Your connection with the sky

Private Pilot

Blaine was a student pilot who kept a journal with notes and GPS tracks of every flight lesson. The journal started as a way to keep track of his progress and communicate with instructors, but he realized that such experiences might be interesting and helpful to other students and prospective pilots. About Blaine Transue

Flying to Byron past Mt Diablo

March 28th, 2013


I'm not going to make you read. It was a spectacular morning.


Mt Diablo looking South East

iPad & iPhone apps

November 26th, 2012

Benet Wilson requested that readers of  her AOPA Blog post send her their favorite training & flight apps. After writing a response, and I hope I'm not stepping on any toes here, I thought this would make a good post in the Let's Go Flying Blog as well.

Since I am an avid geek when it comes to flying apps and during my training tested out a number of iPad and iPhone apps, here are the ones that I think are the best and most useful apps on the market for students and pilots alike.

For moving maps and navigation there are a few good choices, and there were specific things I liked about each of the apps below, but in the end, WingX Pro7 is the one that ended up on my home screen. Read More >>

October 9th, 2012: Anxiety, crosswinds and the check ride

October 9th, 2012

IMG_1518_1.jpgSo here I am, at the end of this journey. Along the way I have written something about nearly every lesson, for the most part, selfishly, to help me understand and reflect about what I'm going through in the hope that it will make me a better student, and ultimately, a better pilot, but perhaps also through this journal, to help others understand what the process of learning to fly is like, at least from one other person's perspective. Read More >>

October 4th, 2012: Smart enough to fly?

October 4th, 2012

This has been a tough couple of weeks. After flying 3, 4, even 5 days a week all summer long, I have come to the end of my flight training and have only flown once in the past week, which at this point seems more like a month.

Today was knowledge test day, and while I have studied as much as I possibly could throughout the summer I still felt like there were areas where I could have used more time. Personally, I found it difficult to prepare myself for the written exam, not so much comprehending the particular areas of knowledge, but in psychologically preparing myself and trying to predict what might be asked, which, of course, you can't do.

Here's a few things I'll say about the whole process. Read More >>

September 27th, 2012: Navigating in the air…and on the ground

September 27th, 2012

Having made it reasonably well through my mock check ride, and with less than 2 weeks left before the real deal, and no time left on the "lesson" clock, I decided to knuckle down and use any available time to study.

One of the things that's been gnawing at me throughout this process is the limited time I seem to have to learn specific things, like getting a real handle on the Garmin 430's in the cockpit of the Cessna, so last week I found and installed a 430 simulator on my computer. I had actually been looking for one for the past couple of months but hadn't come up with anything until one day last week, when my CFI sent me a link to one he had come across. Read More >>

September 21st, 2012: It’s Make it or Break it time

September 21st, 2012

With everything getting down to the wire, I'm finding that I have less and less time to do things, like write about it all.

Today was my final "Mock Check Ride", a 4 hour lesson set up to prepare me for my actual check ride on October 9th. Between now and then I plan to go up for at least one more solo, but other than that it looks like I've made it through the training for my private pilots certificate. Am I ready?

092112_last_student_solo.png

September 7th, 2012: ATC Mayhem and Landing Practice at Santa Rosa

September 7th, 2012

Since I'm getting closer to my checkride, my lessons now consist primarily of honing my skills. With all of my solo, cross country and night flying requirements completed, my flying lessons focus on improving my skills, and when I'm not flying, I've got my head buried in books, videos and websites in an attempt get my brain wrapped around the academics of flying.

At this stage in the game there are a number of aspects of flying that I'm pretty comfortable with, flight planning, cross country, night flying, ground reference maneuvers, normal, soft field and short field takeoffs, flying under the hood, solos, unusual attitude recovery, even tower work to some extent, but there are a few areas that still elude me, and I'm doing my best to keep from getting frustrated. At the top of the list are a number of instruments and the on-the-fly calculations required while in flight. As anyone keeping up with my journal is aware, VORs remain a challenge, some days I feel like I get it, and some days, well, I don't. Several other challenging aspects include on the fly calculations for density altitude and airspeed and a clearer understanding of airspace. I know it's just a matter of practice so this weekend I'm going to pound away at every piece of information I have at my disposal in an attempt to get through it. That said, today was about landings and tower operations. Read More >>

August 24th: Cross Country, Mountain Flying and Wind Shear

August 24th, 2012


I've been flying so much lately I don't even know what day it is. What I do know is that today put my skills to the test.

Today I was scheduled for the last of my required solos. This was going to be a 2+ hour flight with landings at 2 airports I had not been to before. When I had originally scheduled the flight, there was nothing on the schedule again until 3, so I arrived thinking I had plenty of time to plan and get on my way, but as we know, this is flying, and things change. As it turns out, the Cessna was scheduled again at 1pm and JP had his checkride for his CFII endorsement at 3, so I my no pressure solo just took on a little pressure. No worry, I was there a little early and I already had my flight plan drawn up, so JP just needed to go over it and endorse my log book. Even as prepared as I was however, I didn't get off the ground until about 11:15 which meant at best, I wouldn't get back until about a quarter after 1pm. I checked with Travis and told them I could reschedule, but they wanted me to go ahead and go, even if it meant doing a little rescheduling. Read More >>

August 22, 2012: Cross Country to Ranch Murieta via VOR

August 22nd, 2012


While I had already done a number of cross country flights over the past 2 weeks, I was really excited about my flight today because today, I was going to do a long cross country by VOR. Now, if you've been keeping up with these posts, and my training, you know I've been struggling with this VOR stuff, and of course, this really bugs me because I'm a very technical person. I have always been the guy who sets up your stereo, or your new LED TV with surround sound, or wires your local network, yet here I have been struggling with this one odd little instrument. Read More >>

August 17th, 2012: X-Country Solo via VOR…or not

August 17th, 2012

Some days don't quite work out as planned, but don't let that stop you from getting something accomplished.

While I wasn't aware of the plan, today I was scheduled to fly solo via VOR to Rancho Murieta, a small airport on the east side of Sacramento. Although this was all well and fine with me, I wasn't aware of the plan in advance, so I didn't have time to prepare a flight plan as I usually would have which meant working one up as part of my 2 hour lesson. This actually put some pressure on, number one, because at best, Rancho Murieta was a 2 hour flight there and back, number 2, there was a lesson right after mine in the same plane, and number 3, I had not drawn up a flight plan via VOR before. I dove right in and started to do my best, but it was pretty evident in the first 15 minutes or so that this just wasn't going to work out.

I was still struggling with writing up the flight plan via VOR and had a lot of questions for JP, and while I could have just jumped in the plane and winged it, pardon the pun, I just just wasn't comfortable with that. Even though I knew that I could set up the airport in the GPS and fly the route that way, that wasn't the objective, so while it would have been a nice solo experience, it wouldn't have provided the actual instruction I needed for this particular lesson. Read More >>