Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Rainy. Wet. Windy. All aircraft on the field were tied down. Nothing was moving at KRYV today. So it was a good thing to plan a ground session in advance. Beats the disappointment of expecting to fly and not being able to.

So we hit the books today, covering two important areas of aviation: the sectional chart and airspace. The sectional chart is more than just a map, it also displays important and valuable information concerning airports and navigational aids. As long as the pilot understands the information and how to use it, he will never find himself on the wrong side of an embarrassing situation, be it violating restricted airspace or landing at the wrong airport.

Our other topic was airspace. The FAA created airspace regulations to provide a systematic way to control how airplanes move through the air to ensure the safety of all who use it. Airspace is divided into two broad categories: controlled and uncontrolled. In reality, most airspace is controlled in some way. There are 5 classes of controlled airspace: A, B, C, D, and E. Class A is all the airspace above and including 18,000 feet all the way up to 60,000 feet. I won't be using that airspace anytime soon, since you have to be instrument rated to fly there. Below 18,000 feet, the size of the airport will generally determine the class of the airspace you are flying in. The busiest airports, such as Chicago-O'Hare (KORD), Dallas-Fort Worth (KDFW), or Memphis (KMEM) will be surrounded by Class B airspace. The requirements to fly in that airspace is most restrictive and you need permission to fly in it. At the other end of the scale is Class E airspace, which surrounds airports like Watertown (KRYV) and provide minimum visibility requirements. The concepts are simple, but trying to remember all the parameters is the hard part. As a VFR (visual flight rules) pilot, I have to know the visibility and cloud clearance requirements for all classes of airspace.

So there you go. Pretty dry stuff. But very important. I still get these moments where I wonder how it will all come together, and that first cross country flight will truly be nerve wracking. As always, a quick moment of personal inventory reassures me that all you have to do is do it a few times and it will become near second nature in the future.

Next lesson is Tuesday, and the forecast is not looking great. We'll see how it goes. Until then, keep the blue part up and the greasy part down!


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