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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.

26 May 2006

What goes on behind the cockpit door...

Hang on for John Cleese' punch line...totally worth it:).

24 May 2006


I finally got my cross-country endorsement! After having my flight scrubbed on Tuesday, I didn't think that I would be able to get up in the air and enjoy some of this great weather we were having before another front came through. Well, I was able to fly my long cross-country with my instructor today. We logged 2hrs 20minutes of flight time and my flight planning estimates were pretty accurate, so I was pleased with that.

Since this was my flight to plan, I picked out two routes, depending upon the weather. The westerly route was to fly to Don Scott Airport (KOSU) in Columbus, then on to Neil Armstrong Airport near Wapokeneta, OH, and back to Coshocton. The easterly route took me direct to Grove City, PA, then back to Coshocton via Canton-Akron. Both routes gave me the opportunity to land at an airport inside Class C airspace, and a landing at a class G airport over terrian that I was not familiar with. Well, I was familiar with the destinations, just not the journey:).

Western Route - If you recall from my previous posts, Don Scott was an airport that I used to sit on a pile of mulch and watch C-152's take off and land all day, so I wanted to fly in there and see what it was like to be one of those student pilots, up in the pattern, talking to the shadowy figures in the control tower. Wapokeneta was a nice distance from Don Scott and was over unfamiliar terrain, but with the lake of St. Mary directly behind it, so that I would have a hard time losing the airport.

Eastern Route - Grove City was the location of my Alma Mater, Grove City College. I hadn't visited GCC for some time, perhaps 4-5 years. When I was a student, I recall one of my roommates having a prospective student and his family come to tour the campus. They flew in their private plane, which I thought was really cool, and my roommate talked about how cool it was to see the campus and the terrain around Grove City from the air. I wanted to be up there, in the air looking down, but I didn't know what or how to begin. Also, oftentimes there were people that plunked $100 down for a chance to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, something that I was forbidden to do (as long as I was on my parent's insurance). I didn't want to jump so much as I just wanted to see what it looked like from 10,000ft.

Well, since there was a front approaching from the West, I decided to pursue the eastern option. Walt & I took off from I40 at about 3:10PM (1710Z), and headed for Grove City. I learned about picking landmarks. Sometimes towns are a good option, but sometimes not. It can be hard to differentiate one town from the next, but I managed to stay focused and kept track of the towns. When we got within about 7 miles of Grove City (29D), I couldn't see the airport. I kept looking for a runway, and a huge outlet mall with parking lot right next door. I kept looking and looking for this huge mall, and before I knew it, I was looking at the outlet mall about 4-5 miles away. I wish I had a photo of it, because it was about 1/5 of the size I was visualizing it to be in my mind. Maybe you can see the airport on this image from Google Earth. Well, once I saw that mall, I descended, entered the pattern and took a nice smooth landing on Runway 28. I was only 1 minute behind my scheduled landing (most likely due to forgetting to account properly for climbout). I back-taxied and promptly took off for Canton-Akron (CAK). As soon as I passed 2,000ft, I called Youngstown approach for clearance through the Youngstown Class C. We flew over the tallest radio tower for miles around - 2500ft MSL at 4500ft, and it didn't feel like we flew over it by very much. Once we were out of Youngstown airspace, they put us back on VFR, and we were headed to CAK.

We had been listening to CAK approach for about 5-10 minutes prior to our initial radio contact, and there wasn't much happening. So we waited until we were about 20nm out before contacting CAK approach. I must admit that I was a little sheepish as I intoned "Canton-Akron Approach, Cessna November-7-1-0-6-Golf" a couple of times with no acknowledgment from the controller. There had popped up a bunch of arrivals, some that were visual and some that were ILS, and he just didn't have time to talk to me. Finally after about 4-5 tries to communicate, the last of which was a little on the forceful side (from Walt), we received a frequency code and admission to Class C airspace. There was a decent amount of traffic out and about (saw the Goodyear Blimp at about 3000ft), but we were cleared to land from about 5 miles out. Because of our western heading, I entered the pattern on the base leg, and practically had a straight-in approach from about 3 miles out. It's a nice, long, wide runway, but I managed to land nicely, and not flare 10 feet above the pavement as I had in Mansfield. We requested a full-stop landing, so I turned on the first taxiway and held short as a AirTran 717 landed on Runway 19 right in front of me! There were a couple of Canadair RJ's and even a 747-200 parked on the ramp. It was pretty exciting for me! I felt like I was a big shot, landing at an airport with the big boys (even though my C172 would've been blown over by all of them). I saw in my mind's eye, a little kid looking out the window of the airliner as it rolled to a stop saying "Look, mommy! Look at that little plane with the propeller!". Yeah, time to head for home:). I taxied back to Runway 23, and took off for home. We crusied at 2500ft, and Walt pointed out just about every Amish restaurant between Canton and Coshocton on the way back. About 35 miles from I40, we again spotted the smokestacks of Conesville, and knew that we were headed in the right direction.

Landing in Coshocton, we picked up 20.6gal of fuel, which wasn't too bad for 2.3hrs of flight time. About 9gal per hour - I will put that into the memory banks and remember that fuel burn rate. Walt signed me off for unlimited cross-country to a few local airports, so I can go out on a nice day and actually land at a different airport! I'll be praticing some navigation and will put together an out-and-back cross-country, but that's for another day. Today, I got my cross-country endorsement! Woo-hoo!

21 May 2006

Saturday Crosswinds

Saturday was the first day without rain in 9-10 days...We had a huge low-pressure zone camp out over Chicago and the midwest for a while, and finally it cleared off enough to exercise the ol' Cessna 172. As you can see from the photo, there were several other pilots out enjoying the break in the weather. It was my first real practice with some 90degree cross-winds, so landings were a little on the challenging side. I practiced some nice long approaches, setting up a forward slip and getting those landings done right. It was definitely harder, and I do need some serious practice. No landings were a big problem, but I was having trouble flaring at the right time and getting the airplane on the runway at the spot that I was aiming for.

Coshocton is really green right now! It's just astounding to look at this place from the air and see how much it has changed since March (see photo below).

I captured this Beech King Air on short final, but my camera was having a hard time focusing in-between the bugs on the windshield (oops! Sorry, Ed!), so this is the best photo that I have. Hopefully, I can keep my eyes open and get a couple of better ones in the future.

The weather for Tuesday looks fantastic, so I'm looking forward to a nice long cross-country with my instructor. Until then...

09 May 2006

Towering Airports

Today, I flew to Mansfield Lahm Airport (MFD) for my second cross-country flight with my instructor. According to the GPS, MFD is 49.6nm from I40, so it didn't qualify as a 50nm cross-country, but it was still a good learning experience for me in the airplane. Using the ol' E6-B slide-rule flight computer, I plotted my course, which I followed by dead reckoning and pilotage. It would've been easy to use the VOR's (Mansfield has one and Coshocton is right next to the Tiverton VOR), and the "direct to-" function in the Garmin 430 GPS is very easy and has a lot of functionality, but I wanted to see what it was like to figure out the winds, magnetic deviation, and plan my course to MFD. Based upon the winds of 7kts @ 160°, I chose a course heading of 320° for the flight up. The winds were calm at I40 at my departure at 12:15Z, with some light clouds at 4000ft, but the sky was clear towards MFD with some ground haze below about 4000ft. Visibility at 4500ft was only about 15nm, with the sun behind us. I picked out my landmarks with ease, and recorded my anticipated times (only 30 seconds off!) and after about 20 minutes, I could just make out runway 32, lined up perfectly with my desired course. It was a satisfying feeling to do the math, figure this course out, and set it without being able to see the destination, and end up at the right spot! MFD was my first towered airport, so I called approach, got a transponder code, was passed off to the tower, and I flew my first right-hand pattern! MFD has a very wide runway (9000ft x 150ft wide) and so it felt like I was landing on a huge parking lot, and so I flared about 5-10ft too high. I realized my error, and adjusted for a beautiful greaser of a landing on the runway. We quickly turned around and departed back to Coshocton, and once the plumes of Conesville and Smurfit-Stone were in sight, I knew I was home. Next week, I will plan a 2-hour cross-country for a couple of routes.....I hope the weather is good!

01 May 2006

Gene Snyder (K62)

Last thursday (April 27th), I flew down to Gene Snyder (K62) with the senior member of my flying club, Ed. He was visiting some family in the Butler, KY and needed a co-pilot for the flight. Hey, X-country practice time for free? You betcha! This was a welcome opportunity, because my XC to MFD was canceled on Tuesday due to bad weather. I reviewed all the course planning information with my instructor and then laid out two courses to K62, approximately 160nm away. I had to plan one course through the Brush Creek and Buckeye MOA, and an alternate around the MOA to the northwest. We would find out if the MOA was "hot" from Columbus approach in the air. Thursday morning came, and the weather was fabulous! Winds calm @ 1400Z pretty much across the state of Ohio. The prevailing winds at 5000 and 6000ft were forecasted to be heading west, which would be perfect for the flight back.
After leaving I40 and climbing to 6500ft, we flew over one of my favorite places in my part of the world. Dawes Arboretum, a 1150 acre preserve of hundreds of rare and indigenous trees and plants, about 5 miles south of Newark, Ohio, is an absolutely wonderful place to spend an afternoon. The photo here shows part of the 2000ft hedge that spells out "DAWES ARBORETUM" in huge letters, convenienty visible from the air:). Continuing on our flight, we flew down to Circleville (CYO) where CMH approach informed us that the MOA was active, and that we should plan to fly around. I dialed in Fayette County (I23) into the Garmin 430, and we headed due west towards Washington Courthouse and Wilmington Airpark. During our flight by Wilmington (KILN), we viewed a DHL 727 taking off, and another DHL 727 and 767 on final approach and landing. For a small town boy like myself, it's really exciting to see some heavy(ier) metal than the Cessnas and Pipers that I am used to spotting in the skies. We headed closer to CVG airspace and overflew Clermont County (I69), home of Sporty's, where we saw quite a lot of GA traffic on this clear and sunny day. A few minutes later, we crossed the Ohio River, just over the dam and locks near Neville. Once on the ground at Snyder, we toured the various hangars and met with a Comair pilot who was testing the new smoke system in his Christen Eagle. Ed's nephew showed us around his 1967 Piper Aztec, which was termed "the mother ship" when he siphoned gas on occasion to transient pilots before they got their 24-hr credit-card operated pump. He also sits on the airport board, and it was fun to hear about his plans for the future expansion of the airport. Good luck, Dan! Hopefully, I'll be back soon to get a ride in one of those Christen Eagles!