As a private pilot I sometimes take great delight in just going up to meander in the sky.
We are on United Flight 848 from O’Hare to Orlando. The whole family is along for the ride and the four of us are in row two of this Boeing 737-900. We are spending the week at Walt Disney World; the house sitter has been installed to keep Truman company while we’re gone.
As a private pilot I always feel inspired to push my flying career further when I’m flying commercially. My grandfather and father, both inspirations as to why I became a pilot, were happy with their Private Pilots’ Certificate flying under VFR conditions and building airplanes in the basement of their homes. I did not inherit the talent or desire required to build my own airplane; I’m much more interested in the tech around avionics when it comes to that stuff. Dad flew with a six-pack. I want glass everywhere.
One of the only challenges I face as a pilot since we moved to Chicago is getting enough time in the cockpit. It’s at least an hour drive to get to either Chicago Executive or Waukegan National (the two airports where I belong to a club and have rental aircraft available). It’s doable, especially when I crank up the tenacity, but occasionally work gets in the way or Mother Nature has different ideas. Back in Upstate New York I used to fly around 80 hours a year but this year I’ll probably fly around 40.
I need to amp that up, as it lends to my frustration quotient.
As a private pilot I have shied away from flying a computer. I’ve done it a few times and my head always goes into a “I wonder how this thing is working” mode. Plus, I’m not feeling anything. I rely on tactile sensations when I’m flying and a computer just doesn’t provide that, at least in my experience. I’ve never flown a full motion simulator but I doubt it’s in our budget and my husband would never let me put one in the condo.
I’ve seen glimpses of Microsoft’s planned release of Flight Simulator. I’m intrigued. I’m thinking it may be time to make the investment in a computer setup where I can practice my instrument approaches and stay in the pilot mindset, especially during the crazy winter months we experience in the Midwest.
I’m going to put together a purchase quote for the accounting department of the household while enjoying this United flight to MCO.
It’ll be a nice way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Friendly Skies.
I’m watching old private pilot videos from the 60s and 70s on YouTube. I need to go flying. Very soon.
So I had planned a cross-country flight from Waukegan, Illinois to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for yesterday. Earl and I were to fly in the DA-40 to Oshkosh, grab a crew car from the FBO (Fixed Base Operator), have some lunch and visit my Dad’s name on the EAA Memorial Wall. I try to visit once a year and it’s always occurred during EAA’s AirVenture (the world’s largest aviation gathering). This was my first time to Oshkosh outside of AirVenture.
In the days leading up to the flight I had been monitoring the weather. I had planned to fly up at 6500′ and fly back at 7500′, passing outside of Milwaukee’s airspace. I knew the weather was not going to be crystal clear but I was hopeful that we could make our way up and back without having to go too far out of our way to avoid rain. As a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilot, I must stay clear of clouds and that’s usually easy to do.
The weather at Waukegan would have made for a beautiful departure, but the forecast indicated that coming home would have been tricky. Thunderstorms were predicted to pop up, but the placement and timing was an uncertainty. I was ready to go; we were even at the airplane with the canopy open and I was starting to get my electronics and like in place, but something in my gut told me not to go.
I always trust my gut.
We ended up driving to Oshkosh instead. It was beautiful the entire time we were up there. Looking back at our home airport, however, showed rain storms and impressive gusts blowing through the area. Getting home would have been a tricky deal and would have involved threading around storms, possibly landing at alternate airports and subsequently waiting for storms to pass.
If I owned my own airplane without obligations to be back at a certain time, I might have considered it. But in a rental in a time slot? I didn’t need the extra pressure.
It was a wonderful day to drive.
Earl and I drove straight to the airport and visited the Memorial Wall. Seeing Oshkosh in its non-AirVenture state just connected me more to the experience of aviation. One of the closest times I ever spent with my father was when he invited me to join my grandfather and him to Oshkosh for my 16th birthday back in 1984.
Oshkosh will always hold a special place in my heart.
Earl and I are already booked for our trip to EAA AirVenture next July and I’m looking forward to the experience. I’m hoping to have my instrument certificate by then. In the meanwhile, I’m happy with the decision I made yesterday.
I look forward to becoming a very old aviator.
If you look at my feet you’ll notice that I now enjoy flying in my Converse All-Star sneakers. I can nicely feel the rudders when I wear these shoes.
In this photo I’m crabbing into the wind as I land on runway 11 at KBMI. It wasn’t my prettiest landing but I’m hyper critical of my landings. The camera didn’t even jiggle when the wheels touched the ground.
Yesterday we flew aboard a Skywest (United Express) CRJ-200 out of Denver. It was my first time flying in a westerly direction out of KDEN. The views are spectacular.
While I’ve had some “mountain” flight lessons in a Cessna 172, the mountains were actually the Appalachians between Greenville SC and Asheville NC. We learned all about flying in the mountains during my initial flight training, but I have yet to take a single engine flight over the Rockies.
I’m looking forward to crossing that off the bucket list someday.
Here is where all my cares go away. I find pure personal fulfillment and enjoyment as a private pilot. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments I have made in my life, and I look forward to continuing to grow as a pilot and enjoying this view for many, many more years to come.
I walked with the National Gay Pilots Association in the Chicago Pride Parade again this year. It is a magnificent feeling, hearing all that cheering and celebration as one walks and waves their way down the parade route, simply being who they are.
Mother Nature came barreling in when we were making our way through the crowds and the parade came to an early end due to lightning being detected in the area. I joined my fellow pilots at a Pride House Party. I was the oldest guy in the room but I still had a great time. Talking airplanes and getting to know each other a little more was an awesome feeling. I remarked that I missed a little bit of the aviation energy I felt back when I was flying out of KRME; there are so many places I want to take my aviation career (even though I was the oldest guy in the room), and participating with the NGPA today gave me the energy boost I was seeking.
I was talking with one of the newer members who is working on her CFI or Certified Flight Instructor rating. One of the examiners she flew with remarked that he thought women didn’t make good pilots. Some of the best pilots I know are women. I wonder how many pilots don’t think gay men make good pilots. They’d be wrong about that too.
And this is why we march in Pride Parades.
So I’m thinking of starting to make flight videos again. I love sharing my enthusiasm of aviation in any way possible, and since I’m actively learning new skills as a pilot this year, it might be fun to share the experience through video again.
I’ve spent the past two hours building a new version of my “Intro Sequence”. There’s a little bit of old and a little bit of new in this clip, but I’m happy with the way it turned out.
Final Cut Pro X has some bugs in it, though. You have to cajole the application to add simple transitions at random times. I don’t know why that remains a difficulty in video editing software in 2019.
Perhaps I like quick transitions too much.
A great video about aviation and how the news channels frequently get it wrong.