Longest Cross Country (so far!)

I have amazing friends! One of my newest friends is an awesome pilot and so thoughtful and considerate. He recently was ferrying an aircraft from Lexington to the DC area and then another one back to Dayton. I got to tag along and fly a leg for some flight time and instruction from him! Another pilot building time as well tagged along and flew the first leg, while I enjoyed the views from the back for the first time!

photo 2-12It was a rough day and a lot of things went wrong: a late start, forgotten headset, traffic. By the time we were ready to take off from LEX, we were at least an hour behind. It was a nice day for flying, smooth air, good visibility (maybe just a bit of haze) and warming up from the cold we’ve been having lately. It was more cramped in the back seat for almost 3 hours, but I switched back and forth from looking out the window and listening to points about using the constant-pitch propeller.

We enjoyed seeing the world’s largest movable radio telescope in West Virgina! After dropping off the Piper Dakota in Virgina, we picked up a Piper Archer to fly back to Ohio. The avionics were by far the nicest I’ve ever used! A complete glass cockpit. It had two Garmin 450s and  Avidyne were my MFD and FD. It was nice!

photo 1-10I remember learning all about left turning tendency. I thought I felt it, but the 152 and Cub have no where near the horsepower the Archer had and I felt it on take off! It was surprising to say the least. Those 50 hp extra makes a big difference.

Soon I was up to cruising level at 7000f and we turned on the autopilot. Yes, an autopilot finally! I don’t know why I had doubts how well it would work, but it was amazing keeping my altitude and course. After getting our altitude all set up correctly after the mountains, my friend covered the avionics much more thoroughly which took a good hour at least with everything they could do. We took some breaks so I could enjoy the lovely sunset going on, and after we were done I went back to hand flying to get more practice in. We agreed it was better for me rather than be lazy on the autopilot.

photo 3-4I used the instruments more than outside navigation since it was pitch black by that point and I wanted some instrument time as well. The plane had a Flight Director so it was super easy even hand flying.

I’m glad I learned on the 6 pack and without an autopilot for sure and all my time so far has been without those instruments, it has made me a better and more confident pilot, but now I’m enjoying this new challenge. I probably won’t fly with those instruments too often even now, but it was fun to try!

My friends are awesome and I’m glad he offered me this experience and hopefully get to do it again!

Flight Time: 3.3 hours

Night Time: 2.0 hours

Cross country: 300+nm

Women in Aviation

Last week, I was lucky to attend the Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas, TX. It was a great experience and I’m thankful I could attend, even if it was for only a day!

The night before my 6am flight I worked until 10:30pm, plus the area was in the middle of a bad snow storm. My work offers us hotel rooms when it’s bad next to the airport, so I was happy to have that option rather than drive back home with my little manual convertible. Dallas also just received a snow and ice storm that night before I arrived so going from bad to worse, but it all worked out.

When I was there I had three goals set for myself: talk to specific airlines about their dispatch opportunities, talk to companies about ways to improve flight planning or FBO service with my current company, and talk to women about engaging my WAI chapter more. Since I had such clear goals, it was much easier to accomplish them rather than wandering the exhibit floor.

The best part about talking to major airlines there is hearing what their qualifications and hiring looks like for the future. There are a LOT of rumors on the internet, and you know what? Surprisingly (or probably more unsurprisingly) they are not even close to what I heard from the people who do the hiring or work for the company. So don’t trust everything you read on internet forums!

Next, I learned a lot more about Foreflight and the options it has to apply to companies. If I didn’t already love Foreflight, I do now!

Lastly, I spoke with some amazing woman and got TONS of idea to do with my chapter, so I’m hoping to take some suggestions and have a lot more fun things to report doing with my chapter.

I also got to meet some Facebook aviation friends there and a fellow Girls With Wings scholarship winner which was so amazing!

Next year, I’m hoping to attend for more than a day and get to take advantage of the speakers and education sessions! Did anyone else attend the conference or do WOAW?

Citation X

photo-13One of the perks of working for a private jet company is that you get to sometimes fly in the private jets when they are repositioning or going up to fly after been sitting on the ground for a month in maintenance. The other day I got to fly in our Citation X, the fastest civil jet, according to Cessna! The flight was schedule for an hour before my shift at work, and it was totally worth waking up early.

After I had just started I flew in a Lear 60, I’ve been on the Citation Excel a lot because that’s what Jake flies but haven’t actually flown on it, just sitting with it on the ground in the hangar. Citation X is the biggest out of those, but not our biggest jet.

The thing I like most about it over our other Citations is it has a swept wing, the CJs and Excels have straight wings. You can also see the upgrade with each Citation in their deice/anti-ice equipment. 11041770_2838853567895_313106445032105700_nThe CJ has boots (rubber on the wings and tail that expands to crack the ice off) on both the wings and the tail. The Excel has boots on the tail, but anti-ice on the wings (metal that gets hot). The X has anti-ice on both the wings and the tail.

Maybe I could be that type of Cessna Chick one day, I wouldn’t mind that!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past few months, there is much more to aviation than the airline (part 121) world and it’s worth checking it all out. Many pilots and dispatchers focus heavily on Part 121 experience, but Part 135 is an option. People do go to major airlines from the 135 world. It’s not always necessary to sell yourself short to a rough, low paying job at a regional airline. I must admit it’s hard to really believe that because the internet is filled with people saying “you must have airline experience” or you must have one thing or another. Aviation is a pretty fluid industry and the requirements of when someone was hired may not be the same as the next hiring round. Go with what makes your life happy and interesting, instead of what you believe you have to as told by the internet, even if it takes longer to get to your dream job, the journey will be worth it.

Ski Plane!

The other day, I was assuming the 20 degrees high would call off my Cub lesson. I almost forgot about it until Jake reminded me an hour beforehand that I had it scheduled. I called the school and they said they were flying and they moved me to the “bigger” Cub and it was on skis. How could I turn down flying on skis?! I rushed to get ready and headed out to the airport.

photo-12I was so excited to fly on skis! We went over to the Cub and it was pre-heating, though it wasn’t really warm. The engine was cool instead of cold. I learned how in the hangar the Cub sat on snow and sheet metal. We removed the sheet metal and set it on the snow. Within minutes, the skis were stuck to the snow and we had to shake it loose before pushing it out onto the snow. My CFI started out of the taxi, it required almost full power to start moving. When we hit the more icy area the power could be pulled back.

He picked a deeper part of the snow on the runway to take off, told me how you had to feel the tailwheel lift out of the snow before you could even pull up and get it to fly. He also did the first landing. It was more of a soft field landing than we do on just the grass with wheels since during the last 10 feet. It’s a bit tricky to judge the distance with snow. It was my turn next and I first picked the more used part of the runway to get used to the skis. The next one I went into the deeper snow. In the deeper snow, once we touched down it was pull the stick all the way back and dig the tailwheel in to stop since there are no brakes.

My CFI asked if I wanted to head over to the gliderport to do a couple of landings since the snow was deeper over there. Heck yes! It was fun to land where we fly gliders. I imagined it’s practice for when I can fly the tow plane!

My landings were overall a lot better from the last time. Only one landing bounced and my pattern work is getting back in the groove as well, I only had to slip on one landing as well. Maybe skis are a bit easier to handle, we’ll have to see on my next lesson.

While flying in the Alaska bush sounds like a lot of fun, I’m not sure I liked being able to see my breath the entire time!

Work, Fly, Win!

Life has been quite a whirlwind lately. I’ve been working a lot both at my corporate job and also teaching dispatch. I wish I could have taught more this time around, but I tried out my PowerPoint on flight planning and I think it went over pretty well. I’ve made a few adjustments to it and next time should be even smoother.

Got to go up in the Cub again and work on crosswind landings this time. It’s amazing how much left aileron was in, maybe I just felt it more using a stick instead of a yoke. I’m getting the hang of the 3 point landings, hoping to work on some wheel landings soon. Next lesson, we’re going to pavement! Who knew that would excite me? I’m still loving being on a grass field though. Make me feel kind of like a bush pilot. I had to cancel my lesson last week due to the cold, and it’s looking that might happen again on Friday. The Cub doesn’t have great heat (it turns cold air into cool air) and even the last time I was pretty cold, I’m sure I’d end up a popsicle by the end of the lesson.

Other exciting news, I received a Women in Aviation scholarship! I’m very honored and excited to have won it! It ended up being more than expected and it’ll definitely help working my way towards my commercial rating! What I love most about winning a scholarship is connecting with other winners and creating a bond that each person helps the other achieve their goals and pushes them to be better. I found that through my last scholarship with Girls with Wings and can’t wait to meet more Women in Aviation scholarship winners, we had two others in my chapter this year. I hope to bring you news from the WAI conference in Dallas next week!

Piper Cub

After my aerobatics lesson, my CFI and I decided first to focus on my tailwheel endorsement and put a pin in aerobatics for a few lessons. Originally, my lesson was scheduled for Wednesday. Due to slowly deflating tire and slow mechanics, I had to cancel. I rescheduled for Friday and the weather stuck it out for me!

1903985_2815936194975_7528552977165577240_nI’m getting my tailwheel endorsement in the Piper Cub. It’s such a fun plane! Tailwheel, no flaps, very basic.  Unlike the Citabria, the PIC sits in the back. It’s due to when you fly solo it’s the only way to make the CG correct. When there’s another person in there with you, especially with a thick winter coat, it’s very difficult to see the instruments.

This was my first experience hand propping a plane! It was not as difficult as I thought. I was at the controls, which freaked me out just a bit since all the FAA literature really focuses on having a skilled pilot behind the controls. I didn’t kill my instructor, so that’s a good start!

He did the first take off, and we went out a bit to do some stalls. The Cub stalls similar to the 152. It’s hard to stall. The Cub’s elevator pressure gets really heavy before the stall as a way to prevent stalls. When I was learning in the 152 it took some time to stall it. It’d be close to the stall and I’d start to lose coordination. I would know it, and it was probably part of the reason I was so scared of spins because the wing would drop. The Cub is similar and we purposely dropped a wing on the last stall. It was a bit more harsh than the 152, but no big deal.

We headed back to the field to do landings. Since it’s a grass field, we had to land, taxi back, and take off. Of course, my first few landings were quite bad and bouncy. I was too fast (no flaps), rusty from not working on my landings for 7 months, and it’s a frozen grass field. Mainly, I was too fast though.

I got pretty good at soft field take offs. There’s no option for anything else. What’s nice is that the Cub really just wants to do that it seems. After you push the stick forward to build speed right above the ground, it almost seemed to want to just release some pressure and start climbing.

Back to the fact I couldn’t really see the instruments, it made me really focus on my visual flying and the sounds of the aircraft. The climb out was based on how it looked and sounded, I would check my airspeed every so often when I could crane my head around. I did have to look at the altimeter to make sure I stopped at pattern altitude. The last time I really looked at the instruments is pulling the power back to 14000rpm and then it was all sight and sound.

Another thing during my primary training I wasn’t completely comfortable with was slips into landing. In a 152, you have flaps. You don’t have that choice in the Cub, so you pretty much have to slip if you want to land. Slips are now no big deal!

The other important thing, since it was so cold out, you have to watch your throttle after landing. There were a few times that we landed and the Cub almost stopped on the runway since it was on idle for too long and was cold. So now I’m in the habit of landing, slowing down and pushing some throttle back in to save the engine from quitting.

We were doing 3 point landings for the lesson. I flared in the landing versus trying to keep the tailwheel up. They were getting better by the end, but still a bit to go before I’m comfortable in a tailwheel. Can’t wait for next week! I hope it’s warmer though because by the end I was pretty frozen.

Aerobatics!

This past Sunday was my birthday. It was exciting Jake was home, but I had to work an 11 hour shift. So the celebration had to wait. Jake was planning a surprise for me and kept me guessing until I was finally off from work on Wednesday. I still had no idea until we were on our way. He had me grab the GPS out of the glove compartment and in there was a book Basic Aerobatics. We were on our way to my first aerobatics lesson!

We spent the entire car ride going over different maneuvers and how to do them so I would be prepared. By the time we arrived, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. I’ve always been afraid of spins, which sometimes made me nervous about stalls. For a long time now, I wanted to work on them so I would be less afraid. My other nervousness was about getting sick. I’ve never experienced air sickness, but this very well could have been the time I would.

photo-10It was the perfect day for a lesson! Blue skies and light winds. The airfield is a grass strip, it was still covered in some snow, but the runway was pretty clear. We went into the office and I filled out some paperwork since I plan on flying there more often now. It was around 1:30pm and my lesson was at 2pm so we went exploring the field. Two Piper Cubs were working on their landings, the planes outside of hangars were frosted over, and we found a pretty sweet Beech 12.

When 2pm finally hit, I met my instructor who was quite awesome. Jake approved of him and I approved of him, which sometimes is rare since he always wants me to be pushed more and I like a more relaxed instructor.

I got all buckled into my parachute and two seat belts. It felt like I had 6 inches of belts on top of me. I taxied to the runway, much more difficult on a grass field covered in snow! He took off since we were focusing more on aerobatics not tailwheel endorsement. I was so happy to back in the air! A bit out of practice though.

I was grateful we just did some turns to start out to get me used to the aircraft. They steadily got steeper and steeper and before I knew it we were way more than 60 degrees of bank (no attitude indicator to tell though) it looks and felt close to 90 degrees though.

Next was going into slow flight and stalling the aircraft. It was easy to stall and I wasn’t nervous about it at all. After I stalled it a few times, then it was stall it and keep it stalled. Whaaat? That was a new experience. The airplane became very “mushy” but I could somewhat control it. It took a lot more back pressure to keep it stalled than I would’ve thought.

1529831_603296432903_6276256081273659841_oSpins were up next. My instructor demonstrated them first. I survived! Looking straight at the ground is an odd experience but that was about it. I did it a few times and it was no big deal! One time I let the airplane fall out of the spin before it completed one turn, the next time I kept it in the spin for more than one turn. The airplane gains airspeed pretty quickly in a spin. Who knew that spinning the airplane was fun? All my nervousness was gone about spins.

After I was comfortable doing spins to the left and right, we moved onto loops. First, the nose had to point down to gain a speed of 130kts, then straight up! You quickly see only blue and have to look outside to the left to just your position based off the wing. Once over the top of the loop, you still have to pull back. Not until you’re level again you push the stick forward. The weirdest thing about a loop is the delayed reaction you feel. You don’t feel the Gs go up until after you think you will and the engine doesn’t give the extra power until you’re done with the maneuver. I think mine were more of an elliptical shape than a loop.

Hammerheads were next. They were a lot of fun! Again build up speed, go vertical, but this time you have to stay vertical and the plane wants to flip back over on itself so it requires forward pressure on the stick. Right as the airspeed runs out you do full left rudder and right aileron. It won’t spin actually, but just rotate around the cockpit and go into a dive. The hardest part of this maneuver is keeping the plane vertical while it runs out of airspeed.

10847221_603296457853_4607600356469526583_oLastly, we covered Immelman’s which is really just half a loop and half a slow roll together. This was the only maneuver which I was pull out of my seat when upside down. It made adding in the rudder difficult since I was falling out of my seat and couldn’t reach the rudder to do full deflection. I’ll have to buckle myself in tighter next time. This was the most difficult maneuver we did, it was also at the end so I was getting a bit burnt out.

We came back to the airfield, I did most of the landing but he helped. I came in a bit too fast and floated a lot. Definitely forgot how to land without flaps!

I scheduled another lesson, but just to work towards my tailwheel endorsement in a Piper Cub next week! I cannot wait! I have to work on reading Stick and Rudder. Once I get that then I’ll continue to work on my aerobatics! Video of the lesson to come shortly!