Ebbs and Flows of Flight Training

•February 23, 2011 • 1 Comment

Each time the tide recedes, it leaves an entire ecosystem stranded, hanging on for dear life, waiting for the ocean to rise and bring back that which sustains life. Sometimes, on great journeys, one will hit a low much like the low of a tide. Feeling stuck, stranded, looking for something to breath life back into the heart, muscles, and mind that drive us forward. This is where I was yesterday, feeling low and lacking motivation. Another flight canceled, this time an alternator failure on the aircraft I was going to fly. It had been almost two weeks since the last flight, and people were saying I was cursed. I was starting to believe in superstition. Maybe I was cursed. I was stuck. I felt like quitting. It was the low of the tide. For every ebb there is a flow, and just as fast as the tide recedes, it rises again fresh and new. Today, my motivation is through the roof. I went flying today. No, let me re-emphasize, I Went Flying Today, and it was a perfect day. I am now endorsed and scheduled for my Commercial License checkride. March 16th is the day. The tide is high, life is flourishing, the dream is alive and well.

More soon…


Video Blog: Night Flight

•February 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I officially suck at updating this blog. In my defense, I haven’t had much to write about lately. A flight here and there, but mostly weather cancellations. If it’s not cloudy, raining, or foggy, its extremely windy. The other day we had a direct crosswind of up to 28 knots. The joys of flight training in the winter.

On a positive note, I am getting most of my maneuvers down to test standards. I went on a flight last week with a different instructor to gain a new teaching perspective. Two more flights this week with him, then its back to my original instructor. Hopefully by the end of this month (weather gods permitting) I’ll be ready for my checkride.

When I’m not working or flying, I’m studying. I’m in the first week of what should end up being an intense three-week long study session. My method for studying is to learn the material to the level at which I could teach it to someone else. And anyone who is lending an ear around me these days is being taught something about flying. Not only is this the ultimate level in understanding the material, it will certainly help me when I am an instructor.

On to the video: In a previous post I had a lot of trouble explaining how beautiful flying at night is. My current (and soon to be retired) camera just cannot capture it. I came across a video last week that does a good.. no, great.. no, extraordinary job at capturing the magic. It’s taken from the front seat of an airliner on approach and landing into LAX (Los Angeles International) during sunset. I’m currently looking into portable mounts for cameras that would allow me to duplicate this video in my own way.

I’ll make a conscious effort to update next week!

Eight Days A Week

•January 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life stuck working in an office. It’s one of the reasons I want to be a career pilot. Yet, in the last week I spent nearly 70 hours working in one. Why? I’ll let the pictures below do the talking (I can’t wait to get paid to do this!).

The Hazy Central Valley

Pulling Out the Los Angeles Sectional Map

The Grapevine Covered in Snow

I’m Mesmerized

Los Angeles

Palm Springs

The Desert – Quite a Contrast

The Sun Sets Near Mojave

Sunsets Never Get Old

Heading North in the Twilight

My airplane is broken again, waiting on it to be fixed. Hopefully (finally) getting some training flights in this coming week.

Video Blog: Last Flight Of 2010

•December 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

2010 was a good year: graduated college, got a job in the aviation industry, and resumed my journey to the flight levels. I have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to look forward to in 2011. In the year to come expect exciting things from this blog. Here are a few of the things planned (who knows what unplanned events may occur!):

  • Commercial License (hopefully in late Jan or Feb)
  • New Camera: Expect better cockpit shots and more HD videos!
  • Multi-Engine License
  • Flight Instructor Licenses
  • Job as a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor)
  • Near daily flights and continued blog updates

As you can see, 2011 is going to be a busy and exciting year! I’ll leave you with a video of the approach and landing of a joy ride I went on with a student at our school taken at Fresno Yosemite International. I was the safety pilot for this ride and he was the PIC (Pilot In Command). Happy New Year everyone!

Landing 29L at FAT in HD


Ferry Flight, The Medical, and Bad Weather

•December 22, 2010 • 1 Comment

I’ll start from the end of the title: the weather has been absolutely horrible. The last three weeks have been stormy, cloudy, foggy, and windy. Great for the guys training instrument flight rules right now, not so great for everyone else. The fast pace of training has again ground to a halt.

In the meantime, I went out and upgraded my third class medical to a first class. The first class is a little stricter, requiring 20/20 corrected far-sight vision, but the examination is easy for someone my age with no serious medical history. The first class is valid for a year, but can be used as a second and third class after that year has passed.

The one day the weather was actually good I got a call from the office offering me the chance to do a ferry flight. Obviously, I said yes. One of our Cessna 152s was stranded in Watsonville (WVI) and needed to be picked up. Apparently, the guy flying it did not check the weather for the return flight and got stuck there. We hopped my boss’s Cessna 172 SP and flew down there.

Climbing Over Clouds

I was in absolute awe of the plane, cruising at about 160 mph with the autopilot on. I’ve never seen an autopilot in action before, and it was an amazing thing to watch the plane fly itself.

East of San Jose Heading South

Coming up to Watsonville my boss disengaged the autopilot as we had to climb over some clouds hugging the mountains surrounding Watsonville. As we climbed the valley below and the Monterey Bay came in to view.

Climbing Over Clouds

After cruising over the tops on the clouds we entered a rapid descent into the valley. The runway was directly ahead of us but we had about 2,000 ft of extra altitude so he entered a side-slip and we got down to the approach path an a hurry.

Approach shot #1

Approach Shot #2

We taxied in and had some lunch at the Mexican restaurant on the field. We fueled up the stranded C-152 and parted ways. He beat me by a long shot back to Livermore as the C-152 cruises at almost half the speed.

View From the Restaurant

Monterey Bay

The “Pickle” Safely Back Home

I never know where the job is going to take me and I love it. What was a boring day turned into a sweet trip down to Watsonville, free lunch and flight hours, and another amazing experience during my journey to the flight levels.

Commercial Written Exam: Passed

•December 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

Soooo it has been awhile since the last update, again! Things are picking up and moving quick, and after some time off from training I find myself struggling to keep up.

I passed the written exam for the Commercial License this week with a nice 95% score. It was 100 questions long and took me about half of the 3 allotted hours to take. The easy part is done. Many people are under the impression that this some how gets me the license. In reality, most aviation licenses require 3 steps:

  1. The Written Exam – A test given on the computer (previously written) with knowledge about the material a pilot should know for the license. This is the easiest step as the question banks (633 questions for the commercial) are made public.
  2. The Oral Exam – This and step 3 happen on the same day. On the “checkride day” you meet with an designated FAA examiner and are questioned orally about many aspects of flying and the license. This is MUCH harder, in my opinion, than the written exam.
  3. The Practical Test – Basically, get up in the air and show the examiner what you got. Every maneuver must be performed to test standards. It’s not easy performing at your best while crammed inside a cockpit with someone watching your every move.

The airplane I fly is finally out of maintenance. I’m scheduled to fly at least twice a week (weather will play a large role in whether that actually happens) with my instructor. This week we flew once, got weathered out once. We did some power-off 180’s and Lazy Eights, two commercial maneuvers I’ll explain in a different post. Here are some black-and-white perspectives from the world above taken on the flight this week:

California Hills

270° Right Turn Departure Over Byron

Maneuvers Over the Central Valley

This weekend I hope to accomplish the long cross-country for the Commercial License which will take me 250 nm away from my home airport, the furthest I’ve ever gone. Klamath Falls, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas are some of the possible destinations… should make for a good blog post! And hopefully these posts become more frequent as I start flying more…

Scheduling Woes and the Written Exam

•November 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Scheduling has been difficult of late. One of the Arrows is out in maintenance indefinitely. It was sold and the new owner is tearing it apart and redoing the interior and avionics. The other Arrow, the one I prefer to fly, is scheduled full most days. This caused it to come up on it’s annual inspection sooner than anticipated. Soon it will be out in maintenance as well for 5-6 days. And the weather canceled my flight today. So no flying lately, and no flying until the latter part of the first week of December. Can you say frustrated? Yep.

I’m spending my time working and studying for the written exam. The text bank is 633 questions. Right now I’m getting 87-91% on practice tests, but I’d like to be around 97% before I take the exam.

You’ll notice a new photostream on the right side of the page. I’ll be uploading photos related to my journey via the iPhone.

That is all for now…

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