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Flying Notes – Hawaii Big Island

4 Sep

Today I took a 2.7 hour flight on the Big Island of Hawaii. Emily was riding in the back seat and the CFI was a gent named Hawk from Hawaii Flight Academy.

The flight was gorgeous scenery of course, but I left most of the sightseeing and photo taking to Emily as I handled the controls.

The weather was exceptionally good. We were able to see all three mountain tops when most tours are lucky to see one or two from the coast. Our counter-clockwise trip took us over the active lava flows where Hawk took the controls and flew lower Part 136 altitudes while Emily and I ogoled the natural wonder.

After that, I took the controls again and we headed toward Hilo, brushing the underside of broken clouds around 3,000. On the far side of Hilo, we angled upslope to avoid incoming rain, but then I let hawk take the the controls and take us on the more scenic trail through the rain and low/no visibility.

Coming around the north side, the skies were clear, but we got a bout of light turbulence. Emily was mildly shaken, but I did a very good job holding altitude within 50 feet of 1,500. The downdrafts downwind of the saddle caught me off guard and I had to take decisive action when I noticed we had glided from 1,500 down to 1,100.

I told the instructor early on that I’d want him to do the landing if the crosswinds were too strong. After all, the most important things in my world were riding in that plane. When we set up for a long final at about 20 degrees left of the runway, we agreed that the landing would be doable.

We were following a light plane doing a touch and go and we were some distance ahead of a larger jet. I maintained centerline fairly well, but flared too much and ballooned the touchdown. I made a good stabilizing re-approach at wingspan height, adjusting for crosswind, and set it down with enough room to take H taxiway back to the fuel station.

This is also the first time I was directly involved in a refuel. This isn’t your Chevron filling station. Well, okay, it was *a* Chevron filling station, but the everything involved was much beefier.

Check out more photos as well as a geotagged photo map from our trip.

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Flying notes – Landings lesson 1

22 Aug

Today I flew 1.3 hours with John La Porta. This is my third lesson with him and my 6th overall. Aviation has been a dream and a goal of mine since I was very young and I decided it was time to realize that goal when I met a friend who happened to be a CFI (certfied flight instructor).

After preflight, I asked John if we could focus on landings today. He agreed and asked me to tell him what I know so far about landing a small craft. After discussing for several minutes, he gave me the list of steps we would take during a landing which I jotted down.

On our first go round, we came around too steep so my instincts told me to nose up. It was on this landing that I got my first real lesson on flying “the back side of the curve.” The little Cessna C-150 took the bounce surprisingly well. We settled it down and then re-applied full throttle to take off again. Surprised that my sucky landing didn’t snap the wings off, we climbed albeit a bit unsteadily.

John took us out over Redmond so we could discuss landings further and get me more proficient at firm rudder control. Previosly, I was unaware of the amount of spring in the rudder controls. You can (and should) depress both pedals simultaneously a few inches to keep the rudder from being blown about.

We also simulated several patterns. I continue to be impressed by. The tight turning radius this thing is capable of in slow flight. I need more hours to ge used to it’s capabilities.

We returned to BFI for four more landings. Each one was incrementally better, despite a notable crosswind.

It was very comforting to see the runway come into alignment and realize that I am naturally crabbing 15 degrees to maintain centerline without any effort.

My final landing stuck fairly well. I was mostly able to let go of my instinct to control altitude with the nose and instead use throttle with angle of attack controlling airspeed.

I have a long way to go, but this was perhaps the most instructive lesson to date.

(apologies for typos and grammar. Written on iphone, editing later on)