SCH:NY0:SCH

Well, it had been over one month (last logged lesson was April 11) since I had sat in the left seat of a C-172 for training due to travel and too many lessons canceled due to weather. On Monday, May 30th, I took to the sky for a full review of everything I’d learned so far. As it was Memorial Day, I scheduled two lessons back to back, and headed to SCH for that review.

Yes, I had way too much time away from that plane. And too much time NOT in the sky. I felt awkward, and it took quite a while before things came back to me. Takeoffs were still OK, but remembering emergency procedures, power on stalls, and getting the feel for landing again. Man. It was work. A lot of work. It was too long away and I didn’t feel like a pilot – student or otherwise.

Exhausting but worth it. Was back in the sky, and I had to start again somewhere. Right? Right.

We took off out of SCH, and had two simulated engine failures. First one, I landed us at NY0 (funny how that simulated engine out was right near the airport!). We pulled in to check out the bakery, but it was closed, so we sat and watched some aerobatic flight practice for a few minutes and then headed back into the sky. Next simulated engine out was over a grass strip, and I went a bit too long on my final approach to land. If it had been a real emergency, Captain Davies said I may have gone into the trees, but I would have walked away.

Heading back to SCH, I began to feel a bit more confident – a bit more like a student pilot. Some instrument flying, some slow flight, some turns around a point, and some S turns. Good to be back in the sky. Good to be back in the left seat.

Three hours of instruction left me thinking about what I needed to have etched into my brain. What I needed to read, write down, take note of. What I missed the most – just being up there.

Happy landings!

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Emergency Landing: 5B2

After an entire month away from flight lessons, I finally made it back to class today, March 16th, for a lesson in the N64281 with Steve Davies out of SCH. I had been stressing about today’s lesson because it has just been too long since I’ve been up in that plane, and up with my CFI. Well, as it turned out, there was no need for that stress!

The weather wasn’t looking favorable, but it cleared up just in time for my lesson. The C172 was in the hangar, so he came out nice and warm, and the sun was shining and it was above 5 degrees (I could pre-flight without my hands freezing!), and I went through the checklist with ease, and even borrowed a step ladder so that I could check the gas myself! So far, so good!

Got in and made sure all was where I had left it. Steve joined me and then it was time. OK. Radio. Let me? Yep! I did it. Schenectady Ground, this is Skyhawk 64281 on the ramp at Richmor ready to taxi. And they talked back to me! Yes! Got clearance to taxi to runway 4, via B, 1, A. And I knew what that meant. AND, I got us there. All me! Did the runup, called in and got clearance to takeoff, and did. All me! Perfectly.

Watched us on the GPS (and looked out the window) as we flew directly over the runway. I’m proud that I’ve never heard my CFI say “more right rudder”. It really was a perfect takeoff. And I called the tower and asked if I could turn left (for my North heading) and everything. Everything just went so well!

Today’s lesson included a bit of instrument work, along with some steep turns. Foggle play and keeping the plane level in those steep turns made me a little dizzy (and I’m still a little dizzy sitting here typing!).

Steve had the opportunity to see how I can be either very smart or very stupid. Had some issues remembering which technology ran which instruments. Vacuum, electrical, static, gyro. Yes, I have read that chapter 4 times. Yes, I still forgot everything. Thank you, CFI, for understanding that I have no room in my brain sometimes and I have to touch things to remember them.

The majority of our lesson focused on emergency procedures. What to do if there’s a fire in the cockpit. What to do if there’s a fire on the wing. What to do if the engine fails. And that’s what we did. Pretended the engine failed! Steve went through the steps with me as I called out the checklist items. Find the best glide speed, find a place to land, go through the checklist!

Thanks to Captain Glickman for teaching me early on to always be on the lookout for a place to land. Always. Steve said “you’re cheating” when I started looking out the window. I replied, “I’m always looking for a place to land!”. Good!

Steve handled the first landing, where we selected a private airstrip and went in (and then miraculously our engine came to life and we did a go-around). We resumed altitude and then it was my turn. You have the controls. I have the controls.

We were close enough to 5B2 (on purpose) so as soon as the engine failure started, I got us to our best glide speed and then found my best approach to 5B2 as Steve went through the checklists. With the engine out (simulated), I had to land, so … I did. Me. I did. I landed the N64281 on runway 32 at Saratoga! It was a glorious landing! Steve took the controls once we were on the ground and then said, “wait, you can do this, you take it back!”, which made me feel great! So I brought us to a stop and we went over to runway 5 and took off back up into the sky. And yes, it was another perfect takeoff! Made me feel SO good to have that down. Really nice. Really happy feeling inside.

Once we were done there, we headed back to SCH. Steve handled the communications on our way back in, but let me fly the N64281 to the ground. He helped out a bit on landing at SCH (just a little bit), and I taxied us back over to secure my baby down for the night!

What a glorious day of flight (in the air AND on the ground!). So good to be landing a plane once again! So grateful to everyone for helping me on my way and for believing that I do fly like a starfruit.

I love it up there!

Happy landings!

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Time off? I think not!

It has been a long time (1 month) since I’ve had a lesson, and it’s not because I was avoiding anything. No. It’s because I was VERY busy.

Let’s see. Well, I had a wonderful day of flying with Captain Glickman in the N7292J, when we joined my favorite boys – the EAA 602 crew – for an ice fly in on the Great Sacandaga lake on February 20th. Gorgeous day, and what an event! We flew out of 5B7 where the Captain keeps his plane, and I got to witness the takeoff with a full load (we had my luggage for a few trips on board!) on such a short runway with trees at the end. Was amazing to watch the mastery of an experienced pilot on that field. Nice!

We flew over to Lanzi’s on the lake and called in to the EAA602 boys. Cleared for landing (we checked to be sure that our companion Cherokee 140 had already landed on the ice) and did a fly over (while there were snowmobiles on the marked ice runway) and then came in for a landing. Video is here for your viewing pleasure. What a treat!

It was nice to have Dean Taber join us in his Skylane (which I actually had the chance to fly last week! Flew like a charm. Man, that things like a luxury car, and Deane keeps that baby fine tuned!). Captain Taber posed for a few manly photos outside his beauty plane for us. Always a pleasure to fly with you, sir!

After a great lunch, I had the opportunity to fly in my first tail-dragger! Fellow EAA602er Tim Devine took me up in his 1946 Champ. Wow. What an experience. Once we were up in the air and had some altitude, Captain Devine let me fly his Champ. My very first tail-dragger! And my first time flying from the back seat. It was so lovely! And Captain Devine seemed to think I did a good job, as noted in our post-flight interview video!

Prop service to KALB!

Back on the ground, I climbed aboard my favorite little plane, the N7292J with Captain Glickman in the left seat and headed over to KALB, with a quick low pass over our favorite blue ice shanty. BUZZ and a wave! See ya, guys! What a glorious day.

Landing in KALB, I removed all of my luggage and was driven from Million Air over to the main airport to catch my flight to BWI for work. First time I’ve ever gotten a ride in a plane to the airport! Yeah!

I think somewhere between there and landing at work, I ended up in the left seat of the Southwest airlines jet. I’ll have to go back and check on those photos. Yes. Amazing how I could forget an experience like that. Must have been some other important events that happened. Oh, yes!

After a few days at work I headed down to the Space Coast to watch the Space Shuttle Discovery launch from 3 miles away and spend a week with my favorite space geeks, the NASA Tweetup crew. Along with the launch we got to meet a few astronauts, watch the RSS retraction the night before, watch the Astrovan head out to the pad. Yes, the launch was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, felt, heard, in my life. Yes. Amazing.

No time for flying lessons while home for a week and then back on the road to the SXSW conference to talk about the NASATweetup. In transit I found an invitation to JSC from Mike Grabois, who trains the shuttle astronauts! Would I like to join him at the welcome home ceremony and then get a tour of the training facility? YES?

My friend John drove the 3.5 hours to Houston, where we arrived just in time for the STS133 Discovery crew welcome home. Met the astronauts and got autographs, photographs and hugs! Wow! They were in space a few days ago! And then had a magnificent tour of the Shuttle training facility, the pool facility where they dive for zero-G training, and a tour of all 3 mission controls. Yes, I was in heaven. What a fantastic thing to share. What a wonderful man Mike is for sharing this with us. Thank you, Mike!

The highlight of my tour was, of course, the space potty. Maybe sitting in the left seat of the space shuttle motion simulator. Hmm. Can’t decide. All in all, it was pretty WOW!

I’ll add lots of photos to the photo page soon! Promise!

Ad astra, and happy landings!

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Stalling … again!

The last time I had a lesson was 2/15. That was a very long time ago. Yeah.

Well, on the 15th of February I went up in the N64281 with Steve Davies out of SCH, for an early evening lesson on stalling. I’ve been through the stalls before, so nothing was shocking and I think I recovered very well. Along with the stall lesson, I got to have my very first instrument-only lesson while wearing foggles.

I love foggles. It makes it much easier to concentrate on the instruments, which I just concentrate on a bit too much anyway. I’d like to think that I did a great job that day. I know I did.

There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground, and I do remember NOT taxiing, although I did take off. Makes me happy when Steve says “seems like you’ve done this before”, because of course, he knows, I’ve done this before.

Had a great lesson that day. Felt really good about the way Steve was instructing. Very different. Very methodical. Exactly what I needed.

Still had some unfamiliarity with the N64281, but seemed like he likes me (the plane), and I remember it being so very cold and windy that day and just not being happy doing that pre-flight in the wind and cold. But, nothing stands out in my mind as “off”, so it must have been a good lesson. I do remember that the winds were too strong for me to take the landing. But that’s OK. There’s more to come!

Happy landings!

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Catching Up: From Part 61 to Part 141

Catching up (yes, it’s been a while). I had originally planned to create a slew of posts and add them, one by one, to the blog. Recreating the flying adventures I’ve had in the past month. Yes, it got put on the back burner.

So, I’m going to attempt to play catch up in one post here.

I’ve changed instructors. Moved over from a Part 61 to a Part 141 School. Mostly because I wanted a more structured environment, and I felt that I needed a different type of instructor. I need someone who will explain (and understand that I need to know) HOW everything works. The physics. The math. The works.

I had one experience that was just NOT pleasant, which is when I stopped writing posts. Interesting. I went up for a lesson on a day when they hadn’t plowed the runways and there was a dusting of snow covering them completely. Went up to do a few landings, but I found that I couldn’t even land her once. Couldn’t get my bearings at all while we were up there and coming in. Nothing was working. And yes, I cried when the lesson was over and I was back in my car. Miserable day in the sky. Everyone assured me that they all had at least one day like that. My friend, Captain Ameden, talked me through the experience and made me feel much better. Folks chimed in on Twitter and Facebook and helped me get over the day, and back in the air again.

I love Dale and appreciate everything that he taught me. Loved that 172. But I needed something different. And I’ve found it. Finding the school was easy. Finding the instructor took a bit of interviewing – and immediately discounting the kids young enough to be my children!

I’m now flying out of KSCH, with the Richmor flight school. My instructor is Steve Davies (a retired GE engineer), and I love the way Steve teaches. Extremely methodical, and he talks me through everything. I’ve had two lessons with him so far, and I’m very pleased.

We’ve gone back through some of the lessons I’ve already had, but that’s a good thing, and I’m getting to know a new 172 (the N64281 – definitely a male plane. Yes, they have genders!). Getting to know the layout of an unfamiliar airport as well. One with a tower! Oy!

I’m very happy that I’ve made this move.

My recent adventures:

Flying home from Sanford, ME

Five Alarm Chili Cook-off and Safety Seminar at KSFM on 1/22. Flew in the N7292J with Captain Glickman. The sky was beautiful and I flew from the right seat. It was FREEZING that day, and we covered the plane with a few blankets to keep her warm on the ground. What a glorious sky we had on the way home. The mountains between Maine and home were covered with snow, and the landscape was glorious. And, yes, I won the People’s Choice award in the chili cook-off!

Fly-In Lebanese Feast at The Runway Restaurant at Barnes (KBAF) on 1/30. We flew up the day before to cook, in Captain Ahab’s (Haddad) Arrow. Great day for flying, and I got to fly up front from the right seat on the way home. She handles differently from the Cherokee, and it was thrilling to bring her in on approach at KALB. Captain Glickman helped me land her, but I had a good feel for how she handles, and if I remember correctly, my final approach was pretty damn good!

The sunset on our way home from Barnes

The next day we went back for the feast, but the WX as not good enough for us to all fly. Most folks drove over to the feast, but we took to the skies in the N7292J (with an instrument rated captain), and had a nice trip there and back. On the way home we worked around the clouds, and I learned quite a bit about anticipating the cloud-scape above, and the landscape below. If it was just me flying, I would have turned back, but the accomplished Captain Glickman got us home safely. Again, the sky and landscape on the way home were glorious.

We had planned to fly to Ottawa for Winterlude last weekend, but the WX was not in our favor, and we were land locked for the weekend instead – enjoying the local Chowderfest and staying warm inside. Oh, and somewhere in there we flew over the blue ice shanty on the Great Sacandaga — another formation flight with Captain Cowper in his Cherokee. Yes, we flew about 1 ft above the ice again. We ended up driving out after our flyby to visit the EAA602 guys, and walked out to the shanty and watched a few light sport aircraft lift off with skis!

Me and the EAA602 pilots

Yesterday, I spent time with my EAA602 buddies at what was supposed to be a fly-in, which was a drive-in for all of us due to the winds. They told stories for hours and it was wonderful. Learned later on in the day that it’s called “hangar flying” when you sit around and do that. Perfect term!

And speaking of my EAA602 guys, I went to the monthly meeting for the EAA602 chapter. Everyone was wearing plaid flannel. I dug up my plaid flannel for the next meeting (mine’s pink, of course). I also attended the monthly meeting of our local 99s chapter. I love meeting new female flying friends. I love the aviation community!

Thanks to the folks who have kept me going through all of this: My kids, who pretend that they don’t mind that I’m spending all of my money on flying; Captain Roger Ameden, who I wish lived closer and could be my CFI; Captain Mike Speigner (Hollywood) for sending me the best learning video I’ve had so far, and for ALWAYS being there virtually to give me a pep talk; Captain Harriet Bregman for welcoming me into the local chapter of the 99s and for showing me around the hangar; Captain Ahab (aka Haddad) for letting me fly the Arrow; and, of course, my mentor and pilot-in-command, Captain Glickman.

Happy landings!

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5B2:KGFL:5B2

Thrilled that the Little Plane was back in service (Captain Glickman melted a few cables my accident), I took to the sky in the left seat of the N7292J for a short flight to KGFL for lunch on Sunday, January 2.

Captain Glickman picked me up at 5B2 and got to meet Dale, my instructor, and my baby – the N9883G. After chatting for a bit, we headed out to runway 23 for takeoff. Let Captain Glickman have the radio – I wasn’t sure about landing and managing the radio, but I’ll get there.

It was great to handle the N7292J again. Much smaller than the 172, and easier on the ground. Got her out to the runway, did the runup, and took off (yes, still in too much of a climb), and headed up to KGFL. Was great to have her up in the sky, great to navigate to somewhere.

Very short flight and then into the pattern for landing. Downwind, base and final ok, but getting in close to the ground, I needed the Captain to take over. Very different feeling from the high-wing. Wow. But I want to learn to land them both, and I hope I can have more landing practice in the N7282J.

Thrilled upon arrival to see the Glastar that I flew in October with Doug Sterling parked at the FBO, and so we joined Doug and Tim Cowper for lunch. I had met Captain Sterling at an EAA chapter 602 meeting and he took me up for a ride. That was my first flight ever in the left seat. Love the man. It was great to meet Captain Cowper, and great to share lunch with the guys. Even better was introducing Captain Glickman to these folks. Great time!

Flying in formation

Flying home the pilots agreed to fly in formation, so I was back in the right seat. This was amazing. Three planes (one Glastar and two Cherokee 140s) in formation. Watching Captain Glickman flying like this was wonderful. That was until he let the other two pilots know he was going to “peel off”, and then did just that. Without warning me that we would be, in fact, upside down in the process. It was a gorgeous maneuver and apparently we do have it on film from Captain Cowper (we’ve yet to see it), but I was not ready for it and it caught me off guard. Yes, there was swearing involved on my part.

Captain Sterling headed home in the Glastar and we had a gorgeous re-grouping with Captain Cowper, who flew off in his own maneuver, and we flew back in tandem to 5B2. These are wonderful folks, and I love flying with them. And learning from them!

The N7292J

Back at 5B2, the sky was glorious, and I managed to capture the N7292J in all of her glory. The Little Plane happy to be back in service, and happy to have time back in the sky. And I think happy to have me on board!

Back on the ground, we pick up Shawn Banner for his first ride in the N7292J, and his first ride in a small plane. The sunset was glorious, the lake was so beautiful, and Captain Glickman made the most glorious low pass over the lake (watch the video). Perfect way to end a fantastic day of flying and sharing.

Time to head home and get ready for the week. Flat tire on the car, and handy Captain changed the tire for me (instant pit crew). Sitting in the warmed up car next to the N7292J joking about being special because we’re pilots. You know what? It is so very special to me. Goodnight, Little Plane. Goodnight, Captain Glickman. Safe flight back to 5B7.

It’s OK that I didn’t land the N7292J that day. I did what I could, and am pleased that I know what I can’t do. And I’m always very happy when I get to co-pilot the Little Plane.

Happy landings!

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Power Off Stalls

On Thursday, December 30, I logged 1.5 hours in the N9883G with my instructor Dale. Stalls and touch and gos. Yes, an exciting lesson.

We didn’t spend much time in the classroom – just a few minutes to go over everything that I had crammed into my brain. Me spitting it out and Dale listening. Then, he let me know what we were going to do for this lesson. Power off stalls. Explained what they were, and as he was explaining, my heart fell into the pit of my stomach, did a few flips and then went back to where it was supposed to be.

I think , “I’ve done zero-G with the flyboys, so this should be a piece of cake”. Then, I think, “oh, I’m the one that’s going to be flying”. I think I can, I think I can. And I know that Dale can, so my fear subsides a bit.

Feuling up at North American

Went out and did the preflight and chatted with Dale while we fueled up. Checked everything with my new, handy, checklist (that’s now residing in the pocket of the N9883G!). Feel confident about checking the plane, the oil (when I can get the cap off) and the gas. OK. Ready to go.

Confident on the radio, and the best part was that Captain Glickman was in the air and heard me on the radio. That was just too cool. Apparently we had a stuck button and we continued to transmit, and thank heavens it wasn’t one of those times when I was yelling expletives the entire time I was taxiing!

Felt a little better on the rudders while taxiing, and did much better getting out to the runway. It’s slow going for me when there’s a bit of snow out there, and I still don’t feel perfect on the ground.  Go through the runup with precision this time (finally) and then get us out on runway 23. Takeoff a bit uneven, but all mine. Up into the sky and I was right on the mark with adjusting speed, direction, and very happy to be back in the sky.

Great to hear Captain Glickman on the radio while he was flying over Mt. Graylock. So cool to know we were in the sky at the same time in separate planes!

Over the practice area

Turned beautifully and headed out to the practice area. Practiced flying at slow speeds, practiced slow turns. OK, time to stall. Eek. Dale took the plane and demonstrated the first stall. Thought I was going to freak, but I LOVED it. Yep. Can do. My turn. Had a bit of trouble holding the yoke all the way back, but got the baby to stall and recovered nicely. Over and over and over again. Dale wanted me to feel it slam, and be sure that I could react. Couldn’t get it to slam like he did, but was able to recover each time without hesitation. Made me feel really good about how much I’ve learned – especially about the principles of aerodynamics.

Done with our power off stalls, we headed back to practice approaches and landings. Into the pattern and adjusting power, altitude, with Dale correcting me with rudder when I’m just not perfectly parallel on downwind. Get in the pattern, pilot! Yes, sir!

Two landings and I ask Dale if we can go around again. “Hey, it’s your time” and he laughs. Yes, we’re right back up in the air again for one more go-around.

Last landing was not the best of the three, but I brought her in, and Dale took the plane and brought us back to the FBO.

What I learned that day: I’m really flying. It’s wonderful up there, and some things are just coming to me and a part of me already. Sensing what to do, instead of just remembering. And understanding what the plane is and is not capable of. I feel like a pilot (yes, a student pilot, but still a pilot), and that make me very happy. And I love the N9883G like she’s my very own.

Happy landings!

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