Monday, October 31, 2005

What happens in Vegas...Stays in Vegas

Sunday the 30th - Well, after a long flight out (1-hour hold at KPHL for navigational problems) we finally headed to the big "D". Yep, Dallas not a happy place for Eagles fans, but hey I'm a PACKER fan at heart so I was ok. American had our flight rebooked and with a minimum layover and we were headed to Vegas!A short haul to the Bellagio and to get unpacked. Mary and I were on the 11th floor with a view to the west for some great sunsets and we got to see the Rio Casino lights at night. We also had a great view to the south, overlooking the pools and the west side of the strip. Sunday night we also took in a show, Howie Mandell, what a riot. No late first night for me I had a flight out of North Las Vegas the next morning so I turned in. Heck, after thinking about it we were up at 4:30 out east and were finally hitting the hay at midnight in Vegas......I was tired!

We are both up early on the 31st, in anticipation of Mary's first flight with me. We got a taxi to North Las Vegas and had breakfast in Lenards Airport Café. Pretty neat place, signatures from pilots all over the country that were in there. They even had a special wall for the ninety-nines (the lady PIC's). There was a good view of the apron and it seemed to be a busy place. The eats were really good and service was great, we both highly recommend the stop. After a great morning breakfast we had a short walk to the flight school (West Air). Once inside I went through all the paperwork and was ready to go. Our flight was a demo flight /lesson. Mike Matthews was the appointed instructor and we going out in a 2002 Cessna 172 SP. Preflights completed Mary climbed in the aircraft first and buckled in. Mike and I saddled up and I finished with the checklists I then made my call to ground but not over the air. My first time in
class B so I went through the motions and Mike handled the radio. It proved to be a good learning experience. After our run up we were No. 2 in line behind a twin then I had to wait for a Twin Otter to land before I could taxi into position and hold. It was a dead calm day, clear as can be, perfect for Mary's maiden flight with me. We were off in no time, minding the noise abatement departure and heading out through the Showboat departure designated on the chart. I picked out my landmarks, the stratosphere restaurant, the Vegas strip, Lava Butte, Lake Mead I wanted to know where I was at all times. Traffic was busy, McCarren had Jets non-stop my whole flight and the helicopter traffic was even busier! I found myself performing alot of clearing manuvers and rolling the wings to get a clear view prior to each course change/correction. MAry was clicking away, eating up the pictures as we flew. Mike said I made a nice smooth take off and good coordinated flight which made for a comfortable ride. I'm not sure who had a bigger grin the whole time, me or the bride. We flew over the Hoover Dam and
took some really nice shots and also took a few pictures of the proposed bridge construction that is ongoing. Can't take the Engineer out of the boy to easy!

We made our way back towards VGT with Mike pointing out sights along the way. Off in the distance after clearing Lava Butte at our 2 o' clock was Nellis AFB and just beyond that was the NASCAR facility. Traffic was busy as we passed the Stratosphere and I made my way to enter the downwind at a 45. Ater acknowledging instructions to squak 1200 as we entered the box the VGT tower gave us hell for doing so. After an understood, we were directed to do so we confirmed our downwind extension and would await our call for our base turn. The controller then said he wasn't sure why she told us to squawk that but confirmed that she did. Nothing else was said, it was to busy to yap on the radio. Finally got the call for my base turn after all other traffic cleared. We were turning final now and I was adding my last notch of flaps. Home in sight and my numbers looked good. Mary looked happy and I know I needed to make theis a good landing. I didn't want to scare her the first time up. No cross wind today so it really felt good. Nice and smooth, holding it off, Mike tells me don't let it down yet, hold it off we have alot of runway. I'm thinking I have 3300x50 feet at home, but ok.........VGT runway 12R is 5000 x 75 its like a holiday! Nice flair and nice landing I could not have asked for anything better. Mary had a big smile and I was still wearing that perma-grin too. We taxied to our tie down and I secured the aircraft. I hope the next time out we are renting by ourselves and we will plan a few hops to places of interest. All in all a great first flight for Mary and together we really enjoyed the flight. Thanks to Mike and West Air !!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

It's all coming together...

It is really nice out today. I called for wx at KPTW and 40N winds 340 - 360, 11-14G. Geee I can't wait to battle the crosswind Gods again. All I can picture in my mind is that old movie Jason and the Argonauts with the Gods blowing his boat everywhere ad out of control. Well I guess I can take the wind just hope I don't have to fight those skeleton guys. A busy day today as I prep for Las Vegas. Drop off the truck at Benz for service, drop off the 3 cats at mom-in-laws for the week and the last minute shirts at cleaners, materials for the guy doing the remodeling of the living room (fireplace install) and powder room (all new from the tile up). I decide to really enjoy the day and take the 81 vette out. Ahhhhh.....sure do miss driving her on the week ends. I pack my flight bag and off we go. Arriving at N99 a bit early I get to hang out and listened to the chatter in the office. Some guy talking about best ground speed indicated on the GPS and such. Bill gets in with another student and I get the clipboard and keys for 46C. Preflight all good to go and we saddle up. Today Bill asks if I would like to do some touch and goes at 40N, Chester County G O Carlson or battle the crosswinds at home. I'm feeling pretty sporty after driving the vette today so I offer to stay at home , battle the crosswind Gods and get used to the home airport. Bill seems glad that I took the high road, to home. We are off for the first of many T&G's today. Bill advised that he will be the silent passenger today, remember smooth for the passengers and in control. I had really nice smooth control today, nice slips, good touchdowns and roll outs. I did have to back taxi all but once. On my last landing I did loose some airspeed and start to drop on in which I was in control but applied a bit to much back pressure. I nosed up but got it back in place and put it down ok, with right rudder
to get me back to centerline. All in all a great day ! I am starting to feel like I belong in that seat. I am working on looking outside and not fixating on the instruments. I fly smoother when not checking instruments as much and I fly ahead of the plane vs chasing it when my head is inside. Things I need to work on but I finally feel it is coming together.

That's all for now.....I'm off to Vegas. I will be flying monday from 10-12 for a sight- seeing/lesson and then taking the helicopter tour off the canyon with a brunch on the canyon floor on Wednesday. If we have some time I am going to Boulder city to take the thrill ride....yep, loops, rolls and hammerhead stalls I gotta do it !!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

First Towered Airport (KILG)

I just booked flight time at North Las Vegas (KVGT). Mary and I will be taking the sight seeing tour but I will be flying and logging time. Very Cool! This will be my first time at a towered airport so I will talk things over with Bill prior to my lesson. I meet up with Bill and get 2746C preflighted. No squawks so on to the start up. As always a crosswind today, but not as strong as most days. Bill and I discuss my plans for Vegas and he decides to take me into KILG New Castle Airport for some first hand ATC talk. Off we go, nice and smooth, I really love that first few seconds as you leave the ground what a rush....every time! At 1200 feet I turn crosswind and climb out to 2500 towards wilmington. This is my first time view from a fixed wing over my own neighborhood. I now have the work location in sight, the Delaware Memorial Bridges. At 10 miles out we contact wilmington, "Wilmington Tower, Cessna 2746C". Wilmington responds and we go back with "Cessna 2746C with X-ray, 10 miles from the NW at 2500 for T&G's" Wilmington instructs us to enter right base for 32, report 3 mile. At the 3 mile out mark we again contact wilmington to report 3 miles as instructed with Wilmington following up with a clear to land 32. Reading back the last instruction Cessna 2746C clear to land 32. First time also with a right base onto final for me, it felt strange but I lined up just fine. It was nice to land on 14-32 since it was my project to repave, light and sign it only a couple of years ago. I wish it was dark so I could see the new lights but all in good time. After a series of really nice touch and go's and stacking in behind a few other aircraft along with crossing the end of runway one with
my head on a swivel as a citation II is inbound only 5 miles out. As I turn final for 32 I can see the Citation low and short final for RW 1 no problems, I'm working my way in 30 degrees flaps and lining up. Heck by the time I get in he'll be parked :)

Flaps up, power full, gentle right we go. This time we are departing to the North and advise Wilmington, also passing along a thanks. I can see the
Nuclear towers way off in the distance near KPTW so I line up on them to take me back towards N99. As I get a bit closer I follow Rt 202 off on my right, now spotting the towers that I use for reference in the 27 pattern. I announce my position to brandywine traffic and my intentions of entering at a 45 for downwind rw 27. I clearly see my water tank and the high school as I turn to about 90 degrees for my downwind. Pattern looks clear as I throttle back and add flaps to
10 degrees, one spin of trim nose up and I'm looking good. I turn base, level, add flaps to 20 degrees and trim nose down a half a spin on the wheel. Looking good so far I add the last 10 degrees of flaps, power back looking like I have 27 made. Air speed drops....starting to drop in I apply to much back pressure and now stall horn, touch of power nose own.....THUMP....Grrrrrrr thump again.....CRAP my first bounce and I am off center to the left. Right rudder....more right
rudder...ok brakes.....slowing down and now needing to back taxi. Not the way I wanted to land at home but I know overall it was a good lesson and I was able to learn some valuable info flying into the tower situation. I'm back up saturday !!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

First "seat of the pants" flight

What a difference getting right back to it in such short order. I had a 4:30 lesson this evening and it was just gorgeous. I went through the preflight and the Gatts jar dropped out of my pocket while untying the tail. I finished my preflight and went to check the fuel and could not find the jar. My CFI came out and asked if it was in the back of the seat. I said I would swear I had it but I can't find it "now". I'm thinking ok, my CFI thinks I am a nut ticket. I use the "shot glass" testing specialty . Ok, we saddle up and complete the checks and fire N2746C for my flight. Today we will be doing pattern work, yes seems like that's all I do but I need to master this to move on. I taxi out to runway 27 and announce "Brandywine Cessna 2746C departing runway 27 remaining in the pattern brandywine". Wow, what a sun glare!! I can hardly make out the trees at the other end so sun visor down and off we go. Winds out of 220 - 280 at 9 knts gusting 13...of course a cross wind but not all that bad. Geezzz did I say that???
Nice climb out tracking to 290 or so to adhere to the noise abatement until at 1200 then turning crosswind. Ahhhh...better glare is gone, for now. I'm tracking as I did in Millville, picking out some reference points and keeping a good Altitude. Landing one has me slipping with the wings bank slight left and adding right rudder, feels good, looks good, throttle out, hold it off....I'm down. Well not to shabby I guess and I am off for rounds two and three.

My CFI decides to try something different this time, trying to cure my look at the instrument-itis. He wants me to seat of the pants it, listen and look. Get the picture the same each time and the sounds. Bill covers ALL the instruments, that's right nothing to look at but sky. I'm now wondering what the heck am I doing here, am I nuts? Bill gives a lil sinister laugh to break it up and tells me I'll be fine. if you say so...and oddly enough I think so too. I taxi out to 27 and turn it in the sun and off we go. Ok...look and listen.....she wants to lift off slight back pressure more right rudder and I am on my way, very smooth. Climb out focusing on my point on the horizon and looking left to see the mansion in the correct location and the housing development in the right place put me near a 280-290 course. Altitude is not there yet, still climbing out looking like my 1200 ALT. I turn crosswind and feel like I am at altitude so I level off and pull back power. Looking for my position and reference point I turn downwind and set up for my landing. Landing/taxi lights on, abeam the numbers, throttle back to 1400 adding 10 degrees of flaps, one spin on the trim for nose up...everything is flowing nice. I check my position and turn base adding 10 more degrees of flaps when level. Looking good....turning final and adding the last 10 degrees of flaps, slight bank left, right rudder, I'm slipping in, nice rate of decent and pitch and speed feel good (at least in my minds eye). Dealing with the sun, keeping lied up, calling my position.....ok looking good throttle back over the numbers now and holding off. I am trying to look down the runway, glare is really bad, I flare to soon causing me to bleed of speed and I drop it on in with a thud. Grrrrrrr......not pretty but I'm in. I call clear and run through my after landing checklist. While pushing the plane back to its final spot the Gatts jar is sitting in the tie down rope for the tail. Yea I feel like a dope but hey at 48 I cant remember why.... It has to get better. I'm on the schedule for Wednesday weather permitting!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The first day of school....again

Ok! Finally back in the saddle. I arrived at the airport about 30 minutes early. The great Vince Lombardi said if your were not 15 minutes early to his meetings that he considered you late. I guess that always stuck in my mind and so I am early as a rule. Big day today I fly with a new instructor. I walk in the office and introduce myself and Bill is ready to go. We chat for a short time about where I am in training and if I was following the Cessna DVD program. I go through
the paperwork and I'm soon off to the flight line with keys and clipboard in hand. I also took the full flight bag today, not knowing what to expect at a new school. I work my way through the check list and use my new step stool from Sportys. It worked pretty well and Bill seemed to like it. We climbed in and proceeded with the before start up check list through completion. N2746C came to life and we were ready to have at it. I needed to learn my way around this aircraft
it wasn't 219J, she is different. Before I knew it I was taxing out to 27. In the preflight I mentioned that I called 40N for their weather update and numbers. Chester County (13 miles W) AWOS advised winds 280-290 at 9 knts gusting 13 and Alt 29.77. I had my knee board with the AOPA printout for Brandywine so I was ready. I knew about the noise abatement procedures off 27 through to 1200 msl requiring a slight course adjustment. First go rounds were to get the rust off, yes in just a months time I felt rusty. All of a sudden i was worried about taxing like some drunk sailor and not performing like Dave had instructed me. On the following take off and landings I felt a bit more confident. The takeoffs were good, pattern work was tighter as I picked out points of reference along the way. I did get the "My Airplane" one time from Bill my new instructor as we were on short final during the second landing. I was scanning instruments and getting that visual for my landing point when the wind literally stopped then gusted right to left! It really felt like we just got hit hard in the face with a gust or we were suspended for a brief moment. Being at a reduced power stage looking at my touchdown point the plane started to bank left and almost wanted to nose over, I banked right and added right rudder along with power as Bill took control adding more power and bringing us level in an instant. I touched down long but on center and found it a bit difficult sit comfortably, yeah That's right a serious pucker factor. As we taxied back for another round Bill walked me
through each step of what happened. He pointed out what I did right and what I needed to do a bit quicker (power). I was ready for that on the next landing. I went to 20 degrees flaps only on the next approach, a bit more speed made for a smoother landing.

The new flight school seems to be a busy place. There are more instructors then my previous school, and a varied selection of aircraft to train in. I am going to keep with the Cessna 172 for my training. Although the Piper low wing may have a few lessons with my name on them, ok down the road a bit in prep for the Beech Sundowner we want to eventually own. There will be some adjustments for me, runway length 6000 vs 3300 at Brandywine and the hardest to get used to 150' runway width vs 50' at Brandywine. The whole picture in my mind for landing is different. The first few landings reminded me of landing at woodbine, no room for error. I guess I was spoiled! I think the new dimensions will help keep me focused and actually provide me with better training for those cross country flights down the road. All in all a fun day today the feet were not acting like bricks and the cross wind Gods had their fun too. I will be getting back to the twice a week lesson routine and hopefully advancing to finally solo at some point. I'll be back up on the 19th and then on the 22nd. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for continued blue skies!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Patience, Patience, Patience

October 8, 9, 13

The last three lessons have all been "no go" weather days. I hope I am scheduled back in the air Sunday the 17th. It's been a month since I was last up. I wonder is this the part of the training that teaches patience? It looks like we are finally going to dry up and get some nice weather. I am excited about flying out of Brandywine. I am not sure about rotating through instructors, that seems to me like it will cost me more time and money. I guess I'll see how the schedule works out and try to lock in with one person. I'm getting a bit frustrated with the whole thing to be honest. I know nothing comes easy and that's ok, I just wish I could get back on a regular schedule and keep the learning curve going in the right direction. I hope to have a good report
after Sundays flight !

Friday, October 07, 2005

A new chapter begins at N99

Well, it's been a few weeks (3 to be exact) since I have been flying. My CFI was involved in an engine out accident after takeoff with a pilot/student flying his own aircraft. Thankfully they both walked away, and that's my main concern. However, My CFI will be out for another 3 weeks in PT, no not physical therapy, physical torture! Can you tell I have been down that road a time or two? I am happy to say that my CFI is in good spirits and making progress. I on the other hand can best be described as jones'in for a fix......yes I miss flying really bad. So, in order to keep on a good pace and not fall backward I decided to check out Brandywine Airport (N99) and continue my lessons. Brandywine is only 12 miles from the house a rather short drive and located in a very nice area. KMIV was about an hour away from home, but the folks were great and the scenery was fantastic. I'll miss looking out over the Delaware Bay and looking towards Atlantic city and the coast.

I was scheduled for Saturday morning, the 8th, but due to the weather I was canceled out. Hmmmmmm...not a great way to start. I am rescheduled for Sunday the 9th at 4pm, so I have been getting acquainted with as much of N99 as possible. Runway length, CTAF freq, Unicom, WX briefing, traffic pattern and TPA, Approach Procedures, Special Take-Off Minimums and whatever else I can get my hands on or locate via the internet, AFD, charts and so on. Yes, I got it bad I need to get back flying! I want to make sure I am prepared, I wouldn't want to let my previous CFI down. I'll update ASAP sunday evening.