Friday, April 20, 2012


As many of you may have read my past post on what a terrible flight I had you know that I was pretty bummed.

April 18th, 2012

The weather today was absolutely fantastic.  I couldn't have asked God for a better day if I tried!  The temperature didn't rise or fall that much and the winds stayed from calm to 5knots.

Mike briefed our lesson and we went right to it.  We'd be working on my pattern, speed and altitude.  So pretty much every thing to fly around the airport.  We started up and I called the tower to taxi and we made our way out to Runway 4.  By the time we got to runway 4 the time was 7:30pm and the tower announced that it was closing for the evening.  So that was one less thing I had to deal with. We did our run up checks, checked final approach and announced that we were departing on runway 4.  I was really working hard to make sure that A) I made the proper turns for the traffic pattern and B) that I was maintaining about 100knots when I was at 1700 feet.

Now one thing I have noticed when I have been turning the base leg of the pattern I haven't been letting the plane descend very much if any at all.  This led to a too high of an approach and a wide variety of speeds and touch down points.

But this time around I let the nose dip and the altitude decrease while maintaining a specific speed.  I crossed the runway threshold at 60 knots, right where I should be, started bringing the nose up a little letting the plane start to settle down on its own.  More nose up more nose up, just a few feet off the ground the stall warning horn goes off and starts buzzing in our ears, then touch down smooth as silk.   A couple more times around the pattern doing the same thing.  Then Mike takes control when we're on the ground and say's we're going to make it a full stop landing.  And we taxied over to the ramp.

Now Mike and I knew that I was ready to fly solo but I needed to prove that what happened last time was what happened last week and wasn't what was going to happen this time.  We pulled up to the terminal and he asked "Are you ready to do this on your own"?  There was only one answer "Hell yes I am".  "Ok taxi out do two touch and goes and one full stop and taxi back here", "Can do".  Mike got out and walked to the terminal where there was a radio that he could talk to me if need be, but there would be no need for that though.

I'm here alone in the plane and it's a very weird feeling to not have some one next to me.  I'm call out my taxi intentions and start back for runway 4.  I check final announce my take off and make my way on to the runway...alone.  I can but at the same time can't believe this is finally happening.  Power in all the way,  rotate at 55knots and I'm off the ground!  I call my turns keeping 100 knots and 1700 feet.  Same as before I let the plane descend turning base and line up for a good looking final approach.  Over the threshold I'm right at 60 knots I bring the nose up little by little letting the plane continue to settle down to the runway all on its own.  The closer I get the more I pull.  The stall warning horn goes off and I'm almost to the ground.  Touch down is pretty smooth.  I let the nose gear settle to the runway on it's own and I push the carburetor heat to off and put the flaps up to 0.  Full throttle and I'm off again!

Three times around the pattern and I'm done with my first solo!!!!!!!!!!!  I am ecstatic to say the least!  I'm nothing but smiles!!!!  Cloud nine the whole time!!!  Mike says it's all down hill from here but I'm just so excited to have done my solo!

13.9 hours in and a life time to learn!
*First Solo* in the log book

Mike and I in front of N738HD after my first Solo

Me in front of N738HD after my solo

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not a set back, just not good flying.

So I think I've been doing really well up til now, but my flight the other day was pretty bad I thought.

April 13th.

So we took off at 3:30pm and started flying around the pattern.  The previous flight prior to this one Mike wanted me to start flying faster around the pattern so that I would A) Not be a clog in the pattern forcing others to fly slower and B) be able to fly around the pattern faster.  So like he wanted, I sped up, and speed up I did.  I went from flying around 90 to 95 knots to flying around 110 to 120 knots.  Now for around the pattern 120 is....too fast.

With these new speeds It got some getting used to for prepping for landing.  So needless to say....I SUCKED!  Hardcore epically bad flying at that.  At least that's how I felt about it.  It was one of those flights where I wanted to land shut down and get out of the plane and figure out what the hell I was doing.  Mike actually assured me that I was doing well, but I was fouling up my landings with being too high and too fast.  Which when I flared at the correct height did all sorts of terrible things to my landing.  I would flare and then rise up so when I stalled before touch down I would end up being too high and make a harder landing than anticipated.

With 7 landings in for the lesson I know I'm not soloing today.  I'm not to bummed about that, I'm bummed about the terrible flying I think I'm doing.  Granted I'm my toughest critic, but none the less it's not good.  So for the last 3 or so I decided that I'm going to fly slower at the pace I'm used to, just to make some semblance that I am a good pilot.  The last few landings were better, not great but better.

Time to think this through.

12.x hours in a life time to learn.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pre Solo written mean now?

This isn't an FAA thing, it's just an FBO thing.

Wednesday March 4th, 2012.  (Weather Skies clear, 66*F, Winds were 040@12knots gusting to 16-17knots)

Our flight was scheduled for 3:30pm but since I hadn't heard from mike I figured it would be more like 4:00pm by the time we got going.  So I got the keys to the plane and went out and did a very through pre-flight inspection since the previous flight I found the frayed cable on the other plane.  Not that I wasn't doing a very detailed look before, but finding that cable really made the pre-flight that much more important to me than before.  These are planes that are maintained by an FBO for the reason of renting them to pilots to take out and fly.  So of course they're inspected every 100hours and well maintained.  But that really doesn't change what I found.

Once Mike told me he was almost there I let him know I would be out at the plane going over things.  Mike walked out to the plane with no headset, which didn't surprise me since we were, as I thought, going to review for the pre-solo written test.  We walked in and said he was going to grab some stuff off the printer and he'd be back in a second or two.  So I sat down at the table and waited for 30 seconds or so before he showed back up.  Very nonchalantly he tossed me the test and said, ok go ahead and answer as many questions you can if you're stumped let me know and we'll review the question.

I guess he thought I was ready for the test.

Here I am sitting down looking at this two page test thinking...A) I thought we were going to review this material before the test at some point B) Wait...some of these I know we've never covered.

But I get out my pen and answer the first question, the second and so on.  There are a few questions I could answer only because of another book I've been studying out side of our flight time together.  I make it through the test and give it back to Mike, whom I'm thinking is going to start saying..."close but not quite" or "it's 1,000 not 2,000".  Except he starts mumbling all my answers as he's going over saying "that's right", "yup", "correct"....Are you kidding me, I answered almost all of the questions correctly, you mean I PASSED?!  Holy Crap I wasn't ready for that, or so I thought.  As it turns out Mike knew I was ready for it.

Then...we went flying!  The runway at Bolton field runs from 220 degrees Southwest one way and 40 degrees Northeast the other way.  And since the wind was blowing right down runway 4 it made for a very short take off.   So we flew out to the training area just South of London and started out the flight with basically the entire private pilot check ride. Which is what I have to do with an FAA official in order to obtain my Private Pilot Certificate.  After that Mike wanted to introduce me to cross wind landings and he knew just the place.  Madison County Airport.  Just a short five minute flight from Bolton field.  Madison's runway runs pretty much East/West.  And with wind coming from the North East it made for one wild ride!  I made the first attempt at it, but Mike took over when he knew I was having too much difficultly, and the other I did with a little help from Mike.  He said "not to bad for your first real cross wind attempt".  So that made me feel pretty good about it.

We flew back to Bolton field and I landed, taxied and parked the plane.  After we got out and he entered the flight info into my log book, again we talked about when I'd solo.  We set up some a couple more times that we could fly, and we scheduled them for later in the day so that we might not have as strong of winds if any at all.  My next lesson should be my solo, since Wednesday was too windy.  I can't believe how far I've come since we started!

11.6 hours in and a life time to learn!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Way too long.

It has been way too long between these flight!

April 2nd, 2012 almost three weeks since my last flight!  Oh but what a story! 

We had scheduled the flight for 3:30pm  today, as Mike was supposed to be back around 2:45 or 3:00pm.  We talked later on and he said he'd be ready by around 5pm but no later.  Which was alright, I'm not doing any thing any way.  So today he's texting me saying he'll be there by 5:15 but no later than 5:30.  Still I'm alright with this.  I told him not to worry because I'm just hanging out at the airport getting ready for our flight.  Around 6pm I'm starting to think that his day has gone a little longer than even he anticipated.

I'm walking around the plane, N1694E, doing my pre-flight inspection and I'm looking in all the little nooks and crannies.  Most of these are dark and can hide just about any thing, which is why I always have my flashlight ready.  This proved life saving today! I had just looked at all the bolts holding the flap on its track shoes and noticed something out of the ordinary in the cavity where the flap push rod extends out of.  At first I thought it was a piece of grass, or some thing like that, and I almost dismissed it.  But I raised my hand to pull it out and it was stuck pretty good, although I didn't really pull that hard.  So I tugged a little harder and found that it was not going to move.  So I shined my flash light in the hole and wouldn't you know it a busted cable!  This particular cable extends from the yoke all the way to the right aileron.  Now in this picture I've pulled the broken part of the cable out so you can see it, but as you can see it's not that visible in the cavity.  I called the mechanic who was leaving for the day to come over and look it over, and as we were talking I was wondering how many people have flown this plane with the cable like this and never caught it.  Then I thought, "have I ever flown this plane with the cable like the?"  It's a good thing that I did catch this.  According to the FAA you must replace any cable that has any frayed strands in the cable (14CFR43.13 Ch7 Par 149(a)(b)).  Needless to say I didn't fly that airplane.

But I did get introduced to a fourth airplane, N738HD.  All the planes I've flown so far are Cessna 172s.

By the time I've got everything sorted with the new plane and pre-flighted it the time was around 6:10 or so.  I haven't heard from Mike for a couple hours now, and I'm not worrying, but I am starting to wonder if we'll be able to fly at all today.  At   I get a txt from him saying he just landed and he's on his way.

Around 7pm Mike shows up to the airport and extremely apologetic of how late he is, but i assure him there's no need to worry.  As it turns out he's just spent 7.5 hours flying out to West Virginia and up North from there and back West to Columbus.  He had been flying around a aerial photography company around taking pictures of what ever and missions kept getting added onto his list so his time kept growing.

I did all parts of the flight this time, with help from Mike of course.  But I got taxi clearance and we made our way out to runway 4.  After we did our run up checks and were ready to take off I called the tower and let them know we were ready for out departure.  The tower abruptly asked which way I wanted to go in the pattern.  At first we decided that we would do a right hand pattern because we haven't really done that before.  So we told him and our response back was..."Bolton Field Traffic tower services are now terminated.....adtl info.....".  Well I guess this means we're doing a left hand traffic pattern now doesn't it?  Mike laughed and said yes, so we announced our intentions to the rest of the traffic around the field(of which there was none). 

All in all we made it a short night with only 6 almost perfect landings.  Now it would have been 7, but it wasn't because it was getting dark that I didn't do one.  As I was on final approach for runway 4 and I was around 100' off the ground I noticed this brown thing running across the grass headed right for the runway.   It was a DOG!  Here's a dog on the airport property running right for the runway, how crazy is this? So I watched it for a couple of seconds thinking well maybe it will turn and run away...but it didn't.  I made the call for a go around and put full power in, raised the flaps and turned the carburetor heat off and proceeded to fly down the runway and climb back to pattern altitude.  Mike was very happy with my performance tonight, and said after I take my written test I'll be ready to solo!

10.2 hours in and a life time to learn!