First Instrument Training Lesson

Wow.. it’s time to break out the flying blog again. I can’t believe that it’s been about a year to the day of my last post, but here I am finally starting my Instrument Training. I’ve been flying but not blogging (sorry!) over the last year and have had some awesome experiences, but today… today opens a new chapter in my piloting education.

I’m flying with Tom Fischer at Fischer Aviation out of Essex County Airport (KCDW). To change it up, I’m flying a low-wing Piper Cherokee as opposed to the high-wing Cessna I’m used to flying. That right there adds a little bit to the workload of flying – fuel pump on/off… switching tanks… which way do I turn the trim? Where the hell is the switch for this.. that.. that other thing? Wow, there’s a lot to get used to – like getting into a new car and trying to figure out how to turn the heat on. But, it’s a neat little airplane with a small glass panel, and great visibility because the wings aren’t in the way. I like the idea of getting used to a different type of airplane. I think it’ll make me a better pilot in a number of ways and increase the comfort level when switching other types of planes.

So today’s flight can be described as full sensory overload. Luckily Tom handled all of the navigation and communication. Just trying to hold heading, altitude and follow instructions from ATC while getting used to the new airplane proved challenging on the way out to Orange County (KMGJ). If I were to get the radar track from today’s flight, I’m sure it would look more like I was on a slalom course than a direct route to the airport.

After a touch and go at Orange County, it got a lot better. I got a better feeling of the flight characteristics and got used to the CDI needle display. I felt a lot more focused on the way back to Caldwell and was able to keep my assigned heading and altitude. Maybe next time I can put some brain power into navigating.

Ground Track KCDW->KMGJ

Logbook Entry N8350R (PA28)

Flight Details




Instrument Details


Additional Notes

ILS 3 MGJ, LOC 22 CDW, Climbing and Descending Turns, Tracking, Intercepting

Flying the G1000

I took a lesson with Stanley today to get used to the G1000. It was a fun experience. I encountered what I imagine the usual issues are when first flying the G1000, like:

  • The airspeed tape – a bit weirder than the needle.
  • Where’s my tachometer!? Oh yea, it’s up there…
  • Barometric pressure.. put it in twice!


  • Actually, I can get used to this autopilot.

I think a couple more flights and I’ll be comfortable looking in the right places and hitting the right buttons on-demand.

Logbook Entry N6189Q (C172)

Flight Details




Additional Notes

G1000 and GFC 700 orientation

Passing G1000 Ground School

So I’ve been studying up on the G1000 so I can fly the club’s G1000 equipped 172. I bought both the Sporty’s G1000 Checkout course and ASA’s “The Complete G1000 Course” – both are DVDs for home study. The ASA course has a test component (required for insurance purposes), which I just passed tonight.. woot!

The G1000 clearly has a lot of benefits – integrated instruments, a giant moving map, alerting system – but I’m curious to see how it’ll be adapting to it after a year of flying a steam-guage 172. I don’t imagine it’ll be too difficult, but switching between the two might be interesting (not too interesting I hope!)

Now I just have to do a couple of flights in the club’s G1000 and I’ll be good to go.

I Joined Paramus Flying Club

First Airplane KeyI officially joined Paramus Flying Club tonight and got my first airplane key. I enjoyed hearing Thor Solberg’s presentation on his father’s flight from the US to Norway in 1938. It seems like a great group of pilots and I look forward to flying with them.

I’ve been flying here and there since my last post, but definitely not enough. I realize that the way I’m gonna get in the air consistently is to start my IFR training. I’m looking to get through that by the end of the year.

Unfortunately, the plane I can fly is currently based in Linden, not Caldwell. So, I can either wait till June when it gets moved, or get up to speed on the G1000 and fly the plane that’s at Caldwell. Yea, I’m thinking the latter too.

Let’s do it!

First Passenger: Finding Bel-Air Minsk

I took my sister, Isabell, flying today. She was my first passenger! We headed North and were on a mission to find a little place we used to spend our summers as kids. It was called Bel-Air Minsk. Most of the buildings had been leveled since then and the property was sold off.

We headed up toward the Huguenot VOR. Once we passed it, we turned onto the 306 radial. I also tuned in Stillwater VOR for a 15 degree radial. I figured we’d be right over it at that intersection. It took a couple of turns, but we managed to spot it. Isabell took a few photos.

Mission accomplished. Time for lunch. We stopped at Greenwood Lake on the way back and ate at the restaurant there, which happens to have a scrap Lockheed Constellation built into the building.

We headed back to Caldwell and wrapped up our Sunday journey.

Logbook Entry N491WS (C172)

Flight Details




Additional Notes

Flight w/ Isabell (First Passenger), Bel-air, x-wind

Lancaster, PA as a Safety Pilot

I headed over to Lancaster with Barnet today. He wanted to practice some instrument approaches, so I acted as a safety pilot while he was under his makeshift ‘view limiting device’ – a folded chart, which actually worked quite well. I flew over there and handed over the controls after Barnet had put on his oh so fashionable chart. He did two RNAV approaches, one missed and one landing. Then we had some lunch.

We had some spark-plug fouling we had to deal with before leaving. Then headed home through the Class B and Barnet did another instrument approach into Caldwell. Fun day! ..and now that I have my license, I’m not just extra weight in the right seat ;)

From the Right Seat Now…

I still haven’t taken my first passenger. We had planned a trip, but it was too windy. That’s coming soon.

I called up Tom today because I’ve wanted to practice from the right seat. Yes, I know my training is over, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lot of new things to do. So we did it.

It’s weird, but not bad after a while. All of the instrument are way over to the left and the parallax makes everything not quite centered. I was using my right hand on the yoke, another thing to get used to. It worked out, though. I did several landing at Caldwell and then headed over to Andover. I’ve never landed at Andover, so I wanted to try it.

The approaches were a little off to one side or the other, but the landings were not bad. I’d be comfortable flying from the right, although the left side is just so much easier.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW – 12N -
Duration: 1.3

I’m a Private Pilot!

I just passed my private pilot checkride with Peggy. She signed off on it and printed me out a temporary certificate. Woo!

We started a little late, but the gave me some time to get everything setup and load up on Hershey’s kisses. The oral exam lasted about 1 hour at the end of which she gave me the hold short question – which side of the hold short line do you hold short on. The solid line side!

So we went flying. The plan was to fly the first part of a trip planned to Williamsburg, VA. I planned it to transition through Morristown’s airspace. When we got off of Caldwell, I called up Morristown and they said, “677DM, stay clear of the Class Delta.” Doh! I pulled out my chart and tried to figure how far their airspace goes. I also took a look at the GPS distance to make sure we were more than four miles from the airport. We got around it and were back on course.

Around Somerset Airport, Peggy pulled the engine on me. I flew over the field and planned a left traffic pattern. By the time we got there, we were at pattern altitude. I turn downwind, then base, then turning final realized I was way too low. I kept it too wide. So, I did a go-around. I am not happy about that, especially cause we had practiced many forced landings during training.

Peggy gave me another shot at it. This time I kept it too close and was slipping it to the max to try to get down to the runway. We would have touched down beyond midfield, and it wasn’t that long of a runway. So, I hit the power and we went on to the other maneuvers. I was not too happy about that either.

The other maneuvers went fantastically, though. We did some S-turns, then headed up North. We did some slow flight, power on and off stalls, and a steep turn. She then put me under the hood and had me do a climb, decent, and some turns. After that, some unusual attitudes. Those all worked out and her comments on the checklist were “Very Good.”

She had me pinpoint our location while I was still under the hood. We happened to be over Boonton Reservoir. From there, Caldwell’s easy to spot.

On downwind, Peggy said she’ll give me another shot at the forced landing and she pulled my power. So I called up to request a short approach and started emergency procedures. I ended up slipping a lot and touching down long, but we made it. That was the first time I had to get off at Gulf after landing on 22.

And that’s all! It was a great day and now I’m a pilot. Thanks to all of the instructors that had flown with me and all the private pilots that had taken me flying with them.

My blog is now the “Adventures of a Private Pilot.” I imagine there will be more pictures from now on.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW
Duration: 1.3

Final Stage Check

Ooo.. getting really close now. I went out with Kyle, another instructor, so he can evaluate all these fun maneuvers. Beforehand, though, he gave me an oral exam on all this flying stuff.

What kind of engine does the plane have? What instruments can you do without? What planes can’t you fly? Tell me about Hypoxia. What does all this stuff mean on the chart? etc…

Then we went flying. We basically went through all the same stuff in the review flights. A simulated emergency at Somerset, maneuvers, navigation, and landings.

On our way back, Caldwell was really busy. Combine that with a trainee controller and you get “677DM, stay clear of the Class Delta.” Wonderful. So, we circled around out to the Northwest. There were about 4 planes in the pattern and we heard two others besides us coming in.

Eventually, we prompted the controller and he gave us a runway assignment.

Kyle signed off on the flight, so next up is the big one: the FAA practical exam.

Plane: N677DM (C172)
From: CDW – SMQ -
Duration: 1.5