Repost: First Solo


Two decades ago

Lights. Camera. Action!

That’s how I always remembered it.

Strobes. Transponder. Throttle.

No pounding heart, sweaty palms or shaky legs as I raced down the runway, applying a little right rudder to maintain center line, eyes glued to the airspeed indicator.

At least not yet.

Airspeed indicator needle gradually turned, as the airplane gained speed. 40, 50, and finally 60 Knots. Gently ease back the yoke and lift-off. I was airborne.

Oh my God! It finally sank in. I was all alone in the cockpit having just performed a take-off, for my very first solo flight. I still had to land this aircraft all by myself. Would I remember all that my instructor had drilled into me?

Continue to read here.

Repost: Avalon Airport in the Sky


“A Mediterranean resort off the coast of Southern California”

Now that my Instrument training was finally over, I was ready for new adventures. The past few months had been hectic and nerve racking. Instrument training is very demanding and I am glad that, it is finally behind me. Browsing through “Fun places to fly in California” I thought I may as well start with the first airport listed there, which happened to be Avalon. I have wanted to fly to Avalon for sometime now. I had been under the misapprehension that I needed some kind of checkout prior to attempting to fly there. As it turned out, the flying club I rented from had no such restriction.

So it happened, that my friend Michelle and I set out from SBP airport one fine September morning. Low clouds and fog had laced the morning skies over SBP rendering the airspace IFR but this was not a cause of concern for me. The weather south was already clear all the way to Catalina island. By the time we set out at 10 am though, the fog had already lifted denying me an opportunity to depart in actual IFR. The skies were clear, which meant another perfect day for flying. The plan was to shoot my first GPS approach at Avalon in the 2004 C-172 I was flying, which contained MFD, autopilot and all the latest shebang. It was only the second time I was flying the aircraft and I had never flown a GPS approach before, but Michelle was there to help me through.

Continue to read here.

Note: A version of this appeared on Forbes Wheels Up here.

 

 

Repost: An Encounter with Gliding


“Memories of my very first flight!”

When Les asked me if I wanted to go flying that weekend, of course I jumped at the chance. Having never been in the air in a small plane, I was excited and exhilarated at the prospect of being airborne.

After all, wasn’t this my dream?

To fly, to soar, and reach for the stars? Little did I think of thermals, lift and drag.

Continue to read here

Intro Flight


Celebrating 20  years

 

Sifting through my logbook, I noticed something I hadn’t realized previously.

The very first entry in my logbook was recorded on 8/19/1998. Under the remarks the instructor had noted “INTRO FLT”.  The recorded time was a mere 0.7 hours. Over the next  few weeks I flew three more flights for a total of 4.1 hours.

After a hiatus of almost two years, I returned with greater determination for what I consider really my first flight lesson towards my private pilot license (PPL) on, you guessed it, 8/19/2000.

And today happens to be 8/19/2020.  Quite a coincidence!

 

Repost: From Palms to Pines


“A first time racer’s personal account”

“You have to go down to 350 feet for the flyby,” I reminded gently. “I am not going any lower“, pat came the response while Grace stayed steady at 400 feet. “We’ll be disqualified if we are not at or below 200 feet for the flyby,” I said a trifle forcefully.

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It was a beautiful, pleasant day. The heat wave we were expecting hadn’t caught up with us yet. Earlier in the morning, fog over Santa Monica had cleared rapidly, affording us an early departure on our first leg to Merced. With luggage stowed in baggage compartment, cooler with ample water in the rear seat and neck strap comfortably around our shoulders to keep us cool from the heat, we had set off from Santa Monica with anticipation for the race ahead. This was the first time I was participating in an air race, but for Grace this was old hat, as she had flown the year before.

Skirting past the Van Nuys and Burbank airspace, we sped towards the Gorman Pass. Having scouted the area the previous day, we had no trouble finding the pass. Staying as low as terrain permitted, we raced through the pass and headed towards Merced which was the checkpoint for our first flyby. Once past the Gorman Pass, the terrain flattened out and all that lay ahead were green fields, haze and beckoning skies. The haze layer hung steadfast over the surface washing the fields below with gentle whitish hue. Staying high enough to avoid the airspace below and slightly above the haze layer, we made it to Merced in good time for lunch. The first flyby at Merced called for a pass at 350 feet MSL at full throttle over the adjacent taxiway. Grace finally acceded after realizing that the elevation of the airport was 156 feet and we nudged closer to 350 feet and sped down the taxiway at 110 knots. I could feel the rush inside me as my heartbeat quickened. This was racing indeed!

Continue to read here.

Repost: Breezy Check!


If you are a regular at Oshkosh during Airventure, you know what I am talking about. Nine years ago,  I got to take a ride in the coveted Breezy!

The air rushed at us as Mike eased the stick back. Whoa! This must be how Orville felt on that fateful day in December in Kitty Hawk when he lifted of the ground. The Breezy is no comparison to the Wright Flyer. The original Breezy was designed by Carl Unger. It is a “no cockpit” aircraft with a set of modified PA-12 wings and a continental engine. After almost 40 years of giving rides the original Breezy was donated to the EAA Airventure Museum.

Continue to read here.

 

Repost: Oshkosh Flyin – Rock Your Wings


Seven years ago

“High wing, 1/2 mile SW from Fisk, rock your wings”
“Good rock, sir. Reaching Fisk, turn right heading 090, enter left base to Runway 36L.”
“High wing approaching Fisk be ready to turn now and monitor tower on 126.6.
Good Morning. Welcome to the show!”

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It was right after our return from or during our very successful flight to The Bahamas, that Linda and I decided we were ready for another challenge: How about Oshkosh during AirVenture?

Normally, I don’t make any personal commitments if I can help it, during the last week of July. Professional commitments, as well as unexpected events, are a whole different matter and take precedence over everything else. Each year, I am never really sure if I can make it to Oshkosh until the last minute. So Camp Scholer, a drive-in camping area near the convention grounds, is absolutely perfect. For you never need to worry about not finding a spot to pitch your tent and call it home for the duration of your stay.

Continue to read here.

Repost: Oshkosh Nothing Like It


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Although, no Airventure this year, each year, the Experimental Aviation Association plans, organizes and orchestrates the best and most enduring event of the year. As I have said many times over, there is no place like it, if you are just plane crazy!

Airventure has a lot to offer:

  • Daily airshows, aircraft displays,  seminars, forums, workshops, museum visits
  • Evening entertainment (special premier of Disney Planes) on Friday and performances by Gary Sinise and the Lft. Dan Band
  • Night airshow on Saturday, ultralights, warbirds, seaplane  base and so much more.
  • Don’t forget balloon launch and 5k run on Saturday
  • Airplane rides be it in the Ford Tri Motor, B17, Breezy or a privately owned ultralight, seaplane or airplane
  • Womenventure, kidventure and so much more
  • This year’s specials include Jetman, Terrafugia and Return of the Champions

Continue to read here.

Repost: Oceano Airport: A Slice of Paradise in the California Central Coast


“OMG,” I gasped!
I could almost feel the strap of my camera tugging precariously, hanging loosely from my neck. Any minute now I am going to hit the crashing waves, I thought.  I could feel the blood rush to my head and could no longer sense, whether we were inverted, or upright. I gripped the edge of my seat with both hands.
Never mind the camera.
Continue to read here.

Repost: SFO Up Close & Personal


Fifteen years ago

Although it was July already, June gloom still prevailed. Early morning fog, gave each morning a caliginous beginning. But nothing could deter my excitement on this day. It was 4th of July and I was scheduled to fly with my instructor to the San Francisco Bay Area to fly the unofficial “Bay Tour”. Ceilings as low as 100 ft, delayed our early departure. The fog was gradually beginning to lift off, as we stood on the airport tarmac, trying to guess the altitude at which the just the departed aircraft would disappear, giving us a clear indication of the cloud bases. “800 ft, I think,” observed my instructor, which was later confirmed on ATIS. This was a reasonable ceiling for our departure. Seat belts fastened, floatable devices stowed away in the baggage compartment and cameras in hand, we were ready to depart by 10:30 a.m.

Continue to read here.