Reawakening my five senses in relation to airplanes

Now that I have spent a few hours to try to re-acclimate myself to flying a general aviation aircraft, I’ve noticed that my aviation senses have begun to reawaken. I seem to pick up on little things again. Things I haven’t seen or felt in over 20 years.

The beautiful Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza
The beautiful Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza

Let’s take the sense of sight first. While I’ve not done any research studies on this, for me personally I seem to notice something new to my life through sight first. Whether it be a pretty landscape, a cool motorcycle or an attractive woman, my eyes are the first ones on the scene. Regarding aviation, I began looking at a lot of pictures of vintage general aviation aircraft again via the internet. Many people, even non-pilots, can pick certain aircraft out of the bunch – a Cessna 172, a Piper J-3 Cub or a Model 35 V-tail Beechcraft Bonanza are a few famous general aviation designs. At the airport you don’t see too many airplanes sitting outside, especially in the Midwest during the winter months, so it’s hard to see too many in person. Therefore, I searched airplanes for sale on Trade-A-Plane or Barnstormers. This stirred the knowledge I already had accumulated about general aviation aircraft. By reading the ads, I could further add to my knowledge of terms I needed to know and get a read on the used aircraft market at the same time. A win-win for sure!

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Join Together – EAA Chapter 1382

When I first discussed details about finishing my Private Pilot’s License with Troy Walker, the Greenville Airport manger, he told me about the Greenville Pilot’s Association, the local EAA chapter 1382. They hold monthly meetings, host a fly-in each Fall at the airport, introduce kids to aviation through a Young Eagles program and members enjoy free use of the flight simulator.

I decided if I was going to throttle up for this flying endeavor that this organization would be a good opportunity to make some contacts and get to know some of the people I’ll see around the airport. Maybe even get invited on a ride along sometime in the future.

The best way to learn about news going around the airport locally or regionally is by talking to those connected to the local general aviation network. You might see some chatter on social media if you get to be friends with other pilots, but it seems to me the best source of information is through the time-honored mode of communication — conversation.

Via email, I’ve found that being a part of this group also allows access to find out which members have items for sale, activities at the airport or other local fields, or if a flying club has an opening for a new member. I was able to attend the delicious yearly appreciation pot luck breakfast in January, which was a treat in itself. There were about 60 people in attendance and a great spread of breakfast foods to feed the whole lot of us.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to attend one of the other regular meetings since I joined the chapter in December. I will say that I am likely one of the youngest people there. However, that demographic might change as the weather gets a little better. The best aspect is that the other active pilots all have much more experience than I do. Since aviation is a friendly, sharing hobby most pilots are more than willing to share their knowledge and wisdom; a real benefit indeed. 

You’re in the Air

Post flight, N8866S sits on the tarmac at Greenville Airport. (Photo by Scott Allen)
Post flight, N8866S sits on the tarmac at Greenville Airport. (Photo by Scott Allen)

I flew my first flight in 22 and a-half years on Monday morning, January 19.

I met my instructor, Tammy, at Greenville Airport in Greenville, IL about 8 a.m. We sat down across from each other and discussed the plan for the day. Temperatures were in the 30s on their way to the 50s for a high. The sky was a gorgeous blue without any clouds. A Midwestern winter is very unpredictable at times, you just never know what you’re going to get, but this was a perfect day to fly.

Tammy had reserved the airplane, a Cessna 150 – N8866S, and arranged to have it fueled the night before then placed in the heated hangar to avoid a need to pre-heat the airplane in the morning.

She guided me through the pre-start checklist as we performed the pre-flight inspection together. As we walked around checking the condition of this nearly 50 year old rental plane, I used a checklist created specifically for the aircraft – a good idea for any bird rather than using the basic one located in the owner’s manual.

Next, we lifted the hangar door. The cold January air rushed into the heated hangar. After a check of clearances around the aircraft we pulled the plane out onto the asphalt between the rows of hangars careful to position it with enough space to start and taxi easily.

We both climbed in the plane, closed the doors and opened the windows. Seated side by side, we adjusted our seats and fastened our seat belts. Be assured – this is not an easy process in a two seater. Tammy had to help me with my seatbelt as I wasn’t accustomed to using a five-point harness. Once we were safely fastened in it was time for headsets. We mic checked the levels so we could clearly hear each other. Finally, we were ready to begin the fun part of the lesson.

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