Sunday, April 30, 2006


Today Mary and I met up with a "Pilots Of America" fellow forum member FlyersFan31 (Andrew). Andrew was kind enough to fly into N99 to lets us have a look see at his Sundowner. Mary and I have been talking about joining a club or a partnership. The option to own is a dream we have but not sure if that is the most cost effective route.

today's visit pretty much cemented the idea of ownership. The Sundowner was on the top of my list due to the two door and roomy cabin. Andrew's plane was spotless inside and out and the roomy question was answered when we investigated. More on the quest for ownership at a later date...(stay tuned)

My lesson started out with the flight check as all lessons and flights should. The active today is runway 9 and the winds have been changing direction and speed. We headed out to the practice area and I practice clearing turns, slow flight and follow up with stalls. I was running between my two alignment points of the pottstown cooling towers and ridgeline between smoketown and chester county a good east west run for the work. Once completed I was told take us home. I dialed in MXE direct to station and was pretty much headed in the right direction. Once I had a visual I turned East to follow Rt. 30 so that I could eventually turn south to cross midfield and position for a 45* entry to downwind runway 9. While watching out for traffic I was late throttling down to 1500 and getting the first notch of flaps in. I wanted to make sure I knew where the aircraft on final was and as he passed my 3 o' clock I announced a base, added flaps and got squared away to land. Bill announced a short field landing and I dropped my speed to 60 kts with the numbers as my target. I added the last notch of flaps in and was a tad nose high. I didn't trim on the 2nd notch of flaps as usual, I let myself get distracted from my routine by my CFI. I had to nose down and add a touch of power to get in and set down short and sweet.

I taxied off and followed my checklist as we then discussed the distractions I had. Traffic joining downwind as I had just entered, an aircraft on a long final and then while I was on final trying to locate a helicopter landing on r/w 9. I did get an atta boy for scanning for traffic although he said at times he wants to cover the instruments. I was really good about looking out now when the foggles come off I am still inside.....more then I should. Ahhhh lessons learned as I continue.

Night Flight scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and then some slow flight and landing practice Friday.

IFR Lessons Learned.....

Lesson Date - Saturday, April 29, 2006

An early start to a long day ahead. I pre flight N65021 for an hour of IFR work. This is not the normal lesson aircraft I use but the added requirement of Carb heat will make me think when needed. My CFI has me climb out to the SW while we transfer control of the plane so I can put those "really cool" glasses on. A few unusual attitudes went well, followed by intercepting VOR's. I guess the late baseball game coupled with an early start and a brain fart sounded good but the plain fact was I was not on my game. Oh the heading control, altitude and wings level were fine but I was clueless on my location relative to the VOR.

When given an intercept course I would set up just fine, ID the station and dial in for the course or direct to. When asked my location I blanked, I gave the heading to/from the station and then my actual heading, then blanked, then retraced my steps. Ok finally on track. The next go round same thing just not with it today, feeling like I really dropped the ball. and having at round three, my CFI says relax and be instinctive don't push it to where you are thinking every little thing to the last degree. I acknowledge, and we roll play ATC again with vectors then a direct to VOR. I set up the NAV1, ID it and then dial it in, banking slightly inn the direction to intercept. I repeat back and head direct to MXE, he asks where we are in relation to the station and I give a correct answer instantly, feeling good about getting my head outta my butt thus being able to fly a bit better I focus on getting it done. Round four is a direct to after a series of vectors to follow (get me lost). I set up for DQO, ID then dial it in. Checking heading and turning to the station I see I have reverse sensing and make the correction and plan my intercept course to the station. My CFI again asks location in reference to the station and I again answer correct and proceed.

I am now given the direct to MXE command and I follow all the above mentioned procedures. Once the TO flag switches I turn to follow the 54* FROM radial. Finally, off come the foggles and there is N99 about 6 miles out. I announce my position and intentions and enter the pattern at a 45* to the right downwind to runway 9. I do a soft field landing and fight my way in. I needed to slip in and I fought it in instead. The landing is ok, it just would have been Soooooo much easier slipping it in instead of fighting it .

Lessons learned......Don't put myself in a bad situation . Fly the airplane, remain calm, assess the situation. Gentle control inputs, trust the instruments and not the body. No time for macho, contact approach if with them or 121.5 for vectors back to VFR conditions. In the clouds is no time to think I'm a hero or try to be one.

Next lesson is Sunday and the test prep begins.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Unusual Attitudes.....

Unusual attitudes, and I don't mean "my" attitude! Today's lesson was instrument flight rules (IFR). Following a pre flight we saddled up for some IFR time with those funky glasses. I was directed to climb out to 1200' then turn out to a specific heading and new altitude (3000') . As we climbed out and approaching 1000' my CFI advises his plane, I acknowledge and he confirms (always a smooth transfer). I trade controls for a pair of foggles, then we transfer control of the aircraft back to me. Climbing through 1200' minding the noise abatement I depart N99 on the crosswind to the SW.

I really seem to be on top of it today, maintaining heading and altitude despite the bumps! My CFI vectors me as we role play ATC and pilot in the clouds. This is a change for me since at work I get to play bad cop worse cop with contractors.........Ok, well maybe not always bad/worse.

We once again transfer control as Bill asks me to put my head down and close my eyes. I remember this from one of my first lessons at Millville. I also remember I had no clue what we were doing as I guessed at engine sounds and forces on the body, but that was so long ago. Bill mixed it up and I just tried to focus on being loose and trying to sit straight. With transfer of the controls I quickly assessed the aircrafts attitude. We were in a 15* bank left slight nose high. I slowly rotated right and eased the nose down and checked my power setting. Once stabilized I trimmed out and my CFI took control again. This time I took control in a left bank in a decent @700-800 ft/min . I slowly or gently rotated right as I corrected the decent again checking power and trimming when wings level. We went through a few more rounds and then moved to VOR work with climbs and decents.

I was directed to proceed to the Modena (MXE) VOR and he used some phrase that I can't remember to proceed to intercept the ILS for runway 29 at Chester County 40N. Ok, should be easy enough, I tune in the MXE VOR ID it then dial in a direct to radial on the CDI. I find the 240* to center the needle and hey what do you know I'm headed 240* on the Heading Indicator. So far so good, direct to MXEteady on course and ALT solid. The it hits me, Bill asks how are we looking? everything, the bulb does not light. Ok, out loud I state, ALT 2500', steady on course 240 direct .........CRAPPP!!! FROM MXE. Bill asks where are we......we are headed South West "away" from MXE. I dial the CDI 180* to a heading of 60* TO MXE as I already started my course correction. I take my right hand and hit myself in the head just to remind myself DON'T ASSUME!!!! He set me up very easy and he got me. Lesson learned, check, check and triple check, just because it MAY look right does not make it right.

With the MXE behind me, checking, yes behind me, I concentrate on my ILS approach to runway 29 at Chester County 40N. Tracking the ILS for 29 I have a steady needle and easing on the power to start a decent from 2500. Still on course, I pitch down slightly to see movement on the glideslope indication. Ok almost on target, minor corrections a few degrees, trading off chasing the needle for rock solid a tick off center knowing I have some crosswind action going on. My rate of decent is 300-500 ft/min looking good and on course.....Bill tells me to look up under the glasses and check out my location to the runway. I was just slightly right of centerline at 1100' and room to get into position with out a problem on final. WAY COOL !!! We make the loop and I have at it again. Pretty much same results but this time I didn't "not" check the to/from headed to MXE.

Bill directs me to take us home so I again dial in a direct TO modena (MXE) and set up #2 for the outbound 54* radial that will take me home in only 6 short miles from the VOR. I cross the VOR and pick up the 54* FROM radial and drop off the last few hundred feet to get to pattern altitude. I am instructed to remove the foggles and get us on the ground. I announce entry into the downwind on a 45* followed by the left downwind for 27. Lined up nice, running through my checklists I am ready to put this puppy on the runway. I did notice that everything seemed so different after the foggles....maybe it was just me. I throttled back to 1500 added a notch oif flaps and the turned to base. Checking off the right wing for peole that may be sneaking in and centerpunch me I call out a clear right then key to announce final for 27. Crosswinds on turn in but now back and forth headwind crosswind. I feel I'm a bit high so I pull a bit of power off only to approach flat to the runway. I don't like what I see and add power, as I am about to called a missed Bill says evaluate, plenty of room your not over the numbers, ease out the power, set it up, hold the nose off and "chirps" we're in! He was right, but I didn't like what I was looking at and would have felt better going around. With the winds I landed faster and that was followed by a back taxi to clear 27. I did have plenty of room to land, I guess I just gave up on myself to quickly.

All in all a great lesson! I have about a half hour left of IFR then 3 hours of night flight and 3 hours of checkride prep/review. I scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and I will schedule 3 nights next week around my baseball schedule. I am pretty excited knowing I very well may be flying to Wilkes-Barre, PA with just me and the Bride for the Memorial Holiday weekend !!!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Where did you get those Glasses?

Foggles to be exact! Today was back to lessons with my CFI after finishing up my Cross Country work. Weare going to work on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) . I put in a 1.2 hour IFR lesson today on one of the nicest days to be in the air. I hated to think about limiting my view!

Lets see, vision limiting device - hood - foggles....designer glasses they are not, with that said I had a blast and worked my butt off. My CFI gave me a course and ALT prior to takeoff and then as we were departing the area exchanged control of the airplane followed by me adding the foggles over my glasses. Very strange, but a fun lesson. We went through the basics, turns, decents, climbs working on instrument scan and "gentle" inputs on all controls.

The next stage was "simulated" ATC calls starting with the VFR pilot lost in the clouds and moving forward from that. We simulated vectors back to VFR conditions and communications while concentrating holding tight on my turns and ALT. My CFI threw in tracking the MXE VOR back to the field (N99). I repeated ATC instructions (simulated) dialed in 113.2 on Nav 1 and also set up my #2 for the outbound 54* radial that puts me on a 6 mile to N99. I said as workload permits I am setting up for my outbound leg since I will be looking for the airport when we break out.......he smiled, I think he really liked that.

Just prior to downwind entry he took the airplane while I removed the foggles as instructed. Back on the controls I set up for landing. I ended up doing a misssed first time, poor adjustment to crosswind and to fast, I wasn't happy with my performance. Second time around, turned out enough to slowly come back to centerline and slip my way in. An ok landing with a short back taxi and I was done for the day. I left with the thought of what if I had to go around in those actual conditions and I needed to be on my game ALL the time.

The Added Lesson.....

After my lesson today two men approached my instructor and asked the limits on the aircraft. Take off weight (2450 lbs.), fuel on board and useful load (764 lbs.). My CFI pulls out the ol' POH and quotes the info (I’m thinking are these two guys taking another’s word on the info and fuel on board...ok, I'm confused) Both pilots talk back and forth and I hear well, with our weight (they try doing the math in their head) let's see, my CFI jumps in and says you'll have 120 lbs. for fuel or 20 gallons.

YIKES! These guys are going to New York from N99. I never once heard talk of winds aloft and it was windy today or did I see a flight plan or any calc's (they may have had it but I didn't see it). Well they go back and forth and conclude that they figure the school plane was up for just over three hours so doing landings and pattern work so they figure there is around 13 gallons left. Meanwhile I am giving my CFI a "I'm lost here look" My CFI jumps in and clearly states to them both again that these are the limits, and he strongly recommends NOT exceeding any limits in the POH, or attempting that flight with that amount of fuel......with that we both walked away.

I was amazed, I said what was that all about.....are they nuts or did they have superman tights under those clothes???? They had the fuel truck put 7 gallons in each tank.Winds were 310 to 010 10G16 and a quick plan in my head I figure anywhere from ....I'd say 010* to 080* and 90 miles as a direct route to NY just as a ballpark.I told my CFI that there is no way I take that chance and no way i would depend on ANYONE to answer my questions but me. He told me I learned a valuable lesson today and it was not while I was under the hood in the plane working on IFR lessons.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Passed the Written........

Well after a long weekend with family and a sciatic nerve that had me squirming everytime I sat, laid down or walked, I decided to take the written. I woke up this morning pain free so I thought that was a sign to get my butt going I had no excuse to put it off any longer. Off I went with average test score on Sporty's and Gleim bouncing between 78 and 95 percent. I figured what the heck, I hate tests but I have to do this. Mary reminded me about how well I do in night school and said I would do fine.

I had all my papers and log book in order and cleared away everything but the pencils, paper and diagrams the school provided. I already felt tense! I started rolling through the questions and was up to 35 in no time at all. I thought, could this be? It's seems pretty good, then I hit a mental snag, the CG chart that I was having problems with since I always forgot the formula. I worked through the weights no problem and then drew a blank....duh. I marked that question then came back. I completed all the questions with an hour and fifteen mintes to spare and decided to do the unthinkable. Yes, the guy who ALWAYS preaches do not cahnge your gut answer....went back and changed three or four and of course changed them wrong.

With my test completed and passed I scheduled some flight time with my CFI to knock out the few hours of instrument left on my list. I can't wait until he gets after me for the questions I missed, oh that should be fun .

I returned home and looked up the questions I missed that were listed on the Airmen knowledge test report. I provided the correct answeres and a short explaination to back them up. At least Bill will know I reviewed what I missed and made a serious effort to teach myself for future use. I know that flying is a continued learning curve and to be proficient at it I must continue to push myself to learn and experience more.

I'll update after my lesson Wednesday night.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Long XC In The Books....

What a fantastic day out side!!! Wow, I could not wait to call FSS for the standard briefing. As a follow up to last nights outlook brief, I called to confirm that the big bright yellow thing in the sky was indeed the sun and the dead still calm of no winds was for real. I loaded up the SUV and headed to the airport without even making a stop for water.

My CFI was at the door bright and early to review my flight plan and give me his "blessing". I provided both briefings and we discussed them followed by my thoughts on the flight plan. I gave him the what if I don't get FF from PHL and what I would do (chug along at 2800 until clear of ILG and outter ring of class B from PHL,then climb to 4500). We also discusseed the Nuclear power plant and he asked about restrictions with my response being "who wants to loiter there, I'm headed south". I also described my plan for Dover AFB just heading south and to the west of the city which is outside the DAFB class D. I also mentioned that there is no TFR for the C-5 recovery operation in effect so I'm good to go. In my discussion with pilots around Dover I have learned that 4500 is a good ALT. to avoid C-5's who are working the pattern in the 2000 - 2500 block. Bill said everyhting looks in order, have fun and give me a call when your on the ground back home.

I saddled up for SBY, pre flight complete, run up complete and taking the active runway (27). What a great day to be in the air, why did I ever wait so long to do this????? Well, I'm here now and thats what counts. PHL App is quick on the trigger today and clears me through 4500 to proceed on course. I have ILG in sight along with the twin spans at the Delaware Memorial Bridges. I pass by ILG to the east and just west of the cooling towers from the nuke plant. Clicking off checkpoints I see Dover in the distance at my 11 o'clock and my track, speed and times look great. I get handed off to Dover App and check in, they ask my destination and I provide the VFR en route to Sierra Bravo Yankee, Sailsbury. I am taking in all the sights, 33N one of my work airports to my 3 o' clock off to the 10 o' clock is the C-5 still in its resting place just short of the runway where it went down last week at Dover. The small towns click off along the way and what seems like only minutes when Dover turns me loose to squawk VFR. I figure thats not to bad I'll contact SBY tower in a few minutes to let them know I'm about 15 out to the north for a full stop. After contacting SBY I was told to report 2 mile right base for 23, piece of cake I figure with a shallow bank to my right to align myself and a visual reference point that I would turn base as if in the pattern. Then it hits me.....SBY tower calls, ahhh...46C I do not have a visual on you, my heart skipped, and I think I got a chest pain to go along with my pucker factor....I gave my position as 3.5 miles right base and they confirmed with a cleared to land r/w 23. Whew....I almost thought I was at the wrong place even though I know I knew better. I had an ok landing followed by a taxi back to the active and departure, with VFR advisories to WWD.

My first trip across the bay, I was loving it !! I watched my shadow across the water then thought better of it and got back to flying the airplane. All the ships lined up and just loving the views. Cruising along now at 5500 and land in gliding distance I started my decent for WWD. I could see cape may airport in the distance and tuned in the awos. Ok, runway 19 the active so I positioned myself for a 45* entry to the downwind. I got bumped around a little bit but held ALT and was on track with a slightly wide turn base to final but with room to track back, no steep banks here and no approach stalls, That runs through my mind every turn to final. Nice and easy, I set 46C down with a very nice landing. I met the guys from work, they took a few photos that I'll get posted, it was sure fun to fly into an airport I worked at and check out the lights and signs for myself. Time to go, I did a walk around then saddled up for ILG.

Once in the air I contacted Atlantic city approach and we exchanged info. I passed by port Norris and continued along with a hand off to dover approach. Dover was busy with a C-5 with landing gear problems so they pretty much directed me to squak VFR and gave me PHL's frequency if I cared to contact them. I thanked them for thier help and made my way for ILG. At 15 miles out I rang up ILG to let them know I was inbound for a full stop with the current ATIS. The TWR asked me to repeat type of aircraft and I did, again. I was directed to enter the downwind for runway 19 and advise.I read back and chugged along. As I crossed the river ILG got a call with traffic from the north, they asked me if I could enter a left base for 27 instead, if that would be a problem. I quickly responded enter left base runway 27, no problem, 46C . I then headed towards the Bridge and proceeded to turn left base and final with a real nice landing. As I crossed the numbers the other traffic asked if I was in camo since he could not see me.........don't make me laugh I'm landing here, I thought.

ILG asked where I was parking and I asked for a taxi back and departure VFR to Brandywine with advisories. I was instructed to do a 180 and taxi back to depart on runway 19 from the intersection if that was not a problem. I quickly glanced and noticed the distance markers and that request took 2000 feet off the runway for my take off. I thought not to worry, I got 5000 feet to use up, I'm good. I advised ILG I was good for departure at the intersection, he then cleared me for the take off. I headed to N99 at 2800, and had the airport in sight. Traffic in the pattern alerted me to the active so my call to Brandywine was, Cessna 2746C, 6 miles to the south positioning for a 45* entry for left downwind r/w 27. My instructor was in that plane with a student. He asked how things were going I gave him the ok, so far (thinking about my home field landing yet to come). I watched traffic depart 27 as I was turning down wind we swapped calls out of our locations. I set up for landing and made my call and turned to base followed by my turn to final. Looking good, just passing below 1000......speed good, rate of decent good. Hardly a breeze to speak of as I add the last notch of flaps but don't pull the power ALL the way off fast enough (brain fart). I cross the numbers about 70 kts and ride the low slow flight as the speed bleeds off.....I add a touch of power as I sink and chirps followed by a short skip and then down. I roll past my taxiway and get turned around and advise of back taxi. Finally home and tied down!!!!!!!! what a GREAT day!! 2.8 hours of pure heaven!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Long Solo XC A "No Go"

It looks like a “no-go” for weather. It is nasty out right now at 1100Z and the forecast for my 1330 departure does not look much better. DOV reports showers as I cross the area and by arrival at SBY I should be clear of the rain but it looks like some gusting winds. With the AIRMET Turb and Ice it just does not look like a fun day to enjoy my cross country solo. I also will be crossing the Delaware Bay, and although only 12 miles at the narrowest point I don't think it would be to much fun with crappy visibility. I will reschedule today after I get another look at the weather forecast.








Saturday, April 01, 2006

Study Time.....Hittin' The Books!

Yes, I've come to the point that I must take the written test. I just have to say that I really do not like tests, does anyone? Yes, I think there are a few folks who zip right through the testing, me on the other hand have a hard enough time finding space in the brain for daily activities. :) With contracts and specifications rolling around in there what space can be open? I had a boss once that told my friend as he handed off a major road construction project to her to "stick this in the back of your head". We still laugh over it today when she said her head was full and it would explode if she "stuck" another thing there. Well she did store it all and went on to be a very successfull Engineer.

I stray from the subject as I do the prep for my test but I have a plan. I have been working on the Gleim test prep and Sporty's study and test preps. I figure if I see all 700 plus questions all week, multiple times, the answers will jump out at me. Ok, I said it was a plan and I figure I have to start somewhere.

Update - Sunday is booked solid so it looks like my Cross Country will be Wednesday morning! Watch out Salisbury, MD and Wildwood, I come !

Off to study....