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Other People’s Airplanes

1983 Cessna 152 II with pilot Casey Allen

Two seats, side-by-side; a cruise speed of 107 knots; and a mainstay of student pilots and CFIs everywhere: it’s the Cessna 152!

I’m David Allen, and I’m about to take you into the cockpit … of Other People’s Airplanes!

As many of you know, this episode (the “pilot” episode, in fact) has been in the pipeline for a while. This has been a learning experience of epic proportions. I had to figure out how to mount cameras, what settings to use on those cameras, what shots to get, and how to get those shots.

Because this is only my first attempt, I have already found some mistakes and corrected those. I have also made other mistakes since the filming of this episode. So while the quality of this episode, and probably the first several, is not the greatest, I hope you will stick around as I bring you this in-cockpit aviation experience.

Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in this episode was forgetting to set the over-the-nose camera focus out to infinity. As a result, the Canon camera auto-focused on other things, like the cowl and the windscreen, leaving the sky and the ground blurry much of the time.

The rest of the cameras were GoPro HD Hero cameras. These cameras are, unfortunately, susceptible to an effect called “rolling shutter” or “jelly effect”. It is more visible during certain times in the episode, and far less in others.

I have also learned that a small piece of masking tape is all that is needed to hide a lapel mic inside my shirt. In future episodes, it should not be so “out there”, screaming “LOOK AT ME! I’M A LAPEL MIC!”

The airplane featured in this episode is a 1983 Cessna 152 II. The Cessna 152 just happens to be the first general aviation airplane in which I ever flew. At the age of 8, my father took me to what was then the Melbourne Regional Airport (now the Melbourne International Airport, KMLB) and strapped me into the right seat. That day, my father showed me why he loves flying.

Now I’m sharing my love of flying with you.

So why Cessna 152s and their little brothers, Cessna 150s, are a dime-a-dozen, it has some sentimental value to me. So I feel it fitting that it be the first airplane featured on the show.

And since it is my show, I can do stuff like that. Love!

Casey Allen, a CFI and CFII, preflighted the airplane while I set up cameras and got some of the ground shots … shot. Afterwards, we loaded up in the plane and started the engine. Since Casey is a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor), he stuck me in the left seat. I happily obliged.

Casey taxied the plane to the end of runway 10 and performed the run-up and worked through the final before-takeoff checks. Then he asked me if I knew” how to do this”, this being the takeoff.

Now I am the first to say that I am not a pilot. I have never flown an airplane by myself, or been the unlikely passenger on a jetliner after the pilot and first officer “had the fish”. With that in mind, you should know that I have an extensive amount of flying experience. So when he asked me if I new how to do the takeoff, I answered, “Yep.” Of course Casey was there watching my every move, and he was ready to instruct me or assume control of the aircraft if it came to that.

Again, I am not a pilot, and I would probably bend the airplane if I had to do this on my own. If you want to learn to fly, please find an awesome flight instructor that you trust to teach you.

We took off from Valkaria, X59, on runway 10 with a straight-out departure. After climbing to 1,500 feet, we crossed over the barrier island and pushed about a half-mile offshore before turning northbound along the coast. After a few minutes, I turned west back toward the mainland, and then south along the mainland coast.

After a short hike south, a 180 turn to the north, and back to the airport. The gusty 45-degree crosswind made the landing, uhm, interesting. I ballooned a little (ground effect maybe? Nah) and Casey helped me keep the nose off just a little longer. She planted nicely on the runway and we taxied over to the fuel pumps for some 100LL.

All said and done, we only put 0.4 on the Hobbs meter.

A fun flight, and a great person with whom to fly.

I hope you’ll join me next time when I take you into the cockpit … of Other People’s Airplanes.

Follow me on Twitter: @DaveFlys

Follow Casey on Twitter: @casey_a1
22 comments… add one
  • Dad

    Very cool! Great job! I can’t wait to see more.

    Proud Dad

    • Thanks, Dad. All of this is, of course, your fault.

      You know, it comes to mind that you and I haven’t gone flying together in a long time. We should fix that.

  • Chris

    Thoroughly enjoyed that, Dave. Its early on a sunny Sunday here in England and you’ve got me thinking it would be a great time to go flying.
    Thanks to you, and looking forward to the next.

    • Awesome, Chris! If you DO get to fly today, I’d love to hear about it. Come tell me about it here!

  • Lori-anne

    Great Job Dave~ you’re on your own now and it looks like a blast! Looking forward to future posts 🙂

    • Thanks! I had a blast making it. Most episodes soon!

  • Tim Krajcar

    Absolutely fantastic concept for a series, and outstanding execution as well. I can’t wait for more episodes. If you ever get out to Oregon let me know and I can arrange several new aircraft for you 🙂

    Bit of feedback: More panel shots are a good thing, especially when you get into other aircraft – I think most of your viewers have seen the office of a C152 plenty of times, but that won’t be true of other aircraft, particularly those with glass cockpits, etc.

    • Thanks for the feedback Tim! I’m really glad you enjoyed the episode.

      I am still experimenting with camera positions and mounting options. Getting a panel shot of some kind has always been a priority. My aim is to really try to bring the audience into the cockpit with me.

      Thanks again for the feedback. Please come back and post more feedback on future episodes!

  • MJG

    Love it Dave! I’d add it to my Podcatcher list.. err, I mean I will when you add your videos as enclosures so we can watch these podcasts offline. LOL

    Please keep up the good work Dave!

    • Thanks so much for the comment! I certainly do have plans to stick this baby into a downloadable RSS feed, but this is the best I can do for now. Thanks for watching, and I hope you stick with me until I get it all ironed out.

  • Great job, Dave! Looking forward to seeing what you can talk yourself into next time.
    Now that you’ve done one, you can reference the handling of the next one to the 152.

    You know you have a seat whenever we can get together.

    • Thanks Tracy! Think I can talk myself into a C-5 Galaxy? No?

      How about a Boeing 747? Hmmm, okay.

      Well, I’d rather just fly yours anyways. 🙂

      • I did get a flight in a full motion level D sim for an Airbus A320 a couple of years ago. We gotta get you and your camera setup in one of those…if not in a the cockpit of the real thing. Would be pretty fun.

        • Now THAT would be an awesome episode! Let’s do it!

  • Very cool concept! Let’s hope you get offers to fly in a Cessna Mustang and a TBM 850, both aircraft which I currently cannot afford but would love to fly someday!

    A quick technical question, I am using a Zoom H1 audio recorder connected to the intercom via a patch cord to capture cockpit/atc audio… what is your solution?

    Looking forward to future podcasts 🙂

    • Michael,

      Thanks so much for the compliment! I have actually been in a Cessna Citation Mustang, but Stephen Force was in the left seat and I was filming from the back. So next time, I wanna be up front. Oh, and the TBM 850 is certainly at the top of my list. I would LOVE to fly that.

      The Zoom H1 (or one of the other H-series Zoom portables) is on my list of equipment to buy for the show. So I think you have a great setup there. My current setup consists of an attenuating patch cable that plugs into the mic input of my Canon VIXIA HF S20. I think I bought the cable from Aircraft Spruce. It works pretty well, but it doesn’t give me the control over the recorded audio that the Zoom would. That said, I’m not sure I would even use the extra level of control.

      Again, thanks for watching!

  • Excellent job! Can’t wait for more, Dave. Don’t forget that manual infinity focus next time on the forward facing cam (I’ve done that, too).

    Can you relelase the next episode now? Please? 🙂
    Bill~

    • Thanks for the compliment, Bill! You were part of the inspiration for doing this.

      As for the focus, I was really bummed about it. I knew almost right away that I had done it, and I kicked myself all the way home. I got it right on the next episode, but there was some pretty horrible shake in the camera. So I need to Skype with some of my friends to discuss ways to stop that little issue. 😉

  • Excellent video Dave, really enjoyed all the camera angles and the quality editing – this is destined to be a fantastic podcast. I think it’s great that you started where ‘everyone’ starts, and a linear progression like that going right up to jets would be VERY logical 🙂 ~CRAZED

    • Thanks for the comments! I certainly have jets on my mind. Thinking a ride in an F-18 Super Hornet complete with a full cat launch and deck recovery would be ridiculously cool. The US Navy should be calling me any minute now. Any minute….

  • kenny ferguson

    excellent video.. I own a ’78 cessna 152 II and enjoy flying out of 2I0 in Madisonville, Kentucky. Keep up the good work, and fly safe!! P.S. Use your shoulder harness!!! lol

    • David

      Thanks for the comment, Kenny! I love the Cessna 152 II, a super-fun little airplane. And yes, I always wear my shoulder harness.

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