How Can One Stay Proficient in All Things?

I’ve got my eye on flying a 172SP in our club that has a groovy Garmin 530 and 2-axis autopilot. A little more pricey than the 172s I usually fly, $126 an hour, but would be a great weekend getaway plane. I wrote my CFI to ask if I needed to know anything and he said he’d like to show me how to start it for my first time: it’s apparently very easy to flood the engine in a fuel-injected plane? He sent me the procedure and it made my head hurt, which got me thinking about how does one stay proficient in all these little things that I am endorsed for:

  1. flying high wings (my usual)
  2. flying low wings (not very often)
  3. using an HSI (the Archer has an HSI but I can never remember how to use it)
  4. complex aircraft (not very often)
  5. high performance (not in a couple of years)
  6. fuel-injected engines (so far not ever)

Maybe the trick is to choose just one plane and forget the rest? But I want to fly the club’s DA-40, too. And one day maybe I can afford the G1000 ?? And all this while still trying to keep PIC, night PIC and IFR current. Ugh, I need a second and third job.

Strongest Winds

The winds are blowing throughout Southern California right now: I almost got blown out off the freeway coming over the mountains this morning! I tweeted something about the winds and got this reply:

Which reminded me of a trip to Laughlin (KIFP) a few years ago for my birthday, took a friend from San Diego for an overnight. Had a great trip over and a fun time in the casino but in the morning the winds were howling. We got to the 172 I opened the passenger door and the charts I had put on my seat instantly flew out of the plane. I ran after them (not knowing if it was one I needed or not) but it kept on going and going. At some point a guy from the FBO overtook me in a golf cart and got hold of the chart: it was not one I would need.

There is no ATIS or AWOS at Laughlin so I have no idea what the winds were (it’s possible the tower told me but I don’t remember) but it was tough to stand up so that meant pretty damned windy to me. My friend asked me if I had ever flown in winds this bad before – I said not. But seeing the look on his face I said that we’d taxi real careful and, since the wind was right down the runway, we would have no trouble taking off at all.

I taxied out doing my best to get the flight controls in the right places to overcome the wind, got our takeoff clearance, full power and we were off! I’ve never felt the plane lift off so quickly and so powerfully! It didn’t take long to get enough height to get over the wind and we had an uneventful flight back.

Anyone want to share their strong wind stories?

Btw, I highly recommend Laughlin as a fly-in destination. You can see some pictures and a trip report from an earlier flight in my trip report section.

Instrument Current and my First GPS Approach

Tonight I met my CFI at KSEE for some time on the Elite BATD-PI35 simulator for an introduction to GPS. A few of our planes have Garmin 430’s now and it seemed time to see what they are all about. I’d love to get checked out on the G1000 but that’s really cost prohibitive now, although we do have a 182 with a G1000 for just $150 an hour….

Anyway we spent some time with a Garmin simulator before moving on to the sim. We simulated a flight from KMYF to KOKB with a hold in the procedure turn, all using the 430 for navigation. After the missed at KOBK I was given vectors to the GPS Rwy 17 approach at KSEE and saw how to ‘replan on the fly’. Missed approach at KSEE and then on to the ILS at MYF which we used the 430 to get us to the IAF and then followed the ILS down to a landing. This was the old ILS, not the new “DME only” one.

In order to get more practice I am going to find and download the 430 simulator from Garmin. One problem I have is that I am a Mac only person so will either have to get Parallels on the macbook (actually I have it, but no Windows copy to run on it) or use it at work. Paul over at is working on a tutorial and I shall look forward to that.

So now I am PIC and instrument current. Night currency is next as well as just getting up and having some fun.

My new PUMPS check

Almost seven years after getting my Private certificate I still have trouble with the GUMPS check. ‘G’ always seems to be “Gear” rather than “Gas” so when I get to the ‘U’ I’m, like, um, oh yeah that’s “Undercarriage”. So, I hit on a fine idea – from now on I shall perform a PUMPS check: “Petrol, Undercarriage, Mixture, Props, Seatbelts”. I think I’ll get that right each time. I think.

Poor Radio Talk

In yesterday’s post I alluded to the fact that I was not on my a-game radio-wise during my simulated instrument flight. I thought I’d list my mistakes as a reminder for me for next time. If you have comments, feel free to add them.

  1. My handoff to SoCal was fine but for my second controller handoff I said “N4922D on frequency”, thinking how smart I was not to say “with you”. The response was “say altitude and heading” – doh! Of course, I should check in with “N4922D, 3400 feet, direct OCN”.
  2. A couple of times I was given a heading and told to maintain 3400 feet. Each time I repeated the heading and confirmed “thirty-four hundered feet”, and each time I was asked to verify “3400 feet”. I have no idea why each time I repeated it incorrectly. I think I’ve been listening to a lot of live ATC where I’ve heard that and it has sunk in. I will banish it.
  3. After being transferred to the CTAF on the OKB approach I announced “N4922D, inbound on the VOR approach, Oceanside traffic”. A snarky voice came back “it would be helpful to us VFR pilots to know where you are and where you are going”. Attitude-aside, he had a good point. One can circle to land either side of the field and they didn’t know I was planning a missed approach. I’m surprised this hasn’t come up before but I definitely have it in my mind now.

Other than that, I think it went well. I like the radio work a lot, and I pride myself on usually being succinct and concise so it annoys me when I am not.

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.

Gadget Overload

I’ve been looking at Foreflight Checklist as a possible addition to the virtual flight bag; as someone who flies several different types of plane it could have some value over buying several written checklists. But the problem is: where to put it?

There is no way I could go through the checklist whilst holding the iPhone so it needs to be mounted somewhere (much like the pilot in this video: I’ve also been looking at places to put my videocam to do make some better quality videos (the Flip Ultra doesn’t quite cut it, and has no audio in). I have the sticky pod mount that Student Pilot mentions but I also have another that has a much smaller footprint.

Then there is my Anywhere Travel Companion providing situational awareness on it’s moving map. It is usually mounted on the yolk except when I have an instrument chart there. Then it needs to go…. well, it could be mounted on the window too? They’ve recently released Pocket Plates which could make that problem go away, though it’s a pretty expensive way to do it (especially here in VFR SoCal).

I’m in danger of not being able to see out the window with all these gadgets in the way, this is obviously not a good thing. I wish I could get everything on one device.

Our Flying Club Lost a Plane

Last night whilst browsing the club’s online scheduling website I noticed that one of the Beechcraft 76’s was in maintenance with the tag “aircraft totally destroyed”. I did some digging around and, sure enough, on October 4 2008 N6013X was substantially damaged whilst landing on a private airstrip in Eloy, AZ.

I am glad to see that the pilot was unharmed, sad to see that we lost half of our twin Beechcraft fleet and I wonder what this will do to the club’s insurance next year. The penalty for any accident in the club is that you have to write an account and lessons learned for the next newsletter, so it will be interesting to get his view of what happened.

A To Do List of Sorts

In semi-preparation for my Commercial oral (if I ever get there) I’ve been rereading the FAR/AIM, and it’s amazing how much I’ve forgotten (or simply never knew in the first place). While reading I was struck by some things I am yet to do which I probably thought I would have done by now:

  • Get a special VFR clearance
  • Fly an IFR flight outside the SoCal TEC routes
  • Fly in IMC with a non-pilot passenger
  • Land at a Class B airport (can I get the 172 into Lindbergh??)
  • Fly to Mexico

Huh, I thought there were a couple more but they escape me now. Well, that’s a list of sorts.