Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope you and your families are having a wonderful holiday season. Gina and I have been enjoying a good, if hectic, month and are thankful for finally having a few days to settle down with our own family. Here's to a great Christmas and New Year for all of you.

And now, a little aviation-themed holiday tale...
T'was the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tie downs with care,
In hopes that -- come morning -- they all would be there.

The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick."
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
The better to welcome this magical flight.

He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?

While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their heads,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."

He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard, "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh,
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho-ho..."

He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost,
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.

He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"

And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"

He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."

- Author Unknown
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Crossing the quarter-century mark in fitting fashion

Plane: Cub, 65 hp 
Route: 40I, Local 
Weather: Clear, 48 degrees, wind 190 degrees at 6 knots

I really had no plans to fly today. Not that one ever needs to have planned to fly in advance! But the great weather and unfortunate, absolutely horrible news dominating every website and television program made for an easy decision to drive down to Stewart after work. There's nothing like a little time behind the stick in a J-3 to clear one's head.

I don't care how many times I take a version of this photo - it never gets old

Knowing the 250-hour mark was close, I had originally planned to cross it on a flight somewhere (probably a $100 hamburger/pancake run) with Gina. That obviously didn't occur today. Still, the end result was even more fitting in a way. My first flight - at Stewart, at least - was in a Cub just over 4 1/2 years ago. So it was nice to be up in the pattern, flying solo in a J-3, when I crossed that symbolic quarter-century mark.

There wasn't much time, so a few laps were all I squeezed in

I made four trips around the pattern and finished the first three with a mostly-normal landing. I came in slightly high and hot and landed too far down the runway but the touchdowns themselves were all extremely smooth. Perhaps the luxury of 3,000 feet of grass combined with a Cub made for a lax performance in that aspect. Regardless, I landed intentionally long on the fourth and final trip, touching down about halfway down the runway and rolling to a stop right in front of the hangar. I pushed the yellow bird back inside myself and wandered back down towards the office.

Mind cleared.

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 0.5 hours
Total Time: 250.3 hours

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Experience the 787 in 360 interactive degrees - in flight!

Boeing has put together a very cool interactive experience on their website. We've all seen neat 360-degree panoramas of cockpits before, but this one-ups everything out there. Now you can actually "ride along" on an actual flight with the ability to look around the entire flight deck!

Click the image above or visit newairplane.com/787/dreampass to check it out.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Awesome cockpit footage from Matt Younkin's Beech 18 routine

This man is a pilot's pilot. Nothing like an aerobatic performance in twin-engine transport. The whole interview and video is great, but if you're in a hurry go straight to the 12:45 mark.

Not bad, eh?