29R - Nothing but blue skies...

Weather: KBJC 302153Z 27018G27KT 60SM SCT080 SCT150 23/M07 A2994

I'm going to try flying out of the Airport in Boulder, CO (BDU) for a while. My flight school just opened a new FBO there and they operate one of the older 172s out of there so it's perfect for me. It is nearly the same distance from my house to the airport, but the distance that matters more is the distance from the airplane parking area to the end of the runway. This distance matters because airplane rental time is determined by how long you have the engine running in an airplane. So the time it takes to taxi from the end of the parking spot to the end of the runway is time spent not flying, but still paying. The taxi time at Metro is a lot more than Boulder so I'm hoping that will help.

That is not the only reason I'm flying out of Boulder for now. One, I've always wanted to try flying out of there. Also, I want to get some experience flying out of an uncontrolled airport. Rocky Mountain Metro Airport, where I have been flying recently, is class D airspace and has a control tower. This means the radio calls are different and the flying is different. So this will be good experience for me. I don't think I'll be flying exclusively out of Boulder, but I'll try a few flights out of there.

So I have made one flight out of Boulder so far. The weather was perfect but it made for some interesting flying since I was doing touch and goes and there were a decent number of planes in the pattern. I was learning how to do short field and soft field takeoffs and landings. Short field means short runway. Practicing short field takeoffs means practicing getting the plane in the air quickly. Short field landings are the exact opposite, trying to get the plane on the runway and stopped as quickly as possible. They are used to land or take off on a short runway or one where you might have to clear some sort of obstacle at either end of the runway.

Just the same as short field, soft field means soft runway. Maybe landing on grass, dirt or a potentially rough surface. The point of these is to keep the plane moving at all times in case the wheels might sink, and to land gently and keep the nose wheel raised as much as possible to prevent damage to the landing gear.

So nothing too special on this past flight but landing at Boulder means you have to make a call on the radios announcing each action that you take to keep all other aircraft informed of your location and intentions. This wasn't difficult but did take some discipline in remembering to announce everything.

Otherwise, Boulder is another beautiful airport to fly out of. The town of Boulder is known for it's beauty and flying there is no exception. Seeing the mountains and flatirons below is spectacular, in addition to all the fall color this time of year it's nothing short of amazing.

Weather: KBJC 282148Z 12004KT 15SM FEW200 22/M03 A3040

So my lack of recent posts is only an indication that I haven't been flying recently. I have made two flights since my last post. One more practice flight to get ready for my Stage 1 check and then finally the stage check.

The weather hasn't been conducive to flying, as anyone on the front range in Colorado will have noticed. The winds have been working recently and, of course, it snowed a week ago Sunday. But the past week has been very nice. I scheduled my practice flight on Monday and got a good hour in the air practicing slow flight, power on and off stalls and steep turns. I flew decently for not having flown in over 10 days and when I was done, I felt ready for my stage check.

Skip ahead two days and I have my stage check planned for that afternoon. The winds are calm and the sky is perfectly clear. I head into the office of the chief flight instructor and ace the oral portion of the check. So I'm starting on the right foot already for this check.

Now for some flying. I pre-flight the plane and we are scheduled for a northbound departure to the practice area. We get to the practice area and start with a power-off stall. I almost forgot to do my clearing turns before starting the maneuvers but remembered just in time. Fortunately that was the only thing I almost forgot to do. My stall went well and I set up for a power-on stall after that. I have been having trouble actually stalling the plane in the power-on stall, but for this one, I pitched the nose up aggressively and made sure I stalled it quickly. Power-on stalls are always kind of fun because they are easy to recover from, and the nose of the plane is pointed so high, all you see is blue sky out of the cockpit windows.

After that I completed slow flight and steep turns without problems and we were ready to head back to the airport. On the flight back we practice a simulated engine failure. There wasn't anything special about practicing this one, except we recovered the plane at what felt like well below 500' above the ground. General aviation planes are supposed to stay above 500' AGL when flying in the airspace we were in, so it was fun to fly lower than I normally get to. Although I didn't look at my altimeter specifically, we may have been close to 500' but I'm pretty sure we were below.

Anyhow, we came back to the airport, landed, and that was it. All in all a decent flight, but I felt good about knowing I was going to pass this check before the chief flight instructor had to tell me.

Weather: KBJC 171746Z 28020G27KT 30SM OVC070 15/M01 A2952

I’m in the process of
flying and studying to pass my stage one check. I can do the maneuvers and I know most of the knowledge, so as long as I don’t make any stupid mistakes, I should be fine. I have one more practice flight before setting up my stage check. That flight is scheduled for tonight but the weather doesn’t look like it’s going to work with me so I’m not to sure it’s going to happen.

Another note, I got to fly with another aspiring career pilot, Josh, last week. He flies with a different flight school out of the same airport (BJC) as I do. He’s working on completing his single engine commercial and so I got to ride along while he flew some lazy eights, chandelles, eights on pylons, and steep spirals. Besides getting to know what each of those maneuvers are, it was fun to sit in the right seat a just enjoy the flight. It made me realize how focused I am in cockpit when I’m flying. This is often due to the fact that I am always working on a maneuver when I’m flying, so I really don’t have time to just look out the window and enjoy. But I’m still at a stage where everything I do requires a great deal of focus, so I rarely spend my time looking out the window just for the sake of enjoying the view. I’m looking forward to getting to the point where some of the constant vigilance required to fly, has shifted into my subconscious. Not that I’ll stop paying attention, but it won’t require as much thought, I’ll just do it.

Anyhow, it was a good learning experience and fun to get to fly along with Josh. I really appreciate him letting me ride along and teaching me a few things.

I’ll let you know how the stage one check goes when I get there. In the mean time, keep your fingers crossed for blue skies and calm winds.


Weather: KBJC 051255Z 25004KT 60SM FEW080 SCT120 12/03 A2983

This is going to be very hard to describe to you, but I have completed my first solo flight. Amazing and incredible are two words that quickly come to mind. It was just such a fantastic feeling to be alone in the airplane, flying by yourself.

I scheduled the plane from 6.30 am to 8.30 for another morning flight. The weather was supposed to be good again so I was hopeful I would get to solo. I got to the airport early and preflighted the plane before my instructor got there. We quickly checked the weather, and although the winds weren't calm, it wasn't too bad. There was 4 knot crosswind reported, but it looked more calm than that.

The first part of the flight was business as usual. I was required to fly a few touch and goes to make sure the winds were alright and my instructor felt comfortable with me flying solo in the current conditions. There was a decent crosswind on the first touch and go but I flew it pretty well. My instructor even commented how well I adjusted to the winds and that was a nice vote of confidence if I was going to have to fly my solo with some wind. All three touch and goes were relatively uneventful and I flew them pretty well. So we landed the third time and I taxied back to parking to drop off my instructor.

I turned off the plane and started everything from the top with just me in the plane. My instructor had asked earlier if I was nervous. At the time I said no, but that I was sure I would be when I started the solo. The second I started to taxi, I could tell I was slightly nervous. To apply the brakes in most small planes, you press the top of the rudder pedal with the ball of your foot and toes. I could tell I was nervous, because although I was still relatively relaxed, when I applied some right brake to make a turn, my leg started shaking when I applied the pressure.

Being nervous but still relaxed apparently wasn't a bad combination. After I taxed to the runway and finished my run-up, I didn't notice any nerves after that. My first take-off was smooth, I flew the pattern without any problems and there wasn't very much wind on my first approach. The only problem with my first landing was a slow airspeed. I came in about 5 knots under recommended speed. The landing was nice though and by the time I came around for my second landing, the winds were calm with little to no crosswind.

You would expect that to result in a better landing but on my second landing, my airspeed was a little slower than the first time and when I flared, I set it down pretty hard. Not good. I've had worse landings, but that's when I decided to make four landings instead of just three. My third and fourth landings were much better, and my fourth was probably the best of the day. A great way to end my first solo. I taxied back to parking and I'm pretty sure I couldn't have had a bigger smile on my face.

I really wish there was a way I could describe the feeling of successfully completing your first solo. It is a major sense of accomplishment and leaves you with this euphoric feeling that is indescribable for me. Anyhow, thanks for listening.

Weather: KBJC 041249Z 26005KT 75SM SKC 12/M04 A2993

So I finally got the sign-off for flying my solo. I was scheduled for a morning flight at 7 am for my check ride. This is usually a good sign for calm winds and clear skies, but as we get further away from the summer, this isn't the case. This morning, the skies were beautifully clear, but the wind was up at 6.30 already. I was nervous, yet somehow remained surprisingly relaxed. This ended up translating into moderate flying. The crosswind was noticeable but not too strong. Unfortunately it was slightly erratic, although wasn't bad enough to change anything significantly.

My flying was just moderate. I really didn't fly that well, which made it sort of bittersweet, because I wish I was flying my best during the check ride. But a pass is a pass, and I'll take it at this point. I think the chief flight instructor just couldn't stand the thought of giving me another pre-solo and I don’t know what I would have done if I had to do it one more time. It took so long to get past this one.

My flying really wasn't that bad, but it definitely wasn't great either. I think he took a cumulative score over our last 3 flights. Anyhow, at this point, I'm just too excited about the thought of flying my solo that nothing is affecting me that much.


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