Showing posts from February, 2006

180HP C-172

Today I took up Rick Aviation's 180HP Cessna 172. Did a practice IFR approach into FYJ (without the hood since I was solo) and returned for a landing back at PHF. A short flight just to knock any rust off, but at least I was better on the radio this flight. The airplane was pretty nice. It had a new paint job over 90% of it and a new prop/spinner/etc. I could tell some difference with the slightly larger engine - more right rudder needed at times. I got to see some of the F-22s shooting approaches into Langley AFB. Very cool. I almost wrecked on the highway when I heard a pair of them screaming overhead - I had to crane my around head to look for them. There was a lot of activity at PHF today as well. Plenty of passenger jets (maybe 1 jet t/o or landing per 5-7 minutes). One jet that was ready to takeoff had to wait on me when I was close final. I tried to come in a little faster/higher to get out of the way sooner. My GPS battery died mid-flight so no good GPS track today.

Airplane ownership

With my recent difficulties in renting airplanes (local renter closed down and equipment troubles in other rental aircraft) I've started thinking more and more about owning my own airplane. Airplane ownership has been a dream of mine since I first started flying - undoubtedly most pilots have that dream from early on. So far I've kept it at bay by reminding myself about the bad aspects of ownership - being without your plane for a week or more when it's down for inspection or maintenance and, of course, the costs involved. But I'm drawn to the idea of not having to schedule the plane, of leaving on a whim (after a little planning of course) to go enjoy good weather from 3000 feet, or of taking long distance trips without the worry of getting charged for more flight time than I used. Watching the price of new airplanes over that last couple of years has me feeling like they are getting further and further out of reach. It seems they gain in price much faster than my sa

My current best practice to get Garmin GPS tracks into Google Earth

Even though I purchased the Plus version of Google Earth , I have not been able to import tracks directly from my Garmin GPSmap 296. Some of my previous posts have discussed how to get the tracks imported, but recently Dave posted a comment that pointed me to a better way. Here's the summary of how I create Google Earth (GE) files from my flight tracks (I assume you have the newest version of the free GE installed): Using the newest version of MapSource, import the tracks from your GPS into a new MapSource file/doc In MapSource (on the tracks tab) delete all the tracks you don't want to see in GE (the flight tracks are typically the ones with lots of points in them, but you can view the tracks by date/time too) Now for the great tip from Dave: go to the view menu in MapSource and choose "View in Google Earth" Google Earth will start and will now have everything from your MapSource document in the "Temporary Places" folder In that folder will be "GPS d

Flying another 172

My friend Maciek and I went up today in 7320F, a 160HP C-172 rented by Rick Aviation. The plan had been to take up their 180HP C-172, but it was down for maintenance when we arrived. Maciek hopes to start flight training soon, so while I preflighted he went looking for the chief CFI to chat about getting started. The flight went fairly well. I did a couple of stalls so that Maciek could see what those were like and a few steep turns as well. Toward the end of the flight I did a simulated engine out, which didn't go as well as I would have liked but would have turned out ok. I had us too high on the approach to the field I picked out. This was mainly because I was concerned that the 13kt winds would keep us from making the field, but I was too aggressive in getting lined up and had us too high. Had some major annoyances with the push-to-talk switch on the pilot's side. It had my radio transmissions sounding like a bunch of clicks. I didn't handle it as well as I shoul

New aviation software

My wife and I had a good day today - we released the first public version of our personal software project: ForeFlight Desktop . The software runs on your computer and periodically downloads aviation weather data from NOAA. Then it takes that data and creates various graphical views and alerts/warnings so that you can tell, with just a glance, how the current (or predicted) weather looks. I've been using it before every flight and it has really sped up my preflight planning. It works best for local flights, as there is no explicit cross-country planning aspect to the software. It's taken us months of blood, sweat, and tears (and hair-pulling-out) to get to this release time. :) It feels really good to finally make this release announcement. Please check out the demo (or the demo movie) and let us know what you think!

A little solo jaunt

I flew one of Rick Aviation's planes (737GR) solo for the first time today. Made a quick trek down to PVG for a touch and go and then came right back to Newport News. A short 0.8 hour flight, but enjoyable. It is fun to fly out of an airport with the big iron coming and going. Newport News is big enough to have a steady stream of jets moving around but not so big as to be intimidating to a general aviation pilot. Of course, my handheld GPS came along for the ride (though you may think I was flying blind when looking at today's GPS track ).

Frost? In February?

This morning's plan was to: Get up at 5AM Get out the door by 5:30 Get to PHF by 6AM Get in the air in 737GR by 6:30 3 out of 4 ain't bad. When I arrived at the airport, it was quickly made known that the airplane was covered in frost. We've had such warm weather here all last month that the thought of morning frozen water never entered my mind. But after riding out to the airplane and seeing the de-icer truck warming up it began to sink in. I wouldn't get to fly today. Of course if I had something to clear the frost with, I would have been OK. But alas, there was nothing to help me with that job (no chemicals, etc.), and I wasn't about to try to clear all those surfaces by hand in the frozen dark. So maybe my 10AM time will work out better tomorrow. At least I won't be up at 5AM - at least I hope not.