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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.

20 July 2006

New Tent

Since my wife is gone to Michigan for a week, my brother Sam and I did a little of sweet re-decorating in my living room. Basically the Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware has taken a backseat to my new living room centerpiece - the 3-man REI Taj tent! Isle Royale, here we come!!!!

04 July 2006

Vacation Update!

We have decided to take a seaplane to Isle Royale on the Royale Air Service! It will be really fun - I've always wanted to fly in a seaplane. Well, not always, but ever since I was a little boy and my grandfather Wiley flew up on a bush plane to meet us at a small lake north of Sudbury, Ontario. I remember his video of the flight up, and sitting on the dock, watching his plane touch down and taxi up to the dock. Now, 20+ years later, I will be on a seaplane with my beautiful wife! Very exciting! I can't wait....I think that I will have many seaplane dreams between now and the end of July. Sorry, Beth:).

Night Flying

Last Thursday (6/29), the cold front finally went through and the skies cleared up very nicely over Ohio. I have been trying to get some night time cross country time with my instructor for about the last three weeks, and things with my schedule and the weather have just made that really tough. Well, we finally got into the airplane, at around 9PM, just as night was settling into the sky.

Our planned course was from I40 to Mansfield (MFD), a large class D airport with some MALSR runway alignment approach lights with strobes, then to 4I3 (Mt. Vernon/Knox County)....a little different than the lights at Coshocton:). Cruising at 4500ft on our way to MFD, we could see the airport about 30miles out, and there were a couple of "herks" (C130 hercules) Ohio ANG training flights going on, so it was interesting to hear their radio communications.

During our flight out, we had a slight malfunction of the fuel gages. I had dipped them and secured the caps, but when in mid-cruise, the gages went dead and showed zero fuel. This has been an annoying problem with N7106G recently, and is probably related to a faulty or loose ground on the gage circuit, because it goes on and off. Not that you can really rely upon the fuel gages on the C172 for anything more than a crude indication that "yup, there's something in those tanks".

Had a straight-in approach to Runway 32 at MFD, which was really not too much different than a day landing there. I didn't flare too high (remembered my last trip there) and landed to take the first available taxiway back for a takeoff. Got the takeoff clearance about 1000ft from the runway and just kept right on trucking. During climbout, had some crackling from the passenger microphone jack, which was promptly resolved by unplugging it and just yelling above the din in the cockpit.

We continued on our journey to 4I3, which was a small class G airport, just southwest of the small town of Mt. Vernon, OH. I had only been there once before with my Dad during the day, and though it has a 5000ft runway, it's in need of some work, as we noted significant weeds on the mottled and cracked runway surface on our last trip. Well, looks like they were doing some additional work on the runway, because they had fenced off abotu 1500-2000ft of the runway with some temporary barriers, which made rather challenging night landing a little harder:). We landed amidst some very light forming advection fog, which made the landing lights look like search lights burning through the water vapor.

Takeoff and return to Coshocton were uneventful, as was the landing. Our new Wal-Mart is a nice outer marker for the patttern entry point for Runway 22 at Coshocton, especially at night:). All those bright parking lot lights really helped out. Thanks, Wal-Mart!

Things I learned....well, flying at night is definitely more challenging. I'm used with VFR flying to keep my eyes outside the cockpit and keep focused on the horizon, and that is just not possible with night flying. I kept having to remind myself that the horizon was INSIDE the aircraft right in front of me, because I kept becoming disillusioned with my attitude and holding too much back pressure on the yoke, which made it rather hard to maintain my desired altitude. I will just need some more simulated instrument exposure and night flying to help me keep my eyes on the instruments and stop trying to trust the visual (or percieved visual) cues that are present outside the cockpit.

106 miles, 75minutes, 3 night landings. It was a good and very challenging night. I'm excited to experience more night flying and get more exposure to NEEDING my instruments, instead of just using them as helpful tools:).