Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

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Martin Blank
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:04 am

adciv wrote:Note to self: Start researching the flight clearance requirements for non-military aircraft before boarding.
Not quite sure what you mean there. If this is regarding the flap deployment, commercial planes used in regular service have much more going on for them. Deacon mentioned an auxiliary hydraulic system to deploy flaps on the Cessna 210. I'm not sure of what an airliner has, but I'm sure they can deploy flaps even without the engines running, and even without the auxiliary generator (a small turbine engine) running. They have to be able to, particularly on planes that are fly-by-wire (most airliners built since the mid-70s), because flying without hydraulics is really hard, and landing without hydraulics plain sucks. To give you an idea, in all of the cases where an airline lost hydraulics in flight, it was not until a DHL flight to Baghdad in 2003 that was hit by a missile managed a safe roll-out that any plane in such a situation landed safely.

Totally off-topic, and absolutely not a joke, despite the smile and perhaps laugh that will ensue: I have to give serious props to Captain Kohei Asoh, who was flying Japan Airlines Flight 2 in a DC-8 on a route from Tokyo to San Francisco on 22 Nov 1968. At the time, Asoh had some 10,000 hours of flight time, having flown at least as far back as WW2, when he was a flight instructor for the Japanese armed forces. The plane itself was quite new -- barely six months old at the time -- and Asoh was not entirely familiar with the flight director system that was new and specific to the DC-8. The weather was not especially bad, but the clouds were low -- overcast at 300 feet and 3/4 mile visibility. (Some San Francisco residents would call this "normal conditions.") On approach to SFO, the plane broke through the clouds, and Asoh realized that instead of being a few hundred feet up and on glide slope, he was just about to touch the water. Despite applying power, the engines could not spool up in time, and the plane touched down in San Francisco Bay, more than two miles short of the runway.

Fortunately, none of the 107 souls aboard were seriously hurt in the incident. The plane would be recovered from the bay, refurbished, and returned to service, serving with JAL for many years before being scrapped.

At a press conference organized by the NTSB and JAL, a statement was issued, and reporters were allowed to ask questions. As I understand it, the first -- and perhaps last -- question directed to Captain Asoh was, essentially, what happened? The pilot, clearly chagrined by the experience, leaned forward to the microphone for his response:

"As you Americans say, Asoh fucked up."

This has been documented all over the place. I would love to have video footage of this. As a result of taking the blame so clearly and succinctly ("suck what?"), Captain Kohei Asoh is absolutely one of my heroes.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by adciv » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:29 pm

Not quite sure what you mean there.
I know the requirements for military aircraft to receive a flight clearance, including the unmanned ones. Even the unmanned aircraft have stricter requirements than what the Cessna 210 has. Not having a redundant battery for the flaps counts as a 'single point failure'.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:19 am

Landing an airliner without flaps is a lot more difficult than landing a Cessna without flaps. Stall speed on a Cessna 172SP in clean condition is about 48 knots indicated air speed (IAS). The stall speed on a 737-800 in clean condition is something like 120 knots, with a LOT more kinetic energy behind it. As hard as it is to bring in a Cessna with no flaps, it has to be an order of magnitude harder to land an airliner with no flaps, and doing it in less than 10,000 feet of runway probably deserves a medal.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by adciv » Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:47 am

I rest my case. I'm going to be looking up the FAA air worthiness to see what is required.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:15 pm

Final flights before my stage check were completed yesterday. Mostly, it was just some checks of a couple of more difficult maneuvers, plus some confirmation that I can do stalls. After that first flight (which included the smoothest landing I've ever done), Brandon set me loose to go to the practice area and solo some maneuvers on my own. I went out and did some stalls, steep turns, slow flight, and a couple of other things, and then came back to Fullerton, where I had a really ugly bounce on landing. Not satisfied to leave it at that, I decided to do one more trip in the pattern.

I got my clearance for runway 24, but was told to use left traffic instead of the normal right traffic. Now, I've done left traffic before; Brackett Airport uses left traffic for runway 26L. That in itself isn't a big deal. But after dozens of traffic runs using right traffic off of 24, it was unusual. I believe that the tower was trying to make some room for someone coming in from a few miles to the north, and she and I would have been in close proximity in the pattern had I used right traffic. Anyway, long story short (too late), I flew the pattern using normal timing, found a new landmark (CSU Fullerton) on which to line up for the downwind (extending downwind at tower's request), and came back in without too much trouble. I touched down a bit left of centerline, but gently, so I was happy with it.

The practice oral exam with Brandon, though, caught me on a few points. I need to get some definitions down better, and I need to get some emergency procedures down a little quicker. Studying is on the list of things to do today.

Stage check is tomorrow at noon. Here's hoping that I can pull everything together in time.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:12 am

Flight Day: 28 Jun 2009
Flights: 1
Landings: 1
Time: 0.8
PIC Time: --
Total Time: 25.8
PIC Total Time: 1.8

That's something that I'm going to post after each flight day's activities, just to keep up with things. It starts with the date of the flight, how many flights were completed, number of landings for that day, flight time that day, Pilot-In-Command time (basically solo time) that day, and then total flight time and PIC time over my flying career.

So today was the Stage 1 Check Flight. This flight was not with my normal instructor, Brandon, but with AFI's Chief Flight Instructor, Dane. After spending a considerable amount of time on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning studying for the oral portion, I was able to get past that with minimal difficulty. We took to the air, and Dane was pretty quiet most of the time, as check ride people tend to be. They're along simply as observers, and to make sure that I don't do anything too dangerous. The flight was short, encompassing a take-off, selection of course and altitude, use of foggles to simulate instrument conditions, and then demonstrations of stalls, steep turns, and seeing how I respond to a simulated engine failure.

End result: aside from a couple of communications bits that I need to clean up and an acknowledged need to brush up on emergency procedures, I came through it fairly well. Dane even said that he thinks that I'm a little ahead of the curve on some things. That's very reassuring to me. Now it's on to Lesson 12, which involves no instructors at all. Kind of odd, but it's a purely solo lesson, mostly for confidence-building. After that, it's on to short-field and soft-field take-offs and landings, something I'm told are rather fun to do.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Deacon » Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:06 pm

Heh, yeah, ramp 'em up and take off. I've got to tell you, I took off in a Mooney M20C (my dad piloting, not me) from a runway in the Guatemalan mountains that looked like that scene from Air America. No joke. Scary as hell and just as awesome :D

I doubt they'll do that in your short/soft field lessons, though :lol:
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Wed Jul 01, 2009 3:13 am

Probably not. Short field lessons for me will be something like, "Release the brakes, take off before reaching taxiway C, and climb at Vx, angling so that you would miss the second hangar on the right if it were in your flight path."

Still, sitting at the tip of the runway, running the engine up to 2700RPM before letting go... That will be fun.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:40 pm

Flight Day: 04 Jul 2009
Flights: 2
Landings: 11
Time: 1.4/1.5 (2.9 total)
PIC Time: 1.5
Total Time: 28.7
PIC Total Time: 3.3

After my instructor flipped lessons 12 and 13 (12 is a solo practice run and 13 is the aforementioned short-/soft-field takeoffs and landings) to accommodate another student, I began preparing for what I thought would be an easy lesson.

Turns out that I was right. :)

They're actually fun. It really helped me to consider all of the factors going into it so that the sequence of actions made more sense. Short-field take-off means setting 10 degrees of flaps, holding the brakes while ramping up to max RPM, making sure the gauges are good, and then releasing the brakes to accelerate as quickly as possible, rotating at the normal speed of 55 knots (you actually have to force the nose down until then), but then climbing at 62 knots (Vx) for the first 150-200 feet. At that point, nose goes down to the horizon to pick up speed, and then at 74 knots (Vy), pitch the nose up to climb again. Once that's stable, retract the flaps, and fly as usual.

Soft-field take-offs are similar in opening in that you start with 10 degrees of flaps, except that you never want to stop moving so as to minimize stress on the landing gear while going through mud, dirt, sand, gravel, or grass. Taxi out onto the runway (preferably without stopping), pulling the yoke back to the stop, then throttle up all the way and start moving. This causes the nose wheel to rise from the runway very quickly, at which point you release some pressure on the yoke so as to not scrape the tail against the runway, and to be able to maintain a picture of what's in front of you on the runway. The plane comes off the ground at about 30-35 knots(!), at which point the nose is pushed down to float within ground-effect, picking up speed until Vx is reached, and then climbing out in a similar pattern to short-field take-offs.

Soft-short-field take-offs use a mix of the above two, stopping to go to max power, but then getting the nose wheel off the ground and leaping up off the runway in an even shorter distance, but then doing a normal soft-field departure.

Landings are similar, the difference being that you want to stop as quickly as possible on a short-field landing and you don't want to use the brakes at all if you can avoid it on a soft-field landing. Soft-field landings also keep the nose wheel off the ground for as long as absolutely possible. To give you an idea of the difference, my best short-field landing had a roll of perhaps 600 feet or so, and my best soft-field landing had about a 2000-foot landing roll.

After this, I got my practice time in, but ended up a little dissatisfied. I was practicing ground-reference maneuvers, part of which includes handling crosswinds, but there was virtually no wind at my altitude (the G1000 was showing only a 2-3 knot crosswind). The lesson still got signed off anyway, but I may grab another solo trip for that anyway before the next lessons.

Coming up probably next week are instrument stalls, instrument recovery from unusual attitudes, and radio tracking and navigation. Brandon is confident that these can be knocked out in one flight for each (or one longer, combined flight), and then it's on to cross-country flights (at least one leg longer than 50 nautical miles) -- the reason I'm learning to fly in the first place. :)
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:48 am

Flight Day: 18 Jul 2009
Flights: 1
Landings: 1
Time: 1.1
PIC Time: 0.0
Total Time: 29.8
PIC Total Time: 3.3

Lesson 14 is in the bag. Instrument stalls and lost procedures (remember: climb, conserve, communicate, comply) were knocked out quickly, and I got a useful lesson in the ability of a plane to maintain a particular flight attitude as we circled in a ten degree bank maintaining the same altitude +/- about 10 feet for about five minutes running through lost procedures, triangulating on a couple of VORs. Neither Brandon nor I had my hands on the controls at all during this time, though I did glance at the instruments and scan outside periodically (not as much as I should have been) to ensure that I wasn't about to smack into something.

I learned another lesson, though: It can get sweltering hot in a Cessna. When we took off, the airport weather information gave a temperature of 31 degrees -- about 88 degrees Fahrenheit. There's no air conditioning built into in a 172 aside from opening the vents or windows, and the vents don't do much at that level of heat. Brandon called off the flight at the end of one landing because he was roasting. He did tell me of a setup that a friend uses in his plane, where there's a gadget loaded with ice and placed in the baggage area, which then blows air through/over the ice and up into the cabin. Cheap, effective, and heavy, he says that it does the job very well. Might have to consider that if I ever own a plane.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:28 pm

About time for me to dust off this thread again. I have been flying since the last post some seven months ago, but just kind of fell out of keeping the thread up to date. Here are the major totals so far, based on summarized stats from ZuluLog.com:

Flights: 39
Landings: 136
Total Time: 62.1
Total PIC Time: 14.5
Airports Visited: 14*

Here are a few of the things that I've done in the flight time since then:
  • Night flight
  • Day and night cross-country flights (flights with a leg longer than 50 miles)
  • Solo cross-country
  • Mountain and island flying
  • Navigational procedures
  • Steep turns (45-degree banks through 360 degrees)
  • Emergency procedures
I'm now fairly comfortable in the cockpit, and don't find myself fumbling for much anymore. I still make the occasional elementary mistake, but fortunately, I catch most of them and either correct them in fact (when it's a maneuvering issue or an incorrect radio call) or mentally (when I make a mistake and there's no real immediate correction).

The intention was to get my license within one year of the first flight. Well, that didn't happen, unfortunately, due in part to the examiner's schedule. But it was scheduled for 11 January 2010, and all I had to do was get a sign-off from my instructor after a flight on the 5th and finish my Stage 3 check-ride on the 6th. The sign-off went well, but then that night, I got horribly sick and had to cancel the Stage 3 check-ride and the examiner ride. I didn't recover from that for almost two weeks, but further illness and weather prevented me from going up again until last weekend. But that flight went well, and I'm now hoping to be able to get on the examiner's schedule in the next few weeks.

The only glitch is that my instructor is following his own dreams with a job flying cargo out of Burbank effective a week from this Monday, so I have to transition to another instructor for the last sign-off. Dane is the Chief Flight Instructor and the one that handled my check-rides, so I'm sure that I'll be OK for the last little bit of things.

* List of airports visited:
  • KFUL (home airport)
  • KAJO (Corona)
  • KAVX (Catalina Island)
  • KCCB (Cable)
  • KCNO (Chino)
  • KCRQ (McClellan-Palomar)
  • KHMT (Hemet)
  • KMYF (Montgomery Field)
  • KONT (Ontario)
  • KPOC (Brackett Field)
  • KPSP (Palm Springs)
  • KVCV (Victorville)
  • F70 (French Valley)
  • L35 (Big Bear)
[/size]
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Mae Dean » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:35 pm

Getcher license and get your ass on down here to RIU! :D It's only a 2-mile drive for me to come pick you up now, and we don't have any temporary tie-down fees or anything like that.

Downside? It's pump-your-own-gas. :P

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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by JermCool » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:27 am

I wonder who got THAT little tidbit implemented, Dean? :D
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Mae Dean » Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:31 pm

I actually fought against it, little though my influence was. I didn't want to lose my job to a set of fuel pumps. Plus, I have kind of a pride in my job... I'm the egotistical bastard that thinks a lot of these pilots shouldn't be doing it because "dammit, they're not DOING it right."

For a while, we still had me pumping AT those pumps, but now the pilots do it all autonomously.

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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by ampersand » Tue Mar 30, 2010 3:40 am

Hmm...that brings me to a question that just seems so stupid it has to be asked. You know how in New Jersey and Oregon it's required by law to have paid, trained (presumably) gas attendants pump gas for your automotive. Does it extend to airline fuel?

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