Wednesday, December 02, 2015

It has been a while!

Hi folks,

I can't believe it's been more than 5 years since my last post.  So much time has past by and, unfortunately, little of it has involved aviation.  Turns out when you buy a house, you have less time and money for all things aviation!

For those wondering what happened with the plane, my building partner had to move back to Texas for a new job.  I didn't have the space (despite getting a house), the money, the resources, or the knowledge to finish this project on my own.  So we ended up selling the partially built kit.  We sold it for a little bit more than what we paid for the kit.  I think our labor came out to be something like a nickel an hour.  I would like to think the buyer got a great bargain!

As far as flying is concerned, my last logbook entry is dated 2012.  (That time and money thing again!)  I really do hope to begin flying again soon.

Meanwhile, in my professional life, I've gone from doing development from day to day to becoming a product manager.  Yes, I have gone to the dark side!  It's an interesting and challenging transition.  A lot more customer facing as well as business oriented.  I definitely think my technical background is an asset in this new role.  I guess I will find out.

However, I still feel the need to code.  So, I entered Udacity's Swift nano degree program and am learning how to build iOS applications.  That program encourages you to write blogs to explain how to perform certain tasks.  So, hopefully, you should see some posts over the next few months covering iOS topics.

At the end of the course is a capstone project where I have to build my own application from scratch. I would love the application to be aviation related.  If you have any ideas, please send them my way via the comments.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Starting the Fuselage

We've been working on the fuselage in our copious amounts of spare time.  I wish I had the energy to work on the plane every night after work.  The first part of the kit is the mid fuselage bulkheads.  This is where the wings are going to attach to the fuselage, so, you know, it's kinda of important. Here's a coupe photos of some parts we have finished.

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Welcome Again

It's been several years since my last post. I've continued flying doing short cross country flights to the coast, up the Columbia River Gorge, and all around the Willamette Valley. However, my last flight was in June. The place I rent the plane requires at least one takeoff (and landing) in the last 90 days, otherwise you need to go up with an instructor. In addition, every two years, you are required to go through a bi-annual flight review (BFR). Mine expired at the end of October. I think what I would like to do is schedule between 5 and 10 hours with an instructor and review several key elements from the private pilot syllabus. Review short and soft field takeoffs and landings, stalls, towered airport operations, etc. The only question is when I should do it. After a relatively dry October, the rainy season has started in the Northwest. If I do this review now, chances are there won't be any decent flying weather until late March or April (and that's optimistic). If I wait until Spring, there's going to be a lot more rust to shake off.

The reason for the lack of flying is not from lack of interest. Rather it's a lack of the two things that always seem to be in short supply; time and money. A friend and I quickly realized that we would be able to utilize our pilot certificates a lot more if we owned a plane. We had two options; build or buy. This was back in early 2008; pre-recession. Buying a new plane was (and still is) certainly out of the question. The used plane market seemed to be a seller's market. 30 year old Cessnas were actually appreciating in value. (I wish that would happen to my 10 year old Jetta.) It didn't seem like we were going to get a lot of plane for our money. We then looked at the build option. There is a healthy experimental plane community in the United States. Anyone who has been to Oshkosh can attest to that. Lots of companies will sell you a kit with instructions on how to assemble it into a fully functional aircraft. Basically, instead of exchanging a ton of money for a 30 year old plane, we would exchange a half-ton of money and lots of sweat equity for a brand new plane. In addition, when you build your own plane, you are allowed to do your own maintenance. In addition to saving money upfront, we should save money on ongoing costs.

Given all that, we went ahead and purchased a kit for a Van's Aircraft RV-10. It's a four seat aircraft with a cruising speed between 180 and 200 m.p.h. It's a fairly stable aircraft, which means it's hard to stall and fairly easy to fly. Plus, Van's is located less than an hour away in Aurora. We toured their facilities and even got to go up in a Rv-10. After we got back from the test flight, the check was writing itself.

The kit itself is purchased in 4 parts; empennage (a.k.a. "the tail"), wings, fuselage, and the finishing kit. We started building the plane in October 2008. We have completed the tail and the wings and just started the fuselage. My guess is that we are a couple years away from our first test flight.

Today, the used plane market has really bottomed out. Your money can buy you a lot more used plane. If we were making the build vs. buy decision today, would we still be building a plane. Most likely. I've learned a ton of new skills and there's still a lot of new stuff ahead of us. Plus, building a plane is a lot of fun.

The focus of this blog will shift from flying planes to building them. There's, hopefully, still a lot of flying ahead for me. In order to fly this plane, I'm going to need to get a high-performance and complex endorsements. In order for it to be practical to fly to exciting destinations (VEGAS!), I'm really going to need to get IFR certified. But the budget allows for one thing at a time, and that thing right now is building.

Here some pics of the stuff we've already done:

The trailing edge of the wing:

The ribs of the wing:

Constructing the tail cone:

The horizontal stabilizer:

The elevators:

The tail:

The rudder:

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Monday, October 29, 2007

VFR X-Country to Hoquiam

On September 22, a friend from work and I flew up to Bowerman Field in Hoquiam, Washington. It was a beautiful late summer afternoon and a great day for flying. We had lunch at a cafe on the field called Lana's for our $100 hamburgers. In my case, it was a $100 tuna fish sandwich. The food must have been good since our takeoff roll after lunch was a bit longer than our takeoff roll before lunch.

Some people might think it's crazy to spend over a year and a good chunk of change to get a license just so that once can fly somewhere to get lunch. To that I respond, it's the journey, not the goal. Or is it the means justify the ends.

Here is a short clip of us departing Bowerman to head back to Pearson Field.

And here we are flying over Grays Harbor.

And here are some pictures:

Would you fly with this pilot?

Lined up and ready to depart Pearson Field (VUO)

Flying over the Columbia.

Over Grays Harbor

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Video of flight around St. Helens

Last week Big D and I went for a flight around Mt. St. Helens. Big D ran the video camera while I flew the plane. The video begins with us departing Scappoose (SPB). We approach Mt. St. Helens from the southwest and circle the summit counterclockwise. The other mountains you see in the video are Mt. Ranier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Loop around western Washington

Aero Maintainence, the FBO at Pearson Field at my home airport organized a group X-Country around western Washington. We flew from Pearson (VUO) to Bowerman Field in Hoquiam (HQM) to Jefferson County International in Port Townsend (0S9) to Chehalis (CLS) and back to Pearson. It was an absolute blast.

Five planes went on the trip. On my plane, a Cessna 172m, with me were an instructor and a student pilot. I flew the VUO - HQM and 0S9 - CLS legs. We used mainly pilotage for navigation. I've never been to the Washington coast before and it was absolutely beautiful. The flight around Mt. Olympus was breathtaking.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Big D Finally Soloed!

Yesterday, a good friend of mine, let's call him "Big D", finally soloed. He started flight training a few months after I did, but got waylaid by a six month delay in getting his third class medical from the FAA. All private pilots need to get a third class medical certificate which basically states you meet the medical requirements set forth by the FAA. To get it, you go to a FAA approved doctor and they put you through a routine physical, ask about your medical history, and ask you for a list of any current medications you are on. The doctor can then approve you during the physical and you can walk out the door with your medical certificate. Or, as was the case with "Big D", the doctor wasn't sure about something, so he decided to send it to the FAA for approval.

A few weeks later, Big D got a letter saying his application for a certificate was denied. The strange thing was that he was denied for something other than what the doctor had a question about. The letter went on to say that if he wanted to appeal he needed to do X, Y, and Z. Big D does X,Y, and Z, and two months later, the FAA asks him to do X,Y, and Z again! It was at this point I understood why pilot's hold the FAA in such a special place in their heart. It was also at this point when I bought Big D a t-shirt that said:

FAA Mission Statement:
We're not happy until you aren't happy.

Anyway, Big D had enough of this and decided to get AOPA involved. It was amazing. Two phone calls and two weeks later, Big D had his medical certificate in hand and was back in the sky training. Yesterday, he soloed. Now he gets to do the fun stuff; X/countries, short and soft field T/O and landings, night flying, towered airports, and the FAA written exam. (Maybe the last one isn't exactly fun.)

Congratulation's Big D!