A flight to Punta Gorda

A couple of days ago (yes I had to wait some days to edit the video…) I flew to Punta Gorda with Carl Weiss, the owner of AvStar Aviation, with the school Piper Aztec.

It was a nice trip, we went straight from KPIE to KPGD in VFR using the Tampa class bravo airspace and flying at 3000 feet (it was supposed to be 3500 but a layer of clouds was exactly at 3500. Coming back after a burger we flew over the water and you can see the video about the flight.

Fly on the Atzec is a nice experience, more heavy and faster than the 182 and really can be felt on the yoke. I took the yoke just for the straight and lever part of the flight but was enough to get the feeling of a bigger and faster plane. Nice!

What is fun about the cross country is that you can see the utility of the plane, the same trip that took half hour with the twin require a couple of hours with the car. So, as I always heard in my life, and I don’t know who told that first: “The airplane is the fastest way to go in a place when you are not in hurry!”

Here the video and some pictures of the Aztec.

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Precision Flight Control simulator

Today the plane I’m used to fly was in maintenance for the annual inspection so I had to change my schedule and I tried one hour an half in the simulator. The simulator at AvStar Aviation is a fixed seat (no rolling etc.) made by Precision Flight Control and simulates the Cessna 172 with a Garmin G1000. The system is based on X-plane flight simulator, a simulator I used for many years and I really like also in his non FAA version I used on my mac. X-plane is very realistic and available also on Mac OSX and Linux. The cost for the last home version is less than 80$ and the scenery is impressive. It worth to be bought, but as usual with fly simulators you need a fast computer to enjoy it.
Back to the simulator at AvStar, it’s a very nice way to learn the G1000 since you have the exact replica in front of you and you can play with it and try all the functions without the risk to do it really flying. We did some instrument flight, and this is what that simulator is good to. All the experience is pretty realistic, is very useful to learn the instrument scanning. For the unusual attitudes is nice but lacking the movement and the disorientation effect is not enough to really learn it.
It was a fun thing to do and is really a perfect tool to learn the G1000, so I decided to use it again later on my training when I will learn and try the advanced tools of the Garmin panel. For now I still prefer the real feeling of the plane for what I have to do, and it simulates the 172, so no prop control, and I want to concentrate on the use of propeller control and the parameters of the 182 and not be confused going back to the 172 speeds etc.

Other than that I spent some time with my instructor Sherri and Carl Weiss (the owner of AvStar Aviation) watching some aviation humor videos on Youtube and laughing a lot! This is a very nice side of the training and makes me appreciate more this flight school. Is really nice to be able to spend some time just having fun!

I took some pictures in the school today, one serious to show the flight simulator and some details of decorations on the wall just to give you the feeling of the “mood” at AvStar. It’s really fun, also if they are very dedicated to teach safety and apply safety in the rules and the way they maintain the airplanes, it does not mean that can’t be do having fun :)

Here some pictures :)



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Watching the clouds

Today as always in the weekend I didn’t go to fly, and the weather was really windy, so after some work and studying the procedures on the 182T POH I just sat  on the balcony watching the clouds passing by… and I made a little time lapse with the GoPro :)

So here is the video, enjoy it!


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8th of Febraury – some aerial photography and some landings

Today I tried to do some aerial photography, the day in the early afternoon was perfect, but later it was a little too hazy so I just took a couple of pictures to try the point of view and I will try again another time. I was sitting in the right seat and Sherri (the instructor) was piloting the plane. And is really impressive to be a passenger and see how everything can be done with precision and smooth and all looks so easy! One day I want to be so smooth too!!! :)

We went back to KPIE, switched the seats and worked on the pattern. Four landings, the last one with the lights on the runway already on (wow I like that!) and I made them pretty good. I start to feel the plane and I just have to be more natural and keep on the center of the runway… I always go left, that is something I want to avoid not just ’cause is important for the safety and the checkride but specially ’cause I never go to left… I don’t want my landing trend to be confused with my political opinion! So never again to the left!!! :D
But I’m really satisfied of how I’m doing, specially ’cause in the 182T there are a lot of different things to consider with the constant prop and the G1000, that I think I’m doing a good job. And seems that also Sherri is satisfied… so all is good!

You can see here a picture of Clearwater Beach and a pic of the Cesna 182T cockpit owned by AvStar Aviation. I start to love that plane!

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6th Febraury 2012 – A nice lesson with the Cessna 182T

Another lesson today, in the morning for 1.6 hours.

We used the Cessna 182T, the plane I choose for my training and I start to have the feeling for it. We went to the training area, here in in front of Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands.
We started with some slow fly and I did pretty good until I lost the heading during the recovery a power off stall, some steep turns (not easy with the haze on the horizon) and simulated an engine failure. Back to the base for 4 landings, and I got the last 2, I start to feel the plane so I’m pretty optimist.

Today I did a video, with the camera pointing out of the rear left window. You can see the simulation of the forced landing, a very beautiful panorama of Clearwater Beach, and a landing at KPIE. Some nice music on the video :)

I really like to fly here around, I must say I really like Clearwater Beach… that’s why I moved here :) But from the sky the color of the water is amazing.

Take a look at the video and let me know :)

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Piper PA28-140

Last Friday I mad a 1.3 hours of flight in a Piper PA28-140, that was an option for the training at AvStar, so I decided to take a test fly and decide if I wanted to train on the new Cessna 182T with Garmin 1000 or with the Piper with analogue instruments.

Something I really don’t like about the PA28 I flew is that there is only one door on the passenger side, it makes pretty difficult to go in (never try to do that with the flaps lever up between the seats!) and gives a claustrophobia feeling.
Only the pilot has brakes, not on the right side, and the plane I flew had some nosewheel problems ’cause was making the pedals vibrate a lot during the taxi, takeoff and landing.

The Piper was pretty old and as all the old planes (I start to learn it) with some little problems. 140hp are really not too much and the plane sounded so light and not really stable, so I decided that the Cessna 182T with the G1000 will be my choice for the training. It’s much more stable, faster and newer, all aspects that I like. The bad part of that is the cost… but I will see what I can do.

So now I will have to learn all about constant speed propellers and Garmin G1000 instruments. For now all sounds pretty good and I don’t see that as a difficult task. I’m more worried about to learn how to manage the “heavy nose” of the 182 :) For sure in a more complex airplane than the Cessna 172 I flew in Ocala, there is a lot more to do and remember; constant speed prop means to have to deal with throttle and propeller control, and also there are some other things more. But I’m sure I will learn them. I already downloaded the POH and I’m studying the procedures so I will be prepared Monday when I will have my next lesson.

Next week I also scheduled a fly to take aerial pictures of the area and I think that will be fun.

More to come :)

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Up again!

Today I had my lesson! Finally after a month I flew again.

The school is AvStar Aviation, based at KPIE. I had some good referrals for them and I have to say that the first impact was positive. One of the first thing for me is punctuality. I arrived at 9,30 with the flight scheduled for 10,00. My instructor was not there so I went in the parking lot to wait for him… when at 10,05 I still didn’t see anyone that resembled the picture I had in my mind of an instructor so (starting to complain in my mind for he delay!) I went up to the office and I found Sherri, my instructor waiting for me, I have seen her arrive around 9,35 but I didn’t figured that my new instructor was a beautiful woman!!! :)
This can say a lot about the “prejudice” we have, or the fact that (I don’t know why) there are few women flying airplanes and so we figure out a man when we think about a pilot.

We went on with the paperwork, we did some ground so I was able to understand the airport and the airspace around KPIE. Is a kind of complex airspace ’cause is right below the Tampa class B airspace, so the flight level mus be under 1200 feet for a while and in case of a west departure as we did, can become 3000 feet always below the TPA B airspace. So it worth a little study on the map. We went through all the lesson and we were ready to fly.

The plane was a new Cessna 182T with the Garmin 1000 avionic. In the ground school we talked a little about the G1000 and I was ready to fly with it. The 182 is really much heavier than the 172 and the feeling is of a lot of more stability and performances. The plane has a constant speed propeller so I had to learn a little about how to manage the power and the rpms with the prop pitch adjustments. I will do more next time.

We went through some basics, some steep turns (the nose is heavy and really wants to go down) and 3 landings where the nose again is really heavy. I will get used to that. 1.7 hours on flight, 3 landings and I went out of the plane (starving!) at 15,00.

After all a very good experience. The manager seems to be a very nice person too. I have a good feeling for the instructor ’cause she made me feel very comfortable on the plane also if this was my first experience with a Cessna 182. Also I was really surprised in a positive way to have a woman instructor, I like that ’cause I usually don’t have at all a “macho” attitude and that makes me feel more comfortable with women when I have to learn something new or challenge myself; usually women don’t expect that you are a superhero ready to jump from a plane from 20000 feet, they are more realistic and respectful of the “little steps” and research of comfort that I usually need. I have seen this many other times for other challenges I had in my life.

I didn’t do a video and I have to figure out how to do the video without invading the privacy of my instructor or I will not post further videos. I’m a professional photographer and so for me the privacy of the people is a priority, and in this case she requested some privacy and I’m going to respect it.

Friday I will go to fly a Piper PA28-140 so I can see if that feels better than he Cessna 182T or not and decide what I will fly for the training.
I really like to have the option to try different type of planes and see what I like more. For now I have to say I really liked the 182! :) …but trying a low wing can be a surprise…

All for today will do pictures and more description at the next flight!

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TSA authorization for a new school

I choose my new school, is the AvStar Aviation based at KPIE (Clearwater/St.Petresburg). So I had to ask again for the TSA authorization for the training, as usual pay the 130$.

It was very fast, 24 hours and all was done, less than that I asked the auth in the afternoon and had it in the morning after. So again for me TSA is working very well and I appreciate the job they are doing.

Why I choose the school… it’s a small school, they have new Cessna planes with Garmin 1000 included a 182 and some older Piper. So I will have options to evaluate. They were kind and answered all my mails, and I contacted the wife of a friend who got her license there and she suggested me this school.

Monday I will fly ’cause today was very windy and tomorrow is supposed to be bad weather, and I will not in the weekends probably.

That’s all. I can’t wait to go on with the training and to be again up in the sky.

More after the lessons!

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CCD vs CMOS videocameras

During Imaging USA in New Orleans I asked a vendor some information about sport cameras and propeller interaction and he told me that the problem is caused by the CMOS sensors.

CMOS sensors have what is called “Rolling Shutter”, that means that the CMOS sensors acquire the picture one line at time, instead the CCD get the picture all at the same time.
CMOS sensors create problems with fast moving object for this reason, creating distortions or “Jello” effect.

An interesting video I found on youtube really show this problem in a creative way:

For your propeller basically you need a CCD camera!

The problem with CMOS and propeller can be made less worse using a neutral density filter in front of the lens to slower the shutter speed (I noticed that the only decent video I made was in a cloudy day and now I know why) but still the “Jello” effect remain.

The best thing to film a propeller is to get an old CCD camera, or spend a lot of money for a new professional one (Sony make some CCD sensor that can be found in some expensive sport cameras).  I have an old Sony camera and I will try to use it also if is not small and easy to fit in the cockpit as the GoPro.

If you want go deep in this argument I suggest this article by Barry Green, really well explained and written.

On the flying side, I solved my little health problem and I will find a school and start to fly again I hope next week. I passed by KPIE yesterday to speak with 2 schools but without phone before and I found both of them closed. Tomorrow I will try again if I will be in the mood… but I’m also attracted by a lazy day in the pool :D

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