Archive for July, 2004

Instrument training starts soon

30 July 2004 at 11:58 am
by Berck

I showed up for Instrument groundschool today. Someone should have told me that it was starting on Monday, I would have showed up then. It might have made things simpler. Oh well.

Instrument flying is a pretty weird thing when you think about. Staring at a bunch of needles that are supposed to tell you where you are and where you’re going.

Stage 1 of instrument training is basic attitudes. This is where I learn basic flying all over again. Flying straight and level, turns, climbs and descents. Only this time I can stare at the instruments all I want, but I can’t look outside the plane. There are perfect Instrument Meteorological Conditions out there today, but oddly enough I have to learn to Basic Attitudes in VFR conditions. The basic idea being when I get all screwed up, it’s a lot easier for me or the instructor to recover when looking outside is an option. Otherwise you can crash and burn pretty quickly flying around in nothing but clouds. Or so they tell me– I have yet to see what’s so hard about it after the 3 hours of simulated instrument time I had to get for my private.

I requested Rob as an instrument instructor. Although he’s only been instructing for a month, I’ve heard only good things about him. Unfortunately, he’s currently teaching instrument ground school and already has 8 students. He doesn’t think he can take another. Basically, I’m trying avoid a specific instructor whose known for laziness and poor instructing. (None of his students have passed their checkrides first time around). Since it’s not nice to say, “I don’t want person X for an instructor,” I thought I would go about it by saying, “I want person Y.” But it turns out that Zack, who was teaching private, is now teaching instrument and doesn’t have too many students. So, hopefully, I’ll get him instead. He’s nice and seems rather methodical.

So, I can go back to studying, which at least gives me something to do while I’m waiting around to fly.

I’m a pilot!

27 July 2004 at 8:53 pm
by Berck

Finally! It seems to have taken slightly longer than forever. I’ve got nearly 60 hours; it should have taken more like 40. The national average is more like 80, but those are people who fly once a week or once a month.

The scary thing is just how little I actually know and how little experience I have. Sure, I can fly, but I can only imagine how much trouble I could get in were I rich enough to have my own plane and decide to go fly across the country. Before I started I thought I would know more when I finished than I do. The only thing scarier than that is that I’m more knowledgeable than many people I’ll be sharing the skies with, who are also rated pilots. It’s amazing there aren’t more accidents than there are.

After a couple of flights, it seemed that while my landings aren’t that bad, they aren’t all that consistant. I talked to Dad today, and without ever having flown with me, but by knowing me, he managed to tell me the exact same thing that everyone who has flown with me has said: I overcontrol the airplane. Apparently, everyone does at first, but I tend to have more problems than some people. Part of it is that all of my prior experience in a moving vehicle is driving a car. Driving a car is quite predictable in that when you make a control input you get an immediate response. An airplane isn’t quite like that, particularly at slow airspeeds. But I’m even worse, since an instructor at the racetrack provided the exact same comments: I tend to overcontrol the car.

I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. Instrument training is next– where I learn to fly without looking outside the airplane, so that I can fly in clouds. A whole new set of challenges and problems completely unrelated to those I’ve been facing. And I’m not even convinced that I’ve overcome all the previous challenges.


22 July 2004 at 7:46 pm
by Jonah

We were slammed at work this week. We’ve had a few really busy weeks in the past couple of months, but this week we had our biggest single day the Mardel warehouse has ever had. We were there from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and to 6 p.m. yesterday and today. If they don’t let us off early tomorrow, I’ll have five hours of overtime this week.

On top of that, they also were training three new people this week, which means that we lose a perfectly good worker to go train for each trainee. One girl didn’t come back, so I guess we’ve only got two new people. There’s announcement at the front desk that they’re looking to hire yet another puller seasonally.

Because they’re training people, I got shifted around from being assigned one department to another. I was super fast at Education Books, but now I’m over in Books Major. I’m pretty fast there too, but not as fast, I don’t think. I believe I’ll make the minimum time standard easily, though. Last week I was at 120%.

I’m not sure the extra overtime money is worth the extra exhaustion.

Looking for other employment is like a part time job. I put in a good eight hours last Saturday.

Private Checkride

19 July 2004 at 6:30 pm
by Berck

There’s nothing like failing a checkride to make you feel crappy.

I showed up at 9am with everything I was supposed to have for my oral exam. After two and half hours of endless questioning, the check airman told me to go ahead and preflight the airplane. I actually did really well on the oral exam– I missed maybe three questions in two and a half hours. He gave me a list of things I needed to review. For most people it’s a fairly lengthy list. Mine had two items on it, “Convective Sigmets and Airmets.” And it’s not like I didn’t know what they were or how to read them. I just didn’t happen to know that hail must be over 3/4″ to be included in a convective sigmet or that surface winds in excess of 30 knots were included on an Airmet Tango. He even mentioned that it seemed like “I studied well.” I was almost disappointed it wasn’t harder. I went through all the trouble to learn things like the the minimum and maximum propeller diameter and the four different kinds of hypoxia, and he never asked.

Even the the flight portion of the test went well– up until I had to land.

I made a fairly hard soft-field landing. After bouncing, I made a nicer one. He asked me to try again. I made a worse landing. So he failed me.

I need more landing practice.

I told him that I wanted to go up with someone other than Mike, since this is the second checkride I’ve failed on landings, a different instructor taking a look at my landings couldn’t hurt.

So B. told Mike that I’d fired him and that S. would go over landings with me. I talked to Mike, and he understands.

Fortunately, since I’ve passed everything else, all I have to do is go do a few touch and go’s after I fix my landings. I’ll be a pilot in a few days. Really.


17 July 2004 at 3:53 pm
by Berck

I haven’t been in a writing mood lately. I guess Joanna hasn’t either.

The big news is that I’ve completed all the flights for my Private Pilot Certificate. I just have to emerge successful from a three hour oral questioning session, then prove to an examiner that I can fly the plane. This is all scheduled to take place on Monday. I need to study.

We got Arthur back from the shop last week. He runs great, save the fact that he seems to have an electrical issue. The generator light is illuminated, and it’s not charging the battery. I tried to find someone who would test the generator for me, but no one does that anymore. They only test alternators. I ordered a generator. It didn’t come with a pulley, supposedly I was to use the old pulley. This was impossible since the old pulley had become united with the old generator. I took it to the auto parts store and asked them if they had a pulley. They didn’t and tried to pull the old pulley off for me. They succeeded only in bending the old pulley such that it’s now worthless in addition to being stuck to the old generator. But they were nice enough to modify the shaft of the new generator and put together a pulley and fan that seems to work. Only, when I got it home, I realized it wouldn’t fit in Arthur. When it was being remanufactured, they put the mounting plate on backwards, and it can’t be switched without completely disassembling the generator. Back to the auto parts store, and they ordered another generator and put the pulley on it. I was able to install it okay, but it seems that it did not solve my problem.

There’s also a voltage regulator, and I ordered a replacement from the auto parts store that should be there in an hour. If that’s not the problem, I have no idea what’s left to replace.

The Miata is also currently awaiting parts. One of the boots on the CV joint on the left rear axle broke, allowing all the grease to be slung out, causing the CV joint to self destruct. I ordered a used axle from a junkyard I know in Atlanta. When it got here I tried to replace it, only to discover that after 13 years and nearly 200,000 miles the axle shaft had become one with the wheel hub. After half an hour of being banged on with a hammer, the axle deformed nicely but failed to break loose from the hub. So, now I’m waiting for a wheel hub, which should arrive on Monday. Unfortunately, I damaged the old one enough trying to extract the axle that I can’t put the wheel back on the car until I get the new one. So the car has been on jackstands since Wednesday, but fortunately the apartment management hasn’t said anything yet.

So we now have three cars and one of them is running. Yay.

In other news, I did laundry yesterday. In addition to washing my dirty clothes, I also managed to wash my telephone. Needless to say, it no longer functions. Fortunately, Verizon was perfectly willing to send me a new one for approximately $20+shipping and tax. It just occurs to me that since Verizon has no stores in OK, I’m not sure who they were collecting tax for. Probably California. Which I shouldn’t have to pay. Oh well.

I just hope I like the new one as much as the old one. New phones these days drive me crazy.

That’s all for now– I’m going to go pick up a voltage regulator.