Your connection with the sky

July 30th, 2012: Solo Maneuvers in the Cessna 172

, July 30th, 2012


I discovered today that there's soloing, and then there's soloing! Up until now my 3 solos consisted of flights in the pattern around an airport, with one each in the Citabria and Cessna at Petaluma Municipal and the tower solo in the Cessna at Napa County. Today, however was the first time I simply booked the plane and went flying. Read More >>

A Commercial Certificate is Still Just a License to Learn

, July 29th, 2012

A pilot certificate is just a license to learn.

When you’re doing your initial training, that must seem like a foreign concept.  Those guys and gals who have completed initial training and have certificates must know something, right?  Well, of course they do.  But you’ll be surprised at how much each additional rating shows you what you don’t know about flying.  And how much you’ll want to go learn that stuff!

I try to practice what I preach.  After the instrument rating, I began a quest to visit as many corners of the aviation envelope as I could find.  And there are plenty!  Multi-engine aircraft.  Seaplanes.  Flying upside down. For several years, I didn’t need to get a flight review because a new certificate or rating resets the clock on flight reviews.  In fact, I went months at a time carrying a paper temporary certificate for this or that because the plastic certificates couldn’t keep up.

It’s not that I gave that up.  I shot a movie about aerobatics, got more involved in CAP, and flew competition aerobatics myself.  But I hadn’t gotten a new rating in some time.

If you’d asked me in March if I thought that I’d be a commercial pilot now (and in gliders no less), I’d have chuckled at you.  But here I am, one of the nation’s newest commercial pilots. Read More >>

July 26th, 2012: IFR, GPS, and VOR Practice

, July 26th, 2012


July 26th, 2012: IFR, GPS and VOR Practice

Reading about a VOR is one thing, putting it to use is a whole different matter. A VOR is a radio navigation tool that can help supplement visual navigation and the use of a sectional chart to find landmarks out the window (also known as pilotage). While I have to say, reading about it over and over in the text and watching the DVDs was somewhat useful, using VORs still didn't make much sense to me until we actually got into the air and my CFI had me locating and flying to and away from them. This is tricky business, like everything else about flying, VORs are loaded with contradictions. Since the VOR locates the planes position and not it's direction, it's possible to be flying in exactly the opposite direction of the indicator. Now, while that seems confusing, there is some great logic to the way these things work, applying that logic however has me scratching my head a lot. Read More >>

July 25th, 2012 Maneuvers Review

, July 25th, 2012


July 25th, 2012: Maneuvers Review

I can't help but love the ground track on this one! Since the last couple of weeks have been all about getting used to the Cessna, tower work and landings, today was all about reviewing maneuvers. We managed to squeeze a bunch of maneuvers in today including slow flight, slow flight turning climbs and descents, power off and power on stalls, steep bank turns, turning on a point, and S-turns over a road. Read More >>

July 20th, 2012: Night Flying and Landings

, July 23rd, 2012

July 20th, 2012: Night Flying and Landings

Having completed my Tower Solo today I was ecstatic. This one had me up at night, not because I was nervous about flying, but I hadn't had as much tower practice as I would have liked, but the truth is, once I got into it and I was alone in the plane, it was a blast. Being able to communicate with the tower really made me feel like a pilot. I think it's one of those rare moments when you feel yourself transitioning from student to pilot in command and it was superb.


Just to put some icing on the cake, at 10 o'clock tonight I went back up in the air to get some night flying and landings in. I had heard from other pilots that this was a tough adjustment so I really had no idea what to expect. What I discovered however is that it was far more comfortable than I had imagined and a complete thrill. There was no moon up tonight so the sky was dark, really dark, but extremely clear. Taking off didn't feel a lot different than it had during the day, the biggest difference was looking out over the nose as I climbed into the night sky. I was loving every second of it! While I was flying primarily by feel, I also kept checking the instruments at regular intervals to make sure what I was feeling was also what was really happening. Looking back on the runway for the first time on my crosswind to downwind leg of the approach had my giggling like a kid in a candy store. Read More >>

July 20th, 2012 Tower Solo at Napa County Airport

, July 23rd, 2012

July 20th, 2012: Tower Solo at Napa County Airport072012_TowerSolo_Napa.png

I awoke this morning rehearsing tower calls, and I spent the whole morning repeating them over and over. I was scheduled for more tower work today again at Napa, but this time with JP. After the time I had yesterday, I was determined to get it right today. After preflighting the Cessna, JP grilled me with a couple of tower calls and hit me with a couple of spontaneous questions on the ground. "What's the first thing you're going to do today to get ready for landing in Napa?" he asked. "Configure the radios and listen to the ATIS" I responded. "Excellent, that's the answer I was looking for". Whew... I really didn't want to disappoint him before we ever even got in the plane. Read More >>

Flight Training Journal: Catching up

, July 23rd, 2012

Up until now I've been posting retroactively from my own flying journal, but it seems to me, this would all be much more interesting if you knew what was happening right now, so from this point forward I will be posting current entries from my journal, and catching up with the older posts as time allows.

Anyone who is interested can catch up with all of the entries in the meantime on my website at

Thanks for reading!