I’m so psyched right now. I just landed an airplane for the first of many times in my life! Quite a hairy feeling and definitely the most difficult part of general flight. I took off on my own after my initial one hour flight, but it took me until today at hour 7.5 to perform a landing on my own. So freakin cool.
So, today I woke up at 11, grabbed some lunch/breakfast, and headed up to Boulder City Municipial Airport where I have been doing my flight school out of. Doug was with me for his third and last flight in the back seat, and between that and as a semi-reward for the hard work thus far, we decided to fly to the Grand Canyon. I was super stoked on this because this is the first time that I have gotten to do what I got into flying for. I know going up in the air and practicing maneuvers is cool and everything, but, meh… not really interested unless it’s acrobatic maneuvers know what I mean? That’s obviously a long way off, so flying the plane to cool places is what I’m stoked on. Snakes and sparklers is what I like.
Went into the FBO (Fixed Base of Operations.. basically the central building where everything is run out of), checked out and dispatched the plane, did my preflight check, and taxied to the fuel pumps for engine run-up. Everything looked good, we taxied to runway 09L via Delta, everything was in the green, and we lifted off for a straight out departure headed to the Grand Canyon.
I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before. Pretty ridiculous I know with all the traveling that I have done in the Western United States, but I’ve always wanted to do the Canyon right when I go there first… I want to get down into it with a backpack on for a good long period of time. I haven’t had the opportunity or spontaneous motivation to do so yet. This is the next best thing in my opinion. We gradually climbed from our runway elevation of 2200′ to our cruising altitude of 10,000′ which we reached somewhere around the end of Lake Mead. From there we basically followed the river up the canyon, checked some stuff out, took pictures of Grand Canyon West Airfield and the 40 mirron dollar skywalk that the Indians built, turned around, and then Ron (my flight instructor) gave me a challenge. He said, “Get us back to Boulder City.” I responded, “Would you like me to use VFR, instruments, or both?” He said, “However you want.” I pause, look around, look back at the canyon, the river, and say, “So, that means,” he interrupted me, “Yes.”
“Sweet! We’re flying to Boulder City via Denver.”
That got a chuckle out of everybody, but it really signifies how stoked I was to be up there. I had an opportunity to show off my creativity by inputting Boulder City (61B) into the GPS as our destination, and then I started messing with the autopilot to maintain our heading and altitude. That much I knew, but this got is into talking about all that sort of stuff which is a bit beyond where I am at in lessons for the moment. The autopilots on these little Cessnas are damn incredible. They fly the plane better than Ron can. On the heading indicator is what is called a “heading bug”. If you twist that to show a certain heading, the plane will slowly bank toward the new heading, maintaining altitude, and return to straight and level flight when the new heading was reached. Cool. Around this point we needed to begin our descent. Turns out the autopilot will do this too. With the twist of a knob and the push of a few buttons I can set my new desired altitude and how fast I want to get there in vertical feet per minute. Way cool.
We cleared Indian Pass which is just south of the Narrows on the Lake and began our final descent into Boulder City. Instead of taking a straight-in approach, we decided it would be a better play to head to the South and enter the traffic pattern by making my 45 degree into downwind, base, and final before finally landing. We had some time so decided to do some touch and go’s. I completely botched the approach on final and never really made the runway, and Ron basically brought the plane down with me on the controls. Flaps up, throttle in, and we took back off.
This time was going to be different. I set myself into the traffic pattern well this time, made the runway, and brought the plane down together with Ron for another touch and go.
The third one, I had the plane the whole way as Ron talked me through it. His hand never touched the controls. They were there just in case, but he never needed to, and it was a damn fine landing I must say. It has been such a long time since I was so stoked and proud of an accomplishment like this.
So, I have logged 8.3 hours in the logbook. It’s exciting that I’m getting there down the road and into the bread and butter of aviation. I’m still definitely in the market for an airplane and pretty excited about that.
I went down to the Rio last night to distribute some money to the horses and register for my first event tomorrow. I must say that I am impressed. If you know anything about me, I’m pretty vocal and critical, and honestly I have zero complaints. Obviously the race hasn’t even started yet, but so far everything is greatly exceeding expectations.
Every blog that I’ve read in the last day or so referring to the WSOP so far has basically said the same thing about that sweet tingle that you get walking into the room. It really is an awesome feeling standing in the Amazon room before everybody else is there, enjoying the tranquility before the insanity that is going to begin tomorrow and last for seven more weeks.
I’m excited to pursue player of the year. I’m obviously a longshot at 28th and almost 2k points behind Erik Seidel, but there are going to be (umm… like 24?) a lot of opportunities to close that gap this summer!
Here’s to World Series glory.
Peace and good luck,