May 21 2010

Guest Blogger Post #3 – Flying Solo

Category: Guest Blogger,RamblingsDaniel @ 6:15 am

I have been taking lessons for 6 weeks and I have accumulated approximately 28 hours of flying.  This past weekend the instructor signed me off to fly solo.  My first solo take off and landing was fun and scary at the same time.  You don’t realize that once you take off, that you actually have to land yourself and can not screw up because the instructor is not there to take over the controls.  On my first solo, I stayed in the pattern and landed 3 times.  On my second solo, the instructor told me to go do some site seeing, which I did.  I went to Chain of Lakes, Twin Lakes and Lake Geneva.  What a great feeling it is to be in control of the airplane.  All the training has been well worth it, so far.  In the morning we did some instrument flying and in the afternoon, the instructor let me do some solo flying.  I was so excited and I wanted to fly for the whole day.  I actually forgot that someone else needed the plane after my lesson and the instructor had to call me on the radio telling me that someone is waiting for the plane.  Oops.  I also had to snap a picture so that I can show off a little by putting it on my background screen at work.  Dork, but I don’t care.  It reminds me how much fun I had and I can’t wait to fly again.  It also helps me get through the day.

What’s left:

  • written test
  • cross country
  • cross country solo
  • 3 hours of night flying
  • 3 hours of instrument flying
  • check ride

I talked to my instructor and he thinks if we continue training at this pace, I should be ready for the check ride in about 30 days.  I try to fly 3 times a week for multi-hour lessons.  That should be about 10 weeks for the entire training.  I can’t wait to get my license because I have so many people asking me to take them flying.

[This post authored by Dan’s friend Kenan]

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Jul 06 2009

Dad’s Birthday 2009

Category: Ramblings,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:46 am

flightplan20090703July 3rd is my Dad’s birthday. Like last year, we went flying to celebrate his special day. Unlike last year, now I have my license and was able to take him, my mom and my wife for the birthday flight all by myself without an instructor tagging along. The weather was gorgeous and I had a busy flight planned for us. We first headed down the lakefront to view the Chicago skyline, which my parents hadn’t yet seen in the air. They loved it, identifying all the sights along the way and taking tons of pictures and videos (see the pictures here). The skies were fairly busy that afternoon, and two times other Cessnas passed a little too closely for my comfort level – where I altered my heading a bit just to make sure. Obviously everything went fine, but just reconfirms for me how important it is to always stay alert (especially when the autopilot is engaged).

After the skyline, we headed back north, west, and then south around O’Hare’s Class B airspace to get to Pilot Pete’s at Schaumburg Airport (06C) for some early dinner. My Mom hadn’t eaten there yet and we had a great dinner there (the food is always really good). On the way back to Westosha, we flew over my house and even spotted my neighbor outside his house. Later he said he was able to see us from the ground and figured it was probably us.

After the flights, we quickly drove back down to Arlington Park for some horse racing action and fireworks later in the evening. All-in-all, it was a great day for me as a pilot and as a son. I love being able to celebrate special days with my Dad, Mom, Wife (my family) in such a cool and unique way.

This flight I logged 1.7 of pilot-in-command time.

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Sep 04 2008

Pre-Checkride Practice

Category: Lessons,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 8:50 am

In preparation for my impending FAA checkride, I’ve been doing a fair amoung of practicing the skills necessary to pass the test.  Last week I flew first with my CFI doing a sort-of mock checkride.  I had to demonstrate turns-around-a-point, s-turns, steep banks, slow flight, and stalls (power on, power off, and while banked).  I also demonstrated slow and soft field takeoffs and landings.

We identified a few points where I had to practice a little more – which I then followed by going up solo to work on them a bit.  After 3 of each, I feel very confident on the slow and soft field takeoffs and landings.  I still want to work on my turns-around-a-point (which I never feel I get perfect).

This coming week I’ll do a ground-school session with my CFI just to refresh on stuff and probably go up this weekend to solo practice one more time before a final mock check-ride and signoff from my CFI to take the real thing.

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Jul 28 2008

Long Distance Solo Cross Country Requirement DONE

Category: Lessons,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:33 am

So I knocked out one of the larger solo flight requirements of my flight training this past weekend – the 150nm solo cross country.  More specifically, the requirements state:

(ii) One solo cross-country flight of at least 150 nautical miles total
distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations;

I went from Westosha up to Dodge County (UNU), down to Janesville (JVL), back through Campbell (C81) before returning to Westosha.  I did full-stops at all 4 airports; all-in-all a 168 NM round trip (see my flight plan here).  Although I had been to all the airports before, this was my first time to Campbell since my maiden Discover Flight flight.  It was really cool for me to fly into the airport where I really started this journey only a few months ago! The flight itself went off without a hitch.  The sky was a bit hazy (actually the most hazy I’ve ever flown in)…but still >6SM visibility.  In past cross-countries I was able to spot my waypoints and destinations usually 10SM out.  This time I had to rely on my calculations and pilotage a little more.  But, again, everything went smoothly.

This flight I logged 2.4 hours of solo cross country flight.

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Jun 20 2008

First Solo Cross Country

Category: Lessons,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 5:00 pm

Yesterday I successfully completed my first solo cross country flight.  I decided to head into Illinois since I actually haven’t flown in my home state yet.  My plan took me from Westosha (5K6) to Poplar Grove (C77), up to Beloit (44C), over to my farthest point, Monroe (EFT), then back through Janesville (JVL) before arriving at Westosha to complete my journey.  The cross country took me 136 nautical miles around northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  I couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day, the weather was just picture perfect.

Out my WindowI’m happy to report I hit all my checkpoints right on time – my plan and the weather/wind reports were very accurate.  Here’s a link to the flightplan I created – you can see I also have a page with all the VOR and radio frequencies so I could find everything quickly and easily.  I also scanned my sectional and printed out the appropriate sections for ease of use during my flight.  (I still keep the whole map with me just in case, though).  I must admit, though, that flying in Illinois a bit west is a lot more challenging than around Westosha because there aren’t as many big lakes (a luxury of Wisconsin) to quickly navigate off of.  I managed, though, obviously!

While at Janesville I asked the tower to do 3 more full-stop landings, for more practice for me to work at a towered field (plus it’s a requirement for my license).  Those landings went great, and the tower guys over there were very accommodating.  Overall, my landings were very smooth (the weather was cooperating) and I had a great time!  You can see a pic I was able to snap with my cellphone coming back from Janesville.

I logged 2.4 hours of cross country solo flight time.  Next time out I’ll try to knock out the longer 150 nm+ cross country requirement and/or start working on night flying.

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May 22 2008

First Solo!

Category: Lessons,Ramblings,Solo FlightsDaniel @ 9:15 pm

Today (May 22nd, 2008) was the big day! I SOLOED! The weather held up nicely and the skies were beautifully clear … I had a good feeling on my drive to the airport. I got to Westosha for my lesson and my CFI told me to pre-flight, start the plane up, and taxi it to the clubhouse by myself. I did all that, picked him up, and we ran the pattern at Westosha a few times. Everything wet swimmingly – the winds were at a slight crosswind for Westosha, but my landings were right on the mark. My CFI then said to head over to Burlington (BUU) to try some landings over there. After a short 10-minute jaunt I was on final for Runway 11 at BUU, with a perfect slight headwind. The landing was incredibly easy (as BUU’s strip is almost double the width of Westosha) and my CFI told me to taxi over to a hangar were he proceeded to get out and asked me a final “you ready for this?” I of course said yes and he told me to run the pattern a few times … by myself!

I taxied to the end of Runway 11 and called out my first solo radio announcement: “Burlington Traffic, Cessna 920, Departing Runway 11, Remaining in the Pattern, Burlington” and was off. Full throttle and I was kickin’ down the runway, accelerating faster than ever before. The plane felt like it leaped off the ground without the added weight of my CFI. I was soon in the air realizing, holy crap, this is all me! I was 10000% responsible for getting me on the ground. It was incredibly exhilarating and scary at the same time.

There was another plane around the airport that was taxiing towards the runway as I was making my way around the pattern. I was turning final and had made all my proper radio calls, yet he still took the runway in front of me and proceeded to takeoff. In retrospect there was plenty of room to land after him, but I wanted to give myself tons of space so I executed a go-around on my first pass…no biggie, but I was a little disappointed and spooked. However, I worked the pattern a 2nd time and was again lined up for final. My glide was perfect and my first solo touchdown was very smooth…I was elated! I did it, I officially became a pilot at that moment!My shirt after my first solo

Although I had plenty of room to touch-and-go, I went full stop and taxied back around and ran the pattern again. All in all, I did three takeoffs and landings solo, a full 30 minutes worth of flying. I picked up my CFI and he said the landings looked great and I handled the traffic just fine. We headed back to Westosha and I finished the day with a nice moderate crosswind landing.

I fueled up the plane and my CFI came out and cut the my shirt tail off my back (the tradition for first solos). You can see a picture of what’s left of my shirt here. I don’t think I’ve been more proud of a destroyed item of clothing before!

I can’t wait for my next solo flight! This lesson I logged 0.9 hours and 5 landings dual, 0.5 hours and 3 landings SOLO, baby!

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May 06 2008

Pre-Solo Check Flight

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 8:00 pm

This past lesson I had my “pre-solo check flight” – a requirement of my flying club.  It’s really a stage check for the club to make sure students won’t break the planes and for another CFI to make sure my usual CFI isn’t out of his mind.  I rode with the club president, which was a little intimidating at first, but things went pretty well.

This CFI first had me pre-flight the plane and gave me a small verbal quiz.  He was definitely asking very difficult and obscure questions, to probe how deep my knowledge was and probably to teach me a little.  Some of the stuff I had no idea, but again, he didn’t really expect me to know it either.  We then proceeded to taxi and takeoff.  It was exciting (and a little weird) to taxi and takeoff without ANY words/prompting from the CFI.  Once in the air, he made me show him general flight maneuvers like slow flight, steep turns, and turns around a point.  All went fine.Checkmark

The CFI promised there would be some type of simulated emergency during our check ride, and sure enough on the way back to the airport he said “you see smoke in the cabin, what do you do?”  Me being me, I over-thought the exercise and starting reciting back some of the emergency procedures from the Cessna manual.  He then asked, “but what first”…of which I started blanking.  He then said “get the damn plane on the ground first…you don’t want to be in the air with a fire…screw the checklist at that point.”  That makes sense I guess!  So, we pulled the throttle, looked for a place to land (which we were over Westosha anyways) and I glided the plane down for a no engine (with simulated fire) emergency landing.  Surprisingly, this landing (without any engine power) went great…I was pretty happy.

We taxied back and took off again, this time with a fairly steady crosswind.  I was spacing a bit on how to hold the ailerons during crosswinds in general (still not coming natural to me) and verbally I called the wind direction wrong.  We remained in the pattern and I landed with the crosswind.  The final approach was a bit rough as I overshot the runway on the base leg (not compensating enough for the crosswind).  I put the plane down okay, though.

The CFI was generally fine with my abilities at this point and recommended just working on crosswind landings a bit more with my usual CFI (which I can’t argue against).  He said I should be solo’ing with just a few more crosswind landings under my belt…exciting stuff!  I’m off to Mexico now for vacation, so you won’t hear from me for a week or so.

This lesson I logged 0.9 hours of flight time.

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Apr 30 2008

Flying Under the IFR Hood

Category: LessonsDaniel @ 6:18 am

This past lesson was my first with simulated instrument flying (IFR), or “flying under the hood” (it’s really just a big visor). I heard and read all about relying 110% on your instruments when in the clouds/fog, but I never fully understood the truth behind that until now. IFR HoodAt one point my CFI had me fly straight then close my eyes. Then, I had to perform small turns and “level the plane” by feeling. Upon opening my eyes, I found I was in a fairly steep descending right turn (and had I not had instruments to correct me, I would be a goner). Needless-to-say, it is indeed critical to solely trust your instruments when flying IFR …your body does get disoriented and your feelings become totally unreliable. Anyways, we flew around with me under the hood for 0.6 hours, then we worked our way back to Westosha using VOR navigation techniques. On final approach, my CFI had me flip off the IFR visor and I landed the plane visually (thankfully). Considering I had only about 2 minutes of full sight before landing, I was pretty satisfied with the quality of my touchdown.

Before flying, we actually also worked on my pre-solo written test. It wasn’t that hard as I’ve kept up on my textbook reading and it’s all stuff we’ve covered countless times during the lessons. Now all I need is another CFI to just do a quick “pre-solo check flight” with me (a rule of our flight club). Once that’s complete, my CFI said I’m totally ready to fly solo. Woohoo!

This lesson I logged 0.9 hours of total flight time.

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