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!