Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Vacation Humblebragging


1. an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud.
"social media status updates are basically selfies, humblebrags, and rants"


1. make an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement with the actual intention of drawing attention to something of which one is proud.
"she humblebragged about how “awful” she looks without any makeup"

Need another example that isn't quite as contrived as those created specifically for a dictionary?

"I use so little of my vacation during the year that I inevitably end up with time at the end of the year that I just don't know what to do with."

Analysis: True.

But.... let's identify the humblebrags:

1) I'm such an industrious worker that I simply can't pull my nose away from the grindstone just for frivolities like vacations.

Analysis: False. We simply don't have the freedom to make long/distant trips these days.

2) I get so much more vacation than the typical IT drone that I'm essentially rolling in it.

Analysis: True. You stay with the same employer long enough, they get tired of the very sight of you and try to get you out of the office as much as possible.

At this point, I think it's possible to get two more days per annum if I live long enough, but what I have is already quite enough.

The upshot of all of this is that I had 24 days off, minus a three hour day when I went in basically just long enough to water my plants.

I use this amount of time off to practice being retired, except with a steady income.

As of today, I'm halfway through and have yet to run out of things to do. It doesn't help that the days are mighty short with regards to usable light, but it does help that we're having an El Nino for the first time since the winter of '97 - '98.

"A what?" you say.


First of all, the natural phenomenon called El Niño has nothing to do with Global Warming or Climate Change, or whatever it's being called this week.

El Niño is defined by prolonged warming in the Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures when compared with the average value. The U.S NOAA definition is a 3-month average warming of at least 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) in a specific area of the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean; other organizations define the term slightly differently. Typically, this anomaly happens at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and lasts nine months to two years.The average period length is five years. When this warming occurs for seven to nine months, it is classified as El Niño "conditions"; when its duration is longer, it is classified as an El Niño "episode."

Whether weather like this is considered to be good or bad is obviously in the eyes of the beholder, or dependent on whose ox is being AlGored, if you will.

Me? I'm all for it! Although, it does seem to bring with it a lot of low-hanging clouds and moisture.

I think I might have to mow the yard in January this year. Which.... that beats being manhandled by the snow blower.

With time on my hands, I finally got around to making the half hour drive out west to visit a huge antiques mall that I pass on my way out to visit my parents on those days when I can't fly there.

As you might guess, I spent most of my time there looking for aviation related stuff. Of all of the thing pictured below, I only bought one. See if you can guess which it was:

Well, not precisely aviation oriented, but I have a small collection of duck decoys, so these naturally caught my eye:

Okay, I like vintage race cars too.

Which did you pick?

Here's a hint:
Southern Airways was a regional airline (known at the time as a "local service air carrier") as designated by the federal Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) operating in the United States from their founding by Frank Hulse in 1949 until 1979 when they merged with North Central Airlines to become Republic Airlines, which on October 1, 1986, then became part of Northwest Airlines, which, in turn, was merged into Delta Air Lines in 2008. Southern maintained corporate headquarters in Birmingham with operations headquartered at William B. Hartsfield Airport, near Atlanta. 
Southern Airways was billed as the "Route of the Aristocrats." and they used the slogan "Nobody's Second Class on Southern" in their television commercials. They were famous for their promotional shot glasses: for a time, differently designed shot glasses were issued each year. Original Southern shot glasses are valued by collectors of airline memorabilia.
There's another place just as big only a few more miles up the road; I'm holding a visit to that one in reserve in case I run out of things to do.

As far as flying goes, low ceilings and brisk winds have precluded flying. There was one good day, though. El Niño took a day off and we had an actual December day: 27°F in the morning, but clear blue skies to make up for the chilly air.  

I had two flights arranged.

Austin was up first. For him I planned on working on pattern entries at uncontrolled fields. This was something like teaching Co-pilot Egg how to deal with traffic circles: "You should know the right way to do it, but don't be surprised when other's don't."

Pattern entries seem easy enough, and when it comes to the typical not-very-crowded pattern, it's more or less okay for arrivals to "roll their own," I guess. But the counter-example of a busy pattern like the one I encountered at KHAO a couple of weeks got me to thinking that I ought to brush up on the subject.  For those that may have missed it, I ended up on the wrong side of the airport to easily mesh in with prevailing traffic. The problem is that the FAA only tells you three things:

  - make left turns unless otherwise noted on sectional maps. etc.
  - enter the patter at midfield downwind at a 45 degree angle.
  - you make make a straight in approach, but it is rude to do when the pattern is already use by others

They eventually clarified their directions in an Advisory Circular through this simple, attractive, and easily comprehensible diagram:

Question: using the diagram above, how would you enter the pattern from the "wrong side" of the airport?

Here's a suggestion I found when I tried to Google my way to a suitable answer:

This would be okay, I suppose, if 1) the wind conditions clearly favored one runway over the other, or 2) you know that you were the only plane arriving.

The problem with #2 is that you never really know that, especially at the more rural airports where it is not all that uncommon to come across a plane with no radios, or someone with radios that he doesn't know how to properly use. The risk is that you will be descending right into the path of an airplane using a lefthand pattern to land on the runway that you didn't choose.

This is another one that I mostly liked, but had one big quibble:
The problem here is that it flies right in the face of FAA "guidance."  Rather than enter the downwind at the midfield and at a 45 degree angle, you would be potentially turning directly in front of an airplane already on the downwind. Even if it's not dangerous, it would be rude.

Now this:

This one just confused me. Why wouldn't I simply join the left downwind at midfield if I was so perfectly positioned to do so??

I finally found one that I mostly like, and this is the one I brought with me to fly with Austin:

We took off early enough that no one else had yet figured out that a surprisingly good flying day had arrived unannounced. That was nice because it allowed us to choose our own landing direction at the airports we practiced at.  We did a few of these "wrong side" pattern entries and it worked out well. Near as I can figure, it worked to keep us out of any potential conflicts with pilots that had elected to land in the opposite direction, an even that can occur when the wind is either very calm or is flowing in a direction perpendicular to the runway direction.

I wasn't entirely happy with it, though, so I modified it to handle those potential situations.

At the top left, this is a case of arriving from a direction that would have allowed for a straight-in approach, but there were reasons not to do so. The idea here is to stay far enough away from the runway to not be in conflict with someone using a lefthand pattern to land on the runway from left to right.

The plane at the bottom of the runway would be well positioned for a 45 degree entry to a lefthand pattern to land from right to left, or could simply cross over at midfield at a high enough altitude to be above the landing pattern, then make the descending teardrop turn to position itself for the standard entry for the left to right landing.

The takeaway for me is that it makes sense to enter the Direct-To destination as a waypoint set up three or so miles off to the side of the airport rather than the center of the airport itself. This is actually very easy to do with the Skyview - maybe I'll make a tutorial video to demonstrate it.

The next flight was with Bryon. I seem to have a thing going with one of the companies that provides us with contract workers when we need them - Bryan is the third of them that has flown with me.

He's had a couple of flying lessons, but hasn't really pursued it with any kind of fervor.  I know how that goes!  He's been flying out of a place that must be at least an hour's drive away, and driving past at least one perfectly fine airport on the way. I figured with this being his first time in an RV-12, we'd just do a "getting acquainted" flight to visit two of the closer airports.

He had fun!

I brought the GoPro along for this one (turn your speakers down ALL THE WAY for this one):

Okay, obviously that was one I threw in just because I liked it (well, the video, anyway. Not the noise.)

Here's Bryan's ride (you can turn your speakers back up):

While he was flying, I was able to get a picture of THE Ohio $tate University campus and downtown Columbus:

Finally (whew!!), Co-pilot Egg had a birthday and requested a trip to the Museum of the United States Air Force which, given how much I love the place, I was happy to grant.

She actually reads the exhibits now:

But still has the twisted sense of humor that she inherited from somewhere (who could it be? WHO??):

I appreciate the adventurous spirit of Boxers:

I like visiting the planes I worked on while I was in the Air Force.  This is one that I actually specifically worked on:

Little (well, completely) unknown fact about me: My first flying lessons were at Beale AFB. I started out my flight training by sharing the pattern with T-38s, KC-135s, U-2s, and SR-71s. I was in a raggy old 172.

That 172 has since been repainted and moved to March AFB. Frankly, I'm surprised at two things: 1) that relic is still flying, and 2) this relic still remembers the tail number.

Being in such a unique environment, I got to see neat stuff every now and then.

One of my early solo flights had me as #2 for takeoff behind an SR-71. As he started his takeoff roll, one afterburner lit, but the other just kept firing the igniters without lighting the burner. I remember thinking "that doesn't look right..." just before the drag chute popped out and they aborted the takeoff.

The work was certainly interesting, though. My primary function was flightline and shop maintenance of the reconnaissance radar system:

The coolest part of the job, though, was loading the map projectors for the day's flights:

It was pretty cool to know where they were going!!

Surprisingly, Beale eventually got boring. They had a lot of people there, but not a lot of work to do on airplanes that only flew twice a day across the entire fleet. I decided to volunteer for worldwide duty, which as an unmarried enlisted man, was the same as tattooing "Send me to Korea!" on my forehead.

And that's exactly what happened. I was soon shipped overseas to work on RF-4C tactical recon jets, which suited me just fine.


All-weather tactical reconnaissance version for the US Air Force, AN/APQ-99 (later AN/APQ-172) radar. Equipped similar to RF-4B but with a wider choice of camera fits, including a centerline pod for the gigantic HIAC-1 LOROP (Long Range Oblique Photography) camera, capable of taking high-resolution images of objects 100 miles (160 km) away. 

I didn't work on this particular one specially, but I did work on other RF-4Cs in both Korea and Germany, along with three contiguous Red Flag exercises (for a total of six weeks):

My primary function on the RF-4 was the support of the non-optical sensors, which in Korea was limited to the AN AAD-5 Infrared reconnaissance system, but in Germany (having voluntarily taken a "remote" assignment, I got to pick my next assignment) my work also included the maintenance of a massive side-looking radar pod. 

The Red Flag exercises, although very stressful, were way cool. Six weeks in Vegas with a $37.50 per diem (a lot of money for a SSgt. in 1986!) and the opportunity to cross train into really fun stuff like launching jets (wwaayyyy out of my job description, and purely voluntary) was the highlight of my five-year active duty commitment. 

Done with selfies in front of my old planes, I caught up with Co-pilot Egg checking out the A-10A Warthog panel:

On the way back out of the museum, I had to take two more pictures:

So, halfway through my end-of-year sabbatical and still going strong!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Surviving the Winter #2: Flying the UH-1 Huey

Perhaps more pertinent to the nature of this blog than the golf simulator presented in the first installment of the Surviving the Winter series, this time we will be flying in a flight simulator called 'DCS World.'

As with many things of this nature, DCS World is cheap (free, to be precise) to acquire but demands a pretty healthy and robust computer to use it. In addition to the PC itself, a sim like this has rather a prodigious need for peripheral equipment. To have any kind of satisfactory experience, you will need a flight stick with some form of separate throttle control and rudder pedals. You're probably looking at $250 or so, but keep in mind that peripherals like that support many different simulators.

You will also really, really want a head tracking device like the TrackIR 5.

I said above the DCS World is free, but that isn't 100% accurate. It is free to download, but it does not come with the Huey. Most of the airplanes and helicopters are add-on purchases, although the TF-51 that comes with the free download is really quite nice.

In any event, the Huey was something that I had to pay for, but because I am patient enough to wait for things to go on sale, I got it for the princely sum of $8.99.  Ride along and see if you agree that I got my money's worth.

The DCS World download comes with a Mission Editor. In the same manner as The Golf Club including a course builder, DCS figures that having gobs of missions available can only server to increase sales of the add-on airplanes.

I used the mission editor to create a mission whereby I have to take off from a temporary heliport just west of Hoover Dam and fly to the dam to remove the threat of eight terrorists and two trucks blocking the road across the dam. There are civilians huddled in the center of the span, so it is preferable to be selective about where I shoot.  I plopped down a couple of Bradley's to keep civilian cars from driving through the area, but they ignored the blockade and came across anyway.

I chose to ignore them.

Hey, it's my world and I can do anything I want in it!

As you watch this, keep in mind that this is an extremely high fidelity simulator - the learning curve is not only steep but prolonged.  Later in the week I will demonstrate a different helicopter game (not sim) that is much more approachable, but has the same system requirements.

How to give an airplane ride

I'm hesitant to post this.


Well, the internet has made it extremely difficult to share an opinion.

While the technology has made it much easier to reach large number of people, it has also made it very easy for those people to respond with criticism, both constructive and... not constructive, with the latter being quite often being the dominant force.

What I want to talk about could be considered controversial. The video that I will embed as an example is an unvarnished look into my flying technique, capabilities, and inevitably, weaknesses, Posting a video like this is like taking a checkride with hundreds of examiners looking over your shoulder; it's as uncomfortable as inviting your neighbors in to examine your underwear drawer.

Someone is bound to want to criticize something.

But, caution to the winds, and here we go!

Here it is: general aviation as we know it is in trouble, and it has been for years. For reasons that I am not here to debate, the number of people getting licenses and flying for recreation continues to dwindle, despite the efforts of the FAA, the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), and other agencies.

The FAA responded with laxer rules for daytime flyers in small, light flivvers, while the (EAA) has attempted to pursue the solution through grass roots methods.

The EAA in particular has really stepped up. While the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) professes to support aviation for the little guy, I believe they are far more focused on corporate aviation and those private pilots that can afford half a million dollar (or higher) airplanes.

The EAA, on the other hand, has grown into a very large organization that focuses on the needs of the general aviation pilots that inhabit the lower cost side of the spectrum, although some of the niches they support, such as Warbirds, can be very expensive too. A P-51 is fetching a million bucks or more these days.

Taking the long view, the EAA has a program called Young Eagles, the idea of which is to get people with an interest in aviation out to the airport by giving rides to their children. This is a good goal, but I suggest that the long view can and should be paired with a shorter term view. Sure, getting your eight year old interested in flying is fine, but it's Dad (or Mom) that has the wallet.  How many of those kids are out there because Dad (yes, yes, or Mom) has always had a latent interest in flying?

Is anyone offering him a ride?  Is there room for a program like Mid-Life Eagles?

It seems like it would be a better, or perhaps "compatible" is a better word, idea to have a short-term solution to appeal to folks that have the maturity and money to actually do something about it now, not twenty years down the road.

This is where I come in:

I will give a joyride to anyone that asks. I like flying with people, and I enjoy the enjoyment that they have when flying in a small plane for the first time.

What I really like to do, though, is give rides to people that are already interested in learning to fly.

The ride that I like to give is one that convinces them that they actually can be pilots, and failing that, at least satisfies their curiosity on the subject. I do that by giving them something of a mini lesson. It's not anything they can log, there's nothing at all official about it, but they definitely get more of a feel for what's involved than they would if I was just flying them around the local area pointing out the sights.  Again, there's nothing at all wrong with joyrides; I do it quite often. But when the opportunity arises, I like to dig a little deeper.

With the GoPro camera being a very recent acquisition, I have recorded precisely one example thus far, although I intend to do more. The one that I have is not the perfect example in that it is a flight with a young man that has already decided to take lessons, but it will suffice to act as an example of what I consider to be a productive ride.

Note: I am aware of the mistakes I made in this video. Just before takeoff, I say that we need to confirm that the flaps are down - I was referring to the flap handle, which in my airplane is down when the flaps themselves are up, but I should have been clearer about what I meant. I think there was also a time when I said something about down trim when I meant up.  

I'm sure there are other examples.

And yes, it is probably insensitive to use 'Ugly Young Farmers' as a mnemonic for remembering the KUYF airport identifier at Madison County.  On the extremely small chance that a Madison County resident watches this video, please accept my tepid apology - it's the way I was taught, and I haven't forgotten it, so it is provably effective.

So, here is how I like to give a ride in an RV-12:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Flying Pedant

Well, chances are that at least one of those definitions wasn't necessary.

Chances are equally good that at least one was. At least it was for me - I knew what 'pedantic' meant, but I wasn't sure that there was such a thing as a 'pedant', but as it turns out, there is.

I came about asking myself that question in a somewhat circuitous way, and if you've been frequenting these pages for any great length of time, you already know that I'm getting ready to recount that journey.

It would be convenient to say that it all started with the introduction of a fantastic little piece of camera technology called a "GoPro" camera, but it actually predates that. While the GoPro is so perfectly adaptable to my needs, my needs for such a camera existed prior to its advent.

You see, I have long desired to have the ability to not only record video of what it is like to fly a small airplane, but to also capture the sounds that provide the background auditory ambiance. Recording the sounds of the engine and the airflow brushing its way across the airframe has always been easy; it is the talk between pilot and passenger and the talk between the pilot and the air traffic controllers that has been very difficult to capture. The built-in microphone in the camera was suitable, to a degree, for the former, but wholly deaf to the latter.

At a minimum, recording any of the voice traffic required a camera with an external microphone input, which at the consumer level is a relatively rare thing to find. Once having acquired a camera with that necessary feature, the challenge then was how to feed it the appropriate signals. Most often, this was attempted by using small lapel microphones stuffed into the ear cup of a headset.  This worked, more or less, but nearly always ended in disappointment as the microphone inevitable slipped out unnoticed. All that served to do was record even more of the engine and wind sounds.

The GoPro solved for the capture of the voice stuff indirectly in that its massive appeal to thrillseekers, athletes, and people that like to strap them onto animals created an equally massive market for accessories, one of which is a cable that interfaces with both the camera and the audio jack of a standard aviation headset.

Seriously. People attach them to animals.

So, the hardware existed. The only remaining barrier was price. They are not cheap. At current prices, one would expect to pay at least $500 for the most capable contemporaneous model.  I have never been willing to pay that price.

But then... Amazon.com.

No, Amazon doesn't sell them more cheaply than anyone else, but they do have a way for parsimonious people (or people married to a parsimonious person) to buy things like that used while still being assured of receiving the product they were promised. If an individual seller on Amazon advertises a product as "Like New" and it arrives in any condition other than that, Amazon will accept the return.

Cool, that.

So it is that I bought a lightly used GoPro and a bag of accessories (but not that aviation headset cable) for roughly half of what would have cost to by all of that stuff new.

As you can imagine, I couldn't wait to try it out!

So, I have to divert our course for a brief sidetrack down What I've Been Doing Blvd.

For those that may have missed it, I've been tutoring a young aspiring pilot who is working towards a private pilots license in the short term, and a career as a military aviator in the longer term. You can catch up here, if you so choose.

Austin and I have now had a second flight.  I recorded it. I watched the recording. While doing so, I felt that I had exhibited an almost preternatural degree of pedantry.

In other words, I never shut up during the entire hour. Jabber jabber jabber.

With that in mind, I would like to now introduce you to...

The Flying Pedant.

That having turned out so well, I made another recording using a head strap to mount the camera on my head, just as one of the folks above did with an eagle.

This flight was interesting in a number of ways, one of which was how I was surprised by having to deal with three or four other airplanes in the traffic pattern when I arrived at what I thought was going to be a nice, quiet little airport.  If you watch it, you will hear me working out a strategy for entering the traffic pattern safely.  Having gone through that, I think one of my future postings here is going to be a pedantic post purporting to provide a practical guide to proper pattern entries.


In any event, here is episode two of The Flying Pedant for your presumed pleasure:

As you can see/hear, the headset audio is very well captured.

Unfortunately, this is accomplished at the loss of the engine and wind sounds.

It will do for now, but the final solution is still waiting in the wings, so to speak.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Austin: Lesson 1

Fresh off the intro ride, Austin met me at the airport today at the crack of dawn. It was a frigidly cold morning, although it will soon get a lot worse. But after eight months of clement weather, one can be forgiven for considering 28° F as an extremely low temperature to be out and about.

Today was to be our first "official*" lesson, by which I mean the first flight for which I had a plan. Austin was delivered to the airport by his dad since, while he is sixteen, Austin does not yet have a drivers license. He came bearing gifts as well, in the form of a hot caffeinated beverage and a box of Timbits, the latter being somewhat unfortunate as I really can't eat sweet stuff like that in the morning without incurring the risk of uncomfortable belly problems.

Hopefully they didn't go to waste.

It was a thoughtful gesture, and the more I get to know Austin, the more impressed I am by him, and by extension, his upbringing. The news these days is full of things like college aged young "adults" [cough] shrilly demanding things like "free" tuition, student loan forgiveness, and $15 minimum wages for menial jobs, without offering any justification for these demands other than "they want it," or any recognition of the fact that anything given to them for "free" means that it was taken away from someone else. Or, they fully recognize that someone else will be forced to provide the demanded largess and simply don't care.

Either way, to me that demonstrates an over-extended childhood during which the world was theirs for the asking, or more likely, theirs to be had under the soft extortion of a temper tantrum.

Austin, on the other hand, and at a very tender age, seems to know what he wants out of life, and also knows that the way to get it is with self-discipline, hard effort, and tenacity. He recognizes that it's not simply going to be handed to him just because he wants it. He isn't unique in this, of course, with another example being young Co-pilot Egg, who herself had a similar direction at that age, and is now a mere six months from graduating with a four year degree in Nursing.  No mean feat, that.

This is important for me to see. As with probably every generation before me, I've lost touch with the majority of the generations that follow. It's very easy to become blinded by the vocal, spoiled minority that the media love to focus on. Austin reminds me that perception is often not a perfect reflection of reality - there are millions of responsible young adults out there working diligently towards their futures.

Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of that because those aren't the ones out there shaking their little fists and stomping their tiny little feet as they demand ridiculous concessions and handouts and/or the immediate firing of some authority figure that failed to immediately kowtow to their sensitive feelings.

With a full tank of gas (flying for $2.08/gallon now. Thanks Capitalism!!) and a little bit more time (Austin's French teacher graciously excused him from class so he could fly with me) to work, we went a lot more slowly through the preflight than we had when we went for our first short hop.  The wind was dead calm, as opposed to the 11G17 of the previous flight, so I was comfortable with letting him fly from the left seat, which is really just another way of saying that I was comfortable with my ability to takeoff and land from the other side.

The oil preheater had performed its job with its normal unstated competence, so the trusty little Rotax was ready to go long before we were. We spend some time talking about what the communications with the tower were going to be like ("Who we think we're talking to, who we are, where we are, what we want") but I ultimately made the transmission. It surprises some people to learn that one of the hardest things new pilots struggle with is talking to tower and air traffic controllers. In Austin's case, it didn't seem to be stage fright, which is good because that takes a long time to get over, but he was (understandably) having trouble memorizing the entire stream. This is one of the things that I imagine he will be thinking about for the next few days.

Here's what I was after:

"Bolton Ground, Experimental Two Eight Four Delta Golf, at the Tee hangars, ready to taxi, departing VFR westbound."

With the dead calm air, I expected, and received, the reply:

"Two Eight Four Delta Golf, altimeter three zero zero six, taxi to runway four via taxiways bravo and alpha, winds calm."

As a public service to anyone out there that's curious about this, here are some videos I found on YouTube to help out. As an indication of the difficulty people have in learning this, there were dozens more in the same vein:

The lengthy taxi out to runway four is something I usually consider to somewhat bothersome, but it was useful today for getting Austin used to steering the airplane with differential braking - necessitated by the lack of direct nosewheel steering like you would find in something like a Cessna - which is another of those things that's difficult to get used to whether you're a brand new student or a high-time pilot that has never experienced it.

After walking him through the end-of-runway pre-takeoff checks, I did the takeoff and turned us out towards the west. At about 2,000', I gave Austin the controls.

Other than offering instruction and advice, that was pretty much the last time that I had to touch the controls. Austin, as it turns out, has a natural feel for the control of the plane, and did a fairly good job of splitting his attention between the indications on the instrument panel and the real world outside the window. In my experience, it is both typical and beneficial for someone new to the idea of holding a specific heading and altitude to fixate on the instruments. It is typical because that's the only reference they can trust because that have yet to develop a good out-the-window sight picture and a feel for what the plane is doing. It's beneficial because it teaches them to trust the instruments implicitly while they're still very impressionable.

A lack of trust in the instruments versus what their inner ear is telling them has caused quite a few unnecessary deaths.

I had thought that it would take awhile before he was able to consistently hold both a heading/course and altitude, but it took almost no time at all. After fifteen or twenty minutes, I was combining heading and altitude changes by giving him ATC-style directions like "Two Eight Four Delta Golf, turn left heading three three zero, descend and maintain three thousand feet."

As part of his official training, he will be bouncing back and forth between a Diamond DA-20 and a Sport Cruiser. The DA-20 has a traditional mechanical "six-pack" of instruments, and it's the one that he will fly first, so I had him configure the Skyview for that presentation.

The DA-20 Katana and Sport Cruiser are excellent eye candy for the Aeromantic.

The DA-20 has an amazingly long wing. I've never flown one, but I'm tempted to rent one for an hour to see what it flies like:

This is the DA-20's panel. While there are four columns and two rows of instruments, it is the three columns to the left that comprise the traditional six-pack:

I am also curious about the flying qualities of the Sport Cruiser, but there is one based at Bolton that I hope to be able to cadge a ride in some day:

I think I've been remiss in mentioning that Austin is pretty much already in love with the RV-12, though:

It was a great deal of fun flying with him. It was a nearly perfect morning and my four layers of clothes were enough to keep me comfortably warm, and watching the rapidity with which Austin became calm and proficient at the controls was very gratifying. As much as I would like to take credit for my incredible instructing skills, I really can't. He's just a natural. That said, there is a lot more to flying that simply possessing the physical skills, but he asks very good questions, too, which indicates that he puts a lot of thought in this.  That bodes well for his future.

He wasn't perfect, of course - it takes quite awhile to learn to effectively multi-task and he had been controlling an airplane by himself for all of half an hour - but he was very, very good. With him already pretty comfortable with the fundamentals, I even challenged him a couple of times by having him change our direct-to destination in the Skyview.  The most important thing at this point is that he detects when he's going off course and/or altitude and makes a corrective action by himself. That's a fundamental skill/trait that will serve him well from here on out.

Austin has his first official lesson scheduled for tomorrow - whatever instructor he flies with is going to be very impressed!!

* Reminder: I am NOT a certified flight instructor, so nothing I teach Austin is anything more than an older pilot passing along tidbits of experience.

Follow-up after Austin's first REAL lesson:
My first lesson went great. It was just as fun but since it was my first time with the new instructor(Jeff) it was kinda a little tense more or less but we were both really comfortable and acquainted before take off. We flew for 1.1 hour(s) sharp turn 45 degrees then normal 30 degree turns. Climbs and declines. Accelerate declines, slow declines. Slow flight, flying the plane and what it would feel like in landing speed and lowered flaps. And ground reference.

He also said I was very talented for my first lesson and moved into more advanced procedures faster then he ever would have thought. Said I had a very natural talent for it and got a great connection really fast to the plane after [being] handed [the] controls.
I wish I could take credit for that, but alas.