Archive for the ‘Flight’ Category

AIF, 76.7 hours (1.8 hours this flight)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Yep, I’m late with this one.  I actually did this flight on July 20 with Cayce!  This flight included a run from 52F to KAFW then to KXBP (Bridgeport).  Have a GREAT video below.  Pay special attention to the 4 minute mark where a big ass bird goes flying probably 50 feet in front of us from left to right.

Flying with Cayce from Branden Williams on Vimeo.

AIF, 74.9 hours (1.7 hours last flight)

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

4484_1147955064522_1396929512_30387328_6343638_n.jpgFINALLY got back up in the air this weekend! Also did a good job keeping my currency up for another 90 days as I logged a total of five landings. Garrett & I took off from 52F and headed down to Forth Worth Spinks. This airport is just around the corner from Tia & Uncle’s house, so Uncle came to the airport to fly with us! I flew right over his truck on final.

At my standard ten miles out, I contacted Spinks Tower and informed them of my intentions. The controller asked me to report a left downwind for runway 34L. Right about this time, I noticed some heavy rain in the area. Nothing at the airport, but within a few miles of the runway. No thunderstorms or convective activity either. Just some spots of heavy rain.

Heavy rain looks funny from the air. When you are sitting at ground level or driving, heavy rain makes you wet and reduces your visibility. We’ve all been in those situations where you are driving down the road and come up on a heavy rain shower. We have to slow down, maybe put the wipers on high, and squint to see as much as we can.

The difference from the air, is that you can actually see rain falling at altitude (like Springfield & I did a while back) from a distance, and you can also see the areas on the ground where heavy rain affects visibility.

Or rather, you CAN’T see them.

Where trees and roads should be, just a grayed out splotch exists… even if you are below the cloud deck. It’s very strange, and while I had good visibility of the runway when I finally did reach the downwind leg of my approach, those splotchy areas were getting closer to the airport and were easily within two miles now.

The controller called me and said that there was rain in the vicinity of the airport, but nothing actually AT the airport. Based on where I was in the pattern, I was confident that I would make it down before any of that massive rain came my way.

I was correct!

As I was turning base, I heard a noise I had never heard before in the cockpit. It sounded like the “Tic-Tic-Tic” of tiny sleet on a window. I looked up and noticed little rain drops on the window. Still had great visibility, noted the rain, and turned final. Landing was uneventful, and once I was on the ground and clear of the runway, the tower had me contact ground control to taxi over to the FBO. Once we were there, and totally shut down, the rain picked up. Finally made it to the airport, but not the blinding rain that I was seeing from the air. Heavy rain for sure, but still with enough visibility to be VFR.

After the rain subsided, we picked up Uncle and did a flying tour of Mansfield. Then decided to do a couple of touch & go’s at Arlington, and finally headed back to Spinks.

After a bathroom break for the little one, it was time to head back before any more rain decided to pop up! We gave hugs, then got out of Spinks, heading to 52F. The flight back was uneventful, though I noticed that about 10 minutes after I landed, the other 172 from the flight school landed in the wrong direction with a slight tail wind. The runway at 52F is only 40 feet wide, and 3,500 feet full length.

NOT a lot of room for error. In fact, according to the NTSB, no fatalities have happened since 2004, but there are six accidents on file (one of which is that other SportStar), four of which are landing accidents. No incident occurred, but man, you gotta be careful about that stuff.

Anyway, good flight even if I didn’t climb over three thousand!

AIF, 73.2 hours (1.3 hours last flight)

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

photoToday’s flight was with Cayce! We tried to do a flight a few weeks ago, but Texas weather foiled us. This time of year is hard to fly VFR simply because the weather changes on a dime. More motivation to get my instrument rating… maybe this year.

Anyway, because of the high winds, I opted to scrub the long part of our flight and just stay local. We were originally planning to hit the burger joint up at Lake Texoma State Park, but with 20+ knot winds from the south, I just didn’t feel like fighting it. So instead, we went to Addison to hit the Outer Marker. UNFORTUNATELY, they don’t open until 5pm!


So back in the plane, and headed to do the downtown tour. One thing about towered airports with ground control, sometimes they don’t do a clean handoff. I had to go back to ground to get set up, and then they read a huge list of instructions to me, for which I was not prepared. They had to read it back again, and it took me a few minutes before I got the correct readback. Why was I not prepared? Because I was expecting the TOWER to give me those instructions, not ground control. Amateur mistake. Lesson? BE READY.

Once I got the readback right, we took off and headed toward Love. Then did our run around downtown. On the way back, we DID get to fly over D/FW (as you can see) at an altitude of 3,500 feet. By the way, it’s hard not to laugh when a controller asks you to perform an expedited climb in a 172. We were at 1,500 and had to climb to 3,500 before we could turn toward D/FW. So, I did some climbing turns to accomplish this, and then we were off.

Flew right across midfield! VERY cool. The folks visiting Founder’s Plaza were probably wondering what that wind up plane was doing flying right over the top. Course, they probably heard my voice over the speakers too!

Also had a lesson in remembering that I was Pilot In Command, and had to be vigilant. ATC lost track of us about eight miles from Northwest Regional. Somehow our intentions were not clearly communicated between controllers, and I was getting close to an area they wanted me to stay clear of. Thankfully, I was able to quickly convey our intentions, and they allowed us to descend rapidly to our airport, which was VERY BUSY.

Three planes in the pattern and a HOST of stuff going on over at Texas Motor Speedway (race weekend!) made the need for a sterile cockpit absolutely essential. We came in behind a Piper Archer, departing to the north, and had 2 planes behind us. WOH.

Landed without incident, but sure was windy! Last landing was a little rougher than I wanted, but that’s what the gusting wind can do to you.

Enjoyed it!!

AIF, 71.9 hours (0.8 hours last flight)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

runway-lightsTime to work on those landings! Yes, I now have 214 of them, but the last several flights I have noticed that I am not maintaining the center line very well. In fact, I typically am drifting to the left side of center.

Garrett was bummed that he did not get to go flying with us last time, so I got him loaded up and we went up in a 172 to go practice landings. We did all of our work at Alliance on 16L and 16R. I think this is just one of those things that if I pay attention to, it solves itself. Every landing was spot on (except the last one which I bounced a bit).

As we were executing our turnout back to 52F, the Diamond that was practicing on 16L asked the tower to light up the Christmas tree. That’s what pilots refer to the pretty lights you see in the picture (Picture credit to Ben Orloff). I never thought to ask if they could do it during the day! I’ll have to ask that if the airport is dead calm the next time I am over there.

Overall, nothing too exciting. Ceiling was at 3,000 feet, so that made for low flying. Thankfully, Alliance is only about seven miles from 52F. Quick flight-only .8 hours. But I did log six more landings and I did get to fly!

AIF, 71.1 hours (1.8 hours last flight)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Page turning time! After today’s flight to Ardmore OK for barbecue at the Blue Pig, I have now completed another page in my log book! Here are the stats.

  • 208 Takeoffs/Landings
  • 71.1 total hours
  • 6.1 night
  • 3.1 Simulated Instrument
  • 25.0 Cross country
  • 26.8 Dual
  • 45.4 Pilot in Command

The fun part with this flight was WIND. Yes, just like the last cross country I flew, we had some pretty gnarly winds. 22-25kts tail wind pushing us there, and 22-25kts head wind keeping us from returning. Everyone seemed to enjoy the BBQ, and we saw some pretty sweet aircraft parked on the ramp.

AIF 69.3 hours (1.1 hours last flight)

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Believe it or not, this was only the SECOND time that Chris has been up with me! While she was pregnant with Payton, she joined Garret & James in the 172 I qualified in, but after that she thought she would be too uncomfortable in the seats, so we have not gone since that day in August.

But on Friday night, we did the downtown Dallas tour in the SportStar! What a fun ride! The night was very clear thanks to a cold front that was moving through, and we were not the only group that decided the flight would be a good idea. That was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. Partially because of the north wind, we had jets on approach and landing right through our flight path.

In the future, with a north wind, I might just pass on the scenic tour.

We did our tour and headed back without incident. Only an hour of flight time, but it was a great hour spent with Chris at 1,500 feet.

AIF 68.2 hours (4.4 hours last flight!)

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

citation_goodnessYes, it really was 4.4 hours today.  It was cross country day!  Lee & I tried to do a similar trip in October, but the weather prevented my landing at the airport.  It may be IFR at an airport, but it sure is VFR on top!

We departed KDTO at about 9:30 as planned (though we were delayed slightly when I lost page N-11 of the POH for the aircraft… found it wedged between the seats), and headed south for Lake Whitney (F50).  I should mention, we were flying the same aircraft as yesterday, N8348M.  It’s a Cessna 172, but made in 1998 with GPS and fuel injected goodness.

Mmmmm, tasty….

Landing at Lake Whitney was interesting.  Why you ask?  Because it is only a 2,000 foot runway!  That’s short!  I had PLENTY of space, but when you are used to landing on nothing smaller than a 3,000 foot runway, it looks the size of a quarter.  It’s shorter than Possum Kingdom, where I did three cross-country solo flights.  Anyway… we landed and braked, then turned around to take back off… no touch and go there. (Edit: The way it read at first suggested we did not land there… we did!  And I used more than half of that 2000 feet!)

We stopped, I took a leak, and noticed that it is the hub for the Whitney RC Flying Club.  Makes me feel really comfortable taking off there.  We did it without incident, and took some pictures of the lake house from the air.  Then headed down to Llano.

Landing at Llano occurred without incident.  We called ahead and got a courtesy car ready so we could go to Cooper’s Bar-B-Que.  It’s right up there with Hard 8.  So tasty.

After parking, I noticed that big monster you see above parked!  It’s a Cessna Citation V.  Oh so sexy.  What it is doing in Llano is anyone’s guess.

So then we ate, fueled, and took off.  Headed north to Lee’s lease.  Got some shots there, then headed to the 4J.  More pictures, then headed home.

We were met with a 35-45kt headwind when we were headed south, and to maintain VFR, we had to fly below the clouds.  While not a challenge, annoying to say the least.  We did get to ride the same wind back home.  First time I have exceeded 150kts over ground!  We got back in no time.

I feel very comfortable flying in heavier winds now.  In both cases, the winds were either straight down the runway, or a 10-20 degree cross.  VERY minor cross, even though the winds were easily 20kts gusting to 25 or 30.

FUN day of flying!  I’ve got to figure out how to rig my 5D Mark II to the wing strut or something so I can take some nice high-res shots.

AIF 63.8 hours (.8 hours last flight)

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Well, the economic situation is affecting companies far and wide. My old flight school is shutting down. I was not renting through them for the flight I am planning for tomorrow, but was renting through someone on the field. I heard this news when I tried to confirm my reservation, and apparently, the whole thing is imploding.

Didn’t get a call, so if I had not checked in, I would have been SOL tomorrow. Thank goodness I did!

So what I did today, is got set up with another flight school at Denton Municipal Airport (DTO) and did my checkride with CFI Kyle. Things were WINDY, and VFR was close to minimums, but we got it done. So it looks like there won’t be too many more stories about Northwest Regional (52F) for a while.

Cloud dodging is not fun. We did it, pulled some Gs, kept the aircraft within limits (barely), but it was definitely a great experience as I feel like my personal minimums have improved slightly.

The last landing today almost turned into a carrier landing. 20kts steady, gusting to 30, with a 20-40 degree crosswind component. We were riding one of those gusts at about 20 feet above the runway, and it abruptly stopped. No worries, add lots of power, only dropped about 15 feet, recovered nicely and set it down uber smooth.

Both landings were that way. If it is calm tomorrow, I am sure I’ll have a rough one… comes with the territory.

Anyway… Felt good after today to be back up in the air, and looking forward to the flight tomorrow!

AIF 63.0 hours (2.1 hours last flights)

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

IMG_0117.jpgGuess what? I FINALLY was able to get my motorcycle riding, daredevil of a mother up in the plane! Oh sweet fun!!

We took up N75918 again, and when we got to the field it was FREEZING. Well, below freezing actually. Ask my passengers, spectators, and one of the best airplane mechanics at 52F. We got loaded up and went to crank the starter…. NADA. Too cold to get it moving.

So Shawn took a few minutes with the plane, hammered a few places, and got it roaring to life. That was after we spent about 10 minutes trying to hand prop it. Shawn was visibly tired.

So, off and ready to go, we roared down the runway. Mom was much better when we were up in the air, and she saw it was not as scary as it looked. I took her around the plane before we left to pre-flight it. I was hoping that if she saw some of the inner workings of the plane, that she would feel more comfortable—especially since the motorcycle she rides at similar speeds might just be more complicated than the 172.

I knew that the first flight would have to be brief. Just to give her a taste and take the edge off. So we only chalked up 0.3 hours in the plane. We took off, headed west just past TMS, and made a u-turn back to 52F. Then we landed! Mom did not like the landing part. It looks like the end is near when you are sitting in the front seat for the first time. But once we had a kissably smooth landing, she calmed down a bit.

Then we taxied off so she could head out!

She jumped out and hugged Dad, and then we said “Seeya.” We (James, Dad) had important things to accomplish.

Like flying to Stephenville to get BBQ at Hard 8!

The flight was relatively uneventful. The 10-15kt head wind turned into a 10-15kt tail wind on the way back. On the way out, we got clearance through Class Bravo airspace, then about 3 miles outside of the airspace, regional approach abruptly terminated our radar service. I had to get set up again from Ft. Worth Center.

Boy it was cold today. That golf cart ride over to Hard 8 was almost unbearable.

On the way back in, we had to fly under the Class Bravo (not surprising). One of these days when I get my instrument rating, that may change.

AIF, 60.9 hours (1.6 hours last flight)

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Voiceover extraordinaire Ryan Pugh and I took the SportStar up today. BEAUTIFUL day to fly! We started by hitting KAFW for a couple of touch & go’s on the big runway (16L). Ahh the old days.

After that, we headed north west. I was just planning on flying around the lake; nothing big. But then we decided to go do the downtown Dallas tour. Turns out, the Adolphus Christmas Parade was going on! Got to see it from the air.

Oh, and if you are a pilot and happen to fly over a parade, watch out for stray balloons. We did not hit any, but a couple zoomed by pretty close. Felt about as scary as seeing a hawk do a dive-bomb right off your nose.

Anyway… so D/FW was too busy to let us fly over the top today (although someone else DID get routed over D/FW shortly after we were denied), so we flew on the south end, exited the Class B, and then had to transition Alliance’s Class D to get home.

On approach and landing today, we finally had the forethought to VIDEO IT! Yep, you want to see what it is like to fly a visual approach to 52F? Here it is. Enjoy!

AIF, 59.3 hours (0.9 hours last flight)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

IMG_2170.jpgGarrett needed some one on one time with Daddy. What better way to do this then to strap in to a SportStar and go flying?

This one was very uneventful. Flew over the parents house three times, and did a go around on the landing. The wind was coming in from the north, and I don’t like landing on the 35 end of the runway. Wanted a practice approach before setting down.

Boy that thing REALLY moves in cold air. Cruising at 95 kias, 2,500 feet, and something like 80% power. In warm air, we NEVER get that kind of performance.

So he did well. As you can see, he has flown a plane WELL before he has driven a car. He gets a little bored with straight and level (though Daddy never seems to), and eventually decided it was time to land.

Next flight may be this week down to Hard 8 BBQ in Stephenville. Just exploring it now.

AIF, 58.4 hours (1.3 hours last flight)

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Another run up to Skydive Dallas, this time SUCCESSFUL! I stayed on the ground and played photographer this time and did not jump. The next time I do jump, I will definitely go with a tandem jump so I can enjoy it. My earlier jumps were part of the Accelerated Free Fall training, so they were both solo.

And work. They keep you so busy during your 60 second free fall you don’t have a lot of time to enjoy it.

We packed up a 172 and were en-route! Due to some early delays, we were JUST IN TIME for the training class for the jumpers. This also delayed them jumping by about an hour, but they were up and going in very short order.

I put some pictures up on Facebook as well as in the gallery. Another soft field takeoff and landing to my credit, and once again, thanks to prevailing southerly winds near the major airports, we were not allowed into the Class B. Oh well.

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!

AIF, 57.1 hours (1 hour last flight)

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Another downtown tour of Dallas! This one was in a 172 and with Dad, Ash, and Wade. A little faster this time since the 172 moves and the SportStar doesn’t. The kids in the back seat had no audio unfortunately, but they still had a good time. We were vectored around Love tonight, but then flew right over the top of D/FW at 3,500 MSL. Pretty sweet.

Overall the flight was uneventful (that’s good in case you were wondering), and I think everyone had a good time!

AIF, 56.1 hours (3.7 hours last flight)

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Ugh… I need an instrument rating.

Today I was to be taking aerial shots of Lee’s lease. When I got about 60 miles south of Stephenville, I found a cloud line. Totally overcast. I thought I saw clearings up ahead which is why I pressed on the last 40 miles, but guess what… NOPE.

So I descended low enough to still be VFR legal and called Lee on my cell. If you think cell coverage is spotty on the ground in the country, try at 5,000 feet.

So I called Lee and told him no joy and turned around to go home. I landed in Stephenville to get gas, but didn’t stay for barbecue. Then headed home around the airshow that is going on at Alliance Airport right now.

So if time building was my mission…. ACCOMPLISHED.

Will try again later in the year.

AIF, 52.4 hours (1.7 hours last flight)

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008




Tonight, a friend who is learning how to fly went with me for a night flight. I did a little research (THANK YOU KYLE!!) and learned that you can do a Downtown Dallas tour from the air. I headed over to Addison, then was instructed to fly direct to Dallas Love. When they handed me off, the controller in the tower had me fly over Love, then turn left for downtown after a SouthWest jet passed by.

After we got clearance, she let us do two big and slow circles around downtown Dallas at 1,500 feet MSL.


Then I rolled the dice to see if we could do a cool flight back. From downtown, direct Dallas Love, Direct DFW Airport, direct Northwest Regional. They let us do it! I flew over Texas Stadium, and one of the towers at DFW had me fly to the east side of the airport, and when I was at midfield, fly due west DIRECTLY OVER THE AIRPORT! At 1,500 MSL!

THANK YOU, this flight was so awesome.

Once I was at the center of the airport, they handed me over to the west side of the airport and since there was no incoming traffic, they told me to go direct to Northwest Regional. Once I was clear of the Class B, they approved me to change frequency and I landed at Northwest Regional about 10 minutes later.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. Virtually zero bumps, unlimited visibility, no haze or clouds. Could not have picked a better night.

This was the coolest flight I’ve made yet, and I can’t wait to do it again. Next time I’ll take one of the 172s and we’ll load it up so others can enjoy!

BIG thank you to ATC, Dallas Love Tower operators, and DFW Tower operators for making this happen!

AIF, 50.7 hours (1.6 hours last flight)

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

What a great day to fly! Was a little windy, but very nice and clear with no clouds. Sherri, Atia, James & I took N52119 up to Skydive Dallas! Winds prevented anyone from actually jumping out of the plane, but we had a good day, excellent flight, met up with some old friends, and came on back. Unfortunately the winds forced us under the Class B today as all the airliners were on approach from the North to the South.

Had two pretty good landings though! And I’m over 50 hours!

AIF, 49.1 hours (2.3 hours last flight)

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Today was a pretty interesting flight day. Springfield & I took the SportStar down to Stephenville to hit Hard Eight Barbecue. Holy moly… food is tasty.

En route, we hit some rain! You can still fly under visual flight rules (VFR) in the rain, but ATC was willing to divert us if necessary. Was pretty cool! On the way back we were DENIED access through the Class B, so we had to descend much earlier than anticipated. Doing well on the landings in the SportStar again, even on my home field with the shorter runway.

Today was also momentous because I flipped a new page in my logbook! Here are my stats.

  • 184 Takeoffs/Landings (As Springfield pointed out, it is good when these numbers match.
  • 49.1 total hours
  • 3.4 night
  • 3.1 Simulated Instrument
  • 13.3 Cross country
  • 26.8 Dual
  • 23.4 Pilot in Command

Tomorrow we head to Skydive Dallas (via airplane!) to take some folks skydiving, and on Wednesday I am doing a night flight. Then Saturday, I am flying around the airshow to take aerial pictures of Pop’s lease!

AIF, 46.8 hours (0.7 hours last flight)

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Ok folks… FIXED! Got the scary image of the other Sport Star out of my head and stuck three good landings today. It was more on angle of approach and speed management. That plane is a little different than the 172 and needs a touch down speed of about 50kts in the 1 notch of flap configuration. Rechecked out and feeling good!

Still no NTSB report published on the other Sport Star. Will post it when I see it.

AIF, 46.1 hours (1.0 hours last flight)

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Garrett & I took up the Sport Star today! Lots of fun. EXCEPT. Landing was a bit rough.

Yep, after I had kissably smooth ones in the 172 on turf, I had a pretty rough one today. So much so that the owner of the school suggested I take an instructor up to practice!

Good idea… I don’t want to be a safety risk! So I’m going up with the chief instructor sometime next week to polish that baby.

I reflected back on my landings in the SportStar, and the ones that I did the best on were on very long runways. My problem is that I am coming in a little too fast, and after seeing the wreckage of the other Sport Star, I lost my confidence and didn’t want to stall. With enough speed, I won’t stall, but I was freaking out for no reason. The stall speed with the plane in the configuration I had it in was 38 kts. I was going 60. That’s an easy 22kt margin.

So with a long runway, I can take my time floating away to bleed off speed. On the short runway at 52F, I don’t have that luxury. I was definitely a little embarrassed, but the only thing bruised is my pride. I would much rather have an experienced pilot tell me that I need to get some help with something, than have an NTSB examiner tell me that!

I’ll spend an hour with the instructor, which should allow me to get six good landings in. Then the next time I am going up, Matt & I are taking the Sport Star to Stephenville (BBD) for barbecue.

Garrett was a hit at the hangar and was telling everyone how he got to fly the airplane. I’m so glad that I get to share this with Garrett!

Oh, and something else…. After seeing the wreckage of the Sport Star, we’re taking a look at buying a plane. Nothing against rental facilities, but I’d almost rather get a plane that has had a thorough once-over by a good mechanic, and be the only one flying it. That way, I KNOW what happens to the plane. Plus, long term I’ll save a ton of cash.

Will check back in after my flight instruction to tell you how I did!