Friday, January 17, 2014

2013: Year in Review

Wow!  What a year. It has been full of flying, a few new-to-me airplanes, and a couple of big accomplishments.  At the beginning of 2013, I set out several goals.  

  • Fly at least 100 hours (do all GA pilots say this?)
Did I ever.  I actually flew 142.1 hours (well, to be honest 2.9 of that was in a simulator).  I spent far more time in the air then I ever thought I would... which probably explains why I have less money than I think I should.  Funny how that works.  
  • Fly at least 15 hours at night
I came pretty close with 12.9.  I had a few night flights scrubbed for various reasons, and honestly I'm still a bit nervous about night flight.  Almost all of those hours are with another pilot on board as either a safety pilot as I practiced approaches or we were going somewhere together.  I did complete my first [partially] night cross country through on my way back from Lunken (KLUK) in Cincinnati.  I have very little time with any non-pilot at night, which is where the "Holy &%$^ Approaches" tag comes from.  
  • Fly at least 70 cross-country hours
I actually racked up 94.8 cross country hours this year, with a decent chunk of that came when I took my family on vacation in July.  It was on this return trip that I logged my longest cross-country to date from Queen City (KXLL) to DuPage (KDPA) with stops at DuBois (KDUJ) and Wood County (1G0), which took 7.4 hours by itself.  More on these adventures later . 
  • Complete my instrument rating.  
I successfully passed my instrument check ride on July 19, 2013.  That was a very challenging day as the winds were anything but calm.  I wrote about the test in detail here, so I won't rehash it.  
  • Complete Complex Endorsement and required transition training in our club's Arrow. 
Done and done.  The complex endorsement was completed May 18, and I managed to log a total of 68.6 hours in the aircraft before it suffered a gear-up landing and was totaled in October.  Fortunately, our club has just procured a new-to-us Piper Arrow but it is not yet on the line as there are some things that need to be addressed before it's ready for prime time.  

My other times for the year look like this:
  • Time for 2013: 142.1 hours
  • Total Instrument Time: 69.2 hours
    • Simulated instrument time: 39.3 hours.  
    • Actual Instrument Time: 26.9 hours
    • Simulator Time: 2.9 hours
  • 100 total Approaches
    • 67 Simulated Approaches
    • 26 in Actual IMC
    • 7 in the simulators
  • Total time as of 12/31/13: 273.1 hours

Other Major Accomplishments and Notable Events

    • Completed three WINGS phases
    • Added a total of three airplanes to my "fleet:" A Piper Archer III, A Piper Arrow IV (although the club's newly acquired Arrow is an Arrow III), and a Diamond Star DA-40.  Each of these planes has something to commend it, but I will say that I am most comfortable in the Arrow.  It's the most stable of these planes in my view, and I may be biased since I had far more time in it than the other two combined.  
    • Gave three first flights - Flying Shrink's Mama, The Old Marine, and Killer.  
    • Landed at many new airports: KVYS (Illinois Valley/Peru); KUNU (Dodge County, WI); KCMI (Champaign, IL); 1G0 (Wood County, OH); KFDY (Findley, OH); KOVS (Boscobel, WI); I68 (Warren County, OH); KAXQ (Clarion, PA); KFIG (Clearfield, PA); KXLL (Queen City/Allentown, PA); C09 (Morris, IL); 39N (Princeton, NJ); KALO (Waterloo, IA); KLUK (Lunken/Cincinnati, OH); and KSQI (Whiteside County, IL).  The most important to me though was KDUJ (DuBois, PA).  As I mentioned before, this airport was built on my great-grandparents' farm.  
    • Added four states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, and Iowa.  
    • I made a number of longer cross country flights that offered plenty of learning.  I wrote about a few of them previously (flying to PA for my grandmother's funeral, family vacation).  A few others of note:
      • I had a very difficult IMC flight from KDPA to KLUK in October.  I went to Cincinnati for three days of continuing education sponsored by the American Academy of Forensic Psychology, which is of course the best excuse ever to fly.  I spent a solid 1.5 hours without seeing anything except the instrument panel.  I also had the pleasure of 50 knots straight on the nose for a whopping 80 knot ground speed on a TAS of 130.  That flight was no joke.  It was taking a lot longer than advertised, and because the plane was only fueled to tabs I was beginning to think I was going to have a fuel problem.  I had plenty of landing options, and was very carefully considering my fuel burn.  
      • I put the family in a Skyhawk to fly from KDPA to I68 so that we could visit friends in Cincinnati.  I had calculated the weight and balance, and again when I got back on the ground.  Despite being properly trimmed the plane jumped off the runway at about 45 knots with the stall  horn blaring.  That's not cool.  I quickly put the nose in a less aggressive climb attitude and rough trimmed.  It turns out yelling "oh, s***" is a very unwelcome utterance with non-pilot passengers.  We also had to leave earlier as we had to beat in some thunderstorms.  
      • I took a flight out to Waterloo, IA just because.  

    Goals for 2014

    It feels like it would be pretty hard to top this year.  However, I do have a few things to shoot for:

    • Fly at least 110 hours (this feels like a downgrade from last year...)
    • Fly at least 70 hours of cross country time
    • 20 hours of night flying
    • Begin training for the Commercial SEL.  
    • Taking after Steve, I want to lose an hour's worth of fuel from my waist.  I've been griping about planes and their weight and balance limitations, and honestly I am the biggest culprit over which I have any control.  Hard stuff, but I have a few "incentives" for myself.  At unspoken intervals:
      • Transition training for something speedy and better useful load.  I am considering an SR-22 for this, but I'm a bit perplexed by some of the things I'm reading about safety, ease of overcontrol particularly in the pattern, and the like.  I have also found a place that rents a V-tail Bonanza, but it fits me like a sardine can.  
      • Take some upset recovery training.
      • THIS.  'Nuff said.... other than we are talking a lesson.  
    • A few other goals that are harder to quantify:
      • Improving stick and rudder skills - seems they degrade some when you focus on instrument training.  Mine are not bad, but I want them sharper.  
      • Continuing to stay even further ahead of the airplane
      • Spend time in the simulator drilling things that just do not make sense in the airplane.  During my last session, I had a near total loss of engine power in IMC.  We'd have lived, and Fort Wayne would have needed a new fence. 
    • Complete at least two charity benefit flights.  There is always Pilots and Paws, but after crossing the 250 hours PIC time I can get involved in Lifeline Pilots.  I should cross that threshold soon.  

    Happy flying!  


    1. Wow! A very fruitful year and a fresh instrument rating very well utilized!

      1. Thanks... yeah, I was surprised it was that many hours. An adventurous year.

    2. Congrats on a very productive year in the left seat!

    3. Wow, you knocked it out of the park this year. Great job!

      As for the fitness element, I think you've commented on most of my posts about that. The most helpful thing to me - by far - truly was tracking everything I ate. Figure out what method/app works for you and stick with it. Good luck!

      1. Thanks, Steve - I am going to need to develop that discipline. I have had a weight problem to one degree or other for my entire life, but I'm about as good as I've been in a long time. Still, I need to get rid of some more.

    4. So, I realized that I put the wrong link under "THIS." I love reading Steve's blog, and certainly I have Cub flying on my bucket list. But I've fixed the link to something that to me is WAY cooler.

      1. Psh... ;-)

        You're always welcome to visit and take me up on the perpetual offer of a Cub ride!