Saturday, August 29, 2015

Flying Lesson #6 - Steep Turns And Stalls, Now With More Power!

Lesson 6 began at 8am this morning much like any other lesson.

I did the pre-flight on N73455 and everything looked good with oil at the right level and full tanks.

I started her up and she caught with no problems. I called Ground and got permission to taxi.

We began to taxi and ...ruh roh. I couldn't do a decent left turn even hammering on the left pedal and brake for all it was worth. Neither could the instructor. So, it wasn't just me.

It turns out we had no left brake.

The cylinder was cracked in a non-visible location and there was no brake fluid showing when I did the pre-flight inspection but after we got started to move there was no left brake at all.

So we cancelled the taxi, and brought the plane back to the start position.

The we signed out N755PR, the plane in which I did my intro flight.

Again, we did the pre-flight and I started her up, and after learning how the radios worked on this bird (they're configured differently from N73455) we got permission to taxi.

It may have just been mental, but this bird taxied like a smooth dream.

I called tower and got permission to take off and again, the takeoff was my best ever. I found I was a lot less tense than I had been on previous takeoffs, which certainly helped.

Then, we flew out to the practice area and climbed to 3,500 feet, again all was smooth as silk.

First, we did clearing turns and then did slow flight in the dirty configuration and I had quite a bit of fun doing it, including a turn to the right with the stall horn blaring. I successfully turned a full 180 degrees without losing altitude or causing a stall.

Next we did Power On Stalls.

A power on stall demonstrates the stall that can occur when you goof up on a go around or you take off from the runway with too high an angle of attack, leading to a stall at a very bad time indeed. Sean first demonstrated and noted that the break after such a stall was a lot more pronounced than during a power off stall.

It certainly was. The stall had a very pronounced drop and right wing dip. Recovery is simply getting the nose down to break the stall, leveling the wings, letting the speed build and then back to level flight.

Then it was my turn for doing the power on stall: Clearing turns done, Carb heat on, throttle lowered with the pitch held until takeoff speed is reached, then add power and pull back on the yoke so your feet are at the horizon and hold until you get a stall.

And Stall! Whoah! Feel that drop!

And recover.

We did that a few times and I had it down and Sean said I handled it very well indeed with good recoveries and minimal loss of altitude.

Then on to steep turns. Sean demonstrated 30, 45 and 60 degree steep turns. Then I did 30 and 45 degree turns to both left and right and again I had it nailed with both maintaining altitude and leveling off at the appropriate heading at the end of the turn. For some reason, with Papa Romeo the left steep turn is more difficult than the right steep turn and required a lot more left rudder on the left steep turn and not as much right rudder on the right steep turn which is just about the opposite of every other Cessna 172 out there. Weird but it worked.

After that we headed back to the airport and I handled the radio calls starting 10 miles out. It was starting to get rather traffic-y out there.

After our initial call we were instructed to first contact them when we reached 3 miles, which we did. Then we were instructed to turn wide to the south due to traffic. Then we were cleared in as number 2 to land and I got her lined up on runway 25R as instructed.

Right after I got her lined up on 27R and Sean had taken over for the landing, we got an instruction to quickly shift over to 27L as a helicopter was landing right by 27R. Sean handled it smoother than silk, and I must say it's fun to watch a pro who knows what he's doing and worthy of emulation.

So we got to land in tandem with a helicopter which was fun to watch, and after landing I called ground for taxi permission and took the bird back to the flight school.

That's 1.3 more flying hours in the log.

Sean stated I had nailed that lesson, which is a really great feeling and high praise indeed.

I may need to think about switching to Papa Romeo as my regular training bird, as everything was just on during this lesson. It may be luck. It might be my getting better with flying over time. It may be Papa Romeo. Or, it may be a combo of all three. Any opinions out there as to whether I should switch planes or not?

Next lesson: Introduction to Landings!

Friday, August 28, 2015

And Here's To You, Helicopter Robinson

Oakland County International Airport also has a rotary wing flight school in addition to a few fixed-wing schools at the field.

Many helicopters were on display and giving rides at the Open House.

The helicopter of choice for instruction is the Robinson R22. Over 4,600 R22s have been produced making it a very successful and prolific design.

An economical trainer it's a good first craft for those pilots crazy enough to operate a craft that doesn't actually fly. Instead a helicopter achieves altitude and flies due to two operating principles:

1. Lift is first created by beating the air into submission;

2. Even more lift is created due to their being so ugly the earth rejects and repels them from the ground.

A buddy of mine flies helicopters out of KPTK and is currently working on his helicopter instrument rating, in A Robinson helicopter naturally, so we kid each other just a bit.

Helicopters are both more expensive to learn to fly and to operate, so I'll happily stick with learning to fly a fixed wing aircraft.

Robinson also offers the R44 and quite a few operate out of the helicopter flight schools at KPTK, with 4 seats, for a more comfortable ride and larger payload, and some even have air conditioning for comfort.

Here's on of the Robinson R44s doing a flyby of the Tower:

There was also a Robinson R66 offering rides. It's a turbo-shaft powered helicopter with a Rolls Royce engine, and about as close to a Rolls Royce that most people will get.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Helicopter was on display as well. It's not a Robinson but rather a Eurocopter Astar 350 B2 with all the law enforcement goodies attached:

It was quite the flock of flying Robinson helicopters operating that day, and they're fun to watch flitting around and taking off and landing from up close.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cute Quote Of The Day

It's only 7:52 am and I've already got the cute quote of the day.

Leah, counting the money she's saved up to buy a new Ever After High Dolls (if you don't have girls that will take awhile to explain) realizing she has enough to buy it as it's on sale at a local store for cheaper than at Amazon, but then realizing she has to calculate sales tax on the purchase and add that to her amount, pushing her past her amount saved so she can't buy it now:

Leah in an exasperated voice:

"I thought kids didn't have to pay taxes!"

Welcome to the real world of sales taxes kiddo.

Getting her to count her funds and calculate sales tax (at her own initiative) is a parental trick to get her summer brain to start shifting over to school mode. Learning about taxes similarly is instructive.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Fouga! Fouga! Fouga!

The first jet trainer produced in the world, the twin-engined, French-made Fouga CM-170 Magister has served in a training role in 26 countries. First in service in July 1952, served as a trainer and in some cases a close air support aircraft.

A beautiful example of one was at the OCIA Open House.

This Fouga is owned by the World Heritage Air Museum, operating out of OCIA.

I got to talking with the founder of the museum and he gave me a lot of details about the Fouga.

He stated it handles the most fighter-like of all the jets he has at the museum, and it's a great plane to fly with a sweet roll rate and easy acrobatics.

The two seat cockpit is crammed tight but fully functional:

She's a beautiful aircraft indeed.

Now, thanks to Murphy's Law, I heard that Israel is selling off their Fouga Magisters, known in IAF service as the Zukit. They're being sold for $29,900 a piece, which is quite a bargain for such an historic warbird. Think of it - the plane you buy might have flown close air support missions in the Six Day War or may have been the jet in which famous Israeli Aces first learned their craft.

For $29,900 you could get into a cockpit like this:

Hmm, where to get a loan quick?

Then reality set in - the downsides:


1. You need to pay for shipping and disassembly, not to mention reassembly and US FAA certification, which isn't going to be cheap.
2. According to the Museum's founder, the FAA requires that to pilot one you need at least 1,000 hours, so that makes me about 992.8 short. That could take awhile to get there.
3. Also, in speaking with the owner of the Fouga at the show, he noted the operational cost came out to $1,500 per hour. Ouch.
4. He also noted the Israeli Zukits will most likely need new engines as they're at the end of their service lives, which again isn't going to be cheap. He's looking into acquiring one, but with a museum at his back he's got a lot more resources than I do, that's for sure.

Ah, but a neophyte pilot can dream, can't he?

DaddyBear About To Publish Another Neat Novel

DaddyBear of DaddyBear's Den and author of Tales of the Minivandians is going to have a new book coming out soon.

As you can tell by checking out a snippet he's posted on his blog, Via Serica is going to be a great read and well worth forking over some of your reading denarii to get it home to a place in your library, as will the likely sequels that will continue the tale.

Having had the honor of being one of his beta readers, I can say that the snippets he's posted, unlike a movie trailer, are not representative of the best parts of the entire book. They're really good mind you, but there's some even finer scenes in the book that await. You'll have to wait until it comes out to read it to get those. You're going to enjoy it, especially if you like well written historical fiction with a few twists. You're going to enjoy it a lot.

No spoilers will be given here, so you'll just have to buy the book and go read and enjoy it in its entirety when it comes out.

The book features solid storytelling, an excellent eye for detail of the period, good believable dialogue, lots of taunt action, some hilarious asides, and plenty of Romans roamin' around.

Once he's got a preorder link ready to go on Amazon, I'll throw a link to it here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Flying Lesson #5 - Do Something! It's An Emergency!

It was too windy and gusty to effectively practice power-on stalls, so instead Sean said it was time we did emergency procedures.

We started on the ground with handling engine fires on startup and how to deal with them.

Then I taxied us to the runway, did the takeoff checklist and run up and handled the takeoff. The wind was blowing so hard we gained altitude noticeably faster than normal and then we were in for a bumpy ride.

We experienced updrafts and clear air turbulence, and then started doing in flight emergency actions.

We did engine out procedures which always start with getting the aircraft set for best glide, finding the best possible landing area, and then dealing with the problem, included either trying to do an engine restart if there's sufficient altitude, or if too low to restart then doing an engine out landing.

Lots to learn there and with the ground rushing up quite a few times it was a bit nerve-wracking.

Then we did emergency descents either for a passenger in-flight emergency or to put an on-board fire out.

That was quite a fun elevator ride, but with a bank to prevent negative gees and again the ground rushed up to meet us every time.

In case of an engine fire, you're supposed to set your transponder to squawk 7700 and then start singing the refrain from this song over the radio:

Actually there is a detailed checklist on what to do if there's a fire. In short, you need to cut off its source of fuel, in most cases the aircraft's fuel (or sometimes the electrical system) and the ignition source for the fire and then descend at a good clip to try and get it out.

Then we did radio out procedures, and I had actually read about those before and knew what to do, which made my instructor happy and that was a good thing. It's nice to have some clue, I'll tell you what.

It was a nerve-wracking, white-knuckled lesson. I did get a lot of practice doing climbs, including turning climbs, back to 3,500 after each emergency.

I now need to memorize the emergency checklists and will do so.

In future lessons, we now get to add the possibility that in every flight Sean will declare the engine is out or have him chop the throttle, or there's a fire on board and I'll be expected to handle it.

That was 1.6 hours of serious skull-sweat flying.

Ford's Tin Goose


What's made of corrugated aluminum, has three engines and flies?


It's a Ford Trimotor, formally designated the Ford 5-AT-B.



NC9645, owned by Liberty Aviation Museum out of Port Clinton, Ohio, made quite an appearance at the Oakland County International Open House and Air Show. Built in 1929, she's still flying today.



This aircraft carries the name City of Port Clinton:



This is fitting as there used to be airline service using Ford Trimotor aircraft operating out of Port Clinton's airport, and this one now operates from there today.

If you go to Camp Perry and eat at the Tin Goose bar in Port Clinton during the Nationals, the Ford Trimotor is where that bar got its name.

On Sunday many attendees of the Open House paid to take a ride in a Ford:


Checkout those engine nacelles:



She's a Ford product all right:



The Ford Trimotor was Ford's first successful foray into aircraft production (the other notable success was building Consolidated B-24 Bombers under license at Willow Run airport in Ypsilanti Michigan).

If you think there's a resemblance of the Ford Trimotor to the JU-52, well there is. Ford was successfully sued by Junkers for copying the design and infringing on the patents of the JU52's predecessor aircarft, notably the Fokker F.VII, Junkers G25 and K16.

A very reliable aircraft, 199 Ford Trimotors were produced and served airlines around the world, with a few still flying today.

NC9645, long may she fly like this:

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

At The Oakland County Air Show

Oakland County International Airport had their annual open house and air show today.

I took the kids and we had a great time.

There were Jets:

There were helicopters:

There were prop planes:

There were prop planes giving rides, including the Cessna 172 I'm training on, N73455:

There were classics:

There were warbirds:

It was a great time and lots of great pics and aircraft stories to follow.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

There Is No Tinfoil Hat Large Enough . . . .

Thanks to Tam's link to a Zerohedge post, I've fulfilled my quota of viewing displays of human ignorance and stupidity out of court for the day, and this morning I've already fulfilled my viewing of in-court stupidity for the day, so I'm good in both departments.

Great Ghu, the post itself is nucking futz - a sort of smorgasbord of just about every dipstick conspiracy theory about America known to man. The comments accompanying the post then take it past 11 and are, if anything, worse. It's sort of an echo chamber of the perpetually paranoid and delusional.

Some people can function off their meds, and apparently quite a few really can't.