It’s About Aircrew

The low clouds and snow flurries retreated today and, as luck would have it, Capt Norm Malek and I had scheduled the G1000-equipped CAP C-182 all afternoon.  So we launched around 1:00 and wrung out the aircraft for a total of 3.3 Hobbs hours.

As of this morning, all of my approaches for instrument currency dated from October, which means that they’re going to expire next month.  So I clearly needed some approaches.  Capt Malek didn’t need as many, having recently flown some single-pilot actual as part of some aircraft repositioning work this week.

So I rocked out a hold on a DME fix about 18 miles sooutheast of Flint, then went in for the ILS 27, the RNAV 18, the ILS 27 again, and the VOR 18 before landing and switching pilots.  2.0 ASEL high-performance and 1.6 of it under the hood.  We had some VFR traffic around NUPUE, my intended IAF, and I volunteered to be vectored to JUBER instead, so there was some fast fingerwork on the G1000.  But no worries. [Read more...]

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!

CAPFLIGHT 2028 – The Big Currency Circle

This is a regular blog post. Looking for show notes or show audio? Please check out the other posts.

Got up for 2.9 hours of flying with Capt Norm Malek, the operations officer of the Oakland Composite Squadron of the US Civil Air Patrol (GLR-MI-238 – my home squadron). Norm got his instrument rating a little more than six months ago and had fallen out of currency. So he needed six approaches, interception and tracking, and a hold. And a safety pilot in the right seat.

Hey! I know a good safety pilot! And he’s got a new zoom bag that he needs to break in!

So Norm and I saddled up on Friday to go build some cross-country time. I handled the right-seat duties and Norm shot the approaches. Turned out that I was reasonably useful. I like to print off the approach plates from the FAA’s website and staple them together by airport, then by runway, then by precision. It makes for a clean cockpit.

And I’m pretty good about setting up efficient sequences of approaches. Like shooting the ILS 27 at KFNT and following it with the VOR 18 at KFNT. You don’t have to fly all the way back outbound to get to the start of the approach and it gets you a different approach to a different runway while shooting you out to the south to set you up for a right turn to KLAN.

We did KYIP KFNT KLAN KJXN KYIP with two approaches at each of the first two (including the published miss and hold for the VOR 24 at KLAN) and one each at the other airports. We stopped at Jackson to refuel and to both give to, and receive from, the local water table.

I really enjoyed this flight. First, Norm’s a good friend and it was great to get some time aloft with him. Second, I’ve never been safety pilot for anyone and it was cool to have the experience of just looking around and scanning for traffic without having to think a lot about navigation and other stuff.

Third, and most surprising, it was really cool to watch six instrument approaches on a VFR day. I don’t think I shot any approaches without the hood during my instrument training, which turned out to be a lot like doing one’s rating in Plato’s cave. You rely on the shadows of the gauges for directional information and get to look up briefly at the end, but that’s about it. You really need to shoot a couple of approaches early in your instrument training where you can see what it looks like out the window. How can one really expect to have any situational awareness if one has never actually seen what the approach looks like out the window?

I’m looking forward to getting out and getting a few approaches in before the snow falls. I’m current as of September 10, so I have plenty of time, but it’d be cool to get out and just go shoot a few for the heck of it. And to do so in a cherry, well-maintained CAP C-172R.

Also, I broke in the new zoom bag! I just became flight-qualified for CAP by taking the Form 5 ride in August. And, thereby, received the privilege of wearing the flight suit. Is it wrong for a male human to love a garment this much? It fits nicely. It’s sage green. It has a leather name patch with wings on it. Nice shiny captain’s bars on the shoulders. Command patch, wing patch, and US flag patch. And a morale patch. I think I’ll cut off the pocket flap now, being that I’ve worn it aloft.

Got to love the Civil Air Patrol! Flight suits, wonderful aircraft, and solid colleagues. If you’re not in CAP, you’re missing out!