Showing posts from 2009

Cirrus safety pilot

I had the great chance to fly a bit with my buddy John this weekend. I acted as safety pilot as he shot 6 rapid-fire approaches. My Dad even got to ride in the backseat to take in the sights around the Williamsburg area. Lots of fun! John ended the flight with a super soft landing and we taxied back to parking. I also got the chance to chat briefly with my old IFR instructor Charles as well as some of the other folks at the airport. It was great to be back there!

A bigger sim

Today and tomorrow I'm at the AOPA Summit in Florida. Walking around the exhibit hall today offered me the chance to fly a Fresca simulator setup for a Cirrus SR22. This thing has a wraparound screen that probably covers 180 degrees of your forward view (so nearly total side-to-side coverage) and maybe 40 degrees up-and-down (so plenty). I kept my flight short, but just after takeoff I rolled over into a steep bank and felt a little disoriented. It was kind of cool, but something that I'd have to get used to as getting all that visual input with no seat-of-the-pants input was a touch strange. The graphics looked like MS Flight Sim, so I assume that is what was driving the view, and the avionics were near-real-life mockups mounted in a cockpit setup not too different from the real SR22. Very very cool. To end the flight I did something unique. I slowed down, reached up, and pulled the chute. The sim seemed to do a decent job simulating the event, and it was a bit of an e

Morning fog

This morning I made a quick flight before the fog had a chance to lift off of the local lakes and rivers. I managed to capture a bit of it with my iPhone. That factory in the video is near Lancaster, SC - from there I flew NW out to Crowder's mountain to see the leaves turning yellow along the ridge-line as the sun had risen just enough to skim down the slope through the trees. Amazing. That was one of those sites that only your mental camera can capture, unfortunately.

My last few flights

My last few flights have included a bit of time flying behind a "six-pack" of "steam" gauges again. After having spent so much time with the G1000 over the last few months I figured I'd have some trouble re-adjusting to the older indicators. I actually found that I automatically adjusted and didn't really notice the fact that I was getting my flight info in a different manner. No doubt the fact that I have hundreds of hours on steam gauges was the reason, but it still surprised me how automatically my brain adjusted. If I was flying hard IFR for an extended period I would certainly prefer to be watching a PFD for attitude info (with the major bonus of its automatic cross-checking) but for 95% of my flying there's little difference. I've been looking more closely into owning part of an airplane again and will post more about that once progress is made. So far it seems to be going quite well though. Regardless of what type of airplane I eventually

19th first-time flier

This evening I got the chance to fly with a family I met recently. Their son was out of town so we filled the C172 up with the Dad, Mom, and daughter. The daughter flew right seat and got a bit of time at the wheel. She did a terrific job and seemed to have fun doing it! She was my 19th first-time-in-a-small plane passenger! I truly enjoy being a GA (general aviation) ambassador. It's just too much fun not to share. :) The weather was very cooperative for the flight - I was expecting a few bumps from thermals but we actually found very few.

About 5 quality seconds of landing practice

This morning's flight was meant to get me up and down before the winds started picking up. I've not been thrilled with my last few landings (tending to float) so I wanted to give myself no excuse today - no winds means it's all the pilot's fault. I've gone through phases in the past where my landing consistently seem to fall short (not literally, thankfully). But today I did a good job with my one landing - hopefully ending this most recent streak. As usual, I think my problem has been bad airspeed management (flying a bit too fast). I can give myself a pass on that type of mistake when the winds are playing around, but not when they are just a few knots. Before takeoff today I pulled out my new iPhone 3GS (for ForeFlight testing of course!) and took this quick video. I uploaded it to Vimeo since they seem to provide better quality viewing. The video is nothing special but did show me that the 3GS takes great video, especially if you can keep from shaking your

Recent flights

I've flown a couple of times since my last post - both solo and both just local flights. The first was to check out the infestation of duckweed on the pond we have down in Fairfield county. We had plans to get down there for the weekend and I wanted to learn how much duckweed we'd have to treat. I found it about 60% covered which wasn't great. After talking to my Dad about it, we decided to buy some Talapia fish to stock the pond. The hope is that after putting 1000+ small Talapia in the pond they will start to eat the duckweed and make a dent in it. We've been spraying chemicals for years with only minimal benefit. Hopefully the au -naturale method will work. Either that, or the bass will get lots of fish food. This morning I went out early to visit an old haunt - KFQD in N.C. It is just south of the mountain foothills so there's some very nice scenery to take in. The flight went great, especially my landing at FQD . Unfortunately my landing was less

Getting my fix again

After a full month of no flying (as PIC) I was starting to really itch to get back in the air again. My schedule and the weather had conspired against me for a while, but today I was finally able to get 1.2 hours in. In addition to testing some of the latest ForeFlight software, I was able to grab a few pictures of the family's newest addition - an aluminum dock at the lake house. The dock was built and installed by Alumadock of Henderson, NC. It should come in handy for docking the newest edition to our family's transportation collection - the good ship USS ForeFlight: We've had that jet ski up to about 65MPH so far - on calm water. I don't think it will go any faster than that, but I'm quite fine with that. :) The previous owner said it will tow skiers nicely and the little bit of knee-boarding we've done with it so far confirms that. I flew down to the lake area at 5,500' - just enough to remain under the clouds. This had at least 2 benefits - the

Some Sun n' Fun

Some of us ForeFlighters made the voyage down to KLAL last weekend to spend some time at Sun n Fun. This was my first trip to the show and I was lucky enough to go in super-style. I caught a ride in a friend's JetProp turboprop. Here's the GPS track for our landing. That was by far the most nerve racking approach I have ever experienced. We had to fit into a line of smaller aircraft all making the same visual approach. We flew over the smoke stacks as stated in the approach description and then started looking for nearby aircraft. Quickly we found RV-6s and Cessnas all around and Doug, our pilot, settled in behind an RV in front of us. For a while we had aircraft beside us and one VERY close behind us but over a minute or so they sorted themselves out into a line. We started playing follow the leader with the aircraft in front until they missed the turn toward the airport. We discussed for a moment whether to follow them or go ahead and make the proper turn. Doug made

A windy time

I went up this afternoon for my first flight in about 3 weeks. It was pretty windy today, with gusts up to 21 knots when I took off from runway 2. The winds were out of 310 so there was a pretty good crosswind but the takeoff was only a little more interesting than usual. I kept a bit too much left aileron in at liftoff so I started to slide over to the left side of the runway after the wheels came up. A little correction had me back over the center line and I rode the bumpy roller coaster on up to 3000 feet. I just flew around the local area for almost an hour, seeing the sites. I was happy to have the autopilot working for me because it was a constant struggle to maintain altitude. I encountered plenty of 300 ft/min updrafts/downdrafts but the autopilot stayed on top of it very nicely. I would not have wanted to do a check ride on a day like that. I flew the ILS to return to the airport and had a 13-15 kt crosswind to work against. On approach my airspeed was all over the pl

Looking straight down from 2000 feet

I was visiting Williamsburg, VA this week for work-related activities but got to take a break from the computer screen for a while when my friend John invited me to ride in his trike. We went up a bit before sunset and cruised around the city watching soccer games and baseball practice from 2000' above. When you ride in the trike you are out in the 65 kt wind so we bundled up with gloves and coats. I was plenty warm wearing all the gear John found for me, even with the temps falling toward 40 degrees or so. Here's a photo of the view from the trike. With little cockpit to speak of (at least in terms of a typical aircraft) you can look in any direction you like without having your vision blocked by a bunch of sheet metal - including straight down! It's easy to imagine you are flying around on your own wings. That crank in the image can be used as a trim for the aircraft. The prop and engine are mounted in the back, in a pusher configuration, so you have to be very carefu

Landing under the setting sun

This evening my Dad and soon-to-be brother-in-law Tom went up for a great flight in the G1000 C172. My dad got some time in at the controls and I built up more glass panel experience. I spent a good bit of time testing the latest version of ForeFlight Checklist and Mobile as well, running them on the new beta version of iPhone OS 3.0. We flew down I-77 for a bit before pointing the nose to Camden, SC. I did the GPS 6 approach into there and we taxied back to take off again. We saw nary a single other airplane at Camden, though there was some activity to the west at Farifield airport. On the way home we flew over the lake Wateree house to check it out before making a 30 degree right turn to point back to Rock Hill. The winds aloft were about 3 knots. As we entered the pattern at Rock Hill the G1000 was showing traffic a few miles to our right at the same altitude. Since it was dusk I lit our airplane up like a Christmas tree and we started looking for a strobe light or anything el

2009 goals

As the new year rolls in, which of course happened months ago, people tend to think about "resolutions" - their goals for the new year. I'm a little slow, so mine are just now really starting to take shape. Not surprisingly, mine focus on aviation. My goals for this year are: Become a certified advanced ground instructor Become a certified instrument ground instructor Get my commercial license I have a bonus goal as well, which is less likely to get fulfilled this year: become a CFI. That has been a goal in the back of my head for years now - it's finally starting to break loose and get into the forefront of my thoughts. But first things first - my main goals are step stones on my path to becoming a CFI (what a coincidence!). To become a certified ground instructor my understanding is that I will need to pass two written exams - the first is the "fundamentals of instruction". The FOI tests my knowledge on how people learn. The second is the FAA Flight

More G1000 findings

Each flight with the G1000 avionics teaches me more about them. My most recent flight was no exception. This time I tested how the G1000 handles switching over to the alternate static air source. Static air pressure is used to determine altitude, air speed, and vertical speed in the airplane - when you switch to the alternate source (maybe because ice formed over the normal port , or it was otherwise clogged) you switch to reading the pressure of the air in the cabin of the airplane. This cabin air is at a slightly lower pressure than the outside air due to aerodynamic forces sucking air out of the tiny gaps in the cabin (around the doors, windows, and other places). So when you switch to the alternate source, the airplane thinks you are climbing momentarily. I wanted to see how the autopilot and the G1000 would react when this was done in flight. The first time I tried it I switched to the alternate source and saw the autopilot start to correct altitude as I expected. I quickly

Crosswind landing practice

Having not experienced too many crosswinds recently, today worked out well to give me some practice. I just made 2 landings, but each had a ~10kt crosswind - not much but enough to let me practice my crabbing/slipping technique. I flew down to KCDN to check out that airport in Camden, near the family lake house. Here's a quick photo of the lake house I grabbed with my iPhone: As I approached KCDN I talked with some traffic going into the airport. By the time I was within a few miles the traffic had all settled down - a Cirrus was dropping off a passenger, a Cessna was taxiing to their tie down, and a turbine helicopter was idling by a building on the airport property. I just taxied back to take off again. While I was down on the ground I took in the local sites. The airport has two runways, both of which looked recently paved and were in top-notch condition. The airport buildings also looked well maintained. The return trip to KUZA was a slow one with a 27 kt headwind (so my

Getting K airborne again

This morning I took my wife K up for her first flight in over a year. She has her pilot's license, but with our 17 month old in the picture she has had little chance to get out to the airport. We took the G1000 C172 and just flew around the local area. We got some pictures of the new house we expect to close on tomorrow as well as other local landmarks. I was in the left seat and K was in the right seat. When it was her time to fly I put the G1000 in reversionary mode - to give her her own complete set of instruments. That's a very cool feature for that type of situation. However, after flying in rev mode for 15 minutes or so, I pushed the red button to go back to normal mode and - guess what - I found a bug in the G1000. A picture describes it best: Basically the PFD went back to normal operation but the MFD only partially recovered. The bottom soft keys remained in "rev" mode and the moving map would not come up. The ability to change "pages" never

BFR completed

Today I went up with my instructor Tyson to get my Biannual Flight Review out of the way. This consists of an hour on the ground and in the air for him to make sure I generally know what I am doing with an airplane. We spent time going over some of the regs about minimum equipment needed to fly into certain airspace, as well as chart symbols on the sectionals (something I am always rusty on as I rarely use those charts). Then we hopped in the G1000 airplane to get our flight time in. We made a quick weather check before we took off because there is some cold weather coming in tonight - maybe the first snow of the season for us South Carolinians. But the clouds looked like they were just fine and would stay that way long enough for the flight. So we took off, headed South, and started some slow flight. After that I did a power on stall and Tyson demonstrated how much control you have with the rudder even when the airplane is stalled - it was pretty impressive. He also showed me how

News of the day - Cirrus updates and the mysterious case of the missing pilot

Aero-news posted a few interesting items today: The mysterious case of Marcus Schrenker . It appears that Mr. Schrenker decided that bailing out of his turboprop aircraft and letting it fly away on autopilot was a great way to avoid his white-collar lawsuit. How do they know this? Well, there are a few pointers: 1) the way the radar track looked 2) the fact that a military aircraft eased up to his airplane in-flight (after trouble was reported) and found the cabin door open and the cockpit lights all dark 3) the fact that Childersburg, AL police think they gave Mr. Schrenker a ride to a hotel during the time frame - after he appeared in the town with a strange explanation of how he got there The flying penguin has his own unique perspective on this incident as well. Update Jan 14, 2009: Now the guy's busted ! ----- Next up are updates from Cirrus - they have revealed a new option for their 2009 line-up. FIKI (flight into known icing) will soon be approved on properly equippe

Avidyne vs. Garmin - Fight!

I spent some time today learning about the latest offerings from Avidyne in their glass panel products. I have wondered for a while what they might do to combat the powerhouse that is Garmin. Garmin has quickly made in-roads with their G1000, even displacing Avidyne in what I consider Avidyne's flagship deployment platform - the Cirrus SR22. Currently, if you want to give Cirrus as much money as possible for an SR22 you will get a Garmin, not an Avidyne. Additionally, even when you do buy an Avidyne-equipped airplane Garmin STILL makes money - the Avidyne is always installed with Garmin radios and GPS units. I think Avidyne aims to fix that with their new FMS900w system . This new system replaces the Garmin radios in the installation with a keyboard equipped "remote pad" for entering waypoints, freqs, etc. It even has a QWERTY keyboard - imagine that! The system also includes updated main displays. These now support synthetic vision (much like you'd see in a f