Saturday, July 20, 2013

It Never Ends!

You thought that I was finished yapping about studying and taking exams after getting my Private Pilot Certificate? HA! You're WRONG! As I'm sure you've read, I've decided to pick up the next phase of pilot training called, Instrument Training. For all of you 'Non-Aviators' there are two relatively distinct kinds of flying that a pilot does.

 The first is VFR (or Visual Flight Rules). As you may have guessed, this kind of flying centers around the pilots ability to use visual cues from outside to guide the aircraft in whatever direction they deem necessary. I would say that around 80% of your Private Pilot test standards are based around the pilots ability to look outside the aircraft and simply fly. Trying not to get too deep into regulations, I must mention that there are minimum distances, visibility and altitudes that are prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration that a VFR pilot must adhere to. The second kind of flying is IFR (skipping S-VFR for simplicity's sake). This stands for Instrument Flight Rules and there is a whole new set of regulations at skill sets that a pilot must adhere to and acquire, respectively. The reason for instrument flight is the ability to not have to dodge clouds and to be able to maintain an overall more efficient way of flying (Under IFR you don't have to maintain those prescribed distances that I mentioned earlier). You must keep in mind that those distances are there to keep everyone within visual reference of the other VFR traffic. (FAA doesn't want anyone hitting anyone else mid-air and for good, obvious reasons)

So how do we maintain that level of safety when the lose all visual cues? THE SYSTEM DUN DUN DUN! When I say 'the system' I'm referring to the SATMS or the Space and Air-Traffic Management System. As a VFR pilot, you aren't required to file a flight-plan. In fact, you don't even have to talk to anyone so as you maintain proximity from controlled airspace. When you enter the IFR realm, the first truly large task is mastering the ability to file and understand Instrument Clearances.

Above is an IFR flight I took up to Roanoke. In the lower portion of the image you can see information regarding my clearance. My route being HMV PSK @ 9000 ft. The area in between the Holston Mountain VOR (HMV) and the Pulaski VOR (PSK) happens to be a Victor Airway. It's a like a Highway In The Sky.

Here's an example that will make sense to you as long as you drive a car:
You're at your house and you want to travel to your friend's house in the next town over. In order to get there you have to call your friend and tell them how you're going to get there, when you're leaving, and how fast you're going to go. The interstate is like your Victor Airway. If you were traveling to Wytheville from Bland we could say your flight plan might look like BND WVL on the V81 Airway. (All of this just for example purposes) The weather happens to be so bad you can't see to get onto the interstate and haven't the slightest clue how you're going to find your friend's house in the inclement weather.

First off, I must mention that if you're on an IFR flight plan you MUST receive radar vectors/be on a departure procedure to find the first fix on your route whether or not you can see outside your aircraft. That means if it's sunny and you're on an IFR flight plan, you can still expect air traffic control to get you to your route. (You won't be doing this visually. I thought I needed to add that for clarification.)

Continuing the example:
You can expect radar vectors or (directions) to your filed route. In some cases you might receive a departure procedure that places you on your route. A fantastic example of this is an on-ramp to the interstate. It simply gets you to you're route, which in this case IS the interstate.

In the IFR flying realm, a SID (or a Standard Departure Procedure. How appropriate!) looks like this:

Like I said, just imagine an on-ramp to the interstate.

The most intricate part to instrument flying is most certainly the Arrival. (The part where you exit on the off-ramp and find your friends house.)

There are STARS (or Standard Instrument Arrivals) that may or may not be available depending upon what kind of airport you're flying into. Just for reference, they look like this (The off-ramp):

Maybe slightly more intricate than an off-ramp but you understand my point.

So what are we left with? Well, we have to find your friend's house in this terrible weather. We would use an IAP or an Instrument Approach Procedure. This is definitely the most intricate part of instrument flying. There are a few kinds of approaches categorized into Precision and Non-Precision Approaches:
-ILS (Instrument Landing System)
-LOC (Localizer)
-VOR and/or DME 

And a few more that I failed to mention...

Out of all of those I'm only going to describe one of them because we'd be here all day. An ILS instrument approach is probably on the most interesting feats of engineering. It not only gives your horizontal guidance, but also guides you down to the runway on a +/- 3.0 degree glide slope. Often described as a Flashlight, this is what the ILS Glide slope would look like if it was visible:

Here is what one of the approach plates looks like. This is the ILS or LOC 23 into Tri-Cities:

On Friday we did a flight to London-Corbin KLOZ. We shot the VOR 6 into LOZ and did the RNAV GPS 23 back in TRI. Here is the flight from and the respective charts:

As you can see we arced into a few thunderstorms! Here are the plates:

Here's some footage from yesterday! 

Thanks for your interest! I'll do my best to keep up with the blog!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ethical Reflective Writing

                        Ethical egoism is a moral theory. It tells us about what we are morally required and forbidden to do. It simply states that there is one ultimate goal for all of us, and that is to improve our own well-being even at the cost of other’s well beings. It claims that actions are morally right just because they best promote one’s self-interest. This means that if there are multiple options concerning something that would best benefit you, the one that serves you best is the one that morality requires. It can be understood that there are a few ways in which Ethical Egoism can cause clashes deep within our personal moral standards. It is clear that egoism prohibits us from doing some things that seem morally good. Ex: Diving on a bomb to save the rest of your troop. According to Egoism it is morally wrong to go out of your way to be altruistic. It also may require some actions of us that seem highly immoral. This means that even in the event we have to betray a friend or lie about a situation in furtherance of our own wellbeing, Egoism permits that we do these things. In fact, it insists that we do these things to promote our own self-interest. The latter would mean putting ourselves above everyone else in order to get ahead. The text book makes an argument out of this and rightfully so. There is an example where I hurt my leg and must drive to the hospital. When I arrive there is another man who has the exact same injury. The text goes on to explain that he is just as good of a citizen as I am. He is kind, smart, community-minded, just as I am. We now ask, “Who gets priority?” According to Egoism, I must morally put myself ahead of this other ailing man, who is just as emotionally similar to me as I am to him. The interests of this man, in regards to myself, count for nothing. The argument here is that how can I justifiably discount the basic needs of others, in furtherance of my own self-interest? This is an unreasonable act of will. Is it necessary for our own wellbeing for us to be so selfish in our needs?
            Personally I think the Egoist would give us an answer that we would all expect him to give albeit somewhat indirect. It can be best summarized by two claims voiced in the text book. If an action makes you better off, then there is good reason for you to do it. (Let me add once more, at the cost of other’s wellbeing’s.) If there is good reason for you to do an action, then doing it must make you better off. If this is the case, then what reason would one have allowing someone to receive medical attention before themselves? I can’t really provide an answer for that question. An Egoist would say that self-interest is always a good reason for doing something even at the cost of someone else.
            I would tend to agree with the first part of the Egoist’s statement. Self-interest is always a good reason for doing something. But is it really necessary that we keep those around us lower than ourselves in regards to what we hold to be most important? I don’t particularly think so, nor do I think Ethical Egoism provides a grounded reason for why we should be so unwilling to share some even ground with people we aren’t necessarily emotionally attached to. You must be able to balance your personal needs with everyone else’s. Even then you can provide yourself with your own necessary interests and not at the cost of other’s.
               Moral progress is quite different depending upon what culture you’re observing. Desegregating schools and employers becoming more tolerant of blacks in the work place would be considered a relatively recent moral progression in the United States. This may help provide us with a definition of moral progress. It simply means that when our actions become morally better than they were, we are morally progressing. As I was reading chapter 19 I noted how that if ethical relativism was true, how are we even where we are today? Ethical relativism forces us to conform to society's norms-or else we contradict ourselves. The supplemental reading described Ethical Relativism in a rather astounding, but simple argument. Such and such is socially approved. Therefore such and such is good. This means that social approval is the ultimate measure of morality. If Ethical Relativism is true, then it’s impossible for us to consistently disagree with the values of our society. This, in turn, means we couldn’t gain any moral headway. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is perfect example of why Ethical Relativism can’t be valid. What did King do? He went against what American culture considered morally acceptable. Treating blacks as second grade citizens is socially acceptable within American culture. What is socially acceptable is considered morally just. Therefore treating blacks as second grade citizens is morally just. King fought this and look where we are today. Questioning what is socially acceptable historically has provided us with the healthiest changes seen within American culture since the dawn of it, in my opinion. This one argument destroys the fabric that Ethical Relativism is composed of. Ethical Relativism allows the basic views of individuals or societies to determine the ultimate moral standards. Looking back at racism it’s clear how such basic views can be the product of ignorance, bias, and terrible reasoning yet they still existed and would still exist had a small group of people not questioned what society considered acceptable. Ethical Relativism doesn’t allow for fundamental moral progress and, in many cases, create great contradictions; therefore their arguments have no ground. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back To The Grind

I'm keeping up. I swear. I am NOT going to let this blog get away from me. I always realize how much fun it is to keep everyone informed when I sit down to write it. I simply have to find the time to do so. The format of this blog might be a bit different compared to those in the past. (Just a little disclaimer.)

 After I got off work this morning I looked outside for the first time since the sun had come up. It was about 39F. This is a heatwave. Truly. A typical North Dakotian January day averages 0F.Yep. Zero. I won't be complaining until it drops below that mark. It was somewhat flurrying. Nothing crazy, but that soon changed as I made my way to Calculus and Composition. I go to the restroom to find that I looked remotely like Santa Claus. The snow had frozen on my hair and my eyebrows. A magical sight, it was.

This might be a bit of a shock to those who know me. My class schedule has allowed me to pick up a workout routine. I met with a person trainer today, who is just awesome. Her boyfriend is an Army ROTC Helicopter pilot. To say the least, we have plenty to talk about! I met her today to do my fitness test and layout a plan for me. I know. Those last few sentences have completely blown you away. I'm not known for working out. My mentality is that, if I have the time, there is no excuse not to be working toward that goal. I don't mean to get all Richard Simmons on you, but I think I could afford to not be so scrawny... I have the upper-body strength of a dead marmoset. In the case that you can't place a value on that, it's not much. So, you could say that I'm pretty excited. Looking good and feeling good about yourself. I'm ready for it.

Recently at the station we started broadcasting a syndicated show called, "Kidd Kraddick In The Morning." It's definitely different than what I was used to hearing in the morning with the local crew. All in all, it's a really good show. You might be familiar with this because J104.5, out of Bluefield, broadcasts the show as well. If you're in the car from 7-11 EDT, I highly suggest you check it out! (Or you could always listen to my station via the internet. You'll hear either myself or Ted do the weather, which is always quite comical. You get to hear 'Cringe Inducing' weather for our area too.)

This first week has been great. I'm finally on a path that I feel good about. I think it is where I am supposed to be. I love my professors, my classes, and my job. Life is great.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The end of one. The beginning of another.

Afternoon everyone! I've finally come by the time to update my blog!

         We've passed the end of my first semester in college. There really aren't words to describe how excited I was to finished with my classes. I really enjoy learning, but I'm ready to move on to different subject areas! As you probably know, I tried for an internship at the local radio station at the end of October. It's only been   a little over two months since I started. I could have never believed that I would be where I am today. That internship turned into a paid position. I'm working around some awesome people. I really couldn't ask for a better life. I've said it a thousand times and I'll say it a thousand more: I'm so fortunate to be doing what I am.

        Near the end of the semester I realized that Atmospheric Science wasn't really my cup of tea. I didn't like how the job market looked and, in fact, the starting pay was literally jack shit. Going all the way through Calc 3 and differential equations to be earning close to that of a desk job? That wasn't remotely close to being justifiable in my mind. I made the switch to Biology after coming to those realizations. This is a field that I can go many different directions with. My main hope is that the final step is medical school. That's an ambition. We shall see if that's the path that I will take. Six months and I've already altered my path? My life will be interesting. That's for sure.

        A couple of things have changed at work. I'll still be waking up early. (That's an understatement) Luckily my classes this next semester don't begin until 11 AM Monday through Friday. That allows me time to recover from whatever it was that I was doing for work that morning. (Which we all know could be a multitude of different things. I'm not complaining, either.) 

          I'm not known for having loads of friends. Nor am I known for making New Year's resolutions. I've decided that I'm going to start branching out a bit more than I did the first semester. I don't mean by drinking or partaking in parties. Nothing of the sort. I simply mean getting involved in student clubs. Clubs that would allow me to meet more people with whom I have more in common with. I love the people who I've become close to now, I simply wish to find more of those kinds of people. It would be good for me.

        I've made a few plans for next summer. One of them being, getting my tail-wheel endorsement. Hopefully doing some aerobatic flying in the near future. I've caught the bug. My flight instructor flew for the aerobatic team at UND, so he told me he would take me up for free if I passed my stage-check the first time. (You didn't really ask that. Did you? Of course I passed it the first time!) We did rolls, loops, and inverted flight! We even flew upside-down and waved at another instructor and his student. I was completely hooked. Who can say that they fly airplanes, much less flying one upside down?

I work for a radio station. I study Biology. I live in North Dakota. I fly airplanes.

There isn't remotely one thing that is normal about me. I strive to be unique. I wouldn't rather it be any other way. 

          I leave to head back up to the Grandest of Forks on Sunday morning. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy the mountains and seeing my family and friends, but I belong somewhere else. That somewhere else isn't necessarily North Dakota. I'm out to be educated, but I'm also out to find where I belong. 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

     I would like to apologize. I realize that I haven't posted, in what seems like decades. School has me quite busy these days. Although I feel like sometimes I can't breath because of the work, I keep in the back of my mind that this is really what I need and want to be doing. I've recently been becoming more involved in my classes and other groups including the American Meteorological Society. The weather up here in NoDak is quite interesting, so it only makes sense that they have their own chapter. I feel like most of the groups were created on the basis of food. Potluck this and Picnic that! Then again my whole being seems to have been built on the basis of food!

     I haven't really changed. It takes me a while to find friends. Not because I have a hard time making friends, but more so because I am picky when it comes to who I like spending time with. In fact I have maybe three people whom I am close with. This is not unlike home. I'm associated with a lot of people, but have few best friends. Don't worry, I've found my niche!

     As you may have heard me bitching on Facebook, we recently had an early snow storm move through the area. If you're from North Dakota, you understand how this works, but if you're not, let me explain: North Dakota is practically Canada. This hopefully isn't new to you. The majority of the weather we get comes from... You guessed it. Canada! The cold air is pushed down and across the state. Winds are always harsh and sometimes Canada sends us some moisture associated with that cold air. Last Monday they were already reporting that we were possibly in for a 'severe-weather-event'. Turns out it wasn't so severe. The 6-12" they called for, turned into a slushy 3-4" depending upon your location within the Red River Valley. "Valley" you say? Being from Virginia, I am quite skeptical of using the word 'Valley' up here only because us Virginians really know what a valley is like. There is a river that runs somewhat north to south and separates North Dakota from Minnesota. As you approach that river from the East and the West it slopes down into what they refer to as the Red River Valley. Devils lake is around 100 miles west of Grand Forks and is approximately 500 ft higher in elevation. (It does the same thing east of Grand Forks too) I promise I'll make my point soon. My meteorology professor mentioned that as the storm moved from the west to the east that the extra 500 ft that the snow had to fall through, made the snowfall totals incorrect. That extra 500 ft gave the snowflakes extra time to melt before hitting the surface which gave towns west and east of Grand Forks higher totals and made us fall short. On a side note there is supposedly a phenomenon that takes place as thunderstorms roll through (once more from west to east) that they lessen in intensity because of something taking place within the River Valley.  I may have found my senior project!

     Enough with weather! Since last posting quite a few things have happened. 1) I'm actually into the swing of college. It's not totally overwhelming just to wake up in the morning. It's more like "This is just what I do." and the day flows on as normal! 2) I passed my Stage-Check, which is like a second check-ride that I had to complete to show the Aerospace school that I understood, not only what the Federal Aviation Administration expects of me, but also the UND policies and procedures! It was a LOT of extra studying, but I feel all the more accomplished that I completed it within a month of being here. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to fly the University's aircraft because I 'graduated' from my course. (I think it is because of insurance purposes.) If I want to fly, I have to go elsewhere and pass a test of their own making, which is extremely frustrating. It'll eventually happen!

Keep in touch and feel free to write me at:

University of North Dakota
#315 Bek Hall
Grand Forks, ND 58202