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First Flight

December 28, 1999

 Last Friday, I went up for an introductory flight lesson out of the San Carlos airport.  WOW!!!!!!  I have been dreaming about learning to fly since I was in my teens.  All the time I was in the air the lines of that famous poem kept going through my head "Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth.........".  When we landed (I didn't want to ever come down :-)) the instructor asked me if I thought I would be interested in flying and I told him that wild horses couldn't stop me now and proceeded to sign-up for two flight days the following week.  I had my second flight day, this afternoon, practicing a variety of turns while maintaining (or making attempts to) altitude.

One question I had for the instructors out there - what I seemed to find more awkward than anything was steering the nose wheel using my feet on the rudder pedals.  The people in the control tower must have thought I looked like a wounded bird taxing out to hold position before takeoff.  Is there some 'trick' to getting the hang of this, so often I would be tempted to reach up and turn the control yoke but resisted the temptation (due to its futility).

Once again, thank you all for your posts on this newsgroup.  I finally just made myself go out and start.  I fly again, on Thursday and will keep you posted.  Meanwhile I am going to pour over some of the aviation training books to review some of the things I learned today.  Just starting out, but I am so excited!












Flying Day #4 – Still Grinning Ear-to-Ear


January 5, 2000

 I love this flying stuff!!!!!!

Today we practiced final approaches and departures at altitude, added some more turns with controlled rate of climb and practiced working the landing pattern.  I also got to do some work 'under the hood' (had to wear a device that looked like one of those Elizabethan collars cut in half).  Funny part about it is that I flew better that way!

We also practiced some more ......<GULP> ....... STALLS!  Oh help, Mr. Wizard :-).  I keep reminding myself that I will get use to these things (i.e., stalls) but my heart goes into my throat and starts dancing on top of my head when the break occurs and the nose falls through.  Geez, I get the 'willies', just thinking about some of the stalls we did today !  Any advice out there how many times it takes before stalls start feeling like a walk in the park?  Is there a trick to minimize the 'heart in your throat' feeling as the plane breaks into the stall?  Thanks for all the support out there! BTW, I finally got around to getting my class 3 medical certificate and student pilot certificate - The medical was very basic and straightforward. Even though I am rather healthy, I still was nervous about going through the exam.  My flight instructor told me today that I should have applied for my
Class 1 instead, to save me the step later(?)  What is a class 1 medical/certificate for,,,, what would I do with one?????

Forgot to mention that I did (almost) a landing.  I seemed to be doing well maintaining the pattern, the part that gave me some problem on the last part of the final approach, the wings started rolling from side to side and keeping them level was difficult.  Was this likely the results of crosswind gusts, or could it have been residual wake turbulence,,,,, or was it the student pilot behind the wheel?

Oops, remembered one more question:  At one point we were flying directly over the ocean a little ways from shore (near Half Moon Bay, California) and we encountered very significant turbulence.  I was sort of scratching my head on this one since I always presumed that wind going over water would create a smooth laminar flow.  I understand turbulence over mountains and wake turbulence behind other aircraft, but what could possibly disturb the air flow (creating turbulence) when flying over the ocean?

Well, I want to get some reading in before turning-in to sleep, myself, so I'll end my 'novelette' here.

Can't wait for my next lesson!

Blue Skies!

Still slipping the surly bonds and grinning my ears off!!!!











Stall Practice:  The Movie! Flight Day #5


January 8, 2000


Thank you everyone for your suggestions on handling the initial reaction to experiencing stalls.  While I didn't have an opportunity to go to an amusement park and go for a roller coaster marathon, my CFI did the best thing he could have done.  After practicing a few other maneuvers my CFI said he was going to demonstrate a stall.  Though there was a little normal apprehension, I had made up my mind to totally immerse myself in the experience.  First stall, I felt a little bit of tension.  Then I asked my instructor if he could immediately demonstrate one again.... almost no emotional response and here's where I made an important self-discovery (for me, at least)... the 'catch my breath' reaction was not induced by the break/dive part of the stall, but caused by me,,, unconsciously holding my breath as the break occurred.  So, I was creating all the tension for myself,,,, when I allowed my body to breathe normally as we went through the break, I felt fine... even enjoyed the experience... sort of like a roller coaster (which I have always enjoyed).  My instructor then spent a significant part of the flight day having me practicing stalls, which I actually enjoyed,, kind of fun once you have been given the knowledge and 'tools' to deal with them.  Wow!  Breathe normally,,,,, that's all it took to turn stall practice from a tension-filled, apprehensive experience to an enjoyable, learning exercise.  This may be obvious to most of you, but it is something that I had to figure out/realize for myself.  Hope this helps some other new students that may have run into a similar level of

To practice a bit of artistic license with a popular song (with an entirely different meaning):  "It's not that far to Paradise, at least it's not for me; for if the wind is right I can sail <fly> away and find tranquility."

Blue skies!













Flight Day #6 - 7 Hours.....


January 13, 2000


Happened to pick another day in-between rain cloud systems!  Yesterday we practiced 12 takeoffs and landings in succession with one go-around (plane orientation wasn't right).  Practiced flying the pattern, over and over again - we literally did one takeoff and landing after another since the traffic was low at SQL that day.  Total praise for my CFI, he is patient to the point of sainthood and firm and direct when he knows I can do better - couldn't be happier with the match!

By the way, I no longer look like the 'wounded bird' taxiing to position as I had mentioned some posts back.  I am steering STRAIGHT with my feet on the rudder pedals - though I DO appear like an injured sparrow on final approach for landing :-).  I am feeling much better about my control on takeoff and the last few flights that I flew the pattern, yesterday.  I wish I could have done better on orienting the plane on final approach for a seamless landing.  At 60knots final approach,  controls seem not as responsive as in higher speeds.  Just setting up the plane for the right glide slope and
keeping the wings level and maintaining longitudinal alignment with the runway, using a bit of rudder control.  The curious part is that I don't seem to have this problem in normal flight, something about the final approach to the runway.  Of course, I guess it could also be that I am more aware of changes in plane orientation since I have a fixed object that I am concentrating on.

That's about all!  Ground school starts tonight; the nice thing is that my wife and I are taking ground school together.  She is not sure about taking flying lessons yet and wants to learn more and thought sharing these classes might be a good opportunity for her to learn.

Thank you everyone for your posts!  May you all have blue skies wherever you fly!

Me  (7.0 hours so far!)












Slips 'is' Weird... :-)


February 16, 2000


Just finished a flight lesson a few hours ago, since the weather around here in Northern California (San Carlos Airport) is wet and cloudy my lesson was limited to practicing the pattern and forward slips on final around the airport.  Before I get started about the slips, I have to tell you that the most extraordinary thing happened to me during my lesson.  During my lesson, I found myself automatically responding appropriately to the ATC.  I'd be in a conversation with my instructor or in the middle of a maneuver, the ATC would provide an instruction to our plane and my mouth (with a new mind of its' own) automatically went into gear with the appropriate response,,, didn't have to think about it.  It just blew me away, 'cause it was like this voice was responding to the ATC's transmissions and I marveled that it was my own.

Though not perfect, my concept (visual picture of) landings is becoming clearer and I find myself making mental connections with the 'picture' of a proper approach and landing.

Even though today's flight was certainly fraught with a few errors or misjudgments on my part, I felt so very good about the 'discoveries' (for lack of a better word) that I was connecting to/grasping.  I am feeling movements of the plane, like yaws, crosswind drift, etc. and my brain is making the connections between the sensations and identifying them.  I know I must sound like I'm positively ranting :-) but it is exciting that a lot of these experiences are starting to seem a lot less foreign.

Slips 'IS' Weird.....  I know that they ARE weird but they 'IS' weird too.  We were on final (cleared for the option) and purposely high; with engine at idle, full flaps, etc. so the only way to get down to proper glide slope is to forward slip..  So I do the steps for a forward slip (my first after my CFI demonstrated one); FULL rudder (full to the firewall :-)) the plane yaws and I control our ground track with the ailerons.  What an unusual, but kinda fun (thankfully I am unusual too :-) ) sensation/experience.  As we were nearing the runway for touchdown, neutralized rudder and the 'picture' was back to normal for over the runway and touchdown.

Trying to get back to work but my head is in the sky, what a great day of 'discoveries'!

Let me say once again,,,,,, I LOVE THIS FLYING STUFF!!!


14.5 hours so far












Yesterday's Lesson #12


February 22, 2000


I managed to pick a day that wasn't gusting or raining (significantly), Monday and overall I guess it was a good lesson.  I suppose the reason that I am writing is to ask how does one maintain perspective about one's progress, etc. when one has an 'off' day.

On the lesson before last, it seems that everything just flowed beautifully and yesterday, while I wasn't dreadful :-), I just felt I could have done much better.  I told my instructor my feelings and he told me that he was quite satisfied with my day's performance.  I guess to be fair I should mention that I began practicing ground reference maneuvers for the first time and seemed to go relatively well for a first go.  In fact I did quite a few turns around a point which made my head and stomach feel a bit uneasy (though I never felt nausea) by the time I finished them.  I probably should have brought it up to my instructor right away, but I thought I would see how it progressed, first.  He had me do a 360, which I normally do with a 45 degree bank, but this time I purposely made it shallow, because in my current state I really didn't relish the idea of going into a series of 360 degree turns with a steep bank.  It was probably a surprise to my instructor, 'cause he knows I can do them fairly well (almost consistently bumping into my own wake as I come around).  It was not even close to being my best, I let my head and stomach dictate the steepness of the bank.  He had me move on to some power-off stalls after about the 2nd stall, just when we were about to practice the 3rd stall, I told him I thought it might be a good idea if I didn't do another stall, explaining that while I didn't feel nauseous and had never gotten airsick, I had concerns that I could go that direction if I did some more maneuvers which involved a rapid change in attitude.  I went on to tell him, that I had felt the sensations towards the end of our ground reference maneuvers.  It was near the end of our lesson for the day so we headed back to the airport to practice touch-and-goes and some forward slips.  There were no paper sack episodes and I never reached a point of nausea.  My instructor suggested that perhaps the repeated turns around a point (one after another) probably had just managed to inspire a little dizziness/queasiness and not to worry because it was normal and probably wouldn't happen again.  I keep reminding myself that my performance would have been better if I had slept better and had some breakfast, like I normally do and if I hadn't experienced the possible motion sensitivity.

On the whole I guess I did okay, but I wish I could stop beating myself up for having an off-day, since it is bound to happen every once in awhile, right? (yep, looking for some moral support here :-)).  By the way, perhaps it is germane to the issue to mention that I had a three hour lesson with over two-and-a-quarter hours of actual flight time, though the air turbulence was mild.

Hope everyone else is having better weather than we are having today in the SF Bay Area (it is raining with high wind advisories over the entire Bay Area).

Oh yeah, I had one other thing to ask you all out there.  As we were flying over some low altitude mountains/hills, I looked at them and had a very brief 'yikes!' response that kind of surprised me.  In fact, as I was experiencing the reaction I remember asking myself what the big deal was, since I had flown over a variety of different terrains at altitude and looked at them with elation and wonder.  I was surprised by the response, which quickly faded.  So can someone tell me why something like that happens out of the blue?  It was nothing major,,,, just a curiosity why it happened at all.

Enjoy the four-day week!

Me 16.8 hours so far

February 29, 2000   16.8 Hours Pre-Solo  




Emergency Landing Procedures Practice

Went out for my flying lesson for a couple of hours yesterday, the only rain-free day we have had for awhile out here. We practiced emergency descents. Basically, I fly along and the instructor pulls the throttle to idle (simulating an 'engine out' condition) and I bring the airspeed to about 60 knots and begin doing some 360's looking for possible landing sites. Then I brief my CFI as if he were my passenger; instructing him to do the following:

·        Open his/her door

·        Begin throwing everything out of the plane that is loose; flight bags, tow bars, whatever (naturally this is only done over a clear unpopulated area)

·        Take their coat and cover it over the control yoke (there is one control yoke on each side, on the pilot and passenger side). This is done to protect their head in an impact with the control yoke (kind of like a 'steering wheel' in a car)

·        Instruct them that when the plane is on the ground to run towards the back of the plane (to avoid the prop)

My instructor, Kristian, takes great delight in burying himself in the part as passenger in an emergency landing. Adding choice phrases like; "We're going to die! Argh!!!", "Look out for the mountain!" etc. Keeps me smiling while practicing the emergency landings. Naturally, I only set-up the landing as if we were going to land in a farm field and then do a go-around long before getting too low ( about 600ft AGL ((above ground level)) ). What can I say; "I LOVE THIS FLYING STUFF". I have wanted to fly a plane for as long as I can remember. Hang gliding was an attempt to reach the dream at a more financially achievable level. Thankfully we found a school that lets us pay by lesson. I fly once a week for a 2 - 2.5 hour lesson. Wish I could do it more often than once a week, but finances and being available for my customers are ultimate priorities. Additionally, MzWings and I take our ground school lessons for 3 hours, once a week on Thursdays. Ground school is the academic side of learning to fly; weather patterns, flight physics, pilotage - course plotting. MzWings wants me to go through the actual flying lessons first and then will follow (since it would be kind of costly for both of us to fly once weekly at the same time).

How can I begin to tell you what it is like watching a hawk bravely fly to your distant left and for a brief moment, flying along with him. I don't know how to explain what I feel in moments like that; most of all I feel most humble and honored by their complete acceptance, I feel so deeply honored by their presence with me in the air. "To dance with the west winds and touch on the mountaintops on up to the stars....." J.D. Seagull flocks will sometime fly in formation far off to the left of us. Thankfully they all seem most mindful of avoiding the plane and its' propeller avoiding potentials for bird strikes.

Where does one begin to describe the sheer joy of watching a hawk fly over some small mountain and then flying over that same mountain as if it were a rock across a stream. "Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings, sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things that you have never dreamed of......" Can't remember the full name of the individual who wrote that but it really captures the feeling.

BTW, there is a GREAT newsgroup resource for new aviation students under rec.aviation.students. It is monitored by CFI's and fellow students from all over. It is a great forum to ask questions and share common experiences. Check it out! MzWings signed me up for AOPA membership using my student pilot certificate number, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Just for map reading practice we bought some aviation sectional maps of your region and the regions leading up to Washington state. BTW, there is a joke in the flying community that to qualify for a Class 3 medical (for a student certificate) you should be breathing and able to walk upright. Seriously though, they just want to make sure you are in good health with good vision, corrected or otherwise. It is done by an FAA-certified medical examiner.

It is a long-road ahead and a wealth of learning but I welcome the journey and adventure! So far, I have slightly over 18 hours (started on 12/24 of last year) of HOBBS time (i.e., actually flying/engine time measured by a HOBBS meter on the plane, that is how you pay for the plane rental, by the number of hours on the HOBBS meter which starts when the engine starts and ends when the engine is shut down. Next week I go for a regular flying lesson and have a special ground lesson on Monday with my instructor where we will go over a variety of emergency procedures, wing fire, engine fire, engine out and more in a classroom setting, one-on-one. He is getting me prepared for my solo work, which won't be too far-off.




Just Wondering?

March 8, 2000


The CFI's are disappearing from my FBO, some very good ones.  I have been through one instructor change already (previous instructor left the FBO) and my current instructor will be joining the Air Force in September.

I guess what I am concerned about is that almost all the instructors here are simply here to accumulate hours for their future airline job.  I was looking at one of the other flight schools and all their instructors (for the most part) were teaching for the satisfaction of teaching and already had careers they were satisfied with in non-aviation fields.  Sounds sort of appealing.  If I were (not saying that I am,, just entertaining the notion) to go to another instructor at another flight school (I am not in an FAR 141,  program,,,,, I am in a FAR 61) would I lose any of my logged hours in doing so?  Just wondering


19.7 hours so far




How to Gauge One’s Progress?


March 16, 2000


I have read that all students initially experience an impressive, quick learning curve and then the learning curve starts to flatten out briefly at which point the student may think that they aren't progressing,,,, but then they get beyond that point.

My question is, usually when does this begin?  I'm currently at 20.6 hours and during the last 3 or 4 lessons I haven't had the feeling that there are 'major' improvements, only minor ones.  I've even asked my instructor if my progress is going well and he assures me that it is.  When I started learning to fly, the progress was impressive, but it seems to have slowed now.  Is all this normal?

Thank you to all in this group for this wonderful resource!


P.S.  At 20 hours should my landings still 'suck' (this is my impression on my landings, not my instructors)?




Tried Out That Glider Thing...... :-)


March 20, 2000


 It was a gorgeous day up here in Northern California, so my wife and I went to a seminar at Hollister Airport called Gliders for Power Pilots.  Very interesting and they had a 1/2-off introductory ride.  It was clear that the moderator of the brief seminar was a great fan of non-powered flight over powered flight.

My wife had been in a glider before, but I hadn't.  Thankfully, I was able to sit in front because I met the weight minimum easily <g>.  The flight is nearly silent and the closest to feeling like a bird, except for a hang gliding.... however, dealing with having to do all those consecutive 360's @45degrees to stay in a thermal without getting a little green behind the gills is more than I can do.  I wisely told the instructor that we might want to cut down on the tight turns as I was starting to feel a little 'heady' but assured him that I was nowhere near the point of revisiting my breakfast in the enclosed canopy.  Before my pronouncement, he asked me if I wanted an example of how maneuverable gliders were, foolish me,,,, I said "Okay".  I definitely do not like wingovers, the idea of the plane going inverted and then recovering pointed at the ground is certainly one of those "Do not try this at home" experiences.;-)

My wife and I talked to the other power pilots who took an intro and we all seemed to come to the same conclusion that we like the practicality behind having our engines in our planes.  I will say that I enjoyed the experience of trying a hand at flying a glider.  The lines are SO clean; it takes no time at all to build up speed to the Vne limits of the glider.  Stick response is sensitive and rudder-use is a lot more pronounced than it is in a power plane.  Enjoyed the experience, but don't see myself pursuing it after I get my PPL.






Gone to a New FBO.  

Does This Mean I’m ‘Starting Over’?


March 31, 2000


Well, I left my FBO because of the manager and his focus on the $$$ and not the student, not to mention that the instructors kept leaving for other FBO's because of similar concerns.  The reasons are too numerous to mention so there would be little point to list them here.

I am flying with NiceAir here in the SF Bay Area and am very impressed with my instructor and the school.

My instructor and I are reviewing the maneuvers I practiced at my old school and I am finding that many of the things I learned will need to be adjusted to meet the way my CFI teaches them.  I have no problem with doing the latter since my CFI wants to get me to PTS minimums before solo.  What my question for the group is:  What I'm doing isn't like starting from 'scratch' all over, is it?  I guess I'm looking for reassurance that all the time and $$ I spent at the other FBO on flight training isn't all 'lost'?  I ask this because it is odd revisiting previous maneuvers and discovering they need to be done differently that I was taught.  The latter is really a minor adjustment? Right????

Clear skies!


23.3 hours so far




This was a great week!


April 20, 2000


Just had to share with everyone, just had a series of terrific lessons this week!

Landings,,,, did some beautiful landings this week.  In the past I was accustomed to a correction or two being kicked-in here and there by my CFI on those last ten feet during landings.  This week I have doing this landing thing, totally by my lonesome (not solo, but without CFI corrective action needed).

What had eluded me for some time was those last ten feet.  I could set-up my landings just fine.  Don't know how to tell you what was missing, all I can say is the last ten feet seemed to bring an almost incomprehensible series of quick, minor corrections; a little more elevator, kick in some corrective rudder, etc.....   It happened this most recent Tuesday; for lack of a better analogy, it was like a 'portal' of sorts opened up in my mind and all the activities in the last ten feet fell into perceptible and logical order.  I had seen the 'landing picture' many times before, but on Tuesday, for some reason or another it was like my mind had processed the experience and could handle the information that was being input through my eyes and my senses and I could then effectively act on it.  This is not to say that every landing (or even one) was a thing of grand beauty :-) but I WAS LANDING THIS BIRD and I was making all the corrective inputs to make it possible.

I especially feel good, because I had gone through a handful of lessons where I didn't feel like I was progressing at all and suddenly, things are happening!  I FEEL GOOD!!!!!!

Blue Skies,


approx. 30 hours so far (5 instructors and two schools)




He said........ the word SOLO with my name....!


May 2, 2000


God willing and the creek don't rise,,,, my instructor tells me that he will have me do my first solo next week..... I am significantly 'jazzed'!!!!  If you had been following any of my posts you would know that I changed FBO's recently and what a difference it has made for me.  Before my current FBO, the concept of me going solo was more than absurd to me.  But now..... WOW!

This is not to say that the first time I see that right seat empty that I won't have a few butterflies (actually I may even have Pterodactyls, instead of butterflies :-))

I'll keep you all posted when the day comes!  Keeping my fingers crossed for the weather and my flying skills.

Have a great week!





SOLO..... It Was A Sacred Word! J


May 13, 2000


Sorry for the delay... but here we go:

My instructor had told me that solo time was just around the bend and finally it landed on my lap just last Thursday.

Since the weather was especially nice, I thought that today would be my solo, for sure.  After the first two landings of the day, I wasn't sure until I made some more landings with my instructor and they looked much better.

I had just made another landing then my instructor keys the mike and tells the tower that I will be dropping him off at the instructor's bench and that I would be conducting my first solo.  I taxied over the instructor's bench area and he asked me for my logbook and medical certificate which he appropriately endorsed.  He asked me if I felt ready and I watched, in amazement, as my mouth pronounced the word "Yes".  As he stepped out the
door I told him that I knew I was ready yet I had about a thousand different things going on in my head at once, mainly apprehension about the right seat being empty.  I went on to tell him that when I analyzed those concerns they all related to the sole novelty of going solo and not to any perceived lack of proficiency on my part.  He told me that he felt just fine about me flying and knew that I would do well, but in the end it would be about what I thought.  I told him I knew I was ready!  Before he closed the door I
sheepishly gave him my camera out of my flight bag and asked if he could take a few photos for me.

He gave me instructions to do three takeoffs and landings to a full stop and then taxi back to pick up him up, afterwards.  The door was closed and I called ground to head back for the taxiway and as I taxied out I looked behind me to watch my instructor as I drove away from him down the taxiway; he took a picture as I taxied off.  Whew,,, what a feeling dropping off my instructor and heading off for my first solo flight,,,, the right seat was empty and it was all up to me, now!

At the hold-short line I called tower and requested clearance.  I was told that I should taxi out to runway 31R and hold.  Soon I received clearance to takeoff,,, here it goes, throttle to full..... I reached rotation speed and lifted off into the sky.

 I know people often remark how quickly the plane takes-off without the weight of the instructor, however I was so focused that I couldn't tell you that I noticed.  I flew the pattern as I had practiced it many times before and as I'm turning to begin my downwind and level-off at traffic altitude it occurs to me again how I was the PIC and totally responsible for the entire flight.  Just as I had leveled-off for TPA and throttled down to maintain altitude, I felt my right wing quickly rise up about 25 degrees or so,,,,  I smoothly leveled my wings realizing that I had just passed over some thermal generator like a parking lot.  Kind of funny, when I was starting out, the sudden raising of a wing would have given me quite a shock, but I handled it in stride and corrected for it.  Tower called to clear me for the option and I replied, automatically.

Abeam of the numbers, carb heat on, throttle to 1500 and 10 degrees of flaps,,, always scanning for traffic.  As I prepared to make my base leg, the thought that it was all up to me now.  Suddenly felt a 'fondness' for the little 152 I was in; we were going to take care of each other throughout this solo adventure and be just fine.  Turning into my base leg, another 10 degrees of flaps, checking for cross-traffic, noting a plane on final on the parallel runways next to the one I was cleared for.  I turned to final, sighting the VASI and noted that I would need to add the rest of the flaps to intercept the proper glide slope.

Red over white, I leveled out the plane and kicked in a little rudder to keep longitudinal alignment down the runway,, this was going to be a great landing.  Passed over the threshold and cut throttle to idle.  Rotating slightly for straight and level flight over the runway,,, settling,, flare,,, settling more flare and touchdown!!!  I slowed the plane and took the exit to the taxiway, I can see my instructor motioning a 'thumbs up' and snapping some more pictures.  I was cleared by tower to return to the hold-short line for my second flight.   Got cleared for 31R clear for takeoff, off I went again... I am just on my departure leg when the tower calls to ask if I can extend my departure leg to make room for a Mooney that will be entering the downwind leg from the northeast.  I tell them I can comply, though I also tell them I was scanning for the traffic but didn't see it yet but I would continue until the Mooney was clear.  I kept going for what seemed like a good while and get further and further away from the airport.  So, I call the tower and they inform me that the Mooney traffic was clear and that I could begin my crosswind leg now.

(Special Note: my instructor was talking to some of the other people from the FBO who had come to watch my first solo and he didn't hear the instruction from the tower for me to extend my departure leg.  He later told me that he kept watching me get further and further away and for a moment thought of an incident where a student pilot ((stupidly)) decided on his own that he would fly to another airport and have lunch for a couple of hours despite instructions to the contrary and for a brief moment was left wondering but assured himself that I would never do such a thing (which I wouldn’t ever do) and then heard me calling the tower (he had brought a transceiver with him in case he needed to talk to me) asking if I could make my crosswind leg, yet. )

Anyway, so I make my crosswind, still climbing to TPA and make my turn to downwind leg.  This time I am anticipating the lift on my right wing (I flew an identical pattern to the first) from the thermal and smoothly correct for it.  I do all the same things and then get to final and I pass over the threshold and cut power to idle.  I make the conversion to straight and level flight over the runway and glance again at my airspeed and see that I
have let myself get a bit slow.  I figured that if I began any flare right now I might bleed-off the small margin of speed above stall speed that was keeping me from an ugly drop onto the runway.  So, I pushed in a short small burst of throttle to bring up the airspeed to 60KIAS and began the normal flaring procedure and I touched down beautifully (My instructor later told me that he was very impressed with the professional touch I had added to ensure that I had a smooth landing).  I felt especially proud about the landing because I made good decisions in a relatively short amount of time. I turned around to get back on to the taxiway after being cleared to do so and saw my instructor at the bench with yet another enthusiastic thumbs up. Third takeoff was much the same as the first with a smooth-as-you-please touchdown - I actually think some of the best landings of my brief flying experience occurred during my solo,,, go figure!  Well, the tower clears me to taxi to the runway again, but I tell them that I will be going to the instructor's bench to pick up my CFI and return to my FBO at the airport.  The tower gave me a warm "Sir, congratulations, on your first solo flight!”

I thanked the tower profusely and I had to be positively beaming when I pulled over to pick up my instructor at the instructor's bench.

My instructor was all smiles and warmly congratulated me on a well-done first solo, telling me that I should be very proud.  That characteristic 'grin' that all the other solo students have written about was now glued permanently on my face,,, felt like I was walking on air ten feet above the ground.  My first solo, I "have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.”

Wow,,,,, what an incredible feeling!!!!  And this grand adventure continues.........

Thank you all for your support and help,,,,,,, still have that grin on my face!!! :-)

Good Flight!





ZOIKS!!!!  My Instructor is scheduling my checkride


May 25, 2000


We had just finished a dual X-country to Oakdale airport, Livermore, et al. Anyway, when we returned to the home airport my CFI set-up a time for the dual nighttime x-country and finally my Solo x-country (which is yet to be scheduled,,, my instructor said it was time to start to schedule a checkride in JULY.  Not sure if I gasped, or my jaw dropped to the ground,,, quite a surprise.  I figured my checkride was many months away and now it is just around the bend.  Nervous and excitement is the only way I can characterize my feelings about it.  The self-doubt fairies hopped on my shoulder and got my mind a’ thinking.

Any tips out there?  I know King Video has a checkride video, would this help?  I obviously want to do very well, any suggestions?  BTW, is it normal to feel that you should be 5,000 times better than you are, before taking the checkride?  I am a competent pilot but haven't had enough time to become a blazingly terrific one.  Ideas? Perspectives?  Good prayers to pray? :-)





Need Some Tips On Wide Runways


June 6, 2000


Greetings all!

Today I had my FIRST experience landing on a WIDE runway.  Up 'til now (I have a little over 40 hours flight time so far) the runways that I have been landing on have been 65 to 75 feet wide.  Today I made landings at two new airports (new for me) that were 150 feet wide.  While I wasn't dreadful I normally make much better landings.  I ran into problems with that runway illusion thing as it pertains to wide runways (i.e. , you feel like you are closer to the runway than you actually are).

Any tips????

Thanks in advance!





Hee.. Hee... Hee...  I am having too much fun! –

My First Solo Cross-Country


July 18, 2000


Last Friday, I did my first solo x-country from RHV to APC (Reid-Hillview airport-San Jose, CA to Napa Airport, CA).
Nothing but fun and joy,,, I planned my route to the Nth degree so it was an easy route to fly.  Now this is not to say that it all flowed smooth as silk, but the overall experience went just fine.  I have one more (long) cross-country to do and then I begin the checkride drills to prepare me for the big day (Scheduled as Sept 1rst).  For my second x-country I may fly from RHV to San Luis Obispo airport... it will finish the rest of my x-country requirements and then 'back to work' on brushing up flying skills for the checkride (tremble, tremble....)




THE Day..... Tremble... Shake.... J


August 11, 2000


I can remember when I started on 12/24, last year.  All the posts I made trying to solve the 'mystery' of how to get the plane to taxi straight steering with the rudder pedals.  The initial excitement/doubts when first exposed to stalls.  One day being told it was my time to solo,, blink again and I am preparing for my 2nd solo cross-country.  Throughout all the excitement, fears and challenges every step along the way has reinforced the lifelong dream and joy of flying above the earth and the heartfelt privilege of living in an age where this miracle we call flight is possible.

It is final, my checkride is scheduled for September 7th with a mock checkride days before.  'Till then I will be working with my instructor to make sure all my skills are up to standard and speed.  Part of me reassures me (along with my wife) that all will be just fine (i.e., for the checkride) and the other part of me wishes I was 5 million times more skilled and knowledgeable.  It just seems mind boggling that the culmination of all my flight hours (about 65 right now, with more to come with practice sessions in the next couple of weeks) are towards that one special day called a checkride.

Any encouragements, hints, premature accolades :-), that you all have to offer would be much appreciated.

I have to tell you all again what a wonderful group of people and a resource this has been for me as I have worked towards becoming a pilot.  Your advice and support has been invaluable, as well as being able to share the commonality of all our experiences.

Thank you everyone and for those of you nearing THAT 'day' I wish you the very best and know that you will excel - driven by the passion for this, the greatest of dreams; the magical experience that we call 'flight'.

Good Flights!





'Mock Checkride'


August 18, 2000


After working out the schedule with my CFI in preparation for my checkride, he mentioned that we would have a "mock checkride" two days before the real one.  At the time, I just accepted the idea in stride, but the more I think about it I don't know how valuable it would be.  No matter how well my CFI knows the examiner's checkride routine, it can never feel like the actual test with the DE.  I would much rather spend the time in some ground time with my CFI, going over some of the questions which will come up in the oral (actually we will be doing a bunch of ground hours on this a few days
earlier, so this would just be review).  After some ground time, I would just like to go out and do some solo flight, shoot some landings and relax.

Did any of you have a 'mock checkride'?  What do you think?

Good Flights!





Colds, Checkride and Stuff...


September 6, 2000


Well, my wife picked up a cold/flu last week, I thought I was doing fine until Monday evening.  Felt marginally, 'okay', Tuesday and thought I'd continue more of my dual practice for my checkride with my instructor.  The cold did not lend itself to good flying, certainly not the way to go into a checkride.  My instructor and I were in full agreement that my checkride should be rescheduled, since I would probably feel progressively worse come Thursday (the day of my checkride).

Would be lying if I said I wasn't bummed the rest of yesterday, but the more I thought about it the more I saw it was all for the best - a checkride is hard enough without having to deal with a bad head cold at the same time. Not to mention the negative effects of altitude on sinuses,,, etc.

I have to head off to bed and let this thing run its course.

I know it was all for the best (i.e., rescheduling the checkride) but I was really geared-up to take it on tomorrow,,, oh well.  I'll let y'all know what checkride date I get on the reschedule.

<long sigh>

Good Flights!





Here We Go Again,,, AND A Question


September 8, 2000


Yaay!!!  I have a new checkride date (came down with a cold/flu days before my initial checkride date).  September 26th.

My instructor was originally going to sit-in on the oral, but he will be out of town for the new checkride date.  Gotta admit the 'moral support' would be kind of nice, but it will run well either way.

Quick question.....  the King Checkride tape series, are they worth a peek?  Just wondering...

Good Flights!





Just Had A Really Good Day!


September 13, 2000


Not really much to say here, except I had a really great practice session (for my checkride) today.  This came after having a simply AWFUL day of dual practice last week,,, though I was coming down with a cold, it was still hard to believe it could have resulted in such a bad practice.

The gist of this is that it made me remember the cautionary advice that other people out there offered; mentioning that one is likely to have one awful day (in my estimation) in prep for the checkride.  I can attest to the fact that it can happen!

Anyway great dual practice today (did some solo practice on Mon & Tues that also went well).

Good flights!





Another PP-ASEL in the Group!


September 27, 2000


Took my checkride yesterday.  In spite of all the work and studying, I was still a bit nervous.  After the oral we went out to the plane to fly part of the cross-country that the D.E. had me plan.  Got as far as 15 miles southeast of Livermore airport (My flight plan was to RBL - Red Bluff Airport, CA) and she had me divert to Byron Airport (C83).  I demonstrated stalls, soft & short-field takeoffs and landings,,,, and more.  Some maneuvers I knew that I normally do much better,,, still she didn't say a word (i.e., she had told me that if she didn't say anything, it meant the test was going well).  At some point she told me to fly back to my home airport (RHV) on any heading, my choice.  I kept thinking all the way back that she hadn't said that I failed anything yet, but I still wasn't certain. Called tower, reporting over Calaveras Reservoir (which is northeast of the airport).  The controller recognized my voice and thought I was calling from Coyote Lake,,,, since I often would practice maneuvers at some airports south of my home airport.  Anyway, he cleared me to land, straight-in on runway 31R, which of course would only be possible if I were approaching from the south.  I paused for a moment, trying to think if there was any other possible interpretation of the controller's instruction and couldn't think of one.  I called position again and asked if the tower understood that I was reporting at a location North-North-East of the airport.  The controller promptly corrected his clearance for a 45 into the downwind, #2 cleared landing.  As I was on final the controller said a twin was gaining on me and asked me to do a go-round.  Not a problem, back into the pattern again.

The D.E. wanted me to demonstrate a short-field landing, which I did and after receiving clearance from ground I taxied to the tie-down area.  Once I shut down the plane the D.E. turned to me and shook my hand, congratulating me on passing my checkride.  First word out of my mouth was "really????!!!", not that I thought I did badly, it was just almost dreamlike hearing her say those words.

She told me she would go into the FBO and fill out the paperwork while I tied-down the plane.  Felt like I needed to pinch myself,,, I said the words to myself "I am a Private Pilot,,,,"  over and over to reassure myself that I was not just having a great dream.

I went into the FBO, my instructor had come by on his day off (he had just returned to the area from a short vacation) to be there when I took my checkride.  Big smiles from everyone, I was just brimming with joy.  While I was shaking my CFI's hand I looked him in the eye and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for all his help that led to this wonderful day.

In the next few days, I will be flying the first plane that I ever soloed-in to the airport where I took my first introductory flight, last year, December 24th.  While I've done the bulk of my instruction at my home airport (RHV) I just thought it would be cool to land (as a pilot) at the first airport where this wonderful journey began (SQL).

I have a list of things I want to do with instructor; one of which is to be checked out for a Cessna 172.  He had told me, before, that the checkout would only require an hour or two (I currently fly a 152).  I also would like to do some additional dual flights to higher elevation airports (Lake Tahoe & Columbia, California).  I would also like to do some more night flights with my instructor aboard,,, just so I can further assure myself of my navigation skills at night.  AND.... believe it or not,,,, I find myself wanting to take a little spin training with my instructor,,, certainly couldn't hurt........ lots and lots of stuff yet to learn,,, I welcome this journey!!!

Thank you all for your support and wisdom, I hope I can be of aid to some of the other members of this group that are just starting out with some of the things that I have experienced.


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