Learning to Appreciate the PAPI

So far during my primary flight training, the approach slope indicator lights haven’t really been something I used or worried about. Landing my little Cessna on a 4,000+ foot strip in broad daylight has gotten easier and easier, and even when I was terrible I was more concerned about flying a stabilized approach than being “on” the glideslope. Sure a quick glance now and again to confirm that I wasn’t too low has been helpful, but it wasn’t among the tools I relied upon to bring me safely into the airport. And then I flew at night, and realized exactly how useful that little strip of lights can become.

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What I Learned from my First Solo

I started ground school back in February. I passed the written in April, and started proper lessons later that month. Last week I reached another major milestone in my flight training: the first solo. Before I took off, I thought the first solo was more of a celebration than anything else — a congratulatory romp around the traffic pattern rather than a proper lesson where I learned things. But as my wheels touched back down onto the pavement, I realized that this might be the most important learning lesson I’ve had in quite some time. So, what did I learn?

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Approved for Pre-Check, but Not Appearing on Boarding Pass? Here’s a Fix.


I was all excited for my first flight since being approved for the TSA’s Pre-Check program. I was looking forward to breezing through security without all the usual hassle, but alas my dream was not to be. When I printed out my boarding pass, the Pre-Check logo was sadly missing. I had done everything right — entered my “known traveler” number in the system, flying from a Pre-Check airport, everything that was on the website — but there was the boarding pass, logo-free. After some digging, I figured out why.

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Photos: Space Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center

space Shuttle Atlantis, c Nick Leghorn

A few weeks back, I stopped in at the Smithsonian’s hangar outside Dulles airport to visit the Space Shuttle Discovery in her new digs. It was pretty impressive, and I wanted to check out how the other shuttles were fairing in their retirement. So, while in the Orlando area and with a little time to kill, I stopped over at the Kennedy Space Center to check out their new exhibit showcasing the shuttle Atlantis.

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Plane Spotting at San Antonio International Airport

Delta Boeing 757-200 N633DL at KSAT, c Nick Leghorn
Delta Boeing 757-200 N633DL at KSAT

The San Antonio International Airport (KSAT) looks great from the air and has some great approaches into the city, but getting a picture of the action on the runways is difficult at best. There really aren’t any good places around the airport to sit and watch the planes go by, but I found an excellent spot if you’re willing to spend a few dollars.

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Pictures: Space Shuttle Discovery at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Space Shuttle Discovery, c Nick Leghorn

Last week I had some time on my hands and found myself near the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center next to Dulles airport. I needed to burn about two and a half hours, but still found that I didn’t have enough time to see everything I wanted. One thing I did focus my photographic endeavors on was the newly installed Space Shuttle Discovery that replaced the Enterprise in the space hangar. And man, was it awesome.

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