Tuesday, December 30, 2008
There is a string of telephone wires, but in front of that there are also some orange and white towers - you can just see them barely taller than the treeline. I have not had any luck finding out what exactly they are - radio reception towers most likely.
The orange and white paint scheme is a sure giveaway that you're near an airport. The aviation world has adopted these colors to promote awareness and safety. I'm sure you've seen those orange balls on the telephone wires before. Picture to left from Tana Wire Markers: Mark power lines, communication antennas, and guy wires at airport or helicopter areas, river and canyon crossings, overhead obstruction areas, construction sites, migratory waterfowl refuge areas, bird diversion, and more!
There is a whole FAA ADVISORY CIRCULAR AC 70/7460-1K on Obstruction Marking and Lighting. It says any temporary or permanent structure, including all appurtenances, that exceeds an overall height of 200feet (61m) above ground level (AGL) or exceeds any
obstruction standard contained in 14 CFR part 77, should normally be marked and/or lighted. It also specifies the patterns that objects should be painted in, for example:
a. Solid Pattern. Obstacles should be colored aviation orange if the structure has both horizontal
and vertical dimensions not exceeding 10.5 feet (3.2m).
b. Checkerboard Pattern. Alternating rectangles of aviation orange and white are normally displayed on the following structures:
1. Water, gas, and grain storage tanks.
2. Buildings, as required.
3. Large structures exceeding 10.5 feet (3.2m) across having a horizontal dimension that is equal to or greater than the vertical dimension.
Don't worry, I won't reproduce the whole manual here - it is extensive! If one had the time, they could know what size an obstruction is just by the type, location and intensity of the lights...
Monday, December 29, 2008
A windsock is a conical textile tube designed to indicate wind direction and relative wind speed. Wind direction is the opposite of the direction in which the windsock is pointing (note that wind directions are conventionally specified as being the compass point from which the wind originates; so a windsock pointing due north indicates a southerly wind). Windspeed is indicated by the windsock's angle relative to the mounting pole; in low winds, the windsock droops; in high winds it flies horizontally. Per FAA standards, a 15 knot (17mph) wind will fully extend the windsock. A 3 knot (3.5mph) breeze will cause the windsock to orient itself according to the wind. At many airports windsocks are lighted at night, either by flood lights on top surrounding it or with one mounted on the pole shining inside it.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Wikipedia: An Airport ramp or apron is part of an airport. It is usually the area where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled or boarded. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway. However, the apron is not usually open to the general public and a license may be required to gain access.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It has been my "feeling" that the aviation industry (read: pilot hiring) is going to get better over the next few years. Why? Because right now the airline industry is struggling and a lot of pilots, getting frustrated, are leaving. Plus many pilots are nearing retirement age. And people are not going to stop flying.
So the demand is going to stay the same, or likely increase, while the demand goes down. Those pilots that stick it out during these tough times will benefit from their dedication.
That's my idea, anyway. I have looked several times for information supporting or debunking my theory, and find it hard to find. This morning I saw this article:
Good Opportunities In Aviation? It's A Tough Sell from AvWeb
With Boeing, Textron, Cessna, Cirrus, Piper and Mooney either cutting back workers, hours, or operations, it's hard to see beyond the recession to a time when skilled aviation personnel will be sorely needed, but advocates say that day is coming ... maybe sooner than you think. The trick is that the predicted drought isn't the result of an economic boom or bust, but has to do with a generational shift. "The aerospace and defense industry does not have nearly enough skilled workers, especially engineers, to replace the ones approaching retirement," according to an ABC, San Francisco, report. U.S. News Friday expanded that argument to include pilots, stating in its "Best Careers" section that the outlook for employment of aircraft pilots and flight engineers is expected to grow 13 percent through 2016, and keep pace with the average growth for occupations on the whole. The foundation of that article hinges on information provided by a publication by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that appears to have been collected prior to 2006 but, pilot retirements have long been expected by many industry analysts to be one driving force for a shift in supply and demand. Meanwhile, a recent article published by the Hartford Courant states that at least one flight school in the northeast "has seen an increase in demand for its services, particularly flying lessons" currently and in spite of the economic downturn. However, with that increase has come a shift. "There's been an increase in students over 50," the article states. No one should expect those new pilots to be seeking careers in the cockpit, so theoretically those future jobs created through airline restructuring, the expansion of regional services, the economics of smaller aircraft and air-taxi travel and the expansion of global shipping are all expected to contribute to demand. But there are some oddities in the numbers.
According to FAA statistics quoted by the Courant, there has been a 27 percent increase in student pilot starts over the past five years. It should be noted that for whatever reason, that increase has been limited to the Eastern United States. Nationwide, the number of pilots fell three percent over the same period suggesting a trend that would not be matched by any expansion of the aviation industry.
Unfortunately, I tried to search for both the ABC and US News articles, to no avail.
What are your thoughts? Make a comment here.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Observing Earth's shadow
Well, the "shadow of the Earth's curve" is a nice guess, but I don't think there's anything that can prove that it's actually the Earth's shadow. It could just as well be the sun reacting oddly to the rest of the sky. I mean, we see sunsets all different colors; seeing purple doesn't really prove to me that it's the Earth's shadow.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
This is a picture I took at this same airport earlier in the year (when it was warmer!). Pretty neat view out of the window of my ride.
What aircraft is it? Hint: it's faster than my airplane.
Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)
Wingspan: 57 ft 6 in (17.53 m)
Height: 14 ft 8 in (4.47 m)
Wing area: 506 ft² (47.0 m²)
Airfoil: NACA 6716 root, NACA 6713 tip
Empty weight: 24,959 lb (11,321 kg)
Standard: 30,384 lb (13,782 kg)
On CAS mission: 47,094 lb (21,361 kg)
On anti-armor mission: 42,071 lb (19,083 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (23,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2× General Electric TF34-GE-100A turbofans, 9,065 lbf (40.32 kN) each
Sunday, December 07, 2008
A video of an aircraft losing a wing and landing safely made the rounds many times over the last couple of weeks. I'll have to admit, although I looked at a bit skeptically at first, I thought to myself that many airshow pilots pull maneuvers I think are impossible so... But this video debunks the authenticity of this stunt.
I don't know why the videos aren't automatically loading, but just in case here's the link:
And from the checkride post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7uzzh07YOY
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
"I am so glad to have found Girls with Wings; it is a great website which unites women who share a passion for aviation and allows a venue for us women to give each other advice, motivation and also share stories.Whenever I am feeling insecure about being able to reach my goals I simply go to the website and I find myself once again motivated and prepared for the next day and all of the obstacles that stand in the way of reaching my goal which will one day prove to be well worth the effort."
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Having been employed by NetJets for six months (actually, having flown the Citation X for six months), I was scheduled for recurrent training at Flight Safety. Depending on the employer, pilots may have to go to training twice or just once a year to keep their skills up. Trust me, there is so much to know about flying that we need a refresher. There are numerous federal and company regulations, weather that changes seasonally or geographically which impacts your flights, crew resource management classes (always a good thing to brush up on), airplane systems reviews, and maneuver practice, etc., etc. And, after all, isn't it better to practice emergencies such as rapid decompressions, engine fire and/or failures and the like while sitting in front of a large computer screen?
One of the contingencies we plan for is a loss of electrical power. On one of our training days (we spent four days in the simulator total), we lost our generators (one per engine, to include one on the APU). Now, I was just down to the standby instruments (a gyro, airspeed indicator, altimeter, and HSI - or horizontal situation indicator). Imagine going from this:
And not much else. If you look very closely at the Citation X panel, you can just make out the blue and brown gyro to the left of the captain's PFD or primary flight display. Yes, I know these are the instruments we learned to fly on so long ago, but the point is, that we don't use them anymore. We rely on our Flight Directors, a magenta 'V' bar that gives us guidance (whenever a pilot is slightly disoriented, we tell ourselves to "fly the V bar." Oh, and we use the autopilot a lot.
I actually asked to fly a ILS (instrument landing system) approach with only the standby instruments, and the simulator operator (usually a pilot and instructor) was kind enough to print out my results. The print out is at the top of this post. You can see I had to make major corrections to stay on course (lateral deviations) and glideslope (vertical deviations). Ok, so it wasn't pretty. That's why they call this an "emergency situation."
And there's no fudging on my performance, either. We can go to the debriefing room and see exactly what we did with the power and controls at every phase of the flight, courtesy of a computer monitor.
And yes, everything is topped off with a checkride. A pass/fail, do or die, highly stressful procedure where the check pilot can test you on anything - and since no one is perfect, can fail you at anytime... Luckily I passed, so I can relax - at least until next time!