It’s been over a week since I’ve been able to go flying. Work and weather have conspired against me. As a poor substitute, I went through some pictures taken with my Treo 600. The first two were taken by my instructor, Rich Acuff in 374DM, the plane I eventually did my private pilot checkride in. I don’t remember exactly, but my guess is that we were flying out to the coast by Half Moon Bay when these were taken:
This last one is of a Pitts Special S-2B. The careful viewer will note that the plane is taxiing on a public road, specifically Laurel St in downtown San Carlos, Ca. Back in November the city had a parade where several planes were allowed to taxi down the middle of downtown. Is that a pretty plane or what?
Today I had the second half of my private pilot checkride. I had the first part on Tuesday, but we couldn’t complete the flying portion because I didn’t like the weather. Today the weather was much better, and I got it done. About 5 hours total between the two days, including 2.3 hours flying time. I stressed out over it, and ended up pushing a lot of Bloglines stuff to the side in order to study for it over the past few weeks. But it’s all done now. I wasn’t perfect, but I performed well enough to pass. We took off from Palo Alto, and flew over to Livermore, where I did my airwork. We then did an engine failure scenario, a diversion to a different airport, and finally ended up at Byron, where I did several take offs and landings.
I now have a Private Pilot certificate, Airplane, Single Engine Land, with a tailwheel endorsement.
I’m getting ready for my private pilot checkride. Today my instructor and I flew from Palo Alto over to Hayward to practice short-field landings. I don’t quite have the hang of those yet, and it was good practice. On the way back to Palo Alto, the Hayward tower announced that a plane had gone down with an emergency. It was last on the radar near Coyote Hills, which was directly in front of us. After looking around a bit, we saw the Cessna sitting in a field. We called the tower and circled until a helicopter came and landed. People were walking around the plane, and it looked intact, so hopefully nobody was hurt.
Yesterday, I had my first aerobatic flying experience. I went up in N117PS, a Pitts Special S/2B owned by Attitude Aviation in Livermore. I have always thought that Pitts biplanes were cool, and I was right. The thing is a rocket. Extremely responsive. Think about turning, and it happens. There’s very little forward visibility (ie. none), so you have to work around that, especially when landing. First we did some aileron rolls. After a couple of examples, I was able to do those pretty easily on my own. Lift the nose 30 degrees or so, then stick to the side, with no rudder deflection. After that, Andy showed me a couple of loops. At that point I needed a break, so we landed at Tracy and fueled up. Back in the air we did a couple of hammerheads. The first one was straight up with an inverted roll-out at the top. The second one we spun on the way up and did a ‘humpty’ over the top. That was it for me and I had to ask for an end to the festivities. I recovered enough to fly the plane partly back to Livermore, where Andy took over and landed.
The G meter read +4/-1 Gs for the flight. They say you build up a tolerance to aerobatics over time, and that everyone has problems in the beginning. Even though I felt ill for part of it, I had a great time and will be going again. It’s more intense than any rollercoaster you can imagine. I think mastering the Pitts will be a fun challenge, and I’ve been told that aerobatic training makes you a better pilot.
Yesterday, I completed my second cross-country solo flight. Palo Alto to Sonoma County for lunch with Dad. Then on to Davis, then back to Palo Alto. 3.0 hours on the Hobbs meter. One more step towards my private pilot’s license.