Saturday, December 31, 2005


Saturday afternoon, and my plans to rent a Piper Tomahawk for a few hours of VFR flying around Pennsylvania and Delaware, including a stop for lunch have been blown out to sea with rain, low vis, and all around crappy weather. Flying time on VATSIM has been plentiful, but the real world, not so much. Last weekend, A Christmas eve ride around the pattern for some practice landings had to be cut short after I felt a pretty mean vibration turning base to final. Despite the aircraft behaving normally before and after the breif vibration, I felt the best option was to park it, and tell the mechanics and line folks on the field. I'll have to call down and see if anything was found. The good thing is, you get to confirm to yourlelf that you would respond as well as you would like. Make suree all those emergeny procedures you did over and over in flight training stuck like the should. Vibration occurs: , Fly the plane. Airspeed, altimeter, vert speed, good. fly the plane. Check tach. Looks steady. Carb heat off, mixture set, guages good, fuel appears ok, where am I? In pattern for landing. Good. What better place to be if I lose an engine. Turn for the runway, make a short pattern. No traffic in the pattern. Good. Cut short final, keep airspeed. Dont put in power unless you need it. Safe landing, no worries, no problems. Great.

It could have been nothing. But it could have been something, so, as I have been taught and as all pilots should be taught, park it. Have it looked at. Yes, you have to cut your flying time short, but there are worse things that could happen.....

For now, I'll take the EJA flight over to ABQ, next door to home, Scottsdale. Ehh. It will have to do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Go with what you know...

1) If you don’t know, say so. Don’t pretend you DO know.

2 recent events come to mind....

A) As I was flying out of Santa Monica on Vatsim yesterday, a pilot was approaching LAX, which was almost fully staffed, on an IFR flightplan. The LAX-CTR controller acknowledged his radar contact, then advised him of the arrival he was to take into LAX, which the pilot accepted. 10 minutes or so went by, then I heard the CTR call the pilot and correct his course, as he had left the assigned approach. 5 minutes go by. The aircraft is still apparently flying off of his approach procedure. CTR knows something is amiss and confronts the pilot as to if he knows his assignment, or has charts on board. The pilot responds in the negative, apologizing and then admitting he was unfamiliar with, and unprepared to accept the approach. By now, CTR was a little irritated, as the last 15 minutes of chasing down this pilot could have been avoided the guy had advised from the beginning that he did not have the appropriate charts. The controller advised the pilot not to accept a clearance he cannot fly, via a mild scolding. That’s good advice unless you really want to tick off a busy CTR controller....

B) On Christmas day, I was given a novel as a gift by my girlfriend's younger sister. It was a half fact, half fiction novel centering around TWA flight 800. Knowing I wasn’t a big fiction reader, she was concerned I wouldn’t like the book, but she explained to me that she had been to Borders and asked a sales person there for a book "on planes, aviation, and flying...". When she repeated his response to me, my jaw hit the ground. Quote: "We don’t sell stuff like that. We havent since 9/11".


Imagine that. The very thought of a large chain of book stores pulling titles based on aviation in response to the events of 9/11 made as much sense to me as pulling titles based on baseball for every poor guy that was killed with a Louisville Slugger. It couldn’t be true. And if it was, I was going to make a stink about it. But.....It couldn’t be true.

Sure enough, I made a point to stop by the same Borders Books on my way home yesterday, to investigate. I am happy to report that I spent an hour in this fine store, going through the relatively decent sized selection of aviation books they had on hand, from actual aircraft specific POM's to the "be a better pilot" types, novels, and on down. I even purchased a DVD I saw there about the investigation into the 1998 crash of SwissAir flight 111. I knew it couldn’t have been true, and im thankful it isnt. It still makes me cringe, however, that some poor folks may have missed out on some great aviation titles this Christmas, all becase of a salesman (not a very good one apparently) who didn’t know, didn’t say so, and then pretended to know.

Monday, December 26, 2005

My kind of town...

Starry night. 1175 miles 'til Chicago.

Heading Home part II.

So, I guess im heading home.....again.

Apparently I cant sit still. I took a flight over to Santa Monica. While parked there I discovered a route that would end at KILG, Wilmington, Delaware. My home state, and my blip on the Washington sectional when flying in the real world. Plus, the first stop on the 3 leg trip to the east coast is Midway, Chicago. An airport I always enjoy flying into. A stop in Des Moines after that, and then its direct, Wilmington. Yup, back to the east coast.

Burning back to KSDL to pick up my route from dispatch.

Heading home....

I have been bouncing North and South across the mountians since my last post working my my way back to a flight home. I had to look over the "Available Routes" forms 2 or 3 flights in advance of each destination to find the fastest way back to KSDL. After some fun adventures enroute, i'm now airborne and heading south to KABQ. After that, its a short flight home to KSDL, upon where i'll pick up more local work for a little bit.

Visiting an old nemesis along the way...out of respect.

KASE, or Aspen is, to say the least, a challenging airport. Some say its downright dangerous. Nestled at 7,815 MSL and surrounded on all sides by mountain ridges and vistas. Factor in the snow, ice, good winds, and low visibilty common to the area, and you get an idea of how fun it could be to land there at night. Of course, in the simulated world, we have the advantage of it always being fun. And, Of course, there are the real world pilots who find this stuff a blast. Regular airline operations do come to KASE daily.

I visited here 3 hops ago. In the dark, with decent visibilty, it still demanded a go around on my first approach. It is a very unique approach and can be a handful for a relative greenhorn like myself. The 2nd approach was spot on, but none the less a harrowing ride...on final approach you can see the trees and valleys rising up around you in the darkness, and it can be quite intimidating. You really have to trust your instruments here.

So, on my way back to New Mexico, as I passed Aspen at FL170, I tipped a wing....Ill be back, and im gonna get you on the first approach next time, old man....

Tipping a wing to Aspen

Thursday, December 22, 2005


someone made a baaaad calculation.

Thankfully, 2 minutes after taking this screenie, I was safely on the ground at KICT. Damn good landing too, if i do say so myself.

Got fined by FSPassengers for not having 45mn of reserve fuel on board at the end of the flight. I deserved that one.


Click to Enlarge

I said I needed practice, and I got it.

Intentionally chose 32L at KCMI to fight the 17K crosswind. I was determined to grease this one, and grease it I did. I guess if you want crosswinds, the windy City is a good place to look.

Toronto it is.

Decided on CYYZ as our next destination when faced with the 28 options from dispatch. That way I could get across the border for the first time, and there was a connecting flight from there to Chicago, another air space on the list before I head back to Scottsdale (home base).

Sometimes while flying on VATSIM, when there is no ATC on my route to talk to, ill use to listen to some real world controllers push the heavy metal. Listening to Philadelphia APP as I descended towards Toronto in the virtual world, I heard a fellow Execjet pilot being cleared over in the Washington airspace. No doubt its more fun in the real world, and im pretty sure he gave that away with in sound of his voice...

As I closed withing 20 miles of CYYZ to land, the weather was resetting from clouds and rain to clear skys and unlimited visibility with every refresh. One of the things I hope active skys handles better when I get it some day.

Saw a lonely freighter on my decent to runway 33R, and wondered if it was one of those guys ive been hearing about sailing the VATSIM seas. (apparently against the rules, but obviously it happens....) A quick check of the radar concluded it was just some random add on scenery from our friends at Microsoft.

Winds ay CYYZ 15 gusting to 24. Clearly I need to brush up on my X-wind landings, because I made another sloppy landing. Thats 2 in a row. I consider that a slump. Not to mention the fact that FSPassenegers threw in a failure of the left side brakes after touchdown. They even saw fit to penalize me for not declaring an emergency. An emergency? Losing the brakes at application, somwhere around 80 knots?!?


The TEB.

After complaining to dispatch that I was stuck at FLO, (the only available route was back home to KSDL, and I was trying to work up the East coast...) They graciously provided me with a couple of routes out. The option I chose was back to Peachtree, where I had just departed to arrive at FLO. This way I could then head up to Ohio by the available KCMH route. I knew from there I could cruise the 400 or so miles over to the corporate jet wonderland known as Teterboro. Im currently inbound, 225 miles ahead of the nose before we arrive. Im loaded to the gills thanks to FSPassengers, 8 aboard, full cargo hold, and juuust enough fuel. By my calculations anyway. Let me check those again....

In the real world, KTEB is under seige. Local Congressman Steve Rothman is spearheading a battle to reduce flights into Teterboro by some 25%, to reduce jet noise in the area. Being 12 miles from midtown Manhattan, it's a mecca for corporate aircraft avoiding the pains of larger fields, and getting the boss downtown couldnt be easier. Needless to say, its a loud place at 5P.M.
Rothman is pushing to keep congress from overturning Teterboro Airport's 37 year-old weight limit ban on aircraft exceeding 100,000 pounds. This in turn will keep the fast growing fleet of BBJ's out of the airport. Recent accidents involving jets at TEB, including one that resulted in an aircraft crossing a road, but thankfully not proceeding the tragedy of Southweast's Midway incident, are the Congressman's main ammunition in his war. The area is very dense with buildings and homes and lots of people. The aircraft that crossed route 46, a Challanger 600, did in fact collide with some vehicles, and Rothman likes to frame that as a "What if" and uses the BBJ fully loaded with fuel as his example of the impending catastrophe that he insists would ensue.

KTEB is good to pilots. Despite a high price on fuel, KTEB is a place with doormen, who know you are coming and what you have with you in way of passenger luggage. A 24 hour gym operates for use by guests and crew's in transit alike. The biggest bonus, its not an international, like the surrounding airports loaded with heavy's. You can get in and out fairly easily, sans the rush hour traffic jams of biz jets on the taxi ways.
Of course, when I get the BBJ payware and cruise into KTEB virtually, yet safely under the Execjet flag, i'm sure it would do little to convince Congressman Rothman, But it will be an interesting experiement.

For now our Citation X has touched down at KTEB. Passengers not so happy, as your Captain made a fairly rough landing today. Id blame it on the 15 knot cross wind, but im too busy blaming it on my virtual co-pilot. He just sits there.

Dispatch obviously knows the value of KTEB too. i now have 28 possible routes to choose from. its going to be a hard choice.

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