Your connection with the sky

One step closer

, August 28th, 2012

Normally when I start a blog post, the words flow effortlessly off my fingertips and I get lost in telling some funny, scary, or educational story about a recent flight I’ve taken or an event I’ve attended. Today is not the case. In fact, I’m a little surprised I’m still able to form complete sentences and not be passed out in my work chair with coworkers prodding me with pencils to get me out of my vegetative state. You see, today is the day that I passed my written exam. Wait; let me say that with more enthusiasm: I PASSED MY WRITTEN EXAM! Not only did I pass, I received a 95%! Read More >>

Alien Landscape: Flying in Southeastern Oregon

, August 27th, 2012

In late June I had a fabulous flight to the very edge of southeastern Oregon, nearly to the Nevada border. A good friend was throwing a fly-in at his remote high-desert ranch. He has a dirt landing strip and enough space for a dozen or more planes. This would be the first long-distance flight in my re-built Talon. Bob Coombs agreed to make the flight with me in his Titan.

Flying east up the Columbia River Gorge was more of a stomach clencher than usual; I was listening very, very hard to the rhythm of the engine. The 65 horses seemed to be cantering easily together, never breaking stride. Still, it was a relief to come out of the Gorge into eastern Oregon and it’s multitude of landing spots. The easy two hour flight had us landing in Bend (Oregon) to refuel.

From Bend to Burns was payback for the ease of the first leg. It was almost three in the afternoon, and the sun was hot. Thermals bubbled up and flung the Talon every which way. I never felt in danger, but I had to pay serious attention to staying as straight and level as possible. When we landed in Burns (Oregon) both of us were worn out. Even though we had only another 90 minutes of flying to go, we decided to flake out in the air conditioned FBO for a few hours. By the time we were back in the air it was early evening and the air had calmed down. 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 >>

August 16th, 2012, Stage 2 Check Ride. Not my favorite Birthday Present this year

, August 16th, 2012


Lesson objectives: Diversion to Nut Tree/Vacaville, VOR to Skaggs Island, Steep turns and Stalls , Emergency Landing (or not) in Napa, Turns on a point, Short field take off, soft field landing and short field landing at Skypark.

I was a little nervous about my stage 2 mock check ride with Travis today. I haven't been up flying with Travis in awhile and while he is an excellent CFI, he has a bit more demanding approach which can be a little intimidating at times, and today, for sure, he wasn't going to be cutting me any slack, after all, this was supposed to be a mock check ride, so no instruction, just requests and performance. Read More >>

Genevieve: Taking to the Skies

, August 14th, 2012

Hi! My nameʼs Genevieve, Iʼm 19 years old, majoring in Aviation Management at FIT, and currently pursuing my private pilotʼs license. I'm so excited to be able to share my experiences with all of you, but before I jump into my flight training and aviation adventures, I feel like I should give a little on my background - hopefully so that if you are thinking of flight training, youʼll be able to know where I come from and say “Hey, if she can do it, I can do it too!”.

Iʼm a small town girl. Iʼve lived in southern New Hampshire my entire life. Thereʼs actually a small private runway in my tiny town of Brookline, but the closest municipal airport is about 20 minutes out of town and closest international is about an hour away. So, I have a different story than most that I see from other student pilots. I didnʼt grow up passing by airports or seeing planes in the sky all the time. I didnʼt attend an airshow until this year. I never used to watch tv specials or read articles focused just on aviation. I even started out in college last year as an engineering major, not in aviation.

With all that said, now hereʼs where I am now and how I got here. I was on a FIRST Robotics team in high school, which when I look back now, it was all more about strategy and business operations within a technical program to me (I was the business lead junior year and a captain my senior year of a team of about 100 people; it really was like running a technical business). Even with my business focuses, I was very influenced to major in engineering, so I started out in college as a dual-major in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. It was all great, but then after a full semester of being exposed to all the different majors around without those influences back home, and after attending my first airshow with some friends already in aviation, I was hooked. I realized the main reason I was doing engineering was for the money, and that even in a technical program like FIRST, Iʼve always been a very business and top-level process- oriented person and that I shouldnʼt hide that talent from the work I get into. I’m just a people person! Aviation Management can get me where I want to be - whether thatʼs working the business/operations side of an aerospace engineering company, or working with logistics, processes, or people interaction for an airport or airline. All it took was the bit of exposure to the field and major to make me realize thatʼs what I love most and it was the absolute best choice for me.

Lesson from this story? I urge all of you reading this thinking about getting into anything aviation-related: just talk about it with someone. If you have a friend with a plane, go up. If you have a friend taking lessons, ask if you can spectate from the back on a lesson to see if itʼs for you. If you know someone that works at the airport, see if you can meet for lunch and chat. If you donʼt know anyone, go to an airshow! Go and talk to some exhibitors and get business cards here and there just to have people to talk to about getting involved in the future. Theyʼll all want to help you because if theyʼre there representing a company or showing off their own plane, theyʼll want to get others into aviation as well. Plus, you get to have fun on a nice sunny day with an ice cold drink watching some pretty spectacular stunts and see some unique planes and pieces of military history. Attending my first airshow, Sun nʼ Fun, while at college in Florida is where I can clearly pinpoint my decision to get into all of this. The next part of my story is how Iʼve recently started taking lessons to become a private pilot, which will be the focus of many of my future posts. I sincerely hope to inspire others through writing about my aviation experiences and pilot training, and help others who are already going through their training by posting tips and resources along the way! If any of you have any questions, no matter what step you are in pilot training or an aviation career, just comment on a post and Iʼll reply and weʼll get in touch!

Blue Skies,

August 12th, 2012: Flying the Night Shift

, August 13th, 2012


Sonoma to Napa to Modesto to Rio Vista to Napa

After a somewhat tenuous start to the evening (read the previous post, Jack be Nimble), we finally got in the air for the planned night flight.

I had completed my flight plan around 8pm, made the short solo flight over to Napa where the trip would officially start but in order for it to be officially endorsed as a night flight in the log book, we had to wait until about 10pm to make our departure. I needed just over 2.1 hours and at least 3 takeoffs and landings on this flight to satisfy the last of my night flying requirements so the plan called for a first leg to Modesto, then up and over to Rio Vista, and then back to Napa.

I took off from Napa County Airport just about 10pm with a moonless, calm and clear sky. Even though I had been flying some 8 out of the last 10 days, it had been almost a month since my first night flight, and I was really looking forward to tonight's flight. Flying over the north end of the east bay at night was beautiful for sure and flying at night in general just seems so much calmer than the day. The air was cool and calm and the visibility excellent even in the black of the night sky. As we flew towards our first destination, Modesto, JP and I talked about the differences between day and night flying, how your eyes tend to focus more inside the cockpit then out, about the importance of scanning the sky, pointing out illusions like clouds that look like mountains, or mountains that look like clouds, or the fact that some were so dark you couldn't see them at all which totally reinforces the notion of having a solid flight plan and working knowledge of your instruments. Read More >>

August 13th, 2012: Fire, Smoke & the Cross Country Solo to Ukiah

, August 13th, 2012


The last week has been nothing short of amazing. I have flown 7 out of the last 8 days and will fly 3 more before the weekend, that's 10 out of 11 days. In the last 7 days I've flown 2 extended day cross country flights, been mountain flying over the Sierras and Lake Tahoe, squeezed in a 3 hour night flight that included 7 landings at 3 different airports and today, flew my cross country solo from Sonoma to Ukiah.

Of course, when you fly this often things are bound to happen, and happen they did. This week was packed with impromptu ADM ("Aeronautical Decision Making") practice including diverting a night landing coming into Napa because of disabled aircraft on the runway, hitting a bird...a rather large bird in Rio Vista coming off the runway in the black of night and flying solo through the smoke filled skies of Clear Lake. Now that's flying! Read More >>

August 12th, 2012: Jack be Nimble, Soloing to Napa for some night flying

, August 12th, 2012

Tonight I was scheduled to fly my Night Cross Country Duo with my instructor JP. While I had done my first night flight and a number of landings a couple of weeks ago, this was going to be the first time I had to put all of the new cross country skills I had learned, to use during a night flight. The entire route had to cover 2.1 hours so JP and I decided on a route south of our area, leaving from Napa I would fly south to Modesto, put in a few night landings and then head north to Rio Vista where I would land a few more times before taking off and heading back to Napa. Simple enough right? Well...first I had to get the plane to Napa, and we were quickly running out of time. Read More >>