Wow, That's pretty sad. Only 13.8 flight hours in the past 12 months. I really really need to fly more. I think the uncertainty on the job front is the cause for this lack of flight time. Well that and yen years of home maintenance happening all at once. When I get through this tough period I plan on pushing the hours way up. I want to get to 200 hours in the next two years. Then it's my complex endorsement and I'm on the the Bonanza.
Today I went out to the airport to fly for the first time in over 6 weeks. Might as well been a life time. That's what it felt like. Anyway, when I got up this morning, the weather looked decent. Low clouds and fog where the order of the day west even though looking out my window here at the house was clear and sunny. It was forcast to burn off pretty quick and was supposed to be light west winds.
After the weather started to come up I headed out to the airport. Arrived at about 11am an started my preflight. It wasn't to long and I noticed a slight issue. On the bottom of the right horizontal stabilizer there was a panel missing.
Not really a huge deal but still nothing you would want to fly with. I'm pretty sure that it is the result of the annual inspection. Either it was not installed after the inspection, or wasn't installed correctly and lost sometimes after the inspection. The biggest thing I was unhappy with was that the airplane was flown 4 times since annual.
I went down to Gary's hangar. Gary is the guy that did the annual. I asked him if we had left a panel with him? Amazingly enough, he did have a panel. He said that he had found it out on the taxiway. I'm unsure if he really did or was just protecting himself if he didn't reinstall it. Either way, we had people miss it on preflight and fly without it. Anyway, I reinstalled the panel after inspecting all the components behind that panel. And all was well.
The rest of the flight went pretty good. The winds were forcast out of the west at 8-10 knots as of last night. Well they ended up WSW 15kts gust to 21kts. Good for crosswind landing practice but right at my personal limits for crosswinds. Good for confidence building.
I flew to 0F2, Bowie Municiple. On the way I did some air work. I did slow flight both with flaps and without. I did power on and power off stalls. Proved once again that you really have to try to get this airplane to stall. I did one engine out practice. It worked out well. I did two very pretty landings at Bowie. Made even better since I was way high on both and still managed to get it down nicely on that relativly small runway. I did have 1 go around. It was my first in real world flying. The approach was good. I got a little to slow and had a pretty high sink rate too close to the ground. I'm sure I could have safely landed but no need in pushing it. Plus it was a perfect go around. Probably about 1 second from the time I though about the go around until I had made a decision and applied power. I was probably about 20 feet when I stopped the decent and began to climp out.
The flight back was pretty nice. A dry line hanging out west of Decature made for a bumpy ride for a few minutes. Landing back at Denton was smooth. Drifted a little with the winds, but other than that, nice landing.
Here is a link to the rest of the pics. http://www.flickr.com/photos/iflyjet/sets/72157626401764204/
Today mother nature was a bit more accommodating than she had been the past couple of times I'd tried to fly. I got out to the airport a bit early. I had time to pre-flight and stop by the FBO to grab a AFD and something to drink well before John the instructor got there.
We did about an hour or so of ground training. I can't say I learned a lot, but I had a lot that was reinforced so that was good. All of our ground work went smoothly. We got started up, taxied out, contacted ground, did our runup and was ready to go.
We were cleared for take off and we were off. Felt really good to get back into the air. The first thing I notice after getting a little distance from the ground was that I'd planned on climbing out at 110mph but with even a shallow climb I was indicating about 70mph. This was strange but everything looked ok so we continued. As we climbed picking our way through the clouds we were full throttle and should have been climbing at 100-110mph but were indicating closer to 65mph.
Everything looked pretty normal while we were doing some slow flight maneuvers and stalls. I did notice it took a TON of right rudder to keep it pointing straight but that seemed to fix itself. Could have been just weird winds. We flew out to Gainesville, KGLE, for some landings. The instructor decided to do the first landing to kind of show me what to look for. That's when things go weird. On pretty much the entire approach and landing we were riding the stall horn even though we were indicating 80mph. The plane was mushing really bad so we knew we were slow. The instructor said it just felt wrong. I was up next and he was right. On my landing we got real wobbly. That's normally a sign of being slow and just above a stall for a long period of time. I was indicating 85mph while this was going on. After landing we checked a couple of things. We decided we'd fly the approach at 110mph to see if that would seem fast or not. On climb out our airspeed went from 60 or 70 down to zero then after a few seconds it went up to 90mph where it should have been.
After a couple of trial an error landings we found that if we kept about 95mph that would actually be about 70mph and allow us to land fairly normally. Even with all that figured out, the gusty winds made landing a bit tricky so not a lot of learning was happening on this day.
So with all that we headed back for Denton. Was a fairly uneventful return and landing. I was able to find my way back to the hanger without getting lost, BONUS! Got refueled and put back into the hanger all nice and neat. It was a fun flight. And even though we had some issues I did learn a lot. And most importantly I got some confidence that I'd been lacking.
Today I went for my first official, on the record, lesson. My homework was basically to just read chapter one and do the quiz at the end of the chapter. If you know anything about flying this chapter is pretty easy. I can't really think of any part of it that was actually tough. Maybe some of the P Factor or gyroscopic effect stuff, but other than that. Easy... Ground training went pretty smooth. We went over the answers to the quiz to make sure I not only go them right but understood them as well. Didn't really take very long then it was off to fly.
Today we were is N2649J. It's a 1998 172R. Not real sure of it's hours, but lets just say it's well broken it. Preflight was uneventful. One annunciator light was burned out but other than that. Good to go. I did all the taxi out but the tower was in a hurry to get us airborne that my instructor handled the takeoff so we could get going quickly.
We did climbs, descent, climbing turns, descending turns, slow flight, and flying around a point. Since we didn't get to do the takeoff at Addison we landed, taxied, and took off at KHQZ Mesquite Metro Airport. There were a few other airplanes in the pattern which was good experience in finding traffic and dealing with unmanaged airports.
By the time we headed back to Addison it was starting to get a little windy. I think by the time we landed it was 15 Gust to 21 or 22 knots. Just a bit of cross but with the gust it was a little interesting. Approach and final was pretty good. I got a little low once but it was easily corrected. Actually it was looking like a pretty landing all the way till the end. With all the wind I was constantly fighting to keep on course. Right as we went over the overrun I pulled it back to idle. Just as we were about to touch down we hit a big gust. I handled the gust pretty good but fell into a hole behind the gust. Slammed it on the ground kinda hard and bounced a bit but I managed to catch it and the second landing wasn't too bad.
We taxied back to the hanger and parked it. Ten minutes more of ground training and we were done. All and all I think it was a pretty successful lesson. I'm definitely hooked. Can't wait until next time.
Today I was scheduled for my flight "physical". Since I had already gotten the FAA release it was pretty much just a formality. The hardest part was the drug test. I've never had issues peeing in a cup but for some reason today my body wasn't cooperating. After a couple of bottle of water and nearly an hour of waiting, well let's just say I passed. He signed my physical and issued me my students license right there on the spot.
I headed straight to the airport after leaving the flight doc's office. Signed a couple of papers and recieved my books. So, long story short, I have homework. I've got until next Friday to have at least lesson 1 done. Lesson 1 and 2 would be best. After a quick look at the lesson it should be pretty easy. I think I can pass the test without even reading the chapter but I'll read it none the less. I'm sure there is something in there I don't know. And it begins....
So today i recieved my FAA release. This means that now if I can pass the standard physical I should be good to go. I've got a appointment on Friday for that. I'm going to take it extra easy until then, ya know, for my hernia's sake. I'm not sure if I'm cleared to start flying on Friday or if it's two weeks from Friday. I'll clear up these questions at the physical. I know this is just a small bit of progress but at the same time it's huge. Plus I've been waiting to see any movement. And this is it... Yeah me.
So I'm still waiting to hear something back from the flight doc. I contacted his office and talked with his receptionist. She said it was in his inbox but now the paperwork has been filed away. She said this generally means it's already been sent to the FAA. So she's pretty sure it's on it's way and should be back sometimes this week if I'm lucky. She did say she is going to have the doc call me first thing tuesday. BTW, she also said that first thing Tuesday mean sometimes after 1:30pm.
I also talked with the flight school. Since I'm going to have my hernia surgery on the 30th that may interfer with my training a bit. They said they could come up with plenty of ground school type things for me to do until I was OK to fly again. I really need to get moving on this. I hate making payments for something I can do.
So I finally got all the paperwork turned into the flight doc yesterday. I'm unsure if he needs to see me again or not. I think there is still a drug test to do but other than that I think it's ready for the FAA. I'm sooooo ready to get off the ground.
Today I was looking around the web and found a picture of the last C-5 that I was a crew chief on. It was an A model 70458. Judging my the tail flashing it went to Kelly AFB sometime after I left to cross train and later to Dover. Pretty sad to see it this way. :( It was a good jet... Well as good as a leaky ole A model could be I guess.
Click for full size picture
So today was flight number 1 for 1.2 hours. The quick and dirty description of today... Awesome!
So I got to the school a bit early. No worries, I got to check out their new simulators. Very nice. My instuctor was pretty nice. I think her name was Emely. She couldn't have been older than 18 or 19, but she knew how to fly. As a student, I ask questions, lots of questions. She had answers for all fo them. If I ask questions I can then relate that back to my C5 experience and it seems to stick in my head a little better.
We got into one of the sims. They are a bit older sims. They are running X-Plane 8 on some old IBM/Windows 2000 workstations. Their controls, although not set up for a 172 were pretty decent. In the sim we went through an abreviated preflight and check list up to take off. We took off in the sim. Rotated just about 60 knots and climbed out mostly OK. I think it was a bit steeper than she would have liked but I wasn't quite used to the back pressure on the yoke in the sim. After I got that straightened out it was all smooth flying from then on out. I just flew around while my instuctor checked the weather. Weather has been less than perfect all week. We were pretty much the first private pilot flight going up in a few days due to the weather. In the sim she directed me to DFW to do a quick landing. Not that we would ever do that in real life, but that's why we do it in the sim. Cuz we can.
After the sim we went out to the airplane. Hooked up the tow bar and pushed it out of the hanger. Preflight went pretty smooth. Once again I had a ton of questions, she had a ton of answers. Preflight on a 172 is all of about ten minutes top. Preflight on a C5 is about 8 hours, if your really, really hurry. I queezed my big ass into that little cockpit and started running check list. I did a little bit of the radio work. That is more of an art than a talent. Anybody can do it, but some just do it better than others. I'm pretty rusty on my aviation english so I did all the easy calls and the instructor did the more complex calls. Taxi out was uneventfull.
Take off is where all my excitement and worry and curiosity all met. She let me take off by myself. We took off on rwy 33 at Addison (KADS). The winds were right down the runway so it was a pretty easy take off. There were so many things going through my mind that I didn't really get to enjoy the take off. Push in the power, keep it on the center line, watch the airspeed, 55 knots - rotate, 75 knots climbout, 5 degrees climb, keep my heading, what's my altitude, whats my vsi. It all went by in the blur and I wasn't able to really pay much attention to anything else happening.
After we got to cruise I settled down a bit and started to relax. I had less to think about so I could enjoy it a bit more. 2300 rpm, 1500ft altitude, keep my heading, watch for traffic. Much more enjoyable. It wasn't but two or three minutes and we were already at 121 and the tollway. We followed the tollway all the way to 380 and then headed for Prosper. We flew right to my house. Brandt wasn't home yet but we did a 360 right around my house and the neighborhood I live in. Then we headed to the high school to do the same thing. After that we made way for Lake Ray Roberts. A couple of left 360's and right 360's and it was time to head back. Flew down to Lake Grapevine then a slight turn to put us on a left down wind for landing. We were getting a bit bunched up by the time we made it to base we had to hurry things a little bit. RPM 1500, flaps full down, we are over the numbers. Very smooth landing. Little wobbly as I transitiioned from yoke to rudder pedal for steering but I got the hang of it. We didn't stop quick enough to make the first turn off, but made the second. Then it was a short taxi back to the hanger.
Afterwards I spent some time talking with the finance guys and getting my loan stuff taken care of. We are waiting for that to be funded then I'll be full speed ahead. I guess I could go fly again out of my pocket, but I think I'll wait. No need in speeding my money when I can spend theirs. Today was just enough flying to get me completely addicted, as if I wheren't already from childhood.
Today I went down to American Flyers at Addison, KADS. I got the tour of the place and got to talk with a few of the people there. I also started my paperwork to get things rolling. Basically there are just a couple of things that I need to start now. One, get a loan. I have the cash to do it, but it is a lot of money. I'd rather risk someone else's coin instead of my own just in case things go bad at work or well, who knows in this freaky world. Second, gotta get my medical cert. From what I hear they are pretty basic and shouldn't be a problem.
I also got set up for my first lesson which is going to be Friday at 1pm. Until my loan hooked up I'll be paying out of my pocket. It shouldn't take more than a week or so to get that going.
I got to look at their aircarft today. They have a number of 172's and one 172RG. I'm sure they get a lot of use and based on that use they look like they are in pretty good condition. Airplanes cost an ass load of money so you don't see new ones very often. I don't know how old these are but they all looked pretty good. I'm sure I'll find out more as time goes along. I'm offically starting to get excited. :)
Today I made a call about getting my private pilots license. The guy I talked with was very helpful and was able to answer nearly all of my questions. Some of the things we discussed was financing, Scheduling, and their training methodology. I'm unsure right now if I'm going to be financing any of it. I have the money saved up but if they are offering less interest than I'm making right now, or even close, then I may finance a bit of it. I just hate to see that big check come out of the account all at once.
We also talked about when I would train. Being off on Fridays is going to help a ton. Basically go in and fly on Fridays and then study the next week for the next Friday. I'll also have the opportunity to pick up some more time either in the evenings or weekends.
So I've got a meeting for a tour of their facility on Friday. I'm sure I'll have even more questions by the time I get there. I'm one step closer.
So I'm, once again, seriously considering getting my private pilots license. At least every year I go though this period where I want to get it since I miss aviation so much. Going back to the USAF isn't really an option and at this point in my life it's not really something that I'd do anyway. So I'll never get back to C-5's but that's not to say I can't get back into the wide blue yonder...
I've looked at a number of flight schools online lately. Many have very poor websites, if any, and not any information that I actually found helpful. American flyers was by far the best from what I can see sitting in front of my computer. So I figured I'd give them first shot at me.
My ulitmate goal at this point is to be able to retire some day and go teach others to fly. Anybody that has ever talked with me for more than ten minutes knows that I can talk aviation all day. So teaching others something that I love seems to be a natural progression of my passion.
This past week I contacted American Flyers via the contact info on their website. Below is the response.
Thank you for your interest in American Flyers. I would be happy to provide
you with some information regarding the private pilot program.
Every private pilot program consists of a combination of ground instruction,
simulator instruction, dual flight instruction, solo flight instruction,
simulator instruction as well as homework and self study. Every student
learns at a different pace. There is really no such thing as a "one size
fits all" program. We find the average student requires between 80 and 100
total hours of education for successful completion of the rating if they
train a minimum of one time per week. If you consider ALL the necessary
costs and training I have described, including exam fees, the cost for
textbooks and study materials you can expect an investment of $10-12,000 to
successfully complete your private pilot license.
One of the largest factors affecting the duration and cost of a program is
the frequency of training. The more you train, the faster and more cost
effective your program will be. It is possible to complete your training in
as little as 2-3 weeks. American Flyers is available to train whenever your
Please give me a call when you get a free moment. I would enjoy the
opportunity to elaborate on our program, especially the differences in
training at an FAA Approved part 141 school like American Flyers vs. a
non-FAA Approved part 61 school.
As of right now I plan on calling American Flyers Sometimes late this week or early next week at the latest. I'd like to speak with them as well as go down and take a look around. Maybe even a discovery flight if they offer something like that.