Archive for June, 2006

Ducklings

15 June 2006 at 6:25 pm
by Jonah

The mallards in the Bremers’ chicken coop have brought forth mallardettes. They’re awfully cute. The mama has gone from being a mild-mannered mallard to hissing at any chickens that come near her, even chasing the rooster off.

ducklings

New Hidden Post — Working for a living is hard

5 June 2006 at 4:37 pm
by Berck

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Working for a living is hard

5 June 2006 at 4:37 pm
by Berck

I’m exhausted. Part of it is because I got up at 5am, a feat to which I’ve recently become unaccustomed. Most of it is that, for some reason, flight instruction is physical exhausting. It’s not like you do much physical. Sit around, talk, stand around, talk, sit in a plane and move levers while talking, and sit around and talk. Part of it’s the heat– it may have only gotten up 85 today, but that was hot. Density altitude was over 9,500ft before 10am, which is never a good day. By the time I finished my last flight, we were standby for thunderstorm activity.

My first flight was with the glider IP. He’s got tons to learn, but he knows something as opposed to nothing which is very nice from my perspective.

My second flight started out okay, and I realized just how much I had to explain. We went out to preflight early, and instead of having 20 minutes, he had 40. It took all of it. Then, after starting the engine, it took what seemed like forever to go through the checklists. I haven’t really had to teach the basics since the new semester started in January, so I’ve gotten used to students who can fly. This guy didn’t get a chance.

While waiting for takeoff, I noticed that oil temp gauge was pegged at redline. That’s not at all cool, and of course I looked next at the oil pressure gauge. The lowest number on there is 10 PSI with a red line, and it was below that. I immediately called ground and requested taxi to the north ramp. The told me to taxi to the north ramp, and I did a 180 on the hammerhead, thinking “they have no idea where I am.” Sure enough, I heard, “Talon 30, where are you?” I responded with “Talon 30 is heading back to the North Ramp from the hammerhead.” “Uhh.. that’s approved but you’ll need to give way for opposite direction traffic.” “Talon 30 is reading no oil pressure, and either needs priority or I’ll be shutting the engine down right here.” I didn’t want to to have the damn thing seize on me– an event which seemed imminent. “Talon 30 you have priority, continue taxiing.” It made it back to the ramp, where I shut it down immediately.

The readings were normal during engine runup, and I think that the problem may have been triggered by a starter engagement while the engine was running. I don’t know that the student actually engaged the starter during the mag check (even though I specifically warned him of the possibility), but he said “whoa, I think I went too far”. It looked like he did go too far, but I didn’t hear anything, and assumed, as such, that the starter didn’t engage. Now I think it probably did engage, and I just couldn’t hear it. What seems likely to me is that the part of the starter gear sheared off and became lodged in the oil pressure relief valve… When I turned the aircraft into MX, they seemed to think that was likely.

So, I feel pretty stupid for attempting to continue a flight after a possible starter engagement. If there hadn’t have been two planes waiting to take off in front of me, along with several landing planes, I could have easily gotten airborne before the problem presented itself. And those gauge readings would cause me to immediately declare an emergency. And at full power the engine may well have seized very quickly. I’ve gotten this far without declaring an emergency and would like to keep it that way.

My third flight of the day was with my first female student. She too was well prepared for the flight, at least, study-wise. She had a lot of difficulty just maintaining straight and level flight. Admittedly, it was pretty turbulent, but she wasn’t making much in the way of correction. At one point she managed to put us right into a spiral dive. I chopped the power, and waited to see if she was going to recover. She did, pulling about 3 G’s, and scaring herself a bit. Toward the end of our time in the practice area she asked where the airsick bag was. She’d looked a little queasy early on in the flight, and I’d asked how she was doing. “Great!” she’d responded at the time. Now my suspicions were confirmed. It took me what seemed like forever to get an airsick bag for her. She asked if I could fly, and I did. After a few minutes, she said she felt better and could try to fly again. About three minutes after that, she asked if I could fly again. I did and started the arrival. And she got out the airsick bag. And damn near filled it up!

I’ve had quite a few pukers before, but holy cow. This chick just filled that bag right up.

I finished the day by making a really crappy approach, slipping it in and landing way down the runway. I probably should have gone around, but I didn’t want my student to have to be airborne any longer than necessary. I guess I’m out of practice– I haven’t made an approach that crappy in a very long time. I think the wind and conditions had a lot to do with it.

So I’m finally home, and am exhausted. Joanna said “I won’t be late, I should be home by 7:30.” Yeah. I’ll probably be in bed by then, so I can do it all over again tomorrow.

New Hidden Post — Summer Flying starts Monday

3 June 2006 at 12:02 pm
by Berck

I’m going to try to remember to post a little notice that there’s a new hidden post so that those of you who use RSS don’t have to check the site for new posts.

Summer Flying starts Monday

3 June 2006 at 12:00 pm
by Berck

As I’ve mentioned a bit before, there’s been big changes at work. All the high-ups are now brand new to their positions now, having been promoted from within the ranks. I’m happy with some of the promotions, not so happy with others. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we’re divided into three “flights”: White, Blue and Silver. I was in White flight, but with so many people leaving for the jobs down in Pueblo, there was a massive personnel shift. I’m now in Blue flight, which I actually requested. I figured that some of the three white flight guys left would be there with me, but as it turns out two of them went to silver, and the other stayed in white. Strangely enough, white and blue flight switched offices, so I get to keep my desk. But whereas before white flight was comprised of loud, funny guys– the mood in blue flight is much more quiet and boring. The guy who sits right across from me now is a very strange instructor– one of two who was hired after me. He looks to be in his late 50s, wears way too much cologne, and almost always has a buttload of tobacco tucked in his lower lip. In fact, sometimes he’s got so much in there, it stars leaking out.

One of the good things about the changes is that the dispatch position is being eliminated so I’ll get to fly quite a bit more than I have been. I’m very happy about this, and should be able to make a little bit more money too.

We met our students for the first half of the summer semester yesterday. We got to spend an hour and half preparing them a bit for their first day on Monday. This has never really happened before– usually the first time the students meet their IP it’s to go flying. My three students seem promising, but that’s probably because I haven’t flown with them yet. One is a Glider IP– since he can teach other cadets to fly the gliders, he’ll be a much easier student than the others who have never flown before. Still, he’ll have a lot to learn, but it’s nice to have a foundation from which to work.

He’s not the first glider IP I’ve taught– they’re good students but have strange tendencies. The biggest problem comes with landing. You don’t really flare a glider for landing so much as just fly it into the ground. There’s only one wheel on a glider, and it’s hard to screw up a landing. An airplane is a bit different– you want to land in a full stall in a nose-high attitude. It’s tricky, and as you guys might remember, I spent a long time learning how to do it. The glider IP’s tend to have good aircraft control control, but they fly the plane right into the ground. I’ve found that if you can be patient, and simply tell them to pick the nose up at the last minute, they make fast but acceptable landings. Some more refining, and they make good landings.

The other common issue is the way they do stalls. I’ve never flown a glider, so I’m not sure of its stall characteristics, but I do know that glider IP’s tend to do stalls the same way. They start by pitching up far more than is necessary, which results in a harder break. As soon as the plane stalls, though, they recover by shoving the stick almost as far forward as they can. This results in a couple negative G’s which is totally unnecessary, and can be a bit alarming for an instructor who isn’t ready for it.

My second student was a pretty quiet guy. His bio sheet indicated that he’s an “SE Human Factors” major, whatever that means, and has a whopping 2.4 GPA or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns into a project, but I won’t know until I fly with him.

And my third student is a chick! I’ve never had a female student before, but I figure she’s got to smell worlds better than most of my students. She’s an engineering major with a 3.0 GPA, and very enthusiastic about flying. She asked a lot of very good questions the first day. So even though I can tell that she doesn’t really know anything about flying I think she’ll be a quick study. Still, you have no idea how someone’s going to fly until they actually do it.

It’s exciting to have three fresh faces, three bodies for me to turn into pilots. I’m sure I’ll grow annoyed with them in short order, but right now my job seems so cool. Three eager cadets, and if I’m any good at my job, I’ll turn them into pilots for the Air Force.

The summer is more conducive to teaching than the fall/spring semesters because of the scheduling. While these cadets are here for the summer, they’re not doing anything else. During the school year they’ve got a full load of classes, and we only get them for flying every other day. This summer they’ll be available to fly every day, and that should make thing easier.

The schedule for us instructors is pretty brutal. There’s basically three different shifts. They start at 5am, 6am, and 7am. Each flight will spend a week in each shift and rotate. If the weather’s good, we’ll be done at 3pm, 4pm or 5pm. If the weather’s bad, we could hang around as late as 7pm, but fortunately we can’t have a duty day longer than 12 hours. We’re also going to be working most Saturdays.