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Beware of the Lunch Monster

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He prowls around, preying on innocent pilots.

He’s very sneaky, creeping unexpectedly and attacking after the propeller begins to turn.

He’s very cunning, veiling his intentions until, BOOM, he attacks.

Beware of the Lunch Monster!

Whenever I am doing a full day of training (which is usually how transition training courses are planned out, in full day sessions), I always plan a lunch stop.  My metabolism has the speed of a rocket ship, so I get hungry and need some sustenance in the middle of the day.  I have a running list of airports to stop at that have good lunch spots at them or nearby, so my customers and I usually end up at one of those airports.

Almost without fail, if a customer is having an excellent flying morning, nailing all the procedures, picking up all the techniques, and overall, flying pretty well, then eats lunch, the afternoon doesn’t go quite as well.  Doing some of the same things we did that morning, but the customer’s performance isn’t quite as good.  Most of the time, it’s just a brain lockup or landings aren’t quite as squeaky as they were in the morning.

Part of it is fatigue after flying for 2-3 hours in the morning.  The other part is what I call the Lunch Monster.  Eating a big lunch can sap away brain power and cause a person to lose energy around 2-3pm, leading to an afternoon lull (or the Lunch Monster attacking!).

According to Forbes.com:

Diet contributes to energy levels too. “Eating a lunch that is too big is the most common reason for feeling sleepy in the afternoon,” says Rebecca Solomon a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. “All your energy goes into digesting the enormous meal.”

The goal is to keep the body’s Cortical and Cortisone levels even since they’re the hormones released by the body in reaction to stress–they produce the fight or flight response. Their levels are elevated when you have sugar, caffeine and processed food, so you feel awake and energetic. But a few hours later, when those levels drop, you’re sluggish.

Solomon recommends eating a meal that’s balanced with healthy fats (from olive oil or avocados, for instance) with protein and healthy carbohydrates (whole wheat bread or pasta). The portion will vary for people of different sizes, but a general rule is you should be hungry about four hours after the meal.

Another healthy eating habit: Consume small portions of foods throughout the day, including almonds, carrots and hummus and fruit. Enjoy lunch around 1:30 or 2 p.m., just before the time you normally feel fatigued.

Now, most of the stops on my list of restaurants don’t fit the bill of healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates (plenty of protein, though, especially the BBQ joints).  For those days, bringing along a snack like almonds or dried fruit is a great idea to munch on mid-afternoon.  Trimming down the amount eaten at lunch helps a lot too.

So, the next time you have a long day of flying or training, beware the lunch monster and prep some good snacks when your flight instructor says you’re stopping for BBQ!

When Pigs Fly

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What Will I Eat Tonight?

Pigs fly. Owning a pig is a sign of financial stability for many village residents. I regularly have passengers in my airplane who carry baby pigs in a hand-crocheted net bags. My name is Gregg, and I work in a developing region of Southeast Asia where aircraft are the only option for travel.

I had two flights that day. The first was an out-and-back to village ONE. The second flight to village TWO was supposed to be the same thing, but on the way home I could hear the passengers in the back yelling for Jesus. They weren’t dropping his name like a dirty word. No, they were genuinely scared and were praying for help. Our little 6-seat piston felt pretty small compared to the towering, dark storms above us.

Because of our latitude on the earth, we don’t get frontal weather. There’s plenty of heat and heaps of humidity, so most of the weather comes from afternoon buildups. Occasionally we are affected by the outflow from tropical storms. On this day, there was an unusual line of buildups ahead. I called a fellow pilot on the same route; he was 6,000 feet above me. There are no weather reports here, no radar, no TAFs. PIREPS are the best source of data. He said he was working his way through, and he recommended continuing.

I flew below the storms so I could navigate between the showers (about 2,500ft AGL). I didn’t scud-run, and I never once entered IFR conditions. The showers started to merge together into areas of rain. I couldn’t dodge them much longer. I could see sunlight to the East, so I deviated right of course. I made note of my heading and flew a straight course for a few miles. The air turned turbulent and that scared the passengers. I felt bad for my passengers. They were in no danger, but they sure felt like they were near death. So often we get scared in life, but God is right there saying, “Don’t worry, I got this.”

I tried to give them a re-assuring thumb’s up to say, “Don’t worry, I got this.” I didn’t help. The color of their skin was not the same color as when we left the village. They were terrified. The weather didn’t get any better on my new heading, and the sunlight was elusive. I turned around on the reciprocal heading and flew back out of the area. I returned to my original course line and then headed back to the village. I wasn’t going to make it home that night. I was going to spend the night in a village house.

I was a guest in their land. I had been there for a meal once before, and it was interesting. Previously, I had been served a pile of what looked like rubber cement — a mixture of water and dried pulp from a palm tree. It had no taste. When it hit my mouth it had the same properties as wet rubber; it could not be chewed, only swallowed. I was dreading the thought of trying to eat it in front of them and act as though I enjoyed it.

Mercifully, I was offered some cured pork cooked over an open fire, some rice, and corn on the cob (also fire cooked). The meat was tough, the rice bland, the corn burnt, but the seasoning on the meat was authentic and quite good. We sat at a dirty, rough cut wooden table under a battery powered light. It was so quiet you could hear a moths’ wings. There was every kind of flying roach, malaria carrying mosquito, and buzzing beetle flying around us. But to the humans living there, I was being treated like a king.

The next morning the village residents were thrilled! The status of their village had been elevated to “the place where the airplane slept.” They were so honored that I and my airplane had chosen to spend the night with them. We took off when the humid morning fog had lifted. Visibility was over 100 miles.

My advice: turn around if the weather’s bad and don’t worry about your dinner plans.

Gregg Daniels works as a pilot for a non-profit organization operating in Southeast Asia. He flies missionaries to ethnic people groups isolated by rough terrain and tropical jungles. Gregg holds an A&P mechanic certificate, an ATP Multi-Engine pilot certificate and a CFII Gold Seal flight instructor certificate. His favorite snack is summer sausage, and he believes God and St. Nicholas are not the same person.

Hurricane Harvey

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Texas Top Aviation wants to express our heartfelt concerns and prayers for those affected by Hurricane Harvey along the Texas Gulf Coast and in Houston.  We have several customers in Houston and hope and pray that they are all safe.

The Houston Hobby Airport after Hurricane Harvey’s Torrential downpour

If you would like to donate to the relief effort, there are several organizations that are accepting support.  A few are below.

Samaritan’s Purse

American Red Cross

A Complex Clearance?

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I was flying in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas a few weeks ago and heard an IFR clearance given to a King Air that pricked my ears up.  It was a clearance from CRP to LRD, but the routing was one you don’t hear too often anymore.  Because of active military airspace, the routing was via a radial and DME off the CRP VOR (so a point defined by the radial and DME) to another radial and DME point off the LRD VOR.

It took me a second to think about how to do this the easiest (without setting up the VOR and watching the DME).  After a moment’s thought, it’s actually a snap with the G1000.  You create 2 user waypoints, one for each Radial/DME spot, then put those 2 user waypoints in your Flight Plan.

Here’s how.

Step 1

Using the big knob, go to the Waypoint chapter.  Once there, scroll down to the User Waypoint page using the small knob.

Step 2

Press the New soft key.  If you want to name the waypoint something specific, you can do that at the top of the page.  If not, it will default to something like VOR 1 or VOR 2.

Step 3

Under Waypoint Type, use the small knob to select RAD/DIS (stands for Radial/Distance).

Step 4

Under Reference Waypoints, again using the small knob (or your keypad), type or dial in the VOR identifier, the radial from that VOR, and the DME distance.  Press enter and you are done.

Once you have both User Waypoints created, then just put them in your flight plan (if you forget what you named them, you can just go back to the User Waypoint page), and off you go.

Texas Top Aviation Now Offers Piper PA46 Training

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Texas Top Aviation is proud to announce that we now offer Piper PA46 Training in the Malibu and Mirage.  Our Piper PA46 training is provided with the same excellent & professional approach that has become our hallmark.

The four-day format of this course allows time to answer all of your questions about your new airplane.  The Texas Top Aviation Piper PA46 training course leaves you with a confidence and understanding that will help you enjoy your Malibu or Mirage even more.

New avionics have you scratching your head in confusion? No problem. Texas Top Aviation is well versed in the latest Garmin and glass panel instrumentation.

If you are in need of recurrent training in your PA-46, Texas Top Aviation would be proud to help with that as well. Consider us your one stop shop for Piper PA-46 training.

For more information, check out our Piper Malibu/Mirage Training page.

Contact us today to schedule your Piper PA46 Training!