Thursday, June 22, 2017

Day 1 At Disney World - Magic Kingdom

We had planned out our 4-day-long-weekend trip to Disney planning to go to one park per day. We didn't bother with the expense of a Park Hopper pass as there's more than enough to do for a day in each park.

We woke up to a beautiful morning:

After we got up, we went to the main pool at the hotel and enjoyed the water slide.

On the way there we walked by the pond which had these prominent warning signs, likley put up after that unfortunate incident of the unfortunate child and alligator encounter last year:

We had breakfast poolside and Leah had to have the Mickey waffles - which really were excellent.

In fact we found all the food at Disney to be very good indeed with some of it simply outstanding - The food at the Maya Grill certainly was the night we arrived. The only reason we didn't pack on the pounds this trip was due to all the walking we were about to do around the parks.

We put on our magic bands and got a Disney shuttle from the resort to the park.

Magic bands are Disney's latest stroke of genius - each band is its own chip and pin system that not only has your park tickets and acts as your room key, but when tied to your credit card lets your purchase anything you want at a park or resort by placing the band on a scanner and entering your PIN. No need to carry a wallet or cash around the parks - and it has the neat effect, from Disney's standpoint of the feeling that you're not paying with real money at the time so you're less concerned about the cost. Simply brilliant.

We had arrived at the Magic Kingdom:

We did the Pirates of Caribbean ride first, and they've added to it since we lat rode it and added much more of the movies to the ride which made it even more fun.

We then did the The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ride and it was pretty cool to see them enjoy it since they last rode it five years ago.

Of course we had arrived in Disney's rainy season so each afternoon it variously drizzled, poured or combinations of both so umbrellas came in handy.

It started raining right after the Magic carpet ride, so we went indoors for the It's a Small World ride.

Then it was off Futureland was a ride on Buzz Lightyear, a fun cartoon shoot-em-up game that, while it kept pausing for some reason, was fun for everyone. After that was a relaxing ride around Futureland on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover which gave some nice elevated views and ran us through various rides in Futureland.

Then we did the new Dwarf Mine Train roller coaster - we didn't have a Fastpass for it so we stood in line for 2 hours and 45 minutes but Leah really wanted to ride it so we hung in there and then had a very fun roller coaster ride. Some yelling and screaming was heard.

We also wanted to do Splash Mountain but it was sadly closed due to technical difficulties. That closure got us a FastPass to ride Thunder Mountain, Magic Kingdom's signature roller coaster and it was a lot of fun too.

After 8 hours at the park we were done and took the bus back to the hotel and had dinner at the Pepper Market - cafeteria style restaurant at the resort, and we had a swim and that was Day 1.

At Magic Kingdom we walked about 5.6 miles and 15,000 steps per my iPhone, but it sure felt like more than that. We had the blisters to show for it too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Blogging Was Light Recently Due To The Answer To An Important Happy Family Question

The Important Questions being: What do you to mark the end of an excellent school year by two kids with straight-As, great work ethics, and all around pretty good attitudes?

Why, take them to Disney World of course!

Spirit Airlines had a seat sale in May that could not be passed up, so we announced to the kids that we were taking them to Disney at the end of school to reward all their hard work. We also got the resort tickets and made an AirBnB reservation and a dining reservation for the night of our arrival at a Disney restaurant at a Disney Resort hotel, the Coronado Springs, near the AirBnB location.

Leah was thrilled, but Abby at first, being a teenager, thought Disney World was not cool enough for a teenager and didn't want to go. How wrong she was.

So we packed on Wednesday night and on Thursday they had their last morning of class, while I went to court for a hearing in Detroit and then rushed home as soon as it was done, and considering the hearing was running an hour late it was getting tight.

We loaded the car, dropped off Jett at the dog sitter, and rushed to the airport.

We shouldn't have been in such a rush. The plane was delayed by an hour due to weather so all our rush through traffic and security was not as necessary as the clocks had insisted it was prior to our arrival at the gate.

Then, just before we were about to board the plane, Tash got a message from the AirBnB host cancelling our reservation. Yep, just 2 and a half hours before the scheduled arrival with a reservation made in May, and the person cancels due to issues with the room. That sucks, we're about to leave for Orlando and now have no place to stay.

Oh boy.

So Tash starts discussing things with AirBnB, and I get on the line with Disney and see if there are rooms available, and sure enough Coronado Springs has some openings at pretty darn decent prices, and I jump on a room. Should have done it that way right from the start. The room included transportation from the airport, transportation from the resort to all the Disney parks, Disney bands with FastPass and hey, it's Disney. For a few more bucks we were now going in style and the customer service agent on the phone was very helpful and all was right with the world again.

So we arrive at the airport an hour after our scheduled time, but Disney transport already has us in the system and gets us to the right bus to the Coronado. Disney has this whole process down to a science and its as smooth and comforting a way to start a vacation as it can be.

I call the restaurant from the bus and left them a message that we won't be there at the reservation time due to the plane issue.

We get to the resort at 9pm, and check in, which is handled just beautifully. We then go to the restaurant, The Mayan Grill, for a really great meal. They appreciated that I had called and left a message and it was no problem at all.

Then to our room, which was nice, pretty spacious, and clean and we unpacked and got ready to hit the parks on the next day.

A more detailed report of the past few days to follow. In short kids, including teens, love Disney once you get them there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Flying Lesson #133 - You Want Me To Land Where?

As I'm preflighting and waiting Tiffany for my next lesson, Marcus comes by and says be sure to go to Oakland Troy (KVLL) as the checkride examiner sometimes likes to take students there via dead-reckoning and its a bit of a fun place to land.

No kidding. I remember my last time there, oh just short of two flippin' years ago now for Lesson #3. The approach for Runway 27 takes you right over a flat-topped office building and it looks like you're supposed to land on it and drop down onto the runway.

Not really but it does look that way.

Photo by Jeff Schuster, Photo taken 29-Jun-2014, looking west.

So Tiffany comes by and says I've been to Linden enough, let's go to Oakland Troy - I swear these instructors are rather in sync.

We go over how to dead reckon there, basically to follow a couple roads, and its pretty much a 130 degree course from Pontiac.

So the wind is a right gusting crosswind and I need to do a short field landing coming in over an office building. I think at that moment someone might be paying the instructors so she can collect on my life insurance.

I get it lined up and its not the shortest landing ever - a fair bit of float and I land on the 1,000 foot markers rather than the numbers but given the building is near the numbers.... That would not unfortunately be acceptable for a checkride, but as someone keeps saying I didn't break anything and landed so it must be ok in real life at least, and we did stop with plenty of runway without excessive braking.

Then I do a short field takeoff as there are power lines awaiting off the end and since I can at least do that, it's a fine takeoff.

Then off to the practice area where I get to put on some foggles for some instrument practice and then slow flight, power off and power on stalls and a lot of steep turns.

Then back to Pontiac with an even more gusting crosswind of 10-20 knots out of 300.

1.6 and 2 landings.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flying Lesson #132 - Flying With Tiffany

So at lunch today i eaded to the airport to get a lesson in.

Rain had just gne through, leaving a humid haze in the air and about 5 miles visibility.

I met up with Tiffany and talked about what I wanted to for for the lesson - navigate by map, get to Linden via some checkpoints including US 23 and work on some short field landings and steep turns.

The wind was out of 120 at 9 knots so we would be using Runway 9L at Pontiac and 9 at Linden - a side I've never landed on before and she promised it would be a treat - that side is a real short field landing with trees as obstacles and a swamp that does funny things to the air as you fly over it on final. Yay, might as well get the experience.

So I start N1689H up and get going and on doing a short field takeoff they originally were going to have me head west off the downwind to exit the pattern on to my destination but instead decided to have me cross over midfield to the southwest. Never did that before and it was an experience.

Haze and clouds kept us below 2,500 and while I missed my first checkpoint as it was too close to the airport and the relocation threw me off I found the second one just fine on course, then got to 23 and diverted up to Linden using US 23 instead of the railway line that's on the north side of the airport.

I then overflew Linden, checked with Flint's AWOS for winds and sure enough they were out of 110 at 9 pretyt much just like Pontiac, and then entered into the downwind.

I made a perfect short field landing. Go figure.

I then did a taxi back, and did softand short field takeoffs took off and then did a go-round as the approach was not to my liking. I then did it again and landed fine and then we headed back to Pontiac. No steep turns as the haze just had us too low and there was too much traffic around.

We got to Pontiac and I did some patterns and Tiffany really helped fix my soft field takeoff - Yay its good now! We kept working on short field landings and I was doing pretty good.

Then on a pattern the tower told us to keep our base in close.

I'm on the downwind, level with the end of the runway.

Tiffany chops the throttle. With no warning. "You just loss your engine, so it's power off 180 time." She said most cheerfully.

All righty then - set for best glide, turn immediately towards the runway, got it lined up for final, runway made, second notch of flaps goea in, over the threshold, third notch in and touchdown rather nicely if I say so myself. We really gave them a close in base as requested.

In short, it went great. Just when I think about throwing in the towel, a day like this draws me back in.

While I was doing great, others were having a not so good day. As we were flying the pattern at Pontiac, we overheard a call from Flight 101's 172RG Cutlass - they were not getting a front nose gear indicator light. So they flew by the tower and we could also see that while their rear gear was down, the nose gear was not. The instructor on board was rather calm and after a couple flybys they flew off to the north to work the problem and had three hours of fuel to burn off before trying to land. I haven't heard how it resolved yet but they were getting the equipment ready when I left just in case.

1.8 and 6 landings.

Political Violence In This Country Tends To Come From The Leftward Side

People were speculating when the Lefty types would switch from bats and bike locks to firearms and it looks like one Bernie Bro has decided to do so by attacking a bunch of Republicans playing baseball, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

The Left in America has quite a history of using violence as a political tool If you haven't already read the rather uber-post at Status 451 at the link, I'd strongly suggest you do so as its well worth your time and lets you place the Antifa and Bernie Bro Burners in context.

While many on the right say "What lefty revolution?, We have all the guns.", they forget the Left has far less compunction or hesitation about actually using weapons to implement their goals.

Hopefully, this is a one-off incident and not a sign of a trend on the part of the Leftist fringe.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Worth Seeing: Wonder Woman

So this weekend we had a family movie night and went to see Wonder Woman.

Quick summary - great fun move, great characters, Gal Gadot and Chris Pine seriously rocked it and you should not deprive yourself of seeing this movie in 3D at the theater.

DC finally has a movie hit worthy of the name after a long dry spell.

It is, as so many superhero movies are, an origin story. This one works as an origin story with some great characters, and there's some twists to the tale - some you'll see coming and one you probably will not.

In short go see it, and watch Gal Gadot really be Wonder Woman.

Flying Lesson #131 - Finally A Good Day

So after getting stuff done at the office I head to the airport for some solo time. Just my luck though, the winds have picked up and both speed and direction are above my permitted solo flying endorsement. I figure its a sign and am about to pack it all in for good and then the chief instructors says they do have an instructor available and would I like to go up?

Ok then. So I preflight N1689H and Hunter joins me and I tell him I had planned to go to the practice area and do some altitude maneuvers and then do some pattern so that's what we do. He treats it like a checkride and checks how I do the checklists and all procedures and is happy with the pre-takeoff stuff and then takeoff. We then head out to the practice area and then I do slow flight and the stalls. Power off needed a bit of work so I did that and its very good now, and then steep turns which we worked on a bit as they're still not where I want them to be but we got them better. Still needs work though.

Then we head back to Pontiac and I angle from an original base entry to a final one as directed by tower, bring it in over 27R, and then per Hunter do the best crosswind landing he's seen a student do - its flipping perfect - I mean real smooth, first the windward side landing gear touches, then the other, and finally the nose and it is smooth as smooth can be. I then do two more just as nicely and we call it a flight ending on a good note and he says he figures after touching up the steep turns that based on my performance I'm going to pass the checkride when it comes.

After three lousy days I then get this really good one. Sheesh, now what?

1.3 and 3 landings.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Flying Lesson #130 - Frustrations With Flying

Well the winds weren't quite so bad today, blowing about 10-15 knots out of 230-240 so a bit of crosswind correction was needed but no wind shear to speak of.

So, I got things going with Ray as the instructor today.

We get up to the hold line and he announced we would do short field landings and takeoffs. So I do a nice short field crosswind takeoff which I'm rather decent at and we start heading around the pattern.

Then we setup for the landing and it's a complete mess as I'm too high so I go around. The next one one sucks rocks with decaying airspeed and he has to push the nose forward as I'm too fixated on the runway and the speed is dropping too quickly, was I having fun yet?

So we taxi back and do it again and I do it ok, still not a perfect short field, we do it three more times and I get ok at it but his technique is to have it on final at 64 knots with a high nose pitch and just control the descent with power which is different form some other instructors techniques of aiming ahead of the touchdown point. Then we have to do an expedited takeoff per the tower and I do a normal takeoff and a normal landing which is fine and another regular takeoff and landing and that's the lesson. Basically everything is great except my landings, most especially my short field landings.

Lots of frustration and while he says I'm doing ok and am really close, I'm about a minute away from deciding on throwing in the towel on this whole thing.

1.6 and 8 landings.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Flying Lessons #128 Solo and #129 Gone With The Wind(shear)

Yesterday I went to two different courts for different hearings and did lots of lawyer-stuff and then headed to the airport for a 4pm flight. I had planned to go to the practice area, do some maneuvers and then do the pattern. I had been feeling pretty good and confident from the last lesson, maybe I can actually do this after all. Heh.

Of course, the TAF and weather services called for thunderstorms from 4-6 pm. The curse of my solo schedule strikes again - if I schedule a solo, the conditions will be such that I cannot solo - I am one-man force of climate change. By simply scheduling a solo I can make it variously snow, thunderstorm, or cause high winds, yep, you can thank me later.

But, there was no sign of any approaching cumulonimbus clouds and the flight school head said go up, stay in the pattern.

Not what I was planning but ok.

N1689H had fuel to the tabs, over 17 gallons per tank, more than plenty for a little pattern work. SO I started her up, got her out of the parking place and commenced pattern work. Now runway 27L was closed so I was sharing 27R with some rather large jets so yes there was frequent wake turbulence and traffic issues.

The first landing went ok.

The second time around I had my landing clearance cancelled then got it back on short final and I did a go round as the approach wasn't stable at that point to my liking and a hit of wind got me just before touchdown. A decent enough and safe go round.

The next two landings simply sucked and I bounced them both in, winds were picking up and I simply wasn't having a good day so I terminated at 0.7 and three landings. Looking back I was both coming in too high and too hot, cutting the base to final corner and flaring too high - other than that, the patterns were rather nice. In short not great and I told my instructor that it did not go well.

So today I get to the airport for Lesson 129.

Since my instructor told the head of the flight school that I did not have a good day, he decided I needed a bit of ground to go over pattern procedures. Well, I suppose it helped somewhat. He then told the instructor flying with me today Mustafa, a newer CFI there, as Ray was off to first just do slow flight over the runway and then do landings after he's confident I've got it.

Oh and the wind conditions were bad and getting worse today. Blowing and shifting from 240-180 (180 is a direct crosswind) at 16-24 knots.

Oh Fly me.

So we would be doing some real fun crosswind work.

I did a good crosswind takeoff and we had lot of wind shear and bumps and gusts which made it so much fun.

I trolled the runway a couple times, letting the tower know what we were going to do and they were cool with that.

Then I did the first landing which was a bit rough due to the winds and wind shear. Tower then had us fly a left pattern for traffic management which was no problem and rather rarer coming off of 27R but with 27L still closed it was kinda fun. The next landing was also not great. Have to really force the nose down in those conditions.

The next three were better and stabilized and I did then pretty good but on the last two we were getting wind-shear of plus and minus 15 knots, and the tower asked us for a pirep on the wind conditions and we let them know and they passed that on to incoming traffic. In short watching the airspeed indicator swing from 80 to 65 knots and back was interesting on final and made for interesting crosswind landings.

We called it at that point and terminated with 1.0 and five landings.

We then chatted about the flight and things I can work on, which was actually helpful.

Again I'm told I'm doing well and am really, really close - like I haven't heard that before.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Flying Lesson #127 - Working On Short Landings and Soft Takeoffs

Both the soft field takeoffs and Short Field Landings need a bit of work.

I met with Marcus and we headed to Linden navigating without map or GPS. Overall I did good and managed to find the railway line even though its starting to get covered from the air by foliage and it was a bit farther north than I had originally thought. Got to Linden and started to setup for a short field landing.

With no headwind, the Archer floats -- a lot. So the first landing wasn't very short so we worked on that.

Managing airspeed is pretty huge for the short field landing as is the height and well everything otherwise you float quite a bit. Of course the next one I tried I came in low and then laded short of my touchdown point. Really shouldn't be this hard. I finally got a couple good ones in but as usual the short fields are just plain frustrating.

The soft field takeoffs were similarly annoying - I had a bad right wing dip tenancy as the plane comes off the runway during the takeoff and I need to first not release too much back-pressure as it comes off but then press a lot more forward. Feh.

Adding to the fun, a few more aircraft were there also flying around and it got rather long as you have to back-taxi on the runway after each landing as the taxiway does not extend to the end of the runway because that would make far too much sense. I got quite good at all the radio calls and was handling that aspect at least quite nicely.

I then navigated by external references back to Pontiac and then was first told to enter a two mile downwind and do a toght downwind and base, I then had the landing clearance cancelled on me and had to extend the downwind quite a bit for traffic and then come back in again with a metric-ton of float on the landing. It was a nice landing mind you, but sure as heck floaty.

1.8 and 8 more landings and still a lot more to do.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Canadian Tire Patrons 1, Attempted Jihadi 0

In an attempt to get herself on the Ramadan Hostility Scoreboard, an Islamist in Scarborough, a sub-city of Toronto, decided to get jihadi with it in a Canadian Tire. Canadian Tire, for those who may not know is a venerable Canadian Institution thats sort of a Sears, auto and tire shop, Home Depot, gas station, and Krogers combined. You simply do not mess about in a Canadian Tire shop.

CTV: Woman pulls out knife, expresses support for Islamic state at Cedarbrae Mall

A woman has been arrested after she allegedly pulled out a knife at a Canadian Tire in Scarborough while reportedly voicing her support for the Islamic State, a source tells CTV News Toronto.

The incident unfolded inside the store at Cedarbrae Mall, near Markham Road and Lawrence Avenue, at around 5:15 p.m. Saturday.

Toronto police say the woman initially walked to the paint section of the hardware store with a golf club where she began swinging it at a customer and store employees while uttering threats.

They say employees and customers were able to restrain the woman and call the police.

At some point before officers arrived, the woman pulled out a large knife from underneath her clothing.

Amazingly, they let her wear a niqab covering her face during her arraignment:

A suspect identified as 32-year-old Toronto resident Rehab Dughmosh has been charged with a two counts of assault with a weapon, one count of assault, one count of uttering threats to cause death, two counts of possession of a weapon for committing an offence and one count of carrying a concealed weapon.

She made a brief court appearance Tuesday morning.

A CTV News Toronto reporter inside the courtroom during the proceeding said the woman was wearing a green prison sweatsuit, a black niqab and handcuffs.

When asked to say her name, the woman responded by saying, “ISIS… I pledge to the leader of the believers – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”

Yep, something about Ramadan sure gets 'em frisky.

Ok, now you might shoot up Parliament, you may even pull a knife in that hallowed Canadian institution known as Canadian Tire, but I'm pretty darn sure that if they try to pull this crap in a Tim Horton's, Canadians will have had enough and declare it on like Donkey Kong.

Monday, June 05, 2017

When Seconds Count, The Police Are Only An Hour And Six Minutes Away

A house in Washtenaw County is listed as requiring a priority response due to known and serious violent threats against the homeowner and her children - the homeowner called the police due to a likely intruder in her shed near her house.

The priority response time?

One Hour and Six Minutes.

The Detroit Free Press: Nowhere to run: Survivor of brutal abuse faces death threats, ex's parole

Beverly has a safety plan set up with law enforcement officials in Washtenaw County. Her house is flagged as one that should get priority attention if there’s a 911 call. And yet it took more than an hour for Washtenaw County Sheriff’s deputies to arrive that night.

“It made me feel like I’m very vulnerable,” she said. “If it takes the police an hour and six minutes to respond to my address, I would be dead if someone was trying to kill me at that moment. They would have been in my house or I would have had to shoot them in self-defense.”

Now this isn't your average homeowner - this is someone known to be in rather critical danger from a known violent felon and his friends and she got a blistering hour and six minute response time.

What response time does the average person get there, I wonder?

Police and Sheriff departments do what they can and while they often do their best, they can't be everywhere and simply don't have neither the staffing nor speed to respond to all emergency calls in a timely fashion.

An hour and six minutes is an awful long time for someone to be on their own defenseless and waiting for help to arrive.

Note that this story is from the Detroit Free Press, the same paper of record absolutely in favor of gun control that assures its readers that they don't need guns and the police are there and sufficient to protect them.

A Failure Of Imagination

From Legal Insurrection comes this fatuous statement from British Prime Minister Teresa May: Theresa May: We Could Not Have “Predicted” or “Envisaged” Latest Terrorist Attacks

That she states it with a straight face shows she's either willfully blind or a fool, and she's not a fool.

Given the history of Islamists using vehicles as weapons and bombs to attack where children and young people congregate, to say such were unpredictable in Britain, where there's a very large number of known Islamists and their sympathizers is worse than trite. It shows the British politician's fevered need to calm their population and hide from it the politically incorrect and rather unpalatable, at least for the bien pensants, truth of what their government has done through open immigration and appeasement of non-assimilating Islamists who have been given free reign.

These attacks certainly won't be the last, and now soldiers and armed police walk the streets of Britain to protect the people who failed to protect the people of Britain from attacks that were both highly predictable and rather easy to envisage.

Monday and More Not Flying

Michigan can be a difficult place to learn to fly.

While it's a great learning experience to have to deal with all the kinds of weather and crosswind conditions that we get, it sure cuts down on flyable days for student pilots.

Today offers a lovely overcast cloud base of 400 feet - low IFR so no flying in that, and it is going to lift to around 1,200 which is still darn low but will also offer a direct crosswind of 8-11 knots which is over my solo endorsement.

So I had to cancel and then headed to Wayne County Probate Court where I'm stuck sitting here at the most inefficient probate court in the entire state to file a motion and get a hearing date. I would much rather be flying, that's for sure.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

NOT Flying JAFGS

Well the new flight school just did something that hath annoyed me rather greatly.

While the weather in the morning was indeed thunderstorms, it had cleared up to when I got to the field. A little rain but it soon stopped VFR and winds 0, yes zero and I drove out there expecting a flying lesson. Don't get a lot of days like that at Pontiac.

Ray however comes out and says there is likely some more weather coming in (turns out there wasn't dammit) and the head of the flight school told my instructor he wants me to do a refresher on airspace and emergency procedures as the examiner seems to be really hitting those areas during the checkride. Fine, and it may even be useful.

One little catch, a pre-solo student is also going to be attending to learn as well. What could possibly go wrong?

Oh boy.

Well it turns out this guy, an older gentleman is also a Flight 101 refugee who I vaguely remember seeing there at times, but apparently he did not retain much if at all, assuming he even learned or was taught much. Or he's a definite example of "It's not what you know, it's what you think you know that isn't so."

So we start going through the ACS standards and begin with airspace. We're beginning with Class A and he doesn't about Class A, nor Class B, nor C, nor D, nor E, nor G in terms of dimensions nor visibility/cloud clearance requirements and don't get me started about TRSAs.

In short I'm pretty sure he hasn't studied and has not done his written test yet as what he knows will not as they say, fly.

But it gets better.

We start discussing emergency procedures and he insists, really insists, that the Skyhawk 172 has reserve fuel on board that's not shown on the gauges. The instructor and I exchange bemused and somewhat confused looks.

We tell him no and he insists that's what he knows, and then I realize what he thinks - he thought the UNUSABLE fuel that remains in the tanks is reserve fuel. NO, NO, NO.

Unusable means the plane cannot use it and it is not a reserve at all, it is by its very unusable nature fuel that will not get to the engine - that's one heckuva dangerous belief to have when you're flying the plane. Sheesh.

Then we get on to engine restart procedures and he's swearing up and down that the mixture control on the Skyhawk is on the throttle. Again -- Hard NO -- he's confusing the throttle with its tension adjustment with the mixture control knob right beside it and they do very, very different things. Never-mind that he's flying Pipers now - but he then though the Piper Archer had a gravity fed fuel system (it doesn't) and the electrical fuel pump was only used on occasion to help the gravity feed. Argh, a Piper Archer has both an engine driven fuel pump and the second electrical one for redundancy and no, gravity will not feed fuel from a low wing upto an engine mounted above the frickin' wing.

So yeah, his knowledge of airspace, aircraft systems, and emergency procedures is rather sub-par and I'm stuck as the instructor is teaching it at his level.

It was painful to be there and sadly a waste of my time.

On the one hand, it was ok to go through the ACS and refresh and realize that yes I know this stuff. On the other hand, I can and do that by myself just fine without paying extra for it thank you very much. On the upside, having to answer the guy's questions and knowing the answers to the instructor's questions cold and being able to correct the guy's unfounded assumptions shows I probably know what I'm talking about by now at least at the private pilot checkride level.

Let's not do that again, shall we?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Flying Lesson #126 - Polishing Things Up

Today was a very pleasant day for flying indeed. Sunny, barely a cloud to be seen and the wind pretty much from 280-300 at about 5-10 knots.

I pre-flighted the plane and got everything setup and met Marcus for the lesson. I went over the issues I was having with steep turns and the need to practice more short and soft field landings and that is what we decided to do.

So I got the plane started up and the run-up complete and then we had to wait quite awhile to get a takeoff clearance as everyone else it seemed had also noticed the nice weather.

We finally got a takeoff clearance and headed straight out west with the Tower to call the turn to the northeast for the practice area.

While doing so we got crossed over above and to the right from behind rather closely by a Cirrus that claimed he saw us prior to his doing so, but we're rather doubtful on that score.

Tower is so busy that we get west all the way out of their airspace before we turn northeast.

We then get out to the practice area and after some serious clearing turns due to the sheer volume of traffic we work on the steep turns.

Turns out I was over thinking and over-muscling them and doing too much of an angle too quickly. We got that straightened out, he gave me some good corrections to my technique and after multiple repetitions my steep turns are now rather decent.

The we headed back to Pontiac for some landings. On the first one I was too high and too fast (I'm spotting a trend here that I don't like) so we did a go-round. Then back to it and did a normal landing and then started work on the short field landings. In between we would do short or soft field takeoffs when practicable, and both of those got better as well. I'm now getitng better at reducing the power earlier and getitng the right picture for the short field approach.

By the end of the lesson with his really good instruction, I've kinda sorta figured out the soft field and the short field landings in an Archer, but they do need some more practice. Part of the issue is I'm now flaring a tad too high whereas before I was flaring too low. We may just get to just right short-field-landing-ly.

That's 1.7 and 6 landings.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Selfridge Michigan In The Running For Basing F-35s

The Detroit News: Report: Macomb best place to put F-35 fighter jets

Currently host to 18 A-10 Warthogs (two of which flew over my house in awesome tight formation on Memorial Day, but I didn't have a camera handy at the time), Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County, Michigan is apparently a strong contender as a location for basing and training for F-35s.

This would indeed be a great thing for Macomb County, Michigan's economy and the Military Operating Areas around here would give plenty of space for F35s to train, and being able to see some up close during Selfridge's open houses would be rather cool as well. The move to base the F25s here is unsurprisingly getting strong bipartisan support as basing them here would be a serious economic boost and the area has lots of experience servicing aircraft and Selfridge can easily handle it.

How Dumb Can Criminals Be? Oh Yes, This Dumb.

A felon and his girl friend seem to have deliberately tried to sneak in a gun by the brilliant move of passing it in a purse through an x-ray machine - at a Courthouse.

It didn't work out well for him, or her for that matter.

The Detroit Free Press: 2 arrested trying to sneak loaded gun into Michigan courthouse

The Berrien County sheriff’s office says 40-year-old Arnelda Jackson is charged with carrying a concealed weapon, resisting police and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Also charged is 37-year-old Molly Jackson who faces carrying a concealed weapon and resisting police charges.

A man and woman were passing through security when the handgun was spotted this morning by a court X-ray machine.

Authorities say the man grabbed the purse and he and the woman ran from the courthouse in St. Joseph. Deputies and bailiffs caught them in a parking lot.

His problem as a career criminal (he's got some convictions for marijuana manufacture, manslaughter and other stuff, he has) likely started when his mom named him Arnelda, and it went all downhill from there.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Flying Lesson #125 - A Little Trip Alone

This morning promised some nice visibility and low winds so it was perfect for a post-Memorial Day solo.

I got a weather brief and then headed to the airport.

I originally planned to do a navigation round-robin from KPTK to Linden To Romeo and just do flyovers and low approaches to each and do some practice maneuvers in the practice area and back to Pontiac.

Turns out this school is a tad more structured about solo activity.

I checked in and the Chief Flight instructor didn't want me wasting my time navigating to Linden and didn't want to risk me busting Flint's Class C (I know where it is and already knew to go in below it, but no dice).

Instead I was to navigate to Romeo, do a landing there and then go practice in the practice area.

I pointed out I did not have the airports within 25 mile required endorsement to let me do that and so verily he took mine logbook and blessed it with the appropriate endorsement to let me legally do what he wanted me to do.

So I started up N6288J and got a taxi to Runway 27L as now 27R was closed. Since 27L is the huge runway this is rather fun.

SO I did the run-up and all was well and headed into the sky after getting a takeoff clearance and clearance to head northeast. Of I went to Romeo.

And just then my Heading Indicator decided to rotate like a carousel, continually, so it was absolutely useless and I'd have to navigate by compass. Great. Well I figured it out and headed to Romeo.

I got there and made the appropriate radio calls and decided on Runway 36 as the wind was pretty much a direct crosswind out of 270 at 10+.

First two times I came in too high and went around and the third time I did a sucky and very floaty but good enough crosswind landing. Not sure why but definitely was not at my best today.

Then I headed to the practice area to get in some practice. Slow flight was good, power off and power on stalls were fine, although the power on stall being alone in the plane felt like it took forever, and then on to steep turns.

Ah, those damn steep turns. From not an issue in the Cessna to complete rubbish in the Archer. I managed to do awesome pretty descending spirals today but that's not the desired maneuver. No clue why I'm having such trouble with what is a pretty easy maneuver and one I've done decently at before. Kept at it a bit and then said to heck with it and headed back to Pontiac. I figure I'll go up with an instructor and do them until the instructor cries "enough" or the instructor just cries, or something.

So I said goodbye to the steep turns(ok so it wasn't pronounced goodbye exactly ...) and the practice area and dialed in Pontiac, by which time of course the winds were gusting and shifting, but I did a nice landing all the same on 27L after being setup by the tower for a 7 mile straight in final approach following a Lear and an Arrow. As long as you look good landing at your home airport I guess.

That's 1.2 solo and 2 landings, including my first landing ever alone at Romeo, and the end of another logbook page and a serious need to practice the damn steep turns.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Flight Lesson #124 - Weather Or Not - In This Case Not.

Well that was a fizzle.

The day was beautiful and calm, until, of course, for my scheduled time for my flying lesson today. Then, the forecast did call for thunderstorms and such during my time of flight but it was rather clear when we started, and my instructor Ray said we might as well get out and see how far we can get.

I do a good preflight, run-up and takeoff heading to the northwest to Linden for both navigation exercise and then to do soft and short fields.

I get perfectly lined up and intercept the railroad and am navigating just beautifully when Pontiac tower radios us:

N1689H we are picking up precipitation 5 miles to your northwest." Exactly where we're going.

Sure neough, we start to run into soe rain. Nothing too serious but the clouds are getting darker.

We press on for a bit and then see some close lightening strikes.

Well, F that.

"Pontiac Tower, N1689H we have the precipitation and also reporting lightning strikes to the immediate northwest, returning to Pontiac."

"N1689H roger, cleared to land Runway 9L".

So I head back by the most expeditious route and speed, enter a base leg for 9L and do a really beautiful crosswind landing if I do say so myself. I mean really, really, nice and smooth in the crosswind that had just kicked up.

We head back and shut it down, beating the thunderstorm by a comfy margin, and it only started raining at Pontiac when I left the building to head home, at which point we did get some fun thunderstorm action. Certainly a good idea to call it when we did.

Ray said I do have terrible luck with weather.

But, he said it's time to start thinking about scheduling a checkride and he's going to talk to the head of the flight school to clear me to get a test date, so there's that.

0.5 and 1 landing.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Flying Lesson #123 - I'm Back! Solo Again!

It was a very overcast day today, with the cloud base startling in the morning at 1,300 feet which did not look promising.

Happily by 11 the clouds had lifted to 2,200 and I had enough space to do pattern work, alone.

So I checked in and asked the head CFI if I was good to go. Winds were 8-13 kts from 280-310 and since I was using Runway 27R it would be only a minor crosswind at best. He said I was good to go solo if I felt up to it and wanted to but not to go to the practice area due to the clouds being too low. So he's giving me an option to back out if I don't feel comfortable. I said no problem and felt ready to make it happen, time to do this after all..

So I walked out to N1689H and did the pre-flight and got her started up.

It was parked beside a Dakota and a Warrior was right in front and another Archer to the far front left so the most fun was getting it out of the parking space.

I then taxied off to the run-up area and then to Runway 27R.

"N1689H ready to depart for pattern work, student pilot".

I got clearance to takeoff and I was alone in the air again. Damn, but it felt great.

I then started flying the pattern along with another Archer from DCT and N757MK from a certain flight-school-which-must-not-be-named.

Unfortunately 757MK was deciding to fly B52 bomber patterns, think way wide croswwind and bases and really overlong downwinds which is a pain when you're trying to fly a nice crisp standard pattern, but if he's ahead of you and you're told to follow you conform to his pattern. He was also doing touch and goes.

So my first takeoff is darn nice and I'm #3 in the pattern for landing, come in and a darn nice landing - no bounce, everything just right roundout at the right time, flare at the right time, all is grand, and I then exit at Juliet and get to do it again.

Solo and it feels great!

Then on the next pattern I'm again following the N757MK and get permission to land when I turn final and he's touching down, but this time he's rolling on down the runway, and still rolling on down the runway. I'm practically at touchdown and he hasn't taken off yet so I do a go round from what would have been a perfect landing. He then finally takes off - thanks guy. So at this point I'm pretty damn close to him but thankfully he finally goes crosswind and I stay upwind the create more separation and then follow him along creating more distance between us all the while.

Landing #2 is darn good.

Landing #3 even better.

Landing #4 is just plain sweet. This feels as easy as 123 and given its coincidentally Lesson 123 it's kinda fitting.

Might as well call it on a good note, and the tower is reporting the wind is picking up to where it would be technically be past my current solo endorsement, so I declare victory and terminate and head back to DCT and park the plane and shut it down.

I finally feel like I'm really back!

The feeling at the end of today's flight:

.8 and 4 landings solo.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Field Daze: The Javelin Throw

This afternoon was field day for the 4th and 5th graders at school. Depending on who you asked, I had either volunteered or been voluntold to come in and assist.

Unfortunately, it was a rainy day so it had to be held in the large gymnasium at the school.

So I showed up after getting some work done in the morning and got to choose what to do.

Being in charge of the javelins throwing event looked promising. After all sharp objects, hyper-active kids, what could go wrong?

Well, once I got to the javelin station, the javelins were a little underwhelming.

Sigh, I guess for elementary school they have to reduce some of the risk.

The Duct-taped tennis balls on the tops of the pool noodles did give them some heft and interesting flight characteristics. Some of the kids were able to throw them more than halfway across the basketball court markings.

Overall not a bad time.

While at times running groups of kids through was very similar to herding cats. Getting the kids to line up with the javelins and making sure they didn't smack each other or other kids doing other events with the "javelins" and that no, they weren't light sabers was a full time endeavor.

All the kids had fun and the couple hours running the javelin station passed by quickly. Good times had by all, and Leah was very happy I came to help out.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Time To Take Back That PC Appology Manchester PD

Last year in May 2016 it was reported with much outrage and high dudgeon that the Manchester Police had dared do a training exercise where a suicide bomber yelled "Allahu Akbar" and blew himself up.

They were forced to apologize for stereotyping:

Manchster Evening News: Police chief apologises after 'suicide bomber' shouted 'Allahu Akbar' during Trafford Centre training exercise

BBC: Greater Manchester Police sorry for 'Muslim terrorist' mock blast

The quotes and politically correct SJW outrage in the article is just precious and now llooking back on Monday's events the apology is just pathetic considering on how bang-on (to use a phrase) the exercise was to what actually occurred:

"The scenario for this exercise is based on an attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation and the scenario writers have centred the circumstances around previous similar attacks of this nature, mirroring details of past events to make the situation as real life as possible for all of those involved.

"However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise with Islam. We recognize and apologise for the offence that this has caused."

The only thing if anything, they have to "apologize" for is getting the location of the attack wrong, otherwise their drill of a suicide bombing Daesh-supporter last year was rather spot-on.

Court To Defendant: "What We Have Here Is A Failure to Communicate."

I had a fun time observing some cases while waiting for mine to come up this morning.

First up was a man and woman busted for open alcohol and drinking in a motor vehicle - in front of a hotel. Yes they decided to drink in a running car rather than wait until they went into the hotel or so their story goes. Apparently they wanted to get a drink on so they would both be more attractive to each other before some fun in the room. They apparently also decided to drive to the hotel and hang out there as her kids from another baby daddy were at her apartment. Both have prior alcohol offenses and it was an interesting demonstration of the power of lousy decision-making. Unknown as to if this was a case of prostitutus interruptus or just a hookup of the Dumb and the Feckless gone stupid.

Then we had the winner of the day's hearing, who is up for driving on a suspended license after it was suspended due to an earlier DUI infraction.

Sumdood's case gets called and he goes up before the judge.
Judge: "So you're pleading to driving on an already suspended license?"
Sumdood: Yes.
Judge: So on the ___ of April you were pulled over at ___ and _ __ while driving when you're license was suspended?

Sumdood: Yes.
Judge: Is this only time you were driving on the license while it is suspended?
Sumdood: Well no, I drive to work every day.
Judge: WHAT PART OF YOU HAVE A SUSPENDED LICENSE AND MAY NOT DRIVE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? [Yes he spoke that in all caps]
Sumdood: Well I was doing it to drive to work.
Judge: Again, your license is SUSPENDED YOU CANNOT DRIVE.

Sumdood really doesn't get it and they go back and forth for a bit and perhaps it starts to sink in that yes, a suspended license means you can't legally drive, even to work, and bad things will happen if you persist in doing so.

Then the judge changes tack:
Judge: How did you get here today?
Sumdood: Uh, by car?

The judge at this point looks like he wants capital punishment for mind-numbing stupidity instituted in Michigan.


Judge: SIR, AFTER THIS HEARING AN OFFICER IS GOING TO FOLLOW YOU TO THE PARKING LOT, AND IF HE SEES YOU GET INTO A CAR AS A DRIVER YOU ARE GOING TO BE ARRESTED AND WILL GO TO JAIL, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? [The All-Caps really came out on this one]
Sumdood: Uh....
Judge: You have a suspended license and you cannot drive and you cannot drive from my courthouse after pleading guilty to driving on a suspended license! Do you get it yet?

Sumdodd indicates he is starting to get it, and the Judge then accepts the guilty plea and finishes off the case with a repeated warning to not drive ever until his license is restored. I expect Sumdood dashes off to get someone to come pick him and his ride up from the parking lot, but given his clearly established level of brilliance he may very well be in jail currently.

So the quick tip for you today is if you're in court in regards to driving on a suspended license, driving yourself there is a very, very, bad idea. I've seen multiple judges ask people how they got to court when there's a suspended license involved, and the answers are often both rather entertaining and often quite self-incriminating.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Flying Lesson #122 - Onward To Linden

Last week there was no flying. My planned solo was cancelled due to winds beyond all small plane limits on Thursday and then my Sunday lesson was cancelled due to 300 foot overcast ceilings and thunderstorms. Neither of those conditions are conducive to learning, nor for small plane survival for that matter.

Today rain was forecast but when I got to the airport it was clear enough with winds only about 7 knots out of 170 and overcast at 8,000 feet. Nice and calm for some great flying weather.

I was flying with Tiffany, the CFI that administered my pre-solo oral knowledge test and it was pre-checkride prep time.

So I did a good takeoff after the tower sent me across 27R to takeoff from 27L as a helicopter was flying in the 27R pattern.

Tiffany requested I do a short field takeoff which I did, and I do like those. I then flew to Linden IFRR. IFRR you ask? That's pilot talk for I Follow Rail Roads.

Verily, there is indeed a railroad you can intercept and follow all the way from Pontiac to Linden, dropping down below Flint's Class C shelf as you do so in order to not bust their airspace. So, I landed at Linden and did another short field takeoff from there and dead-reckoned my way to the practice area, which I haven't done before so it was a bit interesting but I got there.

In the practice area I did slow flight, Power off and power on stall and steep turns. Hilariously my steep turn to the right was commercial passing grade but my left steep turn simply sucked. This is annoying as the steep turn to the right is supposed to be harder to do and this used to be my best maneuver, so more practice is needed. I guess I'm just a true right-winger.

We then did the low altitude maneuvers - turns around a point and S-turns. I hadn’t done those S-turns in a while and it showed but she helped me polish those. Then dead reckoning back to KPTK and I actually estimated the exact heading back there before she plugged it into the GPS and did a soft field landing that needed to be softer so more to work on there.

Overall a very productive and fun lesson showing some areas that need some work. Let's hope for some good flying weather for the next few weeks so I can get done here.

1.7 and 2 landings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Curious Case Of The Forged Lease

I was in court on a landlord-tenant matter that wasn't really a landlord-tenant matter at all.

We were suing to evict a girlfriend/moochee of the recently deceased resident of the house on behalf of his family. Note I said resident, not owner, that will come up later.

Did I mention the girlfriend/moochee is trashing the house and also happens to have a felony for manufacturing marijuana and seems to be trying to convert the basement of the house into a growing operation while at the same time making it unhealthy to live there? So getting her out is kinda important.

So I filed the requisite papers to get her out and lo and behold she gets an attorney.

Who then files a counter-complaint claiming she has a lease and sues for invasion of privacy, constructive eviction, disturbance of quiet enjoyment and seeks $25,000 plus in damages to get it kicked up to Circuit Court. In short nonsense because the deceased and the daughter have lived there as well and she's allowed to go get her stuff so the claims are basically nonsense, but if there's a real lease they've at least got a fight.

But it gets better.

So I'm looking at the supposed lease attached to the counter-complaint. It's filled out in a lady's handwriting, it's for ten years, at $200 a month for a frickin' house including utilities. The utilities have consistently been more than $200 per month btw. On top of that, there's a hilarious term that the deceased had allegedly agreed to give her 1 day notice any time before he came to the premises - while he was living there! Best of all, the signature purportedly of the deceased looks like its been traced repeatedly, as in multiple outlines of the signature - oh, and the middle name of the signature is misspelled.

Comparing the signature to the one on his driver's license shows multiple irregularities aside from the tracing, like his misspelled middle name. It doesn't take a handwriting expert to know this doc won't fly.

Don't try and forge documents while on drugs kids - the results ain't pretty.

This is gonna be fun.

So we show up in court and her attorney tries to get the case adjourned and removed to Circuit Court.

I quickly point out that not only do the court rules have the eviction proceeding remain in District Court but we're dealing with a very clear forgery and I can have five witnesses that are present including the deceased's ex-wife all swear that's not his signature and the lease makes no sense on its face. I then point out something even better:

The deceased never had any right to lease out the premises. He never owned the house.

It belonged to his mother and he never had it put in his name after she dies - 12 years ago - so it belongs to her estate, the personal representative of which is yep, my client.

Her attorney tries to say this is an issue and they need time to address it. The judge instead agrees with me that time is of the essence and considering that the lease can't even legally be entered into as he had no rights to lease the premises, not to mention the curious terms and handwriting, then grants a judgment in my client's favor and dismissed their counter-complaint without prejudice and says if they really want to still go for damages they can go file it again and try their luck in Circuit Court.

Something tells me her attorney won't be crazy enough to file a clearly fraudulent document a second time.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Today, Our 21st Wedding Anniversary

Today marks 21 fantastic years that have passed since I tied the knot.

The years have certainly flown by, that's for sure, but it's been a tale of slow and steady improvements and changes throughout and some really wonderful additions to the family.

Still amazed that she's put up with me this long.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Well You Don't See That Sort Of Crime Everyday

BBC: Leeds police hunt 'giant penis' costume man after assault

Leeds police stated they not only have no leads, but they ain't got dick in this case so far.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 - A Fun Wisecracking Romp Of A Film

Leah really wanted to go see Guardians of The Galaxy 2 because Baby Groot.

So she and I went last Saturday to see it, in 3D to get the full experience. We practically had the theater to ourselves for the afternoon matinee and had the best seats in the house.

It was a fun action movie with a bit of spicy language, but nothing a ten-year-old with a decent vocabulary who has been in the car during traffic can't handle.

Leah informed me that she had, after all, heard the S word before and they were neat enough in the movie to consistently shorten one swear word down as you'll hear in the trailer. To say its a rockin' good movie where every actor is clearly enjoying themselves and putting on a good show would be an understatement. Leah had no problem keeping up with the irony and sarcasm in the film which is a bit of a scary sign in and of itself.

Lots of action, plenty of Groot time, and fun for the whole family and worth seeing.

On arriving home when Tash asked her how it was, she replied "I am Groot!"

Monday, May 15, 2017

Smoking Salmon On Mother's Day

In addition to other Mother's Day festivities, I also smoked a nice filet of Salmon.

First I cured on Saturday it with half a cup of salt and half a cup of white sugar and a full cup of brown sugar, with the greater portio of more brown sugar to make for a less salty finished product. I then wrapped it and let it sit overnight in the fridge on a tray, draining the liquid as required.

Then, once I was back from my flying lesson I took it out of the fridge, washed off the cure and patted it dry and let it sit out to dry a few hours.

The salmon had acquired a slightly rough and dry external textureperfect for smoke to stick to it and do its work.

Then striking up the smoker with some locally-sourced apple wood (the very same wood on display in the linked blog no less), and got the smoker up to temperature.

Fillet curt in two to fit in the smoker covered and the apple wood did its work.

An hour and a half later it was done.

Perfect smokey flavor, nice and properly cooked fish but still moist and not dry and not overly salty. It was hard to not eat it all as a post-dinner snack.

Flying Lesson #121 - The Short and The Soft Of It

So yesterday at 2 I went to the airport to get a flying lesson in.

Winds were a gusty 13-15 out of 320 so it was a good crosswind kind of day. We were originally going to go to Linden but Ray said we would be going to Romeo as the runway was better aligned for the wind (being a 36/18 runway) than Linden's 27/9.

So I did a good crosswind takeoff and headed out to Romeo.

I then came in and did a normal landing at Romeo on Runway 36 and then the fun began. The winds were out of the left at Romeo, at times almost perpendicular at 27 with some good gusts. Yep the wind conditions were different at Romeo and made things fun.

I then did a short field takeoff which I have down technique wise and its pretty eassy in an Archer but feels like a sharp angle up - that nose is very high at 64 knots. Then came to do a short field landing and came in a bit too fast but at least I have abetter idea what I'm doing than before.

Next was a soft field takeoff and boy did the wind decide to mess with me on that takeoff. Heavy gust pushing me to the right as I'm at a high angle and trying to stay in ground effect. It was not a pretty takeoff but it worked. I then lined up for another short field landing and the wind gusted and pushed me on base, I almost had it lined up to recover but really didn't like how it was going - balancing a short approach, low airspeed, wind correction and realigning the approach path basically said it was go-round time, so I did. Ray said that was good aeronautical decision making.

I then did the pattern and came in for a decent short field landing with a very nice and stable approach.

The next soft field takeoff was better and I had a ton more wind correction in with some serious left aileron to stop the wind getting under that wing and pushing me off again. I then did a good short field landing and we did it again with a soft field takeoff and then a soft field landing - which felt a lot like a short field landing - in other words not so good.

Next the Aircoupe stationed on the field also started doing some patterns and we all played nicely together with good separation and communication.

We did a few more soft and short field landings and headed back to Pontiac.

As we were rolling down the runway to depart, a Citation came on that he was 3 miles out on final for Runway 36.

Yes, A Cessna Citation Jet cam in and did a short field landing. It certainly needed to do a short field as depending on if it was the XLS+ model it needs 3,180 ft for landing and Romeo is a 4,000 foot strip, and its going to need 3,560 to takeoff. It really ate up the runway but landed fine. Not a sight you see everyday at Romeo, that's for sure.

Then back to Pontiac and I did a forward slip to landing and did a nice crosswind landing.

I really need to get these soft and short landings perfected.

After fisnishign up we had a bit of a chat on what I need to work on and if the weather is good the next time I'm out will be solo and I'll be doing the altitude maneuvers and the ground reference maneuvers in the practice area.

1.6 and 7 landings.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

The kids went all out this year buying gifts for pampering the best mother in all the world.

Gift giving was followed by breakfast in bed made by yours truly and then the fun of planning an end-of-school-year trip for the kids, which mothers tend to really enjoy doing.

An excellent start to a great Mother's day, to be followed with a dinner of yummy Indian takeout food in a park setting as requested.

So a Happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers out there and for all that you do.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Flying Lesson #120 - Alone Again At Last

I went to court this morning and really knocked it out of the park for my client at a hearing, but more on that later. So was rather happy.

I then headed to DCT for a noon lesson, watching the flags whip around on the streets on my way there. Winds were about 8-11 and crosswind from 030-050. I figure it will be another solo-less day and between the winds and with runway 27L/9R is still closed so everyone is using the shorter 9L its not exactly perfect conditions. In other words, I expect yet more unending frustration.

I start pre-flighting N1689H and Hunter comes by and says "Ready for a guaranteed solo today"?

I'm rather nonplussed and say, just as a good gust whips up, "In these winds? Not likely."

He says we will after we go around the pattern a couple times and if he's happy with how I do it then I'm soloing. I am skeptical.

Ok then, good start, long taxi to 9L moving a safe distance behind a Falcon Jet, good run-up and off we go.

First pattern I do is ok by me, but he said I was diving too much on base and to do it again. I'm handling the crosswind just fine but there's some fun gusting at ground level that really lifts the plane on landing but I handle that as well. So we do a couple more patterns then he said he's got the radio.

I then take him to the D3 Run-up area and he does some notations in my logbook, trying to find space for them as it's pretty full endorsements-wise. The he says he's going to get out and will talk to me via a handheld on the practice frequency which we have dialed in on Com 2 and I can always switch to that if there/s an issue. He also said not to accept any close in requests and he'll be listening to tower and to the practice freq. Certainly a much more supervised approach to solo than the former flight school.

So I then lock the door, dial in ground and call them to taxi, then dial up tower and do the "N1689H Student pilot holding short 9L for pattern work" call.

I get takeoff clearance, do a nice crosswind takeoff, and do a beautiful pattern with Hunter chatting to me on the radio saying I'm looking good and I do a picture perfect crosswind landing.

Then off and taxi to do it again. This time I get a request to do a short base and I tell them unable (Hunter chimes in on the practice frequency with "good call"), so I get one heckuva extended downwind and end up with a 4 mile final behind a Hawker jet. The landing is a bit of a bouncer from some gusting but not terrible. The Citation Jet behind me also bounces it in and Hunter tells me don't worry about it, after all if a Citation is bouncing in these conditions then the Archer bounce on landing is not a problem.

Third pattern I do it all just fine, then terminate and request taxi back to the D3 run-up area to pickup Hunter. The tower gives me a nice congrats on the solo.

Then I taxi back and park the plane at DCT.

1.5 with .5 solo, and 6 landings.

After shutting down the plane I head in and am presented with a nice solo certificate.

First solo since June 30.

I must say it was nice being all alone in a plane again.

Now with that finally out of the way, it's time to do checkride flying prep both with and without an instructor on board, with a checkride hopefully to follow soon.

This is what happens when you finally go and order a hachimaki online....

Get Your Freon While Ye May

Just had the air conditioner serviced, probably it's first time since it had been installed back in 2009 by the prior owners.

It was down a couple pounds of refrigerant and being a 2009 unit that refrigerant was freon.

Thanks to the enviros and the Montreal protocol, freon is being phrased out and will be totally banned by 2020. Of course what happens when you ban a substance and produce less than is needed for the demand? The price goes up.

A pound is a tad over $100 a pound now and we needed two pounds.

The price is expected to shoot up this summer as people start using their air conditioners so if you have a 2009 or earlier AC you may want to get it serviced now, and if you need more than a few pounds you may need to replace the unit as the cost of freon makes it economically more sensible to replace a working unit completely as after 2020 there will be no more freon to be had.

If you have an A/C unit that was made in 2010 or later you won't have this problem, at least until they decide the replacement refrigerant needs to be banned as well.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ride The D-QLine

Well Detroit now has it's shiny new streetcar.

The Detroit News: Amid Detroit area transit debate, cue the QLine

3.3 miles of streetcar to nowhere, with 12 stations in that 3.3 miles, or almost a station every quarter mile.

And the cost, well that's the fun part:

With additional money from private, local, state and federal sources, the QLine has received more than $182.2 million, enough funding to last through 2022, according to M-1 Rail. It will take about $6 million a year to sustain it.
If you beleiveit will only be $6 million you're optimistic.

The construction cost overran its 100 million estimate apparently hitting 140 million, and considering it's Detroit the operating cost will likely similarly exceed the estimate by a comfortable grafting margin.

So what do we get for this quarter-billion wonder?

Well in the Detroit News' helpful A QLine how-to navigate guide we learn the streetcars may reach breathtaking speeds of 35mph and you better hold on as there's not a lot of seats but lost of hanging straps to grab and you can pack 150 people in a car. There's a few fold down seats but they seem rather few and far between. But, it looks like they're saying (its kind of hard to figure out see the article and you'll see why) it will take 30 minutes to go the entire 3.3 miles in that guide, which means a blistering speed of 6.6 miles per hour.

So yes, Detroit will now have a shiny new streetcar to go nowhere alongside the mugger-mover, oh, sorry the People Mover.

Not sure how 3.3 of very expensive streetcar will be Detroit's salvation, but they sure are optimistic about it, just sub QLine for monorail in the song below and you'll get an idea of the fervor of the Detroit SWPL intelligentsia for the project:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Keep Your Laser Away From Planes In The Sky, Or To Prison You May Fly

The Detroit Free Press: Gov. Snyder signs bills to make pointing laser at planes a crime

Considering the number of laser strikes on aircraft in Michigan, and the dangers they cause, it's appropriate that this is now a crime at the state level, allowing local county prosecutors to prosecute it rather than wait on the feds who tend to have limited resources for these matters.

A few of my pilot friends have been smacked by lasers while flying at night and it's not fun. Thankfully none were on short final at the time. Typically, it's some doofus playing with their laser pointer, but there is a real concern it may be done by some bad actors intentionally to try and interfere with an aircraft.

Considering that the laser may cause permanent damage, including blindness, and can result in a momentary loss of vision and control of the aircraft, making it a crime to stop people doing stupid things that endanger others in the sky and on the ground makes good sense.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Flying Lesson #119 - You Would Think....

Finally the winds were calm, the sky clear, weather perfect. You would think today would be the day for things to happen.

I had Hunter as an instructor and he said "Ray said to do some patterns with you and solo you assuming you're doing ok."

Ha ha. As frickin if.

So I do a good preflight, startup etc, and start the first pattern.

Oh, I forgot to mention - Runway 27L is closed so jets and everyone is using 27 R and it's a flying circus up there today.

Every pattern is non-standard due to tower trying and actually doing a good job of managing the traffic which has biz jets, multi props, trainers and idiots that can't seem to follow directions today.

I get to do a modified power off 180 when tower requests I bring it in real close, which was fun. I get to do an intersection takeoff, elongated downwinds a plenty and a tower required go round to help manage traffic. Not a single pattern was standard, but I'm doing it all myself. Decent landings, some float from the winds or excess airspeed from sudden in tight instructions, but no issues.

I'm doing fine but Hunter stated he could not solo me in these traffic conditions. He did say he's going to tell whoever is doing the next lesson to solo me.

Of course, weather is predicted to go to crap the rest of the week.

1.6 and 11 landings and a go round.

Shoulda worn a hachimaki. FMFL.

Monday, May 08, 2017

It's Easy To Be "Unafraid" When You've Been Assured There Will Be No Consequences For Your Actions

The Cinco de Mayo Parade in Detroit featured such lovely banners as one saying:

"Undocumented Unafraid Unapologetic"

The Detroit Free Press: Hundreds turn out for Cinco de Mayo parade

One would think if you're illegally in a country you would neither want to call attention to yourself nor have the chutzpah to announce to all and sundry that you are not only illegal but that you feel no need to apologize for your ongoing breaking of the law and your illegal status.

How brave they must be to walk out in public with what is essentially a "I'm breaking the law come and get me" sign. You'd think that sign would constitute probable cause...

Of course they are only "unafraid" because they had already received assurances from Detroit police that the police will not do any immigration enforcement during the parade:

The Detroit News: Craig: No immigration checks at Cinco de Mayo parade . Even with that assurance however, they seem to be so unafraid that they did not show their faces to the photographer...

Not so brave nor unafraid after all, that.

The precedent now being set that a Police department will pledge to not enforce the law and deliberately ignore illegal acts in broad daylight that take place right in front of them should be an interesting one. Will the Detroit Police follow this up with an announcement that next March that they won't do any public open alcohol enforcement on St. Patrick's Day?

Possible Progress On Michigan's Firearm Civil Rights

In the latest move to reform firearms rights in Michigan, Rep Lee Chatfield has introduced a bill to do away with Michigan's 90-year-old handgun registration scheme.

The Detroit News: Bill would cancel Mich.’s pistol registration mandate

Most states in the USA unsurprisingly do not register their citizen's handguns, and the entire scheme in Michigan is both costly in terms of citizen and police time and resources and inefficient, and its current iteration is not exactly foolproof.

I don't know of any cases offhand where pistol registration made a decisive difference in a criminal case. I only know of one civil case where it was helpful but not decisive in that case but made a few things go a little easier due to the registration that would have been picked up at the 4473 level and it was admitted to who actually owned just about simultaneously with the time they ran the registration check.

Overall, Michigan's handgun registration is a relic of a rather racist past that has done little to fight crime and far more to waste police time.

This bill is another small step in the right direction, assuming it passes.

Hopefully along with this the Republicans will introduce a bill getting rid of the no-carry zones again, this time leave schools out of the bill as we know Snyder would use schools as an excuse to veto it, get the others removed and then come back and work on schools later. Incrementalism can work to restore rights lost incrementally.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Not Flying - But That's Quite A Breakthrough

Well, with the winds at 13-24 knots out of 350 for a crosswind factor of 13 to 24 knots, it didn't take a Magic 8 Ball to tell me I was not going to solo today.

What was surprising however was my instructor texting me to say that given the winds messing up pattern and the low clouds precluding altitude maneuvers, because he feels I don't need anymore ground or the sim we should just cancel the lesson.

That was rather unexpected but kinda gratifying that they've finally figured I know my stuff and don't need more ground instruction. Yay.

Now where is that friggin' hachimaki?

Friday, May 05, 2017

This Is Why The NRA Requires No Live Ammo In The Classroom

The Detroit News: Instructor accidentally shoots man in Livonia gun class

A Detroit-area firearms instructor has accidentally shot and wounded a man attending a gun training class.

. . .

the 44-year-old instructor was conducting a class for people seeking concealed pistol licenses when he “pulled his gun out of its holster, pointed it at the door separating the two classrooms and fired a round.”

A 39-year-old Detroit man in another classroom was struck in both legs.

Following the standard gun safety rules, this could and should have been avoided.

That instructor is likely in some trouble as a result from not following the rules.

If you're teaching a class and you're not on the range, use a bluegun or SIRT for shooting, stance, and drawing from a holster demonstrations in a classroom, not a live pistol. Pulling a live pistol off the range in a class is a definite no-no.

When you're on the range, know your backstop, keep the firearm in a safe direction always,keep your finger off the trigger, and don't put holes in things you don't intend to put holes into.

If you're in such a class when an instructor starts waving a live pistol around, politely asking for a refund and leaving is a good idea as well.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Axelson Tactical - Premium AR15s

Old NFO told us we should go visit the Axelson Tactical booth. If you're smart, you'll know Old NFO's recommendations are good, and verily, we were not disappointed.

Axelson Tactical will be offering their line of AR15s and tuned-up handguns through Cabelas. Very nice, enthusiastic, and informative people they gave us the rundown on their products.

They offer AR15s with great triggers, carbon fiber parts for lightweight and high quality throughout for a premium product.

They have quite a patriotic line of AR15s.

They also have a drop in trigger unit for your AR-15 that makes for one of the best AR triggers I've ever shot.

If you're looking for high-end AR15s with an impressive pedigree behind them, Axelson Tactical will fit the bill nicely.

They also have customized AR15s in 6.5 Creedmore which do not yet appear on their product list. Talking with them, it's one impressive accurate rifle and with all the carbon fiber parts it's lightweight and match accurate to boot. To say its an impressive rifle would be an understatement. Charlie Melton of Charlie Mike Precision uses their 6.5 Creedmore rifle and we got a chance to meet and talk with him as well. First off, Charlie Melton is one heckuva nice and smart guy. This is good because he's not only a former SEAL, but he's also huge and sure as heck hasn't gotten out of shape at all. He's the real deal who as a SEAL trained some notable SEALs how to shoot - SEALs like Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle.

Now Murph wants something in 6.5 Creedmore and I'm gonna have to go along and maintain my side of the arms race....and then we need to go get some training in shooting it from Charlie Mike Precision.

NRAAM: IWI

A trip to NRAAM requires a visit to the IWI booth.

There were Tavor SARs aplenty (the one in the foreground is setup in 9mm):

And Tavor X95s:

The X95 has conversion kits available to easily convert the rifle to 9mm and 300 Blackout, and an SBR kit should be out soon, making a very compact rifle even more compact.

Rebecca, one of IWI's representatives, gave Murph, Mr. Garabaldi, and I an excellent run down on the X95's features and capabilities. The rifle is even handier than the SAR with a magazine release by the firing hand rather than at the butt of the rifle as with the SAR. There are built in rails covered with quick-detach covers, the pistol grip can be reconfigured, and it's a darn nice compact rifle even with a 16.5", 17" (9mm) or 18" barrel options. The stock trigger on the X095 is improved over the SAR and drop in aftermarket trigger packs are avaialble to improve it even more.

Murph definitely needs one, and I'm leaning to pickup an X95 at some point in the future.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

NRAAM: The 411 On FN's New 509

FN was heavily promoting their new 509 pistol at NRAAM. The 509 is a striker-fired 9mm pistol with an MSRP of $649.00

The stippling molded into the grip is very aggressive, almost painfully so. It is not going to slip out of your grip, but keep on gripping it hard long enough and it may make you wish it did.

Yes, the rear of the slide looks very Glock-like indeed. Meanwhile the trigger looks somewhat like an M&P with the smooth jointed trigger face and had a better feel than a Glock.

17 rounds of 9mm in standard capacity, changeable backstraps, ambidextrous magazine release, and very nice solid sights - either luminescent or tritium - come on it, and a mil standard rail is molded on the frame. The FN 509 weighs 26.9 oz.

The 509 was FN's entry into the Army's Modular Handgun Competition and apparently had over a million rounds of testing so it's likely had all possible bugs worked out of it.

It's not a bad choice for a full sized striker-fired handgun, but it's a newcomer in a market teeming with full-sized striker-fired handguns.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Flying Lesson #118 - A Dance With Airmet Tango

Well with winds blowing from 13-25 knots at 250 it was certainly not going to be a solo day, the showering rain didn't help much either.

I would fly instead with Marcus and I said let's do some pilotage to Linden as that will almost assuredly be a part of my checkride.

So I did a nice preflight etc, and the takeoff was quite quick - a 25 knot headwind will do that for you.

I had a compass course in for Linden and Marcus helpfully pointed out the railroad track I should follow that I had found on the map as the windshield was kinda getting rained on messing up the forward visibility. Side viz was still ok so I put the railroad track on my left and followed it along until I found the airport and as I hit Holly I descended to stay under FLint's Class C airspace.

So, I found Linden with no serious problems and probably doing it a couple more times and I'll have it down.

However, by then I was having a serious challenge keeping the plane straight and level in a lot of turbulence - lots of uncommanded and undesired altitude and attitude changes. I did get set up for a downwind entry to the field and was getting stressed enough out of it and having enough fun trying to keep the plane level that we decided to call it and head back to KPTK.

I then pilotaged my way back to KPTK and did a pretty darn decent Downwind to Base to Final and then a nice landing while getting blown all over the darn place, it was kinda sporty.

Then we went in and did some ground stuff on cross country planning and performance charts and the new 1800wxbrief.com website which is kinda neat. Turns out there was an low level and high level Airmet Tango - Tango meaning turbulence in the area of concern to small aircraft such as the one I was flying. The Airmet sure was right.

So it was a sucky .8 and 1 landing. FMFL.

Signs The AR15 Market Is Flooded

Yes, Taurus has a line of AR-15s out.

When Taurus launches an AR line, you know everyone is fully into production of the modern American Rifle. It sounds like Taurus amongst many others had (quite reasonably) anticipated Donald Trump not winning the presidency and a gun control push to end all pushes so they ramped up to be ready and now the market is saturated in AR15s.

Springfield Armory's SAINT ARs were out in force

There were even glow-in-the-dark ARs from DPMS.

Ok, not really but the DPMS booth was certainly heavy into the neon green look.

You can get a decent Del-Ton AR15s for under $499, which is a nice rifle for cheaper than you can build them yourself.

While the AR15 market may be flooded, this is in one way a good thing: Anti-gunners certainly cannot argue with a straight face that AR15s are not "in common use" in America.

The Common Use test, adapted in Dc v. Heller and applied to the states via MacDonald is that the sorts of weapons protected from banning are those “in common use at the time.” As stated in Heller, and while the Court in Heller was referring to handguns but certainly also applicable to AR15s - “[the ban of] the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” 478 F. 3d, at 400, would fail constitutional muster."

AR-15s are certainly in common use in America today, are without a doubt a class of rifles being the most preferred rifles in America and banning them would fly in the face of the Heller decision - god luck with any ban on ARs there Antis so long as Heller remains in force. With Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and a likely further replacement by Trump of a liberal justice to get the court to a Conservative bent, I can forsee some very valid challenges (I'm looking at you California) to assault weapons bans across the country being brought and being won under the Common Use test.