Quote of the Moment

"Beep Industries currently has no openings. This is a good thing. Any number of career paths are better than game development. Lots of jobs are more lucrative and far less work. We hear marketing and animal husbandry are filled with potential."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Flight Lessons 2 and 3

Flight training report this week. I missed doing an update for my second lesson, wherein the most significant thing was experimenting with slow flight. We just barely got the flight in under cloud cover that would start snowing later in the week, but it’s time logged, and right now I’m still of the opinion that any flying day is a good day.

I finally got to try out my new flight bag too. I’d been using a backpack I’d gotten as a freebie at a game developer’s event a couple of years ago, but for my birthday, my Lovely and Gracious Wife got me a dedicated flight bag from Sporty’s. She even got my initials monogrammed on the bag! I’m really blessed to have a mate who supports my crazy plans and dreams.

Tuesday was another flying day. Lesson number three, and my introduction to stalls and instrument flying. It was a really bumpy afternoon, and of course, I would be under the hood (a vision restricting device that blocks your view outside the airplane) during the worst of it, just fighting to keep the airplane straight and level. In some ways, though, it’s easier than trying to do the same thing in a simulator, since your tactile senses help tell you the airplane is moving. Not that I can entirely trust them. I’ve “enjoyed” some lovely vertigo sensations while playing simulators, when I knew my butt was nailed to the floor, and could tell my inner ear to shut up, I know better than to trust my sense of balance when the airplane really could be banking left.

Stalls in the DA40 are interesting too. It’s a very well behaved trainer, and after the stall warning horn starts, the next thing you get is a mild buffeting on the stick, then buffeting of the entire aircraft, before the nose finally drops at around forty-five knots. Basically the aircraft gives you plenty of “Don’t do that”, “No, really, don’t do that”, “Seriously, if you keep it up, stuff is going to happen!” feedback beforehand. It also seems to glide quite nicely at seventy-eight knots, as demonstrated when my instructor decided to give me my first taste of emergency procedures with a brief bout of “engine trouble”.

Assuming the weather holds out as good, I’ll go up again tomorrow morning (Saturday). Apparently I’ll try landing for the first time *twitch*.

For those with wings, fly to your dreams.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Please Help Global Warming!

Note: I did get to fly on Thursday, and will have a post about that and my schedule up in the next couple of days, but first, this important message!


Because it's past the middle of April, it's Seattle, and it's snowing outside. Seriously, can we get some extra CO2 here? Blizzards in Cleveland in April I can deal with, because it cancels baseball games that give me lovely double-headers to attend in August (anyone else remember the fun that was the first couple weeks of last year's baseball season). But Thundersnow-storms out my office window I have a little more of a problem with.

Well, at least my kids are happy. Per the Lovely and Gracious Mrs., The Boy and The Girl are standing at the dining room window shouting "Snow!" right now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Getting Older

As my younger brother noted, today, in addition to being Tax day and Buy A Gun day, is also the annual anniversary of my release from the womb.

I've been blessed with two wonderful children, a beautiful and tolerant wife, a dream job, and the ability to reach for my dreams.

My occasional complaints about a lack of cooperation from the weather for accomplishing my aviation goals pale in comparison to things like that.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Flight Lesson #1

Tuesday was my first official flight lesson. Oh, look, I’m already behind on my ground school reading *nervous eye twitch*. Granted, the reading was my own fault, since I decided that spending the weekend submerged in the sea of manga, anime, and Japanese culture that is Sakura*Con was a good idea. I regret nothing.

Fortunately, I’m familiar with most of the material in the first couple chapters of my ground school book anyway, so I should get caught up in short order. I’ve got to remember to ask my instructor what kind of information I’m supposed to be reading out of the DA-40 reference manual though. That things as dull as the FAR/AIM book, and laid out less coherently.

But book learnin’ is boring anyway, when compared to actual flying. Tuesday was graced with partially cloudy skies, and while unseasonably cold for early April (seriously, we had snow over the weekend. That DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. In Seattle during the last few days in March), still sufficiently good flying weather for a low VFR lesson. I finally got my checklist cards, and tried to follow along as my instructor demonstrated proper pre-flight and checklist procedures. They seemed simple enough, provided you can remember where everything is.

Then we were off, with me tap-dancing on the toe brakes to get us to the run-up area. Boeing Field didn’t seem terribly busy at the time, with just a couple of corporate jets, a twin, and a couple of other trainers leaving at various times.

Once off, we headed to Galvin’s designated primary practice area for my introduction to basic maneuvers. So far, so, … adequate… I managed to mostly hold altitude correctly while flying straight and level, and manage decent level turns. Turns while climbing and descending, and just descents in general, are going to be trouble until I can really get a good feel for proper power management. We also tried steep (about 45 degree of bank) turns. My first one wasn’t so hot, but on the second one, I did a bit better. That was basically the last maneuver I tried, and I think by that time I was starting to get used to the feedback coming from the instrumentation in my inner ears and gluteus maximus.

I think I was finally starting to get the whole “terrain picture” thing my instructor was talking about too. I still feel a lot more comfortable trusting what my instruments tell me I’m doing, but I think with a few more flights, I’ll start recognizing the visual picture as well. In some ways, comprehending the picture outside feels like learning to read a new language: until you learn the patterns that make up the letters and words, it’s all incoherent gibberish.

Hopefully this weekend I can get my reading caught up, unbury my home flight-sim stuff. If I can get in a couple of sim hours before next Tuesday, I’ll be really interested to see if there’s any kind of noticeable improvements.

Until then,
For those with wings, fly to your dreams.