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27 November maneuvers, night flying and Las Vegas

Ok! All the requirements are fulfilled to start the exam.  It has been a while since I practiced the maneuvers. The steep turn and the emergencies we only practiced once with my first instructor. The stalls are quite okay. There are three different ones. I mixed them up a few times but overall I got them down pretty well after a few times. The steep turn, a 45 degree bank angle, took me a lot more afford to learn.

 You can only loose or gain 100 feet while turning to pass that subject in the exam. I usually dropped more then that and the trick is to look everywhere at the same time! Inside to the bank indicator, outside to keep the reference point, inside again for altitude, watch for traffic outside. It took about 10 tries to get it right. It took a few flights. On one of the flights we had an alternator failure! The circuit breaker popped out and after a few tries we had to return to Gillespie. It was a little of a waste of training time. Yes I could write 1 hour in my logbook but I didn’t learn too much! We made a safe landing because we didn’t lose our radios as the battery was strong enough to supply the power needed.

We also practiced some diversions. I never did those “things” either. It is really not that hard. The hardest part is to get to know those little private airstrips. During a few back seating sessions we flew to some of those little airstrips. They’re hard to see! During the exam you’ll be diverted to one of those but you don’t know which one. 

I also back seated with my roommate who does the FAA PPL. As part of their PPL a few hours of night flight is mandatory. On his first night flight I was supposed to come along but I canceled that last minute to go to Las Vegas. More about that later. After Las Vegas I went back seating with him again. It was amazing! First flying at night is totally different then day flying. You can see all the lights from the city and a lot of reference points aren’t recognizable anymore. We flew from Gillespie to John Wayne airport. This airport is in class C airspace. I have never flown in such an airport before so it was an extra bonus. We had a Cessna 172 N27GF which has GPS build in. The instructor took the radios and my roomy did the flying. I didn’t know John Wayne was this big. There were 2 runways and airlines used it as well. There were about 10 Boeing 737’s there while we landed. I thought wow this is the real deal! We taxied to the fixed based operations (FBO) Signature. It’s a franchise that takes “care” of pilots that fly private fights mostly. They “give” cars for use, there is a flight briefing room and other stuff.11 27 5 They “handle” you for free but you’re suppose to buy fuel. We didn’t need that but they were nice and let us go without paying the 50 USD handling fee. After we hung out for 30 minutes we got back in our little Cessna and as we do our checks a Citation pulls up next to us. We get our taxi clearance and there’s this 737 full with passengers waiting. The tower wanted us to go first so we didn’t have to deal with the wake turbulence of that 737. We taxi to the runway when we get a call from the tower again asking if we didn’t need the run-up area. Will, the instructor has never been to this airport before either so it turned out that we blazed past it. We had to go back, do the run-up checks and taxi back to the runway. All the time the 737 was still waiting for us to clear the taxiway. That’s how it goes! We took off again. By the time we got back to Gillespie field the tower just shut down and turned off the lighting when we turned base. KSEE has pilot activated lighting which means that you have to press your radio button on a specified frequency 7 times to activate the lights. So we did and the lights came to life! Immediately I hear through my headset “ow shit we’re to high” The instructor takes over and slips it in and lands the aircraft like a pro. It was pitch black on the parking area. We biked to McDonalds for a supper and headed back to our place. It was probably one of the best flights when I was back seating and if you get the chance to do some night flying, go for it!!

This is all about my trip to Vegas, Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon .11 27 1

I got a phone call from John, a guy getting his PPL from Belgium. He said “Wanna go to Las Vegas in 30 minutes?”. Last minute I know! I wanted to go and we talked about it a few times already so he rented a car. I got a satnav from the Wallmart and got ready to leave. At 5 pm we left. The car was a red Nissan Altima 2. This was going to be a road trip. I was pretty excited about it. During our drive we stopped a few times and the gas stations in the middle of nowhere could be in a movie! We ate at some Chinese place. The place looked a little sketchy but the food tasted alright and the server was super friendly! Around 1 am we arrived in Las Vegas. We drove up and down the strip, parked the car at the Luxor casino and walk down the strip. We visited the major casino’s. Las Vegas is really a city where you can go to have a good time. A lot of casino’s clubs and bars. During our 6 hour visit we made contact with 5 different hookers!! If a women’s 3rd question is: “where you staying at” you know what you are dealing with. We had no place to stay so it was all good. At 6 am we had to choose, stay in Las Vegas or skip the night and drive on to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon which would add 5 hours one way to our trip. We decided to go to the Hoover Dam. We got there around 8.30 am and had to wait till 9 before the tour inside the dam started. The dam was huge and an impressive sight. After that we went on to the Grand Canyon. Again we drove past scenes that could be put in a movie. Long stretched roads with nothing going on. Little villages build around the road, no gardens, all kinds of junk around the houses and a church here and there. 11 27 411 27 2

Around noon we get to a sign that says 45 minutes, 20 miles to the Grand Canyon. We thought that was a long time to drive 20 miles but whatever. We drive on. All of a sudden the road becomes unpaved and full of rocks. The max speed was 20 miles/hour. This explained a lot. We didn’t even know if this was the right way, it was that weird. After a while we see that the road is paved again and a big rock with “welcome to the Grand Canyon”. We were relieved that we found it in the end. We get to the actual Canyon and bought our tickets. We also went on the skywalk. It’s a Belgium made half square made out of glass that hangs over the edge of the Canyon so you can see 4000 feet (1300 meter) down to the bottom. 11 27 6General  entrance was 44 USD and the skywalk an additional 30 USD. There were no phones or camera’s allowed on the skywalk. You could buy 15 USD pictures made by them of course.  After the skywalk we walked over the Grand Canyon’s wall. It’s cool because on the west side there are no barriers between the edge of the cliff. You could just run off if you wanted to. We were there for an hour and then we went back. The weather was coming in and when we left it rained a little. If we were an hour later then we wouldn’t have been able to see the Canyon. Anyways we left and got ready for our 12 hour ride back. The trip was uneventful. We were driving as long as we could because we still didn’t sleep. Being awake for 2 days and driving for such a long time isn’t that great! We decided to take a motel and continued back home the next day. We arrived around 9 am and then I lost my keys to the apartment! But that was okay. I got a copy from AAA and could look back on a real fun road trip crossing 3 different states. California, Nevada and Arizona.

Next entry is the exam!