Monday, February 20, 2017

Sometimes You Really Can Blame The Salmon

Facebook sometimes compresses posts just right:

The image of a deadly salmon serial killer slaughtering Aztecs wholesale appealed to my Monday sense of humor.

You can just see this being discussed by SyFy Channel producers:

"Hmm, Deadly Salmon killed the Aztecs..."

"I know, we'll do a movie with archeologists opening an ancient Aztec box, causing Deadly Salmon to fall on New York and start wiping it out...we'll call it Salmonado!"

"The hero can be a Japanese Sushi Chef!"

"That's gold Jerry! Gold!"


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Flying Lesson #101 - It's The Archer Not The Arrow

In this case a Pa-28-181 Archer II to be exact.

My first flying Lesson at DCT.

I got there and after a short wait met up with Ray and went off to preflight N1896H. It's a bit ironic or satisfying, take your pick, that Lesson #101 is not with Flight 101.

Anyways the preflight on an Archer is pretty similar to that of a Skyhawk with a few little differences, as is starting the plane due to the fuel pump and some other minor differences, including how you hold the throttle.

The manually controlled flaps were quite interesting to use and takeoff is done with 10 degrees of flaps.

The Archer feels more stable than a 172 and with a 180HP engine was a bit more powerful than the 150 HP powered 172.

I handled the radios and takeoff with no issues and I flew us to the practice area. Once there we did slow flight, power off and power on stalls and steep turns. The steep turns felt weird because the sight picture is very different from a 172. Strangely enough my left steep turn was excellent complete with hitting my wake completing the circle. For some reason the right looked very weird and after going 3/4 of the way around I started descending a bit in the turn which was really strange and likely due to the different look and feel of the plane. I also had to switch tanks during the flight, something the gravity fed 172 doesn't require.

Then we did turns around a point and this is where a high wing really outshines the low wing - the Archer's low wing kept trying to cover the point which was a major PITA when trying to do the maneuver. Definitely a few nuances to get absorbed - including the flow method they have for all their operations - it makes a lot of sense but needs to be learned and ingrained.

Then we headed back to Pontiac with the sun in our eyes all the way to final. I took her in for landing and it wasn't bad for being practically unable to see the runway in the sun - landings will take some work but I kinda knew that already.

Overall the assessment from the instructor is I know what I'm doing, I just need some polishing of my maneuvers to get them up to ACS standards (then again I've been hearing that since August...), then get checked out and signed off to solo the Archer and then get checked again before the checkride. Next lesson will likely be some pattern work. We'll see how many steps back I need to take before I get to go forward.

1.6 and 1 landing.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

No Great Loss There, And The World Is Better Off As A Result

The Blind Islamist Terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman has died in US Prison in North Carolina and didn't even get his 70 raisins, or even 70 Virginians.

In case you forget, Abdel-Rahman was behind the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and planned multiple other attacks.

The Detroit News: Blind cleric jailed for ‘90s terror plots dies

Right On Cue, As Soon As A Republican Takes Office...

The Media discovers the inconvenience to airports and general aviation of Presidential Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).

The Detroit News: Trump’s Florida visits puts small airport in tailspin

Funny, I don't recall a single article over the myriad of TFR caused general aviation airport activity closures when Obama was president in the Chicago area and other environs. Any visit to Detroit would shut KPTK right down, including all flight instruction and regular VFR activities and that happened quite a bit and caused quite a drain to the coffers of the various flight schools and other operations at the airport.

You'd think they could make at least a pattern work exception when you're over 10nm away, but no.

In short, these restrictive VIP TFRs are nothing new to the aviation world. While they should be better tailored and a bit less restrictive they are unchanged from prior administrations and nothing new, just now we have some new airports feeling the pain of the one size fits all TFR.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Not Flying Lesson #1 Ground School Groundhog Day.

So I went over to DCT this morning, filled out their paperwork (and still have even more to do), gave them a copy of the requisite documents and then got introduced to an instructor.

They definitely do things differently at DCT - quite organized, planes are hangared and they don't want the students putting the oil in the planes and we shouldn't have to call for fuel as they will take care of it and make sure the plane is ready before the lesson -- which is quite a difference. Even more of a difference, their training is in stages and its all documented and checked on by the head instructor.

Unfortunately this stages approach will likely cause some issues with me as I've actually already done all the requirements and just need to get all the maneuvers and landings to ACS standards.....

I was introduced by the operations manager to Ray (not the prior Ray) and we had a ground session as they want to know where I am in my flying and to get an idea of some of their procedures. So, no flying today. Instead, we went over the standard private pilot oral questions on which I did quite well - airspace, systems (changing for the fact the Piper is fuel pump rather than gravity fed) and he was impressed I had already read up on the Archer and knew the total and usable fuel numbers, and that I was pretty good on the knowledge needed for the oral portion of the checkride).

DCT does things with a bit of a different philosophy and consistency between instructors which may very well be a nice thing. They are however pretty regimented and go by flow checklists of which I got a copy to be memorized. The different way of doing things is reflected in other areas - for example, they do not do touch and goes, only full stop taxi backs. They do have JPI edm700 engine monitors in each plane and they expect you to lean to rich of peak using it once you get to 500 feet AGL. The edm700 looks like an interesting bit of kit, integrated with the Garmin 430 and with fuel flow can pretty accurately tell you not just your cylinder head and exhaust gas temperatures but also what your fuel remaining is, quite a contrast to the not so well functioning (as in accurate only when empty) gauges on the Flight 101's C172s.

Actual flying lesson now booked for Sunday.

This will either turn out to be a good decision or a very bad one. Likelihood of exceeding twice the average hours to get a private pilot's license exceeds 99% at this point.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why Detroit Can't Have Nice Things

Not even in operation yet, and already the QLine streetcars, have been vandalized.

Set to travel all of 3.3 miles of Woodward Avenue, they were apparently not stored in a secure location, which certainly has some interesting implications even as its a commentary on the incapability of some Detroiters to avoid befouling their own nest.

The Detroit Free Press: Detroit QLINE streetcars vandalized with graffiti

Update: I've been informed that the vandalism "ACAB" written on the streetcar isn't due to the vandals receipt of a Detroit Public school system education and thus an inability to tell a taxicab from a streetcar, but apparently it's the urban-dweller acronym for "All Cops Are Bad". Take from that what you will.

What Is Going On With The Criminal Justice System And Carjackers In Detroit?

First, a carjacker of a 85-year-old lady gets three years - probation.

The Detroit News: Outraged chief: She's carjacked; man gets probation

Yep, if you're a habitual offender in Detroit, carjacking an elderly lady gets you probation.

On top of that a pair of carjackers get released from Federal prison and for whatever reason, alegedly due to the Wayne County prosecutor's office failing to file a detainer order, are not sent to State Prison for another car jacking but instead allowed to roam free. They're only picked up when the victim finds out about it and asks, quite reasonably, "wtf?"

The Detroit Free Press: Victim blindsided by justice system: Why were my carjackers set free?

Quite the examples of a revolving door justice system in a city that badly needs a locked door justice system to keep the criminals from the citizenry.

High Efficiency Furnace My Foot

The high efficiency furnaces of today seem much more temperamental than their less efficient but far more forebearers.

They apparently become extremely efficient when they are not working as 0% of no energy used being wasted is well 100% efficiency, which is good, right?

I swear this thing breaks down at a minimum at least once every two years - and that is with a maintenance/furnace inspection done every year - and typically it is a control board or pressure switch that fails. This time for variety it was a bearing for a motor. Let's hear it for the Consumers Energy Maintenance plan.

So, the furnace guy came Friday at 11 pm and pronounced the motor that drives the exhaust for the furnace has a bad bearing and thus doth not work and is nailed to its post. This makes the entire furnace not work accordingly as failure to clear carbon monoxide would be a bad thing. Said part was of course not in stock and the only warehouse open Saturday didn't have it so we're expecting the repair to happen this evening.

To say the house is a touch chilly is an understatement, but thankfully it remained above freezing the past few days even as it was a darn cold wind last night.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Flying Lesson #100 - A Rather Economical Lesson

Lesson 100 started out most promisingly - I got there early and the winds were calm, visibility fine and it wasn't as cold as it has been the past few days. This is good as the furnace at home went tango uniform last night and the part to fix it won't be available until Monday at the earliest. Anyways, back to the flying stuff.

A nice preflight with no frost or snow or ice on the plane to speak of, fuel tanks pleasantly full and oil at 6. Since everything checked out and I was early, I added another quart to bring it to 7 as that is both lucky and good for the plane.

I was rather determined this would be a good lesson and was thinking positively and trying to brush aside all them negative waves.

Bobby then joined me and it would again be a no instrument (except for occasional glances at the altimeter) kind of lesson.

Considering the winds were calm to 5 knots this was a good opportunity for that.

Normal taxi etc and I was feeling good. Excellent no looking takeoff and i was getting the feel of the plane nicely. Good pattern, decent landing and taxi off to do it again. Even better takeoff, great pattern, come around for landing and on touch down it became problematic.

The shimmy dampener failed most impressively with the entire plane shaking. Brakes felt off as well. While the tower want us to turn off at Kilo we stated we were unable due to some serious braking issues and they had a plane behind us go around. We got off farther down the runway and taxi'd on back to Flight 101 to terminate.

That was it.

Hilariously enough, N757MK had headed out after we pulled in to park and it then had a complete steering failure and was stuck on the taxiway and had to be brought back via tug. If they lose Papa Romeo today then all 3 172s will be down.

With plenty of extra time on my hands, I drove over to the Piper-flying school on the field and talked with them and I think I'm going to make the switch. Very professional, solid layout, 7 trainers plus more advanced aircraft and mirabile dictu, a solid syllabus approach (which would have to be modified in my case).

On the one hand I think that Bob (who taught previously at the Piper school) really is a good instructor (and the Piper guy affirmed that he is too - he left there over non-instructional differences not due to any flying issues) and does want to get me straightened out, undo the screw ups by prior instructors and get me where I need to be, and I do like him and think I'm learning from him and I tend to be a bit too loyal, to my own detriment, sometimes. The problem is that if it is not the weather, then its the aircraft at Flight 101 that will likely hold me back even as I finally have an instructor that is set on getting me forward. The Piper place will cost more and the transition will eat more time.

In addition, it turns out that Crosswinds from Howell will be opening a satellite school at KPTK, but possibly not soon enough to matter.

So it was an economical lesson with .4 slowing my inexorable increase in hours and 2 landings. Overall was a darn good lesson that should have been longer but may just be enough to put me in a Piper.

Update: papa Romeo was also no-fly for students (but ok for instructors only) due to a similar nose gear problem.

Update: I called and made an appointment at the DCT, the Piper school at the airfield.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Flying Lesson #99 - Strong Winds Combined With A New Way Of Doing Things

Well, Lesson #99 just kicked my tail. Well, the winds did anyways.

Continuing on from our previous lesson of having me looking outside more, Bob made good on his promise to cover the instruments - everything but the compass, tach, and altitude indicator was covered by some evil black round fiendish rubber covers, which exuded evil - did I mention they were evil?

We would be staying in the pattern for this one.

Bob first demonstrated how you could takeoff safely without an airspeed indicator just by using proper visual and sound cues and did. He also did the whole pattern without instruments and basically just by feel, look and sound.

Then it was my turn. Unfortunately the winds were now gusting from 20-27 knots from 299-300 and with enough turbulence to shake the plane around to knock the covers off the instruments as well as make the plane do some very uncomfortable and nasty rolling movements in the air, with rolls that kept trying to tip the plane over.

Takeoff with no instruments was ok and sort of like a soft field takeoff - pull back to half a climb picture once you think it is around 30 knots and hold it until the airplane flies itself off the runway, then nose down to let the speed build and you feel the plane pushing against you and then you can go to a normal climb attitude.

Going through the pattern was similar with trim and power to get where you want and no airspeed indicator needed, which is completely the opposite of what I was previously trained on for patterns where airspeed and the airspeed indicator was king. Do we did the flaps as susual but kept them at 20 degrees due to the gust and came in on final again doing all of it visually.

Then on final in we went and between the winds, side gusts etc I was not having a great time but landed ok but flat yet again.

We then taxied on back and did it again and takeoff was better as was the pattern, landing however sucked even more as the winds were really nasty and again I landed a little rough and flat.

My impressive death grip had returned and this flight had indeed kicked my ass.

I decided that was it for the day and Bob thought that was a good call as it was getting kind of rough out there to learn a new way of doing things and handle the gusting crosswind. On the upside I certainly learned to look outside more so some progress there but it certainly shows how far off I am yet again.

.7 with 3 landings with no looking at the instruments.