Short Video

Last week I flew to French Valley airport in Temecula for some touch and goes leading to PIC currency. I was running late and couldn’t manage to work out how to get the mount to work with my camera so I took some hand shots from time to time. There was no audio so there is a canned iMovie soundtrack which isn’t that worth listening to. Will try harder next time.

Also last week I did some simulator work and am now IFR current too!

Another BFR

Regular readers will know that my flying club requires an annual flight review in addition to the FAA-mandated biannual one, and for this year’s review I decided to combine it with a refresher in a complex plane. I haven’t flown a complex plane in quite some time and while I’m not real sure I have much desire to do so in the future, it’s good to do something different.

And so there we were in N6291R, a Cessna 172 RG, at KMYF early last evening. Given the rapid onset of nighttime we decided to the landings first and then we’d go out for the maneuvers. First things first, give Ground a call:


On the way out to taxiway Juliet we had to pull off into a parking area to let a lifeguard flight in, only to find that the parking area was exactly where the lifeguard wanted to go so we had to do some creative taxiing to get out of it’s way. That done, we did the run up and got our closed traffic clearance.

My CFI requested a soft-field take off which I pretty much failed at so when we came back in for a soft-field landing I pretty much failed at that too. I think the Tower could see me sigh, let alone hear me. Second soft-field take off was much better, then a normal landing just to let me get used to the 172RG which went well, then a short-field take off. Totally nailed a short-field landing and then we were off out to the coast.

The practice area was quite busy, 3 or 4 other planes out doing the maneuvers so we found a spot and went through the usual items: slow flight with the stall warning on, stalls (first one is always bad for me), steep turns (love doing those), emergency landings, simulated instrument work such as unusual attitudes and compass turns. Whilst under the hood, my CFI had me tune in the OCN VOR and track a course to it. The VOR indicated a course of about 270 which was what I expected, but the DI showed it to be a right turn whilst I was pretty sure it was going to be a left turn since I thought I had been heading north. But, “trust your instruments” so I took the turn and followed the radial which kept changing as I progressed…. the winds have come up giving me a crosswind? I’m sure you’ve already worked out where this is going and perhaps if the plane’s DME was working I would have spotted it but eventually my CFI revealed to me that he had turned the DI 180 degrees so I was indeed heading away from the VOR, this being a lesson to cross check ALL instruments while IFR. Bit of a cheesy trick for a flight review, really, but point taken.

Everything done, we headed south along the coast where we could see a lot of lightning over Mexico but it seemed too far south to be any worry to us. The Tower confirmed they had been watching it and was no factor. We were assigned left traffic for 28L but the left isn’t lighted so we asked for 28R. Turns out the controller misspoke, she meant to give us 28R, it took a while for me to find the airport (I kept seeing Miramar) but once located I got the plane slowed up (I love how throwing down the gear puts the brakes on), made our entry and made a firm landing on 28R. Taxi back to parking and the flight portion was done.

In order to complete the review we retired to a nearby Starbucks and spent some time reviewing the FARs and going over some “what ifs” that are local to the San Diego area. Always good to review the local problem areas and procedures.

So, 1.5 hrs more complex flight time in the book and another year’s flying privileges in the club.

CA CFIs At Risk From New CA Law

Got this from one of our club CFIs this morning. I don’t have access to the NATA website to be able to see the report but here is what he said.

NATA Publishes Regulatory Report On California’s Regulation Of Flight Schools

NATA has published a regulatory report on proposed rules issued by the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education in California . These rules, prompted by the passage last year of Assembly Bill 48, will regulate the operation of flight training facilities. All flight training operations, including independent certified flight instructors (CFIs), will be required to comply with the provisions of these rules, including such provisions as the requirement for producing and printing a “college catalogue” type of document. Flight training facilities have until August 1 to comply with these rules, including paying a $5,000 application fee and submitting audited financial statements from 2009, or they will no longer be permitted to operate in the state. Other provisions of the proposed rules include:

Only CFIs with three years of experience in flight will be allowed to instruct students, unless they can demonstrate an equivalence of other experience factors
All flight training facilities will be required to submit a $1,000 annual fee and 0.75% of their gross revenue to the state
Flight training facilities’ curriculums must receive approval from the state
These proposed rules are open to public comment until June 7, 2010. Additionally, the Bureau of Private Post Secondary Education will hold a public comment forum on these proposed rules in Sacramento , CA , on June 7, 2010.

NATA is very concerned about the negative impact these regulations would have on flight training and urges all impacted members to submit comments.

If this is correct, then I don’t see that many CFIs will/can stay in business.

Papa Got a Brand New Bag

When I started flying lessons I bought my very first flight bag from the local Marv Golden store and a very good bag it is. But after getting my licence I realised it was just too big for the flying I was doing and dropped it in favour of a couple of different sports bags, neither designed for flying. I finally got tired of the mess inside it last week and ordered a new bag from Sportys – the IFR Flight Gear Bag.

It is so much better!

One odd thing though, for an “IFR bag” I am surprised that I can’t fit approach plates in the exterior chart pocket. Sectionals and en-route charts fit in there, but no room for a plate (when inside a protective cover). No biggie, it’s nice to have everything so much better organised, and easy to carry.

First flights of 2009

Just completed my second flight of the year; yesterday I met up with my CFI for some cobweb-shaking, and today we did some instrument work.

Started off yesterday with a first for me – took off from Montgomery Field with a “Miramar Transition” which enabled us to fly due north over Miramar MCAS (after a climbing 180 turn to 2900 feet) to the practice area west of Ramona. Santa Ana winds are in for the week making it a little bumpy near the foothills so we moved closer to the coast. Went through all the usual suspects – slow flight, steep turns, departure and approach stalls, climbs, turns, descents under the hood.

It was all going well so we went back to Montgomery and did a bunch of landings which also went pretty good. I swear I do my best flying after a couple month break.

Today was step one of getting back to instrument currency. Got a TEC clearance to Oceanside, did some turns in the hold and once I was dizzy did the approach to a missed. OKB is a tough one, I find, a lot to do all at once but it worked out pretty good. I forgot to announce my intentions on the CTAF and got a bit of a spanking from someone on the ground. Oh well.

From the missed we got vectors to the ILS approach at Carlsbad, another missed and vectors back to Montgomery. En route, my CFI ‘failed’ the gyro so I got some partial panel while back in the light chop of the Santa Ana winds.

A nice ride down the ILS (not without a little chasing of the needle I am sad to say) and we were done. In a couple of weeks we are going to do some Garmin 430 work in the sim to complete my 6 approaches. Total of 3.1 hours for the two flights.

Kind of a sad day as this is the last time I will fly the ILS as I have known it. Starting on the 15th there is a whole new set of approaches for KMYF including changes to the ILS that have removed the marker beacons and now require DME to identify the fixes. If you don’t have DME or IFR-certified GPS I’m afraid you aren’t welcome here in IMC.

2009 Goals

Once again we will dispense with the previous year’s review, just too depressing to see how little I flew last year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do the annual list of flying wishes for 2009….

  • Get current in all things again, and I mean night, IFR, high wing, low wing and complex and high-perf
  • Get checked out in the DA-40
  • Learn how to do GPS approaches
  • Make at least one Angel Flight mission
  • Win the AOPA airplane sweepstakes
  • Go on some interesting cross countries like Sedona or Big Bear

We’ll see how it goes this year and of course we wish you all a happy and safe 2009 in the skies.

New Taxi Instructions

The new FAA instruction to give full and complete taxi instructions was in full effect this evening at Montgomery Field;

Taxi to 28L via Juliet, Hotel and Bravo

instead of the usual

Taxi to 28L

In 6 years of flying I’m not sure I’d ever noticed that the tiny taxiway to 28L was called Bravo. A little more chatter on the radio but I am sure the safety implications are worth it.

Pondering Some Training

I’ve been thinking recently about whether to finish my Commercial rating or not. I have a year left on my written test so I have time to make up my mind but it feels like I should either get it done now, or abandon it for good. Ultimately the COM rating is pointless, I don’t plan on becoming a paid-to-fly pilot, part-time CFI would be nice but I doubt very much I’d ever get around to it. Now, chicks possibly dig it, but my wife wouldn’t like that much. So I wonder if it’s worth the money?

Perhaps the money would be better spent on a checkout in one of the club’s G1000-equipped 172s? The future of aviation is all-glass, we’ll increasingly see more of these kind of planes in the club so this would be something I’d probably use. Except that the rentals are crazy – $143 for the G1000 C172 compared to say $100 for the steam gauge version. Since I don’t have unlimited dollars for flying I’d rather fly 3 hs for my $300 than just 2, but do so in style. So maybe this would be a worthless checkout, too, if I would never fly the G1000. And, I bet you have to work hard to stay current in it, too.

Another option would be to go do a sea plane rating. Totally pointless but probably a lot of fun for a weekend.

Or I could just save my money for a decent cross country trip or, a tank of gas for my car?

Instrument Current Again

My 6 months lapsed at the end of April but a trip home to England got in the way of regaining my currency before today. I met my CFI at the Frasca 142 and 1.9 hours of ground trainer time later, I am current again for another 6 months.

  • MYF to the Oceanside VOR, a few turns around the hold before executing the VOR approach. Went pretty well except that simulator would not give us the Julian VOR for identifying one of the intersections en route.
  • Missed approach to Vista intersection, followed by the ILS at Carlsbad.
  • Missed approach and around to the localiser at Gillespie Field. Unfortunately we need Julian VOR to identify the timing point for the missed approach so to get around that my CFI worked out a radial from Poggy that kinda worked for us.
  • Missed approach, VOR approach into Brown Field. Not sure what went wrong but although the CFI said I was close to intercepting the radial the needle never came in and so we did an early missed approach and he brought me back around for another try. This one went much better.
  • Missed approach, LOC into Montgomery Field. It’s a fun one with many step downs and of course, they occur just as you get the plane back into level flight, makes for a lot of work.
  • Another missed approach and back around for the ILS to the usual awful landing (I don’t know why he always makes me land the thing).

So, current again until December 1st 2008.

One Advantage of Being a Private Pilot

Is that you don’t have to fly when you don’t want to.

Today I had plans for a ‘first flight’ with a friend at work. He’s scared of heights and a little uneasy about the idea of being in a small plane but wants to try it. Southern California has been having a bit of a heatwave and with that comes the afternoon winds, and sometimes turbulence. So a good feel for the weather was going to be important.

But it was obvious early in the day that the flight would probably not go ahead: two of the three runways at Montgomery Field were closed, as was the localizer. I doubted we’d care much for the approach being out of service but only one runway being available, and with one very small run-up area, the airport would be a circus on the ground.

So I decided to postpone for a day when conditions would be as good as they could be for a perfect first flight.