Sunday, August 22, 2010

Abram Learning to Fly

Some of you have heard that Abram is learning to fly! It is true. My husband is planning on getting his private pilot license. He tries to take lessons two or three times a week. Last week, Abram took Rachel on one of his lessons and then Sarai during another lesson.

These photos are from Sarai.

This is the plane Abram flew that day. They forgot to get a picture of the plane until after they were done and another person is getting ready for a flight. The plane is a Piper Warrior, which was designed to be a training airplane. The airport is Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts.

So many people ask me if I'm scared that he's flying. Not really. He has an instructor who has duplicate controls and can take over if something goes wrong or to demonstrate technique. Also, pictured here is Abram going through a long check list making sure instruments and engine are operating properly. We should be doing the same with our cars every time we get in, but we don't. Maybe we should be more afraid when we enter our cars.

This is Sarai's view out of her window.

Abram is now flying the plane. He landed the plane all by himself on this run. Up to this point, his instructor guided a bit during landings.

Here are some instruments. Top left is attitude indicator: tells you banking and horizon. Top right is altitude. Bottom left is heading. Bottom right is vertical speed indicator; it's measured in hundreds of feet per minute up or down. There are actually six main instruments used to monitor the plane's flight. The other two to the left are the airspeed indicator and turn coordinator. The turn coordinator tells you how the plane is oriented during a turn; whether it is 'slipping' or 'skidding'. Or course there are many more instruments as well, to monitor the engine and fuel, navigate, and control the radios.

Based on the picture, you can see they are sitting on the ground -- the altitude is 130 feet, which is the airport elevation. The horizon indicates a descent only because it is not powered when the engine is off.

View from the sky. They flew near Nashua, NH during their flight. Sarai thought it would be neat to land and surprise relatives that they had flown there! It is surprising how quickly you cover distances from city to city when you don't have to follow the roads and you move twice as fast as a car.

Many small airplanes do not have air-conditioning. The air is cool up higher so this is not an issue, except while waiting on the runway to take off or while landing. It does get hot inside the plane. As soon as you can, windows open to let cool air in. Here you can see windblown hair on Abram and Michael, his instructor. It is also very windy on a runway without trees and buildings blocking the airflow. Michael always looks as if he has been hanging his head out of the plane's windows with his curly hair.

Flying is tough. It is unlike anything else. There are many controls to keep track of, react to, foot pedals to push or not. Abram spends most nights reading flying manuals, recapping his flight to correct errors and studying for his pilots exam. Possibly next year we will reap the benefits of his new skill and hobby.

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