Marc's Public Blog - Flying


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This is a collection of my blog entries and experiences with flying, and learning to fly. Something I had been wanting to do for quite a while.
You can find all the pictures I've taken here, and read below for my experience.
Specifically, I have a page for my Trips to Oshkosh, the mecca for pilots

Table of Content for flying:

More pages: November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 April 2017 January 2017 December 2016 August 2016 July 2016 May 2016 February 2016 January 2016 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 February 2015 January 2015 November 2014 September 2014 August 2014 June 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 July 2013 June 2013 April 2013 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 January 2012 November 2011 August 2011 July 2011 April 2011 March 2011 November 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 May 2010 March 2010 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 March 2009 November 2008 August 2008 July 2008 May 2008 April 2008 December 2007 October 2007 September 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 December 2004 September 2004 August 2004 May 2004 March 1999




2017/11/24 Thanksgiving Flight to San Bernandino, and Back
π 2017-11-24 00:00 in Flying
I was going to San Bernandino to attend Dreamstate Socal over Thanksgiving.
I was totally not going to be driving to or from LA during thanksgiving. Flying southwest to a nearby Ontario airport was actually a decent option, but I elected to fly my own butt there and fly directly to San Bernandino's now defunct military airport, which therefore has a very nice long runway as well as a great FBO (seriously, awesome FBO, I'm hoping they get enough traffic and customers to sustain themselves, given that San Bernandino is otherwise not really a closeby airport for LA).

It did cost about 2x more to fly my own butt there than flying Southwest at last minute rates, but eh, I got to a closer airport, and I got to leave on my own schedule for both legs :)

The flight there was definitely my best flight to Socal where I got to fly over all 3 of Mohave Spaceport, Edwards Airforce Base (where the space shuttle could land, and X planes are tested), and the unassuming Victorville which has a great collection in its airliner graveyard.

fly by Moffett
fly by Moffett

I don't think it was LA smog, I avoided the LA Basin
I don't think it was LA smog, I avoided the LA Basin



Mohave Spaceport
Mohave Spaceport



those plane bodies were stripped for parts/skin
those plane bodies were stripped for parts/skin


A cool little racetrack and dragrace strip nearby:


that got me excited :)
that got me excited :)

Then I made it to Edwards, which is usually closed airspace, but was open during thanksgiving:



the runways on the lakebed are my favourite part
the runways on the lakebed are my favourite part

Left, Center, Right, really? :)
Left, Center, Right, really? :)



Then, I made it to Victorvillle, which I circled once at lower altitude to picture all of the many planes parked there:




southest planes having fun :)
southest planes having fun :)





I then finished my flight to San Bernandino, arrived a bit late, but it was well worth it :)



sadly the airport is pretty deserted
sadly the airport is pretty deserted

The flight back was less scenic, the weather got worse (low-ish overcast and rain) as I got closer to Palo Alto. Got to land on runway 13, and no one else was flying with that low overcast and bad weather:





Apple's saucer :)
Apple's saucer :)

Home, sweet home...
Home, sweet home...

2017/10/30 Queensland's Air Museum
π 2017-10-30 00:00 in Australia, Flying
While visiting the Sunshine Coast, we did a quick stop by QAM, the local Air Museum. It's not huge, but it still has a few interesting planes and was worth 90mn on the way between our attractions that day.

lots of planes packed up on the main hangar
lots of planes packed up on the main hangar

F111 bomber
F111 bomber


remember this?
remember this?


the air truk is definitely a weird airplane :)
the air truk is definitely a weird airplane :)




cool beechcraft 2000A starship
cool beechcraft 2000A starship





they had a mirage III-O
they had a mirage III-O


'O' like 'Ostralia' :)
'O' like 'Ostralia' :)



triple folding wing, nice...
triple folding wing, nice...





See more images for Queensland's Air Museum
2017/10/29 Australia Safari Trip Wrapup
π 2017-10-29 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
Clare McEwan from airsafarisint definitely did a great job setting all this up for us. After 22 days, here are some numbers:
  • 21 days of travelling across Australia
  • 11 days of flying
  • 37 hours of flight over those 11 days
  • 20 landings, some at airports with nothing but fuel, or no fuel and a narrow dirt runway (or grass).
  • we covered 5200 nautical miles (9640km) in our loop (I'd say more than 4500NM was actually flying, the rest on the ground)
  • total of 1378l of fuel (365 gallons)
  • fuel bills amounted to $AUD 3170 (= $USD 2525)
  • Here is the whole trip:

    Flying Red Tape

    Flying in another country was interesting. I only got a cliff's notes about airspace rules and differences, but here are my impressions. The amount of red tape necessary for flying in Australia is much worse than in the US. The US feels so nice in comparison:
  • First, you have to get an ARN (pilot number), which requires the first layer of paperwork
  • Then, you need to get an ASIC, a special badge that allows you to enter the secure area of many airports. This cars is only valid 2 years, you get fined heavily if you don't return it when it's expired (despite the big expiration date written on it), and because it was a bit too simple, as is, they've now added extra requirements to be able to get the card: ID is not enough, you need proof that you're born or married or somesuch, and some utility bill too, just for good measure.
  • Pilots get in trouble if they allow a passenger to walk from the plane to the gate without being with them (so you choose between securing the plane down carefully, or taking your passenger for a pressing trip to the toilets)
  • Many airports have gates with codes like the US, that part is expected, but you cannot drive your car or van or anything to your plane for unloading (you can in most US airports, including many dual use commercial ones)
  • Strangely this applies even to some (many?) bush airports where they used anti terrorism funds to put fences around the airport, which they really wanted to block wildlife (i.e. kangaroos on the runway), but now have fences with codes and no way to drive your car to the plane. That was true for a town with 12 people, although a few more remote places did have runways that were "unprotected"
  • Yeah, it was entirely too simple before that
    Yeah, it was entirely too simple before that

    Flying Differences

  • ATC costs money, so most private pilots do not talk to ATC at all, unless they have to (controlled airspace), and it's free in those cases.
  • This however means: not the same help to navigate around weather (of course no XM nexrad either). Sadly this means lots of airplanes flying around, often not talking on the same frequency, if at all, and at chance of midairs. I personally had 3 aircraft cross at my same altitude, opposite direction (along the coast and one canyon), with one being much closer than I've ever had anyone cross me. This did not fill me with joy.
  • There is flight following, but only in the limited controlled airspace area, most of the Australian land mass does not have radar coverage.
  • On the flipside, most aircrafts are getting ADSB now or by next year, and hopefully that will help somewhat
  • Also, I surprisingly got cell phone signal in flight maybe 90% of the time, including over completely desolate terrain. This allowed me ot get weather in flight and a poor man's plane locator with ozrunways' self reporting feature over the cell network.
  • Not all radio calls are the same, "rolling" instead of "taking off" or "orbit" which threw me off and meant "left or right 360".
  • There is no such thing as "altimeter" (setting), they say/use "Qnh"
  • When you fly into an airport, you're supposed to announce your arrival time in UTC, which kind of sucks when you're going through states with half hour timezones, and crossing between places that do DST and those who don't.
  • Airspace Differences

    On airspace, it's again different.
  • No Bravo
  • Alpha, Charlie and Delta are somewhat Bravo like. I'm not entirely sure what the difference between them, is, but they all require a clearance before you enter and positive ATC routing
  • Echo seems Charlie-like: you need a transponder and talking to ATC but no clearance.
  • You need to fly 1500ft over populated areas, not 1000ft
  • The Australia I hadn't seen in my prior 12 visits

    I knew about Alice Springs and Ayers Rock, but never really had gone so far given that it was out of the way. The real outback, even more so, unless you fly like we did.
  • I found out that the flies in some of those places are pretty unbearable, while others have way too many mosquitoes. I'm so happy California is so much nicer in that respect :)
  • Seeing small towns in the middle of the outback like Charleville, or Birdville and Big Red, puts things in perspective. Very nice to see without having to drive days on 4WD tracks :)
  • Flying to a few Australian Islands we hadn't been to, didn't suck either.
  • In Hamilton Island, however, if I had done my homework better, I'd have accepted that it's not really the great reef like they claim (it's 2H boat away from the nearest ok enough reef). We should have spent more time on the island.
  • We got to see plenty of wildlife we hadn't seen before, including more macropods that I know how to name (and not just potaroos, bandicoots, and wallaroos)
  • The trip definitely offered a lot of variety, and I now feel like we can say "we've seen Australia" :) (and by that, even more than most Australian :)

    Aboriginals

    The situation with Aboriginals is complicated to say the least and I feel like I only learned just a bit more about them, especially by going inland. I might have gotten some of this wrong, but here is what I think I learned:
  • first, I knew there were over 100 tribes, but they're not just tribes, they do stress that they are different people with different customs. As a result you can't say "the aboriginals are X, or do Y". They do speak around 100 different languages, and have different customs
  • what the Australian settlers did to the Aboriginals sucks beyond words, that's all I can say in a few words. Now, they're trying to make things good, but it's hard, and apparently there are plenty of places where they're still not treating them as normal citizens with the same rights.
  • from what I've seen at least in Coober Pedy and Alice Springs, there is a clear problem where some Aboriginals tribes are not interested in integrating (which can be understandable), but as a result don't fit at all and look kind of homeless. They literally hang out in parks all day under trees or whatever, some beg for money, and they don't look interested in working or earning money. Obviously what used to be their home was taken from them and it's now awkward for them to live in places where they used to live for thousands of years.
  • they could of course live without money but at the same time they want to enjoy some of the things from the western world, be it a bike, or a phone, and I'm not too sure how it works out. I'm told some do turn to stealing, hopefully only a small percentage.
  • western hygiene is not in their culture (again understandable), some of the ones I saw from close, really smelled bad. Again, ok within their tribe, but of course a bit difficult when you mix 2 peoples and cultures.
  • there is otherwise generally an issue of some Aboriginal tribes not wanting to integrate with the culture they of course don't identify with, but is somewhat inevitable if they're going to live in what are now cities (even if not by choice)
  • some I saw didn't give a good image, probably because some tribes have a drinking problem (not sure if it was willfully introduced, but there are laws now designed to prevent them from drinking). I saw men yell out loudly and constantly at their woman, and the same thing the other way, some dropping their pants in the middle of the street (not too sure what happened there), it was kind of weird. Wikipedia mentions In the Northern Territory (which has the greatest proportion of Aboriginal Australians), per capita alcohol consumption for adults is 1.5 times the national average. Nearly half of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory reported alcohol usage. In addition to the inherent risks associated with alcohol use, its consumption also tends to increase domestic violence. Aboriginal people account for 60% of the facial fracture victims in the Northern Territory, though they only constitute approximately 30% of its population. Due to the complex nature of the alcohol and domestic violence issue in the Northern Territory, proposed solutions are contentious
  • and on the other side, you have plenty of Aboriginals who are perfectly integrated, so it goes the entire spectrum. Sadly I'm guessing many are part of the stolen generation (children taking away from their parents and brought up the western way as orphans :( )

  • For more, you can read wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Australians
  • So that was that, very interesting trip, but depressing to have learned more about the situation with aboriginals

    See more images for Australia Safari Trip Wrapup
    2017/10/28 Oz Day 22: Fraser Island back to Toowoomba via Sunshine Coast
    π 2017-10-28 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips

    After 21 days going around Australia, it was time to fly back to where we started: Toowoomba. We took a ferry back to mainland and Hervey Bay, got back to our planes, and went for a very scenic flight around Fraser Island, spotting wildlife from the air (Manta Rays, Turtles, and Whales).


    Kingfisher Resort, where we stayed
    Kingfisher Resort, where we stayed

    the car ferry we had taken earlier
    the car ferry we had taken earlier




    the lake we visited the previous day
    the lake we visited the previous day




    very cool custom water plane
    very cool custom water plane

    fly to the beach, walk away
    fly to the beach, walk away


    lots of mantas
    lots of mantas



    Thanks to reports from other pilots, we found a few whales:




    awesome pretty
    awesome pretty







    nice little runway on the other side of the island
    nice little runway on the other side of the island

    We then flew back to the main coast:




    big ass beach party
    big ass beach party


    Eventually we got to sunshine coast








    Ozzie world
    Ozzie world

    kart racetrack
    kart racetrack

    glasshouse mountain
    glasshouse mountain



    And then back towards Toowoomba:



    and the last landing of the trip.
    and the last landing of the trip.

    After 37H of flying and 20 landings later, we got back "home" in Towoomba.
    It was a great flying trip, kudos to Clare McEwan from airsafarisint for organizing it.

    2017/10/26 Beach flight off Fraser Island's beach
    π 2017-10-26 00:00 in Flying
    While it felt a bit silly to book a passenger flight given that I was a flying trip, but there are only 2 places in the world where you can do a commercial flight off a beach, so I thought I would give it a shot. Sadly, the pilot fucked me and when I asked him for the best recommended seat in the plane, he actually gave me the worst possible one. I'm not sure if he was being stupid, or what, but I ended up with the rear right seat, with indeed the worst view of the whole plane :(
    Despite, that I still managed to get a few intersting pictures, but it was a lot less fun than it oculd have been. I should hve just made it a strong point to get the copilot seat, sigh...














    back on the ground
    back on the ground



    2017/10/25 Oz Day 19-21: Fraser Island
    π 2017-10-25 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
    After Hamilton Island, our next Island was Fraser Island. Sadly there is no airport there, so we had to fly to Harvey Bay (very scenic flight), and then take a bus and a slow ferry, we got there eventually though.



















    After the nice flights, we took the slow ferry to Fraser Island:







    After dinner, we went for a night walk ranger led tour:







    Around our eco hotel rooms, there was quite a bit of wildlife: water monitor, snakes, loads of spiders, and birds:








    The next morning, we went for a 4WD tour of the island in a big bus:


    huge 4WD bus
    huge 4WD bus


    fresh water lake
    fresh water lake


    the roads are interesting, soft sand makes it more difficult to drive
    the roads are interesting, soft sand makes it more difficult to drive









    sometimes it felt like we were on a boat :)
    sometimes it felt like we were on a boat :)



    We finished with a nice fresh water stream emptying in the ocean:





    We tried to go on a whale watching tour, but after 5H of rough sea, we didn't see a single one, which is super rare, so we got our money back although we sadly wasted a lot of time:



    So, we went ona 4H walk in the afternoon. Sadly we spent most of our time dodging mosquitoes and didn't have much to show for it:

    Jennifer got her dingo stick, but we saw no dingos
    Jennifer got her dingo stick, but we saw no dingos










    lots of snails as tide was getting lower
    lots of snails as tide was getting lower



    interesting green worms
    interesting green worms

    Before long, on our walk back, we got our private sunset:


    ah oui! :)
    ah oui! :)



    The next morning, we went to see the little soldeier crabs before heading out:


    plenty of them
    plenty of them

    they make a pile of sand and hide under it, they're quite skilled
    they make a pile of sand and hide under it, they're quite skilled

    a army of them
    a army of them



    I'm assming they get eaten by birds
    I'm assming they get eaten by birds

    Solider Crabs are really fun to watch, here's a video to show you:

    And that was it for our last location, Fraser Island.

    See more images for Oz Day 19-21: Fraser Island
    2017/10/22 Oz Day 16-18: Hamilton Island
    π 2017-10-22 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips

    From Undara, we flew to another island, this time Hamilton Island, a big resort island with multiple airline flights, some international. The first part of the flight was totally VMC, I promise :) (but let's just say that it's a good thing all pilots were IFR rated). After takeoff the clouds went to the ground, and there was no clear path outside of climbing through a hole in the clouds:



    where we stayed in Undara
    where we stayed in Undara

    VFR on top
    VFR on top

    glad to have others on scope, because I couldn't really see them
    glad to have others on scope, because I couldn't really see them














    Hamilton Island's runway
    Hamilton Island's runway


    Once on the ground, we waited for our transport in the hangar:






    After arriving, we booked a 4WD buggy tour which didn't have extreme driving, but it was fun enough and mostly to climb to a few peaks with a few:





    Top views:




    our hotel
    our hotel





    our planes
    our planes

    we drove down to a beach
    we drove down to a beach





    some fish would surface to get food
    some fish would surface to get food

    We then went to our room, and I saw some sulfur crested cockatoos by our room, so I went to look for my seeds, and made an offering to the single bird:


    then another one came and they fought a bit
    then another one came and they fought a bit

    this one won
    this one won

    then a few more showed up
    then a few more showed up

    Some became very friendly and eager quickly, but they have sharp claws, it hurt a bit :)



    happy bird
    happy bird


    We then went to hide back in our room, and the birds stayed, hopeful :)


    jennifer felt bullied :)
    jennifer felt bullied :)

    Some pictures from our room:



    Meals:

    you could have breakfast by the koalas
    you could have breakfast by the koalas



    Jennifer found a nice restaurant for us the 2nd night
    Jennifer found a nice restaurant for us the 2nd night

    wedding party outside
    wedding party outside



    Most of our time was spent during 2 days going to the great barrier reef for diving

    The last morning, we walked on the beach during low tide:

    snails that make the shells that hermit crabs steal later :)
    snails that make the shells that hermit crabs steal later :)


    We then had a nice scenic flight on the way out:




    our hotel and beach
    our hotel and beach

    one of our planes, taking off
    one of our planes, taking off



    See more images for Oz Day 16-18: Hamilton Island
    2017/10/21 Oz Day 15: Undara
    π 2017-10-21 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
    From Sweers Island, we had an "interesting" flight from Sweers island to Undara, a little Oasis in the middle of the north eastern Australian hills (2500ft or so). It was low overcast most of the time with lots of wind at Sweers, but we got there ok. Landing was actually uneventful.





    fuel stop at normanton
    fuel stop at normanton



    I did loose formation flying
    I did loose formation flying


    Undara dirt runway
    Undara dirt runway


    Undara had interesting accommodations in railway carriages




    Lots of birds causing mayhem




    Undara had lots of walks. Sadly we didn't have much time for them, nor did I know about those walks until I had wasted time screwing around a bit, so I only had 55mn in the end to do a walk before our 15:30 lava tube tour. I ended up doing the Atkinson's lookout (3.8km/1.5h) and Bluff return (1.5km/25mn), or about 5km/1h55 in 55mn. It was a bit rush, but I made it :)





    Atkinson's lookout
    Atkinson's lookout

    Bluff lookout with view of Undara lodging
    Bluff lookout with view of Undara lodging


    Jack, grabbing some internet :)
    Jack, grabbing some internet :)

    We then went on our lava tube tour. Turns out that area has the biggest lava tube in the world, although it collapsed in a few places, so it's not the full original 120km length (or so):







    After the lava tube tour, we went on an evening sightseeing tour:


    little baby joey
    little baby joey







    At the end of the day, we went to see a cave from which thousands of bats were flying out. They were so fast that I was not able to get pictures of them, but a video shows a bit:

    The next morning, I was up early, so I went for the 5.8km/1.5h bush walk which I was able to do in 1h or so, just before breakfast:





    ants make those big holes so that insects and small animals fall in it, and then they eat them
    ants make those big holes so that insects and small animals fall in it, and then they eat them


    those hills are built by termites
    those hills are built by termites

    that's what they look inside (I didn't break this one)
    that's what they look inside (I didn't break this one)


    happy kangaaroo :)
    happy kangaaroo :)


    back for breakfast
    back for breakfast

    brown your own toast in the fire
    brown your own toast in the fire


    And that was it for Undara, nice location with both lava tubes, and lots of macropods you can see on one of the many walks.

    See more images for Oz Day 15: Undara
    2017/10/19 Oz Day 13-14: Sweers Island
    π 2017-10-19 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips

    We did a nice flight to Sweers Island, we flew by some rivers to look for crocks, but didn't get lucky:




    finally made it to the ocean
    finally made it to the ocean




    sweers island's dirt runway
    sweers island's dirt runway



    bring your own tie downs
    bring your own tie downs

    We then spent 1.5 days on the island:

    nice colorful bird
    nice colorful bird










    The next morning we went for a quick fishing trip, the conditions were not ideal due to the wind:


    I caught 2 fish, but they were too small to eat
    I caught 2 fish, but they were too small to eat


    Jennifer caught a seaweed :)
    Jennifer caught a seaweed :)

    After the sun wasn't as hot, we did a walking loop around the island:




    lots of mangroves
    lots of mangroves


    the aborigenes built this wall to catch fish
    the aborigenes built this wall to catch fish


    ack through the airport
    ack through the airport

    Sunset:









    While the island was not overly exciting, I guess it was a nice place to rest...

    See more images for Oz Day 13-14: Sweers Island
    2017/10/18 Oz Day 12-13: Adels Grove
    π 2017-10-18 00:00 in Australia, Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips

    From Alice Springs, we went for Adels Grove, a little Oasis in the middle of northern Australia, we however got detained by the worst kind of mall cop ever, a ground truck who thought he had to make himself feel important by preventing us from leaving and giving us a ridiculous useless lecture that tried to explain how he was important (he was not) and how foolish we were to have walked to our airplanes without his "help" (yeah right). What a freaking idiot, I filed a report against him with the airport management, I hope they "take care of him"


    Alice Springs is the main base of the flying doctors service
    Alice Springs is the main base of the flying doctors service



    Jennifer learned how to make airplane tie down knots
    Jennifer learned how to make airplane tie down knots

    a single crop circle in the middle of nowhere
    a single crop circle in the middle of nowhere

    devil's marble round rock formations
    devil's marble round rock formations


    if glaciers didn't do this, I don't know what did
    if glaciers didn't do this, I don't know what did

    We landed at Barkly's Roadhouse for lunch:









    We eventually got to Adels Grove, and went for a nice swim in their river:




    got stung by those lovely yellow jackets
    got stung by those lovely yellow jackets





    a bird makes those nests
    a bird makes those nests




    We then drove to Boodjamulla NP for a river cruise:


    we got on a nice electric boat
    we got on a nice electric boat









    and then we left for our next destination
    and then we left for our next destination

    See more images for Oz Day 12-13: Adels Grove

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