Posted by: Brian | October 2, 2010

X-Country with a Diversion

Today was an excellent day to fly.  I was told to plan my flight from Freeway to Cape May, but was told that I wouldn’t make it there, and instead would divert to another airport.  Which one, I had no clue.  So, I planned my flight to and from Cape May.  We left Freeway, climbed to 5500′ once outside of the SFRA and proceeded to the Waterloo VOR (ATR).  About half way there, I was told that we were diverting to Georgetown (KGED), which was located southeast of where we were.

As it was my first diversion, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go.  I was told to go ahead and divert to Georgetown so the first thing I did was to get a rough idea of where to turn (Southeast in this case) and make the turn.  The worst thing to do is to keep flying in your original direction (afterall, there is probably a reason you are diverting, be it weather, medical emergency, aircraft emergency, someone reallllly has to go to the bathroom, whatever the case).  Once I made the turn to the SE, I entered the frequencies from the sectional into the radio (AWOS, Unicom).  Once I had that entered, I pulled out the A/FD to look up the runway information (which isn’t on the sectional).  You can get a rough idea of the runway numbers, but you can’t get the lengths, traffic pattern altitude, elevation, etc.  Once I had that, I listened to the weather in the area, then tuned into the Georgetown traffic.

It was an ok lesson overall.  Next weekend, I will head out to Easton with my instructor to get some crosswind landings in, followed by my X-Country progress check with another instructor.  Once I have that out of the way, I’ll do some SOLO X-Country flights.  After the solo’s, I’ll get some night flight, with night solo X-Country and then simply review before my final FAA checkride.  My instructor thinks I can be done with all of this by next month!  That’d be nice, but I’d be happy just to be done by the end of the year.

~ Brian

Hours logged: 2.0

Total hours:  46.0

Posted by: Brian | September 25, 2010

X-Country to Cape May, NJ

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve last been able to talk about my progress.  I did fly last weekend, as well as today so I’ll talk a little about both.

Last weekend, I ended up working soft field and short field takeoffs and landings.  Additionally, I reveiwed turning stalls and slow flight, with some hook work (fly by instruments).  I spent four hours at the airport in total, logging just over two full hours in the air.  We ended up taking a break after a solid hour of short/soft field takeoffs and landings.  Those were interesting.  It was really my first exposure to actually doing them (I had a short field takeoff demonstrated to me by another instructor during one of my progress checks).  I did have a bit of a rough time with them initially, but think I grasped them by the end.  I am sure that I’ll have a lot more time to practice them later.  During our break, I filed another flight plan for Deale, our training area, for the stalls and slow flight.  The type of stalls we did were a bit new to me; they were turning stalls (whereas before I’d just pitch straight up).  The turning stalls can be more dangerous if you aren’t alive on the rudder pedals.  They were rough at first, but slowly came together by the end.  On the way back to Freeway, I worked on instrument work (with the “foggles”).  To be exact, I’d place my head in my lap and my CFI would get me disoriented then tell me to ‘recover’ from whatever bank and pitch we were in.  Actions vary based on if it’s a climbing turn or descending turn.  It’s amazing how your body lies to you when you fly by instruments.  Unfortunately, JFK Jr’s body lied to him as he was flying in IFR conditions when his airplane went down.  Learning this skill is extremely important that I take very seriously.  I have heard many pilots exclaim that they do not focus on [basic] instrument lessons because they say that they’ll never find themselves in those conditions.  Weather can move quickly, though, and you just never know.

Today I was able to take my wife up with me as we flew to Cape May, NJ.  My day actually started last night with the flight planning.  I got up at 6am to get a weather briefing so that I could finish my planning for the 8am flight.  It was a great day to fly.  We got to the airport, did the pre-flight inspection and away we were.   The winds were light and out of the west.  It was a quick 40-45 minute flight to Cape May.  Our ground speed was about 130 Kts, however, due to some nice tailwind.  If we were to drive to Cape May (about 10 minutes from Atlantic City), it’d be about a 3+ hour drive.  The winds at Cape May were 13 Kts out of the southeast, with gusts up to 18 Kts.  We landed, and then taxi’ed back to the Runway 28 holdshort line.  Cape May was interesting – it used to be a Naval Air Station but currently doesn’t have a tower.  It seems like it should be big enough for a tower (both runways are 4998′ x 150′).  There was a beautiful Cirrus Jet, with an executive parking area with limousines waiting (not on me, unfortunately).  There is a cafe there with a good breakfast from what I understand, which I’d like to fly out for someday.  Once we got back into the air, we headed straight back to Freeway Airport, landed and parked it.

I think Laura had a good time.  I am really looking forward to the day I can take both Laura and my daughter up with me.  I fly again next weekend.  We are focusing on diversions for the next flight.  That means that I’ll plan for Cape May and be diverted in flight to another airport.  Where will he send me…?

~ Brian

Hours Logged: 44.0 hours

Posted by: Brian | August 29, 2010

Cross Country to Salisbury, MD (SBY)

It’s been a busy weekend for me flying-wise, which is a good thing.  I got up at 6am and turned on the Weather Channel just to get a quick snapshot of the weather for the area.  I then called Flight Services to get a weather briefing for my flight planning.  The weather was actually pretty good, minus some haze.  Calm winds, good visibility and no clouds.  Well, ok, there was this ONE cloud on the way back from Salisbury…right in our flight path.  Murphy, I guess.

I constructed my navigational log, figuring True Course, True Airspeed, Magnetic Variation, Magnetic Course, Ground speed, Magnetic Heading, etc.  I tell you, those logs become easier with every one I do.  The first one I did, I felt mildly retarded.  Every other night or so, I plan a route to somewhere I feel like going and then construct the log.  It comes much easier for me now.

I got in to the airport just before 8am EST, did my pre-flight on the airplane and went over my navigation log with my instructor.  It was pretty much on target with my numbers.  One thing I failed to do was write in the navigational aid (VOR) for the return from SBY.  Lesson learned.  The flight out was very smooth, just a bit hazy.  Landed with no issues, back-taxi’d and took back off for Freeway Airport.  It took about 38 minutes to get to SBY and about 45 back.

My next flight is to Cape May, NJ.  Looking forward to it!  I am flying to Seattle next weekend to attend my sisters wedding, but will try to get that Cape May flight in prior to.  If not, I won’t be able to do it until after the 12th of September. 

~ Brian

* Note: I set the camera for this video to show out of the right side of the plane.  Just a little different view…

Hours logged: 2.0

Total Hours: 39.0

Posted by: Brian | August 28, 2010

Local Solo and First Towered Airport

I am moving right along in my training.  On Friday, the weather finally cooperated with me and allowed for a local solo flight to my training area of Deale, MD.  It was uneventful, which is what you strive for when flying.  But beautiful at the same time.

This morning, I trained at my first towered airport, which was interesting.  A lot more structure than the uncontrolled airspace that I am accustomed to.  I learned a ton.  At this point in the training, it’s invaluable to have this video footage to be able to review.  We flew out to Easton, MD, which was about a 20 minute flight over the Chesapeake Bay, near St. Michaels, MD.  We did two touch & go’s and headed back to Freeway Airport.  Had a great time. 

This was from a local solo to my training area.


I have a cross country flight tomorrow to Salisbury, MD, which is about an hour each way.  Moving closer to being done with every flight!

~ Brian

Hours logged: 1.3

Total hours: 37.0

Posted by: Brian | August 21, 2010

Third Day of Soloing

Well, I’ve solo’d twice more since my initial solo on the 8th of August.  Due to some business travel, I was out of the loop for about two weeks, but felt at ease on Friday afternoon when I got back into the swing of things.  I had a dual flight then solo yesterday, which took me out to Deale, MD with my instructor.  In a nutshell, we flew out, did a few turns then I flew us back.  He wanted to ensure that I was able to find my way out there and my way back alone without prompt.  I did an alright job.  I forgot to switch my radios from Freeway’s frequency to Potomac’s at 1000′, but was quickly reminded and didn’t make the same mistake this morning. 

We flew back to Freeway Airport, did a landing or two with my instructor then three on my own.  Today’s flight was much of the same.  It was a very calm flight, which was nice.  Although, I’d like to get a little more wind in there to practice some more X-wind landings.

Tomorrow, I’ll be heading back up in the morning for my first solo flight out to Deale (our training area), weather dependent, of course.  If the weather isn’t cooperating for a solo out to Deale, we will do a dual flight to Easton Airport, then if the weather is better after that, I’ll knock out my solo to Deale. 

I feel it is really starting to come together for me now.  After some tower operations, I’ll have a two-hour ground session, followed by a couple of dual X-country sessions, a couple of solo X-countries and then into night operations.  It’s always been fun, but is beginning to become a lot more fun!

Hours logged: 1.4

Total hours: 34.9

Posted by: Brian | August 8, 2010

Finally Solo’d!

Seven months after initially starting my training back on December 31st I was finally able to solo!  And I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to do so.  Clear skies and little to no wind.  Perfect. 

I did my usual pre-flight inspection and away we went.  My instructor said that today’s goal was to do a few with him in the cockpit and if all went well, he’d step out.  As we were taxiing for my first takeoff, I noticed a flock of geese on the runway.  Great.  Was this a sign of how today was going to go?  We just had to keep an eye on them during our landings.  As I called my intentions to take off, the flock walked off of the runway and flew off.  My instructor pointed out that the geese didn’t call out their departure.  Fail.

We climbed out on Runway 18 to 700′, turned crosswind and leveled out at 1000′.  As it was a bit cooler (cool is a relative term – let’s just say it was cooler than it has been), the plane climbed out a lot better than it has been over the past couple of months or so.  I turned downwind and powered back.  It was a nice smooth flight.  Of course, my instructor told me not to talk too soon about it not being bumpy.  But it was nice.  I turned base and then final.  I ended up a bit lower than I wanted on my first try, so I threw in some additional power to ensure we cleared US Route 50.  Not a good thing to hit passing trucks.  The landing was very good in my opinion…much better than they had been.  One of my issues Id been having (which I think that I may have stated in a previous post) is that I was flaring too soon.  He always told me to think about a slide.  Find my aiming point, then when I get to within 10-15 feet of the runway, level out.  I’d been flaring like I was in a jet.  Doing that in a Cessna 172 at such low speeds increases the chance of a stall.  And stalling at 50′ off of the ground is a bad idea.  All six landings this morning was great!  I did three landings with my instructor, before he got out.

I pulled up to one of the paved taxiways.  He signed my logbook which endorsed me to fly solo, shook my hand, congratulated me, told me to “go around” if necessary and exited the plane.  My initial reaction was somewhat nervous, anxious, yet excited.  I then switched to the mentality of “prepared”.  I was prepared to do this.  To that point, I’d had 91 landings with my instructor.  I knew what to do, there was no question about it.  I also knew that they plane would be lighter now, so that meant that I’d takeoff sooner, fly faster, and not come back down as easily.  I had to ensure that I was ‘by the book’ while in the air alone.  I believe that I was. 

I called my departure and off I was.  Textbook takeoff and pattern work.  On my final turn, I caught the glide slope, but had to power up a little at the end because I felt low after losing the glide slope.  I crossed US Route 50, got to ground effect and leveled out.  It was a smooth landing.  As I pulled off of the runway, my instructor informed me that it was good as well, but that I needed to power back just a tad sooner.  I went around two more times, each with good landings.

I parked after my third landing and got my picture taken with the plane (400GE).  Then, my CFI proceeded with the customary cutting of the shirt tail.  They cut out a rectangle from the back of your t-shirt, draw a plane with the tail number, names and date and then hang it up, along with the picture taken.  Once I complete my training, I get to take the shirt tail with me.

It was a day I’ll definitely always remember.  Now that I have this behind me, I’ll start my cross-country work soon.  I am looking forward to it!

~ Brian

Hours logged: 1.0

Total Hours: 32.7

Posted by: Brian | July 24, 2010

Lazy Saturday…

Thanks to a friend, I was able to take my brother up today.  We flew out of the Maryland Airport (2W5), over to Quantico, tinkered around southeast of 2W5 and back to the airport.  Pretty nice afternoon.

I have a flight lesson tomorrow, pending the weather.  It’s due to rain during my session, so we’ll see.  Still hoping to solo anytime now!

~ Brian

Posted by: Brian | July 15, 2010

Flying to NC (EDE) on Saturday…

I have been up a few times since my last posting.  I am still working on trying to solo, but canceled sessions don’t help any.  The weather hasn’t been that great in this area of the past week.  My next lesson is scheduled for tomorrow evening, so I am hoping I can do well enough to kick my instructor out of the cockpit.  Of course, I am saying that now.  Come time for him to exit, I may ask him to stay. 🙂  Nah, I’ll be alright…

I am flying to North Carolina on Saturday with a co-worker of mine who owns his own plane.  We are flying out to pick up some rescued dogs and bring them back to the DC area.  We are flying out of Indian Head (2W5) and into Edenton, NC (EDE).  I hope to get some good video to post of that flight.

~ Brian

Hours: I don’t have my log book in front of me, but I’m sitting between 28-29 hours.

Posted by: Brian | July 1, 2010

More Crosswind Landings…

Not too much to write about after my last lesson. Again, most of my problems are in the “Crosswind Landings” category for $1000, Trebek. Make it a Daily Double. I’d say that 98%+ of the pattern is on target; it’s that last 2% I’m having issues with. I get the plane on the ground, it’s just not ‘by the book’ when it comes to landing with wind. I just add the rudder/aileron input too late. Again, that is pretty much my only hang up. If anyone out there has any advice, I’m all ears!

My next lesson isn’t until next week (Tuesday evening), bc my family and I are heading to GA for my brothers Army Basic graduation. Should be fun and will give me some time to think about those wretched crosswind landings…

~ Brian

Hours logged: 1.2

Total Hours: 26.0

Posted by: Brian | June 29, 2010

Up and Down and Up and Down and…

Since I am focusing on nothing but soloing now, I file my flight plan for the pattern at Freeway Airport and that is where we stay.  We literally just takeoff, come back around and land.  I got seven landings in on my last flight.  Six two days ago.  It’s all about repetition as far as what to do on takeoff and flying the pattern.  But, as my instructor tells me all of the time, no two landings are alike.  Winds shift constantly.  Things happen with the airplane.  The point is, I have to be on my ‘feet’ and able to react when something isn’t right.

For the most part, it’s going well.  It has been going a lot better as of late.  Im a lot more awake on the rudder pedals, as I should be.  Not 100% where I need to be, but a marked improvement.  I knew from Day 1 it’d be an issue.  I’m just saying, I have never had to use rudder pedals for my Microsoft Flight Simulators (although they do have them)!  Another issue I have been having is letting the nose up during my base and final turns.  Big no-no, since I am at such slow speeds.  Stalls at a couple of hundred feet off of the ground is a bad thing.  Also, when too low, I need to be quicker on the throttle.  I keep ‘babying’ it, as my instructor says.  Can’t afford to do that. 

The crosswind landings give me the most trouble.  Been doing a little better as of late, though.  For a right crosswind landing, I am supposed to dip the aileron into the wind a bit and enough rudder to keep centerline.  I am doing it now, just a little too late in the landing.  I have been letting the wind throw me around more than I should be.  My last flight was interesting.  Flight Services informed me of an Airmet “T”, for moderate turbulence.  My first couple of takeoffs were fine.  A little bumpy, but fine.  However, about 4 or 5 landings into the lesson, the turbulence started to pick up a lot more.  So much so, in fact, that most instructors started cancelling later sessions with students.  I don’t mind that type of weather; I just look at it as good training.  I’d rather have it this way versus nothing but calm flight conditions, then have something happen when an instructor isn’t present.

It’s coming along.  I will be soloing anytime now, according to my instructor.  We’ll go up, have a few good takeoffs and landings, then he’ll just get out and send me about my way.  I mentally put myself, alone, in the cockpit, taxiing down the runway.  I still dont know how I’ll react.  Laugh, probably.  He doesn’t want to tell me when it will be due to anxiety reasons.  I guess some people handle stress differently.  They also do not want any family members or friends present, for the same reasons.  Too much pressure to “do good”.  I see that side of it.  Either way, I’ll have my camera, so whenever it happens, it happens.  This is something I am OK not rushing…

~ Brian

Total Hours: 24.8

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