Sunday, October 18, 2015

Long, Overdue Updates

Sorry, I’ve been out learning.  Since my license on April 29th, I have accumulated 44 hours of flying in under 6 months.  While I love the Cherokee Warrior, I have added in the Cessna 152 and the Cessna 172, and fly all three depending on my mission.

The 152 is for puddle jumping.  My flights in the 152 will be no longer than 1 ½ hours round trip. Most of the time when I take the 152, I am not using my GPS, and using the compass, the E6B, and my stopwatch. Many times when I take the 152 it is a solo flight with no particular place to go. I did fly from Cuyahoga County Airport to Mansfield Airport, the return trip was at night, and through Bravo airspace. Generally, I have had no surprises. Yes, the 152 is a great trainer and when I moved back down to it I got a chance to see the difference between a heavier four seater and the two-seat trainer. And I have come to the conclusion that for my needs, the plane is great for calm winds, especially if you are taking up somebody for the first time.  I am sure this is a great cross wind trainer.

I recently checked out in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, and initially had problems landing it, but after a few flights most of my landings are full stall and the wheel in my lap. With the weather changing here, I wanted to get some crosswind practice and figure the 172 would be a great plane for me. My first efforts in gusting winds that were almost directly across the runway, did not go well at all. In fact, after one landing I called it quits with my instructor. While taxiing in, the rain started so it pretty much was a good idea to not keep trying and battling the storm that was approaching. In fact, about 100 feet off the runway on the departure we were getting kicked around quite a bit so I pretty much knew this was going to be a short lesson.  Overall I pretty much like the Skyhawk, even though I still love the Warrior much more. 

My cross country flights have been fairly short, all within the state of Ohio. I did, however, get to fly up to Put in Bay, and Port Clinton for lunch on several occasions. I have taken a couple trips to Salem Airport to the newly reopened restaurant. I also visited Carroll County Airport, known for their freshly baked pies, and was able to enjoy the pie and breakfasts they offer there. One overnight flight took me to Mount Vernon Airport, and I did fly down to Columbus to attempt to have lunch at Bolton Airfield, but unfortunately the restaurant was closed for 4 July evening.  I got to visit my old airport, Wadsworth Skypark for a cookout they were having, but unfortunately weather was a problem and we had to leave within an hour and a half, missing some pretty good times at my old hangout.

Like several other pilots that post on YouTube, I also have been making videos to be able to critique my progress. Not only have I mounted the camera on the window over my shoulder, I have recently experimented with mounting the camera on my headset so you would get a true point of view experience, and so far while it has worked, sort of, I will be trying to find a better way to mount the camera so that there is a full view of the panel and over the cowl shot.

So, I have been flying my butt off. Most important of all, I’d look at every flight as a learning experience and as I have been told by several people, I am very safety conscious intake my license very seriously. 

So stay tuned, there is a lot more to follow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Plastic is IN!!

It's HERE!!  What more can I say??

This has been a great experience.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Pilot Updates

Now that I am the pilot (that phrase still sounds quite odd to me) I have been getting out here and there to celebrate my achievement. But also comes the reality of flying versus daily obligations.  There is a battle between flying and daily chores and obligations.  This includes the need to finish other goals including starting my insurance and retirement planning business.  But since achieving my pilot’s license I have been completely enjoying my new freedom and over the last two weeks I really got a chance to completely feel what this really meant to me.

April 29, 2015: Two hours after receiving my private pilot’s license I took a flight with Chris and Lance who are pilots at my old airport. They just happen to be up flying in the area when I sent Chris a text message so they came over to Cuyahoga County Airport I took them up for half an hour ride. My landing was long and hot, but I was thinking more of the Cessna following me and did not transition soon enough to slow down for a landing that was inside of my standards.

May 2, 2015: We had planned for her to be my first ride however due to work that did not happen. But a few days later I woke up and it was a beautiful morning so I sent a text message to Kerry and we move from Cuyahoga County to Carrollton County Airport for lunch and back. I had to do one go-around because I was high on final.  The food was great, it was a little bumpy on the way down and much bumpier on the way back home.  I also got a chance to use the Garman Pilot on my Asus tablet. Now I see why pilots love their tablets.  Kerry needs to get yo more and finish her license also. 

May 3, 2015: On a whim I called up my friend Tammi and she agreed to go up also. She had a lot of reluctance however she was quite excited to do so which sent a lot of mixed feelings. I flew from Cuyahoga County Airport to pick her up at Lost Nations Airport, and we flew up the Lake Erie shoreline to Ashtabula.  Not only did she not let me turn back as planned, she had me take a longer outbound, so I decided to do a touch and go at the Ashtabula airport, flew her back to Lost Nations Airport, and flew back to my home base.  I should have gotten some money from her for that additional 30 minutes in the air.

May 4, 2015: The next day, also on a whim I called my friend Tammi again, but she was getting her hair done and could not go. But she told me I should take her mom up for a flight and I agreed. Within 10 minutes she had contacted her mother, Bonnie, and everything was planned. I flew over to Lost Nations Airport again to pick up Bonnie, and we flew up the Erie shoreline, and then over Painesville, and back to the airport to drop her off. She absolutely loved it, and somehow in the future I think she will hijack me to Florida.

May 8, 2015: I decided to go for a quick flight in the late afternoon, even though they were predicting scattered showers. From my departure time nothing was on the weather radar so I decided to fly down to Geauga County Airport, and then over to Portage County Airport, and then back home. About 10 minutes after takeoff from my home base, something really struck me. A calmness came over me and for the first time as the pilot, I completely felt that everything had finally fallen into place. I felt completely at ease, I confidently knew where I was going, I felt that I could completely enjoy the situation of being up in the plane and truly felt as if I had met my goal.  The landing at Geauga County was uneventful except for the drops of rain on the windshield when I was on downwind. After I took off the skies did not look very appealing and I also noticed on my telephone the cells of weather between Geauga County and my home base. For the first time I used Flight Watch and I found it quite helpful. I decided to not fly to Portage County and flew straight home and all was well.

So, I now pretty much have a good idea of why this license means so much to me.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Wait is Finally Over

I will be short and to the point with today’s entry.

The oral exam was not nearly as stressful as I anticipated. And thanks to the DPE, my mind was put at ease almost immediately during the interview.  This was a 'pilot-to-pilot chat', not my annual colonoscopy.  As I was advised by few people if I did not have the answer, I probably did know the answer and would have to talk through the question and find myself at the correct answer. 

The flight evaluation was also a lot less stressful than I anticipated, and early on through this portion of my exam I had to remind myself that this was just like any other flight and handled the situation as such. There were many bumps at lower altitudes, but within reason I was able to hold onto my altitudes during the slow flight portion, and unlike the day before my steep turns were a lot more reasonable.  Also, unlike the day before my landings were much closer to my standard and I felt very comfortable even with the evaluator sitting next to me.

I am still full of many emotions so I am lost for words.  All I can say is that I am now proud to announce that I am finally a Private Pilot.  I wish that my father, step-father, a dear pilot friend, Oakley, and a few friends were alive to receive my call and share my excitement.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Just a Touch More Work

I found my self at the airport to review some information I needed for my check ride, and ended up flying.  Go figure.

Simple flight solo review: 360's, slow flight, power on and power off stalls, turns around a point, and to Lost Nation Airport for some landing practice and slips to landing. 

Since I have been having issues with carrying too much speed on short final, I decided to break that habit and watched my target landing spot more carefully and make sure my final 30 seconds is at 60-65 knots.  End results?  2 landings at Lost Nation and 1 at Cuyahoga County within 200 feet of the target (the threshold).

Prior to my practice, a pilot advised me that my jitters are normal and that I needed to relax and I should do fine. 

Today, I will finish the IACRA on-line with my CFI and hope to get signed off today.  Then today and tonight study the ASA Private Oral Exam Guide, and finish my flight plan for my simulated cross country.

Fingers crossed.   

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Checkride Scheduled

I never experienced this much fear and anticipation of an upcoming event.

Keep in mind that I have gone through two major surgeries, a liver transplant and 10 years later a liver kidney transplant.
Overall, I believe that I am ready. However, being under the watchful eye of an examiner for some reason leaves me somewhat rattled. Back in 2006 I had to take the drivers exam because I let my drivers license expire while going through the process of my second transplant surgery. Having the driving examiner sit next to me I found myself somewhat rattled even though I had been driving for over 30 years with a practically flawless driving record.

Maybe my nerves are rattled because this is a long time goal of mine, and finally for the first time in my life an achievement of something very important to me can happen within the next 3 to 4 days. Also, many of my friends are watching me and supporting me and I do not want to let them down.

Also, maybe I am extremely nervous because I have something to prove to the world that people like myself, organ transplant recipients, are very able and capable people and are no different than any other humans except for the fact that we have a very long and extremely sexy  surgical scars.

I know that I am ready to become one of the less than 1%.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Short Field Work and Hood Time

One thing I noticed at the tail end of my training was that we did not do short fieldwork. While I always try to make sure my landings were near the threshold, one of my biggest problems was that I would find myself on short final with excessive speed which would lead me into a longer float than I wanted. Because of my excessive speed my flares would leave me in a balloon situation time and time again. So my instructor and I went up and executed short field landings which I thought I would be a little queasy over.  Short field landing in the Warrior calls for an approach that is pretty much at the lower end of the white arc. Real close.  Too close for my comfort level.  Now I have to admit, it was much easier than I thought, and my landings were right beyond the threshold, that is within 50 to 100 feet with absolutely no problem. While many times my takeoffs were pretty much close to ‘by the book’ short field takeoffs I pretty much never pushed myself until today. I was never a fan of having my nose at a high departure angle so close to the ground. However, only once did I hear the stall warning chirp at me therefore I pretty much felt comfortable at this high angle of attack during takeoff.  Soft field takeoffs were great.  
As of now I need just a touch less than an hour of hood time, and this latest adventure was pretty taxing to me again. My instructor stated that I did quite well however I was making some standard mistakes and need to pay more attention to flying the airplane with the required instruments that would make me more accurate in my heading holds and also my altitude holds.  No doubt, people hold an instrument rating are exceptional pilots. I was told by one of my instructors that on clear days at low altitudes it is not uncommon to encounter as much turbulence as I did which makes the hood time much more difficult. Therefore I guess training under the hood is pretty difficult for many, as it was for me. Turbulence and low altitude under the hood brings on a lot of sweat and frustration.
Nine more days before the end of the month, therefore I am sweating that issue of obtaining my license before April 30, which is my target date which coincides with the end of Organ Donation Awareness Month. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating and the winds today are 22 to 28 knots.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Long Cross Country, DONE!!

Since my last posting, I have taken my required long cross-country. My long cross-country was from Cuyahoga County Airport to Wheeling West Virginia Airport, New Philadelphia Airport, and back home to Cuyahoga County Airport.

The trip to Wheeling West Virginia overall went quite well, and my checkpoints were all within two minutes, and the checkpoints were right where they should’ve been. The only issue that was problematic in a minor way was the turbulence. After takeoff I climbed to 5500 feet and was able to hit my altitude and headings with not much of a problem, except my playing kept wanting to turn to the right, however in the Cherokee you have a rudder trim therefore I was able to control it somewhat.  One of my shortcomings is that I have to watch my frequencies because I tried to call Akron Approach Control on the wrong frequency.  As I approached Steubenville Ohio I had to tuck under the Bravo airspace which once again brought back the turbulence that I was trying to avoid. While I was on a 4 mile final a Cessna on an animal rescue mission was on base so I offered a 360 to let the critters land first, which the tower approved. 

Once on the ground I was able to meet my friends for lunch which was a treat, because we have been talking about me flying over for lunch for a couple of years. Unfortunately, I was on a shorter schedule so I could not hang around and was able to get off the ground within an hour and a half and flew to my next destination, New Philadelphia.

This leg was a little more difficult because I was not paying attention to my headings like I should’ve been. I found myself flying north of my route therefore I missed my check point, Cadiz, Ohio, birthplace of what famous actor?  I was able to get myself back on route without much of a problem, however finding that airport was not easy and I ended up cheating by using the panel mounted GPS.  This is something I did not want to do, however, if you have those tools available to you, you might as well use them. I could’ve used my Garmin Pilot but I did not want to reach back into my flight bag and dig it out of the bag.  I later on found out that other pilots have had the same problems in locating this airport, and recall years ago as a passenger we had same issue. This airport is kind of tucked in some trees on one side and hard to find unless you know what you’re looking for.

The final leg was very interesting however very simple. From the airport to the VOR to my home airport is pretty much a straight shot and maybe 2° or 3° difference over the VOR. Working with Akron control was no problem, and flying over both Akron airports was pretty easy, and flying through the Charlie airspace was also easy especially on a Sunday when there are not too many airliners taking off from Akron.
So, the long cross-country was pretty much an easy process and all of my times were pretty much on except for the one leg which I was able to press on to my destination. I believe that as many other people have experienced, this type of cross-country is a big boost to the ego and you also feel like a real life pilot. Oh wait, I almost am a real life pilot.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Late Updates, Making Progress!

Since my solo flight, I have been making some very fast progress. We are at the end of winter time and in Cleveland that means 50 degree weather on one day 20 degree weather the next day, and very rarely until the end of April can you count on several days of good flying weather.

Whenever I have a good day, without stiff crosswinds, both of my instructors have been very good at letting me grab the plane and go. While my landings are decent, I still have to work on the flare in the Warrior.  For a few weeks many of my approaches have been high even on base to final which has resulted in me going to idle and full flaps and touching down further down the runway than I like. As I recall when I was flying the Cessna 152 years ago, I have the same issue. The difference is I am on a much longer runway (5,100 feet) so touchdown is not nearly as critical however, and I am landing in a distance less than 2,500 feet.

I also did a dual cross country from Cuyahoga County Airport to Meadville Pennsylvania to Youngstown Ohio, which pretty much went well. I was able to sneak in a solo cross country to Meadville and back, unfortunately while in Meadville I did not get a chance to walk down to the hot dog stand up the street from the airport. I was however able to circle around the ex-girlfriend’s cottage on the lake and give her the finger.  (Okay, no I didn't)

On my last flight I was under the hood for an hour which was actually more difficult than I thought in some ways but easier in other ways. It was more difficult for me the first time out mostly because the air was pretty choppy and I did not realize that flying as accurately as needed in turbulent weather was so difficult. At the end of this flight I simulated in instrument approach from about 2 miles out following the glide scope and localizer, and I was surprised that the transition from instrument to visual and having a smooth landing was not so easy.

My instructor is okay with me choosing an airport that is 85 miles away for my long cross-country, which is Wheeling West Virginia. While in Wheeling I hope to grab lunch with a couple I know in the area, and then fly back to Cleveland by way of New Philadelphia. A lot of this will depend on the weather and I am looking forward to the challenge of flying to another state on my long cross-country, and to another area away from Cleveland.  

Solo practice is fun!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Today as I drove to the airport I knew that today was going to be the day for my solo in the Piper Cherokee Warrior.

It has been over four years since I was on track to finish my license. Today's lesson is my fifth lesson in years, plus the fact that I did not take lessons in the Piper Warrior until a couple of weeks ago. I flew yesterday however the weather was pretty bumpy and I had around a 15 not cross wind, along with my lesson a few days prior with the same weather conditions. So, I was becoming pretty comfortable with crosswind landings however landings with light winds was completely different experience for me.

My first three trips around the pattern were still sloppy by my standards, but appeared to be well within guidelines as far as my instructor was concerned. Keep in mind that last week when I received an 88% on my written exam I was not very happy. On the third landing I decided that I was going to make a full stop and kick her out of the plane. Okay, it really did not happen like that.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting Up is not Easy

Here we go again. More delays due to weather and also due to family illness.
I was able to go flying with my new instructor, but unfortunately we could only do a few landings due to a family illness that cropped up just as I was putting the key into the ignition to start up the airplane. According to her my takeoffs and landings went well. A few days later we scheduled for a two hour flight, and the day was ideal for working on crosswind landings. The crosswind component was 15 to 17 knots. Unfortunately, the circuit breaker for the stall warning buzzer kept popping out so that flight was canceled. Of course after leaving the airport an hour and a half later I received a call in the problem was resolved.

Today since my regular, new instructor was not available I went up with another. The winds were very similar so it was a good day for me to get some practice. For the most part the three landings went well. The ceiling was fairly low but we were able to get in a little air work with some steep turns, slow flight, and a few other miscellaneous exercises.

Both instructors said that I talk out loud explaining what I am doing, and why which they stated they both liked to hear from me so that they knew what my thought process was.

Who knows, maybe within the next few flights I may find myself all alone, in a Piper Warrior. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Written Exam ... DONE :( I Suck

Well, I took my written exam today and I must say, I am VERY disappointed in my score.

All day today, I scanned, but did not get deep into the guts of where I felt weak, and I went to the airport confident that I could do it.

What I studied today was NOT on the exam, except for one question.

What a let down and I was embarrassed at my final.

ONLY an 88%. 


Monday, March 9, 2015

Written Exam ... BOOKED

In two days I am scheduled to take my written exam at Burke Lakefront (KBKL) at 2:00pm.

I will probably take 1 or 2 practice exams on the Gleim website prior to then.  

While in Nashville last week I tried to study some, and focused on the weather mostly.

Would have gone flying today but allergy pills were making me a touch loopy, plus, I was sneezing up a storm.  

I get to meet my new CFI, Michelle, on Thursday.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ground School ... DONE!!!

It was odd relearning what I had known for years.  My 'knowledge' had a LOT of rust to knock off and to re-oil.   But it was completed.  

I had a dose of reality and found out that if you don't use it, you lose it.  A lot was lost, but, now that the Gleim on-line course was completed, I feel nearly up to speed.  What I need to do now is the take some sample tests on-line and reinforce what I should have learned.

Next up, the FAA Written, which I can take at any time.

Final score on Gleim?   94%

Funny.  That was the score on my first written a few years back.

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's Official

Joined a new flying club today, so, actually, I belong to two of them.

This new one is right by me at Cuyahoga County Airport (KCGF) and is with T&G Flying Club.  

So, no longer do I have a 1 hour +15 minute drive to an airport that I actually really love hanging out at.  Because it will make me a better pilot, I greatly prefer smaller airports.  most of all, the friendliness at the smaller airport will be missed.  

On the plus side, I am 12-15 minutes from my new airfield and flying will no longer be a 2 and a half hour, plus flying time event.  

PLUS, most of all, I will be flying the plane that I greatly prefer,  Piper Cherokee Warrior.   I will, though, miss flying my favorite plane, N94400, at my former airport.   

So, I have a test to take in ground school, then I will have 2 more chapters, plus, a final exam to get my completion certificate, then I can take my written exam at Burke Lakefront. 

So, Mother Nature, let us have a break in these -5 to 10 degree days.  


Friday, February 13, 2015

Back To Ground School

Here we go again.  Ground school.

I have tried to stay somewhat up to date with my aviation knowledge over the years since I stopped flying. 

Now that I, for now, have clear sailing to my license, I have to get back up to speed.

Since I had such great results with Gleim's On-Line Ground School, and also studying 'Rod Machado's Private Pilot Handbook' to reinforce what I am re-learning.

I am hoping to repeat my 94% that I received on my last written test.

Finished one chapter last night, so far, so good. :) 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cessna! Piper! Cessna! Piper!

Today, the weather was the typical winter Cleveland weather. Without the snow.

Mid afternoon today, I decided to just call up the airport and see if I can get a flight with my prospective new flying school.

From my location in Cleveland the drive to my regular school is about an hour and 15 minutes. If I moved to the new school the drive is only 15 minutes, including catching most of the red lights.

Since receiving the great news from the FAA recently I have been hoping for a decent day to get to the airport and just go for a quick flight.
With the pricing at the prospective new school which is substantially higher than my old one I have some decisions to make. Convenience of having the school close by or driving a good distance to save the money. Also, with the new school I can bring the price down with a deposit and joining the flying club, and also have a monthly payment for my monthly dues. By joining the club the price for the airplane is now slightly higher than my old school.

I also have another dilemma. Cessna or Piper? Just about all of my training has been in a Cessna 152, and at the new school if I choose to switch, not only do I have the Cessna 152's, but I also have access to one of my favorite planes, a Piper Warrior.

Today, I chose the Warrior. Since I have not flown in over three years, I was excited and nervous. As you can see from the photograph I was basically enjoying my flight. The steep turns kicked my butt, which actually I should have rejected when the flight instructor wanted to put me through the paces. Getting used to slow flight in this airplane was a lot different than the Cessna 152. But next time, I will be ready and be able to make the adjustments as needed. My landings were pretty decent, and that made me feel almost at home.

I am 95% sure that I will stick with this flying school and joined the club, and based on how I flew today I don't think I should have much of a problem finishing my license in a very short period of time. And while today is February 6, if the weather cooperates don't be surprised if I am completing my license by the end of March, if not sooner.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Decisions, decisions.

Okay, now that I have come back down to earth I have to put things into perspective and get the ball rolling.

I have pretty much selected where I'm going to do my ground school. Since I had good results with the previous ground school class I took, I will return back to them. I will return to do the Gleim On-Line program.

When I took the program years ago the end result was a 94% on my ground school test. I also took the time to expand my knowledge with the Rod Machado's Private Pilot Handbook. I feel strongly that this book should be required reading for anyone coming into aviation to obtain their pilot's license.

Since the weather has been snowy and cold, I have not had a chance to go to the airport to take a flying lesson. As it stands right now, I am not sure if I'm going to go back to my old school or to go to the airport which is 13 minutes away from me. Both have strong advantages and disadvantages.

My old school is in the environment that I really prefer. I like small airports, where people know each other, and there is no problem hanging out outside by the planes and just shooting the bull. At the same time, the drive is around an hour and 20 minutes. While the airplanes are very airworthy, due to the low rate that they charge for rental, let's say, you're getting what you paid for. More specifically, cosmetically speaking, they have been around the block quite a few times. If I come back here I plan on finishing up by leaving the Cessna 152 and moving up to the Cessna 172.

The new school, which is about 13 minutes away from me, is a larger airfield with a runway that is over 5000 feet. That is almost 3000 feet more than I am used to, and I am not sure if my skills would benefit by being challenged with a runway that is far longer than is needed for a four seat airplane. Also, the rate for the instructor is much higher, in fact, it is double than the rate at my old airport. If I decide to move to this airport, I will be limited financially to fly the Cessna 152.

Luckily, since the weather is still snowy for the past two weeks and will continue to be for the next six weeks, there is actually no rush to make a decision.

While I am deciding, I can do my ground school and play with my new toy, my Asus Transformer, and decide which Android app I am going to use to aid me in my flying.  :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Today is January 27, and back in November I went to see the AME for my medical evaluation. He was quite thorough, and advised me that due to various emergency room visits over the past two years for blood pressure and heart palpitations, I should expect delays and probably stress tests for the FAA to review before issuing my certificate.

Yesterday, I got that dreaded letter from the FAA and sat down to read it.

I must say that I was very surprised to see that not only was I issued my medical certificate, the FAA waived a special issuance for two additional medical conditions which are quite minor.

Unfortunately, today the outside temperature is around 16° even though it is quite sunny outside, but after receiving this medical certificate I wanted to run out to the airport and take a quick flying lesson to get back up to speed.

So, as it stands right now, I am back in business and can immediately start flying and expect to finish my pilot's license fairly quickly, depending on the weather.

I guess I should start up ground school, huh?