Monday, October 05, 2015

A Very Cool EAA Project

An Experimental Aviation Association Chapter in Brighton, Michigan is getting teens interested in aviation, not to mention keeping them gainfully occupied, by helping them build an aircraft.

The teens are building an RV-12 light sport aircraft and while doing so learning lots of skills and getting involved in aviation while doing so.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan teens building airplane from scratch

Saturday, October 03, 2015

We Were Wolves Once, Wild and Wary

Then we saw you had couches, fireplaces, and quilts.

Comfort and the company of humans reading by the warmth of the fireplace wins out over the call of the wild on this rainy, windy, 40 degree October night.

Weathered Out

I was scheduled to go flying this morning but it was not to be. I figured as much reading the Terminal Area Forecast last night but was hoping it was wrong.

Winds were forecast 15 gusting to 25 knots from 050, and using Runway 9 would have resulted in maximum crosswind component of 18.3.

While the Cessna 172M POH says it does not have a maximum crosswind component, it does say an average pilot can handle a crosswind component of 15 knots.

I'm not yet even a sub-average pilot and a crosswind component of 18.3 meant NFW so I was not going to fly. NFW of course means "Not Flying Weather", right?

As has been said many a time, better to be on the ground wishing I was in the air, rather than in the air wishing I was on the ground.

So the lesson so eagerly sought was properly cancelled by my instructor and I did other stuff today, including getting a workout in and studying for the written test some more and chair-flying a pattern and landing. Might as well keep on learning and preparing.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Flying Lesson #13 - Fun With Instruments And Attitudes

Today was a really beautiful day that hid from view some very impressive shifting and gusting winds. Impressive lines of clouds were on display across the sky.

N73455 wasn't back from the shop yet, so I got to take N757MK up.

It had just come back after being flown, so I started my pre-flight.

Everything was in order, and we topped her off with fuel and got ready to go.

Sean decided that with the winds it would not be a pattern work day but we would do more instrument work.

I was about to have one of the most fun lessons yet.

The wind according to the ATIS was gusting from 040, so we asked to taxi and then takeoff from Runway 36 to depart to the northeast, and got clearance to do so by taxiing from Delta then all the way down 18 to 36

I did the run-up and everything was good and we notified them we were ready to go.

I had a good takeoff with a fun crosswind that had just shifted to 060 but no major issues. My first time using runway 36. It doesn't get used very often.

Then we headed off to the northeast and I put on the foggles and climbed us to 4,500 feet.

Below 4,000 there was quite a bit of turbulence and gusting winds but once we were over the clouds it calmed down quite a bit.

We practiced some turns, climbs and descents under the hood and then climbed to 5,500. Part of that was to learn how to follow radar vectors from a controller if you inadvertently get stuck in IMC and can't get out by doing a 180 degree turn.

If you do get stuck in IMC, keep flying the airplane and perform the 4 Cs - Confess, Climb, Communicate, and Comply. Confess to yourself that you're in a mess. Climb as height is your friend and the ground is not in this situation. Communicate - let a controller know the problem, they're there to help you and they can vector you out, so take advantage of the resource. Comply - Do what they say and follow their instructions to get out of the problem.

I did a good job at following the simulated vectors and course changes.

Then it was time for instrument flight and unusual attitudes.

Unusual attitudes are positions the plane can get into if you fly into IMC and lose your bearings and don't trust your instruments or lose track of them, which can happened quite quickly.

I got to close my eyes and put my chin on my chest as Sean flew us around a bit and then recover from the situation once he told me I had the airplane. Open your eyes, check the instruments, figure out what the plane is doing and then get back to level flight following the correct procedure.

The dives with eyes closed were about the best roller coaster you could get - Wheee!

I apparently did very well at these recoveries and it was a heckuva lot of fun.

Then, he had me close my eyes, chin down, and let him know what the plane was doing. I apparently kept up for quite awhile accurately reporting when the plane was turning left or right, ascending or descending, but then he threw in a subtle turn right and my body insisted we were still going left and yep, had it been seat of the pants flying there would have been a real case of spatial disorientation.

He had me open my eyes and recover and that was very instructive - again, trust your instruments in IMC.

Then we started flying back and got hit by some turbulence and rose over 500 feet instantly. I got the wings back to level and he was happy with how I recovered, and we discussed turbulence and how I did the right thing in focusing on leveling the wings. The studying is paying off.

He had me do radio calls while under the hood, showing how even taking your eyes of the instruments to adjust the radio could throw you off. I did all the radio calls and descended the plane down to close to pattern altitude under the hood and then he had me take it off.

On landing, not only did we have some very gusting and shifting winds, we also had a wind shear advisory. Sean said he would handle the landing once I got us on the downwind leg. I handed it off on the downwind and he landed it perfectly - at a higher than normal landing speed due to the winds and we landed on the upwind main gear first, followed by the downwind gear for a perfect landing. Lots of things learned from that landing.

It was a great and really fun lesson with 1.2 more flying hours in the log book and .9 of that simulated instrument flight.

Sean also endorsed me, based on my practice written test scores, to take the FAA private Pilot Written Test so I'm going to get that test booked and done soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Recent Archaeological Find Links

There have been quite a few recent interesting archaeological discoveries in the news lately.

1. You know the Greek ship where they found the Antkytheria mechanism? Looks like there's even more artifacts being found there, farther below the sea bed.

2. An impressive sarcophagus, weighing 2 tons and 8.2 feet long, dating to the Roman period was found in Ashkelon, Israel this month.

3. A dig in Jerusalem found a (so far) unique pyramid-stepped staircase and platform from the Second Temple Period.

4. King Tut's tomb may not have contained just his mummy, but also his mummy's mummy: King Tut's Tomb May Hold the Secret Grave of His Mother Nefertiti.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not Exactly A Flying Lesson - The Pre-Solo Ground Lesson

While a Flying Lesson #13 was scheduled for this afternoon, it was not to be.

Unfortunately, someone had smacked N73445 pretty good last night and it was in the shop getting some repairs done. I don't have the story on what happened but do hope to find out. In addition to N73455 now being out of service, N755PR was getting its 100 hour inspection done so there were too few planes for not enough pilots, and since I had N73455 booked I was one of those that got bumped.

My instructor decided that since there was no aircraft available but we were both present that it would be an opportune time to do some pre-solo ground work.

So we headed off into a room and we went over requirements for flight in terms of what I and the aircraft needed to have to be legal for a flight, what I could do with a student certificate, requirements for solo, airspace requirements, and requirements for an aircraft to be deemed airworthy.

Aviation is chock full of acronyms, and I got tested on quite a few.

For example an aircraft needs its ARROW documents to be legal to fly:

A - Airworthiness Certificate
R - Registration certificate
R - Radio Operating certificate (if you're going outside the US)
O - Operating Handbook
W - Weight and Balance

If you get ramp-checked and you don't have those in the plane, then Lucy, you have some 'splaining to do.

Another fun list is what the aircraft needs to be legal for day time VFR flight - TOMATO FLAMES

Oil pressure gauge
Manifold pressure gauge (for each altitude engine)
Airspeed indicator
Temperature gauge (for each liquid-cooled engine)
Oil temperature gauge (for each air-cooled engine)

Fuel gauge (for each tank)
Landing gear position indicator
Magnetic compass
Seat belts

While I had the ARROW acronym memorized I did stumble around in regards to the flaming tomato but got it worked out. I was also pretty decent on airspace requirements. He seemed quite satisfied with my answers and could tell I had been studying. After I bring him a few more written test practice exams with the scores Ive been getting, he's going to endorse my written so I can get it done and out of the way.

A lot of learning to fly takes place not in the air but on the ground, and this was a very necessary lesson to check my readiness for the written test and fulfill a pre-solo requirement.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Putin Plays Middle East Chess As Obama Struggles To Figure Out Checkers

Get a load of this headline in the Detroit Free Press: Obama offers to work with Putin, Iran on Syria; Putin says work with Assad

Obama declared:

"The United States is willing to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran," Obama said. "But we must agree that after so much carnage there cannot be a return to the previous status quo.”

Any solution must not include continued support for "a tyrant" like Syrian President Bashar Assad, who Obama said has killed his own people in a war that began with a violent crackdown on peaceful protests.

Putin's response was a firm "Nyet" to Obama's words-without-deeds insistence that Assad must go.

In sharp contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin later called for a global response to fight Islamic extremism akin to a third World War and should be fought alongside Assad's government forces.

“We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to work with the Syrian government and its armed forces,” Putin told the U.N. “No one but the Syrian forces and Kurdish militia is seriously fighting against Islamic state.”

That sound you hear is generations worth of US dominance and influence in the Middle East being continuously piddled away by the current administration whether negligently or deliberately to create a Multi-polar world with diminished US capabilities and power to influence the course of events.

US doctrine used to have a stated goal of keeping the Russians OUT of the Middle East. Now the Russians have got the initiative and the US seems to be the one being diminished in stature and being shut out of the region.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


After massive cloud cover, we finally got a bit of a wind so I was able to get a couple shots of the lunar eclipse in progress.

The blood moon, while very beautiful to the eye, is completely beyond the capabilities of my camera to capture.

Sunday Volunteering To E-Race Hunger

So this morning the family volunteered at the 5k Race/Family Fun Run To eRace Hunger to raise funds for a local food bank.

We ran the water station at the farthest end of the race course that was setup on the streets of Southfield, and handed out water to runners and directed them to make sure they stayed on the course.

We had motivational signs drawn up by the kids.

Sadly, my proposed sign - "Run Faster! The Zombies Are Catching Up!" - was vetoed.

So we worked the station, handing out water to runners and walkers passing by - some were very fast indeed and took the cups of water on the run without breaking their strides. Some took it as a fun family stroll and meandered by getting water on the way, which was more than fine too.

After all the racers and walkers had passed our point, we cleaned up the area and walked back to the starting point.

The race was a success and raised well over $7,000 for the food bank.

After the race, there was a family fun time going to various events setup on the Synagogue grounds and a nice picnic-type lunch.

A good time was had by all.