Sunday, June 14, 2015

Diamond in the Air

Today I did something I haven’t done in a VERY long time. Since January 27, 2004 to be exact. I logged an hour of dual flight training in my logbook. Back in 2003/04, I was going through flight training. I originally started at KMAC flying the AMD Alarus and doing pretty good. I was able to solo with less than 20 hours of flight time and was starting to work on my cross country training. Unfortunately, after going through 4 different instructors in the course of 4 months, all the different procedures and ways of doing things, I got frustrated with the way things were run at that flight school and moved to a single instructor and using my dad’s Piper Tomahawk.
  After my first flight in the “Trauma-Hawk” I went from solo pilot to a “never been in a cockpit before” student. That airplane was so twitchy and the site picture was so different, it took me 4 steps back in my training. I tried to stick with it, but to get any progression in my training, I had to fly 3 times a week. Paying an instructor for 2 hours a day, three times a week, gets very expensive, very quick, so I backed off on using the trainer because of finances. We decided I would fly with Dad until I got used to the Tomahawk and when I was to the point where I could just be evaluated, we would get the trainer involved again. Of course, life has a way of altering the best laid plans. After moving houses and having 2 kids, I haven’t been able to fly with Dad near as much as I needed to get used to the Tomahawk. During all these years, the flight school at PXE opened up and they have a couple of Diamond aircraft. A 2 seat DA20 (top picture) and 2 4 seat DA40’s. Ever since seeing my first Diamond, I’ve always to fly one. It has a stick control as opposed to the yoke all others I’ve been in have. (bottom picture) So, for Christmas last year, Dad got me an hour in the 20 so I could try it out.

  Today was that day. I met up with my friend and instructor, Mr. Bob Hamilton, at PXE and we got ready for the flight. We went over the pre-flight procedures and then Bob showed me around the aircraft as the preflight was completed. We got in, belted up and started the inside preflight procedures. Bob taxied us over to the hold short line and performed the engine run up. After, then, I had the aircraft and he guided me through the take off since I was unfamiliar with the airplane’s procedures. He helped a good bit with the first take off and after we were about 100 foot up, it was all good. We flew out to Butler doing some maneuvers on the way and then back to PXE. The airplane was an absolute joy to fly. After I trimmed it out, it was 1 finger on the stick control the entire flight. Even though I haven’t logged an hour with instruction, I have still spent time in the air in Dad’s, so most of it came to me fairly easily. Bob was happy with my performance during the flight. On the way back, Bob showed me a couple of cool higher G maneuvers and they were fun under his control.  As we neared PXE, he talked me through the landing procedures and helped me a bit with the flare since I hadn’t seen one in the 20 before. Everything was very comfortable. We still had a bit of time left my hour, so after landing, we went back out and did a quick take off, pattern and landing again. Most of that landing, except for a bit on the flare again, I did on my own. Bob was a great cheerleader and was impressed with my handling of the airplane. I guess when an instructor tells you that they would fly with you anytime, you’ve done ok. This airplane is the first one I have ever gotten into and was completely comfortable in it just minutes after take-off. What a great little airplane.

  This morning was blast and I really appreciate my Dad for getting me the hour, Bob for flying with me and, of course, Heather for letting me take the time to do it.
Until next time…

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