Aerial View of Traverse City and Northern Michigan

Alison, Ruby and I spent Memorial Day weekend with Alison’s parents in Traverse City. We flew up on Friday afternoon, spent the evening with them, and then took them on a great aerial tour the following day. This was Alison’s dad’s first time in a small airplane and her mom’s second. Her first was last year when I took her and Alison for a ride during some of my instrument training with my instructor. Her mom and dad were both very new to the world of small aircraft and due to the heat of the day and the wind the ride was a bit bumpy. However, after 10 – 20 minutes everyone settled in and was comfortable with the ride. We flew from Traverse City (KTVC) to the west coast of the state over Empire and Sleeping Bear Dunes. We then headed north all the way to Northport, down Leelanau, Suttons Bay, and then overflew downtown Traverse City. After completing our primary tour we flew over torch lake and headed to Bellaire airport. Although I wasn’t able to enjoy a beer I did have an amazing pulled pork sandwich at Short’s Brewery, and grabbed two growlers for the road… air? … for when we got back home. This video is about 45 minutes of touring footage edited down to 8 minutes.

Points of interest in the video:

  • 00:20 – Falcon jet lining up behind us to take off then our departure from TVC
  • 01:20 – Sleeping Bear Dunes
  • 03:30 – Downtown Traverse City
  • 05:15 – Torch lake and you can then see another plane fly behind and under us
  • 06:13 – Downwind and landing at Bellaire

I decreased the engine noise in the video from 100% down to 20%, it’s still pretty loud. I didn’t add any music, if you’ve watched a couple of these and you have a preference to music or no music, let me know.

Some photos from our journey.


Instrument Rating – December Update

The weather in Michigan has been pretty rough for flying over the last 4 weeks.  A typical winter day has been an overcast layer of around 1000-2000 ft and temperatures around freezing.  Not the best conditions to be hopping around the area doing instrument approaches.

Since I haven’t been flying much I have been studying for my instrument written.  My typical studying technique includes reading the ASA text books and also using the ASA Prepware iPad application to study possible questions for the exam.  I ended up reading through the entire apps database of question just to see the variety of questions they might throw at me.  I needed a 70 to pass and ended up with a 97. That’ll do.

I have about 8 hours of pilot in command cross country time and simulated instrument time left.  Due to the holidays I imagine I’ll try and finish those up in January if I can get weather good enough to fly consistently for over the course of a week or two to get enough preparation for my check-ride.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to setup my cameras, audio equipment and do much editing. The last couple flights I’ve just slapped up a camera to have it captured. I’ll try to classy it up again in the near future. I would like to get some more flights recorded from the tail of the plane.

A couple hours edited down to 10 minutes on a nice afternoon. No audio.

Flew to GRR, MKG, MBS, FPK in some IMC. No audio.


First flight to Beaver Island Michigan

A week and a half back I had an epic day of flying.  It ended with the flight where Patrick and I mounted the camera on the beacon of the Cherokee 6.  However, it started with an awesome flight to Beaver Island, Michigan with Don (one of the partners in the Cherokee 6)  in his Twin Piper Geronimo (yes, that means he has two planes).

I met up with Don and his buddy at the airport around 8am Saturday.  They were fueling up the plane and preflighting when I got there. Even though his Geronimo is 50 years old she looked great on the ramp with her new paint job.

On the flight up I rode in the second seat and was able to play with the Garmin 496.  We have a 496 in the Cherokee but I’m usually flying and using the Garmin 530 for setting up my routes and activating procedures.  I haven’t had much time to interact with the 496.  It was connected with XM weather which allowed me to easily get METARs for airports we were passing and check out the enroute weather conditions.

When coming into the area we cruised down the coast of the island and overflew the harbor and downtown.   We then landed at the airport and jumped in the car that Don keeps there to get to and from his cottage.  Beaver Island was what I was expecting in many ways.  Lots of dirt roads, one primary downtown area, a mix of very simple dwellings and serious lake houses.  One thing that was surprising was the size of the island. It was definitely bigger than I was expecting: two airports, multiple churches, schools, nice fire stations and even a large hospital.  I was picturing more of bare bones summer vacation location. Not a fully equipped city with all the amenities in the middle of Lake Michigan.

We had lunch at a delicious little diner, spent a little time at his cottage and then headed home.

The title of this post is “first time” to Beaver Island because it is a little over 60 minutes in his twin, probably 90 minutes in the Cherokee and I imagine we’ll be doing it again.  It’s an easy flight and a great way to spend a day on the weekend.

All captured in about 4 minutes of footage, enjoy.


Flying over MSU and UofM

0:05 – Take off from FPK
0:20 – Lansing Capitol under the left wing
0:25 – Michigan State University
0:55 – Flying over UofM Stadium
1:20 – Landing ARB
1:45 – Departing ARB
3:25 – Landing JXN

On Sunday I spent majority of the day flying around Michigan. I got to the airport at 8am and flew with one of my partners in the Cherokee 6 up to his cottage on Beaver Island in his Piper Twin Geronimo. I did record some snippets of that and will put that together later this week.  After I returned from that flight I then went flying at 2pm with my flight instructor Patrick to continue working on my instrument rating.

Now that the FAA has specifically published a letter of clarification regarding external mounting of video cameras on your airplane I have started to experiment a little bit more. The letter generally says that small cameras that are not permanently mounted and do not significantly change the aerodynamics or weight and balance of the airplane are no big deal.

So, Patrick and I ziptied one of my GoPro cameras to the front of the beacon on the empennage of 3 Delta Tango. The results were pretty awesome.

We departed Charlotte, flew over Lansing, then over MSU campus and then headed towards Ann Arbor.
I did the VOR 24 approach into ARB then a VOR approach into Jackson and then back in Charlotte we flew the GPS 20 approach. The camera ran out of battery after leaving Jackson and heading back toward Charlotte. After we landed in Charlotte we did a take off and landing on the grass strip to get some soft field practice in with the Cherokee 6. My plan is to fly to Florida this summer and there are tons of grass strips so I wanted to be confident in taking off and landing no problem on the grass. The 300hp engine had us climbing out over 1500ft/min at Vx.

When doing your instrument training you wear a visor that blocks your vision outside of the aircraft. Even though it was a beautiful day to fly I was stuck under the hood for majority of the flight. I did peek once or twice over campus to make sure I had an ok flight path, then at one other point in Ann Arbor there was so much traffic around the airport that we needed all the eyes outside.

Beautiful day to fly and the footage came out better than expected. I’ll definitely try this mounting location again for some Great Lakes flying.

Biggest lesson from this flight:

  • During the last flight I wanted to practice running one of the aux tanks dry in a controlled environment so I knew what it felt like when in goes dry when flying. By working the left aux tank dry then working the left main a lot the plane was unevenly weighted. Although not pictured my takeoff track out of Charlotte was pretty terrible due to the right wing being heavier and taking the plane to the right more. I was compensating with rudder more than just throwing in more aileron. It was a noticeably different feeling and a good learning moment.

Other lessons:

  • Unlike most the other planes I have been flying the Cherokee 6 normal take-off is with one notch of flaps. On touch and goes I remember to leave in the one notch but have been pretty late bringing them back all the way down.
  • Getting a lot faster and more comfortable setting up the different types of approaches.
  • Still need to get the plane slowed down and a bit lower after my final approach fix, I’ve been having to drop the power and really drop it in there. I guess that works with a Cherokee 6, but not so well with a slippery plane like a Mooney or Bonanza. I’ll be working to get those habits tuned in a little better.
  • The prop filter lens I have been using on my GoPro to cut down on prop blur has been making everything look like crap. I’m not using that anymore and the footage is so much better.

Night flight to Flint KFNT, KJXN, KFPK

First night flight recording with the GoPro and first flight mounting the camera on the exterior.  The suction cup mount worked great, definitely going to try this during the day now.  The GoPro is mounted on the outside of the windshield and I ran the tether through the window vent and put a zip tie looped on the end to make sure it didn’t slip through the window. Once we setup for cruise it flipped back and was pointing at the sky. I had to stick my hand out the vent window and re-adjusted it.  With a ground speed of 180kts (207mph) at the time it was pretty hilarious trying to fix it. The force of the wind with my hand out the little side vent window was intense. But, the suction cup held just fine.

Still working on my 10 hours of dual instruction required before I can fly my plane solo.  I’ve got 8 logged now, so another couple flights and I’ll be good.  Good thing is that I have been working on my instrument rating and I need hours of instruction, instrument time, and plenty of pilot in command cross country time before I’m eligible to take my practice IFR test. So, this 10 hours of dual in the Cherokee 6 has been a great opportunity to get more comfortable flying VOR, ILS and GPS approaches with the Garmin 530.  I haven’t got into the Garmin 496 too much yet, but it is hooked to XM weather so that’s pretty nice to be able to easily check whether at any of the airports.

The camera facing back at Patrick and I didn’t record any audio, I don’t think it was plugged all the way in; and the lighting was terrible so there was nothing to look at anyways.  I just set this to an audio track (Phantogram) and left it at that.  The battery died between Flint and Jackson so there was only one landing captured (2:30 min).

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First PIC flight with Cherokee 6 – 323DT

I flew with my flight instructor Patrick, Alison and her mother to Muskegon airport this last weekend.  I have to get in 10 hours of flight instruction in my plane before I can fly it solo due to the insurance requirements.  I’m going to try and fly 2 or 3 times a week to get in my time and hopefully go on our first adventure out of state.

The very first flight I took in the airplane was to get my High Performance endorsement. After that I am now able to fly and log Pilot In Command (PIC) Cross Country (XC) time which I need towards my instrument rating.

Even though I need the 10 hours for insurance requirements I also still need plenty of instruction and instrument time towards my Instrument Rating so the extra time working with Patrick.

  • 3:00 we are on final approach landing in Muskegon
  • 4:30 flying along the coast of Lake Michigan

I have to do some research on what happened with my camera. The white balance or something didn’t reset and as the sunset the footage became all grain and was unusable.  I think if I would have stopped and restarted it the camera would probably have readjusted to the different light and been ok.  We’ll see.  I’m flying tomorrow at night and I’ll fire them up to see if it is any better.


First Multi-Engine Airplane Instruction

A month ago the Cessna 177RG I used to rent had an unfortunate incident and is now out of commission indefinitely.  The FBO I rent at has two trainers and a twin, but it’s hard to rent the trainers for a full weekend trip.  The twin however, is regularly available.  I’ve been working on my instrument rating but still have 25 hours cross country/pilot in command time to get in; I was thinking of taking a slight tangent and getting my multi-engine, then using that to finish up my XC/PIC time.  I don’t really want to fly just for the sake of building hours, I would much rather go places and actually do things so losing the Cessna 177 was tough.  Even if I don’t go through and finish my MEL at this time I figured there were worse ways to spend a few hours on a Saturday then flying around a Twin Comanche.  Here is my first 1.2 hours of instruction edited down to under 20 minutes.
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This is a 1965 Twin Comanche, N7693Y and available for training and rental from

You can jump forward in the video if you want to see anything specific.

  • Take-off: 1:50
  • Cloud-climb: 4:00
  • Steep-turns: 6:00
  • Emergency-Descent:15:00
  • Base-to-final-landing: 18:00

This was my first time in this plane so I didn’t have much time to find good camera mount points. I wore the GoPro head strap and used a tripod in the backseat.  I’m working on some ideas for some external mounting points, we’ll see how it goes.

At the airport there was also a beautiful Bonanza with TKS a Cessna 310 and a little Titan Tornado



Mackinac Island – Alison’s Birthday Weekend

August 15th – 17th Alison and I spent the weekend on Mackinac Island.

We left Charlotte at 3pm and were on the island around 5pm.  Normally this is a 4 hour drive, plus another hour or so parking, getting a ferry ticket and getting over to the island. Flying was definitely the way to go!

We stayed at the Metivier Bed & Breakfast on Market St. It was really nice and the breakfast was excellent.

After we hiked, biked, ate, and drank all weekend we headed to Traverse City to have dinner with Alison’s parents.

Traverse City airport was pretty busy Sunday afternoon. There were some helicopters coming in and out, 3 other small planes in the pattern and a couple of jets departing. We actually had to do one hold in the downwind to wait for some traffic to clear, which gave us a great view of the bay.

Alison’s mom and dad were waiting for us at Harbour Air Services. One of the attendants actually drove her dad out to watch us fly in and listen to ATC. After we landed they drove back and gave us the best ramp spot and topped our tanks off.

We ate at Red Mesa grill and then went back to the airport for our hour flight back to Charlotte airport. The sky was calm and quiet on our way home and we flew a little lower to see some sites. When we came in to the Lansing area there was an overcast layer, but we were still able to fly 2000 AGL and make it home before dark.


Dan Lash – First flight with Captain Doom

My friend Dan Lash and I went for a 90 minute flight over to Muskegon Michigan. I really like this flight because you get to move between 3 different approach frequencies so it is good radio practice. Plus, it’s a good distance to log cross country time and most importantly – Muskegon airport is right on Lake Michigan so the view is awesome.

15 Minute Video

The 15 minute video is edited down but is still 1x speed and has both a forward and rear facing GoPro view. You can hear our audio feed and us chattering with ATC.

6 Minute Video

This video was an experiment. I just put it together real quick to see how it would work. The speed is increased 350% and the video is still edited down. It just has the outside GoPro view and I put in an audio track that is not synced to the flight at all. Made sure to pick a very cliche song like “Aviation High.”



Dan Lash Flying

After a simple flight briefing on the controls I let Dan take it over for a few minutes. He’s a natural.



Cross Country Time Building with Larry

On Sunday June 8th I did my first flight with another pilot that is not a certified instructor.  Larry earned his PPL in 2010 and is on the final leg of his IFR certification. He recently passed his written test and is working on finishing up his PIC time in order to be eligible for his checkride.  I’m just starting my IFR training and need PIC time and also need to log more simulated instrument time.  For this flight Larry served as PIC for being ultimately responsible for the safety of the flight and I was able to log PIC time because I was the sole manipulator of the flight controls.  We were both able to log just over 3 hours of flight time and split the cost of the flight.

I definitely appreciated that Larry was ok with serving as safety pilot the entire flight and allowing me to fly the aircraft and get more experience flying in simulated instrument conditions. It was also good to have a pilot who was further than I was in his instrument training to give me additional pointers or feedback while we were flying.

Although I was under the hood majority of the flight, the video footage is pretty spectacular.  When flying into Muskegon we had to fly out a couple miles over Lake Michigan for the final approach fix.

Soon after I take off from Muskegon and we were straight and level we turned off the cameras to conserve the battery.  Unfortunately, when we went to turn the cameras back on the forward facing camera switched modes to photo mode and Larry just ended up getting an awesome selfie overflying a windmill farm.  I then accidentally took a selfie when we were shutting down and putting the plane away when I thought I was turning off the video.

The good news is that the footage over the lake was preserved and that’s the main thing worth checking out. That footage starts around the 5 minute mark.

KMKG – Muskegon Airport

Muskegon Airport is one of my favorite airports because it is right on Lake Michigan.  Whenever you head to this airport you are guaranteed a great view and there is also a great little restaurant inside.

Approach:  RNAV (GPS) RWY 6
Received vectors to WEGUN (FAF)

Touch and go.

KMBS – Saginaw Airport

This was my second time to Saginaw Airport, the first time was during my long cross country solo when I was working towards my PPL.  I remember flying in a Cessna 152 doing all of my navigation by landmarks and being concerned that I wouldn’t recognize the airport.  With the Garmin 430 GPS in the Piper Warrior that really wasn’t a concern.

Approach: RNAV (GPS) RWY 5
Started the approach at WERDO.

KFPK – Charlotte Airport

The final destination was our home base of Charlotte Airport.
Approach: RNAV (GPS) RWY 20

I flew my first circling approach to this runway and completely blew it. I had to go around and then just flew a standard traffic pattern to land on RWY 2.