June 30, 2007

Back to the Casino

If you have been reading my blog, you would know that back in January I was faced with a go/no go decision to the Casino. Well, today we made good on the prior "No Go" decision.

It was a perfect midwest summer day, temperatures in the upper 70's and not too much wind. With visibility around 10 miles, it was time to hit the sky. We (my Mom's boss and his son) gathered about noonish with an estimated flight time of ~45mins. I had the plane until 5:00pm, so that would give us enough time to loose our money! :)

The flight was uneventful, unless you're into agriculture (farmland as far as the eye could see). As I was entering the traffic pattern to Mt. Pleasant (KMOP) I snapped a quick photo of Soaring Eagle Casino, which is pictured above (sorry its so blurry).

Once we landed and secured the plane, I phoned the Casino and within 10mins a shuttle arrived to pick us up. Not a bad setup... if you are ever in the area and like to gamble, make a stop.

Needless to say, our money didn't last long and we were back outside waiting for the shuttle. A quick check of the weather showed no real change, so off we went. Pat (left) and Steve (right) thought they would help out in starting the plane... "No, no, no guys, I have a key!"

The flight back included a 14knot tailwind which pushed our ground speed just over 130knots (a good thing!). It was smooth as silk with just a trace of puffy clouds to our sides. With the autopilot set, I tuned in the Tigers game on the XM radio and enjoyed the flight...

Another great day in the books!

June 20, 2007

Me... A Mentor?!?

Ok, so maybe that title is a bit much...! Last Christmas, at a typical family gathering, I made mention of me flying. My younger cousin (15 Year Old Katelyn) showed a lot of interest. I promised her I would take her flying soon. She only lives about 30 mins from me and there happens to be a small airport right near her house (77G).

Of course time got the best of me and it's now 6 months later. I was attending another family barbecue this past Sunday and again I mentioned I was going to taker her flying one of these days. She gave me the typical teenage "Yeah right". Growing up I always hated when adults promised things and never made good on their word. So, the first thing I did when I got home that night was schedule a flight for this Wednesday (Today). Yesterday I gave her a surprise phone call and asked if she wanted to go flying the next day. She excitedly accepted and I told her I would pick her up around 3:00pm.

It was a very nice day, unlimited ceilings and 10 miles visibility. But, the wind was blowing and gusty (280@14knots), so I was concerned about the ride. I departed right on time and had a good tail wind. Marlette airport is only about 17 miles as the plane flies, so it only took about 10 minutes.

After I parked the airplane, I was pleasantly surprised to see a new pilot lounge (pictured above). It's not staffed, but has everything a pilot would need (bathrooms, computer, phone, vending and a self service pump). Trust me, this kind of facility is NOT the norm.

Katelyn was there and ready, so without much hesitation we were off. She has already gone through all the ground school for her Private Pilot Certificate, but no serious flight time. We did some basic sight seeing and then I had her take control for a few turns. She didn't have many question and I tried not to overload with a bunch of details. I know seeing those too big computer displays can be a sensory overload!

I could sense the bumps from the wind and late afternoon thermals may have been getting too her, so we headed back for landing. I just wanted her to enjoy the flight and get excited to follow through with the rest of her training. I didn't want her to get sick and never want to fly again.

In my last post I mentioned the recent purchase of an HD video camera. I brought that along today as well. Don't get your hopes up, I barely shot anything. I only had the plane for an hour, so most the time was spent flying. Plus, the flight was so bumpy that the footage I got was garbage.

BUT, I still wanted to post it... I loathe the quality of the other movies! This is definitely step in the right direction.

Until next time!

FYI...You will need Quicktime and you will want to let this buffer for awhile... its large! (~100mb)

***ATTENTION*** I just discovered that Internet Explorer clips the video in half!!! (at least version 6.x)... if you are having this issue, go download a REAL browser! FireFox

If you're curious, I host on blip.tv... Benefits? Unlimited file size, no re-compression, FREE! Very nice service all and all. My older videos were hosted with Google, but the re-compression was just awful.

June 11, 2007

Another 3 Months... Another new home...

The past few months have flown by way too quickly. Unfortunately, I have not been flying with it! Its easy to make excuses... Not enough spare cash, busy at work, no rental time available, yada, yada, yada. I told myself after the first 5 YEAR lapse that I would not let this happen again, but sure enough the gap had started growing.

I was working at home on Friday and couldn't help looking out the window... all I saw was a perfectly clear sky and no wind. The thought of flying entered my mind.

After Sutton Aviation moved the plane to Pontiac (KPTK) I was told that Lapeer (D95) would soon be purchasing a new C172 with the same glass panel (Garmin G1000). So, I decided to give them a call...

Much to my surprise, they did exactly that! In fact, they did one better... they are now a new Cessna Pilot Center and have online scheduling, which is a huge bonus. No more calling the airport to check availability, just a couple clicks and your done. If you live anywhere in Mid-Michigan and wish to start flying, check them out Lapeer Pilot Center.

I was put in touch with Ed, one of their flight instructors. I told him it had been three months and I would like to get checked out in their C172. He checked the schedule and we were able to get a 2 hour block this afternoon.

It was another nice day, a bit warmer than I like (84'F), but nice. I arrived at the airport early to catch up on some "hanger flying" (aka pilot stories). I happened to drum up a conversation with the Chief Instructor for AirShares Elite, which is a fractional ownership for Cirrus aircraft. Lapeer is an authorized repair center for Cirrus, so he was just killing time with what appeared to be busy work. Of course he got me all fired up about the program, then reality sank in and I quickly realized this option was WAY out of my budget... But fun conversation nonetheless.

I stepped into Ed's office and we made copies of my License, medical, etc... we talked about flying and my past experiences, then we hit the sky. It was all second nature and that three months felt like 3 days. We did some steep turns, slow flight, stalls, and a few landings... all of which I aced (nice pat on my own back)! and after .7 hrs on the Hobbs Meter we were at a full stop. Ed finished the check with some nice remarks along with an endorsement in the logbook.

So, I am back where I started (or should I say RE-started)... D95 is great! Its close, the people are friendly and the rates are decent.

Life is good!

FYI... stay tuned, I recently purchased an HD video camera (Canon HV20) and cannot wait to post some flight videos in Hi-Def!