Tag Archives: student pilot

Comm Out

I really enjoy the morning flights and today was no exception. I got to the airfield early enough to do my preflight and tow the aircraft down to be refueled. My instructor and I talked through the chapters I had studied on the pitot system, how it works, and what to do if if the system should fail due to clogging. We also talked through how the altimeter is effected by barometric pressure, which will come in handy when I start doing my cross country flights.

It was a busy day in Nampa since the Warhawk museum, an aviation museum dedicated to WWII aircraft, was having a fly in. There were beautiful vintage WWII aircraft that had flown into the rendezvous and I was going to get to share the skies with them today. I took a few moment before my instructor and I met to review all my radio calls- I didn’t want to sound so much like a rookie with all these guys listening.

I made my call, advising all traffic that I would be staying in the pattern and returning for a touch and go. I fire-walled the throttle and had a great take-off. I now talk to my instructor- advising him on what I am doing. This helps me to reinforce all the correct steps.

As we turned downwind, my instructor and I both noticed that the radio did not seem to be transmitting. We proceeded to do our touch and go and then headed for the practice area. Once there, my instructor tinkered with the radio to try to get it to transmit, with no success.

I fly out of Nampa- S67 wich is class G airspace, so technically a radio is not required.

The rest of the lesson we worked more on my stalls and turns. We also focused on strait and level flight.

I took us back in over the east end of Lake Lowell, crossed over the midfield point, and let my instructor know that there were four Mustangs on taxi to depart. At this point went ahead and took control of the aircraft, made a very assertive right turn around and brought us into the downwind leg. His main point was to make sure they would see us as they were doing their run-up.

Sure enough, one of the pilots saw us – and we heard him call to the other aircraft- just the call we wanted to hear. Together we landed the airplane and taxied back to the hangar.

This was a good experience for me and cemented the need to be aware of various options when things don’t work out. I am also ordering my own hand-held aviation radio in the chance I have a comm-out situation on my own.

I am still working on the concept of strait and level flight. It seems that every time I think I have the right “picture” I am either nose high or nose low. I have scheduled some time this next week to fly with my instructor to practice on just this.

30 Degree Turns and Intro to Crosswind Landings

I had the opportunity to fly again this week, which for me was a special treat. When I signed up for classes I really thought I would only beable to afford to fly once a week. With some minor tweeking of our budget, my wife Melissa and I found a a way for me to fly twice a week. But last night was extra special because it was the third time this week that I was able to take a lesson. I could get spoiled on this pretty quick.

I checked the local AWAS- the air weather advisory out of the Caldwell, Airport- a small airfield close to the field I fly out of. The temperature was 29 degrees celcius which makes it about 85 degree. The wind was out of the north blowing 6 knots, which meant we would be doing crosswind take-offs and eventually landings. An interesting note is that the air density was 4200 feet. Air density is a calculation that tells you how high altitude wise how high you aircraft thinks it is. The higher you go, the less performance your aircraft has. Since my airfield sits at 2,536- because of air density, my airplane was going to perform as if it was already at 4200 feet. The phenomenon of air density will cause an airplane to use up more runway and have less lift to fly. I will cover air density later when it officially becomes part of my training.

I got to the hanger early and performed all of my preflight according to the checklist. I had 7 gallons of fuel in each tank. The 152 I fly burns about 6 gallons an hour. Since my instructor and I planned about an hour of flight- I would have more than enough fuel. Since I want to have about a half hour of fuel in reserve- I was only required to have 9 gallons, so I was good to go.

After the preflight, we taxied adjacent to the 29 runway, I did my pre-takeoff run-up, drove the plane in a small circle in the run-up area so I could check to see if there were any aircraft in the pattern, headed to the runway, and made my radio call. Once I communicated my intention to take-off- I pushed the throttle all the way forward and launched my self into the bumpy sky.

Once airborne, I had to struggle a little with the aircraft. It immediately weather vaned and this is a new concept for me. The nose points into the wind- but somehow we fly parallel with the runway.

We made several touch and go’s before departing for the practice area.

Today’s lesson was the 30 degree turn and my instructor had me do several of these. One of the areas I need to focus on is making sure I anticipate giving the aircraft enough rudder so I don’t skid in the turn.

After about 30 minutes of doing turns, we headed back for the runway. I gave my radio calls, and we entered the pattern at a 45 degree angle.

We practiced two more landings and then took the aircraft back to the hangar to debrief.

One of the things I really need to work on is understanding what strait and level flight looks like as I look through the front window. I’m not sure when this will kick in- but it is going to be difficult to move on to other areas until I get this down.

Total Hours: 8.3 Dual
Landings: 25
Areas Covered to Date: Take-Offs, Landings, Power On/Off Stalls, Slow Flight, and Pattern Work


Aborting a Landing

This morning my instructor and I decided to do some pattern work and give me a chance to do several touch and go’s.

It was a beautiful morning with about a 6 kt crosswind, giving me my first opportunity to learn about crabbing the aircraft.

I got to the hangar around 530 am. I performed a preflight inspection, including checking the aircraft for fuel. We had just over 10 gallons in each wing, so I knew we had plenty of fuel since our C-152 burns about 6 gallons and hour.

I like getting to the aircraft early and doing the pre-flight before my instructor gets there. This gives me a chance to get familiar with the checklist at a pace where I don’t feel so rushed. By the time my instructor got there, I already had the aircraft out of the hangar and ready to perform our start up.

We were the second aircraft taking off this morning. The first was an older tail dragger. We noticed that the pilot did not make any radio calls as he left the run-up area and taxied out to the active.

We stayed in the pattern and worked on landings. I had the chance to practice landing six different times. As we turned to the downwind leg after our 7th take-off, I noticed the tail dragger we encountered earlier in the pattern and heading from downwind to base. He was holding a much tighter pattern than us and was only about 400-500 feet off the deck.

By the time we were to get set up to land the tail dragger was doing what seemed to be an extremely slow touch and go. My instructor and I aborted our landing and did a very wide go-around, keeping the other aircraft in our sight the entire time.

At this point, my instructor took over the controls, landed our aircraft, and then let me handle the taxi procedure. Today we had to drop our airplane off to be serviced, so I had the opportunity to see how this is done.

From my very first flight, my instructor (Jeff) has said that there are other people out there who are flying around and just waiting to kill me. Together we have discussed the shortcuts and outright disregard other pilots have for safety. It was good to see this firsthand.

Total Hours: 7.4 Dual
Landings: 22
Areas Covered to Date: Take-Offs, Landings, Power On/Off Stalls, Slow Flight, and Pattern Work


Getting Started in Aviation

In the past few weeks I have embarked on a new adventure. As you may recall, I stared down the path of earning my FAA Privot Pilot Certificate. I have had several people ask me about the process, the cost, and how I got started.

It seems that there is this mystique around pilot training. One of the things I am finding to be very true about flight training is that many people do not start it because it either seems like it is an unattainable goal or that they simply don’t know who to ask. Let’s face, many of us would never drive out to an airport and ask about lessons. I found the same thing to be true when I was teaching SCUBA diving. The average person is either intimidated by the jocks working the dive shop or had never really thought about the possibilities diving offered. In a 1998 survey conducted by DEMA, the synergy of the diving business, 96% of people surveyed as to the reason why they did not dive, were simply never invited.

This brings me to how pilots are recruited into general aviation. To put it bluntly, they aren’t. Most fall into it. This last week I spent some time talking to aviation clubs, schools, private instructors, etc. The main focus of the conversation was how they attracted new people into taking lessons. I was astounded to learn that they were all hitting the same venues and media. Air shows, aircraft conferences, aircraft magazine adds, aviation radio shows, etc. They were all fishing in the same stock pond.

Maybe here is where I explain “stock pond” If you are in the south and love to fish, you have been on a stock pond. A stock pond sits on a rancher’s property to water cattle. Most ranches have several stock ponds. Now most ranchers will place bass and catfish in the stock pond. If you are really lucky, you know a rancher that will let you come out and fish- and in some cases pull in trophy sized fish in that stock pond.

Now imagine that the only place you ever fish is in that stock pond. You go to the same one every weekend. Soon there are no more trophy sized fish- and in some cases no fish. Now imagine that every bass fisherman in Texas started going to your set of stock ponds. The fishing is bad…

That is exactly how general aviation has tried to recruit.

Since they won’t go to you- I’m going to help you go to them…

Get High
Go out on an introductory flight with a Certified Flight Instructor. These cost between $40 and $60 for 1/2 to 1 hour of time. This is where you see if you interested in learning. Now the instructor may want to sign you up right away- the intro flight is part of the recruitment package. I don’t believing in rushing into any commitments without learning more.

Interview Flight Instructors
The first part of breaking the mystique of the instructor is to interview them. You are paying them, which means they work for you. The relationship has to work since you will be spending a lot of time together. You both need to know style preferences, how you deal with stress, schedules, number of lessons per week, etc. Another question is if the CFI is looking to work for an airline. I found in my interview process one of the guys on my shortlist was helping to build is resume was through teaching. Nothing wrong with that, but had I selected him as my instructor, we would have completed the first six hours, he is now moving to Atlanta to take a job as an airline pilot.

I can be pretty intense as well as overly critical on myself. I need someone who is opposite who can help me laugh at my own mistakes, provide honest and useful feedback, and help me chill a bit. I interviewed 16 CFIs. I took the list to three and then met each one in person.

When looking for an instructor I actually had one of my candidates respond to my interview invitation by saying, “You don’t interview flight instructors, you just pick one”. Needless to say, he is not my instructor.

Find a Club
Clubs have distinct advantages since when you become a member, you have a pride in a partnership or co-op of the aircraft. Sometimes you can fly for less money, have the ability to buy fuel in bulk, have group rate renter’s insurance, and a pool of other aviators at all skill levels.

Some of the drawbacks can be club politics, availability of aircraft, and initiation fees. The club I joined had a $500 initiation fee, but in the long run it seemed to have more advantages.

Be Resource Savvy
I was blown away by the lack of resource knowledge the CFIs I interviewed had. When I asked about on-line training or other learning methods- the usual answer was something like, “Well I got a program I’ve been using for years…” My instructor was cool- he said to use whatever I needed and he would adjust.

As a guy who develops training for a living, I have a hard time with those kinds of folks. Going through training material of some of the CFIs I interviewed, many were using old learning methodologies set to only one learning style.

There is so much out there, it can be overwhelming. I found a combination of on-line interactive and audio/video podcast has been the greatest help for me. In a addition, when I meet with my instructor, we focus on more of the “why” rather that the “how”

Take the First Step
Right now you are the only barrier to getting started in training. Flight instructors aren’t to be feared. Check out flight schools and clubs in your area.

The price can seem daunting, but most of it can be broken down into do-able chunks. With the current economy, most schools and instructors would rather be teaching than sitting in a hanger – so negotiate price with them.

I am enjoying this new adventure and glad I took the steps to getting started- you can do this to!

Checkout our website @ www.adventureiq.com

This specific podcast is at www.adventureiq.libsyn.com

Taking Flight

This last week I have been pursuing an adventure that began over 20 years ago. This last Sunday I started private pilot training.
I want to share these experiences with you- at the same time I don’t want the podcast to be focused on only one type of adventure… my flying adventure… my challenge is going to be balancing the podcast because I know I will want to share this with you- but you will want to hear about other adventures as well… so lets see how this goes.
Since I was very young I wanted to learn to fly. I remember my dad taking me out to watch airplanes land at Sky Harbor Airport when I was growing up in the valley in the early 1970’s.
I also had a brief stint with the Civil Air Patrol and then in my military service brought me closer to aircraft.
Ironically- I tried to join an Aero club at McGuire AFB, NJ in 1994. At the time I was a single SSG assigned to Ft Dix and was in need of something to keep me occupied. I had some money that was burning a hole in my pocket and was looking for adventure. The pilots there were complete jerks to me. I walked out of hager and drove about a mile to a dive shop where I signed up for lessons. 18 months later and with over 500 dives under my belt I became a dive master and then in 1999 I became a dive instructor…
Again I attempted to undergo pilot training in 2005 when we moved to Boise- but again I could not get any one to return my calls or came across overly arrogant when looking for lessons.
The past few weeks I have been working as an advisor for some general aviation pilots and once again the opportunity to get my license came up again. Now contractually I cannot discuss the details- but I am again pursuing my flight career.
This last week I joined a local aero-club and Sunday morning my new flight instructor and I checked out a Cessna 152 and began my lessons.

The take off was incredible. Since it was overcast skies in the valley, the was very little traffic. We pretty much had the entire sky to ourselves. I had a chance to practice turns, descents, and accents. My instructor and I agreed that I would take care of “Take – off” and he in turn would take care of the landings…for now.

This next week I will fly on Thursday and Sunday if weather permits. We have been getting lots of rain and low-level cloud cover. I also have some ground-work to do prior to class. I was getting mixed advise on how much ground work to do prior to the class- but for me- I like to have a little knowledge before going into a situation. I purchased the Sporty’s on-line tutorial and bought a set of books recommended by another instructor. In addition I purchased a flying manual put out by the FAA. Surprisingly it is a great resource.

So thanks for listening, I will keep you updated on my new aeronautical adventures and the direction we are heading—you and I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

BTW- please check out my podcast at http://www.adventureiq.libsyn.com or subscribe through itunes