Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm in East Landing, Michigan for work but I was able to fit in some fun too. Cessna was having an "Event" in Grand Rapids where they brought several of their airplanes for show. It was raining so they put them all inside a hangar. The Citation Mustang was there, the Stationair TC, the Cessna 400, and a Caravan.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catalina! With Passengers! WooHoo!

I've been to Catalina multiple times with my flying buddy Ron but this time it was a special trip. My youngest turned 16 and she asked me to fly her and a friend (plus my fiance) to Catalina for the day. I was like "Are you sure that's what you want for your birthday?" I thought she was picking the trip more for my sake, but that's what she wanted since she had never been there.

I was all geeked up for the trip. Since I usually fly with another pilot a trip like this is far different. It's all on me. Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. And don't forget the fuel pump, and don't forget to switch tanks, and don't forget the frequency, etc., etc., etc. Plus, the daughter's friend has never been in a small airplane before.

Fog threatened to be a problem but it worked out just fine. Took off around 10:30, from El Monte. Headed west toward the Hollywood sign, then over Santa Monica, straight over LAX (in the Special Flight Rules Area) and then direct to Catalina. We were about 1500 feet over a fairly thick blanket of fog from the coast all the way out until about 5 miles from the island. Later the daughter and friend said they were less nervous than they expected over the water because they couldn't see it thanks to the fog. Fiance said she was more nervous because there was fog under us. Someone always has to be nervous!

I was nervous about landing. For those that don't know, Catalina is carved out on the top of a hill. They actually blew two hill tops to smithereenes and used the rocks to fill in the middle. The runway is convex so you can't see the other end when you're on it. It's uphill when you land on 22 (most often) and it's bumpy as heck.

My first attempt was definitely too high. Didn't take me too long to decide that a go-around was the prudent thing to do. The second attempt was too fast. I touched down and the plane porpoised once...twice...and I wasn't about to get to #3 so I pinned the throttle and did another go around. Oh well, I guess the third time's the charm. I never felt any embarassment or worrying about what the passengers were thinking (although I explained what I was doing and why, and prepped them for a potential go-around before we landed the first time) so I was happy with myself. The third attempt was practically flawless.

We took the shuttle down to Avalon and walked around town. Got lunch, bought a shirt and a sweatshirt, took the submarine tour (cool!) and then putzed around some more. The 4 p.m. shuttle gets you back to the airport at 4:30 (more like 4:36 this time). The airport closes at 5. I was checking my watch over and over. Quick bathroom break for everyone and we were back in the airplane.

And it wouldn't start....heck! Cranked it. Cranked it some more. Nothing. No pops, no faint glimmers of hope. I let the starter cool off. With sweat streaming down my face and the thought of having to spend the night on Catalina island (work and school the next day!) starting to look like a real finally came to life. Whew!

We took off at 9 minutes till 5. Had a nice flight back. Lots of airplanes headed our way through the Special Flight Rules Area (at least 2 that I recognized from having seen them at the airport, one was a Seneca).

Daughter fell asleep on the way back. We were all tired It was a big day.

First one is Two Harbors, we aimed for that and then turned left to head for a 45 degree entry into the downwind for a right pattern entry to runway 22.

Second one is Me and my daughter at lunch (Pizza!)

Third one is inside the submarine trip we took (thanks to the Purple Board for the suggestion!).

Fourth one is a view of the TON of fish that swarm the boat.

Fifth one is the Hollywood sign

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ron's "Not So Good" landing at Catalina

Catalina Island is not the easiest place to land an airplane. Especially when you are not lined up with the centerline, and overcorrect, and are too high, and are too fast, and land anyway....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ground School for IFR

Did I mention that I'm studying for my Instrument Flight Rules ticket? Okay, well, I am. I studied on my own with a variety of books for almost a year. Got to point where I just couldn't grasp some concepts so I've enrolled in ground school at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. It's already helping a lot. Hearing someone explain something that you don't understand in a different way (and then being able to ask questions) has spurred me on to get moving ahead with this giant leap.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Henderson Executive Airport in Las Vegas

Monday Ron and I flew out to Las Vegas, but with a couple of twists (for us anyway). I was in my office in Anaheim so Ron came down to Fullerton (KFUL) and picked me up. We then headed out straight through and over Ontario airport (KONT) with Flight Following. We've flown to Jean and North Las Vegas before but this time we went to Henderson Executive (KHND). It was fun to go somewhere different. Henderson has a shuttle van that will take you to just about anywhere in Vegas, so we went to Mandalay Bay for lunch. Interesting place. Expensive, above average food was our take. But it was fun.

Went to Agua Dulce last weekend for the Fly-n. Only the clouds prevented most people from flying in. They jokingly called it a "Drive-In".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Flabob Movie Night

Last Friday night I went to Flabob airport in Riverside for their Flabob Fabulous Friendly First Friday Film Festival monthly movie night put on by their EAA chapter one. It was a fun night with a bunch of aviators looking for a good time. First they showed an episode of "Sky King", which I had never seen so that was cool. And then some footage from the 1929 air races. The movie, Angel Flight (or something like that) was your typical '50s B-movie, but it was fun to see it with a bunch of airplane nuts. They are planning to have another movie night on October 17 in conjunction with the aircraft display day and car show on the 18th (don't hold me to this, call them before leaving for the field. I can't find any mention of an additional movie on their web site,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In a letter to a fellow business owner, I recently wrote about"I just want pilots to find my site. If they buy a shirt, great. If you can tell others about the site, that would be wonderful. It has been a huge learning experience getting the site set up, learning Photoshop, getting the word out (learned about Google ads and spent some money with them), trying to figure out what people like, etc., etc.. I was originally planning to have a separate web site and sell shirts, maybe go to air shows and sell them. I quickly realized I didn't want to stock dozens of shirts that might not sell and I didn't want to spend my weekends behind a card table on the tarmac. So, the CafePress deal solved a lot of issues for me. I make a design, I put it on the site. If someone orders it, they take the credit card payment, make the shirt, ship it to them, and send me the profit. It's not a perfect situation, but at least I'm up and running and trying to see if there is a market for these types of shirts. Which, I have to say, isn't impressing me yet. I thought there were a lot of others like me that would think wearing a shirt that says "Say Intentions" is kinda witty and smart and creates an instant bond with any pilot who sees me wearing it. But, sales have been pretty darn slow. I'm starting to think that maybe I need to come up with some new designs. We'll see. More learning to come."