Wrapped up the flying weekend today. This morning’s flight was with my instructor, going over maneuvers. The afternoon flight was a mock check ride with a different instructor. I still have to put together a long flight plan to be reviewed by a senior instructor who is a former FAA examiner and take another mock check ride with the head instructor. Then I’ll have my FAA check ride.

The flight to Tyler yesterday was more than just a long cross-country. A few weeks ago, an old friend called me up. We hadn’t spoken in over 20 years. No bad blood, just life getting in the way. We talked for a couple of hours just catching up. We thought it would be great to get together again and Tyler provided the opportunity. He flew down to meet me and we had lunch while gawking at the planes outside. KTYR is home to the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum (HAMM). If you’re every in Tyler, Texas, swing by the museum and take a look. It made for a great day.

Where else can you park your Cherokee next to a Huey?

Today was a lot harder. The skies were cloudless and the sun was creating lots of thermal action. By the afternoon, the wind was picking up. Everything was getting hotter and the new seats in the 140 weren’t helping.

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Yeah, those are black vinyl. Thankfully, I found out that they are temporary. The originals were removed to be reupholstered and should be back in the plane in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping they are back before my check ride.

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All the heat made for some amazing thermal activity today. While it was rough on us, the raptors were loving it. We had a couple of near misses around 1,000 feet, then passed five or six in a single thermal at 800 feet, all while on final for landing. After we landed and turned onto the taxiway, a hawk landed about 40 feet away from us. I went through the after-landing checklist (switch the radio to ground control, put the flaps up, turn off the electric fuel pump, lean for taxi), then throttled up to head to the hangar. The noise startled the hawk and when he took off, he had a two-foot snake in his claws. I wish I’d had the GoPro mounted to catch that one!

To wrap it all up, I saw this awesome couple out for a ride!

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For those who aren’t familiar with this strange contraption, it’s called an autogyro or gyroplane. It looks like a helicopter, but doesn’t fly like one. The rotor is unpowered. It depends on the forward motion of the aircraft to spin and generate lift. It gets the forward motion from the 3-bladed pusher propeller mounted behind the passenger. You’ve seen a smaller one before, I’m sure. Don’t you remember this guy?

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Yeah, I knew you would!

Anyway, that’s it for this flying weekend. If everything goes well, the next flying weekend update will be posted by a Private Pilot!