Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shotgun


It's been far too long shuffling around these two lesson flights of pre-flight and flight test...around 6 months actually. The reason is too complex or too long to even mention here about the unfortunate unforeseen events that led to the delay of my licencing.

However I am now a private pilot. I can carry passengers which means take some of my friends up. And it means that I can ride shotgun or in mutual flights for school.
Yesterday, I did just that. Riding shotgun with one of my classmates that finished their PPL early and is now close to Commercial Flight Test.
It is quite a different feeling, view, perspective sitting in the right seat when all this time I've been left seat. I sure did not fly the airplane, I was there only to "fly" really, helping out with radios, lookouts and keeping with the lesson plan.

However, yesterdays flight had to be cut short due to TCU's and CB's building up pretty fast at Buttonville and so we had to return earlier than expected. On the way back, monitoring TOWER first, it didn't seem busy at all. And so after calling at the reporting point, we were cleared direct the threshold. It made me think that tower is trying to get us in first before the other guy who called in from the east...we were coming from the north. And so he kept the speed up, direct numbers doing 120kts in C172. Until about 1/2 mile final where we dropped flaps, and started to slow down quickly. It felt like we were going reverse doing 65 after coming in at 120 kts. Runway was wet and winds were picking up and so we had to make sure that we had no drift and properly and assertively compensated for the crosswind.
Touchdown was a miniscule bounce to maybe just a foot and then consequently making a nice full stop landing.

We even got to practice giving PIREPs to other company airplane who were in the practice area or thinking of flying still.
A few hours later, I looked at the radar and saw a pretty good line of thunderstorm due to the Cold Front passing. As my friends and I were driving to a party due east, we were getting chased by the clearing after the thunderstorms. And so it gave us an extravagant view of not ONE but TWO COMPLETE rainbows ahead of us the entire trip.

Unrelated: I'm also in a struggle but like to call it process of making my own electronic logbook using VBAs and Excels...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's finally summer!

One of the many things I remember having from last summer are thunderstorms. Summer is often known for its wicked thunderstorms making flying that much more challenging and fun for pilots. I’ve always been fascinated on how such a simple thing as water can bring the wildest of the west and the hospitality of the south mix ‘em all together and bring weather to the northeast, most of the time.

Today I was probably asleep for only three to four hours so far when something triggers my senses and I wake up, and to my demise a thunderstorm cell is just passing by overhead. Oh it was a quick one, I had probably captured its worst stage even though it wasn’t that crazy of a thunderstorm, I was at the heart of it for a few minutes. video


As you can see from this radar, just above Toronto (where I live) is a tiny spec of red indicating severe thunderstorm in that particular location at that particular time. Can you say lucky? I actually took a video of it and started to see sheet lightning which is lightning cloud to cloud or in cloud and that it reflects off the whiteness of the cloud making a huge part or “sheet” of the cloud above us glow momentarily. Then I started to see some ice pellets or snow pellets, I can’t really tell them apart visually but I know that snow pellets is GS in the METAR which means Graupel Small and Graupel stands for hail, and hail as we all know can be existent in strong thunderstorms such as this one.

I then proceeded to check if the weather observers observed what I had witnessed and checked the latest Meteorological Aviation Routine weather report (METAR) and got this...

Then I thought I wonder how the big time airline pilots are coordinating with ATC to go around this thunderstorm cell and proceeded to listen to Toronto Centre at liveatc.net. At one point, tower even mentioned, “we went from RWY 06 to RWY 33 to RWY 24 in the span of 8 minutes”. I was glad to hear the pilots not being forced to go a certain route and just use their own judgement about which way to deviate for weather as they manage to depart or arrive from/to Pearson.

As the radar picture dictated, the really bad weather wasn’t going to last long because it was moving fairly fast. And so after a maximum of 8-10 minutes, I took a picture outside and it was very bright, still quite low clouds but no rain and light winds.


I could go into more detail about thunderstorms and all of their effects and so on, at least as much as I have learned over the past 2 years, but I’d leave that to another post. I just wanted to note that, SUMMER IS BACK, and one of the many signs is the brewing of wicked, illustrious, lustrous, VERY EVENTFUL thunderstorms.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finally done exams!

YES! It is true, the good news must be preached, I am finished second year exams. And now I'm left with the sad truth that I still don't have a coop position and the time is rapidly running out!
If I don't get a job and fail to go on my knees and beg to be on the flightline, I may have to stay an extra summer and not graduate with the rest of my class! Now that is sad...however I'm done exams and all I can think of is enjoying every minute of it!

Books to read, parties to go to, and all other shenanigans are all lined up for me...

Speaking of lines, yesterday weirdly enough while studying for Meteorology Exam, I happen to randomly look up in the sky outside my bedroom window and see contrails. There were two at the moment, one seemingly chasing the other.
A few minutes later I happen to look up again (we always look up don't we?) and see four contrails even though the first two were almost unnoticeable, it was still pretty cool as they were all parallel lines which were probably from the same airway/air route.

I learned that contrails are one of the many things that could help you understand how the weather is like aloft, even though it seems clear blue skies, it could help you understand on the ground how the weather will unfold in the next few days or so.

Contrails of the same route, meaning they are parallel to each other can give a good indication of winds aloft. If they break off easily, it means there are some pretty strong winds aloft...if they slowly shift to one side, it could be fairly light (light for that altitude) winds. And the way they move can give you an indication of where it's coming from or if there's some change in wind direction/speed along that route.

Another is when the contrails are long and seem to stay for a long time, that means that it's fairly moist in that atmosphere even though there are no clouds to be seen around. It could tell you that weather should be coming in soon or in a few days.
If the contrails are short and seem to stay just behind the aircraft, it could mean that it's fairly dry and probably very cold in that altitude of the atmosphere.

I think there may be more things that contrails can tell a pilot about weather coming up but I can't think of it or haven't learned it at the moment.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Goneometers, engines failure, and 5 babies!

So I had two exams this week and well one was quite interesting and the other saddening.
Tuesday a bunch of us went to this fairly new library which I always pass through but never noticed before. It was a pretty cool library, it looked so new and high class but I'm sure there are way better ones out there. I was never a library goer before but I'm definitely becoming more interested in them, besides they are free so why not!

Tuesday we studied from 1pm to almost 9pm talking all about Avionics. We had the exam the next day and I thought it was going to be okay. I turned the cover page and read the first question...what the ADF is a Goneometer!?!? Well most of the exam I knew what the question was asking but I don't know if I answered each question fully. Goneometer question...I took a wild swing at it and we'll see what happens in a few days.

From one exam to another, I had my Flight Propulsion or "engines" exam today. We learned all about gas turbine engines and we also had a pretty big project to do throughout the semester. It was a really interesting course and I'm feeling confident about the exam and nervous at the same time seeing as it is an ORAL EXAM. Basically, we go to see our professor (who happens to be a very smart person btw) and we discuss our project and pick one question out of a hat about anything we learned over the course. So I guess luck had something to do with it seeing as my lack of luck resulted in a question in which I did not study fully. I have studied every other topic except for this one. It was about fuel metering with plungers, I had the idea, except I had switched two variables. One variable was the result of the other instead of the other way around which I thought was correct and it wasn't. I also didn't do well on the project as I totally mistaken the whole point of the project and it wasn't specific and detailed enough for my engine.

With that, I'm here stuck with my very first engine failure...safely on the ground.
But hey at least I don't have swine flu ...err H1N1 influenza.

I wonder if raccoons produce a similar effect, because today 5 baby raccoons were extracted from my closed attic that is probably a couple of weeks old. The "exterminator" or "wild animal person" took the babies from the attic and placed them in a box near my backyard so that when MAMA raccoon won't go hiatus when she comes back with her babies gone. Hopefully she finds them in the backyard, relocates them and they become a happy family only to go through our trash in the future.
I love the wild animal guy's facial expression.