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FergWorld : Travelogues & Photos : 2000-2001

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By Ryan Ferguson, © 2001-2005

Click here for 2002 updates » (previous page)

CFI Training Update

12/17/01: I'm well into my CFI at this point. Lesson plans, lots and lots of studying, more studying, and oh, studying. As it turns out my old instructor will be working with me (occasionally) after all, which is a big plus. My primary CFI instructor has been great so far, is thoroughly organized and has the inside track on the Orlando FSDO's CFI emphasis program. Overall, this is an enjoyable but very intense regimen, which is as it should be. I really look forward to instructing.

Hoping to take the CFI and FOI writtens before the end of the year, but boy is it hectic right now!

Multi-Commercial Add-on Checkride Passed

Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I

12/02/01: Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's it. I've had my sights set on holding a commercial pilot certificate with instrument ratings in single and multi-engine aircraft since my student pilot days. Today I drove home from the airport with a temporary airman certificate stating exactly that.

It's been a lot of fun working on various certificates and ratings over the past two years. I'd be fibbing if I said I had a solid ulterior motive for acquiring most of them. Truth is, it's simply hella cool, interesting, fun, or what-have-you to climb the certificate and ratings ladder. I like the challenge, self-study, improving weaknesses in skills, working to prepare for the upcoming practical test, and the sense of accomplishment when it's done. It's only been in the last six months that I've gotten serious about acquiring my flight instructor ticket; something that appeals to me more and more as the days go by. Seems to me there could be nothing better than passing on the passion and joy of flying to a new pilot.

Now, aside from recurrent training and 'fun' ratings there's nothing left for me, really. Of course, I'll knock out my CFI with its various add-ons and maybe - although not likely - I'll end up taking an ATP checkride in the far distant future. But for the most part, the training trail that has been blazed by thousands of other pilots has come to an end for me. Strangely, I feel a little sad.

My instructor, who I've worked with since my initial instrument rating, will no longer help guide me down the route to my ultimate goal. Her job (chief flight instructor) doesn't give her time to work with me on my CFI ticket. For the most part, our paths will be diverging.

Aside from my monthly instrument and single-engine refresher work in the Seneca, I won't really have a reason to go back to the FBO at which I've trained all this time.

Strange to feel a little sad. Like remembering random and innocent memories from youth that didn't and couldn't carry the impact of the moment until remembered much later.

I've had four checkrides with Designated Examiner John Azma, and he is always a pleasure to fly with. I like how he always reaches over to shake my hand in congratulations as we taxi back. I like his laid-back demeanor and his obvious interest in seeing others succeed. As I was settling up at the front desk for my 1.2 hour flight test, a young private pilot applicant stood anxiously in the wings, clearly a bundle of nerves on checkride day. He was rifling nervously through his paperwork, mumbling some airspace acronym, and fiddling with his logbook. I was struck by his overpowering hopefulness and determination. This checkride was going to be the first. Kind of a ritual, something that becomes natural and normal after awhile, but the first one is always a doozy. Mr. Azma has told me many times that he instantly knows whether someone has 'it,' and I'd have to say just by the glint in this young man's eye... he did.

Good luck, fella, and fly safe. Most importantly, enjoy the ride.

Aborted Mountain Crossing

Route (Nov. 9): ORL -> TUP -> ICT -> 1V5
Route (Nov. 11): 1V5 -> ICT -> ORL
Aircraft: Piper Twin Comanche

11/15/01: Decisions, decisions. When the pressure's on, making the right one can be very difficult. I had flown into Boulder Municipal for an overnight visit with my friend David, his wife, Vay, and their son, Quinlan. I planned to depart the next day for a relatively short flight over to Las Vegas - about 4 hours across the southwest range of the Rockies. I had an important business meeting in the city of lights.

My pre-flight complete, and IFR flight plan on file, I was ready to call FSS to get my clearance and void time when I decided to have my oxygen bottle topped off. It was probably an overabundance of caution on my part - the half-bottle I had remaining was plenty for the flight. But I'd be up high (16,000 feet) and more oxygen never hurts, right? Anyway, I departed 1V5 and was cleared to 12,000 feet when I decided to hook myself up to the O2. I opened the valve and was surprised to hear a hissing noise... yep, sure enough, this thing was leaking. I futzed with it for a few minutes before I finally gave up and returned to the airport.

Looks like the FBO stripped the threads on the regulator when they filled the bottle - that's the best I can tell, anyway. I've only had it filled 4 times total, and 3 of the times it was filled at their FBO - so I think it's their fault. Here's the frustrating part. As the day wore on, they tried to fix the regulator with no success. They had no loaner bottle or other solution. I couldn't believe that I was going to be stuck due to lack of oxygen. As the sun set low in the sky, the owner/manager suggested I simply go VFR through the mountain passes - at night - without oxygen. (Yes, you read that right.) Something weird in the water out there or something.

It was either go without oxygen, or return home. It wasn't a difficult decision not to go, but it was painful. I stayed another night in Boulder and departed for ORL again in the morning. About 20 hours of flying with nothing to show for it other than an enjoyable overnight at my friend David's house.

First helicopter flight

Schweizer 300CB Aircraft: Schweizer 300CB

10/27/01: 1.0 hours of rotary wing flight time. Yeehaw! Flying in Titusville with Helicopter Adventures, Inc. Now THIS is flying.

Straight and level flight, turns, climbs, descents, hover, autorotation, and a pedal turn. (Hovering in place, rotating with anti-torque thrust.)

What an experience!

Thanks to Tom and Gabi Rotunda for encouraging me to pursue this rating.

Commercial checkride passed

Aircraft: Piper Arrow II (PA-28R-200)

10/27/01: Passed my Commercial ASEL checkride. Glad that's done. Multi add-on in a week or two.

Coast to coast

Route (Aug. 29): SFB -> JFX -> BVO -> 1V5 (Boulder Municipal, Colorado)
Route (Aug. 30): 1V5 -> JAC -> BFI (Boeing field, Seattle)

(Return route identical except stopped at BHM instead of JFX on the way back.)

Round trip distance: over 4500nm

Aircraft: Piper Twin Comanche

My flight route
Great circle route courtesy Great Circle Mapper

Sept. 10, 2001: Huzzah! I made it. Flew across the country and back, experienced just about every type of weather imaginable, and had a great time. I took two days to get out, and two to get back. Did the whole thing single-pilot IFR and was impressed by the quality of ATC throughout the country.

Front view of 8259Y ready to go.
8259Y ready to go - packed the day before.
8259Y ready to go.
Another view.
Stuff packed
A sampling of the supplies I brought along.


  • Landing at Jackson Hole, Wyoming (field elevation 6,447 ft., and with a temperature of 85 degrees farenheit on the ground according to my OAT, made for a density altitude of 9,736!)
  • Severe turbulence diverting around virga over the Rockies
  • More severe turbulence over the Cascades
  • Flying an airway with an MEA of 16,000 ft.
  • Picking up light ice out of Seattle and Denver
  • Flying through an hour's worth of very heavy rain and having a difficult time with comms due to the static
  • Diverting around t-storms
  • Returning to land in Wyoming after takeoff due to a loose fuel cap
  • A binding aileron which needed to be fixed in Seattle
  • Right generator went offline, which also needed to be fixed in Seattle
My thoughts: single pilot IFR can be very challenging, and it can also be very easy. For example: departing Denver heading back for Florida, I had to pick up my IFR clearance airborne since 1V5 (Boulder Municipal) is non-towered and I hate dealing with void times. Things got busy quick when I started bouncing around and was assigned the Plains2 departure, given the rest of my clearance [which was more complicated than I expected], had to whip the DP out of the plate book while still flying the plane, responding to ATC vectors, etc. It can get busy fast. On the other hand, when in VFR (which I was for most of the trip,) it was no big deal. Even gets a bit boring.

Departing SFB (Sanford, Florida.)
Fuel logs, nav logs, etc.
North Florida
Flying through North Florida.

The key is being prepared and having everything you need right where you need it. I had all the approach plates and low-level charts organized and ready to go before each leg of my journey, which helped quite a bit.

Being that I fly mostly in the southeast, I read a few books on mountain flying and queried some locals about the tips of the trade before I left. I am happy to report that my trip was a safe one, I never felt behind the airplane or unsure about the weather (except when the turbulence got really bad.) The only times I felt uncomfortable were when I was in IMC and I saw peaks ahead that looked to be near my altitude. It's an optical illusion, of course, and as long as you're flying the airway's MEA or MOCA (which I never did - always the MEA) you're assured obstacle clearance.

Looking down at airport
Looking down at - Memphis Int'l? I can't remember.
In the clouds
In the clouds.
186 kts ground speed.

Landing and departing at high density altitudes also proved uneventful. It's definitely strange to have such a long takeoff roll, especially out of Jackson Hole - but I fly my twin by the numbers anyway, and I just rotated at the normal speed, accelerated to Vyse and climbed out at 110mph IAS like I always do. Same deal for landing, and adjusting the mixtures for both departure and arrival was not difficult. I leaned out on the ground during the runup and went slightly rich of that since my runup is only to 2000 RPM - no problems.

Oxygen altitudes - also not nearly as bad as I expected, except that I got very coooooold. The heater in my plane is inoperative, and the temps out of Seattle dropped to 22 degrees farenheit. My little Sky Ox portable O2 system worked perfectly, and was very easy to operate. I did get sick of the canulla in my nostrils - kinda chafes after awhile. Flying high and using the oxygen proved be a nonevent.

Dealt with occasional strong headwinds and tailwinds. Oddly, on the outbound trip (westward) I tended to have better tailwinds. Heading east out of Seattle, at 16,000 ft., I slowed down to a virtual crawl of 140 kts all the way into Jackson Hole. Jeez, where are those westerlies?

Above clouds
Above the clouds.
Ah, Kansas
Over Kansas, on my last leg for Boulder.
Dodged quite a few of these on my trip.

I have to admit I really enjoyed flying "in the system" by filing IFR, even when the weather was CAVU during this trip. You're always in contact with ATC, they're always looking out for you, and it's pretty comforting. I read a tip in the aviation newsgroups which proved to be invaluable. I always added a remark into my IFR flight plans which read: "VFR GPS ON BOARD." If in VMC, I'd ask for a vector to a VOR a couple of hundred miles distant, and I'd usually get it. Doing this probably saved me at least a couple of hours off of my total trip flight time. Of course I kept track of where I was with the VORs, too. I never got lost, even when the GPS was down. When I had to fly the airways I'd usually not even bother with the GPS. My #1 nav/comm has DME, and will give groundspeed and time-to-station, etc. when flying directly to the VOR.

The most 'exciting' moment had to be when I was picking up ice out of Seattle. Ice does build quickly. As I climbed I watched my wing tips and stabilator for signs of ice. It looked to me to be clear ice - a light mist - but could have been rime or mixed. Hard to say since I didn't let it build too thick. ATC was very willing to work with me and let me take a block altitude assignment of 15,000-16,000 to stay out of the visible moisture. There seemed to be clouds everywhere, closing in tighter and tighter, and I was starting to think I'd just have to head back - the MEAs for the Seattle-Jackson Hole leg are in the 15-16 range, which were above the freezing level, and my airframe was now freezing. Flying lower wasn't really an option, and climb performance at that altitude in my normally-aspirated piston twin was pretty anemic. I didn't want to plow along through the layer any longer than I needed to. I reported the ice and another Comanche (single-engine) on the freq called out that the skies were clear another 20 miles eastward. I pressed on, staying out of the moisture as best I could. In a few minutes, someone opened the curtains, and I was quite happy to find brilliant blue skies and sunshine. The ice I had accumulated was gone in a flash. I looked back and saw a solid wall of clouds extending from above my altitude all the way down to obscuring the peaks below.

Light breaks through
Light breaks through.
At Boulder
I made it to Boulder. Strange man breaking into my plane as I take the picture.
Survival gear
Mountain essentials: lots of warm clothes, water, food, medical kit.

Mountain turbulence does bear mentioning. I had quite a bumpy ride for extended periods, which did become a bit uncomfortable; I was glad I had no passengers aboard. I diverted well to the south of some virga along the airway and was treated to the most severe turbulence I've ever encountered - bank angles of 80 degrees, and some wild altitude fluctuations. Fortunately, the encounter was pretty brief. Watch out for that stuff. (Later in the flight, I encountered more virga and it wasn't nearly as violent; it's luck of the draw.)

First of many views of the Rockies.
More mountains
More of the Rockies.
Rockies, pt. 3
... and more.

Indispensable stuff: survival gear (warm clothes, water, food - thanks to my friend David in Colorado for supplying me with this stuff for my mountain legs) and my "Little John." My flight legs were no more than 4 hours at a pop, always leaving at least 1 to 1 1/2 hr. fuel reserve; long enough to make someone with a small bladder (me) uncomfortable. I wanted to keep drinking water to keep from dehydrating in the bright sunshine and dry western air. I also brought snacks (thanks Shelly!) which made the longer legs less bland.

Mist over the Rockies.
Mist over the Rockies.
On the ramp at JAC
At JAC, the airport with the most breathtaking view I've ever seen. Tetons in the background.
Above the Tetons
And here's what they look like when you fly over 'em.

Beyond indispensable: stormscope, or strikefinder, or whatever you care to call yours depending on the brand. I will not fly serious IFR without one. Depending on which ATC facility you're working with, their weather-detection capabilities may range from okay to nearly nonexistant.

15000 feet
15000 feet. I actually got up to 16, but didn't get a pic. Cold, bumpy altitude that day.
Westward ho! Approaching the Washington Cascades.
Self portrait
If I look grim, it's probably because my face froze in that position.

In any case, I used the little stormscope on many occasions to deviate around stuff I wouldn't have otherwise seen (embedded) or get an idea of where the rough stuff was. As many pilots know, the stormscope/strikefinder relies on sferics, which really only detects static electricity. Static electricity is commonly found in thunderstorms and strong turbulence, and the stormscope/strikefinder generally does a good job of telling you where that stuff is lateral to your position. However, as far as range is concerned, it's a shot in the dark. I've seen clusters of strikes indicated as 10nm away, when in fact the stuff was more like 50nm distant. In short, the stormscope/strikefinder is to be used with an understanding of its limitations. It's not weather radar; and it's not perfect. However, it's 100% better than nothing. Mine was invaluable to me on this long flight.

Approaching Mt. Rainier
Getting closer to Seattle. Mt. Rainier in the distance.
Is that it?
I see it! Seattle! Note: I never see layered clouds of different types like this in Florida.
Seattle city
The city of Seattle. Note Mt. Rainier too.

Since this is a flying site, I won't go into too much detail about my visits to Seattle and Boulder. They are both beatiful places, and I really enjoyed spending time basking in their natural beauty.

Approaching Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier in Seattle.
Approaching BFI
On the ILS for Boeing Field. As you can tell, not much need for it today.
Final approach
Short final for Boeing Field (BFI.)

I'll have pics, and more updates on this trip, soon. Thanks for tuning in.

IMC, here I come

Aircraft: Cessna 172SP

July 22, 2001: This is actually a two-parter. Right after I earned my instrument ticket (ASEL) in June, I launched into the ether in search of low visibility, and found it! Flew to Jacksonville (JAX) in the clouds, diverted to Craig (CRG) due to t-storms, and shot two ILS approaches (one circle-to-land.) It was a blast, but the ceilings were high enough that the approaches were not particularly challenging (about 1200 feet AGL.)

More recently, however (July 22) I launched (again in a C-172) into a broken layer above ORL. Went to instruments at 700 feet AGL and was vectored to SFB, all the time in solid IMC. Shot SFB's ILS RWY 27R down to 700 feet AGL - not especially challenging, but still cool to break out and see the runway waiting in front of you. Came back and shot Orlando's LOC BC RWY 25 down to 1000 feet AGL for a full-stop. Totally vanilla, easy IFR, and a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to some progressively lower ceilings. I felt completely confident, relaxed, and in control the entire flight -- a testament to the good training I received at Air Orlando. Thanks, Gabi!

Multi-instrument add-on checkride passed

Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200 Seneca I

July 20, 2001: Finally got around to taking my multi-private IFR add-on checkride. (That's a mouthful for such a short flight test.) We shot two approaches -- both non-precision. First the ORL LOC BC RWY 25 -- did that one single-engine, and the examiner failed the engine outside inside the IAF -- then the ORL VOR-DME RWY 25, which was partial panel with both engines. I was hoping for a couple of nice, easy ILS approaches, but the winds were favoring 25, so I made do with what I had. Orlando Executive utilizes runway 7 most of the time, and I don't get many opportunities to shoot the back course. There was no oral to speak of, but I had brushed up on the Seneca's systems (fuel, gear, electrical, etc.) just in case.

I'm now studying for my commercial ASEL and AMEL rides. My plan is to do them both in one day - first the CP-ASEL in a 172, hop out, jump into the Seneca with my VFR x/c flight plan, divert, land, and finish up with the oral (which is likely to be the hardest part of the checkride). One nice aspect to knocking out the commercial ticket in this manner is that the applicant is not required to use a complex aircraft for the CP-ASEL ride. The twin is, of course, a complex aircraft, and will meet the requirements for the checkride.

Shelly Ferguson, student pilot Ferguson family gains pilot

Aircraft: Cessna 172SP

June 27, 2001: Shelly, my 'better half' and student pilot, sucessfully soloed! I'm very proud of her. Two pilots in the family now! She intends to get her multiengine rating after her private pilot certificate.

Instrument checkride passed!

Aircraft: Cessna 172SP

June 18, 2001: I'll have to give my CFII, Gabi Rotunda, credit. She worked me pretty hard, failing just about everything that *can* fail in an aircraft. As a result, the checkride was a piece of cake. Now I need to get the multi add-on... should take about 2 hours to get familiar with the Seneca again, then I simply need to shoot a couple of single-engine approaches. Yahoo!

Yak-55M 'solo' flight

Aircraft: Yak-55M

May 6, 2001: Yep, I had the good fortune to fly a Yak-55M - a supercharged, 360HP Russian-built monster of an aerobatic airplane. Read about my flight by clicking here.

Flight to Asheville, North Carolina, March. 17 and 19-20, 2001

Route (Mar. 17): SFB -> CRG -> DBN -> ELW -> AVL
Route (Mar. 19-20): AVL -> DBN -> VLD (stayed overnight due to weather), VLD -> SSI (stopped again for weather), SSI -> DAB (again!), DAB -> SFB

Aircraft: Piper Twin Comanche

3/20/2001: Definitely my most challenging flight to date! Getting to Asheville was interesting to begin with due to two factors: 1) the weather, and 2) mechanical problems. Flying north we dodged MVFR conditions. 10nm south of Dublin my fuel flow gauge for my left engine dropped to zero, but CHT, EGT, and oil temps remained normal. I strongly suspected the gauge but landed at DBN anyway. After troubleshooting on the ground, calling my IA back in Sanford who had worked on the plane, who concurred that the engine wouldn't run on 2 GPH (heh heh) and some cautious engine runups, we departed again without incident and landed at Asheville.

Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful city. We stayed in the Bent Creek Lodge, an awesome bed & breakfast in South Asheville. Check the pictures below; it was beautiful.

Getting back was quite another story indeed! We needed to travel on a terrible weather day... a low trough settled in right over Florida. We departed in beautiful weather on Sunday morning in Asheville. As we flew further south the ceilings began to drop and finally, as we neared Valdosta, Georgia we ran out of VFR to fly in. We landed and remained at the airport for 6 hours hoping for the weather to clear. I hung out in the tower for awhile watching the drizzle and chatting with one very bored but polite controller. It was pretty cool to look down on the ramp from the tower's perspective. At about 5PM the field was reporting MVFR and I felt there was a good chance to make it to the east coast, where the weather was vastly improved. We took off and immediately returned to the field when we found that the MVFR was localized over the airport and that we were surrounded by IMC! We decided that discretion was the better part of valor and spent the night at a Holiday Inn in Valdosta. (P.S. - tell them you're a stranded pilot for the 'stranded pilot discount.' $49 and free shuttle service to/from the airport! Excellent!)

Our best shot for getting back was to leave very early Monday morning, which we did. We departed VLD heading for Jacksonville (JAX), again with the goal of flying the coastline south due to better weather, and the advantage of it being impossible to get lost following a strip of sandy beach. But alas, it was not to be! JAX was reporting IFR so we diverted to the north to McKinnon airport at St. Simon's Island (KSSI.) We landed at 9AM and took another look at the weather. Not looking good! But the terminal forecasts for all the airports along the east coast showed that around 11AM EST, we should have a clear VFR shot to Daytona Beach. We went and grabbed breakfast (thanks for the crew car, Golden Isles Aviation!) and came back. It was now or never. We departed in VERY windy weather (winds 24kts gusting to 30, but it was right down the runway!) and headed south. My wife, Shelly, is a student pilot and used to flying with me, and dealt with the turbulence like a champ.

We headed southbound. JAX was reporting MVFR and so was Craig and Mayport. We transited their airspace and made it to Saint Augustine, also right on the coast. My hopes were beginning to rise! We were getting really close. But I did not want to fall victim to 'get-there-itis.' If we had to, we'd land and rent a car, but as long as the weather ahead looked promising, we'd push on.

We stayed glued to the local ATIS, AWOS, and FSS frequencies. Flagler was reporting IFR. Doh! I was prepared to turn around, but soon we were getting reports of VFR and made it into Daytona Beach (DAB) with good VFR. We were now only 15nm from our destination. Sanford was reporting IFR. After waiting around a bit for Sanford's conditions to improve, we departed Daytona SVFR and hopped over to Sanford for an uneventful landing. All told, it was about 32 hours of travel! But an adventure worthy of our efforts.


  • Approaching a North Carolina canyon
  • North Carolina mountains
  • Short final into AVL (Asheville)
  • Twin Comanche on the ramp in Asheville (beautiful!)
  • Bent Creek Lodge
  • Family cemetary dating back to Civil War at Bent Creek
  • Beautiful sunrise
  • Me flying
  • Shelly at Bent Creek
  • View from our balcony
  • "Hey, check out my waterfall!"
  • Departing AVL (takeoff roll)
  • Stuck in Valdosta, view from ATC Tower
  • I marveled at the high-tech equipment handling IFR departures in VLD tower.
  • What a great job!
  • Killing time at VLD... hey, there's my plane...
  • Nuclear sub being towed back in to port near FL/GA border

    Shuttle launch photos

    Aircraft: Cessna 172ME (Millenium Edition)

    Sometime in February: Got some cool pics of the shuttle launch, plus the night approach to Orlando Executive.

  • Launch photo #1
  • Launch photo #2
  • Launch photo #3
  • Launch photo #4
  • Moonshot
  • The aftereffects
  • Sunset
  • Approach into ORL (blurry)

    Flight to Seaside, Florida

    Aircraft: Cessna 182S

    1/15/2001: Trip to Seaside, Florida. Yeah, you know, the little city where they filmed the movie 'Truman'! It was pretty cool. Incredibly blue water. Fun trip. We stayed in a little B&B and walked around the town for a couple of days.


  • Pic of the coast #1
  • Pic of the coast #2
  • Pic of the coast #3
  • Pic of the coast #4
  • Pic of the coast #5
  • Truman, you're on TV, goddamnit!
  • Gulf coast & cloud layer
  • Mystery photo. This is an absolutely unretouched photo. Can you tell what you're looking at? Hint: there are NO clouds in this picture.
    Answer: (highlight with your mouse) You're looking at the surface of the ocean on an overcast day. The overcast is above the airplane. There are several clearly defined holes in the overcast through which the sun is shining very brightly, casting an extraordinarily bright light onto the surface. The effect is ethereal in the photo, but was positively surreal in person!
  • Lake "mirror"
  • Lake "mirror" 2
  • Orlando Sunset - good to be home!

    Flight to Murphy, North Carolina, Nov. 2 and 5, 2000

    Route (Nov. 2): ORL -> OCF -> TAY -> AHN -> CORCE -> HRS -> 6A3
    Route (Nov. 5): 6A3 -> HRS -> CORCE -> AHN -> TAY -> LCQ -> X04 -> ORL

    Aircraft: Cessna 182S

    11/09/2000: My wife (Shelly) and I flew to North Carolina to hole up in a cabin in the mountains for a few tranquil days. We flew a brand new Year 2000 Cessna 182S to Andrews Murphy Airport (6A3). Fought haze and low visibility (marginal VFR) on the way up and back down, but we still had a fun flight! Since there are so many pictures I separated these into a separate page with thumbnails so you can easily browse them. Click here to see the pictures.

    Flight to New Orleans, Lousiana, Sep. 21-24

    Route (Nov. Sep. 21): ORL -> OCF -> CTY -> SZW -> MAI -> CEW -> GPT -> NEW
    Route (Sep. 24): NEW -> GPT -> CEW -> MAI -> CTY -> OCF -> ORL

    Aircraft: Cessna 182S

    09/25/00: Flight to New Orleans to conduct business. Took Danielle, our sales rep, on the way up, and Aaron, our head programmer, on the way back. Fun flight both ways. (And, dodging rain and low vis. both ways.)

    On the way up, Danielle and I had to stay at 1,500ft. for much of the journey through the panhandle and into Mississippi due to low ceilings. It was bumpy, but we enjoyed it. It was Danielle's first flight in a small plane -- nearly 4 hours, and she did great.

    We landed at Lakefront Airport (NEW) in New Orleans and tied-down the plane. We had business to attend to, but I managed to meet my friend Joan, a student pilot (who is about to get her PPL) who happened to be visiting New Orleans at the same time I was. We went out to the airport and, after running back to the hotel because I forgot the key (whoops!) she flew us around Lake Ponchartrain. She's a very smooth pilot!

    I left with Aaron the next day, and we had an uneventful flight back to Orlando. We cruised at 11,500 feet due to optimal tailwinds at that altitude. Our groundspeed was over 155 knots.

    Overall, a fun flight, and notable because I was able to use the airplane for a good purpose (instead of just pleasure flying) and did not have to share a cramped 737 with 150 other people!


    Flight to Jekyll Island, Sept. 10, 2000

    Route: ORL -> SGJ -> CRG -> 09J
    09J -> ORL

    Aircraft: Piper PA-28-200 "Arrow"

    09/10/2000: This was an interesting flight. The ride up was great... dodged some clouds, but very smooth ride. My wife, Shelly, brother-in-law, Tom, and his fiance, Dani, flew to Jekyll Island (off the coast of Georgia, near Brunswick, just north of the Florida/Georgia border). We had a great dinner at the Jekyll Island Club. (This is cool because they'll come and pick you up from the airport, which is only about 1.5 miles away, free of charge.)

    On the way back, however, we encountered a problem. I was flying a Piper Arrow (a complex aircraft) with a bunch of Lo-Presti speed modifications... including the aftermarket wingtip lights. The lights help quite a bit because the stock Piper light (under the prop) is pretty useless. However, the landing light circuit breaker popped, followed shortly thereafter by a steady drain of the battery. Cycling the alternator and battery had no effect, and I could see were in the process of losing all electrical power. This was at night in VMC, so I was not overly worried, however I wanted to make sure I could remain clear of clouds and pop the landing gear.

    I turned off all of the gear I didn't need, including cockpit lighting and used only the GPS and single COMM radio. It's a very good idea to always carry a flashlight in the cockpit for night flights and this is one flight that really drove the point home. I really needed that light!

    About 5nm out from ORL (Orlando Executive Airport) I extended the landing gear to make sure we wouldn't have a problem. Not surprisingly, we didn't. I lit the airplane up for landing and we made it in without losing comms or lights. The Arrow has an emergency gear release, and I'm sure that even if we did lose power, I could've dropped the gear. No sweat!


    Disney pics

    These pictures were taken by me in March of 2000, on one of my early student pilot solo flights around Central Florida. I orbited Sea World, Disney World, and Epcot, but only snapped pics of the two latter locations.