Print Story Pilot's Blog: The Familiarization Flight
By MostlyHarmless (Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 07:40:33 PM EST) flying, flying lessons, up in the air junior birdpeople (all tags)
So, after some poking around, and getting a recommendation or two, we settled on giving these folks a whirl. I booked a "Fam" flight for janra and I for this morning at 11am, and showed up to meet a friendly, smiling instructor by the name of Jeff. He led us to a briefing room, and gave us a run-down on what we were going to be doing today.

To both our surprise, it included doing the actual take-off and landing!

We decided to give ProIFR a try for a few reasons:
  1. They do Seaplane ratings - one of the big things I wanted to do with my license
  2. Their chief VFR Instructor was highly recommended to us
  3. Assuming I enjoy flying as much as I expect to, I will be wanting to get my Multi/IFR rating eventually as well. (Which happens to be their speciality...)
The other bonus with ProIFR is they have a Champion Citabria, so once we get our feet under us (wings under us?), we can play around with some aerobatics if we want.

Overall their operation looked organized, dispatch was orderly, the airplane was clean and in good repair, and it was easy to book a plane when we wanted it. Our intro instructor was competent, pleasant and confident.

There was one hiccup though; when booking the flight they had somebody helpfully answering the phone while the regular dispatch people were occupied. Unfortunately, when he booked our Fam flight with the Chief VFR instructor, he didn't know that the instructor wasn't able to fly today. However, the instructor arranged for someone else to take us on the flight at the time we'd booked and left us a voice mail with his cell number to call and confirm that that was alright.

The flight itself was simultaneously enjoyable and nerve-wracking. As both of us were doing Fam flights and we'd booked a Cessna 172 (a 4-seater) so both of us could be on both flights, the instructor decided one of us would fly from Boundary Bay (CZBB) to Pitt Meadows (CYPK).  We'd land and swap pilots  at CYPK and the other of us would fly back to CZBB. Slightly more interesting than the usual "take off, fly around a bit, land" Fam flight :-)

janra requested I go first, as she wanted to watch how things worked first and I'd had some experience in small planes before. We checked out a plane from dispatch and walked out for the walk-around, where our instructor pointed out all the important things on the plane to check before flying. He went through the entire checklist, demonstrating everything as he went.

Once we were all belted in (with me in the left seat!), had done the run-up on the engine and had taxi clearance he gave me control over the aircraft and I got to taxi to and hold short of Runway 12. Once we got takeoff clearance, I taxied forward and centred the aircraft on the runway. He instructed me to shove the throttle all the way in and we started hurtling down the runway. Sooner than I expected, he was telling me to pull back slightly on the controls and seconds after that we were airborne.

Wow! It was that easy!

We climb for a short while and he guides me to the correct pitch. He then took control of the aircraft and properly trimmed it for a climb. Returning control to me, he instructed me to steer left and we headed east towards White Rock until we were out of the control area. After taking control to re-trim for cruise at 1400', he pointed out Pitt Lake to me and said "head that way". Our en-route time was ~ 9 minutes; while we were on our way, I got to play around with maneuvering the 172, banking left and right, pitching up and down, playing with the rudders and discovering they don't do much on their own.

As we close in on CYPK he takes control and slows the aircraft, lowers the flaps and trims for descent. He returns control to me and I feel the sloppy handling at 70 knots vs. the 110 we were cruising at previously. It's much trickier to fly. We cross the Fraser River and make the turn to line up for final approach on 26L.

Now we're getting to the most nerve-wracking part for me. At this point I'm fighting the aircraft too much, it's slopping around and I don't know what to correct for and what will be corrected for by the aircraft automatically. (It wants to fly, and frankly does a better job of it than I do!) He says to throttle the plane right down and we descend startlingly fast. At one point I feel like the nose is pointing ~20° to the right of the runway, but I can plainly see we're heading in the correct direction.  I aim for the numbers as he directs and once we're down to ~ 5' above the ground I aim for the end of the runway. I don't think quite quickly enough as we seem (to me) to land a little hard. He takes control for the latter part of the takeoff roll and I get the feeling I took a little longer to get on the ground than usual and haven't slowed as much as expected by the time we get to the taxi way he wants. The tires squeal a little as he makes the turn onto the taxiway. Once we get down to a reasonable speed he returns control to me and directs me to a parking spot off the taxiway.

Now, I've gotta say something here. Steering an aircraft on the ground is much, much different from steering a car. You know that yoke thing in front of you, the one that looks tantalizingly like a steering wheel? Ignore it. See those pedals your feet are on? Use those instead. oh, and by the way, the pedals control both the steering and the brakes. Sliding them back and forth steers, pressing the tops down like an accelerator pedal in a car applies the brakes. Also you have two brake pedals, one for each foot.  If you press down harder on one (like, say, the right one) you will start to veer in that direction. This takes a lot of getting used to; I practically had to sit on my hands to stop myself from trying to steer the aircraft with the yoke instead of the foot pedals.

I manage to guide the plane into a tie-down spot without incident and the instructor shuts the plane down. We quickly hop out and swap places, do an abbreviated run through the check-list (as the plane was functional 2 minutes previously, it's not like much has changed since then...)

With janra at the controls and me folded into the back-seat, we go through the entire procedure again. We're cleared for taxi to Runway 36, then cleared for take off. janra opens up the throttle all the way and shortly we're airborne. I'm more relaxed this time as I don't feel like I need to correct for every twitch the plane makes and I take the time to enjoy the view and try and pick out some of the other traffic in the area. janra gets the same run-down that I did, and has her chance to play with the aircraft. Shortly, she's being told to line us up with Hwy 99 and we have clearance to land at runway 12 at CZBB again. We're buffeted by some turbulence as we go over some dark patches of ground that have been heated nicely by the sun. She lines us up and executes a much nicer landing than mine (IMHO); again the instructor takes control and navigates us to the taxiway and allows janra to pilot us back to near our starting point. He parks the aircraft, we shut down the engine, hop out, tie down, grab our gear and walk back to the dispatch centre. After checking in and returning the headsets and aircraft logs, we thank the instructor and talk to the dispatcher to settle the bill for our flights.

All-in-all, despite the nerves, we had a blast! We've booked some real lessons in a couple of weeks, and picked up the "Flight Training Manual" from Transport Canada for a little light reading :-)

Oh, and this would be the first time in my life that I've been in a small airplane without floats...

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Pilot's Blog: The Familiarization Flight | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Congrats by cam (4.00 / 2) #1 Sat Jun 03, 2006 at 07:56:07 PM EST
Sounds like fun.

Freedom, liberty, equity and an Australian Republic

WIPO by komet (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 04:01:13 AM EST
De Havilland Comet, of course.

And as for:

I booked a "Fam" flight for janra and I

I wouldn't trust a pilot who thought "I booked a flight for I" was good English.

<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

dude by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 08:05:08 AM EST
if that's the best you can come up with, I think I'm doing pretty well :-)

[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
Lucky dog. by ObviousTroll (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 04:20:06 AM EST
The closest I've gotten to that was sitting in the co-pilot's seat of a T-37.

Mind you, I had a lot of fun flipping the plane on it's back and letting the pilot straighten it out again...


Knock, Knock.

I've flown in the jumpseat of a commercial 767 by Greener (4.00 / 2) #10 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 10:58:27 AM EST
I wasn't allowed to flip the plane on it's back.

[ Parent ]
I heard a rumour by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:11:41 PM EST
that at one event in Vancouver years back (Expo 86, maybe?), they had a formation flyby of the whole Boeing family. Reputedly during the flyby, they all did a barrel roll, in formation.

The formation flyby I could see, I'm somewhat more skeptical of the barrel roll part, and have never been able to find any "solid" basis for it, other than a verbal account.

Anyways, getting to ride jumpseater in a 767 would be way cool. How did you pull that off?

[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
The 707 test pilots barrel rolled it one day by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #19 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 05:15:44 PM EST
in front of a boatload of managers and executives and other bigwigs. I'm sure you can google it.

My degreed opinion is any big passenger jet can barrel roll, a loop is a lot more iffy.

[ Parent ]
Flight to Sydney 5 years ago by Greener (2.00 / 0) #20 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 07:46:38 PM EST
My uncle was a pilot for Air Canada and just happened to be flying that route at the time I was going down to Australia so I got takeoffs and landings in Vancouver, Honolulu and Sydney in the cockpit.

Landings in the cockpit of a big jet are just as unnerving as Janra described about her flight in her K5 diary.

I can remember some of Expo 86 but not the Boeing flyby. I was 5 at the time though.

[ Parent ]
WIPO by kwsNI (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 07:00:03 AM EST
EA-18G, but I might be a bit biased. 

in this case bias is ok :-) (n/t) by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 08:09:16 AM EST
neat toy you have there...
[Mostly Harmless]
[ Parent ]
i'd have to say by garlic (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:13:46 PM EST
f-16 for now, but b-52 may take it's place when we do flight test in august.

[ Parent ]
Bah. by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #18 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 04:12:20 PM EST
Stupid lawn dart.

B-52 I'll give you.

[ Parent ]
you know what by garlic (2.00 / 0) #22 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 09:10:16 PM EST
after reading up on it, that is a pretty freaking cool plane. Working on the ALQ-218 would be pretty cool.

[ Parent ]
Indeed by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #23 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 06:24:22 AM EST
I haven't worked a whole lot with the 218 yet.  I'm shifting over to cover all the avionics for flight test.  Up until now, I've been the avionics lead on the comms countermeasures set, so I haven't done a lot on the radar side. 

[ Parent ]
do you have by garlic (2.00 / 0) #24 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 07:53:51 AM EST
do you have an comms countermeasures link? I'd be interested in reading about those techniques.

[ Parent ]
Not really by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #25 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 08:41:48 AM EST
NSGA is a lot tigther on comms security.  Everything is sensitive or classified as far as they're concerned.  Can't say I really blame them though.

[ Parent ]
exactly why I asked for a link by garlic (2.00 / 0) #26 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 09:29:41 AM EST
instead of asking you. It's easier to make sure you aren't giving away too much info that way.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, sorrry. by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #27 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 09:46:57 AM EST
All I know about comms countermeasures, I've learned from EW engineers, aircrew, some hands on training with the USQ-113 at one of the Navy labs and a week out at the EA Weapons School at Whidbey Island (which is an absolutely awesome Navy base, if you ever get to go). 

Hey, have I mentioned on here that I'm going to be spending a year at NAS Pax River and another year at NAS China Lake supporting flight test?

[ Parent ]
WIPO: by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 08:12:36 AM EST
A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthog"

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

The flying gun? by MostlyHarmless (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 08:23:59 AM EST
Great for when your neighbour's tanks keep parking on your lawn, not so practical for taking the family camping for the weekend.

[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
coolest. flying. tank. evar. by MillMan (4.00 / 2) #11 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 01:50:54 PM EST
WIPO by Herring (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 09:48:30 AM EST
Either the BRITISH Harrier Jump Jet or the BRITISH and French Concorde.

Aside from the fucked-up Tupolev, there were only ever two production aircraft that could sustain supersonic cruise. In one of them, you had to wear a spacesuit, in the other, you could wear jeans and a t-shirt and drink champagne. Not knocking the SR-71 mind ...

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

how much did this cost? by garlic (4.00 / 1) #14 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:15:17 PM EST
how much will it cost to get to the point where you have a fly on your own license?

Well, I can only speak for Canadian licenses, but. by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #15 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:44:28 PM EST
In Canada we have a "Recreational Pilot Permit"  which will get you in the air on your own. It costs ~$4500 and is only valid in Canada. It also has a number of restrictions:
  1. only one passenger allowed
  2. daytime VFR only (Visual Flight Rules - you can see where you're going, basically)
  3. light aircraft only (4 seats max)
If you just want to get up and noodle around, this is a good start. Unfortunately, if you're outside Canada this probably isn't an option for you.

We're intending to go for the standard Private Pilot License, which costs ~$6500. However, the training is much more extensive and it allows you to pursue the 'extra' endorsements over an above the basic license: night flying, Instrument Flight Rules, Multi-engine aircraft and "VFR Over the Top".

Course, the cost of both of these vary depending on how much flight time you require to master the skills. These prices are based on the minimum required hours set down by Transport Canada; however, most people tend to need more time than that to actually become proficient and get the sign-off from their instructor.

[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
right, and... by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #17 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:48:44 PM EST
The 'Fam' flight itself was ~$45 each. The schools loss-lead this to entice prospective students.

Also, the Private Pilot License allows us to fly to the States as well.

[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
cost? by reza (4.00 / 1) #16 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 03:44:40 PM EST
Your left arm, 1 kidney, and a lung...

When I got my private way back in the day (1989) it cost me about $3200 from intro flight to certificate.  My brother did his about 2 years ago, it was about $5000.

YMMV, depending on a lot of variables, the most being how deep is your pocket.


" Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind do not matter, and those who matter do not mind!" Dr. Seuss

[ Parent ]
not that bad. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #21 Sun Jun 04, 2006 at 08:36:45 PM EST
my master's degree is costing me ~$650 / credit hour * 32 credit hours 20800, and many of those courses have seemed less useful or fun than learning how to fly.

[ Parent ]
cost by reza (2.00 / 0) #28 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 09:53:08 AM EST
No, not bad if that's all you're doing.  I was paying for flying lessons/classes/books on top of my degree (which was in aeronautics) and it felt like a whole lot more than it really was.  The private wasn't bad...the instrument and multi prices started kickin' my butt though.

Just my 2c.

" Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind do not matter, and those who matter do not mind!" Dr. Seuss

[ Parent ]
In other news, by kwsNI (2.00 / 0) #29 Mon Jun 05, 2006 at 09:57:29 AM EST
Saw this on the wire today:;_ylt=AkrVlZhd6GUWPw_jT74TEpteW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-

Pilot's Blog: The Familiarization Flight | 29 comments (29 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback