May 07, 2022
I took ten years to get my pilot's license. From March 17, 2010 to December 30, 2020. It was amazing. I now find myself a year and a half later from achieving my goal and I don't find myself interested enough right now to go flying. There's a gas crisis, there's a pandemic, there's a lot of political things going on, a war in Ukraine, that it kind of feels bad wasting hundreds of dollars just going sight seeing.
I just completed a ground school course for my Instrument Rating -- I still need to take the written test part. With that out of the way I can start actually flying with an instructor to get my instrument rating. One of the planes the club that I am a part of has is a Mooney M20J. This requires 250 hours of flight time, or 100 hours and an instrument rating. I'm at that annoying 145 hour mark that dissuades me from wasting 100 hours just to fly that plane, and wanting to get my instrument rating.
I left my previous job last December so I didn't have the excess money to fly for a month while job hunting, and well, habit becomes habit... I haven't flown since October! I'm definitely in a better place now, with a much nicer job and salary though. I'm hoping to maybe pick it back up again this fall. I wasn't pleased AT ALL (those who follow me on twitter will probably know this, online class is not the environment for me) with the ground school over Zoom, so I want to redo this by watching the Sporty's ground school. I need to put aside some time over the next coming weeks to actually sit down and watch it. Hopefully I can start flying with an instructor soon. I'm not looking forward to taking the written test, as I have to go visit a testing center at RDU airport - so there is that kind of delaying me too.
Oct 17, 2021
Mom and I hugging in front of the right wing of N43337
It's my brother's wedding weekend and he asked me to take him and his new father-in-law flying. On October 16th I get to the airport, very well knowing that it's still too foggy for my 8am-10am flight that I was about to cancel in person. I still went in, because I haven't seen Beth in almost a year and wanted to say hi. We caught up, talked about how I've been going to Monadnock Aviation since I was in college - after my first flight on March 17, 2010! I called Levi and told him that we weren't flying, so he should just go finish getting ready for his wedding at 11:30.
The next day I had booked for my mother to go up the first time with me. We get to the airport at 9:55 and the FBO is locked up, Uhhhh. I email/text some people and no one knows how to get a hold of the desk attendant. We had apparently JUST missed David, one of the CFIs, who was getting into N44836 with a student I presume. So we waited a bit and it seems he was called away to do some fueling with the fuel truck. No fault of his at all, Sundays can get a little rough with only one person being at the FBOs desk.
We finally grab the book and keys and I go out and preflight. I'm in N43337 today, my favorite plane. I'm even wearing my "WARRIOR 337" shirt I got for soloing, for good luck! Preflight was easy as usual, once you've done it a hundred times in the same plane, you know what you're looking for from the checklists.
I waved to mom and Lauren to come over and we got in, I showed mom and Lauren how to set up the headphones and get into the back seat. Following a safety briefing we were off!
We taxied over from the Northwest ramp (The FBO area) to the East ramp and I did my run up there, the winds were 340° at 7kts gusting to 17, so the other planes were using runway 32. Waited around a bit for a radio check, the PTT button was sticky and no one was replying to my ask for radio checks, even though there were a few planes around, oh well.
We took off on runway 32 after waiting in line (it was busy today, wow!) and I did a lap around the pattern. It was not clean, I haven't flown in just over two months, and we had the added weight of a back passenger, so I was a little nervous the first pattern loop. But I will always do one pattern loop with a new passenger - just to give them a chance to bail out!
I'm not fond of runway 32, it has a high hill over Marcy Hill in Swanzey, NH and it always throws me off (probably because I have like 300 landings on runway 02 and maybe 15 on runway 32). The landing was fine, Lauren was taking pictures from the back and my mom said it was "wicked smooth, and you barely even felt the tires hit, I thought it was great, especially with the wind and everything" which as a first time passenger in a "oh my god I didn't know it was quite this small" airplane, I feel good about!
We then taxied back to 32, and took off again, this time it was a west departure out to Spofford Lake and over my mom's house in Chesterfield. I probably should have headed to Brattleboro first after Spofford. Had I done this, we would have been in position to fly Brattleboro, VT north to Putney, VT west of the Connecticut River and my mom would have gotten a MUCH nicer view of her house. Instead we flew over the lake and through a little valley over Westmoreland and went south along the river.
At one point I saw a dark cloud above and said "Okay we're about to go under a dark cloud, I'll try to avoid it but it might get turbulent", so mom and Lauren would know to hold on and probably 10 seconds later the plane went "woomp" down a bit because of turbulence - so they were prepared. After that small cloud we found a tiny patch of clean air and I turned to the right a little bit above Exit 3 and headed north again towards moms house, staying a little bit west of the river. I paralleled I91 again for a minute or two and then we got in line that I could fly close enough to mom's house that she could see it.
After that fun bit we headed back, directly over Spofford Lake for some more sights, and onward to KEEN.
We flew over Yale Forest, and I saw a cool cliff face I had never seen before - as we were entering RWY32 on a 45° entry. Entered the pattern and found myself VERY high (900msl at at 488msl airport) on final, on a 4000' runway with a displaced threshold so I executed a go around there. I probably could have made it, but with the wind and avoiding Marcy Hill, I figure it's always safe to Go Around.
The next loop I had my sight pictures again at runway 32 and we landed, rolled out to Taxiway Sierra and parked the plane!
Mom said it was fun!
Back of my head while turning a bit
Cloudy and Sunny View off the right wing. Monadnock in the distance.
Turning over route 9 near Home Depot and Hannaford
Cockpit view, a mile out from runway 32/14 with the runway in sight.
Cockpit view, a 1/4 mile from runway 32/14 with the runway in sight.
Looking off the left wing at mount Monadnock.
Just pretty sky views, out the right window above the right wing at the sun and clouds.
Three degree turn above moms house.
Aug 08, 2021
The other day there was a call to action on the Wings of Carolina slack. "Is anyone able to help this pilot get one of our planes back?" Seems this newly licensed pilot, (Congrats!) passed his check ride on Friday and the weather was not great so had to leave N69012 at Asheboro. I said I would be glad to help out if the IFR weather cleared by 9am, I could give him a ride over in N8080A.
I booked a 9am-12pm block, and got to the airport at 8:55am. Grabbed the 80A book book and went to the lounge to check weather. Luckily the fog had burned off and the skies were clear! The pilot met me in the lounge, I wrapped up the weather briefing (nothing of note) and we went out to preflight. The left red nav light was out, but that's only required at night, confirmed by asking the other pilot. The fuel truck came and filled us up to the tabs (34 gallons) and we were off.
My flight plans were from KTTA -> KHBI (drop off pilot) -> KEXX then back to KTTA. Just under a 2 hour round trip, which took a bit longer because when we got to the hold short line for RWY03, I realized my iPad wasn't connected to the GPS, so we fiddled with it for a few (no one was behind us, but oof Hobbs running) and couldn't get it working. That's fine, we had our GPS and the pilot knew what KHBI looked like form the air. We took off, departed the pattern to the north, got to a little bit higher then turned west.
The pilot was super helpful, having a copilot be able to put in the radios for Siler City as we passed, and the AWOS/CTAFs in for KHBI was actually a really big load off my plate. It's the little things! Flew at about 3000ft over to KHBI because It was only a 20 minute flight so I stayed low. We get to the airport and he lets me know that RWY24 has a papi, so we chose that runway to land on. Land pretty okay, didn't grease it, but it is what it is. Taxi over and get him to his plane. I shut down so he can get out safely, then realize after he got out, I CAN'T OPEN THE DOOR. I had to yell him over to make sure I could open the door again, the bottom latch was stuck! I recorded a video, then instagrammed a fellow pilot who is famous in his circles for getting stuck in his plane and having to call someone down in the area who landed and helped him out. Told him he's not alone, hah.
Anyway, I was able to open the door so I felt like it was okay if I crashed and had to open the door myself. I turn the plane back on, plug in my Stratux for ADSB on iPad, and get ready to take off. I taxi over to the runway (took 24 again out) and hold short for a taildragger and another plane to land. I then take off and woahh there were like 80 birds at the end of the runway at like 300ft up. Luckily I was able to scare them and flew above them, then departed to the right (west) and headed to KEXX. Luckily thr CTAF is the same for both (122.8) so I was able to hear the traffic without fiddling with the radio. I set the AWOS beforehand, so I checked that when I was close, and still winds calm, not bad.
Got 10 miles, out, announced position, 5 miles out, announced I was entering the downwind at a 45. I was on the down when a pilot to my right asked if I was on base, kind of weirded out because I wasn't so I was vigilant and said I was on downwind (again…). Then called base, and final and landed. Final was neat at Davidson county, had to fly over a factory, which was kind of cool.
Landed, taxied back to the runway and lined up and waited again. The taildragger had followed me! Saw him land as I was at the hold short line. Waited for a jet to land and then off I went! I climbed out, departed to the east, and climbed up to 5500msl. Held 5500 very well this trip, the air was super calm and I'm getting better at electric trim, much easier than just wheel trim.
At one point I turn the auto pilot on, with it set to 109° and 5500msl, but for some reason it made me descend and banked me left 45° and I wasn't liking that so I disengaged it. I climbed up back to 5500' for the rest of my trip. By the time I was back to KTTA, the winds still favored RWY03, so I joined the pattern on a 45° entry, and landed smoothly. At around 3000msl descending near Ashbury it was a bit bumpy, but that's the only turbulence I experienced. Such a nice morning.
Well I get back to the airport and land and shut down… I'm stuck again! Door won't open. There was no one around I could yell to, so I called the front desk, no answer. I tried again, using different pressures and trying to see if there was like a little latch that didn't hook. I fiddled for a few minutes and was able to get out, I guess I got it just right.
I then cover the plane, and squawk the door not opening, and posted the video on slack. The next pilot replied to my slack post later that evening that he had no problems. Maybe I'm just door cursed.
Lauren and I then went to lunch before my next flight where I was taking her up in a Cessna 152 (N89333). Well we do the preflight dance, go taxi and take off. At like 300' above the runway, the damn pilot side door opens up! It's fine but I don't want to worry my wife, on her second flight with me ever, so I have her hold the door closed while I go finish the pattern loop (I was doing that anyway). Well MORE fun happened the pilots PTT(push to talk) button got stuck off, so I had to use her microphone to talk, (I could have just switched the plugs, but we were in the base turn). I kind of overshot base so had to over correct a little bit, but we landed okay, taxied back and agreed we were discontinuing our flight. We could have gone back up and carried on - we had the allotted time - but you know what? The rest of the flight wasn't in the cards.
Video of me trapped in The Warrior - https://youtu.be/0uAL30nCuYE.
A look at the ground behind the left wing
Looking at a runway in the distance, not sure which one now.
Looking in front of the left wing, at a highway, the sky is hazy
Hazy sky with a runway a couple miles away.
Aug 04, 2021
Today I got checked out in a Cessna 152. It was really my first time (besides spin training) flying high wing planes and I was a little nervous. We had a pretty standard pre-flight check, took a lot longer than just a "I'm out here to go on a flight", again because Luke was explaining things to me. There's a lot of differences like with the warrior, all the flaps are on hinges, but in the Cessna, there's one pulley hinge and some rollers you need to check, not just actuation hinges. Pointed out how the landing gear is different, there's plastic fairings that we need to repair quite frequently, and there are no dampeners.
After the pre-flight we took off, Vr is pretty low, at 50 so the plane just wanted to float almost immediately in my opinion. It was also a cooler day outside than my most recent few flights, so that helped too. We took off, headed north to the practice area. I get up to 3000' msl and we level off, trim for cruise flight and lean the engine. This plane also has a vernier mixture control, so it's nice to be able to dial in the mixture, even if there's no on screen display of the gallons per hour like the M20J. There were some clouds at 4000' I think, but they were tiny, and we figured we didn't need to go above them, so we stuck at the 3000' level.
This is where Luke says to just take the plane and do tiny things with it, like turn it uncoordinated, see how much rudder I'd need to do a turn. So I did that for a bit, did a standard rate turn to the left, and we switched to some 30° turns, leveled off then did two 45° turns, back to back. I hit my prop wash at the end of the second one, that always feels great. The first few turns were gross, this plane has old cables for the ailerons, so there's a lot of play when turning, so it took a few tries to be able to maintain altitude and find that comfortable dead spot with cable tension. The last plane (M20J) I flew, everything was much stiffer for turning.
After the few turns, he said "oh no, there goes your engine" and throttled to idle. I looked around for a place to land, and didn't see one immediately. One thing I could have done better is look out the back window, because the 152 actually has one! Well I found a spot to "crash land" so I brought the plane to Vglide (60) and slowly descended towards the place to land. I guess in my "everything is okay" did the A B part of the emergency checklist, but I didn't do ABCDE, so we did it again. This time I:
- A- pitched for best airspeed (60kts)
- B- found the best place to land
- C - Checklist, pretended to check fuel, master, key, primer, etc.
- D - pretended to switch to 121.5mHz and declare an emergency
- E- executed the landing, and prepared to exit (opened the door, turn off mixture, etc so the plane doesn't blow up and I can get out)
and found a cute little field to land in. That was successful so we headed back towards the airport.
At the airport everything was standard traffic pattern. There were three of us in the pattern, one tail dragger that was always just behind us, really friendly guy who liked chatting on frequency, and one low wing - maybe a warrior? - I can't remember. Well I did six landings. One normal landing, three short field (the last one I did great, landed on numbers and was done before A2 taxiway entrance) and then a few more normal.
Luke said that I was death gripping the yoke, so he did one lap around the airport - where he trimmed and only used his two fingers lightly to move the yoke. Watching him do that, I copied and did a lap around the pattern the same, much easier this time.
We then landed, taxied back and went to park. Parking is WILD, you sit on the tail and then back then walk backwards to get the plane in place. I guess when your plane's max ramp weight is 1675lbs, that's easy to do! Three times as much as my motorcycle… After we chatted, he said he feels safe with me flying it, and I agreed. "I feel safe, but not super comfortable, but that only comes with time so I feel safe to take it up and get more comfortable".
I then had to fill out the quiz, and scanned it, then emailed it to him.
Picture of me in the cockpit being a weirdo with a big smirky mouth
The cockpit of a Cessna 152, yokes, gauges, etc. Outside you can see other planes on the ramp.
Just a 3d diagram of the flight, not sure what I was focusing on here.
Just a 3d diagram of the flight, not sure what I was focusing on here.