Friday, June 28, 2013

Celebrating 1 Year

One year ago this week a dream of over 12 years came true. I had tried several times to get my license in Ireland but life got in the way. My dream became reality in early 2011 when I started my FAA PPL training in Arizona. On June 27th 2012, I passed my checkride and became a Private Pilot.

One year on, I realize that I will be a student for the rest of my flying career. My last flight three weeks ago didn't go so well. Lack of a sterile cockpit led to me departing my home base in Oregon without completing finishing all items on the pre take-off checklist. Flight was uneventful, but it was my first real miss in terms of checklist execution. This knocked me back for a few days, but I am now ready to get back into the air again. Lesson learnt, I can't strive for perfection, but I might never fly that perfect flight.

I've been on so many small adventures since getting my ticket. Some of the highlights are as follows;

1. Two weeks after passing, I found myself transitioning SFO's class bravo airspace. Amazing flight with Marc.
2. Flew an overnight trip to Luke Air Force base in a C172 and spent two days with F-16 pilots and other Arizona GA pilots.
3. Flew a C172 into Sky Harbor International (PDX).
4. Landed parallel to a F-16 at KTUS.
5. Seen the joy on my kids face when they are up flying with me.
6. Flew with Marty in San Diego.
7. Expored the airspace around Phoenix enjoying every second talking with ATC.
8. Met some amazing people who I can now call friends thanks to social media and flying out of CHD.

GA is amazing in the US. I hope everyone can fight to keep it affordable. I will leave the US in 2014 back to Ireland knowing that I made the most of my time here in the US.

Over the next month I will be passing through the 100hr PiC mark. I'm planning a trip from Oregon to Boeing/King Field in Washington State.

Who knows what will happen in the next 12 months!

Short Final Half Moon Bay, CA

KPHX Cutter Aviation N54288

Overnight Flight KLUF Air Base

Monday, June 17, 2013

Planning 100hr PiC Flight

Most people quote their total time (TT), however my first aviation goal was to get to 100hrs Pilot-in-Command (PiC) time whilst living here in the US. Progress has been slow over the last few weeks, but right now I sit at 95 hours PiC. It's time to start planning that 100 hour flight.

Where better place to go than Boeing Field (KBFI) in Washington State. To be honest it was a coin toss between KPAE and KBFI. I have already visited the Boeing Factory at KPAE (by car!) plus I wanted a more challenging arrival. KBFI is located on the approach path to KSEA. Yesterday SEA was landing on 16L and 16C. Aircraft on the approach were switched to SEA TWR right over the top of BFI at about 2000' MSL. I will enjoy the challenge flying into BFI below the traffic.

Transient parking is available at BFI. I plan to visit the Museum of Flight before heading south back to Oregon.

Hoping this flight will take place a week or two before Oshkosh 2013. Failing that, I will take the flight in early August. 

My home airport in Oregon is 7S3. There is a VOR (Newberg) a few miles south. My flight north will take be outbound on the VOR through the class delta of KHIO. I will then pick up flight following with PDX DEP.

7S3 -> SEA (initial routing)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day at the Boeing Factory

Went back to the Boeing factory today. This time I took my wife and kids for the first time. They loved it. Last month I saw the first three BA 787's. This time I saw the fourth one (BJD) outside the paint shop.
Unloading 787 Parts KPAE
Tried to get a look a the new 787-900 but it was out of sight. However I did enjoy viewing the 747-8, 767, 777 and 787 production lines. At the front of the 787 line was the fourth Aero Mexico order and the first Jetstar (Qantas) order.

Out on the ramp area I saw several finished 787's including two of the other BA's and one Thomson jet. 

Will probably head back again in another month or two to see what progress there has been. I would love to get up there for BA's first delivery flight but I doubt that will happen.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Poor Checklist Execution

Short video showing a non sterile cockpit and then me missing checklist items due to distractions.

Back Flying! (no 6 week break!!)

I'm over my disappointment from last week. Should of, could of, would of. 

Going to go flying again next week! Lesson learnt? Sterile cockpit! It's quite clear from the video that I was not focused during the taxi out. I was talking with the CFI and had cable issues with the MP3 recorder.

In the mean time, I am heading to Seattle this weekend for another Boeing tour. First time taking my wife and kids. Quite excited about spending an aviation day with them on Fathers Day.

Flying above thin layers in OR

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Having A Break

Was today’s flight something to beat myself up over? I am going to have to learn to stop beating myself up over mistakes. I hadn’t flown for three weeks since leaving Austin TX. I flew in Oregon with an independent CFI on a familiarization flight. This was my decision. Not screwing around with the wx.

First mistake – I was distracted during the power checks by the aircraft behind me on the taxi way commenting on my nose gear strut over the radio. I proceed to take off without setting my instruments. The DI was 30deg off. I realized the mistake at 300’ as I commenced my noise abatement turn. Uneventful but I’m so annoyed at missing the second step of the before take-off checklist.

Second mistake - Later in the flight I was performing a 360 to lose height. I failed to put the mixture back to rich as I passed through 3000’. I was about to start my pre-landing checks. I would have spotted it then, but the CFI brought it to my attention. I felt embarrassed. I need to learn to stop beating myself up over small mistakes.

I proceeded to go missed at KTMK due to 28021G30 rwy31 (a good decision made by me and not the CFI). At KAST, I went around at 10’ due to not being aligned with the runway centreline (another good decision). Not beating myself up over that. I made good decisions. I returned to Twin Oaks feeling confident that I had at least seen some of the local landmarks. For the first time, I flew VMC on top. It was a small insight into the joys of flying IFR.

What’s the worst that happened today? I identified the instrument issue on departure. I resolved it and continued on-route. The mixture issue would have been identified during my pre-landing check. Yes, it wasn't ideal to descend through 3000’ down to 1300’ with the mixture leaned out.  I’m annoyed that the CFI said it before I spotted it. I should have had a sterile cockpit during the 360 turn.

Why am I beating myself up here? Pride with a having a new CFI on board? 3 weeks too long for a break? Is it time for another break? 

In Arizona, everything was familiar. I was hungry to fly. Not feeling the same here right now.  Seems my mind is focused on more important things than aviation at the moment. I’m deciding to take a break for a few weeks. I am going to go to OSH13 and fly again in August. I will still be current when I return but will probably fly with a CFI.

My parents are visiting Oregon in September. My Dad has never flown with me. In August I will fly to Seattle. In August I will fly pass through 100hrs PiC. In September I will take my Dad flying. Then everything will be good again. By then I will be hungry again.

Pacific West Coast

Navigating Pacific Coast
 After 3 weeks away from   flying, I flew 2.2hrs today. Flew from my new home airport which is Starks Twin Oaks (7S3). Although being cleared to fly by the local FBO, I decided to take an independent CFI with me on a familiarization flight.

We flew out to the pacific west coast where we tried to land at KTMK and KAST. Had to call the approach off at KTMK 2nm on final due to a wind at 28021G30 on rwy 31! KAST wasn't much better. I performed a go around at 10' on rwy 31 due poor correction on my part in a crosswind. We proceeded back to 7S3 via KHIO delta airspace. 

Overall I was happy with the majority of the flight. With a 3 week break, I was already a little bit rusty.

Twin Oaks Airpark

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mastering Clearance Delivery

The majority of my 95hrs PiC time has been flying in and out of delta airspace. Most Private Pilots want to land at the airports with the big airliners and/or military traffic. This normally involves visiting either a class charlie or bravo airport. In Phoenix, I had two choices with KTUS and KPHX being on my door step. One difference between charlie/bravo vs delta is the requirement to make an initial call to a clearance delivery frequency. 
KCHD and KIWA Class D  (under KPHX class B)
Looking back, I realize that I made hard work of those initial radio calls. Most initial calls to ATC should involve (a) who you are, (b) where you are and (c) where you want to go. The clearance delivery call should not be that different. My issue has been failing to get  all the information into the initial ATC call.

As you will see from the following charlie example (KTUS ), the controller had to come back to me more than once requesting information. I should have been able to give them all the information at once. In this case it was the (a) aircraft type SKYHAWK, (b) my location and (c) I needed flight following. 

As I gained more hours in the air away from the delta airspace of CHD, my calls started to improve. Here's another example but this time from a class bravo airport (KPHX). Almost perfect but I failed to say "Phoenix Clearance Delivery". I only said "Clearance Delivery". I'm a perfectionist! (let's not mention the part about Chandler!)

In Austin, I finally nailed the call to ATC on two occasions. However I didn't record it, therefore you will just have to believe me!

Welcome from Cutter Aviation at KPHX


Have a C172 booked for Sunday. Going to have my second flight in OR. Good news is that I will be taking along the MP3 recorder and GoPro. Expect it to look a little different that the video below!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fav. Photo

Love taking photos whilst I am out and about flying. One of my favorite photos was taken at Coolidge back in February. Thanks to Chrisk48 for taking this photo. His timing was perfect, just like my landing!