Sunday, January 30, 2011

Circumnavigating the globe in a 182 - twice!

There are plenty of impressive aviation tales but this one certainly ranks up there with the best of them! Bob Gannon has flown his 182 around the world twice, landing in over 150 countries on all seven continents over the past decade. I can't even fathom having the nerve to consider such an adventure let alone actually doing it. What an incredible story!

It’s hard to imagine topping the adventure Gannon has already had. This was no great race, no frantic rush to create a speed record or beat some artificial deadline.

“My attitude was, I wanted to see the world and this was my only chance of getting around it,” he said. But not in haste; he wanted to see the places where he landed and take in the highlights.

“Whether it’s geography or animals or people or customs, I feel like I get to know it before I go on to the next country,” he said. “I don’t fly in a straight line.”

Read the full article at AOPA Online.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Twilight landing at LAX

You've probably noticed that I haven't been flying much. Sorry about that, life's been hectic. Hope all is well with you, however, Mr. or Ms. Reader of the Blog! In lieu of my own flying adventures, here's an incredible cockpit video of a night approach and landing at LAX. It's worth your four minutes - trust me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Commemorating the Space Shuttle

I'm certainly sad to see the Space Shuttle program coming to an end. Regardless of how you feel politically or emotionally about our country's current role in human space exploration, you can't help but marvel at the technological achievements of the Shuttle program over the past 30-40 years. I have never seen a launch in person and, with only two remaining, hope I can figure out a way to head down to Florida and view one this year.

NASA's Glenn Research Center has compiled an incredible, stunning video from footage captured throughout the Shuttle's history. There is excellent narration from Matt Melis and Kevin Burke, aerospace engineers who led the effort to edit the clips into the finished video you can see below. It's long and to say it's well worth your 45 minutes doesn't even begin to do it justice. Enjoy!

h/t - Fareed Guyot on the Oshkosh365 forums

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dual in the Cub in the snow

Plane: Cub, 85 hp
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Overcast, 27 degrees, wind 180 degrees at 7 knots

It seems as if no matter how hard I try to avoid it, there's always a sizable gap in my logbook this time of year. Some things are certainly out of my control but it's always a busy couple of months. Even though Gina and I tried to fly the 172 last month, mechanical problems prevented that $100 burger hop. However, back from 10 days in Japan and South Korea, I took advantage of a rare Friday off to log some Dual with CFI Dave. I slept over 12 hours last night but I felt it was prudent to go up with an instructor after that big of a time change - plus, it's never a bad thing to have a CFI in the front seat to put you through the paces.

We chatted for a few minutes in the office since I haven't seen Dave in a while. That tends to happen when you haven't flown in two months. The airplane looked good and my inspection was quick (though I didn't rush it, even the frigid cold!) so I hopped in and we got the engine turning. There are no skis on the Cub right now, just the standard tires, so I managed a pretty decent soft field takeoff. In a J-3 that means you don't push the stick as far forward as in a normal takeoff so that the tail rides closer to the ground and the airplane lifts off in more of a three-point attitude.

Nothing too exciting, just some highlights from today's flight over the snow

I brought her around the pattern once to make sure I still had a good feel for the airplane and landed pretty softly on the snow-covered grass. Satisfied, I flew over to Wright Brothers to knock out some landings on pavement. You can't do that without an instructor and it's good practice!

On short final (maybe 100 AGL, probably lower) for Runway 20, Dave abruptly pushed the throttle wide open and my first reaction was, "I'm not too slow!" Then I saw him pointing - there was a twin flying straight down the runway in the opposite direction, pointed directly at us. At first I thought he was landing (opposite the current flow of traffic) but, as I sidestepped and climbed to the right of the runway, we realized he was happily flying straight and level down Runway 02 at about 500 feet AGL. Didn't seem like the smartest thing to do but we were NORDO so I obviously couldn't have heard if he was making any calls. He never budged while flying level over the length of the runway - I have no clue if he ever saw us. The lack of any maneuvering to avoid the bright yellow Cub over the numbers does seem to indicate that he did not.

It's a great lesson on both sides when you think about it. It's 100% legal to fly NORDO and we had entered the pattern properly for the runway in use. He could have been making radio calls announcing his intentions and may have assumed the field was empty since we certainly weren't announcing our position over the radio. In both cockpits, you still have to see and avoid and ultimately can't rely on anything else for collision avoidance.

I re-entered the downwind and landed uneventfully, albeit a bit hard. The visual of the edges of the pavement meeting the grass tend to make you feel like you're lower and I flared a few seconds early. Mental notes were made - I knew to expect that from prior experience but it still seems to take one time to re-calibrate my brain after all my grass landings in the Cub. We went around the pattern two more times and I did better. The last landing was a total greaser. All were definitely a lot better than the last time I took the J-3 to MGY.

Only about 0.5 hours had elapsed on the Hobbs so I asked Dave what maneuvers we should practice. We ended up doing just about everything. I climbed up to around 3,000 MSL after departing Wright Brothers (I spotted the same twin flying under us, seemingly below pattern altitude, on our way out of there - really don't know what they were doing today...) and did two power-off and two power-on stalls, doing possibly my best-ever job of keeping the wings level at the break on all of them. Then I did a few steep turns - I wasn't satisfied with the first one but I tried again and hit my wake while holding altitude much tighter.

I've never done Chandelles before so this was a prefect opportunity to request that Dave show me how to do them. He demonstrated twice and then I did three. The Cub flies (and stalls) so slow that the whole maneuver goes by very quickly. Regardless, it's nice to now know the proper way to fly this Commercial maneuver and I'll be able to practice them in other airplanes in the future. Never passing up an opportunity to have some fun in the Cub since we were now up around 4,000 MSL, I pulled back on the stick, kicked in the left rudder, and away we spun. I recovered quickly with right rudder and pulled out of the dive with only about 300-400 feet altitude loss. Spins are fun! :)

The snowy landscape below was pretty to look at and I captured a bit of it on video as I flew us to Stewart. Back in the familiar confines of the home drome, I landed three more times on the soft field. I made one approach as a simulated engine-out and, as usual, managed to land softer in that configuration than in a usual stabilized approach. For the final lap, Dave told me to touch down next to the three cones and I upped the ante - I told him I'd go for a power-off 180 accuracy approach! Abeam the three cones I pulled the throttle to idle, used a slight forward slip on final to bleed off airspeed and altitude, and touched down within 50 feet of passing the cones. Take that, Mr. CFI!

Today was literally the exact day my PIC currency expired; as of tomorrow, I would no longer have the required three takeoffs and landings in the previous 90 days. It was nice to extend my currency with a full hour of practicing most of the maneuvers in the PTS. I also made sure I did a few things you're not allowed to do in the Cub without a CFI on board - namely, landing on a paved runway and spins. All in all, a thoroughly well-rounded afternoon of flying.

Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Total Time: 181.9 hours

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stewart in the snow

I'm currently halfway around the world but this seemed like a fitting time to finally post these photos. From what I hear, we're about to get dumped on with snow back at home. I actually took these last February after I flew the Cub on skis. You just can't beat the vintage feel of Red Stewart Airfield with a J-3 buzzing around the pattern on a crisp winter afternoon.

The lack of recent updates is a direct result of the halfway-around-the-world-ness. Being in Japan and Korea tends to keep one grounded - aside from the loooong commercial flights required to get here, of course. I'll be back later this week so hopefully I can get back behind the controls before too long!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

The days certainly do tick by faster the older you get - there's no denying it. I'm quite pleased with how 2010 turned out for me, both in the air and on the ground. While I always would like to have flown a few more hours sometimes it's just not possible. As I wrote one year ago, join me for a brief recap of how I fared over the past 365 days...

Total Hours: 40.8 | Solo: 3.9 | XC: 21.7 | Dual: 2.5 | Landings: 93

Aircraft Flown: C150, C172, Cub

New Airports: OWX, MIE, LUK, JAX, TVC, 83D, ESC, OSH, UGN

New States: Wisconsin, Illinois

First Flights: 12 (Neil, Emily, Joe, Scott, six Young Eagles at our annual rally, Jim, Ahmed)

People Flown: 17 (above, plus my best friend Rob, pilot friend Mike, my sister and Dad, and, of course, Gina)

$100 Burgers: 6 (one in April, three in June - Ottawa, Muncie, and Lunken, one in July while on our flying adventure, and one in October)

Fly-Ins: 1 (Lee Bottom Wood, Fabric, and Tailwheels in September - as a passenger)

Great Lakes Circumnavigated: 1 (Lake Michigan, on our huge flying vacation in July)

New Fiancées: 1 (I believe Gina was happy about this after my proposal in April)

What I'll Remember: Surprising Gina with a whirlwind trip around the world to propose in Barcelona. Our hot air balloon ride over the foothills of the Pyrenees in Spain. Flying over the Mackinac Bridge and past downtown Chicago during an eight day vacation with Gina, along with landing at Oshkosh. Gary and Rob flying out from Delaware to visit Stewart and fly the Stearman in July. The smiles on all the kids' faces and their excitement after taking them flying during our annual Young Eagles Rally in September. Cutting streamers in the Cub.

2010 Goals: More cross-country flights including a trip or two to visit other pilot friends, take as many people for their first flight as possible, fly Young Eagles, fly the Cub on skis, get in some glider time, make more money to spend on all of the above.

^ I did pretty good last year, huh?

2011 Goals: Fly the Stearman, log stick time in a glider, take some couples that we are good friends with on $100 burger runs in the 172, go on a yet-to-be-determined flying adventure with my groomsmen before the wedding, fly at least one Pilots N Paws rescue, continue expanding the variety of content on the blog, make sure Gina doesn't run away from the altar in November.