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About 80% of general aviation aircraft fly using Lycoming engines. Clearing the trees at the end of the runway. Leaving 4500ft for 6500ft. Maintaining airflow and generating lift across the wings. All are impossible without a reliable engine. Lycoming powers my training aircraft and so fuels my quest for a private pilot certificate. This blog is a record of my thoughts and experiences on life, flight, and learning.

13 March 2010

Grumman Goose!

I recently got to take a flight on a real live 1942 G-21 Grumman Goose with radial engines. We flew from Dutch Harbor, AK and landed on water at Akutan, AK. It was pretty sweet!

Back under the Hood

So, it's been a busy year with a lot going on since my last post in August. However, it hasn't been that busy on the flying front until this month. I've picked up my IFR training again for the last final push. I've got about 15 hours left under the hood, still have to pass my written test, and just need to get lots of practice.

I filed, which was cool (and stressful) again. Did a round robin from Newark to Rickenbacker to Lancaster, and back to Newark. So, that was two ILS's and two LOC approaches. The controllers at Rickenbacker were cool, and the guy on Columbus approach was helpful until the 5PM crowd started rolling in to CMH and he switched on Auctioneer mode and my radio transmissions "Uh...785SP...is....uh....procedure turn inbound.....Lancaster.....uh....5SP...." started crowding the airwaves. It was a good flight, but I have too try to stay ahead of the airplane more. You can see how disparate my approach into Lancaster was. I was all over the place! Well, I'll do better next time.

10 August 2009

Flying Update

It's been pretty hectic at work recently, so I haven't had the time to update the ol' blog recently. I've been really busy at work, which is a good thing - business is picking up and we've got some good opportunities, despite the government's best efforts to squelch new ideas and free enterprise. So, I haven't been flying as much....so I'll try to update my few flights here in a jiffy:

Greenville, SC - not much to look at in the way of many photos during this trip, but I did get one of the building clouds over the Appalachians that was pretty cool.

Traverse City, MI - I actually flew up to TVC twice in a week's time. I was on vacation, but needed to travel back quickly for a meeting, and it was just plain nice to have an aircraft to tour all the beautiful lakes from the air. Unfortunately, the weather did not co-operate well, and I was not able to do much flying. Let's just say that 470DS got several redneck airplane washes from the passing rainstorms while sitting idle on the tarmac. Here's a few photos of the cool rainstorms during one of my trips up.

I also snapped a photo of the Maumee River south of Toledo as I flew over at 4500ft MSL.

Hopefully, things will slow down this fall, and I can get back into my IFR training. I'd really like to get that completed by the end of the year, but it's about 16 more hours of hood time and passing the written test before I'm ready to take that checkride.


Changed my timing belt for the 2nd time. The ATQ/AHQ engine on this 2000 B5 Passat V6 is definitely showing its age, because I replaced a lot of bolts that I didn't replace the last time around. Here's to hoping that the Green Stickermobile makes it another 80,000miles! Back off, Obama! This is one clunker that's going to keep on clunking!


Only one time you will ever see all '2's on your odometer.....glad I made it this far!

10 May 2009

IFR Cross-Country

Last Monday, I finally had the opportunity to take my IFR Cross-Country. I was actually lucky enough to have TWO (2) experienced CFII's on my flight with me. My flight instructor, and her husband, who presumably was trying to escape lawn work yet claimed to want to sightsee, flew with me. We flew from Newark, Ohio up to Toledo, where we woke up the controllers on a beautiful VFR day to do a radar surveillance approach. It took them about 15 minutes, but they found a controller. I didn't do really great on the approach, winds were strong and shifty...but I would've been able to hit the runway...all 10,000ft of it. We then headed direct to the Sandusky (SKY) VOR for an approach into Burke Lakefront. I'd never flown into Burke Lakefront airport before, and it's pretty cool to fly that close to downtown Cleveland, and almost right over Browns stadium on the final approach for 6. I had a controller that vectored me into the initial approach fix and I really flubbed that approach, busting my altitudes and having some serious deflection, but I'm going to blame the 25kt tailwind on the ILS 24 approach down to circle around to 6. It was a very difficult and stressful approach, made more so, because I had two CFII's onboard evaluating my performance:). After a touch-n-go at BKL, I climbed out and headed south for home. On the way back at 7000ft, I managed to pick up a little actual time as well, popping in-and-out of clouds! It was fun, but I could also see how the quick transitions in and out would be disorienting. The final approach into GPS 27 at newark went pretty well, but I wasn't rushed and slowed down significantly.

According to the FAR, this flight had to be:

(iii) For an instrument—airplane rating, instrument training on cross- country flight procedures specific to airplanes that includes at least one cross-country flight in an airplane that is performed under IFR, and consists of—

(A) A distance of at least 250 nautical miles along airways or ATC-directed routing;
(B) An instrument approach at each airport; and
(C) Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems;

So, let's see...how did I do? I logged about 330 miles and about 3.3hours in the air. Aside from getting my written test done, I'm nearly ready for my check ride! However, I still need about 16hrs of simulated and actual instrument time, so I'm going to see if someone wants to be a safety pilot for me to fly under the hood with:). Dad? Paul?......anyone?


So, I was out doing a little photo shoot with my cousin James the other weekend, and it was pretty windy. It was so windy and bouncy during our photo shoot that James almost christened the Diamond with a little up-chuck du jour, but fortunately, the DA40 has a great climb rate and we were up in the smooth whistling air before any catastrophes occurred. I noted that the winds on the GPS were showing 50kts at about 4500ft MSL....and I thought - SWEET! I need to get that ground speed to zero and convert the Diamond into a hovercraft! Unfortunately, you can't control the winds. As soon as we got down to stall speed, the winds slacked off to only 44kts. Still, 12 kts indicated groundspeeed at 4500ft is still pretty cool. Now to get a photo of that elusive 200kt club....

Water Beads

Beth & I applied a stain/deck sealer to our deck a week or so ago. Now, the water beads up like it has been rubbed with Carnauba Wax. I think that I'll see how it works on the ol' Passat!

22 April 2009


Today, I got about 0.5hrs of actual IFR! It was my ninth IFR lesson, and we went flying through a blustery spring afternoon. Winds were pretty gusty and brisk today, winds at 280@9 gusting to 18 as I left Coshocton. The ceiling was fairly high, with an overcast layer at around 4000ft, but it was gusty. Since I wanted to do a little longer training flight to really get some different approaches under my belt, we planned a flight from Newark to Delaware, OH (KDLZ), then to Marion, OH (KMNN), then to Mansfield (KMFD), and finally back to Newark. We took off and headed towards Delaware, and immediately ran into some rainstorms. We vectored around the worst of it, but we were definitely NOT VFR, which was pretty cool. It was a very challenging day to fly, perhaps the most challenging that I have ever flown. There was a lot of windshear and updrafts/downdrafts, so I was constantly battling the altitude. Once I found a power setting that seemed to hold 3000ft fairly well, I'd hit an updraft and before I knew it, I was up at 3200ft, in a 10degree descent, struggling to get 250FPM down to get my altitude centered. I feel like I did pretty well with the communications, but the altitude holding and course headings with all of the wind changes were really giving me a hard time. It was definitely challenging. We did the GPS-28 and the GPS-10 approach into Delaware, and decided to scrap Marion, because of the poor weather. Instead, we headed straight to Mansfield for a couple of approaches there. On our way, at 4000ft, we headed directly into a cloud bank, where the snow was falling, BIG FLAKES, and started to pick up some ice on the leading edge. Not only was this my first actual, but it was also my first encounter with icing! Very exciting! Here's a depiction of a part of my ground track from Delaware, OH to Mansfield, and some of the weather that I flew around.

11 April 2009

Smoky Mountains!

Last week, Beth and I made the drive down to Gatlinburg, TN, home of 1000 go-kart tracks, pancake houses, and wedding chapels. Unfortunately, we didn't even have one single pancake when we were down there, because our goal was to HIKE! The Great Smoky Mountains holds a special place in my heart, mainly because it was where my parents led us on many a forced march as a child. It was where I first learned about water management on hikes and the importance of carrying your own food. On a typical hike as kids, we would race to the top of the climb, only to wait around starving for a half hour while Mom & Dad would saunter up with the food. While I had been to the Smokies a number of times, I hadn't been for several years, really since 2002, so my visit was long-overdue. Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are just as crazy as ever, a monument to miniature golf and salt-water taffy and fudge shops galore! But the mountains are familiar, well-worn like an old pair of underwear. Beth & I headed to the Elkmont campground, which is a very nice campground, surrounded by streams and the sound of rushing water. The rushing water sounds are very important to help drown out my snoring (at least for Beth).

Here's our sad little fire that we built. I understand that because of the emerald ash borer, that it's not a good idea to bring your own rotting wood into the park, but to make me pay $3/bundle for soaked wood? Outrageous! If the wood was free, I wouldn't say a peep - not me. But to fork out $9/night for a fire that never acheives steady combustion? Unacceptable! BTW - the flames that you in the picture there are from the firestarter that I had just crammed into the fire. I would've been better off getting those giant fire starter logs instead...

Our first hike was to Ramsey Cascades, and here's a view of the rushing water along the Little Pigeon River. Ramsey Cascades is a short, but fairly challenging hike. You climb about 2100 feet in four short miles, and most of that elevation gain is in the last two miles. The streams and scenery are definitely worth it, but it's not for the sunday stroller.

A mossy cove along the Ramsey Prong of the Little Pigeon River.

One of two bridges crossing the Ramsey Prong on the hike up.

The 80ft cascade of water at the end! It's definitely worth the hike!

I recall when I took one of my friends from Malaysia on this hike, promising a large waterfall at the end, and when we got to the top, he was a little disgusted with the puny falls. "You call this a big fall? I take you to Malaysia and show you a big falls!" It's still big for the East Coast of the US - most of our fresh water is contained in lazy rivers.

I also ran into a Slim Shady look-alike on the trail, hoarding her fruit snacks.....

And, I tried to measure the diameter of one of the large trees along the trail, but I think that I need a little larger wingspan.

The next day was absolutely miserable, it was 40-45°F and spitting rain in Gatlinburg, and I suspected that at a typical lapse rate of 4.4°F for every 1000ft, we would be in a blowing snowstorm on any hike above 3600ft (Gatlinburg is only at about 1600ft elevation). So, we applied our hiking energies to the Tangier outlet malls, and found some great deals....however, I was little perturbed at the 9.5% sales tax. I guess they gotta bilk those tourists somehow. The following day, however, was an absolutely perfect day for hiking, clear, sunny, and just some wispy cirrus clouds high in the sky. We decided to hike one of my favorite trails, the Alum Cave Bluffs trail to Mt. LeConte. I've hiked this trail many a time, and really enjoy the views and the memories of racing Joshua to the top. I wasn't in racing mode today, though, because there was a lot of residual ice and snow from the previous day covering some of the more challenging parts of the trail.

Icicles along the trail!

Standing on Heath Bald, just below Alum Cave Bluffs

A random fuzzy green moss bank along the trail - after a long Ohio Winter, I'm fascinated with green!

One of the many overlooks along the Alum Cave Bluffs trail.

Looking towards Newfound Gap from Cliff Tops on Mt. LeConte.

Snow and ice clogging the pine trees on top of Mt. LeConte - it was chilly up there yesterday!

Hanging out at the top of Mt. LeConte.

31 March 2009

VFR Flying!

Well, after having 14 of the last 16hrs behind the stick be under the hood, it was really nice to take in the scenery of a VFR flight! I flew with Dad down to Blue Ash, OH (KISZ) today for an early morning meeting and some breakfast. It wasn't an overly spectactular day, but one that you could tell was just waiting to have Spring come bursting out. Down in Cincinnati, I could definitely tell that Spring was about 1-2 weeks ahead of Coshocton. Pears were blooming, sprigs of green were out, and LOTS of yard has mower tracks on them. Definitely Spring....it's almost Opening Day!

Looking down Main Street towards downtown Columbus, OH - I swear, if I hear "Main Street to Wall Street one more time....."

Downtown Columbus in the early morning light

Blacklick Woods Golf Course - Blacklick, OH

Making the turn for final into Blue Ash, OH (KISZ) - there were 35kt winds about 500ft AGL, dropping to 7-8 at the surface - crazy!

Upon our arrival back in Coshocton, a rare sight - a jet on final for 22!


A shiny gleaming visitor to Coshocton, OH - we're getting 5000ft in a couple of months or so!


We have a new addition to our household - a bird (an American Robin, I believe) has set up a nest in the wreath in our front door and has begun every one of the last few mornings singing very cheerily! I'm counting three eggs so far...I'm waiting until there's at least a half-dozen before I make an omelette!

15 March 2009

IFR Training Update 2

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've been pretty busy at work, but have really tried to stay up with some sort of IFR training. Fortunately, the weather has cooperated, and I've been able to get a few lessons in. I've also passed the 250hr total time landmark, so that's something significant!

BFR/IFR Lesson #5
My biennial flight review was due the end of December 2008, but over the holidays and with all my traveling, it was just to difficult for me and my instructor to get together to do some flying. So, first chance that we got, I had to bust out a BFR first. It was really no problem, and we managed to squeeze in a couple of approaches at Newark to practice.

IFR Lesson #6 - Enter the Meatgrinder!
This was my first lesson flying into Class C airspace and doing multiple approaches to KOSU (Ohio State Don Scott Airport). Fortunately, this is a university airport, so I think that the tower and approach controllers are use to a bunch of slow operators on the radio and the zig-zag needle-chaser student pilots. It was a whole new level to focus on the approach and talk to approach controllers at the same time - YIKES! It was just sheer overload. I managed to execute 3 progressively better GPS-27 approaches into KOSU and didn't irritate the controllers too much, so that was good. My instructor said that I did pretty good, when I wasn't chasing the needle...which wasn't very often. Must. Do. Better.

IFR Lesson #7 - First File
This lesson was my first flight conducted solely under Instrument Flight Rules. It was a learning experience, and actually didn't go too bad. I had filed for a flight into Circleville, OH (KCYO), then an approach into Rickenbacker (KLCK), and finally to end up in Newark, OH (KVTA). It was a whole new level of pressure and intense focus to keep my heading, not chase the needle, and to hold that altitude. I did fairly well (at least my instructor said so!), and it really boosted my confidence level. Flying under instrument wasn't really that bad....

IFR Lesson #8 - VOR Tracking & Holding Patterns, DME Arcs
For this lesson, we were going to go through a couple of procedural items. Tracking and holding at VORs was first on the bill. Since the majority of my flying had been in the luxurious cockpit of a G1000-equipped aircraft, I really haven't used VORs for navigation very much. the training aircraft that I was using (N785SP) was a 172SP with two VORs and a Bendix/King KLN94 GPS, which is definitely NOT as cool as the Garmin product. So, it's been a real reverse learning curve as I've had to re-learn what the heck a VOR does, anyways?:) Add into that the fact that the DG on this particular Cessna has the tendency to precess about 20-30 degrees per hour, and it is a real challenge to make nice oval donuts in the sky. I also did a DME arc...honestly not too bad at all. You just have to know which direction the winds are coming from and you're go to go!

That's all for now - I hope to have a couple more lessons, and maybe a nice long IFR cross-country here soon. Stay tuned!

Seattle & San Francisco

It's been a very busy February, so I haven't posted much recently. I've been continuing my flying, but mostly in a Southwest 737 cattle car type of flying, instead of logging PIC time. My travels at the end of January took me to the west coast for a welcome escape from the cold and snow of Ohio. I think that it's fairly common opinion that Seattle, WA is much more cloudy and rainy than any Ohio city, and after my few trips to Seattle, I'd have to say that it's about the same as Coshocton, OH. If you look at a comparison of total average cloudy and sunny days per year, we're really not that different. I think that those giant bodies of fresh water have something to do with the constant scud blowing across Ohio....I'll let you look at the data and see if the day I was in Seattle was 1 or those 58 days - it was just absolutely beautiful!

Cloudy Days per Year
Seattle, WA - 226 average
Pittsburgh, PA - 203 average
Cleveland, OH - 202 average
Columbus, OH - 190 average
Yuma, AZ - 52 average

Sunny Days per Year
Seattle, WA - 58 average
Pittsburgh, PA - 59 average
Cleveland, OH - 66 average
Columbus, OH - 72 average
Yuma, AZ - 242 average

We had a couple of meetings in the morning, but took some time to take a ferry across the Puget Sound towards Bainbridge Island. and headed towards the Olympics. It was fairly warm (45°F or so) and just so brilliantly sunny.

Mt. Rainer was out for the sun too!

A seagull enjoying a little VFR conditions (and the free ride from the bow wave from the ferry)

Enjoying the sunshine - Ohio had about 6-10 inches of snow falling as this photo was taken. See ya, Suckers!

Here's the typical clouds, taken on Neptune's Beach overlooking the Strait of Georgia, near Bellingham, WA

After all that fun in Seattle, I headed south to San Francisco for a trade show for the rest of the week. I had the opportunity to fly on Alaska Airlines for the very first time, and I have to say that I was pleasantly impressed. Service was great, the newer 737NGs are comfortable, and they serve a real microbrew (Alaskan Amber) in a real glass bottle on board the flight. Awesome! On the ground in SF, I met up with my brother Sam, who joined us for the tradeshow appearance, and to escape the clouds of southern Michigan.

Here we are overlooking the Yerba Buena Gardens in SF, just north of the Moscone Center

Sailboat on the Bay - catching the wind and the sun

SS Jeremiah O'Brien - Last time, I took the tour and had a great time

Cable Cars are Excepted down at Fisherman's Wharf

Heading down the hill to Fisherman's Wharf - the classic San Francisco Cable Car photo.

Dungeness Crab & Oysters at the Raw Bar at the Farallon. Yum!

Heading under the Golden Gate Bridge - this photo was taken from the Extra300 that I rented for the afternoon.

Look at all that beautiful cross-bracing! Again, taken from an Extra 300, cruising at about 20ft above the waves.

What a nice-looking group of people...Uhm...on...an Extra300 Ferry Boat...

8 inches of alternating snow and ice layers on the Passat when I got back - a week of what I missed in the warm California sun. It took me about 30 minutes to chisel my way into that frigid car!