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.

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.