Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive

Ok, this is not aviation related and I don't like crowded cities-but-I had a blast and a lot of great pictures, so I'd thought I'd share them here as well:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Earth is Shrinking!

Showing off Bob's plane to TJ
Bob and I
The internet is amazing how it can bring people and most importantly, pilots, together.  Heck, it's how I met my main squeeze!  Fellow blog writer and reader, TJ of "TJ's Flying Adventures" was on a mission to land in all 50 states and after reading my blog, decided KFDK was a good place to land and meet up in person.  Bob, TJ and I enjoyed a great Mexican meal last night along with as top at the airport to check out his Cirrus and Bob's plane afterwords.  Have a safe trip home and enjoy your 50 state adventure! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gear Up and Cornfields

It's a perfect clear Sunday afternoon and we are preparing the airplane for a flight that includes ten carefully plotted out points.  In the distance, sirens can be heard and slowly they get closer.  A firetruck, siren now off but lights still on, passes by the hangar row.  Then a volunteer truck, then an ambulance, then more firetrucks.  Rescue vehicles from three different divisions quickly file in to the airport.  Everything sounds normal, airplanes and helicopters take off and land as normal.  I peer beyond the row and the vehicles are on one taxiway in a red and white flashing clump.  The emergency workers stand outside of the vehicles, talking.  "Must be some sort of drill," I think to myself.  "All looks fine!" I holler to Bob as I walk back, "just can't use that taxiway."  We hop in the Glasair and taxi out.  

The firetrucks are still there and many people are lined up behind the fence watching the runway with awe; but there's nothing to see.  We turn on the AWOS, they must be saying something there.  Nothing.  We turn to listed to the UNICOM who was communicating with the flight school's Piper Seminole, their nose gear would not go down.  So this was what all the fuss was about!  Two men on a golf cart pulled up to us, no taking off for now, only landings.  We were told to get back to the hangars for no one was allowed near the runway.  We parked the plane alongside the taxiway and walked back.  We questioned the gentlemen as to why there were so many emergency vehicles for just one plane with a nose gear problem.  "I think they believe they're landing a 747 or something," they joked.

In the distance: Seminole on the runway with firetrucks.
Our flight was delayed about a half hour, we stood along the taxiway with the firemen chatting aviation with a local pilot who flies a Bulldog.  In the meantime planes landed and when all was clear so did the crippled Seminole.  Several of the awaiting emergency vehicles were there to meet them.  I was surprised at how quickly they got the airplane off of the runway and did a quick runway check and it was reopened.  As we walked back towards ours, we watched the Seminole being tugged in, the props were horizontal and not damaged.  The pilots had shut the engines off upon landing to spare further damage to the aircraft and were uninjured themselves. 

This is where Bob, the Bulldog pilot and I got into a discussion on landing gear emergencies.  Bob told us how some great pilots had saved airplanes further damage by cutting the engine and jostled the starter on aircraft with two blade props to make them horizontal on landing to not destroy the engines.  While this was a smart move, I agreed, this could just create two problems when there once was only one.  What if you needed to go around?  When you were once only worried about the gear now you have created a whole new emergency, one that could have a much more disastrous outcome.  Bob agreed and stated that it would probably best to do so when you are committed in the landing and in the flare.  While that seems to be the option that would provide the "best" outcome, I don't feel that I would be comfortable focusing on anything but getting the airplane on the ground safely at that point.  We also had the grass versus the runway argument.  I first suggested that less damage would occur to the airplane if it had landed on the grass.  Bob's argument was that not knowing how smooth the grass was, the airplane could hit a divot and flip.  Good point.  What is the "best" choice for landing gear failures most likely varies with each individual situation.  I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this, just leave a comment below!

The corn maze route (the other orange points we opted not to do)
We finally made it to the air and started on the "corn maze scavenger hunt" I had planned for us.  We were to find ten cornfields with the reward of landing at KDYL for dinner with Bob's parents at the end.  I had searched on the internet for all of the corn mazes in the area and picked the ones that would work best with our route to KDYL.  If you'd like to create your own, it's quite simple actually.  All I used was Google Maps and AOPA's internet flight planner. When I found a corn maze of interest, I would put the address in Google Maps and right click to get the option "what's here".  This would input the coordinates of the site into the insert address bar.  I would then plot these as user waypoints in the flight planner and then we added them to Bob's Anywhere Map before departing.  I was shocked exactly how hard it can be to spot the corn mazes sometimes and three of them we never found.  I'm guess the information on the internet was outdated and the farm no longer created a maze.  It was fun to compete to see who found the maze first as well as to reveal what the design was.  Another fun surprise along the way was flying alongside a beautiful vintage yellow biplane.  Please see the slideshow below for a few pictures of this aerial maze adventure!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Company Cessna Checkout

The AIR Pros company Cessna is from 1977 with a 180 conversion.  It does not look or act its age, it loves to sparkle and is ready to fly.  Much nicer looking than the Cessnas from my training past.  My boss offered to pick up a friend at KLNS because his Bonanza was getting a propeller overhaul.  He found this the perfect chance to get me checked out in the plane.  I admit, I was nervous!  I have over 200 hours in Cessnas but zero hours with the guy who signs my paycheck in the next seat over!  So as a nervous person usually does, I fumbled over a few memory items but other than that all was well.  The visibility was five miles with haze on the flight over and bit bumpy from time to time.  He had me put on the auto pilot and practice some dead reckoning navigating and we tried to figure out how to use his Garmin 480 GPS, which was unlike others I am familiar with.  KLNS was towered and we were cleared for runway 8, after landing and some taxi instructions we picked up his friend outside the FBO.

The flight back into Frederick was like any other when you have three aviation enthusiasts aboard: full of stories!  Some to include our favorite throwing up moments as well as airplanes that were a pain to land.  Throughout all the talking and laughter my heading and altitude were dead on because I was enjoying myself.  My boss even made a point at telling our passenger how I had the needles nailed and I quickly told him not to jinx it!  The landing was golden, but the requires a bit more nose up than I am used to.  After topping off the tanks and wiping the windshield and leading edges (which is the policy when you get to use this plane) we talked about the flight and discussed polishing up some of the basics I have neglected due to my commercial training.  It's such a great opportunity to have access to a plane like this, especially just for the price of gas and I am extremely thankful.  I am excited to take advantage of it more in the future!

Aviatrix Aerogram

I wanted to take the time to share with you an ezine that I am really excited about, the Aviatrix Aerogram.  The Aerogram is the brainchild of a group of female aviators wanting to focus on the connections lady pilots can make with one another; shifting away from the typical organization that can focus too much on hierarchy and rule-making.

The Aviatrix Aerogram is delivered monthly into the subscriber's inbox in .pdf form and offers a wide variety of articles from contributing members.  It is a ezine written for the everyday aviator, by the everyday aviator focusing on: 
  • Sharing stories and experiences as women pilots 
  • Sharing knowledge on subject matter of interest
  • Provide a venue on aviation issues
  • Sharing humor and fun
  • Celebrating achievements of women pilots
  • Personal and team development
I was more than delighted to contribute and be highlighted in this month's section of Bravo for Blogs.  I admit that I wasn't a very good worker today, the second this ezine came to my inbox I devoured it.  I know the Aerogram is full of potential and will provide women with a connection to aviation like they have not had before.  So please email me if you are interested in getting on the mailing list and get ready to devour see this wonderful ezine for yourself!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I dance in my car...

Met Life Blimp
...on the way home from a good flight.  I did tonight, I don't lie to my readers-I told you I would have landings down by my next lesson!  It felt good to conquer the Arrow, that airplane just loves to stop flying at a certain point!  As a fellow pilot posted on my MyTransponder profile "Piper Arrow = Lands like a sewer lid!"  Love it!  Now that I feel more comfortable with it, we're going back to making the commercial maneuvers solid and just clean everything else up.  The night was beautiful, I have to get used to it getting darker earlier here.  However, I welcomed the dark skies and the still night; it was beautiful.  The airport was lit below me in whites, blues and reds, and the Met Life blimp shone brightly.  Although I didn't travel anywhere, that view was an aviator's dream. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Right Stuff

Had a great five hour mountain hike today, now I am sitting watching "The Right Stuff" and nursing my very weak and sore knees.  If you're a pilot or not, I highly recommend watching this movie sometime.  It's about the beginning of the space program and starts with Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier.  Very riveting, very inspirational.  I have the "right stuff" too, maybe I can make an impact like these men have on aviation some day.  Now go watch it! 

Great picture from the hike today:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flight Trials

Upon analyzing my bank account today, I discovered today that the road is still rocky and it will be a long time until I am debt free and flying for hire.  I meditated over all my options and listened to all my fears.  I still have a long path ahead of me until I am where I want to be, wherever that is.   I recovered all the strength that I've had to use so many times before and was drawn to write.  I was quite a poet in my early years, but the talent was lost come high school.  Today words moved to me to write the first (well, non-goofy) poem I have written in a very long time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Piper and a Hat Disaster

My sinus infection finally cleared up, but I wanted to take it easy for my first flight back.  With it being only my second flight in the Arrow and just getting over being sick we decided it was best to stay in the pattern today.  It's slow to climb, but faster than a Cessna in the pattern and heavy heavy heavy (for me) on the final flare.   The view outside the window is completely different and my CFI kept repeating to me, just as his had to do to him, "nose down, nose down, nose down." After several completely flat touch and goes I almost had a decent flare on the fifth landing helped by a final trim adjustment while over the numbers.  I found that you are constantly adjusting the manifold pressure, you can't take all the power out for you will slam into the ground.  Too much power, however and you'll float all the way down the runway.  Upon asking my boss regarding his experience with them, he agreed that they were a different kind of animal to land, especially if you are not used to them.  I know I will get the hang of it by the next lesson. 

Switching between a Cessna, Glasair and Piper, I have to think, "what am I flying right now?"  I'm presently memorizing new speeds and tricks for the Piper while trying not to confuse or lose the ones I already know for my other aerial vehicles of choice.  I'm positive that a CFI needs this skill of "airplane switching" in theri daily life so I am thankful that I have to face this challenge now versus when there is a student pilot aboard.  However frustrating the pattern work may have been yesterday, the challenge and the variety keeps me coming back and makes me that more determined.  That's "A Piper" onto my "Hat Disaster"...

My perfection of the crocheted tail number hat was a little exaggerated.  What I didn't let my readers know was that the hat was made way to large; I figured it out half way through and did not want to start over.  It was not a big deal I though I would just shrink it afterwords.  I thought wrong.  After unsuccessfully trying to shrink it I went to look at the type of yarn it was.  I hadn't paid attention before, I had just grabbed it out of my bin for the color.  Right there in big letters on the label that my eyes had passed by so many times before "shrink resistant yarn." Great.  Someone suggested trying to boil it.  It actually got bigger...and the dye ran.  So I presently have a elephant sized, runny dye hat drying on the dish rack.   I stood there and stared at what a disaster I had made, but really just had to laugh at the whole situation!  I felt like I was on an episode of I Love Lucy or something.  Once it dries, maybe it can be redeemed or perhaps it can become part of the crocheted airplane cover Bob requested?  Haha!

I dropped that project for awhile (don't worry, I will make him a new one and with the "N" this time) to start another.  This one will have a heart and "2 FLY" like the I Heart New York t-shirts.  I tried a new stitch this time to make the letters stand out more and I really like it.  Now, I know what you are thinking, "why not just use a pattern and spare yourself all these test-hats?"  Well, truthfully, I get bored of tracking a pattern and my crocheting always expands best when I experiment.  I have a busy next few days coming up, so hopefully I will have a completed hat to share with you sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crocheted Tail Numbers

I'm a crochet-a-holic.  I forgot how much I missed just mindlessly crocheting while watching TV, stitching at a calm rhythm.  It's therapeutic, relaxing.  Hats are usually my forte and I don't think I have crocheted any since last Fall/Winter.  I'm working on one at the moment that goes by painstakingly slow, so I set it aside to experiment with something new.  As usual, Bob is my guinea pig for such things whether he is home or not!  I decided to make him a beanie with his N number on it.  I stayed up an hour and half past when I wanted to go to bed to finish this project.  It hurt my brain how much I had to plan ahead (I'm not one to usually follow a pattern when I crochet) in order to make sure the numbers were readable, straight and at equal widths and height.  At first, they almost turned out backwards!  I ditched the N, I will worry about conquering that letter another day, but the remaining of his tail number I am pretty proud of!  I'm thinking with one more practice beanie, this could very well be another way to fund my training- crocheted tail number anyone?

Update: I just had a suggestion from a reader to make ones with <32FLY or FLY or LUV 2 FLY, etc.  I think I'll give one of those a whirl next.  One for me :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Montgomery County Airpark's 50th Anniversary

Drove (yes drove, can't solo the planes yet because I didn't take the ADIZ course yet-stupid DC!) to Gaithersburg today to stop by Montgomery County Airpark's 50th anniversary celebration.  AIR had a booth there so it was a great opportunity to look at some planes and suck up to the new boss ;)  The airport was bustling with families looking at all the airplanes and little kids shouting things like "I like the blue one" or "that's a big one!"  There were several flying clubs advertising and many locals had their freshly washed Cessna, Piper and Cirrus aircraft on display.  There was also one of my favorites, the P-51 Mustang that of course is the only photo that didn't turn out along with a few large warbirds.  There was a flyover on my way in (insured by my work!) and more to come later.  Unfortunately, I was dehydrated, getting over my sinus infection and had some curtains to buy (they look great, by the way) so I missed the rest of the flyovers.  It seemed like a quaint little fly-in after growing up going to shows like AirVenture in Oshkosh, but I didn't care.  It was full of aviators and aviation enthusiasts-a great way to start the day! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Count Your Blessings

The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.  

I admit I panicked.   Now I'm done.  I've allowed myself to experience that emotion, now it's time to shove it aside and stay positive on my path to success.  Today was a day that something came to my mailbox that I have been hoping would magically decide not to arrive.  I could almost hear the horror-film music as my key turned the lock in the mail box.  It got louder and quicker as my hand reached in cautiously and pulled out...bills!  The mail sat in the pile for hours until I gathered up the strength to open them. I could feel it stare at me every time I walked by.  As I ate my dinner, I could hear it breathing deeply and whisper my name.  Evil bills.  Medical bills.  Bills from my eye surgeries; because having a detached retina wasn't frightening enough. 

Oh well!  Just add it to my list!  Add it to that list of things that I will cross off; add it to the list of items that I will conquer!  I have too many wonderful things to live for to worry about minor things such as bills.  I live with a man I love, I am cuddled under a warm blanket and I'm watching one of our pets inadvertently chase the other around the living room.  This weekend I will hang out with my new and amazing friends, I will take flight  once again and enjoy watching others fly at an airshow as well.  Oh, and did I tell you I soon will have access to the company plane?  Cessna 172 at my beck and call and all I have to pay for is gas?  Hayll yeah baby!  I'm on my path airplane awesomeness!!!  The bills are now cowering in a corner, sappy violin music playing...terrified of being paid.

Monday, October 4, 2010

No More Writer's Block!

It was due to the unexpected and overwhelming encouragement of those who I have and have never met praising the Friday's Fabulous Flyer article about me that I was finally able to complete one of two scholarship essays to submit to WAI this year.  Ahhh, it feels so good, so freeing to be rid of this writers block!  I wanted to share with you, a recently published and FREE aviation enthusiast magazine which definately does not suffer from those dreaded words "writer's" and "block".  Please, take a moment to check out Airplanista Magazine and spread the word!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's the time of year for haunted...airports?

London Heathrow International Airport - London, England (EGLL)

Hung for thievery rape, torture and setting his victims ablaze, Dick Turpin is only one of the haunts near the gates of London’s busiest airport.  He has been spotted riding a black horse or his breath has been felt on the necks of airport employees.  In addition to Turpin, the spirit of a business man frequents the VIP lounge.  He’s searching for his briefcase, lost over 60 years ago when he perished in a DC-3 crash at that very airport.  Heathrow is not the only haunted airport in England; the county of Lincolnshire is spotted with vintage airfields featuring the sounds of Merlin engines and the ghosts of RAF pilots.

Denver International Airport – Denver, Colorado (KDEN)

Rumored to be built upon a Native American burial ground many passengers and employees of this airport claim to hear strange sounds and whispers in their ears.  The unique and sometimes creepy murals and artwork throughout the airport further encourages the spooky atmosphere.  Often, pictures taken within the airport have developed with unexplained misty figures nearby.  KDEN keeps itself interesting still, with conspiracies it was built “as the headquarters for the global genocide that will trigger the New World Order.”

Archerfield Airport – Queensland, Austrailia (YBAF)

Still wearing his flight goggles and cap, a Royal Australian Air Force pilot strolls the swampland behind Archerfield Airport.  He met his end when the Douglas C-47 Skytrain he was piloting crashed there in March of 1947, killing him along with 22 of his enlisted comrades.  He is Queensland’s friendly ghost, known to smile and wave at those who spot him.

Kansas Aviation Museum – Wichita, Kansas (formerly Wichita Municipal)

Sitting aside a crop duster being restored from the thirties, a ghost hunter asks, “Did you crash the aircraft?”  The needles on his equipment jump.  Museum volunteers are not surprised, for strange noises as well as unexplained movements of doors have been occurring for years.  Once called “the country club without dues” the Kansas Aviation Museum once was frequented by aviation legends such as Howard Hughes and celebrities like Fred Astaire.  I’m looking forward to visiting this museum someday and will be on the lookout for chilling shadows!

Mojave Airport – Mojave, California (KMHV)

What is spookier than an airplane graveyard?  Many airline planes make their final resting place in the Mojave Airport Boneyard.  The Outsiders, a paranormal investigation TV show, performed some research at this very place just last year.  A loud bang came from within a vacant DC-9, glowing lights were captured on film and cameras fell over by a 747.  The door of a Vietnam plane flew open, and then slammed shut.  How many people have passed through the doors of those planes?  How many people had expired within them?

Suvarnabhumi Airport – Bangkok, Thailand (VTBS)

What’s a good reason for construction workers to be delaying the build of a new airport?  Spirits.  The fears of the workers became such a dilemma that Buddhist monks (99 to be exact) were asked to visit and chant the spirits and the workers’ fears away.  Although the monks’ effort did not scare all the apparitions away, Poo Ming, an old man with a blue face still roams the halls; his footsteps can be heard at night.  The head security officer has witnessed Poo Ming’s wanderings as well as that of a lady holding a baby, when she crossed the street in front of him; he slammed on the brakes, and she dematerialized.  

Southwest Florida International – Fort Meyers, FL (KRSW)

Alone at night at Southwest Florida International Airport?  You can hear toilets flush and sinks turn on while no one is nearby.  Pay phones may ring as you pass them or an aging man clothed in a trench coat may vanish by the ticket counter.  The airport is fairly new; to this date, the reason behind these unusual incidents remains a mystery.


I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone who read Karlene's blog yesterday.  Your overwhelming support, comments, Tweets and messages have met so much!  I certainly do feel FABULOUS! 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Wow. Usually I'm the one to write about myself or other people. Someone is writing about ME this time! Apparently, I am one Fabulous Flyer ;) Meet Karlene Petitt: airline pilot/proud grandmother/author, but most importantly a blogger! I have been a follower of Karlene's blog Flight to Success since the inception of my own blog in May. Her goal is to "inspire new pilots, share the love of aviation, and navigate our profession to a promising future." From that headline, I already knew that I'd like her. Her posts range from that of humor to education to inspiration; it is clear why she is followed by so many. 

Last week I started the dreaded journey of writing essays for this year's Women in Aviation International scholarships, due in November. I have not waited this long in the past, but really couldn't think of any new way of saying all that I had before in the previous five years in which I had applied. Insert Karlene, a creative writer and a Fabulous Flyer herself. I e-mailed her for advice and she replied with overwhelming encouragement, energy and assistance. Throughout our email exchanges, as I continued to be inspired by her life, she chose to write about mine.  So I am unbelievable honored (especially being categorized with the past Fabulous Flyers who have inspired me) to share the link with you. Check me out, I'm Fabulous!