Captain YS's Flight Log Book

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Last flight of 2014 was a shopping flight to Columbus OH

I flew to Ohio State University airport with my wife for shopping for the New Year's celebration.  Japanese people usually take first three days of the year off for celebration.  There is a relatively large Japanese grocery store called Tensuke in Columbus OH, close to the Ohio State University airport.

 All four forecasting sites I checked were predicting clear sky to partly cloudy.  In fact, the sky over Pittsburgh was clear when I left my apartment.  Only concern was overcast cloud over Pittsburgh International and Beaver County, but, aviation forecast was also predicting the sky to clear up.  It should be flyable.

The sky was cloudy when I arrived at the Beaver County airport.  The temperature was below freezing.  If I go into the cloud, ice may build up on the airplane, which is very dangerous.  In fact, the Cessna 172 I can rent does not have an anti-ice equipment, and it is illegal to fly into a known icing condition.  There was, however, no report of icing at the time of departure.  Also, since all forecasting stations were predicting clear sky.  The cloud layer should be thin.  I should be able to climb through a hole of the cloud.  As long as I am above the cloud layer, I am safe.  The destination weather was clear below 12,000ft.  I should be able to land without going through clouds.  Just in case, I filed an IFR flight plan.

I finished pre-flight and listened to the ATIS on my portable air-band radio before starting engine.  When I tried to set the altimeter, I got a maintenance problem.  The knob for adjusting altimeter came off.  I'm glad I did it before starting engine.  The mechanic of Moore Aviation quickly fixed it.  Then I started the engine and took off.

The Cessna climbed rapidly in the cold air.  I kept the pitot heat on until break through the cloud not to mistake frozen pitot tube with the increased performance by the way.  The cloud opening was not too large, but I was almost sure that it was big enough.  I was right.  The hole was big enough.  What I did wrong was I should have used Vx climb rather than Vy climb in this situation.  I ended up going through the cloud for about a minute or so before climbing out of the cloud layer.  I saw no sign of icing.

What a view! ... Is the destination sky really clear?

Underneath was a great sea of clouds.  It's so nice to be above the cloud.  It would have been nicer if it were in summer because I won't have to be worried about icing.  I wondered if the sky was really clear at the destination.  I was handed off to Pittsburgh departure, Akron approach, Indianapolis center, and then Columbus approach, when I was told to descend to 3,000ft.  The weather report at the Ohio State University airport was scattered 1700.  Better than overcast or broken, but wasn't it supposed to be sky clear?  The elevation at the airport is 900.  The cloud base was something like 2,600ft.  And, as I was worried, 3,000ft put us exactly into the scattered cloud.  I went in and out of the cloud many times.  I kept my eyes on the sign of icing.  Luckily, I saw none.

I was relieved from the icing danger when I was told to go down to 2,500ft.  Columbus approach asked if I could see the airport on my 9 o'clock.  I didn't see it.  Actually, my GPS was indicating that the airport was rather on my 7 o'clock.  Either way, the airport was not clearly distinctive in haze.

I was given the direction for ILS 9R approach.  I was prepared for it.  But, finally I recognized the airport when I was on the localizer.  The north wind was strong at 2,500ft.  To stay on the localizer, my heading was like more than 10 degrees off from the runway heading.  The airport was more like on my 1 o'clock, not 12 o'clock.  I have landed visually runway 9R.

KOSU runway 9R short final.
Black dots on the left looked to be cows.

What's good about the Ohio State Airport is the ground crew always come out and guide me to the parking spot, even if I am in a small Cessna.

Then we took a taxi to Tensuke market.  My wife and I had lunch at Bell's bakery next to Tensuke.  Then my wife went shopping, and I met with a friend who was working with me until early this year.  He kindly took us to the airport in his car.

Return flight.  The cloud looked fewer over the Ohio State University airport than when we landed.  There were many holes to climb through.  I took off, and then picked one hole on the assigned course and climbed through it.  Soon I was assigned to go up to 9,000ft.  I took advantage of 20kt tail wind.  But, it was freezing cold.  I wish I could turn the cabin heat on.

My airplane was casting a shadow on the cloud layer and making a rainbow ring around it.

About 30 miles south of Akron, I saw a great sea of cloud toward the direction of Beaver County airport.  Wait.  It was supposed to be broken 2,500.  It looked more like overcast.  It looked impossible to find a hole to descend through.  Unfortunately, there were several reports of icing around Pittsburgh International.  It would be illegal if I descend through the cloud.

We could descend through this cloud hole.

However, I saw a huge hold of cloud, probably 20 miles diameter, right in front of my airplane.  At the same time, Akron approach gave me descend to 5,000ft on my discretion.  I descended to 5,000ft.  Oops!  The cloud layer was exactly in front of me.  I explained Akron approach that we didn't have an anti-ice equipment and needed to stay out of cloud.  He assigned me 4,000ft, which still was going to put us into the cloud.  I requested 3,000ft and approved.  The bottom of the cloud layer was like 3,800ft.  I had enough distance from the cloud at 3,000ft.

The reported cloud was at 2,500ft above ground.  The ground elevation is about 1,100ft.  3,600 to 3,800ft was about right.  The difference was that it was actually overcast not broken as reported.  It was too much different from what's forecasted earlier in the day.

Anyway, I could see that the cloud was not coming any lower.  I could keep 3,000ft all the way to Beaver County.

I think I experienced a similar weather condition when I flew to OSU a while ago.  It is quite a challenge when the actual condition is so much different from the forecasted condition.  Well, pilots are trained to deal with this kind of situations after all.  I think I handled it right.

Total flying time of this year was 22.7 hours, almost half of a regular year.  But, every flight was a fun, as always.  I hope I can fly 50 hours in the coming year.


Regaining confidence in cross-wind landings

For various reasons, I have been able to fly only half the amount of the past years.  I need to fly more often in November and December.

One of the problems is that I have a meeting almost every day.  I intentionally made Tuesday empty this semester so that I can take one day off easily.  But, I end up with putting all irregular meetings on Tuesday.  And, the weekend is windy, rainy, or both.  (I planned to take a day off this Tuesday to go flying, only to end up getting another meeting and had to ditch the plan.)

But, today, I was able to go for cross-wind landing practice.  Since I could not fly as often as I wanted, I tended to pick the best weather day with clear sky and not-too-strong wind.  I was thinking my cross-wind landing technique should be rusty.  And, it was a nice breezy day for cross-wind landing practice.  I was initially scheduled to fly 10am to noon, but the wind was too nice.  I re-scheduled to 4pm slot by which time the wind was supposed to get weaker.

I arrived at Beaver around 3:30pm, but the wind was still strong.  It was blowing 30 to 60 degrees off from the runway heading at maximum gust reaching 16kt.  When I was flying more often, it was a condition that I could manage with little difficulty.  But, considering my recent flight frequency, it could be a challenge.

I was thinking what to do inside Moore Aviation office.  Then an instructor offered to fly with me.  That was nice.  I pre-flighted and took off with him.

I could feel the wind gust while climbing on the upwind leg.  I turned to crosswind, downwind, and base, when the tower asked us to make a short approach.  I changed from a regular traffic pattern to a short approach.  I knew it was windy.  I chose 20 degree partial flaps all the way.

"Cessna 984AV, Ready to take off runway 28, closed traffic"

I descended on final, flared, and settled on the ground.  It was a super smooth landing that I couldn't make for many months.  I clearly felt my upwind wheel touched first, and then the downwind wheel followed.  I pushed the throttle forward, and took off again.

I was fully prepared to do the second touch & go, and the tower cleared for me so.  But, the instructor beside me said "You are fine.  Make it a full stop.  I'll get off."  So I told the tower my intention of full stop, landed, and taxied back to the ramp.  He got off and walked back to the flight school.

Turning left base 28.  Leaves were even redder reflecting the setting sun.

I took off for more touch & goes.  Oops, I could feel the difference.  The airplane was shaken more than when he was sitting on my right.  The airplane was lighter and therefore the wind could play with the airplane harder.  Nonetheless, it was nothing unmanageable for me.  I did 10 more landings.  Some of them were very soft and smooth, so smooth that I could feel the wheel starts rolling without the shock of touch down.  I succeeded in doing so at least twice today.  Actually, in this wind condition!

Short final 28.  Taking wing-low attitude (banking into the wind from the right.)

My cross-wind landing skill was not as rusty as I was worried after all.

It was such a nice feeling to hear "You are fine" from an instructor.  I felt like I was endorsed by him for cross-wind landings.  We will have more windy days in winter in Pittsburgh.  This flight brought back me a confidence in dealing with wind and was a very good preparation for winter flying.

Flying in a pattern surrounded by the autumn leaves painted even redder by the setting sun was a very fun flying.


500 flying hours!

I have been able to fly only half the flying hours as my regular years this year for the various reasons.  It was taking longer than I anticipated to get to my 500th flying hours.

But finally, I hit the milestone!  I am not working on any new certificate now, and it does not have any significance immediately.  But, it is certainly a big milestone.  I continue to fly safely.

I took my friends for a foliage-watching flight this weekend.  I took off Beaver county and flew IFR to Latrobe.  I did one touch & go at Latrobe.  One of my friends requested a steep turn, so I made two steep turns.  Then came back.  Well, I suppose my passengers didn't care much, but since I haven't practiced steep turns for a while, I went up and down by 200ft.  I want to stay proficient.  I need more practice.

By the way, I received a weird IFR clearance this time.  The ATC gave:

Cleared for Latrobe, UDUSE, EWC, then direct, ....

So, they wanted me to fly to UDUSE, which was just 16 miles from Latrobe, then fly back to EWC (Ellwood City VOR), which was just 9 miles from Beaver, then make almost 180 degree turn again for Latrobe.

When I receive this kind of weird clearance, I typically had an amendment almost as soon as take off, but this time, I wasn't given any amendment until I came close to UDUSE.  I have just confirmed with Johnstown approach that it was ok to fly direct after UDUSE.  Anyway, dealing with this kind of strange situation is part of the fun of general aviation.

Since I was happy to exercise my privilege of instrument rating.  Also the foliage underneath was so beautiful.  Being able to see four seasons changing from the air is also a privilege of a pilot.


Abort Take Off!

Finally the spring has come.  The weather is getting much more stable than the past a few weeks.  I took the owner of the nearby bowling alley and her grandson for a sight-seeing flight today.

The plan was to take off Beaver County Airport, one touch & go at Allegheny County, and then fly back to Beaver.  It's my typical sight-seeing flight course.

I took off Beaver County and flew with flight-following from Pittsburgh approach.  When handed off, Pittsburgh approach immediately gave me class B clearance.  I was able to fly pretty close to the downtown.  The weather was not perfect, but I think my passengers had a great view of the downtown.

When I came close to Allegheny County airport, the tower asked me if I wanted to use runway 28 or runway 31.  The wind was almost straight headwind for runway 31.  But, it was just 9kt 30 degree off from runway 28 heading.  I like a longer and wider runway.  I requested runway 28.  It turned out a very right decision.

Nothing special while I was on downwind, base, and final.  I landed, flaps up, carb heat off, max power.  Nothing unusual.  The airplane accelerated just as normal.  45MPH, 55MPH, 65MPH, rotation!  I was flying Cessna 172M, and the airspeed indicator was in miles per hour, instead of knots.

I was expecting the airplane to leave the growns almost by itself.  All I needed was supposed to be a touch of back pressure.  But, this time, the airplane didn't want to leave the ground.  The airplane was acelerating good.  Engine is normal.  I had a quick glance at the flaps.  Yes, they are retracted.  Airspeed indicator was telling I was accelerating.  Engine sounded normal.  Flaps are up.  And the airplane doesn't want to leave the ground?  I added some back pressure, and the airplane reluctantly left the ground, but didn't go up beyond a few feet!  Something is terribly wrong!


I cut the throttle.  The airplane landed back on the runway.  And, I was able to turn at taxiway G.  I didn't have to use hard brake.  I had almost 1/3 of the runway remaining.  I think I was able to do this because of my training in multi-engine.  Also, safety-seminar instructors said many times: hear the voice of the airplane.  It may be wanting to tell you something during take off.  I think I was able to hear the voice this time.

Video from the aborted take off.

I reported the tower that I aborted take off and had to trouble-shoot.  The tower offered me to taxi in front of the tower and trouble shoot.  I appreciated and took the offer.  But, it didn't take long to figure what was wrong.  I had to take much more down-trim on final.  I recalled that the airplane wanted to nose up on final, and had to trim down many times on final.  So, everything except the elevator trim was normal.  I could have force it to take off by applying hard back pressure, but I think it was a right decision to abort take off.  I talked to the tower that the problem is corrected and ready to taxi back to runway 28.  The tower gave me taxi clearance to runway 28 (and cross runway 31).

This time, the airplane left the ground normal.  I appreciated the control tower saying "Safe flight back" when he handed me off to the Pittsburgh approach.  The rest of the flight was eventless.

On the way back from Beaver, I was wondering if I could stop if I chose runway 31.  Probably I could.  But, the safety margine was much shorter:  This time I requested runway 28 simply because I liked longer and wider runway.  But, I knew I could land at runway 31.  I didn't have a strong opinion abou the runway choice this time.  Well, but from the next time on, I would choose longer and wider runway when carrying two passengers.

Lesson leanred 1: When carrying two passengers, always use longer and wider runway when the wind permits.

Also I was wondering why I needed that much down-trim on final.  The answer was the center of gravity.  I was carrying the owner of Forward Lanes and her grandson.  Her grandson was sitting on the right-front seat.  Therefore, the airplane's center of gravity was more to the aft than carrying two adults.  I was thinking it should be pretty much the same as long as the weight-and-balance within the envelope.  But, apparently the airplane behavior changes noticablly if the CG is to the aft even when the weight-and-balance is well inside the envelope.

Lesson learned 2: When CG is to the aft than normal, the airplane behavior changes noticably even when the weight & balance is in the envelope.

Well, I guess that's how a pilot gains experience.  I learned two important lessons today.  It was a very good flight.


Re-gaining IFR Confidence

I was able to fly earlier this month after 1.5 months of no flying, and I re-gained confidence in landing.  But, I still was wondering: am I really shoot instrument approachess?

My last practice approach was during my multi-engine check ride.  That was last October.  Well, it was more like a real approach than a practice.  If I had missed, I would have failed the check ride.

Flight simulators are very effective for practice instrument approaches.  I was shooting approaches in YSFLIGHT.  But, it cannot completely substitute for flying in an actual airplane.  I tried to fly for instrument practice many times.  But, I was blocked by weather forecast.  Not really by the bad weather.  It was weather forecast.  I made an airplane reservation becasue the weekend forecast was predicting a good weather.  It snowed actually.  I didn't make a reservation because the weekend forecast was horrible.  The sky was clear actually.  I made a reservation because the weekend forecast was predicting a good weather, but it changed to snow the day before my planned flight.  So I cancelled my reservation.  The sky was clear actually.  I got desperate and tried to go early Tuesday this week.  5-day forecast was originally predicting a good weather, but it changed to snow.  This time I didn't cancel the reservation hoping the forecast to miss like last time.  It really snowed.  I was really feeling that the forecast was making fun of me.

 But, finally it was flyable (and I had a reservation.)  Not just sky clear and infinite visibility.  There was no wind.  I woke up at 6am.  Windows of the buildings on Mt. Washington were reflecting sun light and brightly shining.  I can see this only short time during Spring and Fall.  It is so bright that I thought the buildings were burning when I saw it firt time.

Windows of the buildings on Mt. Washington reflecting morning sun.

Allegheny County ATIS was reporting clear sky, 10 miles visibility, and calm wind.  It was a perfect condition as forecasted.

Outside air temperature was -14 degree C (7F).  Bitter cold.  I didn't want to pre-flight outside, but luckily the airplane was in the hangar.

I was wondering if I could still shoot approaches, but turned out nothing to be worried.  As I did pre-flight inspection, started engine, and did before-takeoff check list, I noticed my mental state was gradually prepared for the instrument flight.  I took off and put a foggle on at 500fg AGL, then practiced holding over Alelgheny VOR, and shot ILS 10 times three.  The instructor said I can still pass the check ride if I take today.  Calm wind was making it an easy condition though.  Now I am confident in ILS approaches again.  Maybe practicing in YSFLIGHT helped, too.

By the way, a pilot of a departing airplane was reporting that a coyote was prowling around the runway.  Was it really a coyote?  Some airports in Arizona warns pilots about coyote in the vicinity.  But, I wonder if coyotes are living around Pittsburgh.


First flight of 2014 (Finally!)

Due to snow storm after snow storm, I hadn't been able to fly for 1.5 month.

I was waiting for a nice weather in the weekend but had no luck.  I got desperate and was determined to go flying weekday or weekend.

After several days of painful wait, the winter cloud finally gave way to the sun this Tuesday.  It was a narrow a-few-hour window of flyable weather.  I seized the chance and flew from Beaver County Airport early morning befor going to work.

I woke up at 5:45AM, called weather briefing, and left the apartment at 6:30AM.  Luckily the morning traffic didn't bother too much, and I arrived at the Beaver County airport at 7:30AM.  Soon an instructor came to the flight school and opened the door.  I walked in to the hangar and pre-flighted the airplane, N986BT, that I was supposed to use.  I set up my forward-looking and instrument cameras, and ready to start the engine as soon as the airplane is towed out of the hangar.

Then I was told by the dispatcher that I had to switch an airplane due to the maintenance issue.  I was re-assigned to N986AV instead.  It didn't take long to pre-flight again, but my plan to start the engine at 8:00AM sharp didn't fly.

After 1.5 month of no-flying, I started wondering like "am I really able to fly an airplane?"  However, such a feeling disappeared as I was performing pre-flight inspection.  I was as confident as the last time when I finished pre-flight.  The primary purpose of the pre-flight inspection is to make sure the airplane is airworthy and not to die for a stupid reason.  But, it is also good for mental preparation before flying.

The primary purpose of this flight was not to forget how to fly.  I just stayed in pattern doing touch & goes.  It turned out my landing skill was as sharp as last time.  I did seven nice landings.  Calm wind and stable air also helped.  I wanted to stay in the air longer, but I had to go to work.  I made my 7th landing full stop and returned the airplane.

Next thing I am worried now is "am I really able to shoot ILS approaches?"  I ended up shooting way more than enough approaches during my multi-engine training, but I only needed one holding to stay current.  I was planning to do at least one IFR practice in January, but I couldn't due to this ridiculous winter weather.  For the first time after getting my instrument rating, I lost my instrument currency end of January.  It doesn't matter much because I anyway won't fly into actual instrument condition in winter (or I will be frozen up in the air).  But, I will fly an instrument training soon to regain my instrument currency.


As of 1/26/2014, due to the glitch of, the following aliases are still pointing posts from year 2013.

I have e-mailed tech support and had no response.  I called them, and they assigned a ticket for the request to fix it but did nothing for three days.  I am very unhappy with their support. doesn't care individual customers after all.

If you are linking to one of the above URLs, please change them to the following URL until fixes it. -> ->  ->  ->

From what I heard from the tech support, failed to migrate their URL-forwarding server.  Any changes to the aliases need to be done by phone.  Sounds ridiculous, but that's what they told me.  If they have thousands of customers, they will be overwhelmed.  It is impossible to do it over the phone.  Their online-maintenance page only updates my settings stored in my local folder, but the settings won't be reflected to the actual server.  It is a paid service, and I am urging them to fix the issue. 


Received my plastic airman certificate with multi-engine rating!

After passing my multi-engine check ride, I have been waiting for my plastic (permanent) airman certificate.  I have finally received it after waiting for two months.  Below pictures are scanned images of my new airman certificate.




Happy New Year!

My flying hours of the last year was 45.1 hours, and I have 489.2 hours of total flying time.  My Pilot-In-Command time reached 400 hours last year.  But, my biggest achievement last year was passing my multi-engine check ride.  I'm still waiting for my permanent certificate though.  FAA web site indicates that they are processing temporary airman certificate issued approximately October 25.  I passed on October 29.  Almost there.  I am looking forward to receiving my permanent airman certificate with multi-engine rating.

I am expecting to reach 500 hours of total flying time this year.  According to an instructor, I'll be allowed to fly a daytime air-taxi.  But, I don't think I'll have such an opportunity.  It will be pretty much a personal milestone.  Nonetheless, it is a significant milestone to pass.

I haven't flown this year yet, and am thinking what to do in my first flight of the year.  Maybe I'll fly over Seven-Springs ski resort to see how it looks like from the air.

[Click here for posts from 2013]

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