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 » Sat May 01, 2010 6:42 pm

At this point, no major plans aside from replenishing my bank account. However, in a year or so, I'm going to start working on getting my instrument rating. That's another 30 hours of ground training, 35 hours in the air, and a 250NM cross-country journey with at least one leg of 100NM straight-line distance, based on Part 141 training. The nice thing is that I can start reading up on things ahead of time, and even practice some of the items while doing normal flying. My replacement instructor, for example, gave me an introduction to an instrument approach into Fullerton, stepping through the altitudes as we came in.

Shorter-term, though, are some smaller endorsements:
  • High-performance airplane (more than 200hp)
  • Complex airplane (retractable gear, flaps, and controllable-pitch propeller)
  • Tailwheel airplane
All involve a few hours of ground and flight training. The first will allow me to fly a basic Cessna 182, or even a 350 or 400, or a 206 if I want to carry six people in the plane (including myself). The second allows me to get into flying some of the fastest aircraft as the aerodynamics improve considerably when landing gear gets out of the way. The last lets me fly some classic planes such as the Piper Cub.

So many possibilities. :)
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Tue May 04, 2010 3:28 am

Technically, I can fly anything that is 200HP (about 150kW) and under 12,500lb (5670kg) that does not otherwise require a type rating. However, finding a 12,000lb airplane with 200HP engines is difficult to say the least. From a practical perspective, I'm limited to 2- or 4-place planes that do not have landing gear and are 200HP or less. I can fly at night, on top (over clouds without a clear view of land), and for as long as the plane will stay in the air, as long as I stay below 18,000ft (5486m -- I'd round that off, but breaking that English measurement means bad things happen to me). That still leaves a lot open.

There are other levels in the US, such as recreational and sport pilot ratings, but they carry some annoying restrictions on the size of the plane and the ranges that can be flown, much like your PPL/A license.

Regarding the instrument training, the idea is to provide enough instrument time to understand how to use them in case a pilot finds himself either in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) or gets disoriented and has to rely on them to recover straight and level flight, as well as to provide some assistance in night flight. Anything much more, and the VFR pilot may get the idea that he knows what he's doing in instrument conditions.

And for currency, there are a couple of requirements. To take passengers, three take-offs and landings in the prior 90 days must be performed. They have to be full-stop and at night to maintain night currency, and night currency can be used for day currency. Aside from that, a biennial flight review by a certified instructor is required every 24 calendar months, though participation in the FAA Wings program (a combination of tracked knowledge and instructor-led flight activities) can help supplant that.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Mae Dean » Tue May 04, 2010 6:05 am

Martin Blank wrote:I'm limited to 2- or 4-place planes that do not have landing gear and are 200HP or less.
Lest you think he's flying a Messerschmitt Komet, he means no RETRACTABLE landing gear. :D

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

Post by Martin Blank » Sat May 08, 2010 2:55 pm

Landing gear are training wheels! :)

Incidentally, the Komet did have retractable landing gear, just in the form of skids. Not many of them made it back to the field to use them, and they were notoriously tricky to land in one piece, but considering that the alternatives included exploding on engine start during launch and having nearly pure hydrogen peroxide eat you alive if the fuel tank was punctured without exploding, tumbling on landing in a plane with a dry tank might well be the preferred bad outcome.
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Updated flight training plans

Post by Martin Blank » Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:03 am

Just about a year after getting my license, I've decided that I will, before the end of June, add a high-performance endorsement to it. This will vastly increase the number of planes that I can fly, as it allows me to fly any plane equipped with an engine producing more than 200HP as long as it does not also have flaps and retractable landing gear.

While on vacation a month ago, I got to sit right-seat in my girlfriend's father's Cessna 182. It's an old steam-gauge model, but I got a hint of how the bigger birds handle, though he handled the take-offs and landings. Funny... He took control back because he was getting jealous that I was flying and he wasn't. :)

So in the next couple of months, I will be able to fly Cessna 182s with their greater range and useful payload. I will also be able to legally fly a Cirrus SR22 or a Cessna Corvallis 350 or 400, but the odds of being able to do so are slim, as they are all in the $450K+ range, and hence even rental rates are incredibly high.

I am, however, eagerly awaiting the Flight Design C4, still in preliminary design phase but with numbers that look stunningly good. A practical four-seat plane, it will make heavy use of carbon fiber, have a glass panel cockpit, extremely good visibility, and is expected to have ranges of 1200 nautical miles (2200km) for the gasoline engine and 1700 nautical miles (3150km) for the diesel engine. Given that those are at 65% power ratings, it suggests some very, very nice cruise speeds. The $250,000 maximum price tag also is enticing; yes, it's the cost of a nice house in most places, but if I can get two other pilots to go in on it with a 10- or 15-year loan, it drops the costs dramatically.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by ampersand » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:07 pm

Am I the only one that finds that the most surprising thing out of this is that Martin has a girlfriend now?

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

Post by Rorschach » Thu Apr 28, 2011 3:14 pm

She's been mentioned in a thread or two before - the most recent being the gathering thread - but he does seem to tend to keep his cards close to his chest, the sly dog that he is.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:05 am

Only because it makes you jealous, Rors.
ampersand wrote:Am I the only one that finds that the most surprising thing out of this is that Martin has a girlfriend now?
She's an aviation enthusiast, too. She's taken a few lessons, but for various reasons wasn't able to keep going, though I hope she will eventually be able to get that corrected. She's sat right-seat a couple of times, and was in the back seat when I went up with an instructor because I was out of currency and landed in some insane cross-winds (14 knots gusting to 19 at a variable angle to the runway centered at about 50 degrees off runway centerline, plus or minus 20 degrees moment to moment). I know my limits in part because of that flight, and they are lower than that. I found myself concerned not that I would break the plane, but that she would get hurt if I did. My shoulder belt has an airbag; hers did not.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by ampersand » Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:42 am

I didn't realize that airplanes can come with air bags.
There was a local story about a family of four who died while trying to fly their plane to some destination in the greater Kansas City area on Easter. The plane was a Beechcraft and apparently the engine went kaput while making a "missed approach." The pilot and his wife were about my age, and the kids were 5 and 7. Do you see yourself perhaps making such trips, minus the crash? (They had flown about ~300 miles where it would have taken a little over 5 hours to drive from where they were from to here.)

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

Post by Martin Blank » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:01 pm

I'd love to make a long flight, but as I'm renting, long flights are expensive. A Cessna 172 G1000 runs $165 an hour and it's about 10 flight hours there and probably 11-12 back. I'm hoping to fly up to Sacramento in the near future, and that's a $900 round-trip. Maybe one day, I will own a plane, and it will be less expensive to make the flight, though the $6 per gallon fuel prices are denting that, too.

The safety options available in small planes are sometimes surprising to people. Airbags are becoming very popular after-market mods, and many new aircraft have them standard. They work differently, opening away from the user instead of toward. They're even showing up in airliners. If you find yourself in a seat with a thick belt covered in leather, it's probably an airbag.

You may also have heard of ballistic parachute, which opens using a small explosive force to quicken the deployment. These are attached to the aircraft itself, and can be used as a last-ditch method of saving the lives of the people aboard, though often at the cost of the aircraft, as the strain of the deployment can tweak an airframe past the point of recovery. That is, however, much better than losing all aboard.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by JermCool » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:21 pm

There's a 2000 Cessna 172S for sale in North Las Vegas for $72,000.

But I did warn you - that airport eats small planes.
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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 » Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:50 pm

I likes my glass cockpits, though the idea of a far less expensive plane with a good add-on moving-map display does carry more weight than it used to.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Deacon » Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:31 pm

My dad's currently looking at a '68 Mooney M20E that's been retrofitted with a late 70's model windshield with its more aerodynamic rake and tons of other aerodynamic, performance, and avionics extras including an altitude-holding autopilot and such. The cool thing is that at cruise he's burning only about 7 gallons per hour.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by Martin Blank » Fri May 06, 2011 4:16 am

The old Mooneys are definitely good planes. I'm not so much for their style, though their performance (and especially the M20E, now that I look it up) is tough to beat.

The high-performance training is now booked, and with an added bonus. My original instructor, who could not quite complete my original training (sounds like he was Yoda or something: "Fly plane you will now. Careful you be when sound stall warning horn...") as he had taken a job flying cargo first out of Van Nuys and later out of John Wayne Airport, is doing some part-time training and agreed to take me on. I worked out half-workday Tuesdays starting next week, and will begin promptly at 10:00 on the 10th.

This pleases me.

I don't think I mentioned earlier that I'm thinking about joining the Civil Air Patrol. I wouldn't be able to fly for them just yet, as I need 100 hours PIC (pilot in command) time and 50 hours of cross-country time to be a Transport Mission Pilot 200 hours PIC and 50 hours cross-country to be a Search-and-Rescue/Disaster Relief Mission Pilot, but I could work up to those levels over time while still participating in other activities.
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Re: Butterfly in the sky... I will fly twice as high...

Post by adciv » Sun May 08, 2011 8:13 pm

You're joining CAP? Oh, you have got to let us know what you fly there. BTW, time to start reading AF Blues if you haven't already.
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