Powered by Lycoming

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 November 2006

Built in a Basement

My buddy Steve flew out this afternoon to visit and to drool over our new DA40. He showed up in his homebuilt RV-6, partially built with slave labor in a dank basement in Dayton, OH. As part of my extremely reasonable rent charges, I was politely "asked" to "help" my landlord (Steve) pound a few rivets now and then. At the time, homebuilding seemed like a real drag and a total waste of time, because it did not involve hanging out with girls. Now that I'm married, however....I think that a homebuild might be in my future. Someday, just not today. It'll be a good retirement/mid-life crisis project. Well, long story short, after roughly 5 years and 2300 hours of hard work, the RV emerged from the basement (see attached article).

I figured that my Dad would really appreciate a ride in the 'Six, which is about 1/2 the size of the DA40, and he did. Check out that grin!
The big reason for that grin is that Steve had just performed a low approach over the runway at about 190mph, and pulled up sharply at the end to climb to pattern altitude in about....oh....2 seconds. Pretty cool and definitely guaranteed to put a smile on any kid's face. See below for my totally inadequate photo...

Hope to take my checkride this coming week! Stay tuned....

23 November 2006

Tuesday Afternoon Flyin'

Went flying on Tuesday afternoon to finish out my flight training before scheduling my check ride. After weeks of marginal VFR and IFR weather, we finally hit some nice weather, and it has been CAVU since! The pressure was high - altimeter at 30.47inHg, which I noticed was a drastic contrast to the previous altimeter setting on the C172...something like 29.5inHg. Anyhoo, we flew to Cambridge MunicipaI (CDI) to practice manuevers around the airfield that I would take my check ride at. The only time that I have been to CDI before was to log a couple of night landings, so my instructor wanted to make sure that I knew how to find the airport. I suppose that's good due diligence on the instructor's part, but I'm pretty confident of my navigational skills in Ohio, with the possible exception of south eastern OH, since I really haven't flown down there at all. While on the final descent into CDI, at 800ft AGL, we noted that there were large yellow X's on each end of the runway. Didn't hear ANYTHING about that on the AWOS, could've been a real problem if we were landing at night. Hopefully, it was just closed during the day for some routine maintenance.

So, quick change of plans....I climbed to 3500ft and put the goggles on for a little simulated instrument. Walt had me dial in the Newcomerstown VOR and fly a heading to the VOR, and then a heading away from the VOR. A little challenging, but it wasn't too bad. The biggest challenge here is looking at your CDI and imagining your course line and what heading you should fly to intercept that course heading. I wanted to be able to use that King autopilot in the DA40, but it was good practice to use my own stick and rudder skills.

Next, Walt had me try a little exercise for spatial orientation. He had me close my eyes and try to maintain straight and level attitude. I flew that way for about a minute and when I opened them up, I was at about a 10 degree bank to the left and about 40 degrees off my course heading. Basically, the point here is that you can't trust your senses. Point well taken.

Then we practiced recovery from unusual attitudes, which was interesting. Walt had me close my eyes while he flew the aircraft into a steep descending turn or climbing turn and had me open them and recover to 115mph, 3500ft, and straight and level. It was really fun, trying to guess the direction of the turn or the climb with my eyes closed, and then recovery was even more fun when Walt started covering up gages.

A good lesson, and I was pretty accurate about holding my altitude. With 52.5logged hours to date, I really feel ready for my checkride. Hopefully, my next entry will be as a licensed Private Pilot!

15 November 2006

New Resident

There is a new girl in town, and she has taken up residency in our T-hangar. Yup, that's right. A DiamondStar DA40-180, fresh from the factory with new plane smell. We pulled out the shoehorn and squeezed that 39ft 2in wingspan into a 41ft wide T-Hangar. Definitely NOT like parking a Cessna 172. Anyhoo.....after weeks of talking and planning and trying to work things out with the Diamond rep, we finally got our CFI checked out and got a complete walkaround of the aircraft. It is really difficult to plan four separate schedules, in conjunction with weather in two locations in Ohio in November. Well, now we eliminated two of the big variables and are just down to scheduling Walt's availability and the local weather in Coshocton.

Joe Miller from Midwest Corporate Air in Bellefontaine, OH flew out to I40 this morning to show us around the airplane and get our local CFI, experienced in G1000-equipped C182's, checked out in the G1000-equipped DA40. Insurance requires about 10hrs of instruction in the aircraft prior to solo and carrying passengers, so Walt will be busy for some time to come. Hopefully, he can learn to get that nosewheel on the centerline soon (see photo). No vacations to Florida this winter.......unless......let's see.....10 hours......I'm thinking that the best way to fill that time out is to take a long trip down south to find some sun. Route proving for the next adventure with the wife! Unfortunately, I'm banished from the new aircraft until I get my PPL. I'm close enough that I'll just get all mixed up in my head....or so the CFI says:). I'm willing to wait - there will be plenty of time to fly this new machine, and there's no competition for the C172 on the ramp at the moment.

Below, you can see Walt guiding her off runway 4 at I40. She's really a nice lookin' airplane...just a big Skipper.

There was also a nice King Air B100 up on the ramp at Richard Downing this morning. I talked to the pilot a little bit, but he wasn't real friendly....maybe I didn't know the right questions to ask. I tried asking him about his job, and what his career plans were, and what he liked about flying the King Air....maybe he didn't feel at liberty to discuss that much. From his registration number, I deduced that the owner is based in Hutchinson, Kansas, but I can't figure out what they were here for and what company was here. I guess I should've just asked the pilot, but I needed to head back to the plant. Anyways, I took a shot of his plane....I liked it.

Blogging Comments...D'OH!

Sorry, folks.....just realized that I checked the "moderate comments" box on my blog, which means that no comments have been showing up. How many engineers does it take to operate Blogger?

06 November 2006

Practice makes perfect

Friday was even nicer than Thursday. Practice of the PTS standards commenced bright and early with my instructor. We walked through about everything in the PTS, practiced short and soft-field landings, and logged 1.5hrs. No additional instrument practice logged....we'll try for next time. I had a heck of a time holding my altitude constant. I really need to work on that.

In other news, our T-hangar has a new resident, and the C172 is banished to the cold wind blowing across the ramp. More details to follow...

02 November 2006

Nibble, Nibble

Today I logged 2.2hrs with my instructor and nibbled away at those requirements. I woke up and headed straight to the airport for my final attempt to complete the FAA-mandated requirements for a private pilot. Our plan was to head to Mansfield, OH (MFD) for 2 additional solo landings at a towered airport, and to log an additional 1.3 hrs of simulated instrument.

The weather was beautiful and the air was smooth as we took off from Coshocton. However, by the time we had reached Mohican State park, the wind had picked up considerably, and we were assaulted with the eddies and currents of turbulent air flowing over and around the hills up there. I made the decision to fly up at 2500ft, simply because it's easier to look at things on the ground from 1/4mile AGL instead of 1/2 mile AGL. It was a rather bumpy decision. Not to mention a slow one. At an indicated airspeed of 105-110mph, we were only making 75kts ground speed. By my calcs, that's about a 20kt headwind enroute.

Got to Mansfield, let my instructor out at the Flying Turtle Cafe, and proceeded to make two full stop landings to finish out my requirement. There was some traffic this morning...a C-130 Hercules, caravan, a couple of Skylanes, and two Cherokees in and around mansfield as I was flying the pattern. Busy, but really fun to actually NEED the controller in the tower and to have them help you out with traffic locations and the like. It was good experience.

After Walt downed his breakfast, we packed up and headed back to Coshocton. On the way, I put the hood on and picked up another 0.7hrs of simulated instrument time. The wind had picked up a little more, and it was really tough to maintain altitude due to all the up- and down-drafts. This was my first time flying a course heading with the hood on...you know ACTUALLY flying to a destination, so that really helped me to see the usefulness of the GPS and CDI when flying in IMC. I managed to end up over I40, where we practiced a simulated engine-out landing (full idle from 3000ft). You really have a lot of time to deal with an engine failure when 2000ft AGL, as I learned. I also learned that a you want to head INTO the wind when doing this for real. We had an 80-degree 10kt cross-wind on landing, and coupled with the non-standard approach, it was pretty challenging to get on the ground. I'm going to say that it was almost as nice as this wheel landing that P-51 "Red Nose" did at the Wings Over Coshocton Airshow earlier this year. Due to the gusting winds, I was not able to log all the simluated instrument time that I needed, but since the weather tomorrow is supposed to be good, I'm scheduled for another morning in the air.