Well, I am on my way to my commercial pilot license. The first milestone along the way was getting my Complex Aircraft Endorsement. For those who are unfamiliar, a complex aircraft is one with flaps, a controllable pitch propeller, and retractable landing gear. Since I already had my High Performance Endorsement, the key here is the retractable landing gear. Admittedly there isn’t that much difference in flying a complex aircraft, except of course remembering to put the gear down EVERY time. Yeah, knowing the gear procedures, aerodynamics, and emergency procedures are important, but as long as the gear as down when you go to land, you’ll probably be in good shape.
The best thing here is that the 182RG I have been flying cruises at 150-160 knots. This is pretty zippy for a relatively fuel efficient and reliable aircraft. Not sure when I will finish the commercial rating, but this is a pretty cool step a long the way.
So Lisa and I finally got back in the air together for our first cross country flight together in quite some time. Pretty much our fligt together have either been for my training or just flying our the San Diego area. This was the first time I have planned, filed and flown a cross country IFR flight to an area I had not been as the pilot in command. I flew mostly under he hood on the way up using mainly airways tracking VORs. It was pretty cool to fly that far and take of the hood and be lined up on final at an airport I had not ever been to before.
We landed and took a quick break. The plan was to switch seats and have Lisa fly left seat for the return flight. It got a little exciting when the plane would not start. The starter just made a thump and the prop did not turn. A quick call to the plane owner yielded a possible solution to free up the starter mechanism so that it would engage with the drive shaft. Unfortunately, there were no tools available, so I had to resort to disassembling a ball point pen to fashion a tool to unjam the mechanism. Luckily I was able to get it free, furthering my MacGuyver reputation.
We got the plane started and departed. On the way out we had occasion to fly around the good year blimp which was cool. Lisa navigated us back to Montgomery Field and performed her first real instrument approach which was cool.
All and all a great flight and great to be back in the air with Lisa. Can’t wait to add Ethan tithe mix in a few months.
For those who don’t know, I have been training and studying for my Instrument Rating for my pilots license. When you first get your license you can only fly in weather conditions that allow you to see the ground and or the horizon. You need to maintain this visual reference to ensure that the plane stays in the proper attitude. When you loose this visual reference, the forces of three dimensional flight can trick you in to feeling like up is down and left is right. The next step in the piloting progression is to become instrument rated. This teaches you how to fly by reference to flight instruments alone. This is critical if you are going to be flying in and out of the clouds.
There was a lot of reading, learning, and flying that went in to gearing up for the rating. I took the written test and passed with flying colors a few weeks back. Today I took the flight test and aced that too. It certainly doesn’t mean I am invicible or an expert pilot. I am still not going to go fly in to bad weather, nor do I think I am suddenly capable of handling any scenario. It does however mean I have reached the next level of proficiency and has removed several restrictions. Now, I basically have to rely on my own good judgement.
Anyway thanks to Glenn, my instructor for doing a great job, and Lisa for putting up with my stress level.
Plus One Flyers The flying club that Lisa and I belong to recently held their quarterly membership meeting. This particular meeting was especially interesting in that Craig Fuller, the President of the Airplane Owners and Pilot’s Association (AOPA) was attending as a guest speaker. AOPA is one of the most influential aviation advocacy groups in the world and is providing a critical service to the general aviation community. AOPA works to ensure that our privilege to fly as GA pilot’s is maintained and the freedom’s we sometimes take as granted as American Pilot’s is not threatened. Mr. Fuller is currently leading the charge at AOPA and fighting the good fight for us little guys.
The meeting was well catered and held in the Crown Air Hanger at Montgomery Field. The general membership meeting was fairly quick and the session moved on to a talk and Q&A with Mr. Fuller. He have quite a few interesting things to say about the state of affairs in general aviation. Interestingly, his number one concern is the shrinking population of pilots, and specifically the poor retention rate of those seeking primary flight training. Getting people to take the first step and begin their training is hard enough. The fact that the great number of people do not finish the training is startling. Mr. Fuller’s point here is that there is strength in numbers. For our voice to be heard in Washington, we need many voices. We need to do all we can to help grow our numbers and provide a strong and healthy community for which AOPA can advocate.
During the Q&A session I was able to stand up and ask the final question of the night. I basically asked Mr. Fuller to comment on my concern that, in the long run I hope that flying is something I can share with my children and grandchildren. Currently there exists a number of threats to GA. From funding, to the price of fuel, to regulations stemming from fear or terrorism, to bad press from accidents. I asked Mr. Fuller to speak to those concerns in light of Lisa and I are currently a lot of money into flying now in the hopes that it will be a life style our family can have for generations. His main point was that AOPA will do everything it can to secure that future, and that in the end pilot’s will always find a way to fly. Looking to Europe where these threats have already materialize, people still fly. They way they fly might be different but they still do. Pilot’s are a resourceful bunch and will find a way to stay in the air.
It was a great night. Just another reason why Plus One Flyers is the best flying club in the country. After the talk, we got an opportunity to take a picture with Mr. Fuller.
So something happend this weekend that hasn’t happened in a long time. I flew two days in a row. The first flight on Friday was my first flight of my official instrument rating training. Glenn and I went up to get some pitch and power settings for N739MH (a Cessna 172N). We also briefly touched on the instrument scan, instrument preflight, and I did my first VOR check. It was good to get up and finally start the next phase of my aviation aventures.
The on Saturday, I went up with Kurt in N6253V. The trip started out fairly normal with quick trip down to Brown (KSDM) for some gas. I decided it was going to be a VFR day. I figure I will be getting enough IFR time over the next several months. I realized on the way down how little time I have spent looking outside while flying in San Diego. I still have no clue where anything is.
While on the ground at Brown Kurt suggested we do the “Harbor Tour” on the way back up. We headed to the south end of San Diego Bay. We called up North Island and requested the Harbor Transition. It was really cool. We flew right up the middle of the bay. The route takes you over the Navy Ship Yard and the Coronado Bridge. You get to see all of Coronado (Hotel Del, etc) and you basically buzz the downtown skyline and snag a nice view of Petco Park as a bonus. From there you head up and around where you get to see San Diego International and the North Island Naval Base along with all of the Sailboats in the Harbor.
On the way out you fly over the Submarines parked on the south side of Point Loma. As an added bonus, there was an Aircraft Carrier right of Point Loma that we got a great view of as well (see below). From there you head north up the coast at about 500ft AGL. While on the way up we saw a few dolphins and got a view of Mission Bay, Crystal Pier, and La Jolla. From there we gained some altitude and headed back in to Montgomery. It was the most interesting flight I have had in San Diego thus far. A big thanks to Kurt!
Back in december, I came across a groupon from Corporate Helicopters advertising the opportunity to take an introductory helicopter lesson for an unbelievable price. If you think flying airplanes is expensive, double that and you get helicopter rates. Yikes. Anyway, I have always wanted to at least try it out and be able to be that one logged hour in my log book, so I purchased the deal.
This past weekend I schedule the flight and got up in the air. The day started with some ground training on the systems of the helicopter, basic aerodynamics, and maneuvers. After that I spent a good hour in a simulator getting used to the controls and basics of flight. After that we pre-flighted a Robinson R22 and got up in the air.
We flew up over the cost and beaches to the Del Mar Racetrack, then up to Rancho Sante Fe, over Miramar and then back to the airport. The flight lasted about and hour. To my (and Jeff’s) surprise, I did almost all of the flying. Jeff got us off the ground and also helped me out with the approach, but other than that he was pretty much hands off for the entire rest of the flight. Apparently that typically doesn’t happen until the third lesson or so.
After we got back to the airport we did a little practivce hovering. This is definitely the most challenging part of the initial training. Being able to maintain precise control in three dimensions while hovering only a few feet of the ground is not entirely easy. I wasn’t great at it, but managed to get a little better by the end. Again it typically takes several lessons to “get it”.
All and all it was a ton of fun. I am not going to run out and get my heli license. I still have a lot of work to do in airplanes before I even consider that. I think helicopters might be a little more fun, but they are definitely not as practical. The case more, have less range and can carry less. I am totally glad I did it though and it was a great experience. I didn’t have my camera with me, but here is a shot of the actual Helicopter I flew:
SOLUTE sponsored a corporate chalet at the Miramar Airshow and they gave me two tickets. Since the family was in town and going to the Zoo, I decided to save my brother-in-law Dan form the zoo experience. The chalet included food, drinks, and prime seating right on the runway. Dan and I poked around the airshow grounds and then watched the show. Here are some pics:
I have had the opportunity to travel to Scottsdale to meet with a business partner on a few occasions. Normally I have been flying out on Southwest for a day trip (out and back in the same day). This time Lex recommended that we actually fly ourselves out there in a Cessna. Lex is a former F-18 pilot and holds an ATP license.
We loaded up early in the morning and made our way over for the meeting. On the decent into Scottsdale we could already feel the heat. When we departed after our meeting it was well above 100 degrees. Yikes. We were quite happy when we reached our cruising altitude and in cooled off a bit. Other than the heat the flight was pretty fun. I got to fly the Cessna 182 RG which was my first aircraft with retractable gear. Also neat was that the company was footing the bill for the flight.
Doug snapped a few pics of us from the back seat:
Emily was in town (from NY) for a long weekend and as part of the events we decided to take a trip up to French Valley Airport with Kurt. The 4 of us (Lisa, Kurt, Emily and me) flew from Montgomery (KMYF) up to French Valley (F70) for a brunch at the French Valley Cafe. Since I hadn’t flown in about 3 weeks, the way up was a little rusty. However, by the return trip I was feeling much better. The cafe was pretty nice, not to expensive and the service was decent. Instead of my normal Eggs Benedict, I opted for a ham, cheese, pepper and tomato omelett. Tasty.
Good food, good company and good flying.
I was able to wrap up by Biennial Flight Review, Plus One Flyers Check out, and my Piper Warrior Checkout on Sunday. Terry and I took N9206N over to Ramona to get me familiar with the Airspace to the east and to do some touch and goes. Everything was pretty straight forward and went well. I got my key to the club planes and am good to go. I think I will probably take one of the warriors out for some solo touch and goes at some point in the near future to get a little more proficient. Anyway, here is the Bird: