It happens sometimes no matter how hard you try. This week a rescue flight fell through at the last minute when another pilot who was going to bring the hound up from Kentucky had to cancel and the round trip considering time, weather, my schedule, and money was just more than I could do. It’s disappointing when you have already put so much time and effort into organizing the flight to not be able to do it. That said you have to accept that once in awhile it’s going to happen. In the future when I have my own plane and can remove the aircraft scheduling and logistical barriers I’ll be able to simply take on the entire round trip mission. The flexibility to do so will be a great asset.
I did still had the plane for a day plus a morning and part of HoundPilot is to share aviation with young people and show them its connection to STEM and the opportunities aviation presents; I am a EAA Young Eagles pilot and though I am just getting started I have been practicing my presentation of the flight experience on my 15 year old son. I figure this way I can give others a better experience and my son and I can enjoy some time together. I am also working on refining what equipment I need or can take on my epic two week adventure this coming July. I will be flying from Maryland to Minnesota, visiting family, then to Wisconsin for the awe inspiring EAA Air Venture Oshkosh! Therefore, my sons and I decided to fly to a small airfield 95 miles NE of home where we could camp right on the river next to the runway. It gave me a chance to practice:
Though a check of the weather and conditions changing for the worse caused me to make the decision to depart for home earlier than desired or planned, it was a good experience and great practice. Often there are very small airfields just like this one conveniently located near where I get a request to conduct a hound rescue flight. Many times volunteers are from shelters and are simple taking a few minutes out of there day to transport the hound from the shelter to the airport and cannot drive long distances. These smaller airports allow me to get to these hounds but do present unique challenges especially when I am not failure with them.
Gaining experience using these small airfields, practicing my flight experience presentation, and spending some time with my sons was time well spent.
Other than announcing that I was invited to speak at the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum it has been another month since my last post; I really am trying to be better about consistency and would rather post several smaller entries to the blog verses a longer one; however, life just seems to get busy and I can’t seem to get my mind into the writing mode. So here it goes to cover what’s happened since my last regular blog post April 13th.
We haven’t done another rescue flight but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy! In fact we have been so busy paying attention to the details and funding the creation of HoundPilot as LLC/Charity nonprofit that it has kept too busy!
Getting organized! HoundPilot seeks to introduce young people to aviation through volunteerism by getting youth involved in work with rescuing hounds, working with rescue groups volunteering, and in the process experiencing aviation and providing a path to flight experience and training. We see not to duplicate what other groups are doing but instead to assist them and get youth involved with hound rescue and aviation in the process. So we have pushed forward slowly but carefully. We have our Articles of Incorporation accepted by the state of Md and have filed our 1023 with the IRS. Once we get the letter of determination we will complete the Maryland State Filings and complete the process. We are working with Maryland Nonprofits to make sure we do everything correctly and follow best practices. Its a long slow process but a necessary and important one. We will keep you posted.
I spoke May 7th at the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum Speakers Series held at the Lockheed Martin Auditorium on Martin State Airport. I shared information about our goals and what we have done and seek to do with HoundPilot in the future. The talk was a little over an hour long with over 50 people in attendance. In spite of all the audio visual equipment being rendered inoperative the day before we were able to get a good sized TV to hook into my laptop and the fine people at Lockheed Martin were helpful and supportive.
The FAA requires that in order to carry passengers at night I must have completed 3 takeoffs/landings to a full stop in the last 90 days between an hour after sunset and an hour prior to sunrise. Since insurance companies also require that you fly each make/model of aircraft at lease once every 90 days I decided to take care of my night currency requirements in the old trainer, a Cessna 172. While doing so I experience my 1s blown tire upon landing. Night flying presents several optical illusions that must be overcome that affect depth perception and sink rate, making landings at night more challenging thus requiring practice. On this night after touching down on my third landing I touched the brakes while slowing down and the right wheel locked. It only takes a second and the tire will blow as it did on this night. When a tire blows on touchdown the aircraft is very difficult to control and you have to react quickly. I thought through my actions, analyzed my data, and ran it though debriefing software. Conclusion: I did a good job reacting to the situation and controlled the aircraft keeping it on the runway until stopped. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, sometimes it just happens.
[2 min video]
Though not HoupPilot related, it is indirectly aviation related. I have dedicated every day off in the past two summers to obtaining my pilot certificate, instrument rating, hound rescue flights, and gaining experience and training to become a safe confident pilot. As with any such endeavor, other areas of life suffer when one takes on such a challenge. In my case yard work, household chores, and general maintenance definitely topped the list, just ask the other half of HoundPilot; Laura Beck! I hadn’t participated in lawn mowing or maintenance nor snow removal since beginning flight training and my backyard Oasis project had deteriorated into a mess of overgrown weeds and half completed mini projects all over the yard. So the last half of April into May was dedicated to making this up to my number one supporter and giving Laura the oasis she deserves. Lots of very hard labor and a few $$$$ and it is mostly complete with a few items here and there to complete.
[3 min video]
As part of the process for organizing HoundPilot Laura and I are flying the Cirrus SR22 down to Raleigh Durham International Airport RDU to meet with some fine people who have graciously volunteered to spend the day with us sharing their experiences in organizing and running a nonprofit charity. We feel it will be an informative and beneficial weekend. Raleigh Durham is a busy Class C airport, busier than Atlantic City and others that I have flown into. Being new to the SR22 I needed to gain experience with the avionics and work flow to complete instrument flights and instrument approaches. To gain this experience I had a hound rescue flight organized in conjunction with another pilot who was goin to fly the initial leg; unfortunately at the last moment he was unable to complete the flight and I couldn’t do the whole mission, out and back, in the one day I had available. My flight instructor had never done the Hudson River flight and so we decided to help each other out. I would show him the procedures for the Hudson River and on the return leg he would help me with the avionics and complete a few instrument approaches.
[21 second video]
Thank You for reading and supporting what we hope to do with HoundPilot and I’ll make a renewed effort to make smaller more frequent blog posts.
I am honored and a bit terrified but have been asked to speak at the Glenn L. Martin Aviation Museum on May 7th at 7 p.m.
Lockheed Martin Auditorium, 2323 Eastern Blvd in Middle River, MD (next to Martin State Airport just north of Baltimore, Md).
May 7th at 7 p.m.
My boys, especially the older one love technology, science, math, and all things STEM! I love that he has so fully embraced STEM and is a self professed nerd. He has blazed through all the math and science classes available to him and is teaching himself piano, takes online programming courses, and builds computers. I’ve slowly introduced the boys to flying and they love it. I gives us a common connection so important as children grow older, trying to stay connected and keep their interest. So a few months ago there was a “Meet the Controllers” night at the Frederick Airport. Thinking we would see the control tower I brought the boys. Instead it was truly a meet the controllers, as in a conference room far from the control tower, where pilots asked boring to 14 year old boy questions to the controllers and they answered them. I thought the night was riveting! My children not so much. To their credit they stat there still and quiet for 2 hours but I liked to have never lived it down…..
So when I saw the FAA Seminar announcement I thought it might be an opportunity to redeem myself especially since they love flying to breakfast.
Lancaster Airport KLNS host these Seminars September through May and they are know for being well attended. I showed the boys the seminar announcement and they were quite excited. I told them at the very least we will fly to breakfast and then afterwards I would give the older one his Young Eagles flight and give him his code for the complimentary Private Pilot Ground School from Sporty’s.
They loved the breakfast and the seminar content, both were focused on the speaker and discussed many of the topics on the flight home and since. It was also good practice for me to give a youngster his first opportunity to take the controls and practice holding a heading and altitude. I have several Young Eagles flight scheduled in the coming months and look forward to sharing aviation and the thrill of flight with others.
Take every opportunity to share time with your children and youngsters; be a positive influence on our young.
This is one of those posts for those who like the pure flight videos, who like to know a little of what it looks like from the cockpit on the rescue flights. Getting my instrument rating added a margin of safety and flexibility to my flying. I can fly safer on dark nights through non populated hilly country and through marginal weather that I am not comfortable with doing VFR or where it is not legal to do so VFR.
For example I was never comfortable flying through a clear space between clouds and flying over the top of them hoping to find a clear space to descend through at my destination; it just seemed to risky even if the destination is forecast to be scattered etc. Need proof? Check YouTube and there are plenty of non-instrument rated pilot videos showing what happens at the destination when those forecasted spaces in the clouds just aren’t there. On long trips if the weather is worse than forecasted I have a margin of safety to pick up an IFR Clearance and continue the mission. That doesn’t mean I can just go busting through the clouds at any time….. Unless you have a FIKI (Flight Into Known Icing) airplane you cannot go into visible moisture when the temperature is freezing or below. Even close to freezing and you can have supper cooled water that freezes on contact and even when its well above freezing it can be below freezing just 3 to 5000 feet aloft. Ice can bring down airplane in minutes. So during the winter/spring season it can still be tough to fly. Then in the summer there is convective activity aka thunderstorms that even the big airliners don’t mess around with; though they do have the advantage of being able to often fly high enough to avoid them by flying above the weather. I don’t have that advantage until someone buys me a personal jet!
I didn’t realize it prior to being a pilot and I’m sure many people don’t understand the difference between airline travel as in the airline ticket you buy to grandma’s house and general aviation aircraft like I fly. The airlines have routes they fly day in and day out and large teams of people working every aspect of the flight supporting the pilot and crew. They use the biggest and best equipped airports with the best lighting systems and larges runways. Though I do sometimes fly into these airports, I often fly into smaller Class C International airports like Atlantic City, NJ, Class D airports like Lynchburg, VA or Richmond Executive Airport, and regional airports like Carroll County Regional, Md. I don’t get to fly day in and day out, train constantly on the company’s dime; nor do I have teams constantly feeding me the weather or tracking each aspect of the flight. I fly single pilot or with a friend copilot and have to look after every aspect of the flight such as flight planning, weight & balance, weather, etc; the decision making is all on me. Here in the USA we do have the worlds best ATC Air Traffic Control system and people to call for weather briefings; the support system is pretty impressive but it is still a lot for one person to keep up on. I aim to be as safe as possible and that means not only being current to fly IFR but also to be as proficient as I can within my means.
I obtained my Instrument Rating in October of 2017 and flew some IFR flights in late October and November. However due to weather and studying for my Commercial Pilot FAA Exam I didn’t get to fly much in December and January 2018. Starting in late February I began training in the Cirrus SR22 and obtained my high-performance endorsement so that I can fly more powerful aircraft. I was able to do my checkout flight with a Cirrus Flight Instructor in March. So then it was time to knock the rust off of the Instrument Rating and get my proficiency back; I was still current/legal (having flown 6 approaches and the required tasks in the past 6 months) but I wasn’t proficient. Therefore during the past few weeks I have been concentrating on flying instruments and pushing just a bit outside my prior comfort zone. Its a fine line between danger and safely exercising your privileges but it was time. So it feels good to have done so and practiced instrument flying…….
This video one of those flights. Though I was in the clear I was on an IFR Clearance and flying solely by instruments until I looked up just prior to minimums.
Belle was turned into a rural shelter in Virginia by her owner. Unlike strays who have a 45 day hold on them in the event that their owners come looking for them, Belle had no such hold; therefore her time was limited. ABTCR located a foster for her in Atlantic City, NJ and fortunately my sons and I had the weekend together and the airplane already reserved. I had to get a favor from the pilot who had the plane in the afternoon to give me and extra hour, and we had to start at 3 a.m. to make the long transport flight work, but it was all worth it and we got it done.
We preflighted the plane the night before and had everything set up. A quick check of the plane the next morning and we were off at 4 a.m. The route took us through the DC SFRA to Lynchburg, VA Regional Airport to meet shelter volunteers who had kindly agreed to come in very early and bring Belle to the airport. From there we flew back Northeast to Atlantic City International Airport where an awesome foster family whom I have worked with prior were waiting to receive Belle into their home. Once Belle was safe in their care we flew back to Carroll County Regional (Maryland). Our job was done.
I also brought along a fellow pilot and friend from the flight school so that I could fly the instrument approaches and log them towards my currency requirements.
It was also an opportunity for my two sons to share in the work of HoundPilot and experience the gift of volunteering one’s time and energy.