Mar 29 2008

Takeoffs and Landings – Fifth Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 2:51 pm

This morning, in lesson #5, we focused on takeoffs and landings. My CFI is also starting to not talk as we go through things, letting me fully control and decide upon controls. It’s exciting and kinda’ scary to know I’m basically totally controlling the plane (he even keeps his hands off the controls most of the time).  I also started calling out the radio announcements,  like “Westosha Traffic, Cessna 920, Departing Runway 3, Remaining in Pattern”…I felt more and more like a real pilot today.

Landing RunwayThere was a slight (roughly 9 mph) crosswind on the 3/21 paved runway at Westosha, so we tried a few crosswind landings and takeoffs. Because the turf runway is almost perpendicular to the paved one, we also practiced short field landings and takeoffs on the turf. This was particularly challenging as we even shortened the turf runway further (to about 1/3) because there was a little snow on the crossing between the runways. The turf is surprisingly bumpy and swampy because of all the melted snow…it really felt like “bush flying.” However, after a bunch of those takeoffs and landings, running on the pavement was a breeze!

Obviously we also worked on the climb-outs and approaches, as well as general pattern/traffic flying. There is a LOT to remember and control for…it definitely felt like another sub-par performance by me, but my CFI keeps telling me I’m way ahead of the curve. I trust him and I know with each and every repetition of these maneuvers it becomes more easy and second-nature. It’s just tooo fun!

This lesson I logged 1.2 hours.

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Mar 26 2008

Challenging Windy Fourth Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 4:59 pm

I’m told that wind can make flying a very difficult experience. I quickly learned yesterday during my fourth lesson how true that is! There were steady west winds of 20+ mph during my entire flight experience. Besides the challenge of the wind, we worked on some pretty complicated stuff (or at least seemed complicated to me at this point). By the end of my lesson, my head was spinning for a variety of reasons:

Wind Blowing Cloud1) We worked more on stalls and recovery procedures. This time my CFI had me stall the plane in various situations (power on, power off, while banking) and recover quickly. Luckily, the plane literally DOES indeed want to fly itself and making the corrections came very natural to me (they are all pretty logical anyways) and the plane reacts fine. However, going up and down in altitude as frequently as we did did twinge my stomach of steel even.

2) My CFI demonstrated a spin/spiral and how to recover. Thankfully, I’LL hopefully never be forced into this situation, but my CFI urged me to experience it (even though it’s not necessary). I must admit, heading straight for the ground and spinning (although I knew I was safe and it was indeed thrilling) is not really fun. I’m glad my CFI had the controls and literally had to work to get the plane to do something this unnatural. I’m always glad to see how much the plane wants to fly straight and normal.

3) S-Turns and Ground Reference Maneuvers. These aren’t normally that difficult, but the winds make it really “fun”. Lots of extra compensating to keep the plane from drifting and going off course.

4) Finally, we had to land in a strong crosswind. This is the “most difficult thing to do in flying” and I guess I did pretty good. Obviously my CFI helped me a ton (honestly, I think he landed)…but seeing the amount of extra that goes into a crosswind landing definitely makes me want to review a few chapters in my reference book again!

Needless to say, this was a very busy and complicated lesson and when we landed I had a LOT to think about and process. I AM excited to get back in the air on Saturday though (if the weather plays nice).

This lesson I logged 1.4 hours of flight time.

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Mar 24 2008

Sneaking a Flight Midweek

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 9:06 pm

So my CFI calls me right before dinner to let me know his “airplane ferrying” gig fell through this week. Bad news for him, great news for me! So, we’re booked to fly tomorrow (Tuesday) after work, I’m psyched! I tell ya, after getting my Medical Certificate today, all I have been thinking about is flying.

I think I’m gonna’ hit the FAA Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and start reading about navigating. I’ll probably also review the section on stalls since I know we’ll be working on that again. Goodnight!

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Mar 24 2008

Passed My Medical Certification

Category: Lessons,RamblingsDaniel @ 6:15 pm

Before you can fly solo (as a student) you need to be examined by a physician certified by the FAA. My CFI mentioned that I would probably want to get this sooner rather than later so my not having it wouldn’t be a hindrance when I was ready to fly solo. Colorblind 25 TestAfter checking the FAA website and starting the appropriate forms, I called my local AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) and he had an opening the same afternoon! I made the appointment, went, and passed with “flying colors” today.

Basically the doctor just checked my eyes, made sure I wasn’t color-blind (which I’m not), and made me pee in a cup. Apparently I’m clean and have adequate eyesight. My blood pressure was a little elevated, but I’m always nervous in doctor offices. He said I was still in the normal range. My new Medical Certificate Third Class and Student Pilot Certificate also doubles basically and officially as my “learners permit” for flying. I must admit it was nice NOT to having to go to some governmental agency and stand in line for hours to get this!

Anyways, I’m one step closer to becoming a licensed pilot! My next planned lesson is Saturday, but I’m going to try to see if another CFI at my airport is available tomorrow afternoon for a lesson. I doubt it, but I’m itching to fly!

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Mar 22 2008

First Scrubbed Flight

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 11:22 am

Cancel XI guess it was only a matter of time that I’d experience a scrubbed flight…especially being from Chicago. I was in beautiful Las Vegas for most of this week, but yesterday after arriving back at home the snow started falling heavy and fast. I knew by 9pm the night before my planned lesson today that we would have to cancel. Sure enough, after talking with my CFI we decided it wasn’t going to be nice enough to fly. Granted, this morning I DID see a small plane in the air, but even so I wouldn’t have been comfortable landing on icy/snowy runways (let alone dig the plane out of a snow bank).

Oh well, that’s weather for ya! I’m going to TRY to fly earlier in the week, maybe Tuesday…but of course I hear we have more snow on the way. It’s almost April and we’re still getting snow! Oh well, I’m from Chicago…par for the course!

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Mar 15 2008

Third Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 1:13 pm

This lesson I ran the pre-flight checks completely by myself. My CFI was busy in the airport doing other paperwork. After a thorough walk-thru, I was confident the plane was airworthy. Apparently my CFI was confident too because he barely walked around the plane to spot-check my work. Once in the plane, we ran through the internal procedures and we quickly found ourselves on the runway and me taking off!

Stall DynamicsThis lesson we started by practicing normal flight and 360° turns. Those are quickly becoming second nature as muscle memory takes hold. After climbing to about 4,000 feet, my CFI began to teach me about stalls. I was happily surprised to see how difficult it is to actually cause a full stall (where the wing doesn’t make you fly any more). You really had to force the plane to do bad things. Anyways, after forcing some stalls, I learned how to quickly recover. Everything makes logical sense. It’s also again nice to know the plane will usually naturally recover from a stall if left to its own devices. These planes for general aviation are built for stability…they WANT to fly normal.

We practiced pattern fly as well and I’m starting to learn the local geography and landmarks. After approaching Westosha airport, we landed and logged our time. Another great time in the air…I’m simply loving this!

I logged 1.0 hours of flight time today.

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Mar 13 2008

Second Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 8:18 pm

The weather was a LOT nicer for my second lesson – a nice 40°F (as compared to a very windy 10°F my first time around). This time, my CFI took the time to explain thoroughly and we walked through the entire pre-flight check procedure in detail. I do find it very comforting knowing the level of attention and care that goes into even the most minute details during this check. After pre-flights, I’m very confident the plane is in as best condition as it can be by the time I get into the cockpit.

Turn DynamicsIt may only be my second lesson, but I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the pilot seat. Every minute flying the plane is a pure joy and obviously when you enjoy what you are doing, it certainly is easy to remember and retain what you are learning. It’s also very cool to apply and understand the theories I’m learning in my books to the real world. Once you try something the book talked about, it just “clicks” and you understand it 100%.

This lesson we worked on medium and hard banks, 360’s without losing altitude, and just general flight. The takeoff I pretty much handled on my own, and I’m starting to run the landing approach a little more as well. Exciting times…I can’t wait until Saturday and my third lesson!

I logged 0.7 hours of flight time. (1.3 hours was all pre-flight education!)

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Mar 08 2008

First Lesson

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 3:00 pm

I had my first official flight lesson on Saturday, March 8th, 2008. It was awesome! Since it was bitterly cold outside that morning, my CFI (certificated flight instructor) did the pre-flight exterior check of our 1982 Cessna 152 – he let me stay warm in the plane and acquaint myself with the cockpit. Once in the plane (and not freezing) we continued our very thorough pre-flight checklist before takeoff. We then taxied to the runway, went full thrN64920ottle and took off into the sky! Once airborne, we practiced a lot of basic maneuvers and worked our way to the airport in Lake in the Hills, Illinois (Airport Code 3CK). I should mention that my CFI basically let me do everything in this flight (literally everything except land the plane). He obviously told me what to do and when, but I performed all the actions. Actually, in my opinion, the physical act of piloting a plane is really not that difficult at all. It’s all the flight theory, learning the controls, navigating, emergency procedures, and stuff like that which requires all the knowledge and training. That being said, I was definitely feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information my CFI was throwing at me, but I managed!

Anyways, once at Lake in the Hills, we landed and stopped into their flight shop where I purchased some of the books and tools that I’d need for training. We chatted it up with a few pilots there and then went back to the plane. We (I) took off again and headed back to our home airport of Westosha (5k6). My CFI landeN64920 Interiord the plane again and I taxied us back to the hangar.

I logged 1.7 hours of flight time.

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