Cessna Flying Day Videos

As promised, here are some videos from my camera. Will post more as I steal them from other fellow fliers.

Taxiing from Terminal 3 to Runway 15 via Foxtrot.

This is how it feels like to be in a Cessna minus the Gs and the bumpy ride.

Approach and landing at Runway 15 and taxi to Terminal 3 via Golf. Continue reading

Flying a Cessna 172

Malaysian Wings organized a flying day at Subang Terminal 3 today and I had the chance to join them for my very first Cessna 172 flying experience. It was a “you-have-to-be-there” kind of experience because I can’t tell you exactly how exciting it was to fly a light aircraft. So I’m just going to show you a lot of pictures.

Flight path for today. Click here for a clearer version. Or download the kmz file to view using Google Earth. Color on the path indicates altitude. Red = lowest, violet = 1800 feet.

I brought my GPS for the flight and I logged the flight path on my PDA and converted it to view on Google Maps. Download the kmz file to view my flight path, complete with altitude. There were some places where some data were missing though.

Subang Flying Club was hosting us.

Waiting for MAB to give us our passes. We had to go through security checks as well.

Arrived at 0730 at Subang Terminal 3. There was a flight briefing from the instructors from Subang Flying Club. There were a lot of precautions when flying a plane. Since we’re going to be doing “aerobatics”, e.g. changing seats midair, some coordination was required. There was one incident whereby a flier accidentally switched off the magneto of the engine and caused an engine shutdown which changing seats. Other precautions like don’t wrestle the controls with the instructor, don’t walk into the propeller of the plane, and don’t puke on the plane. We were told to prepare a plastic bag just in case. Surprisingly, no one puked today.

When everything was done, it was time to meet the planes.


9M-RED. Incidentally, the plane is painted white and red.

These 2 Cessna 172 are the planes that we were going to fly today. I have always wanted to fly the 9M-RED because I’ve seen it take off many times when I was working at Hangar 1. Before we were allowed to fly, we were given a demonstration of a preflight check.

But before that, a group photo with the BLV. There were more than 10 cameras present. So this photo taking session took some time.

Air cooled 4 cylinder flat-four engine swinging a fixed pitch propeller. Propeller is checked for dents and nicks and unusual damage.

Next we need to check if the ailerons are connected properly. Make sure that the bolts, nuts and split pins are in their correct places.

Checking wing leading edge for damage. Also located on the wing leading edges: stall warning horn.

Remove the pitot tube cover before flying so you can get airspeed and altitude readings.

Manually check fuel quantity using a measuring stick. This is the safest way to ensure that there is fuel in the fuel tanks. Electronics sometimes can go haywire.

Checking for engine oil. The dip stick is similar to a car engine’s dipstick. 6 quarts is full. Refill if below that level.

Check your tyres and brakes. You can probably land without brakes in an emergency. But we don’t want any emergencies. Brakes are checked again before taxiing.

Again, checking the primary flight controls to make sure that they are in proper working condition. This is a trimmable elevator. Notice that the elevator has ridges? That is to strengthen it.

This is a piece of rubber strip located on the leading edge of the elevator. It prevents dents and nicks caused by stones thrown up by the main landing gears.

Cockpit of the 9M-BLV.

Full view. Very simple set of instruments.

Cockpit of the 9M-RED. A bit different from 9M-BLV.

Fliers listening tentatively to the instructors.

Then the time all of us have been waiting for arrived. It was time to take to the skies. We flew in pairs for 1 hour each so each of us were given the controls for 30 minutes. I was first on the captain’s seat. While waiting for a Firefly Fokker 50 to land, my instructor told me something that made my day: “I’ll let you do the take-off.”

Me flying a Cessna 172 for the very first time!

Taking off was easy. We go full throttle and when we reach 60 knots, we slow pull back on the control column. You don’t actually need to apply a lot of elevator. Just pull the control column about 2 cm back and the plane should slowly take-off. I’ve been reading up books on how to fly a Cessna so it was pretty straightforward.

MAS hangars as seen from above.

We headed off to 1500 feet and then to Port Klang. In 10 minutes, we were flying over tons and tons of containers. In the course of the flight, I learned how to turn the plane, maintain altitude, and basically just get the feel of the plane. It’s relatively easy to control. The instructor let me handle the plane by myself so I can fly it however I want, as long as I maintain 1500 feet. It’s good also to know that someone will save your skin if something goes wrong.

Communications is done through headsets because you’ll have to shout to be heard above the engine noise. It was pretty windy up there because there are ventilation ducts that channel outside air in. But it does get hot in the backseat.

Mosque at Shah Alam.

Shah Alam stadium with the go-kart track.

We got to experience some Gs when the instructor decided to show us some of his moves. First was the steep turn, then the steep climb and finally the dreaded steep dive. The turn and the climb was nothing much, but the dive was gut-wrenching. It’s unlike any roller-coasters I’ve been on.

After my 30 minutes was up I switched seats with Jerry to enjoy the scenery at 1500 feet. You can see very far at this height. Here are some pictures taken at that altitude.

Subang military base. 7 planes where got enough.

Somewhere in west Malaysia.

At the distance you can see Port Klang’s cranes.

We fly above this empty area so if we need to make an emergency landing, there’s plenty of space.

Here you can see the mosque and its surrounding buildings. It was unusually hazy today says the instructor.

Flying the Cessna was a huge eye opener for me. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had on a plane. I will defiantly get onboard and fly again. Now that I’ve logged half an hour of flying time, I’m one step closer to getting a Private Pilot License.

I have more pictures but they are with another friend. I will try to upload videos as well to make up for the 7 days of post-less void. Videos of in-flight views and landing to come shortly after I’ve uploaded them. Continue reading

Towers of Hanoi Robot

Towers of Hanoi is a game that challenges the mind. There is a version for the iPhone where you use your fingers to move the disks. Usually it takes a long time to play because with 8 disks (last level), the minimum moves that you need to make to solve the puzzle is 255. Building a robot to solve that puzzle for you is way faster so that was what I did. Robots are stupidly fast.

Relays before being modified to play Towers of Hanoi.

The first step is to find a way to interface with the capacitive touch screen of the iPhone. Normal stylus doesn’t work. So after trying a few methods, I settled with putting drops of water on the area I want to “touch” and using a metal paper clip to make contact with the water drops. It’s better illustrated with the picture below.

Drops of water become “fingers” when contacted with a metal paper clip.

The relays were stripped and only the coil part was used. I suspended a metal paper clip above the coil so whenever the coil is energized, the paper clip moves downwards and make contact with the drop of water on the screen, thus effectively making a “touch”.

This method wasn’t perfect because everything was slap together with parts that I can find around the house. To be able to achieve 100% accuracy at high speed, a proper solenoid is needed. But for playing Towers of Hanoi, 5 moves per second should be more than enough to beat the highscore. So I thought.

Solenoids are controlled by transistors that are controlled by the parallel port.

After helping a friend with a parallel port project, I had the base program to control the parallel port. I wrote a VB program to sequence the relays so they will move the disks in the game in the proper order. The relays are not really optimized for high speed but I managed to squeeze out 5 moves per second consistently without error. 7 moves per second was possible, although there were a few error touches. But since it must be 100% perfect since we’re following a sequence, it was unacceptable. But in the video I have included a video showing how much faster it was when running at 7 moves per second.

Closer view of the relays with their metal paper clip “fingers”.

Here’s the video of the robot in action. In the first part, I show the robot solving all 7 levels at 5 moves per second. After a few closeups, there’s a short clip of the robot running at 7 moves per second. It managed to solve the first few levels but then errors started popping up and it was unable to finish the whole game. A better touch interface should solve that problem.

You may ask, won’t the paper clip scratch the screen? No, because the iPhone’s screen is built pretty tough and you can’t easily scratch it. Now the only question remaining is, why didn’t I beat the all time highscore?

I (or rather my robot) am the highest scorer in the last 24 hours.

But I still couldn’t beat mike with 5 moves per second.

So either mike can make more than 5 moves per second with his fingers, or he, like me, is cheating.

I think he’s cheating. Continue reading

Parliament Dissolved

I was reading the newspaper today when I came across this exact same article (except that it was printed on paper):

Click here for the complete story. Source: The Star.

4 hours later, my friend told me that the parliament has been dissolved. If you read carefully the article above, you’ll notice that our PM said that the parliament won’t be dissolved today.

Click here for the complete story. Source: The Star.

But it was dissolved today. I felt cheated by the PM.

On other news, the pot is calling the kettle black. The ACA (anti corruption agency) is said to have given RM3000 to Lingam’s former secretary.

Click here for the complete story. Source: Bernama”

Now who can we trust to stop corruption in Malaysia? Continue reading

ATC Operations

Reminder to self: I will write a post about ATC here tomorrow.

I’m sure all of you know that traffic at an airport is controlled by the tall tower that you see there. People inside there talk to pilots and tell them where and when to land the plane. As you can probably imagine, clear and good communications is needed to avoid any accidents. So they have a special way of communicating so pilots from other countries can also land here. English is the only language to be used for communications.

To prevent confusing the letters of the alphabet, you must say the individual letters using special words. If I want to say “9M-MRD”, I need to say “niner mike mike romeo delta” instead of saying “9M-MRD”. This is to prevent confusion. What if there’s a 9M-MRB nearby? They might confuse “B” and “D”. The complete chart:

Ok, now that you got the basics of basics, we can look at how to talk to the ATC tower. Calling the ATC is very different when you’re doing it from a plane. Each ATC is assigned its own frequency so to contact the ATC, first you must select the correct frequency to broadcast. You do this through the Radio Communications Panel.

Boeing 777 radio communications panel. There are 3 radio communications panel in a 777′s cockpit.

To select a frequency, you turn the big knob on the right. Say we want to contact Subang’s ATC. We will need to select frequency 118.2MHz. You can only change the standby frequency. Once you have changed the standby frequency to the desired frequency, you swap it with the main frequency by pressing the button. Now you are ready to talk to the ATC.

There are special procedures when calling the ATC. The ATC handles a lot of planes at once and they all communicate at the same frequency. That means that once you tune into the ATC’s frequency, you can hear other pilots talking to them as well. It’s like a very big conference call. So first thing you need to do is wait for your turn. Then, initiate your call by saying (let’s assume we’re flying the 9M-MRD 777) “Lumpur Tower this is niner mike mike romeo delta, over”.

Lumpur tower is the ATC that we’re calling and “niner mike mike romeo delta” is the plane’s registration. We need to identify ourselves so they know which plane they are talking to. The ATC will normally reply with “niner mike mike romeo delta, Lumpur Tower. Pass your message”. Now that you have initiated the call, you can tell the ATC what you want to do. I will not cover what needs to be said because it’s out of the scope of my knowledge. Wait until I get my PPL.

Now that we have covered the basics of communicating with an ATC, here are some videos related to this topic.

Some interesting Air traffic control conversations.

Misunderstandings and breakdown of communications can be costly and dangerous in aviation.

Watch a Highly Skilled Air Traffic Controller in action.

And who says air traffic controllers can’t be entertaining?

And here’s how REAL air traffic controllers work.

For the full radio telephony manual, click here. If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them. Continue reading