Showing posts from August, 2005

Touring "Many Glacier" in a Bell chopper

Today Krista and I hopped aboard a Bell 206L-3 helicopter to get a 1 hour tour of Many Glacier National Park. That was only the second time I have ridden in a chopper (I've yet to ride up front). It was quite enjoyable to zoom low over the terrain, and of course the views were second to none out there in Montana. We were lucky to get absolutely gorgeous weather for the trip out of West Glacier, MT. The temp was around 75 with low humidity and nary a cloud. We had the little vent window open so that the camera had a clear view of the incredible mountains and glaciers. We saw parts of the park that are only seen by those that fly in or hike many miles in. We even circled a mountain on the Canadian side of the park (the "peace" park). BTW, the pilot simply amazed me when he brought us in to land. He was so precise it felt like the craft was a part of him. I assume that most chopper pilots get to that skill level, since landing in the exact right spot is important for m

Flying to Montana with the handheld GPS

As my wife and I were flying (commercially) to MT for a much delayed honeymoon I hooked up my portable GPS receiver to follow our progress. We flew Northwest, and they allow the use of the GPS in cruise (thankfully they understand it is about as harmful as a digital wristwatch to the aircraft). I stuck the remote antennae up to the window (I couldn't get much of a signal with the built-in one) and watched the satellite signals come in. It wasn't as cool to watch the progress as I imagined it would be - I am a big fan of situational awareness (yeah, I know how massively geeky that sounds) but what it showed wasn't all that surprising. We took a bit of a circuitous route, though I doubt it added more than 10 minutes to the trip time. In fact, we didn't go direct (RIC->MSP) until about halfway through the trip. I spent time trying to ID towns we went over and trying to improve my distance estimations, but we didn't fly over many landmarks that existed on the GPS

3rd lesson toward complex endorsement

Today I spent another hour getting acquainted with the Piper pa28r-200. I got the chance to fly with my old IFR instructor, Charles, which was nice because I got another perspective on things. It was yet another hazy day, with 5 miles visibility and no horizon to speak of. We did a power-off stall, a few steeps turns (where my holding of altitude left something to be desired), and an emergency gear extension. We finished the lesson with 2 landings (the last one being just a hop around the JGG pattern). Here are some of the notes I have taken during my first 3 lessons: Airplane specific notes: 200 horsepower (more right rudder than usual) airspeeds are on MPH - just treat it like a number, don't try to work in kts Vx - 85 (96 gear up) Vy - 95 (100 gear up) Best glide - 95 (105 if have auto-gear extender) Vr - 70 Va - 131 (120 with 2 people) Vfe - 125 Vlo (landing gear operation - raising) - 125 Vle (extending gear OK below) - 150 Emergency gear extension max - ~95 Uses electrohydr

A few links from

NASA video of air traffic data The ultimate flight sim monitor Pictures of weather you DON'T want to fly in SpaceShip 2 makes legal progress

A little excitement for my 2nd complex lesson

Well, the two most memorable parts of today's flight (my 2nd towards a complex endorsement) were: The heat - even at 9am we had reached 85 degrees with plenty of humidity A few moments of uneasiness when a large twin engine tried to salvage an approach that was un-salvageable from early on I'll start with the heat. Today's plan was to do a thorough preflight - me walking Tucker (my CFI) through the procedure so that he could point out weak spots and give me tips along the way, then head out for power-on and -off stalls with a few landings to cap it off. I had scheduled the flight for 9am, knowing full well the heat wave we've had recently, and hoping that an early flight would help. I'm sure it was cooler than say, 2pm, but even when doing the preflight, with a slight breeze blowing, I was sweating and wishing there was a huge tree or awning providing some shade. I guess it would be hard to shade the tarmac without limiting the size of airplanes that could taxi in

Aircraft bird strike video

My dad sent me a video of a bird striking a single-engined Canadian BAES Hawk trainer/fighter aircraft carrying an instructor and a student. The pilots ended up OK from what we've heard, thankfully.

Starting a new endorsement

Today I sat in the left seat of a complex aircraft for the first time, adding 0.9 hours in my logbook. I decided to go for a "complex" endorsement, which will allow me to fly airplanes that have: Flaps (OK, no big deal) Constant speed propeller (the blades can change pitch) Retractable gear (now we're talkin!) The airplane I am getting checked out in is a 200HP Piper Arrow PA28R-200 built in 1974 [ Checklist ]. I don't think the POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook) is still in print but I managed to find one at The flaps are nothing new to me, so that is non-issue for this endorsement. The only interesting thing about that one is that the Arrow has a hand lever to operate the flaps, instead of an electrical switch like the C-172. I haven't decided which I like better yet. There is something nice about using your own hand power to make a change to the airplane's flight controls though (instead of a motor). I have always preferred manu