Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wired tribute to the DC-3

Just posting a nice writeup on this venerable aircraft by Wired magazine. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FlightPrep - stop the madness

As expected, FlightPrep's (from now on known as "the trolls") patent lawsuit escapade is becoming quite the quixotic parody of trying to extract blood out of a stone. Not only does their ridiculous patent stifle innovation but it flys in the face of what general aviation is all about, the community. Two exemplary services that I, and many others, have benefited from greatly, RunwayFinder and Nacomatic, have now shut down due to legal threat from FlightPrep, sorry, the Trolls. I'm sure others, *cough* *cough* AOPA, Jeppesen*cough* *cough* may be hearing from the Trolls soon, however at the moments, they seem to be picking on those without deep pockets. I think the Trolls are failing to realize that they are now doing themselves much more harm, to both their reputation and their bottom line, than they will gain from their legal Troll actions. Their open letter to the community is quite frankly full of drivel and is flatly, a joke. John Ewing is much more eloquent in his thoughts regarding the situation. A second post here. These are sad days for the aviation technology community.

edit 12/20/2010
RunwayFinder is fighting back. Please support RunwayFinder!

edit 12/21/2010
And another bites the dust. A heavily used and loved website, NavMonster, has now also shut down. Here are the words from the founder:

"Due to the litigious environment that we live in today, NavMonster is no longer in operation. I make little to no money off this site, and have neither the time, resources, nor money to defend myself against absurd patents. You just shouldn't be able to patent common sense and good programming skills, but sadly someone has. Best of luck to those that stay in the fight
I need to make one thing perfectly clear: By closing this site, I give up the fight, but by no means do I admit any wrongdoing.
Want to own and operate your own flight planning web site? NavMonster is available for purchase. Inquiries are welcomed
Marc Alexander
Dec 20, 2010

Link here for the curious."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flight Planning Process

I just recently had someone who was about to get their biennial flight review (BFR) ask me how I typically go about planning a flight. Here's what I wrote which is pretty typical of the method and resources I use. Open to suggestions!

To loosely figure out where I want to go, airports, distance, route (VORs, airways, direct, etc), and airspace I should be aware of, I use RunwayFinder: (edit - 12/17/2010 - as of this edit RunwayFinder is shutdown due to a lawsuit from FlightPrep, SkyVector has paid the ransom and is still available)

Once I know the destination and alternates, I look at Airnav and AOPA's Airport Directory. I'll usually print out the kneeboard version of AOPAs directory listing for that airport:

Then, I’ll use or FlightAware to figure out typical routes used (if going IFR):

Finally, I’ll use AOPA’s flight planner to print a Navigation Log and to file my flight plan via DUAT:

For weather, I usually use the following in roughly this order

Big picture weather: (Video with the talking head is actually helpful to watch) (I love the individual "free-form" forecasts)

Route weather (TAFs, etc):

Official briefing weather:

Lastly, right before flight I’ll usually called 1800WXBRIEF for an abbreviated briefing where I will ask them for any TFRs that may exist along my route.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Into the FReeZe

View of National Harbor - Washington, D.C.

I recently had the need to travel to Washington DC for business, which provided a great opportunity to try out my double secret password to get into some of the most restrictive airspace in the United States, the Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ), AKA the Freeze. For the uninitiated, just to fly into the less restrictive Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) a pilot needs to take and pass an online course, and carry the subsequent certificate on his or her person as proof of passing. In addition, if you are arriving VFR, there is a special flight plan you need to file with ATC in addition to your VFR flight plan if you are going to file one. If you are IFR, you need to call a specific FSS which I talk about below.

In the case of wanting to land at the three general aviation airports that lie within the FRZ, known as the Maryland Three or DC3, a pilot must get a background check and be fingerprinted and interviewed by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). At the end of that "experience" the pilot then receives a unique pin code to be able to file special FRZ flight plans. I wrote about this escapade here, in case you are interested in the process of obtaining your own decoder ring. In addition, here is the official TSA link for the process, just scroll down to Maryland Three.

This being my first time flying into airspace known for sicing Blackhawks on you for any and all transgressions or mistakes, I was a bit nervous. In addition, I was unsure of how I should plan my flight as I was pretty certain, I would not be able to file direct to my destination which was Potomac Airfield, just south of the White House. As part of my information gathering, I posted a question of how to file to this airport on the AOPA message board, looked for previous flight plans on and, and finally called David Wartofsky, the big cheese himself and owner of Potomac Airfield (VKX).

Seven Springs ski resort, note the resort airport middle left of the photo, unfortunately now closed permanently

The guys on the AOPA message board were very helpful. The most helpful suggestion was to call Potomac Approach and run your proposed flight plan by them. I gave this a shot and it worked out pretty well. They certainly do not have much time to spend on the phone with you but they were friendly and verified that my idea of linking VORs down the west side of the of the SFRA and then getting vectored to VKX would work for them. I found the phone number here, but I would only recommend calling them if you really need to as they do seem pretty busy.

My call with Mr. Wartofsky was the most helpful, and entertaining, however. Essentially the call was chock full of great information, as well as the occasional joke and jab at the official powers that be that effectively shut down his airport after 9/11. David worked incredibly hard to get the DC3 "pilot vetting" procedure we now use to get our passcodes to fly into the FRZ. I've included my notes from this conversation at the bottom of this post.

at 7,000' Over Dulles International, taken on the return flight

After gathering my information, and making sure I had just about every chart and plate conceivable for the area, I called the special Flight Service Station number for filing FRZ flight plans, 866-225-7410. The verbiage on this from the College Park website emphasizes this clearly as: "You must file your FRZ flight plan with the Lockheed Martin Washington Hub (which currently comprises briefers in Raleigh, NC and Leesburg, VA.) Dial their direct number at 866-225-7410. Do NOT use the national 800-WX-BRIEF number, do NOT use DUATs, and do NOT try to file in the air, or you will NOT pass Go!".

I called the night before of my trip and the briefer I got calling this number was one of the most friendly and reassuring briefers I've ever talked to. He walked me through the process of filing the FRZ plan and also answered questions I had regarding the flying portion. One tip, you will receive your pin code through one of the Maryland Three airports. Make sure you tell the briefer which airport it is if it is different than the one you are going to. Since I had my pin through College Park, he was not able to find my pin immediately because he had assumed I had received it through Potomac. Once I told him, he found it not problem. Soon I had my plan in the system and I was ready to go from that standpoint.

I took off right about my filed time in the morning. The actual flying portion of this trip was pretty uneventful. I followed my route hitting my VORs as planned. Then over the Casanova VOR, ATC turned me east and started vectoring me. I was pretty clear that the controller wanted to get me due south of VKX and then turn me directly North so I would be in the FRZ for the shortest amount of time. Soon I crossed the magic line and about 2 miles south of VKX, as David said would happen, she told me to keep my squawk all the way to the ground and switch over to advisory. I used Potomac's SuperAWOS to get the field update and was soon on the ground. I called a taxi from the airport and was at my meeting in DC in no time.

The return flight was a similar route. ATC made sure I was not unduly vectored around which was nice. I was sent over Dulles and started to encounter some IMC at 7,000. I had filed for 8,000 but they wanted me at 7 so I bounced around in the clouds for a bit until he cleared me for higher. The rest of the flight was in beautiful weather, but the headwinds made for slow going back over the mountains. Soon I was in familiar territory and talking to Pittsburgh Approach. On the ground I celebrated another first! It was very easy to file my FRZ flight plan, and going IFR makes the whole process of getting into DC much simpler. The Maryland Three are great little airports and the access to our nation's capital is second to none. In addition, the vetting process is really not that bad, I encourage any pilot interested in going to DC to give it a shot. I'm looking forward to my next trip back!

Call notes with David Wartofsky
  • For operations in the DC FRZ pilots must call Flight Service at 866-225-7410 to file a DC FRZ flight plan.
  • Tell them you need an FRZ flight plan and will be IFR. Specify the time you will be expected to arrive at the SFRA. If coming in VFR, specify the gate.
  • The flight plan is then authenticate and passed on to controlling agencies 30 minutes before you arrive at the SFRA and will be active 2 hours after.
  • ATC will likely route you around Andrew or DCA.
  • Once inside the SFRA, before you enter the FRZ, check in with ATC by saying "N1235 proceeding inbound to VKX on a FRZ flight plan"
  • Once close to field say three things:
    • 1) "I have the field in sight"
    • 2) "will maintain squawk to the gound"
    • 3) "switching to unicom"
  • If you have to go missed, or just need to go around, switch back to controlling frequency.
  • Once on the ground, park at the second row near the fuel island

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First IFR flight

Two weekends ago, I had the chance to do a fun mission of flying to see my sister compete in her first IronMan triathlon race. The race was to be in Sandusky, Ohio at the Cedar Point amusement park. With the weather looking cloudy at my departure point, but clearing at my destination, this was also a great opportunity to break in the new instrument ticket. I flight planned carefully and filed my IFR plan via VORs and airways as the Piper Archer I was flying was /A.

I departed about 11AM Saturday and picked up my clearance in the air over Ellwood City, just to the west of Zelienople. Our Archer which has a 2 axis autopilot with both heading and altitude hold, helpful in the clouds as well. Luckily I was cleared by Pittsburgh Approach as filed so I did not have to worry about deciphering a new clearance route in the air. The cloud bases were about 2000' agl and ATC instructed me to climb to my filed altitude of 6000', I was soon in the murk. Flying in clouds is incredibly different than VFR flying but this was a good day to break the single pilot IFR ice as the clouds were not solid all the way to Sandusky, rather I would be in the clouds for a few minutes,
then out for a minute or two. I'm not sure if it really makes a difference but it was easier on the nerves. The whole trip was rather uneventful as ATC was friendly and easy to deal with. The great part about flying IFR is, well for one, I was able to make the trip at all, but two, I did not have to concern myself with the Class D, C and B airspace that my route took me through.

Just west of Cleveland I was finally out of the clouds and the sky opened to a crystal clear, albeit very windy, day. One I was past Cleveland and about 10 miles away from the Griffing Sandusky Airport (KSKY), I cancelled IFR with the controller and started my position calls on the CTAF. I lined up for a straight in approach the runway 27. The airport is right on the shore of lake Erie with the final approach right over the water. KSKY did not have weather reporting on the airport but Port Clinton AWOS was reporting 15 knots gusting to 22 from the NW. I was a bit surprised how much rudder I needed to keep the airplane aligned with the centerline, but the crosswind technique worked and I managed to touch down and keep the airplane reusable. I taxied to the FBO, along with a
helicopter who had just landed for fuel. In talking with the chopper pilot, she explained she was handling the news coverage of the race.

After paying for the fuel and shuttle service to Cedar Point, the lineman met me at the door with the shuttle van and gave me a lift over the park. After he dropped me off I was able to find Alex, Jill's husband, her friend Christine and my Mom and Dad. We cheered Jill on as she transitioned from the bike race (112 miles...) to her... marathon! Unreal, I was winded just crossing the parking lot.

I hung out with my little nephews under the All3Sports tent (Alex's business) while Jill plugged away on the course. Before we knew it, Jill was coming back in through the "chute" and was joined by her sons, having completed her first
IronMan in 11 hours 26 minutes. Way to go Jill!

After seeing Jill a bit and talking, Dad and Mom gave me a lift back to the airport as it was now getting dark. I wanted to at least do the preflight with a little bit of daylight left. I settled into the
airplane, and the winds had completely died off at this hour. I departed KSKY and picked up my IFR clearance in the air from Cleveland Approach. I climbed to 6,000 (after a brief chat with Cleveland, he "let me know" that if I stayed at 6,000 vs my filed 7,000 I would avoid vectoring), and settled in for a smooth ride on a clear moonlight night. It was one of the more serene rides and the radio was very quiet, so much so, I was able to have get in a few words with the Cleveland Controller letting him know was a great evening it was up there. He said, "much better than sitting in here sir" and we had a laugh. I also was able to witness fireworks going off at a distance that had to have been over 50 miles. I was once again reminded of why I fly.

Cleveland at night

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New flight school launched near Pittsburgh

Here's something I was surprised to catch in today's local [Pittsburgh] news, a new flight school is in operation at the Arnold Palmer airport in Latrobe, PA. It's great to see people turning their passions into businesses. Here is the link to the article:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Instrument Rating!

On September 2, 2010, I took, and passed, my instrument rating practical test!

New instrument ticket, hot off the press.

My intrepid CFIIs, Keith and Mike, thanks guys!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom to Fly

I'm not sure how I missed this but AOPA put together a collection of videos for the 4th of July this year where people talk about the reasons they fly. Here are the links:

Also, here is the HD version of the National Aviation Day video I posted earlier which has some amazing pictures taken by pilots.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Learning to become a pilot - one person's experience

This was an interesting blog post in Forbes about one woman's quest to earn her pilot certificate. I certainly have never heard of an 8+ hour practical exam but I suppose it could be possible. It is worth a read however as it provides some perspective on the process but her's differed vastly from my experience. I enjoyed just about every moment in the air during my training.–why-not-everybody-can-or-should-be-a-pilot/

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pittsburgh Post Gazette shines positive light on local airports

Small local airports are flying high
In an economy that has cut corporate and leisure travel, they offer pilot schools and new hangars, among other amenities
Thursday, July 08, 2010
Read more:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Picking up Paco

Mom enjoying the view over Central Ohio

Once again, many things have transpired to keep me from writing up this trip in a timely manner, however we had such a good time it deserves a post, even a few months late. I had the chance to fly a fun mission with my Mom and Dad to go to Waterloo, IL near St. Louis to pick up their new English Setter puppy. Not wanting to submit his new dog to a flight in the belly of an airliner, or go through the 12 hour drive each way, Dad asked if flying ourselves was possible, and, of course, it was.

We got to the airport a fine June Saturday morning. The forecast could not have been better, basically CAVU all the way from Zelienople, PA (PJC)
to St. Louis. We would be taking our flying club's newest acquisition, a Piper Archer. One of the nice features about our new airplane is that is has a two axis auto pilot with heading and altitude hold, which I figured would make the roughly four hour trip a bit more manageable. After preflighting, during which Mom headed into town to buy some new reading glasses, we loaded up the Archer with our bags, reading material (for them), and the puppy carrier. I had performed a weight and balance and even with full fuel we were well within the envelope. In addition, I had studied the aircraft performance charts to determine our expected takeoff roll, particularly given that the temperatures were expected to be in the high 90s at the airports along our route and thus lowering the performance of the aircraft.

We departed PJC around 10AM and I contact Pittsburgh Approach for flight following to Indianapolis which would serve as a fuel and lunch stop. I climbed to 8,500 and we settled in for the 2 hour trip. Taking care to remain well north of the Presidential TFR over Columbus that day, we breezed by Dayton and before we knew it were passed off the Indy Tracon to help guide us into Eagle Creek Airpark (KEYE), just north of Indianapolis International. EYE is a neat airport; the lineman was friendly and right there to greet us and the FBO was immaculate. The airport is situated just east of the Eagle Creek Reservior and we walked across the road to Rick's Cafe Boatyard, which is right on the edge of the lake, and had a nice lunch with a view.

After lunch, we walked back over, paid for our fuel, and were off without a hitch. Our destination was now St. Louis Downtown airport in Cahokia, IL. This leg was to be a bit shorter in distance, but the weather decided that it would help us enjoy staying in the air a bit longer than the straight line distance would have us. We climbed again to 8,500 but soon we saw a cloud bank of cumulus ahead that looked like it topped out around 12,000-14,000. As we got closer however, I realized that they were spaced rather far apart and with some slight heading changes we were able to enjoy a ride dancing through the clouds with nary a bump to be had. After getting through the clouds it looked like we were past the worst of it but soon after we were switched over to St. Louis control, the lady at the other end of the radio queried if I had on-board Nexrad weather, to which I replied negative. She then said, "well I'm seeing a level 5 thunderstorm across your route of flight and suggest a heading of 270 (which was about 75 degrees to the right of our heading), but it's only a suggestion". Well, of course I will take that suggested heading, which was to clear air ahead. 20 minutes later we were motoring past a TOWERING thundercloud, as in roiling cumulus to fifty thousand feet which looked like a skyscraper made out of cloud, to our south and were treated to a show of lighting eminating from the bottom of this monster.
Of course we were well to the north of this storm and safe, but it was awe inspiring to see it.

We were soon past the storm and the
controller gave us a vector to CPS. We were able to get
some great views of St. Louis and their Arch from the air. As we descended to pattern altitude the turbulence and bumps increase significantly. We contact CPS tower who instructed us to call a 2 mile base for 12R. As we turned on final I could really begin to feel the affect of the 15 knot crosswind out of the south and it was gusty and bumpy. I had to wrestle with the Archer a bit and applied a fair amount of crosswind correction but we were soon on the ground and popping the door open to give us relief from the 97 degree heat. We taxied to the ramp and over to Ideal Aviation which had our rental car ready and waiting near where we parked the airplane.

We soon had airplane unloaded and the rental loaded and soon were on our way to see the puppies for the first time. The car ride took about 25 minutes and we found ourselves in front of our destination house in Waterloo, IL. We got out, and to breeder greeted us, and soon we were surrounded by eight very cute Setter pups. Dad was still not sure which puppy he was going to choose and for the next couple hours we set about watching how they acted, how they interacted with the other dogs and people, and to see how well they did with pointing the quail wing. I think Dad was pretty certain which one he wanted early on but he kept us in suspense through dinner. We ate dinner with the rest of the new-to-be puppy owners and the breeder and then retired to the hotel for some rest.

We had a pretty strong thunderstorm roll through in the middle of the night and I woke up the next morning and immediately checked the terminal area forecasts (TAFs) along our route. I was happy to see that the TAFs looked very solid up until 2PM which would give us time to get pretty far into our trip before we should start to see anything significant weatherwise. I talked with Dad on the phone and he agreed that we should just go pick up the new puppy and get going as soon as possible. So we met for a quick breafast, drove to the breeders house, and after they shed some tears see the puppy go (which Dad now named Paco), we were on our way to CPS, albeit we now had an additional passenger.

Getting ready to depart St. Louis Downtown (CPS)

Upon reaching St. Louis Downtown airport, we dropped the rental car with the FBO (one thing I love about flying private is how easy the rental car situation is to deal with), and loaded the plane back up. Dad and I set up the dog carrier and we decided that Mom would stay in the back seat to be close to Paco who was just behind her in the luggage compartment. Paco started barking a bit, but I started the engine up and with the class D airport quiet that Sunday morning, we were soon after climbing out into the blue sky. No sooner had the wheels lifted off the ground had Paco fallen asleep, and, bless his heart, he slept the entire trip from then on.

I called up St. Louis Tracon and received flight following. The plan was to fly about as far as our bladders or weather or fuel burn would let us. With a strong tailwind, but amazingly again, very little turbulence, we were soon covering ground quickly with a groundspeed of roughly 170 mph. We were treated to awesome views as the visibility was incredible for a summer day and even saw the results of a flooded river and how it had escaped it's banks with the recent t-storm activity of last night. Soon we were blowing past Terra Haute, Indianapolis, Dayton and Columbus. It was now about 1PM and we could see that clouds were building off to our left (north). Not wanting to mess with any weather and certainly not without a lot of fuel on board we elected to land at Richard Downing Airport (I40) in Conshocton, OH. We had just covered 460 miles in under three hours, and I could tell that Mom and Dad were pretty happy with that.

We could not have chosen a better airport to fuel up and spend the hours waiting out the storm line to pass. I40 is about the perfect country airport.
First, it's just a gorgeous area, situated in the rolling hills of south-east Ohio. We taxied up the taxiway to the ramp that is about 10 feet higher in elevation than the runway. We were immediately greated by the lineman and we soon saw that they had an outdoor grill staffed and ready to go. We got Paco out of the airplane, and amazingly had to wake him up! He had slept through the landing and everything. I'd have to say, I was impressed. We basically hung out at the airport, had some amazing grilled food and just chatted with the locals and other pilots. I took to checking the weather on the computer every twenty minutes or so and it became apparent that we would be able to get through a gap in the line of storms to get home.

After saying goodbye to the I40 airport crew we launched east and were soon dodging some rainshowers to stay VFR. I called up Youngstown approach and he helped us with a little guidance. After switching over to Pittsburgh approach, the controller there gave us a nice vector to squeeze us through a gap and we were able to navigate the area reasonably well. Once we were passed the line, it was another twenty minutes and I soon found myself on the familiar runway 35 final approach into Zeli. We taxied up the fuel farm and after getting out to stretch could see that some more storms were approaching and we would be best served to get the car loaded up and out of there.

The trip was a great time to bond and share an adventure with Mom and Dad. As well as it was just a lot of fun. Lastly, it really demonstrated to me the utility of general aviation and the freedom that flying can give you.

Back home after a successful trip and adventure

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thumbs up for ARF

Rhonda Sims, a van driver for Freedom Train Animal Transport talks about driving shelter dogs by car to new homes, and their connection with ARF (Animal Rescue Flights) to help the dogs get to farther locales.
Storyteller. Rhonda Sims. On a Mission For Dogs

Monday, June 7, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Yet another use for GA...

ok, so this may not be at the top of the list exemplifying the "utility" of General Aviation, but it's a nice looking Super Cub!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Empty Quarter

Light aircraft can take us to the most interesting of places and, sometimes more importantly, provide us with the most fascinating of viewpoints.

Empty Quarter - George Steinmetz from George Steinmetz on Vimeo.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Harrison Ford continuing in his support and promotion of General Aviation

Mr. Ford shared his love of flying with members of the congressional general aviation caucuses on Capitol Hill April 27. This is a 45 minute long piece, but Harrison give a great lecture on why we need to support GA.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Love at first flight

Just linking to a positive news story about a girl who learned to fly with her father, now embarking on a career as a naval aviator.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rumble in the Jungle

This gives a whole new meaning to scud running! Beautiful though.

Double click for HD version.

Monday, April 26, 2010

International Learn to Fly Day - May 15th

If you have ever had an interest in learning to fly, May 15th might not be a bad day to start. Many flight schools, EAA chapters, FBOs, etc, will be holding events at many airports around the country (and world). Use their locator to find an event near you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Taking Maggie to her new home

This past Sunday I had the chance to participate in a Pilots N Paws (PNP) rescue along with my friend Ben. For those not aware, Pilots N Paws is a 501c3 organization that provides animals in shelters with transportation to new homes who have adopted them. Sometimes these homes are halfway across the country and general aviation pilots provide much of the help in forming links to move the animals in need to their new destinations.

So this is how we got to meet Maggie, a 2 ½ year old female German Shorthaired Pointer. We received an email through PNP from the director of the Great Plains Pointer Rescue in Des Moines, Iowa saying that they needed to move Maggie from a small Iowa shelter out to Randolph, NJ where a foster home was waiting for her. PNP is very self organizing and with the help of the director, a chain soon formed with a pilot flying the Iowa to Indianapolis leg, and then met a friend of ours in Indianapolis.
Our friend regularly commutes from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh in his Beechcraft Baron and he just happened to have room for a four legged passener this evening. At about 6:30PM we saw the Baron above and enter the pattern for a landing at our home airport in Zelienople. Watching the Baron roll into the hanger with Maggie peering of the back window was a fun sight.

We unloaded her out of the Baron to let her stretch her legs and take care of some business. She was a little uncertain but Babar told us that she had been a great passenger. After about 15 minutes we loaded her into the back of the Piper Arrow and headed out. The flight was uneventful aside from having to stay beneath a low overcast for an hour until we reached the State College area. Then we were greeted with a nice sunset and smooth air.
Another 20 minutes later and we were calling our traffic on the CTAF at the Penn Valley Airport (SEG) in Selinsgrove, PA. Ben made a great landing and we taxied over the ramp where we saw the pilots who were flying the last leg of Maggie's trip to New Jersey.

They were amazed, as Ben and I were, by how calm Maggie was and by how good she looked. Maggie took it all in stride almost as if she knew we were working to help her. After a few pictures, it was getting dark and Ben and I prepared for the night leg home which I would fly back to Pittsburgh. The ceiling had lifted for the flight back and we had a very calm and beautiful star filled sky to look at on the way home.

It's great to know that Maggie is now in a better place than she was and we are looking forward to the next time we can help out.

Maggie mets the guys who will fly her on the last leg of her long trip home

Enroute to Selinsgrove, PA (SEG)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bearcats and Hornets play nice

An incredibly well done production showing the Horsemen, the world's only P-51 Mustang aerobatic team, flying formation with the Blue Angels. Truly a must see.

From AirShowBuzz
"The Horsemen have always admired the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. So when Jim, Dan, and Ed found out they were flying a show with the Blues they decided to pay homage to the Angels by replacing their normal ride of P-51 Mustangs with F-8F Bearcats. When the Blues caught wind of what was happening they suggested their solo pilots fly formation with the Bearcats. Then everyone thought it would be cool if Al Taddeo, who flew Bcats on the first Blues team, came and watched the Bearcats fly. ASB.TV was there to capture the moment and the rest as they say... is history."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

News reporter has the right stuff

If only GA could receive more positive coverage like this!

The story features the website and there's a great film clip of the reporting taking her first flight lesson.

update 5/14/2010
and another reporter writes up a great story about her first flying experience.

Angel Flight West

Here's a heartwarming article about more Angel Flight pilots who volunteer their time, money and aircraft to help others in need.

From the article: "Angel Flight West, was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Santa Monica. In its first year, roughly a dozen pilots flew 15 missions. Now the organization boasts 1,600 registered volunteers, whose work includes flying patients to hundreds of medical facilities in small aircraft they either own or rent. Angel Flight West’s service area is vast, encompassing most of the Western United States, from Wyoming to Hawaii. Despite the relatively small percentage of the United States’ population with pilot’s licenses, Angel Flight West receives a lot of support. The roughly 350 volunteer pilots with the organization’s Northern California “Wing” flew over 688 missions last year".

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kids: the future of aviation

This is a stub for an eventual longer post on how we can secure the future of general aviation in America. For now, I'll link to this TED talk with Burt Rutan on what has driven aviation forward in the past.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This past Saturday, it was actually a gorgeous January day, about 55 degrees, low winds, and partly cloudy. I wanted to give Emel a little break from the kids, so I took them both up to the airport, with the intentions of going to Greenville, PA (4G1) where they have a great little FBO with cool airplane related toys, children's books and pilot supplies. 4G1 also has a nice grass runway which can make for something a little different with respect to the T/Os and ldgs. We arrived at the airport and of course Virginia decided she needed to visit the bathroom immediately. She also announced she felt a little car sick from the ride.

Both Virginia and Charlie were still really excited to go as always, Charlie more the Virginia however for the most part. I started the process of getting ready for the 25 minute hop. I'm actually starting to get pretty efficient with flying with the kids. I now basically get the airplane all set up for them; car seats in place, backpacks with their books, toys, etc. in within reach, and their headsets set up and ready to go. Then I get them strapped in and go on with the preflight. After preflighting the 172SP we were taking, I pulled it out of the hanger with them perched in their car seats (they love that part), and then hopped in and got the engine started. The kids were both in great moods, chirping away and discussing what the "toy" store at Greenville would be like.

The airport was just buzzing that day with people in the pattern and on the ground. It was great. We taxied to the beginning of runway 17 and I performed the run-up. The aircraft was performing flawlessly. I then waited for a Cherokee on final to land and clear off the runway. I was about to announce departure, when Virginia starting wailing in the back seat. I turned around, brakes still on hold, and asked what was wrong? She stated that her tummy was upset. I immediately said to her, "No problem hon, we'll just turn around and head back to the hanger". Well that set off Charlie in the front seat, because he just loves flying, and once he heard we were turning around, he started protesting as best his three year old body would let him.

Of course I turned around and parked the 172 back in it's hanger. Paid for the 2/10 on the hobbs to taxi out and head back, and got the kids shuttled back into the truck. I was a little frustrated yet, but on the other hand, at least we were still on the ground safe. Anyway, a trip to the airport, is still a trip to the airport regardless :-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flying over a cloud deck, mid-state PA

Not a real post, but just wanted to put up a video showing one of the real pleasures of flying small aircraft; the intimacy with the world several thousand feet above the ground.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'll take two

Fly the Su-27 for 10 hours and you could buy a 172 with the gas money. But then again, if you're buying an Su-27, it is likely you are probably not too concerned about your financial situation...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010