Thursday, August 30, 2007


Sorry for the absence, folks. With getting the new house straightened out and starting the full time MBA program at UVA, I haven't had time to sleep, much less blog.

I did manage to sneak in an hour of flying at Eagle's Nest airport in Waynesboro, VA. I am now checked out in C172's for rental and, when I can squeeze some time out of the schedule, plan to go flying.

I am told W13 is the shortest paved runway in the state of Virginia, and it is definitely the shortest runway I have landed on. Although I flew into a few 2500ft runways, most of the runways I used in SOCAL ranged from 3500 to 12000 ft. I think it will be good for my technique to get used to landing on shorter runways.

Not much time. Class is starting in a few minutes. Marketing. Fun.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Long Taxi

I did it! I have finally departed SOCAL and arrived in The Old Dominion.

Vital Stats:
Distance: 2564.3 SM
Days: 4
Hours behind the wheel: 36.4

I've been to Tuscon, Las Cruces, godforsaken West Texas
Odessa, Abilene, more of Texas that I seen,
Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis in my truck,
Knoxville I'm almost there
I've been everywhere

Safe and sound in the Virginia countryside. I'm going tomorrow for my check flight at a local FBO and should hopefully be back to flying soon.

All the best,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Waking them up...

Over the weekend, a Piper crashed in the mountains east of San Diego. As reported, the first indication of the accident was when a Sheriff's helicopter on routine patrol saw the wreckage. Although the plane probably crashed Friday, it wasn't spotted until Saturday and it made the local news Saturday night without identifying the type of airplane or the victims.

By Sunday night, the story was running on the national wires identifying that two Navy personnel had been killed in a Piper after departing MYF. My heart goes out to the families of the two victims. Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

This one hit a little close to home. When I first heard about a plane going down, my primary concern was for the members of my clubs, hoping it wasn't one of them. Once the national story hit, the only thing I could think is that my wife and/or parents would hear about it on the news and be out of their minds before they could reach me. I put in a few phone calls at midnight east coast time to let them know about the accident and that I was safe on deck. An ounce of prevention and all that.

The accident aircraft was not a part of either of my flying clubs.

When I first started flying, I filed a VFR flight plan for every flight, including local hops. As I have become more comfortable flying, I've stopped doing this, only filing for cross country over the mountains or when flying out of one club that requires it. The VFR flight plan, like flight following, is an insurance policy. It's free (for now) and may make the difference between being rescued or not. I think it's time I rededicate myself to filing on every flight. It can't hurt.

I also think this is a good chance to plug support for AOPA (and every other aviation alphabet group except the ATA) in the fight against user fees. If I try to file and/or use flight following on every flight for safety, how differently will I and other pilots feel about it if we have to give up our AMEX number just to talk to a controller?

Six days and a wakeup and I'm home.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Short Final

My original plan for leaving San Diego and moving to Virginia included a bit of a detour by way of Oshkosh, WI, where I planned to check out the show and meet up with some other bloggers. However, I haven't seen the Chief Photographer in six weeks with one more week to go, so I have decided to forgo Oshkosh. No offense, but as much as I like airplanes I like my wife even more.

I have five working days left as a full time Naval Officer. There are two projects I have to put some finishing touches on and I have some admin drills to close out, then I will be departing SOCAL on Friday afternoon to begin my drive back to Virginia. Three and a half days of driving will land me in Charlottesville to begin the great adventure of being an unemployed business school student.

The transition from full time military to grad student and then to the civilian business world will be challenging. If you count my four years at the Naval Academy, I have been in the Navy for 16 years, all of my adult life. In some ways it has been difficult, with long deployments and little communication with home. In other ways, it has been extremely rewarding to work with outstanding professionals who dedicate their lives to serving their fellow citizens. I won't be leaving the Navy entirely, however, as I have joined the Navy Reserve to be a part time sailor.

I am looking forward to starting this next phase of my life. I have to learn a new language and how to dress (uniforms are easy). Luckily, my wife is an experienced professional with an MBA of her own and does a good job of looking out for me.

Five days left. The gas is full, three down and locked, on centerline, on airspeed, on glideslope...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Another burger run

I had set up a meet today to fly with a few friends. K and C both work in my office. K is a PPC with about 250 hrs who hasn't flown in about 9 months due to work on his house. C is the guy who showed up to take over my job as I transition to grad school. He got his PPC in August 2001 right before GA got shut down in September 2001 and never went back up. In fact, his last GA flight before today was his PPC check ride. It was a great day to not only go flying, but to show them around my club at MYF.

We had planned to go to CNO, see the museum, and hit Flo's for a gut bomb, but the weather prevailed against us. Atypical for July, the marine layer has been burning off late and closing in early over the past week, and it did it again today. By the time it burned off, it was too late to go to CNO and have time to stop for fear we wouldn't make it back before the low ceilings closed in again. Instead, we decided to make a quick burger run up to F70, a nice and easy friendly flight.

After showing them the details of an Archer, we loaded up, fired up, and called for taxi. Taxiway H and A to 28R, number 2 behind a bunch of arrivals and an IFR release, then a downwind departure over Cowles Mountain. North over Lake Jennings and Barona at 3500, transition RNM at 3500 climbing to 4500, cruise up Pauma Valley and start our descent into French Valley. I did a 5 mile 45 entry to left traffic Rwy 18 and made a fairly decent landing despite the crosswind.

After a good burger and discussing some possible future business plans, we saddled up and headed back. Same route back, cleared for the visual 28L, and one of the best landings I have made in a long time. The crosswind was 8 kts from the left. I maintained a good lineup in slip, flared correctly, the stall buzzer chirped, the left main chirped, the right main chirped, then the nosewheel settled as I gracefully slowed down and made the turn onto Taxiway G.

K enjoyed the flight and is definitely interested in getting back into flying. C is extremely interested. He needs an updated medical, probably a few practice flights with a CFI, and a BFR to get up to date. They both have the card of one of my favorite CFI's, the guy who soloed me back in the day (and also happens to be a friend of K).

I don't know how many more flights I will get in SOCAL. I am down to 11 days before I depart for the East coast. I may try for one or two more, we'll just have to see.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I had most of the day off from work today, so I decided it would be a great time to go fly. Southern California is VFR almost every day in the summer, but today Mother Nature decided she was not going to cooperate.

KMYF 051953Z 26006KT 3SM HZ OVC003 20/17 A2990 RMK AO2 SLP121 T02000167

KSAN 051951Z 28007KT 6SM HZ FEW005 OVC006 20/17 A2991 RMK AO2 SLP126 T02000167
KSAN 051908Z 051918 22008KT 5SM HZ OVC008
TEMPO 1922 3SM BR BKN006
FM2200 25010KT P6SM BKN011
FM0300 21005KT 6SM HZ OVC010
FM0600 17004KT 5SM BR OVC009
FM1100 18005KT 4SM BR OVC007
FM1700 19006KT 6SM HZ BKN010


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Proficiency flying

Due to schedules and trying to wrap things up at work, it has been nearly two months since my last flight. Since it had been a while, and since I will have to do a proficiency check at the new FBO in Virginia to get renting privileges, I decided to do a basic Private Pilot proficiency flight.

Although I prefer flying the Pipers, I decided to do my flight in a 172 since that is what I will be flying in VA. I grabbed a 172 from KMYF and launched yesterday afternoon. Right downwind departure from 28R, overhead KSEE, then down into the southeast practice area for some maneuevers. I started by getting the plane trimmed out and flying well at 90kts. A set of clearing turns while I positioned the plane to make sure I was well clear of the Class B, then right into a set of steep turns. The steep turns went much better than I was expecting (it's been a while), with 45deg AOB, airspeed within 5kts, altitude within 50ft. Two sets of steep turns, then it was time for slow flight. Clean slow flight, turns in slow flight, transition to dirty slow flight, another set of clearing turns, pitch to a 60kt power off glide, then right into a power off stall. I recovered within 100ft, then did some basic maneuvering while I got the plane cleaned up and flying right. With some good maneuvers under my belt, I decided to head to SDM for some landing practice.

Winds at SDM were shifting +/- 40 degrees of runway heading at 10G14, so I was going to get some good crosswind practice. My first landing I ballooned a bit, but a touch of power and the right landing configuration and I set it down softly. The second had no balloon, but I landed a bit flat. Three, four, and five were good.

I was on downwind for number six when tower asked me to make a left 360 for spacing because a G5 was on the straight in. No problem, start a slow left turn out towards PGY. As I'm halfway through my turn, the G5 tells tower that, instead of straight in, he wants to overfly and fly the pattern because he's too high. Tower clears him for that and asks me to do another circle. No problem, circle again. As I'm finishing my second circle, tower clears me touch and go #2 following the G5, caution wake turbulence, maintain visual separation. I acknowledge the clearance and set back up on downwind. I get to the point where I would normally turn base, and the G5 is still on downwind way ahead of me flying a pattern that would make a 747 proud. A few S-turns, and the guy still hasn't turned base. Tower finally asks him to turn and I slow down to 70kts flaps 20, still doing S-turns on downwind. After the G5 passes me on final, I turn base (very far out from my normal base), then turn final and slow to 60kts flaps 30, still doing S-turns to give this guy space. I see his tires chirp, then tell tower I'm going to land a bit long for wake turbulence. No sweat, 26R is 8000ft. The G5 is taxiing all the way to the end of the runway, and man is he going slow. At 100 AGL, just as I'm about to call my own go around, tower tells me to go around because the G5 still hasn't cleared the runway.

Cram, clean, climb, xwind, downwind, GUMPS, base, final, touch and go number six (pretty good), and I'm outta there. As tower is clearing me for frequency change and thanking me for my help, I thank them for the practice and tell them to thank the guys in the G5 for me. Tower was doing their best, but the G5 managed to screw up the whole pattern.

Back to MYF, looking for the runway in haze, cleared to land 28L, change clearance to 28R, runway in sight, wheels down, taxi and shutdown. Another 1.8hours in the book and some proficiency regained.

Two notes from today:
Just because you fly a G5, you don't own the world. I think he flew the oversize pattern because he was still too high even after overflying the airport. If you're too high, advise the controllers early and figure out a way to lose your altitude (such as a hold over PGY) and let the rest of us keep flying. Instead, he hogged the whole airport for a good five minutes while the rest of us sat on the sidelines.
Piece of advice: Know where the Class B is and understand why it exists. During this 1.8hr flight, I heard two separate aircraft get scolded by the tower controllers for surrounding Class B violations. Although it is a serious issue, everyone including me makes mistakes and I'm not going to throw any stones about that. However, one of the guys started talking back to the controller on the radio and giving him a lot of grief while making improper acknowledgements about the Class B violation, his landing clearance and sequence, and his instructions after landing. The other pilot just knicked the edge of a low shelf (probably due to wind drift), took immediate corrective actions when informed, and apologized profusely. Guess which one got told to call the number?