Newest Pilot in the State of Florida

For at least a few minutes, I was the newest Private Pilot in the State of Florida,

1st Flight Lesson: 28JAN2012
1st Solo Flight: 19APR2012
Checkride passed: 20MAY2014
Total Hours: 62.2
Total Cost: One day I’ll go back and tally it up, promise. No really.

I arrived at Page Field Airport (KFMY) this morning and did my preflight, and found myself procrastinating by cleaning the windshield, (I mean, hey, you have to be able to see, right?) After several scheduling conflicts with my local DPE my CFI and I decided to go with one at Punta Gorda Airport (KPGD). Right before I started the engine I noticed a red light on my battery pack for my ANR headset, and of course, that was the spare that I hadn’t replaced in my bag yet. Needless to say that flight was a little louder than normal.
Flying to get to my checkride was actually a good thing. It got me in the right mindset early on and let me do a touch and go. I did a short-soft field landing and it was my best landing of the day, sadly no one was there to see, but it made me feel pretty good.
Taxi to the FBO and shortly begin the oral portion.

Oral Examination
Make sure your endorsements say the right things. We spent a few a minutes decoding one endorsement that included both the “Ready for Practical Test” and “I went over the questions you got wrong on the written test”. I used a checklist the night before (may I recommend two nights before) to make sure I had everything for checkride day. Random Checklist found online pages 1-5
After that and the paperwork the questions began, my examiner talked fast, and luckily I answered fast. Reading of other pilot’s checkrides on Reddit/r/flying helped, and honestly I don’t think there wasn’t anything that wasn’t covered before by fellow Redditors, does that mean I did perfectly, far from it. Watching this video by DPE Andy Munnis really helped me with my nerves, and focus the areas of study for me.

This is what a Checkride Looks like from above

Flight Portion
My ground testing went about how I expected, but I was pretty frazzled by the time I heard the words “Let’s go Flying” Super relieved, I started doing my preflight and he joined me by the time I reached my first fuel sump. He asked which antennas did what, what were the three lead bars in the aileron for (counter-weight was the word he was looking for.) What the grill in the front was (air intake) how many static ports I had (two).
Inside the plane, I just continued my preflight like normal (I have always verbalized everything) He said consider me briefed but I’ll control my door.
Taxi clearance to the runway, clearance for takeoff, soft field landing, and we intercept the VOR for my first checkpoint. Once I was tracking that one, he asked how I would go to another VOR (put it in the NAV and move the dial to from and center) did another one. Moved into Steep Turns, Slow Flight, Stalls, Turns About a Point, Foggles Work, Airport Diversion (he allowed, even encouraged me to use the GPS on this one) S- turns and then back to Punta Gorda for landings. Soft Field, Extended downwind, Short field with an obstacle, and for the last one he pulled the power on me abeam the numbers and made a great (although a bit longer than I would have liked) landing. He said Taxi back to the FBO. (I’m pretty sure I missed something from the flight portion but this is all my brain is allowing me to remember at the moment) As soon as my Engine was shutdown he said the magical words I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear: “Ok you passed”. He gave me some tips about safe flying in the future, (He actually gave tips throughout the day) and said follow me in to sign the paperwork.
The icing on the cake was when I was departing the field, ATC asked me how it went, and I actually said, “You’re talking to the newest pilot in Florida” He said Congrats. After that, I was homeward bound as a Private Pilot.

Happy Pilot

Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


It was 41,558,400 seconds since the last post was added to this site. 1 year, 3 months, and 24 days. My faithful followers have asked me countless times when the next post is coming to Wait no more two pals of mine!

What has Waner been up to? To answer to the question you haven’t asked yet, no, I’m not a Pilot yet, but I have been flying, just not as often as any student pilot should.

Since my last post I:

  • Flew to Bartow with my instructor and picked up a friend for lunch at Jack Brown’s.
  • Did the same trip the next day, this time solo, and had lunch at my friend’s house to complete the long cross country requirement for my certificate.
  • Earned a 95% on my written exam. some say I wasted 15 points (the minimum is 70%) I’m a wee bit upset at my self for not getting a perfect score.
  • Flew across the state in an SR20.
  • Landed a 152 in the grass at Labelle.
  • Joined the Board of Directors of the Fort Myers Flying Club.
  • Became Communications Officer (Webmaster, Newsletter Editor) the FMFC Checkout the new website, if you’re thinking about joining let me know
  • Took a picture of a plane landing on water (on purpose)
  • Became a part of a great General Aviation community:
  • And of course, day-dreamed pretty much every waking hour of flying as a fully fledged Private Pilot

The last 481 days have been a completely roller coaster ride for us. Times of complete and utter happiness alongside times of the most extreme human difficulties. It’s time to set my eyes on the prize and work towards my checkride. I set several goal dates last year for a checkride and saw each one pass me by, not once actually scheduling it. My birthday is coming up in March, I won’t be a pilot before I blow out the candles, but I’ll sure be on my way.

Join me for the ride?

Splash down in the Caloosahatchee River

Splash down in the Caloosahatchee River

Posted in Aviation | 3 Comments

I was awarded a Flying Scholarship

In the Fall of 2012 the Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association (AOPA) awarded 4 scholarships, and they deemed me worthy enough to receive one!

Four different organizations sponsored the scholarships through AOPA. My sponsor was the respected aviation supply and academies company ASA. In addition to a check for $5000 to finish my Private Pilot training, they also flew me to Palm Springs California for their annual convention, AOPA Aviation Summit.

My first flight since my three-month hiatus was on October 20, 2012. I took my instructor, Skip Bentley, and got reacquainted with N3521Q, our flying club’s Cessna 172.

Let it be known that you too can get scholarships. The AOPA scholarship application and information can be found at

Here is the official AOPA press release about this year’s recipients.

You can read the article on me by AOPA writer Dan Namowitz here.

I also want to congratulate my fellow scholarship recipients:
Matt Metcalfe, winner of the Jeppesen Flight Training Scholarship from Guntersville, Alabama.
Emma Quedzuweit, winner of the Richard J. Santori Memorial Scholarship
from Weimar, California.
Thomas Newman, winner of the Jimmie Allen Flying Club Flight Training Scholarship from Brighton, Colorado.

Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Pie from Across the State

I flew across the country! Well according to what the FAA considers a cross country trip. I traveled for the first time in a plane that I was flying over 50 natuical miles from my home airport.
My trip was to Okeechobee County Airport known as OBE from here forward.

DATE: 03JUL2012
TIME: 0930 – 1530 EDT
MILESTONES: 1st Cross Country, 1st SOLO Cross Country

After checking (and fixing) my flight planning numbers in the morning we did a through preflight of N3521Q and we were off on a north east departure to OBE.
Continue reading

Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

First Solo Flight at 13.5 hours!

Life is about tests, tests that need a pencil, tests of character, tests from God, and of course tests from the FAA. I passed my first test (not counting my medical exam) that stands between me and my pilot certificate. My Pre-Solo knowledge quiz. I didn’t have to go anywhere special for this examination. My Certificated Flight Instructor administered the test, and I passed. Not a perfect score, but it really opened my eyes to the areas I need to concentrate on when studying for the Knowledge test later on.
On three separate days I thought I would solo, but my skills and concentration just weren’t good enough. What was really frustrating is that the lesson before I handed in my Pre-solo test, my flying was really good, I mean really really good. The Easter holiday came in after that and I postponed a lesson, those few extra days in between lessons was enough to allow a little rust to settle in. Instead of waiting a whole week after my April 14th lesson, My wife and I decided that I should take a lesson during the week to refresh myself of what I’m supposed to be doing in the pattern, and prepare to Solo that following Saturday, during my usual lesson time slot.

On the evening of April 19, 2012  I soloed a plane for the first time! For those that don’t know, Soloing is a HUGE milestone on the journey to becoming a Private Pilot, and from what other pilots have told me, “That night is a night I’ll never, ever forget.” And after reading this, hopefully you won’t either.

The setup
3 Touch and Goes with my CFI from Runway 23 at KFMY. We grade each landing together, for the first one I gave myself a 6.5. According to Skip, I’m too harsh on myself, he said that landing was a 9. The other two landings were very good as well. My approach did get a bit higher each time, but I adjusted and made it safely to ground.
I take him back to the hangars and as he starts to get out of the plane, a giant smile is glued on my face but just behind that smile is this fear, a small voice saying “DON’T LET SKIP LEAVE THE PLANE!” Of course he gets out, and I’m on my own. I taxi to runway 23 and before I know it I’m off. I push the throttle in and realize that I only have a few seconds to abort. 3521Q reaches 55 knots and I pull back on the stick and we’re I’m airborne. In a split second it hits me that I am the Pilot in Command of this craft and it’s my responsibility to bring this plane (and myself) back to earth safely.

Flying the Pattern
My nervousness melted away at about 500 feet and it felt natural. I thought I would feel the big difference of not having another adult in the plane, but I didn’t, that is until I noticed I reached 1,000 feet much sooner than before. That actually helped, by getting to Traffic Pattern Altitude sooner I had more time to think about my pattern.   I report midfield, turn base, turn crosswind, land, reset, take off again. I did a total of 4 landings by myself and all of my landings were not that bad.

Air traffic controller instructs me to take taxiway Alpha 4 off the runway to the Alpha hangars. Simple enough, that’s the taxiway we normally take from either runway 5 or 23. I see the sign “A4” I turn and I find the view outside of my window very different than what I’m use to. It turns out you have to turn after the sign. I actually turned on Alpha 5. I asked ATC, “If I can use this one instead” he said sure and gave me instructions from there.

Simple mistake to fix, thank goodness it wasn’t my checkride, I’m pretty sure that would have failed me, falling under the “Deviating from an ATC directive” rule. Let’s chalk it up to nerves.

What really made a lasting impression, are not the landings that I made, or the great sunset I got to witness, or the fact that I had the airport all to myself (expect for a Cessna that came in while I was on downwind, and had no effect on me) but the words from my CFI letting me know that he hasn’t felt this confident with endorsing a Solo student in a very long time. He said those words before he left me alone in that plane, and hearing him say that, I knew I could do this.

Waner - 1st Solo flight, picture by Amanda Del Rosario

Waner - 1st Solo flight, picture by Amanda Del Rosario

Just the numbers
Total Hours: 14.2
Total Dual: 13.5
Total Solo: 0.7
Landings: 39ish

Questions, or Concerns about my first Solo Flight? Leave a comment below!

Posted in Aviation | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Lesson 8: New Airport!

Today’s lesson started with the realization that I know next to nothing about the plane that is keeping me in the air. I can tell that skip is prepping me for my Solo. This morning he was asking questions about my plane. The first one I knew, What Kind of plane is this. A confident Waner answered: “A 2001 Cessna Skyhawk 172s” That was pretty much the only question I got right. The actual mechanics, engine specifics, electronics, I knew near nothing! It was a real eye opener. My trusty CFI pointed me to the proper page in the Pilot’s Operating Manual and told me to study it.

This time we were on a northeastern departure from Page Field, We haven’t done this one before. We were off to La Belle Municipal Airport, a small, non-towered general aviation 25NM away away from Page Field. On our way there, we fly close to Buckingham Airfield, Another small airport even closer to Page Field. Now remember, Page Field Airport is very close to the Fort Myers International Airport (KRSW). The international airport lies within a Class C airspace, and I would need permission to enter it. We stay clear of the Class C airspace and continue flying towards La Belle. Almost as soon as we leave FMY, Skip tells me to dial in the Buckingham CTAF, and report our position. CTAF is the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. Airports that don’t have a tower or the tower is closed for the night have a CTAF where pilots can tell the other pilots in the area that “HEY, we’re here and this is what we want to do!” When flying through the air you are bound to fly over, or near other airports. And if you are close enough to their activity it only makes sense from a safety standpoint to alert other pilots that you are in the area. It’s also a good idea to know where the other pilots are. After this short explanation, I’m late in calling our position for Buckingham Traffic, Skip jumps in and saves the day. This is my first lesson of the day in distractions.

Maneuvers & Navigation in Foggles
About half way between Buckingham and La Belle we climb to a safer altitude, and I slip  the fantastic field finishing Foggles over my eyes for some simulated instrument training. Remember, a Private Pilot applicant needs to have completed 3 hours. I completed 20 minutes today. While under the hood (another term for Simulated Instrument Conditions) I do some maneuvers and start tracking the La Belle VOR. Now this Navigational Aid is not located on the airport, but leaving from a specific radial from a VOR will take you somewhere. That’s where your charts and Airport directory come in handy. I like navigating by VOR.  I’m sure that once I have my Ticket, I’ll travel mostly by GPS, just like I imagine a good portion of the pilot population does. But I’ll make sure to keep my VOR skills up to par; it’s fun to track your location using radio waves, and you never know when your gps will not work correctly.

The LaBelle VOR

The La Belle VOR - Picture by Me!

Leaving the VOR to get to the actual airport was suppose to be easy enough, but I’m still having trouble making out airports from the air. Luckily there was a Skylane coming in from the north, and I just followed him in for downwind to runway 14. So here we are, I’m taking N3521Q in for a landing at an airport that has a few hangars, and grass right next to the runway. Coming to this airport will not only help me in the navigation portion of flying, but in landing as well. How so? well, not all airports are created equally. The runway where I’m used to land is 150 feet wide. The space gives me plenty of room for lateral deviation. Better known as, not keeping centerline. At this smaller airport, the runway is only 75 feet wide, less room for error, remember the grass I mentioned? Landing here will force me to address my centerline issues head on.
The first landing was pretty good. The second traffic pattern and landing even better! I push the throttle in, and take off again. I notice that Skip is working the radio, reporting our position as I move about the pattern. On my next take off, I try my hand at speaking on the CTAF. But it was a bit more work than I thought, by the time I get to Base, my airplane is further out, My flaps aren’t right, and I’m carrying excessive airspeed. I had a lot going on in the last 30 seconds, but I regrouped and saved the landing. The actual touchdown was ok, but everything up to point was [insert four letter word]. Skip Gave me a “C-” for it.
Lesson two in distractions while flying.

After that landing it was time to head back to Page Field. This time we use GPS and he shows me a new way to find an airport; instead of using the knob to key in each letter on the GPS, I hit the NEAR button and find the airport from a list of airports that are closest to me. The ride back was smooth and we go over some visual checkpoints. Skip sadly points out a private airfield that has been closed. Story goes that the Pilot died and the widow painted X’s on the field and put up blockades on the runway.  Makes me dream of owning my own runway someday. Remind me to take a picture next time I fly over it.

Page Field was a bit busier than we left it. The controller had me on a very extended downwind, more practice for slow flight! This time the landing was much better, and everything  just clicked. It felt natural to come in for a landing. I can tell that this new found confidence is going to go far in my flight training.


24MAR2012 - GPS Track

24MAR2012 - GPS Track

Comments Questions or concerns about this flight, let me know in the comments!

Just the numbers
Hours Today:
Total: 1.4
Dual: 1.4
Solo: 0.0
Landings: 4
Total Hours
Total Hours: 9.8
Total Dual: 9.8
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 26


Posted in Aviation | 1 Comment

Lessons 5, 6, 7: Steep Turns, Touch and Goes and mostly not air sick!

I owe you a few flight lesson write ups. So grab some popcorn and enjoy:

Radio Talk
Unlike other Primary student pilots, I’m not scared on the radio. I haven’t been since that first lesson, but boy, I am making some mistakes. Each time getting better, at least that’s what I think.
Some examples:
The morning call of Lesson 6 I botched by Saying “Page Tower” instead of “Page Ground” Forgot to say that I have the current ATIS Information, Forgot to give my location, forgot to give my direction of departure and also stumbled on top of all that.
My first call for Lesson 7 was much better, I was smooth and only missed my departure information. I guess the luck of the Irish was on my that morning (It was St. Patrick’s Day afterall). I think a major factor has to do with thinking before you speak. Ask any parent and they’ve probably given this piece of advice countless times, apparently it also works in an airplane. So now that I’ll be thinking before I key in the Microphone I should be a lot better. But don’t you worry, I still managed to goof the calls later in the day. During Touch-and-Goes I reverted to calling our plane 321Q. It’s ok, the tower controller kindly reminded me that my call sign is in fact 3521Q. I replied with my correct call sign and thanked her. She seems nice, I think I’m going try to set up an interview with her for this site.
Are there any questions that you would like me to ask her? Let me know in the comments below.

Steep Turns
During Lesson 5 Skip introduced me to the closest thing to the a roller coaster without stepping up to a “You-must-be-this-tall-to-ride sign that I’ve felt: Steep Turns. They are in fact just like regular turns but happen much faster, much much faster. The first few times I blew right passed my assigned heading, and because the wings are banked more, it requires more back pressure to keep the craft at the same altitude. But after a few 360s and then a few 180s I was getting the hang of it. This is one maneuver I’m sure to practice more in the future.

On the day we did steep turns I was introduced to view limiting devices or as the aviation industry calls it, Foggles. Think sunglasses that got too much tint at the factory. They block me from seeing out the windows while still allowing me to see my instruments. Skip was asking if I was feeling fine (Air Sick wise) and I said yes. He grabbed his pair of foggles and I slapped them on. We did some basic maneuvers while I was under “simulated” Instrument conditions. Now remember, I am training for my Private Pilot License, There is in fact an instrument rating that comes afterwards, but according to the FAA I need 3 hours under simulated instrument conditions.
I’ve read the dangers about flying in Instrument Conditions or even in Marginal VFR: your brain isn’t getting enough cues from the outside world so it’s not really sure where your body is going, or how it’s facing. After putting on the Foggles Skip wanted to demonstrate this to me. I closed my eyes, and he did a few things to the plane, I could feel the plane make a hard left, then, up then down and left. After a while he asked what is the plane doing? I answered very confidently, turning to the left. I looked at my attitude indicator and to my surprise the plane was flying straight and level. A few of these “Guess what the plane is doing” really showed that you can’t trust your body if you can’t see the ground. To combat “Spatial Disorientation” the FAA recommends to trust your instruments. If my body thinks I’m turning left, and the plane says its flying straight, I need to fight the urge to turn to the left. Trust your instruments.

Low Flight
During Lesson 6 we did a few ground maneuvers and then we ventured north to a body of water that I’ve never seen before. Skip quizzed me by asking, “Over open water how far above the ground can an aircraft be?” I said the surface, so down we went looking for manatees. It was a warm day so not to easy to find. I level off at a comfortable height above the water, and we fly around and enjoy nature. On our climb he said, “take me home”. Those words. Simple enough when you know where home is, it also helps if you know where you are. I was utterly lost. But technology and I are friends, so after pulling myself together I zoomed out on the GPS and pointed the plane towards KFMY. Afterwards he said good job I asked him how would he prefer I navigate. He explained by whatever means. For the exams I’ll need to know many ways. So there is a big study point for me. Right now I’m learning more about VOR’s.

Touch and Goes
You take off from the airport, fly the traffic pattern, and land. Without coming to a full stop, you do it again. We’ve done about 12 total so far. The very last circuit of the day I did without his input both verbally and physically. After a quick glance at Skip on Final,” I focused my attention out the front window and knew I was doing ok. I landed it all on my own.
Skip quickly gave me a few hearty side slaps and I knew that it was a proud moment for both of us. This last landing leads us to our next topic. Solo.

Getting Ready for Solo
We pull off the runway and he tells me to celebrate, he has the plane (aka he is controlling it) We pull up to our hangar, I call for gas, and he starts telling me that soon he’ll give me a pre-solo test, and then it will be time for me to reach a big a milestone, the Solo. I’m a little nervous, but I think I’m doing ok.

GPS Tracks for



10MAR2012 - GPS Track

10MAR2012 - GPS Track

17MAR2012 - GPS Track

17MAR2012 - GPS Track


Just the Numbers
Total Hours: 8.4
Total Dual: 8.4
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 22

Posted in Aviation | 1 Comment

Lesson 4: Slow flight and stalls. part 2

I took some raw ginger about an hour before my flight and I thought it was helping with my nausea. I felt great up until after a few maneuvers. At that point, just a little bit of queasiness hit me. Skip took this as an opportunity to show me more of the autopilot. At this point I asked a question that I’m assuming many pilots have asked at some point while in the air, “Where are we?” Skip told me to look around I found Punta Gorda to my left, and then he said to bring out my chart. I found the group of tall antennas out of my window, and I found it on my sectional chart.  Identifying landmarks gives you a pretty close idea of where you in the world. To really know where you are you can navigate by VOR. VHF omnidirectional radio range beacons are devices located on the floor that broadcasts a separate signal in all directions of the compass. You can tune in to that beacon and know where you are on one line from that VOR. Tune into a second VOR the same way, and where the two lines intersect you have your position.

On our way back to Page Field, we listen to a lot of chatter. I guess a holiday and great weather brings out the pilots. We enter the downwind for runway 05 and our ATC was about to give us clearance to land number 2 but then decided that he didn’t like that spacing so he asked us to make a 360 to the right. Remember Turns about a point? We picked a buoy just off the shore of the river and reentered the downwind in the same
spot we left it, but two minutes later.

We line up with the runway for a touch and go, and I complete my first unassisted landing. Let me describe my first landing without any physical help from my Flight Instructor in one word: BOOM. It wasn’t a plane-bending landing, just a bit harder than what I was used to. Skip reassures me that I’ll get better at them.

Moments after my less-than-perfect landing, we remove flaps and apply full power for another take off and make a right turn to stay in the traffic pattern.
Our controller asks us to extend our downwind to allow traffic to land in front of us. A quick push of the microphone confirms that instruction, and Skip says “Perfect! We just practiced slow flight!” So I put our trusty C-172 in slow configuration and look for the plane in front of us. We pull the plane in for a nice landing ( I think he helped this time)

In a matter of minutes I put into practice things that were recently taught to me: turns around a point and slow flight. It’s not everyday you get taught something and use it so soon (when was the last time you used the quadratic equation?)

Have I mentioned I really love flying?

20FEB2012 GPS Track

20FEB2012 GPS Track

Here is a picture of my my flying route from that day.

Download the Google Earth kmz file here: 20FEB2012.kmz

Just the numbers
Hours Today:
Total: 1.4
Dual: 1.4
Solo: 0.0
Landings: 2
Total Hours: 4.1
Total Dual: 4.1
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 6


Posted in Aviation | Leave a comment

Lesson 4: Slow flight and stalls. part 1

My last flying lesson happened on President’s Day. I arrive at the airport and start inspecting the plane. She flew earlier that day by another Club member who is just about ready to take his Checkride. By the time Skip gets to N3521Q I have most of the exterior inspected. I think I’m losing my preflighting jitters, I feel more confident that I can make sure the plane is safe to fly. While Skip pulls the plane out and in the middle of doing our pre-start checks one of the other Club planes pulls into the taxiway to hangar up after their flight. I see a family a four get out and and instantly dream of my future flying trips with my friends and family. The space between the hangars is wide enough for one plane, so the other plane was  effectively blocking us in, but the pilot is courteous and moves the plane quickly into the hangar, and even guides us through giving us a thumbs up until we are passed him.
I learn that even when not in a plane, communication is vital for keeping everyone and everything safe.

I make the call to Air Traffic Control asking to taxi to runway 05 today. He instructs and I read back. For the rest of the flight I do most of the calls, with Skip picking up when it’s really busy or if it’s a rather complex call. Dare I say it, but I think that listening to really helps with learning what to say and finally getting rid of any Mic Fright that I had before this flight. Now, I’m not saying I speak perfectly on the radio, that will come with years of flying, but I do think I reached over the hump that all student pilots will go through, that initial hesitation before pushing the mic button.
Listen for yourself: Pre Takeoff Radio talk by Waner in N3521Q

Shortly after take off we find out why having air traffic control is important.There was a plane about 1.5 miles to the front and east of us. We saw him and we know he saw us because Page Tower advised him of traffic (that’s us) and he acknowledged.  After we clear the class C Air Space of Fort Myers International (RSW) I get my first experience with a stuck microphone. When I pilot calls on the frequency he has to be sure that he let’s go of the button, or that it doesn’t get stuck, otherwise the airwaves will be be jammed. The controller eventually figured out who the culprit was and the waves were cleared by the time we switched back.

Slow flight
Skip introduced slow flight to me today. The experience of slowing the plane down while staying in the air is pretty cool. You can see the ground below you almost stop moving, and you feel yourself move forward in your seat as you pull back power from the plane. We do a couple of slow flight turns, and I can clearly see that the plane responds differently while in slow flight, the controls feel mushy and slow to respond. During the slow flight turns I have to hold the plane in the opposite direction of the turn because the plane is so unresponsive. In the days after my lesson I spoke to another pilot and he said that in a strong enough headwind and small enough plane you can stop in the air, and even fly backwards using slow flight procedures. WILD!

It’s not a scary word, not when talking about flying. When a car stalls, the engine quits, but in aviation the term stall refer to the inability of the wing to produce lift. Ok, maybe that does sounds scary, but the inherent  stability of planes make recovery from a stall natural for a plane. Not only that, as I learned for a Cessna 172, it’s difficult to stall. The basic instructions to bring a plane to stall is simple, lower the power and raise the wings until you stall. This increases the angle of attack and disrupts the airflow over the wings.
To recover from a stall, add power and lower the angle of attack, the wings should start producing lift almost immediately. Planes are equipped with stall warning horns that the plane is about the enter a stall. In big Airliners they also have a shake stick that shakes the control wheel when there is stall immanent. These are meant to get the attention of the pilot to fix the plane’s attitude (that’s the angle of attack in relation to the horizon) before a stall happens. We practice a few and I’m sure during my flight training I will practice many more.

Read the rest of this write up for lesson 4 in part two of this post.

Posted in Aviation, FMY, Lessons | Leave a comment

Weather, Nausea, and a New Runway! Oh, my!

A cold front moved into South West Florida precisely when I wanted to fly on Saturday morning. As Skip and I were preflighting N3521Q, some nasty low clouds came in and we thought we might have to cancel our training today. From the basic understanding of aviation weather that I have, I thought that cold fronts were suppose to bring clear skies and calm air. Skip confirmed that they did, but only after they roll in.
So here we are, checking the plane to make sure she can fly today all the while looking at the rotating beacon making sure it doesn’t turn on.
The rotating beacon is a light that can be seen from the air (and some roads). The light tells pilots at night “Hey there’s an airport here!” A rotating beacon that flashes white then green identifies that airport as a general aviation airport and open for landing. But if it is on during the day, it generally means that the weather is IFR only.
The weather held up as we reached the end of the hangars, even though we had the latest ATIS information, the winds changed so much that they favored a different runway. I feel much more comfortable taxiing up to runway 31 even though this a new runway for me. After a few minutes of doing our before-takeoff checks we get clearance for take off and with the plane under my control, we are off the ground. This time we were heading to the the southwest to avoid the clouds rolling in from the north.
After leveling off at around 950 feet Skip reports that the clouds are around 1100-1200 feet. Our air traffic controller thanked us for the information and approved frequency change.

Turns About a Point
We get near Fort Myers Beach and Skip explains Turns about a Point as a ground reference maneuver where a pilot picks a spot on the surface and does a 360 around that point. Good points are the intersections of major roads, churches water towers or anything else you can clearly see from the air . Learning to fly in Florida, a student pilot has the luxury of using unique reference points. Today for example, we used small islands near the beach! Turning around in a circle sounds pretty easy, and on a day when the winds are 0, it should be. But rarely is there a day when the winds are completely non-existent, so the pilot has to take into account all the stages of the wind (downwind, upwind, and crosswind). During each quadrant of the circle you have to adjust your bank angle. Adjusting your angle of attack is the way you keep the same altitude. Remember, flying adds that third dimension, up and down. When practicing turns about a point, you need to keep the reference point in the same spot, but you also need to keep the altitude and air speed the same.
We did three turns about a point, 2 to the left and one to the right. Using two islands and a big tree in the middle of a bridge as our reference points.

S-Turns Across a Road
Let’s say you’re a pilot that is coming in to land in a non-towered airport, when up ahead you see a plane that has not been communicating on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency, or CTAF for short (which is completely legal if all the requirements are met). Because the fundamental rule for Visual Flight Rules is “See and Avoid” i.e. look out for other planes, and don’t play tag with them, it is your job to maintain a safe distance from the other plane. Instead of calling it quits and turning around, you can perform a 360 (remember turns around a point?) or you can try doing some S-turns.
S-turns are 180s along a straight road or rail road tracks. This allows you to increase the time it takes you to get to the end of the “road” or more typically the runway. Skip and I completed 4 S-turns before I started to feel nauseated.
Here is a good example of S-turns.

S-Turns example

S-Turns example. Remember to always take the wind into account.

Skip told me to pop open the windows and get some fresh-air. Going 120 Knots (About 130 mph) I opened the window, I think the sheer excitement of opening the windows at that speed cured my nausea. I’m sure the fresh air helped. He also introduced me to the autopilot to help fly the plane while I shed the nausea.

We start heading back to Page Field. The clouds don’t look any better. Skip makes contact with the Air Traffic Controller and he clears us to land on Runway 31. I repeat back the call to ATC. I still feel like the plane is getting ahead of me when we’re coming in to land. Good thing Skip is still there.

Here is a picture of where I flew during this lesson. The GPS track is not very accurate. This has to do with a few things. The cloud coverage that we had that day interfered with my iPhone GPS. The App that I use only updates every few seconds so it doesn’t get very detailed tracks, especially during the turns.

GPS Track of Waner

I’ll be trying out a new app, and on a new phone. Let’s see how those GPS Tracks look like.

Next flying lesson we’ll be practicing slow flight. Make sure to sign up to receive the next post in your inbox.

Until Next Week. Happy Flying!
Just the numbers:
Hours Today:
Total: 1.1
Dual: 1.1
Solo: 0.0
Landings: 1
Total Hours: 2.7
Total Dual: 2.7
Total Solo: 0.0
Landings: 4

Posted in Aviation, FMY, Lessons | Tagged , | Leave a comment