Thursday, January 01, 2009

Review of 2008

It's been a busy year. I accomplished some things I set out to do, made progress on others. Looking back at my log and blog, here are the highlights.

I had a total of 29 flights, including my 200th:
  • One flight with an instructor
  • Two flights with other Private pilots
  • Six flights with student pilots
  • One passenger flight
  • That leaves 19 solo flights, two of them cross-country.
I worked toward my Commercial and Instructor ratings. At the start of the year, I thought I would have taken at least the Commercial tests by now, but it has taken longer than I thought. I thought the material was similar enough that I would take both tests in close succession, but now I see that there is a lot more prep work to do for Instructor, so I'm focusing on Commercial.
  • In January-February, I attended a Commercial and Instructor ground school series run by the club.
  • Bought the ASA Commercial and Instructor test prep manuals and have worked with them quite a lot.
  • Bought the ASA Commercial test CD to make my self-scoring easier. On practice tests a couple of months ago, I scored 85% and 86%. I'd like to be at 95% before taking it for real.
  • Bought the BGA Gliding Theory of Flight manual, which is very helpful and interesting... I've read it 1.5 times. I'll need much of it for the Instructor work.
  • In Feb, I did some student teaching as part of our club's ground school. This required writing two lesson plans. I learned a *lot* about weight-and-balance calculations.
  • Downloaded many FAA Advisory Circulars to study
  • I've done a few flights with students, to get used to turning over the controls, observing, providing feedback... no teaching.
I kind of took the summer off from the Com/Instr track to do some cross-country work:
  • I did an out-and-back flight of about 41 miles (each way) out of Tehachapi which probably qualified for Silver badge distance and altitude.
  • I did a straight-out flight in the Dust Devil Dash from Tehachapi, landing safely on a dirt strip at Olancha about 84 miles away. This one was properly declared and logged, and was accepted by SSA for Silver distance and altitude. Placed 20th out of 22.
Other stuff:
  • Performed my first-ever solo spins
  • Got a good look at a the structure of a disassembled Blanik, did some reading to understand how those flimsy aluminum parts form a strong fuselage
  • Uploaded some flights to the On Line Contest for the first time
  • Built a PC with the Condor soaring simulator, joystick and pedals, for the club to use in ground instruction
  • Took first place in the club's Timed Flight event of our Family Soaring Contest (Um... not sure if anyone else entered... but it *was* within seconds of the 60-minute goal.)
  • First flight in "wave" lift (though at a very low altitude)
  • Had some good practice "porpoise" flying under cloud streets - pretty rare in our area
  • Wrote a letter of recommendation to the FAA which helped one of our flight instructors receive the Wright Brothers award for 50 years of safe flying.
  • Produced the club's "year in pictures" DVD.
All in all, I had a lot of good flights at Hemet and Techachapi. Whether due to better luck with the weather, or improving soaring skill on my part, I felt I did not get "skunked" nearly as often this year.

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