Southern Air B-777F

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

It has been a busy few months for me. My last flight as a CRJ-700 First Officer with Mesa Airlines occurred on December 19, 2016. I had a wonderful two years flying for Mesa, logging 1,190 hours in the CRJ. The Captains are a great group and I learned a lot flying in the busy northeast sections of the US. All in all a tremendous experience.

I applied for a job as a pilot with Atlas Air earlier this year. Atlas Air is a global cargo airline flying to a wide range of international destinations. I was called in to an interview in September and accepted for employment.

Southern Air B-777 taking off

Southern Air B-777 taking off

I’ll start B-777F (freighter) training with Southern Air, a new Atlas Air acquisition, on January 23, 2017. I could not be any happier with this turn of events. I am “hitting the B-777 books hard” in preparation for my upcoming classes and simulators.

In the interim, model airplane plans and TurboCAD training videos are still for sale on the website! The moment I get a break in the action, will report on my model building activities.

Until then, Season Greetings and Happy New Year to everyone!

Workshop Progress

New modeling workbench under construction

New modeling workbench under construction

It has been a busy time here at our new house. Mesa flying is going very well. I now have 540 hours flying the CRJ-700 aircraft for United Express out of Dulles Airport. Still a few more snowstorms and March winds to dodge in the northern states, but a great learning experience.

Shelving installed in the rear of my new workshop

Shelving installed in the rear of my new workshop

Workers are making tremendous progress with our basement refinish, and most importantly with the installation of my new workshop. The bench, pegboards and shelving are all in place. Paint is being applied with further finishing details to be completed over the next few weeks.

My new modeling work area will allow me to build a much wider range of larger and more complex electric radio control model planes. In addition, the flying weather in Georgia will be a lot more hospitable as compared to the ever-present wind in the Chicago area.

More to follow as the basement upgrade is completed, I unpack my boxes and start on my next building project!

February Update

I am happy to report that the move to our new house in Georgia is going exceptionally well. We are truly getting settled in. With regards to modeling activities the big news item is that work on refinishing the basement started on January 18th.

What this means for me is that for the first time in a long while I will have a dedicated workshop! I am very happy at this turn of events and looking forward to getting things set up right. Among other things I will now have the space to build larger electric models, which will open up an entire new area, for me, of electric RC. Planned finish date for the basement is March 30th.

Gordon at Boston Logan Airport

Gordon at Boston Logan Airport

Work at Mesa has been busy. I am learning a lot about flying jets in the northeast during the winter. De-icing procedures, weather diversion, landing in snowy conditions, etc. All good!

I finished my first annual simulator and classroom training in Phoenix three days ago. The Mesa instructors are exceptional and it was a good chance to catch up on a variety of Part 121 airline flying topics. The simulators are challenging with the various emergency profiles that must be flown, but again a great chance to further sharpen your flying skills.

On a personal note I made my initial flight as a First Officer with Mesa Airlines to Boston’s Logan Airport a week ago. This was special as I did my early aviation training in the Boston area. Logan was too big to fly into via general aviation since around the mid-1970s. So it was a thrill to actually get a chance to fly a CRJ-700 to this very nice airport, located right on the Boston harbor waterfront.

We actually had several snow flurries today. I am looking forward to the warmer weather ahead, a new workshop and the chance to really get back into radio control model airplane design and flight. Stay tuned!

Atlanta Move Update

It has been an incredibly busy past few weeks. While not much has happened directly regarding model aviation, a lot has taken place that will set the stage for a great deal of future RC modeling activity.

First, my work as a First Officer with United Express at Washington Dulles airport is going very well. I have 230 hours in the CRJ-700 aircraft as of yesterday to include 83.2 hours over the past 28 days. It was a busy month!

Mini Flash RC model airplane by Mountain Models

Mini Flash RC model airplane by Mountain Models

Our move south to Atlanta is going well. We will travel to Atlanta tomorrow morning and close on our new house August 11th. Movers will be here in Chicago on Aug 25th for our household goods shipment. Our move should be complete by mid-October.

I will have an ample building area in our new house so the door is open for a wide range of new RC building, design and YouTube projects. I am very excited.

Yankee Mike RC model airplane fuselage

Yankee Mike RC model airplane fuselage

I also plan on updating some of my older models with lipo batteries and newer engines. For example, I have not flown my old Mountain Models Mini Flash since 2005 due to the extensive winds in the Chicago area.

Many of the Mountain Models kits are available on-line. You should take a look. Mountain Models offered a great line of aircraft kits with extensive CAD engineering to ensure a lightweight and strong model.

Recall, these models were produced in the day of heavy NiCads and brushed electric motors. The upgrade to lipo power and newer brushless motors transforms these great flyers.

I also plan to get my second original RC model design, the Electro Aviator, back into the air. Plans for the Electro Aviator are here. The model has only been flown with NiCads and a brushless motor. The addition of lipos will make for an interesting increase in performance.

More to follow!

Guillow RC Conversions

It has been an extremely busy month for me, but all good.

Atlanta Hobby shop - lots of good electric RC stuff!

Atlanta Hobby shop – lots of good electric RC stuff!

First, my flying with Mesa for United Express at Washington Dulles airport is going very well. I am now at 150 hours in the CRJ-700 aircraft and learning a lot about Part 121 (airline) flight operations.

Second, we are moving to the Atlanta, Georgia area. This move has been in the works for a while, but events started moving quickly earlier this month. We have an accepted offer on a house and plan to close on August 11th.

Guillow's Avenger balsa frame, ready for covering

Guillow’s Avenger balsa frame, ready for covering

This move is good for a variety of family reasons. One of the nicer personal ones is that I will be able to focus on building and designing larger electric radio control models now that I have a garage to work in and can fly in outdoor fields. I did not have the building space while living in the Chicago area, thus the focus on smaller indoor models. This will all change as the move to Atlanta progresses.

For a minor preview of what is ahead in Georgia area modeling check out my visit to Atlanta Hobby, one of the country’s largest electric modeling outfits. Great group of folks and I look forward to working with them.

Finally, I added a page on converting Guillow model aircraft kits from free flight to radio control. Guillow kits have always been popular with modelers. The new miniature RC electronics, batteries and motors made these conversions entirely feasible. Give it a try. The conversions work well, are a lot of fun and add some diversity to your flying fleet.

Mesa Training Complete!

I am officially complete with training as a First Officer for Mesa Airlines, flying the CRJ-700 aircraft for United Express at Washington Dulles airport. It was a great journey since my start on January 20, 2015.

Gordon in CRJ 700 cockpit

Gordon in CRJ 700 cockpit

The final phase of training called for by the Part 121 (Scheduled Air Carrier) regulations is referred to as Consolidation.

Consolidation requires that pilots fly 100 hours in their new aircraft within 120 days of getting the type rating in the simulator. The idea behind this is to ensure the new aviators (read: most junior pilots) have an initial schedule priority to obtain real-world line flying experience while their training is still fresh.

United Express CRJ 700 on Dulles ramp

United Express CRJ 700 on Dulles ramp

So, I have 102 hours in the jet as of 2 June. I am home for a few days and will be on a Reserve status at Dulles for the remainder of June.

This means I can clean up a few items on the website and focus on my next building project.

The first edit is under the “Store” tab. One of the most popular offerings on the site remains the TurboCAD training videos. TurboCAD is the program for home builders to draw model aircraft plans. TurboCAD is affordable and easy to use once you understand a few basics of how a typical CAD program works.

In almost three hours of narrated videos I show you how to draw a model airplane from a clean sheet of paper to a finished plan. Take a look at the page for further details.

 

 

As for my next project I plan on a radio control conversion of the Guillow’s Arrow model airplane kit. I’ve purchased the kit, please check in periodically for progress on this build. Should make for a fun indoor flyer!

Mesa First Officer Training Update

Mesa CRJ-700 at Washington Dulles airport

Mesa CRJ-700 at Washington Dulles airport

I am happy to report that I am almost complete with my pilot training program with Mesa Air Group! I am released from training and I am officially a line First Officer flying the CRJ-700 out of Washington Dulles airport.

I still need to log 100 hours within 120 days of my simulator check to officially be done.  It certainly has been busy since I started with Indoctrination training on Jan 21st.

The four CRJ-900 observation flights went fine in late April. I had a chance to sit in the jump seat and observe four different crews fly their flights. All observations flights were flown in one day with a start and end in Phoenix.

Gordon standing by a CRJ-700 aircraft at Washington Dulles airport

Gordon standing by a CRJ-700 aircraft at Washington Dulles airport

I was assigned my Initial Operational Experience training flights from 28 March to 7 April which spanned two four day trips, with all but one of the flights out of Los Angeles to various Mesa destinations in the western US. This was my first time actually sitting in the right seat and flying the CRJ-900 aircraft.

Russ was my instructor Captain and he did a superb job. Our first flight was from San Francisco to Los Angeles on April 28th. Takeoff was at 6:00 am. Russ showed me the initial preflight. We then went up to the cockpit for various pre-takeoff duties to include getting the current weather, confirming our instrument flight clearance and programming the various aircraft computers.

View of the First Officer position in a CRJ-700 aircraft

View of the First Officer position in a CRJ-700 aircraft

Russ flew the first leg to demonstrate an actual takeoff and landing. My simulator training was very complete in retrospect. While you learn a great deal flying the actual aircraft, the simulator provided a great foundation.

On the next let, Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, it was my turn to fly. I must admit it was exciting to actually do one’s first jet takeoff. We headed down the runway, with rotation and liftoff around 140 knots. Off we go!

Departure out of LAX was not too complicated and we were soon at altitude enroute to OKC. The weather was nice in the Oklahoma City area, winds light and variable and my first-ever landing was quite acceptable. I was one happy pilot.

Interior of a Mesa CRJ-700 aircraft, showing 70 seat arrangement in First and Economy sections

Interior of a Mesa CRJ-700 aircraft, showing 70 seat arrangement in First and Economy sections

IOE finished up around 10 days later. Mesa gives new pilots three days off between the completion of IOE and reporting to their new base. I headed home to Chicago and packed and prepared for my initial trip as a new First Officer out of Washington Dulles.

So far I have flown two four day trips out of Dulles. The learning curve has been steep but the Mesa Captains have gone out of their way to teach me the ins and outs of Part 121 airline operations. My most recent trip, which ended yesterday, included 14 flights over four days. Dave and I were busy!

I’ll head back to Washington Dulles on Saturday for another four day trip starting Sunday. As things settle down a bit, I’ll be able to focus on various electric RC modeling projects. Thank you for your patience and please check back for further updates!

CRJ-700 Simulator Check

CRJ-900 in flight

CRJ-900 in flight

My training to become a First Officer flying the CRJ-700 for Mesa Airlines is progressing nicely.  I achieved a significant milestone this past Sunday when I passed my simulator evaluation to earn an FAA type rating for the CL-65 aircraft.

CL-65 is the official FAA designation for the Canada Regional Jet (CRJ) 200, 700 and 900 series of jet transport aircraft.  A new First Officer requires the type rating on their Airline Transport Pilot certificate in order to act as a Second in Command (i.e. a First Officer) flying the aircraft.

CRJ-700 flight simulator

CRJ-700 flight simulator

The simulator rides were challenging and at all sorts of start times (think a flight between 11:00 pm and 3:00 am).  The Mesa instructors are superb and all the students learned a great deal.  The majority of the sim sessions were in Toronto, Canada with the last two held in Phoenix.  While the simulator check ride was stimulating and lasted just over 90 minutes, I was well prepared and the profile went well.  Happy to get the call from the evaluator “Congratulations on becoming a pilot for Mesa Airlines.”

Mesa First Officer wings and epaulettes

Mesa First Officer wings and epaulettes

We next require four observation flights in the aircraft.  I’ll do these trips tomorrow with regular scheduled legs from Phoenix to Long Beach and back, then Phoenix to El Paso and return.  I will sit in the cockpit jump seat and observe a line crew perform these sorties.  These should be motivating events as I’ll see everything from the preflight, taxi out, take off, cruise flight and landing at the destination.

Integrated Procedures Trainer for the CRJ

Integrated Procedures Trainer for the CRJ

After the observation flights is the final segment of my training, Initial Operational Experience (IOE).  I do not have my IOE schedule yet but it could be here in Phoenix or one of several other Mesa crew bases.  I will advise once I have the timetable for these important flights.

IOE should be complete within three weeks, and then to Washington Dulles Airport and regular line flying.

Once I am done with Mesa training I am looking forward to getting back into radio control model airplane design and construction.  I have more than a few projects in mind!

Back in Training!

I returned to Phoenix and am continuing my ground training to become a First Officer flying the CRJ-700 regional jet with Mesa Airlines.

CRJ-900 regional jet at Phoenix Airport

CRJ-900 regional jet at Phoenix Airport

Happily, my fingerprints cleared the mandatory TSA review and I am cleared to start simulator training.  Sadly, however, not much for me to report in the way of radio control modeling until I am complete with training.  I should finish up by the middle of May, we’ll see how the schedules work out.  Always a lot of last minute changes in the world of airline training.

Another bit of good news is that I did get my first choice for a domicile (home airport with Mesa) at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

Checklist procedures trainer for the CRJ-700 regional jet

Checklist procedures trainer for the CRJ-700 regional jet

I recently started simulator training for the CRJ-700.  The flight training simulators are a FAA Level D (essentially the highest in terms of fidelity) which means that I can take my actual check ride in the sim.  In other words, the sim is good enough that a flight is not required to obtain a CRJ-700 type rating on my pilot license.

The sims offer full motion so the sense of flight and motion inside the sim, with a full set of visual computer graphics displayed through the windshield, is complete.  You can even feel the bumps in the taxi way as you head towards the runway, simply amazing.

I’ll head to Toronto on April 4th for the majority of my simulator sessions.  More to follow as I get started with this most challenging phase towards becoming a regional airline pilot.