Brian Yee

Neither Here Nor There

Archive for April, 2011

Serious Business

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Finding Sunshine

Last weekend, I had a cross-country flight planned — a flight of about 65 nautical miles straight line distance.  This would be the first time I would make a solo flight away from the traffic pattern or the practice area.  Navigate there, land, and turn around and come home.  I had done some planning to find the right day and the weather last weekend looked pretty good.

Unfortunately, the ceilings were just too low. So I texted my flight instructor and he replied “Let’s fly to Flint in the clouds”.  Hrm, interesting — wasn’t expecting that.  “Okay”, I replied.

So there you go.  I’d be getting my required simulated instrument time in actual instrument meterological conditions (IMC).  No better way to learn, right?

When I arrive at the airport, the instructor says, “Want to take a different plane?” as he walks over to the Cherokee.  All of my hours up until this point have been in a Cessna 152 (except for the 0.5 discovery flight which was in a 172I).  Well, sure.  I’ll fly a low-winger.  Only one more thing that’s different…

We preflight, get everything ready, and then head out.  We hit the clouds around 1,200 feet and, well, everything’s white.  Then, at about 3,000 ft, we clear the clouds into bright sunlight.

Wow.

It was a overcast, gray, dreary day on the ground, and now it’s just me and the CFI floating across a bright white layer of clouds.  Blue sky. No one around that I could see.

This was amazing.

Just too bad I had to put the hood on.  Well, he did let me enjoy it for a few minutes.

So, that makes it: 

1) First time flying a low-winger, first Piper, and first time in a Cherokee PA-28.  Was a bit behind the airplane getting used to the new cockpit, but after a while things got better.

2) First time flying through the clouds.

3) Since we were flying an actual IFR flight plan, we did appear on Flight Aware.  It was neat to see my ground track since I don’t normally GPS track the flights.

Oh, and I still need to get that cross-country in….

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Orion and Progress

A few things caught my eye in the last few days.  First, this article from The Space Buff points out the unveiling of the new Orion spacecraft — without any actual missing to fill or a booster to lift it into space:

Then, the Constellation project—of which Orion was a part—was cancelled. Orion’s mission was over before it began, and it looked like Orion itself was a goner. But, for whatever reason, the Obama administration was persuaded to retain the craft…which no longer had a mission, or even a booster to send it into orbit. (The planned booster, Ares, was cancelled.) It’s mission now appears to be as an escape pod for astronauts living on the International Space Station. But without a booster, how will it get there?

Good point, and it seems to be reminiscient of the design tradeoffs that accompianied the Space Shuttle itself.

Secondly, SpaceX accounces the Falcon Heavy.  The largest American launcher since the Saturn V.  Now, I understand that until this thing actually flies it’s still a “paper rocket”, but, will we ever see this kind of progress from NASA itself?  Given the history since the end of the Apollo program, it would appear not.

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Playing Before the Wedding

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