Friday, October 30, 2015

Flying Lesson #19 - The Sucky Landings Slump

While previous lessons have been cancelled due to weather with things such as 30 knot crosswinds or IFR ceilings, lunchtime today offered reasonably clear skies and a reasonable crosswind of around 6-8 knots.

Unfortunately my landings were not happy-making. No bending of the aircraft or anything serious like that, but stable approaches they were not. It didn't help that the crosswind decided to come and go with each approach.

I at least had better altitude and power control on the downwind, but for some reason my base turns and base to final turns were generally off just enough at times. Then when I did those perfectly and had a great approach going, I serpentined in on final by over-correcting for the crosswind. In addition, the flares were weird today, and not just for me. Ground effect seemed all out of sorts for some reason with lots of extra lift. Basically today was I can't win for losing day.

No go-arounds were needed, although I wanted to do one on the last landing as I could see it was sucking but we landed ok but by no means great. Things just were not clicking.
I did have fun watching a Cirrus in a cool-looking silver and purple livery work the pattern, including overtaking us (we had offered to do a long downwind so they could cut in and do their pattern quicker which they appreciated, as they're much faster than a 172).

I then also watched them overshoot some approaches clearly unintentionally so I wasn't the only one clowning things up up there.

We also had a large passenger jet takeoff so we had a wake turbulence warning as we were taking off from a parallel runway. Not bad watching a large jet takeoff in tandem and it was pretty cool to see and fly beside. The sky was full of some assorted nice Falcon jets, a Lear jet, twin Cessnas, single engine Pipers, Cessnas, and a helicopter all coming and going to make for a fun pattern.

On the upside, all of my takeoffs today and especially my cross-wind takeoffs were complimented as being excellent and much better than the average student, so I've got that going for me.

That's 1.0 hours of frustration and 9 more landings in ye olde logbook.

Jett And Lilly Having A Ball

On our morning walk we encountered Lilly, the local German Shepherd and her owner taking her for a walk.

The dogs get along famously and we took them off leash on Lilly's lawn to play. Both mind well and stay off the road, so it's fun for them to race around and burn up some energy. Jett has the speed advantage, but Lilly is built like a Mack truck and will keep on coming as long as she doesn't get bored.

After playing a bit of chase they found a ball and then it was game on. With Jett the Airedoodle performing his high-energy maneuvers, he quickly left Lilly far behind.

Jett won the first chase quite handily.

Victory! The ball is mine.

Lilly then caught up and wanted the ball.
Excuse me sir, I'd like to talk to you about a ball.

What ball? Oh, this ball?

Yes, that one right there if you don't mind, it's mine.
Jett did mind and the chase was back on.

Can't catch me in after-burner mode.

Ok, I'll wait here for you to catch up, I want you to feel like you're doing well.
Chase 2 ended with no hard feelings.

Same time tomorrow, Ralph? Sure thing Sam!
Not a bad way to start a morning.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

And We Should Care Why, Exactly?

In an attempt to tie on a self-aggrandizing announcement from an already retired professor in Texas to the current bout of legislation that to remove the concealed-pistol-free zones in Michigan, The Detroit Free Press happily notes he had worked at MSU at some point.

The Detroit Free Press: Ex-MSU professor: Guns have no place in education

A former Michigan State University professor says he’ll no longer teach at the University of Texas because of a new law allowing concealed firearms on campus.

Daniel Hamermesh taught at MSU from 1973 until 1993 and said he believes guns have no place in an educational setting. He adds that arming students does little to help faculty and others feel safe. In fact, he argues it does the opposite.......A bill calling for similar allowances in Michigan is currently before state legislators.

Senate Bill 442 would allow concealed pistols in gun-free zones, including in classrooms and dormitories. It would replace the existing statue allowing open-carry in these environments and would bar the practice in gun-free zones. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee 4-1 earlier this month.

Frankly an opinion from a professor who has already retired announcing he's goign to stop teaching all of a year early because of a decision he doesn't like on a purely emotional basis in a state far, far, away doesn't really weigh much on the question here, or even in Texas for that matter.

This is unfortunately the standard anti-gun claim stated yet again that somehow allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns places will result in "blood in the streets", or on the blackboards, what have you.

Quick news flash for the prof et al.: Not allowing law-abiding citizens to carry guns in classrooms has so far had no deterrence whatsoever preventing criminals and those bent on mayhem from doing so, with well-known horrific consequences that results when packed classrooms full of the unarmed meets someone intending on murder, or in countless simple robberies and assaults as the unarmed get robbed around campus after leaving the gun free zones.

Since mandating that people in schools must be wholly unarmed and helpless hasn't worked so far, how about trying something different and more effective?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

He Truly Was A Shady Character

The name you might be given can have quite the effect on your future.

Take, for example, our stupid criminal of the day caught in an attempted home invasion.

His name: Shady Bin-Emad-Sami Karim

Note this isn't his first time around the block, as reported in the Detroit News:

has been charged with attempted home invasion, a felony that carries up to five years in prison, along with a habitual fourth offender charge, which carries a maximum of life in prison.....the Dearborn Police believe Karim may be responsible for other home invasions.

Too bad his parents didn't name him Lawful or Upstanding.

Monday, October 26, 2015

UNESCO's Credibility Drops Even Farther

The UN and its sub-organizations generally have an anti-US and anti-Israel bias that can be shockingly apparent at times.

For example, UNESCO in an act of impressive historical revisionism, just passed a resolution claiming that Rachel's Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs are Muslim holy sites, not Jewish.

At the last minute they at least redacted from the resolution a statement that the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was not a Jewish Holy Site but was solely a Muslim holy site. How nice of them.

They did however in the resolution call on Israel to respect “respect the pre-1967 status quo”. Note the word pre. Pre-1967, the old city of Jerusalem was in Jordanian hands and Jews were forbidden to enter, and they were also forbidden from visiting Rachel's Tomb, the Tomb of The patriarchs and Josephs Tomb. Nice.

At least they didn't go full turnip and claim that Joseph's Tomb the same holy site that Muslims just firebombed was solely a Muslim holy site.

If anyone wonders why Israel and America tend to distrust the UN as an institution, well, this contemptible resolution is yet another sign for you.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Obligations And Memories

Instead of going to the blog shoot this weekend I had obligations in Toronto to attend.

We arrived Friday, leaving after work.

On the happy side this weekend, on Saturday we casually celebrated my father's 71st birthday, which had taken place earlier this month.

But today was a more solemn occasion.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of my Father-in-Law Boris' death.

So this morning we drove out to the cemetery, Natasha and I and the kids, meeting up with Natasha's mom and sister, and my Dad and Step-Mom to attend.

Cancer sucks, and intestinal cancer sucks, and sucks quickly. He died fifteen days short of his 70th birthday.

I have many memories of him, a fine, cultured and good man who had left the Soviet Union after a hard life there, growing up as a Jewish child during World War 2 and starving, his parents dead with his father disappeared in the war -- he was killed either by the Nazis or the NKVD, and to this day no one knows which, or they aren't saying. He grew up as a Jew in Russian with all that entailed, becoming a jeweler and watchmaker.

He then went on to have not an easy life in Canada, after finally being able to leave the Soviet Union with his family. His life in Canada included learning a new language and culture, and working very, very, hard in order that his children might have better lives. He succeeded.

I remember meeting him for the first time and for the last time, and all those times in between, including his holding my first daughter, his granddaughter. My second child has her middle name of Beth in his honor, having been born after and never meeting her maternal grandfather.

We did a short ceremony at his grave, including the recitation of the El Maleh Rachamim prayer that is said when visiting a grave. We also placed stones on the grave headstone in the Jewish tradition, and flowers in the Russian tradition.

We also stopped by my Mom's grave, which is in the same cemetery. She died in 1994 at age 49, of type 1 diabetes. Again much, much, too young, especially so now that I'm in my forties and it all still feels like yesterday. Lots of memories there, many good and many bad as instead of being quick, Diabetes Type I is a slow and cruel killer. For all that she and the family muddled through until the end, and to say that my Dad was a rock who kept everything together throughout would be an understatement.

Again, we recited the El Maleh Rachamim prayer and added stones to mark our visit.

There's lots of good company there. Nearby my mom's grave was that of Rabbi Jordan Pearlson, an intellectual giant of a man, not to mention a true mensch. The founding rabbi of the congregation I grew up in and a great influence for good in the lives of many including myself. He died in 2008 after a lifetime of service to the community and Toronto.

Afterwards we all went to a Russian restaurant for a very special lunch to commemorate Boris. We had the restaurant, which was a very small room with two tables reserved for the occasion. We had the room all to ourselves for a couple hours and it was a very special feast in true Russian style. The table was covered in Russian specialty appetizers and then the main course arrived and kept arriving, followed by dessert. To say the food was incredible would be an understatement. It was a fine feast in Boris' honor.

Then we got in the car and headed home, leaving behind stones and taking more memories with us.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Friday Networking - At The Range

Yesterday morning I was able to do a fun networking event.  Instead of golf or a mixer with a crowd of people, the business networking group I'm a part of met up at my range for a shooting event.

Lots of safe fun ensued, and we had the range all to ourselves.

We shot at the pistol range first, I had brought a few different 9mm pistols for people to try. My Smith & Wesson M&P 9, my Inglis Hi Power, and the HK P30.  I had the plate rack going and some paper and a popper and supervised people shooting. 

 A client of mine Ed of Wicked Grips had also come to the event and he brought some nice customized firearms with him.  He's a custom grip maker and some of his grips have appeared in various films. If you want some very cool grips for your 1911 or Beretta, and lots of other cool stuff, checkout

He had some cool Smith Revolvers including a a Jerry Miculek 45 ACP custom job that was a dream to shoot, and a custom 8-shot .357 Smith that was incredible to shoot.

Here's Steve shooting the 8 shot .357. He's a new shooter and had a great time.

At the rifle range we shot my Tavor, 300 Blackout, The SAR-1 AK and Mighty Mite, my AR-15 pistol.

Here's Dave shooting my 300 Blackout AR. It's nice and quiet with subsonic ammo and it rang the hanging steel plates with a louder noise than the shot itself. I let everyone give it a try and there was a lot of grins going around when each person had shot their allotted rounds.

Might Mite was a crowd pleaser, between the loud muzzle blast and huge flame with each shot along with a satisfying ping as each round hit the swinging steel plates it was a lot of fun for people to shoot.

For example, here's Ed shooting a round from Mighty Mite

 Ed brought along a Bushmaster ACR, which was a really sweet shooting 5.56 rifle. My first time trying one out and it was quite nice indeed.

For fun Ed and I shot pistols at 100 yards. I shot the P30, and more often than not, I could hit the steel plates from standing offhand. Likely a lot of luck was involved, but it was neat to push my ability and try to ring the steel plates at that distance. 

That's 120 more rounds through the Tavor with no issues.

That's also another 250 rounds through the P30 with no cleaning and no issues except unfailing reliability for 800 rounds now.

Everyone had a great time at the range and it was a very successful networking event indeed. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flying Lesson #18 - Pilot Controlled Fields

For this lesson we took off and headed northeast. Winds were gusting from 9-19 knots from 200 degrees, so I took off from 25R.

Then we headed to Lapeer via my naviguessing. I got to visit Lapeer for the first time by air.

Lapeer is a pilot controlled field, meaning it doesn't have a control tower. It does have it's own ATIS however which was helpful, and you communication with other aircraft that may be in the vicinity by using the common traffic advisory frequency.

I found the field after searching a bit (learning how and where to look is not the easiest thing) and entered the downwind at a 45 degree angle and setup for landing after making standard radio calls.

We did 4 cross-wind landings there, one to a full stop and three touch and goes and one go-round.

Then I naviguessed us back to Pontiac using the sectional, had a bit of a bother finding the runway in the haze but eventually found it.

Sean had me request a landing on Runway 18, which at 2,582 feet by 75 feet and with a displaced threshold looks darn tiny compared to the standard runways at 6,521 and 5,676. We were given a straight in approach and Sean demonstrated a slip to drop our altitude and then gave me the controls to do the landing, and I did apparently a pretty decent landing.

So far it seems my main problems are not taking enough power out to control the altitude and I need to adjust puling back on the final descent a bit more consistently in a continuous fashion and adjust as I continue to transition to landing. Aside from that I'm apparently doing good, and I'll eventually figure this out.

That's 1.4 more hours in the books.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Flying Lesson #17 - Naviguessing Using VORs And Pilotage

Today while beautiful and sunny, came with a 20 knot shifting crosswind and some heavy wind shear and turbulence around 2,500-3,000 feet. So it was not a day for pattern work. Also we didn't have a plane suitable for pattern work.

N73455 wasn't back from the shop yet, N757MK was in the shop, and Papa Romeo was scheduled so that left me having my second flight in the Cessna 172RG Cutlass. Complex aircraft time.

I did the pre-flight and got it all ready, not a lot of difference from the fixed gear but there were some things to lookout for and I rigorously followed the checklist as usual.

Start up was a little different, as was finding some of the controls as they were in quite different places. But I got it started and all set and we were cleared to takeoff of Runway 27R. As we took off, there was one helluva gust that picked up from the left which made for not my best takeoff. I got to adjust the constant speed propeller which was interesting to do having read about it and now I could actually do it.

We headed off to the northeast to where we knew not, but would learn as that was the point of today's lesson.

Finding out where you are is important. Note that this is so important that, as can be learned at Chant Du Depart, the Navy has professional naviguessers, who are very good at their trade.

Today, I got to be the amateur at aerial navigation. I had a shiny new current sectional chart I had just bought for today's lesson. There's nothing like a new pilot and a new map. . . . .

I am pleased to report I did not violate any controlled airspace nor violate Canadian sovereign territory during this exercise, nor did I end up in Chicago.

However, in the immortal words of Winnie The Pooh, there were moments when it could be accurately stated: “I'm not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”

Something like that. After all I knew where I was - sitting in an airplane and flying it.

So I learned to fly the plane, handle the sectional map to lookup and then dial in VORs, identify VORs, then set the VORs properly and with two VORs properly setup figure out where I was by intersecting the two radials. All this while being bumped around pretty good. I was getting kinda busy up there.

Identifying VORs is rather important to be sure you're on the right one, which is checked via Morse code, but also as some are not functional and if you dial it in you won't get any response which will not be helpful. They're still listed on the sectional but they do not work. So I was setting VORs and working the radios to pick them up.

Listening to Saginaw's VOR was kinda interesting. There was not only morse code but there was also a voice - it was HIWAS, the Hazardous In-flight Weather Advisory Service, letting us know about Airmet Tango (turbulence) and other fun things. Good to know that's there.

Then Sean threw in a "your engine just died - what do you do?" emergency and he seemed pleased with my response overall.

Then we did some pilotage (this is the visually follow roads meaning of VFR) and I managed after some fumbling around to find out where I was and then find the Romeo airport which took a bit of doing. Then I pilotaged my way from Romeo back to KPTK.

I called the field when we were about 10 miles out, and then at 6 miles they called that we could come straight in but warned about some very shifting winds and wind shear.

Sean handled the landing which put the serious crosswind in a crosswind landing indeed. He made it look both smooth and ridiculously easy.

Not a bad 1.5 hours of aerial navigation instruction.

A Weekend In The Trees and On The Range

The weekend got better starting Saturday night.

We had Havdalah in the Trees with members of our synagogue at the Adventure Park.
We started out with a group of 35 parents and kids gearing up after dark to tackle the courses. It was cold out but we rapidly warmed up making our way through, over and under the obstacles.

Making your way as a family through an obstacle course that is dimly lit and when you can't even see the ground most of the time is a very different feeling than tackling the same course by day. Zip-lining across nothingness in the dark is very cool indeed.

We ended with a small service to celebrate the end of Shabbat and went home exhausted from the courses that we did.

Then today I took the kids with Manuel and his kids to the range this evening and we had a blast even in the cool weather.

I had the P30 out and 100 rounds later there are no malfunctions of any kind to report. Manuel liked shooting it as well, and it knocked down steal plates with aplomb. That's 550 rounds with no issues.

The kids shot the M&P 15-22 and knocked down plates with it quite nicely. Leah also shot the Ruger MKII and Abby tried out Manuels GSG .22LR Uzi, which is very heavy for a .22 - no recoil but it was not comfortable for her due to its weight.   She stuck with the M&P 15-22.

Manuel had also brought along a pretty cool new toy.

Yes, that's his Tavor, but it's now sporting a silencer and a 9mm conversion kit. It uses UZI mags and functions flawlessly.  The silencer makes it very pleasant to shoot and it's much, much quieter than the H&K P30 with the same ammo and with no flash.  While not silent, You could easily shoot it without ear protection without any discomfort.

The 9mm conversion kit is a very slick bit of kit, and shooting it with the silencer is simply awesome. It was problem-free for a good 300 rounds this evening. Shooting down racks of plates was effortless, even when they kept reappearing with the child-operated semi-automatic plate reloading system then in use.

I needs to get me one of these.

Since dusk was fast approaching, we shut down, cleaned up and headed off. We headed off to dine on some pizza and that was the end of a great day and a pretty darn good weekend.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hmm, No Calls For Brick Control Yet

Chalk up another defensive gun use. This one in a church, by a pastor no less.

Detroit Free Press: Police: Pastor shoots, kills attacker in church

Note that while churches are gun free zones in Michigan, you can carry in them if you have the express permission of the personages running the institution. Presumably the pastor did have such permission. In this case, as is typical with law-abiding gun owners, the gun in church saved lives.

So next time someone asks why you may need a gun in a house of worship - and by example, noted ant-gun Freep Columnist Rochelle Riley states that churches are anathema for the presence of guns, in her typically sardonic column that has more emotion and cant than logic in it as usual, one might reply to her and others that carrying in such a place makes sense as some people won't respect it as a place of prayer but instead will view it as an unarmed zone for mayhem.

After all, would Rochelle have preferred the pastor with his head bashed in with a brick so he could have died all saintly and unarmed, rather than armed and alive as he is now?

Certainly this latest defensive gun use is timely as we in Michigan debate ending (sort of) the gun free criminal empowerment zones we now have.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Oh, That Media Bias

A brilliant video illustrating the impressive amount of media bias going around concerning the recent terrorist attacks in Israel.

The video brilliantly answers what it would look like if all terrorist attacks were reported in such a fashion?

Watch and find out:

What if the media reported every terrorist attack the same way they reported terrorist attacks against Israel? Video Sparks created this video to show you what the headlines would read:

Posted by StandWithUs on Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nicely done by Stand With Us and Video Sparks.

Note for a current example the Detroit Free Press headline today reporting on 3 separate stabbing attacks today where the attackers were killed: Israelis kill 3 Palestinians as violence surges. Note since I posted this the headline has now been modified to say "Israelis kill 4 Palestinians as violence surges" (That's a 25% increase in bias in the headline!), as there was a further attack thwarted.

Yes, that media bias indeed.

Well, That Sucks.

So this morning I awake and confirm the forecast from last night - winds at 5 knots right on 270 degrees, a layer of scattered clouds at 5,000 feet, and it should be a perfect day for flying.

And it certainly is - the sky is a beautiful clear blue, very few clouds way high up and the day looks perfect for a flight.

So I drive out to the airport all happy, even with two idiots going 43 mph in both lanes to block them on a 50 mph road with no traffic in front of them just to be cute. Whatever. Still in a good mood and ready to fly.

I get to the airport and notice N73455 is not where it normally sits. I check in at the desk and find out I'm now not on the schedule and N73455 got taken in for maintenance last night apparently due to a blown tire. People need to stop blowing tires when I'm scheduled to fly, it's rather rude of them.

There had been an email from their scheduling system this morning but it glitched and instead of cancelling the lesson it instead confirmed I was scheduled, so I went to the airport just to find out I was not flying on this beautiful day today.

Annoyed and disappointed I am.

Friday, October 16, 2015

It Gives A Whole New Meaning To The Instruction "Front Sight....Press"

While the mainstream media have always tended to have a very anti-Israel bias, it's not often that they fully cross the line form propagandizing and covering for terrorists into open participation in terrorist acts.

The Detroit News: Palestinian in ‘press’ vest shot dead

Note even the biased headline in the Detroit News that suggests the Israelis shot a member of the press for no reason. You have to read the story to learn he was shot while attempting to stab a soldier:

Hebron, West Bank — A Palestinian man wearing a T-shirt with the word “press” in large letters stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier Friday before being shot dead by troops, the latest in a monthlong spate of attacks.

The stabbing occurred on the sidelines of clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian stone-throwers after Friday prayers in the West Bank city of Hebron. The attacker blended in with journalists standing a few feet from a group of soldiers who were firing tear gas at the stone-throwers at the time.

Further reading of the article revel the Palestinians care as little for others' religious sites as they do for their own (they were recently caught stockpiling pipe bombs in the Dome of The Rock) along with the perfidy of launching attacks under the cover of being members of the media:

In Nablus, another West Bank city, Palestinians firebombed a site revered by some Jews as the tomb of the biblical figure Joseph, an attack condemned as “irresponsible” by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Flames blackened exterior walls of the small stone structure, a scene of Israeli-Palestinian clashes in the past.

But worry not, the US State Department will be quick to declare some moral equivalence and ask the Israelis to practice restraint in the face of these attacks shortly.

You Should Never Go Full Moral Equivalence

You never should, but sure enough, Obama's State Department has gone full moral equivalence.

PJ Tatler: Obama State Department Accuses Israel of Terrorism as Palestinian Terrorists Murder Jews

Yes, a spokesman for the US State Department actually equated Israeli Police and Military responding and stopping in progress Palestinian knife attacks on Israelis with the acts of Palestinian terrorists stabbing attacks on Israeli civilians.

I'm only surprised that the State Department has not yet issued a pic of one of their spokespersons holding up a sign with a new hash tag of #TerroristsLivesMatter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Man Wins The Americana Artifact Lottery

A man buys a photo for $2 in a junk shop.

It turns out the "junk" photo isn't junk, instead it's an authentic photo of Billy the Kid.

Oh, and it's worth not two dollars but around five million dollars.

The Detroit Free Press: Billy the Kid photo purchased for $2 in junk shop, could sell for $5M

Oh, and we also learn from the photo that Billy The Kid and the gang knew how to play croquet.

Darn nice find there, Mr. Guijarro.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

More Anti-NRA Calumnies From The Detroit Free Press

In an incident last week, a female CPL holder opened fire at two fleeing felon shoplifters at a home depot. No one was injured in the crime nor in her misguided intervention. Said shooter is now being charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless discharge of a firearm.

Dipping into other people's fights is never a good idea. Using deadly force to protect property is not allowed in Michigan. Furthermore, dipping into a non-violent crime in progress by cranking off some rounds at a fleeing criminal when it is not even you're stuff they're taking and they're not posing a deadly threat to you or others is a really bad idea.

In short, this particular CPL holder had bad judgment and luckily no innocent was harmed.

With all that being said, Detroit Free Press columnist Nancy "Know-Nothing" Kaffer couldn't resist form making some untrue gratuitous swipes at the NRA and gun owners in general:

How can you blame her?

When Tatiana Duva-Rodriguez shot at a fleeing shoplifter's tires in a Home Depot parking lot last week, she was only doing what she'd been told, time and again, from people like National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre to presidential candidate Ben Carson: The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Or, I suppose, an alleged bad guy with what appeared to be stolen hardware goods.

Funny Nancy, the NRA has never advocated using deadly force to protect other person's property or stolen hardware goods.

Nor does Wayne LaPierre or Ben Carson saying truthfully that "The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." even apply here. After all the shoplifters were unarmed.

You're reaching quite a bit too far there Nancy.

The instructions CPL holders should receive in those classes contradict the vigilante ethos pushed by LaPierre, Carson and others, who have, in the wake of repeated school shootings, argue that if only more people were armed, the shooters could have been stopped.

Say Nancy, do you know who produces the most used class in Michigan for CPL instruction, including appropriate use of deadly force? That's right Nancy, your claimed pushers of the "vigilante ethos", The NRA.

The non-sequiturs flow fast and thick in this article. What exactly do in progress shootings in gun-free zones have to do with a lady improperly engaging a couple of fleeing shoplifters? Oh right, nothing at all except in Nancy's fevered mind.

Next up Nancy will be caliming that the American Automobile Association for advocating for highway funding is clearly trying to have people speed through red lights and steal cars. That follows just about as well.

But it's folly to think that any short training course could prepare a civilian to make the kind of life-and-death, in-the-moment decisions that sometimes stymie even highly trained law enforcement officers. Or that such training could hold in the heat of a tense moment. This narrative of necessary vigilantism places an unfair burden on private citizens.

My bet is Nancy thinks the average officer gets more training in use of force than they actually do. Indeed Nancy doesn't seem to consider the fact that trained CPL holders as a group tend to get it far more right than wrong in self-defense situations and commit fewer crimes than the average citizenry. Nor is there any "narrative of necessary vigilantism" but thanks for the concern trolling and making that up there Nancy.

The folly here is that Nancy has likely never taken a CPL class and knows not what she is talking about.

"It would have been much more helpful for (Duva-Rodriguez) to take out her cellphone and shoot pictures of the shoplifter’s license plate," Cooper said.

That's the truth. I wish someone had bothered to tell her.

I'm sure, assuming she did in fact take a legitimate CPL class, that her CPL class instructor and the attorney or law enforcement officer teaching the legal portion of her CPL class did indeed provide such an instruction and guidance. That she failed to heed it is on her as an individual and she will answer for it.

Nancy, however, to support her anti-gun narrative felt the need to take this example of one misguided CPL holder and use it to bash the NRA and Ben Carson with an article full of lies and non-sequiturs.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Nothing Good Happens At A Detroit Gas Station At 3am

It's still rather amazing that people haven't figured this out by now.

The Detroit Free Press: Man shot, carjacked at BP gas station in Detroit

Driving a 2012 Dodge Challenger to a gas station at 3am in Detroit is about as smart as walking down a dark alley in Detroit with hundred dollar bills hanging out your back pocket.

Yes, I know, you're not asking for it, but you've deliberately put yourself in a very vulnerable position for no good reason when there are plenty of better and safer alternatives available.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Flying Lesson #16 - Lots More Landings

Today was a beautiful day to play in the pattern.

Sky clear, winds calm and lots of traffic. So much so they were actually running two separate tower frequencies, one for each runway in service.

Pre-flight done, oil added, taxi clearance granted, and then after a run-up, over to Tower at 123.7 rather than 120.5 to get permission to takeoff from 25R.

I was flying with Sean today and I did just about as well as my last lesson. My patterns were pretty darn good, only a few were a bit off but all were retrievable with no major jerking around of the airplane. As usual, I was typically high on final but got things in ok and it makes instructors happier than coming in low.

I did have a first where the tower asked me to extend the upwind leg for a half mile, which I did and it made for quite a different feel to the pattern, with a downwind that felt like forever, but it give me time to configure the plane perfectly before the base turn and both base and final were right on.

I was feeling pretty good about the patterns and landings today.

The landings were good, but Sean does want me to hold the plane more in ground effect and keep it off for longer than I am currently, with more flare at the end to slow the plane down a touch more and ensure it's in the proper attitude, so I'll keep working at it.

He figures I'm pretty close but need to get just a little bit better at landings.

He stated the next lesson will be more instrument work followed by some patterns.

That's 12 more landings and 1.3 more hours.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Seriously, Microsoft?

Windows 10 still has some problems that makes one wonder if this free roll-out is just a really big beta test.

For example, this fun little error:

Yes, the start menu, that which differentiates Windows 10 from the absolute dreck that was Windows 8, that which makes it nice and usable as an operating system has a critical error and is unusable.

You can't make this error message go away either - you can either hit the restart prompt, but if after restart you click the start menu again, then nine times out of ten you get the critical error message again. It does occasionally fix itself only to have the critical error later. There are workarounds where you can still get to your applications by right-clicking but that's ridiculous. It's also very hard for 9-yeay-olds to use without assistance when there is no start menu. Thanks for that Microsoft.

If you don't hit restart, you can at least move the box out of the middle of the screen but you can't minimize it or make it go away without restarting the machine.

In addition, the Toshiba laptop still will not take Windows 10 even after refreshing the 8.1 that is native to it - it hangs the install right after it downloads - Every. Damn. Time.

Sheesh. Clearly there are still quite a few significant bugs and Windows 10 is far and away from being a perfect "10".

Even the dog is not happy with Microsoft 10:

Flying Lesson #15 - Lunchtime Happy Landings

There was an opening today at lunch at the flight school so I took it to get some landings in and try to reverse the negative performance from yesterday.

Conditions were marginal VFR with overcast at 1,900 feet and a 9 knot crosswind from 300.

We were flying from 27R and the tower had us do consistent right patterns.

I was teamed up with Will as a flight instructor for today. I did the pre-flight and all looked good on N73455.

We had a little sprinkle of rain that cleared up. We got clearance to taxi and then to takeoff.

My first takeoff was just right, and I'm getting better applying more right rudder than I think I need.

The wind from the right was pushing us toward the airport pretty consistently. We were actually crabbed into the wind and flying sideways at times on the climb out to maintain the runway heading, which was kinda fun. I also needed to then crab away from the airport on the downwind

My landings on this day were excellent. I did much better patterns and had much better control and was a lot smoother, although all my finals were consistently high but that beats being consistently low.

Today the flares were right on and quite a few of the landings were greasers. I remembered to look to the side during the landing, fly the plane all the way down, and everything was clicking nicely.

Crosswind landings were fun - I had to have right aileron and left rudder in at landing to counter the wind, and we landed with the right main wheel typically touching first, then on the touch and goes I had to keep the right aileron in on the takeoff roll and level out during the climb.

Will was impressed with my landings in a crosswind and aside from some guidance and confirmation he stated I was doing all the work on my own.

He also had me do two go-arounds not due to a bad landing setup on my part but because he wanted to make sure I knew how to do them and would not hesitate to do a go-round if necessary. The go rounds were fun and they re pretty easy to do and he liked how I did them, so all was well.

Will also demonstrated a simulated loss of engine on the downwind and a tightened base to make the runway if that occurs. It's a maneuver you need to have down for you Commercial Pilot's license but he wanted to show me it can be done now.

If the weather holds there will be a lesson tomorrow and I'm going to work to make the landings even better.

That's 1.5 more hours and 14 landings.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Flying Lesson #14 - It Has Been Two Weeks Since My Last Landing

My hiatus in landing practice due to recent weather conditions really showed today. It had been two weeks since I did a landing which was plenty of time for the still being acquired skill to degrade.

In short, it was not one of my better landing days. I think I was just off due to lack of practice.

On the upside, I handled all 11 of the landings with only some light help, Sean never screamed nor grabbed the controls. With that being said, I definitely needed guidance on the approaches especially on final. On one of them in particular I would have done, and suggested doing, a go-round but Sean thought it was ok and I retrieved it and made the landing all right.

I need to work on the flare as I'm not doing enough of one, which is apparently opposite to the problem most student pilots have - let's hear it for being different!

On the upside, we did Runway 27R and 9L and both right and left patterns on each as the tower, wind, and other traffic willed it including extending the downwind until the tower called the base, or the Tower calling for an expedited tight base.

Lots of fun with the tower coordinating other aircraft to takeoff while I'm on final - "N-so-and-so Runway 27 R cleared to depart no delay Skyhawk on short final". -"Roger, no delay, departing now". And off they would go as we were coming in. KPTK tower has this down to an art, and the controllers are very good at what they do.

We also overheard a VFR pilot who had wandered into IFR conditions to the north outside of the airport's airspace and was temporarily navigationally impaired and was (smart enough to be) asking for help, which the tower immediately and gladly gave and got him straightened out and back into VFR.

So basically the landings were kinda sucky and not nearly as smooth as I want them to be. I did clean some of it up as I progressed with the last one being very nearly what I'd call very good.

In short, to do better at landings I need to be doing more landings more often. Expect lots more landings to follow.

That's 1.3 more hours logged and another completed logbook page.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

FAA Written Is Now Complete

This morning I took the FAA Private Pilot Written Test.

I passed it nicely with an 83% (Passing score is 70%).

A little disappointed as I was regularly nailing the mid to high 90s on practice tests, but I'll take it.

I will note that some of the questions asked were just plain weird with some phraseology I've never seen before. In one question in particular none of the answers given was the requested definition which was a real head-scratcher. I also loved the question about visual minimums for aerobatics, because a student private pilot will surely be doing those, right?

Sure enough, I did double guess myself on one question and I'm pretty sure I initially got it right and then wrong (difference was all of 100 feet (answers were 1,450, 1,550 and 1,900 and I decided to be conservative with 1,550 and looking back I should have gone with 1,450 - the graph was so frickin' small it was hard to differentiate and in real life you'd play it safer anyways, right?).

I'm quite glad it's done and out of the way. Now for continuing with the flying part.

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Very Cool EAA Project

An Experimental Aviation Association Chapter in Brighton, Michigan is getting teens interested in aviation, not to mention keeping them gainfully occupied, by helping them build an aircraft.

The teens are building an RV-12 light sport aircraft and while doing so learning lots of skills and getting involved in aviation while doing so.

The Detroit Free Press: Michigan teens building airplane from scratch

Saturday, October 03, 2015

We Were Wolves Once, Wild and Wary

Then we saw you had couches, fireplaces, and quilts.

Comfort and the company of humans reading by the warmth of the fireplace wins out over the call of the wild on this rainy, windy, 40 degree October night.

Weathered Out

I was scheduled to go flying this morning but it was not to be. I figured as much reading the Terminal Area Forecast last night but was hoping it was wrong.

Winds were forecast 15 gusting to 25 knots from 050, and using Runway 9 would have resulted in maximum crosswind component of 18.3.

While the Cessna 172M POH says it does not have a maximum crosswind component, it does say an average pilot can handle a crosswind component of 15 knots.

I'm not yet even a sub-average pilot and a crosswind component of 18.3 meant NFW so I was not going to fly. NFW of course means "Not Flying Weather", right?

As has been said many a time, better to be on the ground wishing I was in the air, rather than in the air wishing I was on the ground.

So the lesson so eagerly sought was properly cancelled by my instructor and I did other stuff today, including getting a workout in and studying for the written test some more and chair-flying a pattern and landing. Might as well keep on learning and preparing.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Flying Lesson #13 - Fun With Instruments And Attitudes

Today was a really beautiful day that hid from view some very impressive shifting and gusting winds. Impressive lines of clouds were on display across the sky.

N73455 wasn't back from the shop yet, so I got to take N757MK up.

It had just come back after being flown, so I started my pre-flight.

Everything was in order, and we topped her off with fuel and got ready to go.

Sean decided that with the winds it would not be a pattern work day but we would do more instrument work.

I was about to have one of the most fun lessons yet.

The wind according to the ATIS was gusting from 040, so we asked to taxi and then takeoff from Runway 36 to depart to the northeast, and got clearance to do so by taxiing from Delta then all the way down 18 to 36

I did the run-up and everything was good and we notified them we were ready to go.

I had a good takeoff with a fun crosswind that had just shifted to 060 but no major issues. My first time using runway 36. It doesn't get used very often.

Then we headed off to the northeast and I put on the foggles and climbed us to 4,500 feet.

Below 4,000 there was quite a bit of turbulence and gusting winds but once we were over the clouds it calmed down quite a bit.

We practiced some turns, climbs and descents under the hood and then climbed to 5,500. Part of that was to learn how to follow radar vectors from a controller if you inadvertently get stuck in IMC and can't get out by doing a 180 degree turn.

If you do get stuck in IMC, keep flying the airplane and perform the 4 Cs - Confess, Climb, Communicate, and Comply. Confess to yourself that you're in a mess. Climb as height is your friend and the ground is not in this situation. Communicate - let a controller know the problem, they're there to help you and they can vector you out, so take advantage of the resource. Comply - Do what they say and follow their instructions to get out of the problem.

I did a good job at following the simulated vectors and course changes.

Then it was time for instrument flight and unusual attitudes.

Unusual attitudes are positions the plane can get into if you fly into IMC and lose your bearings and don't trust your instruments or lose track of them, which can happened quite quickly.

I got to close my eyes and put my chin on my chest as Sean flew us around a bit and then recover from the situation once he told me I had the airplane. Open your eyes, check the instruments, figure out what the plane is doing and then get back to level flight following the correct procedure.

The dives with eyes closed were about the best roller coaster you could get - Wheee!

I apparently did very well at these recoveries and it was a heckuva lot of fun.

Then, he had me close my eyes, chin down, and let him know what the plane was doing. I apparently kept up for quite awhile accurately reporting when the plane was turning left or right, ascending or descending, but then he threw in a subtle turn right and my body insisted we were still going left and yep, had it been seat of the pants flying there would have been a real case of spatial disorientation.

He had me open my eyes and recover and that was very instructive - again, trust your instruments in IMC.

Then we started flying back and got hit by some turbulence and rose over 500 feet instantly. I got the wings back to level and he was happy with how I recovered, and we discussed turbulence and how I did the right thing in focusing on leveling the wings. The studying is paying off.

He had me do radio calls while under the hood, showing how even taking your eyes of the instruments to adjust the radio could throw you off. I did all the radio calls and descended the plane down to close to pattern altitude under the hood and then he had me take it off.

On landing, not only did we have some very gusting and shifting winds, we also had a wind shear advisory. Sean said he would handle the landing once I got us on the downwind leg. I handed it off on the downwind and he landed it perfectly - at a higher than normal landing speed due to the winds and we landed on the upwind main gear first, followed by the downwind gear for a perfect landing. Lots of things learned from that landing.

It was a great and really fun lesson with 1.2 more flying hours in the log book and .9 of that simulated instrument flight.

Sean also endorsed me, based on my practice written test scores, to take the FAA Private Pilot Written Test so I'm going to get that test booked and done soon.