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.
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.

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.


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 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.

Monday, May 01, 2017

I Felt A Great Disturbance In The Force

Passing by this building while walking during the NRAAM, I felt a strange disturbance in the Force.

It was as if hundreds of journalists were crying out for Hillary and then were suddenly silenced.


The Heckler and Koch Booth was positively jammed all throughout the show.

It finally cleared out enough for me to take a couple quick shots as the show was closing on Saturday and they began rolling out the tape to seal off the booths.

Everyone throughout the day had been crowded around the pistol H&K fans had been clamoring for awhile for them to produce: the VP9SK.

H&K listened to the demand, apparently decided that you don't in fact suck, and the VP9SK is now released to the US Market:

Think a VP9 now P30SK-sized but striker fired with all the H&K grip modification options. It comes with a ten round magazine and of course has the ability to take both full sized VP9 mags and the sightly more compact 13 round USP compact magazine which when used gives it about a Glock 19 overall size.

It fits my hand unsurprisingly just like my P30SK.

The trigger feels just like the one on the VP9 - one of the best striker fired triggers out there.

I expect they'll sell quite well to the H&K fans wanting a striker-fired compact and to others looking for a high quality concealed carry firearm.