learning_experiences

The Race is On

I went flying one Friday out of Farmingdale, N.Y., with Matt, a fellow pilot, and my friend John, who we picked up at White Plains. We had planned to go to Nantucket, Mass., for the day, but a front was moving in. Matt and I decided to meet at the airport and discuss it. When I got to FRG at 7:15 am he had already pre-flighted the airplane.

I didnt really want to go to Nantucket because I thought it would be difficult to beat the storms back. We talked it over and decided to pick up my friend at HPN, go to East Hampton to have lunch and return before the storms hit Long Island. The visibility was poor at FRG and it was IMC almost everywhere, so we filed IFR for the trip. Matt flew to HP...

Surprise Adventure

Elaine, my 21-year-old-daughter, was a senior in college and was to get married in less than two months. She and I have shared that special close bond that is unique to dads and daughters, so we planned one more father-daughter adventure before she tied the knot.

She had one day open on her busy pre-wedding summer schedule, so I cleared my schedule too. I just hoped the weather would be VFR for our planned flight to Ocean City, N.J., a place that holds many great memories for my wife and Elaine.

The evening before the flight I checked the weather forecasts on the AOPA website and filed a flight plan as well. We planned to lift off at 5:45 a.m. to arrive at Ocean City by 7 a.m. Breakfa...

Minimal Margin

Lake effect is a term Im going to get to know a lot about, now that I have a son at RIT.

I first visited Rochester some years ago when my oldest son was screening colleges. I wasnt an active pilot in those days, and we flew up commercially in mid-November. Arrival was delayed somewhat and the captain said something about lake effect snow. We picked up our rental car after dark, and no sooner had we entered the ramp to the interstate when my son asked, Why are there so many parked cars at strange angles?

Turned out there had been a minor ice storm, but more than enough to cause disruption. It had ended, but the highway surface was still glazed. We were able to proceed, but only a...

Extra Excitement

During a recent instrument competency check, my instructor and I were making our last approach of the day, an ILS to runway 4 of our home field. Since we had successfully completed the required hand-flown ILS at another airport, this one was to be flown by my Mooney Ovations autopilot.

The weather was clear, with light and variable winds at the surface. The plan was for me to demonstrate the transition from instruments with the autopilot flying to a full stop landing on runway 4. There was no reported traffic in the pattern at our uncontrolled home field. This was verified by another Mooney, which had just departed runway 22.

Everything worked as advertised and I reported our positi...

Juice Runs Dry

As a student pilot, Ive become accustomed to the fact that being on the learning curve isnt something new. There was, however, a particular learning experience I had not anticipated quite so early in my aviation career.

I had approximately 40 hours of flying time and was going out to the training area to practice ground reference maneuvers. I had just finished doing my first cross-country solo a few days earlier, so going just to the training area 10 miles away didnt seem like a big deal. It was a perfect morning, clear blue skies and best of all, no flight instructor in the right seat.

I flipped over the starter key and nothing happened. After a few pathetic turns of the prop, one...

Too Much, Too Fast

Last week I was scheduled for my second solo flight, and I arrived at the airport (a controlled, class D field) ready and willing. It had been a rainy day up until that point, but the weather had broken, and it was now clear VFR with 10 miles of visibility and a scattered layer at about 6,500.

It was 4:00 pm, and I figured that I could get in at least a good hour before sunset. My first solo the day before had gone splendidly and I was feeling confident in my abilities to go up and do it again. I got my weather briefing, preflighted the aircraft, a 1998 Cessna 172R, and was all ready to start her up when I was interrupted.

My instructor, who had been in the pattern with another studen...

Glued to the Ground

On a coast-to-coast cross country in my 160-hp Warrior, my wife and I made a planned stop at Grand Canyon (GCN) while enroute to Camarillo, Calif., via Las Vegas. We arrived in the late afternoon, intending to leave the next morning for LAS. Instead, we decided it would be fun to see the canyon in mornings light, and we decided to remain overnight an additional night and leave at 6 a.m. local time since the density altitude was reaching over 8,500 feet msl by mid-morning at the airports 6,600 ft elevation.

Having experienced the Warriors abysmal climb in high density altitude conditions the previous day at El Paso, I was anxious to be in the air no later than 6:30.

We arrived at G...

Beat the Clock

It was a fairly nice November morning, and I had booked a Cessna 172 from John Wayne Airport to Catalina for a day trip to celebrate with my wife on our anniversary.

The weather was VFR and was forecasted to remain that way until 1900 local. As we approached Catalina, I could see the low clouds just west of the island with their eastwardly movement hampered by a weak high that sat over the area.

The tour bus took us from the airport to Avalon and would not return until 1600 local. The entire time in Avalon, I was checking the weather on my cell phone, worried that the weather would not hold. The bus ride back was a miserable 30 minutes as I watched the sky and monitored ASOS.

Whe...