Solo XC: KMDH – KSIK – KMDH

This one was familiar! Sikeston, MO was where I went on my first cross-country. And this time I got actual pictures! So I’ll let them do the talking.

The mighty Mississippi.

This one was taken on the trip there, somewhere past Reynoldsville.

This is me flying an airplane!

Even when I’m flying an airplane, I’m still vain enough to take a self-portrait.

Sikeston runway

Okay, this one didn’t turn out awesome, but it’s the runway at Sikeston, MO.

My aircraft, post-refueling

Here’s my little airplane right after re-fueling. When I got to Sikeston, a kid (okay, probably 16 – 17 year old) came out to help me park it. When I told him I was just here to re-fuel it, he helped me find and operate the the pump, too. There was a Beechcraft jet also parked there, and he said it’d been a busy day.

Scotty City bridge

This bridge is an easy to spot checkpoint, but this picture is less about the scenery than it is about the conditions. Moderate visibility but the clouds were rather low, way lower than forecast.

When I got back to Carbondale, I made a pretty drawn out landing and that was that!

15JUL10 / C152 / N95374 / KMDH-KSIK-KMDH /Landings: 2 / SEL: 1.9 / XC: 1.9 / Day: 1.9 / PIC: 1.9 / Total: 1.9

Dual XC: KMDH – KFWC – KMDH

This was a big one! It was my NAV ride, which is the second road block on my way to being a private pilot!

So I went up with someone who wasn’t my instructor. The first leg was easy, just getting into the air and getting to Fairfield. Once we got there, and we got off the ground again, the instructor had me put on the goggles that simulate flying into a cloud. Then he had me close my eyes and he’d do a few¬†maneuvers¬†and then tell me to open my eyes and I’d have to put it back to straight and level.

After doing that a couple times, he told me to figure out where I am and get us home. I used the navigation radio, found a point on the map where it told me I was, and looked outside. None of it lined up with my map. So I did that two or three more times. Still nothing. Then I started to think about the instruments.

There’s a directional gyro and a magnetic compass. The directional gyro is made to be set by hand because it can get off direction sometimes, so you look at the mag compass, and set the DG to what it says. While I had my eyes closed, the instructor had twisted my DG around, which is why the road that was supposed to be East-West was running North-South. Once I’d set the DG straight, I pointed us in the correct direction and got us back to Carbondale.

14JUL10 / C152 / N95843 / KMDH-KFWC-KMDH /Landings: 2 / SEL: 1.9 / XC: 1.9 / Day: 1.9 / Sim Instr: 0.3 / Dual: 1.9 / Total: 1.9

How good is Borderlands?

I beat it on Xbox 360, getting nearly all of the achievements. I beat the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC. I quit on Mad Moxxi because that DLC suuuucked. But between the main campaign and Dr. Ned, I put a load of time into it.

I just beat it again on PC. 14 hours, 30 minutes. I just started Dr. Ned. Then I’ll do the Secret Armory of General Knoxx.

I’m still amazed by some of the weapons this game throws at me. A lot of them are garbage. Then you get something absolutely fucking magical. Like an accurate shotgun with high damage, fast reload, large magazine, and ammo regeneration. This is the gun that Zombie Island was made for. I can’t lose with this thing.

Brutal Legend

Oh boy, I sank some time into this one this weekend. Brutal Legend is the definition of a mixed bag. When it starts out, you’re hacking things to death with an axe and blasting them lightning bolts out of your guitar. Soon after, you’ve got a car and it’s an open world game where you’re driving around and doing side missions and collecting stuff. Then you start collecting followers and guiding them into battle. About halfway through, you’ve got a handful of units, you can fly, give orders, build stuff, and it’s a full blown console RTS.

The transition from simple action to RTS is very smooth, and you never lose the open world aspect when you’re not in the middle of a story mission. What is kind of a jarring is that the whole first half of the game is the tutorial into the RTS side. The game has three continents and that whole first half of the game takes places on the first one alone. On top of that, there are two other factions in the game, but you spend that first half fighting against the same units you’re using. You then spend almost the rest of the game fighting the second faction, and you only really fight the third faction in the absolute final mission.

It’s pretty obvious to me that a lot of time and effort went into the first continent and first half of the game, then the rest was cleaned up and rushed through. Everything about the pacing in the second half of the game is off and rushed, and the end drops like a hammer. There’s that final RTS mission and one final action sequence and then you’re done.

Despite this, Brutal Legend is a ton of fun. It’s fun to drive around in. It takes place during the Age of Metal and the backstory and environments and soundtrack are all fantastic. It’s simply a fun world to exist in if you’re into metal. I’m pretty horrible at RTS games, and I still enjoyed the RTS battles. The controls kind of take some getting used to because they focus on your character as a leader, and so you can only issue orders to your units if you’re near them. This is probably why the first half of the game feels like a tutorial, but by time you get off the first continent, you’re definitely proficient at commanding your units.

I don’t know how to recommend this. I was turned off of it when it was released by reviews saying it was half-baked, and not that fun. It is true that it was definitely a rushed release, but it never feels incomplete. Everything is there, it’s just paced poorly. And I definitely had a lot of fun with it. I guess it boils down to whether or not you like metal. If I didn’t enjoy the setting so much, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time playing it.

Solo XC: KMDH – KSLO – KMDH

My first solo cross-country! I had a choice between flying to Salem-Leckrone, Sikeston, or Fairfield. I picked Salem because I’ve been to Sikeston before, and Salem was a little further away than Fairfield.

This was pretty much an ideal day to fly; clear skies, decent visibility, only a slight wind. I got to Salem without any problems, saw the Mt. Vernon and Centralia airfields, and put it down at Salem. There was a cropduster there, but he was on the ground almost the whole time I was there and he had a radio.

Proof I was there.

Apparently solo cross-countries require students to re-fuel at each stop. I’ve only had to re-fuel once and that was at Evansville, where the FBO took care of everything. I stopped my plane on the wrong side of the gas pump, so I had to get back in, fire it up, and putter around to the other side. From there, it was almost as easy as re-fueling a car.

Cellphone picture of me and my aircraft

As I was taxiing to the runway, I noticed a couple walking their dog… on the runway. Thankfully, they got off of it once they saw me pull on to it.

The flight back to Carbondale was even less eventful than the flight to Salem. When I got off the runway, the controller cleared me to taxi to park. Once I got on a main taxiway though, someone else tried to get on it. The controller cleared me, and I didn’t hear him clear the other guy, so he yielded.

Overall, I probably couldn’t ask for an easier flight.

1JUL10 / C152 / N5198L / KMDH-KSLO-KMDH /Landings: 2 / SEL: 1.7 / XC: 1.7 / Day: 1.7 / PIC: 1.7 / Total: 1.7