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.
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.
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
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:
It always bothers me to see “a miracle” used to describe really excellent engineering and materials selection. Continue reading
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
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?”
Two hours later…
Some people have the little gas powered tow bars, some people have the fancy new electric ones. Adam is really smart and has the sort that can learn how to pull the plane out of the hangar with no guidance at all and will eventually take the plane up for a test flight.
At the Parry Sound, Ontario airport, where we land every summer, there is an aircraft company. The Found Aircraft company has been building planes since the 1940s. I had always heard they were heavy, ungainly, and climbed a lot like a brick that had been heaved into the sky. They are also apparently quite rugged, which is nice in Alaska where you run into things like trees, gravel banks, and bears.
Adam spotted this one close to home.
No Castle Today
When I take off from Santa Monica airport I am very aware that the two most dangerous stages of flight are takeoff and landing, and that I am doing one of them right now. I keep my hand guarding the throttle, mixture and propeller levers so that they can’t slide back. I watch the environment for birds to steer around, keep my airspeed at the optimum number of knots to climb as quickly as possible and I don’t touch anything until I can glide to somewhere if I experience an engine loss. Continue reading