Monday, November 26, 2012

The Model for a Family Friendly Airport

Word on the street and according to Robert Goyer for Flying is that for General Aviation to be viable we need to increase the number of pilots, make flying affordable and create well paying jobs. For now let us focus on the first step - increasing our numbers.

Pilots talk about the $100 burger and often coax a friend or two to come along for the flight, all in the effort to initiate a potential pilot into the world of general aviation. The problem as pointed out by Jamie Beckett in The lure of the $10 hamburger is that although the gesture is good some people get turned away from little airplanes after their first flight becomes a "less than optimal experience".

Van Nuys Model Airport Image by Google
Mr. Beckett suggested a $10 burger where the flight is excluded but the meal is enjoyed on the airport air the sounds and smells of piston engines can be enjoyed from a safe distance which in time would lead to education and eventually a productive first flight.

This had me to thinking why not bring entire families out to the airport? Airport authorities should create an environment where the general public is welcome to experience the sights, the sounds, and the smells that make up General Aviation in a family-friendly setting.

One airport is light-years ahead in this respect. The award goes to Van Nuys Airport which has an on-site playground - a model airport - complete with ride-on toy airplanes for young children. With such an installation the cost to bring an entire family in the door is just a weekend trip to the park and viola! mom, dad and the kids all get the experience and dreams are born.

Certainly once people are attracted to the location the opportunity would be taken to educate the public on the benefits that the airport brings to the local community and economy. This would not only provide new pilots but would also create better neighbors on both sides of the airport fence.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Approach Chart Trivia

Here we have the GPS approach to Portsmouth International Airport at Pease's (KPSM) Runway 16. Can you find the humor in the chart?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Poll: Have you hit a learning plateau in your training?

Hello fellow Pilots,

Here is ZeeFlyers inaugural poll:

 Have you ever reached a learning plateau in your flight training?
Kindly take a moment to leave a comment below, or vote on your response on the YouTube page.

Thank you and have a safe journey,

Malki Zee

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wrapping up Stage I in the IFR training Syllabus

With predominately good weather, only one flight got canceled recently due to low level wind shear alerts (wind speed at 2,000 AGL was in excess of 45 MPH). Navigation work under simulated instrument condition was the name of the game. Of course partial panel work (simulated and actual) was included for good measure, as were stalls and steep turns.

I learned how to fly a DME arc which is using a VOR as the reference point and flying part of a circle around it using the DME to provide range from the station to leave you with a pretty neat flight path. I learned to fly a localizer both inbound to the runway and outbound as a reference to intercept a certain navigational intersection. On Thursday October 25th I went for the Stage I check, where my basic instrument skills, the concepts and procedures I should have learned during the last 2 months were evaluated.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chaos in the Pattern

It was early in the morning (or late at night) the sun had net yet come up when I left my house for lesson number 8 in my IFR training, all I wanted was to get through the lesson checking off all the required tasks whichout much unnecessary excitement. In the beginning it appeared the would be the case, engine start was normal and we were ready to taxi, Ground Control asked us to give way to a Learjet 31, N29SR to pass east-bound on Taxiway Alpha on an early morning run to Chicago. All was going well.

The lesson was progressing without incident. No abnormalities were found during the run-up and we was cleared for takeoff on the calm wind runway, RWY 28. I demonstrated tracking the Runway 10 LOC (Localizer) outbound with reverse sensing. My proficiency with constant rate / speed climbs, turns, descents and any combination thereof was examined. Not the easiest thing in an airplane without an Attitude Indicator (AI), remember it failed on September 11th 2012 and has not yet been fixed. It has been placarded (photo below), however when the instrument is still visible it still creeps into your scan. Here's a tip I discovered mid-flight: completely cover the failed instrument, in my case I used a folded piece of paper. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pilot Training Tip #1 - Saving Money While Checking the ATIS

Hello Fellow Pilots,

In an effort to give back to the flying community I present to you the first in a series of flying tips and tricks that I have come across during my exciting journey as student pilot and beyond.

This first tip bought me a nifty piece of equipment and saved me $100's if not already over $1,000 thus far in my flight training. It can save you hundreds of dollars as well. It will also allow you to better utilize each block of time at your favorite flight school or flying club.

Video after the break.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Goodbye September, Welcome October

The weather out here in western Pennsylvania is transitioning to the cloudy and foggier type, and early morning flights are starting to become a thing of the past. Thursday the 20th was my last flight for September out of KBVI and it was with a guest instructor. 

I was excited to test out the mount I recently acquired for my Galaxy S II and the proper cables to capture audio direct from the intercom of the airplane. However on the takeoff roll the entire mount came loose and fell from the windscreen. I had to concentrate on flying the airplane and ignore the device now resting precariously in my lap. Turning 180 degrees to the right we started climbing out on a right downwind departure. With Bill maintaining shiny side up I was free to try and reattach the camera to the airplane. I have yet to find the perfect place to mount the camera.

We practiced slow-flight, stalls, timed compass turns and unusual attitude recovery. 

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds.

Power on Stall in N273ND

Unusual Attitude Recovery in N273ND

My apologies for the airframe showing in the video, the quest for the perfect mounting spot goes on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The time the attitude indicator failed, twice

The time the attitude indicator failed, twice.

It was a cool morning with fog in the valleys but clear on top. Time for lesson four in the instrument training syllabus. After a thorough pre-flight inspection it was time to depart, by the time we reached the run-up pad all the instruments were checked and reading correctly. Although winds are light from the south east at the Beaver Valley airport they are still using the preferred runway 28. Decreased performance on the runway if any was not noticeable.

On climb-out I noticed a peculiar thing. The attitude indicator was read very nose high with a left bank of approximately 20 degrees. A blind man could see out the window that the wings were level and the nose was not more than 10 degrees above the horizon. We had a problem on our hands. Is it a vacuum failure? Well not exactly, the directional gyro was working flawlessly. Could it possibly be that the gyro was slowly getting up to operating speed? That sounds a bit silly considering the amount of time between engine start and takeoff. Trying the alternate vacuum source did not correct the problem either. This would be a complete flight under partial panel conditions.

Practicing slow-flight, stalls and unusual attitude recoveries without the artificial horizon is a bit more complicating than you might think. Take the VSI for example although it can give some pitch information, you need to be ahead of it if you want to stop the nose from coming down too far starting a descent when all you wanted to do in the first place was stop a serious climb.

After chasing the wild bull er.. airplane throughout the wild blue yonder, some time was dedicated to VOR and NDB tracking. Jeremy gave me a crash course on the Garmin GNS 430, surprisingly it is not much different from its big brother the G1000. Thus concluded flight number 4.

It would be safe to assume that on the next flight two days later the attitude indicator would work, but lo, the ground checks showed all instruments reading correctly however on climb-out, you guessed it, the attitude indicator was reading erroneously. For now N266ND is out on maintenance and I'll be flying N273ND for my next flight.

Until next time,
Blue skies and tail-winds,
Malki Zee

Takeoff in N266ND beginning Flight #5
Testing different video angles and waiting for the correct cables to capture the audio.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week Two of Instrument Flight Training

Recent maritime cold fronts passing through western Pennsylvania bundled with overnight cooling and terrestrial radiation canceled my Tuesday early morning flight.

Thursday was a different story altogether with a high pressure system and great visibilities. The lesson started off with basic hood work, climbs, turns etc. leading up to slow flight and stalls, be careful not to over-correct when referencing that tiny artificial horizon. Steep turns were next on the agenda followed by unusual attitude recovery techniques.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day One of Instrument Flight Training

After two lessons were cancelled due to weather (under Part 141 rules basic instrument skills must be practiced before flying more complex lessons in actual weather), finally there's a fair weather day for kicking off my instrument training. There are areas of low lying fog however they will not affect our flight.

The lesson starts with a bit of airplane familiarization as it will be my first time piloting a PA-28-161. The Piper Warrior III's engine started simply enough. With light winds and  Beaver County's preferred runway being 28 takeoff was westbound away from the rising sun in N266ND. At a safe altitude we began a right hand turn to the north. Let the hood work begin (a hood is a view limiting device to force ones gaze at the airplanes instruments).

This first lesson in the Part 141 syllabus consisted of straight and level, turns, climb and descents as well as combinations of the above. The exciting part was practicing slow-flight without outside visual reference. We returned to land at KBVI's runway 28. Jeremy is a great instructor, soft spoken but gets his thoughts across in a direct manner.

Finding an opening on the schedule when we landed and not excited about driving two hours for each one hour of flight time I opted to book that spot and take lesson two on the same day. After a short wait we'll be flying another airplane.

Lesson two introduced stalls, both power on and power off referencing only the flight instruments of N273ND. Quite the contrast this is from primary training where the drill was to "keep your eyes outside". The instruments will tell you everything you need to know, just be cautioned not to fixate on any one in particular lest you veer off course on another.

I'm getting used to landing this new-to-me model airplane and am looking forward to lesson three and the challenges it will bring, hopefully without any further weather delays.

N266ND on an IFR day not suitable for lesson one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning to Trust My Flight Instruments

It was a cold, dark, and humid morning on June 12th 2011. There was a low overcast hanging over Long Island. It was a perfect day for a flight, that is, if you enjoy flying through the clouds. Some people fantasize about the splendid view that can only be seen through the windscreen in an airplane, the skylines, seascapes, and the occasional fluffy white cloud rolling by. However, as a young aspiring pilot it was time for me to begin learning to fly solely with reference to the instruments.

Flying instruments is not for the faint of heart, it requires skill, intense concentration and trust in the flight instruments. While learning to trust the instruments is not easy, many pilots fly coast to coast and across vast oceans without so much as a glimpse of the ground. They do so by instrument flight. Today was the day that I tested the instruments for myself.

My flight instructor Robert and I met in Atlantic Aviation at Farmingdale’s Republic Airport where we got the weather and held a preflight briefing. After inspecting the airplane we fired the engine. With our clearances in hand we taxied to the runway. Eyes on the instruments cautioned Robert, we’ll be in the clouds in no time. Indeed 14 seconds after takeoff we were completely engulfed in the puffy white fluff.

Why are you turning? Robert questioned me. To me it felt like I was correcting for a gentle bank that I came out of, but no, there was no turn and we were now off course. After I corrected the error Robert cautioned to always trust the instrument because they don’t lie. We broke out of the cloud tops just below 7,000 feet. We then descended back through the clouds to commence the approach.

We tuned the Instrument Landing System equipment and followed its guidance. Just a few hundred feet above the ocean the clouds suddenly disappeared and it was a sight to behold, crystal clear blue water, a string of islands with pearly white sand and finally out in the distance we were perfectly aligned for a smooth landing on Groton New London's runway 05.

The friendly staff at Columbia Air Services refueled and attended to our Cessna 172 N441QF while Robert and I went inside to discuss how we would slip the surely bonds of earth once more and sail through the clouds back whence we came. The return flight was much of the same, however, once we completed the approach to Farmingdale’s runway 19 it was clear to me that the instruments are installed in the aircraft because they can get you to places that your eye cannot see.

As long as a pilot is knowledgeable and proficient in the ways of instrument flight and has the fortitude to follow said instruments, a route can be flown from takeoff to landing without reference to the ground.


Some footage I took of N441QF taking off into the sunset at KFRG
and landing

Friday, August 3, 2012

Looking for a new flight school

It is high time to start instrument training, the need for a flight instructor/school and a craft arises. Who to choose? Do I continue with one that I did my private with or do I choose a new one? I wish I could continue with the instructor who helped me wrap up my private certificate, or the one who introduced me to complex airplanes. But they're 318 nautical miles east so the search must begin.

I've been through three flight schools, two flight clubs and nine flight instructors on the road to my Private Pilots License. If there's a gimmick or a catch chances are I've stumbled across it on my journey. I heard all the spiels and sales pitches. I've chosen what I want, what works. A relaxed (not carefree) professional instructor who flies because he loves it and teaches because that's what he's good at. That's the kind of person you want. As for the bird, keep it simple, first learn the basics, then upgrade. You'll save yourself heartache, time and money.

I tried out a flight school close to my home, they have a decent operation, but they don't allow rentals outside of the training syllabus. That's a big NO in my book. Isn't the idea to be able to rent when you want to go where you want? So the search moves north to the airport in my colleges backyard, Beaver Countys KBVI. there are two flight schools on the field, among other reasons I pick the one with the most familiar airplanes (remember keep it simple to save time), Cessna 172s in steam gauge and a 182 TURBO G1000 with a sprinkling of Piper Warriors. I wish they had a tail-dragger, but I guess that will have to wait.

I meet my prospective instructor, I'll learn that he's my style, no nonsense in the plane yet fun to be around. He gives me a tour of the facilities before we head out to the ramp to see all the aircraft. While I do the preflight inspection he tops off the tanks and then we climb in. It's just going to be a short flight, I simulate a short field takeoff with a right turnout to the north practice area. Jeremy points out the different landmarks before we follow the Beaver river back to the blue bridge for a 3 mile final. I execute two touch-and-goes with left hand turns and finally a full stop landing. I won't lie, some of the pattern work wasn't from my finest examples but I saved it on the smooth landings. I got my currency back, and I believe my quest for Mr. Right CFI is complete.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Finding unknown winds aloft

Hello Fellow Aviators,

Here's a short video I made showing how to find unknown winds aloft using an E6B in 5 simple steps.

First you will need:

  1. True Course
  2. Ground Speed
  3. True Airspeed TAS
  4. Wind Correction Angle

The five steps:

  1. Start by aligning the true course (your track along the ground) to the true index on the E6B.
  2. Step 2. Position the grommet over the ground speed.
  3.  Mark your wind dot where the True Airspeed and Wind Correction Angle intersect.
  4.  Rotate the Wind Dot until it is on the true index to read the Wind Direction.
  5.  Read the Wind Speed up from the grommet to the wind dot.

I hope you found these instructions easy to  follow, feel free to leave any questions and comments below.

Until next time, blue skies and tail-winds,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flight to Clarksburg, WV. KCKB

What kind of funny name is North Central West Virginia Airport? North, Central or West, make up your mind. 

It's Wednesday May 9th 2012 and Clarksburg, West Virginia's Airport, runway 21 is under construction, yet the airfield is open to traffic. The flight originated at Allegheny County KAGC with Corey from Pittsburgh Flight Training Center.

The choice of airplane was leaning toward the craft with functioning GPS, as the weather was deteriorating with large clouds and patches of rain, so we settled on N596CS, a 1997 Cessna 172R. The flight itself was rather smooth and the landings, well, if you weren't there to witness.. were nice and soft. Really they were.

The smooth air and wispy clouds sailing by, paired with a beautiful mountainous landscape all attributed to the thrill of taking to the skies.

This was flight number 2 towards AOPA’s Keep ’Em Flying Challenge, it's also the addition of the 18th airport in my logbook.

One interesting thing about the flight is that approach control in the Pittsburgh / Clarksburg area have some sort of issue hearing pilots transmissions on the air, so rather than ask for the usual response to information on the radio they ask for an IDENT on the Mode C Transponder.

Apologies for the lack of visual content to accompany this post, however as the PIC in an airplane that does not have a working autopilot, I felt it more important to keep my hands on the controls. I do have a camera mount on order so I hope do have footage next flight.

Until next time, blue skies and tail-winds!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First flight after my checkride

On a gorgeous and  sunny Thursday morning, April 26th 2012,  Shmuly Rose and I flew Empire Flight Academy's Cirrus SR20 tail number N184PD from at Farmingdale's Republic Airport to Dutchess County Airport in Poughkeepsie NY. This flight served a few purposes for me; 1) to get back in the air, it was my first flight since getting my Private Pilots License (not including ferrying the plane back from the exam). 2) AOPAs Keep ’Em Flying Challenge includes flying to five airports farther than 50 nautical miles, KPOU fits that bill from KFRG. It was my first flight as entry for the sweepstakes. 3) It was my first time in a Cirrus, let alone flying one!

The Cirrus is a sleek airplane, a fast airplane, a force to be reckoned with. At 160 kts over the ground you've got to be ahead of it. Shmuly flew under the hood, practicing his IFR skills while I acted as the safety pilot. A quick taxi back to runway 24 at KPOU and we are on our way back to Farmingdale. 1.3 hours on the Hobbs and we are back on the ramp at republic. So long until my next flying adventure.

Below is a short video of the landing back at Farmingdale.

Photos below courtesy Shmuly Rose:

World's most expensive Kipa, delivered by private airplane

The world's most expensive Yarmulka, a Johnny Walker Blue Label
insignia bearing Kipa, was delivered today at N82 Wurtsboro Sullivan
County airport, the Oldest US Soaring Site.

The story goes like this:

At 6:55am the alarm rings. Too tired to get up, but, hopefully I'll bring a friend along for the flight and I have a mission. So the morning begins, shower, pray make breakfast, and head out. Still no response from Doobie. What he doesn't know is that he's about to  miss out on an amazing adventure. Had I known before I would have invited someone else. Walk to the train, er, run, er, walk fast, as usual its a 15 min face paced walk and the train could come early and doesn't wait for no one. When you get there, the platform might be closed. You may have to board from the other platform, you need extra time. Only the southwest staircase (one out of four) were open today.

I text Eddie, "I'm on the train". It's a big day for many reasons; I'm getting checked out in a new airplane today. N6059D is a C-172-SP, fully loaded. And Eddie is the owner, so I need to impress. It's also my first time flying into a non-towered airport. (OK my first intro lesson when I had no clue what was going on, and in a glider, but the glider doesn't have a radio regardless. So those don't count).

Eddie loves the G1000, and he is teaching me to take full advantage of it. I learnt a ton today, how to set up a flight plan, how to alter it and how to use the auto pilot.

RWY 1 at Farmingdale’s Republic Airport KFRG is in use, straight out departure, call approach and request Class Bravo clearance. We are approved. Eddie asks if ______ is the controller. No. _____? no. ______? no. finally the guy says who he is, and we all start laughing on the radio. Eddie is a controller at NY approach and these are his boys. He gets an update on who is working the shift and we carry on our way. Direct N82. What's in N82 Wurtsboro Sullivan County Airport, you ask? Well for starters it is the oldest Soaring site in the United States. Dan is the Airport Manager and I am going to meet him. I have a special delivery and it should be hand delivered.

The view is gorgeous. And once you learn to use the autopilot you actually get to enjoy it. The Hudson river, the hills, the mountains, lakes, trees, houses, mansions.... Up and over the mountains N82 is behind a mountain. You wont see it till you are over the mountain. I'm pretty sure I was looking at Resnik and saying that's got to be it. Calling Unicom, it seams the operator is on vacation. So we follow a low wing into the field for what would make sense is the active runway, RWY 5, it's the one with the Instrument approach. Although the locals prefer 23 when possible, especially because they are usually towing gliders, and off the departure of RWY 5 is another mountain. When we taxiied in, Sabastian a pilot from Florida who just moved to the area and is looking for work gave us the heads-up that they chewed his ear off for landing on the wrong runway. No sweat I came to meet the manager. We will square it out. 

Wurtsboro has two L19 Bird-Dog's for towing gliders, both are being used. Lots of students. We see some cool gliders, and a powered-glider with the cowling off so we can see the engine. After he takes care of a few tows we meet Dan at the hangar, Hey whats going on blah blah.. Eddie might come back to get his glider license. I tell Dan I brought him a gift. His face brightens as he switches it for his baseball cap. The world's most expensive Kipa!! I show Eddie around the airport and we head off. (Is it important to mention that i got a root beer at the airport? and a patch?)

The way back was much of the same, we practiced steep turns in both directions. I'm more comfortable with the left turn. I think because I can SEE the ground. The only real difference is that this time approach makes us descend below class bravo after we enter it. Landings at both airports were butter smooth. I'm not sure if Eddie was helping on the controls but I don't think so. He is impressed with my flying and I like his airplane. I like how he embraced the technology available to us. Till now my instructors never let me use the auto-pilot. I flew from Farmingdale to Groton CT and back in actual IFR by hand!!! So it is a different world. We get back and tied down the airplane.  Take a few photos and chow till next time.


(this post is copied from an older blog I had so the date is incorrect)