Private Pilot Resources - Aviation Blog

I obtained my private pilot license in 2006. This site is dedicated to capturing little gems of knowlege I collected during training. Periodically I add items I find during research so that others might benefit from them. Please review the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

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Location: San Jose, CA, United States

In 1999 a friend invited me to go flying and I was hooked. I live in the Bay Area about an hour south of San Francisco and fly out of Reid Hillview (KRHV). Please do get in touch and lets go fly!!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

3 point landings

Got 1.1 hours in N5032G this afternoon. Once again had a blast. we got in 10 touch and go and my taildragger landings are definitely improving. 32G has toe brakes and I much prefer those to heel brakes. It also flies much tighter. I feel like I'm finally starting to fly by the seat of my pants. When I glance at the turn indicator it see the ball less and less off center. 172s sure were forgiving and flying taildraggers finally forces me to shape up. One vexing problem remains that I think we finally worked out. I tend to work the ailerons in the flare to stay over the center line, which on occasion brings down one of the wings just slighty at the moment of touchdown. Bad idea. It basically pivots the plane on one front and the back wheel and requires quick, strong aileron correction combined with rudder inputs to get me back on centerline. Taildraggers require a perfectly straight ahead touch down, so next time out that's what we'll try. I'll probably accept being slightly off center line for a while in favor of a full three point contact on touchdown. On the upside, we had several landings today that were just sweet. There is nothing like ever so gently kissing the ground, rolling, applying full power, lifting tail and rotating softly again. It's just an awesome feeling.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pilot My-Cast: Stay Ahead of the Weather

Pilot My-Cast: Stay Ahead of the Weather Seems like a nice app for my blackberry. It's $10 a month and seems to provide a pretty good range of services.
Another app for the blackberry curve is AirWx Aviation Weather
Amazing that there aren't a ton of really good aps that would bring together all those free resources and leverage the curve's amazingly accurate GPS.
WXsys is a third choice, but it requires a subscription of almost $14/ month.
But, since it's free and I like how fast it loads on my blackberry, I'm going with Their standard briefing is very easy to set up on a mobile device. Weather graphics load incredibly fast and are visible even on my blackberry 8330 Curve. The site saves the last 5 requests as links so they are very fast to pop up. Say what you will about government agencies. The FAA really does have it's stuff together.

Taildragger Lesson #3 - Demonstration of the spin

Saturday was taildragger lesson number 3. The usual turns, stalls and a few landings. Dave demonstrated a spin and I'm trying to get my nerves up to fly one myself the next time we go up. Just in case you're wondering what a spin looks like, check out the above video. I just pulled it off YouTube since it's just a couple of rotations and was close to what we flew, although with the ground whirling around, who can count. Now to what it feels like. First it feels like a stall. The plane is dropping and at least to me it's that stomach in your throat kind of feeling. Once the spin stabilizes, it actually feels like you're flying again (well, one wing is). Not to bad, other than the ground in your face rotation ahead of you. Then comes the spin recovery and oddly that's the one I wasn't prepared for. You'll feel the G's pressing you into your seat as the plane recovers from pointing at the ground back to the horizon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tailwheel take-offs and landings

Saturday morning. Usually I just want to sleep in, yet today I couldn't wait to get out to the airport. Lesson number 2 in flying taildraggers. When I got there at 9:45 Dave was already waiting for me. We briefed our lesson and off we were. As we get in, Dave tells me that he didn't plan on having his hands on the controls. He sounded like he meant it. These were my takeoffs to learn from. Ok, this was going to be odd coming from tricyle gear aircraft. We taxi to runup, complete our checks and off we are. Next thing I know I'm on centerline pushing the throttle full open and we're rolling down the runway. Dave had given me some great advice that I'm sure I heard last weekend, but it just didn't compute until Dave but it into simple terms. Don't hold the rudder down too long, just dance on the rudder peddals, jab jab jab. As I started the roll that began to make sense. Veer right, left pedal jab jab jab right peddal jab, oh boy what a workout, but we're back on center line. Stick forward. Oh boy. Not what I'm used to rolling on the ground. Dave assured me that the prop won't hit the ground and indeed once we get horizontal with the tail having come up, the pressure kind of just keeps it there. Speed builds and we hit 60 (miles per hour that is). Another thing that strikes me as odd as I've always remembered my air speeds in knots. Now I don't hold the pressure on the stick forward any more and the pressure oddly reverses where I have to ever so slightly pull back on the stick as we gracefull lift off. Ahhhhh. Click click, things are starting to make new found sense. Not yet fully, but as Dave encourages me with excitement from the back ever more so with every takeoff. We get to pattern altitude. Abeam the numbers, carb heat on, power off, and we establish a glide at 70. We're flying a much tighter pattern than I'm used to when I was flying the 172 or Archer II. Base, I almost forget to crab into the slight wind up here. We turn to final, short final, it hits me, this is all going to be different. OK, Dave explained 3 point landing, we get down there and we float, float and float. Humbling experience in speed control. We finally touch down and I pull the stick back a bit too fast, we balloon and Dave helps me bring it slowly back down. We finally touch on the mains and I gradually bring the stick back into my lap. This time successfully only to see us veer off to the left. Here we go again with the peddals. Jab, Jab, Jab, back on center line. Aha effect. Now I get this whole jab the peddal thing. Just in time to push both throttle and carb heat forward, push the stick forward again, feel the tail come up, check air speed and gradually apply backward pressure on the stick to rotate again. It takes 3 more tries until I start to feel confident in this sequence. All of a sudden, there it was. That very nice, barley feel the wheels touch down landing that we dream of when we envision it in our minds eye late at night over a nice glass of Cabernet. I hear Dave holler attaboy in the back. Nothing like an instructor that can get excited with you and for you. We do three more rodeos in the pattern and I get a sense that sometimes these planes want a soft touch and sometimes they like a determined hand. Hmmmm, now I get that whole plane naming convention. As we roll off the runway I'm grateful I have ears or I'd be smiling circular. We only clocked 0.9 on the meter, but I couldn't be more excited. These planes require attention, but they are a joy to fly. After all, part of my goal signing up for taildragger lessons was to become a better pilot. I'm definitely focusing on feeling the plane, relying on outside references and flying by the seat of my pants. I'm actually relaxed and enjoying the experience. We should all be so luck to have a guy like Dave introduce us to these fantastic flying machines.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Taming the tail dragger

So it's been a while since I had taken to the air. 1 1/2 years according to my log book, so I thought it would be a good idea to combine a refresher with learning something completely new. I went down to Aerodynamic Aviation at Reid Hillview and as luck would have it got a flight the same day. Most humbling experience. I hadn't flown a stick before so that took some getting used to. I took to the skies in N53893, a Citabria 7EcA with a 115 HP Lycoming. We went for some airwork that definitely showed some rust on my part. It's hard to stall these birds. No stall horn either. The stick needed to be all the way back and they tip a heck of a lot faster than a Cessna 172 or an Archer. These things require some serious foot work and getting used to different locations for power, trim and instruments took some time. I'm heading back the next two weekends. Today was just air work. I'm looking forward to take offs and landings.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

ICON Aircraft: Sport Flying Revolution

ICON Aircraft: Sport Flying Revolution

Ohhh I want one of these. If it will fly half as well as it looks this has to be one of the most fun planes around.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Terrafugia - Transition® the Roadable Light Sport Aircraft : Photo Gallery

Terrafugia - Transition® the Roadable Light Sport Aircraft : Photo Gallery

Interesting concept of a flying car....or is it a driving plane?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Two seaters that would fit my mission profile

Once again just browsing the web for different airplanes that would fit my mission profile.

The second plane is the Cubcrafters Sport Cub S2, which meets LSA rules. Flaps are available as an option. The engine sips fuel at 4-5 gph and 391lbs payload with full fuel allow you to pack two grown adults and some bagage. A 250 ft takeoff ground roll is impressive. Last, but not least, the panel on this bird is just the perfect mix between nostalgia and 21st century capabilities. Vso is 36 Mph which reduces landing ground roll to a mere 200ft.