Monday, September 24, 2007

Open House at the Flight School

So we had a little shin-dig at the airport this past weekend. We teamed up with the other Cessna G1000 owner and our flight school to throw a little open house. We had the two airplanes on display, and available for discovery flights. We also had a caterer provide BBQ for everyone. We set up a big tent, had door prizes every hour, and talked to a lot of pilots. It was an awesome day.

Husband and I went out in the morning before the event to help with setup and stayed all day. Given how sick Husband has been, I didn't think he'd make it the whole day, but he did. We had a lot of fun talking to different people, and we heard a bunch of flying stories. All-in-all, a great day in the sun! I did take a few other (better) pictures, but I haven't succeeded in getting them from the camera to the computer yet. I'll post them when I do.

One thing that I had the most fun with was making the cake. I volunteered to provide the dessert for the event (in addition to flying, I love to bake and cook). I figured since we were trying to build interest in the G1000 and get more people flying our planes... that I should do something related to the plane. So I decided to replicate the G1000... in cake. If you've ever seen Ace of Cakes... that's kind of what I tried to do. It turned out pretty well. People seemed pretty blown away. A few didn't realize it was a cake at first. One of the instructors asked if which airport was showing on the MDF. (It was sort of JYO... but I didn't use a chart when I drew it, so it's an abstract version!) I was pretty pleased with the cake. I even resisted pointing out its inaccuracy to everyone. I'll see if anyone can spot it from the picture! Husband did, but I think only after I told him I had made a mistake.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Pax Briefing

In response to Flyaway's comment,
"a while back my instructor emphasized the passenger briefing portion of the
checklist. i didn't realize what all that involved until i read the FAR more carefully"

I thought I'd post the passenger briefing method that Husband's first instructor taught him. Husband passed it on to me, and I always use it to make sure I cover everything.

S- Seatbelts... they work like the ones in a car and are required for takeoff and touchdown
A- Air vents... two are located directly above you. Turn to the right to close, turn left to open.
F- Fire extinguisher is located between the seats. Lift up on the handle to release.
E- Exit-- through the door. Lift up on the handle to unlock and lift up more to open.
S- Survival kit. We have one in the baggage compartment of the plane, should we need one!
T- Traffic and Talk. Your big job is to point out traffic to me either by pointing or telling me. Talking- if I hold up my hand, then that means I need to focus on something-- either what ATC is saying or the task at hand, etc.

I think it's pretty interesting that one of the things that we're taught as student pilots is how to talk to passengers about the flight. At first I didn't understand it-- and I felt pretty silly saying it to my instructor; after all, he knows everything in the briefing! He made us say it every lesson for a long time. After a while, I think he realized that I knew it cold, so he stopped making me say it. But the first time I had a passenger, I was pretty glad I had practiced it so much.

Keep the shiny side up!

Girl Power!

I flew my first passenger this past weekend without having another pilot in the plane. I've flown with passengers before-- but always with either Husband (who is a pilot) or an instructor in the plane with me.

Husband was out of town-- he and a friend flew out (commercial, of course) to Reno, Nevada for the Reno Air Races. They apparently had a blast-- though the festivities were a bit more somber this year because of all the crashes. I was invited... but opted to not be the tag-along wife, and instead thought I'd get a nice relaxing weekend at home alone. The best of intentions...

We discovered a few weeks back that we have a water problem in our basement... and decided last week to do something about it. So I spent my weekend torn between writing a proposal and clearing out our basement-- which has basically been a storage space since we moved in. In fact, I almost canceled our flight on Sunday... too much work! But I decided that I definitely needed a break. All that work just made it that much more fun to fly!

The weather was gorgeous. I think this time of year is the best for flying in our area. Cool nights, warm days, clear and haze-free skies, what more could a girl ask for?! I picked up my friend, J, around noon and we headed out to the airport. I think she was pretty excited. I know I was... she asked a ton of great questions-- which I like because I ask a lot of questions, too. Besides, that way I know she's not bored to tears!

The new ADIZ procedures are still a little foreign to me, but we made it out ok. We had decided to fly to CBE for lunch. That takes us over a bunch of small- to medium-sized mountain ridges that are really beautiful (the main reason I picked that destination). Unfortunately, the scattered clouds (all little puffy ones-- they looked like a sea of cotton balls) were a little lower than predicted, so we decided to climb above them for the way out. It was awesome! J really seemed to like getting up above the clouds.

Coming into CBE, we heard a tow-pilot making calls out of CBE. As we got close, we saw him take off with a glider in tow off of runway 11. That was more first real encounter with a glider in the area-- so I wanted to make sure we stayed well clear of him as we maneuvered for our approach. J was a natural at helping me spot traffic -- she saw a lot of it before I did! I told her I'd take her as a copilot any time! We finally determined that the tow and glider were well away for the airport and were able to turn for our downwind and base for 23. Then, just as we turned on final, we heard the tow pilot call that he had released the glider and was on base for landing on 11! 11 and 23 intersect, so I told J to keep looking for the tow plane while I concentrated on landing. I was so focused on where he was, I didn't realize how close we were to the runway. All of a sudden I felt one wheel touch... which kind of surprised me. Luckily, it was a very soft touch, so I just brought the rest of them down and told her not to worry, we had landed. She hadn't even felt it! OF course, I played it off like I meant to land that way (and I did... I just didn't know that it would be right then!). :)

We had lunch on the field at the little diner place. It's recently changed hands, so we spent a few minutes talking to the new owner. She was pretty funny-- she's never owned or run a restaurant before, so she's having to learn quickly. She said she was going to try and start going to some of the other airports in the area so she could see where all the pilots were coming from... but she's scared of flying, so she'll have to drive to them!

We had two separate "Traffic" encounters during the flight. Both times we had seen the traffic on the TIS, but had trouble locating it in the air because it was hidden behind our wing. The first time, the other plane was showing only a few hundred feet above us. Since I didn't have it in sight, and it looked like the traffic would pass right over us, I grabbed the controls, killed the autopilot, and dove down and away. J's seat wasn't locked in place (mental note: add to my briefing!), and she slid pretty violently towards the controls-- which freaked her out a little. After a couple of seconds, we saw the plane pass by. I could tell that the plane was IFR traffic, headed the opposite direction to us... and the altitude would have been enough separation, but I can't help wondering what would happen if either of our altimeters was off-- or what if the TIS altimeter is off. I'm never sure if that is 'overreacting', or if that is 'good instincts'! The second traffic incident was similar-- except that the avoidance was a little less dramatic!

We had another pilot take a few pics of us with the plane when we returned to JYO. I'm hoping J will share so I can post...

I'm also hoping to work in a flight in the next few days with our old instructor, M. He passed his checkrides at the airlines! Yay! He's on vacation right now, but should be starting next week with his IOE.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fantastic Weather

Last Sunday was one of those beautiful days that makes a pilot want to take to the sky. Our plane finally (hopefully!) fixed, we had flown to CXY to visit some friends for the night. We've actually been trying to connect the dots to go for a few months now. Some other friends drove down with their kids from Delaware to join the fun as well, so we had a little house party!

On the way to Cap City, I flew and Husband navigated. It had been two weeks since my last flight-- and I had only been flying about once a week for a few weeks before that. Add to that forgetting to get a snack and a full day of activity beforehand, and I was feeling a bit disoriented. I actually had to USE the checklist to remember everything (and not just doublecheck that I did stuff)... but Husband's help, we finally got off the ground and in the air. It took me a few minutes to relax and be able to enjoy being in the sky again... but then it was great! How easily we forget the joys of flying. The flight was over way too soon-- but it was great to see our friends. The ones we were visiting have had twins since we last saw them-- so they now have 3 boys under the age of 2! Talk about craziness!

Sunday, as I said before was gorgeous. The other husbands were going golfing-- but as others had the plane reserved at noon, Husband couldn't join in the fun, so instead we decided to do a bit of flight-seeing before heading back. We flew down the river (not sure what river) from Cap City to 0W3. We originally thought we might land there, but then discovered that though there were 3 runways, they were all 2000' or less and two were turf! So, we quickly scrapped that plan. Somehow, even though we did not request it, we ended up with flight following (the second time that's happened lately). It was nice to have a little extra assurance that we weren't going to have a mid-air... but also a little limiting for really being able to be relaxed. We finally were "cleared" to change frequency at OW3, and then took it on our own from there. (We had an interesting discussion on how we would have asked to be released from flight following-- since we had never requested it-- something to ask A next time we have a lesson.)

Though the skies were clear and beautiful over JYO, there were scattered clouds over OW3. We had gone above them thinking that we'd then just around or through the get down for the approach over OW3 (we weren't landing-- but figured we'd at least overfly the airport). They definitely made for an interesting descent as we had to zigzag our way through. We then discovered they went a lot lower than anticipated, and it was even more interesting zigzagging our way back up when we headed back towards JYO. I think we'll give a little wider berth to clouds in the future!