All this terrific weather during my holiday break from work is torture. I really want to fly. 

My First Video! (is uneventful)


For my birthday this September, I got a camera to mount onto the airplane. It's a Sony Exmor Action Cam. The camera case is more aerodynamic than GoPro and shorter than most other action cams. It's not a perfect camera for everyone, but for back-of-the-plane videos, it's perfectly acceptable.

After several weeks of distraction, I finally mounted it and took it for a test flight. Once it's recording and the airplane is started, there's no turning it off. So the video here has been edited so that you're not watching (more) minutes of no action. (Heck, watching me taxi can be considered no action.)

The video shows a condensed version of my taxi and takeoff. If you just want to see the takeoff, skip ahead to 9 minutes.

Shortly after I'm up, the camera case fogs up. I suspect the case was warmed up by the sunlight then the cold air aloft made it fog over. To test this theory, I should do a flight on a cloudy day.

Much of the flight is uneventful if down-right boring to watch. Being inside the airplane during the flight is not boring, but just watching is. I cut much of the city flying out.

At about 11:13 it cuts from boring Dallas to flying over Lake Lewisville.

But then, there's something interesting that happens!

After the lake at about 15:08 until 15:10, you might see a black speck go across the right side just above the horizon. It's actually a cluster of balloons! I marveled at it in the few seconds I had it in view. There were red and black latex balloons with a black heart shaped one in the middle. Luckily I flew past it, and not through it. Getting tangled in my propeller or caught on my wing could have been bad news.

The fog on the camera case is thick. I'll see if I can zoom in and circle the balloons in a future video segment.

The rest of the flight to Possum Kingdom (F35) was uneventful. The landing was good enough. The takeoff again was uneventful. The flight back home was uneventful. The landing back at Addison was- yep -uneventful.

There you have it! My first video! And it's (mostly) uneventful.

Let’s Talk About Death

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin (1789)

It has happened so many times since I began flight lessons. A conversation about flying small airplanes yields a comment from a non-aviator about the lethal risks of flying.

“Those crash all the time!”
“Aren’t you afraid of crashing?”
“Did you hear about that plane that crashed?”

First, not all crashes result in the death of the pilot and passengers.

NTSB reports that in 2012 US general aviation had 1,471 accidents of which 271 resulted in a fatality. In other numbers, in 18% of small airplane crashes, someone dies.

My glass is half-full: I have an 82% chance of surviving a crash, statistically speaking.
Cessna Carrying 3 Crash-Lands on Farm, No One Injured
How frequent are crashes anyway? According to the NTSB, they have been on the decline for the last 10 years.
Tab 10
But this blog post isn’t about the good crashes where people walk away. Let’s be frank about things: death happens.

In fact, death happens every single day to millions of people around the world for a huge variety of reasons:

  • biological aging   
  • disease
  • cancer
  • illness
  • war
  • famine
  • drowning
  • fires
  • crime
  • job related accidents
  • wild predators
  • transportation accidents

    Now, I have a very in-the-moment perspective on life. I don’t dwell in the past carrying burdens, and I don’t think too far into the future stressing about what-ifs. For better or worse, I’m right here right now taking in this exact moment.

    Living in the moment means I live like every day could be my last for any of the above reasons. I’m not spending all my cash and doing crazy stuff every day like it’s literally my last day on Earth. Instead, I’m taking in what’s going on around me, enjoying the good moments, thankful every day that I’m here and focusing on what’s really important: family, friends, good food, security in life and creature comforts.

    Flying airplanes, for me, is part of the package to happiness. I get excited before each flight, I grin on my way up (and usually down), and I love sharing my stories with people who don’t see the world from a few thousand feet up. My brain’s reward center is full of pleasure before, during and after each flight.

    All this unicorn talk has made me forget about the reason for this post. Back to death!

    People do crash and sometimes these accidents are lethal. I read NTSB reports each month which include accidents from all aircraft types and sizes, all pilot experience levels, and result in fatalities ranging from none to all.

    I have a very realistic approach to the risks of flying. I am fully aware that a number of things could go wrong: engine failure, in-air collision, pilot error, terrible landing, etc.

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/breakingnews/2008/07/small_plane_crash_at_sunriver.html


    Despite knowing that flying can be dangerous, I insist to live my life to its fullest. I want to enjoy my time on Earth, not live in fear of it. I want to drink premium coffee, sip quality wine, eat delicious foods, and enjoy the view from aloft. This doesn’t mean I’m reckless about the matter either.

    I recommend having a will for all pilots- especially pilots with families. Rusty and I have a will drawn up that designates who will take custody of our children and where estate funds will go. It’s also a good idea to prepare the spouse for early departure. Things like monthly bills, accounts, and passwords maintained by one person needs to be shared so the other can take care of business to keep the lights on. Having a friend support base is important too. In the event one or both of us goes, having friends to help cope with loss can relieve some of the feelings of depression. Talking about what to do with your remains is important too. I’m all for organ donation and I want my surviving family to decide on burial or cremation. (I don’t believe it should be my choice when I’m not grieving for me.)

    With death contingency planning done, the next best thing to do is to always be prepared. That means to continually learn about flight safety topics, practice flight maneuvers, practice emergency landings, give safety briefings to passengers, and take a cautious approach to flying.

    “Those crash all the time!” No they don’t and accident rates are on the decline.
    “Aren’t you afraid of crashing?” Nope. I’m more afraid of drunk drivers and random acts of violence.
    “Did you hear about that plane that crashed?” I did- and here’s what I learned about it…

    Damn Clouds

    Clouds on departure, clouds enroute, clouds caused us to divert to Sante Fe. Safely landed though! Will continue tomorrow morning, Rusty will be pilot. :-)

    Colorado Preflight

    One thing I love about Fall is all the activity. It seems like there’s something exciting to do nearly every weekend. This coming weekend is the reason for my blog post:

    Cameo's Wedding in Colorado!

    The backdrop of the ceremony are the San Juan and Cimmaron mountain ranges in Ridgeway, CO. We had the choice of landing at Telluride or Montrose. While I was excited about the idea of putting KTEX in my logbook, there weren’t any car rentals available. So we’ll be landing in Montrose (KMTJ).



    Keeping it equal, I’ll fly us to Las Vegas, New Mexico (KLVS), then he’ll fly us into around the mountains to Montrose; I’ll fly us out of the mountains to NM then he’ll fly us home. In theory, we’ll have the same amount of fly time and same amount of planning and challenges.

    Neither of us has flown this much into mountains.

    To add to the adventure, there is a chance of rain in the middle of Texas the same morning we plan to depart. We’ll either leave after rains subside, or if the storms seem broken, fly around the mess.

    What is it about us flying around rain?

    We expect the total flight time to Montrose, Colorado to be approximately 6 hours (this doesn’t include our fuel and bathroom stop) requiring approximately 52 gallons of fuel. (Las Vegas is our mid-point for fuel if you’re wondering.) We'll be flying over 735 n. miles. If we were to drive, it would take 14 hours.

    Thursday night is my night to plan out my portion and begin packing. If all goes as planned, we’ll get to leave Friday morning!

    Galveston Trip

    US Sport Aircraft in Addison organized a group trip to Galveston. Pilots of all experience levels (pre-solo students to instructors) both renters and owners participated. I'm estimating 10 airplanes flew in, with about 20 pilots plus our two kids.


    We weren't sure if we would even be able to go since our plane wasn't confirmed ready until 1½ days prior. And we're broke. But we decided to go to Galveston if our plane was ready because that's a good use of our airplane- short vacation, flight experience, cross country currency, comradery, etc. Staying home to save money for repairs seemed like a beating.

    Speaking of beatings, we woke up 5:30am Sunday, packed, left for the airport, then departed shortly after 7:30am. Rusty was pilot-in-command going to Galveston. We tuned into a special frequency for chatting with others in the group. We joked, shared wind info, gave weather updates all the way to the coast.
    Due to the new cylinder, we ran the engine richer than we had been: 10 gph average. We didn't leave with full tanks so I talked Rusty into landing at Bay City for fuel. Bargain priced $4.99/gallon! Plus the boys found a tiny garden snake on the floor of the FBO to poke & terrorize.

    Cheap fuel, rough landing surface (BYY)
    The flight along the coast was beautiful!


    Galveston's tower seemed less than equipped for arrivals. Their radar wasn't operational so they didn't know our position despite us having a squwak code. Rusty landed us, we emptied the plane, hung out at the airport waiting for others, then took a bus to the hotel. 

    We had lunch with cocktails. The kids spent 3 hours at the beach and I napped on a blanket.


    There was a group dinner that I went to while the boys stayed behind at the hotel. (Josh swallowed some beach water that came back up to say Hi minutes before we were to leave for the group dinner.) The dinner was nice and the shenanigans were in full swing. My memory is hazy... let's see- something about an astronaut, Nathan was naked, someone drank a ketchup bottle, and the older pilots took tequila shots. (sorry, no photo evidence!)

    The next day, we learned about rain over Dallas. At first we feared we would be delayed or challenged with leaving, but it turned out to be fine. I was pilot-in-command on the way home. There was a bit of rain before we departed Galveston, and shortly after, but by the time we got to Dallas, it was clear and calm.
    ElliotLeaving Galveston
    That, ladies and gents, is how you do a vacation in 36 hours!
    Happy Pilots

    Back in Business

    The cylinder got repaired in time for me to fly it home Friday after work. It started fine despite I flooded it on my first attempt. If it's been started the same day, or ambient air over 105F, I've learned to consider it a warm engine. No fuel pump needed!


    It flew fine back to ADS. 


    There may be a crack

    Something about a crack in or on or near a cylinder.

    This crazy red lip batfish sums up my feelings right about now:



    We're in a Holding Pattern

    The mechanic reinstalled the fuel control system. And determined the fuel issue is still an issue.

    So he took the parts out and sent them back for repair again.
    We'll continue to impatiently wait for repairs.

    Stay tuned for updates.

    Hopefully I'll have one later this week.

    Will Fly for Donuts

    Twice in one weekend!

    Saturday Donut Fly-In

    I flew the kids to McKinney on Saturday morning to meet local pilots and let my boys snarf some donuts. This was an EAA Chapter meeting- my first. It was great meeting so many welcoming pilots. Several were very inquisitive about the airplane.

    What kind of engine does it have? What's the cruise speed? How much fuel does it hold? What do you think of the T tail? How's the ride? What's the range?

    I sensed that a few of the guys were impressed a girl pilot with kids showed up. Rusty was doing his Saturday morning work out.

    I tried to shake everyone's hand and engage in chat about flying and airplanes. I learned:

    • Filling up a large fuel drum can cause static electricity to build up which can cause a fire. The pilot who told me this said he blew out the flames at the gas pump both on the drum and on the fuel pump nozzle.
    • If you want to book The Dorms for your next AirVenture at Oshkosh trip, I'm told you have to reserve for next year within hours of the event ending this year. (I guess we'll be camping.)
    • Seahorses can grow to be about a foot tall.
    • Many pilots who are members of EAA are not necessarily flying experimental airplanes. Some aren't even pilots!
    The flight there and back was fast and uneventful. For some reason, there wasn't much traffic- which was surprising and pleasant!



    Sunday IFR Practice

    I went up with my instructor to do an approach at McKinney (TKI), an approach at Rockwall (F46) then an approach at Addison (ADS). No matter how much I think I'm prepared, I'm not. Conceptually, I understand what I need to do for these approaches. But staying one step ahead of things and having all my information on hand during flight is still a challenge. For one thing, I'm using my iPad for plates which is crammed into my knee-pad covered by a plastic sleeve that restricts a little of the view at top and overheats it when the sun is directly overhead. That's no excuse, but it doesn't help either.

    I learned on Saturday if my iPad gets over heated, it doesn't work. Paper plates are in my future again.

    I look forward to my next flight later this week. Hopefully I'll be more on my game.


    Wallet Weight Watchers

    Our wallet so speak lost weight this week. It was thin to begin with then we needed the magnetos to be serviced. It starts up fine now and has ample power. We knew airplane ownership would not be a cheap experience. 


    It was Rusty's turn to do the test flight. He went up with a mechanic CFI this afternoon. We decided to share test flights equally. It's not quite Russian roulette, but the analogy has come to my mind. The next maintenance we'll need will be for the fuel injection system this Fall.   

    I'm back on schedules for instrument practice lights again starting this weekend. I'm trying to stick with one CFI but that hasn't worked well due to schedules. I need something that communicates between flights what I've accomplished and what I need to focus on so that any CFI I fly with can know my progress. 


    Memorial Service Day Trip

    My mom's sister Blenda Fouse passed away this last Sunday peacefully at home. The memorial is tomorrow in Manhattan, KS- a mere 370 nautical miles away.

    Guess what we're doing tomorrow.

    Yep, you're right!

    We're planning to fly 3 hours to be with family and pay respects. Then fly 3 hours back home. Just in time for the kids' bedtime.

    Friday will be business as usual with work and kids at summer "camp".

    Such is the life of a private pilot.

    Stay tuned for details this weekend.

    Businesses Need Look No Further

    As a pilot, I have been tested and challenged since my very first flight with an instructor. And when I was flying without an instructor, I still found ways to be tested and challenged. It comes with the territory of keeping an airplane above the ground until you're good and ready to be back on the ground.

    Every business can benefit from the skills that a pilot has. It happens that the type of business I know best is Marketing. From websites to email campaigns to event planning, I have dabbled in just about everything related to Marketing. I'd like to say I'm better prepared in my career now than before I began flying. Think I'm full of myself? Here's how being a pilot is good for business:

    Multi-Tasking - You cannot be an effective pilot without the skill to multi-task. You must be able to monitor all the airplane gauges while listening to air traffic control while scanning the skies for other traffic while entertaining your passengers in chit-chat while staying on course to wherever you're going. The ability to juggle many tasks at once is a regularly exercised skill of most pilots. Businesses looking for someone who can easily multi-task need look no further than at a pilot.

    Ability to Work Under Pressure - I contend that pilots would easily pass the "under pressure" requirements of any hiring manager. From day one, a pilot is trained to handle life or death situations. Every time you prepare to land an airplane, you're under pressure. There are so many variables that need to be just right: airspeed, altitude, fuel settings, confirmation of landing gear to be operational, communications with other pilots or the tower, the ability to see the runway and line up for it. Pilots learn to push a little fear aside to make decisions and corrections. Businesses looking for someone who can work under pressure need look no further than at a pilot.

    Quick Thinker - Most businesses want people who can think quick. Pilots must be quick thinkers to adapt to situations and make corrections for every take-off, flight and landing. Quick thinking is most evident when it's windy and when landing conditions aren't just right necessitating a go-around. Businesses looking for a quick thinker need look no further than at a pilot.

    Project Management - If you're a non-pilot, you probably have no idea how much work goes into proper flight planning under visual flight rules. Every cross country flight is a project that involves: researching the weather; plotting your course; figuring out your check points, distance, fuel and estimated time; filing a flight plan and/or getting flight following; then actually flying the airplane to your destination just as you planned it out. In business, Project Management has many similar characteristics of planning ahead, checking with other departments on your plans, and implementing your project. Businesses looking for someone adept at project management need look no further than at a pilot.

    Quality Assurance - Prior to every flight, a pilot inspects the airplane and the weather before even starting the engine. To help pilots avoid complacency, we use checklists to ensure every critical component is considered before flight. If anything is less than ideal, the flight is delayed or canceled. Student pilots are accustom to the scrutiny of their instructors. It's not until the student performs basic operations without error that they are released with a license. Businesses looking for someone adept at quality assurance need look no further than at a pilot.

    Intelligence - I can't say all pilots are intelligent. But I can say there's a high bar set for anyone who wants to fly. There's so much to learn: weather reports, airplane performance, radio communications, charts, performance charts, and so on. New pilots learn the lingo of control and tower communications, they must pass a written exam and demonstrate abilities in flight. I guess this also means pilots are hardworking and ambitious.

    No matter what industry it's in, a business looking for a stellar addition to the team need look no further than at a pilot.

    Fuel Cap Mishap

    "I need a destination.
    That's what Rusty said to help me understand why he wasn't good with just going up and flying around the area for practice and staying current.

    Sulphur Springs, TX has an airport right next to a small lake. Across the street from the FBO is a restaurant. We have a destination!

    Rusty was going to be the pilot-in-command to Sulphur Springs, I would fly us home. So my job during the preflight prep at Addison was to safety brief  the boys and get them settled into the back. While we waited to taxi around a construction zone, I noticed the gas cap on my side was lifted a bit. I noted it to Rusty and at the run up area near the runway I hopped out to settle it back on.

    After the rest of our run up, we took off. I snapped a few pictures of the boys and us:

    "What do you call a pig who knows karate? Pork chop!"
    Waiting to taxi at ADS
    Addison's tower during take-off
    Josh checking out the city from 2,000 feet up

    Then I saw this and panicked briefly. "Oh [expletive]! We need to land! The fuel cap is off again. We can go back to Addison, or land at Rockwall."

    Gotta love the wire that keeps the cap from falling away.
    This also affirms my love for low wing.

    Rusty thought about this for a second then decided on Rockwall. "Where is Rockwall?"
    "Just past that bridge over the lake," I pointed. He hates Rockwall, but I guess that seemed better than Addison in that moment.

    Rockwall Municipal Airport has a couple hazards to know about. High electric lines run perpendicular to the runway so you have to see them, come in higher than you normally might for a runway, then descend quicker than you normally might. The runway is short with a raised middle. And there's full grown trees at the other end of the runway. It's a real joy of an airport if you're into that sort of thing.

    Rusty landed us safely at Rockwall. Along the taxi way, I hopped out again to secure the cap, this time tugging on it and testing it thoroughly before getting back in.

    No fuel was lost in the incident.

    Rusty inquired about a caution light that was on. I noted the Alt switch was off. I'm not sure if it had been off the whole time or inadvertently en route. Either way, we flipped it on and the caution light went away. We continued our flight to Sulphur Springs without issue. Elliot fell asleep so soundly, he missed the second landing and parking!

    Elliot is our Sleeping Beauty


    We ate at the Red Barn Restaurant. It was OK food, but nothing to write home about.

    I was pilot-in-command going back home. We had trouble starting the engine. Either I flooded it by advancing the mixture too soon (most likely) or there's some electric issue. It finally caught to everyone's relief. The flight home was fast. Along the way, Rusty noticed volts were measuring low. I landed fine and taxied us to parking.

    We've decided to have the alternator looked at this week by the mechanics at US Sport Aircraft. We now know something is not just right. So we'll have that looked at and hopefully it will be a simple fix.

    Lesson Learned
    We practiced extensively for emergency situations. Having the fuel cap off during the flight surprised me but I kept my wits and knew what we needed to do. Even though we didn't need to land off of an airport, my first reaction was to look around for a spot just in case.

    We intended to fly to Lubbock this past weekend but ran into weather issues. More details to come. First, I need to find my packed camera...

    PASSED (the written)

    I PASSED!!!!

    barely, but I PASSED!!

    woke up early, dressed into my Pilot Fish shirt
    got caffeinated
    got fed
    parked in the shade at the end of runway 15 near Addison
    crammed and reviewed notes for ~45 minutes
    hands shaking
    legs shaking
    palms sweating
    damn near hyperventilated at one point
    10 till, drove to the test site
    confirmed 12 ways from Sunday that I was who I said I was and indeed actually wanted to take the test
    the test time was quiet and I relaxed as I answered things I knew to be right
    end of the test, got the paper that says PASSED in all caps

    Pilot Fish (Threadless)
    Now what?!

    I have so much to do in the next week it's crazy. Regarding pilot stuff, the next stage is to get into flying again and practice IFR flights.

    Commence Test Anxiety

    Tomorrow I'm taking a written EXAM for my Instrument Flight Rule rating. Passing doesn't mean I'm done, it just means I can focus on other stuff in life like- everything.


    I'll let you know how it goes.

    Kids & Test Prep Mix Like 100LL & Water

    Me trying to study with 5 kids* in the vicinity:

    "If a half-standard turn rate is maintained-"
    "Mom! Elliot's hurt!"

    2 minutes later...

    "Where a holding pattern is speci-"
    "Mom! I need help with this!"

    1 minute later...

    "During the en route phase of an IFR flight, ATC advises..."
    "Mom! Josh is throwing ants!"

    1 minute later...

    "For IFR planning purposes, what are the compulsory..."
    "Um, Ms. Sarah? Can I call my mom with your phone?"

    2 minutes later...

    "What is the MDA and visibility..."
    "Look at me Mom!"

    1 minute later...

    "Which range facility assoc-"
    The phone rings.

    I gave up.

    It's pretty useless to study at home (or at a playground as in this morning) unless I'm locked away with headphones.

    I feel like I may never be able to take this written exam for my IFR rating.

    *It's common for neighborhood kids to hang out at our house and/or tag-along to nearby playgrounds. We've had as many as 8 kids- 6 visiting neighbor kids.

    Night Flight Done Right

    As a birthday present to my mom, I flew to Lubbock to spend the night and catch a zombie movie. (I loved Warm Bodies!) The challenge was the timing of everything. Let's rewind...

    Leading up to the weekend, it was unclear if I would be able to fly at all. US Sport Aircraft was short on airplanes and long on reserved flights. After noting that Sunday would be too windy to come back, my only option was to leave on Friday after work and return Saturday evening. The first challenge was moving my reservation. Luckily, US Sport was able to get another insured airplane added to their reservations and move schedules around. Hooray! US Sport saved the day!

    The next challenge was leaving on time Friday. I ducked out of work as quick as I could, packed up, checked the local weather a last time, kissed everyone good-bye then I was off to the airport.

    I packed up, preflighted, said siyonara to Kyle then off I went. The takeoff was in the dark and nicely uneventful. For this flight, I was lazy and didn't do the whole written flight plan w/ winds and distances and fuel calculations. I went on a hunch that the GPS would not let me get lost and that my fuel would be plenty. I was right on both fronts, but I still wished I had prepared better. The winds aloft caught me off guard.

    Sometime after the bravo shelf when I reached 6500, the winds were stronger aloft than I anticipated and I forgot how slow this airplane was (about 100 knots) so my timing was off. I told my mom I would be in Lubbock around 9pm after a 2.5 hr flight.  Eh, no.  The winds were pushing on me so much, my groundspeed was about 77 knots (88 mph). My flight was actually 3.6 hours. I was a full hour late getting there. My mom was getting very nervous and anxiously waiting for me to call.

    Munday, TX was my GPS waypoint between Addison and Lubbock. Sometime after crossing Munday it was so dark I could not tell the horizon from the night sky. I kept my eye carefully fixed on the two most important things at that time: the altitude and the pink GPS line. As I told Rusty after I landed, "I watched that pink line like it was my religion!" I didn't have auto-pilot so I made constant adjustments fighting the wind. I was also freezing cold! I had cabin heat on and a coat but the part of the cabin higher than my lap was still very cold. I had packed gloves but couldn't find them in my luggage during the flight.

    When I finally had the airport in sight, I landed in the dark without incident. (This was the first time I had landed at night at this airport.)

    I called my mom to let her know I had landed and I could tell she was very relieved.  I tied down the airplane after pushing it into place in the dark without a tow bar. (I love tow bars.  Sooo much easier!)

    Fast-forward through the night of wine drinking and girl talk.

    I checked the weather forecast the next morning to see if anything had changed. Nope. The forecast for winds on Sunday were still there. I looked online to gauge when the best time would be to leave that day. The most ideal times were morning or night. There was supposed to be moderate winds during the day of 12-16 knots.  If I waited until 9pm or so they were supposed to die down a bit, but I wasn't convinced. There was a low pressure system moving across the far north of the Texas panhandle pulling air towards it. If I left at 9pm I'd be back in Dallas late, which I wasn't keen on.

    But I was stuck until things calmed a bit. So my mom and I made the best of it by catching the matinee and going out for a nice late lunch at her new fave restaurant.

    While I was sitting at lunch with her, I was facing the traffic outside and could see a flag high up on a building blowing in the wind. It was straight out for much of the time. But sometimes it went limp for a moment. I watched that flag during the entire lunch noting the wind pattern of gusts and time the flag was limp.

    I decided during the lunch that I would try to take off during one of those calmer periods. I called a weather briefer again after lunch to get an update. Their information at the time was almost an hour old. The briefer said she didn't have gusts in her current report but I knew differently being outside.

    I filled up, kissed and hugged my mom, taxied to the end then waited for the oil temperature to warm up. While I idled, I watched the grass near the run-up. I was too far away to see the wind sock but I could see the grass and feel the airplane shimmy when a strong gust blew.

    Then, it happened.  Winds started to die a bit. I took that as my cue! I quickly lined up then put full power in. Normally these airplanes rotate at about 42 knots but I kept it down until nearly 60 to make sure I had plenty of speed. As soon as I lifted up, I crabbed probably 20° into the wind.

    I loudly woo-hooed myself then focused on the upcoming crosswind turn.

    The flight home was much faster: it was the normal 2.5 hours without drama. I was hoping to be back before everyone left US Sport but I landed in the dark again.

    Lessons I Learned: 

    • Don't shortcut the planning. I didn't plan well enough for the winds from ADS to Lubbock. Luckily I had plenty of fuel. But I realize now that it could have been a dangerous decision with different margins for fuel.
    • Use all information available. Even if it's grass.
    • Don't let fear impact safe choices. Looking back, I didn't have a compelling reason to leave when I did. I had a fear of being stuck that clouded my decision-making.
    Flight home from Lubbock during sunset.

    I Finally Flew!

    It's been since late December since I'd last flown. In that time, LOTS has happened! But not with regarding to aviation. 

    booo.

    I have be-friended the owner (Ray) of a sim place near Addison called Aviation Training & Resource Center. I'm coughing up the big bucks to fly his RedBird simulator with its G1000 panel. I've gone twice and will probably drop by sometime this week. These big buck, by the way, are still cheaper than getting into the real deal, and I can start practice right away (no taxiing, no loops to get into position). That said, I'd rather fly any chance I can get.

    Today I flew US Sport's Cessna from Addison to Ennis Municipal airport and back. I did a practice VOR/DME approach. My tracking was spot on, my altitude was (more or less) spot on, and my landings were smooth and easy. Not nearly as rough as in December when my flare was too shallow making for a rough landings.

    Today was also the first flight where I took my iPad mini instead of having paper plates on my lap.  I had plates in my bag (of course) but it was so nice having everything in one small place. I dig this new technology!

    Ground school is done so my next focus is to get ready for the written exam. Anyone who knows me knows I get debilitating test anxiety. The more I study and prepare, the better I'll be. I have an app to quiz with when offline (doctor's waiting room, pack meeting, Josh's piano lessens) and I have a book that could break a nose if hurled in the right direction. I also have a study buddy named David (an older pilot also interested in IFR stuff) though he's less motivated to get his rating.

    I'm on the schedule to fly more next month. Hopefully weather and maintenance cooperate!

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