Flying for a Birthday

I decided to push the limits a bit for my birthday this year and see just how much airplane I could handle.  What I learned is that while I can probably fly a bigger, faster, more complicated airplane just fine it isn’t a walk in the park by any means.

This trip included a flight in a rare (for renters) bird indeed:  the Beech Mentor T-34A/B.  The flying club happens to have one and my CFI is checked out in it so we took it for an hour around the Half Moon Bay area.  What makes it tricky for me is the amount of “new” stuff it has: constant speed prop, manifold pressure, retractable landing gear, flaps, fuel pumps, 250+ HP and all sorts of tricky on the ground handling.  It was fast and slippery in the air and I felt like I was behind the the airplane whenever we had to change the flight configuration.  But while it was flying it was silky smooth and the best handling plane I’ve yet flown.

If it weren’t so expensive to fly (over $230 per hour) it would be a great plan to check out in and have in the back pocket to impress visitors.  As it is, in today’s flight dollars, the T-34 is a rare treat to experience when you can afford the ability to do so.  Definitely recommended to fly.

53158 more photos in the album

The Continuing Sadness that is the HR20

DirecTV HR20

It has been almost a year since I was forced to give up my wonderful HD-Tivo box for the “improved” DirecTV version called the HR20.  Since I’ve had the box I’ve needed to make a lot of adjustments, but one new adjustment just isn’t sitting well with me: lock ups and reboots once per week.

You see, DirecTV doesn’t seem to understand the concept of QA or beta testing.  Whenever they get a new update for the software inside the HR20 they just push it out the door to millions of customers.  For anyone that has ever gotten a bad update on their computer, you know what happens sometimes… things just fall apart.  Well, in my case I lose TV programs and the PVR just stops working.

Normally this would seem to be just a silly rant, after all, it is only TV, right?  Well, what if you paid nearly $100 a month for that TV signal and some of the programs provided were watch-it-once-then-it’s-gone sorts of things?  That’s what I have and that is why I’m so mad about this latest round of mess ups from DirecTV. 

The best part is that they kept me waiting on the phone for 48 minutes the other day just to tell me to reformat my PVR (that didn’t work) and that yes, Virginia, they have a problem and they don’t know if/whether they will fix it and if they do/don’t they won’t call me back to confirm the fix (or not).  Great customer service!