New Year Resolutions

I didn’t do much flying this year, the sorry events back home had the hobby on the back burner, so next year I need to get back into it. Therefore I am setting myself the following goals (in no particular order though clearly some things are more important than others):

  • fly more often well we’d all like to do that I’m sure!
  • sort out my landing technique flying more might achieve this but I still have issues with flaring too high or landing too flat
  • finish my Commercial I was about halfway through it this year and I would like to complete it, going to have to retake the written again as it expires in Feb
  • take a long trip I think there is a lot of experience to be gained from planning and executing a week long trip, somewhere new and unfamiliar
  • be current all the time no more losing any of the currencies

We’ll see how well I do.

Back from Laughlin

Had a blast in Laughlin, the flying was smooth and easy though, as with any trip, there are moments of interest. By far the biggest was the wind this morning for takeoff – 26 knots varying from 0 to 30 degrees of crosswind, easily the strongest winds I’ve ever taken off in. Related to winds, Laughlin is odd in that it has no weather reporting but you can get METARs for it online. When you ask to taxi, the tower will give you the current weather. Speaking of the tower, it closed on us about 8 miles out. They close at 6pm but since they are in Arizona, that’s 5pm my time so we were the first uncontrolled people in. I was able to get the weather from them before they shut down (winds were dead calm) and I remembered to put the runway lights on, sure helped in finding where to land! Stayed up too late and was pretty tired this morning, did not make a pretty landing back in San Diego, flared too high, as is my regular fault.

I had promised some cool Google Earth maps but I had some problems with the GPS mount and the iPaq switching itself off so I ditched it and went VOR to VOR instead, good VFR boy that I am. Hopefully next time.

Managing Threat

In the wake of the overrun accident at Chicago’s Midway airport, I found the following interesting PowerPoint presentation about managing threat when landing. Whilst it’s focussed on commercial operations (I have a hard job stabilising the 172 at 180 kts on approach!) I still found it interesting reading.

In other news, I’m off to Laughlin today, weather looks good for the trip. Not sure if we’ll show up as the trip will be made VFR but maybe you can catch us on this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Also, I’ve been playing with my GPS and GoogleEarth maps and should get my first map out of this trip.

Crazy Winds

I started coming down with a cold on Monday afternoon and knew by Tuesday that I wasn’t going to be up for flying to Laughlin this week. It also meant that I didn’t get to do my IFR currency flight (though I did do my three stop and go’s to get my PIC back).

Desert airports often have crazy winds and Laughlin seems to have them more often than most; its not unusual to see 30+ knots. I watched the METARs yesterday and around the time we would have arrived the winds were 010° at 18knots. Laughlin’s runways are 16 and 34 so that would be about an 8kt crosswind, not too brutal but enough that I’d be paying attention. I looked again just now to see what it would have been for our planned departure time and the winds are currently 360° at 25kt, a crosswind component of 14 knots. Now we’d be having some fun, especially as other airports in the area are reporting much lower winds suggesting a bumpy ride out of the valley. We’ve arranged the trip for next week so we’ll see what the weather does between now and then.

Update: the preliminary report on the airplane crash mentioned below is now available on the NTSB’s website.

Speaking of Currency…

I whined a few days ago about how hard it is to keep all the different currencys so I was surprised this morning to see an email from my online logbook account saying I was no longer current to act as PIC. I thought that surely I had forgotten to make an entry but it’s true I’ve managed to let my PIC lapse. I think this is the first time since I got my Private in 2002.

But it isn’t going to last for long. Tuesday night I have a safety pilot lined up to re-establish my instrument currency. I need two landings to get back both PIC and night currency so I will do two stop and go’s before he arrives and everything will be back legal again. And this is good news because Wednesday I am taking two friends on an overnight to Laughlin.

Local Plane Crash

Sad to report that a local pilot was killed on Tuesday in a nearby town. The pilot was the sole occupant of the plane which seems to have struck a tree or utility line. Its too early for the NTSB preliminary report but the following extract from the local newspaper sadly says it all.

A witness driving a tractor near the scene of the crash, who later found out the man killed was a family friend, provided some insight.

The witness, who asked not to be identified, said sometime after 4 p.m. he saw the small plane flying “out of the southwest” about 100 yards above the ground.

The witness said the plane then “made a shot to the southeast,” adding the pilot didn’t seem to be having problems but was performing maneuvers.

The witness said the plane was flying close to the ground and then seemed to hit something — possibly a utility line or a tree — but he could not tell.

When the collision occurred, “one wing went one way and the plane went down,” the witness said.