Today I flew to Venice, which is located on the west coast of Florida. It was my first destination to the west coast. It was a really smooth, and clear day, so the flight was perfect. Got to the field, had lunch, and left. Got to see some great coastal scenery, and then the rest was pretty boring crossing the state. Not much in the middle of nowhere, just rows of orange trees, and swamps.



Well I have started the next step of my training. After officially having my certificate in my possession, I set out on my first solo flight as a Private Pilot. I probably couldn't have picked a more challenging flight.

About 75 miles south of Vero, along the east coast of Florida, is Boca Raton. Boca is just south of West Palm Beach, which is class C(charlie) airspace. This isn't like your typical airport, as it requires a little bit of finesse to get into it. Not as much as B(bravo) airspace, but close. Basically you just need to let them know you're coming, and if they acknowledge you, you're in the clear. Well they told me not to come into their airspace, must have been a busy day.

This started what was a fairly long, stressful flight. Staying clear of the airspace meant I had to navigate around the airport, about 20 miles away from it. I had to be very precise in knowing exactly where I was, so I didn't in-advertently enter the airspace.

I never got 'lost', but there were a few moments that I was unsure. However, after a few minutes, I started picking up some landmarks again. Once I made it around the airspace, I called up the tower at Boca, told them I was coming in! Since I was unfamiliar with the area, I had no idea what the field looked like, except for my airport diagram.

The controllers there were extremely helpful, and very patient with me. I told them I was having difficulty identifying the field, and they gave me suggestive headings, and progress reports of where the field should be. I eventually picked up the field about 2 miles out, and was cleared to land, never have words said to me been sweeter.

Once the wheels squeaked on the runway, I let out a huge sigh of relief. I made it. I went somewhere I had never been. I traversed multiple controlled airspace areas, and didn't hit anything! Success!

Once off the active runway, I made my way to an FBO on the field. I went inside for a soda, and to cancel my flight plan, and file my plan back home. I stayed inside for a few minutes, as it was a very warm day outside, and the air conditioning was helping me feel better.

I kept thinking about the way back, and wether I would try going through the airspace again, or divert around it. I decided to file a flight plan around the airspace, just in case I couldn't get in again. I jotted down some headings, and marked some checkpoints on my map, and headed out again.

The departure was good, and the cloud layers had risen, so I got to climb a little higher. This time when I called up Palm Beach approach, they acknowledged my request, and gave me some vectors for a transition. This made me feel a lot better. I wouldn't have to worry about busting airspace, and they gave me traffic advisories.

It was pretty uneventful on the way back, and before I knew it, I was on the ground, and out of the plane. After a very rewarding flight, and long day, I headed home. Very pleased with the way I flew, and the way I handled everything.

There will be many experiences like this I'm sure, and I can't wait to go through em!


I'm certified!!!!

Passed my checkride today!

Well, we started today at 7 AM. I was up at 5 AM. I had to put together a weather brief, and weather has been my weakness, so I wanted to spend some extra time on it. After collecting all the forecasts, and analysis charts, I plotted all the data on a map of Florida. Showing where the fronts are located, the convective areas(thunderstorms, they're not flight kosher).

I reviewed the testing standards booklet one last time, and waited for the examiner to arrive. My examiner today was John Carey. Older gentlemen, heard a rumor that he has around twenty thousand hours. I've heard lots of good things about him, from friends and students here. Mainly that he is a non-conventional teacher, and has his own way of doing things. Which I'll talk about more a little later.

The oral was a much better experience than my mock. If I didn't know the answer, he explained it to me, and showed me where to find them in the FAR, or other areas. He is a very thorough examiner. He had a lot of very obscure questions, and knew how to perfectly ask trick questions. It wasn't all serious either, he and I would have a few laughs too. The oral exam lasted about 3 hours.

After that, we checked out the weather, which was marginal at the time. He decided that it would be fine to go, so I picked up the plane keys, and did the weight and balance, and plugged in the wind speeds to my cross country plan.

With a quick pre-flight, along with a few questions from John, we jumped in and were down the taxiway in no time. He was in a hurry to be back for another ride, so most of the time was rushed. At first I thought that he was trying to distract me, but I realized that he was actually just in a hurry. It was a little unsettling, but it didn't distract or deter from my flying.

We started with a normal takeoff, and turned out to the North, and headed for Melbourne. After my first checkpoint, he asked me to calculate my groundspeed. For some stupid reason, I was drawing a blank. I had the time between the points, I had the distance, I had my computer out. I just couldn't make it work. He picked up the computer, and showed me how to do it, and about halfway through I was agreeing with his explanation. I don't know why I got mixed up on it, but I did.

This was the beginning of what I thought was a failing checkride. After that we turned out west, and did some maneuvers. I did my radio call, and he said we didn't need a clearing turn, after we turned to the west. After my pre-manuever check, I started with power on stalls, then power off, then slow flight. These all went mostly well, he had me do the stalls a little different than I was use to, and I made some mistakes on them. He again, showed my the way he would like to see it, and we moved on. Again, thinking I failed another portion. The other maneuvers were uneventful.

He then simulated an engine failure, and asked me to pick a field. I started just fine, did the checklist, and everything in order. It was set up pretty much perfectly, but I did what I tend to always do on the emergency landing practices. Because I'm afraid of running out of landing distance, or getting too far away from my landing area, I shorten my base to final leg. Which produces a very high, very fast final. I wouldn't have made the field I selected, and he was upset with a few things I did. He called it too fancy, and said it was unnecessary to complicate the situation. The procedure they teach us, is to pick the field, and spiral above it, then when you're abeam the landing point, begin a downwind, base, final approach. I did all that, but like I said, I just shortened my last leg. He also explained to me that when I attempted to slip the aircraft, that was not a good idea. He made a very valid point, that it is unwise to be low, and slow, and cross controlled. However, I have always been taught to slip when trying to lose additional altitude, faster. He explained the slip to me in a way that was never explained to me before. I was amazed at the information he told me.

After that we went into ground ref maneuvers, which were fine as well. From there we did a lost procedure. Mind you, we're out in an area I've never been before, an area that was completely baron, and no major landmarks. I found a house as my landmark, and started circling it, while I determined my position. I tuned in two different VORs, and found my exact position, then we were to divert to an airport just north of our home base at Vero. When I attempted to fly to it, I got disoriented and started going the wrong way. He asked my what I was doing, and I explained I got disoriented. I went back to my lankmark, and then re determined my course. I got successfully established on the correct heading, and did a time/speed/fuel calculation. I made it to the field in the exact time I calculated, and my heading I flew took me right to the field.

Here we did some performance landings and take offs. The first one was a short field, and for some reason I thought I was going to land long. We simulate a landing of a very short field, and so If you don't make your landing point, you're supposed to go around. I didn't think I was going to make it, so started to execute the go-around. He cut the power and told me to put it down, and that I did it fine. After that we did a short field take off, an emergency approach from the downwind, and then a soft-field take off.

Then we headed back to Vero, and did a soft field landing.

That was the flight. Total time of 1.7.

At this point I wasn't feeling too confident, but I wasn't saying that to him, I remained positive when he asked how I thought I did. He didn't say anything definitive, in fact he never actually said, you passed. Once he signed my logbook, I knew I had passed.

Out of a possible 90 on the oral, and 90 on the flight, I scored a 90 on the oral, and 85 on the flight. He said I have good aircraft control, and a good sense of things.

To be honest, I was really surprised. I thought I had failed, and he thought I was a moron.

I'm so incredibly happy to be done with this major step in my training. It's a huge relief, and an awesome feeling of accomplishment. It's been a long time coming, and took longer than it should, but I'm very glad it's over. I can't wait to take my parents and friends flying.

If there is anything you think I missed, or would like explained better, let me know.

happy thanksgiving!

Turkey day!

It’s been a long week for me. I had my mock checkride this week, and it didn’t exactly go as planned. I failed both the oral and the flight. Nothing to really worry about, but just a few things I need to work on.

I also bought the Bose Aviation headset this week, and I love it. If you’re thinking about getting it, just get it. You’ll love it too.

checkride coming up

Well I have three flight lessons left, until I do a prep checkride, then the real thing. That's all that stands between me, and a Private Pilot's License… I can taste it, the sweet sweet nectar of it. I have a ton of studying to do again, to prepare for the oral exam, and practical test.

Basically for the checkride, I have to pass an oral examination, and a flight examination. The oral is pretty much some check airman, quizzing me, and picking my brain about everything I know, or think I know. They tend to last about 3 hours. IF I pass the oral, we go on to the practical portion(flight).

During that I'm expected to show positive control, as well as complete a set of maneuvers within certain specifications. The only maneuvers I really need to practice are short field, and soft field landings and takeoffs. Everything else I'm pretty confidant with.

I have been working so much lately, I haven't really had time to keep this updated. I get home from work, try to study for a while, but normally end up falling asleep.