Sun, 9 December 2007
Sat, 1 December 2007
Airspeed - A Mooney, Some Camping Gear, a Pillow, and a Shopping Bag Full of Charts - Going Places with Ron Klutts
Ron Klutts and I have carried on a correspondence for more than a year and we finally met in person at AirVenture Oshkosh this summer. Ron and a friend had flown all the way from Palo Alto and had made a two-week ossyssey out of the OSH trip.
So when I thought about doing a show on going places (far-away places) Ron naturally came to mind. In this episode, we talk about long-distance GA flying. How to plan, what to take, how to pack, and other lessons learned from two nearly trans-continental trips.
Also check out Ron's appearance on The Pilot's Flight PodLog - Episode 9.
Thu, 15 November 2007
We interview pilot, CFI, CFII, MEI (add additional initials until your fingers hurt from typing) Tony Condon. Tony (whose shadow appears in the foreground above) hangar-flies with us to talk about glider operations and his philosophy of flight. He's based at Ames Municipal Airport just south of town in Ames, Iowa, from which he flies and instructs. We caught up with him Wednesday evening and talked for about an hour.
Sat, 3 November 2007
We interview aerobatic pilot and Red Bull Air Racer Mike Goulian.
Some housekeeping as well, and a special offer from Gleim. Be sure to get your Airspeed listener discount of 25% off the price of any Gleim Pilot Kit by using the promotional code "ASPD" for a limited time only. www.gleim.com or (800) 874-5346.
Thu, 25 October 2007
I passed the checkride this morning! Thanks for the cards and letters. They meant (and continue to mean) a lot.
I received approval from the examiner to include audio from the checkride in a future episode, so you can expect to hear the highlights sometime soon.
In the meantime, it's back to Airspeed as usual. Upcoming episodes include an interview with Castrol aerobatic and racing pilot Mike Goulian, flying skydivers in the Super Otter with Dave Schwartz of Skydive Radio, and lots more.
Wed, 24 October 2007
Got the oral done today, but ceilings prevented the actual flight portion. Flight rescheduled for Thursday morning!
Thu, 18 October 2007
Just checked the terminal aerodrome forecast for KFNT for tomorrow. Blech! Not looking good for tomorrow. Got an aircraft scheduled Tuesday as a backup, but I'd really rather just get this done. Not going to cancel until I get the TAF for KFNT tomorrow morning, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope.
Sun, 14 October 2007
Greetings from Jack Hodgson Country! Ceilings too low on the 11th to do the checkride. Rescheduled for Friday the 19th.
Sat, 6 October 2007
T-minus 5 days until the IFR checkride! Flew a lot of sim today and I'm feeling pretty good about things. Lots of study to do, but I have a program in place and am excited about finishing up this rating!
Wed, 3 October 2007
Got some sim time last night and made up a lot of my flashcards for studying. Also some ruminations here about backcourses expectations for the checkride.
Mon, 1 October 2007
Checkride Update for 1 October. 9:00 pm EDT at Kirby's Koney at Square Lake and Woodward in Bloomfield Hills. Off to a slow start. Spent most of the weekend and all day today at work. Went to Kirby's Koney for dinner and edited a bit more of the book. Going to go fly some sim in the morning. Probably partial-panel approaches to some relevant airports. Trying to get work out of the way so I can spend a few evenings studying my hiney off.
Sun, 30 September 2007
T-minus 12 days to the IFR checkride! Follow along with this special miniseries of episodes as I prep for the FAA Instrument Pilot checkride!
Mon, 24 September 2007
A little essay that answers the question for me.
Thu, 13 September 2007
We follow up the Cirrus SR22 GTS Turbo demo ride with a conversation with Alan Klapmeier, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Cirrus Design. We talk about the Cirrus philosophy and the third-generation Cirrus aircraft, as well as Cirrus' entry into both the jet and light sport markets.
More information about Cirrus Design at www.cirrusdesign.com.
Fri, 31 August 2007
Another installment of flying OPA (other people's airplanes)! I took a ride in the Cirrus SR22 GTS Turbo. Cirrus Design and AirShares Elite attended the annual open house a few weeks ago at my home airport, the Oakland County International Airport (called "Pontiac") (KPTK) and brought along three gorgeous Cirrus SR22s, all with the third-generation technology recently introduced by Cirrus.
Fri, 10 August 2007
The second of my 2007 aerobatic rides!
Contact Information for Michael:
Fri, 3 August 2007
NSFW version of the song is at http://media.libsyn.com/media/airspeed/FirstSoloHeyDon.mp3.
We're back from AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 and beginning the decompression process. For this episode, I'm hauling out a song I recorded about my first solo a few months after it happened.
Many of you have heard the podcast episode about my first solo (the show notes for which are here), but there's a funny side, too. I loaded all of the angst and energy into a song called First Solo and recorded it and gave a copy to Don Fuller, the CFI who soloed me. I don't know why it hasn't occurred to me before now to include the song in an episode of the podcast, but I thought about it on the drive home and decided to do it.
It's way too long, contains too many details, and isn't the best sound-engineering job I've ever done (I did all of the engineering in addition to performing all of the instrumental parts and all of the vocals except for two of the radio voices without much help in setting the levels, etc.) but it's a fun tune and you guys might appreciate it. So I post it now for what it's worth.
Thanks to John Crowe and Doug Parker for playing the parts of YIP tower and Don Fuller respectively.
Tue, 31 July 2007
Pod-A-Palooza 2007 went off without a hitch on Friday. Members of The Flying Pilot, Uncontrolled Airspace, UltraFlight Radio, The Pilotcast, The Student Pilot Flight PodLog, The CFIcast, The Finer Points, and, of course, Airspeed, gathered in Forum No.2 to on Friday, July 27 at AirVenture Oshkosh 2007 to hangar-fly.
See the full show notes at www.airspeedonline.com.
Wed, 25 July 2007
We all know that the best formation aerobatics teams fly great formations and match each other's moves with great precision. But have you listened to a really good team? The formation maneuvers match pitch beautifully and the series maneuvers not only look the same but sound the same.
Here's some audio from the Aeroshell Team's performance today.
Aeroshell Aerobatic Team website: http://www.naat.net/
Sun, 15 July 2007
See the full show notes at www.airspeedonline.com.
We talk to Boeing Stearman PT-17 pilot John Mohr of Mohr Barnstorming at the Battle Creek Balloon Festival and Field of Flight Air Show.
John will be at Oshkosh July 23 through 29 and then he performs August 11-12 at the Bay City Air Show at Bay City, Michigan, August 18-19 at the Canada Remembers Air Show at Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and then August 25-26 at the Wichita Flight Festival at Withica, Kansas. After that, it’s on to Toronto, Terre Haute, Columbus, St. Petersburg, Randolph AFB, and Stuart, Florida. See more schedule information at http://www.mohrbarnstorming.com/.
Thanks to John for taking some time to talk to us at Airspeed and thanks also to the Battle Creek Balloon Festival and Field of Flight Air Show. http://www.bcballoons.com/.
Fri, 6 July 2007
We talk to LCDR Craig Olson, Opposing Solo of the US Navy Blue Angels. Dan McNew and I were treated to a Blue angels demonstration flight from the ramp of the Western Michigan University School of Aviation on the northeast corner of the field at Battle Creek International Airport (KBTL) in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Blue Angels arrived at about 10:30 local and the diamond and the solos, respectively, flew familiarization maneuvers between then and 2:30. The team then flew a full demo before meeting us out by the aircraft for interviews.
Full show notes at www.airspeedonline.com.
Blue Angels: www.blueangels.navy.mil
US Navy Recruiting: www.navy.com
US Marine Corps Recruiting: www.marines.com
Sat, 30 June 2007
We ran into Maj Jason Koltes, USAF, on the ramp at Battle Creek and managed to buttonhole him for a few minuteds to talk about the F-16 Fighting Falcon and what it's like to train and fly in the workhorse of the US fighter arsenal.
Wed, 27 June 2007
We interview Kathy Rocco, a director of the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival, on the Monday before the air show kicks off. Talk about busy!
Get out to an air show this summer and, when you do, thank a volunteer.
Check out the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival website at http://www.bcballoons.com/ for more information!
See the NOTAM at http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_7_5775.html.
Wed, 13 June 2007
Steve goes up in a highly-modified Pitts S-2C with pilot Brett Hunter. Yeah, baby!
Thu, 31 May 2007
In the words of today's guest, "You're not truly sh*t hot until there's a comic about you."
This week, we talk to Austin "Farva" May, the author of the relatively new web comic "Air Force Blues."
Air Force Blues directs a finely-tuned wit at the US Air Force and fighter pilots in particular. We caught up with Farva at his home during a recent evening to talk about the Air Force, flying, and comics.
May was an airborne surveillance technician on the Boeing E-3 Sentry for four years. The E-3 is a a military airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft that provides surveillance, command, control and communications in all weather conditions.
Air Force Blues website: www.afblues.com
Farva's AWACker MySpace page: www.myspace.com/awacker
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_Blues
USAF Recruiting: www.airforce.com
AWACker at Chairforce: http://www.chairforce.com/fun/awacker/awacker.htm
CAPblog's entry about AWACker.com: http://capblog.typepad.com/capblog/2004/07/awackercom.html
Thu, 17 May 2007
It's time once again to talk about the Civil Air Patrol, the auxiliary of the United States Air Force and one of the best volunteer opportunities in the country. As many of you know, I'm a CAP captain and the legal officer of the Oakland Composite Squadron (GLR-MI-238) and I also handle recruiting and public affairs duties.
For this episode, we invited Midway Six, a Civil Air Patrol Captain and publisher of CAPblog, to join us to talk Civil air Patrol for part of a pleasant spring evening.
E-mail us at email@example.com or leave voicemail at 206-339-8697 any time - day or night. You can also contact me directly at 248-470-7944.
Oakland Composite Squadron (GLR-MI-238) (My squadron!)
Fri, 4 May 2007
Long-time listeners to Airspeed will recall the episode we did last February about whole-airplane ballistic recovery parachutes and about Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc., better known to some as BRS Parachutes.
I’m a fan of the whole idea of ballistic recovery chutes. They provide an out in those relatively rare cases where no amount of diligence, skill, or luck will prevent you and your aircraft from having an unplanned interface with the planet. I’m talking about a control surface malfunction, loss of certain instruments in IMC, midair collisions, and engine failures where you’re too low, over unlandable terrain, or flying at night.
Recent deployments in both a Cirrus SR22 and a German ultralight that produced the company’s 200th and 201st saves – as well as the popularity of the systems in new light sport aircraft – warrant revisiting the company and its products.
BRS was founded in 1980 and is based in South St. Paul, Minnesota. The company develops and commercializes whole-aircraft emergency recovery parachute systems for use primarily with general aviation and recreational aircraft.
BRS parachute systems are designed to safely lower the entire aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an in-air emergency. The parachute system is designed for in-air emergencies that include mid-air collisions, structure failure, engine failure, pilot incapacitation, and unstable meteorological conditions, among other things. BRS is the largest manufacturer of whole-aircraft recovery systems in the world. Since inception, the company has delivered more than 23,000 systems that have been installed on general aviation aircraft (including more than 2,800 on FAA-certified aircraft).
As I disclosed the last time I covered BRS, I continue to own a small amount of the company’s stock and have held it since 2001. I try to let you guys know every time that I have anything that approaches a conflict of interest, so there it is. Take it for what it’s worth. I look at it as putting a little bit of my retirement fund where my mouth is.
We talked to Larry Williams, who is the chief executive officer, president, chief operating officer, and a director of BRS. Prior to joining BRS in 2000, he was vice president of business development at AmSafe Aviation in Phoenix, Arizona, the world’s largest manufacturer of aviation restraint systems. Prior to that and since 1995, he was group president at Rural/Metro Corporation, a Scottsdale, Arizona -based services company that engages in mobile health services, including emergency and non-emergency fire and ambulatory services. From 1985 to 1995, he was executive director of the Emergency Response Training Academy, a firm specializing in training of airport emergency response personnel.
Let’s go to the interview.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave voicemail at 206-339-8697 any time - day or night.
BRS contact information:
Ballistic Recovery Systems, Inc.
300 Airport Road
South Saint Paul MN 55075-3551
Associated Press: Bigger Planes Need Bigger Parachutes - http://news.postbulletin.com/newsmanager/templates/localnews_story.asp?z=7&a=292524
Fri, 20 April 2007
Here in the US and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere, airshow season is either here or right around the corner. Weâ??re making some early calls to some of the performers that youâ??ll see this summer to get a preview of the upcoming season and to find out a little more about what makes them tick.
Michael Mancuso is a fixture on the airshow circuit and this is his 10th year doing shows. He has 7,000 hours total time and commercial and instructor certificates. He started flying gliders at age 11 and soloed for the first time when he was 13. He and his family own Mid Island Air Service on Long Island in New York and Michael started Gyroscopic Obsessions in 1995 to teach aerobatics.
He competed in IAC aerobatics from 1992 to 1997 and then spent from 1998 to 2000 with the Northern Lights.
Michael flies the Klein Tools Extra 300L. The 300L is about 23 feet long and nine feet tall at the tail, and has a wingspan of about 25 feet. Itâ??s powered by a Textron Lycoming AEIO 540-L1B5 300 horsepower engine connected to an MT three-blade prop that pulls the aircraft through the air at 170 knots when cruising at 75% power. Itâ??ll get off the pavement in 315 feet, climb at more than 3,000 feet per minute, pull plus and minus 10 gâ??s, and do all kinds of crowd-pleasing gyrations between its 55-knot stall speed and Vne of 220 knots. The aircraft is built in Germany and certified in the United States.
We caught up with Michael as he was preparing to head down to Sun-n-Fun to talk about the Extra, aerobatics, airshows, and flight training, and we even got to talk a little about light sport aircraft.
Letâ??s go to the interview.
A couple of administrative notes and other cool things for you.
We've added a voicemail system so that you can leave us feedback and enter some of the upcoming contests! Call 206-339-8697 any time - day or night and leave us voice mail.
It's a Seattle number, but it's free to me, so that's all that matters! And it's always free when you call from work (thanks, TMBG!).
No, I haven't moved to Jet City. Still here in southeast Michigan waiting for the frost to melt off the planes so I can get up and train without turining the airplane into a Cessna-cicle.
To get us warmed up, let's kick off the first contest of the year. Call the Airspeed voice mail line and leave us a short message telling us one thing about aviation that non-pilots don't experience and probably won't understand until they get up. For me, the main thing that comes to mind is flying with a head cold and feeling like my face is caving in during descent. Or what it's like to fly with just your wheels in the clouds. But I'll bet that you guys can come up with even more funny, strange, and inspiring observations. Call us at 206-339-8697 and leave us your observations.
Also, please leave us your e-mail or other contact information because the best observation gets an Airspeed embroidered logo hat and we'll need to know where to send this standard-setting garment of 21st century aviation that will surely soon to take its place next to the silk scarf and the bomber jacket in the pantheon of aviation icons.
Lastly, but not leastly, there's good news from The Pilotcast! Everybody loves the video content that The Pilotcast has posted of late, but many of us miss the hangar-flying sessions with Pilot Mike, Pilot Dan, and Pilot Kent. the've recorded a new hanger-flying episode that should be up very shortly. If you haven't checked the Pilotcast feed lately, watch it over the next few days for the new episode. The Pilotcast is one of my two favorite hangar-flying shows on the net and I'm delighted that they're back talking shop. See the Pilotcast website at http://www.pilotcast.com/.
Aditional information for this episode:
Michaelâ??s web page: http://www.mmairshows.com/
Extra Aircraft: http://www.extraaircraft.com/
Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival: http://www.bcballoons.com
Klein Tools: http://www.kleintools.com/
Fri, 6 April 2007
Here's a change of pace from me running at the mouth. It's audio culled from three or four days of stalking airplanes through the rain, mist, clouds, and some sunshine.
Fri, 23 March 2007
Many of us think of test pilots as leather-faced guys in Nomex flight suits with eyes permanently reduced to slits by squinting into the sun across Rogers Dry Lake Bed at Edwards Air Force Base. And there are some of those.
But today we're going to talk about some test pilots who look a lot more like you and me. In fact, they are you and me.
Now I'm not suggesting that you go strap some JATO rockets to your RV-4 and push the big red button. What I'm talking about is systematically exploring the operating characteristics of the aircraft you fly and yourself as the pilot.
Here's an example. I've always wondered just how much altitude I would need to have before I'd consider trying to turn around and land on the departure runway if I lost the engine shortly after takeoff. There's even a great article about that very subject in AOPA pilot from four or five years ago. But I wanted to know what the numbers would be for the aircraft that I regularly fly and especially for me personally as the pilot in command.
So I decided to go play test pilot.
I set up a profile for the test in advance of the flight. I briefed it on the ground with the instructor and then briefed it again in the air right before the maneuvers. This isn't something you want to pull out of your ear while in flight. You won't have the test fully thought-out and you'll be distracted to boot.
So here's the test:
1. Establish a full-power climb at 79 knots (which is Vy - or best rate of climb - for this aircraft).
2. At a known altitude, pull the throttle to idle.
3. Wait for five seconds. This pause is to simulate the amount of time that it would likely take for a pilot to realize that he had an engine-out, evacuate his bowels, and initiate action.
4. Initiate a turn at 65 knots (which is the best glide speed for this aircraft) and up to 45 degrees of bank.
5. After 210 degrees of turn (180 degrees to reverse direction and another 30 degrees to point back at the runway), level out and note the altitude loss.
Because I'm already recording this for the podcast using an MP3 recorder plugged into the intercom, I don't have to worry about capturing data on paper or remembering it. I can just call out the data as it happens. Everything I'm calling out is something that I'd have to monitor anyway as a part of flying the airplane, so I'm not worried about being distracted. The only additional workload beyond that required to fly the plane in the first place is saying the instrument readings out loud so I can record them. Being that I'm preparing for my instrument checkride concurrently, Iâ??m already doing my John King call-outs, so this isn't much of a departure from normal procedure.
After putting together this rough outline of the test, I thought about what, if anything, might approach the operating envelope of either the aircraft or the pilot.
As far as the aircraft is concerned, the only thing I could think of that would approach the edge of the envelope would be being banked over pretty far and flying pretty slow. Any slow-speed maneuver necessarily makes one think about possible stalls and spins. So I looked at the pilot's operating handbook to verify that I'd have enough of a margin above a stall during the turn. The POH says that, in the clean configuration and with the weight and balance we had for that flight, the stall speed with 45 degrees of bank is 53 knots indicated. Plenty of room.
How about the pilot? I'm pretty good at slow flight and my steep turns are great. But I can't say that I'm good â?? or current â?? at doing both simultaneously. So I'll practice both separately before we do the test and I'll have a high-time CFII in the right seat and close to the controls as a safety measure.
There is perhaps some benefit to not being very current with slow steep turns. It might be a good proxy for being surprised or stressed. Additionally, low-speed, steeply-banked turns are not something that itâ??s likely that Iâ??ll end up practicing that often anyway, so not being current is a great proxy for not being current, too!
So, all that said, ace flight instructor Jamie Willis and I got into the plane on a beautiful severe-clear Thursday morning and went up to see what we could find out.
I hadnâ??t been up in months, so we went through some VFR basics to warm up. The steep turns were like the airplane was on rails. A nice little burble at the end of each one to tell me that I had flown through my own wake turbulence from the start of the turn. Slow flight and stalls were also all fine.
So we set up to do the test. Three iterations with the same procedure each time.
Hereâ??s the first one.
The airspeed was all over the map. As expected, I had a lot of trouble nailing the airspeed while rolling into the turn and then getting her around those 210 degrees. So we tried it again. This time, I asked Jamie to really ride me about the airspeed and he obliged.
Guys, this podcast is the real deal. Who else would let more than a thousand people sit in the back seat while he got dope-slapped by his instructor for chasing the airspeed needle up and down the dial? Iâ??m learning stuff here. But Iâ??m also not going to let it go at that. This needs another try, so here we go.
Much better. Iâ??m a little happier with that one.
So thatâ??s the test run. We proceeded to knock off the rest of the VFR rust on that flight and Iâ??m pleased to say that I greased all four landings after not having flown since September. I didnâ??t hurt that the wind was dead calm, but Iâ??ll take at least some credit for pilot skill.
Like any good test pilot, my debriefing included a frank discussion of the shortcomings of the test. Here's what I identified.
Â· The five-count may or may not be a good proxy for the amount of time that I might need to identify an engine-out and make the decision to turn back. I've never had an engine out, so I really don't know how I'd react.
Â· Accomplishing a 210-degree turn is not the same as getting back to a runway. Depending on the wind and any number of other factors, even a 210-degree turn might leave you a long way laterally off the runway and needing to glide back to the centerline â?? and then turn back that 30 degrees to align the aircraft with the centerline. If you're at, say, Willow Run airport with lots and lots of flat real estate even if not all of it is paved, that's less of a problem. Grass is okay by me in a pinch and I'll even take out a marker if I have to. But if you're at Troy Executive Airport with shopping centers, industrial buildings, and power lines hemming in the runway, that's an issue. Shopping centers are harder to land on than grass. I took a handheld GPS up on the flight with the intention of analyzing the vertical and horizontal track so that I could correct for winds at altitude (the preflight briefing called for winds at 320 at 33 at that altitude), but it turned out to be too complicated to work out in time for this episode. Maybe again on a day where the winds at altitude are closer to what you'd expect on the surface.
Â· The data I got would all go out the window if I don't pre-brief the procedure on every takeoff. That includes wind and turn direction. It also includes situational awareness of what's going on other runways, especially if the wind is such that your best turn direction is toward a parallel runway. The offset is good because you have less lateral distance to travel back to a runway (assuming that you're going to land on the parallel), but, if you're not sure that the parallel is clear, you could risk eating Learjet. Learjets are sometimes worse to land on than shopping centers. And they usually cost more.
Â· I need to work on my ability to establish and maintain pitch for a given airspeed when in steeply-banked turns. I was all over the map on two of the three trials and even the last trial had me behind the airplane a little. I think Iâ??ll make this maneuver a consistent part of my periodic VFR training.
Long story short, I now know that, if Iâ??ve pre-briefed the procedure before taking off and Iâ??m a little better than I have been at maintaining the best-glide speed of 65 knots while banked over 45 degrees, I could get probably get the plane turned 210 degrees within four hundred feet. What I donâ??t know is what kind of lateral position Iâ??d be in after the turn and whether Iâ??d be in a position to make it to the runway from there. Before I turn this into an actual operating procedure, Iâ??m going to have to figure out how to get event data out of the GPS and figure out the lateral part â?? and the remaining horizontal part â?? of the situation.
But thatâ??s whatâ??s good about going out and â?? within reason â?? being a test pilot. You add to what you know and you figure out what you donâ??t know. Done well within the flight envelope of the airplane and the pilot in command, and with appropriate safety precautions (and seasoned flight instructors who have had upset training tend to be good safety precautions), youâ??ll be a better, safer, and more thoughtful pilot.
Long-time listeners wonâ??t be surprised by the following disclaimers. I am by no means suggesting that you go out and do risky stuff. All of the maneuvers that I'm talking about are well within the normal operating envelope of the aircraft involved.
I have well over 100 hours in C-172s and probably 20 hours in this particular airplane. I went up with a 900-hour CFII who has hundreds of hours more than I do in C-172s and who has had training in unusual attitude and upset recoveries. The CFII had the seat forward and was close to the controls the whole time. It was a severe clear day over known territory. And we had flight following from Flint Approach the whole time for traffic advisories and in case we needed to talk to someone immediately in an emergency.
Nothing in what you've heard here is flight instruction or a recommendation about aircraft operations. Consult a qualified flight instructor before attempting anything you hear about on Airspeed.
Different aircraft do different things at different airspeeds and in different configurations and even the characteristics of the same model of aircraft will vary from specific aircraft to specific aircraft.
Donâ??t integrate anything you heard on this episode into your operating procedures. As you can tell from my commentary, Iâ??ve only figured out about half of what I need to know before even thinking about making any firm decisions about what Iâ??d do at any particular altitude or situation. And bear in mind that my personal flight skills and biases are inseparable from the results that I got. None of this is transferable to your particular situation because youâ??re probably not flying the same aircraft and youâ??re definitely not me (the latter of which will probably come as a relief to many of you).
Remember your training, observe the limitations in the pilot's operating handbook, and - above all - fly the airplane. But you knew that.
ASF Safety Advisor â?? Would You Make It? http://www.aopa.org/asf/publications/inst_reports2.cfm?article=5317
Fri, 9 March 2007
Check out the audio for a great description of the fast-growing sport of powered paragliding. An aircraft that costs less than $7,000 that you can easily fit in your trunk and that you can learn to safely operate with five days of training? You bet!
Not much in the way of transcript for this episode. I managed to get up on a flight this morning and did the intro and other housekeeping over the aircraft intercom for that "Yes-Captain-Force-actually-flies-aircraft-every-so-often" effect that's been so lacking since the weather and my professional obligations have conspired to keep me on the ground.
We were recording for an upcoming episode that'll be called "Test Pilot: You" or something to that effect. The order of the day was to determine the minimum altitude from which one might consider returning to the runway in the case of an engine failure on departure. The larger mission was to show how GA pilots can - and should - explore the actual operational capabilities of their aircraft and themselves under controlled conditions.
We had a lot of fun and I also got in some steep turns, slow flight, stalls, and pattern work. The VFR rust is basically off and I'm ready to go back under the hood for the last push toward the instrument rating!
Photo courtesy Ohio Powered Paragliding. Forward launch sequence performed by Bruce Brown as photographed by Rick Grimm. http://www.flyohio.com/Bruce%20Launch%20small%2072.jpg
Other information about Ohio Powered Paragliding and Powered Paragliding in general:Bruce Brown
Ohio Powered Paragliding
20683 Hull Prairie Road
Bowling Green, Ohio 43402
In northwest Ohio near Toledo at the crossroads of the Ohio Turnpike(I-80/90) and I -75.
FAR Part 103: http://www.usppa.org/Resources/FARs/part103_far.htm
US Powered Paragliding Association: www.usppa.org
Sat, 24 February 2007
This episode is the first in a series that will run through spring. No yet idea how many episodes will be in the series or exactly what the content will be, but we know this: Spring will be here soon and with it the best time of year in the Northern Hemisphere to learn to fly. And, for that matter, there's still a lot of good flying weather left for those listeners in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you've never been up in a general aviation airplane - or if you have, but haven't yet made the decision to start flight training in earnest, these episodes are for you. They're also for people who have started training on a certificate or rating but, for whatever reason, have stopped training.
I know exactly what I'm talking about here. I didn't start flight training until my mid thirties. I had a year-long hiatis in my training for the private pilot certificate when my son was born. And I always seem to have a hiatis toward the end of the year because my law practice tends to get very busy at that time of the year. Case in point, I'm probably four or five flights away from the instrument rating in a Part 141 program, but I'm almost embarassed to say how long it's been since I was last at the flight controls of anythng other than a Frasca 142 simulator - mainly because the weather hasn't been flyable, I'm slammed at work, and I have a couple of great kids that justifiably demand my attention.
But this is the year. I'm going to polish off the instrument rating. And if you have unfinished business at the airport - or have yet to start that business, the time is either now or very soon.
So we're doing a few episodes to give you the motivation and drive to get to the airport - or get back to the airport, as the case may be.
And what better way to start than to bring you John and Martha King.
John and Martha King are two of the best-known flight instructors and aviation advocates in the world. Starting in the early 1970s, they have built a business that has grown into an 18,000 square-foot complex in San Diego and reaches to every corner of the general aviation world through mail order, multimedia training, and personal appearances. Not to mention at least one podcast episode.
The Kings' bios would take at least 20 minutes to try to completely cover (I know - I tried), so we're just going to hit the highlights here. Each holds every single category and class of FAA pilot and instructor certificate. Each of them continues to be active in many categories, regularly flying everything from jet and piston airplanes and helicopters to weight-shift trikes and powered parachutes. They even serve as backup pilots for the Fujifilm blimp.
They lecture widely and make many public appearances. You may guess from some prior episodes that it was tough to get access to the people I've interviewed and you'd be right in some cases. Not so with the Kings. I was on the phone with then very quickly after requesting the interview. Lots of aviation icons talk a good game at the big events about being champions of general aviation and aerospace education, but the Kings put their day-to-day time and energy where their reputations are.
Lastly, I should tell you that I've been through the Cessna Pilot Center (or "CPC") series of CD-ROM training courses for both private and instrument pilot. Those programs featured the Kings heavily, in addition to Rod Machado and others. Even though I had already been through a private ground school in a Part 141 program before taking the CPC courses, I learned new things from the CPC courses and developed a better understanding of the things I already knew. I have not been through other multimedia courses except a but of the ASA instrument DVDs, and can say little one way or another about other courses, but I was already a pretty sophisticated consumer as private pilot training materials went, and found the Kings' materials very effective.
Anyway, on to the interview with John and Martha King.
Thanks to John and Martha King for appearing on Airspeed. You can find more information about John and Martha and about King Schools at www.kingschools.com. There's a link in the show notes at www.airspeedonline.blogspot.com to the article that I mentioned: Battling the "Big Lie:" John King's Crusade to Change Aviation's Culture. It's definitely worth a read by every pilot and by every every pilot's family and friends who have questions about safety in general aviation.
One other thing. I make it a point of telling you guys when I have anything that comes close to a conflict of interest. Like the episode about ballistic recovery parachutes where I disclosed my small stock holding in BRS Parachutes. One could be forgiven for thinking that my enthusiasm about the Kings is motivated by some advertising deal. But I received no promotional consideration from King Schools or anyone connected in any way with the Kings for this episode. None asked and none offered. Their materials are just that good and their generosity with their time is just that . . . well, generous.
There might be better training materials out there - and you should avail yourself of whatever works for you - but I was really happy with my experience with the Kings' materials and you probably would be, too. It's all about what makes your flight training experience most productive and what gets people up in the air sooner, more safely, and so inspired after each lesson that they spend five minutes in the parking lot of the flight school trying to figure out which key unlocks the car. Yeah, it can be that way sometimes. And it can be that way soon if you get yourself to the airport and take the first - or the next - step.
Lastly - and I'll get to this more in depth in a future episode - the best first step in pursuing pilot training is to visit www.beapilot.com. You can obtain a certificate right then and there that's good for your first flight lesson for $99 or less at any of about 2,000 flight schools that participate in the program.
More about John and Martha: http://www.kingschools.com/MeetJohnAndMartha.asp
King Schools: www.kingschools.com
Battling the "Big Lie:" John King's Crusade to Change Aviation's Culture: http://www.kingschools.com/news/BigLie.htm
Cessna Pilot Centers: http://learntofly.com/howto/cpc.chtml
Sat, 10 February 2007
It's the season for icing here in the midwest. As some instrument-rated and other pilots can tell you, few things have higher pucker factor than looking out at your wings while you're in the clouds and seeing ice begin to form. Most general aviation aircraft don't have de-icing equipment on board and even those that do often aren't certified for flight into known icing conditions.
For most GA pilots, that means avoiding icing in the first place - and that requires the development and use of the most effective anti-icing tool you have. Your noggin.
Few are more qualified to provide authoritative information about icing than the professionals on the Icing Team and in the Flight Operations team at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. We had the opportunity recently to talk to NASA Glenn pilots Kurt Blankenship and Bill Rieke and researcher Dr. Judy Van Zante, a contractor with ASRC Aerospace.
Bill Rieke is chief of aircraft operations at the NASA Glenn. He began his flying career with the U. S. Navy in 1966 and flew with Fighter Squadron 74 aboard the USS Forrestal and later flew tactical aircraft with the U. S. Air Force (Air National Guard). He also flew as a captain for the Standard Oil Company before joining NASA. He has flown research and test missions for NASA since 1981.
During his time at NASA he has been the lead project pilot for numerous projects ranging from zero-gravity flight to advanced cockpit technology for the U. S. Air Force. He has also been deeply involved in airborne icing research since 1982.
Bill has an airline transport certificate, five type ratings and 12,000 hours of flight time. His military flight experience was almost exclusively in tactical jet aircraft.
Kurt Blankenship is an NASA Icing Research Tunnel Operator, NASA Glenn Research Center Pilot and the Centerâ??s Aviation Safety Officer. He served in the United States Marine Corps as a CH-53 Helicopter Crew Chief from 1981 to 1985 and then worked for Continental Air Lines as a mechanic. He then attended Bowling Green State University and was a flight instructor and director of maintenance for the schoolâ??s flight department during that time. He was a corporate pilot and mechanic from 1990 to 1994 and has been with NASA Glenn since 1994. He holds commercial, flight instructor, and airline transport pilot certificates and, in addition to flying NASA Glennâ??s icing research aircraft, he is type rated in Learjets and has over 1,000 hours of flight research time.
Judy Van Zante is a researcher and project lead for the pilot training aids at NASA Glenn and has also done flight test engineering. She holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. She flew on the icing research aircraft and did substantial other research as part of the NASA/FAA Tailplane Icing Program.
NASA Glenn's icing research aircraft is a modified DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter. It is powered by two 550 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-20A turbine engines that drive three-bladed Hartzel constant speed propellers. Its relatively large size makes this aircraft a versatile test bed for in-flight icing research reaching speeds of 150 knots with a range of 500 nautical miles with a maximum fuel load. The Twin Otter has been modified to carry a full complement of sophisticated instruments that measure and record important properties of icing clouds. A stereoscopic camera system documents ice accretion characteristics of the aircraft in flight.
Most test flights are conducted below 10,000 ft., but the Otter has an oxygen system onboard for flight up to 16,000 ft. Research flights are performed with two pilots and up to three research personnel on-board. The ice protection system on the Otter is a combination of pneumatic boots, electrothermal anti-icing, and electrothermal de-icing. NASA has added pneumatic de-icing boots to the vertical tail, wing struts, and main gear struts. The high level of ice protection allows safe flight into known icing conditions, as well as the ability to selectively de-ice aircraft surfaces. By selectively de-icing, it is possible to evaluate the performance, stability, and control effects of ice on various surfaces. The Twin Otter supports the Icing Research Tunnel research and new icing protection systems. It has two experimental sites, the overhead hatch and the wing cuff, that subject test models to the icing environment while the aircraft remains clear of ice through de-icing. This aircraft is currently being used to acquire extensive experimental data about icing effects on aircraft flight. The aircraft has been used for, and is adaptable to other flight research projects.
Those who aren't pilots or who haven't undertaken instrument training might be a little mystified by some of the terminology that you're about to hear, so here's a quick glossary.
MEA: Minimum Enroute Altitude ( or "MEA") is the recommended minimum altitude that an aircraft should fly on a segment of an airway in instrument meteorological conditions. Flying at or above the MEA ensures clearance from terrain and obstacles, ensures reception of signals from ground-based navigation aids and, in a radar environment, makes it so that relevant air traffic controlfacilities can see the aircraft on radar.
Pirep: A pilot report. It is a report of weather conditions given by a pilot of an aircraft that is aloft. Pireps for turbulence, icing, and visibility are considered particularly valuable pireps.
STC: A supplemental type certificate. Aircraft that have type certificates (such as most production airplanes) must conform to the specifications in their type certificates or be registered as experimental or not flown. You can't mess much with an aircraft without losing the type certificate. An STC issued by the FAA permits the owner of an aircraft to make the covered modifications while maintaining the aircraft's type certificate. Frequent subjects of STCs are engine modifications and de-icing systems. There are also several STCs that allow installation of ballistic recovery parachutes in various production aircraft.
So on to the interview with NASA Glenn pilots Kurt Blankenship and Bill Rieke and researcher Dr. Judy Van Zante.
Thanks to Bill Rieke, Kurt Blankenship, and Judy Van Zante and thanks to NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio!
With all this talk of icing, it might be easy to forget that NASA Glenn does a lot more than icing research. Space exploration systems, microgravity science, bioscience, aeronautic propulsion, instrumentation, and turbomachinery all form a part of the program at NASA Glenn. For example, many shuttle and space station science missions have an experiment managed by Glenn. The Center also designs power and propulsion systems for space flight systems in support of NASA programs such as the International Space Station, Mars Pathfinder, and Deep Space 1. Glenn also leads NASA' Space Communications Program which included the operation of the ACTS satellite and systems for Cassini. The general public benefits from NASA's investment in the future through the knowledge gained, the inspiration provided and often technology dividends. NASA Glenn has won many awards including an Emmy, a Collier Trophy, and the 1996 Invention of the Year.
Thanks also to Dave Schwartz, an Otter pilot and one of the hosts of Skydive Radio for his contrinbution of background information about flying Otters. You can hear Dave, Stump, and Cory on Skydive Radio by subscribing through your favorite podcatcher or visiting Skydive Radio's website at www.skydiveradio.com.
More information about the Icing Branch of NASA Glenn Research Center: http://icebox-esn.grc.nasa.gov/
More information about Kurt Blankenship: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/special/ltp/kurt.html
More information about Judy Van Zante: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/people/bios/aero/vanzante.html
NASA print resources: http://aircrafticing.grc.nasa.gov/resources/reading.html
Information about the icing videos: http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2002/02-2-214x.html or http://aircrafticing.grc.nasa.gov/.
Information about the Otter: http://facilities.grc.nasa.gov/hangar/hangar_desc.html
Image address: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/images/content/156287main_C-89-7713.jpg.
Image used per NASA's policy entitled Using NASA Imagery and Linking to NASA Web Sites (October 13, 2005) located at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html.
Fri, 26 January 2007
Airspeed - NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (Part 2) - Interview with SCA Pilot and Former Astronaut Gordon Fullerton
Welcome to the second episode in our two-part series covering the modified Boeing 747s that NASA uses carry the space shuttle orbiters when they need to be repositioned between Edwards Air Force Base in California, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and other locations.
We talked about the basics of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or "SCAs" in Part One, in which we also interviewed SCA crew chief Pete Seidl. If you missed that episode or if you're a recent subscriber, please be sure to download that episode as well.
Today we're going to talk to one of the pilots who flies NASA's SCAs.
To say that Gordon Fullerton is an SCA pilot would be true, but to stop there would be to fail to outline as rich an aviation and aerospace career as anyone could claim.
He's presently associate director of flight operations at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California. In addition to flying the SCAs, his assignments include a variety of flight research and support activities piloting a variety of multi-engine and high performance aircraft.
Fullerton entered the U.S. Air Force in 1958. After primary and basic flight school, he trained as an F-86 interceptor pilot and later became a B-47 bomber pilot. In 1964, he attended what is now be called Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and was later assigned as a test pilot with the Bomber Operations Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
While still in the Air Force, he went on to become a NASA astronaut and served on the support crews for the Apollo 14, 15, 16 and 17 lunar missions.
The voice there saying "Roger, you have good thrust" is Fullerton, who was the man at the CAPCOM station in Houston for Gene Cernan and Jack Schmidt's liftoff from the Taurus Littrow Valley as part of Apollo 17 - the last manned mission to the moon.
In 1977, Fullerton joined one of the two two-man flight crews that piloted the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise during the Approach and Landing Test program, which involved flying the orbiter to altitude on an SCA, separating the orbiter from the SCA, and then gliding the orbiter to a landing to validate landing procedures.
Fullerton logged 382 hours in space during two space shuttle missions. He was the pilot for the eight-day STS-3 orbital flight test mission in 1982. STS-3 landed at Northrup Strip at White Sands, New Mexico because Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base was wet due to heavy seasonal rains. He was also the commander of the STS-51F Spacelab 2 mission in 1985, which landed at Edwards.
Fullerton has logged more than 16,000 hours of flying time and flown 114 different types of aircraft, including full qualification in the T-33, T-34, T-37, T-38, T-39, F-86, F-101, F-106, F-111, F-14, F/A-18, X-29, KC-135, C-140 and B-47.
Since joining Dryden as a research pilot, Fullerton has piloted nearly all the research and support aircraft flown at the facility and currently flies the center's Beech King Air 200 as well as the B-747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
He was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2005, and the International Space Hall of Fame in 1982.
We started the research for this episode intending to focus on the SCAs themselves. We were delighted to have access to one of the pilots of these magnificent machines. But we had no idea when we submitted the initial inquiry that that we'd end up talking to a man whose career has been so intertwined with the space program and the national dream that has captured so many imaginations. With your indulgence, then, we couldn't help also asking Gordon for his thoughts about the space program - where it's been and where it's going.
We caught up with Gordon by phone at his office at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California.
Image used per NASA's policy entitled Using NASA Imagery and Linking to NASA Web Sites (October 13, 2005) located at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html. NASA does not endorse Airspeed or any commercial good or service associated with Airspeed.
See more pictures of the SCA at http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/STS-Ferry/index.html.
Sat, 13 January 2007
Subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher using the feed http://airspeed.libsyn.com/rss or listen to audio at http://airspeed.libsyn.com.
Everyone knows that the orbiter of the Space Transportation System (or "STS," and more popularly called the "Space Shuttle) doesn't always land back at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Sometimes, it lands at Edwards Air Force Base and, if needed, it could land at White Sands or one of several other emergency landing sites around the world.
That's great, but it puts the orbiter several thousand miles away from its launching facility at the cape.
So how does the orbiter get around? Most of you know that the answer is that you mount it on the top of a specially-modified Boeing 747 called a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft or "SCA." But, if you're like me, you probably didn't know much about the SCAs. How are they different from a stock 747? How many are there? What's it like to maintain an aircraft like that? What's it like to fly it?
Well, if there's one thing you know about Airspeed, it's that we never pass up the opportunity to go right to the source to get real answers from the people closest to the aircraft. And that's just what we did for this special two-part series.
First, a bit about the SCAs. There are two of them. NASA 905 (tail number N905NA) is a Boeing 747-100 and the other, NASA 911 (tail number N911NA) is a short-range Boeing 747-100SR.
The two aircraft are very similar and have nearly identical operating characteristics. If you happen to be lucky enough to see one on the ramp but can't see the tail number, NASA 905 has two upper-deck windows on each side while NASA 911 has five.
The SCAs have a maximum gross taxi weight of 711,000 pounds. A stock 747-100 weighs about 380,000 pounds empty and an SCA weighs even more than that. Once you add 180,000 pounds or more for the orbiter, you have less than 140,000 pounds or so left for fuel and other stuff. And there's precious little other stuff because even using the entire remaining 140,000 or so pounds for fuel only gives you about a 1,000-mile range.
That's actually a little gratifying, because these are some of the same concerns that those of us who have flown ultralights, Cessna 152s, or light sport aircraft know a thing or two about. If you've ever left your flight bag, spare change, and shoelaces back at the FBO and still had to closely manage the amount of fuel in the plane to get two average-sized guys into a C-152 under max gross, you've had the same thing on your mind - at least at some scale - that our guest today deals with very frequently.
We start off the series on the SCA by talking to SCA crew chief Pete Seidl. Pete started working with the SCAs in 1979. He's an employee of Computer Sciences Corporation (or "CSC") under contract to NASA's Shuttle Support Operations Office at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California. He heads a team of five at NASA Dryden that does the regular maintenance on the two SCAs. Among other things, Pete was on the crew that took NASA 905 and the Enterprise orbiter to the Paris Airshow in 1983.
Before we get going, a couple of notes for non-space-junkies.
You'll hear us talk about hypergolic fuels. Hypergolic fuels ignite immediately when the two components of the fuel come together. They're very reliable, even if their components are sometimes highly toxic. Examples are hydrazine paired with nitric acid and monomethylhydrazine (MMH) paired with nitrogen tetroxide, the latter pair of which is used in the space shuttle's reaction control system. Early uses included a critical application for the Apollo program's lunar modules.
One other insider point. Moving orbiters is complex enough with a crack team, lots of support, and only one orbiter at a time to move. But, in early 2001, NASA came within 37 minutes of having a formation flight of the two SCAs, each with an orbiter aboard.
On February 20, 2001, Space Shuttle Atlantis unexpectedly had to land at Edwards. Atlantis needed to be received, processed, and ferried back to the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Space Shuttle Discovery was undergoing upgrades at Boeing's facility in nearby Palmdale and needed to be at the cape in preparation for launch by March 8. NASA 905 was already in Palmdale awaiting mating of Discovery for the ferry flight, but NASA 911 was at Evergreen Air Center in Marana, Arizona undergoing maintenance.
Two orbiters, two SCAs, an almost simultaneous deadline, and not much time to organize and carry out an amazingly complex set of operations. Pete and his team faced an unprecedented challenge. But, on March 1, 2001, the two SCAs, each with a national treasure mounted atop it, launched for Kennedy Space Center with NASA 905 and Columbia taking off at 11:00 a.m. local and NASA 911 with Atlantis taking off at 11:37. Although each encountered bad weather and other difficulties, each made it to Florida in time.
The aircraft took separate routes and a formation flight would have been impractical and beyond the mission risk profile, but at least I'm not the only one to have allowed the thought to enter my head and think that that would have been a deeply moving picture.
Anyway, on to the interview. We caught up with Pete Seidl at an office at NASA Dryden a mere 150 feet from the nose of NASA 905.
Many thanks to Pete Seidl for taking some time out of his day to talk to us.
Tune in next time for the view from the cockpit of the NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with SCA pilot, project pilot, former astronaut, Shuttle Approach and Landing Test pilot, STS-3 pilot, and STS 51-F commander Gordon Fullerton.
A special note of thanks from the Airspeed crew goes out to a heroic listener who works for Apple. We redirected the feed for the podcast on Labor Day weekend over to Libsyn from a prior RSS provider. Apparently, whether due to a glitch in the RSS provider's system or iTunes, when we let the old forwarded feed go away, we winked out of existence on iTunes. Thanks to some fast footwork on the part of a listener and the willingness of the folks at iTunes to hustle the re-listing of the podcast through, we got back online quickly and lost little, if any, or our subscriber base that subscribes through iTunes.
Thanks to Apple and to that heroic listener for helping us keep Airspeed up and available.
Image used per NASA's policy entitled Using NASA Imagery and Linking to NASA Web Sites (October 13, 2005) located at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html.
See more pictures of the SCA at http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/STS-Ferry/index.html.
Tue, 2 January 2007
See the show notes at http://www.airspeedonline.blogspot.com.