Types of Altitude

5_2This quick slide illustrates 5 different types of altitudes and how to go from one to the other. Pressure altitude + outside air temperature are most useful when calculating aircraft performance. Remember a couple of things:

  • The altimeter setting is nothing but the pressure reading at mean sea level.
  • To get from indicated to pressure, either set your altimeter to 29.92 if you are in the plane or otherwise use the formula (you will need the field elevation and current altimeter setting).
  • On a hotter than standard day (>15c), density altitude will exceed pressure altitude – as pressure altitude is based on standard temperature
  • Indicate airspeeds remain the same regardless of density altitude because the airspeed indicator is connected to the static port and hence affected by air density.

Performance charts


I wanted to group all the performance charts in one figure and understand the inputs to each chart a well as how they interrelate. I included both the charts from the Airman knowledge testing supplement as well as those for the PA-28-161. While you will be having your ipad do all these for you in the future, it is crucial to understand the intuition behind them and how they affect one another.

First “unsupervised” solo


Was really curious to see how the gps data looked in 3d. I exported all the elevation data and plotted it in Rhino as a single track. I didn’t put effort into mapping the longitude and latitude data into cartesian coordinates. Pattern altitude is at around 1200 ft AGL at KBED. In total I did 10 touch and go’s, 1 go around and 2 360’s.





Untitled-1.jpgToday I spent a few hours before flying trying to plan a cross-country trip to KEEN. I used the classic “navlog” excel worksheet and filled it in manually using E6-B calculations. I then did the same on skyvector.com and compared the results – just to make sure I wasn’t doing something terribly wrong. I used the closed airfield at Moore and the Jaffrey KAFN as waypoints to check against. The pink routes are the “ideal” headings and the black path is our travel path. Winds were 290@12, which makes sense as the winds kept blowing us towards the north east and off our track. On the way back, we used the GPS and made corrections to our heading every once in a while.

PA-28-161 checklist #2


So I didn’t like my first iteration much. You had to cut the paper to size and had to handle 3 sheets of paper which was a pain. Here is a second iteration of the checklist. It can be printed on a single double-sided letter sheet in landscape mode. This way you can just fold it in half and keep flipping it as you proceed through your flight. I divided it into 4 major chuncks so that the sheet “flipping” marks the transition from one chunk to another. These are

  1. interior/exterior checks
  2. start/runup
  3. take-off and cruising
  4. landing and taxi to ramp

It has also other refinements such as noting down the ATIS info in a up-to-down manner as oppose to right-to-left. Please feel free to download the pdf and make adjustments – such as swapping in the KBED airport diagram with your home airport’s. Always refer to the your plane’s POH as the ultimate source for checklists!

Flying shopping list …

Yes flying – in terms of rent and instruction – can be very costly.. But then you have all these other toys that you wish you had – and those also cost $$. I decided to make a list of these just to have something to look forward to. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Bose A20 w Bluetooth – $1100 –  If you have the amazon credit card, you can get 12 months financing on it without interest.
  • Stratux – $130 – The homebuilt ADS-B receiver would be a fun project to put together, 3d print a case for AND save money on the $800 Stratus 2.
  • Foreflight subscription – $100/yr – Students potentially get a better deal.
  • Ipad to run foreflight on – $ varies – Luckily I have one. It’s the wifi only version so will need to use gps through the Stratux.
  • GoPro’s – $400 – would be nice to start shooting some footage of the flights.
  • Always wanted to 3dprint a pad holder that can be attached to the yoke. But that won’t cost $$ – just the time to design something that works well. There are a few on Thingiverse but they didn’t excite me.

First Solo!

After 9 months of flight training and 21 hours of dual instruction, I finally did my first solo on the last day of 2016. I did 3 take-offs, 2 touch-and-go’s and one full-stop landing. The plane felt lighter without Tim, my instructor, and with a bit of crosswind it was not as straight forward. Luckily announcing to tower that I am a student pilot makes it much easier as they tend to be much more patient and forgiving when dealing with students. Great way to end the year!

More touch-and-go’s


As I prepare for my first solo, I flew once in November (blue) and once so far in December (red). We are solely doing touch-and-go’s so far to practice flying in the traffic pattern as well as landing + ATC. I was surprised when I measured the length of a single loop around the pattern. It came up to around 7 s.m.. In total, the blue path is around 125 s.m. which is a crazy distance given that we are basically going around in huge circles!