Alyssa Miller

Tales of a logbook

December 30, 2010 by Alyssa Miller, AOPA Online Managing Editor

At the end of each year, I like to take a long look at my logbook and flight receipts for the previous 12 months, calculate how much money I spent, how many hours I flew, and what type of flying I did. That tradition also brings with it a flood of memories, as various flights filled with special meaning grace the pages of my logbook.

Road and Runway RallyThis year was a mixed bag. I spent less money per flight hour, but I also flew a lot less—only 53 hours in my logbook this year. However, I had many opportunities to do different types of flying.

The year started out on a high note, with earning my commercial pilot certificate in January. In April, I had the opportunity to race in AOPA’s Road and Runway Rally, driving a Smartcar and flying AOPA’s 2010 Sweepstakes Fun to Fly Remos GX from Maryland to Florida for Sun ‘n Fun. The highlight? Opening the show April 13 with a low pass. I experienced flight in a couple of new aircraft—a Helio Courier and a hot air balloon.

But the year also brought my most difficult moment in aviation, the death of my boss Chris O’Callaghan. Chris was killed in a midair collision during a soaring competition in Texas in August. (See AOPA’s tribute to Chris). Losing someone I had worked with for two years and saw more often than my family was extremely painful. In addition to the personal loss, the fact that he was a fellow pilot and was killed in an aircraft accident made the situation even more difficult. The first few weeks after the accident, I lost all interest in flying. When I would force myself to fly, I would get nervous if more than one aircraft was in the traffic pattern at once. However, I continued to go flying, whether with my father or with my friend and flight instructor I worked with to earn the commercial certificate, until I once again felt comfortable in an aircraft. I knew it was what Chris would have wanted.

Chris O'CallaghanAfter that, I tried to honor Chris in my own way by taking others up for their first flight in a general aviation aircraft (Chris was very passionate about introducing people to aviation). Sharing the gift of flight—with a sixth grader, my grandmother, and a nonpilot coworker—helped to bring back the joy of flying.

This fall, I experienced a new high—aerobatics—while working on an upcoming feature for AOPA Pilot. After each of the three lessons—filled with loops, hammerheads, rolls, Immelmans, Cuban eights, snap rolls, spins, and the split-S—I walked away with a grin almost as big as the one I wore after my first solo.

As I reflect on the year, I can’t help but look forward. I’m already planning  for the challenges I hope to face next year.

Loops and rolls have proven so enticing that I want to work toward my tailwheel endorsement and sharpen my aerobatic maneuvers so that I can rent the Citabria and introduce some fellow friends and pilots to aerobatic flight.

I also plan to earn my flight instructor certificate next year. The first step—passing the Fundamentals of Instructing written exam—is already complete. My hat goes off to all of you flight instructors out there. I’ve been lucky to work with professional instructors who inspired me to go further in aviation, and I plan to work my tail off to make sure I do just as well for my future students.

What were your highs and lows in aviation this year? What are your aviation-related end-of-year traditions? And most importantly, what do you hope to add to your logbook in 2011?

9 Responses to “Tales of a logbook”

  1. AFP Says:

    Highs would be returning to the cockpit after a 4 year hiatus. Money was short after starting a family, so flying took a back seat. This year I was finally able to start scraping together some money and made it back into the air.

    For 2011, I hope to get some flight time in a gyro. The local FBO purchased one this year, and they plan to start renting it next year. It looks like a fun little machine that I just have to get some time in!

  2. Don Koivisto Says:

    My flying highlight for 2010 was a flight to Florida in our club Cessna 150 from northern MN! Saw STS 130 launch in the dark and it was amazing! Took 40.5 hours flying time. Started trip with Fort Worth as first destination, but was diverted east due to showers approaching Texas. A big thank you is in order for the guys at Pell City, AL! They took care of me for two days when the rain caught up with me.

    Second on the list is a flight to Laramie, WY via Sioux Falls and the Black Hills this Dec. On the way back to MN, I lost a mag near Chadron, NB. Another thank you is in order for the folks there! They got me going the next morning by taking a mag from an aircraft in their shop. I hope to do some more cross-country in 2011.

  3. Marlon Young Says:

    Many great flights in 2010. Over 80 hours in the families Cessna 195 and another 20+ in the Citabria. I am a lucky man to have these two airplanes to fly.

    Added a commercial rating. Instrument is next. Many new airplanes in the log book this year. Curtiss P40, Lancair Legacy, C210, Albatross, more T6 time and some formation flights. All around a good flying year with lots of memories, at least a dozen rides given and first flights (young and old alike, youngest being 5 and the oldest was 89). Looking forward to 2011.

  4. Frank Davis Says:

    My high was earning my Instrument rating. It took a little longer time wise than I thought it would but I moved during that time so that took a few months hit. It certainly did improve my flying.

    My low for 2010 was my first flight in a tail dragger (Super Decathlon). While the take-offs and landings were certainly different than the C172 that I fly it was the sensitivity that it has. I was all over the sky. Who knew you could fly a plane without an AI. Hahahahah. That’s for my first CFI who kept yelling “Get your head out of the cockpit”

    For 2011 my goal is to earn my commercial rating.

  5. R. Mezzanotti Says:

    without a doubt joining Angel Flight NE was my greatest joy of 2010. I have never felt better about myself, or have been more appreciated. The people you help are so sick, and so greatful for the assistance it brings tears to your eyes. You are reminded every day how lucky you are and what is really important in life. I work with an amazing group of volunteers. I find myself flying more often ( due to the importance of teh mission vs a $100 hamburger ) I am required to file IFR so my skills have gotten sharper. I rarely fly recreationaly anymore saving my flying budget for this group. It’s been a very rewarding experience

  6. Flavio Coste Says:

    My high is definitely earning my Private Pilot Certificate. While it took longer than anticipated, mainly because of NE weather and working abroad for 3 months, the hard work paid off.
    The low came right after earning my certificate and realizing just how expensive it is to fly around for fun. This fact made me come to the conclussion that I should continue with my training and put the little money that I have into good use. I purchased the Instrument Rating course from the flight school and hope to earn the endorsement for 2011.

  7. Jane Wicker Says:

    My high is definitely my return to the cockpit after 8 years being stuck on the ground. Not only did I start flying again, but I bought a 1941 450 HP Stearman and returned to the airshow circuit as well. After my divorce I just wasn’t able to afford it, although I did still continue my AOPA membership through those years knowing that someday I’d be back. Last year the opportunity finally arose for my return and I jumped at it.

    The day I soloed my Stearman on November 15 was the peak of my year. A very close second is the day my new airplane arrived to my home base at KHWY. There are few moments that literally bring tears to your eyes. Seeing my dream come to life was one of them. It was an emotionally overwhelming experience. I knew the day I started flying in 1989 it was destiny and now that I’m back I know I will never let it go again.

    I’m also flying a Cessna 310 so I can regain my proficiency on my instrument and multi-engine flying again. It was truly amazing year.

  8. Peter Stauble Says:

    My highlight was climbing to 27,000 feet over Mt Washington, NH on 10/10/10 in a SGS-1-35 sailplane. I released from tow at 3,400 feet and was at 27K in less than 1.5 hours. I hope to top this in 2011.

  9. Mike Kennedy Says:

    No doubt it was earning my private pilot certificate after a year of lessons interrupted by trips, weather in Minnesota and running a business. I am starting instrument training this week and can hardly wait. 2010 marks the year I soloed, bought my 1999 Skyhawk, earned the PPL and turned 50 — so the year will hold a special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

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