Glider Crew Day

I’ve been flying a lot more recently, but have been terrible writing about it. Sorry my blog readers! I’ll try to remedy that!

Yesterday, I went out to the glider club to fulfill my crew duty day for the month. Being a club member, you’re required to do one day a month of working crew. Either it’s ground crew, tow pilot, instructor, or crew chief. I want to eventually be a tow pilot, but I believe I need more tailwheel time as well as a glider pilot with the club.

photo-15I showed up late, since I worked until 4am there was no way I’d be able to be at the gliderport (an hour drive away) at 10am. The club knows and understands this. I jumped into launching gliders and retrieving them. Since this is the learning crew for newer members, we also get flights in and I got two in yesterday!

First flight was with an instructor I hadn’t seen before. A girl around my age, which is awesome since I’ve only seen old men. We got along great and I was hoping to fly with her again but got paired with our DPE the second flight. With her, we worked on minimum airspeed maneuvers and a couple of stalls.

Stalling a glider isn’t like a powered aircraft. It’s much less dramatic. We were doing gentle stalls so you could hardly feel the break in the stall and the glider just wants to recover so quickly. I’m used to the 152 and Cub stalling where they love to drop a wing. I enjoy this much more.

Another great thing about gliders, is you can also hear the wind much better and it helps judge airspeed. I don’t have to constantly look at my airspeed but can use my ears and stay looking outside.

This flight because of where we were over the field we did an unusual pattern. The approach was a bit all over the place and there was a gusty crosswind. We were pretty high and got knocked pretty hard by a gust right as we were crossing the threshold so the instructor took over and landed.

photo-14

Piper Pawnee, our tow plane

I went back to ground crew duties and then got back up and I did most of the tow. Towing is the hardest part for me. It requires so much concentration to follow the tow plane. And you’re not even really in complete control. If the tow plane is going too fast you have to deal with it since this glider doesn’t have a radio to tell him to slow down. I had a lesson a month ago where the tow pilot was going 80mph when he’s supposed to go 60mph. We had to break off early since the glider was almost uncontrollable.

This time he was a bit fast which requires a lot more forward pressure, and I did develop a death grip on the stick and kept trying to fix. I didn’t create any slack line, which I have done in the past. It was gusting still and by the end of the tow I was pretty exhausted, but felt good I finally did majority of a tow.

More minimum airspeed maneuvers and did a steep turn. The approach and landing was much more normal, we did hit the one bump on the field and went back into the air, but not a terrible landing.

We started to put the planes away and pack up after my lesson. It was a long day for me but fun for the most part.

Lessons time: 0.8

Flight Count: 5

Total Glider Time: 2.7 hours

Aerobatics Take Two

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This is from my first lesson, but the smile has stayed the same!

Since I finally finished with my tailwheel endorsement and solo meant I could move back to aerobatics. I was beyond excited. I was watching the weather closely even the day before, but you know how accurate the forecasts are (it’s always different). Rain threatened the area since Saturday, but Monday rolled around and no rain. It was slightly windy, but at the time of the lesson it didn’t look terrible so I went without calling.

As I pulled up I saw my CFI walking away towards the hangars. I checked in with the office and went to hunt him down. Luckily, I remember where the Citabria is kept so it wasn’t too hard. His son was out helping and promised him he would get to taxi in the airplane. He’s so adorable that I didn’t mind the extra walking!

We filled her up with a little gas, since too much would put us overweight for aerobatics, and headed out. He did the take off since it had been awhile since I was in the Citabria and it handles quite differently than the Cub.

We hardly eased into aerobatics unlike last time when turns gradually steepening, stalls and spin. We did about two turns and then straight into loops! This lessons he started to critique my execution of the moves rather than just me getting the simple idea of them. Loops, I wasn’t pulling back hard enough in the entry. I kept also wanting to let the stick go neutral at the top of the loop, but he said to keep it held back all the way through the top. The wind was also picking up slightly so making sure the entry was nice and straight because more of a chore.

Next up, hammerheads. I really enjoy this maneuver. I feel on this one I need to anticipate a bit better. I wanted to push the stick forward later than he was telling me, but if I followed that instinct I’m sure I wouldn’t be vertical but beginning a loop.

I learned a move we didn’t do last night, the Half Cuban and Cuban Eight. Half Cuban is a lot like an Immelmann and I had to ask the difference when he first explained it to me (I didn’t study before the lesson!) An Immelmann you roll at 1/2 way through the loop, while Half Cuban you’re not rolling until 5/8 of the way though the loop. The reason for this is the angle you’re headed when you roll out of the inversion will help you build speed when you’re doing a Cuban Eight to do the maneuver again.

I enjoy these types of moves because you’re upside down just long enough to start falling out of your seat. Though I made sure I buckled up tight this time so I could continue to reach the rudder pedals. After a few Half Cubans, he suggested I do a Cuban Eight, which is just two Half Cubans in a row and it looks like a figure eight.

There have been times in both lessons where I just can’t control myself and I let out a “whoo!” during the Cuban Eight that happened, it was just too fun! I have to admit, this move made me feel dizzy afterwards and my CFI called the lesson (he didn’t ask if I felt okay, it was getting to be close to an hour anyway).

As always, I can’t stop smiling after one of these lessons and can not wait for the next one! This was one of the best decisions in my flight training and will make me a more capable and confident pilot.

Has there been any of your training that has brought around confidence in your flying?

Now, only to get the money to buy a Pitts and compete in aerobatics…

Cub Flying

Even though my CFI awarded me a tailwheel endorsement the other day, due to the winds, I didn’t solo the Cub. I set up one more lesson to get checked out in the Cub so I could rent it. I was so happy when the day turned out to have clear skies and calm winds, exactly what I needed!

I made my way out to the airport, excited and nervous about flying solo. I realized I haven’t flown solo since before I got my PPL. Only once afterwards had I been the only pilot in the aircraft. I knew though that my CFI wouldn’t get out unless he felt I was okay to go.

We did a few landings. I wasn’t quite pulling back hard enough on the stick on the roll out. We worked on correcting that before I soloed. After I did one more landing, my CFI asked if I was okay if he got out. I said “okay!” and I dropped him off before heading off to solo. He said have fun and just put it back in the hangar once I was done.

11210504_2900964240623_3065518569892987443_nI have a confession. Every time I’ve soloed up until now, it’s to fit a requirement. I did my solo practice time, I did my solo cross countries, and that was it. I didn’t enjoy soloing. Yes, I enjoyed knowing I can do it all by myself, but I didn’t want to seek out opportunities to fly solo.

This was different. I didn’t want to stop soloing! My first three landings were pretty good. It felt great to have my instructor out of the plane so it could climb faster and I didn’t have to go larger patterns to get to pattern altitude. I was feel great and having so much fun. I knew I had to stop soon since I worked later that night. One more landing I told myself!

There was someone else in the pattern on downwind it looked like. This Cub doesn’t have any electrical system, so no way of talking to them. I rushed a decided to take off before them. Don’t rush in an airplane! I knew that before, and this just reinforced the lesson. I taxied out onto the runway and pushed the throttle forward before I was lined up straight. I got control of the aircraft shortly before coming to the edge of the runway. Whew, okay, I’ll never do that again.

11205972_2900964360626_262457733383713593_nOf course, that threw me off, and my landing was the worst out of all four. It was more of a wheels landing with a bounce than a nice three point landing. Well, that’s what I get for pushing it!

I know I’ll go and solo the Cub again for fun since I truly enjoyed soloing for the first time. Now back to the Citabria for aerobatics lessons! I couldn’t be more excited!

 

Delta OCC

11012034_2878854127884_6836495009007445925_nWhen I attended the Women in Aviation Conference in Dallas, I got the chance to speak with the hiring manager at Delta for dispatchers. The opportunity to speak with him was amazing within itself since I had written off Delta of not being interested in a Part 135 dispatcher with less than a year of experience. Don’t always listen to the Internet! It was chance that I ended up at their booth and talked to him, but he encouraged me to come down to Atlanta and watch their dispatchers at work.

After a few weeks and some email communication, we got it all sorted out and I headed down to Atlanta to go to the Delta Headquarters. It was bright and early for me since I’m currently working nights. I’m learning to function on a lot less sleep now.

The Delta compound is amazingly HUGE! I couldn’t see the extent of it, but it seemed at least 6 buildings in my vision when I entered the main gate.  He met me at the gate and I got all signed in and off we went to the Operations Control Center (or I think it’s Operations Client Center now?). I met another gentleman before my tour who was extremely nice and welcome, which seemed to be everyone there.

I was given a tour of the massive OCC where meteorology was located – they are one of the last airlines with their own meteorologists. All the supervisors, maintenance control, Delta Radio, IT, and the dozens and dozens of dispatchers.

I sat with a domestic dispatcher for about an hour or so. I loved talking to her and hearing her background with Delta (she was hired internally) and her experience dispatching for them. She was working flights out of ATL most going to the DTW area. There was some weather in the ATL area so I watched her decision making with alternates. While it’s much more repetitive than my current job, I can’t wait to do it!

Next, I was brought over to the international dispatchers and sat with their supervisor. He wasn’t actively dispatching flights, but we got to talk a lot more about international dispatching and their requirements. There was also a diversion when I was there, which was exciting, but everyone was so calm about it!

After about 4 hours I finally left. I felt terrible for my friend waiting for me, but it was such a great experience! If you ever get a chance to see any OCC, but especially the Delta one, do it! It’s very impressive. Now just to keep up the networking and hopefully I get to work there someday!

Tailwheel Endorsement!

11218511_2899260958042_6288261543595078983_nI haven’t blogged about it as much as I wanted to, but I’ve been working towards my tailwheel endorsement in a Piper J3 Cub recently. I’ve had a few lessons and then had to take about a month break due to work and the weather. Right before that break, I was starting to get discouraged. Unlike Private Pilot, when you get discouraged with your landings, you can take a break and go refresh on stalls or steep turns, not so much with this endorsement. I felt like I wasn’t ever going to learn to land this frigging airplane! Maybe a break is what I needed.

I went gliding the day before so I had flown recently. My CFI had made a comment that he thought since he hadn’t seen me in awhile that I had been discouraged. Oh no! I don’t want him to think that!

It was a bit gusty that day. It started out around 10-12kts sustained gusting to 21. I wasn’t sure if it was okay for the Cub to fly, but I gave a call and it was okay. He said if it was my first time, no we wouldn’t have gone; but he thought I was up for the challenge. It was a slight crosswind but changed to straight down the runway later in the lesson.

My landings weren’t terrible at first. Some of my better ones actually! About halfway through my lesson though I had a bounce landing, he suggested if I added a bit of power at the end it would have been great. Next time around I tried to duplicate it and add power and it wasn’t awful.

I got back in the groove, but we ended up talking a bit more in the pattern so my approach was slightly high and involved a lot of slipping. The landings were good though.

The last landing was perfect. The descent angle was steep, but it was the softest landing. As I turned off the runway, he asked if I wanted to call it a day. I said “yes, I want to end on a high note!”

We went back into the office and while I was paying for the lesson, he was filling out my logbook as usual and asked for my pilot’s license. I didn’t think too much of it and handed it over. I noticed a bit later he was on the endorsement page! He finished and I got my tailwheel endorsement! Yay! I was surprised, but then again, that last landing was super sweet!

He said he would want one more lesson before I could get checked out in their Cub, just when the winds were a bit calmer. I want to get checked out in it so I set that up. But we’re also going back to the Citabria to do aerobatics again after that! I’m so excited! I was getting sick of just doing landings. I want to be inverted again!

I believe my tailwheel training benefits my glider training and vice versa. While I’m not sure it’s the best idea to split yourself between two types of training, it has turned out well for me. I’m going to keep working towards my glider while I do aerobatics, so I’ll let you know if it continues to work out.

I can fly taildraggers now! Yay!

Total Training Time for Endorsement: 6.2 hours

Gliding

11052370_2898764145622_1242061066225774099_nJake and I joined a gliding club in October in our area. We were both set on getting our glider add-ons for a cheaper fun thing to do together. It’s also a way to build up my flight time for my commercial in a less expensive way. Due to my work schedule and weather, we’ve got extremely unlucky and haven’t flown since then.

Sunday I got to make it out there! I work until 4am, so I didn’t get out there until about 3pm. I wanted to wake up earlier, but that snooze button was too tempting. We’ve been getting pushed by the club to be more active and be part of a crew, so finally I felt like I wasn’t slacking.

I find it interesting how in the club it’s different for people without set schedules or odd schedules, since I figured many pilots and other aviation people would be involved. They have been understanding though and working with our odd schedules.

They had me jump right into learning crew duties. I learned to how to make a rope adapter to attach the glider to the tow plane. We have 2 types of hook ups one for the European gliders and another for the American made ones so I learned about both and making the rope strong enough to handle towing the gliders.

Next up was launching the gliders. I learned all the hand signals and how to prep the glider correctly and be the wing runner when the glider was launching. I actually really enjoyed that part! It’s fun to run along with the glider, but you find out how quickly it picks up speed! I can only get about 10-15 feet before it’s too fast to keep up.

After, I finally got to go up for a lesson. We found an available instructor and we had some ground time before going up. I had been up once in October and two rides with other glider pilots for fun. While I enjoyed the instructor really going over items on the ground since I find I don’t absorb things as well in the moment in the air, it was a bit slow for my learning taste. Again, I did appreciate it though so it made learning up in the air quite easy.

My October lesson was a bit all over the place. It wasn’t bad, but following the tow plane was difficult and the pattern wasn’t pretty. I think due to being current now in powered aircraft and my tailwheel time, things became much easier. I followed the tow plane a bit after the launch and didn’t over control the glider which I did before. I remember from my initial lessons in the 152 that I have that tendency. I kept the rope taut, unlike the first time I kept getting slack line.

Up in the air, we did some turns but couldn’t find any thermals so it ended quickly. He said my control was good and coordination was good too. Again, I know my first lesson I wasn’t using enough rudder since you don’t really need much in a Cessna. Now flying the Cub and doing aerobatics, I’m not timid on the rudder.

Pattern was almost perfect, but I did flare slightly too high at first. It’s a bit scary knowing you have one chance to land!

I went up one more time that day. Again a short time, but I mainly worked on following the tow plane and the pattern. I noticed it got hazy out so it was a bit harder to keep the tow plane on the horizon when the horizon wasn’t too clear.

Second time coming in I was a bit high and we did a slip, but again piece of cake since I slip all the time now. Slipping in the glider is a bit different though, lots of rudder and little aileron. If you put in too much aileron you start to lose control of the glider.

I can’t wait to get this rating! I just have to force myself to get up earlier on Sundays after work. Hopefully there will be more to share next week.

Lesson Time: 0.5

Total Time: 1.7

Confidence

Confidence is a huge thing when flying. You need to have confidence, but not too much confidence that can turn into a hazardous attitude (macho or invulnerability). Every good PIC though needs confidence in his or her flying and decision making abilities.

Lately, at work, I’ve been speaking with new captains who are lacking this confidence. I can understand that. They’re new to being the captain, and there’s a lot more responsibility on their shoulders now. But I can guarantee, like any check ride, they check airman or examiner wouldn’t pass you unless they felt you were ready. While currently, their confidence is lacking, it’ll come with more hands on experience and just being a captain for awhile. I can’t fault them though for calling us looking for guidance and agreement on their decisions. They’re using all their resources like good pilots and I encourage that for anyone.

Most pilots, and I want to say most good pilots, will run into a confidence issue at some point in their training or career. I did before my solo. I began to seriously doubt I’d ever be able to land an airplane. There was a whole bunch of doubt and it began to cloud my progress. It almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Only with taking control and an amazing support system was I able to overcome self-doubt and lack of confidence.

If you’re in your training and this feeling is creeping up on you, don’t feel discouraged. There are wonderful groups out there that’ll support you and share their own issues which most likely be similar to yours. Look to your CFI as well. I guarantee they weren’t perfect in their training either.

Currently earning my tailwheel endorsement, I’m beginning to think I’ll never learn to land this plane. It was the same feeling before my solo. I know now though one day it’ll just click. I just have to be patient and work hard for that day.