31 March 2011

"Don't Circle in Sink..."

The instructor that I flew with on Saturday told me that; he said it was true in soaring as well as in life. Sound advice.

On Saturday, 26 March, I got my first taste of soaring conditions. From a tow to 2,500 feet AGL, we climbed to 5,200 feet MSL and stopped there to maintain legal VFR minimum cloud clearance. The flight lasted about an hour and a half. Based on my reading of the vario, we briefly experienced a climb rate of 1000+ fpm while circling a thermal. I was amazed.

20 March 2011

First Glider Flights

This past 7 days has been full of personal flying firsts. Today, I joined a local soaring club and took my first two dual glider flights.

First Acro Ride

Yesterday, I had one of the coolest experiences of my life so far. I strapped on a parachute and a hopped into the front seat of a capable, purpose-built aerobatic airplane. A friend of mine offered to take me up in celebration of my finally passing the checkride.

First $100 Hamburger (HEF to JGG)

Well no actual hamburgers were consumed and the tally was over a hundred, but I made a lunch run from HEF to JGG (Williamsburg-Jamestown Airport, in Williamsburg, VA) on Thursday to break in my newly acquired Private Pilot certificate. We had lunch at Charly's. With two restricted areas to avoid, I flew a conservative route, not knowing if I could file for the GRUBY or BRV gates and exit the Washington SFRA near Quantico.

17 March 2011

Temporary Airman

I passed my checkride re-test on Monday afternoon. I hadn't planned on taking it that day. I had gone up for a review flight earlier and was all set to schedule the test. The examiner happened to be at the airport and was available, so we just hopped into the airplane and got it over with. I didn't have the opportunity to become nervous. I could not be happier.

08 March 2011

Udvar-Hazy Center

I wish the Cessna that I flew had rockets (and an O-470) like this Bird Dog
On 24 February, I finally made it to the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, adjacent to Dulles airport. I've had this on my want-to-do list for years (I've even resorted to using Gmail Tasks to manage that list now).

The hangars are enormous, housing the Enola Gay, a Concorde, an SR-71, and inummerable other cool items. If you have a long layover at Dulles, go there. You won't regret it. I've even seen evidence of a shuttle bus running between the airport and the museum.

07 March 2011

Gravelly Point Park (DCA)

On 19 February, the surface winds were gusting over 45 knots. After hearing a couple of go-arounds on the radio, I decided to head out to Gravelly Point Park at the end of runway 1/19 at National Airport (KDCA) to watch the professionals handle the conditions.

Due to the strength of the northwest wind, most aircraft were circling to land on runway 33, so the view wasn't as good as with runway 1. Years ago, I visited the park when runway 19 was active. It appeared that the jets on final approach were going to fly right into us, and after they passed overhead I would feel a tiny residue of the jet blast and smell Jet-A. Highly recommended. There is a sign banning kite flying in the park.

KSUT, 60J, KMYR (Myrtle Beach)

I've fallen way behind on updates to this blog.

On 16 February, I took another crack at the squirrely coastal winds and found no shortage of crosswinds to practice in. Each airport--Cape Fear Regional (KSUT), Ocean Isle (60J), and Myrtle Beach Int'l (KMYR)--had wind blowing almost directly across the runway.
Cape Fear Regional Jetport (KSUT)