Tuesday, July 26, 2011

N321PF, Cleared to St. George airport...

Yesterday was an exciting day for flying.  Started out with the Spanish Fork Pioneer Day parade flyover.  Me and about 10 other planes flew a figure 8 pattern over the parade route at 1000 feet above it.  It was a blast just buzzing the parade.  I took some people along with me in the airplane too so that was neat.

After the parade, Nick and I talked about our flight plan for our trip to St. George.  This flight was to be an actual IFR flight.  So after working out the flight plan (which is way easier for IFR than VFR) I called up flight service and filed the flight plan.  Pretty easy.  The briefer was quite pleasant to talk to.

Our filed altitude was 12,000 feet.  Yesterday was very hot and that airplane just didn't want to climb very well. We had to do two climbing 360's to get enough altitude to clear the terrain on the way to Fairfield VOR.  After we got up to about 10,500 we called up Salt Lake Approach and requested our IFR clearance to St. George.

"Diamond Start 321PF, Cleared to St. George airport via heading 220 intercept Victor 21 to Delta then cleared as filed.  Climb and maintain 11,000.  Squawk 4325."

So...I did what he told me to do.

When we got towards Delta we requested an approach into Delta from Salt Lake Center and they cleared us fro the approach to Delta.  I flew the VOR/DME 17 approach.  Wasn't perfect, but it wasn't too shabby either.  Executed the missed approach and climbed back up and got cleared again down to St. George.  We turned the autopilot on so it did all the work.  Honestly, the rest of the way to St. George was really kinda boring.  Only when we got to Cedar City did it get exciting.  But before we got there, we switched over to Los Angeles Center and they cleared up to climb to 13,000 feet  and then for the LDA/DME approach into St. George.  Flew that pretty darn well.  It was freakishly windy at St. George and insanely hot.

Upon landing we bought fuel and then took a courtesy car into town for some lunch at Cafe Rio.  FYI, the new airport in St. George is about 20 minutes away from town.  Kinda sucks.

We flew home direct VFR.  But we did run into some pretty cool rain storms on the way.  Flying in the rain is really fun.  Upon reading Fairfield again, we flew a practice approach into Provo and then back home to Spanish Fork.

It was a pretty fun flight.  Spent 5.2 hours in the airplane yesterday.  I won't even mention of much that cost.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!

So yesterday I was supposed to fly to Grand Junction with Shawna.  We were going to take turns flying and being the safety pilot for each other so that we could build some cross country and simulated instrument time.  The day was beautiful.  Shawna's insides were not.  She texted me and said she was feeling sick.  Bummer.  

Fortunately, there was another pilot around, Brandon, who agreed to fly with me for an hour or so and do practice approaches into Provo, because I need the practice.  We flew the DA40 for this flight.  It was a bit different because I've been flying approaches in the DA20 which has round gauges and no HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), which really sucks honestly.

So we went and flew the ILS 13 and VOR/DME 13 approaches.  Wow!  What a difference the HSI makes.  So much easier to track courses and fly the DME arc.  I was rocking the approach all the way until I get about 500 feet above the ground.  Then everything seems to go to crap...and I think I figured out why.  At that point I'm re-configuring the airplane for landing and it likes to balloon up and so I start freaking out about losing the glideslope and then end up loosing the localizer too.  I'll get it right sooner or later.

Today was interesting.  I decided to take a flight this evening with Ashlee Stoddard in the DA40.  We were just going to fly up to Ogden, do a touch and go, and then head on back home.  Nice fun easy flight. Well I get the plane all preflighted and everything is ready to go.  Master-On. Position Lights- On.  Fuel Pump- OnThrottle- 1 inch.  Prop- full forward.  Mixture- full rich for 3 seconds then back to idle cut-off.  CLEAR PROP! Starter- engage.  Prop turns a half spin and then stops and then nothing.  Try again.  Same thing.  Battery is dead.  Ugh...

So I then go and get another airplane, a DA20, ready to go (I was really wanting to fly the DA40).  Do my pre-flight inspection.  Everything is good to go, except that it doesn't quite have enough fuel to make the trip.  So we taxi over to the fuel pump.  Ground the airplane, and then run the card.  Complete all the annoying prompts that it gives me and then go pump the fuel.  I squeeze the lever...and a small stream comes out. Then nothing.  What the heck??  So I go and check it and the transaction has been completed already.  Weird.  So I do it all again.  Same thing.  I grab the reciept and then notice that it says, "Remaining balance: $0.01"  Great...no money to buy fuel with.  So I decided to scrub the flight to Ogden and just fly around local and just dink around for fun.  (I didn't think about it till after the fact, but I could have used my own credit card and bought fuel and then had it reimbursed). 

So we flew around while, and checked out the rodeo and the carnival going on.  Flew past the Y where there were a ton of people hanging out on it.  Probably making out.  That's what I'd be doing.  ANYWAY...I rocked the wings at them to say HELLO!   Went and did a touch and go at Provo.  That was perfectly executed and greased the landing.  However a guy in a Stationair came up on me rather fast and ended up having to go around because I still on the runway.  Now, unless I'm wrong, I believe it's common practice that if you have to go around to avoid an aircraft on the runway, you sidestep to the right of the runway to pass that aircraft.  Well...this guy side stepped to the left and I was quite surprised when he called and said he was on my left wing.  This creates a few problems.  One, he was going faster than me so he ended up ahead.  Two, he had to turn right to stay in the pattern.  Three, that turn was going to put him right where I was going to be. Because it was after 9:00 pm, the Tower was closed so we didn't have a controller helping us out here. He asked me what my intentions were.  I was going to do another loop in the pattern, but i saw him there and was a bit confused so I made a decision to abandon that but I told him that I would turn right to avoid him.  Well then he announces that he's going to turn right to start the crosswind leg.  I was so confused as to what was going on.  So I just kept him in sight, leveled the wings to fly straight and climbed until we were no longer a threat to each other.  Now that I think about it, I probably could have announced before all this took place what my intention was going to be but I really didn't realized how close behind me he was and I didn't hear him announce that he was missed approach either.  Wow...I'm still confused just thinking about it.  And just to give you and idea of how quick you have to be on your feet up there, this entire episode began and ended in about 10 seconds.

Left Provo and came on back to Spanish Fork.  Landed runway 12 with some funky winds right over the threshold.  Put it on the ground and taxied back to parking.  

Fun flight.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

VOR/DME and GPS approaches

Today I took to the skies in N376DC a Diamond Katana with my instructor Nick Carter (No, not the Backstreet Boy).  It was really hot outside and the plane really didn't want to climb much at all.  I rotated at 45 knots but the thing didn't want to fly until it got to almost 60 knots.

Immediately after takeoff I put on my view limiting device (known as Foggles) and instrument training began.  I was given vectors (by my instructor) to clear Provo's class D airspace and then direct to Fairfield VOR.  I was instructed to hold over Fairfield VOR.  Being at only 8,500 feet and the mountain at 7,000 the turbulence from the wind was ridiculous!  It was so hard to do the hold correctly.

Then I was cleared for the VOR/DME 13 approach into Provo.  That wasn't so bad.  Out over the lake the air is much much calmer and made for easier flying.  Upon reaching the missed approach point, we executed a missed approach and turned off to go and fly the GPS approach.  Not hard really.  Just gotta make sure to but the VOR on GPS mode and fly the needle.  While on the approach and about 2 miles north of WAVIT (the Final Approach Fix), a Cessna Citation X called in announcing he was on the approach.  Since we were very slow compared to him, tower had us do a 360 to get out of the way and then resume our approach.  All went well.  We executed a missed approach and flew back to Spanish Fork.

The interesting part of the whole bit had nothing to do with us, but with that Citation Jet.   Tower told him to report WAVIT inbound and he forgot to do so.  He then also proceeded to land without a landing clearance!  That's a huge mistake!  That can have pretty bad consequences.  Tower realized what happened and then issued him a landing clearance after he had already landed.  Since Provo doesn't have a radar yet, there is no way to see that the jet landed before the clearance was issued.  That pilot better go and give the controller a nice sum of cash or maybe a dinner or something because he totally saved his butt.

New Direction & Autopilot

So I've decided that I'm going to take my blog in a new direction.  I never have anything fun or witty to share, so I'm going to turn this blog into a record of my flying.  I will try to update it after each flight I make and tell about the highs and lows, the boring and the exciting, the calm and scary.  My official logbook will keep track of the hours; my blog will keep track of memories.

Now for the first entry.

So recently down at Diamond Flight Center, we acquired a Diamond Star DA40-180.  Boy is that a fun plane.  It has a G1000 avionics system.  It's quite complex and takes some time getting used to, but once you get it, it's quite nice.

I decided that I would take a flight to Price, Utah in order to get myself a little bit more familiar with it before I fly it down to St. George in a week.  I pre-flighted the airplane and all was good.  Did my run-up and everything was fine.  Leaned back the mixture to get the proper mixture for maximum takeoff power.  So I taxied out onto the runway and announced that I was taking off.  I pushed the throttle all the way forward and the engine almost died.  "What the heck?" ran through my mind and then immediately "too lean."  So I enrichened the mixture a little bit and the engine roared to full power and off I went.  I thought I had done it right.  Guess not.

Flew up Spanish Fork Canyon and off to Price.  Since it was quite hot up at 11,500 feet, my cruising altitude, the air wasn't really stable and so it was a bumpy ride all the way there.  Not much fun really.  I decided that I would try using the autopilot.  I dialed in the altimeter setting and desired altitude into the autopilot and then turned it on.  Smooth as could be.  Well...sort of.  The autopilot had a hard time keeping up with the bumpiness and altitude was all over the place really.  After a while I noticed I was getting off course a little bit so I went to turn to get back on course.  I pushed on the stick.  Nothing happened.  I couldn't even move it!  This scared me a little bit so I immediately hit the big red button on the stick.  A loud ear piercing beep sounded indicating that the autopilot has been disconnected and that I had full control of the aircraft again.  I tried it a few more times with the same results.  I'm pretty sure there is a way to rememdy that, but I just don't know how to do it.  I'll ask my instructor next time.

Did a touch and go at Price.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Flight back was pretty normal too, except that when I got close to Spanish Fork I had a pretty strong tailwind.  Tailwinds are good, except when you are trying to descend quickly or land.

When up at high altitude it's bad to just pull out all the power and glide down.  You can do what they call "shock cooling" the engine.  When at high altitude the air is cool and sometimes down right cold.  The engine is working hard and produces quite a bit of heat.  But as soon as you start pulling out power, it doesn't create as much heat and the engine cools down.  If you pull all the power out quickly, the engine will then cool too quickly and can crack the cylinder heads and other stuff.

So being high and fast I couldn't just pull all the power out and "fall" out of the sky.  So that made it even harder to descend.  I ended up doing S-turns in order to try to lose altitude.

Upon being within about 5 miles of Spanish Fork I radioed my intentions and was told by the pilot of a King Air that the wind was favoring runway 12  instead of my intended landing runway of 30.  This was actually good since it would allow me more time to lose altitude as I had to fly around the pattern instead of just a straight in landing.  I turned base and then final.  I felt that I was coming in a little fast.  I looked at the airspeed.  It showed the correct airspeed for approach.  Then I noticed the wind indicator on the G1000.  8 knot tailwind.  What the heck!?  The King Air pilot lied to me...either that or the wind changed quickly.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.  I landing a bit long, but it was a beautiful landing.  Wheels just kissed the pavement.  Nose down, flaps up, stick back, brakes.  Got her slowed down, taxied off the runway and parked.

Fun flight.  Ready for the next.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Secrets to Research Papers

Here are a few secrets I've found to writing long research papers.

  1. Have a super long introduction.
  2. Research before you write anything.  That way you have something to write about.
  3. Discuss your topic with other people and have a discussion about it.  It'll show you what you've learned from your research and also other points you may want to explore further.
  4. Take breaks so as to not overload your brain.
  5. Get your friends to give you suggestions.
  6. Don't give up.

Monday, April 11, 2011


So I was chatting with someone in my English class about our paper and during the course of the conversation I learned that our 10 page research paper that I thought was due on the 24th is actually due on the 19th.  That still gives me plenty of time, right?


Work has been so busy lately and tomorrow evening I'm leaving for a 5 day trip to California.  So when I get back from that trip I'll only have about two days left to do the paper.  I CAN'T DO THAT IN TWO DAYS!  I will have my laptop so I'll work on it as much as I can down there in California, but to be honest, I doubt that much will get done.

As soon as all of this sunk into my brain the stress factor totally kicked in.  But what's interesting about it is the way it manifests itself in me.  It shows as ANGER.  Just like someone flipped a switch, I went from being content with the world to being angry at just about anything.  In fact, my cat is sitting on my bed and it's making me so mad just thinking that that stupid cat has no responsibility except to eat, sleep, poop, and be cute and cuddly. I'm just angry about. . .life!

I haven't felt this way since high school, back when life was very stressful for me.  I never realized that stress makes me feel this way.  My life is virtually stress-free.  (At least free of major stresses, like I am now experiencing)

The only good thing about this whole frickin' situation is that I just learned what my reaction to stress is.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hot Springs and Wrecking Cars

A most interesting Friday evening.

So Rachel decided to have a little birthday shin dig at the hot springs.  We met at her place at 5 and headed down.  I asked her once where they were (i'd never been there), and she said "oh, it's just a little south of Spanish Fork."    Good deal.  So Todd and I pile in the car with Nate and follow Rachel (and some of her friends) down there.  So we pass Spanish Fork.  Then Nephi.  The Scipio.  A LITTLE PAST SPANISH FORK MY BUTT!!!!  Turns out that these hot springs are a bit south of Fillmore.

So we get there and chill in the springs for a while.  That was actually pretty fun, even though it was freeeeezing cold.

On the way home we stopped at Carl's Jr.  Yum.

Then Nate, Todd, me, and Megan ( a girl from Rachel's car) head on back and Rachel is following.  So about 15 minutes past Scipio we get a call from Rachel saying that she's crashed because of a snow bank.  (By the way, it was starting to snow pretty bad).   So we turn around a go make sure they are all ok, and they are.  But the car is totaled.  The sucky part about it is that Rachel had just gotten that car a few weeks ago because she was in a car accident and her car got totaled.  So we just chill and wait for the tow truck to show up and tow her back to Scipio.

Then we head on back up to Springville.  Disney music was the theme and we spent most of the trip home singing Disney songs.  It was a blast.

Definitely should do it again...but minus the car crunching episode.