Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Artifacts Turn Up In Strange Places

A hand-drawn map of Detroit was found in a house in Altamont, Ontario. Apparently it had been bought by the grandfather of the current owner of the house in the 1930s and remained there ever since. The map, in great shape after all these years, is the only one extant to depict Detroit under British occupation in the 1790s.

A very cool find, now on display at the University of Michigan William L. Clements Library Library.

The Detroit News: Centuries-old map of Detroit finds way to UM library

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Flying Lesson #78 - Pattern Practice

So this morning I arrive at the airport ready to go.

The plane I'm booked on, N73455, however is not. Apparently a renter has it out and should have been back by or before 9 and they're late.

On top of that, another renter walks in and tells Ray that he just managed to drop the fuel stick into the left tank of N755PR and he can't get it out. This takes some talent to drop one of the fuel measuring sticks into the tank, you almost have to shove them in diagonally to do so.

Thus the other available plane is no longer available and not flyable with a fuel straw somewhere in a fuel tank.

So we wait for N73455 to get back and it finally does, about 20 minutes late. I have to call for fuel as it's very low, so the pre-flight is done and we wait for the fuel truck. No time to go to another airport now, so we'll have to stick around the pattern.

Then we do the preflight and do the nice long taxi to Runway 9L.

Good takeoff and with a light crosswind we're on our way with left hand traffic.

First we do some soft field landing and I do those ok, with the final one quite good.

Then on to the short field landings with having the first blocks as the simulated end of the runway, which for some reason always messes me up in terms of aiming points and what not. On the first one, not terrible and it works out ok but a lot of sudden crosswind just before landing to make it extra fun and kills the float in to landing, so just some things to work on.

On the second one, I'm all setup and everything is looking good. So of course the tower then just as I'm about to turn base has us not turn base but continue downwind. So we fly out a good distance and have to reestablish everything and then do the short landing which is ok but not great.

Heading for the third short field landing it gets a bit more exciting. The pattern is getting quite busy indeed lots of Cessnas and Pipers flying to and fro and there's a twin about to land ahead of us.

We're on final and suddenly there's a radio call from another plane:

"Tower the twin is about to land has his gear up!"

Tower immediately yells out "Cessna go around!", and since he's not specific and we're on final as well, we, and all the Cessna aircraft in the landing sequence of the pattern, including those behind us set for a go around. After all, he likely meant just the Cessna about to do a belly up landing, but he may have been properly waving off everybody to prevent problems had the twin decided to scrape along the runway.

Luckily, the twin does in fact clue in to the fact that he missed a rather important step in the landing sequence, and he went go around and does not create any more excitement. So yes, that was a rather interesting.

Back around we go and do a not so great short field as the wind kicks up and its not particularly great, need to do better.

We end it there as the pattern is getting a little bit crazy at this point and that was that. So yes, I still have lots to work on. Some things are getting better and I'm maybe starting to figure out the issues I'm having with the short field landings. Overall, not a bad lesson but certainly interesting for the challenges and unexpected pattern happenings.

That's 1.0 and 6 landings.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Flying Lesson #77 - Short Field Fun

For certain degrees of fun - about 40 degrees of flaps worth of fun - that is.

So today was to get up and shake off some of the mess from yesterday.

Again nice calm stable air and we departed off Runway 9L and from the downwind headed west to Brighton.

Brighton (45G) is a pretty short strip with obstacles at both ends. At 3,120 feet by 24 feet wide it appears as quite the short and narrow strip, not to mention a quite displaced threshold. Yes there were 50 foot plus real obstacles on both ends. We used Runway 4 as the winds were calm.

Overall I did pretty good, the first approach and landing wasn't great but they got better as the practice went on.

I did short field takeoffs and this strip pretty much needed it. For the last takeoff however, Ray had me do a soft field takeoff, which I did pretty well. We then headed back to Pontiac.

By the time the lesson was done the cloud layer had started dropping around Pontiac, and fast. We were almost IFR inbound to Pontiac at Pattern altitude and had lots of fun trying to find a Cirrus that was similarly inbound. We found the Cirrus and after it overtook us we followed it in and did a fine landing and that was that. The field was MVFR when we landed and went IFR within 20 minutes after we landed and the cloud layer there is now around 700 feet.

1.3 and 8 more landings.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Flying Lesson #76 - You Want Me To Do What? Where?

A Beautiful day, winds calm, ceiling sufficiently high enough but with haze to mess with the horizon and stratus clouds making this a very stable air kinda day.

So in this nice day for flying I was assured of making every possible mistake, and I pretty much did.

Good pre-flight, good normal takeoff and Ray had me headed to Lapeer.

I found Lapeer airport and we did a straight in approach which kinda sucked but I got the landing in ok.

Then I did a soft field takeoff which was a lot of fun and was pretty good, Ray had a few critiques of it but nothing to major. Did another one and it was decent.

Then a soft field landing which went ok on the setup but I came in with a bit too much power which made it unsatisfactory.

I did it again and did much better.

I then did a short field takeoff that was decent but need to be more forceful on takeoff right when I hit 55, other than that it was ok.

Then a no-flap slip to land which quite frankly sucked and I saw wasn't going well so I bailed on it, and apparently I should have stuck with it and tried to retrieve it. Ray got it fixed and we landed but it was not good on my part. Did I mention I really hate no flap slip to lands when they're not going right? - You're frick'n going sideways and down and the runway wants to run away from you while you do it - how fun is that?

Then we were about to head back but Ray then announced a diversion so I had map in hand and had to divert to Tuscola, which I did pretty well using straight pilotage - I'm getting better at that at least.

Got to Tuscola and entered the pattern and all set up and I thought I heard Ray say do a soft field landing so I get all that visualized and get ready to do it.

Well he had said a short field landing and by the time I had heard him and realized he had picked out the point for landing we were getting past the point. So yes, I really sucked on that one, and I knew it was going to suck, very behind and it was not good - my airspeed was way off and I would have done a go-around, which you apparently can't do on your check ride but you're supposed to retrieve it and apparently it was highly retrievable. Just Great.

So Ray then demonstrated the proper way to do short field landing and then we headed back to Pontiac.

At Pontiac I got in the pattern and did a no flap slip to land that was a lot better, with the airspeed where it should be along with the runway where it should be and it was pretty darn nice, so there's that.

That's 2.0 and 6 landings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Orion Township - A Village That Has Found Its Idiots

Not just one village idiot mind you, but two found on the same night.

The Detroit News: 2 Orion Twp. men face 8th arrests for drunken driving

Yes they're both arrested on the same night at separate stops, each for their eighth drunken driving arrest.

If you've been arrested seven times already for drunk driving and you're still out there driving intoxicated, that's saying something both about the impressive stupidity of the individuals involved, not to mention the system that lets them keep being repeat offenders.

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Un-Beer-Able Tax Increase

Politicians like taxes.

Politicians like to tax things they don't like even more than they like to tax things in general.

So one particular politician, a Republican no less, is pushing for increasing Michigan's beer tax by around 244%! This would make it around the 8th highest in the country and way higher than any other Midwestern state.

The Detroit News: Michigan beer tax hike bill lands with sobering thud

Of course, not only is this because State Rep. Tom Hooker, R-Byron Center, had a bad experience with others under the influence of alcohol, but because he claims it is a user tax to deal with the often unwanted side effects of those who abuse it and to fund alcohol treatment programs.

The nanny state impulse is not restricted just to Democrats.

Of course the tax doesn't punish those who actually in his words "If you’re going to use it, the problems that you cause are going to be paid for..." Of course, the majority of beer drinkers don't cause problems, but appropriately fining and punishing the ones that do isn't nearly as fun as taxing everyone. Yep, punish the vast majority of perfectly peaceful beer drinkers who don't cause any negative effects from consuming beer.

Thankfully, the Republican leadership have stated this tax bill, which is solely due to one member's preferences, dislike of alcohol and desire to punish beer drinkers and producers, is essentially dead on arrival.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Flying Lesson #75 - Interesting Diversions

Lesson 75 was kinda interesting.

All the Skyhawks were unavailable and the one I had been booked in was down for maintenance so we took the 172RG Cutlass, the retractable gear, constant-speed propped version of the Skyhawk.

Since the handling characteristics are different enough from the Skyhawks, and you can't do touch and goes in it, pattern work was right out. So was all the required maneuvers that we had originally planned to fly this lesson as the handling is different enough that Ray didn't want it interfering with how I've been doing them.

So it was pilotage time.

One nice thing about the Cutlass is the speed so you can get to where you want to go quicker than in a Skyhawk. We were doing 120 knots easily. Good taxi and takeoff and off we went.

Ray had me fly him to Marlette with map in hand. Then just before Marlette he announced the airport was closed and we should divert to Y83. Oh, and no using the GPS. This simulates a diversion that will take place on the check ride somewhere along your planned cross country route.

No diverting to Linden which was really nice and visible airpport that we had passed by on the way to Marlette, nah we had to go to Y83.

Y83? Oh, that's Sandusky, home of the best grass field in Michigan.

So with plotter in hand I figured out the course to Sandusky and verily flew us there. I found the town of Sandusky but it certainly took me awhile to find Sandusky airport itself, but at least I did find it, right at 12 o'clock where it was supposed to be and I didn't miss it, which made Ray happy.

We did not use the grass field as that's really not a great idea in the RG, but landed on runway 9 and then turned around and took back off for Pontiac.

It was a successful pilotage flight.

So, I got to work the landing gear, adjust the constant speed prop and manifold pressure, and had a pretty relaxing and successful pilotage flight.

Hopefully there will be a Skyhawk available for use at my next lesson.

1.3 Hours and 2 landings.

P30 hits a flawless 1,300

Ran 100 more rounds through the P30 last night at the range after work.

I went shooting at an indoor range with the Synagogue's gun club. Yes we have one, which I found out about chatting with certain people during the run up to Abby's Bat Mitzvah. While it is a Conservative congregation, most members aren't conservative nor pro-gun politically so to speak, so it was fun finding some kindred spirits among the membership.

So we met up at an indoor range and had a half-hour range rental time to work with.

At 10 yards, my shooting wasn't too bad.

However, for some reason all my left-hand-only shots ended up clustered on the right side of the target with most clustering low (the bunch in the 9-8-7 rings at low right).

In short, more left hand only practice is needed. Heck, more practice is needed period.

The P30 had zero malfunctions, again completely flawless operation and I'm pretty impressed with how this gun fits and functions.

I then shot the M&P Compact .22 with silencer (the shots at the top of the head are the first string from it). I'm finding the sites on it are a bit to the right, most especially with Remington Thunderbolt (the only .22 ammo I could find at the moment) which for some reason shot a lot more to the right than the CCI Mini-Mage. I let some others try it and they enjoyed shooting it quite a bit.

I then, running out of time, did a rapid mag dump from the M&P9 full size. Compared to the P30 it felt like an absolute block in my hand, but it was decent enough shooting though for a very quick emptying of the magazine.

Then we went to a nearby deli for some excellent corned beef sandwiches and good conversation and that was the end to a very pleasant range trip.