Lessons 5 & 6: Crud and Partial Redemption

Last week I did two flying lessons in the same week. The hope was that this would allow me to retain more of my know-how without sliding backward into regression. Well, it sort of worked.

On the 5th lesson I really blew the take-off roll and the landing was a mess. Too much rudder, then not enough, then a lot more than was needed: that was the take-off until the instructor stepped in and fixed things. On the landing I put the nose right in the middle of the runway, in a crosswind, and found myself on the far left side of the field just before time to land. Again the CFI (certified flight instructor) wrestled the plane back into position in time for me to land a bit hard, then nearly steer off the runway.

At lesson 6 I was still pretty heavy on the rudders on take-off, but not as bad as before. Most of the lesson was spent learning to stall the plane, something that really isn’t good to do, but important to know lest I do so accidentally during a landing. When it came time to land I remembered the last mess, and corrected by keeping the nose to the right of the runway. This allowed me to be centered up, but too high until just before the edge of the strip. CFI stepped in again to crab the plane down to a manageable height and I helped put it down on the tarmac.

The instructor says I’m getting better, but I still feel pretty terrible at the end of each lesson. We’ll see if I really get better as I get closer to 20 lessons.

Commercial Flight Suckage

Again today I had to take a flight somewhere for just the day, then return home.  And again the wonderful TSA had to find a way to make it miserable.  In San Jose they have so few checkpoints that the line to get into the waiting area was out the door.  They also had only small paper signs telling people what could or couldn’t be taken on planes, so of course many people missed those signs and then got combatitive at the checkpoints.

On the way back, in Burbank’s airport, for an unknown reason all TSA checkpoints were shut down for at least 30 mins.  The national guard was on hand to randomly pick people for extra searches.  No explanation was given, but eventually the lines moved again, but not soon enough for a group of people to completly miss their flights to Phoenix, then get angry at the gate agent.

Thanks again TSA!  You’re the reason why we’ll all be traveling by bus in the not so distant future.

Birthday Day Stress and Lesson 5

The day started off a little rough, with an early awakening for a conference call, and didn’t really get much better from then on out. Yes, its my birthday, and my mother’s birthday, and now Steve and April’s newest born’s birthday. And sadly, it is also Ben Affleck’s birthday too. That was a real downer to learn about.

I did manage to sneak out of the office a little bit early and get in another flying lesson. This time it was all about not paying attention to the gauges and just “feeling” the plane. Good thing too, as the sky was busy with all sorts of other planes. In the end, I got a bit frazzled and really mucked up the landing, and made errors on the radio so that the tower people were confused, I’m sure.

Why is it that we celebrate birthday’s again? I think I’ll go sleep, then fly to LA in the morning, and think about it.

Lesson 4: Radio Work and Landings

Today I had the fourth (I think) flying lesson in Palo Alto. It was a real doozy as it required me to talk to the airport tower as well as setup and land (or attempt to land) the plane.

As expected, it was a minor success bookended by a series of incremental failures. I don’t have any idea what I’m saying to the tower at this point, what the ATIS is saying to me, and I certainly had a lot of mess to deal with on the take-off roll and landing. Tail-dragger aircraft sure are tough to manage.

The instructor said I did pretty well but I feel tired, beat up, and more than a little bent at all the mistakes I made. I’m still chasing some of the instruments and over-correcting for climb and descent. It sure seems to be a chore to keep all the stuff juggling in my head.

I can only hope that I get better soon, as the real dollars start adding up with the next flight: local flying club membership, books, supplies, headsets, and insurance. And the flight instruction costs go up starting on the next lesson too, since I’m now committing to the whole deal there are no more free (or discounted) rides. The rubber meets the road from here on out.

It should be a good feeling to fly at some point, but right now all I see are the mistakes I’m making.  Hopefully it will smooth out and I’ll worry less while enjoying more.

Crappy Commercial Flights

I had the great displeasure of flying from Oakland to Seattle this past Friday, just after the new “liquids ban” was put in place for all commercial aviation. This change seems to have completely fubar’d the airports, leaving an overworked air system even more in disarray.

All told, I spent 7 hours in two airports for 5 hours of meetings in a remote office. I would like to say that the face to face time was worth it, but I have to question how useful travel is when things are as painful as they now are at major airports. Kudos

Kudos TSA, you once again have shown you are as ready for handling disaster as FEMA is. And that’s no compliment, I assure you.

Full Scale Flight

After three tries at it I believe I’m now committed enough create a new category for my newest activity: learning to fly.

This Saturday I flew with an instructor in a Citbabria trainer around the Western SF bay area. According to the instructor, I’m “a natural” and he kept asking me “have you done this before?” These are his words, not mine. Evidently I don’t suck, is what he is saying.

That’s good, because learning to fly takes time and money. And I’d hate to suck at it and not know that until a good chunk of my savings were gone. Luckily, it looks like I can just concentrate on not sucking and leave the rest of my worries til a later date.

Wish me luck.


Friendly Reminder: I'm A White Guy

It seems that I keep forgetting that I am a lanky white guy.  This week I decided to go to lunch with some of the old NVIDIA co-workers at a local Indian food restaurant.  The food was good and I was careful to pick things I knew I could handle.  Or so I thought. When

I got back to work things seemed to be heating up just a bit in my stomach.  Then, of the course of a few hours, that spicy chicken got into a shouting match with my breakfast and things just went downhill from there.  Two days later I was still feeling the burn. I

I guess I’m not curry compatible.  Which is a shame, because that’s some good food.