Welcome to LohPhat's "LohTek[tm]" Blog
The Usual Stuff:
My ancient tale of getting my Private Pilot's License
- September 14th, 2004 Finally. I
can now fly through clouds on my own.
You'd think that after the airplane trifecta I had when
getting my private wasn't enough, the morning of my IFR checkride
started out fine...an accident on Highway 101 South put me a half hour
behind, so I called the flight school in Salinas where my test would be
taking place to leave a message for the examiner who had not yet
arrived. Also, the night before, I squawked the right wingtip position
light. I called on my way to the airport to see if it had been
addressed. The note from the shop was that it was working
fine. When I got out to the plane for the preflight it was indeed
working fine. Whew.
When I started the plane and taxied to the run-up area, the engine
check shoed that the left magnetos were fouled (carbon deposits on the
spark plugs). It took me 3-4 attempts to clear them off by
leaning the fuel mixture and running at a high RPM for a minute or
two. Just as I was about to give in and scrub the flight, the
left magneto started behaving properly again. Off I went.
When I arrived in Salinas, we picked up where we left off. I had
to re-do the sample Salinas -> Long Beach flight plan to demonstrate
that I could use that to get tonto an airway for the en route portion
of the flight. After a quick bite of lunch, we took off, flew the
first portion of the
flight by intercepting the planned airway Southbound. After a few
miles of that, he turnedme around and had me do an ad hoc hold "North
of the Salinas VOR, 3000 feet". Given my current heading I
performed a teardrop entry (into a headwind) for a 1:30 outbound
leg. Then did a turn or two adjusting my out bound leg to make my
inbound leg 1 minute.
After that, we headed Northbound and did steep turns and unusual
attitude recovery, one partial panel (he covered the attitude indicator
up while my eyes were closed). Fun! Then we did the VOR 13 into
Salinas, partial-panel again (no attitude
or heading indicator), circling to runway 26 (which was in-use) to a
touch and go. Then we flew the ILS 31, then the LOC DME 31 then
landed.We then went back inside and he typed up my temporary license --
real one will come in the mail.
Doolittle (1st cousin, thrice removed) would be proud. "His most
important contribution to aeronautical technology was the development
of instrument flying. He was the first pilot to
take-off, fly, and land an airplane using instruments alone, without a
view outside the cockpit. This accomplishment in 1929
enabled practical all-weather airline operations."
So I filed for my first IFR solo back to Palo Alto. I was cleared
to Palo Alto via the Salinas Two departure, radar vectors to GILRO
intersection, then direct Palo Alto. In reality I was vectored
from the departure procedure to Palo Alto where I requested the visual
approach into Palo Alto and was cleared over Lexington Resevoir.
Now upward and onward to my Commercial+multi/single-engine license...
- September 9th, 2004 What's .9 of
a mile between friends?
I went down to Salinas (KSNS) on Sept 2nd to take my IFR
checkride. While I was finishing my sample flight plan from
Salinas to Long Beach, the pilot examiner took my logbook to total up
some hours. He returned a few minutes later with a calculator
showing "33.9" -- "You don't meet the minimum of 50 hours cross-country
(XC) pilot-in-command (PIC) flight experience. Your training
flights from Palo Alto (KAPO) to Stockton (KSCK) are invalid for XC
logging as the distance is not at least 50 nautical miles."
"Speechless" is an understatement.
We got out a sectional map and measured. It looked close, but
several on-line references put KPAO-KSCK at 49.1NM. So I had to make up
16.1 hours of XC time before I could take my FAA checkride. We
finished the oral part of the exam and he told me to return after I get
the required hours and we'll just do the practical portion, no need to
go over the oral section again, So I took the opportunity and
flew home via Fresno (KFAT) and Stockton (KSCK) to add 3.9 hours to the
total. XC time counts as long as one of the airports is at least
50NM away so Salinas and Fresno did that for me.
So after a weekend of furious flying around the bay area to several
airports: Sacremento (KSAC), Santa Rosa (KSTS), Salinas (KSNA) I'm down
to 1.1 hours left to knock out. I'll either do that on Monday
with my instructor for my review, or on my test day by taking the long
way down to Salinas. Anywhichway, I'm sooooo close. Test day is now
set for Sept. 14th.
- July 30th, 2004 OK, so it's been
awhile again. I've been busy ...
Since I received my Private Pilot's License (PPL) in December, I took a
break then started my Instrument (IFR) training. Usually most
pilots get several years/hundreds of hours under their belts as VFR
pilots, but I didn't want bad habits to set in. The exacting
precision IFR flying requires could only improve my skills and overall
safety as a pilot.
So far, I'm about 2/3 of the way through and am expecting to take my
IFR check ride in late August. I'm now starting on my enroute
portion of my training after completed my basic maneuvers and approach
training. I plan to fly to my hometown of Long Beach (KLGB) on my
birthday next week.
- July 23, 2004 Farewell Lewis Culbreth
I spent a week in Santa Fe,
NM helping out a friend who was a
former pilot take his last ride before he succumbed to terminal
cancer. We had planned to fly together in California for our
common birthday in August but we were thrown a curve ball at the
beginning of July. He had just come off seven weeks of chemo and
things were looking good until he took a turn for the worse; the
thought was he had six months to two years but the crushing blow came
when it was found it had moved to his liver. His fate was
sealed. We had "about two weeks", the doctor said.
So I called up the local airport FBO in Santa Fe while I was still in
California preparing for my trip out there to say goodbye -- they had
planes for rent, Cessna 172s -- I didn't have proficiency to fly
them yet. So, I booked the plane in Santa Fe for two hours on
the 18th., called my local instructor and jammed in two hors of
training on the 15th., flew into Santa Fe on the 17th and waited for an
instructor there to be "checked out" in the C172 to be able to take
Lewis up the next day. After an hour of ground training and an
hour and a half of airwork and landings I got his blessing that I could
safely operate the airplane.
The next day Lewis, another of his friends, and I and an entourage went
to the airport and gently thread Lewis' gangly body into the plane for
a 40 minute flight.
It was the last time he flew and the last time he left the house
alive. The next day he fell into a semi-coma and would only
rarely open his eyes and track people over the next few days. He
passed away gently with his wife Dagny, her eldest
daughter Veronica, her son James and their close friend Inez just after
2pm on the 23rd. I had just delivered Veronica from
Albuquerque airport just an hour before.
When Lewis was told he had two weeks left to live, he lived.
Fighting the chemo and weight loss while also diabetic was a nightmare
-- but now he was able to eat everything he missed, eggs, bacon,
butter, you name it.
Don't wait to be told you have two weeks left to live -- you could get
flattened on the freeway on in a crosswalk without warning. The
time for living is now,
before that sweet night comes to claim each and every one of us.
Thanks for the tip, my friend -- I missed you even before you left.
- Dec. 16, 2003 FAA PRIVATE PILOT
CHECK RIDE - or how
to deal with unexpected stuff...again
This is it.
After 18 months of training and 108 hours in the logbook, it's test day.
While preflighting N81020
I saw the nose strut was bottomed out flat --
it needed recharging, so I called maintenance. They knew I was
under the gun so they rushed out and pumped it back up with 400psi
which they require. So off I was to KSNS (Salinas) for the
test. Upon landing and shutdown I walked around and found a flat
nose strut - DAMMIT! It wasn't a leaky strut, it was a blown
seal. This was not legal to fly. After calling the club,
they flew out another plane N47540 (and its logs)
-- I can't say enough
about West Valley Flying Club
dropping everything to help.
So getting off to a late start after all this, I was asked to plan a
flight from KSNS to KSAC (Sacramento
Executive) then to KVIS
Municipal). Since it was getting dark we broke off with a
simulated divert to 3O7
(Hollister), did maneuvers and back to KSNS for
short/soft field ops.
So at 17:30 local time -- long after sunset -- I received my temporary
airman's certificate -- my legal Private Pilot's Certificate -- which
will be replaced by a credit card sized one via the mail.
So on the literal eve of the second century of powered flight, I
received my license. Unless someone had the delays I did or
received their license in Hawaii or Alaska that evening, I may have
been the last certificated Private Pilot in the US in the first century
of flight. I guess that makes me "Old School."
- Dec. 15, 2003 FAA Written Test
Passed with 88% (min. 70%). Missed 7 questions and the
way the test is graded you can't tell which ones they were. Damn.
I was testing around 93% with the home study software. I've been
trying to fly the same plane (N4352G) for the last
as to get used to its quirks -- it's had a "minor" anomaly of the
magnetic compass being out of whack on E/W courses. It's legal to
that way for VFR, but for a test it would be too distracting. The
night before my final test, it still wasn't fixed yet, so I elected to
different airplane - N81020.
Well because it was a different
had to pull its maintenance logs and review them so I was ready.
- Dec. 11, 2003 Pre-Private Pilot
from KPAO with check
pilot John Pyle.
had me plan a XC from KPAO
to KUKI (Ukiah
Municipal). As part of
the exam, he had me divert to KTCY (Tracy Municipal),
then we did our
maneuvers around KLVK
(Livermore Municipal). I could have done
better on initial approach to Tracy and missed a few on my oral
portion, but that's good as it sets expectations for the real
test. That would be the second to the next thing.
- Dec. 5-10, 2003 Flew to UK for a
respite and to greet one of the newest passenger's on the planet
Flew on N144KK from KSJC-EGKB
(Biggin Hill) to do a bit of
shopping and meet Olivia Lockwood on her 0th birthday on Monday Dec.
8th! Pics coming. (Mum Caroline and dad Matthew and I worked
together at Blue Martini.) Everyone is glowing, happy and
healthy! What a holiday gift. Saw more friends and flew
back on United on the 10th in time for the big day.
- Dec. 4, 2003 Cross-Country Solo
make-up - or how
to deal with unexpected stuff
Took off in 4352G again, this time from KPAO to KSBP (San Luis
Obispo Regional) with a scheduled stop on the return
leg to KSNS (Salinas
Municipal). When I got to KSNS, I topped off
fuel to see how much I actually burned to check my fuel-burn
calculations 14.3 added vs. 15.7 expected -- since the tanks weren't as
topped as upon takeoff I was within a gallon on the safe side --
cool! Upon restart the starter motor this time didn't want to
cooperate -- I think I may have over promed it. So with a little
cussing I waited and finally got it to restart. Yay! After taking
off and heading to KSNS,
the sun dropped below the cloud deck at the
horizon but not the horizon itself -- I figured that there was plenty
of time to get home in time. When I got to KSNS for the requisite
landing to a full stop and took off again, the sun peeked between the
clouds and the horizon. About over Watsonville the sun sank
beneath the horizon -- hrm what to do: Land at an un-endorsed airport
or press on the few minutes to home? Well over watsonville at
8500 feet I could see the KSJC
(San Jose International), the KNUQ
(Moffett Federal) and KPAO's
beacons. As I crossed the
ridge and started to descend it got dark quickly, but the goal was in
sight. Since I was in contact with ATC all the time (via flight
following) and visibility was well above VFR minimums, all was
calm. I landed at KPAO
at 17:19 local, 29 minutes after local
sunset -- well within the hour rule (I thought it was 30
minutes). Finally long solo XC complete!
- Nov. 25, 2003 Cross-Country
Solo - or how to deal with unexpected failures
Took off from KPAO in 4352G to
get my long
cross-country under my belt. Flew to KFAT (Fresno-Yosemite)
meet a friend for lunch and head back before dark. Well, the
friend's schedule precluded lunch so I walked over to the passenger
terminal and had a BBQ sandwich. After lunch alone, I
started to head back. Well, started to. I was unable to get
the engine started. After getting some help from the local
ground staff it was clear that the calvary needed calling.
The West Valley maintenance chief and another pilot came out and
finally got the plane started by hand. The other pilot and I flew
back together (since it was after sundown) . Turns out, the
starter solenoid was the culprit; seems that the new high-amp starters
tend to burn them out faster. Oh well, lesson learned.
However, because I didn't complete the round-trip and stop off at a
third airport, I didn't meet the requirements. *sigh* time to
- Nov. 17, 2003 20:00 PST: Wow!
What a month.... (this section is a work-in-progress and will
be filled-in soon)
I've been on the road so much my cat didn't know who I was when I got
home. (That didn't last long...)
- Oct. 15, 10:00 left KSJC-NVVV
Port Villa, Vanuatu (sorry no pics)
12:30 non-stop flight. Arrived Oct 16th 18:00 local (we gained a
day crossing the date line.) We were the *first* aircraft to ever come
from the US non-stop -- it confused the customs agents as the US does
not stamp exit paperwork like most other countries do...they simply
could not believe we made it non-stop from California. BTW, it
was the first time in my life I've crossed the Equator.
- Oct. 19. Flew to Sydney.
I don't know why I waited so
long to go there -- it's a beautiful city. We went to Doyle's in
Watson's bay for lunch when we arrived. Great trip via water taxi.
- Oct 20. Bought a new digital camera -- it was a bout time, my
old one was getting long in the tooth -- it didn't even have USB or a
flash card, just a slow serial connection. I got the Canon
PowerShot A80. The key items for me were size and AA
want something that can take rechargeable batteries so I don't have to
deal with custom packs and that it's small enough to fit in a
pocket. I also grabbed a 512MB CF card; that gives me just over
400 pics before having to dump the pics to my laptop.
- Oct. 21. Flew to Adelaide
- Oct. 22. Barossa
wine tour. This is Oz' best kept
- Oct. 23. Flew to Surfers
Paradise via Coolangatta for the CART
race. Stayed at the Palazzo
Versace Hotel. Mmm...swank.
- Oct. 26. Race
- Oct. 27. Flew to Cairns to switch to two smaller Cessna 310s to
take us to Lizard
home of one resort and a research station.
- Oct. 29. Flew back to Cairns to then fly back to KSJC via PHNL
(Honolulu, HI) for fuel.
- Oct. 29. Got back to KSJC meeting the morning
we left in
Cairns. Ran to medical center, got a Yellow Fever
Then ran out for passport photos to take to the Brazilian embassy for
- Oct. 30. Washed clothes, payed bills, petted cat. Got
prescription for Malarone
anti-malarial pills. These are newer than the scary one that
gives you "vivid-dreams" (Mefloquine) or doxycycline (which gave me an
ulcerated esophagus when I was using it for acne treatment 15 years
ago.) Malarone need only be taken one day before travel to risk
areas and for a week after you return home instead of the month for
doxycycline. Here's more info on the options.
- Oct. 31. Left KSJC
for KMIA. Landed near
23:00 and checked into
Marriott by the airport. No room service, no restaurants.
Went out and found a Cuban seafood restaurant open and filled up with
ceviche and mojitos.
- Nov. 1. Left KMIA
Mmm...industrial pollution. Here's pics in-flight over the Caribbean.
Joined The World of ResidenSea
remainder of the trip.
- Nov. 2. 08:00 Left port and sailed down the Orinoco
- Nov. 3-4. Sailing down the Orinoco and out on the Atlantic
- Nov. 5. Arrived at Îles
du Salut (Île Royal actually) This is
where Devil's Island is. Papillon was wrong, it's only 6 miles to
shore, not 24!
- Nov. 6-7. On the Atlantic. Entered the Amazon river.
- Nov. 8. 08:00. Arrived Santarem, Brazil
- Nov. 9. 18:00 Set sail.
- Nov. 10. 08:00-13:00 Anchored off of Boca de Valeria village.
- Nov. 11. 08:00 Arrived Manaus, Brazil
- Nov. 13. 09:00 Left Manaus for KSDM (Brown Field, San
Diego, CA) to
clear customs and add fuel, home at KSJC at 15:00.
- Oct. 13, 2003 19:37 PDT: Passed
Cross Country Solo Phase Check!
I was a little nervous, but I passed -- I haven't had
lot of cross country work and there's a lot to memorize and keep track
of. I flew N4352G
and my check pilot was Margaret Clark.
I need more work on VOR navigation, untowered field ops, and pulling
out my checklists more often. I planned a trip from
Palo Alto (KPAO) to
Ukiah (KUKI) via the
Concord VOR (CCR) , but we
diverted to Petaluma (O69) by the time we got to the Skaggs Island
(SGD). Did a few landings there, then headed back direct via San
Francisco International (KSFO)
where I got to practice emergency
procedures, instrument flight, unusual attitude recovery, and Class B
airspace transition. Next is more practice on those items listed,
but now I get to go on longer trips on my own as long as my CFI approves
of my flight plan before I go. Next lesson will be Class-B transition
ops and review and endorsement for me to take my FAA written test. I
wanna try Fresno as my first long trip when I get back too. Then
it's review of regulations and all the material, another phase check to
find any holes, then it's my FAA check ride! I hope to finish by
the end of November, then move right on to my IFR and Commercial
ratings which should take 3-4 months.
- Oct. 10-12, 2003: Busy Weekend
- Oct. 10, 07:00 PDT: Flew to Mexico City's Toluca Airport (MMTO)
from San Jose (KSJC)
Mexico City is beautiful -- must go back. Ate lunch at Karizma Cantina,
yummy food and drinks. Ate dinner Friday at Villa Maria
-- GO THERE. The food and the ambiance is great, so is their
tequila list. I recommend Don Eduardo reposado.
- Oct. 11: Had a tour guide hired by the hour to take us to the
Anthropological Museum on the way their and also after on the way
to the race track he gave us a historical tour as time allowed.
I'll post his contact info here later -- he's a gentleman in his 60's
who drives as his only income; he's a gem and a wealth of history and
English fluent. At the track, PK Racing qualified for 12th
<>Oct. 12: PK
Racing finished 5th!
After the race was nearly over we had to get to the airport to get back
to the US before the airport closed at Brown Field (SDM) in San Diego;
it seems that when entering from the South you have to clear at the
first available port of entry instead of flying to San Jose even though
it has customs facilities. How did we get to airport and avoid all the
traffic? Helicopter! Woo-Hoo! First time in a
whirlybird for me; simply breathtaking flying over Mexico City at 2,500
feet and over the ridge line toward Toluca with lightning less than 5
miles away. The flight home was a little bumpy for weather, but
the views over Baja California were breathtaking too. We landed
Brown Field, cleared customs before taking off in an hour later for San
- Oct. 2, 2003 00:30 PDT: Change
- Europe trip is off as it's getting late in the year for a comfy
time, but some new trips have appeared:
- Oct. 10-12, Mexico City for
CART race. PKR's
Mika Salo came in 3rd in last weekend's Miami race!
- Oct. 15-29, Austraila for
- I think I'm going to ride my motorcycle down to LA this weekend
afer my flying lessons on Fri. and Sat. to "get away". Disneyland
is on the menu for Sunday.
- Sep. 29, 2003 23:00 PDT: OK So much has happened since the
- My last solo flight was on Aug. 3rd. This has got to
change. But truth be told, I've been busy. Good news: I've
booked some lessons for this weekend (Oct. 3-4) to review so I can take
my cross-country check ride, then my final soon!
- Aug. 29th was my last day at Blue Martini -- stick a fork in
I'm done. Oct. 19th would have been my 5 year anniversary.
It's time to move on and build another company somewhere else.
- Then the "fun" started:
- 8/30-9/1: Santa Fe, NM visiting friends
- 9/2-9/3: SJC-Dublin, Ireland
- 9/3-9/4: Dublin-London, England
- 9/4-9/7: London-Geneva, Switzerland (actually Montreux)
For my friend's sister's wedding. Mmm...cheese.
- 9/7-9/9: London-Indianapolis, IN
- 9/9-9/10: Indianapolis-SJC
- While I was in London on Sep. 8th. My grandmother passed
away in SoCal. This was no surprise as she was 94 and in the
hospital under hospice care. She passed in her sleep not two
after her son saw her last. She was sharp as a tack up until the end.
- On top of it all, not two hours before I got home from
Indianapolis, my 17 year
old cat Bianca
passed away -- also
in her sleep. She stopped
eating the day before I returned. My roommate Tom did all the
right things. I took her to the vet the following day and had her
cremated; now she sits on the mantle in a pretty box on top her ceramic
food dish emblazoned with "Her Majesty".
- My grandmother's passing kicked off another trip:
- 9/13 Flew to SoCal to spend a few days with my family helping
prep for the transport of my grandmother's body back to Hawaii for
memorial and burial.
- 9/17 Flew from LAX to HNL
- 9/19 Memorial in Honolulu
- 9/21 Fly to Hilo on the Big Island for burial
- 9/22 Burial
- 9/23 Back to Honolulu for R&R visiting with family.
- 9/27 Fly back to SF
- Next trip: Europe
- 10/9 SFO-LHR (London)
- Then on to Paris via EuroStar (Chunnel)
- Then to Barcelona
- Then to Rome
- Maybe Venice
- Detail happens in here somewhere
- 10/25 LHR-SFO
- Then relax?
- Feb. 25, 2003 13:00 PST: Passed
Solo Phase Check! Picked from a hat, the check ride pilot
didn't fail me, despite the bumpy ride and dodging clouds. Now I
can fly solo within 25 nautical miles from the airport. After being
questioned on the ground at the aircraft on various topics, we took off
from KPAO, climbed
Crystal Springs/280, did slow-flight, stalls, steep-turns, and a
simulated engine failure (that's what all those empty fields around the
huge Stanford radio dish antenna are for...). Then went to KSQL for a few landings
go-around. Then back to KPAO
for pattern work and airport operations. All in all, 1.5 hours of
airwork. Couldn't do short-approach due to traffic, but passed
cleanly with a few comments, come corrective, some supportive.
it's cross-country time! (At least I can fly alone now and practice
without paying $$$ for lugging an instructor around...)
- Jan.17, 2003 16:45 PST: FIRST
let me fly this by
myself over there. Here's
OK, I'm not hooked on flying mind you, I'm officially addicted.
Now I can't decide on getting one of these, or one of those. Oh wait, that
would infer actually having enough money. Never mind. Move along.
There's nothing to see here...not that I'm bitter or anything...
"Soloing is like having sex for the first time, except this time it's
better because you're doing