Sunday, December 30, 2012


At the start of 2012 I had no idea how exciting the year would be. I came over from Ireland with 45 hours JAA instruction which were spread over 11 years. 

Flight training was really good. I was lucky to find a great school with an excellent CFI.  However, I failed to prep for the new PTS which was released in June. As a result, I failed my checkride on the emergency procedures. A week later, I went back and nailed the flight.

Since then, I have never looked back. I have relished every 0.1hr in the sky to learn and improve my ATC and piloting skills.

Although there are many good memories, there are four highlights for 2012;

1 - Class Bravo Transition Through SFO
Within two weeks of passing my checkride, I found myself in the left seat of a C172SP transitioning the class bravo airspace over SFO. Talk about having to nail those RT's with ATC. GoPro Video

2 - #AOPA12
I really wanted to fly to KPSP, but it wasn't to be cost effective. I elected to drive. Really enjoyed meeting people from Twitter. Very much enjoyed having an article written about me. #AOPA12 Article

3 - KLUF Civil Fly In
Things like this don't happen to a low hour Pilot from England. Spending two days at Luke Air Force Base was simply the best thing I have done in the US so far. It was great being able to spend two days with them. Even better they allowed me to fly in there in a rented C172. GoPro Video

4 - Flying With Others
Since passing my checkride, I have not flown with an empty right seat. I have flown with over a dozen different people in the right seat. This has been very rewarding.

54hrs PiC
100.4hrs Total

145.9hrs - Total (including JAA + FAA)

Friday, December 28, 2012


Enjoy the two video's of my arrival and departure into KPHX earlier in the month.

Arrival Video - GoPro Arrival Video

Departure Video - GoPro Departure Video

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First Class Bravo Airport

A couple of month ago I heard that a FBO based at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were going to start holding monthly lunches. The good part - they were to waive the landing fees!!

I made arrangements with my local FBO to rent N54288. A week prior to the flight, I called Cutter to give them my tail number.

On the morning of the flight, I checked the TAF's. I knew there was a low pressure and cold front coming through, but it wasn't due until much later in the day. There was a window, but I was vary that the winds would pick up later.

I flew with another Pilot from the same flight school who had the same CFI. It was to be a great learning experience for both of us!

Inbound KPHX - Flight time 17mins! I called up PHX APP 10nm south. I was given a heading direct to base and cleared to land once approx 4nm out. I landed on 07R. Talk about a greased landing!

Lunch - Had a great $100 hamburger whilst watching the KPHX arrivals and departures. Spent about an hour on the ground enjoying the excellent service provided by Cutter.

Outbound KPHX - This was more complicated. I screwed up the Clearance Delivery RT with ATC. But I recovered. I then encountered poor visibility on the way back and had to deviate to remain in comfortable VFR conditions. I arrived back after 30mins to a windy CHD. I really felt that I put my Pilot skills to the test on this flight.

The monthly flight into Cutter is now on my schedule for 2013! This was probably one of my last flights for what has been a tremendous year in Arizona in terms of flying. Roll on 2013!!

14nm Trip

Base Entry 07R

Landing 07R

A Personal Welcome From Cutter

Cutter Ramp Photo

Departing KPHX

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fat Albert visiting Arizona

Yesterday was exciting enough taxiing behind Paul Bonhomme at CHD. Didn't think it would get any better than that.

Today I visited KIWA to see Fat Albert on the ramp!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Paul Bonhomme

Went flying today. First flight in two week. I was on the GND freq, shortly after receiving the latest wx info. I heard a British accent on the radio requesting taxi clearance to the active runway. I didn't think anything about it until I saw a British flag on the tail. I couldn't believe my luck. I had just taxied behind Red Bull Air Race British Pilot Paul Bonhomme!!!

Paul Bonhomme

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Please check out one of the latest aviation blogs coming out of the UK. Jonathan is a Navy Search and Rescue Pilot. He has started a blog with the aim to help people get started with flying either as a hobby or a career.

A mutual friend hooked me up with Jonathan after which I was given the chance to write a guest blog . I chose to write about my recent visit to Luke AFB.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jumper Away.................

I always enjoy flying to Eloy (E60). It's small non towered airport located approx 30nm south east of my home base. It's a very busy airport for parachute jumping. I believe there are two or three different schools offering jumps.

On Saturday I flew down there for another $100 hamburger flight with a good friend from work. As with most flights, I wasn't disappointed with what was taxing around on the ramp.

Arizona SkyDive Twin Otter

Shorts Aircraft (haven't see one of these for years!)

The Mighty DC3 <3 td="td">

Twin Otter Departing 02 E60
On the way back, I dropped by KIWA for a touch and go. ATC always provides a great service there. 1.3hrs added to my total time.

Short Final 30L KIWA

Departing KIWA

Monday, November 19, 2012

Passing Through 50hrs PiC

Last week I passed through 50 hours Pilot in Command (PiC) time. Wow, what an amazing 50 hours. I can't believe how much I have done.

Seems that I have been taking someone new flying for the first time every week. So far, no one has not enjoyed themselves. Last week was no exception. 
A work colleague wanted to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum down in Tucson. Seemed a perfect time to take him flying for the first time. I rented a C172 on Friday morning and we flew down to KTUS before spending time touring the Museum and the attached military aircraft boneyard (309th AMARG Boneyard).

This was probably my fourth of fifth visit to Tucson International Airport. I always relish flying to this airport. It offers a real mix of traffic. You have anything from GA aircraft through to civil airliners and fast military jets. 

It's an interesting place to visit from a Air Traffic Control perspective. KTUS lies within Class Charlie airspace. With the mix of traffic, one can always expect some pretty fast paced instructions from ATC. My arrival was no exception. I counted at least four radar vectors due to landing military and civil airliner traffic. For a brief moment, I imagined myself immersed in the cloud getting vectors for an IFR approach to minima!

Arrival Video - GoPro YouTube Video

Departure Video - GoPro YouTube Video

Key Takeaways - Need to work on eliminating my flat landings! Shorten some of my replies to ATC, ref: my initial call to Clearance Delivery.

Enjoy these sample photos from my trip. Here's to another amazing 50 hours PiC!

Air Force One - Kennedy era

Boneyard Photo


Never been as close as this to one of these

F-16 and MD-80 at KTUS

Friday, November 16, 2012

50hrs PiC

Today I flew to KTUS and passed through my first aviation milestone as a Private Pilot. I passed through 50 hours Pilot in Command time. More details on follow on what was a great flight.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

KSDL Air Fair 2012

Scottsdale Airport held their annual Air Fair at the weekend. Poor turnout from the Public, but I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of GA, civil and military traffic. Next year, I plan to fly into this event.


NAS Leemore F-18

Oregon F-15

F-16 Cockpit

NAS Leemore F-18

KIWA always delivers

KIWA is only 10nm from my home plate. But I love visiting there on the weekend. The airport always turns up some great military traffic.

Beale AFB T38A


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

KLUF Arrival Video

Enjoy this fourteen minute video of me flying into KLUF last week for the 2012 Civil Fly-In.

Click link - GoPro YouTube Video

Friday, October 19, 2012

Home from KLUF

Arrived back from my two day visit to KLUF. What an amazing aviation experience. I will get around to writing about it next week. For the moment, enjoy a couple of photos.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AOPA12 Links

Here are two more links from AOPA with me mentioned.



Flying To Luke AFB

The long wait is over. On Thursday (18th) I am flying into Luke AFB for the 2012 Civil Fly-In. I'm departing CHD at 1600z.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

AOPA12 Summit Article

AOPA has written an article about my flight training in the US. 
It was released during the summit this week. How cool is that?

Stay tuned for my #AOPA12 review later in the week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Heading To #AOPA12

I will be attending the AOPA 2012 Summit near KPSP this week. Follow me @pilot_ngb for all the latest news and updates.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Next 12 Months...........

I have made a decision on what I am going to focus on over the next 12 months. As you know, I am heading back to Europe in approx 12 months time. I have to maximise the time I have available.

A couple of people have suggested that I focus on enjoying my current privileges and that is what I am going to do. This starts with going to #AOPA12 in two weeks time and then the Luke AFB GA Fly-in the following week.

Priority 1 - Convert my FAA PPL into a JAA PPL.

Priority 2 - Get a High Performance endorsement.
Priority 3 - Fly one new aircraft a month (starting with a Piper Dakota in October)
Priority 4 - Fly those long cross countries in the US to meet those people I have met via social media.
Priority 5 - Have at least one aerobatic lesson.
Priority 6 - Fly into KPHX to visit Cutter Aviation.
Priority 7 - Get a tour of a TRACON facility somewhere in the US! (contact names please!).

There is so much fun to have over the next 12 months. I want to fly as many different aircraft as I can in the time available.

My work situation should allow me to return to the US again in the next 5 years. Then I can work on my IFR ticket.

Decision made. #letsgoflying

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flying to KTUS

Last weekend I visited my first solo cross country airport, KTUS. I received Flight following both ways with PHX DEP, ABQ CTR and TUS APP. actually plots VFR Flight Following Flights which is pretty cool.

N54288 Flight Follwing
I landed on 11L for the first time. Flying from beneath bravo airspace onwards 80nm into charlie airspace if very rewarding.

N54288 Finals 11L KTUS

Delta Regional CRJ

Holding Short 11L

Enjoy the short video of me landing at KTUS.
Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Across The Pond & The Airplane Geeks Podcast

Listen to the Across The Pond segment of the Airplane Geeks Podcast episode 214. You might recognise someone on there. I just love spreading my story around the world.

Be sure to follow @TheAirplaneGeeks and @Nascothornet on Twitter.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Marine AV-8's at KIWA

Enjoy the video. More coming soon.

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Today I took another Twitter follower flying. Neil hadn't flown for a couple of years but previously went solo for his PPL. Seemed a perfect candidate to come fly around a breezy Phoenix. 

Our initial plan was to head to KTUS and back, but the TAF was predicting strong winds from 1800z. Instead we headed to SDL. On my landing clearance I was told wind was 08018G28KT. At that point I elected for a go-around.

We then headed to KIWA. Wind was calm. On approach I saw 8 Marine Harrier Jump Jet's that had arrived the night before. Talk about perfect timing! As we vacated 12R, a four ship callsign NIGHTMARE departed right in front of us. What a great experience. Neil and I couldn't stop smiling!

N54288 on Yankee behind a departing Harrier

The second four ship

Great to get some experience in the wind. Reminded me of my days in Ireland. Performed three go-arounds due to wind being outside my comfort zone. A great day for demonstrating my airmanship qualities.

Actual Wx METAR's

KCHD 081750Z 08014KT 30SM SCT080 BKN120 BKN200 31/19 A2997=
KIWA 081747Z 09006KT 30SM FEW060 BKN120 BKN200 30/18 A3000=
KSDL 081753Z AUTO 08015G22KT 10SM CLR 33/18 A2999 
KTUS 081753Z 10011G22KT 10SM FEW090 30/17 A3006=

Friday, August 31, 2012

Stella Airpark (P19)

In 1999, I visited Phoenix for the first time on a business trip. Never imagined I would one be a Private Pilot flying with friends into the airstrip. Last weekend I achieved one of my aviation goals. I said to myself back in 1999 that one day, I would fly into Stella.

Short Final P19 in N54288 C172P

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stat Update

This weekend I added up my hours and landings;

Landings - 187 day (10 night)
Total PiC = 35hrs
Total Time (JAA/FAA) = 125hrs

Pinal Airpark Video

Enjoy the video. More coming soon.

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

The Fun Continues......................................

I arrived in Arizona back in November 2011. On my second weekend, I drove down to Tucson and on the way I could see a Aircraft Bone yard in the distance.  During my dual, night and first solo cross country I had the chance to fly over the Bone yard. After that, I added it to my wish list for places to visit with my new license.

After spending a couple of weeks flying around Phoenix, I decided it was time for a change, On Sunday I went flying with a work colleague. It was his third flight with me. At this stage, he's starting to get comfortable   sitting the in right seat. We departed Chandler and headed South towards Pinal Airpark (KMZJ).

A quick search on Google, one kind find some interesting stories about Pinal Airpark. I have heard stories about people being denied landing clearance despite there being no official Control Tower. I was also warned to watch out for ground traffic.

I called the Unicom frequency 10nm north and stated my intentions "Pinal Airpark CESSNA FIVE FOUR TWO EIGHT EIGHT ten miles north for a full stop taxi back". No response. Looked like we would be allowed to land.I called again at 3nm and on short final. 

We landed and took our time taxing back to the active. Was an opportunity to capture some photos.

Departed runway 17 and headed back to Chandler. On the way back, stopped off at Stella Airpark. But that's another story...................

Short Final KMZJ Runway 17


Qantas 747-400

China Southern 

Evergreen 747

Sunday, August 26, 2012

First Flight With My Wife

Enjoy the video. More coming soon.

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Friday, August 24, 2012

Luke AFB Fly In

In 1999, I visited Phoenix for a three week business trip. Pre 9/11 days, one was able to get fairly close to Air Force Bases. On that trip, I sat about 1/4 mile from the runway threshold watching F16's land on 03L/R. I had never even set foot in a GA aircraft at that point. Thirteen years later armed with my Private Pilot License, I have been accepted to participate in the first Luke AFB Fly-In for over ten years.

A fellow Private Pilot and I will be flying into Luke AFB on 18th October. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am about this!

We get to spend the first day talking about F16 operations in and around the AFB. On the second day, there is a day trip to the Barry M Goldwater Range where the F16's and Tucson A10's drop there live ordinance.

1 Year Later.................

1 year after restarting my flight training in Ireland, I took my wife on her first flight with me as a Private Pilot.

We flew from CHD to DVT. Quite an eventful flight. Radio issues and an aircraft passing 200' below me.

Video and audio to follow soon.

Archer passing 200' below me

Passing over KPHX 4500'

Monday, August 13, 2012

San Francisco Bay Tour KRHV --> KSTS - Part 2

On the 15th July, I had one of the best experiences ever in a light aircraft. Flying through the class bravo airspace in Phoenix has always been fun and within my comfort zone. On this day, I flew through the class bravo over the top of San Francisco International Airport. Talk about busy radio chatter!!

As you will see from the video, there was a marine layer over the bay area and this was hindering me descending under the bravo towards Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. NORCAL Departure was trying to co-ordinate SFO departures off 28R and 01L/R at the same time I was requesting transition through their airspace. The Controller wasn't giving me too many options. At one point a regional jet off 01L/SFO was held below me.

I had an awesome Pilot with me in the right hand seat who was able to guide me through the entire flight. Thanks Marc!

Enjoy the video. It's going to be hard to top this!

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Flying in N925ME after passing KSFO at 4500'

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jumpers Away......................

This weekend I flew to Eloy (E60) for the first time. I had previously flown over this airport on my solo and dual cross counties.

I was aware of parachute activity, but I arrived there Saturday morning to find a Twin Otter and several Parachutists in the circuit!

I decided to allow the parachutists time to land. I extended my downwind, but then heard a call that the Twin Otter was high base for runway 20. This happened as I was turning long final! Fortunately the Otter, joined a couple of miles behind me. I vacated the runway, just has he touched down.

This weekend I passed 30hrs PiC time.

Twin Otter @ E60

Short Final Runway 20 E60

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another GoPro video

I've uploaded another GoPro video. I took a couple of flights around Phoenix in July. It's a short video of my transition through the Bravo airspace followed by a poor landings at Scottsdale. Enjoy!

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another First

This new license is certainly giving me a lot of firsts. Today I flew into Deer Valley Airport for the first time during day light hours. Another great flight for which I logged another 1.4hrs PiC.

N54288 Short Final 07R KDVT

Saturday, July 28, 2012

San Francisco Bay Tour KRHV --> KSTS - Part 1

On Sunday 15th July I met up with three Twitter friends for the first time at KSTS (Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport).

Marc picked up a lovely C172SP from KHWD and picked me up at KRHV.

We then departed KRHV on our flight over to KSTS which is located north of the Bay Area. I acted as PiC with Marc taking care of the radio frequency changes.

Our route took us immediately through the Class Charlie airspace at San Jose International Airport. I have always enjoyed the radio work, but today I was working SJC Tower, NORCAL APP (3 freqs) in the first 15 minutes of the flight. Loved it!

I recorded the majority of the flight on my GoPro. The battery
died before I arrived at KSTS but I managed to capture the departure and transition through the charlie and bravo airspace.

The first video is the departure from KRHV and the transition through the Charlie airspace. 

Click link - GoPro YouTube video

N926ME C172SP
N926ME C172SP

Overhead KSJC 1500'