An other flight today, and like yesterday it was more of the same: steep-turns and short-field landings. I am making progress as each of these items are getting better. The weather isn't going to be good for the next few days so wanted to get in one more practice session before the bad weather began. Pictured is me alone in the cockpit.
For my flight today I wanted to concentrate on steep turns. Turns out the weather was pretty good for flying. Although we had overcast skies, the ceilings were at least 14,000 feet. And the winds were calm. I like to start my solo days with some landings. Since my normal landings are pretty good, I thought I'd try the tricky one: short field. I ended up keeping all my pattern trips really tight so I could get as many landings in as possible. All of my short field landings today were under 1,500 feet, and I did end up getting them in under 1,000 feet. My steep turns have also improved. Left turns are still my weakest, but near the end I was turning pretty good. I discovered that steep turns to the left make you feel a lot more G-force then right turns. Kind of strange, but that is the way it works. After spinning myself silly for amount an hour, I went back to the airport for more stop-and-goes. Pictured is Beloit from 3,000 feet looking north. None of my shots are very good as I was busy flying the plane. I basically held up the camera, pointed it out the window and held the shutter button.
And now the placement of the grandfather clock in the modeling room. Here is becomes apparent just how large I made this thing. For the rendering, I turned on the clock face light, which I had left off in the sample renderings. For the wood I wanted to try and do a stained cherry. While the color is close, it lacks the wood texture I was hoping for. The full rendering is 3000x2250 (6.75 megapixel), 9 iterations taking 14 hours 40 minutes. I am not sure what next I plan to do to the scene. The thought of animation has occurred. It would be nice if the pendulum swung and we could get a tour of the room. But that will all require some scripting, and I'm not sure if I have time for all of that. I submitted a bunch of my models to the Google's 3D Warehouse. Shortly thereafter I found a Google search for "Andrew Que" put my Sketchup drawings 6th entry.
An other bad day for solo flight. Winds at noon were 16 knots with 21 knot gusts. My instructor doesn't let me solo in winds over 15 knots—preferably no more then 10 knots. So I canceled a much needed practice flight. Tomorrow isn't looking much better—rain foretasted. But Wednesday I might be back in the air. Pictured is Ashley in a +2 F-stop exposure. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing with a high end DSLR when I just over-expose to produce the same effect as a cellphone camera. But at least it's not as grainy :) Over exposing is a cheap trick to remove detail which has the effect of making smooth skin. I like it on faces as it brings out eyes. Maybe Facespace has just ruined the technique for me by making it the earmark of every other person's profile picture.
It has taken about 5 days to draw this, and a day of tweaking to get the rendering to look right, but my grandfather clock is complete. There are several things I still don't like about it, but I will address those one at a time. For now, all the pieces are present. The cabinet has only the most basic trim components. The corbels on the edges of the clock I still do not like. The pendulum turned out pretty good. My first pattern in the center of the pendulum didn't render very well, so I made a different one that worked out much better. Getting a shinny brass like metal turned out to be an issue. The brass materials I have are not polished—they are all a dull matte. So I had to try some experiments to come up with a more shinny material. The clock itself is based on this Howard Miller I found doing an image search. The clock face I found with a Google image search, but everything else is all mine. I want to fix the feet, turn the counter-weight wires into steel wire rather then shinny brass, and try to add some detail to the trim. For now though, the clock is done, and so far everyone agrees—it's a grandfather clock.
I did two flights today having not flown in over a week due to poor weather. My instructor wanted to do some night takeoff and landings, and I wanted some solo time. So I started by doing a couple touch-and-goes, S-turns, and steep turns. Nothing but my touch-and-goes were any good, but it was nice to be out flying. On my way back I was west of Beloit. I knew I would be coming into runway 22, so I decided to fly over Beloit before coming in. It was really the first time I just flew were I felt like flying. By this time, the sun was setting and the skies were lined with red. I called Tower while over Beloit and he cleared me to land. I still had 7 miles to go, but I guess he didn't have anything else going on so I got clearance early. As I was turning base Tower got on and said "Nice sunset, hu?" 63L agreed. Once I was on the ground it was back to the Jet Center to wait for my instructor. I still had about 15 minutes, and I could have done one more touch-and-go. But in that 15 minutes the sun disappeared and it was a night world. Taxing at night I found means needing knowing what the painted lines look like so one can determine where they are. We were cleared for runway 32. The takeoff was pretty much the same. I did find that the simulators do not do justice to the flight control lighting at night—instruments are not that easy to see even with the lights on. I would have to rely on the instruments because there really was much to see out the window. We started by leaving the airport and flying over Janesville at 2,500 feet. We then turned around and asked for some touch-and-goes. When we turned toward the airport, I didn't see it at all. But I could see the beacon and we flew directly at it. As we got closer to the airport, I started to make out the runways and taxi areas. We were given instructions for a right traffic to runway 32. I could not really tell were 32 was when I started turning downwind, but I knew what direction I needed to fly to be downwind. When I started to turn finial I had turned too early, but I could clearly see the runway light. So I few a weird base leg. The landing itself made use of the VASI lights, and my instructor said I did a good approach. Once over the runway, I could just see the pavement below illuminated by the landing light. But it came up quick. My instructor was telling me to flare, and I was listening. But when the ties met the ground I hadn't expected it yet. Our landing was fine, but the runway had snuck up on me. I dropped the flaps and hit the power so we could going around and try it a few more times. Flying in the pattern was mostly watching the instruments during turns. I noticed a good deal more traffic then I saw during the day as it is easy to see strobes on a black sky. On my next landing I was ready for the runway, and I was told I did fine. As we were flying for the 3rd touch-and-go, Tower asked if we would like runway 22. We had been using 32 because there were really no winds to worry about. I asked for 22 just so I would have to find it. We did the third touch-and-go without issue, and then my instructor wanted me to try landing without the landing light. Not having a landing light means I can not see the pavement at all. The approach was the same, but when we knew we were over the runway, there was nothing to see. I watched the perspective of the runway light change and I could see the pavement when the red strobe beacon flashed. We came in still having a little throttle and kept a flare going, hovering over the runway. Then, the gear touched down and we cut the rest of the power. It was a little strange not having any other indications, but it did work. After we touched down, we noticed a vibration in the landing gear. Unsure of what it was we decided not to chance it and take the plane back. Night flying is really neat. I always loved coming in at night to Chicago, especially in the winter. Now I have seen it from the cockpit and it is amazing. We have some more night flying to do, but I think I understand the procedure. The picture today is blurry but is of Janesville from the air at night. Liz tried several tracking night shots, but all were blurry. I think it was a combination of our speed at the low altitude, and that Liz was shooting at full-exposure rather then -1 or -2 F-stops. If we try it again sometime, I try slow flight and have her make the adjustments. But I do think Liz enjoyed the flight.