Friday, March 31, 2006

Landings Anyone?

I had hoped for a cross country day, and the weather Gods did cooperate, however, 2746C was scheduled for a 9am lesson. I did not want to burn a full day of vacation to get the flight in, at least not yesterday morning. Looking back and thinking about how nice it was I wish I would have made the call.

My one hour of landing work went very well. It felt good to be at the controls and taxing out. There were signs of life at Brandywine this morning with a fellow student in a 152 and traffic arriving and ground traffic following me to the run up for departure on the active (27)

I made three landings that I grade as good, for a letter grade maybe a B-. My fourth and final landing was really nice, speed at 60 kts stall horn moaning, barely a chirp on the mains and just a soft delayed touchdown with the nose. I really think the 50' wide runway will help me in the long run. I am consistent with on center and my touchdown point and that I think is a big boost for the confidence.

I am going to review my flight plan today and call to schedule for a Sunday long cross country, I hope 46C is available.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Long Cross Country Solo Planning

I had a chance to talk with my CFI today and decided to fly Sunday morning for some landing practice. We also discussed the next steps to my Private Pilot License. I am cleared for my Long Cross Country which will be along the following flight path; N99-KSBY-KWWD-KILG and home again to N99.

I will have my 60 question written test, 3 hours of night dual cross country, 3 hours of Instrumnet Flight Rules ( yeah flying with those funky glasses) and then checkride prep and review. I hope to have my ticket by memorial day, really by May 1st but why push it.

Mary and I have run a hundred places through our minds of where to fly. Cape May, NJ for dinner over looking the beach, Williamsburg/Newport News, VA to spend some time with a dear friend of ours and hit Busch Gardens for play time, Williamsport, PA this summer to watch the little league world series, Block Island, RI, Tangier Island, Pittsburgh to visit friends, those past and friends we consider family, Niagra Falls (again), Las Vegas (again) but do daily plane trips to various places/states, New England in the fall, Boston to see family....and the list goes on.

Big dreams, excited for our future together and in aviation. Mary is excited about taking the pinch hittters or companion course. It would be great if she learns the radio lingo and I'm sure we will have two charts for each flight. :) maybe I will make color copies for my flight planning and she can wrestle with the full size.

I cant wait to fly to Factoryville, Pa and spend some time fishing on my friends 28 acres. I can't forget a stop to vist the cemetary across the highway from KWBW where my folks are buried, my Pop sure would have loved a ride and would have been proud of my accomplishment, Mom on the other hand would NEVER even consider going for a ride. Geezzz I miss them both.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Solo Cross Country

I got up this morning not expecting the weather to take a turn for the better but...I was wrong. After a early check the snow showers appear to be holding off until this afternoon. I also was happy with the tailwind for my N99 to KESN first leg. I talked with my CFI and we pretty much agreed as of 8pm last night it was not looking good so we decided to work on my 3 hours of IFR. I only have night flight, 3 hours, IFR 3 hours and a second cross country to finish up.

I get out of my truck at the airport and Bill leans out the door and tells me to bring my flight plan your on! I am ? um...well.....I didn't finish running the numbers with the updated winds aloft since we pretty much decided on a no go last night. Bill said the weather will hold and you should get the flight in, lets see what you got. I break out the flight plan and we discuss as I work out the winds corrected heading, airspeed, leg times and fuel burn. 10 minutes later he is signing off in my log book for me to go. I pack up, walk out to 46C and start my pre-flight. Pre flight complete I taxi out for my run up and departure on runway 27. Funny, as I announce my intentions they take on a new sound, now void of the "to remain in the pattern" phrase. I feel like a 16 yr old in Pop's car all alone for the first time, again.

I have a 20 kt quartering tailwind so I am making great time as I confirm my TOC checkpoint and my second checkpoint KEVY. Wow, crossing the C&D Canal and looking at the SR1 bridge, thinking how small it looks from only 4500 at my 9 o' clock. On to the next checkpoint a marina on the Sassafras river on the 305* Smyrna (ENO) vor radial. Looking good with leg times spot on and now picking up Rt. 301 that will lead me like a trail of bread crumbs to within 10 minutes of KESN. Crossing Rt. 301 as planned where 301 splits in two locations within a few miles of each other to look like humps on a camels back (thanks to google for the visual prior to flight). The "humps" at my Price, MD checkpoint leave only Rt. 50 to follow to stop #1. Calling Easton Unicom for advisory and listening to the AWOS I find that the active is r/w 4. Hey, this works I am almost in the downwind position. I call out my location and since there is no traffic I slip in on the downwind leg. Holding my pattern altitude I flow through the landing checklists and end up with a slow nose up, stall horn moanin' touchdown, very sweet! I taxi to Easton Jet for a potty break and to find something to buy so I have a receipt to take home (just for myself).

My quick stop complete, I do a walk around followed by the start up, taxi out and run up. I taxi out to r/w 4 via t/w 'A' announce holding short r/w 4 for aircraft on short final. I follow with a check for traffic and roll out into position and announce departing r/4 as the aircraft that landed clears and off I go. Minding the noise abatement I climb out and turn left to hug Rt. 50 to miss the trailer park no fly/be a good neighbor area. All checkpoints are hitting my times, things are feeling good. I turn on the GPS and confirm my ground speed, I planned with a headwind going home for 105 kts, I was tooling along at 104, I'm happy. Following Rt 301 north and pretty much the same checkpoints I am well on my way for KILG. Crossing the Canal and passing KEVY I call Wilmington tower and after acknowledged I reply with 2746C Cessna 172, with you 3000, 10 to the south over Summit (EVY) Inbound for full stop with "Echo", Wilmington advises report 3 mile left base r/w 1. I break to the left from my plan to position myself for the left base entry. I watch traffic land and depart, finally turning to enter the left base and in position advising ILG. ILG responds with a clear to land, I acknowledge CTL r/w 1 and add a second notch of flaps as I start my final turn. A bit high, cutting power over Rt13 adding last notch of flaps, speed good decent good, nose up.....keep it there, stall horn moan......slight chirp and riding almost a wheelie as the nose wheel follows 5 seconds later. Man that was fun !!!! I hope my co-workers were watching. A quick turn around and I am departing ILG for home.

Tracking the MXE Modena vor I am headed North. Once I cross MXE I will turn to 54* and call out my location and intentions for N99. Turning for the 45* entry to r/w 27 I advise and I'm feeling good. A departing aircraft calls out departing r/w 9 and asks me to keep an eye out for him. CRAP, I didn't ask for an advisory and instead assumed 27 was still the active. I immediately announced breaking it off and departing the pattern to the west to reposition for a 45* entry to right downwind r/w 9. Ok feeling like a dope, I dropped the ball in front of the home team.....regroup.....I turn out wide and pick up the traffic that departed, he is off to the north. I now have a helicopter entering a "right base" for 27, Helo's they got it made can just go and set it down. I enter at a 45* for the right downwind r/w 9 hitting my marks but not maintaining ALT. As I look for the helo traffic I lost 150'. Climb, get on track I tell myself, ok landing checklist complete I turn base, add a second notch of flaps followed by turn to final. Looking for traffic, that helo, he is on his way into r/w 27 I acknowledge contact he states he will be north of the runway and I am good to go for landing. Hmmmmmm....a little bit high playing the watch me game so I cut power and add last notch of flaps, I have the runway made no question. My speed is fast 70 kts, I float a bit and then touch down with only a short moan of the stall horn.........then chirps, DANG that was pretty much flat, then a short skip and chirps again. GRRrrrrr not pretty in front of the home crowd but I'm home safe and anxious to taxi in.

I get 46C tied down and unload the plane. I can't find my log book, , oh great I had it in my back pocket at Easton. I recheck the plane, nothing, the flight bag and headset bag, nothing. Blood pressure has to be on the rise now. I call Easton Jet center and ask them to look for me, nothing. I have to now drive there to find it. I call my lovely Bride to let her know I'm home and tell her the news. I ask if she wants to bag the rest of the day and go get crabcakes for dinner, she can't. I head out to make a stop at the house then figure on driving to Easton. Mary calls and as always gets me settled. Gary, she says, I know your pretty ticked but I have to ask, did you check the flight bag.....I'm thinking well, duh yes. I told her yes and she asked me to not head south until I relax and please check the bag for her again. God I love this woman, I stop for some lunch and empty the truck. Headset bag empty, not there, jacket good, flight bag, all the books out, 2 flashlights, extra batteries, new AOPA directory, AFD, charts (Wash.,NY) highlighters, post it's, nav log, knee board, pens, pencils all empty and no log book. Finally I set the bag on the passenger seat as it was during my flight, not wanting to block access to my whiz wheel or AFD or other essential things I think, did I slide it underneath the bag and into the pocket that just uses velcro to close???? say it's so........YES !!!!!!! there it is, a place I would never had put the darn thing. I always keep it with my headset. I call the Bride and let her know she IS the woman and thanks for keeping me grounded. Geezzz was I that pumped after my flight? The flight school is going to think I am nuts!

What a day, I am finally calm now, actually tired, but I took the dog out to the park for some fun and I am going to cook dinner for my Bride. I am looking forward to my next flight and I WILL make copies of the log book tomorrow!!!!!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Laps Were Cut Short....

It looked fantastic out this morning and the report from the "unofficial" AWOS at Brandywine reported winds 270 at 5 kts. Yeah buddy! No cross wind so get rolling. Mary and I went to the airport with the plan of lesson then eats at the DK Diner in West Chester.

I went through my pre flight and was ready to roll. I taxied 46C to the run up area and waited for a Cessna 150 to clear. Once he was rolling I taxied in to the far side leaving room for another C-150 that was following. Run up complete, I head for r/w 27 announcing my intentions to depart 27 and remain in the pattern. Final check at the hold short, fuel both and on, trim for take off check, flaps check, mixture full rich check and I'm rolling. Checking the wind sock (hey it's new) I notice a cross wind right to left or north to south. Rolling with some right bank and rotating to level at take off 46C jumps off the ground. vane time, I feel like I am on the barn roof!! Maintaining my heading of 285 for noise abatement I hear a call to 46C as I am about to call my crosswind. It's my CFI and he said after the first round bring it in, the winds are gusting now at 23 kts. I respond 2746C affirmative then call out my crosswind and downwind. I am really having to crab on the downwind to track correctly. Ok make ready for landing, fuel both and on, mixture full rich, landing taxi lights on. The voice in my head is telling me strong headwind and crosswinds flip flopping back and forth so keep the power with the headwind. Powering back to 1500 and adding a notch of flaps my speed and decent look great. Calling out my turn to base is easy, making the shallow bank and holding speed is the challenge. Wind is pushing me pretty good so I increase bank angle slightly running all the forum posts in my mind that talk about approach stalls while keeping coordinated. Nice, on final a tad high I add the second notch of flaps still getting pushed around I dip the wing right and add left rudder for a nice slip. Maintaining speed and decent I am making corrections to keep me on center of that 50' wide runway. As I cross the road and approach the runway end I add the last notch of flaps. Winds changing, holding it off, almost down, stall horn moans, hold it off (CFI is watching) stall horn talks to me again....I swear it said set me down, and I did with a slight chirp followed by a short roll out and the nose wheel touching down. WOW!! That was fun !!!!

I taxied back and tied down 46C giving her a pat on the cowl with a thanks girl good job. Bill is taking a new student out and going through the pre flight with her. She has that look, we all know it, excited anticipation. Bill said great job on that landing, nose was up very nice. I nod, wave and say thanks, making eye contact with his new student and hollering over to her to have fun and enjoy it!

I am up again tuesday for my solo XC but I think the weather will cut that short.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Solo XC plans...

It seems like forever since I have been flying. The winds and weather seem to always cause me to cancel my flights. This past Saturday was sunny and clear with blue skies just begging for me to be flying. Mary and I went to the airport for a "around the patch" session of landings with the Bride at the video. I wanted to tape a few landings and take some shots of 2746C. When we arrived the winds were at 350* 10-12 kts. That would be an 80* 10 kt crosswind for r/w 27 ! As a student I am allowed up to a 8 kt crosswind. We waited around as long as possible but no luck. Off we went to a local diner and then we headed home. Mary went shopping with a few girlfriends and I went to baseball practice. Maybe it just wasn't my day.....

At practice I pitched to the kids in the batting cage. I threw a 5 gallon bucket of balls to each of the kids, I think we had 11 of 12 show up. I use a screen to protect these old bones and keep it close to help them pick up the ball faster and to help my throwing speed. The last batter hit a line drive back at me, and not ducking behind the screen as I should have, I turned my face away just in time to catch a shot in the throat just left of center. It took me a good 5 minutes to catch my breath and stop the little twinkley stars from dancing around my head. I finished up with that batter, who bounced one of the side of the cage that I took on the left thigh and called it a day.

So here I sit, wanting to fly and instead rambling on. I will finish up with my XC plans and hope to fly Tuesday. I also thought about talking to my CFI and see what I can do to finish up. I have about two weeks vacation on the books from last year that I can use. I hope I can work out the details.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cleared For Solo XC

I'm not sure how but I managed to get to the airport 20 minutes early. Anticipation? Excited? Maybe a little of both, but then again maybe it was light traffic at that was the anticipation!

Flight plan in hand we discussed the plan of attack for flight following. My CFI advised that in the North East it's a must, but one should take advantage of the services provided on flights. I was ready, a notepad with all approach Freq's and as always ATIS, TWR, GND and Unicom if needed.

Preflight complete we saddled up and headed out. A low wing "Delta Whiskey" was ahead of us at the run up area so we tucked in and went through the checklist. DW was waiting for clearance so he asked us to go on by, we acknowledged and headed out. Departing 27 at Brandywine I could not believe how clear it was.....I could not help but ask, out loud, why did I wait so long to learn to fly? Back in the cockpit I notify PHL Approach, comply with Squawk and altitude change/hold for traffic then proceed, once cleared, to 6500 on course to HZL.

My first checkpoint was Pottstown Muni. N47. I did not see it at first but I did have a perfect view of the cooling towers to my 3 o’clock. I dipped the wing to my right and there was N47 pretty as can be. On to Kutztown N31, with my course on track and pretty close to time. I did not see Kutztown (perfect time for that glass bottom aircraft) since I was over top, but had a handle on my body of water land mark to my 9 o’clock. My CFI had me initiate 10* bank to my left to slowly circle and locate the airport. Ahhhh…..airport hiding under me but now located, I then realign and continue on course. My next checkpoint is at the foot of Blue Mountain, Leasers Lake. I’m good to go so onward to HZL. Did I mention how clear it was? HZL is in view as I announce my fly over the field and reposition for a 45* entry to r/w 28. Once past HZL north to south you fly in to the valley, it was bumpy there and I made for a shallow turn trying to get to pattern ALT prior to entry. I hit 2600, as I turn to downwind but did not account for the wind blowing me towards the runway. Bill asked how do we look, I think to myself, like crap, as he directs me to break it off and retry, this time giving myself more room and trim to stabilize. I enter the downwind followed by base and final with a good landing. We make a quick stop and review my flight plan to ABE. My CFI questions “how long to TOC”? um…..11 minutes to 5500 I respond. Really, he says, Best check that again, what’s the ALT here at HZL? GRRRrrrrrr, 1600 so that would only be a climb out of 3900. He spares me the recalc but asks for approximate numbers which I provide. Satisfied, we saddle up for the ABE leg. …..geezzz I feel like a dope!

HZL to ABE starts off fine as I pass my new TOC checkpoint. Time looks good as I make way for Arner Memorial. I have the big ol’ lake to my 9 o’clock so I’m on target but again no airport. I immediately dip each wing then with a slight bank circle to find once again that elusive airport under me. I AM going to design a glass bottom aircraft . Ok back on track heading to ABE I call up Allentown Approach and announce position, ALT, intentions and ATIS report. A quick response has me number two for landing behind a Grumman. Looking for traffic but no contact, Allentown Approach provides vectors and ALT for runway 6. About three miles out I get the cleared to land and I set it down long and slow, almost a bit to flat. With a quick taxi and request for Advisories for a VFR return to Brandywine I am once again off and flying.

Almost home, My CFI instructs me that (hypothetical situation) Brandywine is closed you must divert to Reading (RDG). Take me through it he says, I glance at my sectional and Bill says hold over your known point, make it easy on yourself. I go into a gentle turn over green lake reservoir and work the numbers. I figure on a course of 270*, and about 15 miles. That should be about an 8 to 10 minutes max. Now for the radio numbers, checking the sectional again I have TWR, GRD, ATIS but no Approach. Bill asks where do you find it, I respond in the AFD, where is it you ask? In my flight bag on the back seat. He points to the pocket along my left leg and said ALWAYS in the pocket along with the wiz wheel. Lesson learned.

We get back on track and head to Brandywine. Pretty much uneventful with a fly over the field (announced) above pattern ALT followed by a nice turn out and reposition for a 45* to r/w 27 downwind. I had an ok landing, but overall a GREAT trip!!

We closed with a review that needs me to concentrate on a few things:

Pattern entry (the reposition portion) and holding ALT a bit closer.
Radio work was good, keep it up!
Landings practice on nose up

I was then cleared to solo XC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait to start planning!!!!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"NO GO" Due to Winds....

KILG — Updated: 11:51 AM GMT on March 04, 2006 (Local: 6:51 AM EST)

METAR KILG 041151Z 29014KT 10SM CLR M03/M10 A3006


Updated: 11:54 AM GMT on March 04, 2006 (Local: 6:54 AM EST)

METAR KPTW 041154Z AUTO 28009G14KT 10SM SCT039 M03/M11 A3004 RMK AO2 SLP172

I am really starting to wonder if I will get back in the air.....will the winds ever die down? MAybe tomorrow if there is a time slot open. I still have my XC planned for Tuesday morning.