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, 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.