Oct 27 2008

Another Date Night

Category: Ramblings,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 6:15 am

Continuing our new date night tradition, my wife and I had our second “flying date night” this past Wednesday.  I wanted to go a bit further and up into Wisconsin this time (rather than a quick jaunt down to Schaumburg).  I decided we’d fly to Watertown, WI (KRYV), about 45 nautical miles northwest of Westosha.  My CFI mentioned there was a good restaurant walking distance from the airport called “Steakfire” where you can even grill your own steak (or they’ll cook it for you for one dollar more).  Since my wife and I hadn’t had steak in quite some time, this was the perfect place to fly.

Steakfire Restaurant

The wind was a little brisk that evening, but helped us to our destination.  Again, since we’d flying back at night, I took our club’s best plane (the 172SP with moving map GPS).  We make quick work of the 45 miles.  Upon making my radio calls into Watertown before landing, my wife was amused with the smooth-talking woman over the radio at the FBO asking “if the FBO could provide any services this evening.”  We taxied and parked and headed over for a great dinner.

This was my second time parking and leaving my plane at an FBO, and the second time where an FBO employee came out to put the parking chalks under my tires.  During dinner we discussed whether it’s standard to tip those guys…and I decided I’d tip the guy when we departed.  When I attempted to give the guy a five-spot, he vehemently said “oh no, that’s not necessary” but did eventually take the tip.  So, I still wonder what the standard is at FBO’s when all you are doing is parking?  Anyone out there have any advice?

Anyway, the flight back went smoothly, although a bit longer because of the wind.  Another great date night!  I logged 1.3 hours of PIC flight.

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Oct 12 2008

First Flight with a Passenger (my wife)

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 1:36 pm

Three days after I passed my checkride, I had the pleasure of taking my wife up for my first flight with a passenger!  It was a very proud moment for me as this was my first real flight after the checkride as a full pilot.  I had taken up my wife with my CFI before, but this was the first time just the two of us.

Since Wednesdays are our normal “date night”, I planned a trip to Schaumburg airport (06C) to eat at “Pilot Pete’s”…a restaurant which I heard lots of good things about (plus I had never been to 06C before).  Since my flight was in the evening and we’d be returning after dark, I decided to take one of our club’s 172SP’s.  The 32 nm trip took only about 16 minutes as these SP’s really haul (especially with only 2 people inside).  The ride went great, and it was very cool to fly as close to O’Hare airspace as Schaumburg gets.  I had to fly pretty low to keep under the Class B airspace, but it gave us some awesome views of huge houses in Barrington and such.

Dinner at Pilot Pete’s was outstanding…what a cool restaurant!  We were seated overlooking our plane on the ramp even.  It was very cool to see other planes landing and taking off, and especially cool to hear little kids in neighboring tables awed at the planes coming in and leaving.  It was fun to think that only minutes before they saw ME land in amazement!

The flight back was very smooth – a beautiful Chicago night.  Visibility was great.  My wife was admittedly scared coming in for the landing at Westosha (since it’s so dark in Wisconsin)…but it went fine.  I then went around the pattern for 2 more full stop landings (just to stay night-current for another 90 days).  On the way home we talked about how great our new type of date night was – one where you FLY to your destination for the date!

This flight I logged 1.3 hours of flight as PIC.

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Oct 02 2008

My Private Pilot Checkride (which I passed)

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 8:30 pm

As promised, here is a little more detail on my private pilot checkride, which I passed this past Sunday afternoon.  It’s funny, I was actually more nervous leading up to this particular test than I had ever been before for any other test I could remember (ACTs, SATs, GMATs, Finals, etc.).  In retrospect, that anxiety probably wasn’t necessary, but I guess it helped keep me more on my toes.

I arrived to Westosha a bit before the time I scheduled with my FAA examiner, just to get comfortable and settle myself.  The examiner walked in perfectly on time and was a very nice and down-to-earth guy.  We chit-chatted for a bit as he went over my paperwork, which helped calmed my nerves somewhat.  Everything checked out from a documentation standpoint and he started in on the oral examination part.  We first went over my cross country plan, which he had me plan from Westosha to La Crosse, WI (KLSE).  I was able to pre-plan that flight before the day – so I purposefully came in very well prepared for that portion.  I think that helped as he seemed impressed with my planning system and the documents I prepared.  After that, he tended to ask general questions about pretty much anything/everything and have me explain topics as much as I could – to see the depth of how much I knew of certain rules and systems.  He had me focus a lot on the systems of the plane (specifically the Cessna 152 – which I was flying that day), then controlled airspace rules, then a bunch on weather actually (apparently he likes to quiz on weather).  He then said he had heard enough, was satisfied, and would head out to fly.  I was pretty excited at that point knowing I did pretty well so far.  It was probably about 1 hour 15 minutes of oral exam.

Upon reaching the plane (my trusty N64920), I pre-flighted VERY thoroughly, walking and talking him through every step and my thinking.  Overall, I tried to verbalize my thoughts (for my sake and his sake)….I think it worked well.  I briefed him like he was just a normal a passenger (since I’m truly the pilot-in-command for this flight).  He explained that he hopefully wouldn’t be saying much, just to fly normally and relax.  He had me start out with a short field takeoff, which went beautifully.  I then proceeded to my flight plan’s heading.  About 4 minutes into the flight, he asked if I was on-course.  I said that I was (I was indeed), and he said great, we’ll then proceed with the rest of the maneuvers.  I knew I wouldn’t complete the cross-country, but I figured we’d go at least to my first checkpoint – about 15 minutes away.  Obviously he was satisfied enough!  That was easy…

He had me divert to the west and slap on the “Foggles” (works like the IFR hood – to do simulated instrument flying).  He had me just putz around a bit, hone in on a VOR, do some turns, and one unusual attitude recovery.  It was only about 6 minutes for that portion.  I took the foggles off and he then had me perform stalls, power on and off, but he had me do them accelerated (turning).  I guess I did okay because he didn’t even have me do them straight.  I did a steep turn (only to the right), then slow flight, and then descended to pattern altitude to perform turns around a point.  My CFI told me this examiner likes the pull the throttle during these ground-reference maneuvers, so I purposely pre-spotted possible off-field landing points when/if he did that.  As expected, he did pull the throttle after I completed about 2 circles around a point.  I quickly pointed out and descended towards the field we’d be “landing” at if my engine had truly lost power.  We didn’t have to get too low before he said that was fine and asked me to head back to Westosha.  I was a little shocked/surprised because everything was moving so fast and I wasn’t doing as many maneuvers as I remember doing with my CFI during my mock checkrides.

During the ride back, we chatted about general stuff he said he’d have me do a simulated short field landing.  That went fine and he asked me to taxi back to perform a soft-field takeoff, run the pattern, do a forward slip for the approach and then land soft-field.  The takeoff and pattern went fine, but I have to admit I had never combined a slip and soft-field landing before….so I was a little flustered for the final approach.  I mistakenly left the power too high, so although my slip was good, I had way too much speed for the landing.  I decided to go around, which I verbalized, and he even said “good idea” – disaster averted!  I went around, reduced power appropriately and landed moderately soft (not my best).  Apparently it was good enough because he asked me drop him off at the club house.  Upon shutting the plane off, he said “let me be the first to congratulate you…you passed!”  At that moment, a huge weight was lifted off me and I knew I had did it!  It was an awesome feeling!

Looking back, the test wasn’t that bad and my CFI had prepped me exceptionally well for it.  If I could offer any advice to other people taking their private pilot checkride… is to prepare well beforehand.  With an impressive flight plan and oral test, I think the examiner already expected a good flight.  Once you start proving that during the flight, things will just flow easier.

Anyway, that completes my original journey to earn my private pilot certificate!  Now I’ll be blogging about all the great flying that I can now do own on my own, with my wife, family, and friends!  I can’t wait!!  This flight I did log 1.1 hours of PIC (pilot-in-command) flight.

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