February 1, 2009
On Saturday I went for my second familiarization flight in the G1000 enabled Cessna. On my first flight last week we spent most the time reviewing the basic functionality of the G1000 system. Saturday's focus was on how to handle failures and also how to use some of the advanced options such as flight planning and working with the autopilot.
I planned a 120NM cross country flight from Chicago Executive to Rockford (KRFD), De Kalb (KDKB), Schaumburg (06C) and then back to Chicago Executive. After firing up the Cessna my CFI showed me how to enter the entire flightplan into the G1000. We used two GPS waypoints and each airport to set our course. It took only a few minutes to get the hang of it and get the entire flight entered into the system.
My preflight briefing with Flight Service warned me of some light to moderate chop along the route and also some stiff winds. Sure enough as we climbed out of Chicago Executive we got tossed around a bit until we climbed above 2,500 feet at which point the ride became smoother. As I turned the plane west for Rockford we took on a direct 53 knot headwind slowing our forward progression to a measly 52 knots. I felt like I was back in my trusty Cessna 152 I used to train in. I did not mine the slow progression though as we had a beautiful view of the snow-covered farm lands below. It also allowed some time for me to learn how to use the autopilot feature. I was able to engage the autopilot to maintain our flightplan path and to maintain our altitude. It made for a very relaxing flight to Rockford.
As we approached Rockford we learned we would be following in a Boeing 767 which was cool. I have on shared runways with the big tin when flying into Midway. After making a nice landing at Rockford we taxied around to depart on their westbound runway. We had a beautiful view as I lined the airplane up on the centerline the setting sun was directly in front of us. I regret now not snapping a photo before departing. It has been a long time since I have been airborne during a sunset and forgot what a wonderful way it is to enjoy the end of a day.
From Rockford we headed southeast to De Kalb which allowed us to partially benefit from the strong winds from the West. It was after departing De Kalb that we started flying east and now enjoyed the 53 knots of wind as a tailwind. All of a sudden we were cruising along at a ground speed of just over 170 knots.
As we approached Schaumburg it became apparent we were going to have an extremely strong direct crosswind so we decided not to make an landing. Instead we continued on to Chicago Executive for my first night landing in nearly two years. I forgot how your perspective changes at night and flared earlier than I should have and our landing was not nearly as smooth as I would have liked. Though, not even a less than stellar landing could dampen my mood. I love flying this 2 year old Cessna with the G1000. I am now signed off to fly it and look forward to enjoying flights in this plan in 2009!
January 25, 2009
Mother Nature was kind enough to let me go flying this weekend. Although she kept the snow and high winds away, I did have a chilly 8° pre-flight experience. After a 15-minute pre-heat of the engine the plane was ready to fly. Yesterday's flight was a fun learning experience for me. It was only my second flight in a glass cockpit equipped airplane. With all the other Cessnas booked for the weekend I had the choice to see another weekend go by without flying or check out the 47TN and its G1000 Glass Cockpit.
In order to better prepare for this flight I downloaded Sporty's Flying Glass Cockpit video. This helped me learn the ins and outs of the G1000 glass cockpit. I highly recommend the video to anyone looking to fly in a glass cockpit. On top of that video, when I arrived at the airport the CFI I was flying with sat me down and walked me through a computer-based demo of the G1000. The combination of the video and software tutorial made me feel much more comfortable in the G1000 cockpit.
I can see how it is often said that the biggest problem with the G1000 is remembering to look outside the cockpit. The combination of great data, traffic advisories and weather information could be construed as information overload. But I think it provides information that can make your flying more precise and safe if used properly. One of my favorite features was the last call playback. After being advised by the Kenosha tower with instructions for entering the pattern and runway to use my instructor showed me that if I forgot or misunderstood the last call I could hit the playback button and hear it again. This is wonderful as it allows me to double check what I was cleared for without me having to clutter up the airways with a repeat of the call.
I realize now that my FBO is acting like a drug dealer. Giving me just a taste of the G1000 knowing now I will not want to go back to my standard Cessna 172 with its antiquated steam gauges. This plane 47TN is only two years old and even offered seat belts that included air bags (I had no idea these even existed). This is a long way from the Cessna 152 I took on my introductory flight over five years ago that had more duct tape than seat fabric inside the cockpit.
I plan on taking one more flight with a CFI next weekend so that I am checked out to fly the G1000 Cessna 172 whenever I want. On the next flight we will review the flight planning functionality the G1000 offers and also how to deal with screen failures or other emergency situations in relation to the G1000.
January 23, 2009
I am hoping to log my first hours of flying in 2009 this weekend. The weather looks to be cold but clear enough for me to fit in a flight. The only plane that was available was the Windy City Flyers Cessna 172 that is equipped with the G1000 glass cockpit.
I have only flown a glass cockpit equipped airplane once before when I had the chance to take a flight down the Hudson River to check-out the New York City skyline. After that flight I posted "After spending all of my flight time flying with traditional gauges I expected to be overwhelmed by the glass cockpit displays. But, I found them easy to read and relatively intuitive. I can see how it would take 10-20 hours to master the use of the system but after a little over an hour I was starting to understand where I needed to look to find the relevant information."
That was nearly two years ago so I am sure that the glass cockpit will seem foreign to me again but I am looking forward to giving it another try. I will update you on my experience after the flight.
December 28, 2008
At this time of year I always enjoy taking a few minutes to pull out my logbook and also to pull up the blog and look back at flights and posts from the past year and think of the great aviation experiences I have had. I broke some of my favorite moments into two categories: Flight Experiences and Aviation Community.
Going into 2008 I wanted to fly more regularly and start to build up some cross country time. My first flight of the year pushed me over the 100 hour mark of flight time. Shortly after I completed my second Biennial Flight Review. Both of those accomplishments were nice but more valuable was returning to a more frequent flight schedule that allowed me to become as confident in the cockpit as I was when I first learned to fly. I took advantage of that confidence to log several cross country flights with nearly 45% of my 2008 flight time being on cross-country flights. This will help should I decide to seek out an instrument rating in 2009.
Here is a list of a few of my favorite flights from 2008:
- Flight to the University of Illinois
- Cross Country Flight to Janesville's Kealy's Kafe for Breakfast
- Flying with my Wife over the Door County Peninsula
- A Wisconsin Cross-Country Flight
- Returning a favor to a friend
- Flying the T-6 Texan
- Flying with my AOPA Project Pilot Mentee to the MyTransponder Fly-in
Part of my enjoyment of aviation has come from meeting other aviation enthusiasts. Every pilot is aware that the pilot population has been dwindling and if we are to protect the interests of general aviation we need to start rebuilding the aviation community. In 2008 I had several ways to help spread my love of aviation.
I enjoyed meeting many fellow aviation enthusiasts through the Chicago Aviation Meetup Group. Although we had fewer meetings than I would have liked we did enjoy checking out a flightline, Flying-in to Lansing for lunch and meeting Meeting AOPA President Phil Boyer at an AOPA Town Meeting.
Another great aviation community moment in 2008 was when several Midwest members of the online aviation community, myTransponder, met in person at Janesville, Wisconsin for the first myTransponder fly-in. We had 15 members from three different states fly-in to talk aviation over lunch.
Although, this is my year in review post I hope to fit in one more flight before the year concludes. I will post an update on that flight should the weather hold-up.
December 21, 2008
Mother Natures continues to prevent me from flying this winter. I have had two flights scrubbed due to extremely high winds and one due to all-around bad weather. I am hoping while I take some time off around the holidays I can fit in one more flight for 2008.
In the meantime I have been thinking about flying and writing about flying, just not actually getting airborne. I have agreed to write periodic posts for AOPA's Let's Go Flying blog. The blog is dedicated to encouraging aviation enthusiasts to learn to fly.
Please check out my first post for the AOPA Let's Go Flying blog - "A Dream Deferred No Longer". While you are there check out the posts from many great colleagues: Evan of FlyingToga, Paul of Ask a CFI, Andrew of 2fly, Jason of FinerPoints, Steve of Airspeed Online and Francois of Flyin' and Ridin' and Lauren.
November 25, 2008
I recently returned from a wonderful trip to France. I spent several days for work in the south of France then met my wife in Paris for several days of exploring Paris.
As soon as I learned I would be going to France I started thinking about trying to fit in a flight while visiting. I was excited about the opportunity to see Versailles and the sites of Paris from above.
I had troubles locating fixed based operators or flight schools. So, I contacted PlasticPilot who is based in Germany for some advice. He suggested Air & Compagnie based at the Toussus le Noble airport near Versaille about 30 minutes from Paris.
I reserved a safety pilot and a Cessna 172SP for an afternoon during my visit. My wife and I planned to tour the Palace of Versaille in the morning then fly in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the morning of our day trip to Versaille we woke up to a terentual downpour. But, as all pilots learn to do I did my best to not focus on the weather hoping it would clear in time for the flight.
Sure enough while walking the grounds of Versaille the rain stopped and the closed began to clear. I started to think we would fit the flight in. Although we had a high enough ceiling and visibility the winds were in the 20 - 30 knot range and with 10 knot gusts. The problem is that the Toussus le Noble airport has two runways but they are parrellel to each other and the winds were directly perpindicular to the runways.
I waited another 30 minutes after the initial flight time but the weather did not improve so I had to scrub the flight. I often say one of the hardest parts about being a general aviation pilot is the let down of having to scrub a flight. I look forward to visiting France again and will be sure to look up the friendly folks at Air & Compagnie. For now a flight in Microsoft Flight Simulator X will have to do.
November 2, 2008
In my previous post I mentioned the new social network for aviators, myTransponder. Although, I have met pilots from all over the country through the site I noticed there was an abundance of Midwest based pilots on myTransponder. About a month ago I decided it would be fun to meet the Midwest pilots in person. I used the myTransponder "Events" functionality to schedule a fly-in for Janesville, WI as it seemed to be centrally located for many of the pilots. Janesville also has a restaurant on the tarmac, Kealy's Kafe where we could enjoy a good meal among pilots. I was delighted that moments after scheduling the event several pilots had already replied that they were planning to attend. My only concern was if the weather would cooperate.
Sure enough the date arrived and the weather worked out in our favor. I was joined by my friend and AOPA Project Pilot Mentee, Peter. We had a nice smooth flight to Janesville that took just over 40 minutes. The only difficulty on the flight was that the Bendix Traffic Advisory system was malfunctioning and giving us incorrect warnings indicating there was airplane traffic right below us. We ended up turning off the system for much of the flight as it is very nerve wracking hearing that alarm go off in your headset even though we were confident the system was incorrect.
When we arrived at Janesville I recognized the White Cherokee that belonged to Robbie one of the myTransponder members. He had flown in from Waukegan (KUGN) and was joined by his four year old son who seemed to enjoy the flight in. We reserved a table for seven figuring we would be lucky if that many people ended up actually attending. I was amazed when more and more people started to arrive. In all we had 15 people that flew in from three different states and seven different airports.
Several blogs, podcasts and aviation websites were represented at the event including, myTransponder, Jetwhine, Flying in Chicago, Pilotcast and of course MyFlightBlog.com. We had an enjoyable meal and conversation. Special thanks to Rod from myTransponder for picking up the check. After breakfast we checked out a few of the planes on the tarmac. Those that had not yet departed posed for a photo in front of Greg Bockelman's beautiful Cessna 195.
While we preflighted the Cessna for the return trip Peter decided to wipe down the Bendix antenna to see if that would fix the false traffic alerts. Sure enough it did. I have made a mental note to add checking that the antenna is not just securely attached but also clean during future pre-flight checks. The flight back was as smooth as the flight there. We arrived back to a busy Chicago Executive Airport where we made another smooth touchdown. It was fun flying with Peter and great meeting all those fellow pilots. I am looking forward to our next fly-in!
October 14, 2008
In August friend and fellow pilot Rod Rakic launched an online social community for pilots and aviation enthusiasts, myTransponder.com. The site is meant to be the place for pilots, aircrews, air traffic controllers, instructors and aviation enthusiasts to connect and share their passion for flying. The site is still in it's beta stage but there are already more than 500 pilots that have signed-up for an account and built their myTransponder profile. Several influential aviators have also joined the community including Max Trescott, Greg Brown, Tom Haines and Jason Miller to name a few.
I am excited about the prospects of myTransponder for a few reasons. First of all it has been a great way to meet several new pilots. Secondly it is a great place to get aviation advice or to talk about the next great aviation destination.
The site's tagline is "myTransponder makes aviation more social", trying to be true to that mantra I am now planning a Midwest fall fly-in to socialize in person with some fellow beta testers. We are targeting Saturday, November 1 with the following Saturday as a rain date. We plan to fly-in to Janesville, WI for breakfast or brunch at Kealy's Kafe.
Let me know if you are interested in joining us for this fly-in or if you would like an invite to the MyTransponder.com beta.
October 10, 2008
My wife and I picked the perfect weekend to escape the city and spend some time in the country. Here in Northern Wisconsin, we are treated to a beautiful show of colors as the trees put on their annual fall foliage show. Although the view is amazing driving down winding country roads, I know one place that offers an even better vantage point. So, I drove over to Cherryland Airport for some time in their Cessna 172. I flew north from Sturgeon Bay flying along the bay side of the peninsula as it narrows. Along the way I had a spectacular aerial view of the vast array of colors on the forests below.
Close to the northern tip of the peninsula is one of my favorite airports, the quaint Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport. It is a small two-runway airport nestled in the woods on a ridge just south and east of the town of Ephraim. After overflying the field to check the windsock that sat mostly limp I selected runway 32 which at 2,700 x 60 feet is the larger of the two runways and the only paved runway at Ephraim. I made a nice smooth landing then rolled off slowly to the end of the runway straight onto the grass. I wanted to taxi down the turf runway to ensure it was in safe enough condition to use for landings and takeoffs.
Sure enough, the turf runway was in great shape with only a few minor bumps. I followed turf procedures and turned the airplane around at the end but kept them plane rolling. I tossed in 10° of flaps and kept pulling back on the yoke to lighten the pressure on the nose wheel. Out the cockpit window was a sight every pilot must love, a well maintained turf runway with some distant trees glowing in a mixture of yellow, orange and red leaves signaling the end of the runway. As the airspeed increased I lifted the plane into ground effect just feet off the ground and let the speed continue to pick-up before pulling further back on the yoke and climbing safely over the trees and then out over the bay.
On departure I noticed a Maule in the vicinity so I flew a wider pattern to ensure we had plenty of separation. As I turned on final I picked a spot to aim for and focused on bringing the plane in nice and slow for a soft turf landing. I flared a few feet above the ground and listened to the stall horn sound then moments later the main gear settled softly onto the turf. I continued to apply back pressure until finally the front wheel also touched down. This was by far my favorite landing of the year. After that I flew back to Sturgeon Bay. On the return flight I pulled out the camera to snap a few photos. Unfortunately, the photos don't do justice to Mother Nature's show.
I brought along my GPS Data Logger on this flight. Thanks to some advice from Peter and from Jayson I was able to successfully track the flight and then overlay that track on a Google Map. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the device was to use. You can click on the photo of the track to see a larger scale version of the flight track. You can be sure that I will be bringing the GPS Data Logger along for future flights.
October 5, 2008
I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago. I was blessed to receive a wonderful gift from my lovely Wife. She gave me a Torgoen T06 Pilot Watch. The watch includes an additional hand to track Zulu time and also comes with an E6B Flight Computer.
I have to admit it has been years since I picked up a traditional E6B flight calculator. I do most of my flight calculations with the Sporty's Electronic E6B Flight Computer. But on many flights I forget to pull it out of my flight bag before storing it in the backseat. So I have a feeling having an E6B on my wrist will come in handy. The watch also gives me a great excuse to relearn how to use the traditional E6B and to become familiar with doing calculations or adjusting calculations on the watch while in the cockpit.
My Grandmother, a frequent MyFlightBlog reader, was generous and sent me a check for my birthday. I used that to order the Amod AGL3080 GPS Data Logger. Peter over at FlyinginChicago recently recommended it to me after he took it on a flight and used it to capture the flight track and then add it to a map after the flight. It can also be used to geotag photos which should be fun. I am looking forward to taking this along on my next flight and sharing my route here on MyFlightBlog.