ad the autopilot. I had mentioned that I wanted to get more comfortable with emergency procedures so we did a simulated engine out. I had two landings and they were both floaters and I landed to the left of the centerline – quite a bit. I was not happy with my flying. The instructor was a good guy and said I did quite well for not having flown for several months.

I need to go up again to complete the checkout in the 172S. I am looking forward to going up again and knocking off the remaining rest. The instructor and I talked about picking some objectives and working on them. Maybe go tot he mountains or closer to busier Class C.

The instructor asked if I was still interested in an instrument ground school. I’m still on the fence about the instrument rating. Yes I want to go to the ground school. I’m not sure if I can make the commitment to go through with the rating. I also wonder if I should go for a “easier” rating such as a commercial. Talking with the instructor about a trip to the mountains or Bay area made me think of another option. My real goal is to have the feeling of proficiency that I had when I got my license. Given that, what if I design my own course. Maybe I call it “Highlights of the private ticket”. Practice the more critical areas of training (inflight emergencies) and some of the more fun aspects (dual and solo cross countries). After my BFR, I was ready to kick the instructor out of the airplane (because I was feeling confident) but knew then were still areas to work on. I did one of the long solo cross-countries after the BFR. I just didn’t achieve the frequency that I knew I needed maintain the proficiency.

Posted in Flights, Flying, Training | Leave a comment

Please stay out of the trees.

John King of the famed Kings Schools which offers many aviation training videos has a common way of closing his video “By all means, stay out of the trees”. I forgot to provide similar advice to my 11 year old son this past weekend. By the time I told him to stay out of the trees, it was too late. In the end, all was fine but only after a lot of head scratching.

First off, I’m talking about the remote-controlled aircraft he bought himself prior to Christmas. No, I do not make my kids buy their own gifts but I think they have hit the age where they understand, “If you really want something, prepare to buy it yourself”. Both boys did well this year in the gift department. My youngest, knew an RC aircraft was not going to be under the tree for him and he knew he had the funds to get one himself. He really wanted the P-51 Mustang model but the Hobby store advised the Champ as a good beginner model which he ultimately bought. I believe the manufacturer is ParkZone and is an RTF (ready to fly) model.

My son flew the Champ a few times over the Christmas break and the model has “transparent” duct tape over the wings and vertical stab as proof of his “accomplishments”. The Champ still flies well. For a variety of reasons, I have also recently determined that model building (flyable or not) will be a skill I’ll work on in 2012. It’s shaping up to be a nice father / son journey.

This past weekend, he wanted to fly the Champ and so we went to the park. There were some people practicing baseball so we restricted ourselves to another part of the park. The first flight went well and was short as he wanted to land it on another ball field. After launching for the second time, the Champ entered a good climb and began its usually left upward spiral. We never have been able to trim it straight but I haven’t tried that hard. I let the boy fly his model and give advice. The plane was starting to fly over some tress and I advised him to bring it back towards us. He said the plane was responding and ended up near the top of a very mature Cottonwood tree. I suspect it was 50 feet up (maybe 60). This occurred at about 4 pm.

We tried throwing sticks up to shake the limbs in hopes of shaking the plane free. Neither of us could get a stick that high though. Someone came by and suggested casting a fishing pole with a good size weight. I went home and got the pole and brought along extra nuts and bolts since I only had one good size weight. Surprisingly, it only took about four casts to get the line in place to shake the limb. Due to the low strength of the fishing line, I started with a slow and light tug. Eventually the limbs swayed more and more and the plane dropped.

It didn’t drop to the ground though. It landed on another limb about 20 feet up. The fishing pole was broken at this point. The sun was also below the horizon, so time was running out. This was the easy part though. I had some rope and was able to sling it over the lower branch.  A few tugs and the plane was free and plunging to the ground again. Since it was in a clear space, the Champ did a nice glide before its final nose dive to the ground. My son was quite impressed with its ability to fly so we talked about airspeed over the wings creating lift (until it stalls).

I have a lot more to say regarding lessons learned about patience and problem solving. That will be another post.

In the end the plane was really no worse than when the day began. We both learned a few things. While the flight time was short, we went home with smiles.

Posted in Flying, Remote Control

It took a lot of time

If I have to summarize what I decided would be my next steps, I’d have to say I focused on CAP cadet programs. I did go to the PCAM and CCA  airshows with the cadets. I took over the position of Aerospace Education Officer within the Squadron and am developing a month O-ride program for the Squadron.

I haven’t flown since Sept something. If I was going to fly it would have just been a quick trip to the airport and some pattern work. The days are shorter and competition for the one airplane I’m checked out in is tougher. I’ll stay grounded for a month or two and then get with an instructor to get checked out in the 172SP and knock off the rust.

The monthly O-ride program is fun activity to put together when I spend time working on the project plan.  I’ve been through my list of project management questions (the 5 W’s).

We have a place to meet for a ground instruction. We have a plan for borrowing aircraft from another squadron, I have a list of Cadets and the o-rides they have had already. My main objective now is to put the ground school instruction together and some activities to do while others are flying or if we get weathered out. The intent is to meet regardless of the availablity of aircraft or weather. The CAP Aerospace program has broad spectrum of topics beside flying GA aircraft. There are things we can do with rocketry and robotics.

Once I have something worthwhile to post for the first powered aircraft lesson, I’ll post it in case it will help others.

Posted in CAP | Tagged ,

Next phase?

Having been a little more than a month since my BFR, I have thought about what is next for my flying and for this blog. I have a lot of aviation related topics happening each week. Last April/May my 12 year old son and I joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). I could go on and on about why I joined (but not today). I fly about every other week if nothing more than a few turns in the pattern. I’d like to venture farther than home base. Summer vacation, getting the family back into the routine of school, Boy Scouts, CAP, etc. competes with flying for top spot on the priority sheet.

Time for a list (in no particular order) of things I need to do or would like to do.

  • Fly (at least to a neighboring airport) once or twice monthly
  • Create a one or two day program for Boy scouts to get their Aviation Merit badge
  • Attend an Instrument ground school
  • Get an instrument rating
  • Contribute to the CAP Aerospace Education Program
  • Become a Mission Scanner observer, pilot in CAP
  • Take cadets to the PCAM airshow
  • Buy an airplane (with hanger)
  • Take Cadets to the Capital airshow
  • Complete Technicians rating in CAP
  • Understand Senior member progression in CAP
  • Become a more proficent VFR pilot
  • Keep going to work

With a list like that, who has time for work. Next steps: get a little more detail about each (time, expense, effort), priortize, then put it on the calendar.

Posted in Basic, CAP, Flying, Training

Why I love the airport

Last October when I attended an EAA meeting at KPVF, I went and joined because I love the ambiance of the airport. Today was a stellar day at the airport. It was hot but a little breeze helped manage the heat. The stellar part was the Air National Guard helicopter from Moffett field (I believe they fl HH-60’s), landed for fuel, a father and toddler son flew to a parade, and another father and son went for a lesson.

The HH-60 was returning from a rescue mission looking for a hiker that had been lost for two days. They found her but after dropping off search crews and picking her up and delivering her somewhere, they needed fuel to get back to Moffett. It was a nice for the 4th of July. A good end for a professional crew.

Before I left for m cross-country to KMOD and KO22, I saw a man and a toddler (maybe 4 years old, still uses a booster seat) takeoff in the Diamond Eclipse. I went on my way to Modesto. When I landed in Columbia, I noticed the Eclipse took off after I pulled off the runway. I taxied back and rechecked my instruments and figured I was about 10 minutes behind him. I hear the Eclipse is faster than the 172. After returning to KPVF and parking the airplane, the father and I talked. Columbia is a neat airport in that you can walk to town and it is an old town from the Gold rush days. He said he went to watch the parade. A father takes his young son on a plane ride to watch a 4th of July parade. Neat stuff.

I didn’t think anyone had the plane after me. Good thing I returned to KPVF on time and refueled. After paying m fare another father and his son (maybe 12 to 14 years) old took the plane I flew for a local flight. The father got a weather briefing and was explaining the process to his son (I overheard him say something about he and his son taking a flight today). As I walked to my car, the two of them were pre-flighting and agin the father was explaining the process.

The airport is special place where interesting things happen. It’s not magic as any pilot knows what is going on. Sometimes you have to be patient to see the neat stuff. That’s why someday, if you want to find me, I’ll be spending my hours sitting in a shady spot at the airport.

Posted in Flying