Thursday, July 11, 2013

Flight Bag Review: Sporty's VFR Flight Gear Bag

     When I began my training, I began to accumulate quite a few books and things I needed to fly. Without a flight bag, I had to heave in all of my books and gear in my hands, and it was a mess. So, it was finally time to invest in a flight bag. A live about 30 minutes from Sporty's which is in Batavia, OH, so I drove there to take a look at what they had. Immediately, the VFR Flight Gear Bag by Sporty's struck my attention. They claimed it was "Ideal for student pilots or weekend fliers" and was only $50. Did I mention there it comes with a 6 year warranty? I couldn't find any other bag with such great value or right amount of storage capacity I needed. As a student pilot, I only needed room for essentials and a few books I need to lug around just in case. 

The bag itself filled with my gear

     This bag makes it very easy to stay organized by having several compartments specially designed for pilots. Starting from the left on the picture above, there is a roomy, padded headset pocket that is big enough for just about any aviation headset. However, my David Clark H10-13.4 is a tight squeeze height wise. In the front there is a divided pocket able to fit long items such as charts, a logbook, E6B, or anything else you desire. On the far right, you can see an area for an ID, pens/pencils, and an over-sized pouch for a cell phone or hand-held radio. In the back(not visible in the picture), there are two, big velcro pockets capable of carrying other items that a pilot may want quick access to(Fuel tester, charts, checklists...). But, I do not use them. Finally, there is the center compartment with optional dividers where student pilots can cram in all of their books, kneeboards, an iPad, and other miscellaneous or large items.

Almost everything I fit in my bag

What's in my bag: 
     Overall, this is the bag that I was looking for. It easily fits everything that I need with room to spare without having to lug around a gigantic bag. It is very durable and Sporty's even stands behind their product by including a 6 year warranty. Also, it is priced at a competitive $50. I have not had any major issues with it. However, The padded headset pocket could be bigger. I often find myself struggling to get the pocket to zip with my David Clark H10-13.4 headset inside. I can only imagine the issues a hefty Sennheiser headset would run into. This product does what it was made to do. It can easily handle all of the gear an average student pilot or weekend flyer would need to carry. This bag is not made for professional pilots wishing to carry something like a change of clothes. If you think you may need more room, upgrade to the Original Flight Gear Bag or even Deluxe Flight Gear Bag.

Rating Overall

     This bag has exceeded my expectations, and I would have no hesitation to recommend this to a friend. Even after flight training, I will continue to use it. I can carry everything I need to with almost no issues. I can only knock off a half star because of the small headset pocket. If the next edition of this bag included a larger and more padded pocket, it would easily earn a solid 5 star rating!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Second Dual Cross Country!

     On 7/3/13, I did my second dual cross country flight with my instructor, Joe. This time, I had already planned out the flight to Marysville(KMRT), so after a quick brief we were ready to go. Because of some mechanical issues, I had to switch to Stewart's C172, N2814L, instead of the C150. I can't say I was mad...

     The airplane was short on fuel so I filled it up after a routine pre-flight. When I went out to do my run up and CIGAR checklist the winds were favoring 26, but they flip flopped within those few minutes so I had to taxi all the way down to 8. Once in the air, I immediately turned on course after reaching a same altitude and spotted my first checkpoint, Caesar's creek. I climbed to 5,500ft for a smooth ride and to take advantage of the huge tailwind and followed the rest of my checkpoints to Marysville without any issues. The AWOS reported winds out of the Southeast, as expected, so I entered the downwind for runway 27. The landing was probably the best I had so far since first flying the C172  for the first time the lesson before. (Not to brag or anything haha)

Route plotted on

     We had some time, so Joe and I tied down the plane and ventured inside to relax for a bit before heading home. There were a few nice pilots we chatted with in there for a bit, then decided to head back out to the airplane. Unlike the trip there, I remembered to set up my GoPro(The footage is down below). During start up, we noticed a strange noise when the starter was engaged. However, it started fine and the engine was running as normal. The winds were unchanged, so I taxied back to runway 27. During the run up, Joe and I double checked the gauges and listened for any noise and were thankful not to find anything abnormal.

My video of the return trip from my GoPro HD Hero 2

     After takeoff, I began a turn to what I thought was on course. However, I realized after passing adjacent to my first checkpoint that I was a few miles west than I should have been. I corrected for it and the rest of the flight went smoothly. Initially, I climbed to 6,500ft on the return trip but the GPS was showing a horrendous 70kt groundspeed due to those southeasterly winds. I descended back down to 4,500ft hoping for something better but the winds were still hitting us hard, and we were almost in the clouds. So, I returned to 6.500ft for the rest of the flight.

     On approach into runway 8, I noticed a tractor on the runway(Only in Ohio would that happen...). I continued my approach and thankfully the tractor was near the opposite end of the runway by the time I was on short final. I did a little slip and tried to land early to leave as much room as possible so I would not have to go around.

     Next lesson will be either another cross country or soloing in the C172. Either way, stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cessna 172 Introduction and Landing Practice

     To start off, I'd like to apologize for my lack of activity on here. I've still been flying and posting videos, but it seems as though I have neglected this blog. Anyways, I'm back! Since I have written last, I have soloed the C150 a couple of times as well as completed one Cross Country flight to Circleville.

     On 5/27/13, I went to the airport planning on flying the C150, N3718J. But, that did not turn out to be the case because of a broken alternator keeping the battery from recharging and the plane from starting. So, I went ahead and upgraded to N2814L, Waynesville's C172, for the first time. Because I had never flown this aircraft before, Joe gave me a quick introduction to the aircraft on the ground during the pre-flight.

     Once we were airborne, I headed due North away from the airport a few miles to do some stalls. Joe demonstrated the first one so that I could see how the airplane handled differently than the C150. Surprisingly, the panel and rest of the airplane was almost identical to the C150 despite a few tweaks, which made the transition very easy. After Joe demonstrated one stall, we turned back due South and I did four to get used to the aircraft before trying to land. After doing some air work, I entered the pattern for runway 8. My first two landings were long but soft considering about a 10kt crosswind from the south. The last few were soft as well, but I was also working on landing as short as possible. 

Video from today's flight with a GoPro HD Hero 2

      Overall, this was a very nice flight and I was really excited to get to fly a new airplane. But, I am still planning on sticking with N3718J, the C150, for the rest of my training. The next step for me is to solo at a towered field as well as complete all of my Cross Country flights. With my 17th birthday being in September, I am very close to my PPL, but just need to fly more often!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cessna 150 Winter Flying in the Snow

     On 2/5/13, I had the chance to fly in the snow for the first time. It was a chilly day at just 19 degrees and a couple of inches of snow were on the ground covering the grass runway. I got to the airport and went inside to get the keys and book, then promptly went outside to the plane. Quickly but thoroughly, I preflighted N3718J, a Cessna 150, then went back inside to warm and meet my instructor that afternoon.

     As quickly as possible, my instructor and I went out to the plane and hopped inside. Once inside, I got the chance to plug in my never yet used David Clark H10-13.4 headset. After another quick refresher since I hadn't flown a Cessna 150 since the Summer, I got the engine started. When I tried to start taxiing, I could barely move out of the snow without using a ton of throttle. This was definitely a new feeling. Next, I completed the short CIGAR checklist and found everything to be working properly before taking off.

     Finally, it was time to take flight in the light snow flurries that were falling. With the cold air, the engine roared and provided plenty of power for us to climb quite rapidly into the strong headwind. Because many airports nearby did not have their runways plowed, we decided to just stick in the pattern at Stewart. I performed many normal landings that I must say, were quite good. Then, my instructor Joe switched it up a bit. On downwind one pattern, he suddenly pulled out the throttle and I had to do a simulated engine out procedure. After a safe landing, Joe told me to take back off and do one more before we finished for the day. The next engine out simulation was again uneventful and I made a nice landing. I taxied back to our spot and quickly tied up the aircraft and ran inside through the cold.

     Today was really a great flight. I couldn't figure out if it was the strong headwind or the snow on the ground, but every landing seemed very soft. Nonetheless, it felt good to make some good landings after not flying the plane in such a long time. Joe gave me the pre-solo exam for the Cessna 150, so I might be soloing in that plane next lesson or the one after that. Look forward to it and see my video below of this flight filmed with a GoPro HD Hero 2.

Video from today's flight

This Flight: .9 Dual, .9 Total, N3718J, 40I-40I
Total hours to date: 21.1

Sunday, January 20, 2013

After a break, I'm back in the Cub!

     After a break of almost 4 months, I was itching to again find myself in the sky. Whether it be weather or my busy schedule, there always arose a reason for me to not be able to fly. Finally, I took to the skies again on 1/20/2013 which was the first flight of the year. Only the Cub was open this weekend with Joe, so I booked it. Besides, I hadn't flown in a while. I might as well return to the basics.

     This Sunday, it was a chilly 28F so Joe and I were both bundled up to go flying. Once we got out to the airplane, we found that N98286, the "big" Cub, was low on gas. So after several attempts, we got the engine running and taxied to get some fuel. After nearly freezing, we got the airplane fueled up and were ready to fly. The winds were steady at about 10kts, sometimes gusting to 15kts before we took off. This gave us a nice wind straight down the runway and also a little crosswind practice (nothing I couldn't handle even after taking a 4 month break). After completing the simple CIGAR checklist, I taxied to runway 26 and prepared to take off.

     The power that airplanes have in cold, dry air is amazing. As soon as I increased the throttle, we were practically in the air already. After reaching 1500ft much sooner than usual, I headed towards Caesar's Creek Gliderport where I practiced a few landings. The first one took me by surprise with a little bump, but after that I regained my "feel" of landing the Cub. After getting my landings down again, we headed back to Stewart to do a few more.

     Once again, the first one was a little bouncy because of the wind. But after that, I managed to squeeze out smooth landings one after another. After an hour, it was time to head in to the hangar. Overall, it was a great flight after having to take such a long break. Thankfully, I was not as rusty as I had imagined I would be.

     Sorry guys, no video this week. After about 20 minutes, my GoPro suction cup mount suddenly failed because of the cold(I think). But, here is a quick picture taken after the flight.

This Flight: 1.0 Dual, 1.0 Total, N98286, 40I-2OH9-40I
Total hours to date: 20.2