More Film Music Coming from Scott Cannizzaro’s Mixing Console

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I love it when I see that I have an e-mail from audio wizard Scott Cannizzaro. It usually means that he’s made progress on a mix of the audio for the show or for the soundtrack of A Pilot’s Story. I got just such an e-mail this morning.

Scott is re-mixing Theme From Milliways (Go for TMI) for use in the upcoming film, A Pilot’s Story from Wilco Films. Airspeed listeners will remember the music from the Airspeed episode First Solo from October of 2006. It was my first big sprawling narrative and I recorded the tune especially for the episode.

It had its genesis when I was in law school. I played a lot of guitar during breaks in studying and I had (still have) a Martin Backpacker that I used a lot. The Backbacker has no truss rod and the intonation higher up the fretboard is awful. So I tuned it DADGAD and played it mostly open. It sounded really good for playing Stan Rogers songs.

The piece evolved and is named for my law mentor Sam Simpson’s place up north, which is itself names for the restaurant at the end of the universe of Douglas Adams fame.

The “Go for TMI” part came when I decided that the piece (played up-tempo) would be the piece of my space-folk album that would cover the big burn from low Earth orbit to head for Mars. (TMI = “Trans-Mars Injection,” just like TLI or Trans-Lunar Injection was the big burn that Apollo missions used when leaving local Earth space for the Moon.)

Anyway, Scott has done a wonderful job so far and he’s still tweaking it. He has added some high and low string voices to the 12-string guitar, mandolin, and (really horrible) violin tracks that I initially recorded. He has also stretched out the last pause to allow the dramatic “Steve, Cessna 152, July 14, 2001” at the end. Close listeners to the episode could probably tell that I had to stretch it by brute force in post because I didn’t leave enough time.

Anyway, Will has been having his interview subjects for the film each say their first names, the aircraft, and the date of their first solos and he’s considering doing a part of the film on the first-solo experience. I’ve seen an early cut and it looks great. (USAF Thunderbird No. 5, Maj Samantha Weeks did hers in the Cessna T-37 Tweet!) If he does it, I think this is the music he’s going to use. And, if I manage to get into the film, that’s the part I most want to be in.

More recording soon, I hope. Jim Kreucher and I will likely go back into the studio for a couple of days for an album project and I have to get my second MacDowell piece written and the basic instrumental tracks recorded soon, too.

Stay tuned!

How CAP Does MLK Day – CAPFLIGHT 2028 Style

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I heeded the call to devote today to service by getting up and doing some currency flying with the Civil Air Patrol. Cross-country Ann Arbor (KARB) to Battle Creek (KBTL). 2.1 hours with ILS 23 at KBTL and VOR 24 KARB.

In the other seat was 1Lt Norm Malek. I flew with Norm late last year and had a good time and Norm had the excellent idea of taking this morning to get up again and knock some of the rust off. We launched into 2,000-ft ceilings with five miles and haze, but it cleared up shortly outside of Ann Arbor’s Class D and we headed up to 4,500. We got over the scattered to broken layer by 1,000 feet and it was CAVU by the time we got to Battle Creek.

I shot the ILS in to 23 and did a fair job of it. The runway had about an inch of packed snow on it, but it’s 10,000 feet long and I just let the aircraft roll out as long as it wanted to. The tower asked me about braking action and I confessed that I hadn’t touched the brakes. I’m willing to fly Citabrias upside down, but wasn’t about to touch the brakes on that runway until I was down to taxi speed.

Kind of interesting. The last time I was on 5/23 at Battle Creek was in the back of an F-16D.

It was slow in the tower and we made some chit-chat. I got a few shots of the Blue Angels going by the tower at the Battle Creek airshow in 2007 and sent a 20 x 30 blow-up of one of them to the tower crew. It turned out that the guy on duty had it in his office. Never, ever miss a chance to suck up to ATC.

My uncle, Dennis Reed, lives near Battle Creek. He flew air cav in Viet Nam and then flew the executive jets for Kellogg’s for decades. He’s retired now and I called him up last week to see if he might be interested in meeting up with us. We hooked up at Century Aviation, got a cup of coffee, and let him inspect the aircraft. When he was an instructor in the 1960s, he could fly the pattern in a Cherokee without touching the yoke. Throttle, trim, and rudder only. He’s thinking about going in on an experimental or light sport with a friend and I could see the gleam in his eye when he talked about it.

Uncle Denny is the only other aviator in the family. Our particular branches of the family don’t get together too much (not that we don’t like each other- it’s just a logistical nightmare), so most of my aviation has taken place in a vacuum as far as the family has been concerned. So it was really, really, nice to fly in and see Uncle Denny in an aviation context. He just pops a little more when he’s standing on the ramp. I think the sun hits him a little differently there as opposed to anywhere else. Let’s make no mistakes. I flew in, but I was standing on his ramp.

In fact, I stand on his ramp in a lot of places, and not just at Battle Creek and not just when he’s around. We all owe him and men like him our gratitude and respect. Showing up in a zoom bag as a pilot after flying across the state and greasing the landing brought a couple of things full circle today. Really cool.

The trip back was fine until just after Jackson (KJXN). We flew at 5,500 feet, about 1,000 feet over a scattered, then broken layer. The haze made the horizon hard to make out at times, although the ground was readily visible up until about 18 miles west of Ann Arbor. So we got a pop-up IFR clearance and shot the VOR 24 in to Ann Arbor.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. If you’re a pilot and you’re not in the Civil Air Patrol, what the heck are you thinking? Cherry, well-maintained aircraft. Great people with whom to fly. And you get to serve your community and country while you’re at it.

Happy birthday, Dr. King. This CAP pilot is current and proficient. I stand ready to help CAP perform it missions for America.

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Cross-Country to Saginaw and Commercial Training

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Finally got up yesterday after two cancellations. Not bad for Michigan in January, really.

I have three regular flying sources these days. CAP (currency and mission readiness in C-172s and, soon, the mighty C-182T with G1000), Sutton Aviation (tailwheel and aerobatics in American Champion aircraft), and Flight 101.

Flight 101 is an FBO/school with lots of C-172s, a couple of DA-40s, and a C-172RG. It’s my “rent a C-172 and go fly” place since Tradewinds closed its pilot center. I decided recently to start looking at the commercial certificate. I can do a lot of that with CAP, but having access to an RG and qualified instructors form another source allows me to train more often if I decide to do that. And it’s nice because the RG isn’t in very high demand. (After all it’s primarily for advanced training.)

So, after being weathered out a couple of times earlier this month, I went up to refresh myself on the RG and knock off the rust. Most of my complex time is multi-engine and my only single-engine complex time is in this aircraft (about 1.4 before yesterday).

We went VFR to Saginaw (KMBS) to build some cross-country time. It was something like 5F on the ground and accordingly colder at altitude. The heater was non-functional. That’s not normally a big deal, but I’m a polar bear and usually wear only a light jacket in the cockpit because the instructor usually likes to keep it warmer than I like. I keep cold weather gear in the back in case of a forced landing away from civilization (I’d be teased roundly if my CAP brethren found me frozen to death after landing the plane uneventfully).

It was probably the coldest I’ve ever been in an airplane. Not unbearable, but pretty numb toes and we definitely went full-stop at KMBS in order to let me but on my MA-1 flight jacket. Much better!

I got 1.2 hood time on the way back, much of it in slow flight at around 75 KIAS with the gear down on a VOR radial fron FNT. We shot the LOC B/C 27L back into KPTK with a sidestep to 27R.

Both landings were actually pretty good (as, for some reason, is my custom on the first flight back after not flying since October or November). I like to be very tender on retractables. I know that the RG is built to withstand abuse from students learning to fly their first retractable, but the gear still looks a little skinny to me. So I carry a little extra power into the flare and touch it down like mom is in the back seat. A little crosswind on 32 on the way in to KMBS, but it was right down the runway at 9 on the way back in to KPTK.

I’m flying with someone new, namely Niketta Wyrick, a CFII at Flight 101 at KPTK who started at age 14 and is a pretty talented GA driver. This is her at KMBS outside the FBO. I got a good and fair workout on the flight, appropriate to returning to the airport with some acknowledged rust on my skills.

We chandelled up through a sucker hole on the way there to get above the scattered layer at about 4,000 and went most of the way at 7,500. I probably would have run scud (albeit well above the minimum safe altitudes and at least 500 feet below the clouds) if it had been just me because my last instrument approaches were in October and I would not have wanted to be stuck on top and have to come back through single-pilot IFR with that much rust on my scan. But I felt comfortable with Niketta there to assist.

Depending on a couple of other flight opportunities, I’ll probably get up with Niketta to do some work on the commercial maneuvers soon.

In the meantime, I’m planning to go to some CAP currency flying on Monday out of Ann Arbor (KARB). Pretty excited about that. I haven’t flown out of KARB since 2001 and it ought to be fun. Thinking KARB-KBTL-KAZO-KARB at least. Maybe with a stop at KJXN on the way back.

Aerobatics and the Super Decathlon with Greg Koontz

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These are the show notes to an audio episode. You can listen online right here by clicking:

Greg Koontz is a 22,000-hour pilot with 7,000 hours of instruction given. He performs aerobatics across the country every summer both individually and as a part of The Alabama Boys.

He’s a NAFI Master Certified Aerobatic Flight Instructor and Aerobatic Competency Evaluator (A.C.E.), and is also the proprietor of Sky Country Lodge in Ashville, Alabama.

Greg has been performing in airshows since 1974, when he joined Col. Moser’s Flying Circus and learned his trademark maneuvers from the best in the business. Greg has two outstanding acts that he brings to the show: A breathtaking aerobatic demonstration in the Super Decathlon, and a side-splitting comedy routine where Greg as Alabama redneck Clem Cleaver “steals” a Piper Cub and lands on the World’s Smallest Airport; a moving pickup truck.

I saw Greg twice last year (Battle Creek and Oshkosh) and was really impressed with his flying. No problem with the F-16s, F/A-18s or anyone else, but Greg flies an aircraft that I can actually go rent at Sutton Aviation and learn to fly – the American Campion Super Decathlon. I get to see the envelope of a plane that I can actually go explore when I get home.
Like I said – no flies on the F-15, but it’s hard to find one for rent.

Greg and I took 40 minutes or so to talk about aerobatics, the Super-D, airshows, training, and why we fly. Couldn’t ask to talk to a nicer, more regular guy. Truly an honor to know that guys like this can do things like that with airplanes that I can fly.

Contact Information for Greg:

Greg Koontz Airshows
and Sky Country Lodge
2546 Slasham Road
Ashville, AL 35953
Phone: 205-616-8176

CAPFLIGHT 2028 to Ride Again

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes or links to show audio, please check out the other posts.

Okay, I’m back in the groove. Or at least I have plans to return to the groove (important if you’re trying to plan ahead and you live in Michigan in January). I have three planned flights so far.

This week, it’s instrument currency and initial commercial maneuvers at Flight 101. Flying with an instructor I’ve met once, but with whom I’ve never flown. I think that, once you have your flight skills reasonably down, it’s a good idea to fly with different instructors. You learn more that way. Sure, there are crazies out there and sure, you’re going to discard some of the advice that you receive, but you also pick up stuff that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

Next week, it’s up with Barry again in the Citabria. Banking and cranking and starting to build my aerobatic duration for the upcoming season. I want to be able to do an hour straight with tummy in good shape by late May. I got to that point in July, but then work got busy and I had to let the duration slide. I got up in November, but I was done after 20 minutes. Like so many things, you must use it or you’ll lose it.

And then the stuff I’m most excited about. Capt Norm Malek (the ops officer for my CAP squadron and fiercely competent instrument driver) and I are going to go grab 2CP (CAPFLIGHT 2028) in Ann Arbor (KARB) and go get some cross-country time and some instrument approaches and do some hangar flying. I’m thinking KARB-KBTL-KAZO-KARB. But the beauty of it is that we don’t have to go anywhere in particular. Just turning 100LL into noise and challenging each other to improve our skills. If you’re a pilot, why on earth (or off) would you not join CAP?

Really excited to be back in the air! Sorry about all of the griping and whining about work over the last few posts, but I’ll try to make up for it with the exuberance that you know I can develop once I get airborne. Yeah!