Our First Cross-Country Trip

Last weekend on April 24th Heather and I went on our second flight together and our first cross-country trip. We flew out to Castle Airport (MER) in Merced, CA. We had been to this airport before, but on the ground, as part of past autocross events we attended with the Volkswagen. The airport is an old air force base that has been converted to a civilian airport. The runway is nearly 12,000 feet long; compared to San Carlos at a mere 2600 feet it is endless. It took around 45 minutes of flying to get there, that was the easy part, and then we got to the wacky travels.

Add comment May 1st, 2010 Bob

More Flying

Since my last post I’ve flown a few more times. I’ve been using the radio to talk to ground control to get our taxi clearance and on the last flight I talked to tower for our initial approach clearance. For whatever reason this is a bit of a nerve racking experience; I think it’s mostly because I’m spending so much time trying to memorize exactly what to say rather than just being able to know what needs to be said. Practice makes perfect.

During my last flight we spent a bit of time reviewing climbs, descents and turns and then went “under the hood” for 30 minutes. The hood is like a gigantic visor that you wear so that you can’t see outside the window. It simulates what’s known as instrument flight where you’re unable to see the ground. Since you can’t see the ground you have to fly solely be reference to instruments. This is definitely tough and it’s pretty easy to get disoriented. While under the hood we did climbs, descents and turns and we even did some climbing turns and descending turns.

At the end of that lesson we spent a few minutes introducing what we’re going to be doing in today’s lesson: slow flight. This is where you slow the plane down to about the same airspeed you’d use for landing and then fly around. You practice getting into and out of slow flight and maintaining a heading and altitude, of course. I think we’re also going to start practicing stalls today. Weee.

Add comment August 17th, 2009 Bob

Really WackyTravels: Flying Ourselves

I’ve started private pilot training and have decided to use this otherwise-unused blog to document my adventure. As a pilot, or pilot in training, I have a logbook that is used to document every flight I take. It shows where I’ve flown, what I did and how long I was doing it. But it doesn’t show how I felt or how well I think I did. I wanted to write those things down somewhere and I’ve decided that this is the place.

Yesterday was my second lesson and the instructor, Steve, surprised me by having me controlling the airplane for takeoff. You steer an airplane in the air with the control wheel. You steer an airplane on the ground with your feet. During the takeoff roll you use your feet :-) . I knew this, however, it took me a few hundred feet to really remember it and at that point anyone watching us takeoff knew for sure that there was a first-timer at the helm.

The takeoff climb was overwhelming. Trying to get the plane into a stable climb was difficult and before I knew it we were way off course, veering towards 101 instead of paralleling it. Steve took the controls and got us stable before handing me back the airplane.

The rest of the session was spent practicing climbs, descents and turns (independently). To climb, raise the nose until the plane slows to ~85kts then bring on the throttle and maintain that attitude. As you approach your desired altitude lower the nose, regain speed, trim and bring down the throttle.

To descend just reduce power and the nose will lower and you’ll lose altitude. As you approach your desired altitude increase power back to cruise, raise the nose and trim.

To turn, bank the airplane and maintain back pressure to maintain altitude. When you bank you have to apply some rudder pressure to keep the nose of the airplane heading where its supposed to. This is called a coordinated turn.

All of this sounds easy but its amazingly overwhelming at this point.

Towards the end of the session my shallow and medium turns were pretty smooth and I was able to hold altitude within +- 75 feet.

My climbs felt good but I had trouble leveling off. I would nose down and regain cruise speed and then trim forward for level flight. Inevitably I would end up going too fast or not trim enough and I’d be gaining altitude. Rinse and repeat to get back to level and flight and suddenly I’m ~100′ above my target altitude.

Today we’re heading up in the air again and the plan is to practice climbing turns and descending turns. Crazy.

Add comment August 10th, 2009 Bob

Kyoto, Osaka and Nara Photos

We’re home! After 3 weeks of reasonably busy traveling we’ve finished all of the major travel we plan to do this year. I’ve already flown 100,000 miles this year and Heather is close behind with 70k. The honeymoon trip we just finished was fantastic and we’re both filled with many stories, some wacky, some not, from other ends of the earth.

Our final leg of the trip was in Japan. We visited Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe, however, somehow I didn’t manage to take a single picture in Kobe. On with the pictures.

Add comment September 10th, 2008 Bob

New Zealand Photos

Here they are, New Zealand in all of the glory that I could capture in our 10 days there. We drove over a significant portion of the north island. We did a sail boat trip in Auckland, did these Luge things and drove sprint cars in Rotorua, played golf in Hawke’s Bay, drove over roads that neither the GPS nor Google maps would show us, went caving in Waikomo and finally stayed at the nastiest airport hotel ever :-) . It was a tremendous adventure and we’re looking forward to our return journey some day.

For now it’s Japan time. We’re hanging out in Kyoto as I type. We landed a few hours ago and took an express (though not a bullet) train from the Osaka airport to Kyoto. Time to go find some dinner!

New Zealand Pictures

Add comment September 1st, 2008 Bob

Australia Pictures

Proof. We came, we saw, we conquered, the Gold Coast of Australia

1 comment August 22nd, 2008 Bob

New Zealand, here we are!

We landed in Auckland this afternoon and we’re just getting settled at the hotel. We opted for a GPS and a name brand rental car this time and on both counts we’re feeling they were worth the extra couple of dollars. The New Zealand dollar is much nicer to us than the Australian dollar was; The NZ dollar is trading at a 19% discount to the US dollar. So far touristy things seem cheaper here than they were in the place we were at in Australia. Tomorrow we’re going on a sail boat in the late afternoon to go see the city from the water. Compared to a similar cruise near our hotel in Australia (which we didn’t do) it’s about half price here.

We’ll be here in New Zealand for 10 days before venturing off to Japan. I have the pictures from Australia uploading but the internet connection here isn’t fast like a rocketship, instead its fast like something that’s not fast. I’ll post the link later.

Add comment August 22nd, 2008 Bob

We’re in Australia!

We took the 14 hour flight out of SFO last night in style, 1st class! The flight was great, we slept the majority of it and relaxed the rest of it. We landed around 6:30AM in Sydney and then found our way over to the domestic terminal to hop up to Brisbane. The rental car we got was from this company that’s definitely not a huge multi-national. You take a shuttle for some parking lot to a parking lot, and then they have a handful of rental cars there. We hopped in to our slick Hyundai something-or-other and quickly noticed that the prior renters had definitely been purchasing rental insurance. The power steering pump is definitely on its last legs and somebody has hit a curb or two at speed (it pulls to the left). The brake rotors are warped bad enough that the car feels horrendous under braking. It’s nice :-)

The hotel is pretty darn nice. We’re right on the beach and there are good size waves breaking just off the shore. The water is a pretty light blue and well, it feels a bit like Florida. Except that it’s kinda cold (it is winter) and not humid.

1 comment August 17th, 2008 Bob

Back in Bangalore

I’m back in Bangalore. It was my idea; but the project (different from when I was here last time) needed it. So here I am. I bought tickets on Friday and flew on the following Tuesday. After burning a few miles for an upgrade I got to experience United’s new business class. Wow. These guys have turned their lackluster pile of crap business class seats into something really, really nice. Fully lie-flat seats, 110V power plugs, 15″ TV with on-demand. They even have RJ45 plugs in the seat, can’t wait until these are enabled. It’s a nice setup for long haul flights and, finally, it makes Lufthansa’s business class look like crap. Dig it. The hotel I’m staying at this time pales in comparison to the hotel I’ve managed to stay at in the past. It’s nice but its not 5-star nice. Check out theĀ view from my room. If you’re curious this is the Ista Hotel, Bangalore.

Add comment July 19th, 2008 Bob

We’re like, done

Today was my last day in the office here in Bangalore. I finished the year off with a phone conference in the morning, 4 interviews, the debrief from the interviews, an exit interview of sorts with the boss, a going away celebration and final chats with 3 of my colleagues. What a day. But now, its all over. Days shy of 1 year in India and weeks shy of a complete 18 months out of the country we’re all set to return to the good ol’ United States. We fly out of Bangalore’s brand new airport on Sunday evening and land at SFO in the middle of Monday, May 26. We can hardly wait to see you all! What a wacky set of travels.

2 comments May 23rd, 2008 Bob

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