Archive for the ‘The places you’ll go’ Category

Flight school flyouts: We’re outta here

Friday, January 31st, 2014

If your flight school could shake up your training routine by offering you a chance to join other pilots on an organized fly-out, would you go? Most of us would love it. Getting out of the pattern, going places? Getting a taste of what it will be like when we can be pilots in command and go where we want? Where do we sign up?

Many flight schools try to organize these types of events—but they’re not easy to pull off. There’s the weather, availability of airplanes, flight instructors, and a host of other details to consider above and beyond the normal flight scheduling routine. So if your flight school offers you the chance to join a fly-out—whether it’s to the next airport for a pancake breakfast, or to Niagara Falls—don’t wait. Reserve an airplane, get a CFI if you need one, and go. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot and have a great time.

In 2002, as a low-time private pilot, I flew from Maryland to Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and back during a four-day fly-out organized by Frederick Flight Center. There were several student pilots in our group, and everybody gained a great deal of confidence (see “Destination: Experience,” March 2003 Flight Training).

When you read this I’ll be on my way to Florida with a group of airplanes and pilots out of Virginia. The 12 aircraft are leaving this wretched Mid-Atlantic winter behind, temporarily. But we’re not staying in Florida. We’re headed to the Bahamas, accompanied by Bob Hepp, owner of Aviation Adventures. (Aviation Adventures’ Conor Dancy is our 2013 Flight Instructor of the Year, and the school itself has won recognition for high-quality training at its Manassas, Leesburg, and Winchester locations. Some of the airplanes going on this fly-out are on the flight line at Aviation Adventures.)

This will be Aviation Adventures’ third fly-out to the Bahamas. The school also organizes trips to Oshkosh, Wis., for EAA AirVenture, and most recently shepherded a group on a frigid December morning to tour the Hudson River corridor in New York.

A student pilot can’t fly solo outside the United States, of course. He or she can fly accompanied by a certificated pilot who is qualified to act as PIC. But crossing the border in a small airplane is a great adventure and a personal goal for many pilots. And if you have any qualms about Customs procedures, the paperwork, the navigation, and/or the safety equipment needed, a group fly-out is a great way to give it a try. (If you want to get going on the research, see AOPA’s Bahamas resources page. We’ve got info for Alaska, Canada, and Mexico, too.)

I’ll share some of these considerations on the Flight Training blog as we travel, and you’ll see a complete write-up in a future issue of Flight Training magazine. In the meantime, you folks where it’s cold, try to stay warm, and I’ll do the same.—Jill W. Tallman

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Alaska calling

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The June issue of Flight Training, going to press this week, Juneauis full of great content about the great state of Alaska. Pilots can’t get enough about Alaska (and can’t stop dreaming about going there, flying there, living there, or working there). Maybe it’s because general aviation is so entrenched in the state because there’s almost no other means of transportation for many communities. Maybe it’s the allure of the bush-pilot lifestyle, whatever that may be. Maybe it’s the endless possibilities of where you can land: water, snow, a glacier, gravel. I don’t know; you tell me what it is in the Comments section.

But anyway, as I was saying—Alaska! The photo you see is one I took from the left seat of a modified Cessna 150 in June 2008, somewhere near Juneau. I was midway through a weeklong cruise from Seattle, and I knew that the 12 hours our cruise ship was docked at Juneau was the only window I’d have to do some affordable flying. (Much as I wanted to do a glacier flight, that wasn’t in the budget. But if you can afford one, do it and tell me how it went.)  So I went on the Internet, found a flight instructor, called him from Maryland, and scheduled some dual. Two weeks later, he picked me up in downtown Juneau, drove me to the airport, and I had the most memorable 1.3 hours of flying of my life at that point.

The scenery was spectacular. The flight instructor pointed out several little sand bars and gravel strips. We overflew a 1,900-foot gravel strip that from 200 feet looked like a dirt path made by a couple of four-wheelers. For $168, I considered my flight a bargain.

Editor Ian J. Twombly has fond memories of Alaska, too. It’s where he got his seaplane rating–an experience he describes in this 2005 article (see the sidebar, but read all of Katie Writer’s discussion of what’s involved in becoming a bush pilot).

Do you have Alaska dreams? Better yet, do you have Alaska memories? If so, share them in the Comments section. The June issue of Flight Training starts shipping to homes on April 4; digital subscribers will see it a on March 28.—Jill W. Tallman

 

A holiday flight

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Back in December, we asked chat participants what was on their Christmas wish lists. There was a prize at stake—a free eBook.

Chatters wished for more money to fly with, more time to fly with, a handheld nav/comm, and just plain more flight time (40 hours, to be exact, so that the chatter could complete an instrument rating). The wish that got us was David Kincade’s. He asked for 10 hours’ block time at his FBO. To finish up a rating? No. Turns out he wanted to fly his wife to her parents’ home for the Christmas holiday.

David won the eBook—and what’s more, he actually made the trip. He posted a photo on our Facebook page with a note:

“Hey Ian and Jill; thanks again for the book I won in December’s chat. I did get some flight time for Christmas, and did indeed use it to take me wife from St. Louis (KSET) to Branson West (KFWB) to visit with her parents. I even got to take her mother for a sightseeing flight around Table Rock Lake. We had a blast, discovered some fun airports, and met some great people along the way.
Just Southeast of Springfield, MO, there are some giant TV towers, 2000agl, photo enclosed.
This flying thing is kinda fun.”

Thanks for checking in and letting us know, David! And yeah, no argument there—this flying thing is kinda fun.—Jill W. Tallman

Our next Flight Training Facebook chat will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, January 8. The topic is paying for flight training with guest chatter Brittney Miculka. Go here to set up an email reminder, or just join us at the chat! 

The Places You’ll Go: An ice runway in New Hampshire

Friday, February 24th, 2012

“The Places You’ll Go” is an occasional series of blog posts from Flight Training readers about the adventures they experience with a new pilot certificate. We hope these posts will inspire you to press on to the finish line of your own certificate. If you would like to submit a post, email Jill Tallman.—Ed.

On final to Alton Bay, New Hampshire

When we first get the itch to become an aviator, there could be a number of reasons why. Some folks become pilots to make a living flying. Some just for fun. Then there are the ones who do it to test their skills, explore, and enjoy the many destinations that are out there.

Recently my flying partner and best friend Frank Grossman and I fulfilled one of our “bucket list” flying destinations…Alton Bay, New Hampshire. B18 is located at the southern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee and is the only registered ice landing airport in the continental United States. (Ed. note: It’s a seaplane base in the summer.) For a very short period in January and February, the lake freezes over enough to allow general aviation aircraft to land. Frank owns a beautiful 1965 Cherokee 260 Six, which we take all over the place when the opportunity arises.

The day of our trip starting out at Greater Rochester International Airport, we were blessed with clear skies and a nice tailwind to boot. Thirty miles from the bay we encountered clouds and winds, which only got more intense as we got closer. The approach from the south using Runway 1 requires you to make a short-field landing over the hill and trees with swirling winds for us that day were 23 gusting to 31 straight down our nose. The runway was marked by cones since there was not a hint of snow, making it slick glare ice, so braking was pretty much nil! The outside air temp was around 20 degrees but the winds were strong, giving us concern for the Six to get pushed around; chocks were useless unless they had nails driven into the bottoms.

After enjoying a tasty burger and fries while meeting some of the friendly locals, we received our certificate for skillfully landing on the ice. Frank and I loaded up the Six, pointed back into the 30-knot headwind, and were airborne in about 500 feet. The local folks had asked if we could do a return for approach from the north so they could get some photos. Of course we could, it was our pleasure. The winds are very tricky in that end of the lake, which cuased a couple moments of “let’s think this through” before we proceeded. Once clear of the lake, we pointed the nose skyward for the journey back home to KROC, still enjoying some gusty winds. We reached our cruise altitude of 8,500 feet and began to enjoy some much calmer air that only got smoother as the sun started to settle.

Some folks might ask why someone would even consider taking a flight like this knowing that you could run into unfavorable conditions and not be able to get to your primary destination. We as pilots train, train, and train some more so that we have all of the variables in place regarding each and every situation. Safety is first and foremost; it is the number one item at the top of the list with no substitutes. We plan, lay out our options, and go if everything looks right–no second guesses. So why did Frank and I make this trip to such a beautiful destination? To enjoy the rewards of experiencing just such a flight that tested our skills, to explore a place that we had only heard of, and to be able to pass on to others…because we are pilots. Now if you will excuse me, I need to finish up planning our next trip. Blue skies, tailwinds, and most of all, let’s be safe out there. —Pat Collins