Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stuck Mic AvCast Intros: Rick Felty

I have recently become the co-host of a new podcast, The Stuck Mic AvCast which is available online and for download on iTunes.  I am joined with three other pilots from a very diverse background to discuss aviation news, products as well as offering advice and training tips.  I thought I would take a few blog posts to highlight each one of my new co-hosts and friends.

I'm starting with my new "partner in crime", Rick Felty.  I think we are the class clowns of the AvCast at this moment, at least for our misbehavior during the latest recording.  

I was very hungry and Tweeted just before recording: "I wonder if the guys will notice if I'm munching on Pizza Rolls while recording the podcast tonight?"

"I heard that!" Rick Tweeted in reply.  I immediately had to mute myself to take a moment to laugh.  The escapades continued from there.

So without further ado, please meet Rick Felty.  Be sure to check out his You Tube page. The man has skillz!

StuckMIcAvCast - Rick FeltyRick Felty@RFelty – Beginning as a kid, playing with my father’s early mainframe flight simulator, I’ve always loved things that fly. However I only recently found space in my life to learn how, getting my single-engine land PPL in the summer of 2009. Since I’m a high tech geek, it’s no coincidence that I got there with some of the latest aviation technology, passing my check-ride in a G1000 Cessna 172, after doing most of my primary training in a Cirrus SR20.

As a marketing/advertising executive and writer/producer I’m an avid photographer and videographer, and love turning those lifelong skills loose on my new flying avocation. I’m probably not totally alone when I say that I got into flying because of the amazing visuals. My images can be found at my blog and my flying videos at

I balance my time between work, aviation and my amazing supportive family. As the lowest time pilot on the podcast, I hope to add a new pilot’s perspective to the wide-ranging discussions. Oh and I just read Victoria’s bio and would be happy to take any of the non-muffin blueberries she doesn’t want.  <---told ya!  Class clown.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aviatrix Aerogram Free Subscription Information

You have probably read some posts on here of me talking about my contributions and enthusiasm for reading the monthly e-zine, the Aviatrix Aerogram.  For those who had been interested in subscribing I had taken their email and directed it to the organizer.  Below is a great summary of this innovative e-zine and how you can subscribe on your own.

Aviatrix Aerogram is a monthly ezine (an electronic magazine) distributed as a pdf file. Aviatrix Aerogram is a fun publication geared for women pilots. Our readers range from newbie Student pilots up to ATPs, with everything in between. Some fly for fun, some fly professionally, and some are no longer flying yet still enjoy the opportunity to enthrall us with how things were “back in the day” or to live vicariously through the adventures of other women pilots. Aviatrix Aerogram is a place to share stories and experiences. It is a place to celebrate achievements, such as passing a checkride or a first solo. It is a place to learn the fascinating history of women pilots. Some examples of content:

    ✈ Competitive Flying
    ✈ Scholarship Corner
    ✈ Motherhood and Flying
    ✈ Question of the Month
    ✈ Trike Flying
    ✈ Love Is In the Air

At this time, the distribution of Aviatrix Aerogram is done via email from Laura Smith (at some point in the future we anticipate the publication also being available on the web). To subscribe, a woman pilot joins the “Council of Women Pilots” email group which is distributed by Laura. To join in, please email laura (dot) smith (at) att (dot) net with “CWP OPT IN” in the subject line. It is appreciated if you indicate in the email your pilot certificate type and the city/state/country where you live.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Congrats to Team Freakin' Awesome of the Sugarloaf 99s!

Congrats to my girls in our Ninety-Nine's chapter for winning 10th in the Air Race Classic this past weekend.  I can't wait to join you in the race one day.  Sorry I couldn't make it to the celebration, I was busy recording episode 5 for the Stuck Mic AvCast!  I can't wait to hear all about it!

Frederick pilots place in race
Originally published June 28, 2011

By Stephanie Mlot

Frederick pilots place in race

Photo by Travis Pratt

Pilot Lin Caywood, center, shares stories from the 2011 Air Race Classic on Monday at Frederick Municipal Airport.

One local pilot returned home Monday and the second was expected Monday evening — three days after landing in 10th place in the 2011 Air Race Classic.

Lin Caywood and Susan Beall, flying Caywood's Cessna 182 as Team Freakin' Awesome, competed among 43 teams racing 2,722 miles from Iowa City, Iowa, to Mobile, Ala. — looping over the Dakotas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

The friends departed June 16 from Frederick Municipal Airport, representing the Frederick chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots.

In a tight race, Caywood and Beall finished in 8 hours and five minutes, about 40 minutes before the 11th place finishers. Fifty teams registered; seven dropped out.

"We did better than we expected," Caywood said shortly after landing at the airport Monday.

Beall's husband flew her plane to Mobile, where he and Lin's fianc? — who took a commercial flight — met them. The two competitors then flew back to Frederick separately.

Caywood arrived at about 5:30 p.m. Monday. Beall, who had to make more fuel stops, was scheduled to land in Frederick by about 9 p.m. Monday.

Team Freakin' Awesome encountered only a few problems along the race route, including losing autopilot during a particularly turbulent section and troubles with oil pressure readings.

Still, Caywood, sporting a 10th-place medal around her neck, called the experience "very rewarding" and a lot of fun.

When the race finished on Friday, Beall and Caywood were told they landed in the top 14 finishers, but all of the teams' planes needed to be inspected before a final verdict was dispensed.

"We had basically resigned ourselves to the fact that maybe we hadn't made it to the top 10," Caywood said.
So, their 10th-place win came as a great surprise, she said.

Caywood's mother, Carol Caywood, said she was glad to have her daughter back on the ground.

"All (of) my friends think she's the craziest person ever," she said of Lin, who spent four consecutive days in the air.
Co-pilots Beall and Caywood each participated in last year's race, but competed together for the first time last week.

"We had a grand time," Caywood said of the partnership.

The women often agreed to disagree, she said, and kept each other calm during each leg of the race.

Caywood, who plans to compete in next year's event, said she would love to race with Beall as her co-pilot again.

"We are very proud of what we did," Caywood said.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A visit to the Wright Bros Memorial

Since we were in the Outer Banks and Bob and I are both pilots, it was almost sacrilegious to not take a scenic detour and stop by First Flight Airport (KFFA) on the way home. This is located in Kitty Hawk, NC the place that the Wright Brother's first achieved flight. They chose this location due to the strong winds and the soft sand. Thankfully it is no longer sandy but covered in beautiful grass, several memorials and a museum.

We opted not to fly direct to KFFA and took a more picturesque flight flying up the Outer Banks and therefore avoiding more restricted airspace. This area is a National Seashore so aircraft are required to keep a 2,000' distance from the shore at all times. This area can be found by a green dashed line on your sectional chart, but does not show up on a GPS. In a little less than a half hour we spotted the memorial and then the 3,000'x60' strip and were on the ground.

The aircraft parking area is small so space is limited, many individuals on AirNav said to be prepared to park on the grass. There was enough space for us and we tucked in between two Cessnas and there were two Cirrus and an ultralight there as well. AOPA donated the new building on the airport complete with restrooms and a pilot flight planning room. There was a photo on the wall inside which was pretty humorous to see the difference between the old and new building. There are also warnings posted everywhere to avoid walking on the grass due to prickly pear cacti and fire ants. Ouch!

Our first stop was to the towering memorial engraved with Wilbur and Orville Wright's names.  From here you had a great view of Kitty Hawk and could choose whether to go to the markers depicting the launch spot and the first four landings of the Wright Flyer, the brass replica of the aircraft and gentlemen the day of the December 17th, 1903 historic flight and the museum next.

After walking the grounds of the memorial and touring the museum it was time to get some lunch.  The best $100 Hamburger in this area is just under a mile walk from the airport, the Outer Banks Brewing Station.  This brewery holds the title of being America's first wind powered brewing pub and the drink and dessert menu on the table boasts fun facts about the wind turbine and the struggle to get approval for it.  The food was absolutely delicious and we walked with full bellies back to the airport to complete our journey home.  Just remember pilots, it's at least eight hours from bottle to throttle!
After takeoff we took a quick circle around the memorial to catch and aerial view and then headed to KFDK flying the corridor through the SFRA with no problems this time.  We arrived back home itchy with bug bites and in pain from sunburns from the camping and full of respect for the historical spot we had just toured in Kitty Hawk.

Check out more pictures here!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Weekend Camping on Ocracoke, W95

This weekend Bob and I made a slightly impromptu decision to camp on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina for two nights.  It has been one of our island destinations on the "Bob and Victoria's To-Do" flying list.  Bob had to work later than expected so I met him at the airport and got the Glasair all pulled out and packed up.  On the way over Bob called flight service and got a weather briefing and filed our SFRA (which Bob now calles Stupid Flight Rules Area LOL) VFR flight plan with our favorite briefer.  He's always super friendly and super excited about your flight an any weather.  It's great to start off a flight with someone as enthusiastic about the trip as we are.   We gassed up shortly thereafter and were off.

Things started off a bit bumpy and it wasn't only due to the occasional light turbulence.  We called up Patomac approach to get into the SFRA and they apparently were having trouble with the flight plan we had attended to take using the VFR corridor between Baltimore and National.  We circled outside of that forbidden ring for at least ten minutes until they finally handed us to a different controller and got things sorted out.  

I flew while Bob worked on getting the weather on the Anywhere Map to function.  We knew there were some showery spots ahead and a few SIGMETS as well.  Unfortunately something had become disconnected and was now buried under camping gear.  We called for weather briefings twice to make sure we were ok and never experienced any dangerous weather.

There is a lot of restricted airspace and MOAs on the way down and luckily they were inactive and we had a straight path almost the whole trip.  When we were only about 20 minutes from W95 we had to divert slightly to avoid an area that was hot.  After that, it was direct to a windy W95 with some wind shear on final, with a total flight time of just a little over two hours.   

The airport is run by the National Park Service and is by the first access to the beach once you are outside of town.  There are two port-o-jons available and a small (but air conditioned!) pilot room.  There are no taxis on the island or transportation to rent on airport, so we gathered our gear and walked until we were able to hitch a ride.

We were dropped off at our campsite, Teeter's Campground and set up our tent before grabbing some much needed dinner and exploring the island for awhile.  We enjoyed watching the sunset and listening to live music while having dinner at Jolly Roger's Pub & Marina which sits on Silver Lake Harbor.  Following we took a quick tour of the British Cemetery which was right next to our campsite.  I was disappointed, it wasn't as scary as you would think!  We would later take a more in depth tour in the daytime of this beautiful memorial to the British sailors who had lost their lives off the coast of Ocracoke during WWII when torpedoed by a German submarine.  We enjoyed some conversation with a couple our age who were camping there in celebration of their anniversary and fell into a deep comfortable sleep afterwords...or so we thought if it wasn't for that lovely BITING fly that crept into our tent with us.

Our original plan was to rent bikes around the island, but when we discovered that golf carts were only around $75 to rent for the day we opted for that to save time.  I recommend carting around the island if you don't have enough time and want to see a lot of the town.  I emphasize the town.  You cannot take the carts past town and onto Cape Hatteras, that is patrolled by the National Park Service and they will ticket you for doing so.  Each time we visited the beach we parked at Howard's Pub and took the short walk to the first beach access from there.

Many people bring their Jeeps and other vehicles with four wheel drive right on to the beach.  We were just a two of a handful of individuals who had walked or biked in.  There is a plethora of shells to discover on the beach and we enjoyed playing in the ocean as well as some time on a rented boogie board.  The beach was not at all crowded and although you could see other people down the beach, everyone pretty much kept to their section and you could have a pretty large area to relax uninterrupted.

The $100 Hamburger place on the island is Howard's Pub.  It was recommended to us by many, even by our briefer when we called flight service.  Howard's Pub will shuttle you over there from the airport and is a location Flight Service calls to find pilots when they forget to close their flight plans.  The food and service was amazing.  They are known for their burgers, which we both ordered and you should too!  They also have a beautiful deck, there is no service but a great place to watch the sun rise or set.

For the rest of the day we visited the Ocracoke Island lighthouse that is still in operation, took a beautiful but short loop hike in the Springer's Point Nature Preserve, a visit to the Civil War Memorial, the spot where Blackbeard was captured and beheaded and a joy ride down historic Howard Street.  That evening we missed the sunset while eating dinner but enjoyed watching a distant storm from the deck of Howard's Pub before retreating due to bugs.

Our whole trip we were treated well, met some great people and ate well as well.  Other places I highly recommend to eat if you are staying (or would like to make your $100 Hamburger include two meals) are the Ocracoke Coffee Co (I don't like coffee-but their smoothies are amazing!), the Flying Melon (for breakfast, get the New Orleans style french toast) and Dajio (the fig stuffed pork is amazing).

Two silly fun facts from the weekend: 1. Getting pulled over by the cops while we were driving a golf cart and 2. Coming back to our tent to find a horse in front of it.

As usual, we wished we could stay another day but we have to go home at some point!  Luckily, we had a great place to stop on the way home to break up the trip.  We followed the Outer Banks northward and landed at Kitty Hawk to view the Wright Brother's Memorial and for lunch.  I'll give you the PIREP on that great excursion tomorrow.  For more pictures from Ocracoke click here.  Until tomorrow, good night! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunset at Ocracoke

The ten minute wait circling around outside the SFRA waiting for our clearance and dodging restricted airspace was worth it!

Every day is a chance to inspire

When I started planning the Women of Aviation Week Fly it Forward event in Frederick towards the end of last year, I didn't set upon the task realizing how many lives it would touch. Yes, women were provided with a fun day at the airport and received aircraft rides; but the effects of the day continue past the event.

Today I received an email from a woman who was unable to make it to the Fly it Forward event, but we kept in touch and I encouraged her to pursue her dream of flight. I received an email from her today stating that she had completed ground school and passed her written exam yesterday. Way to go, K! Congratulations!

This act is proof that as a pilot you don't know how many lives you may touch, just in the act of supporting someone's interest.  The number of student pilots that do not complete their training is staggering, just imagine how those numbers could change if each student had a support system, an aviation family to guide them.  So when someone is interested in how to became a pilot or what aviation is like, do not brush them off.  I challenge you to take the lead; I challenge you to inspire!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This weekend's flying trip

We are flying to go camping and enjoy the sandy beaches of Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Ocracoke is said to be one of the favorite landings spots of Blackbeard the pilot.  Arg!

Since the direct route to W95 (Ocracoke Island Airport) will take us directly through the SFRA we will be using the vponx and vpoop (yes, I laugh at that everytime) waypoints to direct us through the corridor below 2,500'.  If we go direct, the route takes us right along the coast.  However there is quite a lot of restricted airspace which if we don't go through means we will be making a lot of drastic altitude changes to stay above or below them.  Below is the route if we avoid them all together.

Either way, I am  so ready for the scenic and bright blue ocean aerial view!

"Only the devil and I know the whereabouts of my treasure, and the one of us who lives the longest should take it all," Edward Teach aka Blackbeard

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Anne Morrow Lindberg!

I love my "This Day in Women's Aviation" daily calendar that sits on my desk at work.  I always look forward to reading new tidbits each day.  Not many are aware that Charles Lindberg's wife, Anne became a pilot and helped him create charts in yet to be plotted parts of the world.  Here's today's tidbit from the calendar, get your own at!

June 22
"Inn 1906, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was born.  An accomplished pilot herself, she would author several books, including "North to the Orient" in 1935 about a flight over Canada to Asia, and "Listen! The Wind!" in 1938, about transatlantic flights."

Looks like I have some more books to add to my reading list.  Also, happy birthday to my Uncle Bobby!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Surfing the Clouds

A friend posted this video on Facebook this morning, it's too beautiful not to share!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


  • We lost the NASA lottery
  • Tour websites servers were loaded
  • But I did not give up

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My fun flying compilation video!

So I had a little bit of fun with the video editor Sunday while I was hanging out with Bob at his work.  Here's some fun moments I have from flying on video put a little faster and with a catchy tune!

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm a co-host on the Stuck Mic AvCast

Either my buddy, Len (@thepilotreport) is very tricky or I'm not that bright because a few months ago I committed to something and didn't quite know what I was getting myself in to-but in a good way!  Len had asked me if I wanted to co-host a podcast with him and some other pilots.  Somehow, I got the impression that it was a one time deal and he was asking me to do it for an episode on his website, The Pilot Report.

Nope!  Len had something else up his sleeve, an all new aviation podcast called the Stuck Mic AvCast.  I had been too busy between shuttle launches and commercial pilot training that three episodes had been recorded and two published before I had the chance to take a mic.  

Tonight I joined my co-hosts Len (CFI and airline FO), Carl (airline captain and CFI) and Rick (GA enthusiast and in flight video artist) for the fourth recording for the Stuck Mic AvCast.  We discussed my "fast track" commercial training, the pros and cons of such training, thunderstorm awareness, our aviation picks of the week and more.

The podcasts are available for download for free on iTunes as well as available to listen to on the Stuck Mic website.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on when the next ones are published, especially my debut where I have a sinus infection and sound very nasaly! :0)  Over the coming week(s), I would like to feature a little more about each of the co-hosts and how you can keep up with them online, so keep coming back!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A bit about KPTK

Oakland County International Airport (KPTK), also known as "Pontiac Airport" is where I recently completed my commercial certificate and where I earned my private and instrument previously.  Since I have so many fond memories and have spent a lot of time (and money!) at this airport I figured it was about time that I featured it on my blog.

Opening in 1928 Pontiac Airport has always been one of the top 10 general aviation airports in the country.  According to Wikipedia, it is currently the "6th busiest airport in the United States without scheduled passenger service."  I agree with this figure thinking back to the days when Chrysler has jets constantly traveling in and out of PTK with German employees. There had been times (and still are) when it would take me 5 minutes or more to try to make my request to tower.  On one such day that I could not seem to even get a mic click in, that tower saw my lonely little plane waiting at the shorter runway and cleared me to take off when I had not yet been able to request it.

Pontiac has three runways, two are 9-27 that parallel each other and the other is 18-36 for the rare crosswind.  While 9-27 are lighted, wide and over a mile long, the latter is only used during the day yet still quite sizable at 2,585x75'.  

AirNav states that Pontiac houses 526 aircraft and averages almost 400 flights a day.  Fuel prices can be very reasonable since there is quite a competition their eight F.B.Os. 

Unfortunately there is no on field restaurant, but many great choices nearby if you can get your hands on a courtesy or rental car.  There are even some small delis and pizza places in walking distance depending where you park your plane at on the field.  Some of my favorite haunts nearby are the Royal Diner, El Patio, LA Java and Cafe and the Clarkston Union Bar & Kitchen which are all within a five to ten minute drive.

If you are visiting Michigan PTK is a central location if you will be enjoy a concert at the Palace of Auburn Hills or the DTE Energy Music Theater.  Other great spots with about a half hour to forty minute drive would be the amazing Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village as well as Detroit if you are not interested in flying into the city. 

So there you have it, a busy yet friendly airport with a lot to offer!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sarah gets her aviation patch!

It has been two days since I have become a commercial pilot-now it's time to have some fun!  I said goodbye to my trusty, yet heavy Cutlass and moved on to one of the "easy" fixed gear 172s.  Today I helped my cousin earn her aviation patch for Girl Scouts.

On the way to the airport I taught her the fundamentals behind what make an airplane fly and what all of the flight controls do.  Once we arrived I told her the importance of a preflight and she followed me around and helped to inspect the plane.  We departed under an overcast layer at 2,100' but soon were in to clearer skies as we headed north, circled once around my parents' lake then over to Sarah's house where her family was waiting to see us.  We circled around and watched them wave and run around below us.  Following that it was Sarah's turn to take the controls.  She was nervous and said that "it was hard," but enjoyed herself.  Weather was deteriorating so we headed back to Pontiac, once we had the airplane pushed back in to its parking spot it started to sprinkle...then pour.  We waited under the wing for it to die down, however, it didn't.  We ran through the rain and quickly into the hangar and the eventually the flight school to get dry and warm. 

Her patch was almost complete, but I wanted to give her an even cooler experience.  I called over to the control tower and talked to management and they agreed to give us a tour.  We quickly headed over there and were escorted up the many stairs to the tower.  The elevator was broken, they have been having generator and power problems.  Some showed up while we were visiting, alarms went off as the power went off and back up systems went on.  The controllers were very nice and handed us each binoculars to watch the planes who were coming in to land and taking off.  Bob was up with Don learning spins, tailwheel and doing a biannual flight review in a Citabria.  We got to watch them practice as tower told them, "Victoria says you are cleared to land" and "you're girlfriend is watching, so do a good job!"
It was a lot of fun and we all met up at the end at Flight 101 while Don talked me into teaching Bob the ground portion of the flight review so I could get head start on my instructing skills.  Sarah got a bit lost in all of the technical terms but managed not to look too bored.  Next up was lunch and some great milkshakes at a local diner.  Sarah told me thanks many times and really enjoyed herself.  I think I wore her out, she fell asleep on the ride home!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day #7

Was yesterday and obviously I am now a commercial pilot.  That was the roughest, toughest week of my life!  I have never learned so much and have pushed myself so hard in such a short period of time.  I am truly proud of myself.  The designated examiner, Barry was great to talk to, loves what he does and made me feel really at ease.  The check ride was pretty rough because it 93 degrees and globs upon globs of sweat were drifting off us.  The plane performed horrible in such hot conditions which added some difficulty because I hadn't experienced how this aircraft reacts to the heat before.  In the end, I did it!

"For how hot it was and being such a small gal, you handled that airplane great!" Barry said.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support and not letting myself give up on this 6 year (gasp! time flies!) long journey!

Now for some rest...then back to the skies again!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Day #6

Flew a mock checkride.
Did tons of ground.
Got signed off for the checkride.
Did tons of paperwork.
Left the airport at 10pm.
Took a bubble bath.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day #5

Formation with the C170A
Day #5 was Sunday and I was given the gift of sleeping in and did not have to be at the airport until 2pm.  Chilling on the lake, doing some studying and watching my father and grandfather fly RC planes over the water gave me some much needed rest.  

Enjoying myself in the 170
The first flight of the day was a mock checkride, which I did just OK on.  Passable most of the time, but not great.  I didn't find myself as focused and just overwhelmed and had the "I just want this all to be over with" attitude.  However, a little bit of fun was just what I needed and happened to meet us in the pattern.  A Cessna 170A that was practicing with us in the pattern over at D95 was coming in to land at PTK and Don happened to know them and be checked out in the plane.  The 170 was ahead of us, but we were faster and cleared to land first, but not until Don had some fun formation flying with them first!  We got up close, I pulled out my cell phone to take a few quick shots and we headed in to land.

Us to tower, "Smile, we're taking pictures!"
The 170 followed us to Flight 101 while we all chatted for awhile, the Don and I hopped in it to take it around the pattern for some fun.  He quickly taught me the basic concept behind three point landings and wheel landings.  I did a three point almost all by myself and Don had a few turns to show off a bit.

It was dinner time when we arrived back with the 170 and handed it back to the husband and wife couple that were training in it with their instructor for their private pilot certificates.  We chose a great new diner with amazing milkshakes.  I must not forget to Yelp about it!  Afterwords we did some groundwork and it was time to fly again.

My weak spot has been the lazy eights and we lazy eighted ourselves all around the northeast corner of the practice area until I had it down to muscle memory.  We then fine tuned my chandelles and I let Don fly for a bit while I took some shots of the beautiful sunset.  

I handed over the keys to Steve of Airspeed Online and he handed me his manual of the Cutlass to borrow.  Steve is working on his commercial cert as well and would be doing his dual night cross country with Don.  Be sure to check out his blog and keep an eye out for the documentary AcroCamp that he directed!

Day #6 has me arriving at the airport at noon.  Another day to put my mind at ease before taking to the skies again.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day #4

Is that it?  We're only on #4!?  My days have been so intense, we have been cramming so much in and learning so much I feel like I just ran a marathon with all this training!  Excuse, me "education".  I got corrected my another female pilot the other day,

"You aren't training!  You train a dog!  You're getting educated!"  Thank you.

This morning, after a ten minute search for the airplane keys, Don and I took off, headed north east and conquered the lazy eights, chandelles and steep spirals.  While the breeze was comfortable on the ground, I quickly found out at altitude that it was HOT and regretted wearing long jeans.  Full of headset sweat, after 1.7 hours of flight we went back in to Pontiac for a quick break and cool down.  We enjoyed watching two A-10s do practice approaches and go arounds before heading to lunch.

Unfortunately, lunch did not agree with my very sensitive stomach and not only was I hot hopping back into the plane, I was nauseous.  I did not give in to my human body, however, and pushed on high and to the west to do more emergency landings and steep spirals.  Apparently, I don't like the ground, the things on it, or getting slow.  I love to come in high and fast.  Not good when you only have one chance to land!  In the end, I prevailed and got an idea of what I need to look for inside the cockpit and out the window.

After an hour of flight battling the heat and nausea, it was time to go back in and do some ground work.  We discussed engines this time which I surprisingly had a pretty good handle on thanks to many engine discussions with my dear boyfriend.  Apparently I don't block his constant teaching out as much as I thought I did.  Just kidding XOXO, Bob :)

I wanted to make sure we had everything covered in regards to flight requirements and knew I didn't have much night flying time solo or with an instructor.  I met the night requirements, but not for the landings since you have to have ten at night, at a control tower, either solo or with an instructor.  We called in a day about 4pm, I went to my parents for a nap, a shower and to try to work a bit, then it was back to the airport to finish up the ground lessons and get those night landings in.  We didn't just land over and over, we added challenges to it like power off 180s and no instrument lighting.  We finished by 11 and each headed home to enjoy a bit of a sleep in and a break before flying at 2pm for day #5.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Best line of the day

While landing today...

Tower to airplane: "N123, Cessna on base-number 2 cleared to land."

N123: "I like his close in base."

Don pipes in: "It's a girl!!!"

N123: "Even better!"

Day #3

I barely rolled out of bed the morning of day #3.  I stumbled into Flight 101 and Don was his usual bouncy and energetic self.  Pass the Red Bull, please?  We did an extensive pre-flight to really get to know the airplane and to prepare for possible questions and "tricks" from the examiner.  A popular one I am told is that while the student goes inside to go to the bathroom or something, the examiner sneaks out and puts a piece of tape that says something along the lines of "tear in airplane" under the stabilizer.  Student does a quick pre-flight says everything's great.  Examiner catches him/her, takes off the tape, "Nope! There's a hole in the airplane."  See post below for something else I learned during the pre-flight.  Comment to guess the answer!

We departed towards Lapeer airport once again so we could drop off an autopilot for the Cirrus Don had left there the day before.  On the way we preformed slow flight.  After a few practice spot and power off landings at Lapeer, we headed back to PTK doing some steep spirals on the way back and a power off 180 to land.

I had plateaued my endurance level and was barely running off of adrenaline by the time we landed.  I could tell I was getting frustrated and flustered on the trip back.  Once back at 101 I headed over to the auto store to by a cushion so I could reach the rudder pedals in the Cutlass better and to McDonald's to indulge my stomach who was starving and demanding something not so healthy.  While Don took Ron (mentioned in day #1 who is finishing his instrument training) I caught up on some work at AIR.

Don and Ron came back two hours later, about a half hour later than inteded due to lots of jet activity in and out of PTK at the time they kept getting routed around. I didn't mind, it gave me time to rest.

We stayed in the pattern at PTK departing from 18 where and continued our pattern work performing spot landings and power off 180s to 9L.  We called it an early day after 10 landings since Don had somewhere to be.  I went to my parents' house, showered and picked the coziest bed to nap on.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day #3 Question of the Day!

Day #1s question will be answered tonight, just waiting to see if anyone else has a good guess.
For today, click on the picture to enlarge. See that screw that seems out of place? It's not holding anything on to the plane, so what is it's purpose? There's actually two on the Cutlass and every Cessna has them!

Day #2

First I forgot to mention some extreme sadness and extreme fun from Day #1.  Sadness: Don demonstrated a take off and landing for me in the crosswinds yesterday and killed a turtle :(  RIP.  Fun: Spiraling from 4,500 feet over PTK for a power off steep spiral for a perfectly timed landing onto 27R.  Woot.  The pattern was empty so the controllers had no problem granting this request and even complimented us on a successful landing. 

Day #2 started with many problems for Don who manages Opt Air, an Cirrus owner program.  Several of his aircraft had some issues that had to be taken care of for the shareholders.  One had an autopilot shorting out and needed to be brought to Lapeer Airport (D95), so I got a head start on Don and flew the Cutlass over there, with him landing a short while later in the Cirrus.  

The ride over is a short 20nm to the north, I put in the identifier to the GPS and headed over, but things weren't quite adding up!  Why is it taking me so far west?  Well it turns out I was heading to Romeo, thinking D98 was Lapeer.  I quickly adjust to the north and try to figure out what the proper identifier is, problem was I couldn't remember which dial and how many turns it took to find the nearest airports near me.  Boy did I miss that "nearest" button at that moment.  The first think I had Don show me was to find that list when we got back in the plane again.  So, I'm heading north looking for the airport but not wanting to land at the wrong one and now do not know the frequencies because it's not dialed in.  That's ok, I'll just pull out my sectional, right?  Wrong!  It's in my bag, on the back seat of the plane and I can't reach!  

"Tower, this is embarrassing, but can you give me the identifier for Lapeer?  Thaaaanks...."   Problem solved.  Five minutes later, I'm in Lapeer petting Borris the resident dog, checked out the Cub on floats parked out front and later enjoy a great conversation with a a retired elderly lady who loves to fly on golf trips and her husband is too afraid to join her.

Don got the Cirrus stuff settled and we headed out for a little over an hour and a half to go over some commercial maneuvers: steep turns (good), chandelles (passable) and lazy 8s (hate 'em, but they're decent).  By the time we came back into Lapeer we were starving, borrowed someone's car and headed over to the Past Times Cider Mills.  Now I felt like I was back in Michigan finally!  Things you can't get out in DC, Cider Mills and pasties!  Yes, they had pasties on the menu!  I was told the burgers were the must have and indulged in one.  Delicious!  I also helped myself to a half pound of fudge and two truffles from their chocolate counter (drool!).  This place would make for a great $100 hamburger if you could get transportation.  It's just two miles from the airport and a-mmm-azing.  Here is my review on Yelp.

Once we had a good food coma going we went to the upstairs "lounge" of the terminal building and did some groundwork on instruments and weather.  It was distracting up in that room because there was a float of some sort which was Snoopy and his Sopwith "Camel" and an old helicopter trainer arcade game.  Boy did I wish I had a quarter!  I don't think it worked though :(

Following that it was back to the Cutlass for some short field landings and engine out procedures and then back to Pontiac.  We confused the controllers next.  Hopped out of the Cutlass and into a Cirrus and were ready to take off just moments later and bring it to Willow Run (KYIP).  Once at YIP we hopped in another Cirrus that only had one number different and took that one to do a little flight test on the way back to Pontiac with it.  

Apparently one cylinder was said to be acting up but all proved to be fine.  We found ourselves at 8,000 feet above Pontiac and requested a steep spiral down to join downwind.  The traffic pattern was pretty busy but the controller knew Don (who was at the controls for the first time that day) and accepted our request.  We ended up being second out of three to land and cut it in short, slipping all the way to the runway to not cause others to lengthen their downwind.  The Cirrus did not appreciate this low and fast descent "pull up! pull up!"

"Hot dog!" said the controller when we taxiid off the runway.

So that was day #2 with a total of 10 1/2 hours at the airport.  I should just move in :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 2 begins at D95!

Don has an autopilot on one of the Cirrus (Cirrusses? Cirri? Whatever) he manages and needed to bring it up to Lapeer to be checked out. So I got a head start and met him here in the Cutlass. Great little airport! There are a bunch of old guys eating breakfast in here swapping stories from their flying days and a calm dog named Borris, walking around waiting for someone (me!) to pet him. Don is talking with the A&P while I wait upstairs for our ground lesson for the day before flying again. There are some fun things up here, will share later! For now, look at me :)

I don't know why this published upside down, I wish I was doing aerobatics!

Day #1

Today is day #2 and I am (almost) fully recovered from yesterday.  I got in to Michigan on Monday and was ready for my first flight towards finishing my commercial at PTK at 9am.  I am doing all of my training in the Cessna Cutlass (not splitting it between planes like I had before) and had only flown it a handful of times over a year ago. I'd be training with the same instructor I took the Cirrus flight and aerobatic flights with, Don Weaver.

The first flight of the day's goal was to get re-accustomed to this aircraft, to include some slow flight and crosswind landings.  We departed out of PTK into howling winds and moderate turbulence.  After some of the slow flight headed over to OZW to perform seven landings in what would turn out to be anywhere from a 40 degree to direct crosswind, then over to FNT to do the same with about five landings.  Each landing required full deflected aileron and the opposite rudder pushed right to the floor, taking the aircraft to its crosswind limits.  We departed from there back to PTK where the wind was directly down the runway for a smooth (albeit a bit high at first, a tendency of mine in this plane) landing, with 2.3 hours to log.

It was now time for lunch and my instructor stopped by my favorite haunt near the airport, LA Cafe.  Remind me to tell you about all the $100 hamburger possibilities around PTK when things slow down!  I am working remotely while in MI so took this time to catch up on my work...until the WiFi died on me.  So what else do you do when you are with a fellow pilot?  We talked shop, shared some stories, jokes and I learned a bit.

One of Don's students, Ron, is finishing up his instrument ticket in a Cirrus and came to listen in on my ground lesson on aerodynamics and I would join him for his instrument reviews.  I really enjoyed this lesson, how Don laid everything out on the whiteboard and could sum up all the basics in under two and a half minutes in the end.  Once finished, the winds were still howling and our stomachs were grumbling so Ron, Don and I took a quick trip over to Panera Bread for dinner.  While they went through the performance charts and some questions for the Cirrus I took the time to work and drop in from the conversation every now and then, including a fun discussion on the question, "when are your best rate of climb and best angle of climb speed the same?"  A gold star will be awarded to whoever comments with the correct answer first :)

It was still gusty when we returned, but not as bad.  We said goodbye to Ron and Don and I hopped back into the Cutlass for a bumpy ride to the practice area for power on and off stalls and eights on pylons.  The stalls were no problem, although a bit tiring because I don't seem to have the strength to keep the airplane in such a high angle of attack to make it stall, especially with the power in.  I hadn't performed the eights on pylons in over nine months and was surprised when I performed them to standards, especially with the vast changes in altitude they needed due to the strong winds.

After landing and catching up on stories with my past instructor, Joe it was 10pm and time to head home!  I spent a total of 13 hours at the airport and was completely exhausted, however, full of confidence that I finally think I can get this commercial rating out of the way soon!

Here are the METARS from yesterday:
KPTK 012353Z 29019G26KT 10SM FEW250 23/04 A3005
KPTK 012253Z 27024G32KT 10SM FEW250 23/03 A3004
KPTK 012153Z 28021G30KT 10SM FEW250 24/03 A3004
KPTK 012053Z 27019G30KT 10SM FEW250 25/03 A3003
KPTK 011953Z 27018G30KT 10SM FEW250 25/03 A3003
KPTK 011853Z 26013G28KT 10SM FEW250 25/06 A3004
KPTK 011753Z 25023G31KT 10SM FEW240 24/04 A3006
KPTK 011653Z 26018G27KT 10SM FEW070 SCT240 23/06 A3007
KPTK 011553Z 27020G30KT 10SM FEW240 23/06 A3008
KPTK 011453Z 27020G29KT 10SM FEW230 22/07 A3009
KPTK 011353Z 27019G26KT 10SM FEW230 21/08 A3010
KPTK 011253Z 25016G24KT 10SM FEW230 21/09 A3010
KPTK 011153Z 26012G24KT 10SM FEW250 20/11 A3009