Things continue to move forward even though not always as quickly as we would hope.
Some administrative notes to start off. 1) I apologize once again for not posting as regularly as I had promised and not keeping everyone updated as I had hoped; I have simply fallen behind and been consumed with work, Oshkosh, , organizing HoundPilot, and now advanced flight training, 2) the non-profit charitable organization of HoundPilot, Inc is moving forward and the website is being redesigned as I write this, that means that anything I post or change now Will Not be reflected on the new site; therefore, we are slowing things down until we get it online, 3) the web address will be the same even though it will be on a new server so no worries about finding us, 4) I have begun my advanced training that will consume every waking moment and day off that I have from now through obtaining my multi-engine commercial pilot certificate, hopefully by the end of September or so. I have begun the process of study all the books and regulations necessary for doing well on the oral examination and every day off is consumed with 2 four hour flight lessons preparing me for the flight portion of the exam.
July proved to be a rewarding yet busy month. The first half was consumed by a busy travel schedule at work and the second half was nonstop AVIATION fun and adventure as Laura and I flew the Diamond DA40 to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
This was my longest and most complex trip I have planned and flown to date. We left Westminster, MD on July 19th and flew 3 legs to Oshkosh, WI. We could have made it in two legs but since lengthy delays can result from the incredibly busy event and weather resulting in mass arrivals I decided to pick up a full load of fuel. I also wanted to fly along the Chicago skyline so I seized the opportunity. The week at Oshkosh was full of camping next to the airplane, meeting new people, vast learning opportunities, total immersion in all things aviation, and the chance to network with those involved in every facet of general aviation. Laura even used her reporter skills to write a dozen stories that where published in the event daily newspaper. After Oshkosh we flew to Rochester International Airport and visited with family and giving them plane rides around Winona, Mn and LaCrosse, WI where I grew up. After 2 weeks of being away we flew home in less then optimal weather that challenged both my pilot skills and aeronautical decision making. In the end it was well played and we arrived home after zig zagging around turbulence and thunderstorms to arrive home safely.
As far as the flight training goes I spent the last couple of weeks studying my multi-engine ground school and then three weeks worth of lessons, twice a day x 2 days a week, of actual flying. In the coming week I will spend two days doing a long night cross country flight with an instructor, 10 landings at night at a towered airport, and my upset/spin certification training. Spin Training. In the days between lessons my nose is buried in the handbooks, regulations, and study guides preparing for the upcoming all day Practical Test encompassing a 4 hour oral exam and then extensive flight test portion all given by an FAA Pilot Examiner. Finally from Sep 8th through the 17th I will be training full time for my commercial pilot certificate learning the varied flight maneuvers required to be performed during the exam. All of this training is the completion of the steps required to become a Certified Flight Instructor CFI that I must complete to make HoundPilot a success. Also as I said in prior posts I know I must complete this training so that I can focus on obtaining an aircraft. Obtaining CFI and an aircraft are the only way to take HoundPilot to the next level.
I can’t say how much everyones support means to me, please hang in there with me, big hopes and plans for the future!
Aviation has opened up a whole new world to me. Two years ago I couldn’t have imagined being able to experience the friendships and fulfillment I have experienced through flying and thus been able to share with others. These experiences have inspired Laura and I to create HoundPilot: Our mission is to save abandoned dogs and help young people using our passion for rescuing hounds and sharing our love of aviation with youth.
Laura and I really enjoyed Movie Night at the AOPA National Aviation Community Center. AOPA is one of the leading organizations representing general aviation and work tirelessly to keep aviation alive and accessible. I got to meet another one of my AOPA Heroes Mr Mike Woods! We met several wonderful people and potential partners to work with HoundPilot and watched the movie Sully on the large screen in the AOPA Hangar.
On another day Vincent got some more stick time working on holding altitude and turning to a heading and I took care of my night landing currency requirements prior to taking a flight from Westminster Md up through Pennsylvania then down over Martinsburg, WV and over to Frederick, Md for breakfast at the resthraungtht in the original tower building prior to returning home. I also had to fly the Diamond DA40 to stay current for our epic trip to EAA Air Venture Oshkosh July 19 through July 31st.
A week later Sawyer joined me for my first time landing into a grass strip at 3W3 Kentmorr. We flew from Westminster, Md east under the Baltimore International Airport Airspace and out over the Chesapeake Bay then south to Kentmorr. This grass airstrip was founded in 1945 and is recognized at the 1st residential airpark community in the US. After walking down the street to the Kentmorr Restaurant Marina and Beach we flew back to Westminster, MD KDMW.
Finally, we are preparing to fly to EAA Air Venture Oshkosh: the largest gathering of aviation anywhere, anytime! We are flying from Westminster Md to Oshkosh WI sometime between July 19th and the 21st. Hopefully we will camp next to plane from the 21st through the 29th before flying to visit family on the way back to Maryland. It takes careful planning due to aircraft limitations and the amount of time we will camping. Gear must be well organized, packed, weighted, and properly loaded into the aircraft. Laura and I will be using this opportunity to network with others that share our passion and learn more about what we can do through HoundPilot to share aviation with youth.
In keeping with our mission to help youth and volunteer Laura helped out at a recent youth triathlon event giving youth an opportunity to experience friendly competition, exercise, and sportsmanship.
I love seeing multiple rescue organizations and volunteers working together to save animals and last week we were so happy to share in small part with the rescue of Petey the Black and Tan Coonhound puppy! Friends of Russell County Animal Shelter, contacted American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue and arranged for Petey’s transport to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.
Laura and I drove to visit Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and pick Petey up for a short stay at our house, a little hound dog socialization, a 1st freedom meal, and sleep. Then foster mom Anne picked him up and is providing nurturing until he finds his forever home.
Laura and I cannot say enough good things about the above organizations and how much we value the time we are able to volunteer helping out. It is through these relationships that we hope to spread the HoundPilot mission: saving hounds and introducing young people to aviation through volunteerism. HoundPilot’s vision is working toward providing an avenue for young people to volunteer, learn life skills, communicate, work together, and be disciplined. Through the accumulation of volunteer hours young people can fulfill high school and college volunteer project requirements and convert those hours for credits towards flight training. They can experience and learn about the opportunities available to them through aviation.
Laura and I have been working hard behind the scenes on HoundPilot. As a result of our meeting in Raleigh, NC over Memorial Day weekend (see this blog post) we have decided to double back on our efforts and make sure our online presence and business plans are squared away. We are busy researching business stuff and getting everything set up so that we can comply with all federal/state reporting requirements; honing our mission so that we can compliment what others are doing as opposed to mirroring. We want to combine our passion for rescuing hounds with volunteering. This will help introduce young people to aviation while providing them opportunities to help hounds. They will be able obtain flight training or aviation related experiences to get them interested in future opportunities it provides.
GREAT NEWS: HoundPilot is now HoundPilot Inc. and all of our federal and Maryland state filings have been accepted. We are now a 501(c)(3) tax deductible Public Charity!
We are working hard to bring our website and online presence in sync with one another so please be on the lookout as we get these tasks completed. The Houndpilot.com website is scheduled to undergo a complete redesign during the period of mid August through September.
Also as I discussed in prior posts, Laura and I will be traveling to the worlds largest general aviation Fly-In on July 18th – 31st in Oshkosh Wisconsin: EAA Airventure 2018! This event will provide many educational and networking opportunities as EAA is one of the leading organizations seeking to save aviation in the U.S. and introduce young people to all it offers.
Shortly after returning I start my Multi-Engine and Commercial pilot training August 8th through September so it will be a busy and somewhat stressful summer and fall; hard work but worth every penny!
And as promised earlier this year, I will once again try and provide at least two posts a month updating our process and sharing the latest.
Thank you all for supporting us and being a part of what we are doing!
I normally put these requests on my personal Facebook page and Houndpilot Facebook page; but this time my neighbor contacted me for help. She is the Vet Tech that saved this sweet hound.
Please donate whatever you can and lets get this hound on the path to recovery.
Arty has been brought into our local Vet clinic to be Euthanized, due to his family being unable to cover the expense of ACL repair surgery. AMMAR Hounds was contacted concerning rescue, as one of the vet techs secured “Arty”. This young man has many years ahead of him in a loving home. Arty is now safe, but requires this much needed surgery before he can enter the adoption network. AMMAR is accepting local foster offers to care for him through his surgical care. Please help us as a Non Profit 501.c.3, to save “Arty”
Vet Services will be provided by Advanced Vet Complex of Reistertown MD. 21136
A fund has been established: Fund to pay for surgery.
As I have discussed in prior blog posts, we are slowly but surely moving HoundPilot forward into an organized full fledged non-profit charitable organization. Our LLC and IRS paperwork has been filed and accepted and we are finishing up our state filings which will complete the process. However there is still so much work to be done and Laura and I work on it as time allows after our full time jobs and general life stuff allows. Our goal is to compliment and serve several organizations we already volunteer with and use that work to share aviation with young people providing them with aviation experiences, opportunities to serve and volunteer, and if they wish avenues to flight training.
In order to accomplish these ultimate goals we have had to make some tough decisions. I could be conducting many more hound rescue flights; however in doing so there would be little to no money left to gain the remaining flight training and pilot certificates that will make our ultimate goals for HoundPilot possible. In order to work in the flight training field or offer flight training to young people I must gain my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) pilot certificate. To do so means I must first obtain my commercial pilot certificate and in doing so will add my multi-engine rating in the process of obtaining the required complex aircraft experience. All of this means I am spending thousands of dollars out of my pocket, comparable to several master degrees, which I happily do in hopes of making HoundPilot a reality. Unfortunately it also means that to accomplish this I have been able to conduct a limited number of rescue flight so far in 2018. I have recently consulted with the flight school and we have come up with a plan for me to finish the required certificates. Our hopes are that it can be done by the end of 2018 or soon thereafter. In the meantime we continue to volunteer with hound rescue organizations and seek to provide rescue flights in conjunction with training or personal trips and as stand alone rescue flights when time/money allows. I honestly feel in the long run it will all pay off and HoundPilot will greatly benefit hounds and young people alike; Saving hounds and introducing young people to aviation through volunteerism.
This past week we visited some friends from Raleigh NC who have formed and operated several non-profit organizations in their lifetime and whom recently retired. They offered to share their experiences with us and give us some insights and advice that might help us along in our journey to making HoundPilot a success. In doing so Laura and I were able to make it a 3+ day mini vacation since he had not been able to get away for awhile. It was also my first opportunity to fly the Cirrus SR22 high-performance airplane on a long cross-country trip for which it was designed to complete. As you can see in the video this aircraft is known for state of the art modern design and its avionics and performance prove this true. We left Carroll County Regional Airport around 7 p.m. May 25th landing in Raleigh NC about 1 1/2 hours later. We returned mid morning on May 28th.
After earning my instrument rating in October of 2017 I hadn’t really had a chance to use it to its full potential due to icing concerns Nov-April; during this time of the year even if it isn’t below freezing on the ground, it can be below freezing just a few thousand feet above and any moisture, aka clouds, rain, fog means possible icing on the airplane which is extremely dangerous. I have flown on instruments and on an instrument flight plan, practiced instrument approaches to stay current and proficient, but had not had the chance to get full use of my instrument rating to fly through extensive clouds and descend through them close to the ground in order to land. Doing so is something you smartly work towards as you become more and more capable and confident.
This was my 1st time flying into an airport with active parallel runways and thankfully the weather was clear once we got to our destination; however due to a late start we arrived after dark.
I knew I’d have to be careful and diligently plan the return. Storms were moving into Raleigh, NC RDU but ceilings were 300 feet above ground at home the morning of our return. I analyzed the weather and had a long discussion with the FAA flight briefer. I discussed keeping an eye on the radar near RDU and delaying my departure as long as possible to allow ceilings at home to rise. I had 3 alternates along the way I could divert to as I progressed in case Carroll County Regional Westminster MD DMW ceilings didn’t rise and we discussed the weather at those locations. I also carefully selected an airpot an hour west of DMW that would have clear conditions so I had an out in the worst case scenario and I ensured I would have enough fuel to get there.
Before every flight, even after researching everything on my own, I call an FAA briefer to get their expert opinion and confirm my findings. When you call the 800 briefing number you are routed to one of many locations across the country depending on which location has an available briefer. On the return flight I happened to be connected to a briefer located at the last remaining call center on an airport. The FAA contracts out the briefing duties and most call centers have been consolidated and located off airport.
After we discussed my flight in detail the briefer stated that he was in the last old school FAA type Flight Service Station aka briefing call center located a few hundred feet across a parking lot from where I was sitting and that it would be closing in July to be combined with others in Leesburg VA. He said if I was going to delay my flight a bit I could walk across the parking lot and he would give us a tour.
Dan the briefer was AWESOME. He sat down with us at his desk and explained the entire process they use screen by screen. Very interesting. We are fortunate to have such people to call and consult. His explanation of the process they use along with the data screens and imagery they are looking at was insightful and educational. I will forever have a greater appreciation and perspective when I pick up the phone to call prior to each flight.
After the tour we departed RDU northbound in light rain with bad storms heading into the area from the south. We climbed to 9000 feet through several thousand feet of clouds and flew between several cloud layers. We got to bust through several bumpy cumulus cloud tops and experience mod/heavy rain for a short period! Quite smooth though.
I continuously evaluated the weather along the route and at our destination and alternates while ensuring we had enough fuel to reach them and our location of last resort that had clear conditions. I ultimately decided to try to land at our destination but would only give it one try. If I failed I would go to Frederick MD nearby that was reporting slightly better weather conditions. If I failed to land there I would divert to an airport an hour west that had clear skies. I constantly ensured I had enough fuel to execute this plan.
ATC was great and we did a RNAV GPS LPV approach with precision like minimums to 200 ft above ground. That means it is an approach designed by the FAA that uses high precision GPS equipment in the aircraft to guide me through the clouds and down to the runway threshold where I will be 200 feet above the ground as I cross the beginning of the runway.
Once we climbed to 9000 feet I pulled the power back to 50% and cruised at 135 kts. Doing so meant our flight would take longer allowing time for the clouds at our destination to rise as forecasted. They were forecasted to rise just high enough to land sometime between 11:00 a.m. and 2 p.m. I was counting on earlier than later.
As we neared home DMW the clouds were being reported at 900 above the ground and we broke out 3 miles from the runway though it was not visible until we were 2 miles out.
After a well executed instrument approach the runway was right where it was supposed to be!!!!!!!!
After training and working so hard the past 2 years accomplishing this in real world conditions was extremely fulfilling.
What a rush!
VIDEO TIMELINE: 18 minutes
It was a busy weekend, lots of radio traffic.
Our call sign is 284LM or 4LM for short.
Closing hangar door, taxiing.
The approach plate I will be following landing at Raleigh Durham International RDU.
The controller is vectoring me and tells me the next turn will be onto the final heading towards the runway, but then he comes back and tells me I will pass the runway, localizer, and be vectored back around for spacing due to multiple airline passenger flights landing on the same runway.
Cleared to land at Raleigh Durham International.
When instrument flying you always try to anticipate what is going to happen, what route you will take, what runway you will use, what instrument approach you will use. However, in the end you do what ATC instructs and on this night it was the one approach to the runway I did not think I would be assigned. We land on the main runway used by all of the passenger flights; the close parallel runway was being used for all departing flights.
Once we land we are on the opposite side of the airport than I had anticipated. We are also taxiing after dark due to the late start and all of the lights and signage can be very disorientating; The controller was very helpful and we made our way to the opposite side of the airport through a maze of taxiways.
Pictures of the excellent facilities at this airport.
Taxiing to depart Raleigh Durham International.
Cleared for takeoff.
Initially the controller cleared me to a navigational beacon titled Flat Rock; and then a few moments later directed me to a waypoint to join an airway I had been previously cleared for in my routing; so I confirmed what he wanted me to do; always a wise choice.
Cleared to climb to 9000 ft; we enter the clouds and are in and out of them.
The clouds were too low to land in Carroll County the morning we departed. I analyzed the weather and spoke with a and spoke with an FAA Briefer and decided to wait to depart Raleigh as late as possible, watching the radar and approaching storms. The hope being that if we departed as late as possible and I flew the airplane slower than normal, by the time we reached Maryland the clouds would be high enough to land. I monitored the weather enroute and had several planned airports that I could land at to wait if necessary. I also had an airport and hour west of our destination that I could go to as a last resort that had no clouds and was in the clear.
ATC reports that the severe weather has hit Raleigh.
I get to experience my first moderate to heavy rain inside a cloud. You can see it if you look at the side of the aircraft.
Asked/Request RNAV GPS 34.
Expect direct to FOUST IF Vectors to final.
Descend 5000 to 4000.
Direct FOUST join final approach course.
I make common traffic channel announcements 12 miles from runway.
Left Direct FOUST, descend 2500.
Cleared for the approach.
We break out of the bottom of the clouds 3 miles out but runway is still not visible.
Runway becomes visible 2 miles away.
Beeping is alert that I disengaged the autopilot. 500 feet above ground alert.
Touchdown on Runway 34 Carroll County Regional Airport, Md.
We discuss my amazing pilot abilities.
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.