Flying with Linda

Linda and I finally got to go on our flight. She has been nervous about going (both for the
kids’ sake in case anything went seriously wrong, as well as due to a dislike of flying in general), but she gave me a coupon for an hour of flying in December.

We took off mid-day, got flight following, and went around Palos Verdes at 2,500ft. At one point Linda saw what looked like a whale, so we circled to get a better look at it — unfortunately I couldn’t see it, and it dove deeper, so we continued on. We went up the river at Long Beach, got a look at our old condo there, and then continued on around Downtown LA.

Around Griffith, two unusual things happened. First, I told ATC I was going to climb back up to 2,000ft (I had dropped down to 1,500 to stay out of the Bravo), and they asked me if I was going to stay out of the Bravo. I told them I believed the Bravo started at 5,000ft where I was, and they said that they were aware and were offering to let me into the Bravo to make it easier. Since I had no need to be higher I said “no, thanks” basically. In retrospect I should have accepted: they handed me off to Burbank’s ATC, who told me to make an immediate 180 and then continued vectoring me with few details for a few minutes, querying my intent, etc, and being rather curt before allowing me to proceed towards Santa Monica.

We hugged the foothills, went almost to the coast, and then took the mini route home for a nice landing back at Hawthorne. All in all, it was a nice trip: I am not sure how much Linda enjoyed it and how much she tolerated it, but I think it went just fine. The weather was predicting LLWS and turbulence but none materialized.

All in all, I think there were only a few things I didn’t do right. I didn’t perform an in-cruise checklist (because I gave my checklist to Linda to hold during takeoff, to make her feel less anxious, and didn’t take it back until descent). I didn’t turn the landing light off after take-off — I keep forgetting about this step.

Totals: 1.2 hr in a C172.

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Flying with Linda

Scrubbed

I was going to take Linda on a flight this afternoon. I need a flight this month as per club rules, and have been wanting to take her flying for a while, and she had agreed to, and this was a relatively easy to schedule afternoon for both of us.

Unfortunately, weather had another plan. Very gusty winds gave me some pause, though they were OK for my personal minimums. But there was some persistent moderate turbulence in the area for a couple of days, originating due to mountain waves etc, and that would have made for a miserable first flight for her, and a not super pleasant one for me. The TAF showed winds dying down around 7pm, which was also a few minutes before sunset (and I’m not night current, which would have kept me from flying with Linda for longer than about 30min, based on my need to also get to SMO from HHR to pick her up).

So, I shook my fist at the sky, and scrubbed the flight after waiting out the weather a bit. Alas.

Scrubbed

Need / Want

I suspect that every pilots needs and wants certain things. Everyone needs a medical certificate, and thus needs good health. Everyone needs a flight review. Everyone (well, except the rare masochist) needs a headset. Maybe not everyone, but a great number of people would want a personal TBM 900, if they could have one. Alas, most of us temper our wants, and make do with mostly the needs.

Here are some other things I want. They’re are not a Cirrus SR22T GTS, but smaller, incremental things to make me safer, happier, and maybe a tad cooler as a pilot. So, mostly things that I haven’t been able to move into the “need” category, but could if it came to it.

Safety Equipment

Personal Flotation Device (or two)

41gq5wracvlThere is a fair amount of water around here, and some of these life jackets come in tiny packs and are a pretty good insurance for those who can’t swim well. I can’t swim that well. They have a water-activated beacon light, and can be inflated with CO2 or manually. As most reviews say, these are fantastic and yet nobody wants to be in a position to have to use one.

Personal Locator Beacon

51vlpgnlizl-_sl1000_There are also a fair number of mountains around here, and in the event of an off-airport landing, a PLB is probably a great alternative to a cellphone that might be well out of reach of any towers. They are surprisingly pricy for a single-function item you hope to never have to use, but having one might mean getting found in hours rather than days.

Portable Transceiver

41a2jly-ivlI have a receiver, which I don’t carry with me, and which is surprisingly difficult to use. It’s strange how actual aviation transceivers are not very cheap, though. I have not yet had any reason to want to use them, though I have had a radio fail on me once or twice, and if it wasn’t for the second radio then I would be squawking 7600.

Thermal Blanket

51xzkruhowlFor survival, this is probably a must. These are pretty small, very inexpensive, and supposedly “reflect and retain 90% of your body heat”. Given that I fly in Southern California, usually, I would imagine that they mainly need to help with a SoCal winter night and not actual negative temperatures

Software and Electronics

Foreflight Pro Plus

For those of us with iPads, a Foreflight subscription is a fantastic aid. It’s pretty lb-full-luniversally acknowledged that Foreflight beats all other consumer flying software. While I have the Basic subscription, and would continue to pay for it, there is some allure in the Pro Plus plan as well. Log book, weight and balance, etc are great, but also the additional hazard avoidance and synthetic vision features would make night flying a lot safer. Perhaps the value of the Pro Plus will be greater when I become IFR-rated, but even now it’s enticing for these smaller, helpful features.

Stratus 2S

stratus2s-in-handNo discussion of Foreflight, or for that matter safety equipment, can be complete without a consideration of ADS-B and the Stratus 2S. I’ve been involved in the Stratux project, which aims to build a Stratus-compatible ADS-B In receiver, and it works — but there’s no denying that a professionally-built piece of hardware is better and easier to work with than a home-brew kit. This becomes especially important if one moves from merely exploring the concept of what an ADS-B In receiver can do, and on to changing one’s personal procedures to reflect the additional information available on one’s iPad.

In the Cockpit

iPad Yoke Mount

This may be unnecessary — I love my iPro Aviator/M kneeboard. It’s sturdy, offers a way 11-11250to hide my iPad from the sun, provides a surface to write on, etc. However, it’s a bit distracting to keep staring down into your lap to look something up on the map. In any sort of poor-visibility conditions this could lead to unnecessary disorientation. I’ve not wanted a yoke mount because they seem strange to have with impermanence (constantly mounting and unmounting them), plus I’m not a fan of having my map tilt every time I deflect the flight control even slightly. But it’s undeniably closer to one’s line of sight during straight-and-level flight, and probably much cooler when there’s a lot of sun on your lap.

Another Headset

61oggcrjydl-_sl1009_Flying with friends? Go borrow a headset from the club. That’s all fine, but the last time I did so, the choice of headsets was poor and the best of the bunch didn’t look that comfortable. At some point it would be quite useful to get my own headset for passengers. There are many kinds out there, from used Lightspeed Sierras to passive David Clarks to brand new Bose A20s. At the end of they day, they just need to be decent enough to not break, and to be comfortable to wear for a few hours.

Child Headset (or two)

The one time I flew with my older kid, I put an adult headset on him. Itwas pretty pa-1151uncomfortable-looking, and kept slipping — which meant that half the time I couldn’t hear him, half the time he couldn’t hear me, and the entire time he probably heard the roar of the engine. Child headsets exist, and are not very expensive either, though they have pretty poor quality and durability. The main thing standing in the way of getting those then is that I just don’t fly with my kids, yet. I wonder whether getting a child headset would actually influence this.

Foggles

940I am not training for an instrument rating, but I probably will at some point. In addition, I do end up getting checked out by CFIs from time to time — in new planes, for recurrence, for the flight review, etc. Infrequently, I just have another pilot with me. It would be helpful to have ready access to a view-limiting device to keep me current in controlling the aircraft without outside reference.

Fuel Tester

I don’t know why this is necessary, but apparently every pilot carries 13-18464a fuel tester with them. I’ve been in exactly one airplane before that didn’t have a fuel tester on board (usually a GATS jar, but sometimes the thinner one with a screwdriver at the end), and in that case the rental place was kind of embarrassed and someone went to find one for me. But maybe the other pilots know more than I do.

multitoolMultitool

Because why not? Every self-respecting person should have a piece of metal that can turn, pry, twist, cut, and bend other pieces of metal.

Need / Want