Friday, December 07, 2007

Mineta San Jose International Airport

In November, I was lucky enough to take my wife and her family up to Mineta San José International Airport so that they could catch a flight to Denver, Colorado. It was a very enjoyable trip and it was the first time my wife has flown with me since I've received my private license (she went up while I was still training to the exact airport for our honeymoon). The controller in San José kept me a little high for the approach due to parallel traffic landing 30L. But I was able to easily get it down in time for a nice landing. Also, there's a video of my landing upon returning to San Luis Obispo, California (SBP). Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life as a CFI

Well, I officially have about 4 hours of instructing under my belt (not another notch on the old belt-quote from what movie?). The first flight I had was with a friend of mine who also wants to fly professionally. The plane I received my CFI checkout was a Piper Warrior, of which I've never flown, and is similar to the Piper Seminole, in which I have about 150 hours. This was the plane the friend of mine wanted to fly for his first lesson. I felt comfortable with it on my checkout, but as a first lesson I felt uneasy. The lesson itself turned out to be very constructive and my student ended up enjoying the flight. I, however, felt uneasy for almost the entirety of the trip. Maybe it was the plane, maybe it was instructing for the first time, but it was one of those flights I did not enjoy. I was even skeptical to give my student the controls to fly the plane. He did very well and we landed safely, although there was quite a strong crosswind which didn't help my uneasiness. Afterwards I felt completely drained and fatigued. Fortunately, my next flight, which was with my brother in a Cessna, went exceptionally well and reassured my desire to instruct. Flights following this flight became more and more enjoyable and I'm actually becoming comfortable teaching and letting my students fly the plane. I'm very excited for what's ahead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Great news, I was hired as a flight instructor for a flight school where I live in California. This was the school that I received my private pilot license less than a year ago. It's strange that I am now an instructor here. The facility and the company are great and I look forward to instructing here. I had my first student last Sunday and it was an experience in itself. I had a lot of fun, but it was a little overwhelming. I've officially logged one hour of flight instruction given.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

*ACPP Completed

After returning from Las Vegas, I spent a week or so at home and then drove down to Riverside to finish up my add-ons (single-engine CFI and commercial, and instrument CFI). I had a week to prepare for the single add-on, which I thought was strange that we would do the single-engine stuff first then go back to the Seminole. My checkrides were scheduled for Friday and Saturday respectively. Getting back into the Cessna was fun and I felt more than ready for the checkride.

However, when I woke up the morning I walked down stairs to find my car not where I parked it. I freaked out thinking that it was stolen and I had a lot of my stuff in it for my checkride. I called the police and thankfully it was towed, not like this was any better. I called my instructor and she gave me a ride to the towing company and I pulled my stuff out and we went to the airport. We weren't in too much of a hurry because the marine layer decided to linger over the Inland Empire and my checkride ended up being postponed until the following Tuesday. I drove home frustrated.

I drove back to Riverside and got up the next day and took my checkride. It was a fun ride and I received the two ratings. Afterwards, we flew the Seminole to prepare for the CFII checkride. I woke up the next morning and we flew over the airport where the DE was located. We arrived a little late and I pulled all my stuff out for the DE to look over. He took a look at my new Temporary Airman Certificate for my commercial rating and noticed that it didn't say "Instrument" on it (a mistake the previous DE made). I couldn't believe the misfortune. He couldn't legally give me a checkride if I "technically" didn't have my instrument. He seemed upset, I was upset, and we departed ways.

We flew back to Riverside and I told my instructor that I was going find a DE where I live and finish the checkride there. I was tired of those little mistakes that caused numerous delays and time spent away from home. I also desperately needed to start making some money since most of the money I had was depleted. Not the best way to end the program, but just glad I don't have to leave anymore.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pink slip, passed, and moving on...

Well unfortunately I officially failed my first checkride, the oral portion of my Multi-engine Instructor Initial checkride. I felt pretty comfortable up to the day previous my checkride when ATP informed me that I was going to take the checkride with a FAA examiner instead of the examiner I originally was supposed to go with. I was very hesitant to go through with it, but I studied all that day and prepared myself the best I could. It was a rough 4 hours the next morning. I knew the information sufficiently, but explaining it proved difficult and the examiner thought it would be necessary for me to get more training. I was pretty disappointed, both in the circumstances of my examiner being switched the day before, and also in myself for not being prepared or confident to perform adequately. I learned a lot from the experience and now looking back at it, I'm not as disappointed.

I returned home from Las Vegas that day and I was going to have to wait a couple of weeks until the examiner returned from a trip. Fortunately, ATP was able to schedule a different examiner for me and I returned to Las Vegas the next week. This checkride had it's moments as well.

Luckily the examiner just had me do the portion of the oral that I had failed on instead of requiring me to retake the entire portion. I felt a lot more confident and I passed the oral portion, not without some minor mistakes though. Then to the flying. We went out the plane and I was pretty nervous due to the fact that I hadn't been in the Seminole for two weeks. I made some stupid mistakes but luckily we took off and began to fly around the pattern. I immediately noticed that I wasn't able to maintain the proper climb airspeed as we were climbing to pattern altitude and I commented to the examiner about it. He continued with exam (pretending to be a private pilot student) and as we finally were able to reach pattern altitude, he failed one of the engines for me to teach and make a single engine approach to landing. When we fly on one engine we maintain an airspeed that will provide us the best performance, but I couldn't maintain this airspeed with a significant descent. He noticed the problem as well and decided to give me back the failed engine and I made a normal landing with both engines. He kept asking me what I thought the problem was but my mind was racing and I just made the decision to go back and park the plane.

According to the engine gauges, both engines were performing within their normal ranges and maximum performance, but we weren't seeing it. On final, him and I noticed the airspeed jump about 30 knots and he had mentally figured out the problem, when I was making sure I didn't mess anything else up. When we returned to the office, I thought he was going to fail me because he didn't seem happy and I thought I wasn't flying my best. We finally discussed what happened and we figured out (mostly he did) that there was something wrong with our pitot/static system which tells us our airspeed and it was giving us erroneous indications. So even though we were trying to maintain 88 knots to climb, we were really flying at about 120 knots, and not maintaining a proper climb. I learned a lot from this experience and wished I would have troubleshooted the problem accordingly, but I do give myself credit due to the fact that it was a checkride and I was under a huge amount of stress as it was, and I made a good decision not to continue with the flight. What bad luck to have on a checkride.

We then waited for another plane and we went up and I was able to perform without major faults. I felt very good about my ability during the second flight and he passed me. Overall, that day was one of the most stressful and both mentally and physically draining day I've ever had. We started at 10:00a and didn't get done until 5:00p. I was unbelievably relieved and happy for passing and I drove back home a lot happier than the week previous. I am now an instructor.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

CFI School Update from Las Vegas

It's week two in North Las Vegas, Nevada at CFI school. We operate out of North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT). Before coming to Las Vegas, everyone at ATP hears that the CFI course is the toughest part of the program, and from experiencing it first hand, it is definitely true. I haven't ever studied or worked this hard, even through my college years. The material being presented, although mostly review, is extremely overwhelming. The main instructor, who teaches the week-long CFI class, is a good instructor and knows his information well. I would say, though, that he lacks the small things that students look for in an instructor (motivation, encouragement, etc.). This may be a tactic of his to make us study as hard as we can, but in the end the checkride isn't nearly as bad as he makes it, from what I hear.

My checkride is this Friday. I've studied like crazy last week and this week and I feel prepared. I was lucky enough to get the same examiner as my roommate and flight partner when he attended the CFI course the week previous. He was gracious enough to write me a gouge on him. With that gouge, plus the two others that other students wrote, I can expect what the oral and flight portions of the checkride will be like. I'm still nervous, though. I want to pass and go back to California more than anything. And with the stress and overwhelming feeling I have, I know it will be all lifted off once I pass.

My last flight is tomorrow, and we'll be just flying the pattern. Flying wise, I feel prepared. I just don't know what will be asked during the oral. This is a big step in receiving my ratings and once I have this accomplished, I have a few more which will be down hill from here. I've also decided that I will most likely be teaching locally at the FBO at which I received my PPL. I'm not sure if I would enjoy teaching for ATP. A big part of which is not being be home with my wife. I'm looking forward to teaching, though, and I even have some future student prospects once I get back.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Moving right along

Today I passed my checkride for my commercial certificate in the Seminole. I’m very pleased with the progress up until now and I’m looking forward to the last two weeks of the program in Las Vegas.

I was originally supposed to take my checkride last Saturday and then go to Las Vegas for the CFI course Monday the 6th. However, there were a few problems during the checkride. For one, there was a date that was incorrect on my application which the examiner caught and therefore we had to redo the application. This particular examiner is adamant about the paperwork being correct and ready upon the beginning of the checkride. He’s known to have charged people for them not correctly filling out their application. Luckily, he didn’t charge and we were able to redo the application and move on. The second problem occurred when he was checking my log book for the appropriate entries to be applicable for the commercial checkride. One of the flights my instructor and I made a few months previous had not been signed. The other flight that same day was signed, but not this particular flight. It is part of the regulations that this flight be completed before taking the commercial checkride, and with out a proper flight instructor endorsement, the flight is void. So, the examiner said that we’d have to reschedule and the earliest time was the following Thursday.

I was very disappointed because I was set on going to CFI school on the 6th, expecially because I had prior engagements the week after I would have been done. I’m over being upset about it now, there’s nothing I really can do. And I’m happy that I’m a commercial pilot now. Strangely enough, I’m only a commercial pilot in a twin engine plane, not a single engine plane. But I will get that certificate later during CFI school in Las Vegas.

Rumors are that the initial CFI certificate is the most difficult checkride yet. I’m not looking forward to that, but I’m sure I’ll get through it fine.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cross countries completed

I just recently completed the cross country phase of ATP. My partner and I flew clear across the United States from Riverside, California to Jacksonville, Florida. The students over in the west coast are lucky due to the fact that we are able to fly all the way to the other side of the country. They do this so that we can take our jet ride in the Cessna Citation, which is usually located somewhere in the east coast. Students on the east coast usually don't make it all the way to the west coast because there is no need.

The cross country phase was definately a learning experience. From the first day of you cross countries, you are required to call ATP dispatch between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM and find out where you will be flying that day. My partner and I were lucky in that our second day we were able to fly up to Salem, Oregon. Not many students from Riverside are able to make this trip. My partner's family lives up there, so we were able to visit Portland and we had a good time seeing Oregon.

We began our journey to the east coast around the 4th day of the cross country phase. It took us about 4 days to reach Atlanta, Georgia which was where we would fly the jet. That was definately the best experience so far. It reminded me of the first time I started flying.

I gained a lot of hours and experience during our trip and it was definately a worth while journey. I created a Google map of the trip with each stop we made. The green line represents the trip to the east coast and the red line represents the trip back. The blue line represents the jet ride. By clicking on the lines it will tell you which day we made the trip and where we stayed the night.

ATP Cross Country Map

Picture 1: Me standing in front of the Citation.
Picture 2: Me and my flying partner.
Picture 3: The start of weather, which is nearly unheard of in SoCal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Instrument Checkride Passed!

I passed my instrument checkride today! It was the hardest checkride I've taken yet. I'll post more about it later.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

100 hours!

Somewhere between Van Nuys airport and Riverside airport I officially passed the 100-hour mark. Ironically it was one of the least enjoyable flights of flight training, but I feel that the mark was a milestone. This particular session was focused on instrument approaches and once I returned to the Inland Empire, it was one approach after another. In real life this particular situation would never occur, but for sakes of training, it was necessary. I think it was the frustration of having to complete multiple tasks at once that affected me, plus having an instructor next to me criticizing every move I made. I enjoy the steps in making a successful approach, it’s just when making such an approach happens in consequential order and in a matter of 5 minutes after completing a previous approach seconds beforehand.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Airports I've flown into

I've inserted a link to a google maps rendition of all the airports I've flown into. Not too impressive, but slowly growing. Check it out if you're bored.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Well it's been awhile since I received my Multi Engine add-on, but I wanted to post about the experience of the checkride. The date I had my checkride was June 9, 2007. I felt surprisingly prepared, although it seemed awfully quick for learning a completely new airplane (Seminole).

I knew which examiner I was going to have about a couple of weeks beforehand. Other students gave their insights on how he was. From their experiences and what my instructor taught me, I felt pretty prepared.

I was the first to go before my partner, Jon. As soon as we arrived at the airport, the examiner was there and he was ready to go into one of the rooms and begin the oral section. We arrived early because he was able to be at the airport at an earlier time than previously scheduled. The oral went really well. The examiner, Tom, likes to give real life situations as test questions rather than ask specific standard test questions. I enjoyed that. It was almost like we were just discussing aviation amongst each other. It seemed to end really quickly after it began.

After preflighting the plane, he arrived and I seemed to be over prepared for the flight. He asked where I wanted to go for the maneuvers and I had usually flown over Lake Matthews to perform them. He seemed like he wanted to go over San Bernardino airport for the checkride, so I said that would be fine, even though I was unfamiliar with that location. I had my terminal area chart, which I didn't use, and all the frequencies necessary for the flight (San Bernardino CTAF, SoCal approach, etc.) and I even tried to get the weather brief, which he didn't want.

We took off and headed towards San Bernardino. I made sure I kept lower than the Class C airspace for Ontario. Once we were clear, which he let me know (surprised), we climbed to 6,000 feet and began the maneuvers. Every maneuver went really well and he seemed pretty laid back (kept his eye outside most of the time, and at me to make sure I wasn't looking solely at the instruments). While setting up for a maneuver I heard Expressjet coming into Ontario and then moments later saw them fly over us at about 1,000. It was an awesome sight, I think I even vocalized "awesome".

We did an emergency decent to San Bernardino on one engine and then set up for landing. The only mistake I made, which seemed pretty existential, was that when I added power because we were below glideslope, I added a lot from the operating engine which caused us to yaw a lot towards the dead engine. I forgot to correct accordingly and the plane was yawing all over the place. Tom said, "watch that rudder!" I corrected quickly, but I felt like I made a stupid mistake. Once we went around the pattern a few times we took off and he said I could relax and he would fly the rest of the way back to Riverside.

It seemed like I didn't pass (on my own standards) but I knew that he was satisfied with my flight. He flew the entire way back and landed, then taxied back. I was very happy I had passed. It was a lot easier than I had expected, but I think I was sufficient enough to demonstrate I could fly the twin. Good times though.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

IFR flights

Here are the flightaware shots of my flight from Sacramento to Paso Robles, and then from Paso Robles to Riverside. Being an IFR flight, it was the first time I flew a flight that showed up in flightaware.

Since the time building flights, I've been studying and flying the Seminole simulator. I also passed the Instrument written exam and the Instructor Instrument written exam. There are four more days until my checkride in the Seminole.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

First week at ATP

I got to ATP in Riverside, California a week before the beginning of the program to build time. The minimum time for the program is around 85 hours, which I did not have. Unfortunately, the only Cessna they had was broken so there was a lot of free time I had to study and get situated. I decided to go home for a couple of days, though, before the actual start date. But the week the program started, it was a lot busier. I flew the Piper Seminole for the first time the second day and had an interesting first time.

We go around the pattern the first time and begin our "Gear down, before landing checklist". I put the gear down and I check the 3 green lights for the first time to check if they all came down. We get the nose gear and the left main gear light, but no left main gear light. My instructor and I look at each other, and he begins to troubleshoot. You can exchange the little lights so that you can make sure the light is actually working, to no avail. We cancel our landing and he tries to cycle the gear, still nothing. So we advise the tower and she verifies that the gear is in fact down. So we continue the pattern and come back around to land, leaving the gear down. We land uneventfully. It was pretty scary and exciting for my first time. Afterwards we find another plane and go up and have an uneventful flight. The Seminole is fun to fly, but very complicated compared to the Cessna that I'm used to.

We also did some time building to Sacramento Executive, Paso Robles and back in the Cessna. It took almost 8 hours of flight time, but a lot of fun. I'm obviously more comfortable in the Cessna, so I was a little more at ease. I was also able to fly through some actual IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) and fly above a marine layer in Southern California. When we turned to intercept the Lake Hughes VOR, we heard a traffic advisory for us. They were telling an Expressjet ERJ and we look to our right and see it fly past us at about the same altitude. It was a wonderful sight. Also flying back into the Los Angeles area was cool, seeing a lot of aircraft and being over the city. This evening I'll be flying to Phoenix for some more time building. It should be another fun flight. More to come...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ATP Flight School

Due to the length of acquiring my Private Pilot's License, I decided I needed something to get me through my ratings a quicker pace. After researching some flight schools, I decided to go with ATP because of their location, price and multi-engine time. Even after this decision, it took me a couple of months to actually go through with it. One motivator, and it certainly isn't the best motivator, was their increase in price for their Airline Career Pilot Program. If I could reserve a slot before June, their old price would still apply. I then went to work.

I scheduled an interview at the KSAC (Sacramento Executive Airport) location and drove up there for the day. I studied basic private pilot knowledge and felt pretty prepared for the interview. The interview was very enjoyable, and I was able to fly a simulator, which I've never done before. I was a little rusty on some questions, but I felt I did pretty well.

A couple of days later James from ATP called and said that Ignacio, the instructor at the KSAC location who interviewed me, said he would like to recommend me for the program. James then did a phone interview asking several private pilot knowledge questions. I thought I did even better during the phone interview, but still missed some information I should have known. He said I had successfully passed the interview and we began the paperwork.

As of today, all of the paperwork, including loan paperwork, has been completed and I scheduled for the May 28th, 2007 slot at the KRAL (Riverside Municipal Airport) location. I decided to go here instead of KSAC because I know some friends down there and also have some relatives who live near by.

I'm very anxious to start and I can't wait until I'm 'immersed in aviation', as they say you will be during the program. It lasts 90 days and I'll have received the following ratings and hours (per the ATP website):
  • Private Multi-Engine
  • Instrument Multi-Engine
  • Commercial Multi-Engine
  • Commercial Single-Engine
  • Certified Flight Instructor:
    • Multi-Engine
    • Instrument Airplane
    • Single-Engine
  • Jet Transition:
    • High Altitude Endorsement
    • High Performance Endorsement
  • 200 Hours Logged Time
  • 190 Hours Multi-Engine Time
    • 75 Hours Multi-Engine Cross-Country
    • 65 Hours Multi-Engine Instruction
      & Flight Checks
    • Citation Jet Transition
    • 50 Hours Multi-Engine FTD
  • 10 Hours Single-Engine Time
There are a couple of downfalls. One and the most important one being that I'll be away from my wife for the 3 months. She'll be living here at our apartment while I'm there. I'm sure we'll be fine, but I know it's going to be hard. Another downfall is the loan I'm taking out. It's quite large and I'm a little skeptical of being that much in debt. Hopefully, though, I'll get a good enough job to pay that off.

I'll try to post more often on my progress and past accomplishments that I've omitted thus far.

Monday, March 05, 2007

ASEL Check Ride

Well, I promised to post about my checkride, so I will do so. It took about a year for me to finally reach the checkride due to changing schools and insufficient funds. The good thing about it taking so long was that I felt pretty confident in my flying. This confidence, however, didn’t keep me from getting pretty nervous about my solo cross-countries I flew, of which I will post on later. Anyway, I studied everyday from the ASA Oral study guide and from the PTS (Practical Test Standards). I also read a lot of posts from different forums about other pilots’ checkrides. It seemed like it was going to be pretty intense and I was a bit concerned that my nervousness would cause my flying skills to drop below the standards the examiner was looking for.

It felt like the day of the checkride came up pretty quickly. All of a sudden it was the night before a day in which I thought about since I’ve began flying. I was scheduled at 12:00p and coincidentally I drove past the examiner on the way to the airport. My instructor said that this particular examiner was a good guy.

Out 2 hours or so of the oral section of the checkride went surprisingly well and I knew most of the questions he asked. Of the questions I wasn’t sure on, he helped me search for the correct one. It took about a half an hour alone to go through the visibility and cloud clearance requirements for each airspace, and surprisingly I got every part of it right. He drew a diagram on a white board and had me fill in the requirements and after I had painstakingly told him my answers, he said at the end, “everything looks right to me, let’s go fly.”

So on to the flying portion and I felt pretty good at that point. We did all the typical maneuvers that are done for the checkride and also flew the first portion of my cross-country to KSMO. One interesting point was when I did my steep turns. My instructor helped me in quickly trimming the plane to keep a constant altitude while doing the maneuver. Add a certain amount of power and trim two-full wheel turns of the trim. However, when performing the maneuver, I trimmed two-full wheel turns in the opposite direction, AND (aircraft nose-down), instead of ANU (aircraft nose-up). I quickly realized my mistake and trimmed accordingly. The examiner laughed and said he was about to say something about what I was doing. Thankfully I corrected quickly.

The landings (short-field, soft-field) went pretty well considering I was concerned about these the most. It was pretty windy and my short-field landing was pretty hard, but I guess he looked more into whether or not I landing within the space required. After the last landing, he said that I could taxi back and congratulations. I was ecstatic, but I didn’t show it. I guess in the back of my head I knew I would do all right. What a great accomplishment though, I thought. My wife was there to congratulate me first and she was sitting there the entire time watching me fly. She spoils me, but she’s awesome.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New place, new accomplishments

I haven’t updated this blog forever. No matter, not many people read it, which I don’t mind. Maybe one of these days it’ll be read by few. Anyway, since the last post my wife and I moved back to our home town and currently live in a brand new apartment (brand new as in the just built the complex and we’re the first residents). I also was able to get a job at our local airport as a ramper for Mesa Airlines. It allows me to be around the aviation industry and it’s given me a lot of perspective.

Another huge update that pertains to this blog is that I passed my ASEL check-ride and am now a private pilot. I took the check-ride on January 22nd of this year. I’ll write another post about it later. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to fly since due to work and weather. But I hope to get up soon so that I can start gaining more time.

I’m looking into going to an accelerated school called ATP flight school more and more. It took me so long to attain my private license that I’m afraid it’ll take even longer to attain the remaining ratings I need to fly professionally. It’s quite costly to go to this school, but it seems to keep a good reputation and you go out of the school with a lot of multi-time which is very much needed. But we’ll see if it all pans out and I actually attend the school.

Throughout my training I’ve flown to some pretty cool airports on my solo cross-countries: King City airport, Camarillo airport, Santa Maria airport and Coalinga airport. I’ll also write about some of these flight as well.