Category Archives: Flying

Someplace Special – September 25th

Temecula, CA

(The dawn patrol was worth it for glassy smooth air, a touch of haze, and a tour of the wine country at about 2,000 feet – downwind all the way!)

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Really – Smoky, Cloudy Sun Over Ramp Pano – Plus Video

Yesterday I said it was self-explanatory, only to push the “Publish” button instead of the “Save Draft” button before I could actually upload and insert the aforementioned panoramic photo. Which is:


The picture I had uploaded was very nice, but it wasn’t the one advertised. This is.

Enlarge it for the detail, you’ll see that not only did we have the smoke, the clouds, the sun, and so on, but we had a whole bunch of guests on site. They got to see our P-51 Mustang do a couple of passes. Because you deserve the best, here’s a gorgeous, high-speed pass with a great high-speed break and 180° climbing turn. Listen to her whistle!

Finest kind! Watching this and hearing that Merlin engine purr is one of the reasons I do all of this work for the CAF SoCal Wing.

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Confession

“Bless me, flight instructor, for I have failed to maintain currency. It has been five years, ten months, and twenty days since my last flight as pilot-in-command…”

I didn’t get to fly today, which was a tiny disappointment (there was a mechanical issue with the plane I had reserved, and the only other plane available had a glass cockpit, which I haven’t ever flown), but I did get started on my “rusty pilot” ground training.

For those unfamiliar with the process (which I’m assuming is probably most of my audience), a private pilot needs a few things to fly legally. First is a pilot’s license, which I got back in 2009. Those don’t expire, but they’re useless (legally) without the other components.

The second is a current medical certificate. These have to be renewed every two years for guys like me who are just flying little Cessnas and Pipers. (For commercial pilots, the ones flying you around on United, American, Delta, Southwest, and so on, it’s every six months.) Since I hadn’t flown in almost six years, my medical certificate had expired about four years ago. Being a bit older and taking some different medications meant some additional paperwork, which meant some additional time, but I finally got that taken care of in early August.

The third thing I need to fly legally is a “BFR” or “Bi-annual Flight Review.” Every two years, I have to have a flight instructor make sure that I still know what I’m doing. It’s not necessarily as stressful as having an FAA check ride, but it’s a couple hours of work and you have to prove that you’re still competent. But that assumes that you’re current, you’ve been flying regularly, and you occasionally practice and/or use procedures that might not be everyday occurrences.

When you haven’t flown in five years, ten months, and twenty days, you are neither current, practiced, or competent.

So the task at hand is to get the BFR done, but it’s going to take more than just the legally required minimum of two hours of flight instruction. My guess is that it’s going to take something like ten to twenty hours of flying, along with a lot of ground school and other review of the rules, regulations, aerodynamic theory, etc.

Much of the ground school stuff can be done on my own, and I’m in fact well into doing that. About three weeks ago I wrote about a software issue I was having – that was referring to a fairly extensive software package of videos and tests that I had ordered as part of a “rusty pilot” training package. It’s working now, so I’m going through hours and hours of review tutorials.

Today I thought we might start the flying part, but that wasn’t to be. I did get a bunch of the paperwork out of the way with the flight school and I met my new flight instructor. We went over the plan of what to expect for this process and got started on the ground training. I’ve got my marching orders on the studying and we’ll start flying in a couple of weeks. (The scheduling is going to be a bitch to start – between work Monday through Friday from 9 to way past 5 every day, my CAF work all day on Saturday, there aren’t a lot of options left for flying. Then when I have to not only find a hold in the flight instructor’s schedule but also a plane that’s available at the same time, with a LOT of other people also wanting to rent planes on Sundays, I have a problem.)

All in all, confession is good for the soul (I’m told) and I’m glad to see that next step behind me. Now, instead of five Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, for penance I’ll go watch the next video on airspace review.

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…I’ll Troubleshoot Buggy Apps That Don’t Work

Yesterday I wrote “In My Copious Free Time…

Tonight I saw that and said, “The heck with it!” (or words slightly less PG-13 but with the same meaning) and sat down to open up the first lesson on the refresher software that I had bought.

And it doesn’t work.

Of course.

Because, of course, because.

There’s no sound. I can see people’s lips moving and there are the occasional graphics – but no sound.

Phone’s not muted. Sound’s turned way up. Check all of the usual stuff. No joy.

Try a different lesson – same thing.

Uninstall the app. Re-download and re-install the app. Same thing.

Reboot the phone. Same thing.

Try it on my iPad. Same thing. Go through the same troubleshooting steps on my iPad. Same thing.

Look on both devices for any kind of control or setting that might explain the problem or offer a solution. No joy.

Log onto their website and download one of the lessons to run on my desktop system. Works fine – yes, there IS supposed to be sound when those lips be flappin’! But one of the reasons I spent $350 to get this package is so that I could watch the lessons and take the tests and track my progress and have the material as reference on my mobile devices! It’s informational that the videos work when streamed from their website, it’s just not particularly useful for me.

Send an email to their tech support and wonder how many days it will take them to get back to me. Let’s hope their customer service is better than that of the running gear / shoe store that pissed me off so much over the last two weeks.

In my copious free time…I’ll troubleshoot buggy apps that don’t work.

And write about it.

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In My Copious Free Time…

…I need to be hitting the books, aka the “rusty pilot” training video series that I ordered about five weeks ago and have yet to crack open.

As of today, another hurdle overcome to get back into left seat up in the pointy end of the plane. I now once again am the proud owner of a FAA Third Class Medical Certificate. Legally, today I can fly again. Practically, that’s not a good idea unless the zombie horde has the airport surrounded and they’re looking at me as an appetizer. Almost four years will leave your skill set a bit “eroded.”

Nothing that a handful of lessons with an instructor won’t cure, and once I’m safe to work on my own, building some hours in pursuit of the perfect $100 hamburger.

Once I run through those refresher videos and brush up on my radio skills and sectional map reading…

…which will happen in my copious free time…

…after I find that final boss in the most boring video game of all time (aka, converting our CAF SoCal Wing accounting books to QuickBooks Online, aka one of the top [bottom?] ten most slow and frustrating and useless programs ever written).

The daily data entry sessions with QBO now take on a bit more urgency with the extra prize at the finish line.

Excuse me, I have some accounts payables to post!

Mmmmmm – payables!

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Birthday Present For FedEx

I wasn’t privvy to many details, but from what I heard there was some sort of anniversary or birthday party that FedEx was throwing for itself down at their LAX facility. That facility sits atop what was once one of the primary North American Aviation factories during World War II, back when LAX was known as Mines Field.

We happen to have two magnificent examples of that particular North American factory, our P-51 Mustang and our PBJ bomber.

They asked if we might be able to send those two aircraft down for the party. To the best of my knowledge we’ve never had our planes at LAX before, nor are there many that ever go in there with the big aluminium tubes from the airlines. So we went.

It was a nice day for flying in SoCal. (Not that I got to leave the ground – someone had to pay the bills today.)

It’s great to have our P-51 flying again after being down over a year with a complete engine rebuild, and the PBJ is going strong and hitting her stride after her first flight last year following a 23-year full restoration.

Coming soon to an airshow near you, especially if you’re on the West Coast or in SoCal. If nothing else if you’re in SoCal, the 2017 Wings Over Camarillo airshow will be at our home base on August 19th and 20th. Come out and see our facilities and planes! (I will not be there for the first time in years – it’s a total solar eclipse weekend for me.)

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No Joy For Cassini

I had mentioned a couple of weeks back that I had applied for another NASA Social, this one at JPL in September for the Cassini finale. I had also mentioned that there were 25 spots available and I wouldn’t be surprised if they would get 2,500 or 25,000 applications and I thought my odds of being accepted were small.

I was correct!

I’ve gotten the “thanks so much for applying, but…” email and while I’m disappointed, I’m neither crushed nor surprised. But if you don’t apply, they can’t tell you “no,” correct? At least they didn’t say, “HELL, NO!”

Meanwhile, I’m one or two steps closer to getting my FAA flight physical renewed, which is the next big step to getting back into the left seat in the cockpit. While I’ve been flying (commercial doesn’t count) a handful of times in the past few years (here, here, here, and here for example), I haven’t been PIC (Pilot in Command) in almost four years.

Time to fix that.

We’re getting closer. Get the FAA medical, get a few hours of training back in and get my BFR (Bi-annual Flight Review) recorded, then start building up some hours. We’ve got that Navion that needs flying out at the CAF, and with a tailwheel endorsement, the PT-19. A few hundred hours there and a complex endorsement and the SNJ’s await.

Watch the skies. That’s me aiming to come to your town for that “$100 hamburger!”

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