First Flight for Checkout in the 172RG at Flight 101

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“Yeah, maintenance? Somebody left a blue knob, a lever, and a couple of new gages in the dash on one of your 172s. And the tach is gone. Could you check that out?”

Started the checkout in the RG yesterday at Flight 101. Wind 240 at 14, gusting to 22. (Active runway 27L-R.) Peak gust 26 and bizjets reporting shear of plus and minus 15 on final. That’s not bed-head in the picture. The wind was even blowing back the gel.

But we got up. This is the first flight of the checkout in the Cessna 172RG (the Cutlass). Flight 101, the FBO to which I’m transitioning for my airplane rental needs, has 152s, 172s, a 172RG, and Diamond DA40s. Checking out in the RG qualifies me for all of the other Cessnas on the line, so it’s efficient to go up in the RG, even if I need five hours in which to check out. Plus, I’m scheduled to go for multi training with Traverse Air this weekend and having a little experience with a complex aircraft would be a good thing.

Plus, I needed to go land something – anything – a few times to get the muscle memory back. I’d flown only twice since the instrument checkride last October and even that flying involved only two takeoffs and two landings (although I got an IPC out of the February flight).

There’s a lot to learn. I’m really glad that I flew something complex before getting into Tom Brady’s Apache. I understand constant speed props better now and also have a better sense for how busy I’m going to be on takeoff and landing.

I goofed up the first takeoff for the simple reason that I hadn’t positioned my seat correctly. The dash is a little closer to the pilot in relation to the pedals in the Cutlass than it is in the late-model 172Rs to which I’ve become accustomed. I set up the seat to put the throttle about the right distance for my arm. Taxiing was okay, so I figured that the pedals would be fine.

So I gave her full power and immediately went left because I couldn’t get enough pedal travel with my right foot. Lesson learned. Make sure that you get full travel of all of the applicable controls before you get to the hold short line.

Here’s the cockpit. The blue knob is the prop control, the gear lever is to the left of the carb heat, and – yeah – there’s carb heat (after having flown fuel-injected aircraft since 2003). Procedures also call for using the electric fuel pump on takeoff and landing and that switch is at the far left. Plus, there are cowl flaps that you need to close to help avoid shock cooling of the engine. It’s nothing that thousands of pilots don’t deal with every day, but it’s new to me and I was as busy as a one-armed paper hanger in the pattern.

After a couple of steep turns, we headed over to Romeo to use Runway 18, where the wind was a little closer to the runway heading. It was a little too bumpy anywhere below about 5,000 feet to do slow flight productively, so we’ll do the rest of the high airwork later.

Four full-stop landings. Pretty happy with them except for the third one, in which I imposed a fair amount of side load with a nose-right touchdown.

The Cutlass cruises fast and beautifully. And it’s heavier, so it’s a little better behaved in the shear and turbulence. There’s a pronounced difference when the gear comes down. You can really feel the drag.

That’s Dr. (!) Andy Mawdsley in the right seat. Nice guy. Very good at letting you know his pet peeves and operational preferences, but doing it in a constructive way. Ever fly with a crusty instructor who seems to be pissed off that you don’t automatically know all of his (or her) foibles and doesn’t seem to care that you might have learned something differently and are performing to the letter of your training? Andy’s not that guy. He took the time to talk for a half hour or so before the flight, helped with the idiosynchrasies of the RG preflight, and gave me a clear expectation of what to expect on the flight.

Weather not looking good for the multi training this weekend, but I’ll call Tom today and see what he thinks.

BFR and IPC Complete – Beautiful Day

I won’t begrudge Florida aviators their 300-odd VFR days a year or give them crap about the days I spend under 800-foot freezing overcasts here in Michigan. And it’s because of days like yesterday.

Just look at that sky! 15-20 F on the ground. Scattered at 3,500. Visibility unlimited. The airplane climbs like crazy. Lots of air molecules very close together.

Note the superior service here. Line tug and everything. I can finally say that I got a pushback!

Went through a Biannual Flight Review (BFR) yesterday. Even though the instrument rating in October essentially counts as a BFR, I hadn’t flown for any material amount of time VFR for a long time and I wanted to get some stalls, slow flight, takeoffs, landings, etc. in with an instructor in the right seat. Pattern work at Lapeer (KD95). Then I put on the hood and we went over to KFNT for the ILS 27 and then the RNAV 18. Did very well on each of the approaches, even with 20+ knot crosswind on the ILS.

Here’s a shot of the two aircraft that I have flown the most of late. N16TA and N20TA. They’re the two newest of the Tradewinds fleet other than N15TA, the G1000-equipped aircraft.

Got to go over and check out Flight 101 sometime in the next few weeks and make sure that I have a place to rent. Might be dun to get checked out in the C-152 again and also fly the DA40s. For now, though, I’m current for everything other than night landings and that’s pretty good for me this early in the year.

On to the Ground Instructor Certificates – And a Promo with Gleim

Many of you know that I’m a pilot and aviation enthusiast. But I’m also, among other things, a Certified Management Accountant and Certified in Financial Management. When I prepared for those professional exams, I used Gleim knowledge transfer materials.

Imagine the pleasant surprise when I started flight training and found out that Gleim knowledge transfer materials were available for the FAA exams as well. I expected the same concise treatment of the issues and questions that helped me to understand the materials well enough to approach the test with confidence. And that’s exactly what I got.

I’ve used the Gleim study software and print publications for both the private pilot knowledge test and, more recently, the instrument knowledge test. And this time I added the Gleim audio preparation CDs for the instrument knowledge test.

Needless to say, I passed both the first time with flying colors.

I’m on to my next challenges now, which include getting my ground instructor and instrument ground instructor certificates. And how do you think I’m preparing? You guessed it. With Gleim knowledge transfer systems.

Gleim is providing my study materials for the FAA tests for those certificates and other consideration and, in return, I’m making these mentions on Airspeed. As you might guess, it was an easy deal for me to do because I’ve prepared for – and passed – four tough certification exams with Gleim materials and I wouldn’t think of going after these new certificates without Gleim knowledge transfer materials. I’ve tried all of the major brands of flight training materials and I think the world of Gleim knowledge transfer systems.

And, for a limited time, by special arrangement with Airspeed, Gleim will give Airspeed listeners 25% off their purchases of Gleim knowledge transfer materials. That’s right. Just give the promotional code “ASPD” at the time of your order and Gleim will knock 25% off any Pilot Kit you order just for being an Airspeed listener.

Gleim has knowledge transfer systems for Sport Pilot, Private Pilot, Instrument Pilot, Commercial Pilot, Flight/Ground Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, Multi-Engine, and Flight Engineer and even specialty materials like refresher courses great for use before your BFR or Instrument Proficiency Check. No matter how you learn best, Gleim packages the information in a way that’s right for you. From online courses like Gleim’s Online Ground School to test-prep CD-ROMs to books and audio programs, Gleim has a system that’s right for your learning style.

You can reach Gleim at or call them up on the phone at (800) 874-5346 and remember to use the promotional code “ASPD” to get your 25% Airspeed listener discount for a limited time only.

The Gleim logo is a trademark of Gleim Publications, Inc. and/or Gleim Internet, Inc. Airspeed makes no claim to such trademark. Gleim and Airspeed are independent contracting parties and are not partners or affiliates.

Stage Check Almost Complete

I’d consider throwing all of my approach plates in the lake at this point, but I fear that, even with dual VORs, IFR-certified GPS, and vectors, I’d have trouble finding the lake.

I had my final stage check this afternoon – well, most of it. 2.1 under the hood with rapid-fire changes of clearance, two holds (one VOR and one at an airway waypoint), a DME arc, unusual attitude recoveries (both full and partial panel), compass turns, approach and departure stalls under the hood, and a takeoff under the hood. That’s f%&$ing work! I was a noodle by the end.

My check pilot (the senior training pilot at Tradewinds) had a headset malfunction when the portion near the plug separated and made it tough for him to hear. So we shouted at each other for most of the maneuvers (par for the course on some of my flights, even when the instructor’s headset is fully funcitonal) and packed it in at the end.

We’ll do the approaches and clean up the other stuff soon. Gotta go fly some sim between now and then, especially partial-panel approaches.

Here’s N916TA, a Cessna 172R in which I’ve probably logged 20-30 hours. It and its sister aircraft, N920TA, have two-axis autopilots and an audio Aux input (great for iPod addition to your avionics). 16 and 20 are contemporaries of N918TA, the subject of the So Long, One-Eight! episode. Nice aircraft and none older than 2002. N915TA is a glass-panel (Garmin G-1000) is also on the line, but I’m going to finish up the rating with the steam gages and then maybe transition.

Wonder why I like Tradewinds? Here’s my walk from the lobby to the Pilot Center flight line. Right past the King Airs and the Hawkers. Got to like that. And look at the floor! Could you eat off of that or what?

Last thing: I’m the guest on Episode 3 of The Pilot’s Flight PodLog, which you’ll recall is Will Hawkins’ new podcast. Check it out and subscribe to Will’s new podcast at iTunes or your favorite other podcatcher or listen online at

Airspeed – Flight Training with John and Martha King

Subscribe to Airspeed through iTunes or your other favorite podcatcher using the feed or listen to audio at
This episode is the first in a series that will run through spring. No yet idea how many episodes will be in the series or exactly what the content will be, but we know this: Spring will be here soon and with it the best time of year in the Northern Hemisphere to learn to fly. And, for that matter, there’s still a lot of good flying weather left for those listeners in the Southern Hemisphere.
If you’ve never been up in a general aviation airplane – or if you have, but haven’t yet made the decision to start flight training in earnest, these episodes are for you. They’re also for people who have started training on a certificate or rating but, for whatever reason, have stopped training.
I know exactly what I’m talking about here. I didn’t start flight training until my mid thirties. I had a year-long hiatis in my training for the private pilot certificate when my son was born. And I always seem to have a hiatis toward the end of the year because my law practice tends to get very busy at that time of the year. Case in point, I’m probably four or five flights away from the instrument rating in a Part 141 program, but I’m almost embarassed to say how long it’s been since I was last at the flight controls of anythng other than a Frasca 142 simulator – mainly because the weather hasn’t been flyable, I’m slammed at work, and I have a couple of great kids that justifiably demand my attention.
But this is the year. I’m going to polish off the instrument rating. And if you have unfinished business at the airport – or have yet to start that business, the time is either now or very soon.
So we’re doing a few episodes to give you the motivation and drive to get to the airport – or get back to the airport, as the case may be.
And what better way to start than to bring you John and Martha King.
John and Martha King are two of the best-known flight instructors and aviation advocates in the world. Starting in the early 1970s, they have built a business that has grown into an 18,000 square-foot complex in San Diego and reaches to every corner of the general aviation world through mail order, multimedia training, and personal appearances. Not to mention at least one podcast episode.
The Kings’ bios would take at least 2o minutes to try to completely cover (I know – I tried), so we’re just going to hit the highlights here. Each holds every single category and class of FAA pilot and instructor certificate. Each of them continues to be active in many categories, regularly flying everything from jet and piston airplanes and helicopters to weight-shift trikes and powered parachutes. They even serve as backup pilots for the Fujifilm blimp.
They lecture widely and make many public appearances. You may guess from some prior episodes that it was tough to get access to the people I’ve interviewed and you’d be right in some cases. Not so with the Kings. I was on the phone with then very quickly after requesting the interview. Lots of aviation icons talk a good game at the big events about being champions of general aviation and aerospace education, but the Kings put their day-to-day time and energy where their reputations are.
Lastly, I should tell you that I’ve been through the Cessna Pilot Center (or “CPC”) series of CD-ROM training courses for both private and instrument pilot. Those programs featured the Kings heavily, in addition to Rod Machado and others. Even though I had already been through a private ground school in a Part 141 program before taking the CPC courses, I learned new things from the CPC courses and developed a better understanding of the things I already knew. I have not been through other multimedia courses except a but of the ASA instrument DVDs, and can say little one way or another about other courses, but I was already a pretty sophisticated consumer as private pilot training materials went, and found the Kings’ materials very effective.
Anyway, on to the interview with John and Martha King.
[Interview audio.]
Thanks to John and Martha King for appearing on Airspeed. You can find more information about John and Martha and about King Schools at There’s a link in the show notes at to the article that I mentioned: Battling the “Big Lie:” John King’s Crusade to Change Aviation’s Culture. It’s definitely worth a read by every pilot and by every every pilot’s family and friends who have questions about safety in general aviation.
One other thing. I make it a point of telling you guys when I have anything that comes close to a conflict of interest. Like the episode about ballistic recovery parachutes where I disclosed my small stock holding in BRS Parachutes. One could be forgiven for thinking that my enthusiasm about the Kings is motivated by some advertising deal. But I received no promotional consideration from King Schools or anyone connected in any way with the Kings for this episode. None asked and none offered. Their materials are just that good and their generosity with their time is just that . . . well, generous.
There might be better training materials out there – and you should avail yourself of whatever works for you – but I was really happy with my experience with the Kings’ materials and you probably would be, too. It’s all about what makes your flight training experience most productive and what gets people up in the air sooner, more safely, and so inspired after each lesson that they spend five minutes in the parking lot of the flight school trying to figure out which key unlocks the car. Yeah, it can be that way sometimes. And it can be that way soon if you get yourself to the airport and take the first – or the next – step.
Lastly – and I’ll get to this more in depth in a future episode – the best first step in pursuing pilot training is to visit You can obtain a certificate right then and there that’s good for your first flight lesson for $99 or less at any of about 2,000 flight schools that participate in the program.

More about John and Martha:

King Schools:

Battling the “Big Lie:” John King’s Crusade to Change Aviation’s Culture:

Cessna Pilot Centers: