Monday, November 26, 2007

Film at Eleven


Making my way back to the Bay Area by car after a long anticipated Thanksgiving break, I've had a chance to contemplate the last few weeks. Several people commented that I hadn't been blogging lately and asked why. There was really only one reason; I was busier that a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. In one 4.5 day period I gave 30 hours of flight instruction in four different aircraft types. For every hour of dual given, there's at least an hour or so of ground instruction. So there were some interesting things to report, just not enough time to write them down.

One flight with an instrument student provided excellent conditions for flying ILS approaches. The 1.8 hour cross-country flight involved only 0.2 hours in visual meteorological conditions and an ILS to minima where the approach lights were barely visible through a low layer of scud. A pilot who has seen this sort of approach doesn't have to hear a long explanation of how important approach lighting is at the end of an ILS.

Another instrument flight involved ATC giving us a 40 minute delay due to flow control being instituted at Oakland (yes, ATC does indeed issue spur of the moment holding patterns). Puttering back and forth in the holding pattern, a discussion ensued about fuel reserves. If we held for the length of time ATC had specified, then flew to Oakland, it was quite possible we would not have the required IFR fuel reserves for our destination. Teaching scenarios are one thing, but seeing the fuel totalizer tick off gallons remaining while you fly a holding pattern is much more memorable. Especially with 100 low-lead aviation fuel now approaching US$6 a gallon at some Bay Area locations.

I've also discovered some new-to-me, cool features in the G1000 and will post some screen captures just as soon as I get home.

In the mean time, here's a photographic puzzler. What is shown in the photo above, where is it on display, and what makes this particular display unique?

7 comments:

Paul Tomblin said...

The object in the picture appears to be a communications satellite. If it is, as you say, unique then I'm guessing it's the one that the shuttle actually snagged and brought back to earth.

John said...

It is a satellite, but not what I would call a communications satellite.

milski said...

It's a GPS satelite, made by Boeing, it's in the Aerospace Museum in San Diego. It's the only one in public display, unless you have a really good telescope. :)

John said...

You are correct on all counts!

crazyscot said...

I'd love to pay $3 for a gallon of avgas. Fuel is always more expensive here in Blighty. Average just now seems to be around GBP £1.50 (USD$3) per litre - or $11.34 per US gallon.

Anonymous said...

Is learning to fly and flying as a hobby something that only the wealthy can afford, or are there ways for regular middle-class people to make it happen? This is a serious question. I could just barely afford private pilot training, but then the expense of renting planes and fuel would make it difficult to do frequently. And then I would be an infrequent pilot -- and therefore an unsafe one.

John said...

An excellent question that deserves a longer, considered response. I'll post something on this in the next couple of days. In the meantime, the short answer is that there are ways to keep the costs down while maintaining proficency.