With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

Five hours late but moving fast

2007 December 26 13:37

Oh, one other thing. (Still typing left-hand only.) I'm finally making a serious effort to catch up on beetle write-ups. I'm halfway through the starter repair from last fall. Let me know what you think!

keyboard requesition

2007 December 26 12:51

I'm trying out a new type of keyboard for Christmas. My wife got it for me (at my request). Don't worry, it's not because of an anatomical change, it's because I wanted to try it out, for two reasons. 1) It would be interesting to be able to work with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse. 2) It might be a way to type in an airplane seat while keeping my elbows in.

I've typed this entire post with the new keyboard; it's not too bad. I'm probably about 1/10 as fast as with a normal keyboard, not counting having to correct all the time. It's an interesting challenge. Hey, maybe this is the next big revolution in computer interface, and I'm ahead of the curve!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

P.S. I'm happy to report that my laptop (which runs ubuntu) picked up and used the new keyboard without any problems:

Dec 26 14:30:53 traal kernel: [19784792.036000] usb 3-3.2: new low speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 31 Dec 26 14:30:54 traal kernel: [19784792.140000] usb 3-3.2: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice Dec 26 14:30:54 traal kernel: [19784792.156000] input: Code Mercenaries Half Keyboard as /class/input/input18 Dec 26 14:30:54 traal kernel: [19784792.156000] input: USB HID v1.10 Keyboard [Code Mercenaries Half Keyboard] on usb-0000:00:0f.3-3.2

Christmas tree?

2007 December 15 11:59

There's an interesting article in the Daily Press about the history of the acceptance of Christmas. Its basic thrust is that Christmas wasn't widely practiced until it became secularized enough for people to voluntarily celebrate it as a family, and then it became an accepted holiday by popular demand. (The viewpoint is fairly US-centric).

The article mentions a historical book, Christmas: A Candid History, which sounds interesting and I'll have to pick up sometime.

Roger, roger. What's our vector, Victor?

2007 December 02 14:43

I find the process of communicating as far of flying interesting and fun. It's something that takes a while to learn, and I've spend a lot of time studying books on the subject, and I used to listen to air traffic control on a radio.

Training for radio communication is something that's covered lightly in the pilot training curriculum. It's something that one seems to mostly learn by practice and apprenticeship, rather than having a how-to-do-it manual. So information that contains specific information and examples are hard to come by.

I discovered such an example this weekend that had an example that's different than the way I've learned to call approach control. The way I've done it is:

Tri-Cities approach Cessna 7-0-4-Yankee-Echo At Chimney Top over the interstate 3 thousand 5 hundred squawking VFR inbound for landing Tri-Cities with Alpha

I have copies of copies of the Flight Guide. It's a useful publication; it has diagrams of airports that I don't think are available anywhere else. The listings are by state, and the dividers have generally useful information about flying and aviation. In the Central States guide, on the Texas divider, it has a summary of communications. This is how their example goes:

Tri-Cities Approach Cessna 7-0-4-Yankee-Echo At Chimney Top over the interstate with Alpha for landing Tri-Cities

This wasn't what I learned. The big thing I noticed was that the destination is last, after the ATIS code. The other thing is that it doesn't list your squawk code.

This made me curious, so I got out my other books. Say Again, Please has exactly the same pattern as the Flight Guide. I wonder if they got theirs from the same source.

The other book that I have that I've read a lot is The Pilot's Radio Communication Handbook. It has a different sequence:

Tri-Cities Approach Cessna 7-0-4-Yankee-Echo At Chimney Top over the interstate 3 thousand 5 hundred landing Tri-Cities squawking VFR with information Alpha

I expect there's a definitive guide somewhere official for air traffic control, but I haven't been able to find it. As far as being a pilot, the official guide should be the Aeronautical Information Manual. However, this morning, the only thing that applies that I could find is 4-1-17.a.3. It states:

3. Pilots of arriving aircraft should contact approach control on the publicized frequency and give their position, altitude, aircraft call sign, type aircraft, radar beacon code (if transponder equipped), destination, and request traffic information.

Which interestingly doesn't contain the ATIS code.

So I'm not sure what the definitive answer is.

sluggish, like a wet sponge

2007 December 02 13:48

I flew a Cessna 172 for the first time yesterday. The flight had two other firsts, my first flight with the local instructor and my first flight out of the local airport.

Middlesboro is in the middle of a bowl, and that's even more apparent when you see it from above. Taking off from runway 10, unless you have a very fast climb, you need to fly a very tight pattern or you're going to run into a hill. I understand why the airport doesn't have lights and it's listed as "no night operations".

I was really surprised by how heavy the control forces were. Most of the flying I've done with the C-150 I did without adjusting the trim through the whole flight, and I could still control the airplane with basically fingertip pressure. I have to haul back on the yoke pretty hard on the 172 to get it to flare right. That took me a couple of landings to get used to; the first one the instructor had to grab the controls so that I didn't bang the nose gear down hard.

I did pretty well in my flying. The instructor had some notes for me and things to correct, but nothing bad.