When Jack Frost is nipping at your Aircraft

When it comes to the winter season, there are two kinds of people; those who love the cold weather and those who can’t stand the cold. Personally, I love the cold weather since you can play in snow, go sledding, drink hot chocolate, and cuddle up next to your friends and families (or that special someone) to stay warm. However, when it comes to flying cold weather and freezing temperatures are not a pilot’s best friend, since it can cause produce a hazard when it comes to flying; ICE! And believe me you don’t want ice to start forming on your aircraft during flight. Now I know what some of you are thinking, a little bit of ice can’t cause a lot of problems, especially to an airplane? Well I can certainly say you are wrong because even a small portion of ice can cause a lot of problems for a pilot and his aircraft. So, for this week’s blog, I’m going to discuss how ice can impact your flight as well as ways to avoid ice when Jack Frost is nipping at your aircraft.

Where can ice form?

Okay so this is an easy answer and one that we all know, but just as a refresher, always remember that Ice can form when temperatures are below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degree Celsius in the presence of moisture (aka water molecules, or water vapor). One thing that a lot of people do tend to forget when it comes to ice and flying, is that freezing can happen at any altitude, place, or time if temperatures are below freezing and there is moisture. As pilots, we must always remember that the temperature decreases with height. So, yes that means you could have ice forming at both the surface or even when you are 40,000 feet in the air.

 

A little ice won’t hurt right?

As I stated before, Ice is a major hazard when it comes to flight so yes even a little bit of ice can cause major problems for an aircraft. The first major effect that Ice has on an aircraft is adding extra weight on to your aircraft. As more Ice accumulates on your aircraft, the weight of the plane gets heavier and heavier, which can cause you to stall at a higher airspeed and at a lower angle of attack then what is stated in your Pilot Operating Handbook (POH). In addition, as Ice begins to form the airflow over your wings begins to get disrupted. Remember to create lift, you need a nice smooth airflow over the wings to create lift, yet ice will disrupt the airflow creating less lift which can result in longer take off distance then what you calculated.

The next major hazard that ice can impose on an aircraft is major malfunction of important instruments. When ice begins to build along the wings, it can disrupt the function of both the ailerons and flaps since they can freeze over. This is critical especially when it comes to landing since you need flaps to increase your decent rate without increasing your airspeed. Ice can also begin to cause your pitot tubes to freeze up and become inactive. For those of you who don’t know, pitot tube indicates airspeed based on impact pressure hitting the aircraft. If these tubes become blocked due to ice, then the aircraft will read indicate no airspeed. Ice can also cause for the pitot static system to become inoperable which will effect altimeter, airspeed indicator, and vertical airspeed indicator, which again are important instruments and gauges needed for flight.

For example, I’m sure many of you all remember a few years ago, when Air France flight 447 on its way from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil bound for Paris, France crashed in the Atlantic Ocean killing all passengers and crew on board the flight. After years of investigation and finally recovering the black boxes, investigators discovered that the crash was due to both pilot error and Instruments becoming inoperative due to ice. Now I know what you are thinking, Wasn’t this flight over warm bodies of water? And yes, you are right, but remember ice can form anywhere, and any time in the presence of moisture and freezing temperatures. In the case of Air France flight 447 since they were flying near thunderstorms, 40,000 feet in the air, Ice froze over the pitot tubes and pitot static system causing multiple problems for the pilots.

Here’s a video on the investigation into Air France flight 447 which explains the cause of the accident https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJzg6W2f7Ng

Finally, Ice can cause for fuel starvation of your aircraft. Ice can cause for fuel pumps and vents to become blocked if the ingredients are there for ice to form. As time goes on fuel can become blocked and cause for your engine to starve for fuel. And of course, if your engine doesn’t have fuel it won’t operate, which is certainly not good especially during flight.

What should I do to avoid ice?

So, what happens if you think that ice is starting to form on your airplane or you want to avoid flying in freezing conditions. Well my first advice is don’t fly. If you know that temperatures are going to be right at or close to freezing, then don’t risk it, and call a no-fly due to possible icing conditions. Always remember if anything interferes with the safety of yourself and aircraft then don’t fly! If you notice ice beginning to form while you are flying, then get out of it by descending to warmer temperatures or landing at the nearest airport ASAP! Again, the more time you are in freezing conditions and moisture the more ice forms on your airplane.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, also I hope you all are ready to ring in 2017 this weekend (Believe me I think 2016 has been an awful year for everyone with all the issues around the world). Also, I wanted to give you all some exciting news for 2017, because this upcoming semester, the University of Oklahoma Sooner Aviation Club is looking to go to the American Airlines training center in Dallas, Texas so I will let everyone know when we are planning to do that as well as post about our visit to American Airlines. Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”

Why I decided to become a pilot

Merry early Christmas everyone, and I hope you are all looking forward to 2017, also I hope everyone did well during finals week or just surviving them for that matter (lol!). In addition, I hope that if you are traveling within the upcoming days that you have safe travels and enjoy being with your friends and family this holiday season. For this week’s post, I want to share with you all a very special moment in my life, even to the point where it influenced my aviation career; and that is the moment I decided that I wanted to become an airline pilot.

My friends always ask me, why did you want to become a pilot? And I always tell them because I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was a little boy and there’s no better job in the world. Growing up I would spend countless hours playing with either my Thomas the tank engine set or my Lego airplane set, so I knew from a very young age I would have a career in transportation. I especially loved it when we traveled by airplane since I thought airplanes were the coolest things on earth. My parents even told me that I would spend countless hours watching airplanes takeoff, and land that they could’ve left me at the airport and I would not have noticed they left. My love for planes continued to grow as I got older, and during the spring break of 2003 would be a moment that would change my life.

In 2003 my family and I were on our way to Canada, Ottawa for spring break. I had just turned six years old a few days before our trip and I was thrilled to be traveling to Canada since I had never been there. As part of our trip, we had to catch a connecting flight at Chicago O’Hare international airport; but of course, our flight had been delayed due to severe weather in the area. For me that meant more time watching airplanes, so I didn’t mind the delay one bit. During the delay, I was running around the gate area pretending to be a plane myself, until I bumped into a man; and that’s when my life was changed forever. The man looked down at me, smiled and said “so you like airplanes, don’t you young man?” Being my little six-year-old self I responded “Yea!” and told him I was waiting for my plane to go to Canada. Little did I know that the man that I had bumped into would change my life forever.

When our flight finally took off for Ottawa, my family and I were sitting in the back of the aircraft. During the flight one of the flight attendants brought me a first-class meal. My parents looked at the attendant and told her that they didn’t order it, but the she told us that “this is for this young man from the pilot. He also wants to see this young man when we land”. My parents looked at me like I had done something wrong, and even I was surprised that the pilot wanted to see me especially since I didn’t know this person. When we landed, we waited for the pilot to come get me, and when he finally came, I noticed that this was the man that I bumped into back in Chicago. He then brought me into the cockpit and let me sit in his lap at the front of the cockpit which was the most amazing experience I ever had. During that time, he showed me all the controls and buttons, even letting me pretend to be the pilot for a while. When it was over he gave me a pair of pilot wings and told he told me to promise him that one day I would become a pilot. I pinky promised him and since that day my life has been forever change to become a pilot; I even still have the pair of wings that pilot gave to me all those years ago.

Ever since that day, I’ve kept my promise to that pilot and I can’t thank him enough to opening my imagination and inspiring me to become a pilot. Over the course of the past year-and half I’ve made some huge accomplishments from my first solo, cross country flying, and earning my private pilot’s license; yet I’ve also had those moments that I wish to forget, but it’s all part of the learning curve to becoming a commercial airline pilot. I hope in my future career as pilot, that I can repay a simple act of kindness by opening a young person’s mind to becoming a pilot and inspiring them to become one, since I believe that it’s important to pay it forward to someone else. So, I now you all know why I want to become a pilot and I hope that someone or something has inspired you all in your careers whether if it’s to become a commercial pilot, aviation mechanic, flight attendant or any careers in aviation.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, and I hope everyone has a safe and amazing Christmas with your loved ones. Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/ for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”

This one is going for miles Homer!

 

Well the week is finally here, the week that every college student hates the most. FINALS WEEK!! I’m sure I share the struggles with all of you when I say I’ve been cramming for the past few days which is why this post is a little late which I apologize for, but school comes first. Also, I wish you all good luck on any finals or check rides that any of you have in the upcoming week. I hope you all also took the time to remember Peral Harbor last week, as well as the passing of John Glenn the first man to orbit the earth.

For this week’s blog, I thought I would share with you all one of my all-time favorite aerospace movies “October Sky” based on the true story of NASA space engineer Homer H. Hickam, Jr. and how he got inspired to become an engineer for the U.S. space program. I’m sure many of you have seen the movie, but for those of you who haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it especially if you are thinking about having a career with NASA or any other space program for that matter. So, let me give you a quick preview, as well as my review of the movie.

Storyline

It’s 1957 in Coalwood, West Virginia a town that as you would guess is a leading producer of coal for the state. John Hickam (Chris Cooper), the mine superintendent, loves his job and hopes that his boys, Jim (Scott Miles) and Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal), will one day join him in his mine. However, Jim appears to be on the path to receiving a football scholarship, while Homer hasn’t decided on what his plan is after high school. That is until word reaches the town of the Soviet Union successfully putting Sputnik 1 into space causing a huge fuss of possible war or attacks by the Soviet Union. One night as Sputnik flies over the town, the towns people decide to gather outside to watch it fly over. After watching it fly through space and over town that’s when Homer gets the idea that he wants to go to college to become a space engineer. Homer soon begins to gather his friends and a school geek to create their own rockets to successfully launch into the air. Initially, his family and classmates think he has gone crazy and is wasting his time, his dad even told him to stop since he would be working in the mines with him, and Homer thought about quitting due to many unsuccessful launches. That is until he and his friends made a few corrections and soon their launches not only become successful, but also becomes a popular site to watch for many of the towns people. It even got to the point where their teacher Miss Riley encourages the boys to enter the state science fair to compete in a nationwide science competition. That is until one launch lands the boys in huge trouble since it starts a fire (or did it?) and a major accident happens at the coal mine causing for Homers dad to be out of work for quite some time. So what happens to Homer and his dreams of becoming a NASA engineer? Well I you will have to watch this beloved film to see what happens to Homer and his friends and family.

My thoughts

Personally, I absolutely love this movie since it is one of my favorite aerospace movies, even though the story line is a little cheesy, it still is a great movie. I love the fact that the relationship between him and his father is sort of one you would expect growing up during that time from telling your son to stop doing something that is frowned upon in society, to being one of his biggest supporters. I mean just look at the career that Homer had while working for NASA. It also is sort of that rooting for the underdog since Homer comes from such a small town, especially one focused on coal rather than rockets and space ships. Also I love this movie because it truly shows that when you are passionate about something and you want to make a career out of it, you will stop at nothing to achieve it just like I am with flying, I will stop at nothing to become a pilot. Finally, just on my personal level, I love the theme song (band geek) it just has that sad, yet hopeful feeling to it and perfectly fits in with the movie.

Well guys that’s it for this week, and again if any of you guys have upcoming finals or check rides I wish you all the best of luck. Also, I know probably a lot of you will be traveling for the holidays, so be safe on your travels and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. Don’t forget guys to check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”

How to conquer your Check Ride

It’s football time in Oklahoma! This week is a huge week here at the University of Oklahoma, because we play our instate rival the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Bedlam series. This is a huge game since it’s not only a rivalry game, but also since the winner wins the Big 12 Championship. Unfortunately, the weather for the game looks to be in the forties along with some freezing rain, but that still isn’t stopping me from going to the big game.

So just like most of you, I’m sure we’ve all reached that point where we are dreading the worst week of the school year, FINALS WEEK! Yes, that time of the school year where you start cramming as much material in a short time span, while trying to stay up all night because you absolutely must pass your classes even though you also have a countdown clock to when you can finally leave for winter break. This time of the year I’ve also noticed that a lot of aviation students are taking that dreaded final flight that I’m sure every aviation student and pilot hates; check rides. Believe me every time I here that word I shudder, but it’s something that we as pilots must live with no matter if we are thinking about flying for the airlines, corporate companies, or the military. That’s why for this week’s blog I’m going to talk about my personal experience with my private pilot check ride as well as give you all some advice of how you can succeed on yours.

Like I said before I’ve only been on my private pilot check ride, and every check ride is completely different from the previous one you took; but whether you are going on your private pilot, instrument, commercial, or multi engine check ride, they all follow the same format so there’s nothing new to expect.

The written portion

I find it weird that the first portion of a check ride is called “the written portion” when all it’s just multiple choice question, most of which you’ve probably seen during your training. The only big advice that I would give to you all is to get the Gleim textbook for the course that you are in. For example, if you are in your learning to become a private pilot, get the Gleim Private Pilot FAA knowledge test. The great thing about these books is that Gleim includes questions that are on current and past FAA test or ask questions that are in the exact same format. The only major thing you must do is review the questions and various test throughout the book.

The Oral Portion

I’m not going to lie to you all when I say this, but I absolutely hate the oral portion of a check ride. The reason I hate it so much is because the examiner can ask you anything, and a lot of times I tend to over think the situation or give too much information. Also, one of my biggest problems is that I tend to leave out one or two key words which are typically the words that the examiner is needing for me to say. So, if you’re like me where you tend to over think things or forget those key words here is my advice to passing the oral portion. The first major tip is to get the FAA oral exam book and test standards that is needed for the check ride you are doing. These books provide a variety of subjects such as basic information, weather, cross country, instrument procedures, and much more as well as providing answers to these subjects. I would also suggest getting a highlighter and marking key words so that you don’t forget them. Also, whenever I did my private pilot check ride, I noticed the examiner had the booklet in his hand and was asking me the exact same questions from the book. Next, if you have fellow peers or friends in the same flight course as you, form study groups because both you and your fellow peers benefit by studying the material together. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your flight instructor for help in areas you don’t feel confident in. I always felt embarrassed whenever I asked my instructor for help on oral topics, but he always reminded me that it’s his job to help me prepare for the exam, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from your instructor.

The flight portion

When it comes to the flight portion, I find the flying to be the easiest part of any check ride because all you are doing in the flight portion is showing the examiner what you’ve done with your instructor; the examiner is just there to see if you can perform the required material and maneuvers up to standards. Even though I think that the flying portion is the easiest, there are still simple things that the examiner can fail you on during the flight. First, never forget to do a checklist, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a person failed because they forgot to do a checklist. Remember as a pilot you are required to perform all checklist that you have. Don’t forget since you are pilot in command, if you screw up a maneuver or know that something isn’t right, let the examiner know and try to reset it up. Whenever I did my private pilot check ride, I noticed that during my short field landing I was too high and called a go around. Most of the time if you let the examiner know that you can do a maneuver better they will let you do it because you’ve demonstrated to the them how the maneuver should be properly done. I also believe it’s in your best interest to continuously talk with the examiner. Believe me they know you are nervous and that you want to pass, if you establish a good relationship with them the flight is not as scary or as intimidating as you had expected; it helps you feel more relaxed.

What if I don’t pass

If you do happen to fail, it’s not the end of the world and don’t beat yourself up. I failed the oral portion on my first try when I did my private pilot check ride and started second guessing myself. Believe me every pilot has failed a check ride in some point in their career, and failing a check ride is part of the learning process. If you fail it doesn’t dictate your future as a pilot; in fact it should motivate you more to do better on future checkrides.

Well guys that’s it for this week, and If you are taking a check ride or any finals within the next few weeks I wish you all the best of luck and hope everyone does well. Also, check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot check rides and advice. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”