Brothers' First Flight Photo
Play   Stop        "Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these broken wings and learn to fly...."

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<>Note:  I've put this page here on the World Wide part of my network for my own purposes, which include examining my experiences as a "returning student" (like a lot of the people who show up in my own college classes), and for some members of my family.  If you're not family, you're welcome to read on, but don't expect a public document or profound insight.

Skip the messy, long-winded intro and go directly to--
     Lessons, Flights, &c.
     Links, &c.

Learning Flying
I began these pages in November 1997, shortly after enrolling in a flight school, as sort of a blabby log of my experiences as a student pilot. In June, 1998, I became a private pilot.  In September 1999 I received a tailwheel endorsement, and in November, a seaplane rating.  In June 2000 I began building a SeaRey, a small two-place amphibious flying boat from a kit produced by Progressive Aerodyne.  And now--August 2000--I'm writing this paragraph to update the introduction (below) a bit. But I don't feel like rewriting the intro; it is what it is. Every time I fly I learn new things, so I'm carrying on with the "learning flying" idea and with calling the log entries "lessons." 

Oops.  Updated this page again on 27 Jan 04 with this:  N123XM


    This will probably seem frivolous to many, silly to some, stupid to others.  For me, though, it's a way to kill two birds with one stone--an unfortunate expression in more way than one, as you'll see if you bother to read on.

    One of those metaphorical birds is the question my family must be asking (though they're far too kind to say it to me):  "What on earth are you doing?!"  This is an attempt to answer.

    What I'm doing is taking flying lessons, and this is also one of the ways I'm studying for them--writing down my recollections as notes about the lessons, hoping to understand them better and more wholely.  And so that's the second bird I'm aiming this metaphorical rock at. (I'm sorry for starting off with that particular cliche--and should probably just let it die on its own.  But a bird in the hand, they say, is worth two in the bush, so I'll leave it alone until I can flush out something better.)

    But why flying lessons?  Ah, well.  I've asked myself that question often enough, and I don't have a practical answer.  The truth is, flying is terrific fun, but I have absolutely no practical need to fly airplanes or attain a private pilot's license.  I don't own a plane, and I don't have anywhere to go.  Furthermore, I'm scared of not learning, of flunking the FAA exams after spending 40 or more hours trying to make airplanes go where they're supposed to and after spending something like $4,000 to do it.  And I'm scared of getting lost up there, of "buying the farm" while trying to get down some gusty day, of having to learn the arcane weather stuff, navigation techniques, and so on.

    All right, then, one reason I'm doing this--aside from the fun of it--is that I'm scared to do it.

    Another reason is, I'm submitting myself to a discipline--taking instruction in and trying to master something exacting.  Because I work as a teacher myself, taking flying lessons and writing about them here will--I hope--help me gain a new perspective on learning and teaching.  The discipline idea came up while I was talking on the phone with a guy in Winchester, VA, a pilot himself.  I'll write about that another time; right now it's enough to say I mentioned to him that I was thinking of flying lessons but couldn't quite justify the time, the expense, or the change in lifestyle.  (It is a change!)  His response was to say that the discipline would be good in its own right--that its lack of practicality was an advantage in that respect.

    That's what finally convinced me to go ahead with it.  Of course, this being life and all, it's somewhat more complicated than I've let on.  As a kid during the Second World War, the only thing I ever really wanted to do was fly fighters, and when I had to get glasses at age twelve it seemed I no longer had a future, or at least no vision of it.  (Yeah, you could take that as another metaphor.  Damned English majors!)  One summer during college I took a few flying lessons, but ran out of money and time and went back to college far short of qualifying for a license.  Tried hang gliding a few times about fifteen years ago, but couldn't afford to buy a glider and gave it up.  So anyway you see I've dreamed about flying and started a couple times, but I've never been serious about it, never submitted to the discipline.  Well, it isn't practical, and sometimes it scares the bejesus out of me, and I don't know how it's going to work out--but I'm submitting to it now.  Or committing to it, or whatever you want to call it.

    If you care to read on, here are links to my notes about the lessons.  Don't expect elegant prose, though.  They'll be not much more than rough notes, and I won't try to polish them. As the progressive verbs in title of this page might suggest, this is an ongoing process for me, work in progress.

(I've added some experimental JavaScripts to the list of links below, so that resting the pointer on some links causes a small window to open up temporarily.  Unfortunately, if the scripts get confused, those links might not work right until you reload the browser.  Sorry!--but this isn't really intended to be a public page. They may work better in Netscape than in that other browser, too.) 

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Flying Lessons
NOTE:  Beginning with Lesson 125, the lessons open in a new window.  You can leave this window open as a menu.  The earlier lessons replace this page.

Lessons 200 and on:  I've been having too much fun flying my SeaRey to post many "Lessons."  As of today (2012 January 8) it has flown 1042.1 hours, most of them with at least one water takeoff or landing.  The lesson numbers now indicate hours on SeaRey N123XM's Hobbes meter.

Lesson 1042, 2012-01-01.  As you see, I've left out a lot of lessons.  By now I've flown the SeaRey pretty all over the eastern US, from Florida to Massachusetts, to Oshkosh three times, and as far west as Fort Dodge, Iowa.  Lots of adventures!  Also, I've been checked out in a number of other airplanes, including a PT-19, a Super Decathlon, and a Cirrus.

Lessons 296-342, 23 July-13August, 2005,   Part 2 of a three week trip to the Midwest, Oshkosh, Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario, and Hammondsport, NY. (Opens in its own window.  This window and Part 2 will both stay open, too, to economize on bandwidth.)

Lessons 296-342, 23 July-13August, 2005,   Part 1 of a three week trip to the Midwest, Oshkosh, Georgian Bay, Lake Ontario, and Hammondsport, NY. (Opens in its own window.  This window and Part 1 will both stay open, too, to economize on bandwidth.)

Lesson 214, 2004 July 30, Lake Michigan Adventure: a Viking saga ("lesson" number indicates N123XM's total flying time)

Lesson Two Hundred--200,  30 April 2003, the first test flight of my SeaRey

Lesson One Sixty Seven, 2 April 2002, Riverkeeper Again

Lessons 162-166, 18-22 March 2002, SeaRey Training

Lesson One Sixty Two, 14 March 2002, C-152 Recurrency 

Lesson One Sixty One, 25 February 2002, Riverkeeper

Lesson One Sixty,  22 January 2002, A Perfect Day for Pilotage
Lesson One Fifty Nine, 19 December 2001, A not altogether uneventful nice day
Lesson One Fifty Eight, 7 December 2001, A look at Lake Chesdin
Lesson One Fifty Seven, 12 October 2001, A Night Flight & And a Bad Sight
Lesson One Fifty Six, 14 August 2001, Riverkeeper and Riparian Coordinator
Lesson One Fifty Five, 27 July 2001.  Keeping the River
Lesson One Fifty Four,  June 2001.  Wings #3, Short, Soft, Grass
Lesson One Fifty Three, 15 June 2001.  Wings #2.
Lesson One Fifty Two, 11 June 2001.  False Alarm, Lotus, Crosswind
Lesson One Fifty One, 22 April 2001.  Uphill Downhill & Balloon
Lesson One Fifty, 13 March 2001.  Some wind!
Lesson One Forty Nine, 6 February 2001.  ATC and turns around a "point"
Lesson One Forty Eight, 01-01-01.  Around "the world"
Lesson One Forty Seven, 27 November 2000.  Mellow Late Afternoon
Lesson One Forty Six, 7 November 2000.  Lost (temporarily) at night
Lesson One Forty Five, 16 October 2000.  Eagle's Nest.  Short runway
Lesson One Forty Four, 11 September 2000. Cross-country
Lesson One Forty Three, 8 August 2000, I'm Safe
Lesson One Forty Two, 3 August 2000.  Believing in WX Brief
Lesson One Forty One, 30 June 2000. Local
Lesson One Thirty Seven, 19 February 2000. A little night flight.
Lesson One Thirty Six, 17 January 2000. Cross Country to Smith Mountain Lake.
Lesson One Thirty Five, 7 January 2000. Good Night!
Lesson One Thirty Four, 11 December 1999. Low Sun
Lesson One Twenty Eight - Thirty Three, 21-22 November 1999. Seaplane Rating
Lesson One Twenty Seven, 12 November 1999. Smooth
Lesson One Twenty Six, 4 November 1999. Duck!
Lesson One Twenty Five, 29 October 1999. Cross-Country on a Dreamy Day
Lesson One Twenty Four, 15 October 1999. Flying Boat
Lesson One Twenty Three, 3 October 1999. A nice 172 day (with odd things)
Lesson One Twenty Two, 13 September 1999. A few quick spins
Lesson One Twenty One, 27 August 1999. Tailwheel lesson #6 & Solo
Lesson One Twenty, 21 August 1999. Tailwheel lesson #5 (and a little surprise)
Lesson One Nineteen, 15 August 1999. Tailwheel lesson #4
Lesson One Eighteen, 14 August 1999. Tailwheel lesson #3
Lesson One Seventeen, 25 July 1999. Tailwheel lesson #2
Lesson One Sixteen, 24 July 1999. Tailwheel lesson #1
Lesson One Fifteen, 15 July 1999. Annual flight review
Lesson One Fourteen, 9 July 1999. Acro lesson 16--putting three things together
Lesson One Thirteen, 9 July 1999. 5 airports, 5 landings
Lesson One Twelve, 25 June 1999. Acro lesson 15--still trying
Lesson One Eleven, 22 May 1999. Some treats
Lesson One Ten, 11 June 1999. Acro lesson 14--the smoke is on!
Lesson One Oh Nine, 28 May 1999. Acro lesson 13--getting better
Lesson One Oh Eight, 27 May 1999. Practicing for short fields
Lesson One Oh Seven, 7 May 1999. Acro lesson 12 and an airshow
Lesson One Oh Six, 16 April 1999. Acro lesson 11--aborting the mission
Lesson One Oh Five, 10 April 1999. Cross-country to the Peanut Capitol
Lesson One Oh Four, 2 April 1999. Acro lesson 10. Hammerheads.
Lesson One Oh Three, 20 March 1999. Photo mission
Lesson One Oh Two, 19 March 1999. Acro lesson 9. Cuban-eights, etc.
Lesson One Oh One, 12 March 1999. Not Going There
Lesson One Hundred, 5 March 1999. Acro lesson 8. Starting cuban-eights.
Lesson Ninety Nine, 3 March 1999. Visiting a control tower.
Lesson Ninety Eight, 19 February 1999. Acro is Back--Lesson 7.
Lesson Ninety Seven, 3 February 1999. Cross Country with GPS navigation.
Lesson Ninety Six, 19 December. Cross Country in a Big Wind. 
Lesson Ninety Five, 27 November. ACRO Lesson 6--slow rolls, inverted four-point rolls, loops.
Lesson Ninety Four, 25 November. Cross Country to First Flight Airport.
Lesson Ninety Three, 16 November. Landing practice.
Lesson Ninety Two, 15 November. Learning Humility in a Cessna 172.
Lesson Ninety One, 13 November. ACRO Lesson 5--slow rolls, four-point rolls, eight-point rolls, loops. Photos of Greenwood's Pitts S-2A.
Lesson Ninety, 6 November. ACRO Lesson 4--slow rolls, four-point rolls, loops...
Lesson Eighty Nine, 30 October. ACRO Lesson 3--loop loop loop loop
Lesson Eighty Eight, 24 October. ACRO Lesson 2.
Lesson Eighty Seven, 16 October. ACRO--Aerobatics lesson in a Pitts S-2A biplane.
Lesson Eighty Six, 11 October. Lots of steep turns and landings.
Lesson Eighty Five, 25 September. Wingovers and some VOR practice.
Lesson Eighty Four, 11 September. A nice day.
Lesson Eighty Three, 30 August. Carol goes for a plane ride.
Lesson Eighty Two, 14 August. Photographing a prison.
Lesson Eighty One, 24 July. A nice ride in a 172.
Lesson Eighty, 15 & 16 July. Amphibians!
Lesson Seventy Nine, 12 July. A nice flight with a passenger.
Lesson Seventy Eight, 5 July. A hazy day with a crosswind.
Lesson Seventy Seven, 2 July. Cross-country, to Orange, Va.
Lesson Seventy Six, 29 June. A big fat Cessna 172.
Lesson Seventy Five, 27 June. Flying an ultralight trainer.
Taking Inventory, 27 June 1998. Where am I now?
Lesson Seventy Four, 23 June. The dreaded FAA checkride.
Lesson Seventy Three, 18 June. Practicing non-normal landings.
Lesson Seventy Two, 16 June. Stage check flight with Becky.
Lesson Seventy One, 15 June. A little tune-up.
Lesson Seventy, 11 June. Stage check with Becky, Part O (for Oral).
Lesson Sixty Nine, 8 June. A nice windy day in a well-behaved airplane.
Lesson Sixty Eight, 4 June. A plane that wants to turn left.
Lesson Sixty Seven, 30 May. A very hazy day.
Lesson Sixty Six, 29 May. More ground.
Lesson Sixty Five, 26 May. Night cross-country to Newport News.
Lesson Sixty Four, 26 May. Ground.
Lesson Sixty Three, 25 May. Still more maneuvers and landings--and a scary illusion.
Lesson Sixty Two, 22 May. Maneuvers and landings.
Lesson Sixty One, 21 May. Aborted night cross-country.
Lesson Sixty, 21 May. More maneuvers and instruments. Good crosswing-landing practice.
Lesson Fifty Nine, 19 May. Maneuvers and instruments.
Lesson Fifty Eight, 18 May. Maneuvers and landings.
Lesson Fifty Seven, 15 May. Lots of landings, flew around.
Lesson Fifty Six, 14 May. Instrument practice, mostly.
Lesson Fifty Five, 5 May. Night flying.
Lesson Fifty Four, 28 April. Solo cross-country, to Elizabeth City, Franklin, and back. 
Lesson Fifty Three, 27 April. Local solo.
Lesson Fifty Two, 24 April. Solo cross-country, to Newport News and back. A few bits about perspective, and a link to http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/uncgi/Earth
Lesson Fifty One, 23 April. Local solo.
Lesson Fifty, 21 April. Solo cross-country, back to Charlottesville.
Lesson Forty Nine, 20 April. Dual cross-country, to Charlottesville.
Lesson Forty Eight, 16 April. Dual local. Two odd little things.
Lesson Forty Seven, 13 April. Dual cross-country, to Hampton Roads. A little bit about teaching.
Lesson Forty Six, 7 April. Dual cross-country, to Roanoke Rapids.
Lesson Forty Five, 6 April. Dual cross-country, to Newport News.
Lesson Forty Four, 31 March. First dual cross-country, to Charlottesville.
Lesson Forty Three, 30 March. Good practice in a stiff crosswind.
Lesson Forty Two, 25 March. A very good day.
Lesson Forty One, 23 March. "It's nice up there--just a little bumpy."
Lesson Forty, 22 March. Stalls, steep turns, crosswind landings and takeoffs. 
Lesson Thirty Nine, 17 March. Even more landings and a bit about learning.
Lesson Thirty Eight, 16 March. More more landings--but different.
Lesson Thirty Seven, 11 March. More landings.
Lesson Thirty Six, 9 March. Ground. Education-theory checkup.
Lesson Thirty Five, 3 March. Checking up.
Lesson Thirty Four, 27 February. Landing tune-up.
Lesson Thirty Three, 26 February. Slow flight, stalls, emergencies, &c.
FAA Private Pilot Written Test, 25 February. The ordeal.
Lesson Thirty Two, 19 February. Stalls, crosswind, &c.
Lesson Thirty One, 16 February. Ground reference maneuvers.
Lesson Thirty, 12 February. Grounded by weather, studied reports. 
Lesson Twenty Nine, 9 February. Landings, landings, landings ... landings!
Lesson Twenty Eight, 5 February. Bad weather--good ground lesson.
Lesson Twenty Seven, 2 February. Stalling, stalling...
Lesson Twenty Six, 29 January. Steep turns and stalls.
Lesson Twenty Five, 26 January. Turns and things. Teaching and learning.
Lesson Twenty Four, 22 January. A bad day (but improved). Landings. 
Groundschool final class, 21 January. A bad night.
Lesson Twenty Three, 20 January. Drafts--Up and Down. Teaching and learning.
Lesson Twenty Two, 15 January. Rained out. Ground only.
Ground School Class 11, 14 January. A clever illusion.
Lesson Twenty One, 12 January. Oh-oh (beginning). Ah, good (ending).
Lesson Twenty, 8 January (ground). Altitude--and more observations about teaching and learning.
Ground School Class 10, 7 January. Some observations about teaching.
Lesson Nineteen, 5 January 1998. Various maneuvers and an obervation on learning-teaching.
Lesson Eighteen, 23 December. Crosswind landings. A bit on teacher-student commo.
Lesson Seventeen, 18 December. Rat-a-tat-tat!
Lesson Sixteen, 15 December. Steep turns, very steep turns, emergencies...
Lesson Fifteen, 11 December. Dodging clouds!
Lesson Fourteen, 8 December.  More landings. A bit about learning.
Lesson Thirteen, 3 December. Landings.
Lesson Twelve, 2 December. Stalling.
Lesson Eleven, 26 November. Slowly!
Lesson Ten, 20 November.  Touch-and-goes, learning-teaching.
Groundschool Class 3, 19 November (airspace)
Lesson Nine, 17 November
Lesson Eight, 13 November.  Airspace table. <--revised 14 Dec.  Learning & teaching.
Groundschool Class 2, 12 November
Lesson Seven, 10 November
Lesson Six, 6 November. Flying and learning.
Groundschool Class 1, 5 November. Some more about learning.
Lesson Five, 3 November.  A bit about learning and teaching.
"Flying" a T-6 (what got me into this)
Lesson Four, 30 October
Stuff to Learn (1)
Lesson Three, 27 October
Aha! A little insight, 26 October.  About learning and teaching.
Lesson Two, 23 October
Lesson One, 20 October 1997

Some Links. (The first group should open in a new window, leaving this one intact.)

How we made the first flight by Orville Wright
A clever little Java animation. (Wait for the controls to appear in the black bar beneath the picture.)

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