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: 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



2005/10/30 San Francisco Bay Tour Flight
π 2005-10-30 21:50 by Merlin in Flying

I didn't get to fly Saturday due to bad weather (very low ceiling, which means that the clouds were way too low and that I would have needed a special authorization and a rated instructor to fly through the clouds and end up on top).
But sunday was a lot better, so I went for my bay tour flight, which is really a flight into class bravo (San Francisco airspace) to San Francisco, the golden gate and so forth. While I learn from each flight of course, this was more a leisure and sightseeing flight.

No complaints on the sightseeing, I got to fly around the golden gate itself, and then through oakland airport (well above), and back to San Carlos and Palo Alto.
I used the rest of the flight to do some training (steep turns and navigation).
See the rest of the pictures there (in higher resolution)






The plane waiting to takeoff on Runway 19L is doing an engine runup test (see the water)







2005/10/19 Didn't make it
π 2005-10-19 22:48 by Merlin in Flying

So, not very surprisingly, I failed today. I could not get decent sleep last night and have been feeling like shit and quite tired all day.
As a result, after doing the basic stuff, the examiner left me close to an airport, and gave me a bunch of things to do to overload me (which is expected and part of the exercise). The point was to redirect me to a nearby airport but I was about 30 seconds late getting everything done and calling the tower, so in the end, I had just penetrated their airspace by the time I called them (i.e. too late). If I had been awake, I would
- have been just a bit faster and would have had had the problem, or
- realized that I was just a bit too close and turned around until I had time to call

Well, I did pass ground (i.e. required knowledge) with flying colors actually and I still passed a bunch of things in the flying exam, so I won't have to take those again.

Basically, I know that while I can be very smart, my mental abilities are very uneven, and go way down with lack of sleep (much faster than others) or other physical reasons. I failed to be in the top 1/10,000 students in France and had to settle with 1/1,000-ish mostly because of costly and punctual brain farts. This has plagued me my entire life, and obviously it comes up in flying.
My goal however is to have my skill level be high enough that I will manage to do the right thing even if I suddenly become very tired or otherwise start losing mental "sharpness" while in flight (I shouldn't have left otherwise) and get overloaded with bad situations on top of that.
I have achieved that for driving since I do an instruct for high performance and track driving: I can manoeuvre at high speed and in dicy conditions (like opposite lock countersteering if I oversteer in a turn due to water or oil), even if I'm not much awake, because I've trained enough that I can do it out cold. I have to reach the same level for flying.

In the meantime, I'm just frustrated because I learned nothing that I didn't already know today, nor will this piece of the test really help me in real life, nor will another 20 or 50 hours of training really help with what happened today.
Now, I'll just take the missing pieces until I pass them, which is mostly until I either get lucky or a decent night of sleep the prior night, but that kind of defeats the purpose of additional training when the training is already enough, and additional training will not really help improve my odds of passing next time.

Anyway, I should be able to try again in a couple of weeks and in the meantime, I Emailed the controller at Livermore Airport to explain what happened (not required, just a curtesy), and filed an FAA form about the airspace incursion (not requested, but it's good practise).
If you are curious, here's the form, ( NASA 277B PDF header and report ), which is just an excerpt of the report I sent to my instructors , although that's more technical and mostly for pilots
2005/10/17 Damn, I'm a bit stressed
π 2005-10-17 17:48 by Merlin in Flying

Current Music: Dave 202 Presents Powerface - Abyss
Current Mood: See subject :)

Two more days before my flight test, so much I've learned, and so much I feel I still don't know (then again, with about 2000 pages of knowledge, rules and regulations, I guess that's normal).
The worst part is that if I fail, it will most likely be on some stupid brain fart mistake (i.e. something I otherwise know how to do).... I guess we'll see, more studying for the next 2 nights, and I have another flight scheduled tomorrow morning.
Right now, I currently estimate my chances of passing the first time, at 40%, at best. That's the perfect state of mind for taking an exam :)
2005/10/15 I've been studying my butt off
π 2005-10-15 23:56 by Merlin in Flying

Current Music: Matt Darey - Pure Trance - 2005-07-12
Current Mood: Ok

I've been studying my butt off and training quite a bit this week, it's the last stretch before my final flight test with an FAA examiner next wednesday.
I did a test flight thursday, and it was actually fairly bad. I made stupid and compounded mistakes because I was tired....
I flew again today and did better, including a power off landing (simulated engine failure) including a split to landing, all a night, with a resulting smooth landing.
I think I also finally learned to do steep turns properly today so that I hopefully won't fail that on my check ride :)
Now, I'm back to studying, studying and more studying. Reminds me of school :)
(it is a lot of shit to know actually, and a lot of it is even important ;-p )
2005/10/04 Written test
π 2005-10-04 13:05 by Merlin in Flying

Tuesday morning, I showed up for my pilot written test at West Valley Flying Club.
I had studied a fair amount, but had had a pretty bad night due to being oncall.
Long story short, I only scored 88%, due to a mix of stupid mistakes (most likely), evil weather and what's that cloud's name questions, and I think an error in the test question and answers (which I reported)

Of course, I still passed, but with less than I was hoping for (at least 90%). Damn...
2005/10/03 Longer Solo
π 2005-10-03 00:13 by Merlin in Flying

After my first solo cross-country, which was a bit botched (I found out after the fact that I did it in 1.4H, which is probably some kind of record in a Cessna 172SP :) ), so I had to make sure my next X-country lasted long enough (I had to have a combined time of 5H minimum).
My co-instructor, Sergey, recommended Visalia , which was not all that exciting, but was far enough :) The exciting part was when I saw a jet airplane take off soon after I landed, and wondered why I never heard about him on CTAF, the frequency I announced myself on when approaching the airport and landing. When on the ground, I found out that I had messed up when picking up the airport info from the FAA airport list I had, and picked up Visalia Sequoia Fld (D86) instead of Visalia Muni (KVIS) . Doh!
Anyway, after checking on the ground that my right fuel tank was indeed emptying too (my plane was mostly emptying the left wing, and the right wing gauge was pretty flaky), I headed for the next point: Castle Atwater Airport (KMER) . That was a more fun destination due to the 11802 foot (3.5 kilometres) runway. This runway was about as long as my plane could climb in altitude, which is also close to the altitude where you need extra oxygen if you stay too long.
What was almost funny is the amount of time I had to taxi on the runway before I found the first taxiway that let me exit :)



at Visalia


Almost VFR on top over fresno (one could actually see through the clouds and they didn't go too far)


I landed and stopped the plane in the clear/whitish portion at the beginning of the runway


this is the runway left on takeoff, I could have landed and taken off another two times in that amount of runway


Wind turbine generators


The nice salt lakes over the Bay



The funny thing is that as soon as I landed, I recognized the sound of autocrossing, and indeed, American Auto-X was having an autocross on the other side of the runway. First I thought about walking there after tying the plane down, and then I realized that it would have taken more than 30mn to walk there :)
I ended up taxiing the plane there (which even at a "fair" taxiing speed, took a while :-D), and I wasted the rest of the Autocross ( picts here )







The fun part of being at Castle/Atwater was the aviation museum, and its walking tour narrated on tape. That made the trip well worth it. I even got to talk to a former pilot during the war, who showed me some cool stuff in the cockpit of an old bomber. All the pictures are here .













Eventually, it was time to head back. I wrestled with the auto pilot for practise instead of flying straight pilotage (I did the rest of the trip without GPS, just using landmarks, and one VOR for verification), and got nowhere with the auto-pilot (either it didn't work, or I was not able to couple it to either a VOR or the programmed GPS heading: it kept wanting to go somewhere completely different).
After a few landings at Livermore (KLVK) to burn some time, and not very fruitful steep turn practise, I got back at Palo Alto (KPAO) with more than 4.2H of flight, which is perfect for what I needed.

The pictures from the flight are here

More pages: 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