Marc's Public Blog - Flying


All | Aquariums | Arduino | Btrfs | Cars | Cats | Clubbing | Dining | Diving | Electronics | Exercising | Flying | Hiking | Linux | Linuxha | Museums | Public | Rc | Sciencemuseums | Snow | Solar | Trips

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: 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



2005/11/27 Thanksgiving Flying Weekend
π 2005-11-27 23:19 by Merlin in Flying

Because I fell sick half way through, the end of the 4 day weekend wasn't as productive as a result. Yet, while I had to cancel my flight to Sunday to Harris Ranch sunday, I flew every other day, including some more complex practise in a 172RG (plane with retractible gear) on thursday, and more practise in a 235HP Cessna 182 G1000 which can comfortably sit 4 people while having about 4H of fuel.

Thursday afternoon, after my first flight, I spent the thanksgiving lunch, afternoon and dinner at JBQ and Eugenia's who were nice enough to invite us.



Friday, I got really close to getting a C182 and high perf checkout, but didn't quite make it due to lack of time from the instructor. I'll have to finish next week.
Then, I went to meet Jennifer at Starbucks/Jamba Juice and had quite a nice and refreshing chat. More to come...

By saturday, after my morning flight, where I got fairly close to getting my C182 and high perf rating, I started getting rather sick with a cold.

Sunday, incidently, I got to spend a fair amount of time in my new bed, and cancelled my flight to Harris Ranch, I just wasn't up to it.
2005/11/20 Mountain Checkout
π 2005-11-20 23:12 by Merlin in Flying

After training in a Cessna 182, I decided to use the plane to get my mountain checkout. Not only it has more power, but also it was a good chance to learn to use the avionics (G1000) in that plane on a longer trip

I went to Tahoe via Bear Valley, practised at a small mountain airfield (a bit scary actually), and landed at South Lake Tahoe where I had a late lunch. The airport staff was quite nice and lent us a car so that we can drive a few minutes to Lake Boulevard, and have lunch there. It was weird to find myself in South Lake with no snow whatsoever, not have my snowboard with me, and only be wearing a T-Shirt...

Anyway, it made for some nice pictures.
On the way back, it was a night flight for the most part after flying past Truckee airport (visible in the picture list ), so I got to play furter with the avionics, ans the XM radio stations :)






South Lake Tahoe airport, and the lake




The primary function display (PFD), showing basic flight characteristics


The multiple function display (MFD), showing engine stats, real time map with altitude and airspace info, as well as weather


onboard XM radio was cool, I was able to listen to some good trance on the way back (Markus Shultz mix here)

Pictures here
2005/11/13 Harris Ranch
π 2005-11-13 23:43 by Merlin in Flying

This was actually my very first leisure flight with passengers since I got my private pilot license. However, this is not like it sounds, the passengers weren't at risk since I had racked up about 115 hours of flighing and more than 350 landings by then :)

Harris Ranch is a good restaurant in the middle of California by Hwy 5 (between L.A. and San Francisco), that is well known by pilots since it has a runway right next to it. Quite frankly, I would never have gone there had I had to drive (2.5 to 3H), but it was a 1H flight, bypassing cops and slow roads, so that was all right.

The runway is known for being very narrow, but we had perfect weather and no cross wind, so it wasn't a problem. You can see what it looks like on google maps

I ended up with a slightly crappy plane to go there (172 upgraded to 172SP with no MFD, and a GPS that was missing half the airports I needed), so it forced me to make use of the skills I learned to navigate and find the airport (it's small, in the middle of nowhere, with no nearby navigation aids, and along a very very long highway 5). I had planned the flight so that I would arrive there before sunset (well, during twilight, i.e. after sunset, but with still enough light to see).
I got slightly distracted by a strip along hwy 5 that looked a lot like the runway I was looking for, but since it didn't match what my VORs (navigation aid) said: even without a useful GPS, crosschecking my map seemed to indicate the runway was still further down. I did a quick call to ATC (air traffic controllers) who were tracking my flight, and they confirmed that the runway was indeed a bit further. It's always nice to be tracked on radar and have confirmation.
We landed at Harris with a little bit if daylight left, as planned, by 17:00 or so and went to the restaurant.











I was a little off course on the way back, mostly because of the wind, a heading indicator gyro that went way off, even after I reset it, and the difficulty of seeing landmarks on terrain at night when you're just along 5 and then crossing a big mountain, but the good news is that outside of having crossed from 5 to 101 a bit early, I was on track and only 3-5 minutes behind schedule when I landed in Palo Alto.
The landing at Palo Alto wasn't as flawless than Harris as it was a night landing and I flared just a tad early (small drop and one bounce), but it was safe (i.e. landed in the center of the runway, proper nose up attitude, and no multiple bounces or anything close to purpoising).




Night landing at Palo Alto Airport, courtesy of Markus and his great camera

The rest of the pictures are here
2005/11/12 Cessna 182 and G1000 avionics
π 2005-11-12 23:34 by Merlin in Flying

Cessna 182 and G1000 avionics







Saturday, I went for my second flight to practise in a Cessna 182 (bigger
plane & more horsepower), and I picked up one with brand new Garmin
1000 avionics (aka glass cockpit), which is basically the fanciest instruments
you can get in a small airplane nowadays.
I started with a 2H class explaining the new avionics and giving
demonstrations, and then got to sit in a cessna on the ground to play
with all the buttons without having to worry about flying the plane.
I did got about 45mn ground time with the avionics and buttons, plus
the time in flight (2.8H).
My take is that some interface things are still quite non intuitive
on it, like some buttons from the left screen affecting the right
(nav/com), but not all, and not consistently like switching the nav/com
focus.
All in all, the learning curve is fairly high and there is a clear risk of
the pilot spending too much time looking at the screens instead of focussing
on the rest of the flight.
Also, the C182 had a separate auto pilot, which was mostly coupled but
not quite, so each time you got atis, you had to reset the baro on

  1. the backup altimeter
  2. the G1000
  3. the autopilot

All in all, despite an experienced CFI (probably one of the ones with
the most G1000 time at my club), some quirks were hard to figure out and
quite distracting in flight.

However, for the rest, I was impressed:

  • the 2 screens were awesome, quality wise
  • they back each other up and you can get a combined screen if one fails
  • they have their own battery backup in case main power fails
  • soft keys all over make the interface much more liveable than the G530
  • the real time weather maps, along with XM radio, are cool
  • real time terrain distance under you is also quite useful

All in all, while the garmin folks still need some better UI/usability
people, the G1000 is well designed inside and quite interesting to use.
2005/11/03 I'm a Private Pilot
π 2005-11-03 22:16 by Merlin in Flying

Yes, I'm finally a private pilot. The short version is that the test was almost too easy, and the examinator very nice with me (i.e. he asked me to do the bare minimum required to pass)

Today was an interesting day weather-wise (as I look outside and see the big cloud cover that's just arrived above us).

Anyway, I planned my cross country just for the diversion piece, to KRBL, and it was interesting to learn all the java flight tools on adds.aviationweather.gov, on something concrete: real interesting weather, worrying about 2 overcast layers, rain (-RA) and icing problems starting at 6500, while 4500 being too low for some other cloud issues, turbulence reports.
Ultimately, the flight that was possible, but pretty iffy, and I certainly wouldn't have done it without a CFII in the right seat, for both instrument bailing out if needed, and a second opinion on judgement calls from someone who has more experience than me



That said, this work (which was actually useful to me as an exercise), and the extra work I went through again to get all the airplane paperwork and prove that it was indeed airworthy, was never used during the check ride as Mike (the examiner) just wanted (for my sake) to go flying as quickly as possible before the weather got worse.

During my preflight, I heard some local PIREP of turbulence on final, and as Mike was saying on my takeoff that things seemed pretty smooth, and I was replying that it probably wouldn't last, it got bumpy right away.
The flight was actually less than 30mn.
Mike had me go to stanford, i.e. a 3mn flight, redirected me to SQL. That time I did properly circle stanford while computing the new heading, fuel, distance, ATIS, and SQL tower, and got all the work done without going anywhere, and busting any airspace :)
At that time, Mike had me go towards Slac, I did an interesting steep turn, which was challenging due to wind and turbulence, but I mostly kept it within the numbers, and we then did slow flight at 60 knots due to the conditions (and the horn did go on and off at 60)
At that point Mike said "so, if you pass, Sergey did promise that he'd stop smoking, right?" (which was indeed what Sergey, one of my WVFC CFIs, had committed to doing), so he said "my plane" and flew it back down to PAO.
"you're done with what you had to pass, that way you can't screw anything up on the way back"
Obviously, at that time it was difficult for me to not pass. I was actually awake due to an almost proper night of sleep for a change, but it just didn't seem wise to say "let me do it", when he offered to help :)
On one side, I don't really have great satisfaction due to how easy it was, but on the other side I can't blame Mike for trying to make it as easy as he could on me, and the landing conditions indeed turned out to be mildly interesting due to wind shear.
Anyway, I'm a private pilot now, yeah! and I'll settle with the satisfaction of what I actually learned during my now about 110H of flying, and what I'll keep learning with instructors and by myself, as opposed to the one of having nailed the check ride, which I didn't quite get to do.
A big thank you goes to my instructors: Ali and Sergey


Ali, my main instructor


Weather, while turbulent, made for some pretty clouds at sunset

More pages: 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