20 Jan
2014
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Firefighting Airplanes Filling Up With Water Without Stopping

Ever wonder how firefighting airplanes fill up with water as quickly as possible? Here it is:

Looks like a fun job to me!

20 Dec
2013
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Third Flight

My third training flight was with a new instructor as my original wasn’t available. We picked up where I left off with my first instructor and were in the same Piper Tomahawk. This time around, I was responsible for the pre-flight check while the instructor observed and made occasional comments about the process. Overall, I was pleased with my knowledge to this point and felt like the pre-flight went very smoothly for my first time through.

Below is the pre-flight check list for the Piper Tomahawk PA38-112:

piper tomahawk preflight check list

This was also my first time talking with air traffic control. My instructor told me what to say and I simply repeated it to the tower but it was still a great step forward. The air traffic controllers tend to speak very quickly and I’ve found it to be really easy to not catch all of what they say. Apparently this is a common problem for student pilots but I’m going to be working on capturing all that information in the next few weeks. I’ve found some Youtube videos which should serve to acquaint me more thoroughly and consistently with what the controllers are saying and the pace at which they speak.

It became apparent fairly soon after takeoff this day that there was a bit of turbulence. In a small aircraft, the effect it has on you is drastically greater since there is a lot less mass and momentum. Flying out to the practice area, we were jostled around but nothing too extreme. There were areas in the practice area that were much more extreme though. We were being pushed a lot as I tried to make 360 degree turns, clearing turns and maintain altitude. The turbulence seemed to be least severe at around 7500 feet MSL so we concentrated on maintaining that altitude.

Then it came time to do stalls and, of course you can’t maintain altitude during a stall. First my instructor did one and recovered. Then it was my turn. The Piper buffets really hard before it’s about to stall which is a good tell and makes it a forgiving aircraft. With all the turbulence though, I was having a hard time discerning between that and the buffeting of the aircraft just before stall. Before I knew it, we were stalled and I increase power to maximum and nosed the plane down to regain airspeed. It was an exciting first stall experience! I hope that in the future the air is less rough so I can concentrate on the way the aircraft feels and behaves during a stall.

After we had recovered from that stall, we decided to pack it in for the day because things were so rough that all I was doing was trying to maintain a heading. We headed back to the Bozeman airport, fell into formation behind a regional jet (while remaining cognizant of wake turbulence) and landed with no issues. My flight time for the day was exactly one hour.

I really enjoyed flying with this new instructor. He was much more instrument focused than my other instructor which I liked. Instead of heading for a mountain top, I was maintaining a compass heading. During slow flight and stalls, he made sure that I was very aware of what the instruments were telling me, especially my airspeed. It was a great experience and I look forward to flying with him again soon.

 

 

 

6 Dec
2013
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Amazing Aerobatics Video from Rob Holland

If you’re a fan of aerobatics or air shows, you owe it to yourself to check this video out. It’ll blow your mind, guaranteed!

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25 Nov
2013
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Second Flight

My second flight was a much more relaxed experience than my first. That was due in equal parts to much more personal confidence, less turbulence and a knowledge of what to expect. We met at around 8am and quickly reviewed some of the important information from my previous lesson. Even though I read two chapters of the book, the material was very rudimentary and introductory. We breezed through it by 8:30 and moved on to the pre-flight inspection.

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19 Nov
2013
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First Flight

I just had my first flight! The day was cold, about 30 degrees when I arrived at the hangar at 7:30 am. I met with my instructor for about a half hour before we began the pre-flight check. As this was the beginning, I got all my ground school books (here’s the kit I bought for $50 more, save yourself some money) and we chatted a little about what each of them were as well as the order in which we’ll use each of them. We also talked about flight in general and the physics involved.

I was in a Piper PA-38 Tomahawk which seems to be a great aircraft to learn to fly in. It’s got a length of a little over 23 feet, a 34 foot wingspan and a cruising speed of 115 mph. They’re extremely economical to fly and you can find used ones for under $20,000 which makes it a very affordable airplane to own.

Here’s a picture of the Piper Tomahawk that I flew:

Piper Tomahawk in the hangar waiting to be flown

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15 Nov
2013
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Holiday Gift Ideas for Pilots

With the holidays fast approaching and pilots being notoriously difficult to shop for, I created this list of Christmas gift ideas. They’re great for both experienced pilots and student pilots and I grouped them by how expensive they are. Happy holidays!

Inexpensive Gifts for Pilots:

The following are some great entry level Christmas gift ideas for your pilot.

RA200 Rugged Air Aviation Headset PilotEvery pilot needs a headset and most prefer to have their own in their flight bag. This is an extremely durable, long lasting and high quality entry level headset. It’s the one I’m training with so I know that it does its job and does it well.

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12 Nov
2013
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How much does it cost to get a private pilot’s license?

I like your style. You’re wondering what the bottom line is, right?

Here’s the short version of the answer: the total cost to get your private pilot’s license or PPL will be between $4,000 and $11,000 depending on your area, the school you choose, the aircraft you learn to fly in and how quickly you pick everything up. In terms of time, you’re looking at 4-9 months to make it through ground school and all of the flying time you have to accumulate.

Now for the long version. Specifically, how do those costs break down? Your mileage will vary, of course, but here are my minimum expenses:

Private Pilot’s License Expenses
Item Cost Per Quantity Final Cost
Course Materials $20.00 1 $20.00
Misc. Flight Supplies $80.00 1 $80.00
Ground School $425.00 1 $425.00
FAA Class III Medical Exam $65.00 1 $65.00
Flight Time with Instructor $140.00 20 $2,800.00
Solo Flight Time $100.00 20 $2,000.00
FAA Written Test $100.00 1 $100.00
FAA Practical Exam (Check Ride) $350.00 1 $350.00
Total   $5,840.00

Note: Since I haven’t finished my flight training yet, I’ve estimated some expenses. The estimated expenses are in italics.

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6 Nov
2013
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Living the Dream

Here’s where I’m going to start – living the dream. Imagine being able to hop in an airplane and fly anywhere in a several hundred mile radius in just an hour. It’s truly a re-imagining of your lifestyle at that point. You could fly places in the same amount of time that would take you 5-7 times as long to drive to.

How many great destinations are 300-500 miles away that you visit rarely, if ever, because getting there is so prohibitive?  You could be there in an hour or two and get there affordably.

500-radius-bozeman Read more >>

6 Nov
2013
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A Journey to Flight

Thanks for visiting the Upwards Blog! My name is Ken Fichtler and this will chronicle my journey to my private pilot’s license and beyond. I’ll also toss in some interesting industry news and special features from time to time.

I’m a late 20’s professional who’s always wanted to be able to fly. It’s been something that I considered unattainable for a long time. Recently, I decided that it was time and that I should stop dreaming and start doing. Read more >>