Flight Before my First Solo (Solo Part 1/2

9 01 2012

I haven’t posted in a while, but I thought this would be worth sharing. It is a great milestone in flight training, but could also be stressful or nerve-racking for new students to think of.

The day started with a quick review lesson with my instructor, John. Afterwords, we went outside to the ramp and checked out our plane. It was good to go, so we got in taxied, and began our flight. My goal for that day was basically to keep John quiet, because as long as there were no errors or anything for me to be corrected, he wouldn’t have anything to say.

We took off from Morristown Municipal (KMMU) from Runway 23, which has us climbing out south-west bound. I made a turn to the west to get over to Route 287, which we planned to follow down to Solberg Airport (N51). After reaching the Solberg area, we made a turn to the west to go over to Round Valley Reservoir to practice maneuvers. We practiced all the usual maneuvers, steep turns, stalls, slow flight, etc. We then flew over to Solberg to practice some take offs and landings. We complimented every landing as we taxied off the single runway, critiquing only small errors or things that could’ve been done better, but all in all they were good.


We arrived back at Morristown, John and I went in the back to the classrooms just to go over stuff, and fill out my logbook. He told me while he was back there, “You’re ready to solo. If there was time today, I’d sign you off.”. Hearing that from the next room, the inter that works on the desk walks in, and asks “He’s ready?”


He looked at me “Evan, if you’ve got nothing going on, and I have a plane available, you want to?”. Somewhat reluctant, maybe out of nervousness, I replied with, “Ehh, I don’t need to. If you have a plane I can.”


He walked out to his desk for moment, then came back. “There’s a plane, you want to solo?”. I agreed. John signed me off, gave me everything I needed, then gave me the metal book for the plane containing the times and keys for the aircraft. The intern walked outside with me, wrote down the starting times for me, then wished me luck, and sent me on my way.


Stay tuned for the final part of this two part blog post about my solo flight.


6/4/11 – Orange County, NY

4 06 2011

Today, I flew with my instructor, Mike, up to Orange County Airport (KMGJ) in Montgomery, New York.

I arrived a little bit earlier, as my flight school was having a their barbeque and open house they have every first Saturday of the month. It also includes a seminar where one of the instructors gives a short but interesting and informative presentation on a certain aspect of flying. Today, it was Eric giving a presentation about Navigation. It included information mostly on VOR, ADF, and GPS. Something Eric emphasized that I would like to emphasize as well, is that GPS really is the future of flying. ADFs this year are no longer going to work, as station are being shut off. VORs at some point in the future will likely be shut off, because everybody will have a GPS.

Anyway, onto the flying part. After deciding to go to Orange County (KMGJ), we began by looking at the weather. The radar showed a fairly large thunderstorm up around the area where Pennsylvania, Canada, and New York border. Tornadoes were also reported in that area. So we got a few more updates on that, then got a briefing over the phone. We decided we should be alright to fly. We would be flying North anyway, so if we saw the storm we could easily turn around and get back to Morristown in time.

We took off from runway 23 at Morristown, at made a turn to the North at about 1,000 feet. Upon reaching Sparta VOR, Mike contacted flight watch to check on the weather, and we also gave a Pilot Report (PIREP). After that, we practiced some slow flight. I was think slow flight is fun because you look outside, and it looks like your just hovering. You’re barely moving. We then continued up North a bit, where Orange County and Stewart airport was now in sight. Mike told me to show him some steep turns, so I did a steep turn to the left and to the right twice. We continued a little bit further, then decided to try some power-off stalls.

I learned something during this power stall. The preparation went as planned. Brought power back, set flaps, very similar preparation to slow flight. We were now pitching up and the stall horn was blasting. We then went to the left a bit. I made the mistake of attempting to correct that with the aileron. Luckily, Mike was able to help me recover from it with the rudder before anything could happen, but had it not been corrected, it could have have resulted in a spin. So we tried it a second time, and I was able to successfully correct that with rudder.

Almost right after the second stall, I was looking around outside, and noticed some black smoke coming from one small point on the ground. I got Mike’s permission to go check it out. By the time we got there it was white smoke, and I couldn’t figure out what was burning. It lloked like a small shed, maybe a smoke house. I don’t know.

From there, we continued to Orange County. We entered a right downwind for runway 26, came in, and landed. We were running low on time, so we decided to just take off and head straight back to Morristown. Shortly after take off, we kept our eye on this one aircraft. It was flying very low, and appeared to be descending. It was not in the direction of any airports, so we were just make sure it wasn’t making an unintentional landing. The aircraft later climbed again, so we kept on our route assuming that whatever the pilot was doing, it was intentional. We flow over Greenwood Lake and Greenwood Lake Airport.

About eleven miles out, we called Morristown tower announcing we were over the Boonton Reservoir. We were told to enter a right base for runway 23. As we turned final, an aircraft was taking off, and by the time we got close to the runway on short final, the aircraft was off the ground, and we came in for one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever experienced.  We turned off on Taxiway Foxtrot, and we taxied back to the West Tie-Down.

Today was a very fun flight. Especially because I haven’t flown in a few months now, due to weather and other plans. We looked at the weather when we got inside, and the storm went to the west of New Jersey, and was starting to weaken, so it was never a factor, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Video: Rough Day For JFK Ground Control

16 05 2011

Another video I’d like to share with my readers. (I’m posting this in place of a flight story for the week since I didn’t fly due to the weather)

Shows how stressful the job as an Air Traffic Controller can be. (And how one mistake can mess up everything!). I thought the controller did a great job of getting everything back in order though. He handled it professionally, but still threw in some funny and  things and a little of his “New York Attitude”.

What’s in my Flight Bag?

30 04 2011

Here is a video I made sharing with you guys the contents of my flight bag. It also shows my thoughts on the bag and some of the contents, as well as a few tips. I hope you enjoy, and please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions or comment about the video.

4/23/11 Sim Work

23 04 2011

Today, I had my lesson with another instructor, Mike. The airport was pretty dead for a Saturday, most likely due to the weather. It was very cloud & rainy. Ceilings were very low, and even if we did go out, there was no guarantee we would be able to land back at Morristown, so we decided not to fly and just do some simulator work.

The flight school has 3 excellent simulators, I believe they are made by a company called SimPro, or that is the name of the product, I’m not totally sure. After some planning using my sectional chart and Airport/Facility Directory, Mike set me up inn a ‘Line up and Wait” position on runway 23 at Morristown (KMMU). I decided I would fly do Dutchess County Airport (KPOU), in Poughkeepsie, NY, one of my favorite airports. I would takeoff runway 23, and track the Sparta VOR, then turn to the east to track Carmel VOR, then a turn back to the North and track the Kingston VOR until the airport was in sight. After taking off runway 23, I tracked the Sparta VOR with ‘Flight Following’ from ‘New York Approach’ (Mike was played traffic control while I flew), at an altitude of 2,500 feet. After reaching Sparta, I flew (I believe) the 120° radial outbound, deciding that when I had the Hudson River in sight, (about halfway between Sparta and Carmel), I would begin tracking Carmel. Upon reaching the Hudson River I decided I would make a slight change in plan. Dutchess County is just East of the Hudson River, so I decided I would just follow the Hudson River North at 3,500 until I had the airport in sight. So I told “Flight Following” (Mike) about the turn and altitude change, he approved so I executed my new plan.

After a few minutes of following the Hudson, Mike turned to the second computer that has the configuration settings for the sim, made a few clicks, then suddenly, visibility went extremely low. So if you were in clear skies, then it got cloudy, of course you would turn around to get back to the clear skies. So I made a 180° standard rate turn and got back to clear skies, so I told “Flight Following” the problem and that I am unable to continue to Poughkeepsie. I took a look at my chart and I chose Stewart, just a few miles north and off the west side of the Hudson, except the problem was that the clouds aren’t going to magically disappear. They would be there whether I went to Poughkeepsie or Stewart. So I took another look, and decided to go to Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, NY. I stated my intentions, then followed the Hudson south, then east a bit to White Plains. I came in on the right base for runway 29, so I made a pretty good approach and landing. I stopped the aircraft, and took a short break for some water, and to plan where to go next. I wanted to go somewhere I had never been before, so I decided to go to Long Island Mac Arthur Airport (KISP) at 3,500 feet, via the Deer Park VOR.

Mike started me on Runway 29 in White Plains, which when climbing out puts me very close to the radial I needed to follow to Deer Park. I requested flight following again, and also requested clearance to the class Bravo airspace since I will be flying in it (The class Bravo starts at 3,000 feet). So the flight was flown as planned. Upon reaching Deer Park, I flew about a 040 radial to the airport. “Tower” had me enter a left downwind for runway 24. So I flew the left downwind at 1,200, although I didn’t know the true traffic pattern altitude, as I failed to check that before flying. I turned final, I put in full flaps and descended towards the runway, when “tower” told me “Cessna 222SP, traffic on the runway, go around”. So The first thing you always do is get your power in. So I went full throttle, raised the flaps and then replied with “Going around, Cessna 222SP”. He told me to make left traffic back to Runway 24. So I turned Crosswind, then downwind, during that time, Mike looked at the chart, and told me traffic pattern altitude is 1,100. So I flew 1,100, Put in first notch of flaps when I was abeam the numbers, second notch of flaps after durning base, then last notch of flaps on final. So again, I descended towards the runway, when Tower told me “Cessna 222SP, go around, cow on the runway.” (Gotta watch out for those cows, never know when one will wander onto the runway). So again, full power, flaps up, then confirmed that I was going around. But this time, as I ascended above the runway, Mike reached over, and pulled the Mixture all the way out, making the engine go out. So immediately, looked for best place to land. There was a field straight ahead, so I decided to go there instead of turning back to the airport. So I told the Tower (Mike) my intentions, then I cut the power and the fuel. This is where I made a mistake. I cut the power before a lowered the flaps, so I would be landing there without flaps. Oh well, too late. I glided to the field at 65 knots (Best glide speed fort eh Cessna 172), and landed.

I thought today was a good lesson. I did pretty good, the simulator allowed me to learn some new stuff, and brush up on my current skills. The simulator is always fun to fly in on rainy days like today was.

Video: BC Air Ambulance Cuts Power ( internet ) Cords On Take Off

2 04 2011

I thought I’d share this video with my readers.

As both a pilot and EMS worker, I was able to see this in two perspectives. As a pilot, I thought the pilots of that helicopter did an excellent job handling the situation. He was able to get the aircraft on the field safely and slowly after striking the power lines. He handled it very well. I don’t know who’s decision it was to have the landing zone in the middle of a narrow road between trees and power lines, obviously both EMS and the pilot have a say in it, but the pilot has the final say, and I think it was a very bad decision to land there. As you saw, after striking the lines he landed in a field off to the left of the road, so I wonder why he didn’t land there in the first place. It appears to be much safer and more open. Perhaps it was the trees that kept him from landing there, but I don’t know, I wasn’t there.

So it’s not the pilot’s ability I’m questioning/criticizing. But it’s his landing decision. To the Pilot in Command (PIC), safety of himself, his passengers, his crew, and aircraft always comes first.

(Video credits go to the original author of the video)

3/27/11 – Flight to the Onion Fields

27 03 2011

On this flight, Eric (my instructor) and I took a flight up to “the onion fields” (Some fields in and around Campbell Hall, NY).

We took off in our Cessna 172R on a northbound departure from runway 31 at Morristown Airport, met up with with I-287 at the Boonton Reservoir, then followed the highway up to the Wanaque Reservoir, crossed it Northbound at 2,500ft, and up towards Greenwood Lake airport. At Greenwood Lake, we were now out of New York airspace, so we climbed to 3,500ft. From there, the town of Warwick, NY was now in site, so we flew towards it, then past it over to the onion fields. There, we practiced slow flight, standard turns, and when back to the basics with some climbs and descents, (Never a bad thing to practice). We spent about 30-45 minutes practicing maneuvers up there. Afterwords, we used the GPS to give us a direct route back to Morristown which we flew at 4,500 feet. Due to the New York airspace, we descended to 2,500, then tuned to the ATIS (Automated Terminal Information System). Weather was fairly clear, temperature went down a bit, and the option for runway 31 was still available. Once we reached the Boonton Reservoir, we called up Morristown Tower, and we’re told to report midfield, right downwind for 31. We did as we were told, we were first in line for landing in front of about 2 other aircraft, the final was a little high and windy, but we ended up with a nice, smooth landing.

I thought this was a very fun flight overall. Got to brush up on some of my skills, and the clear day made for some beautiful scenery and smooth flight. Hit a few bumps and air pockets, mostly over hills and mountains. Overall, it was a great flight, and I logged 1.9 hours.