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Thread: Some real-life aviation experiences and milestones today

  1. #41
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    Haven't posted in a while so thought I'd give you all an update on what I've been up to, in the real-flying world.

    I've put a general pause on in-person lessons because of the Arizona heat, the lack of any need to hurry on my part, and what were then covid conditions. I'll resume in October with a flight school I signed up for in Scottsdale. Meanwhile, I just got back from a family vacation in Kaua'i, Hawai'i, and while there I signed up for a couple of flight instruction sessions with a local flightseeing company. Needless to say, I used MSFS to sim-fly in Kaua'i EXTENSIVELY. I knew the entire island like the back of my hand from the sim. Seeing it in person from a Cessna 172 was seriously one of the coolest experiences of my life. And I don't think my life has been boring?

    I've gone up in the air for instruction a total of 4 times now, 2 times in Arizona and now the 2 Hawaii flights. Although I'm logging the hours from these sporadic experiences, I'm just trying to indulge in having some fun until my real flight lessons begin. I can see a clear difference between my very first student pilot experience described above, and my last one in Kaua'i. My first flight experience had me completely fixated on looking at my instruments, maybe because of MSFS habits or maybe just from nerves. I worked on this for my second flight lesson and improved a bit, but I probably still fixated too much. By the end of flight #2, I also felt pretty nauseous.

    But flight #3 in Kaua'i was quite different. I did not feel a need to fixate on the instruments, and felt much more comfortable maneuvering the airplane while only glancing to check my airspeed and altitude. Flight #4 in Kaua'i was 5 days later and I enjoyed this new way of flying even more. Plus, the nausea was gone completely for both of these flights. Doing this, especially with the mind blowing scenery of Kaua'i, was totally thrilling and exhilarating. I remember looking down soon after take-off from Lihue Airport, at about 2,000 feet, and seeing an airliner below us at about 1,000 feet on its way to land. I don't know how to describe this--it was just super cool to see that visual. Truly amazing. Images that will stay in my brain for a long time.

    The instructor let me fly about 60% of the route for flight #3. My 15-year old daughter was in the back seat of this Cessna 172, and I was thrilled to see that she actually loved it (contrary to her mom, who is still skittish about small planes). Taking off from Lihue, we did a clockwise circle around the island of Kaua'i, flying at about 2,000 feet as we went past the famous Na Pali cliffs (which are approximately 4,000 feet high). We then flew over Hanalei Bay, Princeville, Mark Zuckerberg's obnoxiously massive estate, and back to Lihue. The instructor simply had me focus on flying straight and level, and executing a few simple turns.

    For flight #4 I flew about 75% of the route. The CFI ditched the idea of showing me any amazing scenery since I'd seen it all anyway. I instead got a good lesson in real-life weather-based decision-making. The weather patterns on this island are complex beyond my current level of comprehension. Every day there are thick clouds that fully cover the center of Kaua'i (making that center the literally wettest spot on Earth). Sporadically these clouds move across to other parts of the island, typically at elevations as low as 2,000 or 3,000 feet. I wasn't sure how an instructor teaching a student pilot in fully VFR conditions would remain VFR. We took off with clouds in the immediate vicinity of Lihue, and stayed below them. As we approached the Na Pali cliffs, we realized that the clouds were just too low for us to pass through in VFR conditions, so we turned around. Doing so would require us to enter the military airspace of Barking Sands Naval Base, so I enjoyed hearing the CFI interact with the BSNB controller to request permission to do so. We then got to fly almost directly above the BSNB airport. (This base is responsible for firing off anti-missile missiles btw. Again, super cool).

    Landings and takeoffs were handled by the CFI this time. The whole thing was awesome. Can't wait to resume real lessons. Hopefully any bad habits I learned from being a simmer will melt away as I get further into this. Since I was in student mode it was not the time to take pictures, but I did manage to squeeze in this one while the CFI was approaching final at Lihue:

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  2. #42
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    Default Welcome back!

    Hey, it's great to hear from you. I'd been wondering what you were up to. Your RL flying experience sounds fantastic. A while back, I circumnavigated Kau'i in MSFS, flying at about the same altitude as you did in RL. I did it counterclockwise as I recall.

    I'm envious. I couldn't seriously consider taking flying lessons even if I wanted to because I have a permanent tracheostomy that would make it difficult for me to talk to ground controllers. (I have to cover the trach to talk, which leaves only one hand free for other tasks. Alternatively, I can wear a one-way speaking valve--as I do sometimes for social occasions--which leaves my hands free. But the valve's always at risk of falling off, which would be a bit troublesome in a cockpit.)

    Please post more often about your RL flying exploits.

    Best,
    Steve in Aptos
    HP Omen 25L Desktop, Intel i7-1070 CPU, 32 GB DDR RAM, Nvidia 3070 GPU, 1 TB SSD, Logitech flight yoke, throttle quadrant, rudder pedals, multi-panel, radio panel, TrackIR 5

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aptosflier View Post
    Hey, it's great to hear from you. I'd been wondering what you were up to. Your RL flying experience sounds fantastic. A while back, I circumnavigated Kau'i in MSFS, flying at about the same altitude as you did in RL. I did it counterclockwise as I recall.

    I'm envious. I couldn't seriously consider taking flying lessons even if I wanted to because I have a permanent tracheostomy that would make it difficult for me to talk to ground controllers. (I have to cover the trach to talk, which leaves only one hand free for other tasks. Alternatively, I can wear a one-way speaking valve--as I do sometimes for social occasions--which leaves my hands free. But the valve's always at risk of falling off, which would be a bit troublesome in a cockpit.)

    Please post more often about your RL flying exploits.

    Best,
    Steve in Aptos
    I actually thought of you while over there! If you go to Kaua'i in the near future, you might consider using the company I flew with. That outfit, Wings Over Kauai, is owned by a very smart, diligent, safety-oriented man who has lived in Kaua'i for many years. He owns a Cessna 208 and a Cessna 172 for tourists, and does not cut corners on maintenance or upkeep on them from my observations. As a tourist you can opt for a flight with either plane, but you can also opt for a student/instruction session in the 172 where you would not be doing anything stressful like talking to ATC or taking off. Once in the air, the pilot will simply get you to a safe situation and then let you fly for a bit here and there. Frankly, if I were you I'd just go as a tourist, because seeing the island in that 172 is thrilling beyond words. The MSFS version of the Na Pali cliffs do not even come close to doing them justice. Maybe opt for 30 seconds of taking over the yoke if you're feeling adventurous.
    Intel Core i7 10700KF (8-Core 5.1GHz Turbo Boost), RTX 3070 8GB, 32GB Dual Channel at 3200MHz, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. Monitor: Samsung C49RG9x. VR: Oculus Quest 2.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilends View Post
    Wings Over Kauai, is owned by a very smart, diligent, safety-oriented man who has lived in Kaua'i for many years. He owns a Cessna 208 and a Cessna 172 for tourists, and does not cut corners on maintenance or upkeep on them from my observations.
    Do his planes have the latest Garmin avionics? And if so, how do the Garmin screens in MSFS compare with RL?
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  5. #45
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    No, like most 172s I’ve seen.

    My fancy flight school that owns multiple $400,000 172s has glass cockpits. Those are even cooler than the MSFS version. But a small tour company on an isolated Hawaiian island really doesn’t need all that fancy stuff. Their pilots know every nook and cranny of that airspace by heart.
    Intel Core i7 10700KF (8-Core 5.1GHz Turbo Boost), RTX 3070 8GB, 32GB Dual Channel at 3200MHz, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. Monitor: Samsung C49RG9x. VR: Oculus Quest 2.

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilends View Post
    No, like most 172s I’ve seen.

    My fancy flight school that owns multiple $400,000 172s has glass cockpits. Those are even cooler than the MSFS version. But a small tour company on an isolated Hawaiian island really doesn’t need all that fancy stuff. Their pilots know every nook and cranny of that airspace by heart.
    I saw somewhere that a G1000 can add $50,000 to the cost of a 172.
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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aptosflier View Post
    I saw somewhere that a G1000 can add $50,000 to the cost of a 172.
    At least that. I found this on the web:

    "While an average base install of a Garmin G1000 in a King Air costs around $325,000, it adds an average value increase to your aircraft of around $275,000. In addition, it includes all of your upgrades like WAAS/LPV, ADS-B, RVSM and is safer, lighter, more reliable and can be completed in just 15 days."

    Probably somewhat less on a C-172, but still far from cheap.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by lnuss View Post
    At least that. I found this on the web:

    "While an average base install of a Garmin G1000 in a King Air costs around $325,000, it adds an average value increase to your aircraft of around $275,000. In addition, it includes all of your upgrades like WAAS/LPV, ADS-B, RVSM and is safer, lighter, more reliable and can be completed in just 15 days."

    Probably somewhat less on a C-172, but still far from cheap.
    I might've been off by a digit. Off tomorrow for Chicago in RL, from KSJC by way of KLAX. The flight out of KLAX is a Boeing Dreamliner; second time for me. It's a very nice wide-body, especially up front.
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  9. #49
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    Another long-overdue update!

    After taking a break for the summer heat in Arizona, during which I got my medical exam completed and did a lot of ground school studying, I have now resumed flight lessons again. Last week, I landed a plane on my own for the first time (CFI was with me). Pretty damn exhilarating.

    Because I had received about 7 hours of RL (but sporadic) instruction before that session, it's really hard to say whether or not being a flight simmer helped for this first-time attempt on my part. Being a simmer has both negative and positive effects on people who choose to pursue RL flight lessons, so it's usually a mixed bag. But it's entirely possible that it was a help in this one particular scenario: visualizing what the plane and runway were really supposed to look like while I landed seemed to come easy. I didn't freak out and pull the yoke too much. It was actually quite smooth--keeping in mind that the instructor did have his hands on his yoke for any gentle nudges in the correct direction, much less any emergency needs.

    Anyway, I am still a newbie beginner student pilot and basically a complete moron in the air, with lots and lots and lots more to learn yet. But it is fun and exhilarating. My many thanks to the small group of you over here, because the actual inspiration to even start this journey came from many of you. Cheers!
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  10. #50
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    Congratulations!
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