Posts filed under 'California'

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

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

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Our original expat assignment was to be from Feb 12, 2007 to May 22 in Ukraine and then from June 12, 2007 to June 12, 2008 in India. As you surely know, it’s now March, 2008. For the past ~6 weeks there have been talks of us extending our assignment by an additional 9 months. This would put us home in March 2009. 2 whole years outside of the US. So we’ve been mulling this over for some time now. Chances are good I’ve even talked to you (yes you!) about this very decision. So what did we decide? Or have we even decided?

Did that more link make you feel like you just watched the season finale of your favorite sitcom and you had to wait an eternity to know what happens next! I hope so :)

We’re coming home at the end of May, 2008!

That’s right, we’re coming home ever so slightly early because our Indian visas expire on June 4th and there’s no sense in going through the painful renewal process if we’re just going to leave permanently a few days later. After that we have 30 days of a company-sponsored hotel room to find a real place to live. And then. Ha. And then! A housewarming party like no other.

We’re excited and we hope you are too. See you all soon.

2 comments March 7th, 2008

To the US and back

Las Vegas View Just a few days ago we landed in bangalore, 2 suitcases lighter than when we left SFO, but back in Bangalore in one piece. We were visiting in the US for 2 days longer than 2 weeks and managed to keep ourselves nice and busy. We attended 3 thanksgiving celebrations: one with family, one with friends and another with family. We ate a bunch of pizza (I really wanted pizza), I drove my car (oh, the car, I love the car), we went to Las Vegas, I went gokarting and we even saw a handful of our friends.

Our thanksgiving trips were more or less uneventful. No turkeys exploded. It didn’t snow 5′. It was just 3 days in a row of good company and good eating.

Stella The Sunday after thanksgiving we hung out with our friends Paul and Pam and their two kids Trevor and Stella. Besides hanging out and catching up the mission for this visit was capturing a photo for their christmas card this year. Unfortunately I didn’t do very well scoring a photo with the two kids in it for use in the card, but I did score this one of Stella. I rank it near the top of the ~100,000 photos I’ve taken during my lifetime.

Our Vegas trip had a few blog-worthy events. We ate dinner at this place called Delmonico Steakhouse, a restaurant run by Emeril (yes, bam! Emeril). It was the most amount of money I’ve ever spent on food. Think a month of food for a family of 3. Livin’ the life baby. But the food was good. The night before we went and saw Penn and Teller. We discovered Penn and Teller while living in Ukraine; we found their Showtime show on my favorite TV website and started watching. Visiting Vegas we took up the opportunity to catch the live version.

The blog-worthy portion of Penn and Teller comes during one of the early acts when the comedic duo decide they need a volunteer from the audience. I’ll write a sentence here that has little bearing to the overall story to give you a chance to guess where I’m leading. Did you get it? Got it? You’re right: Heather was selected as the volunteer. I tried typing up the story of what happened but it’s just not nearly as funny as if I simply tell you about it the next time I see you. So ask.

On our final weekend of the trip we headed down to Portola Valley for my cousin Jon’s wedding. Thankfully not being on photo detail I just hung out and chatted with family. I took a few pictures of folks after the ceremony but otherwise didn’t take any pictures, mostly on purpose. Here are some photos that I chose to upload.

After all of that we went back to SFO, 5 suit cases in hand, and reluctantly boarded the airplane destined for Frankfurt. We flew business class, not because Cisco cares about its employees and pays to fly them business class, but because I dumped a bunch of frequent flyer miles and upgraded us. Business class on long, international flights is worth every penny. We got to Frankfurt and hung out in the lounge to score some free food before heading down to the gate for Bangalore. You don’t actually need to know your gate number to find your flight, just walk through Frankfurt until you find a gate that is filled with people that have mustaches. That’s your flight.

1 comment December 8th, 2007

We’re Still Alive

It’s been a long time since my last post. We travelled back to California, visited with some folks and then moved out to India. I went straight in to an interviewing frenzy and Heather worked on a bazillion logistical issues dealing with getting moved into our new place. But, she pulled it all off in record time. We’re living in our new place now and have met a bunch of our neighbors. The neighborhood is great, our house huge, pictures to come. Unfortunately we don’t have an internet connection yet and that’s the primary reason for no posts recently.

None of that is very wacky though.

The flight we take goes from SFO to FRAnkfurt to Bangalore (BLR). It lands at 11:55PM, India time. At this point you’ve been traveling for nearly 24 hours and are fairly well exhausted. BLR, an international airport, has two baggage carousels. These aren’t carousels like at SFO or any other airport I’ve ever flown to. They’re not big in the least. The length is maybe 20 yards and the width no more than 10. A 747, the big huge airplane we fly in on, is capable of delivering over 400 passengers. Imagine 1.5 checked bags per person (we had 5 total) that’s 600 bags that need to fit in an area that is only 60 yards long. Right. It’s a mess. Hundreds of people running around with luggage carts whacking you in the backs of your ankles all crowding around the luggage carousel hoping to catch a glimpse of a bag that looks like theirs so that they can ram you one more time before pushing you aside and reaching in just to realize, oh, that’s right, my bag is a different color.

A white-guy standing next to me (yes, white guys stand out) was kind of freaking out with the mess of people, luggage carts and his apparently missing bag. I asked him if he’d ever been to Bangalore before. He said no. I welcomed him to the city and told him to get used to it. It’s Bangalore in a nutshell: Millions of people all taking the shortest possible path to what they want with complete disregard for what the guy next to him is doing. Wait in line here and you’ll spend your whole life waiting.

Add comment June 25th, 2007

Heading to India

We’ve been back in California for the past ~3 weeks. We were kept tremendously busy by a wedding, a graduation, work and a bunch of great friends to see. Last night it kind of hit me as I was brushing my teeth; I told Heather: “Only 2 more nights.” She replied back “What did you get us into?”

We fly on Tuesday afternoon and arrive on the gateway between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Hopefully within just a few days we get all of our things together and slide from the service apartment into our new house.

Add comment June 11th, 2007


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