Monday, March 31, 2014

My Pilot's License Came In The Mail!

1 Month and 1 Week later, I now have my official Private Pilot's License! It can take up to 70 days in most cases to get the license, so I was pretty lucky to have gotten it so quickly! 

I can't wait to take more friends and family up. I'm heading out tomorrow afternoon for a flight around Richmond and my house which will be great considering how nice the weather has been. 

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Friday, March 28, 2014

Share Your Story: Chris Evans, Student Pilot (KCMA)

Welcome to the 31st "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show students the diverse range of experiences/careers available to them in aviation. More details + how to participate can be found via the following: Click Here and Get Involved

My Name is Chris Evans. I am 23 years old and live in Sunny Thousand Oaks, CA. When I was young my dad went through flight school out of KCMA (Camarillo, CA) airport. Although my dad loved training he was never able to take his check ride and receive his PPL. Because of my dads love for airplanes my family and I would go every Sunday morning after church to Camarillo Airports Waypoint Cafe. We would all order their delicious tri-tip sandwich and listen to the local ATC. When I was younger i knew I loved airplanes but never thought I would become a pilot. As I grew up I drifted away from the airport and never thought I would want to be a pilot. One Christmas my sister purchased an introductory flight for my dad and I and the rest is history.

After the intro flight I knew that flying was going to be my career I just needed to figure out how. As I procrastinated on starting flight school I came across Swayne's blog which has inspired me to kick it into high gear and go for my PPL.

I have spent the past couple months training and will be fly my first solo within the next week. My goal as an aviator it to eventually become a commercial pilot. I know that the road is not easy but, with hard work and dedication I know it will happen. 

I wanted to thank Swayne for creating this amazing blog which allows us all to learn and become inspired to work toward our goals. With the inspiration that Swayne has given me I have decided to start my own blog telling others my story and hopefully like Swayne, inspiring future pilots.

One thing that my dad always told me growing up is "every day is a new day with all kinds of possibilities". This is completely true and if you believe in yourself anything is possible.

Email: Myfirstflighttraining@gmail

Facebook: Chris Evans

Thanks so much Chris for writing in and sharing your story. I'm so happy to hear that through reading my blog, you were inspired to start up your flight training again and are going head-on towards your PPL! I can't wait to fly with you someday! 

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Radio Interview with AviatorCast and Chris Palmer

I recently had the awesome opportunity to be interviewed by Chris Palmer for his aviation podcast "AviatorCast." Chris Palmer runs the online flight training company "Angle of Attack," serving pilots flying anything from the Cessna 172 to the Boeing 777. (

Check out and listen to the interview via this link: AviatorCast Episode 10: Swayne Martin

Thanks for the awesome interview, Chris. I can't wait to talk with you guys again. 
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My First Solo Flight in a Cessna 172 (N9525V)

The real fun in being a Private Pilot is having the opportunity to experience and learn on a variety of aircraft. After having done my PPL training in a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), I knew I would want to bump up a level, to something a little larger. My goal was to fly something faster that could carry more people. As a part of accomplishing that goal, I went up with my instructor on a Cessna 172 Checkout Flight. After that flight, I was eligible to rent and fly the school Cessna 172s solo. 

The obvious next step for me was to do a "first solo" in the more or less familiar aircraft. From personal experience and advice I received, oftentimes the best way to get comfortable in a new aircraft is just to head out for a flight around the pattern, knocking out 10+ touch and go landings in the new plane. That's exactly what I did during this flight. It was a nice clear day, gusty, with an 8kt direct crosswind, but nothing too bad! It was a good opportunity for me to practice my crosswind skills in a moderate wind. 

For the day, I was going to fly in C172 N9525V, a 1998 Cessna 172R with zero glass cockpit. It was actually pretty fun to fly again in a plane with no GPS or glass, it can make things a little more simple, and fun! As you'll see in the video below, I did have my iPhone with Foreflight mounted next to me, so I cheated a little! I had the plane scheduled for 2 hours, but only planned to utilize about an hour of that for actual flying. All said and done, I flew .8 hours, knocking out 10 landings and takeoffs. 

In the video below, you can see an overview of the flight with timelapse editing and music. I only included the last 3 landings in this video, as showing all 10 would be way too long! You can find more videos like this on my Youtube channel, MartinsAviation1

Before taxiing and takeoff, I made sure to turn CloudAhoy on, with my iPhone. The app records your flight in 3D, with speed, altitude, ground track, etc. As this was my first solo flight in the C172, I spent most of my time in the pattern adjusting over and over, trying to find the right points at which to turn, in order to come in on final using little or no engine power. As you can see in the CloudAhoy screenshot below, patterns ranged from tight, to far out. I wanted to get a real sense for how the plane flew inside the pattern, how much it floats, etc. You can check out my flight in 3D for yourself, to do that Click Here.

After my 7th consecutive touch and go, I did a full stop landing to give my arms a rest. Unlike the electronic Tecnam P92 Eaglet, the Skyhawk has a mechanical trim. My arm was tired after fighting the heavier plane! In general, when flying the Cessna, you use the trim to alleviate the control pressure. Since I was flying constant, short patterns, it was hard to constantly adjust the trim properly for all phases of flight. It was also the first hot day of the new year, 80 degrees, so I drank some of the water I brought with me during the break.

Now that I'm feeling much more comfortable in the C172, I'm excited to go flying in it with passengers for the first time! As I speak, I'm headed to North Carolina to visit some more colleges over this Spring Break. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Cessna 172 Checkout Flight

For nearly all of my flight training, I flew in either a Tecnam P92 Eaglet or Tecnam P2002 Sierra. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this article: What Exactly is a Tecnam Aircraft? I've also had the pleasure of flying in a few different types of aircraft. For a full list, check out the "Aircraft Flown" column on the right side of this page. 

As a private pilot, I can legally fly any plane under 12,500 pounds that does not require a type rating or additional endorsement. To rent aircraft from FBOs, you normally do a checkout flight with one of the company's instructors. Yesterday, I followed through with my plan to make a transition to the Cessna 172, becoming eligible to rent and fly the plane solo. I did this because the Cessna has 4 total seats vs. the Tecnam's two. That way, I can fly more people and split the cost for flying at a lower rater per person ($35 per person, per hour). HOVA Flight Services out of Hanover KOFP has three C172s for its students, all three of which I've flown in. 

I really enjoy flying the Skyhawk. It's easy, forgiving, and doesn't float down the runway like the Eaglet! It's an older, heavier bird than the smaller Tecnam, which makes it fun in its own respect. As my awesome instructor Graham Frye put it: "Once you have your PPL, the real fun starts. You get to try out different aircraft, learning their individual characteristics and tendencies. You'll begin to develop a sense of what you like to see in planes you truly enjoy flying." 

After two snow days with school off, the weather finally cleared enough for a flight. I took the snow day as an opportunity to call up the school and schedule a flight with Graham. With variable winds at 3 knots and clear skies, it was an awesome day for a flight! We were scheduled to be in Cessna 172R N9525V. I didn't originally intend for this to be my "checkout" flight, just a chance to fly more in the Cessna. In the end, doing the checkout style flight was perfect for the day and time.  

I had Graham do the walk around with me, to go over different things I needed to check for on the unfamiliar aircraft. Luckily, I didn't miss the big problem with the plane before giving it the thumbs up: ice build-up on the elevator and trim tabs. He had left it there for me to find, making sure I wouldn't skip over it, which would be a very dangerous situation! After the walkaround and cabin check, we were ready to go. Our plan was simple, fly for about an hour around the practice area to the Northwest and return for a landing or two. Our route of flight is shown via a screenshot of CloudAhoy below: (explore the route on Google Earth for yourself via this link: Click Here)

We began going over basic maneuvers in the plane. Steep turns came first: 

We then moved into slow flight and stalls: 

An emergency decent came next, brining us down to ground-reference maneuver altitude: 

Turns around a point (well, two points!): 

We then returned to Hanover OFP for a straight in approach to Runway 16. After a greased touch and go, we did one more full-stop landing for extra practice. Both landings went great and the day was done! After lots of adjusting, we got the plane tied down and headed inside to sign off paperwork. Now that I can rent the C172 from the school, I'm looking forward to my first solo flight in the plane soon! 

Thanks for reading and watching,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My First Aviation Job - Writer/Producer for Boldmethod Flight Training!

Happy to announce my first job in the aviation world! As of a few days ago, I was hired by the Boldmethod Team to work as a writer/producer for their website. I'm excited to be a part of the movement to revolutionize the way aviation training works. In a modern, technological era, the next generation of pilots should have the opportunity to utilize the best online training methods. 

After having used the Aviation Weather Training Course, I see real potential in Boldmethod's online training. They're revolutionizing an industry that pushes out dull, non-interactive content. Some of the other methods I've used in my own training are too stagnant in nature, not allowing for interaction that makes learning fun and effective. 

Check out my profile on the Boldmethod site: Swayne Martin
The "Swayne Martin Welcome Article:" Click Here

We really hit the ground running during these first few days I came to work with them. We created a Boeing 777 Infographic, since the Triple-7 is something on everyone's mind in the wake of the MH370 disappearance. Instead of focusing on a safety record or crash history, we decided to show you how amazing the 777 aircraft is and how much it has accomplished since it first flew in 1994. Check it out!: 

And don't worry, even though I'm now a writer at Boldmethod, I'll still have frequent (if not more!) posts to push right here, on "From Private to Professional Pilot." This job is going to give me the opportunity to learn a whole lot more about aviation, from the inside of the industry. I can't wait to see what comes next! 

Later today, I'm flying my first ever solo flight in a Cessna 172 (N9525V). On Wednesday, I'm driving to Indiana for a Purdue College visit, to check out their aviation program! Lots of exciting stuff going on! 

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Monday, March 10, 2014

Airport Review: Lynchburg (KLYH), Virginia - A Sunset Landing

After flying into Falwell's "ski-slope" runway, we decided to make the quick 5 mile flight over to Lynchburg (Class D), for another stamp in our aviation passport! The flight was quick, but really cool to make right at sunset. An edited video of our flight with time-lapse footage, radio calls, and music is shown below. Check out my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1, for more videos like this: 

Lynchburg Regional Airport (Preston Glenn Field - KLYH) is a Class D airport located in Southwestern Virginia. Its sole commercial airline service is to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) via US Airways Regional Carrier Bombardier Dash-8s or CRJs. It is also the home of the Liberty University's Aviation Program, with a very successful and fast-growing flight school. You can see some of their school planes in a photo below:  

Flying over Lynchburg at sunset couldn't have been nicer. The photo below was taken with my iPhone and is completely un-edited, the sunset was awesome! As you can see in our landing video below, there was a decent amount of traffic keeping the controller at KLYH busy: 

We shut down at the Virginia Aviation ramp to get a stamp for our passport at the FBO front desk: 

It was time to head back East to Hanover after the sun had gone down. Below is the video of our dusk takeoff from Lynchburg's Runway 22: 

Thanks for reading and watching!
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My First Official Flight As A Private Pilot

After passing my PPL Checkride, it was time to start thinking about first flights. I had decided early on that my first official passenger would be my grandfather, GP (abbreviation for Grand-Père). I attribute my love of aviation directly to him. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been going to airshows with him, or had his awesome models hanging on my ceiling. I can remember the days when we'd visit him down in Florida, where I would be outside for literally hours with GP, flying our rubber band-wound, balsa wood planes. 

I see it as fitting that my first flight as a licensed pilot was with GP, it made for a very memorable experience. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

A typical situation occurred on the day of my first flight, marginal VFR weather around Richmond. My pilot-judgement was being tested right from the beginning of my license! MVFR weather was isolated to our Southeast and was headed Northeast, so I made the decision to go flying, but not to go too far away. Instead of flying to the Southeast as I hoped, I decided to go to some more familiar airports to our Northwest (Lake Anna and Louisa). Here's what the weather looking like: 

In the screenshot below from CloudAhoy, you can see our full route of flight: 

The flight didn't turn out as well as I would've liked for my first flight with a PPL. It was pretty turbulent and gusty, making for some less than perfect landings. Once we landed at Lake Anna (7W4), I let GP know that we were going to do a touch and go and Louisa (LKU), and then head back to Hanover (OFP). Why waste the time and money on a bumpy, unpleasant flight, when we could pick a much better day to do it? It wasn't terrible flying, just uncomfortable in general. 

Screenshots from our landing at Lake Anna (7W4): 

Screenshots from our landing at Louisa (LKU): 

After taking off from Louisa, we headed straight back towards Hanover. Luckily, we were straight in for Runway 16, so we saved some time by making a direct approach. The landing wasn't bad, a little off centerline because of the crosswind, but not great either. 

In all honesty, I was a little disappointed by my first flight as a licensed pilot. I was understandably a little stressed about the new responsibility that was on my shoulders. It wasn't just my safety anymore, but the safety of my passenger that ended directly with my decisions. It was a good move to end the flight early and to wait for another day. On random days you'll find that that flight-wise you just aren't "feeling it," on those days the best thing you can do is to reschedule in my opinion. If it's an uncomfortable experience, reschedule for a better day! Not all of your flights are going to go as well as you hope, and that's ok! It's all part of a bigger learning experience. 

I want to thank GP for being my first passenger. We'll find a better day soon for another flight! 

Thanks for reading,
-Swayne Martin 
Twitter: @MartinsAviation