Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Important Message

I'm going to take a moment to share something serious and pose some questions. We hear stories about pilots making a difference all the time, we volunteer to give children their first flights. To those facing physical challenges, mental challenges or financial challenges. I wonder what strength a constantly bullied teenager could derive from the challenge of taking flight; of something so unique, so big?  How would it alter their self esteem, alter their view on life? How could our community reach out to those who are hurting? What could we do to stop the cruelty? We're pilots, kids dream about being us.  They look up to us. They'll listen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ET Phone Home

I love to browse through FlightAware's photos every now and then. I like it because anyone can contribute, so there is a great variety of aircraft photographed from small GA planes to commuter jets. This is my favorite photo from the "Staff Picks" section from this week. After chuckling at the overwhelming resemblance to ET and Elliot flying their bike through the sky on Halloween night, it put me in a somewhat dreamlike state; overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of flight.

FlightAware Photo
Photo Courtesy of

 And an additional plane/moon photo added by reader/FlightAware developer Karl, taken by Chris Thomas.  Thanks for sharing, Karl!

Beeee goooooood....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not-so-lazy Sunday

Upon leaving work Friday my boss asked, "are you going to the fly-in at Hagerstown this weekend?"  I had no clue one was happening, "I am now!" I responded.  Around 11:00am this morning, Bob and I pulled the hangar doors open, letting the sunlight spill in, illuminating the plane.  It was a very quick flight just over the mountain ridge from KFDK to HGR and we taxied right into the fly-in display area to make Bob's plane a display piece-and it sure turned out to be one, too!  It was a small fly-in, not very crowded featuring Hagerstown start-up muesuem and a few dispay planes out on the ramp.  We had the most fun sitting in the cockpits of vintage Fairchild cargo planes and figuring out exactly what all the buttons and instruments were for.  Grilled burgers, hotdogs and french fries were also on hand.  We met two gentlemen who give out Stearman plane rides, so we got their cards to do that sometime.  I can't wait to feel the wind in my hair in that classic open cockpit bi-plane!  The one man also does hot air balloon rides and said that we could take our turn at the controls and log some time.  He told us that the best way to get time in balloons, working your way to your lighter-than-air rating, is to become a part of the crew.  You basically work as a crew member helping inflate and secure the balloon in exchange for flight hours.  It's something I want to keep in mind for a possible future endeavor.

We arrived back in Frederick just in time for me to head over to the flight center for my first lesson at that school, hopefully to finally finish up my commercial rating.  I was really dreading this flight, I would be learning a new airplane and on to my sixth flight instructor.  I had been through so much and have been held back so many times I couldn't help but listen to the Debbie Downer in the  back of my head, "what if I'm held back again?"  I'm a strong girl, but at that moment, just didn't know if I could take the disappointment again.  I imagined myself punching Debbie in the face, took Bob's advice to "lighten up", and entered the school with my chin up.  My instructor was easy to work with and we focused on getting to understand the new airplane (Piper Arrow Turbo) today.  It was heavy and it was different, yet while practicing the commercial maneuvers I was presently surprised at how smoothly I was able to handle them.  They weren't too far off the practical standards, either.  I'll admit I did land with a bit of a bounce and a thud, but that hasn't been the first time I've done that and it certainly won't be the last.  One thing I did really notice and appreciate about the plane was how quiet it was, gotta love three blade props!

I concluded my time at the airport by joining Bob back over at the hangar again, he was changing the oil in his car.  I took the time to relax and listen to the hustle and bustle of the airport while enjoying some sinfully delicious kettle corn.  Our new-found Cub restoring friends were spending their afternoon at the airport as well so I enjoyed a quick conversation with them as well.  I am so thankful for all of their advice, support and encouragement.  They have some great stories, too!  

Now I sit at home, nursing a slight headache, getting ready to fill in my hours onto my newly made Excel spreadsheet/logbook.  I spent several hours fighting with Excel Friday to get it to be just exactly the electronic logbook I wanted it to be.  I don't have that many hours, or flights in many types of airplanes, but I would not appreciate being left without all that history if I were to loose my paper one.  Hence, I am creating my own backup versus investing in a professional logbook computer program.  It's basic, but it fits what I need.  When it comes to applying for ATP or professional flying jobs when they need exactly how many hours you've had in each type of airplane, Excel's filtering features will come in handy!

So that's my Sunday and I'm exhausted.  I enjoyed a great hike with new friends in Harpers Ferry yesterday so I think I can say that it was a fully filled weekend.  Until next time, keep your eyes towards the skies :o)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

World Aero Club

Recall my posting from a few days ago where I was wowed at social media?  Well, after completing a review of a recent restaurant visit on Yelp (yep, yet another site I am a member of and can befriend others) I was introduced to the World Aero Club.  It's only two days old and already 233 members strong.  It's a networking site for pilots and I am exploring it as I type.  

There are a few tabs at the top, starting with "Flight Dispatch". Here you can see members' flights that are currently operating as well as ones that are going to occur.  To the right of the flight title you can hover over flight information, pilot information and ways to contact the pilot.  Next is the "Flight Reports" tab where you can see the most recently uploaded flight reports (rate the flight in a 4 star system and read a review) and search for some in your destination of interest.  The "Message Center" follows.  I'm not quite sure what type of messaging it is, if it goes out to all pilots or just to those you connect with.  As of yet no messages appear under that tab, so I will wait and see what happens!  The "Sky Agent" is a tab that searches the internet for you, seeking whatever aviation equipment you are in need of.  An event calendar, feedback section and a partner program which apparently can meld World Aero Club with your company website finish up the banner bar.  

As far as I can tell, you don't create much of a profile besides a short introduction and I don't see a way to befriend other pilots, although, I am new at this.  This flight networking website is funded completely by it's founder, an IT professional/pilot.  Below is from the site's "About Us" section: was originally founded by Oliver Schulz. As an IT guy and pilot himself, Oliver worked in the travel industry for many years developing fleet management- and reservation systems. At some point and encouraged by fellow pilots, a simple website had been created to facilitate the exchange of information between pilots and to make flying more affordable, sharing flights & costs  and mutually referring contacts for event coordination, buy/sell inquiries, flight reports, flight sharing, ideas, etc.

Today is operated by UIices Information Systems, LLC whose sole purpose is to provide the necessary web platform and to give a legal entity. is solely funded by its founder and through voluntary contributions from its members. 

How would I Yelp about this site?  Three stars so far, it's ok and zero dollar signs because it's free.  It's interesting.  It's new.  It's not really a clone of MyTransponder, which I have dubbed my "Facebook for Pilots".  I'm curious to see where World Aero Club goes.  I'll sleep on it and see how many members and activities have appeared when I awake. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pancakes with Pilots and Family in Smoketown

Yesterday was a real blast.  The morning started off with meeting eight of the pilots and aviation enthusiast from the MeetUp group Flying Friends of Fairfax.  The group meet-up of the day was to have pancakes at the friendly Kitty Hawk Restaurant at York Airport (KTHV) in Pennsylvania. It was a short 38 nautical mile hop from Frederick and every bite of those fluffy pancakes made it an excellent $100 hamburger (well, pancake in this case)  With the short flight, the Glasair's excellent fuel burn and the low prices of the diner, it probably worked out to be the rare less than $100 hamburger (pancake).  The conversation and atmosphere was an excellent way to start the day and the airport was unusually busy due pilots volunteering their time for Young Eagle Flights.  Check out here for a great review of this little airport diner; I wouldn't mind checking out their lunch and dinner menu sometime, too!

A bit after noon, the pilots group headed back to their perspective Cherokee, Diamond, Cessna and Glasair and departed; the participants in the latter heading to S37 and the remaining back to their base in Leesburg, VA.  Bob and I would be visiting my uncle Tom and his family in Lancaster, PA-only 32nm from York.  This is the same cozy little airport that Bob and I took our hot air balloon ride last October.  Tom took us all around Lancaster in a search for some good organic chicken; which included a visit to see his wife Betsy and her horse, Skyjammer, at a farm as well as rescuing Betsy from her broken down jeep (which she promises to bring us off-roading in someday).  The day concluded with a visit to an amazing little quilt museum and a very delicious and filling meal.  My cousin joined us on the ride back to the airport to pose for photos in the pilot seat; making me promise to teach her to fly someday,  I can't wait. I flew the approach back into FDK quite perfectly, then we decided it was time to take some pictures of the colorfully lit up Ferris wheel at the Frederick fair.  Bob performed a go around and I armed the camera.  Our three flights this weekend were 15 minutes each max, but just because they were short doesn't mean the weren't fun and we don't have great pictures and stories to share.  It's simply amazing how the industry of aviation can open up the world to you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

My New Aviatrix Retinal Specialist

She's one of the best in the country and a pilot; maybe that's why the Kings (yep, Bill and Martha!) traveled all the way from California to get a check up with her.  Her waiting room was decorated with all things aviation and it made the wait at the retinal specialist entertaining and not filled with anxiety.  Finally, my doctor would really understand how scary it is to a pilot to have to deal with problems with sight.  Good news with my eyeballs: I'm healing great and my detachment can no longer be seen, it's smooth to the eye now.  All that is visible to the doctors is where the laser was done.  Next appointment is three months, then after that I can go to six months and eventually yearly checkups if all is well.  Yay :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Git 'er done!

Spring 2001
Commercial rating is starting up again next week.  With the move, this makes three airports, five flight schools and seven flight instructors on my journey of nine years towards my goal.  Eh, who's counting? With this switch, I'll be adding a new trainer to my list, a Piper Arrow Turbo, nothing too fancy but that will mix things up a bit :o)

Continuous, unflagging effort, persistence and determination will win.  Let not the man be discouraged who has these.    ~James Whitcomb Riley

Monday, September 13, 2010

Behold, Social Media!

In this day and age it is so easy to connect with people from around the globe with similar interests.  Facebook, MySpace and even Blogger assists people in connecting with others that normally wouldn't ever meet.  MySpace is where it all started with me, with a group dedicated to piloting discussions.  Heck, I met my boyfriend on it!  I also had the pleasure of meeting several other pilots who have been very supportive of my flying journey.  MySpace has since dwindled, but some of my aviator friends followed me over to Facebook.  There are piloting groups on Facebook as well, however, I never found them very beneficial.  If you happen to know of a good one, drop me a line. 

I've placed a plug in for MyTransponder before, it's almost like a Facebook for pilots.  I love logging on and only seeing flying related updates and aviation photos.  Another site I have newly discovered is MeetUp, which features a wide variety of groups where the website performs as the hub to create and market event ideas.  I just joined two in a nearby county full of aviation enthusiasts and can't wait to see what new flying adventures are to be experienced.  Since I'm a pilot and one of the groups is a start up, I've been added as an Admin it, which is nice.  I also came across a great site to find fly-ins that we could attend at: the Fly-In Calendar website.  There are also many pilot message boards to join out there, too many to name right now and none that I am very involved in to give a genuine review. 

There's my few little plugs and hyperlinks for the night; so get out there and connect, see where the flying opportunities may take you :o)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fly it, take it apart and talk about it.

While flying home from Bob's parents last weekend we noticed the airplane sounded a little different.  When you get to flying something on a regular basis and are used to the sounds and the vibrations it makes, a change quickly sounds off an alarm in the pilot's head.  We both noticed a subtle difference in the sound of the engine, yet could not determine just exactly what the difference was.  Engine gauges read normal and the flight continued without a hitch.  A run-up upon landing sounded fine.  We shut the hangar doors and left that worry for another day. 

Yesterday morning consisted of some cleaning and errands to be followed by some yummy grilled cheese sandwiches with strawberries and applesauce.  Following that, it was time to take to the air and push the airplane's endurance.  Listening carefully at several mixture and RPM settings, it still sounded slightly different, yet, a cause could not be determined.  After a quick low buzz down the scenic river, it was time to land and head to the festivities downtown called "In the Streets".  After listening to some great bands and enjoying a good meal, it was back to the hangar to take off the cowling and see if there were any issues to be seen.

We both got down and dirty, backs on the ground, unscrewing all the nuts and bolts that keep the engine in its cover.  After using various screwdrivers, wrenches and other tools our work was rewarded and the engine was revealed.  After a careful inspection, all looked fine.  The exhaust appeared to shift about a quarter of an inch over time, but this was nothing unusual and we bet could possibly be the cause of our unexplained change.

The time at the hangar yesterday wasn't all business, we had some great fun, too.  We brought some chocolate covered strawberries to enjoy and ended up sharing them with a friendly couple just across and down a few hangars.  Glenn and Marcy are re-restoring a beautiful Piper Cub J3 that was originally designed as a plane spotter during the war.  Yes, you read that correctly, re-restoring.  Almost 20 years ago, the couple restored the Cub then sold it back to it's original owner.  Now at the ripe age of 90, he gave it back to the couple (with just 150 hours on the engine) who are getting it back into flying shape again.  It is still stored in this man's hangar which is like a museum with old airplane parts throughout; the most interesting being an engine from a DC-3!

We spent over an hour chatting with the couple about various things in aviation and our history within it; first by their airplane and then by Bob's.  The most interesting thing I learned about the Cub was how the fuel was gauged. Glenn and Marcy insist on keeping the Cub authentic for its era, from  zero radios to the backwards facing "spotter" passenger seat, right down to this very simplistic way of measuring the fuel.  In the fuel tank is a stick with a cork at the bottom of it.  It simply bobs up and down, floating as high as the fuel is, showing the pilot how much fuel is left by how high the stick is.  When the 12 gallon capacity is exhausted, the stick is way within the tank, and all one can see is a small bit of  of it above the cowling, with a red tip.  Checking the cork during each annual became one of the first Airworthiness Directives the FAA ever published.

All in all, it was a fun and aviation filled evening with a bit of education mixed in.

Any pilot can describe the mechanics of flying. What it can do for the spirit of man is beyond description.
— Barry M. Goldwater, US senator.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And we remember....

I'm sure everyone on this day each year blogs about their memories and where they were and how it affected them.  I think it's great to remember, even nine years later.  I remember for the first time I realized that the United States wasn't that safe; that we, too, were vulnerable.

Four years following the events of September 11th, I had a flight lesson.  Someone asked me if I felt safe flying.  "Of course; you think my flight instructor is going to steal the controls and aim in towards some building?" I joked. I did make light of the matter, but it brought truth to the fear that it created in regards to flight.  I like to make a point to fly this day each year, to take advantage of that freedom granted upon me. I have even done so on the airlines (although it was just coincidental that the scheduling worked that way), which I have done in the past two years traveling into Baltimore. 

In the end, today is just another day.  The tragedy that happened nine years ago could have happened any other day and there is a small chance it can happen again.  We cannot be afraid, however.  We cannot let fear take away our freedom to do the things we enjoy and to travel to visit the ones we love.  

I fly to remember and to be thankful for the freedom and life that I have.  That is how I remember.  I cannot watch the special news episodes and documentaries from that day, it's just too depressing.  I like to remember with a smile, not with a tear.  So remember where you were, remember the ones that were lost and remember that while our time on earth is not guaranteed, we must take advantage of the time and the freedom that we have.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Job

I've been learning how to work in aviation insurance at my new job, it's quite a bit different  compared to working on the contents portions of homes. So far, I have been trained in getting quotes, renewing and sending out policies. My prior knowledge of airplane models and in insurance has been a big help. I really enjoy the walk from my parking spot to and from work, it's in the historic downtown area and has a great feel to it. Although, I haven't had a rainy or cold walk yet so this opinion may change ;) I found a great little spot to eat lunch on my break, apparently last year it used to be where all the "hoodlums" hung out, but it has been vacant on all my workdays and I'm thankful for it. It's pretty much a wide alley between two buildings with brick pavers, iron benches and checkers tables. The lights are wrapped in ivy and a lilac tree stands nearby. It's a great way to break up the workday and enjoy my packed lunch. Other than that, nothing too crazy going on here aviation wise. Bob and I visited his parents this past weekend; it was my second flight since surgery and I was PIC the whole way there. Visibility was great-we could see for at least 50 miles but paid the price with some light chop. Bob took a fun picture on the way that you can view just below the pictures of my little lunch nook. Until later, I wish you tailwinds always!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Nighttime Negatives

No, tonight I was not Debbie Downer. I took in the sights and quiet whispers of the airport at night armed with nothing but my Droid phone with the camera set to negative style. It was peaceful, it was relaxing and it provoked some deep thinking. Most of all, it produced some funky photos :o)

Treetop Flyer

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Aviators

I've heard about this show before and was disappointed that it was only airing in Canada.  Now it's coming to PBS!  It will be premering on some PBS stations on September 8th, but have yet to find it on their website and to see what times and where.  I will keep you updated, but for now, check out their website here.