Posted by: Brian | August 4, 2013

Next Family Trip?

So, I have been giving some thought to my next family outing, little does my wife know, we won’t get there by car :)  This will likely give her some anxiety, as she’s not much of a commuter by air, as she’s only been up twice with me in almost four years.  We did take our daughter to Cambridge, MD for breakfast when she was two, which was a rough experience for all parties involved.  She’s now five and believe she’ll do much better this time around (she’s been asking to fly as of late).  As an aside, I used Sky Vector for planning purposes below.

One of the places relatively close we both enjoy is Atlantic City, New Jersey.  By car, it’s about a three to four hour drive from our house, whereas a roughly one hour flight (107nm).  My mother-in-law would be with us, so the one hour flight would be much easier on her back.  The downside to Atlantic City is, I enjoy gambling (within reason, or course).  My wife?  Not so much.  The last time we went AC, we agreed on a $200 limit.  The problem was, as soon as I won $2, she was asking to leave, since we were “up”. J  Too bad online gambling hasn’t really been approved in the US yet! As a brief aside, I stumbled on this online gambling site in the UK the other day called Castle Jackpot. What I thought was pretty cool about this site is their ‘Mega Jackpot”.  It resets much like our Mega Millions, or Powerball here in the US when someone wins.  I think it starts at £1.5million (Pounds, more than dollars….), and grows from there.  When someone wins, it resets back to £1.5million.  They also offer a £150 ‘Welcome Bonus’, which, you know, is nice.  I can’t recall a time casino staff in Atlantic City just gave me $200.  Possible, just don’t recall :)

My second option was a quick flight to Sky Bryce, West Virginia (Greenbrier ).  It’s the exact opposite direction, and is a bit shorter in length/duration (51 minutes and 94nm).  This would be a more relaxing weekend.  However, the accommodations would be more expensive.  A standard room at the Greenbrier goes for $396/night (ouch).  But, according to reviews, the location and accommodations are simply amazing.

Another, less expensive, option would be Tangier Island, Virgina (if you hear them talk, you’d think it’s a different country).  It’s 76nm and about 42 minutes away and a relatively easy flight (no SFRA or controlled airspace to navigate).  There is no fuel, so we’d have to mind that, but as long as we aren’t tooling around too much, it’s not an issue.  My good buddy Keith (LINK) and I flew out there last year.  He bought me lunch at Lorraine’s. which was also featured in Southern Living magazine last year.  It’d be a quiet weekend, maybe get some fishing in (which my daughter has been asking to do anyway).


Posted by: Brian | August 20, 2012

Short flight for breakfast

It’s been quite a while since my last post – between work, and, well, work…I haven’t had much time to fly.  I have, however, been flying at least every 60 days to remain current at Freeway Airport (W00).  My mother was in town from Germany, so I took her out to Cambridge (CGE) for breakfast, then over to Fort Meade/Tipton (FME) for a couple of landings, before heading back to W00.  Relatively short, easy flight.  I logged 2.1 hours and now have right around 105 total hours.
I started my Instrument rating (IFR) at Lee Annapolis Airport – I made it into Phase 2 of 4 before putting it on hold.  I felt like I was wasting money b/c there was simply too much time between flights (~2-3 weeks).  My work will (should) be slowing a bit over the next few months, and once it does, I’ll pick back up where I left off.

Below is a video of me entering the pattern at Cambridge (left downwind for Runway 16).  Enjoy!

~ Brian

It has been awhile since I’ve last posted; quite a bit has happened, so here goes an update.

As you know, I finished my Private over a year ago, and decided to take a year off of training for a couple of reasons: 1) I wanted to just enjoy my Private and being out of training and 2) The Veterans Affairs amended it’s stance on how much they pay for flight training.  It used to be only 60% of ATP training.  As of 1 October, 2011, you can get your Private, Instrument, Commercial, etc all under your GI Bill.  So, January rolled around and I thought, “why not take advantage of this before the lifers in Congress change their minds”  and enrolled in training in January.  The course I am enrolled in is a Commercial course, and I get my Instrument along the way.  As a side note: I got my Private at Freeway Airport (W00), which was a great school, training environment and staff (I’d recommend to anyone), but I am going through Navy Annapolis Flight Center (NAFC) at Lee Airport in Annapolis (KANP) for my Instrument and Commercial).  The only reason is because they are the only ones in the area certified by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for reimbursement.  Freeway, at this time, is not certified, otherwise I would have completed everything there.  I will also say that NAFC is great too!  I do head over to Freeway at least every 60 days to remain current so that I can rent their planes without having to go through a check ride.

I just finished my last flight before my Stage 1 Progress Check, which, weather pending, I will do on Monday morning.  I have been doing tasks “under the hood”.  You know, I always used to say during my Private training, “Man, it’s beautiful up here, but I never get to enjoy the sights because I am so focused on training.”  Well, if I thought I couldn’t see much then, I don’t see ANYTHING now with the “foggles” I wear (see below).  From just after takeoff to just before landing, I see my instruments.  That’s it. 


I started my training with the basics: straight and level, turns, climbs, descents, climbing turns, climbing descents, unusual attitudes, stalls (clean and dirty) and I was able to get night current again :)  Lately, I started some work on the VORs again, and coupled that with flying a 23NM DME Arc at BWI yesterday.  In the rain and low clouds.  I’ll tell you, just like many of things you learn, it’s easier to “do” than “read” about.  Fairly simple once you get up there.

I have my Stage 1 progress check on Monday, then head out of town for work, but will dive into Stage 2 once I return.  We’ll focus on approaches at that point.  As soon as I finish my Instrument, I’ll jump right into my Commercial training. 

As for video, I hope to have some up soon.  I forgot my camera the last time I flew at Freeway.  As soon as I get it back, I’ll be back up with audio/video of my instrument training.  Thanks for stopping by!

~ Brian

Last flight: 1.0 hours

Total: ~ 100 hours

Posted by: Brian | January 12, 2012

Instrument & Commercial Ratings – Here I Come…

So, one year after receiving my Private Pilot Certificate, I am about to embark on another adventure – an Instrument Rating, followed closely by my Commercial Rating.  My ultimate goal is to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) within the next two years.  The beauty about all of this (besides being able to fly a lot)?  Getting most of it paid for using my Post 9-11 GI Bill.  :)

The downside to using my GI Bill for training is that there are currently only about five schools here in Maryland certified through the VA for reimbursement.  Unfortunately, the school I used to obtain my Private is not currently among them (Freeway Aviation in Bowie, MD).  As such, I’ll be using the Navy Annapolis Flying Club ( at Lee Airport (KANP) to continue my training.  From what I hear and have read, it sounds like a good place to continue my training!  If anyone out there has any experience (especially flight training) using NAFC, I’d love to hear it.

I hope to have my first lesson within the next few weeks (have to wade through the bureaucratic red tape of the VA before I can begin).  Keep an eye out for my first Instrument lesson!


Posted by: Brian | December 16, 2011

Airspeed Junkie

Full disclosure here.  Airspeed Junkie found Runway18 and offered me one of their products in exchange for a review and I was more than happy to oblige!

Airspeed Junkie (ASJ) is a new aviation/pilot supply store out there for those pilots who are “tired of the same old thing”.  If you’re familiar with Sporty’s (which any pilot likely is), MyPilotStore or any of the traditional pilot stores, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you stop by ASJ.  The inspiration of their clothing line (V1) comes from a mix between aviation and motorcycles.  While I personally do not ride motorcycles, I have plenty of friends who do both and would enjoy this deviation from the norm when it comes to aviation/pilot supplies!

ASJ sent me the V1 Skull Prop hat (below).  As you can see by the design on the hat, aviation doesn’t necessarily jump out in your face like the “I AM A PILOT” shirts you can get at other online stores.  My first thought was Orange County Choppers (OCC) or Jesse James and was quickly followed with a, “but wait, are those propellers jumping out of the skull?”.  Nice!  The other thing I like about this hat is that it’s fitted.  Being a hat-guy myself, here are a few comments: they use fitted styles, which I do prefer.  Additionally, they use a lighter material (not like your standard heavy-weight baseball hats).  I personally like them a bit heavier, but the positive (always an optimist) is that it won’t have much of an effect on the airplane’s weight and balance!





What I will say about the company itself is that they are extremely responsive to communication and delivered the product via expedited service.  Having a good product is only half of the battle; having great customer service is the other.  I’ll most definitely being stopping by again soon!

~ Brian

Posted by: Brian | August 27, 2011


So, I have been averaging a flight every 30-45 days or so (thank you, work).  I hope to cut that down to about at least once every 3-4 weeks, at a minimum.

I got up last week (18 August), but had to take off early from work to do it.  It was a great day to fly.  I took our C-172 from Freeway Airport to Cambridge, Ridgely and back to Freeway.  The flight lasted just under two hours.  Beautiful day to fly.  About 15 minutes into the flight, the camera tilted slightly to the right, making for a weird angle.  Just FYI, it wasn’t a weird “crabbing” technique or anything. :)  I did end up fixing it after the first landing, so you won’t have to deal with looking at it for too long.

~ Brian

Posted by: Brian | May 14, 2011

X-wind at Fort Meade (FME)

I decided to take a 1/2 day off from work this past Tuesday and take advantage of the beautiful weather in the area.  I wanted to fly on Saturday but the weekend wasn’t looking too good.  The METAR showed light winds all day + the blue skies = Great day to fly!  It was a little bumpier than expected and that was briefed.  As soon as I left Freeway Airport and got out over the treeline, I experienced some pretty decent up and down drafts.  Luckily, it was only a short 8 minute flight to FME, which is located just north of Freeway.  The closer I got to FME, the bumpier it got.  I entered the pattern, got to short final and saw the windsock alternate from limp to stiff and back to limp…it was fairly gusty.  Really, it was the worst taking off from Rwy 28 and getting out over the treeline.  They really have this tendancy to pull you down into them if you aren’t careful.  I knocked out five landings at FME and decided it was enough before heading back to Freeway Airport.  The video is of one of my landings at FME.  All of my landings were long, due to the additional power needed on short final.  The landing at Freeway was a bit easier, as the winds were nearly straight down the runway.  It was short flight (1.2 hours).

I was reminded today that the AirVenture at OshKosh, WI is 25-31 July.  Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town for work, but may be able to swing by the event the evening of the 29th and stay the weekend.  I really want to go though!

~ Brian

Hours logged: 1.2

Posted by: Brian | May 7, 2011

Cambridge for Breakfast

It’s been awhile since my last post and nearly a month since my last flight.  I had some family in town (step-father and brother) and decided to take them to Cambridge one morning for the proverbial $100 hamburger.  But I must say, we neither had a hamburger, nor did it cost $100.  We had breakfast and the cost was a bit more than that!  It was a lot of fun though – departed Freeway Airport around 930am and flew across the Chesapeake Bay direct to Cambridge.  Luckily, there was plenty of room to tie down the plane – I heard it can get fairly crowded there on nice days.  As we were leaving and I was doing my pre-flight, I see a blimb…yes, a blimp, on short final.  The cables drop over the runway, then all of a sudden, they retract and it takes back off.  On the way back, we flew back to Freeway via Easton (ESN) and was able to see the blimp again out near the Bay.  Pretty cool sight on a beautiful day…

Speaking of nice days, it was really nice, just a TAD windy.  Story of this year, really.  It’s either beautiful and windy or just plain crap weather.  This day we dealt with a little wind, which was ok.  Just meant a bit more power and coming in a bit higher on short final.  All in all, it was a great day to fly, and an added bonus when you can do it with family and friends.

I should be going up with a buddy on Monday evening for a nice night flight out of Gaithersburg, MD.    It’s a flight we have been trying to get in for about two months now.  Again, either the weather doesn’t play along or our schedules won’t.  But Monday night is looking pretty good with light NW winds at 5-10 knots.  If you have time, check out his blog over at  Hope to have some good footage after that flight!

~ Brian

PS – There is no audio for the first part of the video.  I think *someone* had their hand over the mic (ahem, Kevin, cough!)

Posted by: Brian | February 20, 2011

Flight to Cambridge, MD

The weather hasn’t been to pilot-friendly as of late, so I was quick to take advantage of the break in high winds that hit the East Coast.  Just last night, 50-60 knot winds were pounding the area.  I filed my flight plan around 7am, and a buddy (Mike) met me at Freeway Airport this morning just before 8am.  I knocked out the pre-flight, filled up the plane and started the taxi.  I did my run-up and noticed that the map wasn’t showing the course line to Cambridge, MD.  I spent about five minutes trying to figure it out (in one year of training, I NEVER had that happen).  At that point, I hear Mike say, “so, did you stay in a Holiday Inn Express?”  I got a good laugh…at my expense.  For those of you that aren’t familiar with that line, it’s a Holiday Inn Express commercial…pretty funny.

Anyway, I got the map issue sorted and off we were.  The winds were sitting around 5-10 knots…not too bad.  We got up to 2000′ and exited the Paleo Gate VFR direct to Cambridge, MD (CGE), about a 20 minute flight.  Being that it was a nice morning, there were quite a few planes in the pattern at CGE.  We hopped in the pattern, did a couple of landings (to include one Touch and Go) and departed to Easton.  Being that I had to be back no later than 10am (a student needed the plane), we overflew Easton, headed back across the Chesapeake Bay, over Annapolis and into Freeway Airport.

All in all, I was able to get three crosswind landings.  Hopefully the weather is decent next weekend for a short flight before a business trip!

~ Brian

Hours logged (Day): 1.3

Total Hours: 72.9

Posted by: Brian | February 5, 2011

Up with family and friends

So this is a bit late, but better late than never.  A couple of weekends ago, I took a family friend, Amy and my cousin Tyler up.  He’s a Marine, but I can forgive him for that :).  The plan was to fly over to Easton, MD and have breakfast, but the weather wasn’t playing nice, so I took them over near the Chesapeake Bay to Deale, MD and showed them around.  Amy had her camera glued to her face and Tyler was attached to the “Oh sh*t” handles.  Ok, so maybe he only grabbed them once or twice :)

I was wanting to go fly this weekend, but between the weather and being sick, I’ll have to wait.  There’s always next weekend…

~ Brian

Hours: 0.9

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