Monthly Archives: September 2009

Flying with Abby

My eight year-old daughter has been my biggest fan in regards to learning how to fly. She helps me study, goes out to the field to watch planes land, and is always asking me questions about airplanes. She will be one heck of a pilot by the time she gets old enough to start flying.

A few weeks ago I decided to treat her to a flying date like I did with my wife. So I set it up with my instructor and we decided to meet at 9 am. We were going to be flying the same 172 I took my wife in so I would have some, though still limited experience with it.

We got to the hangar at 8 am after a very light breakfast so I could do a thorough preflight and fuel if needed. I also wanted to get in the airplane and go through some of my checklist and familiarize myself with the cockpit.

I had printed off a copy of the passenger briefing from one of the links on and here I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t give the emergency portion of the briefing to your 8 year-old, they seem to dwell on the part about the crew being unconscious.

Before we took off I explained to her that we would hear lots of other airplanes talking and that if she either heard talking in her headset or if I raised my finger in the air I needed her to stop talking right away since it could be another airplane talking to us in order to keep us safe. I told her I would answer her questions as soon as I could. I also told her than during take-off and landing we would need to be silent so I could concentrate on getting us down safely.

With kids you never know how they will react in a small plane. Abby had been in several airliners and even flew with in a helicopter during a Big Horn Sheep rescue mission in Oregon. I was knew she would be excited- but I was also ready for any possibility of airsickness. Having Melissa in the back where she could manage all this was paramount. After take-off we hit some light turbulence and Abby admitted that her belly did some flops. I assured her we would be out of it soon and to look outside and even between Jeff and I if she needed to.

We flew over areas her and I like to hunt and off-road in. She was even able to pick out a peak her and I often hunt.

We only stayed in the air about 40 minutes and did a touch and go. After the landing she told me I need to work on my landings. I have to admit- not only switching from the 152 over to the 172 is a challenge for me at this point but so is landing an aircraft full of people.

Afterwards we headed for the café to feast on airplane shaped pancakes. It was a great experience for all and I really appreciate my instructor letting me include my family.

100th Landing

Its been tough getting in flying time this week. Strong winds kept me out of the skies on Sunday morning. Even when I rescheduled for the same evening, the wind still refused to cooperate with my desire to fly. Jeff and I were scheduled to fly on Monday evening, but he called to tell me he was stuck in Twin Falls, at the opposite end of the state, with another student. Apparently their aircraft broke down and were trying to find a way home. This got me to thinking about my own future road trips and that I need to be prepared to find a way home should something go wrong with my airplane. In the mean time, Jeff wanted me to go ahead and fly solo.

So I got to the airfield around 7 pm. Checking the squak sheet I saw that there was a write up indicating that the front wheel had a shimmy in it. Now I know from this aircraft it does have a shimmy – but goes away when you provide back pressure when taxiing. I gave the pilot who did the write up a call to get more information. I suggest this as a practice if it is practical. It gives you more insight to the issue and then you can make a determination.

After getting more information I decided to fly the airplane.

Checking the fuel I found five gallons in one tank and two in the other. This wasn’t quite enough for doing my flight, even though I was staying close to the field. I towed the plane to the pumps and put in filled it up to the tabs.

Getting to the run-up area I noticed that there was one of the local race teams practicing in the pattern. These are a lot of fun to watch- but I was pretty concerned about him doing laps in the same pattern I was going to practice in. He travels pretty fast and could literally do an entire lap around the pattern while I am just working my way out of the pattern. I also know they have very small fuel tanks and use up a large amount of fuel at the same time- so I figured he would not be there very long. I made my announcement and departed to the east.

If the world did not already have enough extreme to it- after going to the practice area to work on turns- as I came back into the pattern I had an small experimental aircraft working the pattern. Now these planes only travel about 40-60 kts so I would quickly overtake him if not careful. As I got to the downwind leg, it was apparent I was going to run up on him pretty quick so I turned out of the pattern and performed a standard rate turn.

The standard rate turn is a turn in which an airplane completes a 360 degree turn in 2 minutes. This is done by have a turn of 3 degrees per second. This allowed me to leave the pattern and re-enter it at my point of departing the pattern. This gave me approximately two minutes of distance between the light sport aircraft and myself. This was a technique Jeff taught me a few weeks ago.

Like so many things, Jeff’s teachings and advice is right on time. During our last flight he pointed out that I tend to fixate on the runway and forget to look around. Thankfully I had broken this habit. During my 2nd touch and go I called that I was departing and would be left closed traffic- meaning that I was staying in the pattern. Just after I turned crosswind I noticed another aircraft entering the pattern on the downwind –strait in- and not from a 45 degree angle. The other plane never called until after I saw him and had to stop my climb. He also called that he was at 4000 but in reality he was eye level with me at 3100. I wish the FAA would make the 45 degree entry mandatory and not just a recommendation for non-towered airfields. I have had too many of these close calls in my short career.

I did one more touch and go’s and then called it a day. I should point out that in this flight I did my 100th takeoff and landing!

I will meet Jeff tonight to go and visit the Boise Air Traffic Control tower- this should be interesting to see them work.

Total Flight Time: .6
Total Landings: 4
Total Career Landings: 103