Dual XC: KMDH – KPAH – KM25 – KMDH

This was a relatively interesting flight. The first leg was rather straightforward, except that clouds were way lower than reported and I had to fly it 1000 feet under what I planned. We get to Paducah, and set up to take off again when my instructor tells me we’re going to fly the Cunningham VOR to Mayfield. So I tune the VOR, intercept the radial, and fly it straight in.

Mayfield is uncontrolled. I put it down and we’re getting set up at the hold short when a Bonanza comes in for a landing. It’s way too high, keeps gliding past the midway point, and for whatever reason the pilot still tries to put it down. From my angle, there was no way in hell he was going to make it, and he realized it just before touching the ground. He goes around, then I get to take off.

On our way back to Carbondale, my instructor tells me to put the simulated instrument goggles on. Again, we fly the VOR to Cunningham, then to Carbondale. It’s really nice flying without exactly knowing where I am because my instructor can’t ask me how fast we’re going or when we’re going to get there. About halfway through he tells me to take the goggles off, then he pulls my power for a simulated engine out. I do the routine, recover from it, then he tells me I can’t go higher than 1,700 ft, my VOR is busted, and I can’t put it down on any nearby airfields.

Now, when he pulled my engine, I was pretty much on course for Carbondale to begin with. I picked a field directly below me, so I didn’t deviate far from my course. I still had my flight plan, so I point the plane towards Carbondale, and climb to 1,700. From that low to the ground, you can’t see that much to reference, but whatever. I find one of the towns on my flight path and trust my instincts, and voila, I’m in Carbondale. So close to the ground, I got a really good view of the new stadium.

Next time, I fly solo to some uncontrolled airfield near Carbondale!

29JUN10 / C152 / N5198L / KMDH-KPAH-KM25-KMDH /Landings: 3 / SEL: 2.4 / XC: 2.4 / Day: 2.4 / Sim Instr: 0.5 / Dual: 2.4 / Total: 2.4

Metro 2033

This game caught me by surprise. It didn’t get much hype and what it did get didn’t excite me. Crawling around in tunnels in the dark, who cares? Then I found out that the developers are the engineers who made S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I loved. It got pretty positive reviews, with some complaints being about the difficulty and poor gunplay and dumb AI.

I’m pleased to report these complaints are mostly unfounded. Metro 2033 is a beautiful game with a strong narrative, even if Artyom’s motivations are somewhat unclear. I beat the game on normal difficulty without much trouble. The weapons in the game are no less responsive than those in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I knew from the start that bullets were currency in the game, and that crappy bullets existed, but I didn’t figure out how to use those crappy bullets until halfway through the game. The crappy bullets really are crappy, being much louder, less powerful, and more inaccurate. It really makes you value those money bullets and forced me to decide when it was worth shooting my money away.

Around the halfway mark, there’s a vendor who will sell you either heavier armor or stealthier clothing. I had spent nearly all of my good bullets on a better gun, which was poor foresight on my behalf because guns are everywhere. I was duly punished for it though, as I was never offered the opportunity to buy a different armor again.

I got Metro 2033 on sale, and it’s one of those games in which I wish I had bought it on release. The game is short, but it’s really immersive. I hope 4A made enough to keep developing, because I’ll definitely get their next title the minute it comes out.

Dual XC: KMDH – KSUS- KMDH

This flight has been in the works for two weeks now, thanks to weather cancellations. It almost didn’t happen this time either, because I had planned to go to Paducah, KY but the clouds were low over Paducah so we went this route instead.

Flying cross-country during the day is relatively simple. There are lots of landmarks on the ground that are on my maps, so it’s easy to hop from one to next. My trouble came when I got into the St. Louis area. There’s so much stuff that it’s difficult to distinguish one landmark from another. At one point I was on my course and my instructor asked me if I could see the airport yet. I couldn’t pick it out of the noise around it so I started to doubt myself and felt lost. Thankfully, St. Louis has rather extensive radar service so they pointed me in the correct direction and I made it to the airport just fine. I did a substandard soft field landing, we turned around, and then flew right back out again.

On the way out of St. Louis I noticed landmarks that I had seen on the way in before I began to doubt myself. I was on the right track the entire time. I may have ended up overflying the airport, but I definitely would’ve gotten there. Oh well. The trip back was dead simple and I had radar following me the whole time. I managed to correctly pick out Carbondale from at least 20NM away, which is amazing because I almost never spot it until I’m 10NM from it. I put it back down with another horrible soft field landing, and that was that!

24JUN10 / C152 / N5198L / KMDH-KSUS-KMDH /Landings: 2 / SEL: 2.4 / XC: 2.4 / Day: 2.4 / Dual: 2.4 / Total: 2.4

Dual Night XC: KMDH – KEVV – KMDH

This was my second night flight ever. On the first, all we did was fly in circles around the airport to do a bunch of takeoffs and landings. Evansville, IN is about 50 minutes away in my little 152. My normal instructor paired me up with another instructor for this flight.

A bit about my current instructor. He’s a team leader and a check airman, which means that when people finish a course, they go on a flight with him and he checks them out to make sure they can fly up to standard. He’s got a ton of experience flying, and he’s generally rather chill.

The instructor I flew with for this flight was quite a bit more uppity. He threw some things at me on the ground that I wasn’t exactly expecting but wasn’t unprepared for. In the air, he kind of nagged me about things that I was probably getting around to but not currently focused on.

But the flight was pleasant enough, and I didn’t get us lost, and I even found the airport before he did. I put it down, we got some fuel, hung out at the FBO for a little while, then we came back. The way back was even less eventful.

We got in around 10 till midnight. We were the last ones in, so the girl working the dispatch counter was half asleep. We did our debrief and log completion in the terminal, and that was that!

17JUN10 / C152 / N95670 / KMDH-KEVV-KMDH / Landings: 2 / SEL: 2.5 / XC: 2.5 / Night: 2.5 / Dual: 2.5 / Total: 2.5

A roommate returns.

About midway through finals week, one of my roommate’s left. He said he was going home for a few weeks and didn’t really give a timeframe for coming back. That weekend, my other roommate moved out entirely to go live with his girlfriend. I had the whole place to myself!

I relaxed a little more. I kind of let myself spread outside of the confines of my room. All good things must come to an end, however, and my remaining roommate returned yesterday.

I almost wish he hadn’t left, because I got used to living alone. I could wander around the apartment in my underwear whenever. I could leave dishes and pans in the sink for a couple days. I didn’t have to get my clothes out of the dryer as soon as they were dry. I could leave a mess of razors and face cleaning stuff in the bathroom.

But now I have to go back to living-with-other-people mode. And it’s annoying.

Doom 3

Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoyed Doom 3. It’s a big departure from the first two in terms of atmosphere and gameplay, but it holds its own and looks good. I’m doing what feels like my yearly replay of it, except on Veteran (hard) difficulty and I feel like the increased difficulty is really exposing some of the less obvious flaws in the game. I may not even finish this playthrough.

Half of the enemies jump out of closets. It’s one of those obvious flaws that you learn about in the first 15 minutes of the game. On medium, it’s no big deal because you take a hit, turn around, pop them, and they die. On hard, you still take that first hit, and it’s always at least 15% of your health. So you can take two paths with it; you can keep rolling and slowly bleed out from repeated monster closets, or you can quick save after every fight and reload when you find a monster closet so you can better deal with it. It sucks.

Lost souls are the fucking worst. They were an annoyance in Doom 1/2 but never a real threat. In Doom 3, they’re tiny, they hit for at least 15%, they bounce out of the way if you hit them without killing them, and when they hit, your view moves. I died in the first encounter with lost souls. LOST SOULS. Flying, screaming skulls pecked me to death.

The shotgun, which sucks at any range beyond 1 meter in front of you, is the best weapon to kill them with because it’ll almost always kill them in one hit, except you have to wait until it’s charging at you and it’s right in front of your goddamned face before you can think about pulling the trigger. The shotgun only holds 8 rounds, and it takes forever to reload so you better not miss!

And let’s talk about how much the shotgun blows. The shotgun in Doom 1/2 is one of my favorite weapons. It is versatile and possesses a good amount of stopping power. The shotgun in Doom 3 is worthless beyond 1 meter ahead of you. If you are not jamming that shotgun into the bad guy’s face before you pull the trigger, you’re going to have to shoot them twice. That said, it will kill ims, soldiers, zombies, maggots, and those dumb teleporting things  in one shot, so what I’ve found myself doing is dancing around while they shoot at me, and then charging at them before I blast them in the face, then running backwards in case that first shot didn’t do the trick. It’s a huge letdown. It’s horrible. Thankfully the plasma rifle is even more awesome than it was in Doom 1/2.

Even playing on hard, Doom 3 is no more difficult. It is just more annoying. Playing it feels like work. I will probably abort this playthrough, and remind myself next time to play it on medium again, when the game is more fun.

Ne Cede Malis