KOCF to KCLW crosscountry flight

Here is the video I made during the cross country lesson trip from Ocala to Clearwater.

The original idea was to use 2 cameras, one pointing at me and Piff and the other one filming the outside scene in front of us. But the outside camera battery died or I did something wrong… so in the video you will see only the cam pointing to us.

I recorded the audio from the intercom and a part a background noise you will be able to listen the dialogues between Piff and me and with the tower. I don’t know if the background noise is a problem of adapter or is the camera… I will figure out before the next videos.

I left all the important step of the flight in the video: the radio communications, the lesson from Piff and the search of check points. Is not a fun short video but can be interesting if you want to learn how a cross country flight is done. The part I cut off was enjoying the view and chat with Piff… the best part while you fly but boring in the video :)

The big part of the job is done on the ground during the planning. It is basically done in this steps:

Decide the route. In this case I choose a straight route from OCF to CLW ’cause we had no obstacles (in a mountain zone can be less easy), military zones to avoid, or class B airspace. There is KTPA (Tampa International) but we stayed at a lower altitude.

Choose the altitude. The terrain in Florida is pretty flat, so is easy to stay above obstacles. The decision was to stay at maximum 2500 feet to be below the class B airspace of KTPA that extend over Clearwater above 3000. I checked the wind aloft and 2500 sounded good giving some tailwind.

Check the weather. Important to know the winds to choose the altitude and correct the heading to compensate for the draft. And to stay out of instrumental condition since this is all VFR.

Calculate the heading. The magnetic heading to follow on the compass must be calculated compensating for the wind, the magnetic variation and deviation, in this way you will have the “number” to follow on the compass that will keep you on the true heading.

Select the checkpoints. Draw a line on the map between the departure and destination and choose around it (better on the left so will be easier to be seen) some visible referral points to check that you are in route.

Calculate miles and time between every checkpoint and obviously departure and arrival. On the first leg time for getting on the flight altitude must be calculated and added to the time to fly to the first checkpoint. All this is very easy to do using the parameters found on the POH of the plane. And is much better to do if you have an iPad with some aviation app. I will talk more about the one I used in another post.

Calculate fuel needed for the flight.

Calculate wight and balance. Traveling with all my luggage, the camera bag, pilot bag etc. I understood why this calculation is a must. With full thanks we were near the limit, so we decide to fly with 3/4 tanks to stay on the safe side. OCF to CLW is pretty short so there was no need for the full thanks.

Airport scheme and frequencies. Get the Airport facility directory and check the runway length, position, scheme of the airport in use and write down all the radio frequencies.

Write all down on the flight plan…

Fly and have fun!

You can see now how we followed the plan and arrived in perfect time to our destination.

Have fun!

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International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians


Some years ago I had the opportunity to become a member of the Rotary Club of Cuneo, that is a local chapter of the Rotary International.

Rotary International is a worldwide organization, founded by Paul Harris in 1905 in Chicago, of more than 1.2 million men and women business, professional, and community leaders in over 30,000 Rotary Clubs in 174 countries throughout the world. Rotarians, provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, promote advancement of international understanding, help build goodwill and peace in the world and live their motto of “Service Above Self Is the Best Work of Life!

But is not just that! Rotary created the “Fellowships” that are basically a group of Rotarians having a common interest and sharing the passion together use it as a tool to diffuse the Rotary ideas and make something good.

One of the Fellowship is the IFFR, International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians, a group of people passionate about flying. The story of the Fellowships start in the IFFR 1965 and was formally established through the efforts of a dedicated Rotarian, E. Edison Kennell, of Seattle, Washington. You can read all the interesting history of IFFR here.

In this post I want just to tell you how wonderful is to be a part of Rotary and IFFR when you travel in the world and have the passion for flight. Is very easy to attend a meeting in every place and be welcome as an old friend, I met a lot of interesting people and good friends at Rotary all around the world and all this knowing that with our friendship and efforts we are doing something good for the world.

Obviously I was a member of IFFR since I discovered his existence at the Salt Lake City Rotary convention in 2007. Before I started my training I wrote to some members of IFFR and I got a lot of useful suggestions and help from them and I’m looking forward to meet some new friends in person and share with them our common passion.

This said, if you have the passion for flight, just look for a local Rotary Club in your city and ask if there are IFFR members, in this way you can make new friends and discover the Rotary International and what you can do to improve the quality of our lives with plenty of humanitarian projects perhaps spending some of your flying hours helping Rotary to realize his dream of a better world.

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January 5th 2012

We are in the new year and I will have to quit my training for some days ’cause I’m getting some medications, but in the past days I went to visit a couple of flight schools in Clearwater. Or better I visited 3 schools.

The first is the school at CLW that is the Clearwater Airpark, a beutiful small airport for general aviation immersed in a green area with a golf. That was my first choice, for the position, ’cause is very near to Clearwater Beach where I’m actually, and for the beauty of the airport. But… I’m not U.S. citizen so they are not authorized for the TSA procedure and I can’t train there :(

Second school was Clearwater Aviation at KPIE (Clearwater/St. Pete) airport. The school looked professional, I had a short chat and I got the prices for the rental and instructor. I was expecting something more in the presentation of the school but it seems to be a nice place.

Third school CAMS Flight also at KPIE. Nice school, the look professional, the school has a simulator by Redbird. I met the instructor and the manager and we reviewed my logbook to understand what to do next. The manager told me he doesn’t know about the possibility to train with a B1/2 visa so I will have to send him all the documentation I got from my previous request at the other schools.

My consideration is that I miss something… if you go to buy a t-shirt you want to see it, same with the planes, both of them didn’t showed me the planes (I will request it before to decide) or offered more information that what I asked. Ok, I always pretend too much but what I dream is to find a school that has something like the new Redbird Skyport. I mean, I don’t pretend to find a place like this that is new and built in a way to revolution the training in USA… but something more that can make me think: “This school can give me what I need!”.

But I think I’m a dreamer…

For now some pictures of the sunsets I’m enjoying every day here in Clearwater Beach!

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A new year

Ok… since I arrived in Clearwater Beach I decided to relax and enjoy some days of real vacation to start the new year. To celebrate I made a time lapse video from my hotel window.

The video is composed of more than 10,000 pictures, from the early afternoon of the 31st of December to after the sunset of the 1st of January. The music was choose with some irony thinking at my friend in the cold North Italy :)

Nothing else to add, just watch the video and let me know if you like it.

I will soon come back with some post related to aviation!


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29th December

A perfect day to fly, cold, clear sky no wind… a bad day for me to fly, I got some bad landings, I was so nervous all the day and so I didn’t do the solo and I just gave up for now! Tomorrow cross country to Clearwater Airpark and few days of rest and I will look for another school there where to finish my training.

So there will be a little pause also for this blog. Tomorrow I will try to record the crosscountry and make a movie about that. Two cameras and go! I still hate how the GoPro mess with the propeller…

More tomorrow when I hope I will be in a better mood.

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28th December

Nice clear very cold day.

1.4 hour of flight with Piff, it’s impressive how much the cold air improves the performances of the airplane, that’s why there are so many questions about the calculation of pressure altitude in the FAA test!

We did something new today, some stalls with the eyes covered watching only at the instruments and tried some disorientation, that means Piff was maneuvering the plane while I was with my head down and eyes closed and I had to recover the plane left in unusual attitude just watching the instruments. That was a little disorienting but a lot of fun.

I still don’t know why but I don’t get relaxed while I’m flying. I was used to live the plane as the most relaxing place to be, but rigth now I feel always tense. Probably a little relax in Clearwater before to go on with the training will help. I mean, I’m having a lot of fun but I still grab the yoke a little too much and I can’t get all smooth as I want.

Tomorrow some more lesson and if the wind is calm some solo work.

I’m so upset on how the GoPro interact with the propeller that I continue to watch the videos and not post them… I wasted my money with the GoPro… Hero and Hero2 are all the same with the propeller.

But here some pictures taken at the airport and a portrait service I did to Ivan with his family, the french student getting his IFR at Ocla Aviation.

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27th December

Windy and overcast in the morning and became very windy and clear in the afternoon.

So non flight today but I did my FAA written test and I passed it with 88%. Not too bad… but there are still a couple of questions that I don’t understand why were considered wrong… but it’s done so I’m ok for other 24 months!

I decided to go to Clearwater on Friday and to go with the plane as a cross country lesson, so I will fly with Piff there and he will bring the plane back. I have to check the weight of my luggage to be sure that will fit on the Cessna 172SP we will use. So today I simulated a flight plan from OCF to CLW. It’s a 40 minutes flight instead of more than 2 hours drive and I really like the idea to use a plane for a real need!

For a VFR flight plan what is most important is to identify the point of reference on the map, points really distinguishable that will be used to check the correct path and do the eventual corrections for the wind variations. It’s pretty simple, the need is to see the forecast for the area, at the altitude you decide to fly (choose one where you don’t risk to hit the ground and you are not crossing complex airspace as the TPA…) and estimate your route and time of arrival at the point of reference. On flight just check the difference on the scheduled arrivals and the game is done. This is called “dead reckoning”.

Charles Augustus Lindbergh used dead reckoning for his flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Roosevelt Field located in Garden City on New York’s Long Island to Le Bourget Field in Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km), in the single-seat, single-engine monoplane Spirit of St. Louis.

So I think it can be easy for a 100 mile flight without having to cross an Ocean! And I really suggest to watch the movie The Spirit of Saint Louis with James Stewart. It’s a great movie and the interpretation of James Stewart is excellent, it’s really easy to feel the efforts to stay awake piloting the plane for 33.5 hours.

Flight Plan
Flight Plan
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26th December

I lost the count of the lessons…

Flew today in the early afternoon, for 1.1 hour with Piff. The weather was below minimum for VFR this morning so I had to wait for an improvement.

The lesson was on basic use of the VOR and short and soft field landing and take off. That was really fun, we landed on the grass at X35 where there is a parallel grass runway to runway 10. I like that, the soft landing is more fun :)

And later I tried some simulated FAA written test and the score was nice so tomorrow if the weather will be ugly as forecast I will get my written done. I studied all the day and now I feel more confused than before :D

At the end of the week I will probably move to Clearwater beach so I will finish my training there. For the next day I will do as much as I can here.


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Ocala Aviation was closed yesterday and today, so I took a couple of days of relax.

For Christmas Eve I was invited to dinner and to church from a friend met at Rotary Club and his wife. It was really a nice experience and quite different from any italian celebration I assisted, so I really enjoyed it. And is very nice to meet new friends that care about you and don’t let you be alone for Chrismas Eve.

But back to aviation, this morning I went to visit the control tower at OCF. The controllers were really nice and I had the opportunity to see how is at the other side of the radio. You can see the attached pictures to get an idea of the place. The panorama from there is great also ’cause we are in Florida, an almost flat land and so the tower is one of the highest places. At OCF they have no radar, the airspace is controlled by radar from Jacksonville. The tower equipment is pretty simple and all is written by hand. Huge binoculars and very good eyes are the principal instruments to control the traffic.

Visiting the tower you understand that at the other side of the radio there are normal guys as ourselves! Today the traffic was very slow so I had time to chat with them and the wife of one of the guy, very lovely people! We enjoyed some sweets made by the wife and talked about all, from the aviation to “how to save the world in 3 minutes”.

Everything I do here I’m more impressed by how much Americans are friendly and open with the others. This really is a great country!

For my training I will decide tomorrow what to do. I’m scheduled to fly with Ron Towater at 10 am, and I have to decide if stay here a little longer and finish my training or move to Clearwater where my business is based to look for some business and finish to train there a little bit slower. I’m feeling at a turning point and the training is going a little bit slow ’cause I still can’t feel very comfortable on the plane. I never been tense flying before, but now I can’t really relax and feel the plane. I have to understand if I need to fix other things in my life before to be ready to fly with confidence. So tomorrow will be my decision day… probably :)

But here you can see the pictures from the OCF Control Tower:

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