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2006/10/29 Instrument Pilot Cross Country
π 2006-10-29 21:42 by Merlin in Flying

Since the IFR training includes a 250NM X-Country flight, I used the opportunity to combine this with a flight to Santa Monica to see Monster Massive 2006 in Los Angeles.
The flight was Palo Alto, Salinas (ILS), Paso Robles (GPS), Santa Monica (VOR/DME). It was just a long ass flight with an average groundspeed of 90 knots in a C172. My thoughts to go the patient and understanding passenger in the back of the plane :)
Landing in Santa Monica and parking between Citation Jets was kind of fun, and as for the flight itself, it was good training, but I really really wish the plane had had an autopilot. Flying by hand the entire way was quite tiresome.
















A few more pictures of that cross countries here
2006/10/28 Monster Massive 2006
π 2006-10-28 21:16 by Merlin in Clubbing

Monster Massive had such a great lineup this year, that I figured it made sense to fly there for the event, especially because I needed to do a long flight for my IFR training, so flying to Santa Monica to go see the event that night, made perfect sense.
The search felt pretty strict, first searched for all metallic objects, just like in an airport, and then searched again for things they didn't like you to bring in, but that were not linked to safety. On one side, I can appreciate that if you gather 10,000 people in downtown LA, you might have to worry about the occasional person who'd feel the need to bring a gun, but on the other side, it feels weird to go through security that is at least as strick as an airport.
I however have to take offense to the rules against bringing handheld digital cameras. I mean, WTF? First, if I pay $200 for two VIP tickets, I don't want any of that unannounced "oh, you can't take your digital camera" bullshit. But second, those rules are totally arbitrary and stupid: you're not going to confiscate cell phones, and they now have 2-3 Megapixel cameras. If you allow those, it is totally stupid to ban digital cameras, on top of being unfair, and bad business towards the customer who just gave you $100/ticket.
Once inside, the party was quite nice, the lineup was great, and I am definitely thankful to the organizers for having posted the DJ schedule in advance on their website. Everyone should do that :)



No, no guns here, but I want to keep my camera, thank you













Yes, there were other DJs than Armin, I just didn't stay closeby in the pit during the whole time :)
I do have to say about Paul Van Dyk though, voted #1 DJ again: while I don't mind his music, I'm not sure how someone who doesn't bother to spin anything anymore, and just brings a laptop, where for all I know he could just press play on a pre-made mix, got voted #1 again. The worst part is that they had to stop the music several minutes while he got the turntables/CD players out, and plugged in his laptop. Lame if you ask me....
But eh, I'm happy Armin got the #2 spot, and Tijs at the #3 spot is still very deserving too.
Anyway, you can see many more pictures and videos of Monster Massive 2006
2006/10/25 Sport Pilot Planes
π 2006-10-25 21:07 by Merlin in Flying

West Valley Flying club had a sport pilot day, showcasing the new sport pilot planes. While I don't quite get the point of the sport pilot rating, the sport pilot planes are quite nice as cheap trainers.
What was interesting, was that these new planes were using Garmin 296 portable units as mounted panel units, because they're a lot better and the old panel units you'd find on existing planes.
Here are a few pictures of the said planes





2006/10/23 IFR training...
π 2006-10-23 19:29 by Merlin in Flying

That's it, my class started today: 5-6H of ground time, and 2H of flying.
10 more days to go :)

(i.e. this means that I will be mostly unavailable for the next 2 weeks)
2006/10/18 Long distance
π 2006-10-18 16:52 by Merlin in Public

After AT &T; tried to tell me with a straight face that it was ok to pay $60 to call france 14mn, and graciously back-ordering a $5/month international dialing upgrade to lower the price when I complained loudly, I switched to Pioneer Telephone .
3.25¢/mn to the US, and 6¢/mn for France is more like it, and how it should be.
There is also a nice site that compares all the long distance plans in California
2006/10/18 Passed my Instrument Written exam
π 2006-10-18 16:32 by Merlin in Flying

After 7 to 10 days of heavy studying, I took the test and passed it with 90%.
On one side, I got lucky for not getting too many tricky or very hard questions.
That said, it took that long because I just didn't cram for the test, I read the PIC instrument book twice, all the relevant FARs, Aviation weather, portions of AIM (I have to read the rest now), studied charts, and took an 8 week IFR ground school in 12 hours :)

The only question I got and that sucked was the one where you have to build an entire flight plan leg by leg, computing time, cross wind, fuel burn, and in both directions, just to answer a single question of how many minutes you can stay in the air before you have to turn around for fuel. The question wouldn't be that bad if the answers weren't spaced out by just 3 to 5mn, making it very easy to pick the wrong answer if you try to do a reasonable approximation instead of the whole 30 to 60mn of computing.
That's just silly in my opinion, and I told the FAA so much in my feedback. In the end, I just didn't feel like doing all this silly paper math in the day and age of electronic flight plans and computers (I've done it on paper more than once for my private, that was enough), and I just put answer at random.

The other problem is that it's frustrating that they don't tell you which specific questions you made errors on. They only give error codes which could refer to one to 20 or more questions.
I looked mine up in the Gleim book, and for at least 3 of them (one is a 1-1 mapping: H945), and I can't see how I made a mistake on them, especially on H945 aka 11-10 which had an answer of 139KCAS or (B). I know I computed and answered that, and my E6-B computer still has the correct answer dialed in. Yet, I still got the answer wrong according to their report :(
It might be that somehow I clicked on the wrong button, and really made a mistake on the 2 other questions I think I most likely got right too, but none of this would be happening if they were more transparent and gave you the exact questions you got wrong along with what answer you gave.
At least, it's not as bad as my private, where I could swear I knew almost every single question and answer, and somehow managed a 88% (in this case, I felt a bit more shaky on some stuff, despite much studying, and did better comparatively)

Anyway, despite all those little details, even if vexing, 90% is a passing grade. I'll be taking the rest of the day off, and go back to the books to finish up what I haven't read entirely (aviation weather services explained, and all of AIM)
2006/10/11 IFR training with PIC
π 2006-10-11 23:09 by Merlin in Flying

I decided to get my instrument rating and go with Professional Instrument Courses . Most people are dubious of a 10 day course that can teach you everything that people learn in 6 months on average, and their pass rate is 93% instead of the average of 40%.
So far, I have spent about 4-5 days studying the books intensely, and one day with a CFI to review the ground info. I'm planning on taking the written test next week, a few days before the CFI from PIC flies over to Palo Alto and spends 10 days with me to train me.
While I'm not sure I'll get all the training I'd like to get in 10 days, if that's enough to pass the checkride, it'll be nice to get it out of the way and get my rating. I can then worry about doing additional training in other planes at my leisure (like G1000 training)
2006/10/11 Online logbook
π 2006-10-11 23:02 by Merlin in Flying

In case, I ever lose my logbook, I've taken pictures of all its pages, and will keep doing so as they fill up, so that I have some kind of backup should I ever lose my logbook, or when I need to get info on flights or hours without having the logbook on hand






All the pages of my logbook are here
2006/10/11 Foster Kittens
π 2006-10-11 23:00 by Merlin in Cats

Current Music:
Current Mood: By popular demand, here are some pictures of the 5 kitties I'm currently fostering. They are 8 weeks old, and full of energy :)
You can find all of them by following this link, including some really funny videos














5 isn't too thrilled about the whole thing. On this picture is a blanket that the kitten slept on, and the mere smell of them made 5 not want to eat the food I put next to it, which is a first for him...
2006/10/07 Red Bull Air Races, Fleet Week, Blue Angels
π 2006-10-07 22:44 by Merlin in Flying

Jennifer and I went to San Francisco for the Red Bull Air Races, and Feel Week Airshow. The plan was to park far out, and rollerblade to the Marina.
The Red Bull races were pretty impressive, the pilots had to negotiate a very tight course between inflated pylons. Not only that, but they also had to be crossing them with a 90 degree attitude, pulling up to 10Gs in the process.
You can see a video of the winner










The Airshow and the Blue Angels were quite nice too.












If you'd like more, see the rest of the pictures of the Red Bull Air Races and Fleet Week Airshow
2006/10/01 Catalina Trip and Diving
π 2006-10-01 22:49 by Merlin in Diving, Trips

Jennifer and I flew to Catalina and spent 5 days there from Sept 27th to Oct 1st.








Jennifer was signed up for a 3 day course to get her PADI open water certification, and I also asked the divemaster to check her out for a deep dive so that she was known to be ok at 30 meters depth (and certified all the way down to 41m due to PADI making no sense)
While she was doing that, I did a boat dive on the first day, biked inland in the morning of the second day








... and I did a couple of shore dives the second day (no pictures because I proceeded to lose my camera off my wrist right as I entered the water, but luckily someone found it and returned it later), and on the third day, Jen was able to accompany me on the boat dive, as she managed to get certified in 2 days instead of 3.
The 3rd day, we did 3 dives together, which all went well, although Jen didn't have enough weight on her 3rd dive to stay down at the end, so I gave her some pretty rocks to weigh her down :)
Also, there are several Unis ana lobster, aka lunch, that escaped :)



Giant sea bass are always nice to see when they're almost your own side
















remnants of uni


potential lunch :)



You can also look at the rest of the diving pictures in Catalina


On the 4th day, since we couldn't dive before flying, we used the time to bike up to the airport (11 miles, 1600 feet up), but while the plan was to bike at leas to little harbour, and back to Avalon before taking our luggage and the shuttle back up to the airport, the weather turned bad, and we had fog, light rain, and colder weather when we were in T-shirt and sweaty, so I opted for taking the shuttle back down, return the bikes and ride the shuttle back up with our luggage for an early departure, in case the weather got worse, and to give ourselves a larger window of opportunity to make the flight home (but soon, this won't be an issue thanks to the IFR rating, more about the flight there )







found one :)


And you can also look at the rest of the pictures taken in Catalina

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