Flying Airplanes

Just after landing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Sadly, N106AW was later crashed (no survivors) at night in the mountains of Utah.
I hear it was caused by running out of fuel.

No longer a private pilot! - July 8, 2006

That's right, they call me a commercial pilot now. I did my checkride today in rather uncharacteristic weather for Colorado's Front Range: RAINY! We had VFR conditions, but it was raining on takeoff and landing at Jeffco Airport. We did the maneuvers and landings up north near Loveland, where it was cloudy, but not raining, and this also allowed us to get a bit more altitude. We do need the rain, but what a day for it to happen (hey, don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled by the whole thing now, but I was not so happy looking at the forecast last night).

The commercial certificate is supposed to be the "easy" one, or at least that's how many pilots feel about it. But I would not say this, personally. It's just "different." Whereas the instrument rating is very technical, the commercial is all about becoming a better, smoother, and more professional pilot. I suppose the commercial requires more of the "right-brain!" In any case, it really does hone skills, just like the instrument rating does, so I highly recommend going for it.

Mountain Flight and Breakfast in Fort Collins - June 8, 2006

Retracing the route of the previous flight around the Indian Peaks and the mountains in Rock Mountain National Park, I showed Joanne & Jen the beautiful views of the peaks.

We then stopped at 3V5 ("Fort Collins Downtown" airport), got a car, and ate breakfast. It was a hot day, so I had decided we would stop to eat on "our" side of the continental divide, which proved to be a good decision. Clouds were building fast, especially in the mountains, as we concluded our flight.

Mountain Flight around Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park - June 2, 2006

Warren and I went on a short mountain flight to see the Indian Peaks and the mountains in Rock Mountain National Park. Warren had just returned from a two-night backpacking trip in the Park, so it was fun to see it from a different perspective.

After flying over Arapaho Pass with South Arapaho Peak to our right, we headed north and crossed the Divide near Hallet Peak and Flattop Mountain. The trip concluded with a flyby of Longs Peak on the way back home.

Mountain Flight to Utah - October 2-3, 2004

To satisfy the long solo cross-country requirement for my commerical certificate (hopefully, I'll go for this soon!), I did a trip from Jeffco airport (near Denver) to Hanksville, UT (a little west of Moab). The scenary was spectacular - mountain flying at its peak (get it?), and the aspen were so georgeous!

Mountain Checkout Flight to Steamboat Springs - May 15, 2004

Before Shara left for her airline training, she took time to fly with Connie and me to Steamboat in order to get us checked out for mountain flying at her FBO.

Got my Instrument Rating! - August 9, 2003

Wow, it probably took me about 9 months to get this, but I finally got my instrument rating. My checkride was on the morning of August 9, 2003. What a great feeling! As many people say, now I feel like a real pilot!

Trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado - November 17, 2001

Joanne and I did our first mountain flight together today. We visited Steamboat Springs, Colorado (KSBS), crossing the Continental Divide from Longmont (2V2). Below are some pictures from the trip. The in-flight pics are on the return trip, when the sunlight was really beautiful. Flying in the mountains is amazing!

How it all started...

Here I am at the Boulder Municipal Airport (in Boulder Colorado),
in front of good old N5413J, which is a 1980 Cessna 172.
I did my Private Pilot checkride in this airplane!

One moment I'll never forget was when I became a Private Pilot! It was after months of hard work, during which I had been focused on this goal, which involved so much more than I could have imagined.

On the morning of November 19th, 2000, a rather blustery day, I arrived at Flatirons Aviation in Boulder, CO to take my "final exam" for becoming a pilot. Called a "checkride," it is a combination of an oral knowledge exam and a practical flying skills test. The picture above was taken over a month before this on one of those rare cloudy/rainy days we have here in Boulder.

The day of my checkride wasn't the kind of day I would normally choose to do a nice, relaxing, flight (the winds were very funky, which along the Front Range means your skills will really be tested). But the checkride definitely isn't supposed to be the most relaxing flight anyway. The whole point is for the examiner (in my case, a guy with almost 50 years of flying experience!) to see whether you are actually safe and qualified to take to the skies. I was pretty nervous during the week leading up to this, but the experience was really great, and I learned a lot too. My checkride ended with a rather impressive (well to me anyway) crosswind landing, and I was awarded the Private Pilot certificate for "Airplane, Single Engine, Land."

I started my training in January of 2000 after more than 10 years of loving aviation in the form of skydiving. I can now say that I see the sky from both points of view, and although very different, they are both fulfilling and thrilling in their own ways.

Learning to fly airplanes has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. If you are interested in becoming a pilot, go for it!