Category Archives: Flying

Someplace Special – March 22nd

National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, OH


(Another one of those places that I got to spend four or five hours at, would love to spend four or five weeks at. There’s a growing list of those, not to mention the long, long list of places I’ve never gotten to at all. Meanwhile, things I don’t want to do ever again get done over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over every single day.

What’s wrong with this picture?0

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Noisy Visitor (Video)

Yesterday we had a Navy/Marine T-45 visiting. I mentioned it was noisy. Mind you, some of our WWII planes can get a bit loud, but this is a whole new level.

I set my phone on the ground about twenty feet behind the jet. Note the spray of debris at the 0:30 mark.

Five minutes or so later the jet was waiting for clearance to take off. While they were waiting, someone in a Cessna 172 pulled up behind them to wait their turn next, a position that I thought might be ill advised. You’ll see after the cut, about four minutes later in real time (there were a lot of other planes landing), someone in the tower must have suggested a different course of action.

I love the sound of Jet-A being turned into noise!

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A Study In Blue & Gold

Playing with the new iPhone camera with our PT-19 trainer as a subject.

She’s a tail-dragger, something I haven’t flown yet (although I have flown in her).

The open cockpit is a hoot to ride in. The tube & fabric body is quite a change for those accustomed to aluminum and titanium.

The cockpit is simple and you can see just how basic the tubular structure of the body is.

The prop is wooden, but it gets the job done.

The brightly colored tail is rakish – the color combo is spectacular. (It also makes you easy to spot after an “off-field” landing, a good thing if you’re a training aircraft!)

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Since the picture yesterday was popular, here are more from one of the P-51’s flights last Saturday. Yanking it around on short final, touchdown, and taxiing up to the crowd to show off.

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Coming & Going

That feeling when you didn’t get out of the office until just before 21:00 and by the time you get home and eat dinner and breathe for a few minutes you suddenly finding yourself saying, “Shit, it’s 23:30 already??!!”

This is why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this month!

Here’s another shot from Camarillo this last Saturday. Our P-51 was taxiing in from a ride, while behind it our yellow SNJ was taking off for one.

Both aircraft are a joy to take a ride in – for a very reasonable price, I can arrange that if you’re in the Southern California area. (Seriously! Shameless plug and all of that. We sell rides, I’m the finance officer, and we can always use the revenue. And it really is a great ride.)

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Cessna 195b

In addition to all of the other birds at Camarillo this weekend, this one rolled by on the taxiway.

It’s a 1952 Cessna 195b, one of the only radial engine planes that Cessna built after WWII.

Not quite as pretty to my eye as a Beech Staggerwing (if anyone out there wins the lottery and wants me to smile just a TON, I would take a Staggerwing in a heartbeat!) this is nevertheless a very good looking aircraft.

In this closest picture, I noticed the aircraft’s name up by the nose – “Patience.” I was surprised to see in researching the aircraft that it had a very impressive speed capability, cruising at 170 mph with a max speed of 178 mph and a service ceiling of 18,300 feet. Given that a “modern” Cessna 172 cruises at 140 mph with a service ceiling of 14,000 feet, that’s outstanding performance!

A guy can dream…

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Hawk & Crow

There was aerial combat over Camarillo Airport yesterday – but no airshow. This wasn’t simulated, it was as real as it gets.

The crow will gladly feast on hawk eggs, given the chance.

The hawk will gladly feast on crow, given the chance.

The crow has a bit of a size advantage, the hawk the advantage in speed, maneuverability, and weaponry.

But while you’ll occasionally see hawks in pairs, crows tend to mob hawks, three or four or as many as a dozen at a time.

Yesterday, at about 800′ above CMA (out of the landing pattern, fortunately for the big metal birds that could ruin everyone’s day) it was a draw.

The crow flew off (for now) and the hawk went back to looking for mice and rats (for now).

The battles will continue.

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Filed under Critters, Flying, Photography

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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“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.


Filed under Flying, Paul