Wednesday, December 14, 2011

American Airlines gets FAA Approval to use iPads

Thanks @demmler for the link.

So much for retirement

Burt is apparently at it again:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kenmore Air's 66Z DeHavilland Beaver

A well done video by AOPA of a day in the life of Kenmore Air's 66Z DeHavilland Beaver near Seattle, WA. If you've ever flown the DHC mission in Microsoft Flight Sim X, you'll recognize many of the landmarks.

Article on AOPA

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Somewhere Under a Rainbow

I'll chalk this up in the "you don't see this everyday" category. On my return flight from DC, had an up close and personal encounter with a rainbow.
I plan to post some more pictures and detail from another flight into and out of DC's Flight Restricted Zone again soon.

Near Latrobe, PA

Monday, October 10, 2011

Amen brother

The Corliss Resolution
"And no avian society ever develops space travel because it's impossible to focus on calculus when you could be outside flying."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Toughest Plane Ever Built?

The Toughest Plane Ever Built? Take a Look | Wired Science | "We should never glorify war, for there is nothing more horrid; and World War II was the most horrid of all: slaughter in every quarter, and a world of hurt that still rings loud. Yet I find it hard not to admire the resilience of both the people who fought the war and some of the machines they built. I’m not quite sure how to square the horror and the admiration."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Asli's first flight

My niece Asli was in town visiting from Istanbul a few weeks ago. Asli was interning at a children's school during her visit and was spending some time with us. She even got to meet up with friends she had made who were visiting Istanbul from Pittsburgh and who happen to live nearby. Always wanting to introduce general aviation to people who have not yet experienced the thrill of flying, I asked her if she wanted to try flying one of the days. Charlie, as always, wanted to come along as well. On our first attempt we were rained out and had to wait a week for solid weather. Finally a great day came, a Saturday none-the-less. No wind, lots of sun, and and an early start made for a smooth ride. Asli loved it (at least that's what she told me out loud), and even handled the controls for quite a while. She did a great job!

Asli and Charlie - ready for action

Beautiful Western PA countryside

Chaz, soaking in the view

Self portrait at 3,000'

Turning final for 35 at Zeli

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Presidential TFR in Pittsburgh - June 24th, 2011

Just a heads up for the flying bretheren in Pittsburgh area. Obama's coming to town...----------------------

Starting at 11.45 PM on Thursday June 23 through Friday June 24 at
1.15 PM there will be a Presidential TFR in Pittsburgh, PA:

This TFR is larger than normal – 40 miles radius vs the usual 30
miles radius.

As always check with FSS before flight.

Fly safe!

Henrik Vejlstrup

Monday, June 6, 2011

Matt's 1st Flight Lesson

Congratulations to Matt Bieber on his taking his intro flight! Matt experienced his first time at the controls of an airplane a few weeks ago and is working with Ace Pilot Training at Lehigh Valley Airport on obtaining his private pilot certificate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

View of the New

Emel and I recently had the opportunity to get away for the day, no kiddos, and head down to visit a friend who resides part time on the rim of the New River Gorge near Fayetteville, WV. Being that this would be about a 3 hour 50 min drive one way, during Memorial Day traffic, and that there was a little backcountry strip a mile from our friends house, we decided that flying might not be a bad option.

We got to the Zeli Airport around 9:30AM and, after a very thorough preflight (it is the Arrow after all), we loaded up, and headed out. We picked up our IFR clearance and were soon heading south motoring through PIT's class bravo. We were lucky enough to have a massive high pressure system just to the south, winds were calm at the surface and in the 10s-15 kts at around 8,000ft, our cruising altitude. The only downside to the weather was that all of the stability was creating a nice haze layer, so the photo ops were diminished. On the flight we had no real issues on the way down other than Clarksburg and Charleston approaches has trouble receiving our mode C (PIT had no trouble in that regard).

As we approached the New and got down to minimum altitudes for IFR, we cancel about 5 miles out from our destination, a private strip called, appropriately enough, the New River Gorge airport (WV32). We entered upwind for 22 (there were no runway numbers, but pretty much a 220 heading...), and circled to get a better look at the 24 foot wide "roadway" we were going to land on (yes, my wife is an extremely patient and understanding person). Happily, it was plenty long enough at nearly 2,900'. Turning down wind, we could see our friend waiting for us to land. I dropped the gear, added flaps, did a couple of GUMPS and turned final. Short final require a bit of weaving to avoid the tree on the left and the power line nearly above the threshold, but the mains were planted (a bit firmly) and we made the turn off in the middle of the strip.

The New River Gorge "Airfield"

Our friend Carl was there with a local airport hanger-outer (Ferrel I believe), and he shepherded us onto the grass to park. We had a fantastic afternoon with Carl sightseeing, hiking, and exploring the Gorge and Fayetteville. I'd highly recommend the area if anyone is into hiking, mtn biking, and of course all whitewater activities. Fayetteville is a cool, bohemian-esqe town that appeals to the climbers, adventure seekers and guides that inhabit it. Too soon, it was time for us to head back out to the airport to get home in time to pick up the kids. Carl let us take his "airport car" back and we left it there as he often flys in in his 182.

So we were preflighted, and ready to go: brakes held firm, 25 degrees of flaps, and full throttle at the end of the runway. It was 90 degrees and my performance calculations showed that even though we had more than enough room, with the mountains looming ahead and the high density altitude, a short field technique would provide some additional margin regardless. The climb out was, really pretty cool, required a bit of navigating through the valley but we were never in a position where we didn't have options. Upon reaching 4,000 ft we contact Charleston again. Unfortunately this time they were unable to see our transponder at all, and after several attempts at recycling, we decided to continue ahead, but VFR.

Upon reaching about 15miles south of the edge of PIT's bravo I call PIT approach and received flight following and clearance though their airspace. Again PIT has no issues with receiving our transponder and seeing the mode C readout. As the entire day was picture perfect flying weather (aside from the heat) we made good time over the ground back home and before we knew it were entering the pattern at our home airport. After landing, and securing the plane, we were picking up the kids a mere 2.3 hours after leaving our friend Carl in southern West Virginia. Another feather for GA!

Mountaintop mining in West Virginia

The New River Gorge Bridge

Human patterns

Over Pittsburgh International at 5,500' on the way back

Bush-Plane Competition Spurs Innovation | Autopia |

Cool photos from Wired magazine

Bush-Plane Competition Spurs Innovation | Autopia |

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learn to Fly Day is this Saturday!

Closest venue for Pittsburghers is at Allegheny County Airport, more info here:

Saturday, May 21, 2011
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Learn to Fly Day
Pittsburgh Flight Training Center (PFTC), West Mifflin, PA, USA
Established in 1980, Pittsburgh Flight Training Center (PFTC) is Pittsburgh's largest and longest-standing flight school--serving the Pittsburgh area for over 30 years. We are conveniently located just minutes from downtown Pittsburgh at the Allegheny County Airport (AGC). Pittsburgh Flight Training Center, in association with the Community College of Allegheny County, is proud to offer an Associate of Science degree in Aviation Technology.

All are welcomed to this event!

Contact: Monica Michna
Phone: 412-466-1111, Send an Email
West Mifflin, PA, USA

Folks not local to Pittsburgh can find more "Learn to Fly" locations here:
International Learn to Fly Day

Monday, April 18, 2011

Learning to Fly

Over the last few years, I have talked to a number of people who have been interested in learning to fly and becoming a pilot. To that end, I had compiled a list of links and information and tended to email it to them when they were in the process of booking their first flight lesson. It dawned on me that I had never posted it to the blog so here's my compilation of links and info on learning to fly for all to see.

The general links to EAA's (Experiemental Aircraft Association) and AOPA's (Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association) Learn to Fly websites. If you get serious, you should join AOPA or both, it's inexpensive and well worth the annual dues: - the have a nice downloadable PDF booklet called "Reach for the Sky" - A free 6-month subscription to Flight Training magazine just for signing up

Introductory Videos
To get started, take a look at these courses, they are free and incredibly well produced.
also UND Aerospace, Sportys and King have some free instructional videos. The UND ones are fantastic.
UND - (start from the bottom and work your way up)

The Process
Here's a link to my blog where I wrote up my initial training (look for the early posts in 2007), but it's a good way to get an overall understanding of the steps. In the blog (you have to read the posts oldest to newest to get the timeline correct). This was for the private certificate but the sport license is a great way to get up in the air much sooner.

FAA Handbooks - They are free to download but I preferred to buy them in softcover off of amazon - from this link you want:
You will hear a lot about the FAR/AIM which stands for Federal Aviation Regulations and Aeronautical Information Manual. (FAR now referred to 14 CFR or Code of Federal Regulations as they are trying to get away from the FAR terminology). The FAR details all of the federal rules for flying. You will pay most attention to part 61 and 91. It's best to always buy this and in the beginning of the book it will tell you which sections and rules pertain to you. Also, the AIM is just what it says it is. Bascially best practices and general knowledge related to Aviation. The FAR/AIM is the bible and those other handbooks are supporting matarial but much easier to digest and read. You can buy the FAR/AIM on Amazon as well:
The FAA has a ton of additional information on their website if you want to check it out:

Other helpful books
Cessna 152 (A Pilot's Guide)
Visualized Flight Maneuvers Handbook: For High Wing Aircraft
Aviation Weather Services Handbook - another FAA handbook you can download

The Written Exam
You will also need to prepare for the written exam I found this book to be the most help
Private Pilot Test Prep 2008
Also, if you order a set of Sporty's videos (see Video section below), the will include a CD-ROM that has practice questions and lets you take mock exams.

Educational Videos
I've heard good and bad things about all three major instructional video producers: King, Gleim and Sportys. I purchased Sportys and was very happy with them.
Pricey at $199 but very worthwhile.

The Practical Test
Once you get past all of the required flight time and you've past your written, you will then prepare for the practical test with the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). The practical test will begin with an hour to two hour "conversation" where the DPE will probe your knowledge of ALL the available material you've learned over since your training began. Everything is fair game from your aircraft systems to weather to FARs to aiport ops, etc. To help prepare for that oral portion, this is a decent book:
Private Oral Exam Guide

If you pass the oral portion, you will then be asked to demonstrate the flying portion, and here are the maneuvers you will be tested on the the performance metrics:
go here:
and click -> Private Pilot Practical Test Standards for Airplane (PTS) for the PDF
You will definitely want to read the PTS in the early portions of your training as it will help to make sense of the training and the eventual goals. The PTS, like the FAR/AIM, is another "bible".

Helpful Websites
here's some links to general website I thought were helpful and pertinent

I can't say enough about how helpful many of these were to listen to in the car on the way in, and they're free... I found them and subscribed to them through iTunes which makes managing them easy, search on pilot, aviation, and flying.

Flying wouldn't be flying without gear. For starters you really do not need anything, just show up and you may be able to borrow a headset from your instructor. If you decide you like it, buy a decent quality one that is relatively affordable (they go up in price to around $1,000...). I purchase a David Clark H10-14.3 which is a classic, passive noise reduction headset. DCs are known for legendary quality and now that I've purchased an active noise reduction headset I have one for passengers. When you and I flew in the 152, my old DC is then one you used.

For gear, charts, and other items I've found SkyGeek to have the best prices, shipping and customer service.
You may also want a flight bag of some sort but I just used an old duffel for a while.

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stupid pilot tricks redux

About two years ago, I wrote about stupid pilot tricks. Basically the discussion centered around the high percentage of accidents caused by "maneuvering" (for example buzzing your friends...) as well as just giving general aviation a bad name. Although I would classify the ATC recording of the this "pilot's" (I put pilot in quotes, b/c I'm not really sure he is one) interactions with the controller, humorous, I'd say actually it's rather embarrassing. Really, it is just beyond belief that he actually thought it would be cool to land on a beach...on Long Island!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

RunwayFinder back on line!

This is fantastic news. Unfortunately Mr. Parsons is not able to comment on the resolution, and it appears that they had to accept a "license" from FlightPrep, but it is great to see the site back online.

In RunwayFinder's words:
"RunwayFinder is back on the air! Thanks to your overwhelming support and some great communication sat down with FlightPrep and FlightPrep agreed to dismiss the lawsuit! The exact details of the settlement license are confidential. RunwayFinder doees not ask for or support any further boycott of FlightPrep, its services, products, or owners. This is a big win for RunwayFinder and the pilots who depend on its services! We're back and lawsuit free, come check out Again, thanks you for all of your support."

Reported from AvWeb

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NavMonster back online!

Big news, and I can't believe I've missed this for over a month. One of my favorite flight planning websites, NavMonster, is back online and operational. I wrote about their issue earlier in dealing with a litigious entity which initially seemed determined to try to exact damages relative to an issued patent, that frankly should not have been allowed. This is just great news, and just in time for flying season! NavMonster, I tip my hat to you for being tenacious and standing up for your rights.

Now we just need to get RunwayFinder back. Looks like Dave is still fighting the good fight.