Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back at it...for now

Well, Its been about 9 months since I lasted posted and I apologize. Ive been really busy here in Houston, and since I dont have internet in my apartment I havnt had much of an opportunity to get on here. Regardless, here is an update.

Been flying like a maniac. Gotten over 1200 hours in the jet now and counting. Things are great. Making decent money, totally comfortable in the airplane, and really love it here. However, the corporate culture in America is backwards. Why fix something if it aint broken. Well, apparently the company I work for is too expensive for our parent major and we are being undercut. And to add to that, we have been running a branded operation on the west coast that hasnt been too lucrative. It is just starting to make money lately thanks in part to a great fuel hedge. However another major west coast regional is making an attempt to buy us out. Not sure if the deal will go thru at the BOD level, but they also want us to give up our scope and CBA. Our union is working hard to protect our jobs. In my estimation, I will be happy if I am not furloughed by October. Kinda messed up huh? Just long enough for me to live out my lease and move back to VA. I think Id be pretty depressed if I was living in H-town and having to work at home depot. Anyone have any good corporate positions available?

Monday, September 24, 2007


So, the bids for October were released last week. Looks like I slid in under the bar here in Houston. I got the last relief line for October. This is huge for me. Not only will I have more of a set schedule for the foreseeable future, but Ill be able to pick up open time on my days off to supplement my income. For example, lets say I am sitting around on a Tuesday with nothing to do, and I see in open time a day trip worth 6 hours. I can call scheduling, pick up the trip, and as long as my total line value is above 75 hours to begin with I get paid the 120+ bucks for the trip. what it comes down to is the fact that I have alot more control over how much I make, and when and how much I fly.....Its good news. I paid my dues on reserve. 5 Months on reserve and I am pretty much ready to move on to life as a lineholder.

Friday, August 31, 2007


So, I finished my trip Wed, and Thurs morning I was on the 710 to IAH to look for an apartment. I was lucky enough to get a window seat, but unlucky enough to have a person right next to me. I was out of uniform, but had my badge, however it is interesting to see the difference in the way I am used to being treated compared to how I was treated yesterday. When I am in uniform I am given an extra ouce of courtesy, a free bottle of water, a nod in the terminal by passing pilots, a free headset on the flight, etc. Out of uniform its a whole different world. I almost felt as though the gate agent was initially annoyed that she had to deal with me.....nevber felt that in uni....oh well.

On a positive note I did find a place. Not the newest, not the most "hip", but its clean, and safe, and the price was right. I initially tried to do it alone, but quickly realized that was impossible unless I wanted to pay market price. I stopped at an apartment finders office and within an hour I was putting pen to paper on a lease. And it didnt cost me a dime. Anyone who needs help finding a place in Houston go see Jamie at texas apartment locators.....Shes great.

Anyways, that is all for now. I drive down sept 8.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Today was a short day.....Woke up in Buffalo to a gorgeous sunrise. I did my morning walkaround and was treated to a gorgeous sky. My first flight duties include opening all the access panels on the aircraft to look for who knows what. It is actually a TSA rule, and I have never found anything, but I do it daily. I made my way around the aircraft, looking closely at the skin or the plane, checking all the static wicks, checking the brake wear indicators...checking the tires for thread showing.....making the sure the engines are both there....and finally making sure the lights work. Its a routine by now, but one that I cant do half-a$$. I have found missing static wicks, tires that needed to be changed out, and a fuel leak from the number 1 engine. Always something as these aircraft get older.

We departed BUF and headed down to Newark. I had an hour to grab a coffee and a bananna and headed down to the gate to meet my new captain. Crew scheduling woke my original capt up at 430 to tell her that she was reassigned and was going to be leaving us. I got lucky as my new captain is a really nice guy. We sat in line in Newark waitin to go to Charleston SC. I think we were probably 20th or so in line for departure. The major airline at NEWARK has a large bank of departures that leave around 9 am so it was rush hour when we were set to leave. Once airborne it was a nice ride down the coast. We went out on the NEwark 7 Departure to white intersection, then to Salisbury VOR, down over FRanklin VOR and cleared direct to Charleston. Coming through 8k we had the field in sight. The capt anticipated a chop and drop for the visual appproach, so he slowed down below 250, dropped the gear, put in flaps 9 and opened the speed brakes. One below 200 knots we put in flaps 22 and were ready to accept a visual approach clearance. A "bug smasher" ahead of us said he couldnt see the field so the approach controller assumed we couldnt see it either, but since we were higher and on a steeper angle we were able to see down on the field fairly well. So, he gave us that clearance as we slowed to flaps 45 speed and configured to land. It worked out really nicely. I was impressed. Always something to learn on each leg.......My turn to fly tommorrow, then up to Halifax for a turn and home. Goodbye Newark...hello Houston.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Im back

I apologize for my absence. Ive been a pretty busy guy. Crew scheduling has kept me busy, flying anywhere between 80 and 100 hours a month. I have about 400 hours of jet time now, and am finally comfortable enough in the jet to make the easy stuff easy, and the challenging stuff doable. My captains have been very willing to add assitance and advice when I ask them. Like they told us in training, come to work with a smile on your face, a dream in your heart and a willingness to learn and you will be fine. I have taken that to heart. I am extremely happy with my choice of employer, and for once in my life I am in a great position to make positive steps forward in a career I love. I decided to base change, and move to Houston so that I can live in base, and afford to do so. Houston is pretty cheap, and I can get into a one bedroom apartment near the airport for not a lot of cash.

Today we did 4 legs, I flew us from BWI to EWR, then up to BUF. Great weather to fly in the northeast today. We picked up the airport from about 20 miles out. at 25 miles I was coming through 8000 ft and cleared direct to the outer marker for the visual approach. Those are some of the hardest approaches to do in the jet. I did some quick math and decided we were mildly high so called for flaps 9. For some reason we really werent that high, nor were we fast. I am still trying to figure out drag devices in unusual situations. Needless to say I got too savvy and overshot the final. Then got high and unspooled( a little) on final. So, I ended up diving down to recapture the glide. It all worked out in the end, but thats one example of situations where I am still learning. You cant learn if you dont make mistakes, right? Tommorrow we head back to Newark, and then down to Charleston SC. Its a long overnight so Ill need to find a way to kill some time. hopefully we have good weather......

Monday, May 28, 2007

The first pic is the divert, and the second is when we finally got in. Fun stuff.

advise ready to copy....

We departed Jackson Mississippi on a routine flight to Houston. We took off with a concern for our landing weight so we opted for a lower altitude to get a better fuel burn and make sure we were below Max gross landing weight when we reached Houston. As luck would have it we couldnt have had enough fuel on board. ATC advised us that Houston arrivals were holding and we could slow it up as much as possible. A huge thunderstorm was hammering the field as we approached it. We were given the dreaded, "Jetlink, I have holding instructions, advise ready to copy." We held at an intersection on the arrival, about 100 miles from the airport. We held as long as we could before we (along with everyone else) was forced to divert for fuel. We chose Alexandria, LA. It was my leg so I prepared for a visual approach to the south runway. A routine landing and a load of gas, and we were on our way. Sure enough we held for another 20 minutes, before being released from the hold and sent through some nasty weather and onto a downwind for 8L at Houston. I shot the ILS to near mins with rain and mist. It was a real challenge.

Anyhow, moral of the story is, during thunderstorm season, dont leave any gas behind, and make sure your weather radar is working properly. Lesson learned.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Choo Choo

Sitting in Chatanooga Tenn waiting for my 230 van ride to the airport. We arrived last night around 10pm....15 minutes early. We touched down on runway two...flew a nice visual approach in night conditions. It was the captains leg, which was fine with me. I was exhausted. It was a 5 leg day. The only thing that made life easier was that we kept the same aircraft all day, so no lugging my bags around all over the terminal. We started with a brownsville turn. Then it was up to Mobile. Thunderstorms were once again all over so we picked our way through them. The arrival back into Houston was intense. The frequency was so busy, and I think I counted 12 guys in front of us between the two runways. We were put on a 40 mile final. Fun stuff. Its nice to be able to fly into the relaxed atmosphere of a class c or d airport, and then come home and mix it up with the big guys. You have to be on your A game or you will get a stiff tounge lashing by the controllers. Its always funny to hear, unless its you.

Today we leave KCHA at 330 back to Houston. Then its down to Saltillo Mexico for the overnight. Mexico is fun to fly into, but Saltillo is a "special" airport so itll have to be the captains leg untilI get off high mins. Ill get my 100 hours and off high mins within a week so I am not worried. Until then........

Thursday, May 10, 2007

On the Road

Ok, so at last an update. Finished IOE last week. Did a trip out of Houston. It included a pretty low ILS at Jackson, Miss. A really fun visual approach to Little Rock, and a trip to Mexico. I started reserve this past Tuesday in Houston. I was originally assigned Newark, but got switched to Houston for May. No problem, the flying is just as fun. The first day was a deadhead to Nashville. We grabbed a plane from there and headed up to Newark, then down to Raleigh for an overnight there. We left Raleigh and flew up to Cleveland, down to Knoxville and back to Houston. Then we headed to Kileen Texas for an overnight. What a great night flight. A light show like I havnt seen in a while from 18000 ft. We snuck in just before the heavy stuff started on the field. Kileen is also Ft Worth regional. Alot of military aircraft in the pattern this morning. Interesting. Today we started the day by heading back to Houston. Then we were down to Monterey Mexico for a quick turn back up to Houston. When we sent the in range report in flight, I was notified that I would be headed to Wichita. Unfortunately it was a deadhead up to Kansas. So, here I sit. I have a 620 am showtime for a 720 departure back to Houston, where I will rejoin my original crew. I guess they needed someone to bring an airplane back to Houston. The original crew must be tight on flight times.

Reserve is rough. You dont know your flying schedule, and you never know where you will end up. So, you live out of a suitcase and put in your time. I should have a line in 2 or 3 months, and an easier commute when I am in Newark. Lets hope so.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ask and ye shall receive

So, I apologize for my absence and lack of activity on here. Its been a busy few weeks. I spent my 3 weeks off before IOE working the dispatch desk at the flight school. I finally got the call a couple weeks ago from crew scheduling. My first trip for IOE was a 3 day. day one was newark to detroit, back to newark, and back to detroit with an overnight in detroit. Day 2 was a short hop to cleveland, then to philly, then to cleveland, then down to Indy. An overnight in indy. Day three was a nice easy trip up to Newark, then a memphis turn. Its an absolute blast flying this aircraft. The weather was horrid though. The first trip was all snow, ice and wind. The following week was day trips with some more weather and most of all wind. I couldnt catch a break. So, needless to say I am still on IOE with emphasis on landings. The checkairman are very particular in what they want. On speed, on centerline, in the touchdown zone. Not too much to ask. So, I am almost there. Praying for some more good weather this week and some good trips to finish up strong. Most of my class is finished with IOE....all the Houston guys. I think i am the only newark guy and I am still working at it. oh well.

In the midst of my stress of training, this past week has been fairly traumatic for myself, as well as the entire country. The tragedy at Virginia Tech has had myself and alot of friends very upset. I spent many years in Blacksburg as a student and to see such a tragedy happen in a place that brought many of us so much joy is heartbreaking. Read below an email from a friend of ours who lives in Blacksburg. Its an unbeleivable read......

Saved by the blood

This means different things to people. We sometimes say that we were saved by the blood of Jesus when he died on the crossIt was about 9pm on April 16th, and Gil, Nell-Marie, Ellen and myself were in the hospital room in Roanoke. Gil said, Can I have a tissue theres blood inside my nose. We got him one, and as he cleaned the dried blood from inside his nose he said Its not my blood its from the guy who was on top of me.his blood was everywhere on my face, in my eyes, my nose, my mouth…it was all over.” He said that the reason he was not killed must have been “all that blood” that covered him. “He must have thought that I was already dead”. It was the blood of the student who had been seated behind Gil when it all started.I thought about Godfrey Birtle, a British singer we know, who wrote and sings a tremendous song titled, “If it wasn’t for the blood, I’d be dead!’ The recovering heroin addicts at Betel, in Birmingham, UK where our church goes and ministers to the guys and women who are living new lives in Christ know this song well! All of the residents there at Betel have overcome the odds of addiction and death…they exclaim, “If it wasn’t for the blood, I’d be dead!” And, they sing it with such passion…it’s difficult for us to recognize just how literally, they mean those words!Almost 12 hours to the minute before Gil asked for the tissue that night, the carnage began. It was Monday morning, April 16th, about 9:20 am, when Gil, the Professor, and 13 other graduate students were interrupted, (the class began at 9am) by someone who opened the wooden door to the classroom (a smaller room about 20’ by 30’ in size) and took up a “shooters” stance at the front of the room and began firing his semi-automatic 9mm pistol directly at students on the front row. He moved from his left to his right. Gil sat on the last chair in the front row, on the shooter’s right.Gil dove for the floor, at the side wall of the room, by a radiator. (This building was built in the 1950’s) He felt the student next to him dive for cover in the same way landing on top of him. Not fully covering Gil, but “scissored” across his body. The shooter emptied the first 15 round clip and ejected it, and inserted another one. He moved about the room shooting. Gil felt a bullet strike the guy on top of him…then he felt some searing pain in his neck. He later speculated that the bullet went through the body of the person on top of him, before it entered his mastoid bone just behind and below his left ear. The surgeon later indicated that he thought it was a direct shot.Then the shooter left the room, and they heard shots being fired nearby. Lots of gunshots. Gil motioned a student nearby to get his phone out of his book bag and call 911. The guy retrieved Gil’s phone and dialed and told the police what was happening. It is about 9:25 or so.Gil told us that, “I don’t recall having fear…I only recall praying and thinking about my wife and my son”.Gil and a couple of others strategized, that the best thing to do was to remain in the positions they were in and “play dead” because the shooter was right outside the door and might very well return…so, that’s what they did. Gil was underneath the bleeding student from Indonesia. No talking, nothing was heard from him.Just when they thought the terror might have ended…the shooter comes back in the room! Where are the police, Gil thought…why aren’t they here protecting us? The South Korean student, (23 years old) came back firing at people strewn about the room. 10 shots, or more. Gil recounted that at one point, the shooter was standing right beside where he was lying underneath the Indonesian and felt 3 or 4 more bullets impacting into the body above him. “Thump, thump, thump”…but none seemed to hit Gil…Then the shooter left and shot some more outside (actually across the hall in another classroom) Then SILENCE. Finally, no more shooting.They remained in position for a time and gradually, when the police came, they got up…but only two of the 14 people got up. Only two of them, Gil and his friend named Nathaniel could walk out. Lee, another student was later seen safely outside. The others were either deceased already or badly wounded. At this writing, 11am on the 17th, Gil still doesn’t have a definitive listing of who might have survived. The Professor was killed.The shooter shot himself before the police could engage him.It’s about 9:50 am, by this time, and the police lead Nathaniel, and then Gil, down and out of the building, and into a brown Explorer. They were taken to “triage” there on campus along with the other injured students.Nell-Marie called me at about 10:15 and gave me the unbelievable news. I was watching the report on TV when she called. She was calling to tell us that Gil was ok and not involved, right? Of course…but no, that’s not what Nell-Marie said. “Gil’s alright”, she said, but, “he was right in the middle of it…it was in his classroom.” She had spoken to Gil only minutes before. “But, he’s ok!”I hung up and dialed Gil’s cell phone. He answered, “Hi, Billy”, seeing my caller ID light up. He sounded quite normal. I was relieved. There was noise in the background, but I could hear him clearly…he said that, “I don’t think I was shot, but a bullet grazed my arm and my neck”. I’m ok. (actually, the bullet grazed his back and entered the base of his skull, we were to find out…the bullet was still lodged against his mastoid bone in there as we spoke.) So I knew at the outset that he was in the classroom where shooting happened, but nothing else…no more details, until later…then our connection went bad…I redialed and began talking again…Gil said something…”It was...he….shot…” and then he couldn’t speak…he was unable to get out anything but sobs..I pictured him there with the phone in his hand, trying to imagine what he must have been feeling….”I’ll be there in two hours!” I said…”I’ll find Nell-Marie and I’ll see you by one o’clock.” He said, “Ok”, and we hung up.Nell-Marie learned that they had taken Gil to the Lewis Gale Hospital in Roanoke, by ambulance, along with a Professor, from the triage area on campus. It was too windy for helicopters to fly.I arrived about 1:30, and found Nell-Marie in the emergency room waiting room. She had not yet seen Gil.Momentarily, someone came out to identify us, and Nell-Marie got connected. They took her back to Gil. 20 minutes later, a nurse came out to say that Gil was being X-rayed at that time because there was a bullet still in his head! What? But she assured us that it was not in a dangerous place neurologically and that they might even leave it in there…of course, they took Gil into surgery about 2:30 and removed the bullet..a 9mm slug, in tact and placed a drain in the wound. So by 5:30, Gil was in recovery and wide awake. By 5:40 pm, he was wheeled into room 526, where we got to see him for the first time. He looked ashen, washed out, serious and tired, but remarkably good. He was alert and fully aware of everything.Then he talked and talked, freely giving us every detail. That’s where we learned that he was “saved by the blood” of the Indonesian student.I suggested to Gil that if I were the Dad in Indonesia and found out that my beloved son was killed in this way…I would have so many unanswered questions…I would feel so helpless. I would be comforted to know, perhaps, that you (Gil) survived because of my son’s blood…that my son’s death in some way “saved” or shielded you from that fate. Gil agreed. And, perhaps he will someday get the chance to give his story to the parents from Indonesia.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Done the schoolhouse. At least the hard part is over. I passed my Embraer 145 Second in command proficiency check Wed afternoon. Ive never been so excited as I was that afternoon. The whole process was incredibly stressful, but in the end it was by far the most rewarding feeling Ive ever experienced.
I had some issues at the very end of the syllabus, and had to get some additional training in order to get through to the PC. My biggest problems involved speed control on non precision approaches and the descent from MDA to the runway via the PAPI lights. Papi's, or precision approach path indicators, are lights positioned next to the runway that help to guide a pilot to the runway. they are most useful when on a non precision approach in helping to determine when to start towards the runway. A typical non precision approach will have you out 10 or 12 miles on the localizer(a radio nav aide that keeps you on the extended centerline of the runway). At specific intervals the approach calls for stepdowns. These stepdowns are based on traffic concerns, and most often are based on terrain. For example you will be at 3000 until 10 miles, then go down to 2000 until 6 miles, then to 1500 until 4 miles. At 4 miles you are at your final approach fix, and start the descent to the MDA-minimum decent altitude. The MDA might be as low as 400 feet above the earth. You hold that until you see the runway or reach your missed approach point. AT that point you either "go missed" or land the aircraft. A complicated non precision will really make it tough on you in bad weather.
Anyhow, the ride started with an area departure with a 600 RVR takeoff(low vis). then it was steep turns, and a stall. Then the Autopilot came onfor a coupled ILS and a full missed approach procedure. Once we were on the missed I had an engine fire and had to secure the engine. Then it was back around for a single engine ILS to a full stop. After that we did an aborted takeoff and an engine loss at rotation. He gave me my engine back and it was a non precision to a full stop landing. I didnt do my best flying ever but it was good enough. As always, its a license to learn under a knowledgable captain.
So, i am sitting idle in the hotel waiting for my loft to be scheduled. It is a real line flight in the sim, in real time, with an emergency thrown in for good measure. Its not graded so its a good learning experience.
After I do loft I will get to go home. Been here 7 weeks and I am ready to head home. Then its a wait for IOE---my first chance to fly the real thing.

Done the schoolhouse. At least the hard part is over. I passed my Embraer 145 Second in command proficiency check Wed afternoon. Ive never been so excited as I was that afternoon. The whole process was incredibly stressful, but in the end it was by far the most rewarding feeling Ive ever experienced.
I had some issues at the very end of the syllabus, and had to get some additional training in order to get through to the PC. My biggest problems involved speed control on non precision approaches and the descent from MDA to the runway via the PAPI lights. Papi's, or precision approach path indicators, are lights positioned next to the runway that help to guide a pilot to the runway. they are most useful when on a non precision approach in helping to determine when to start towards the runway. A typical non precision approach will have you out 10 or 12 miles on the localizer(a radio nav aide that keeps you on the extended centerline of the runway). At specific intervals the approach calls for stepdowns. These stepdowns are based on traffic concerns, and most often are based on terrain. For example you will be at 3000 until 10 miles, then go down to 2000 until 6 miles, then to 1500 until 4 miles. At 4 miles you are at your final approach fix, and start the descent to the MDA-minimum decent altitude. The MDA might be as low as 400 feet above the earth. You hold that until you see the runway or reach your missed approach point. AT that point you either "go missed" or land the aircraft. A complicated non precision will really make it tough on you in bad weather.
Anyhow, the ride started with an area departure with a 600 RVR takeoff(low vis). then it was steep turns, and a stall. Then the Autopilot came onfor a coupled ILS and a full missed approach procedure. Once we were on the missed I had an engine fire and had to secure the engine. Then it was back around for a single engine ILS to a full stop. After that we did an aborted takeoff and an engine loss at rotation. He gave me my engine back and it was a non precision to a full stop landing. I didnt do my best flying ever but it was good enough. As always, its a license to learn under a knowledgable captain.
So, i am sitting idle in the hotel waiting for my loft to be scheduled. It is a real line flight in the sim, in real time, with an emergency thrown in for good measure. Its not graded so its a good learning experience.
After I do loft I will get to go home. Been here 7 weeks and I am ready to head home. Then its a wait for IOE---my first chance to fly the real thing.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A year later

Today is the one year anniversary of the passing of my friend David. Its truly amazing how quickly time passes, and how much life can change in a year.

I remember sitting miserably at my desk at the mortgage company and getting an email from another friend informing me that David needed a liver. I knew he had been sick but was unaware that his illness had escalated so rapidly. I remember heading to the hospital after work with a friend and seeing Dave lying there unconscious with extremely labored breathing and a rising fever. Despite efforts beyond comprehension, the medical team at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, VA could not get Dave stabilized.

On March 3, 2006 Dave passed away due to acute liver failure; a side effect of a medicine he had been prescribed for a positive TB test. He will not be forgotten.

A month after Dave passed I was laid off from my work at the mortgage company. It was obvious that I was leaving eventually, but I was hoping to have a couple extra months of income. The way things worked out was uncanny. I immediately started teaching at the flight school. Filled my schedule full of students, and made my way to Florida to fly twins. When I came back all my students were waiting for me. I got my time in my logbook, and got a good job with an airline I am excited to fly for. Timing in this industry is everything, and I cant help to think that Dave had something to do with my brilliant successes.

Ground school has not been easy. I worked about as hard as I could have to learn the material I needed to learn. I passed indoc and systems. Breezed through the FTD's, and am working my way through the sims. For some this has been a struggle, but for me its been not so bad. Dont get me wrong, its been hard, but it has always worked out to this point.

So, on the eve of the biggest checkride of my life.......I dedicate this post and my performance tonite and tommorrow in the sim to Dave. He has been with us all since his passing, and hes been hard at work making the lives of each individual in our circle of friends a little better. He was, is, and always will be a great man, a true friend, and will live on forever in spirit.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sim 3--stage check

My sim partner and I geared up for what would prove to be a hell of a night in the sim. We were on sim 3...its a training gate and we had to pass it in order to move on. If we were unsat we would need to redo the lesson before moving on. As luck would have it I was slated to go first. I settled into the right seat and built my nest. I adjusted the seat and rudder pedals, stowed my flight case and assumed my duties as FO in the sim. We quickly ran through our ground ops and were making a low vis taxi to 22R at Newark. First item on the agenda was a 600 RVR takeoff. No problem, I assumed the centerline, advanced the thrust levers and began the roll. We were soon at 80 knots, then at rotation and I was on the gauges. We popped out the top of the low fog layer and climbed to 5000. It was time for a steep turn to the right. 180 degrees, 45 degrees of bank. Not too tough. My pitchiness and problems holding altitude have seen to diminish. Then it was the stall series. We did a clean stall, takeoff config stall, and landing config. Again, all within the standards set forth.
My instructor then said, if you can do a non precision approach you will move on in the training. thats where the trouble started. I have previously nailed all my approaches. Not this day though. I set up for the localizer to 22l at Newark. We were on vectors, and I was quickly being turned onto the localizer.....I was also handflying the whole thing. It was tough. I got slow, then fast then slow again, missed my stepdowns. I opted to go around and asked for vectors back around for another try. This time I really lost it. Went full scale on the localizer and went around. It was bad news. But, I never gave up. I asked to go back around and tried again. this time, I made it down, went visual, saw the papi lights and made a nice transition to the runway for a full stop landing. I was soaked.....tense......and somehow got it done. But It was a handful.

the rest of the lesson was fun. We did some V1 cuts, then did a single engine ILS. We did a couple aborted takeoffs and ran the QRH for engine and apu fire on the ground, as well as for an emergency evac. Then it was and engine fire in the second segment of the climb. We were between 35 feet and 500 ft agl when the firehandles lit up. We climbed, ran the QRH and secured the engine. The instructor gave us the engine back and then took away our hydraulics. The aircraft uses hydraulics for aileron, rudder, speedbrakes, thrust reversers, nosewheel steering, and brakes. So, our landing was a handful. we did an ils in "manual reversion" hydraulics...heavy airplane. We stopped on the runway by making slight applications of the parking brake. It was interesting.

anyhow, I have today off and its back in the sim tommorrow night for lesson 4. We are slated to fly the DME arc to saltillo mexico. Should be a real handful.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Final push

With only 6 training sessions left before my EMB-145 SIC checkride the heat is most definitely on. Ive spent the last 5 days learning procedures in the non motion flight training device(FTD). The "box" was great for learning flows, procedures, and profiles. I have to admit that in the fully air conditioned room, I left there sweating each and every night....a literal sweat stain on the back of my shirt. Intense stuff.

We passed the stage check last night with an 8 year captain. The check focused on checklists and flows, abnormal engine start procedures, PRM approach procedures, and non precision approach profiles--both with and without the autopilot. We had our work cutout for us.

The PRM stands for precision runway monitor. When there are two runways in use closer than the minimum prescribed lateral distance, the FAA has made a legal way for approaches to both runways to proceed. A zone of no transgression has been established, and a monitor frequency has been set up that all pilots are to monitor(in addition to the normal tower freq). If either aircraft enters the no transgression zone the tower issues the non-offending aircraft "breakout instructions". It was an interesting excercise.

The non precision approaches were alot more interesting. the first was done via the autopilot. Not much problem there. The second was handflown. That was alot tougher. With multiple stepdowns on the localizer approach the workload was high. We managed.

Handflying the ERJ is much different than what I am used to. It is much heavier and a hell of alot faster. The roll and pitch of the aircraft has a slight lag to it. They say that the FTD is much harder than both the sim and the actual aircraft, so I am hoping my handflying skills get better as I go on. I have mastered the automation, but my handflying skills worry me. We will see.

Ive got 12 hours to get it right.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Entering week 5, the heat is up and the pace is high. Training consists of 4 phases. The first week was basic indoc.....blah. After you take and pass the indoc exam, you start systems for the aircraft. Everything from powerplant, to landing gear, to pnematics and are expected to know about by the end. There is no spoonfeeding here. You are expected to read the manuals they give you, and use the slides in class as a guide for what to study. I would estimate a 70/30 self taught to classroom ratio of information. It has been intense. At the end of systems another test is taken. This is a much harder test than indoc. Anything in the manuals is fair game.

There has been a strong initiative in the training department here to up the bar for systems knowledge by new hires. Our class was the first to receive a new and improved version of the test. Half the class didnt pass(with an 80). Most were within a point or two so they retrained the guys and they all passed on the second try.(diff test). Well, we warned the guys in the class after us to study hard, yet they still managed to fail 6 guys. Alot of guys are being hired in the regionals with low times and dont realize what it takes to get through training. The mindest isnt there to study hard and not go out, etc. Guys come here expecting a vacation of sorts. That is about the furthest thing from what its like.
Anyways, After systems you get into the FTD. Its a real cockpit with working avionics and flight controls. It doesnt move and there are no visuals so its a good way to learn procedures and how to fly the autopilot. After the FTD, you go into the full motion sim. Thats where you learn to fly the airplane for real. I am just a few ftd sessions from getting into the sim. I cant wait.

My advice for anyone going to airline training for the first time:
1) expect to work hard
2)dont even think about going out have plenty to do with that free time
3)do not get involved in politics between staff and students. Take care of yourself and you will be better off
4)get to know your classmates. We have a tight knit class and its proved invaluable for study groups, moral support, sanity.
5)read whatever they give you to read. What you need to know is in there.
6)Keep the focus and pressure on for the duration you are there....Its hard to do and some lose focus towards the end and is an endurance a marathon.

Just some advice from someone in week 5 of a 6 week training course. Hope this helps someone.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Week 2

Week two behind us.....thank god. Couple of things about training. All you have to worry about is going to class and studying.....but then again all you have to worry about is going to class and studying. My point is that there isnt much time here for doing anything outside of the classroom or the books. For me the hardest part has been being a prisoner at the hotel and the training center. I am sneaking out for a jog at night but other than that I have been in my room with a book in my lap.

The beginning of the week was CRM. We looked at several airline crashes and determined the crews roles in the disasters. Pretty interesting stuff.

Wed we started systems training. All I have to say is....this plane is way too smart. Its friggin badass. So far we have looked at the electrics and the powerplant. I will have two rolls royce AE3007 engines at my disposal...producing a combined thrust of over 10000 lbs. The electrics are a mind of their own. The electrical distribution logic is the brain of the operation and is the final authority over whether a particular configuration will work. I cant really get into specifics because its so complicated, but take my word when I tell you that I never dreamt Id get to fly something so badass. The powerplant is nice too. A high ratio bypass turbofan engine with a whole lotta beef behind it. The aircraft has so many failsafes built into ever system, that anyone who flies commercially should feel pretty safe about it. Even human error is cut down by the fact that the airplane just wont let you do it sometimes. Pretty my instructor says...brazilian magic.

Ive got one more week of systems. The final written exam is on Monday next week, then its into the flight training device for 10 days of training, and then the sims. I am scheduled to fly the aircraft for the first time Mar 10. Its looking like Newark as my base, which is a-ok with me.

For all the hype systems gets, I am doing surprisingly well. they boast a firehose style of teaching, but I am retaining everything with little or no problem.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

week 1

Pretty good week. Week one of training is behind me. It consisted of Basic indoc, which is basically policies and procedures for the company. Pretty dry material, but we are required to take a written test at the end of it so I had to pay attention. Passed the written yesterday with a high grade, so now its on to CRM training. We have the weekend off, but Mon and tuesday will be spent examining how crew resource management has failed and succeeded by examining past accidents. Should be interesting.

There are 16 people in the class. Average age is around 26, and I think I am the only guy from the mid atlantic/east coast.

Systems starts on Wed. I will be up to my ears in fuel and electric systems. Have to pass my systems exam before I get to go on to the FTD and Sim. Gotta stay focused and keep working day at a time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Only a few days till I start training and Ive gotta say I have never been this excited about anything......ever. All the arrangements are in place and I am chomping at the bit to get rolling. I have my flows down for the most part, and am absolutely confident that I will be successful in training. The sequence for training is about 2 weeks in ground school to learn systems, company policy, and other "stuff" that they feel we need to know...then its into the FTD and eventually into the SIM, where its really gonna get fun. Ill keep you posted.

Friday, January 12, 2007


With about a week or so left as a flight instructor(at least an active one) I am trying to tie up loose ends, figure out where my guys are gonna go, and at the same time make some money. so much to be done. I was scheduled for what probably would amount to around 30 hours of flying in the next week. After perusing the local forecasts for the weekend it looks as though only about a 3rd of that will take place. Rain is forecast for the entire area for Sat and Sunday. I am slated to fly a student of mine down to KFCI(near Richmond) on Sat to pick his father up. They have tickets to the Indy Baltimore game so the flight has to take place. The agreement was that we will go IFR if we need to, and we will use it as a lesson in IFR flying if the clouds arent too low. We are also using the experience for him to knock out some x-c time towards the 50 hrs of PIC x-c needed for the instrument rating. He also needs 10 hours of dual in the arrow before he can rent it. So, three birds with one stone....not bad.
So, looks as though the weekend wont be as nuts as I had hoped for, but should be productive nonetheless.

And oh yeah, I passed 1300 total time yesterday in the pattern at Hagerstown Regional. Another milestone.

Lots to do before I head out of town on the 21st.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cleared direct Mehan

Flew with my instrument student the other night. We hadnt flown in a couple weeks so we figured an easy IFR trip somewhere would be in order, with approaches at both ends. We departed Leesburg at night, under clear skies and pretty heavy winds aloft. Our clearance was direct Still, Martinsburg, v 166 to Westminster VOR, direct Martin State. Martin State is a Class Delta airfield about 15-20 miles north of Baltimore/BWI. We were treated to a nice tailwind on the way up there. Winds from 240 at around 40 knots at 3000 ft. My student and I were hoping for an ILS approach at Martin, however when we checked in with the Approach controller he advised that we could expect vectors to the visual approach at Martin. I requested the ILS, however the ILS was out of service. We opted for a localizer approach into the airport from the NW. "you can expect the Localizer 15 at Martin..." were our instructions. It was soon direct Mehan intersection, and to cross Mehan at 2600, cleared localizer 15 approach. Those that know me, know why this approach was so unique. Specifically the initial approach fix that we were cleared direct.

I suppose with the number of fixes out there the odds were in my favor that Id have one named after me........

Thursday, December 28, 2006



3 AM Wed morning it began........I boarded a 6 am flight from IAD to IAH on a CAL 737-300. Arrived into IAH(houston-george bush airport) around 830 am. Nice touchdown on 26L and subsequent taxi from hell to get to the gate(those who frequent IAH know what I am talking about). Hopped off the plane and into a shuttle that took us over to Express Jet headquarters. All I have to say is that place is one class act. Everyone there is super cool. The HR rep took us to a room, that I would get to know very well, and gave us all a briefing on the company. Then it was hurry up and wait. 25 of us there to interview so it took them a while to go through paperwork. Once it was all sorted the sessions started. There were three rooms; a jeppesen chart room, a "what would you do" room, and finally an HR room that would decide our fates. I was hit with some very good hard questions in all of the room, but it seemed as though the HR room was where it all happens. I really think your personality and ability to interact with the HR woman and one of the company managers plays a large role on whether or not you get the gig. Anyhow, after a short talk I was told to wait in the hall while they reviewed my bidding. The HR person soon came out and handed me a binder and a poster and said they would like to offer me a position and would I accept. I gladly said I would. Never been happier. Now its just a waiting game to get the final confirmation on the background check and the piss test. Not that I have much to worry about but you know how it goes. Anyways, I am thrilled to soon be a part of the express jet family. It is a dream come true and I have many people to be thankful to.....Once I get a chance to start actually flying I am going to make a video that Ill be sure to post on here. Looks like Cleared for the Visual is about to get a little more interesting.

Third time must really be the charm.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Xmas

Merry Xmas everyone. Hope that everyone is having a nice holiday with family and friends, and that everyone is being safe out there. Whether you are on the airways tonite, or sitting at home with family and friends, I wish you all the best.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Got a gig

So, I had a phone interview with Ram Air Freight based in RDU yesterday. The guy I spoke with told me he would recommend me to be hired to the chief pilot. Sounds like a great opportunity. I will initially start off in the Piper Lance, a strong and reliable aircraft. With all my Arrow time it should be a breeze for me to transition. Once a slot opens up I will move into either a seneca, a baron, or a cessna 402. Its nice to have this lined up, because it really takes the heat off the express jet interview. EXJET is still my number one, and I am still preparing for the interview as though the job was mine.....but a little of the pressure is off. Did I say "a little".....? Cause I am still

Ram air will be a great spot for me to hone my skills as a pilot flying single pilot IFR missions in all types of weather and at both day and night. Here is a pic of a Lance.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Skylane IFR

I blasted off the other afternoon with a buddy to go to Norfolk international to pick up a buddy of his. We launched IFR into severe clear skies, but an airmet for moderate turbulence along most of the route. It was definitely a bumpy ride, but got better as we made out way south. We were cleared direct casanova, then haney intersection,Richmond Vortac, wakes intersection, direct norfolk. Nice easy trip. Once airborne we were routed west of dulles and then on course to the south direct to Haney intersection. about 15 miles from Haney we were cleared direct WAkes intersection. That took us right over Richmond and a great view of the city. As soon as we were handed off to Norfolk approach control we were assigned a heading and radar vectors to the visual approach to runway 23 at Norfolk. Nice ride in. Sun was setting, ships pulling into the harbor and a nice manly sized a/c carrier steamed into port.

The trip out was fun for me. I sat left seat with Dan in the back. His buddy sat up front with me. I was single pilot IFR all the way home. I loved it. Clearance was norfolk 3 departure, radar vectors to hopewell vor, richmond, coatt 4 arrival and then direct leesburg. I was on vectors for most of the first part of the trip, but as soon as it got dark I was cleared direct to Falko, a waypoint on the arrival. I was at 6000 ft and doing about 100 knots over the ground, right into the wind. It was a long ride home. Once over falko I resumed the arrival and was cleared direct baron intersection, direct Mixnn intersection. This put us on the east side of Dulles, very close to the FRZ that surrounds wash DC. The dreaded no fly zone.

Once abeam Dulles, I spotted the field and got radar vectors around the north end of the field at 2000. My last clearance was, "traffic, 2 o clock passing right to left at 3000, heavy 767 inbound for dulles, caution wake turbulence, you are cleared visual approach to leesburg". AWESOME!

What a great night to fly and put all my skills to test. Even stuck a nice xwind landing in the 182 at night....if I do say so myself. It is nights like this that I live for.

Ive been hitting the books extra hard in anticipation for my interview. Ill keep you all posted.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Good news at last

So, I have been pretty busy the last few weeks at the airport. Quite a bit of stress on me for a variety of reasons, but it looks as though it has all paid off. I am happy to report that most of it is very good news indeed.

I will start from the top....

Robbie, my older (former) student pilot is set to take delivery of a new cirrus SR22 this week. We were under a time constraint to get him his license, and every time we tried to fly weather or something else would get in the way. In any event, Robbie finally got it all together and went to take his private pilot checkride with a local examiner here at Leesburg. Ive never seen a guy so nervous and tense as he was that day. But apparently he did fine, and is now a licensed private pilot. Next on his agenda is cirrus training at Leesburg in his plane, as well as me getting checked out in the aircraft. I will get a day of factory training by a cirrus instructor so that I can feel comfortable in the airplane when we do his instrument.

I also passed 1200 hours. So that makes me officially eligible for alot of 135 single pilot ifr work that is out there. Its mostly freight gigs that involve night runs in barrons, senecas, lances, c210's and caravans. I am sitting at about 1240 right now and 138 multi.

As quickly as I reached part 135 mins I also got a letter from express jet---the regional for continental airlines. I interview on the 27th and am very excited. The other two interviews with comair and eagle were practice sessions for this one. As sad as I was to have not been previously selected at comair or eagle, I am very thankful to have had that practice. Invaluable. The gouges seem to be very jeppesen focused. They ask rather obscure symbology questions, and expect you to have a very indepth working knowledge of the charts. They also provide carrier service to Mexico, so a great portion of the interview involves looking at Mexican approaches and departure procedures. I have been lucky enough to get my hands on an approach plate from Saltillo Mexico that they use on the pilots proficiency check. Hopefully I will get that presented to me in the interview. The very nice thing about the interview process is that I will get to know immediately afterwards whether I was selected or not. No waiting on pins and needles for days wondering.

Everyone keep me in their prayers....perhaps the third time will be the charm.........

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cessna 182--The "Skylane"

Today was absolutely gorgeous. I woke up at 530 am and left in the dark for what I figured to be a windy and cold day. I was dead wrong. Temps topped 65 and winds werent any stronger than an occasional gust to 12...right down the runway. After the last couple of days and the massive nor'easter that moved up the coast I figured today would get the backlash of wind that usually follows. As it turns out there really wasnt a frontal passage associated with wind. nice.

I started the day with some pattern work with Gene. We worked on his landings for an hour or so. Then I had the opportunity to fly the Cessna 182 Skylane over to Front Royal. Jim has been kind enough to let us fly his airplane out at Leesburg while hes been too busy to fly. So, the nice weather was here and he wanted to fly so I took it back out to FRR for him. What a great day. The winds were mellow, the temps standard, and visibility was greater than 30 miles. I knew I needed to make a short field landing at FRR so I took the opportunity to do some slow flight, a power off stall and some maneuvering to get used to the heavier feel of the Skylane. I did a couple touch and goes at Winchester and then headed over to FRR. Before I landed I needed to figure out how to get home via the public road system, so i flew the route Id drive from the airport to I66. A good idea as it turned out to be confusing enough. Some solo stick time in a different airframe was just what I needed. Break me out of the routine.

The afternoon sent me out with Sean to work on ground reference, steep turns, and forward slips and traffic patterns. We hammered out some problems he was having with his landings. Winchester was a bevy of activity and it made it tough to work the pattern. Touch and goes were the only option since there was a line of aircraft waiting to depart. I usually try to do full stop and taxi back when working the pattern to give them a chance to breath. It worked out though.
The rest of the weekend is looking good. Not alot on the schedule but Im sure something will materialize. I am about 15 hours from part 135 single pilot mins. Good stuff.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Read a news article stating that comair lost 12 of its jets. What that means is that Delta outsourced its regional flying for 12 of those jets. All just another cog in the wheel to get out of bankruptcy. Maybe things do really work out for the best after all. At this pace Comair furloughs could be right around the corner. hmmm.....

Monday, November 20, 2006

Interview #2---NOT

Anyone seen Borat?.....................Not. If you saw the movie you will know the reference I am getting at. Anyways, Got a letter today from Comair....Thanks but no thanks is the basic gist of the letter. I suppose there is solice and Cliche in the fact that the experience of the interview was worth the trip.....but geez. What do they look for in these interviews. I felt that most of my answers were pretty straightforward and correct, but I guess it wasnt good enough. So, its back to the drawing board. Third time is the charm right?

I flew with a guy tonite that hasnt flown in 10 years. He is a retired airline captain from a major airline flying airbus 310's. He loved flying and when he retired he got into sailing. Now he misses aviation so much that he wants to get back into it. We hopped into a cessna 172 and took off into an overcast sky but with decent vis. Somehow he had a way with Potomac approach control and they treated him to a class bravo clearance and flight following for the 25 mile flight to Winchester regional. Arrival into Winchester was interesting. He flew a downwind wider than I have ever seen....Airbus 310 style. He wanted to fly final alot faster than 65 knots, and he wanted to flare 50 feet in the air. All classic mistakes made by former airline pilots. I also had a hard time getting him to set power to idle once we were over the runway.

Anyhow, one of the last things he told me what to never quit. He said he was in his 40's flying charter work before he got his dream job. To keep working hard and keep pushing forward and it will pay off. Right now it sure feels like I am sitting idle, but maybe the old saying of "its always darkest before the dawn" is about to ring true. I sure hope so.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Dream

I have met many different people while instructing, but there is always one thing that we all have in common. People come to the airport because they love airplanes and they love to fly. Some people are luckier than others. Some get to take lessons while other watch, some get to own their own aircraft while others rent, and some get to pursue the dream of being a pilot of something larger and faster while others have to settle for weekends in a cessna or diamond airplane. A student of mine told me other other night that I was getting to do something that he always wanted to do....become an airline pilot. I suppose I have been fortunate enough in this life to be able to easily attain my ratings, safely fly over 1100 hours, and spend my nights and days at the airport introducing others to aviation. Its a dream of a lifetime, and I am getting to live it....however, I have had to make significant sacrifices enroute to where I am right now. Money is only the tip of the iceberg. CFI's are routinely underpaid, and for what we do on a daily basis it is hard to make a living. CFI's are also routinely asked to put their license on the line while giving instruction and signing logbooks. From students that go out to solo, to people you sign off to fly the flight school aircraft, to people whom you arent even giving instruction but find yourself in the right seat.

I wont go into details right now because of pending legal action, but I can tell you that life isnt fair at times. As a country song I listened to tonite said, "god is great, but life aint always good". An incident took place recently involving an aircraft, a brand new owner and a relatively experienced flight instructor. By the grace of god noone was injured, but a mechanical annomaly caused something very serious to happen. Even though this particular instructor had zero time as PIC in this particular make and model, and the pilot/owner had at least some time in this make and model, the CFI is still going to take the heat. A very unfair practice, but oftentimes takes place in the world of GA. In this situation the FAA hasnt placed blame on the CFI, but other channels are trying to do just that. I am hopeful that this will work itself out, but its still hard to say at this point.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that I have given up alot to chase "the dream", and I work hard and try to be safe in what I do. Its just not fair for me to have to deal with situations such as this, but I guess its part of the gig. I didnt make this bed, but I am being forced to lie in it.

So, any new cfi's out there that are willing to hop in an airplane to log the time be wary. Go get some instruction of your own in new makes of aircraft. A couple extra hours is not worth the heartache and hassle of something mush more serious happening. And those that are out there just flying around on the weekends, enjoy and savour the experience. It gets very routine at this level and some of the magic has left what we do. I would give anything to restore that "feeling" again...the feeling of being excited at flying traffic patterns for an hour or just making a trip to the practice area for a short flight after work. Be safe out there.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Interview #2

The trip started out of Reagan National Tuesday afternoon. I boarded a Delta MD88 and departed off of runway 1 into an overcast sky of around 5000 ft. A nice smooth flight and a left downwind and visual approach into the Cincinatti Northern KY airport. I quickly grabbed my bag and boarded a van to the Hotel. I settled in and ordered some dinner and hit the books.

The next morning I met in the lobby for the van to the Comair headquarters. There were 9 others also headed to the interview; all with their blue/black suits on and an armful of paperwork. We were greeted at HQ by a senior captain/ IOE checkairman/part time recruiter. He gave us about an hour long briefing on the company, benefits, the hiring future, and what would go on that day. He did his absolute best to make us feel comfortable and relaxed. With a room full of male pilots going for an airline interview....thats a hard thing to do.

I was scheduled to interview in the morning, and take the cognitive eval test in the afternoon. The other half of the room went to the cog portion first. I was glad to interview before lunch.

A very pleasant senior Captain called me in. I met with her and a guy from HR. They were both awesome and made me feel comfortable. They started in with questions on "why comair?, "tell me about a time you had to think quick in the airplane..", "what would you do if the captain was drinking within the 12 hours rule?" "how would you continue to have success at the regional level?", "Would you ever take the controls from the captain if he was flying and you felt unsafe?". All very basic questions that they used to gauge how your thought process worked. Then it was on to the approach plate questions. She showed me a plate from the arrival into Laguardia. Asked me about holding speeds, and tried to trick me up with some information on the chart. She failed. I knew exactly what she was getting at. Then it was a departure procedure out of JAX, radar vectors to SAV....whats the Departure frequency? Easy. Then, brief me on the ILS runway 4 into LGA. I was a bit flustered at this point due to nerves but I think I did ok. It is all stuff I know how to do. Then she asked me about the fuel system on the Duchess. Lucky for me I had reviewed the schematic on that the night before so it was no problem.

Anyways, it was back on a 737-800 out of Cinci to DCA. I was glad to be home. Anyone who reads this please think about this in the next week. I will find out If I was succesful in the next week, or later if I wasnt successful. I really wouldnt mind working for Comair, and even though the current situation isnt the best, it cant get any worse, and can only get better. AMEN.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Been busy......stll flying alot even though the weather has been getting bad. I got an email last week for another interview...this time with delta connection Comair. They operate the CRJ 200 and 700....50 and 70 seat regional jets. It would be a great place to start a career...not my number 1, but I wont be picky. I soloed Katie last week. She was probably my easiest pilot so far. Very sharp young lady. Did some flying in the cougar with 20 knot winds...hit my head on the ceiling a half dozen times. The heavier twin handles the crosswind a lot better than the cessna. Went with a guy IFR to hagerstown the other night in the Seneca. That was a blast. Its business as usual at the flight school though. One of the instructors has left and another one is part-part time so I am handling most of the students....not a bad gig.

Friday, October 27, 2006

x-country flight plan

So, I am sitting at home on a Friday night pondering my good fortune. I was pretty bummed after the eagle interview, but as the old saying goes, when one door closes another door opens. I spent yesterday in the airplane all day...literally. I maxed out my duty day of 8 hours of flying, and capped my day with an IFR trip up to KFRG. Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. Our clearance was JYO-martinsburg-v214 to baltimore-v268 to smyrna-v16 to kennedy-direct. We took off to the north in the 172 and was soon instructed by potomac approach control to go direct Wooly intersection. we picked up v214 at wooly and was soon overhead of BWI at 5000. We stayed on the airway and once passed smyrna, hopped off the airway for a practice ILS approach at Millville municipal. What a great approach that was. Then it was back onto the airway direct to cedar lake VOR and gave a call to atlantic city approach. We passed about 40 miles west of Atlantic city. The casinos made it easy to spot. Next was mcguire AFB approach and the voice of a young airman greeted us on the horn. Heavy airforce jets crowded the freq. We watched as newark arrivals from the south passed offshore and crossed out path as they maneuvered for runway 4 at newark. Crossing Dixie intersection which is about 15 miles southeast of the Verazano bridge into long island, we contacted NYapproach. It was go time. My student was so pumped. WE passed overhead JFK at 5000. Departure control had numerous aircraft coming off kennedy which were turning NE directly under us. Most were heavy international departures on the canarsie climb--and I think kennedy 4 departure. Pretty friggin cool. Departure stopped their climb at 4000 until they passed underneath. You can blame me when your airline ticket prices go up. IT costs fuel to level off and then start the climb again. We took a visual approach into FRG....we were number 3 for the runway and cleared to land on 32. the sun was setting and the scene could not have been more perfect.

The trip home was pretty much the reverse, except it was night and I was tired. But we still made it home around 1030, and got in our 3 approaches along the way. I think Brett learned alot, and I sure did too.

Another guy of mine needs a copilot to help him get back from California in his new Mooney. Hopefully Ill be flying back from LA to DC in a mooney this time next week. What good fortune. A real cross the country x-c. a test of everything Ive ever learned, both IFR and VFR. Ill post more on that, but in the meantime enjoy these pics.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Morning Dew

I woke up this morning for my 7 am flight to a lovely AWOS report of less than 1/4 mile, and 100 overcast in fog. I called Rob and told him the fog would burn off around 10 per the forecast and that we should fly later once it cleared up. Bob Kierein, the flight service guy, and the weather channel all declared that the fog would clear out around 10 once it warmed up. It never did.

The formation for fog is mainly due to a close dew point/temperature spread. Take a look at the Dulles metars from this morning. You will see that the temp and dewpoint started off eaqual but never had a chance to break apart. After the rain we had the other day and the light winds as this cold front approaches the air is laden with moisture.

KIAD 191605Z 18003KT 2 1/2SM BR OVC002 18/16 A2986 RMK AO2
KIAD 191552Z 00000KT 1 3/4SM BR OVC002 17/16 A2986 RMK AO2 SLP110 VIS W 3/4 T01720161
KIAD 191512Z 12003KT 1 1/2SM BR OVC002 17/16 A2986 RMK AO2 VIS W 3/4
KIAD 191452Z 00000KT 1SM BR OVC002 17/16 A2988 RMK AO2 SLP115 VIS W 1/2 T01670161 50001
KIAD 191352Z 00000KT 1SM BR VV002 17/16 A2988 RMK AO2 SLP116 VIS W 1/2 T01670161KIAD 191340Z 12003KT 1SM BR VV002 16/16 A2988 RMK AO2 VIS W 1/2
KIAD 191311Z 00000KT 3/4SM BR VV002 16/16 A2988 RMK AO2
KIAD 191310Z 00000KT 1 1/4SM BR VV002 16/16 A2988 RMK AO2 VIS 1/4 WEST
KIAD 191255Z 00000KT 1/4SM FG VV001 16/16 A2988 RMK AO2
KIAD 191252Z 00000KT 0SM FG VV000 16/16 A2988 RMK AO2 SLP115 T01610156
KIAD 191152Z 00000KT 0SM FG VV000 16/15 A2987 RMK AO2 SLP114 T01560150 10156 20128 53003 $
KIAD 191052Z 32003KT 0SM FG VV000 16/15 A2987 RMK AO2 SLP112 T01560150 $

The problem with this weather is that only the most sophisticated airliners can make it into the airport. Visibility is the controlling factor in shooting an instrument approach in the part 121 world. Larger airports with category 2 or cat 3 approach systems have RVR transmissometers installed for particular runways. RVR is runway visual range. It measures how far you can see when looking straight down the runway. There are usually 3 RVR sensors--touchdown, midfield and rollout. Only two need be operational before the required weather mins go up. Today was one of those days where the RVR was right on the edge. 1/4 mile vis is equal to about 1200 rvr. Imagine landing at 130 knots only being able to see 1200 ft in front of you. And then best part is, if you are inside the final approach fix and the rvr goes below mins you are still authorized to continue on down and take a look and land if possible.

Next time you are in the back of an airliner and you dont see the ground until you are over the runway, tell him/her good work. Your flight crew had their work cut out for them. Here is a wikipedia definition of RVR.

From Aeronautical Information Manual 7-1-16
There are currently two configurations of RVR in the NAS commonly identified as Taskers and New Generation RVR. The Taskers are the existing configuration which uses transmissometer technology. The New Generation RVRs were deployed in November 1994 and use forward scatter technology. The New Generation RVRs are currently being deployed in the NAS to replace the existing Taskers.
RVR values are measured by transmissometers mounted on 14-foot towers along the runway. A full RVR system consists of:
Transmissometer projector and related items.
Transmissometer receiver (detector) and related items.
Analogue recorder.
Signal data converter and related items.
Remote digital or remote display programmer.
The transmissometer projector and receiver are mounted on towers 250 feet apart. A known intensity of light is emitted from the projector and is measured by the receiver. Any obscuring matter such as rain, snow, dust, fog, haze or smoke reduces the light intensity arriving at the receiver. The resultant intensity measurement is then converted to an RVR value by the signal data converter. These values are displayed by readout equipment in the associated air traffic facility and updated approximately once every minute for controller issuance to pilots.
The signal data converter receives information on the high intensity runway edge light setting in use (step 3, 4, or 5); transmission values from the transmissometer and the sensing of day or night conditions. From the three data sources, the system will compute appropriate RVR values.
An RVR transmissometer established on a 250 foot baseline provides digital readouts to a minimum of 600 feet, which are displayed in 200 foot increments to 3,000 feet and in 500 foot increments from 3,000 feet to a maximum value of 6,000 feet.
RVR values for Category IIIa operations extend down to 700 feet RVR; however, only 600 and 800 feet are reportable RVR increments. The 800 RVR reportable value covers a range of 701 feet to 900 feet and is therefore a valid minimum indication of Category IIIa operations.
Approach categories with the corresponding minimum RVR values.
Nonprecision 2,400 feet
Category I 1,800 feet
Category II 1,200 feet
Category IIIa 700 feet
Category IIIb 150 feet
Category IIIc 0 feet
Ten minute maximum and minimum RVR values for the designated RVR runway are reported in the body of the aviation weather report when the prevailing visibility is less than one mile and/or the RVR is 6,000 feet or less. ATCTs report RVR when the prevailing visibility is 1 mile or less and/or the RVR is 6,000 feet or less.
Details on the requirements for the operational use of RVR are contained in FAA AC 97-1, "Runway Visual Range (RVR)." Pilots are responsible for compliance with minimums prescribed for their class of operations in the appropriate CFRs and/or operations specifications.
RVR values are also measured by forward scatter meters mounted on 14-foot frangible fiberglass poles. A full RVR system consists of:
Forward scatter meter with a transmitter, receiver and associated items.
A runway light intensity monitor (RLIM).
An ambient light sensor (ALS).
A data processor unit (DPU).
Controller display (CD).
The forward scatter meter is mounted on a 14-foot frangible pole. Infrared light is emitted from the transmitter and received by the receiver. Any obscuring matter such as rain, snow, dust, fog, haze or smoke increases the amount of scattered light reaching the receiver. The resulting measurement along with inputs from the runway light intensity monitor and the ambient light sensor are forwarded to the DPU which calculates the proper RVR value. The RVR values are displayed locally and remotely on controller displays.
The runway light intensity monitors both the runway edge and centerline light step settings (steps 1 through 5). Centerline light step settings are used for CAT IIIb operations. Edge Light step settings are used for CAT I, II, and IIIa operations.
New Generation RVRs can measure and display RVR values down to the lowest limits of Category IIIb operations (150 feet RVR). RVR values are displayed in 100 feet increments and are reported as follows:
100-feet increments for products below 800 feet.
200-feet increments for products between 800 feet and 3,000 feet.
500-feet increments for products between 3,000 feet and 6,500 feet.
25-meter increments for products below 150 meters.
50-meter increments for products between 150 meters and 800 meters.
100-meter increments for products between 800 meters and 1,200 meters.
200-meter increments for products between 1,200 meters and 2,000 meters.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

My next stop

Passed over

So, as quickly as I thought I was airline bound the hope was snatched from me. I received an email from American Eagle mgmt stating that the Captains selection board did not take me. I was pretty bummed as Eagle wouldve been an awesome place to work. With crew bases in LGA, BOS, and SanJuan on the top of my list I wouldve had the awesome priveledge to fly for AAL as their regional carrier. Anyhow, Its back to work here at the flight school. I have several more resumes out there, and if all else fails I will go fly freight when I get part 135 mins. That includes 1200 total time, 500 x-c, 100 instrument and roughly 100 night. I am at about 1070 total time right now. there is an outfit in Richmond that Id like to go fly at. Learn how to really fly a twin aircraft.

In the meantime I am writing this while my student preflights the aircraft. His private pilot checkride is on the 22nd of this month so we dont have much time to get him up to speed. Hes got alot of time scheduled so that will be good for me. the frost has set in as well. We broke out the glycol solution to clean the wings this morning, and will probably be doing it for a few months now to come. It is very important to clean off the frost, snow and ice from the wings before attemting to takeoff. If it is bad enough it could potentially disrupt enough airflow so that the airplane never gets airborne. I broke out the fleece jacket, and will need to find some gloves in the next week. Summer is officially over i guess.

Keep your fingers crossed.....air wisconsin and continental express are my main focus right now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

1000 and in interview

Long time since I have been able to post anything. The flying has been good. Found a little twin time along the way, and have been succesful in getting a couple of my guys through their checkrides. I passed 1000 hours last month, and subsequently landed an interview with American Eagle in Dallas last week. I attended the interview at the American Airlines training academy. I breezed through the HR and tech portions of the interview, and dominated the sim session. I am still waiting to hear on the background check and the captains board. Ive been a stress ball the last two days, and I really hope I get a class date. Its been a long tough road, and it is about time that something pans out for me.

Friday, August 18, 2006

900 hours

Some news to report. I passed 900 hours somewhere in the traffic pattern last week. I am at 930 total time, and have had the good fortune to be able to add to my multi engine total as well with flights in the cougar. The Grumman cougar(GA7) is a nice aircraft, and there arent very many of them around. I heard once that there were only 150 made. A guy even commented while we were arriving into Teterboro last week that "you dont see many cougars". Good stuff.
I have gotten to fly the airplane solo as well which has been a real treat.

I pushed through my third pilot last week as well. Chris passed his private pilot checkride a week before he leaves for college.

While teaching primary students to fly is fun. It carries a certain level of frustration at times, and it is always nice to take a step back and get an easy fun flight. Today I worked with an FAA employee in the g1000 skyhawk. It was a real treat. We flew VFR to Charlottesville and got a chance to work with all the glory of the G1000. We dialed in the autopilot, and took the time to set up a flight plan and get approach to vector us onto the ils for an autopilot coupled approach. Upon reaching the Decisions height we went manual for a touch and go and were on our way back to Leesburg for a GPS approach to a straight in landing on runway 17.

Weather has been gorgeous and I will be at 1000 hours by mid September. I think it is time to get some resumes in the mail.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

800 hours

Passed another milestone last week. 800 hours total time. I was somewhere over carroll county, md on my way back from Lancaster when I passed the mark. Larry and I were on his first student x-c since he soloed. It was hazy but a good time.

Lately the weather has been either crystal clear or hazy beyond belief. Its extremely frustrating to have to bag 4 flights a week because the visibility gets so bad...mostly due to haze. The high humidity is really to blame. After the thunderstorms pass through it usually clears up considerably until the rain that just fell evaporates. Kinda interesting to witness the convection taking place.

Last night was interesting. A fellow pilot and I ferried an aircraft up into Hagerstown, MD for maintenance. We were racing to get in before a storm hit up there, and then raced to get out of there. We won that race, but nearly lost the next one. Arriving into Leesburg I checked the AWOS(automated weather observation system). The AWOS reported broken at 5000, thunderstorm, rain, and gusting winds. It was an interesting arrival. I watched as a wall or rain moved from se-nw directly towards us. It engulfed route 7 at the rate of about 1/2 mile a minute. It was a fast moving cell with alot of moisture. We lined up on a 6 mile straight in final to the south runway, and landed uneventfully. As I pulled out the mixture control knob to shut down the engine the skies opened and visibility dropped to 2 miles.

I have a multi engine student starting next week. He wants to make trips to Teteboro, NJ, myrtle beach, and BKL in cleveland. I am extremely excited about building some multi time, getting to fly a twin, and to get to fly into some very dense airports. And I dont have to pay a dime. Good stuff.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Passed my first checkride.... the recommending flight instructor. I sent my guy Justin for his private pilot checkride last week with a local examiner. I have to admit I was just as nervous as Justin was. My part of the checkride involved a)making sure Justin was well prepared, and b) making sure I filled out all the paperwork correctly. It was my first time, and I really worked hard to make sure it all came together. Justin did fine and he is now a private pilot....licensed to exercise all the privelages associated thereof.

I also soloed Jim last week. He did great. We did a few landings in the pattern, and then I hopped out. I took a few pictures of Jim while he flew in the pattern. He used runway 35, and winds were fairly calm. It was a perfect day to solo. When we got back in the office I cut the shirttail out of Jim's shirt and decorated it. It is hanging on the wall here in the flight school.

So, that makes two passed checkride, and I am at a 100% first time pass rate for private pilot checkrides. I need 5 checkrides, and an 80% pass rate and I wont have to pay anything to get my CFI certificate renewed in June of 2008. The FAA says that if you do not have 5 signoffs, with at least 4 first time passes within two years, you can either take a cfi refresher course in person or online(3-400$) or you can participate in a diff type of program. If you choose to not refresh your certificate and decide to instruct down the road, you will need to take another cfi checkride. Doesnt sound like fun to, it might behoove you to make sure you take care of getting that refreshed. Also, passing an instructor addon checkride counts as starting over the two year clock. So, I passed two instructor addon rides in FL so I got a new lease on life...its now 2008 vs 2007.

anyways, thats about it for now. Teaching is going good. If you know anyone who needs an instructor shoot me an email.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Boomer town and a stationary front

Last week we endured the wrath of a stationary cold front that stalled out and ran the length of the east coast. The north/south frontal boundary ran up the coast, and was fueled by some very moist tropical air sent northward and up the face of the front by a low pressure system in Florida. This setup was the recipe for about 3 days of non stop rain, flooding, and consequently no flying for me.

This week has been better. Flying has resumed. The only factor we have had to deal with has been the thunderstorms that usually make their arrival around 3-4 pm daily. You sit back, wait them out, and then enjoy the cool calm air after the storm passes.

The flying lately has been rather benign. Nothing crazy to report. I am sending my first student for his checkride on Saturday. Larry finally soloed last weekend. He was pretty excited, as was I. Its a wild experience to say "ok, go ahead and drop me off at the terminal and do three landings to a full stop". I really enjoyed seeing the excitement and smile the experience brought to him. I remember my first solo. To be able to provide that kind of experience to someone else, and to have used my skills to teach that person how to do something so very difficult and intense is just as exciting for me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

back in town

Ive been back in the area about a week now, and am settling back into the routine of being a flight instructor. One part of the routine I really am not enjoying is the fact that when weather moves in, I get screwed.

As I am typing this, the entire east coast is sitting under a stationary front, that is being fed from the south with tropical moisture laden air. Humidity is near 100%. Ranfall totals yesterday were 6 inches at Dulles. The beltway was shut down due to a mudslide that yielded nearly 5 feet of debri and shut down the nation's capital's biggest road all night long. A local airport that was built on the Patuxent flood plain is covered in water. Most of the aircraft based there have water up to the door.

I suppose the fact that I cant fly(and make money) is minor compared to what alot of other people are being subjected to. However, I really am beginning to get frustrated. Larry is ready for his presolo stage check. Jim is as well. Randy is just learning to land and needs all the positive reinforcement he can get. anyways, I guess I will wait it out and see what happens the rest of the week.

Last week I learned a couple valuable lessons. 1) always do a thourough preflight, and 2) always have a sick sack in reaching distance. I picked up 2 aircraft from maintenance last week. One had a spider nest in the pitot tube that took 45 mins to clean out. The other(the pa28 arrow) has take over the pitot vane. I didnt preflight as thorough as I should have and ended up with glue residue partially blocking the pitothole. My airspeed indications were erratic, and before I knew it the airplane was airborne. So, I flew the pattern sans airspeed indications. I fell back on my experience and knowledge to successfully and safely make a normal landing. It wasnt really an event of any sort, but sent me into survival mode nonetheless. Glad that I am armed with those skills when I needed them.
That morning I was flying with a student and he decided it was going to be a rough landing. As I was flaring he decided to show me what he had to eat.....all over his chest and out the window and down the side of the aircraft. It took about an hour to clean.
And the icing on the cake was when Randy and I had a bird strike on the downwind while working the pattern the other morning. The airplane was fine, but the poor bird took a real beating.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

just about done

I guess its been close to a week since my last post. Alot has happened. Flew home last Friday on an Airtran 717. Not a bad jet, and the arrival into Reagan-national was pretty interesting. One of my best friends got married over the weekend, so that was the occasion. We all had a blast and it was great to see everyone in one place.
Got back to Ft Pierce Sunday night pretty late. I had about 8 hours left to fly in 3 days. So I relaxed on Monday. Yesterday I hit the airways again. Tropical storm Alberto was kickin pretty hard. I had wanted some actual instrument weather so took advantage of his wrath to go fly. Antoine, the Frenchman, and I boarded the Duchess for what was supposed to be a round robin.....Jacksonville-cecil field, then on to Cross city, then back to Ft pierce. As we neared Jax-cecil we asked Jax approach control for the vor approach to runway 9. He said weather was VFR, then changed that comment with "cecil field is reporting 1 mile, heavy to extreme weather, right over the field". I tried to get holding but he opted to vector us out west and then back into the field. We saw the airport as it emerged from the torrential rain showers. We asked for a visual approach and he informed us that we needed to do an approach since it was still reported IFR. This was probably my one and only chance to request a contact approach. I was about to until he came back saying he talked to the tower and it was VFR....hmmmm...I couldve told him that. Anyways, a contact approach is when a pilot is in pseudo ifr and can remain clear of clouds and reasonably navigate to the airport. Something I learned alot about on my CFII checkride. Usually happens when a pilot is in low vis but is familiar enough with the airport and terrain to make it safely to the runway. Anyways, there was some pretty severe weather moving northeast so we opted to make a beeline back to FT pierce. We hit some pretty decent weather over Daytona and Malbourne. Vis in Vero and Ft pierce was down to about 4 miles in haze so we flew the VOR14 approach at FPR. not a bad flight. The evening flight was to Tamiami. A nice airport south of Miami. Smooth air, decent vis. We were on radar vectors the whole way. Not a bad way to navigate. Makes it easy. The leg home was mine and as we cruised at 6k west of Miami I enjoyed a pretty wild sunset....a bright pink sky...and a sliver of sun between two layers of clouds that lingered over the middle of the state towards Tampa. Its been a blast down here. Time has flown by, but I managed to log 95 hours of twin time, and sit at 715 total time and 105 multi. not too bad.
Its back to work on Saturday. Got some students lined up for the week. Have a couple new ones starting up. Get to use my new ratings too...CFII and MEI.

The summer should be a good one. The airlines are definitely within my grasp. Exciting Stuff.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cleared direct Seminole....

...was our clearance after passing over Ocala VOR last night. We were on an IFR flight plan from Ft Pierce to Tallahassee. We took off from FPR around 7 and enjoyed a nice sunset from 6000 ft on a heading of about 322. I found it interesting that the VOR nearest to Tallahassee(home of FSU) was named Seminole.......Maybe they can get a VOR named Hokie down in the Blacksburg area. I think there is a Gps waypoint on the approach into Blacksburg named Hokie, but it sure would be nice to get something bigger.
Anyways, we landed at TLH after flying the NDB rwy 36 approach. I dont have alot of experience with ADF navigation, and flying NDB approaches so I am using the time I have left here to get more familiar with them. The planes back home dont have ADF's in them so I never had to do an approach for my checkride.
The NDB is a non-directional beacon that will allow you to track a needle inbound or outbound to the beacon. The ADF is the equipment in the airplane that consists of a compass card and a needle that will always point to the station. The level of precision is alot less than that of a VOR or a GPS so the approaches can be a challenge, especially when executing the approach in actual instrument conditions(clouds).
My time down here has been extremely well spent. I passed my CFII(instrument instructor) checkride yesterday. So now my resume reads CFI, CFII, MEI. I am taking the instrument ground instructor written on Monday so that when I get my ten checkrides with an 80% pass rate I can get my golden seal on my instructors certificate. Ive learned a tremendous amount down here from the people Ive flown with, the airspace, the weather, and the twin engine airplanes we have been flying.
Today we are climbing back into the Duchess for another 6 hours. Probably do Key West and maybe Peter Oknight in Tampa. Weather again is clear skies and its already up to 86 degrees.
Im hopping on an airtran flight to DCA tomorrow for a wedding this weekend. Then its back down here to take that written and finish the flying. My three weeks have flown by, but what Ive learned here and what Ive experienced will stay with my for the rest of my life.
The wonderful thing about aviation is that for the most part everyone has the same goal, and everyone wants to see you succeed. There is the occasional bad seed you run across, but as a whole the aviation community is one big family. Thats they way I like it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006