Archive for the 'Flying' Category

My first flying lesson

24 February 2018 at 3:29 pm
by Jonah

Berck said I should blog about my first flying lesson, since he did.  Since he’s my instructor, maybe that’s a homework assignment?

He also told me to read his post about his first lesson, and there’s a lot of similarities!

We began the lesson by going through the checklist Berck created for the plane. I learned all where all the buttons I’m supposed to push and switches I’m supposed to flip to test are and where all the hinges, etc. I’m supposed to  check are to make sure they’re not falling apart.

Then we pulled the plane out of the hanger, strapped ourselves in, and went through the checklist for starting the engine.  One of the things you have to do is open the little window on the left side and yell “Clear prop!” as loud as you can.  This is to warn anyone that might happen to be walking by your plane to get away from the propeller before they’re decapitated.  It took us so long to get through the checklist, however, that by the time I actually go around to starting the engine, it was probably ten minutes later.

The next step was to steer the plane down the taxiways to the runway.  As Berck noted in his post, there’s this thing that looks like a steering wheel right in front of you but is completely useless when steering a plane.  In fact, “driving” a plane is pretty much the opposite as driving a car.  You control the throttle with your hand and you steer with your feet by pushing on the rudder pedals, which move the front landing gear wheel.  I felt like a 15 year old with a learner’s permit, trying to move as slowly as possible while over-correcting my steering like crazy.  This plane also only has brake pedals on the left (my) side, so I had to try to brake (evenly with both feet) as fast I could whenever Berck said to.

Following the checklist went out the window as I was concentrating on steering, but I somehow managed to get us to the run up area.  Here, Berck took the controls and wheeled us around so we were facing the runway.  Then I kept my feet mashed to the brake pedals and gunned the throttle while we went through the checklist of the things that you have to check at high RPMs.

Berck took over to take off, and we headed east before he gave me the controls.  I practiced turning to the north and to the south, trying to coordinate my turns using the yoke (attached to the ailerons) and the rudder pedals (attached to the rudder).  Berck kept encouraging me to release my death grip on the yoke and to keep a hand on the throttle.  He showed me how to set trim and how to set the flaps to perform slow flight.  Then he had me head back to the airport and took over again once we got close to land.

I had to taxi back to the hanger, which seemed easier than the first time taxing out.  Once we shut the engine off, we went through the last of the checklist, which involves things like turning the key to off and taking it out.

I don’t share Berck’s passion for flying, but it seemed like a thing I should learn how to do, especially once our plane is built.  But I had fun! And even though I already knew he was a professional instructor, I was very impressed with Berck’s instruction.  He really is very good at it.

Trip to Silicon Valley

11 October 2014 at 2:03 pm
by Jonah

Last weekend we borrowed one of Berck’s coworker’s plane and flew to San Jose to visit Dave and Sydney, who was in San Francisco for the weekend.  Here are pictures.  I typed up descriptions for some of them.

Here is a short video of us shooting Marshall Pass (next to Monarch Pass).  We could only fly up to 14,000 feet for 30 minutes without oxygen, so we’re as high as we’re legally allowed to be.



Oshkosh Photos

7 August 2014 at 6:37 pm
by Jonah

Oshkosh photos are up.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 10 – return home

2 August 2014 at 10:44 pm
by Jonah

Saturday, August 2

Berck’s phone rang at 2:50 a.m.  He answered it but no one was there.  Then my phone immediately started ringing.  Since my number is one after his, it seemed like something was calling every number. I don’t know if it was the motion sickness patch or because it was so early, but it was hard to get up.  We had to get up early because the taxi was arriving at 6:45.  The taxi ride was less than $9!  It was $10 to park at the EAA event, $1 to ride the city bus, and $1.50 to ride on the EAA bus.  Maybe we should have been taking the taxi each time.


The FBO had our plane ready.  We put up our VFR sign in our windshield as we taxied toward the runway and listened silently to the radio to find out when we were allowed to depart.  I watched the controllers on the ground giving us directions while the guys were fooling with the electronics.  We were waved up the same time as a plane from the other side of the runway, and we took off together.  That was unnerving.  We headed west into a lot of haze.  Chicago Center wouldn’t give us flight following, so we all kept our eyes open for traffic.

We flew high, and for the second time on the trip I was happy I had my Google hoodie sweatshirt to put on because it was pretty chilly.  (The first time was using it as a pillow while I napped in the plane.)

Our original destination with cheap gas turned out to have a pretty short runway, so Uncle Stacy looked for an alternative while Berck flew and complained about the weather.  We decided on Boones, Iowa.  In Boone we had to keep track of a plane in the pattern and a helicopter, which I spotted first.  We filled up with auto gas (which is cheaper) and emptied our bladders.  To take off we had to wait for some parachutists to land on the airfield before we could go.


We headed west from there over Omaha, then headed south to avoid some weather.  We landed in McCook, Nebraska to get some fuel.  Amusingly, the “courtesy hoopoe,” Berck and I had borrowed to go out to breakfast in McCook when we were taking the Air Force trainers to Rockford in 2007, was still there at the FBO.  We got back in the plane, headed back out to the runway, did a run up, and took off.  The plane was climbing very slowly and then the engine started sputtering.  Berck announced it was the right magneto but didn’t turn back to the runway.  The engine got some more life into it, and Berck turned around as he announced on the radio that we were coming back to land.  “I was five seconds from putting it in that field,” he said.  We landed without difficulty and taxied back to the FBO.  No one was there, so we let the engine rest a bit and tried it up again.  It was still running rough.  So we taxied back to the FBO again.  There was not a mechanic on duty, but the guys talked to one on the phone, who suggested cleaning off the spark plugs.  A couple of grease monkeys helped them with that task.  A couple hours later and a lot of carbon removed, the engine was running much better, and we took off, this time with no problem.


We made it all the way to the Springs without incident.  I was able to find traffic faster than anybody else.  The folks at Cutter Aviation put the Cherokee in a hanger, and we loaded up the car we’d left there for ten days.  Then we drove up to Black Forest to pick up the Professor, then drove to Randy’s house to pick up our bag we’d sent with him.  Then we had supper at McGinty’s.  Now we’re about read to collapse into bed.

And I think the Professor has finally forgiven us.

Trip to Oshkosh – Day 9

2 August 2014 at 3:23 pm
by Jonah

Friday, August 1

My tennis shoes were still wet from the downpour the day before, so I tied them to my back pack and wore my Chacos.  Tracey dropped Berck and me off at the museum, and we fully explored that before catching a bus back to the event area.  The show was the best yet, which the Jelly Belly plane interrupting an aerobatic routine with his aileron falling off.  The Thunderbirds were the last to perform. I’d never seen them perform except at the USAFA stadium at graduation.  It rained on and off, so we were glad to have our umbrellas.

Uncle Stacy was over at the FBO when the Thunderbirds were getting ready, so he got to watch them do all their preflights together.

Berck and I met Randy and Stacy over at the parking area, and then we all picked up Uncle Stacy at the FBO.  Then Randy and Stacy started off for home in their car. The rest of us walked to Players Pizza next to the bus stop by the house and had some good beers and pizza.  We returned to the house and sat out on the back patio and smoked some free cigars Uncle Stacy had gotten at the Dominican Republic booth along with some of the last Miller Lites from the garage’s mini-fridge.