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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: 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




2017/10/12 Oz Day 06: Coober Pedy, Australia's Opal Capital
π 2017-10-12 00:00 in Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
Coober Pedy was literally founded after early settlers randomly found opals, and the rest is history: many people moved it like a gold rush, although opals are not that easy to find (mostly random) and in the end aren't worth that much compared to the time and energy people put into finding them. Sadly many people lost their life's time and savings looking for them, and very few ended up ahead.

On the flight to and from Coober Pedy, we got to see the very many holes that were dug out to look for opals. From the gound it almost looks like the ground got shot by many big bullets and then finished off by bombs :)




It's only looking closer in the places that you see more:





Going for landing, and found a nice little dragon on the taxiway:





After going to our hotel with rooms dug in the hill, which is how people live to stay cool in the otherwise hot sun:

gets 100% dark with no windows
gets 100% dark with no windows

the clay gets a varnish on top so that it doesn't fall on you
the clay gets a varnish on top so that it doesn't fall on you

We went to see the hotel museum and nearby mining museum:



Australia had a big island sea with prehistoric sea creatures
Australia had a big island sea with prehistoric sea creatures

wicked
wicked


Lots of displays on how mining is done:




Opals:




The museums also showed multiple rooms cut into the hills how people lived/live. As a bonus, when you dig to add one room to your house, you might just find opals at the same time:




You could also tour some caves:




you can see the tunnel boring machine
you can see the tunnel boring machine





Many stores selling opals in all different ways:



Visiting the town had a few left over props from multiple movies that were shot there:

From Pitch Black with Vin Diesel (a good SciFi movie actually)
From Pitch Black with Vin Diesel (a good SciFi movie actually)







not a movie prop, but super cool to see a DS so far from home
not a movie prop, but super cool to see a DS so far from home

They also have landscape that looks close enough to Mars for Mars movies to have been shot there:



They also have a kangaroo sanctuary where they raise little joeys adpoted from killed moms:







We had a morning tour that took us to a mining area:


most holes are left unattended and are easy to fall into
most holes are left unattended and are easy to fall into





Nearby was breakaways, a former inland sea:













A few shots of breakaways from the sky:





Nearby was the dingo fence, it kept Jennifer safe from being eaten :)





Last part of our tour was a church built into the side of a hill, very interesting:






We then went on our own to see another mine, and house built into a hill:






More housing quarters:










A fair amount of aborigines live there:


nice art
nice art


Misc:






Coober Pedy is definitely a cool place to visit, and learning about a different kind of mining that isn't really practiced anywhere else.

2017/10/11 Oz Day 05: Birdsville to William Creek via Lake Eyre and onto Coober Pedy via Painted Hills
π 2017-10-11 00:00 in Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
We left Birdsville early in the morning in pretty hellish winds and headed for Lake Eyre which was half dry but still interesting to fly over. One plane in our group flew low enough that they were able to spot wild camels in the sand dunes. Sadly we were a bit too high to see them, and probably didn't look carefully enough:


I first flew over big red, where we had gone for sunset the previous evening
I first flew over big red, where we had gone for sunset the previous evening






by then I had a nice tailwind and was doing 159kts on a 125kt plane
by then I had a nice tailwind and was doing 159kts on a 125kt plane




when flying down lake eyre, I clocked a peak 169kt in level flight at 2500ft. Not bad for a 172 :)
when flying down lake eyre, I clocked a peak 169kt in level flight at 2500ft. Not bad for a 172 :)





finally arrived at William Creek
finally arrived at William Creek


William Creek, population 12, doubled in size when we arrived for lunch :)


special planes with magnetic detection probes to do land surveying for minerals
special planes with magnetic detection probes to do land surveying for minerals

most people arrive to William Creek the hard way, through harduous 4WD tracks
most people arrive to William Creek the hard way, through harduous 4WD tracks






After lunch and a refuelling, we went to Coober Pedy via the very pretty Painted Hills:








one of our pilots did some low level flying
one of our pilots did some low level flying



pretty
pretty




We then landed at Coober Pedy, which we visited in details the next day.

2017/10/10 Oz Day 04: Charleville, to Windorah, to Birdsville
π 2017-10-10 00:00 in Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
Day 4 started to get more remote. and turning into the true outback by the time we arrived to Birdville.

The first flight, we did some makeshift formation flying. That was definitely challenging and kept me on my toes, and I flew nowhere close to others compared to what the 2 best pilots, did:

morning pre-flight briefing
morning pre-flight briefing

cute pink plane
cute pink plane

formation takeoff
formation takeoff

I was so happy to have a G1000 to show me where other planes, were.
I was so happy to have a G1000 to show me where other planes, were.

'traffic alert, traffic alert!' :)
'traffic alert, traffic alert!' :)


well done, guys
well done, guys

We then resumed our regular flight to Windorah, our lunch stop:

there were watering holes for cattle
there were watering holes for cattle





Windorah had a small airliner from Regional Express (REX) that links the small australian towns that are a bit too far to reasonably drive in between:


we had to hold our planes when it left to make sure we didn't get blown over
we had to hold our planes when it left to make sure we didn't get blown over

We then resumed our flight to Birdsville, the gateway to the outback:




arriving at Birdsville
arriving at Birdsville


the hotel was walking distance from the airport gate
the hotel was walking distance from the airport gate

We then got a tour of town and to the Big Red, a nice sand dune. Birdsville has a big horse race once a year, which draws crowds from all over Australia, and requires days of driving for many, on outback tracks, kind of a rite of passage, apparently a bit burning man like in some ways:






I think I found some bilby holes
I think I found some bilby holes


And that was it for Birdsville, we had dinner in their restaurant, and slept on location too, dodging the super annoying and plentiful flies that seemed to be everywhere.

2017/10/09 Oz Day 03: Toowoomba to Charleville via Surat
π 2017-10-09 00:00 in Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
Our 3rd day in Australia/Toowoomba, was the day we'd head out. I was understandably a bit nervous about navigating on my own in a totally different ATC system that quite frankly didn't have much in common at all with the US system I learned in, but in the end it wasn't so bad, thanks to the training we had gotten the previous days.

Two legs of just under 2H, the first one took us to Surat, a small deserted airport with no facilities:




natural gas pipelines
natural gas pipelines

seems that our planes were all equipped with ADS-B, so I was able to see other planes from our group
seems that our planes were all equipped with ADS-B, so I was able to see other planes from our group


Surat
Surat

Our 2nd leg had a bit of convective weather, including this big rain cloud that shook the hell out of us when we had almost cleared the side of it
Our 2nd leg had a bit of convective weather, including this big rain cloud that shook the hell out of us when we had almost cleared the side of it

Charleville
Charleville

Once in town, we got a short guided tour:





and then dinner
and then dinner

2017/10/07 Oz Day 00-02: Flying Air Safari over Western Australia, Brisbane and Prep in Toowoomba
π 2017-10-07 00:00 in Flying, Ozsafari2017, Trips
Jennifer and I first flew to Brisbane via Seoul, though 2 nice business flights we got from Korean Air via miles. It was not the quickest way there (12h + 9h), but it avoided the hellhole that is Sydney airport and its joke connection (or lack thereof from International to Domestic, and we got much nicer seats and amenities from Korean Air. The seats were got were actually first class like, only the food was ok not fantastic, however it didn't matter.

We started by checking out the Amex lounge in SFO that Jennifer got access to (sadly on the wrong side of security for us, so we had to go through security twice):


she liked the wine sampler/dispenser
she liked the wine sampler/dispenser

made it to Incheon/Seoul, and connected to Brisbane
made it to Incheon/Seoul, and connected to Brisbane

very nice seats
very nice seats

and we arrived in Brisbane around 06:00 to meet Clare from Safariint and the start of our tour. Since I had a bit of time, I did a quick walk around the south bank of brisbane:




this guy was doing a photo shoot :)
this guy was doing a photo shoot :)




We then took a bus to Toowoomba, about 2h inland from Brisbane, and got some briefings on how to fly in Australia, as well as check rides from the club that was going to rent us planes for the next 21 days. I'll sheepishly admit that I kind of sucked during that check ride given how little sleep I had gotten, but I guess whatever I had left was enough to pass:



On day #2, I was up before sunrise, fog to the ground, and then we got some very loud birds that all went off at the same time exactly at sunrise, despite the heavy fog:


more planning with Oz charts
more planning with Oz charts



this was the C172 I was going to use for the next 3 weeks, with a slightly faster engine and a G1000
this was the C172 I was going to use for the next 3 weeks, with a slightly faster engine and a G1000

2017/09/09 2nd high altitude training, at Reid Hillview
π 2017-09-09 00:00 in Flying
I had done the old traditional training in a pressure chamber at Beale AFB 7 years prior. It was worthwhile, but quite frankly it was a pain for the average pilot to go there and spend close to a full day for the training where the relevant part is really only 20 or 30mn.
When I found out that the FAA came up with a new training where instead of needing a bulky pressure chamber, they could just setup a tent, remove oxygen and pump in nitrogen instead until oxygen percentage was down to 8% or so, I found the idea very cool. It gives your lungs the same partial pressure of O2 than at 25,000ft or so, but without worrying about reduced pressure of air, and getting the bends.

So, I went to do it again, and the effects of O2 deprivation were similar for me: I don't feel happy like some do (which is bad, that's how you die), I start feeling not good while otherwise remaining functional. My brain slows down, but I can still do one task at a time if I really focus on it, and this second time, I didn't turn quite white like the first time, but I got very hot and sweaty. I was literally wet under my clothes and my body continued that reaction for another 5mn or so after I was back to normal air.

I tried my best to write down my O2 saturation during the exercise. It never dropped into the 60's which is where some people got, but I still was quite impaired in the 70's and couldn't have stayed at that saturation for much longer.
What's interesting is how my heart rate went up to compensate for the low oxygen, and then it seems to have given up. Not good...

Time	SPO2	Heart Rate
1mn	81	117
2mn	76	115
3mn	78	121
4mn	78	95
5mn	73	xx
6mn	71	98

I have a coworker who took a couple of pictures for me, and this time I filmed the event so that I could later see the time distortion (what feels like 1mn to you because you've slowed down, is actually 5mn of real time):

an instructor was giving us commands
an instructor was giving us commands

I looked focussed on whatever I was doing, and not too white this time :)
I looked focussed on whatever I was doing, and not too white this time :)

And here is a short video of the session showing how we deteriorated over those few minutes:

2017/08/20 Madras Erickson Aircraft Collection
π 2017-08-20 00:00 in Flying
While at Madras for the eclipse, it was a good excuse to go visit the museum on the field, so I did, and here are a few pictures:














interesting wing design
interesting wing design


That evening, a few more planes showed up just after sunset. Made for nice pictures:






2017/08/20 Flight from Palo Alto to Madras via Shasta, Klamath Falls, and Lassen
π 2017-08-20 00:00 in Flying
ILike many other people, Jennifer and I went to Madras to go see the total solar eclipse, but thankfully we didn't have to drive. It was a slightly less than 4H flight thanks to a tailwind (I was afraid it would be more in a slow C172, the best plane I could get for that day since most planes were of course booked for that time.
I had planned to take off before 07:00, but my fuel order the previous day, was not filled, and I was forced to wait until the competing fuel company opened up and could fuel us up. We eventually took off a bit after 07:20. Better than nothing.




plane was pretty packed with 2 bikes and all our hiking and camping stuff
plane was pretty packed with 2 bikes and all our hiking and camping stuff

Jennifer soon resumed her copilot duties :)
Jennifer soon resumed her copilot duties :)

I flew by Mt Shasta on the way up:





Sadly California had multiple fires, which made visibility often bad, especially by noon or so. On the way up, it wasn't too bad though and we got to see Crater Lake which was totally smoked in later on, on most days. We had actually planned to go to crater lake, but I cancelled that part of our trip once I saw how bad the visibility was on most days:




I think that's the hike down to the ferry that goes around the lake
I think that's the hike down to the ferry that goes around the lake

We eventually got to Madras, which had nice scenery:




After watching the eclipse, we flew to Klamath Falls, with its big lakes:



once on the ground, we drove to that bridge to see the lake from both sides, you can see the falls aren't that big afterall :)
once on the ground, we drove to that bridge to see the lake from both sides, you can see the falls aren't that big afterall :)

big runway, hard to miss (I was asked to land long)
big runway, hard to miss (I was asked to land long)

there is an air force training base onsite
there is an air force training base onsite


We first landed in Klamath Falls to see Lava Beds National Park, and then on the way back, we had a look at the town.

We were supposed to fly out the day after, but when we arrived, there was a line of thunderstorms around the airport and another one around Lassen where we were going, so I opted for us to stay the night in Klamath and fly down to Lassen early the next morning just after sunrise:



got lots of pictures from Lassen on the way
got lots of pictures from Lassen on the way




and finally landed at Chester/Rogers airport, from where we had a rental car waiting, and we drove back up (1h) to Lassen
and finally landed at Chester/Rogers airport, from where we had a rental car waiting, and we drove back up (1h) to Lassen

After a full day in Lassen, we flew back at sunset (20:00) and got home in Palo Alto just before 22:00, tired, but happy from all the nice sightseeing.

2017/08/20 Total Solar Eclipse at Madras, Oregon
π 2017-08-20 00:00 in Flying, Trips
After a longish flight from Palo Alto in a slow C172, we arrived at Madras Airport, smack in the middle of the path of totality for the eclipse, the first total eclipse in the US since the 1970's. Needless to say that everything on the path of the eclipse, was packed, and so was the airport, as well as camping sites nearby.

Solartown, north of the airport
Solartown, north of the airport

the rest of the year, Madras has a small racetrack and drag racing strip
the rest of the year, Madras has a small racetrack and drag racing strip

when we landed on sunday morning, a few planes were there already, but many more arrived
when we landed on sunday morning, a few planes were there already, but many more arrived

I was able to negotiate a parking spot closer to the exit for the next morning, and we setup our camp
I was able to negotiate a parking spot closer to the exit for the next morning, and we setup our camp

some amount of vendors at the airport
some amount of vendors at the airport


We then took our foldable bikes and biked to Solarfest, a few miles south:

Madras was ready for visitors
Madras was ready for visitors

and their money :)
and their money :)

we met Arturo at Solarfest
we met Arturo at Solarfest



Nasa had a display room, but hard to get into due to crowds
Nasa had a display room, but hard to get into due to crowds




Nasa gave talks
Nasa gave talks


lots of vendors
lots of vendors

I then went to Solartown to meet Arturo and Louis at their RV:




It was then time to get back to the airport for sunset pictures:










We then tried to sleep in our tent, and I very much appreciated the jet that landed at 05:02 and stayed idling close to our tent for a good 5mn :)

people getting ready early
people getting ready early

I packed up our camp and turned the plane around in the direction of 'get the f out of here' :)
I packed up our camp and turned the plane around in the direction of 'get the f out of here' :)

I was one plane away from the last taxiway to the runway
I was one plane away from the last taxiway to the runway

Tim, one of my many coworkers who went to the event
Tim, one of my many coworkers who went to the event

In case the sun disappearance brought a big flood, some were ready :)
In case the sun disappearance brought a big flood, some were ready :)

And then, it started:



this lucky guy landed 1mn before the runway closed
this lucky guy landed 1mn before the runway closed

getting closer
getting closer

that little sun left, is still very bright
that little sun left, is still very bright

without a filter, it was still super bright
without a filter, it was still super bright


almost there, but still way too bright to look with naked eyes
almost there, but still way too bright to look with naked eyes

and finally!
and finally!

the corona of hot plasma around the sun, only visible during an eclipse
the corona of hot plasma around the sun, only visible during an eclipse

mercury became visible
mercury became visible

So, it's hard to explain, but it does get quite dark, and cold. The cold was really noticeable, which is surprising how quickly it changed in just a portion of a minute:



and then, after barely 2mn, it was over
and then, after barely 2mn, it was over

Just to give a feel for what it looked like, here are 4mn starting just before totality:

Those 2mn were as cool as they went by quickly. As soon as totality was over, we rushed to the plane, and went in line for the runway, got the first spot and I was the first person to take off when the runway re-opened. While waiting over 30mn, I took a few more pictures from inside the plane before finally being able to take off:



in the 40mn I waited before taking off, the roads were filled up already
in the 40mn I waited before taking off, the roads were filled up already





jets were the only ones allowed to take off for about 1h after I left
jets were the only ones allowed to take off for about 1h after I left

solarfest
solarfest

a long road home
a long road home

And one last shot of the partial eclipse still going on while we were flying to Klammath Falls:


We had a great time, definitely an at least once in a lifetime experience.

2017/08/15 London Science Museum's Airplane Section
π 2017-08-15 00:00 in Flying, Greatbritain2017
Usually I would only feature an airplane museum in the flying section, but the London Science Museum's section of airplanes is big enough that it deserves its own mention.

There was a good history of early planes:


a good reminder that the first aircraft that was heavier than air was French, even if it didn't fly far
a good reminder that the first aircraft that was heavier than air was French, even if it didn't fly far

very bird-like aircraft
very bird-like aircraft

of course the wright brothers are mentioned, along with their patents and thirst for money that caused the US to slip back decades while France quickly took over the world of flying machines
of course the wright brothers are mentioned, along with their patents and thirst for money that caused the US to slip back decades while France quickly took over the world of flying machines

one impressive thing on the wright brothers' airplane was the engine: light and efficient
one impressive thing on the wright brothers' airplane was the engine: light and efficient


lots of early french planes
lots of early french planes

While most people know about the French Mongolfier brothers and their hot air balloon, few know about all the dirigeables that many countries experimented with, including England:



The section on VTOL aircraft was very nice. I didn't know about the pre-harrier prototypes:

VTOL thrust vectoring prototype
VTOL thrust vectoring prototype


Short SC-1, first UK VTOL aircraft
Short SC-1, first UK VTOL aircraft


and harrier
and harrier

Other random planes:



first german jet aircraft
first german jet aircraft




early airplane with inefficient propeller
early airplane with inefficient propeller

So again, while it was not an aviation museum, it sure had a worthwhile collection to check out.


More pages: 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