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!!