American Journal

Read about November.
Read about December.
Read about January.
Read about February.
Read about March.

See the Pictures I took in the US so far.

I haven't updated it for a while, because I was busy working on my Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and CFI training, I have my CPL now and I'm I've been waiting for my CFI check-ride for 7 weeks which I passed now and I now work as a Flight Instructor at the Naples Air Center

Summary of March 28th till August 31st

Did some more solo flights to burn commercial hours the rest of March. Went back home to The Netherlands in the beginning of April. When I got back in Lakeland there was an airshow. The 2nd biggest airshow in the US. Sun 'n Fun. When I got back most of the busy days were already over, but there were still a lot of planes on the runway and taxiways in Lakeland.

Monday April 16th 2001

I did a solo cross country to Fort Myers, Southwest Florida International. That was pretty cool, I did a touch and go on runway 06 while there was an MD80 waiting for me. I was doing 65 knots on final while this MD80 was burning fuel waiting for me. Pretty cool :) After I did my touch and go the tower asked me to make a side step and fly parallel to the runway so the MD80 could take off. Flying side by side with an MD80 in my little Cessna 152, that was really cool!

Wednesday April 18th 2001

I had my first flight in a complex plane, the Piper PA28R Arrow. A GREAT plane to fly. Much more stable than those Cessna's, because it's a low wing. It has a retractable gear and a variable pitch propeller, which makes the flying a little more interesting as well. Lots of fun to fly. Only when you have an emergency it sinks like a brick! No floating whatsoever! Thankfully we were only practicing emergencies :)

Thursday April 19th 2001

Martin and I went on a flight doing nothing and burning hours. We went to Tampa International first, it was a first time for both of us. I was flying and he was taking pictures of all the planes and the airport... It was pretty cool. After we landed there were a few jets that landed after us. After Tampa we went to Sarasota, which we thought would also have a few cool jets, but once we got there it was deserted. So we got out of there as soon as we could. It was very boring and after the touch and go we headed back to Lakeland and got flight following on the way back. He sent us all the way east and we were already past the direct south of Lakeland (Sarasota is south east of Lakeland) and we thought "screw him" and we aborted the flight following and we went to Lakeland on our own navigation.
When we got to Lakeland we were still kind of playing in the time we had, so we asked for a Localizer approach on runway 5. All we had was one VOR receiver and one radio, and we shot a Localizer with only that, and we asked Tampa approach when we could start our descent because we had no glide slope indicator and no markers either. All very amateuristic, but it was good fun at the time :)

Friday April 20th 2001

I took a check out flight at Hawthorne (Lakeland Air Services) to go and rent a plane for the next day. We did 2 touch and go's and I've never had a better landing than that day. I litteraly greased it in and he was very impressed. I was acting very casual like I landed like that every day :) So I got the sign off and I got checked out and the next day (April 21st) I rented a plane to go flying with my dad. First we flew over my apartment complex (Carlton Arms) then we flew over the Disney World
complex on our way to Orlando International, where I requested a touch and go. Too bad it wasnt as busy as I expected it to be. After Orlando we went to Wauchula (International) :) (my friends and I once called it Wauchula International, because it's such a small airport in the middle of f*cking nowhere). At Wauchula we had a hamburger and a coke and a little chat with the guy who owns most of the airplanes at Wauchula. After that we went back to Lakeland and I showed my dad a touch and go and then we did a full stop. I had a great time and in a way I felt a little proud to show my dad that I could really fly.

Thursday April 26th 2001

I had quite a busy day. I started off with a stage check with Don Palas not my best flight, but I passed. After that I did a cross country to Naples, I wasn't actually allowed to go, because the clouds weren't at 3000 ft, which is a stupid rule anyway, because it was only FEW and I knew the ceiling was gonna rise. So I went anyways, but because I had to wait for the weather to clear up a little bit there was an hour of my scheduled flight time gone. I thought I could make it to Naples and back, but I had to stop for fuel and I had to buy something for Jurriaan as well in Naples. On top of that I couldn't refuel in Naples, because it's more expensive than Venice and they'd definitely make a problem of that back at ACA. So I stopped in Naples, ran out to the pilot shop, ran back into the plane and got on my way to Venice. I had to wait for 15 minutes before they could refuel me and when I was on my way back to Lakeland I had it on full power all the way, almost redlining the little bastard :) I was doing 110 knots all the way back and on final for runway 5 in Lakeland I was doing 125 knots, because I still had it on full power and was descending on top of that, nice speed. Just before the approach lights I pulled the power all the way back to idle. Slowing it down into the white arc, after which I selected full flaps right away and that really works like brakes. Had a record time of 3,5 hours from Lakeland to Naples, Venice and back to Lakeland again. I got back about 50 minutes late, oops :) But I had the CDROM Jurriaan wanted and I'd done my hours.

It was already 5 pm when I got back and had to do a dual flight with Martin again at 6 pm. We went to Orlando International, since I went there with my dad 5 days before. In a rental plane it wasn't a problem, but in an ACA plane it was highly illegal, just like Tampa is, which made it even more exciting. We did an approach there and there were 737's next to us, but they were pretty far in the distance. We landed and asked for a taxi-back, since it was too busy for a touch and go. So we did a full stop landing and once clear of the runway we contacted clearance delivery and ground to ask for a clearance out of their airspace. After we changed to ground frequency there was a JetBlue Airbus A320 and they were told to follow us to the runway, they were about 50 meters away from us and he couldn't see us, because we were so damn small! :) When we got back at Lakeland I'd done 5,6 hours in one day and I was pretty exhausted I might say.

Saturday May 5th 2001

I went flying with Bert to Daytona (also illegal destination in an ACA plane). We drove to ACA and from there on Bert went in my car to Plant City where I was supposed to pick him up. I was talking outside with Pieter and he asked me what I was up to, I told him about my plans to pick up Bert and he warned me about going to Plant City because the ACA board of directors would be there looking to buy a new KingAir for the school. That really was the plan, but of course nobody was there and Pieter, the red bastard, had me fooled, because when I arrived at Plant City there really was a KingAir on the ramp so I was sneaking to the FBO, because Bert hadn't arrived yet in my car and I was getting kinda nervous. So he really had me there, good joke :) We flew to Daytona and we did a touch and go there and we went up to 10,500 ft
on the way to Ocala and when we were almost there I pulled the power to idle and did a gliding descent to pattern altitude and when we reached pattern altitude I gave it some power again, but the engine started sputtering and almost stalled, so I did my checks only to find out I didn't do my descent checklist as I should have done... MIXTURE RICH!! It was still in the lean position because of the thin air at 10,500 ft. After refuelling, both us and the plane, we went back and tried to get a touch and go at Tampa International, of course we should have asked for a land and taxi back, but sometimes you forget those little secrets. So we went to Pilot Country instead, which is also a pretty special airfield, because of all the houses next to the runway. After that we landed in Plant City, where I dropped off Bert who then drove back to ACA to pick me up. It's really amazing that it only takes 4 minutes from Plant City to Lakeland by plane, but Bert was driving for 25 minutes!

Saturday May 12th 2001

I had more solo and dual commercial training and a few of cross country hours, but the cross country on May 12th was the best of that time. I went to Daytona Beach again and Ocala and on the way back from Ocala to Lakeland I decided to give it another try for a touch and go at Tampa. They denied me again, so then I requested a land and taxi back, which means you land, don't take off right away, but you're not staying either. You taxi back to the departure point of the runway and you're off again. So they gave me permission to enter the Class B airspace and do a land and taxi back. I didn't see the field clearly until I was about 5 miles out, because of the haze. Then I was still at 2000 ft, so I had to bring it down quickly, pulled the power to idle and glided it in. I was on final and I saw 4(!!) airplanes waiting for me
before they could take off! Two Boeing 737's and two 757's. After I landed and got off the runway the Northwest Airlines 757 took off and as I was taxying back to the departure point there were more planes coming from the ramp to the runway. As I called in ready for departure they told me to hold short. I was number 6 in line! So all these aircraft, two 737's, two 757's (another one had lined up again) and a Beech 1900 were departing in front of me and then another plane, a US Airways Airbus A320 lined up, but I was there first, so I could take off in front of him. Immediately after my take off they told me to make a turn to the east and basically get the hell out of there so the A320 could take off.

Tuesday May 15th 2001

I had my Final Stage Check for Commercial with Don Palas, which is always an adventure on itself. He's the one that never uses headsets, which is a REAL nuisance, although in the Arrow the sound isn't as bad as in the C152 or C172. So here we are in the practice area cruising around when he asks me to do a few maneuvers. "WHAT?" "I said show me slowflight!" (He always talks in his normal volume even if the engine is screaming at 120 dB, which makes it even harder to understand). So I did a slow flight and everything went well. Then he asked me to do a Lazy Eight (Commercial maneuver). So I did a lazy eight, the way Dougie taught me and he was all like "No no no thats not how we do it." Then he did it HIS way. He does it in a very agressive way, whereas Dougie teaches his students to do it nice and gently. He almost made me sick! Well anyway, he did it his way and then he told me to do it again, or... that's what I THOUGHT he told me. I did a lazy eight and half way through it he looks at me and yells: "THAT'S NOT A CHANDELLE!" Aaaahhh... a Chandelle! Damn flying without headsets! I passed the stage check and was scheduled to do my Commercial checkride on the 21st.

Monday May 21st 2001

I did the Commercial checkride, which I passed without any real problems, though the flight must have been one of the worst flights ever! I screwed up my lazy eight (again) and the stallhorn sounded during my chandelle and I was about 10 degrees off my heading. I've never flown that bad during the trainingflights. So we went back to Lakeland and we were about 4 miles out and I thought we were still 10-15 miles out. We were at 3000 ft and then all of s sudden I saw Lakeland WAY below us! I thought we were gonna bust the Class D Airspace and turned away from Lakeland (You cant fly within 4 miles at an altitude lower than 2500 ft of a Class D airport without establishing 2 way communications). Then the examiner (Mr Garner, great guy!) asked me what I was doing and I told him I was trying to steer clear of Class D, he tapped at the altimeter. I forgot we were at 3000 ft. So then he took the controls and said :"Let me show you how to do it." He took the controls and pulled the power to idle and gave it about 80 to 90 degrees of bank, while he pitched the nose down. The VSI-needle could point that far in the minus, that's how fast we were descending! I felt pressure building up in my ears, which wasnt such a great feeling I can tell you. We were screaming down at more than 2500 feet per minute (that is the maximum rate indicated on the VSI) or something like that. Within a minute we'd lost almost 2000 ft and we were at our pattern altitude of 1100 ft (1000 ft above ground level) soon after. Then we did a few touch and go's. The first touch and go Mr Garner asked me to do a soft field landing and although I greased it in, much to my surprise, the airspeed on final approach was a little bit too low. So then a normal landing, then a flapless landing and then the short field landing. This requires some skill in slowing down and descending. This definitely was NOT my day. I was too high on the approach and I couldnt descend faster, because then my airspeed would rise, so I chopped the power about half way down the runway much to my embarassment. We took the last exit off the runway back to ACA. Holding short, doing all the after landing checks, he told me I'd forgotten to do the "3 in the green-check" on the last landing. (You have to check if the gear is down and locked, 3 green lights will light up in the cockpit if they are). That's when I thought, better luck next time, but much to my relief he passed me, because over all my flight had been enough to let me pass. As of that moment I was a commercial pilot, YEAH!

Tuesday May 22nd 2001

I did a spin training flight with Martin. Because when you're gonna be a CFI you need to have a spin endorsement, showing you are capable of recovering from spins should they occur after a stall. Martin and I scheduled a plane and went south near Avon Park, so we could combine it with a cross country. That's where he showed me my first spin. He put the plane in a power on stall and gave full opposite aileron to the rudder. Next thing I know, the horizon tilts in front of my eyes, when all of a sudden I realize it's not the horizon tilting... it's us! We're almost upside down and that's when the turning starts. At this point, the nose of the plane is down and the plane is turning about 360 degrees per 5 seconds. I tried to grab a hold of something, but of course in those little 152's that's virtually impossible. So then he did it again and again. Then it was my turn to show him how to do it. By that time I was already so naucious I could hardly concentrate, so I screwed up the first, second and third attempt (I recovered too soon, before we'd done a full rotation, because I wanted it to stop asap!)Then Martin told me if I did 2 spins and the revories the right way, he'd sign me off. So I REALLY concentrated on the two spins and they still weren't flawless, but he agreed to sign me off anyway. YES! Back to Lakeland. As we pulled straight and level again and flew back, we were in a steady position and that's when I started to feel the effects of the spin. I told Martin to take us back to Lakeland and I put my seat back and put the vent in my face to get some fresh air, meanwhile trying my best not to throw up. We landed and we got back at ACA, where I sat at the table outside doing nothing, just staring at the ground. I felt so incredibly sick! Just glad I didn't throw up. If I'm an instructor and some student wants to do a spintraining, he or she will have to find someone else to do it, because I'm defenitely NOT going through all that again!

Sunday May 27th 2001

Martin got a job offer to fly the parachute jumpers at Mulberry Airport (Lakeland South). The only thing was he needed to get a high-performance endorsement. (You need a high perf. endorsement for any plane with an engine that has more than 200 hp). So he talked to Mr Garner (our designated FAA examiner at ACA) and he made an appointment to do the flight with an accquaintance of Mr Garner at Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg. This sounded like fun and he needed a ride overthere, so I decided to do the high performance flight as well. You never know when it might come in handy, besides, I couldn't fly for a few days, because I was waiting on my CFI checkride, so I could stay current without paying the money to ACA :) We did our flight in a Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six. A six cyllinder engined beast with 300 horse power! Boy you could really feel that sucker pulling to the left immediately after take off! We did basic maneuvers, slow flight, descending, turning and all that stuff and it was just like the Arrow, except the left turning tendency
was slightly greater. Actually a lot :) The plane itself flew like a dream. Very stable and it cruised at cruise power setting (economy power) already at 145 kts! Imagine at what speeds you'd be flying with more power! The airplane's interior was beautiful as well, you could plug in 6 headsets (2 in front 4 in the back) and it had really cool instruments, color GPS with moving map and all that. We both flew for 0.7 hours and walked away with our high performance endorsements. A very cool experience.

In the weeks that followed, I had to sit and wait for my CFI checkride, which was a disaster, since it was cancelled 12 times (a new ACA record) due to weather, or cancellation from Mr Joss, the examiner, since he's also a lawyer in aviation law he's quite busy. It happened to me three times that we were ready to fly to West Palm Beach, where the exam takes place and the plane couldn't fly. The first time it was the starter and two times we had to cancel because the fuel pump wasn't working, so the fuse popped out and it didn't do anything anymore.

In the meantime Jur had left in June to start working as a CFI in Naples at Naples Air Center and I got a new roommate. Gary, a NAV student who had to do 70 hours of CRM (Crew Resource Management) training in the Arrow.

At the end of June all of the ACA students moved to new housing, because basically they'd been kicked out of the old ones, due to misbehaviour of students from the maintenance and culinary school. We moved a little more to the south in Lakeland to Village at Lake Highland. A brand new apartment complex, which looked very nice. It also seemed to be a bit bigger than the old one. I lived there for a month with Gary, with whom I shared a room and my friend Bert shared a room with John, a Danish guy who wanted his FAA licenses.

Thursday July 26th 2001

Gary took his friends who were visiting from The Netherlands out for a flight in a C172 in Winter Haven. Since he didn't have an instrument rating and the weather kind of sucked that week, he asked me to fly with them to have an instrument rated pilot with them so they could file IFR, should they need to. Of course at that point we had no idea that there was no way we were going to be able to fly IFR in that little piece of shit he rented. It started at the pre-flight when we saw the plane was in a very bad shape. The doors were hinged by a nail! and there were instruments missing from the panel. Normally when they take out an instrument they cover it back up, but there was a hole where the ADF indicator used to be. This was gonna be fun.... We tested the intercom and radio's first before we'd find out they didn't work and the 2nd intercom wasn't working, so the passengers in the back couldn't hear a thing. Gary was flying and his friend, Rob was sitting next to him, while Nancy (Rob's girlfriend) and I were sitting in the back. We took off and we did some checks on the instruments, then we found out that the VOR wasn't working and the turn indicator didn't do anything. It was really quite funny, because I've never seen a plane in such bad shape before. Luckily the engine and the airframe were both fine, so we were in no danger, but it was just unbelievable. The attitude indicator was tilted to the left, so you couldn't trust that either. The only things that worked were the airspeed indicator, the altimeter (kind of) and the magnetic compass. All the other instrumens had some sort of flaw in them. Then we were outside of Winter Haven and Gary showed some steep turns and more of that acrobatic stuff, zero G maneuver, while poor Nancy was turning green and she couldn't take it any longer so we headed back to Winter Haven and dropped her off to go flying with the three of us for about another hour. We headed up north to Disney World and flew around it and then Gary asked me if I wanted to fly. I thought he was joking, because we were airborne and it's kind of hard to change seats from front to back. NOT impossible though, as I later found out. He said to Rob, try to keep it on this heading and altitude and gave him the controls, while he climbed over the seat to the back. I was a little bit surprised, but soon snapped out of it and climbed over the seat to the front, meanwhile being very careful not to get trapped into something or pushing the yoke forward. Then I was settled and Gary told me to give Rob some flying lessons, since I was becoming a CFI, which I did. We went back to Winter Haven and by that time the rain had moved in, so we had to land as soon as possible. Since we took runway 14 when we departed Winter Haven, I ASSUMED we'd take that one again. I lined myself up, did a standard pattern and landed, at which point I found out that the wind had changed 180 degrees in direction, so we had a tailwind! Oops... We had enough runway in front of us, but our groundspeed was quite high, so I had to take the second to last exit of runway 14....

After all that crap and waiting around doing nothing, finally on July 28th I passed the CFI checkride. In the meantime, Jur had arranged a job for me at Naples Air Center where he went off to in June. I had to keep them waiting because of all the cancellations and when I passed on the 28th, I packed my stuff and left on the 29th to start working as a CFI in Naples on the 30th of July. Thanks for giving me the opportunity Jur!

On July 30th I did a check out flight with the chief pilot Nick Ricks, who showed me the area and explained a few reporting points and practice areas. A flight of about 50 minutes in the C172, which also checked me out for the C152, since they are so similar.

From this point onwards I won't make a report of every day anymore, because of students' privacy. Just whenever something is worth mentioning I'll write it down.

Tuesday July 31st 2001

I had to pick up my first student from Opa Locka airport, near Miami. We always fly to Opa Locka since you have to pay landing fees at Miami International and you could be waiting on the ground for more than half an hour, which would cost the student a lot of money, because the engine is still running. I left at around 15:30 and I got there at just before 17:00 and when I'd just left Naples all hell broke lose as I later found out. Seems there was a huge thunderstorm above Naples, which I knew nothing about as I was already on my way to Miami. I picked up my student, Robert Pot, a 44 year old Dutchman, who decided to go for an aviation career at that age, which is very admirable as far as I'm concerned.

Thursday August 9th 2001

After 18 hours of dual flying with Robert I was about to send him up solo. My first student which I'd trained from scratch who went solo. It was a pretty special experience. Undescribable feeling when you see your first student going solo. He did 3 touch and go's and a full stop and when he got back we were both very pleased, I could tell he was.

Later that day I went flying with Viral Khakhar, a student from Naples Air Center who was burning hours for his CPL. He came to me and asked with a typical London accent:"Oy! You flyin'?" Very funny guy and fun to hang around with. So we went flying and I showed him some chandelles in a C-152 and lazy eights as well, but he wanted more bank so we ended up flying almost 90 degree bank lazy eights. I also told him about the FAA rule that you can fly at 1 ft over the water as long as you stay 500 ft clear of any person, vessel or obstacle. So we went flying at 100 ft over the water near Marco Island. Pretty cool, it was my first time as well. After that he seldomly flew over 200 ft when he did flights over the water :) Then we went back to Naples and both tried to make the softest touchdown possible, of course, since he was flying right seat for the first time (he wanted that) his landings weren't as soft as mine. He made a video of my landing.

Saturday August 11th 2001

Jurriaan and I rented a plane from NAC to go flying at night. And since we knew there was a flight school in Fort Pierce where they sent the new KLM Flight Academy students (i.e. Dutchmen) we decided to pay them a visit. My student, Robert and Jur's student, Annie went with us as passengers and Jur and I did the flying and practising on our CRM skills. When we arrived in Fort Pierce there was just a party of one of those guys, because it was his birthday. It was all very much fun and good to see more Dutchmen again. Robert already knew the new class from their flight into Miami and when we walked into the door they recognized each other.

Saturday August 18th 2001

Another flight with Viral. This time we went to Venice and he climbed out and after reaching the shore he descended to 500 ft and requested flight following from Fort Myers Approach all the way to Venice at 500 ft! A few minutes into the flight they lost us on the screen because we were too low (haha) and they asked us to go on own navigation to Venice. So then he descended even further to 100 ft and below! A few times he got me scared, because he was flying so damn low! When we arrived in Venice we heard another student from Naples Air Center coming in, he'd just gone on his first solo cross country. Because the thunderstorms were blocking our way back to Naples we decided to wait for about an hour and then see what the weather was gonna do. We took a free shuttle to Sharky's, a little restaurant at the beach in Venice. When we went back Shurandi, the other student asked me to fly with him, because he didn't want to fly into the thunderstorm, so we flew back along the coastline to avoid the thunderstorms and Viral was flying ahead of us. Then we decided to do formation flying at 100 ft. That was the coolest thing I'd ever done! I bet it must have looked great from the beach, we saw all the people waving!! Too bad neither of us brought a camera!

Sunday September 2nd 2001

My friend Bert visited Jur and me all the way from Lakeland, since he had nothing else to do. And we took a plane and went flying at night. There's nothing better than flying at night. It looks gorgeous and the ride is unbelievably smooth! We went flying up to Fort Pierce and visited the KLM Flight Academy group again, but since it was a weeknight most of them already went to bed and it was a bit of a disappointment. Last time was more fun. We went back to Naples and we watched movies in Jur's house the rest of the night.

Tuesday September 4th 2001

My student, Robert Pot, after passing his PPL went back to The Netherlands. Normally we fly our students into Opa Locka airport, because it's cheaper than Miami International, but Jurriaan went with us and we decided to fly into Miami International and pay the extra charges ourselves. On the approach we were parallel to an American Airlines Boeing 727! We parked at Signature Aviation Ramp, which was a complete RIP OFF! We ended up paying more than $120 for landing fee and handling costs. Later we found out there was a much cheaper FBO where you'd only have to pay the landing fee of $23 and no extra handling costs. Anyway we got a courtesy car at Signature and took it into the main terminal to drop off Robert at the desk of KLM/Northwest and get his ticket. We walked through the terminal in our uniforms and we looked like real pilots, some people looking at us! It was pretty cool! We dropped off Robert after having dinner in the terminal and drove back to Signature. There we planned our flight back to Naples and called the Weather Briefer. It is common to say your type of aircraft and your tailnumber and when we told him we were departing from Miami International with a Piper Warrior he couldn't believe us! He doublechecked it two times! Those are a few of the nice things of flying in America, just be able to take your damn single engine moped-flyer into an international airport!

Tuesday September 11th 2001

Boy, here's a day I won't soon forget. I tried to do a flight at 9:00 with my French PPL student, but we were in the plane and during the start-up checks the flaps wouldn't retract, so we couldn't go. And there wasn't enough time to take another plane, because I had another student booked soon after. So we went back in and there we got the devastating news that 2 airliners had struck the WTC towers and one had struck the Pentagon. This was truly a black day for aviation! After this incident we couldn't fly VFR for 2 weeks and because of that I was grounded for 2 weeks as well, no income.

Saturday October 13th 2001

After having flown a few times without having my own student I got a student assigned again on October 4th. Donncha McDonagh from Ireland, training in the Piper Warrior for his JAR PPL. Today he went solo. We flew down to Immokalee, because this time of the year Naples is very hectic with all the retired rich bastards flying in from the cold north. So I decided to send him solo in Immokalee where there was hardly anyone in the pattern. He did 3 touch and go's and a full stop landing and I was standing at the approach end of the runway REAL close during one of his touch and go's and I made a nice picture.

- -