Tag: Aviation

Criss Cross Country

by on May.16, 2016, under Flight Training

We did our first cross country today to Rockford International (RFD).  Did the usual dead reckoning flight plan and learned a few things about what does and does not make a good checkpoint.  RFD has TRSA, which means talking with an approach controller.  Fumbled that a bit, but did OK.  Winds were gusty and so I struggled with the cross wind a little bit, but it was fine on that huge runway.  It was pretty cool slinking around the airport among those huge jets.  Flew back to PWK using radio navigation, which was pretty straight forward.

Landed on runway 24 at PWK for the first time.  I cut it too close when turning into the downwind and then forgot about the displaced threshold.  Got too slow on the final approach, as my timing was thrown off due to the threshold.  Just a matter of not adapting the procedure to the circumstances.  The landing itself was fine.

Overall, it was a challenging experience and I learned a great deal.  It felt good to fly away from the airport for a change of pace.

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Too Rusty and Gusty

by on May.09, 2016, under Flight Training

Went back up into the pattern for the past few flights after taking about a month off.  Felt pretty rusty and nervous and the gusty winds haven’t helped matters.  I still feel like I am trying to figure out crosswind landings, but have started working on short and soft field takeoffs in the meantime.

714uf-area-2Things started coming together a bit more by the 3rd or 4th flight in these conditions, which have persisted these past few weeks.  After today’s flight, my instructor said “your landings are safe, just not good.”  Gotta start somewhere!  Basically, he was saying that I am getting close to my first solo.  However because of the FAA rule change regarding medical certificates, I am still waiting for my student pilot license.

When we finally got a less gusty day, my landings were good enough that we started practicing short and soft field precision landings.  Felt pretty good about this morning’s flight and so we are going to move on to cross country flights while I wait for my license to arrive.


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So long, old friend…

by on Apr.30, 2016, under Daytona

daytona-so-longToday I let go of everything G-body.  Frankentona was sold to a friend of a club member, along with my stash of spare 2nd and 3rd gen Daytona parts.  It needed to go to someone with the enthusiasm and the time to put into it, instead of it rotting in the driveway.  I think it’s in good hands.

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Around and Around We Go

by on Mar.30, 2016, under Flight Training

Been doing pattern work around KPWK for the past three lessons.  Definitely hit a wall with the landings, but I guess that’s pretty normal.  For me, it’s mostly about staying calm during the final approach so that I keep flying the plane during the flare.  The more landings that I got behind me, the calmer I became and the better my touchdowns were.  He threw some cross wind landings in there too, but they were pretty light crosswinds.

That came to an end on today’s flight when we flew in gusty conditions.  Being thrown around by the wind in the pattern definitely got me riled up and brought back some bad habits (like drifting to the right).  Things got better towards the end as I calmed down and was able to think and fly it to the ground.

Next time he wants to add short field and soft field takeoffs.  I guess that means that my takeoffs are decent enough.

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Erase All Memory

by on Mar.18, 2016, under Flight Training

Did pattern work at K3CK today, which is an uncontrolled airport.  My pattern work and radio calls got better as the lesson went on, but all of the landings were terrible.  I generally over-controlled it and flared too fast.  Some not-so-great approaches just made it worse.

For some reason, my cameras only captured about 15 seconds of footage, so all I have is the intercom audio.  It’s frustrating that I can’t learn anything more from that flight, but a part of me is almost relieved that I don’t have to relive it.

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Starting To See a Pattern

by on Mar.11, 2016, under Flight Training

This flight started-off a little hectic.  After getting all started-up, I made the call to ground for taxi clearance and got no response.  It also sounded wrong over the headset when the button was pressed.  After fiddling around with the radio and intercom, it seemed that we were not transmitting.  The school had a spare radio, so after a swap-out we tried to get underway again.  But again, ground did not respond when I called for clearance.  After waiting a bit, they finally did respond, saying that the fire department was in the tower because of a gas leak.  Apparently, the morning wasn’t just hectic for me.

I had prepared for the lesson expecting to head back over to the practice area and perform S turns and turns around a point again, since I had no wind to deal with last time.  Then if we had time, we’d take a shot around the pattern overflying the runway.  As we headed over there, there were some clouds above the spot we had used.  So we found another spot and after a couple of turns around a point (skipped the S turns), we headed straight over to K3CK for some practice in the pattern.  I had prepared to some extent and we talked it over before we took off, but had not memorized flow checks or anything.  We spent quite a bit of time over there, doing 4 circuits to a full stop.  It was quite overwhelming and I felt like I hadn’t prepared as well as I could have.  It seems like he really wanted to expose me to this, since I had commented previously that my landings were all a blur to me.  All of my landings were bad, but I was conscious of what I was doing and so had something to think about afterwards.


This is the first flight where I captured two camera angles.  I didn’t like having the side angle last time, so I tried mounting the foward-facing camera on the back window and the second camera facing the instruments.  That didn’t work well, because the camera didn’t get a good view out the front and what view it did get was overexposed from having so much of the cabin in the shot.  I’m going to install a self adhesive GoPro mount overhead so that it can see out the front better.  The instrument camera worked OK, but not great, as it couldn’t really see the altimeter from that angle.

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The Point of the S

by on Mar.04, 2016, under Flight Training

Performed more ground reference maneuvers today.  After warming up on the rectangular pattern, we did S turns and turns around a point.  The wind was extremely calm, so the maneuvers were greatly simplified.  It was actually nice to get the hang of them without the complexity of large wind corrections.  He wants to go over them again next time, since correcting for the wind is one of the main points of the maneuver.  If I do well, we will start with the pattern work.  I suspect we will be doing that for quite a while, since there is a lot to learn and my landings are still not good (hey, I’ve only done 8 so far).

lesson-7-strut lesson-7-lake-zurich

I finally got some video footage of a lesson.  The 152 does not have a GoPro mount, so I mounted it to the side window just behind my head.  The camera could see the instruments and outside, but it had the door pillar right through the middle and the instruments were way underexposed.  I guess two cameras are needed if I want to get both the outside and a good shot of the controls and instruments.  Despite that and even though I started the camera a bit late, the video has already proven really helpful.  Editing and syncing-in the intercom audio was rather tedious on GoPro’s software.  Looking for something better.


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Missing the Reference

by on Feb.26, 2016, under Flight Training

lesson-6-N714UFHad a pretty good flight today.  My taxi and takeoff radio work were better this time.  We’ve started discussing emergency procedures and, as I expected, my first exposure to a simulated emergency didn’t go all that well.  I did my best to memorize the checklists before the flight, but it wasn’t all that helpful in the moment.  He showed me his flow checks in the 152 and so I’m going to head over there sometime for some dry time to practice those.

After a couple of steep turns that I overshot for some reason, we proceeded on to ground reference maneuvers.  We went around a rectangular pattern a few times and I got the hang of left traffic after a couple of laps.  However, the right pattern was a lot more challenging and I struggled to keep the correct distance from the landmarks and choosing my bank angles.  Going to need more practice with those.  Somehow I just couldn’t keep it all straight in my head while also dividing my attention between where I was, where I needed to turn, what kind of turn it needed to be, where I needed to be after the turn, my altitude, my airspeed, and keeping everything coordinated.  Multitasking is pretty much the point of the exercise, so more practice next time when we polish this and then move on to S-turns and turns around a point.

My radio work for the arrival fumbled a bit when the tower gave me a bunch of information that I then couldn’t articulate back, but it got better as we went around the pattern for a first-ever landing on runway 30 with a bit of a crosswind.  It wasn’t terrible.


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Fly Lighter

by on Feb.22, 2016, under Flight Training

lesson-5-N714UFSo today I took my first flight in the Cessna 152, N714UF with its brand-new engine and propeller.  It flew pretty similarly to the 172, but was noticeably lighter and more nimble.

I fumbled with ATC because of the new call sign, but the takeoff went well.  We reviewed slow flight and stalls, which went OK.  I was much more relaxed during the setup, but the recoveries still need work.  We then moved on to steep turns, which I got the hang of it after a few attempts.  They were not as difficult as I was expecting and were actually pretty fun!  He then handed me a hood and I flew back to the airport on instruments.  That was much more challenging than I expected.

During the approach, the tower wanted me to get in between two incoming jets.  I can’t remember the wording, but it wasn’t clear to me what he wanted.  After sorting that out, I attempted the approach and ended up landing long.  This caused us to miss the first runway exit, which meant that the jet behind us had to go around.  Oops.

Overall it was a pretty good flight.  Next up will be ground reference maneuvers and emergency procedures.

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Rusty Stalls

by on Feb.17, 2016, under Flight Training

After well over 2 weeks of bad weather, we finally got up again today.  I was already feeling rusty and struggled with simple tasks.  I made a few mistakes while on the ground and the takeoff was messy, but I held my climb this time.  It felt weird at first, but it started coming back to me.  I still have a habit of climbing during my turns.

Once at the practice area, we did some slow flight and then moved on to full stalls.  I had quite a bit of trouble with these.  I did the power-on stall reasonably well after a few tries, but I struggled with the power-off stall.  Part of the problem was that I was rusty and not staying coordinated.  However, the real challenge was that I think I was getting hung up on performing each step leading up to the stall (fiddling with flaps, etc) while trying not to forget things (which I did anyway…”carb heat!”) and not flying the airplane.  I think I need to step back from the procedure and just fly.  My instructor thought my problem was that I was nervous about the stall, but actually they were pretty fun.  I was actually nervous about forgetting things in the procedure and feeling generally rusty with my flying.

This was the first time that I flew with the GoPro mounted in the cabin.  And that’s exactly everything that I did…mounted it in the cabin.  I forgot to start recording.  I did hook up the audio recorder to the intercom, however.  Since that battery lasts forever, I just started it as soon as I connected it and so there was no way I could forget to start it.  That proved useful in and of itself, as I heard my instructor explain things that I didn’t pick up while I was in the cockpit.  At times it was painful to relive the experience, however.

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