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Mar 20 2011

Not as rusty as I thought!

Published by Mark under Flying

I went flying today. Looking back to my log book, that’s the first time since May of 2007 (!!) that I’ve been up. I can’t believe that amount of time has passed.

I had a voucher for Durham Flight Center at Oshawa airport. It was not the usual facility that I used to rent from (and trained at) but it was a deal that I couldn’t pass up. Upgrading to the 172 added a bit of additional cost, but it was quite reasonable in the end.

I was impressed with the aircraft, and even more so, the rates - I was quite surprised to see that their posted hourly rental rate for the C150/C152 fleet was still only $110 per hour - very surprising given I was paying more than that in 2007 for the Cessna 152’s at Canadian Flight Academy.

For the flight I brought along my 11 year old daughter as well as a long time friend, Mike.

For not having flown left-seat for nearly 4 years I was quite pleased how fast everything came back - the takeoff was smooth (although the crosswind did catch me slightly off guard as we got light on the wheels) and we were soon climbing out. I even maintained Vy within 5MPH, impressing even myself all things considered.

I decided that simply beelining it for CNF4 (Lindsay) to do a touch and go, and then heading back to Oshawa would be a fun flight for all involved. I used to fly into Lindsay quite often and it’s dead easy to find - something I was concerned about given I expected to be rusty.

Approach to Lindsay was uneventful and I actually pulled off a fairly respectable touchdown. Full power, let’s get outa here. Procedure whips through my head - Flaps up, full throttle, carb heat off, confirm mixture rich, confirm positive rate, maintain heading, radio calls.

We shot southbound back towards Oshawa at over 120MPH ground speed and enjoyed some more scenery. The skies were glassy calm to the point where flying the aircraft was almost effortless. Although I figured I’d be rusty, suffering heading and altitude deviations, the calm conditions meant that I virtually nailed everything +/- 100 feet for the entire flight with only two fingers on the yoke. It made me look downright good when in reality I think more challenging conditions would have made my rust show much more.

We were cleared left base for 12 and told to report established. A mile or so later we received our landing clearance before ever reporting established. I became aware of the fact that I was staying far enough ahead of the aircraft to be comfortable, but my situational awareness of traffic was lacking.

As has always been a occasional demon for me, I overshot my turn to final and ended up far past centerline, requiring a large correction. Then I realize I’m high on approach and needed to bleed altitude, only to remember exactly how fast a heavy C172 can sink as the VASI quickly went from 4 white to 3 red. Add power. Airspeed control sloppy. Getting buffeted around a little. Crosswind is yawing us, so I enter a sideslip, albeit a sloppy one, but passable. The rust is showing here now.

I transition to the flare and make another respectable touchdown, although I’m pretty sure I had some side loading on touchdown thanks to my sloppy sideslip control in the flare.

I remind myself I haven’t flown left seat in 4 years. I’ll take it.

We managed to keep the hobbs time at 0.9, which was surprising. A bill that was actually less than I anticipated was a pleasant result of such.

Overall, great fun, and it satisfied the craving to get airborne again. I was very surprised at how little rust I exhibited, although the glassy conditions made for an effortless flight, all things considered.

5 responses so far

Jan 09 2011

Weekend update!

Published by Mark under Camping, Fitness, Flying, Life

It seems like my blog has been reduced to the occasional “Hey, I’m still alive” post, so keeping with that tradition (?) here’s another.

- We had planned to get out for a winter camping excursion between Christmas and New Years to Pinery provincial park. Unfortunately while carefully contemplating the weather forecast on the day of our planned departure it was clear that we were going to have a few “tolerable” days at the outset of the trip, the latter half of the week was going to stink. In the interest of not spending 4 hours on the road (each way), not to mention the money for fuel and campsite fees, only to sit in the trailer and look at the rain and mud outside, we decided to scratch the entire trip. Me and the kids were disappointed, but my wife, I think, not so much.

- Christmas sabotaged my diet. Suffice to say I’m (now) no further behind versus my pre-Christmas weight, but I certainly didn’t make much progress either. Good news is that I’m approaching another major milestone…but am far from done.

- Still haven’t taken my flight. I’m almost reluctant to go now because I’m afraid that it’s going to make me realize exactly how much I’m missing flying, and getting back to it full time right now simply isn’t in the cards at this point in time.

Life goes on.

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Nov 21 2010

Touching base.

Published by Mark under Camping, Fitness, Flying, Life

For anyone interested:

- I Still haven’t used the certificate I purchased a few weeks back for a flight. Waiting for the right combination of weather and time.

- Me and my daughter found a new horse facility to call home. I visited quite a few facilities in the last 6 months and never really found one that we felt we could be comfortable with for various reasons. After almost settling for one place simply because it was close, we stumbled upon another choice and immediately loved it. We’ve now continued our lessons there.

The only drawback is that they don’t have any riding trails within a reasonable distance of the facility so anything aside from ring and arena riding involves trailering out - not an issue since we don’t (yet) own our own horse. I’m rather torn on the whole ownership issue, as well - the opportunity looks like it’s very close to presenting itself, but I’m unsure if we are ready for the commitment on several fronts.

- Our RV is officially packed away for the winter. Unsure if we’ll get out for a winter camping excursion this year or not. In the meantime, I’ve been contemplating next years big trip.

- My weight loss is roaring right along after seemingly stalling in the 20 to 25 pound loss range for a week and a half. I’m now rapidly approaching 30 pounds of total loss and have officially reached the point where I’m really starting to feel and show it now, which has been a bonus motivational factor. On the downside my back has continued to cause me grief.

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Oct 02 2010

Lets fly.

Published by Mark under Flying, Life, Reflection

While browsing the local newspaper this evening during dinner I bumped into an advertisement for “WagJag” - it’s a new “Group Buy” service along the same lines as GroupOn and others.

The specific ad that caught my eye was aviation related.

For anyone who has followed my blog since day one, you may remember that it was a Fam flight back in September of 2004 that triggered my goal of getting my pilots licence.

Of course, I went on to achieve that goal. However, like many others, after exercising my licence for a few years I more or less fell off the train - looking back, my last flight as PIC was May 12, 2007. Wow.

Me and Paul Tomblin flew together for some time afterwards, most notably taking a long cross country to the annual Pinckneyville Fly-In in 2008, but that really wasn’t PIC despite being a personal highlight of my GA experience.

However, my medical is now expired (although it could be easily renewed) and I’ve been out of the aviation thing for quite a while now. I always hold onto the fact that whenever the stars align and the time is right, It’s only a matter of jumping through some hoops to become an active pilot again…but at this moment, the time is not right. The itch is still there, however.

Other things have picked up where the flying hobby left off, primarily horses. For those who complain about the cost of anything equine related, I only snicker under my breath - comparatively, horses are downright cheap.

So, all that said, what I saw on WagJag this evening intrigued me - a Fam-Flight for $60. This supposedly constitutes a $65 saving now - compared to the $50 cost in 2004 it’s clear that things have changed. When it comes to aviation, prices only go one way.

I jumped at the opportunity - it was limited to 100 purchases, and 75 were already showing as sold.

I hope that the instructor takes the fact that I’m already a (quasi) licensed pilot in stride and simply skips past the sales pitch and the “this isn’t a steering wheel in front of you” basics. I’d like to get in and go fly. I’m sure, like riding a bike, much will come back right away. Yeah, I know it’ll be a 0.5 flight (at best), but I can’t say I’m not totally hyped regardless.

Time to dig up my C172 POH and re familiarize myself with some V-Speeds.

3 responses so far

Aug 22 2010

RC Plane Vs. Full-scale Plane crash - Who was wrong here?

Published by Mark under Flying, Ponder, RC Flying

A relative sent me this video a few days ago.

Watch the entire video…well, at least up to the crash, but there are a few telling statements in the latter half of the video as well. Don’t worry, nobody was injured.

So, deconstructing it, I observed the following:

1/ There was a fly-in of some sort (at what appears to be an uncontrolled airport) and the Radio Controlled guys came out to enjoy it as well.

2/ There was someone with a radio (seen in the video) acting as a UNICOM with the ability to communicate with air traffic.

3/ It sounds as if both types of aircraft were being allowed to utilize the runway at the same time since the individual with the handheld radio (in communication with the fullscale traffic) mentions that “He didn’t announce his go around” - to me this presumably means that if he had landed normally there would have been no need to clear the runway…?

4/ There was a lack of communication - “Noise” was blamed.

5/ It appears the fullscale aircraft either didn’t make proper radio calls, wasn’t following proper procedures, or the calls (if made) were not heard and relayed properly.

From an observers standpoint it sure appears to me that there was never any attempt for the fullscale aircraft to land to begin with - at the speed he is travelling at when the collision happens (in the supposed go-around) there was little to no chance he was even in a landing configuration. Was the pilot hot-dogging to show off to the crowd?

The person with the radio is directly in the video moments before the crash and appears to be talking on the radio, but we come back to the noise issue - he doesn’t appear to be wearing an earpiece of any sort and personal experience on both the full-scale and radio controlled side of things tells me that the noise of an RC aircraft could easily drown out a handheld.

The RC Pilot was clearly on the runway - both himself, and the aircraft. Putting a model plane in peril is one thing, but there was absolutely no need for him personally to be on the runway and that should have been handled better.

Was there a NOTAM issued for the airport that indicated this was occuring? Did the pilot read it? If he was hotdogging for the crowd, would it have mattered?

In the end, what’s your opinion on who was at fault?

- One could put the blame on the fullscale pilot for making the pass to begin with. It seems there was no intention to land to begin with based on configuration and speed seen in the video. If it was a legitimate go-around some effort could/should have been made into obtaining a positive rate of climb long before that point on the runway and gaining altitude - he had the airspeed and airspace to do so but instead chose to remain close to the deck at what appears to be a cruise configuration, with what has to be at or near wide open throttle, and carrying a lot of speed.

- One could also put the blame on the RC pilot. Airports are made for fullscale aircraft, not toys, and at any point in time (due to an emergency or NORDO aircraft) the runway could be utilized. However, was a NOTAM in place bringing the playing field equal between the RC and Full-scale? Was everything supposedly arranged ahead of time to allow RC use of the runway will still maintaining decorum? I’m assuming the RC pilot was not a full-scale pilot and as such didn’t understand the intricacies of sharing a runway so he was putting his faith in the organizers and person(s?) with radios to keep him informed.

- Blame the radio operator for not hearing the calls and advising people on the ground? Well, if he was acting in a UNICOM perspective he’s not totally in control of the pilots actions as he can only really act in an advisory nature. Yes, he could have said something to the effect of “immediate turn from runway heading” or “pull up” to advise the pilot at the last second, but this also assumes that the pilot was making the correct radio calls to begin with, and at the speed he was traveling there was only a matter of seconds for this communication to happen and be acted upon.

- Blame the organizers for not ensuring there was multiple fallbacks with radio communication to ensure that a situation like this didn’t happen to begin with, ESPECIALLY when the RC aircraft were utilizing active airspace? Personally, this is where I’m pointing the finger at.

The FAA is involved now and I’m sure eventually it will all come out in the wash, and thankfully nobody was injured.

One response so far

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