Archive for the ‘Tidbits’ Category

Northwest Regional Crash, a Pilot’s Perspective

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

There is a video making the rounds from a crash that happened at my home airport of Northwest Regional Airport (52F) in Roanoke, TX, where a student pilot impacted a vehicle in a 2005 Cessna 172. As a pilot who has shot many approaches at that airport (and a true aviation enthusiast), I wanted to offer my perspective of what happened.

Right main and nose gear missing.

News reporters seem to be making a huge deal about Kelly Dr, the road that borders the north end of the active runway 17, where the word “STOP” is painted on the ground to warn drivers of aircraft overhead. This road is actually not managed by the airport, but I don’t see that as a safety issue. There are signs EVERYWHERE that help drivers understand where they are—not to mention that when you are on that road you see the runway right there. In the video it is unclear to me if the driver stopped and looked, but the result seems to clearly indicate that he did not. I’ve waited at the STOP line before and watched planes flying in on final. If the weather is OK for landings at the airport (there are no instrument procedures here so fog or low clouds are not an issue), there is no reason why you can’t see or hear an aircraft. The driver was the trigger that caused the accident—and if he had been paying attention like a self-proclaimed aviation enthusiast, he would have seen that aircraft and waited until it was over the runway to continue. But was it entirely the driver’s fault?

Landing and takeoff are the most dangerous portions of flight. Things happen very fast on landing, so pilots must be alert. If you go to YouTube and look for cockpit videos focused 0n the pilot in command you will see very few eye blinks and a pupils-dilated, steady gaze out the window and at the instruments. Every time I fly that approach to 17, one of the things I am looking for is idiot drivers who are not paying attention to the signs and crossing into my path. My hand is on the throttle and I can quickly goose it to go around if needed. And believe me, when I land, I’m going to find that car and give the driver a talking to. The pilot of the plane in question was a student, but a student at the flight school on the field. There is no question in my mind that he had landed aircraft dozens of times at that field and was well aware of the danger of cars (as well as other unwritten rules at that field). So, it’s not like this was his first time landing there. He should have seen the car and gone around.

But even that isn’t really the issue. Go watch the video and watch his approach right before he crosses the white fence on the north side of Kelly Dr. He sinks quickly which turns his steady, straight line descent into a dangerous curve.

One of the first things you are taught when shooting approaches is to have a stable, constant descent rate into the into the field. You learn this especially with fields with obstacles on either end of the runway, which is why the touchdown point you aim for is not at the end of the runway, but 1,000 feet from the end. Back to the video, you’ll notice that he sinks dramatically, clearing the fence by 2-3 feet, and slamming his landing gear right into the SUV. He wasn’t over the runway yet, but he was just 5 feet off the ground? That’s dangerous. Unsteady approaches during a checkride would cause an FAA examiner to think twice about passing that student.

Was this a preventable accident? Absolutely! Both parties were at fault. A pilot with an unstable approach and a complacent driver who wasn’t paying attention to where airplanes are when near an active runway.

Does this impact my view of Northwest Regional Airport? No! I’m more concerned about the issues we’ve been having lately around working fuel pumps.

There have been a string of accidents related to that airport recently, but it’s nothing to do with the airport. In every case it was some form of pilot error. In fact, I went through all the NTSB accidents listed for that airport and this is the first time a car has been struck. When it comes down to who is at fault, the NTSB will blame the pilot for failing to maintain a safe altitude. I can’t say I disagree with that ruling, either. When talking to my family about this, I mentioned that steeper approaches wouldn’t allow something like this to happen, but as always, I will remain quite vigilant about traffic on Kelly Dr. when landing.

Pilots can use this as a safety reminder for airport operations. It could’ve been a whole lot worse. Thankfully it wasn’t. Everybody walked away with minor cuts and bruises. This is an easily preventable incident with a proper, stable approach and pilot awareness of the traffic around the runway.

Hinky Dinky Dee

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The lyrics to my new favorite bluegrass tune! Info:

Hinky Dinky Dee
One Riot One Ranger
Trad.; PD; arrangement by One Riot One Ranger; addtn’l lyrics by C. Williams

Paul Brown – banjo, vocals
Mark Gaskill – guitar, vocals
Peter Remenyi – resonator guitar, vocals
Chas Williams – mandolin, vocals
Mark Wyatt – bass, vocals
Engineered by Dean Imboden @ Rome Recording Studios, Columbus, OH
Produced by One Riot One Ranger

Listen on iTunes.

What’s the man’s name Hinky Dinky Dee
Mighty bad man but he can’t catch me
Great big bag and a great big hoe
See him comin’ and away we go

Horse and a flea and two little mice
Sittin’ in a corner, shootin’ dice
Horse foot slipped and he fell on the flea
Flea says “BOO there’s a horse on me!”


Mandolin! (spoken during instrumental)

Hawk and the buzzard went to war
Hawk came back with a broken jaw
Hawk and the buzzard see the crow
Ain’t gonna go to war no more


Dobro! (spoken during instrumental)

Rabbit jumped up with a great big smile
Hound dog running a solid mile
Rabbit’s foot slipped and he said “Oh me!
I believe right now that the joke’s on me!”


Guitar! (spoken during instrumental)

Was an old man and he had a wooden leg
Had no bananas nor bananas could he beg
Saved all his money till he couldn’t save no more
Now he’s got bananas and a big banana store


Banjo! (spoken during instrumental)

Man took drink of milk one day
“Good ol’ cow!” is what he had to say
Man took cow and a dish and a spoon
And away they ran jumped over the moon


See him comin’ and away we go.

AIF, 91.9 hours (1.3 hours last flight)

Friday, April 1st, 2011


One week before this flight, Chris asks me how long it takes us to fly to the airport by her sister’s house (about 20 minutes) after she sat through some Friday afternoon traffic to get home. I said, I’d be happy to fly us as a family down there, but just remember that the amount of time will be pretty close to the same because we have to drive to and from the airport and pre-flight the plane. She said, let’s do it.

So we did!

This was the first time that we flew as a family where everyone was outside the womb. Payton flew once before when Chris was pregnant, but n0t since she would need her own headset.

We got to the airport, moved all of our gear into the DA-40, and got started! Unfortunately, Chris had to hold Garrett’s car seat on the way down because the seat was too large to allow me to fully control the yoke to fly the plane (which could be a very serious problem). Garrett sat right seat and enjoyed!

This is how she rolls!

It was a busy day, and ATC vectored us around several areas of congested airspace and around other airports. We did not have clearance in to the class Bravo airspace on the way down, but did get cleared on the way back (FWS AFW DTO). I took FULL advantage of the autopilot so I could monitor the radios and watch for traffic (in addition to relying on the collision avoidance feature of the G1000).

We landed without incident, were marshaled in, and met the cousins outside the FBO. This was the first time that they saw a small plane, and both kids were crawling all over it while we unloaded our gear.

We loaded all the kids up in the van, waved Buh-Bye, and then headed our way back to the plane to get going! Upon takeoff, we saw the kids in the van and flew right over the top of them before heading back to KDTO. We went direct Alliance first, then direct Denton to avoid traffic. We landed on a very warm ramp, expedited our taxi off the active, and parked right back where we started just an hour prior.

Fun little flight, and my new audio cable works FANTASTIC!  See the video below!

Weather Station Hopefully Fixed

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

HOPEFULLY.  For reals this time.  Got us a good signal in a good location and have a working cable.

Weather station, FIXED (NOT).

Friday, July 31st, 2009

OK folks, I think I have the issue fixed. Turns out, not only were there issues with the electronics in the sending stations, but the CONSOLE was busted as well! Wait for the weather data to catch up, but you will now see updated weather here!

Update (8/1 @ 8am)… SPOKE TOO SOON!  ARGH.  This is unbelievable.  I must have some kind of magical RF blocking technology in my house that is not letting the signals make it all the way back to my office.  It might be time to do some creative cable routing………

Update (8/1 @ 10am)… Maybe have a workaround.  Rerouted some cables and have the console higher in the closet… stay tuned.

Update (8/1 @ 5:30pm)… Still having reception issues, even with rebroadcast.  Apparently there is some crazy stuff going on in the closet.  Tomorrow I will route some cables from one room to the next through the walls and see if I can get a connection from the console that seems to have good reception.

Update (8/2 @ Noon)… Been up routing cable in the attic.  I always remember how much I hate fiberglass insulation AFTER I get down.  Ugh.  Half of the cables are routed, other half requires me making noise near a sleeping baby.  I may be dumb, but I’m not THAT dumb.  Hope to have a fix in the next 2 hours.

Update (8/3 @ 9am)… Wade is going to help me get cables punched down correctly.  Tomorrow maybe.

Update (8/4) @ 7pm)… So you are NOT going to believe this.  SOMEHOW, the channels of our baby monitor overlap with the weather station.  Both in the 900MHz range, and that’s the damn problem.  Thanks to Davis for helping me figure it out!  Now I just need to figure out the right combination to reduce the signal->noise ratio.  Expect some funny readings over the next few days.

Another Debian Etch to Lenny gotcha…

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Shut down Apache or any client that is logged into a postgresql database BEFORE you run it if you are upgrading from 7.4 to 8.3. Otherwise, you will need to restore your DB from a previous backup. So far, my restore seems to be working just fine.

Horray for Chicago Yellow Cab!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Chicago this year. I love the city, but freaking hate the cold. I’ve broken my rule twice already, and am preparing to fracture it a third time this week1. Regardless, thanks to the new and improved Blue Line from ORD, I have become a public transportation junkie (in almost every city I visit).

Once in the city, there are some rare occasions (especially in sub zero weather) that I need to take a cab to go twenty blocks. Small luxury, but I bet those cabbies make a ton of money on $10 rides during cold weather.

In early February I was downtown for a corporate event and took a cab from my hotel on E. Wacker to S. Wacker. I took the time during the five minute ride to chat with my wife. I was wearing a suit, and had my elbow resting on the door handle while I chatted. I arrived at my destination, hung up my call, and tried to pull my arm away to reach into my wallet. My arm did not move.


The door handle was broken and the metal piece that holds it together was exposed, and now through my suit coat.


A dime sized hole! I paid the driver, got the cab number and made some phone calls. After working diligently to find the right person (it’s amazing what happens when you ask for the president of the company’s name and mailing address), I was able to get to the claims department. I filled out my form, and am PROUD to say, I received the full reimbursement for my tailor’s bill on the reweave!


No, my suit will never be the same, but unless you know exactly where the rip was and what to look for, you will never find it, and you will never see it by looking at me in a meeting. The total amount to fix it was minimal, but I am grateful to Yellow Cab of Chicago for standing behind their company and their product!

  1. The rule is that I do not travel north of the Mason-Dixon line between November and March []

Blogging from iPhone!

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Long posts would take forever!

iPhones Causing Mistrials? Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia Out of Order? | The iPhone Blog

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

For the record, when I was on Jury Duty, I never did this.  My phone only turned on outside the actual courtroom.

iPhones Causing Mistrials? Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia Out of Order? | The iPhone Blog.

What do you mean Credit Crisis?

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Not sure what all these fat cats (who have lost a lot of weight recently) on Wall Street are talking about when they discuss the Credit Crisis on Main Street?  Jonathan Jarvis has a fantastic short explaining exactly what is happening.  Check it out below.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Mister Bearded Arrow

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Conference calls are BORING. Instead of listening, go design your own superhero!

Here’s mine:

Brando’s Morning Power Shake

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Want loads of energy in the AM while getting your diet on the right track?  Try this shake!

Brando’s Morning Power Shake

  • 1 cup 0% Horizon Organic Milk (9g protein)
  • 1-2 scoops Vanilla Impact Protein by Chicago Nutrition Company (24-48g protein)
  • 1 handful Kirkland (Costco) Fiesta Blend frozen fruit (~1g protein)

Drop in a blender and mix until all fruit has been pulverized.  I use the Magic Bullet blender (~$40 at Costco) and it is super fast with very easy cleanup.

Depending on how much protein powder you use, you are looking at ~34-58g protein.  Your target intake of Protein each day should be around one gram per one pound of your target weight.  That is why there should be discretion on how many scoops of powder.  I use two for me, but one for Chris.

It’s on like Donkey Kong!

Monday, January 5th, 2009

It’s a new year folks! Time to go through that awkward period of always writing “08” on the date line until you finally reprogram your brain to write “09.”

This year is looking bright!

Peace out, 2008!

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

I certainly enjoyed you! From learning how to fly, getting my license, finally seeing Australia for the first time, and having a second kid, this has definitely been an awesome year. I am looking forward to 2009, and I’ll see you all there!

Cowboys? What the hell?!

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

What the hell is going on with my Cowboys? Why is December the month from hell? Is it a training and stamina thing? Are we sprinting and not distance running?

I know this will never happen, but it is my wish for Bill Cowher to be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. This means that Jerry Jones is going to have to own up to letting someone else make personnel decisions and effectively run the field operations.

Wade Phillips would make a decent Defensive Coordinator. Probably not for this team, but he definitely does not work as head coach of the Cowboys. The mere fact that Dallas was the WORST in penalties per game (average 7.5 per game in 2008 for 60.7 yards per game) shows how little discipline this team has.

Discipline starts at the Coach. Not Jerry.

Wade, I am sure you are a great guy. You just got the shaft when you took this job. Being Jerry’s puppet seems to pay well, but as Barry Switzer, Dave Campo, and Chan Gailey can tell you, it does not end well. And your time is here. Whether you quit or Jerry fires you, it is time for new leadership for the new Texas Stadium.

For players, I suggest we can Pacman Jones. The guy has not contributed a thing this year, and as we saw in this last game, is often a better player for the opponent.

Terrell Owens… I’m really tired of seeing you bitch on the sideline after dropping so many passes this year. Sure, you can make that amazing catch every once in a while, but it sure does not look good for a guy who only logged 63 receptions with 10 TDs in 2008 that also happens to e tied for FIRST in the NFC for most dropped passes.

This team has arguably some of the most raw talent on the roster, yet completely missed the playoffs this year. What an utter disappointment. You did a disservice to the last season at THE Texas Stadium and to your fans who wanted so badly to see a playoff win (since the last one we saw was December 28, 1996).

Well, at least you don’t have the playoffs to get in your way of some much needed spring cleaning.

Unrealistic expectations

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Depressed about your love life?  Do you love romantic comedies?  I know you are not surprised, but a new study by a university in Edinburgh finds that Romantic comedies ‘spoil your love life’ because they promote unrealistic expectations for love.

So Hollywood is not a good source for information on how the real world works?  I don’t know what they are talking about.  My entire knowledge of physics is based on James Bond movies.

Cold affects electronics.

Monday, December 15th, 2008

The Anemometor electronics have said F-YOU to the cold.  It’s not the batteries, or the lack of solar power to run it.  The cups are spinning fine up on the house (for now… we are getting some freezing rain), but the electronics just won’t process it.  Oh well.

So when the wind does not work on the weather page, it is FREAKING COLD outside.

WordPress 2.7

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

W00t, this thing is pretty slick.  The guys over at WordPress have done an AWESOME job on the new admin interface.  You guys don’t get to see it, but we do!  If you are not running it, *cough* JAMES *cough*, you should consider it!

Going FLYING on Sunday!

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Hey baby birds… Been a little lax at posting lately as it has been an insane couple of weeks. This is the longest stretch of days that I have been home in at least a month, if not more than one. Plus we all caught a cold, so we’re dealing with that.

Thanks to everyone who gave me birthday wishes! Hope to see you guys later for the party.

And, I’m going FLYING on Sunday! Going to re-do the skydive attempt, but we have a few more folks going. I’m going to be ready with the camera, and catch them as they come down. I love flying so much, it’s just a joy to be the cab driver up to the airfield.

Maybe on the way back I’ll show those folks the uphill landing at Ironhead.

Anyway, I’m testing for a couple of certifications tomorrow and will be partying later!

Weekend wrap, 2 and 2

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Just sitting in the airport right now waiting to head back home after an awesome weekend in San Francisco.  The tickets that Chris got were AWESOME.  5 rows back in the end zone?  How cool is that?

Unfortunately, the Niners lost, so on our trips that makes us 2 and 2.  Batting 500 is not too bad, but the next home team we see should be afraid… VERY afraid.

Only saw a couple of folks get kicked out, and James saw some really drunk chick wheeled across the field in a wheel chair.  I had to get a brewski and a peeski, so I missed it.

Oh, and Seahawk fans are really annoying.