AIF, Page Turning Time! (104.1 hours)

Been a few flights since I have updated, but let me tell you what I’ve been up to. I got checked out on 29W a week after my first flight. James came along as ballast! She flies so much differently with a little more weight in the back. Was really fun!

The New Bird!

Next flight was taking my uncle and cousin up for a tour around downtown. About halfway through the flight I looked over at my uncle and realized that the door was open! No big worries, she still flies fine. Just noisy. And if you happen to go searching for the ATC recordings (I’m too embarassed to post them here) you can hear how loud it was, and how hard communication was. Next time that happens, its an immediate landing to get the door shut, then we can go again.

Our club just got a new plane as well, a 1961 172B. Boy, she is a SWEET bird. She may not fly fast, but she is clean and has many upgrades both inside and outside the plane. I got checked out on her early this AM and loved every minute sitting in her left seat. I’m really looking forward to spending time with her in the air. Now, I also realized I have been counting my cross country hours incorrectly. According to FAR §61.1(3)(i), any flight as a private pilot where I land at another airport is technically cross country. So I’ve WAY underestimated my cross country hours. I fixed it on this page, but won’t go back unless I need it to justify a rating of some sort. Here are the stats.

  • 104.1 total hours
  • 294 Takeoffs/Landings
  • 6.1 night
  • 3.1 Simulated Instrument
  • 40.0 Cross country
  • 32.7 Dual
  • 75.5 Pilot in Command

Will see you guys in the sky soon!

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AIF, 101.1 (1 hours last flight)

Well, it’s time for a new adventure. My previous facility has stopped renting planes, so unless I become a student again, I won’t be flying any of the beautiful planes at KDTO. That’s OK. After some searching, I found a FANTASTIC flight club back at the airport where I learned to fly, and they have a beefy Piper Cherokee Pathfinder PA-28-235B. It’s an old bird (1967), but she’s a sweetie. I’m going to work on convincing the flight club to spend money on a new radio stack and a 430 (or equivalent).

Ain't she purdy?

Anyway, in order to be fully checked out in this aircraft, it’s time to get a new endorsement! High Performance Aircraft, here I come!

I flew an hour this morning and will go back to finalize the endorsement. I was surprised at the sheer power of the aircraft as she clawed through the dense morning air. She LEAPS off the runway, and races to wherever you want to go. This is by far the most powerful craft I have ever flown, even though it is only about 30 kts faster in cruise than the DA-40.

Landing her is going to be a challenge I am accepting with open arms. After flying a stick aircraft for so long, switching back to the yoke takes practice with trim. Where small inputs and relatively light pressure makes a huge difference in the DA-40, this craft requires a steady hand on both the trim wheel and the yoke. I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with her!

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Challenges with Codeshares on American Airlines

Some of you may have seen some tweets from me last night about a strange issue that has popped up since American Airlines has gone into bankruptcy. Let me explain what I have learned so hopefully American can adjust their policy and the fantastic gate and telephone agents that support them won’t have to be the frequent bearers of bad news.

Flyers with certain kinds of elite status on American Airlines occasionally earn something called a “systemwide upgrade” (sometimes known as an eVIP or VIP). These upgrades allow you to move up one class of service, inventory permitting, on any flight operated by and ticketed through American Airlines and typically expire within the current or next calendar year. I’ve used these things over the years to upgrade into a Business class seat on a long haul flight that was booked on coach, and recently have even been lucky enough to use one to get into First class. Pretty sweet!

Then American Airlines enters bankruptcy. While the status, miles, and upgrades for elite fliers are kept intact, something strange is happening.

American Airlines, by CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK

American Airlines is part of the OneWorld alliance that includes such prestigious airlines as British Airways, Qantas, and Cathay Pacific. These airlines partner in order to broaden their geographic reach by operating flights for each other’s fliers, known as “codeshares.” Essentially, this means that in some cases, you can book a ticket marketed and sold as British Airways but end up flying on an American Airlines plane, as I did this week.

Due to a number of factors, bankruptcy being a big one I suspect, airfares at American have risen dramatically over the last six months both domestically and internationally. In some cases, booking the exact same American Arlines flights under a OneWorld codeshare will save you money! In my case, I saved 15% on my fare by booking all of my flights as British Airways, even though I’ll be on an American Airlines plane for the long-haul components (Dallas to London).

But here’s the catch. I don’t have any status with British Airways! This means that as an American Airlines Elite flyer sitting on an American Airlines aircraft that chose the lowest fare by buying through a partner, my years and miles with American are worthless. American cannot touch the ticket if they didn’t ticket it, and British Airways won’t touch it because I don’t have status with them. I would not expect to use an American Airlines upgrade on a British Airlines aircraft, but I would expect to be able to use an American Airlines upgrade on an American Airlines operated flight regardless of how it was marketed to me.

Essentially, it’s a standoff—American Airlines tells me to call British Airways, and British Airways says ring or visit an American Airlines agent. In fact, I learned that the only way that an upgrade can occur is through a complimentary upgrade when a flight is oversold. So even though I have expiring upgrades with American Airlines that I am begging to use, their policy prohibits agents from allowing their best customers to use their status when the flight is marketed as a codeshare.

For the record, I love American Airlines. I’ve been flying them pretty much exclusively since I was a child on my grandfather’s Airpass. In fact, I have many fond memories streaking across the sky in those silver planes with red and blue stripes. I’ve been flying with American so long, I remember when they had 747s and MD-11s, and I flew on DC-10s and 727s with their sometimes-flaky tail-mounted engines. I am sure there are many people rooting against AA while they restructure, but as someone with over 2 million miles with the airline, I’m rooting for success. I’m rooting for a new executive team that takes competitive pay without ridiculous bonuses that hurt the pay of of pilots, mechanics, and agents.

American Airlines can’t forget their loyal customer base that is now having to justify staying a customer. I urge American Airlines to remember us so that we continue to fly the friendly marketed and operated skies while delivering revenue, growth, and seat sales for years to come.

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AIF, 100.1 (2.1 hours last two flights)

Photo courtesy of @jsokoly

Well, it’s finally happened. After three and a half years of flying I hit the 100 hour mark! This time with a couple of Infosec friends as we hit up the classic Hard 8 in Stephenville (KSEP) for lunch. What a great day to fly!

The only thing about yesterday’s flying was the stiff northern winds at altitude. Did get some Class B time on the way back in, and saw a few big aircraft in and out of the DFW Terminal Area. This time we had our primary radio go out on N204SG. I love this aircraft, and haven’t flown it in several months. Getting back behind those big glass screens was awesome, and I just wish we had both radios working. I like having two sets of radios as it allows me to snoop on other frequencies without leaving ATC. Alas, was a bit clunky yesterday.

Did also get to make some good use of the autopilot on the cruise portion of the flight. Hand flying when you are altering the plane’s configuration is fun, but holding straight and level for 20-30 minutes is kind of boring. Yaay autopilot!

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AIF, 98 (1.8 hours last two flights)

N204SG on the ramp

Yep, lazy again. I had two flights in the last few months totaling 1.8 hours and 15 landings. Nothing super fun.

WAIT! Except THIS!

Nice little exchange between a rather happy tower controller and my crew while flying around. The airport was not terribly busy on the second flight, but there were jet operations happening and a bird can cause problems with those things. Enjoy that!

On the earlier flight, it was pretty much business as usual, but it got super busy toward the end. Five planes in the pattern, and others getting turned away that wanted to do touch & gos. It was race weekend so I couldn’t head over to Alliance, but wanted to.

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AIF, 96.2 (2.6 hours last flight)

Preflight!

Now, on to the flight I had last weekend! Yes, still behind, but here we are.

James & I took the DA-40 up at the last minute to get some currency time and test out a route I want to do later in the year. We FINALLY made it to Tyler! For those of you that read often, you might remember I have tried this trip nearly three times now, all of them scrubbed due to weather at Tyler Pounds Field.

This flight was unique for a few reasons.

  1. While this was a DA-40, I had never flown this DA-40 before.
  2. I was back to using steam gauges, glass cockpit (G1000 panels) in this bird.
  3. James learned how to taxi! Steering with your feet is hella weird if you have never done it before.
  4. I am becoming increasingly comfortable with RPM/manifold pressure settings in climb, cruise, and descent on this bird.
  5. For whatever reason, we were flying at 10-15 KIAS slower than we should have been. Neither one of us put anything on the airframe to cause this, but it slowed our progress down considerably.
  6. I was cleared into Class Bravo on the way back (not on the way out), but skirted the edges of the shelf for the most part, per ATC request. Frankly, I think I was hastily given clearance into Bravo upon departure and I was never given the instruction from the tower. When I asked the controller, he said I was cleared, but then immediately started to vector me underneath Bravo.
  7. The controller at KDTO (who will remain nameless here) got a little antsy with me as this one tends to do. I was cleared to land, read back my clearance, and then was asked by the controller minutes later what my intentions were. For real.
  8. Got the HD video going, but again had some audio issues. I will get this resolved FO SHO on the next one. I know exactly what I need to do to make sure it works. Frankly, it’s not my top priority (flying the plane is), but I want to get some good video for you guys.

So I’m good for a few weeks! Next flight may be over to Pop’s new lease, or back down to Tyler to see friends.

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AIF, 93.6 (.6 hours last flight)

I’m slow to post, but that’s OK. I took Garrett and Dad up in the DA-40 for currency reasons. It was so quick that when I walked back up to the dispatch to return the keys the guy asked me what was wrong with the plane.

Also, this was the first time I got to use my new HD camera to record the flight. Unfortunately, not only is there an interesting isolation that happens in the in-flight audio management, but my Garrett was just humming in the mic. So that’s pretty much all you hear. To make matters even worse, the camera was faulty and making some terrible recordings (since fixed).

Anyway, quick three takeoffs and landings!

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