Strategic approach (goals, vision, flow) towards flight currency

I’ve found success (with large and comprehensive projects) by entraining closely towards specific goals, with a clear vision (and realistic calendar schedule), of what success will look like.  Because there is a known working plan for aviation projects, which are fundamentally designed to achieve expected results, a logical flow can be followed.  This logical flow assists in keeping me focused on current project and avoiding distractions.

Within the Goals Section, you see a list of projects sorted in order of priority.  Prioritized in the sense of various dependencies that arise in aviation.  For example, it makes sense to get the medical out of the way before starting flight training again, towards the BFR (Biennial Flight Review).  It would suck to put a bunch of money into flight training, and then do the medical right before solo, and then find there is an issue.  As the cockpit is the worst classroom (noisy and all-encompassing) it’s suggested to get the written work (theory) completed before in-cockpit flight training.  While there may be an ultimate start date delay, possibly due to finances, there are still projects to work on (for free)  – ground school review.

This page will be used to cross-reference blog-posts and other pages for project action support.  Another purpose of the Goals Section is to record the completion date of various project deliverables.

In general, the strategy is to follow an end-to-end flow, where some line-items may be worked in parallel.

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ATC for VATSIM – decisions

Desired Outcome: Get fully operational using a virtual ATC system that integrates with virtual pilots on VATSIM.  I’d also like to get hardware that’s sufficient for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, as I plan on pursuing an instrument rating when back current (in real flying).

Background: Back around 2011, I was interested in this, but then didn’t pursue.  Gaming Pilots (MS Flight Simulator; X-Plane) can navigate around virtually, and be ATC controlled by a virtual team of ATC controllers (on VATUSA, and internationally).  ATC Controllers must be trained and signed off, and it’s all quite official/legit.

Areas I need to address before getting back in to this, as it’s years since I’ve purchased a computer/laptop:

  • VATUSA ATC account:
    • I need to re-activate an account I created years ago.  I know this is easy to do.  I remember doing an initial course, but didn’t complete anything towards S1 (the initial rating – Clearance Delivery and Ground).  I think I have to repeat that initial course, for recurrency.
  • Operating System:
    • In reviewing various VATUSA sites, I’m seeing that Windows is the standard OS for the ATC software (eg CRC).  There are some other systems that are web-based, but CRC is a core application.  I have an iMac (circa 2011), which still works, but now challenged with getting newest MacOS installed.  Theoretically,  I could install Parallels (to run Windows), but I can imagine various incompatibilities.  Windows 10/11 it is.
  • Hardware:
    • I haven’t purchased a computer/laptop in years, so this will be interesting to resolve:
      • Brand
      • Laptop or desktop (I’m leaning towards laptop)
      • CPU (Intel or AMD)
      • Storage (Leaning towards SSD – Solid State)
      • Graphics Card (Ryzen or leather-jacket guy NVIDIA), and video memory
      • RAM
      • Ports
      • External monitors
      • Connections to existing docking station (port replicator)
      • Note: Keep in mind I’m scoping out hardware for both VATUSA and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024
  • ATC software:
    • In the USA, I think CRC is the primary application.  I’ve also seen others for services like vStrips.  Will figure all that out in time.
  • Communications software:
    • There have been some changes since I first heard of VATUSA.  I think there is still software specifically designed for VATUSA, and there’s also Discord Server.  Will figure all out later.
    • Headphones (with mic) – maybe able to use my current Jabra
    • Q: Which button for PTT?
  • Which ATC Center:
    • The basic idea is that you do your initial training, and then register with the closest ARTCC to you.  For  me, that would be Los Angeles ARTCC (  This makes sense to me, as when I get back in to real flying, I’d be within this airspace.  While I’m technically in Central Coast, CA I’m sure I’ll be operating a lot within ZLA.  When I was last current back in late 90’s, my home airport was Torrance, and flew through the SFRA; to Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Montgomery Field in San Diego.
  • Observing:
    • During initial training, you can observe, which is a great way to learn.
    • At this point, I would be in early consideration of creating a YouTube Channel, to introduce/update my progress
  • Entry-level training:
    • There are various steps to take before S1 signoff:
      • Initial course (which I’ll probably review again, anyway)
      • S1 course (which I think covers Clearance Delivery and Ground)
      • S1 live training with LAARTCC controllers
      • Signed off as S1 Controller

Final thoughts:

In reviewing the above, it definitely looks comprehensive and quite exacting, as you would expect for Air Traffic Control work.  I need to ensure that some other major projects I’m working on are completed, before considering launching into this (again…).  In order to be successful, I know it requires some dedication and ability to have several  consistent hours per week to be able to set aside.  Also, as you progress in training, there’s an expectation (I think) that you sign up for various time-slots for controller positions.

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Atmospheric River and modeling

A storm that transports moisture from the tropics is known as an atmospheric river; one that specifically pulls moisture from near the Hawaiian Islands is often called a pineapple express. “In short, every pineapple express is an atmospheric river, but not every atmospheric river is a pineapple express,” Garcia explained.

Atmospheric rivers are narrow bands of concentrated moisture that cruise more than 2 miles above the ocean and release rain or snow when they hit land.

Short and informative YouTube video on Atmospheric Rivers.  Twice water than Amazon.  Long narrow bands of concentrated water vapor.  Begin in the warm waters of the Pacific, where water evaporates into the air – creating humid air.  When humid air meets a Pacific Storm, the water vapor is concentrated and driven toward the coast – firehose of rainfall and wind.  When the atmospheric river reaches coastal mountains and inland Sierra, the collision squeezes additional rain and snow from the system.  These atmospheric rivers are responsible for about 50% of California’s annual precipitation.  These are measured on a scale from 1 – 5 (AR1 to AR5).  AR 5 is Primarily hazardous.  AR1 is Primarily beneficial.  Weather forecasting is important to predict water resources and flood risks.

The “Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes” at Scripps Insitution of Oceanography at UC-San Diego has an interest modeling site.

Pulling date from the following models:

-NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS)

-North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM)

-Global Ensemble Forecast Forecast System (GEFS – V12)

-European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

This image was captured at 1200UTC on 10/24/21

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Climate Change – IPCC Report (6th edition, 2021) – High Level

The topic of Climate Change intersects with several aviation topics – weather; fuel sources; powerplant innovation (moving away from fossil fuels toward electric); and I’m sure many other topics I’ll learn about.

In 2021, throughout the world, there have been numerous extreme weather events.  As I write this, further north in California, an entire town was leveled by fire.  The topic of Climate Change is important to really understand in depth.  I remember, while living in Ojai, that their weather was dictated by events in the Sierra Nevadas, for example.

Within the United Nations is an organization (over 200 leading scientists) called “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” or IPCC.  Since January 2021 they have been researching and reviewing data about the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, forests, and weather patterns.  The output is a report that offers two takeaways: 1. Scientific consensus about how climate has already changed and 2. What the rest of the century will look like.  The document should inform climate policy – eg how quickly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The report is less about dictating to governments what should be done specifically, and more towards educating about current scientific realities and forecasts.

This is the sixth edition (Sixth Assessment Report), and the last one came out in 2013.  There have  been several factors escalating relatively between the 5th and this current edition.

To assist governments, they’ve devised five (5) scenarios (imaginary policy worlds):

  • Countries around the world work together to develop cheap, low-carbon technologies which are made available to everyone
  • Nationalism surges and governments turn inward and really focus on local energy options.
  • Three other scenarios…

Note: The Paris Climate Accord agreement is to keep global warming below the 2-degree Celsius threshold, which the above scenarios would yield that outcome.

Timing of report and what’s gone into it:

  • They’ve been working on this report since the last one came out
  • They are working on final drafts and will release soon.  The scientists have been meeting virtually, because of COVID-19.
  • Looks like an update/report will be released on August 9, 2021.  Talk about timing, as I’m writing this on 202100807.

Specific websites and URLs on the report(s):

  • Assessment Reports of three Working Groups
    • This pages gives all the details of the various groups, scope, etc
  • Three Special Reports
  • Refinement to the Methodology Report
  • Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report
    • Last of the Sixth Assessment Report/products and due for release in 2022, in time to inform the 2023 Global Stocktake by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

There are many moving pieces (3 working groups and a synthesis report) within this but this is the link for what the Working Group I contribution is being considered during the “14th Session of Working Group I and 54th Session of the IPCC”.  This work was done between 26 July 2021 and 6 August 2021.  If they approve, then we see the report on Monday August 9th, 2021.

  • Working Group I – Report: The Physical Science Basis (Scheduled 26 Jul to 6 Aug 2021)
    • Note: This is the topic of focus for August 9, 2021
    • Outline for WG1
  • Working Group II – Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Scheduled 14-18 Feb 2022 tbc)
  • Working Group III – Report: Mitigation of Climate Change (Scheduled 21-25 March 2022 tbc)
  • Synthesis Report (Scheduled 26-30 Sept 2022 tbc) – integrates the three Working Group reports and findings from the three cross-Working Group Special Reports (Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees C (Oct 2018); Special Report on Climate Change and Land (Aug 2019); and Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (Sep 2019).
  • Methodologies update – 2019 Refinement to the 2006 Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (May 2019).
  • The location of the three Special Reports (Global Warming of 1.5 degrees; Climate change and land; Ocean and Cryosphere) can be accessed here.

Media and informational URL’s for the August 9th, 2021 event.

This is a useful summary fact sheet of the Sixth Assessment Report

Expanded details on scope of Working Groups I, II and III

  • WGI: The Working Group I report will address the most updated physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, global and regional climate simulations. It will show how and why climate has changed to date, and the improved understanding of human influence on a wider range of climate characteristics, including extreme events. There will be a greater focus on regional information that can be used for climate risk assessments.
  • WGII: Working Group II will assess the impacts of climate change, from a world-wide to a regional view of ecosystems and biodiversity, and review the implications for humans and their diverse societies, cultures and settlements. The report will consider the vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and of human societies to adapt to climate change. It will thereby inform adaptation and mitigation efforts to reduce climate-associated risks together with options for creating a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all.
  • WGIII: Working Group III will assess progress in limiting emissions, and the range of available mitigation options in energy and urban systems, and in sectors such as agriculture, forestry and land use, buildings, transport and industry. It will consider these in the context of sustainable development. The report will also assess the connection between short to medium-term actions and long-term emission pathways that limit global warming.


I learned of this organization by this article in NPR.


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Revision to NWS Aviation Weather Services Guide

When I started my aviation training in 1993, I remember several transitions had recently happened.  Airspace was now about letters (eg Class C vs TRSA).  Weather was about METARS/TAF.  The National Weather Service (NWS) was the go-to for various guides and tools.

NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) have a useful newsletter – called “The Front” – that comes out every so often, with interesting updates.

Within the October 2020 issue, is an article regarding a major update to their Pilot’s Guide to Aviation Weather Services.  Over the years, there have been many technological advances, and numerous sources that we can retrieve weather information from.

I’ll be using this revised guide to structure various pages/posts in my blog for my own weather refresher.  In the past, I used DUATS (Direct User Access Terminal) via modem dial-up and also visited the local FSS (Flight Service Station).  Things have expanded since then.

The guide has a general flow of pre-flight (days before a planned flight), to day-of, and during the actual flight.  There are various links to all the tools and references we can access.  Nowadays, tools like Foreflight are really popular.  Some of the information doesn’t apply to me (Traffic Flow, but it maybe interesting); Alaska and Hawaii; International Products.  Looks like there has been some enhancement to the NWS GFA (Graphical Forecast for Aviation) tools.

All good stuff, as pilots are weather junkies.

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Electric Aircraft – as of May, 2021

There is a lot of buzz about Electric-powered aircraft nowadays, which looks viable in near future.  The primary argument is about reducing/removing carbon (fossil fuels), as it relates to climate change (greenhouse gas).  The following are some topics in recent news:

Elle Lear

Was reading this article about Erin “Elle” Lear (heiress of Learjet – youngest of 12 grandchildren of William P. Lear), who now has an area of focus of raising the percentages of female pilots and supporting development of electric-powered aircraft.  Women make up about 7% of all certificated pilots.  When I was doing flight training in 1993-1995, I think the numbers were the same.  The article referenced Peggy Chabrian of Women in Aviation (WAI), who reports that there is a steady (but slow) increase in female ATPs since 1990.

Elle has also just founded the first female Aviation Academy (scheduled to start around 2024 and based at Van Nuys, CA), which she’s called Birde.  Appears to be collaboration with Bye e-flyer electric airplane.  I remember seeing something about Bye Aerospace in recent past.

The article mentions some key traits needed of pilots – think creatively; act under pressure; adopt a mentality fitting for a role of such great responsibility; communicate and work well as part of a team.  There was mention, after students completing pilot training, of opportunities to build time with Quantum Air and PAX (affiliated air taxi companies).

Greener Skies – PBS (May 2021)

In Judy Woodruff’s segment, the focus is on impending changes in the aviation industry, as a result of the realities of climate change.  We’re now heading to the 3rd revolution (electric), after the 1st (powered flight) and 2nd (jet engine).  The highlighted aircraft was Pipistrel Alpha Electro – which I’ve heard of before when in development.  When he stopped the aircraft during taxi (common, while waiting for takeoff), the propeller also stopped, which is similar to being in a hybrid car at the traffic light – the fuel shuts off, and is in that moment really obvious where this is going.  15% of carbon footprint comes from transportation.  Right now (pound for pound) liquid fuel contains 16 times more energy than the best batteries.  The issue is for the heavy jets – the batteries (for long flights) would be too heavy.

The segment also highlighted Joby Aviation (founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt).  The aircraft is now with FAA for certification, and looks like a drone with the vertical props.  Focus here is on electric air-taxis – pilot and four passengers.  Flies 200mph with a range of 150 miles.  Bevirt’s vision is all about air taxis, which will therefore require another look at how to address more congestion in the air.  Looks like NASA Ames Research Center is investigating the logistics of how to communicate with and manage all these air taxis.  Goal is to bring down the costs of “taxi” service and possibly then replace the actual car.  Definitely seems like the free market is all over this, and things will start popping up in a couple years (or sooner).  I’m seeing an immediate focus on aviation flight training, and also addressing automobile congestion in places like SoCal.



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