Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Plane Spotting at Chicago O'Hare

     My parents and I went on a little weekend trip up to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day Weekend. In the city, we were fortunate enough to stay at the Waldorf Astoria, but one night we got to stay at the Chicago O'Hare Airport Hilton. The awesome part about this is that we opted to pay a little extra to get a runway view room. My room on the top floor(10th and HHonors floor) looked out towards the Southwest at 10C, 10L, and 14R. This provided an excellent view of both the ramp area and runways! However, don't expect good lighting conditions if you plan on doing any video or photography from your room. They will most likely be back lit any time of day.

The view from our room(10074)

Time lapse taken from my room(Runway 10C and 10L ops)

     Earlier that day, I spent almost six hours spotting at a few different locations around the airport. When O'Hare was running West Flow I parked in a limousine lot for little bit without being bothered by anyone but a few drivers. However, the winds flip flopped and O'Hare switched to East Flow, so began my journey to find a new spot. Eventually, I made my way over to around 10C at the end of Gateway Rd in a small parking lot. After being there for about 30 minutes, a few other spotters began to show up wondering if this was a good spot for the new runway(10C). It was great because planes flew over at only a few hundred feet and most of the heavies were sent to 10C. However, there were a few tall trees making photography a little bit more difficult than usual, but definitely doable. The only other issue is that the planes were coming a little bit "head-on" so the angles for some shots were a little iffy and "straight up" which isn't really desirable. All that aside, this was a great place to see a constant flow of amazing airplanes!

My spot depicted on Google Maps

One of my favorite shots of the day(B748F)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another Solo Flight and Exploration!

     On 3/1/14, I got a call from the airport telling me that N60338, their C150, was back in service after a brake malfunction. 45 minutes later, I got to the airport and was ready to go flying. It had been a while since I had flown the C150, so Joe would be accompanying me for some of the time. I went to the airplane to preflight as well as refuel the airplane. Joe came out after I was done, and we went flying.

     After completing the CIGAR checklist, we departed runway 26 with relatively gentle winds and headed direct to Dayton Wright Brother's Airport(KMGY). There, I entered the left downwind for runway 20 and made a full stop, taxied to Aviation Sales Inc, and shut it down. Joe decided that it would be a time to show me where I will be taking the Private Pilot Knowledge Test("the written") next weekend. After showing me around a little bit, we hopped back in and headed back to Stewart. Once we exited runway 26, Joe hopped out and told me to just go on a mission and explore. He suggested that I fly to my house and back, and I thought that would be pretty fun.

My neighborhood from about 1100 AGL

     I departed runway 26 on my own and exited the pattern on the left downwind towards Caesar's Creek for a little sight seeing. I then continued down I-71 until I hit the Little Miami River, which I followed to my house. I did a few turns around a point(my house) until my family noticed and came outside. They even shot me a quick text telling me that they could see me. Eventually, I returned to the airport by following familiar roads and flew over a couple other familiar landmarks I could see from the air. After about 45 minutes, I decided to return back to Stewart and land once again on 26.

     If you live in Ohio or anywhere else in the Midwest, you know just how much snow we had received prior to this flight. Therefore, the ground was still rather wet which made it very difficult to push the plane back onto its concrete pads to tie it down. It's difficult enough when it's dry, let alone when you are trying to push it through mud! This is yet another flight that I think I will always remember. Being able to just go out and explore was very liberating. The fact that it was during sunset made it just that much better.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Private Pilot Knowledge Test Prep!

     I have been doing a lot of studying lately and have just been signed off by my instructor today to take my Private Pilot Knowledge Test(written). Recently, I've been using the following to study:

     I was wondering if anyone has any tips for studying as well as taking the actual exam. I will be taking it either this weekend, or the next at Dayton Wright Brothers Airport(KMGY). Thank you very much in advance.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Piper Cub on Skis!

     This winter day I went to the airport just to take some pictures with my relatively new camera(a Nikon D3200 with a 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6). However, it did not take long for my instructor to find me and offer to go up with me around the patch a few times in NC98286. There was one student before me, so I waited for about an hour, but got some really good shots during that time.

NC98286, the 85hp Cub

     After Joe had finished his lesson, we went out into the freezing 10° weather to the airplane. The engine was still warm, so it fired right up despite the temperature outside. Since this was my first time flying the Cub on skis, Joe took the airplane, taxied to runway 26, and did the first pattern to demonstrate for me.

     I took the airplane and went around the pattern 3 times using runway 8. All three landings were surprisingly soft, and were complemented nicely by the soft snow. The first two times, I did touch and goes because it was cold and I could climb out very quickly and clear the trees. The third and final landing was a regular full stop.

     When flying the Cub on skis, you really do not have to do much of anything very different. Obviously, there are no brakes so you have to be careful when taxiing. More throttle is also needed to get going in the snow, but once you get "rolling" you slide along easily. However, Joe warned me not to put side load on the skis by turning two sharp because the plane could easily flip over. Overall, when flying the Cub on skis you just have to use basic soft field techniques(Keep the stick back, 3 point full stall landings...). Finally, when landing you need to be sure to landing on the backs of the skis to prevent them from digging in to the snow.

     This was my first flight in several months, so it felt incredible to get back up in the air especially in the snow and sunset. For some reason, this flight will go in the top of my list of my most memorable flying experiences; right up there with my first solo flight. Something about winter flying makes it so special. Perhaps it is the cool, calm air. Perhaps it is the solitude felt when you're the only one in the pattern. Or maybe, it is s special because of the beautiful scenery you see from that point of view. Whatever it is, winter flying is extraordinary.