Not sick!

Today was take two of trying to turn at a steep angle (45 degrees). The good news was that I was in command and I didn’t sick. I felt the extra G forces, but it was fine. The odd part was when we did the equivlanet manoeuver towards the right instead of the left, I didn’t feel the G at all (I’m assuming because my instructor’s side descended rather than mine). With passangers, definitely not a procedure I would want to do.

The main purpose of today’s excercise was to practice max autonomy and max distance. The difference between the two, is that autonomy is time in the air, while distance is simply the max distance you’re able to cover (think of it in terms of kilometers). Both the manoeuvers went well.

The other manoeuver we practiced was spiral recoveries. Basically, my instructor would put us into a spiral (we start spiraling towards the ground with increasing speed) and I’d have to identify it and recover. It was a lot of fun – too bad spirals aren’t normal manoeuvers.

Last time my landing was meh (I ended up hitting the brake too much on the right side and veered off to the right), but this time it was great, I felt mostly in control of everything except for the flair at the end (but still it was an improvement). My instructor made me take control of the communications a bit, and while it stressed me out it went relatively well. He made sure to give me the feedback about how it went, which reassured me a lot.

Of course, there are always things to improve upon… today was the fact that I have been using the brakes instead of the rudder when taxing on the ground. There were a few things that my instructor always said, “Make sure to keep your heels on the floor” which now makes perfect sense. Felt like a bit of an idiot, but he never corrected me so I guess I’m not that dumb? I still need to remember to put full power when accelerating (for take off or when climbing).

With everything today, I was super happy with my progression I’m starting to feel like a real pilot.

Clouds ahead!

Last time I flew I didn’t really feel like I had good control over my altitude. This time, however, it went much better. Of course there is still room for improvement, but it could have gone much worse (like last time).

I even had to take the decision on how to avoid the clouds, which my instructor never prepared me for or gave me any guidance. However, My first feeling (descend to avoid them) was the one he agreed with. After calling ATC, we descended from 3000′ to 2500′ to avoid them. It was a nice feeling taking that decision to avoid the clouds.

Today, my instructor showed me turns at a steep angle (45 degrees). We had discussed it, but we never discussed what to expect in terms of sensation. Welp, I was definitely nauseous. As soon as the extra g forces hit me, I felt sick in my stomach. I got hot and it wasn’t great afterwards. Because of my reaction, I didn’t perform the manoeuver, and I feel like we went right back to land. However, we still had to practice the rest of the lesson.

Flaps usage and flaps for landing were the other part we practiced.

Cancelled

Today’s flight was cancelled – it just goes to show you, safety is number one. My instructor told me that he was flying and it was a question of wind gusts at altitude.

Altitude

Today’s big thing – gotta get a better handle on maintaining my altitude. A bit frustrating because the previous flight was much better.

And it continues…

I awoke bright and early for my 8am lesson. I live a bit of a distance away from the airport, so I knew that I needed the extra time to get there and be fully awake. To my surprise, the end of fall is already approaching – my car had frost on it. As I drove to the airport, I wondered how Cessnas are deiced because I couldn’t imagine using a scraper like on a car’s windshield.

Alas, I arrived and saw the planes had frost on the entirety of the surface of the plane. Once my instructor arrived, we spent a good amount of time cleaning off the plane (we used a broom to brush off everything). From my theory courses, I knew that we couldn’t have any ice buildup on the plane for takeoff. My instructor and I maneuvered the plane so it was facing the sun to allow for the ice/frost to melt. While we waited, I did my first preflight exterior checklist.

It took a good while to get everything defrosted/deiced. There was no simple pull up station for deicing like you see with commercial aircraft. After everything was deiced and verified, we continued the checklist inside the plane. i got through everything easily enough, and then we were off. The first thing I noticed was that immediately I felt more at ease with the controls. I navigated the plane to the starting position and waited for my instructor to get clearance. Once that was done, we were off. I moved us onto the runway with more ease than the first time.

When it came time for takeoff, I didn’t feel as overwhelmed as I did the first time. It wasn’t 100% smooth, but pretty close. We took a turn and ascended to 2000′. We went to our training area and we went over all of the different maneuvers we had planned on (inclining right and left, maintaining altitude, descending, ascending). I had a much easier time maintaining altitude. While there was a bunch of chatter on our frequency, I still managed to concentrate and perform the maneuvers that my instructor requested.

One of the biggest challenges was the headset. Today it seemed like it didn’t really want to work, and my instructor was fiddling with the radios a lot it seemed. At one point he simply gave me hand signals to indicate what he wanted from me.

One point of pride was me beginning to use the trim wheel without even being asked (and using it at all – my first flight we didn’t even use it at all). it’s a huge point of pride, and I’m sure experienced pilots mostly forget the feeling of accomplishment of doing it correctly the first time.

Then came time for the landing. It wasn’t great, but we walked away without any bruises or damages to the aircraft. I felt less overwhelmed than the first time, and even had some turbulence on our base leg as we turned for final, and even that I was able to handle without being too stressed. Having read my pilot’s training handbook, there were a few things that I applied (when gliding, any point in relation to a fixed point of the windshield can be used to gauge the point of landing). Once we made our first touchdown with the aircraft, my instructor kept telling me to pull back on the yolk. Because I’m inexperienced, it made no sense to me in that instant – we weren’t trying to take off again! Once a few moments had passed, I realized he was telling me to pull the nose up for landing (we had glided in with the throttle at idle, we weren’t going to take off). He told me it would come with experience (and so far he has been correct). Afterwards I had to ask for confirmation that we hit the ground, and bounced because I failed to pull the nose up (which was the case).

After my lesson today, I can say it with confidence – I had fun flying. There were moments when my hands were sweating and I was gripping the controls too firmly. All that said, it was a good experience and I can’t wait for my next.

My first flight

While today wasn’t technically my first flight (even my first time in the pilot’s seat), it was my first flying lesson with an instructor.

It wasn’t as stressful as the first time I flew in the pilot’s seat, but it was still not natural for me. Growing up I was always around cars and teaching people how to drive, so when it came time for me to drive it was natural and never a challenge for me. There were some things that I learned in the driver’s seat that I didn’t know before (like how to keep the car straight on the highway and not make too many minor adjustments) but it was never really a challenge. For me, those drives who didn’t find it easy and natural were always weird for me. I finally understand the challenges the first time drivers actually go through, and I have all the more respect for those who struggled in the beginning and still went on to get their license.

Not only did I do my first instructed flight, but also it was my first take-off and landing at the controls (my instructor made input adjustments of course, but I was still “in command”). The take off was fine, not too much to do except put the throttle down and pull back – it wasn’t perfect but I was never stressed at any moment. The landing, on the other hand, was a whole different story. I didn’t die, nothing was injured, and everyone walked away fine – so it was clearly a good landing.

We practiced a few different manoeuvers (bad translations ahead), nose down, nose up, leveling off, maintaining altitude, turning left and right, verifying our altitude with the instruments. All basic stuff, but for a newby pilot it was all a challenge. I know the theory behind all of it just fine, but the execution side still needs work. According to my instructor, everything went fine.

My instructor gave me good feedback – everything went as expected, and this is what he wrote in my pilot training record. We filled out my first entries in log book (and I made a mistake with my name, of course).

Everything considered, it was a good experience. It was hard for me because it requires effort and work (most stuff seems to come easily/naturally to me with little work or effort), but I still landed an airplane – most people can’t say that. When people ask me if it was fun, I can’t really answer that question – all I can say is that I can’t wait for the next flight.

pfSense KVM Virtualization

So, I’ve been wanting to build a pfSense router solution into my home network for a while. Seeing as I had an old Core 2 Quad Q6600 laying around, I decided to give it a try. One thing I didn’t want to do though was to simply install pfSense bare metal and then call it a day – this seems like it was wasting a lot of CPU and memory for no reason.

With this in mind, I grab the latest version of CentOS 7 and installed it onto the machine. I then started grabbing and configuring KVM on the fresh install. I found a video doing it under Ubuntu on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-DwU6fJvPk). There were several other sites here and there I grabbed to make sure that I was doing everything correctly for CentOS rather than Ubuntu.

Because I don’t have any desktops that were linux based, and I didn’t want to install X Window System onto the server for no reason, I had to spin up a VM on my main desktop to be able to use the virt-manager to configure everything graphically. I didn’t really want to do it via the command line (lots of copying and pasting between the internet and the ssh session). And sometimes it’s nice to use the simply UI. In the end, this was a good decision because it allowed me to also do some testing via iperf when the performance was a problem.

By default, the NIC device model was the e1000, which turned out to be a problem. After lots of research and troubleshooting, I finally moved to the virtio and disabled the hardware checksum offload (https://docs.netgate.com/pfsense/en/latest/virtualization/virtio-driver-support.html). This allows me to go from ~350 Mbits/sec to 909 Mbits/sec (on a 1000 Mbits/sec LAN connection). Turns out, it wasn’t that bad after all.

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Canadian’s guide to Paris

Public Transportation

The Paris métro is awesome, and goes everywhere. The price for a trip in Paris is €1.80, and that’s anywhere within Paris. Basically, as far as I understood it, as long as you don’t exit the station (pass through any station that requires you to validate your ticket) you’re good to continue on. There was an option for you to purchase an unlimited pass for within Paris for like €25. I found this to be more expensive than actually buying single trips. You’d have to do more than 13 trips for this to be effective. I took the metro everywhere, and still ended up with less than that.

Money

It’s the Euro, like most countries in the EU. I didn’t find it to be super expensive while I was there. It was, of course, a little more expensive than other places because of it’s size.

The People

I didn’t have any problems with the people in Paris. In fact, I found them to be quite polite and friendly. Not a single person ever gave me a hard time about my accent. And when they didn’t understand me (i.e when I spoke too fast in French), they simply asked me to repeat myself (politely).

Cost

I didn’t really find it to be super expensive. My hostel stay was about €20 for the night, which is on par with everywhere else I’ve been.

Activities

There is a bunch of things to do, of course. My favourite was le tour d’Eiffel. I went all the way to the top, and loved it. It was a bit expensive, €17. If you’re planning on going, make sure that you book a ticket in advance, and save yourself the wait! I tried to do it on the day, when I arrived, but of course you need to do it weeks in advance. Le musée du louvre is always an option, but I didn’t feel like waiting in line for it. I walked from the big Ferris Wheel to the Arc de Triopmh (mostly) and that was a pretty nice stroll. Notre Dame was really nice, and I also went to The Panthéon, which was really awesome. I ended up collecting quite a few coins from the monnie de Paris collection, which you can buy at different tourist attractions around Paris. Plenty of good places to grab a drink, and make sure you get some macaroons!

Overall

I loved Paris, and it’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to visit. I accomplished it and I’m super happy for having been there. I recommend it to anyone, but maybe not on Valentine’s Day!

Canadian’s guide to Cologne

Public Transportation

Pretty decent public transportation, and there was a good option for unlimited travel (something like 10 Euros).

The People

Evidently I showed up during Carnival, a sort of halloween-esque event. People were running around all dressed up, and for a while I was confused… I even thought that it was the norm. Someone eventually explained to me what was going on, and it made sense. I had a bit of an awkward run in with a waiter at one of the beer places I stopped at, he told me straight up I should leave a tip next time. I totally didn’t know it was expected… so now I can’t go back to that country! Otherwise, everyone was really nice and no one was intentionally rude to me.

Cost

Beer was cheap, public transportation was reasonable (from what I remember), and the accommodations I had were reasonly (although I would never recommend this place, I didn’t sleep well at all). The main reason why I went to Cologne was because the flight was only 138 DKK (which is less than $30).

Activities

There is the Cathedral, Kolner Dom, that is visible from everywhere. It was really interesting, and the majority of it is free. In addition to that, there is the Ludwig museum not that far away. Cologne, being the birth place of the Kölsch, has lots of breweries that make their own version. In addition to this, the breweries I went to were just plain awesome, very old and nicely decorated on the inside. One of the higlights for me was the Gestapo HQ museum. Evidently they were based out of Cologne, and it was a very well done museum for such a touch topic.

Overall

It was a nice cheap place to visit, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to visit somewhere that isn’t necessarily on a top 10 places to visit list. There were a bunch of great things to see, and a weekend is more than enough time to see them all!