Why Engines Fail

As mentioned in many other posts, I fly along waiting for my engine to fail. That was an integral part of my training: always have an emergency landing location picked out. The whole way from airport to airport. (And, subsequently, I plan my routes to fly over enough airports that there is a real runway within gliding distance most of the time.)

I felt much better after being up at the Lake one summer and watching Rudy running a little ten horsepower outboard motor that my brother got started after it had sat inactive for nearly twenty years. The thing (very similar technology to the tractor engine in the front of my plane) just hummed along.  Continue reading

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Top Twenty-Five Mistakes Pilots Make

On Tuesday (April 8 2013) I flew down to Air Flite at Long Beach and took a FAA Safety Team seminar “The Twenty-five Biggest Mistakes Pilots Make.” It was put on by the Pilot Safety Institute, and the speaker was Gary Reeves, a CFII with all sorts of accomplishments (top ten percent of CFIs in the United States, top five in the state or some such). Thousands of hours of flying time and a real commitment to trying to make General Aviation safer by trying to teach pilots not to make the most common mistakes.

(The mere fact of showing up makes me a safer pilot. Those pilots involved in continuing their training and education in aviation are much less likely to kill themselves and their passengers. Essentially, it is a good indicator of whether you care about safety at all. I am all about risk management and, when possible, risk elimination.) Continue reading

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Bugatti in the Air

It is interesting the way worlds collide sometimes.

My friend Andy has taken me up to the Mullin Museum in Oxnard before. We went up and looked at the most beautiful cars of the 1920s and 1930s. The sort of things that architects want parked next to the homes they design, so some of the breathtaking aesthetic rubs off on the viewers’ eyes. Their website (as of April 2013) is stunning. Peter Mullin is currently the curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles as well.  Continue reading

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Payoff

This is a little like when Adam and went airport hopping.

Our plane needed a software upgrade (that’s the sort of world we live in now), and there was a clicking in the radios that the mechanic thought he could trace to the ignition system. So N971RD needed to be in Long Beach for most of Thursday. Friends online suggested that once I had the multi-engine certificate I should make sure to do something fun with it, since the lessons themselves are not a lot of fun (you fly around on one engine a lot of the time). So while our plane was in the shop I rented N570TS, one of the Twinstars that I had not been in for training.

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Passing

The follow up check ride to my failed multi-engine flight was uneventful. I had gone down on Wednesday, October 23rd and had yet another lesson with my instructor. We did three landings on a single engine, just flying the pattern around 25L at Long Beach. I did well on each of them, even the last one, where Zach messed with the power lever, pulling power from the failed engine, simulating a feathered propeller becoming unfeathered.

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100% on the Oral Portion, 94% on the Flight Practical: In Other Words, Failing

I have been training to get my multi-engine rating for the past few weeks. When I tell people they always ask, “Oh, are you going to get a bigger plane?” But it’s not really about that. 

In the spring I took a motorcycle safety course (getting a perfect score on the written and a perfect score on the riding test), which was the best way to get an M on my California drivers license. I have not gone out and bought a motorcycle (although there are some tempting electric ones out there now). In fact, I have not even been on a motorcycle since getting the M. Two things figured into it. The first is that I rode motorcycles quite a bit when I was younger (putting ten thousand miles on a bright blue Yamaha Seca II, and spending two years driving around Las Vegas, Nevada on it). It seemed like if I was going to do any more of it, I should get proper training and become legal (here in California even our governor was riding around without the M). The second thing is that learning something new (or getting real training for something you already “know”) is good for your brain. It gets harder to learn new things as you get older, it gets very easy to settle into the same patterns and that is bad for the brain. We live way too long now for us to stop learning new things when we are fifty. That would mean we spent the next fifty treading the same little paths. What good can come of that? Stretch, explore, learn. Continue reading

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August 2011 Eastbound Crossing

This was a great trip, with our first successful landing in the Chicago area (but we hope not our last), and a stop in Michigan to see the set of Oz the Great and Powerful. I had asked the boys to contribute to the blog, and I recently found Dexter’s entries in my email, so they are here:

 

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Crashing in the Forest for the Trees

Front Page

Front Page

It always bothers me to see “a miracle” used to describe really excellent engineering and materials selection. Continue reading

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Crossing 2013

Most likely, this is our penultimate family trip in the little plane. Rudy will start college after next summer and will almost certainly have his own plans each summer. Dexter has already started down that path and our departure from Santa Monica was delayed because he was in a Shakespeare program in Topanga Canyon which he loved. We tried to work out all sorts of different permutations to get the plane across the country where we could use it to hop around, but in the end we just had a shorter vacation and all got to enjoy Dexter’s turn as Laertes. Continue reading

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A Real Instrument Flight

Above the Clouds

Above the Clouds

With the plane on the ground in Albany, we waited for the word that the alternator had been replaced and it was back in good running condition. We had a rental car and the drive from Pleasant Lake back to Albany was three hours. Nell had driven us to New Hampshire, which was a nice break for this pilot, and on the return trip I thought about a question she had asked, “Which is more difficult, a long drive or a long flight?”

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