Hopefully helpful writings of a career minded pilot, working through the ratings in a Part 61 school while still managing to eat and find time to sleep and work.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

lazy eights...think i've got it now

lazy eights have been dogging me since the start of my commercial rating. the last 45 degrees of each turn have been slow and my perception of that segment has been a 5-10 degree bank, NO rate of turn, and a sharp descent.

today that changed - somewhat anyway. i've been rereading the chapters on basic aerodynamics from the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge  (and just realizing that I have an older edition with not such nice graphics as those up there now!) in preparation for my CFI certification looming this winter. As I was doing my turns in the 8's all the stuff I have been reading was fresh in my mind, particularly lift, and it's changes in banks to wings level and the changing airspeed throughout the maneuver. I still find myself wanting to kick the plane over to the 180 degree point, and instead of doing so, find myself leaning in my seat at the end! anyway, i managed to figure out the magic number for Arrow N813ND : 19" of manifold pressure and 2400 RPM. I started with 18" and ended up 200 feet low, but the maneuver was nice and smooth. 19" did the trick! In addition, this guy's method of doing them has simplified the maneuver 10-fold. I've paraphrased the import part below, but give the whole page a read through. there's some good stuff on there:

All in all the first 90 degrees of the maneuver required very little control inputs on my part. After rolling into the initial 5 degrees of bank all I needed to do was to control the pitch attitude with back pressure on the yoke while keeping the ailerons and rudders neutral and the airplane basically did the rest for me.
As I allowed the airplane to return to a level pitch attitude at the 90-degree point and relatively close to the clean configuration stall speed the nose of the airplane sliced sideways through the horizon and into a descending pitch attitude without any significant intervention on the flight controls by me.
The second half of the 180-degree turn was somewhat more challenging as I was required to use the controls more actively to reduce the bank angle and controlling the pitch attitude throughout the descending portion of the turn.

and to make the flight sweeter - my chandelles were ending with some nice wing buffets - but no stall. I think I might just be a commercial pilot afterall.

250-260 hours and counting...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

in the system

today i took my first cross country flight as an instrument rated pilot filing IFR. i went to see my folks up in VT, expecting a nice VFR ride, but the early morning fog in KLEB had hung around longer than expected. it was 100 broken when i departed KBED, but expected to lift, so I filed IFR, KBED - CON - KLEB. My clearance was radar vectors to MHT, then direct at 6000. The plane i was in was N6910J, one of the older warriors, but still legal for IFR flight - well, just barely anyway. The DG precessed a good deal, and VOR2 was 3 degrees off, but all within limits for IFR flight. the VFR GPS left much to be desired as well. besides these however, it was VFR the entire way. as I got close to MHT I was given a direct vector of 340 to KLEB. approaching KLEB the tower was reporting 300 scattered on and off as the fog was lifting. as i got close, a plane in front of me got in on the visual 25, and i could see the airport in plain view with only a few puffs here and there in the area. i cancelled IFR and made the smoothest landing I've had in a while into rwy 36 since I was used to that approach. here's the plot:


and some pics:

everything in it's right place

the fog over NH/VT up ahead

On the way back, I decided to file IFR again, despite beautiful VFR weather. I like it, and it's simpler to a degree than flight following, but that's a topic for another post. instrument rated pilots know what i'm talking about :) I filed for 7000 to make sure that weird fear of heights i had in the tomahawk a year back was gone. my clearance was one i didn't expect - cleared to bedford via the 167 radial of LEB, then BASUU, then direct. I read back and went to work on the map figuring out where BASUU was, and plugged it into the fisher-price GPS. (re: regulations - technically it is only for reference and i am required to use my OBS's to find the fix) once all that was squared away i was off.

BASUU turns out is right between Bedford and Lebanon, next to Manchester. After only a few minutes at 7000 i was directed to 5000 then 4000. Bedford in sight, I was directed to the visual runway 5 - an approach I have never made at that airport despite flying out of there for almost 3 years! The pattern was a mess, the controller mistook me for another warrior and put me on a parallel approach with a cirrus who had to break off. i felt bad, but i was only following orders! they also had traffic landing on a crossing runway, 11, so i landed in the first 6-700 feet of the runway (light trainers, yeah!) and had to accelerate off to the first taxiway, E, to facilitate the folks behind me.

Here's the plot for the trip home:


All in all, a great flight. 2.5 hours on the hobbs...the part 61 $$$-suck continues...

on the way home at 7000 - laconia is under there somewhere.

looking west at 7000 on the way home

Thursday, August 12, 2010

keeping current

i'm usually very good about keeping current, mainly because it's a reason to fly! my regular safety pilot and i made plans to go up tonight and while working out the logistics i realized that my night currency had lapsed. according to the CFR 14 part 61.57.b you need to make 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop one hour after sunset in order to carry passengers at night. while technically he's also PIC (Pilot In Command) while i'm wearing those awful foggles, he's still a passenger when they're off. there's a grace period where if you're not current that you can carry passengers up to no later than one hour after sunset (and after one hour before sunrise.) Since sunset tonight was at 7:50pm, we would have to be on the ground by 8:50.

the purpose of the flight was to keep my instrument rating current (CFR 14 61.57.c.) my safety pilot doesn't have his instrument rating, but he is current (CFR 14 part 91.109.2.b) in both pilot certificate as well as category and class ratings for the airplane we'd be flying in (P28A - a Piper Warrior.) since he's VFR only, we'd have to conduct the flight as such, but I'm still allowed to file IFR, which makes things a lot smoother for us and for ATC (except for maybe that 10 minute wait for release into the system, i.e. waiting for clearance to actually take off into Boston's airspace.

so i got the weather and filed IFR from KBED to KBED with the routing as KLWM KBVY, and the remark of practice approaches. we took off, and had a great flight - ILS5@KLWM (good) held as published at LWM, LOC16@KBVY, not my best, touch and go and the vectors back to the ILS11@KBED. the last approach was a minor challenge as i was told to keep "max forward speed as is practical" because there was a falcon jet (little business class jet) 10 miles behind us inbound.

my safety pilot got a taste of what an instrument flight (more like an instrument lesson as we just shot approaches) will be like when he finally amasses the money to start on his own instrument ticket. ok, I have about 4 and a half more months to make at least 3 more approaches to satisfy the 6 approaches in 6 months (yes, and holding and tracking a radial...)

here's the flightaware plot:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

commercial cross country

beer? check. shower? check. warmed over pizza while watching futurama? check and check. $800+ less in my bank account? ugh, check. yup, this is the aftermath of my commercial cross country which I flew today. here's the flightplan in skyvector. (if it doesn't show up, just move the map a smidge)

It was a great trip despite two near misses - one a cherokee not on with ATC who decided to make a sudden turn into my path, and a corporate jet passing under me by barely 500 feet (thanks for letting me know, NY approach control.) the feeling of that much flying - 6 even hours on the hobbs, and the distance flown made me want to do it all over again. I thought i'd be bored, hungry, need to pee, etc...but not at all - just a great long VFR flight to a lot of new places.

and some shots;

the clouds were at the most innappropriate level - 5500-6000, so i bounced from 4500 to 6500 the whole way:

approaching Newburgh, NY:

here's aeroflex andover airport  (12N) at the end of that lake, and the Stillwater VOR (STW) just at the bottom of the pic:

finally, I made it to KZER!

stopped in for some quick refreshments:

and talked to one of the CFI's there - cool guy. He ran to get the phone about 15 minutes after I landed...asked me if I was N238ND...oops...forgot to close the flight plan in all the excitement!

Leaving Joe Zerbey airport (KZER):

This is Summit Hill, PA; where the graveyard is almost as big as the town itself...I imagine this will be ground zero of the zombie apocolypse:

BEHOLD! the Lehigh Gap!!!

amid the swarms of gliders I was calling out for Allentown approach control, here's a fire just south of Stroudsberg on the Appalachian Trail. If you look at the shadow on the right it looks like a giant eagle took a steaming crap on the mountain:

aaaaaand, Aeroflex Andover on the way back:

Waterbury Ct, starting to approach Hartford Brainard Airport (KHFD):

this is New Britain, Ct - I lived in the brick buildings in the lower corner of this graveyard 11 or 12 years ago in college. 625 Burrit Street - the amazing flooding basement cave!

and here's my favorite picture of the whole trip - Hartford, Ct. while on right downwind for runway 20 at KHFD, my second stop on the trip:

to my surprise, while inbound to hartford, I heard an old tail number, N4336E, I used to fly back in Northampton days in 2000 (while living at 625 burrit street, as a matter of fact...weird conincidence) who was coming for touch and goes at the airport. it's the plane taxiing in the middle:

after tallying up the logbook and taking a 15 minute break, I headed back to KBED. as I neared Boston I took this one last picture approaching our fair city:

life in part 61 training continues...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

quick birthday flight

for Claire's birthday, I took her out to KPYM - Plymouth Municipal in the very same place where the "Pilgrims" landed in the "new world" on Plymouth "rock". Alas, no Bravo clearance through boston this time either.

We ate at Plane Jane's cafe, a favorite of mine as it's all day breakfast food. As we were heading in, a news helicopter asked a plane on final if they could film them coming in. As it turns out the helicopter was filming stock footage for a news report of a crash that happened an hour or so before. the footage is at 1:38 in the link. so, no fuel leaks and no fire? one engine cuts out and then the other? poor fuel management, i'm guessing - glad they're safe, but could have been a lot worse. the news lady was at the airport after we left (as it's night) but the cafe is in the building behind her...huh...neat.

I practiced a few steep turns for the commercial ticket with Claire too - 60 degree banks - she loved it! it was all topped off by a fantastic red sunset setting over the storms off to the north as we headed back to KBED.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

actual actual parts 2 & 3

i've had two more flights this weekend in some horrible moisture, but calm winds. on the first, we set up for the ILS29 at KORH (worcester). the approach is a bit nerve racking as the airport lies on top of a ridge. as we're coming down, the trees on the hill start to become noticeable around 200' above the DA. at the DA (missed approach point on an ILS) all I can see are trees climbing into the clouds - no runway or lights! a real missed approach! on the vectors back around Brigitte asks the tower if they wouldn't mind turning on the lights...a few seconds later the controller says 'there you go, you should make it in now.' sheesh...sure enough we saw the same thing the next time around, only this time there were runway lights shining through the clouds. this means we can continue another 100' below the DA. that was enough and we landed with no problem.

the next day, KBED was right at minimums as we departed. again the air was smooth, but nevertheless it was all business. Did the following:

ILS5 at Lawrence (KLWM) holding at LWM VOR on the published missed,
vectors to the ILS35 Mancester International (KMHT - 737s and airliners, oh my!)

on the way there I snapped this:

Something I hadn't realized about Manchester before is the runway has a huge dip in the middle.

from Manchester we received vectors to the ILS14 at Nashua (KASH) On the way there, we were between layers. very cool false horizons and a feeling like you're in a barren winter wasteland with all the white.

Finally we did the GPS11 at KBED, missed to the ILS11, and landed back down. Here's a brief and not too exciting video of the GPS approach. you can just make out the runway at the end:

The cool thing was, we did touch and goes at all the airports. Here's the ground track:

Friday, June 11, 2010

actual actual!

Yesterday i was psyched to get in touch with Brigitte, a CFI i had flown with before who had a cancellation and had caught wind that i was looking for some actual IMC.

the first thing i noticed was the lack of VFR traffic on the radio and around the airport. it was just us and a whole lot of corporate jets who i imagine were being rerouted from nearby logan int'l. the weather itself was between 600-1000 AGL throughout the region, isolated rain showers and calm winds. I filed to go from BED to BED with LWM and BVY as the route. i copied our clearance, taxied out, did the run up, set the radios and we departed 11 starting our turn at 500AGL to 050. just after liftoff Brigitte said, 'no looking out, don't worry about the outside, you're on instruments now'. it was tough not to look outside at around 1200 as i noticed some clouds now beneath us, yet the ground was still there. then at 1600 or so, just like that, we were in the proverbial bowl of milk. Brigitte took the plane for a few seconds so i could look around and see just what it's like to have no reference to the ground. awesome.

after that, it was pretty much like a very relaxed lesson. we shot the ILS5 into KLWM, breaking out around 1000 which was pretty anti-climactic as it was a normal VFR approach. we broke off early, going missed, then held at the lawrence VOR for a few turns. my 5 T's were consistently lacking on the 2nd T; time. i kept forgetting to start the timer! part of that was due to the dual garmin 530s displaying a nice purple racetrack to fly around.

we were then vectored for the localizer 16 at beverly (KBVY) after ATC blew us through the final approach course, they turned us around and we set up from the other side. the ATIS was reporting 600 broken and something few below that. the MDA for the localizer is 580'MSL. this was going to be fun. Brigitte said, 'let's do a touch and go on this one, if we don't have to go missed for real.' this was going to be lots of fun. 780 winds by on the altimeter - '200 to go' i say. 'continue' says Brigitte. just at 600 feet I call the PAPI (part of the runway lighting) in sight. glancing at my approach plate (should have done this before the final approach fix!), i see the runway should be on the right side of the lights. i'm starting to make out the runway and we continued in for a touch and go - touching down near the threshold to allow as much usable runway as i could. after leaving Beverly, we went missed as published, held at WITCH for about 4 turns and then headed back to Bedford.

On the way, between layers I managed to snap this (the G1 is a great phone, but not when it comes to taking pictures...)

The ILS11 at KBED was pretty uneventful, although we were at max forward speed for a bit (Brigitte's call) as the parade of business jets was still going on. we broke out at about 450' above the decision altitude and landed. on the roll out i learned something about not using the brakes on a wet runway too...something i'd never had to deal with.

Two more flights in this weekend's crap weather lined up!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

imc in the regs for an instrument rating...just a thought

it's been 2 months that i've had my instrument rating yet the column in my logbook for instrument time remained a blank. i have something in the vicinity of 40-45 hours simulated instrument. since my goal is to one day be doing this for a living, i wanted to get my feet and ticket wet. at 141 schools you have a schedule, you fly everyday, no matter the weather and skirt around the CB cells. it's training towards what you'd experience on the job. you learn to make decisions in the air. a friend who went to a 141 school ft. pierce, forida said on a daily basis he had to make decisions on whether to fly his little BE-76 in between cells, or head back home, or worse; both. one of the drawbacks (and a big one if you want to build a career) of part 61 schools is that on top of flying 1400% less frequently (once a week v twice a day) the weather keeps you on the ground much more often.

i want to experience the worst of the worst in weather, i want to know my limits so I can accurately set them; something much safer in the long run than guessing what they might be and finding out for sure when it's too late. i want to continually push them until i'm comfortable with the idea of IMC, right down to the legal minimums. if i end up doing small cargo, that's all usually done at night, and a lot of it single pilot IFR. don't get me wrong, i'm not talking about getting in a 152 and making a b-line for the nearest icy thunderstorm, but i'd like to have more of a chance to practice ADM, aeronautical decision making...it's time to get that instrument ticket wet.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

instrument rated!! the beard goes!!!


what a feeling. i finally got the instrument rating last sunday on the 11th on my checkride re-test. he just had me do the GPS29 at Hanscom starting with vectors to JAYSE. piece of cake! well almost...check out this METAR:
KBED 111556Z 28020G28KT 10SM CLR 19/02 A3006 RMK AO2 PK WND 28028/1555 SLP191 T01890022

fun, huh? and that didn't account for the cold front that blew through just before we launched. as the DE and I were holding short waiting to take off, there were a few business jets coming in. on top of that the pattern was crowded (sunny sundays...) and what's more, the tower called a low level wind shear alert, +/- 10 knots at 200 feet.


i joked with the DE, "so let's see...wind shear, check, busy airspace and busy radio frequency, check and check, wake turbulence, check. oh, and gusts to 28...check...and let's not forget i'm nervous about busting a 2nd time. check."

all in all a pretty benign approach that went well within standards (i caught the step down fix this time). we got bumped around a great deal, but there was no wind shear thankfully, and i managed to land pretty smoothly, albeit left of the centerline after .7 hours on the hobbs.

eh, whatever...i have an instrument rating now :)
and so, the "rating beard" got shaved:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

busted checkride - how to deal

did you just bust a checkride? i know how it feels, i did too! it was my instrument checkride, nonetheless. it feels like being dumped, fired and arrested all at the same time. that sinking feeling in your stomach...'am i one of those pilots that you hear about? did i just seriously bust a checkride? what about my flying career? how will i handle this in job interviews?' maybe there are more tears, or swears, but that's pretty much what it's like.

after my bust i started reading around the web about busts, and most advice is correct. the DE did it to keep you and your passengers safe, but it's a learning experience, you'll fix what's wrong, and you'll get it right. one of the CFIs i'm friends with had this great advice, "and now you'll have a great story for the interview." he's right - what a great opportunity to tell your future employer about an experience that made you a better and safer pilot!

now here's hoping you or i don't bust the re-test...mmmkay?

Friday, March 26, 2010

CFR Ch14, §61.49, a.k.a.; busted...

On March 26th I attempted my instrument checkride. Here's a brain dump to help those who might be about to take their's (and hopefully not bust):

oral test:

jepp charts:
-enroute chart, the MCA/MRA are sometimes listed right at the fix / vor, (i knew) but also sometimes listed as a note (black number in a circle, like a footnote).

-departure procedures, if there is no SID, then use the ODP, if there's no ODP, then there's no obstacle, climb to 400 (standard TERPS clearance) then proceed on course, and use an approach plate to find the pointy things. didn't know there was a thought process like that, from one to the other to the other. can't remember that in any of the books either, fwiw.

Q: along an airway, a higher MCA is coming up, but you have not yet received clearance, frequency is congested, what do you do?
A: climb anyway, they know you have to, you're 'doing their job' as the DE put it.

i was good on the FARs as far as currency, VOR checks, alternates, and alternate minimums, able to catch MEAs and other critical altitudes and their meanings. i had a very good grasp on the weather and was able to answer the few questions there without a problem. other than that, nothing much significant.

practical test:

did my usual instrument checks during the taxi, and during the run up he said he had a clearance to give me. 'standby,' as i was in the middle of the mag check. we departed rwy 5 at KBED, and the foggles went on at 400 agl. the right arm broke in the process, which I had hoped was a good sign. he gave me instructions to turn to 250, and climb to 2000, matching the clearance from before, and then up to the expected 3000. i did well, headings and altitudes assigned, 1 unusual attitude recovery (which was a level climb at 500 fpm, with surprise covered AI...piece of cake.)

we were south of the minuteman airport (6B6) and would set up to do the VOR/DME RWY21 approach there. instructions were to intercept the 021 radial MHT (030 on the OBS - good) head to EGORE, one hold at EGORE at 3000, no problems, got cleared to do the approach while in the hold, now i can descend as i'm on a published leg, all went well. he had me go visual a mile out, and circle to land, giving me a ceiling of 1100MSL. i almost busted the MDA because i had the field in sight, but saved it remembering that i'm not in a position to make a normal landing. i also made sure to remain within 1.3nm of the runway end at 90kts, on a very short final to rwy3, we went around, and set up for the NDB/GPS5 at KLWM. confusion set in with ATC and their clearances at this point. the DE was doing all the radio work up to this point. he requested the GPS approach, they said NDB approach, I corrected them (GPS), but he said, 'no NDB', 'but i'm using the GPS overlay, correct?' correct. i set up the radios, ID'd LWM and MHT, turned MHT to 165 to identify KRIED, since I already had the GPS and ADF and marker for HAGET. the DE covers the AI and the DG for some partial panel fun. i tracked okay inbound using the GPS. as we're nearing HAGET he said they're using runway 32, so let's use the appropriate minimums. confusion started to set in, as i'm behind things at this point due to wind corrections using the GPS ground track / approach course. so down to 680 still? i thought "appropriate" meant we'd go missed early to avoid traffic. ok, i just passed and identified HAGET (the final approach fix) at this point, so i started timing, and descending. 'i want you to use the appropriate minimums', 'oh, circling minimums, okay, 720 is our new MDA.' continuing downward to 720 for my dive and drive, I hit the deck and started to track the magenta line on the GNS430 using the desired track, bearing and ground track, while making sure not to go below my MDA of 720. i got to the MAP, started to fly the procedure, but he took the plane and explained that I wouldn't get my instrument rating today, because unfortunately there are no do-overs in the practical exam. he said it was a simple mistake, but an important one: there's a step down fix at KRIED where you have to be at 920, but I was already at circling minimums of 720. 200 feet below MDA with no corrections or admission of error is a bona fide checkride bust. he gave me the option to stop for today, or if I'd like, I can get the precision approach out of the way back at KBED. one of the main things you learn while training for instruments is to shrug off bad approaches or mistakes, don't dwell, just concentrate on doing the next thing correctly. i said of course i'll do the precision approach.

we got vectors back to do the ILS29 at Hanscom. it was probably the sloppiest (but within standards) ILS approach i've flown. the wind was all over the place, plus knowing I busted didn't help. but i was able to keep a good attitude and just wanted to get that approach over with. i already failed, so what's the worst that can happen?

once we were tied down, he went over the retest procedure, told me i just need to log additional training, whether that's 15 minutes of ground, or 3 hours of flying, it doesn't matter. schedule a retest with him, and we'll just do that one approach again, full panel.

what really made me feel a little better was that before getting out of the plane he looked at me and said, ' everything else you did was fine, it was a small mistake that i'm sure you will never make again, especially now. don't worry, the sun will rise again tomorrow!'

it sounds corny, but it really did make me feel a lot better.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Anxiety flying dreams...am I alone in this?

Well, the answer is no, because of this post by Aviatrix from Cockpit Conversation (highly recommended). They are just about garunteed before every flight I go on at this point. I attribute this to being on the brink of being signed off to take the instrument checkride. My head is immersed in the Jeppesen instrument commercial book, and Michael Hayes' Instrument Oral Exam Guide. I'm not a numbers person, I'm more of a fingerpaint person, so I'm sure cramming all this math and numbers is causing some synaptical revolt in the form of weird dreams and nightmares. Here are some themes and plots that I can remember in no particular order:

-Driving the plane down a road. This happens a lot. either because i'm not supposed to be flying, or after a forced landing of some sort. Just about every dream i'm taxiing down a street at some point.

-Constantly behind the airplane, messing up, feeling very confused. Well, this one goes without saying almost. Its the crux of all these dreams. Its a horrible feeling, and sometimes transfers to the cockpit in real life. Read on below.

-One of the ladies behind the desk at the club won't give me the keys and the book to the plane. She says I've screwed up too much and I'm not in any condition to fly!

-Taxiing onto the active without getting clearance, realizing that I didn't even talk to ground to get clearance to taxi! This one happens often as well.

-Not being able to see out over the dash. OK, this one happens in real life, but on purpose. I like to sit low during foggle fun time - it's just easier on the neck. In my dream though I'm unable to strain above to look out. Anxiety maxed out!!

-And finally, the dream I had last night: Another instructor and I who I don't work with often are in a lesson. The lesson is taking place in a large shower. The shower is on, (we are clothed,) and the faucet is acting as the throttle (but of course...) This shower is in the middle of a small corner store supermarket. Out the window I can see the road that I'm driving the plane down...I pull the mixture, the water and the plane stops, I get out, and wonder why I had my clothes on in the shower.

So, the transference I spoke of above has never happened before. Today, however, it did. I attribute this to a few things. First, too much caffeine. Second, that AI failure. Also, despite having ~50 hours in a P28A Warrior only 4 or so of them are solo. It caused me to be extra careful, follow checklists thoroughly, check everything twice, and be super professional. of course the flight went without a hitch, and while it was nice to look back and self criticize on how happy i was with my performance, i'd prefer it not because i was anxious. next time...

Bad Attitude...indicator

second time i've experienced an AI failure in the warrior (N238ND). First time was in an instrument lesson, so hey, partial panel practice! it actually made the flight easier with one less steam gauge in the scan. I squawked it and it was verified by another CFI as "not reproducible." Well, this time I was by myself in VFR conditions (of course...for now) and I snapped this pic of it:

From Blogger Pictures

I verified it was the gyros (it can only be one other thing.) Here's my method of thinking: The heading indicator which runs off the same vacuum system used to turn the gyros was functioning just fine. Suction (vacuum) gauge was reading well, and putting on the standby vacuum pump (god, these newer warriors are nice!) made no difference. The strange thing is that after about 10 minutes of flight (on both legs) it starts working just fine.

Needless to say, I squawked it again - this time offering the above proof!

206.5 hours and counting...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

PPC turns 1 year old!

It was a frigid February 4th, 2009 much like today when I earned my Private ticket. 92 hours later I'm a week or two away from my instrument checkride. Looking forward to more time building this summer provided the Commercial ticket doesn't sap all my money away with the complex requirements (Piper Arrows aren't cheap.) Hoping to get to Katama again this summer for a day on the beach, which was definitely one of the high-points of the license so far (next to taking my parents up for the first time, of course):

and leaving...

Monday, February 1, 2010

on the subject of ramen noodles

Hands down the best ramen noodles out there have to be Koka. You can get them here in Boston in Kam-Man and Super 88. They are cheap (naturally,) very very low in sodium, (somewhere around 10% while others get to 60-80% daily sodium) and very quick and easy to make...for ramen noodles that is.

Another cheap and easy (but time consuming; 1hr+) meal to look into is Mujadara - very good for the brain. Tons of protein and vitamin B.

Jeppesen vs. NACO approach plates and IFR charts

I love the look of aviation charts. low-enroute charts, sectionals, whatever. They make great desktop wallpapers, expired sectionals wrap a good present and can even be printed on tyvek envelopes to make wallets. But of course what they should be best acknowledged for are how easily they can be read, and more importantly interpreted in turbulence, and at night, or both. When I started my instrument rating, I thought a while about whether I should go the NACO option, or the Jeppesen option. Here's a run-down on what I've found so far as a student pilot:

NACO Charts / plates

Cheap and easy to maintain. No doubt about it, they are cheap, come in one bound or unbound pack when you want them, no subscription required, and you just recycle the old ones, no inserting random updated plates into the book as Jeppesen does. If you are rated and don't fly instruments often, they are free in fact because you can print out whichever ones you'll need for a particular flight.
Clean look They are minimal, and easy to read. There's not a lot of clutter, so you can identify what you need quickly. Plus, take a look at this plate for the NDB 5 at KLWM, one I use often in training. It's almost art-deco, no?


A little too minimal at times. Compared to the Jepp, they don't include all the cross radials for that can be used to identify fixes in the event one station is offline.
The TERPS layout. Handy things are in other places in the publication. I.e. airport taxi diagrams aren't grouped with their approach plates, important information such as raised minima from equipment failures aren't on the charts, but in a table in the beginning, the list goes on.

Jeppesen Charts

What you need is where you would need it. The airport diagram is behind the first approach plate for the airport. Low visibility taxi diagrams for Class B and C airports are also right there with the plates.
Rates of descents worked out for you. This is huge. As an instrument student the FAF (final approach fix) to the MAP (missed approach point) is a very busy time. On all the non-DME VOR, NDB and ILS approaches (in case the glideslope goes out of service) the Jeppesen charts have both time from FAF to MAP, but also rate of descent right there where you need it. With speeds at 70 and 90 knots, there's also no need for interpolation - just what you'd want while sweating under your foggles.
Everything is pretty much spelled out Procedure turns, missed approach instructions, frequencies and morse identifiers for off-chart radials and resources are all right there. It makes the chart a little busy, which could easily fall into the cons list, but overall this is more of a help than hinderance.


Price. A subscription (In September 2009) to NACO plates and charts for New England runs around $95 or so. Jeppesen New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT) costs $138.
Paper quality. I guess I can see the point of having really inexpensive paper if you're going to be printing so much of it so often, but seriously - these are like tissue paper. Taking out one of these charts and handling them in a bouncy plane, attaching them to a yoke clip, or putting them in a kneeboard sleeve without shredding them can be quite a feat.

Conclusion The deal breaker came from my friend who flies for American Eagle. He said, if you're going to be professional, use what professional pilots use. Plus I was leaning towards them anyway. So I plonked out $138 for the year's subscription, and now all my charts, plates and updates are mailed to my door every few weeks. Of course, I keep well versed in both. They're both pretty intuitive, and easy to pick up on their differences. Besides - the FAA written Instrument test uses NACO charts, naturally.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some Books I've Read - Any Suggestions?

During the slow pace of part 61 training I've heard the best thing an aspiring pilot can do is suck up as much knowledge as possible and get his or her hands on as many aviation related books as possible. Below are the core books I've used in my training. Given that my Private ticket took 13 years, those listed are mostly for the instrument rating (with a couple exceptions.) Let me know if you have any that aren't here?

'Fate is the Hunter' Ernest Gann
Fantastic and engaging writing, and a great motivator for those who look to the airlines for a career in aviation, as well as motivation to be vigilant in the air; "Those 20 feet off the assigned altitude were bothering me..."

'Flying IFR' Richard Collins
Sort of like having that salty old instructor / grandfather tell you how it is, and how he does it, and so should you too...got it? Very helpful, insightful, and his vast experience is essential for us low-timers. The one thing I now think about constantly in the air is 'the needles have to be somewhere, they might as well be in the right place.'

The FAA suite (each pdf is linked, although i suggest buying them bound.)
Basically the government's (free) prescribed way of being a pilot. Essential basics, everything you need to pass the written exams, definitely governmental (i.e. dry, to the point.):

Airplane Flying Handbook
Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Aviation Weather
Aviation Weather Services
Instrument Flying Handbook
Instrument Procedures Handbook

'Jeppesen Instrument Commercial Textbook'
A monolith of information. This is basically the FAA instrument books, but written with character, and made easy to digest. There are pictures, interesting side-stories, quizzes, trivia, and it covers both NACO and Jeppesen charts / plates. Essential for anyone following a career path (i.e. instrument -> commercial).

'Weather Flying' Robert Buck
If the FAA's 'Aviation Weather' is too dry for you (it will be) then pick up this one. It's insightful, and it improved the way i think about big picture weather. Plus this guy has flown thousands of hours in 747's. Awesome.