Saturday, October 26, 2013

Southeast Atlanta Space Academy

When I began my studies at American Military University and was taking the SPST300 Introduction to Space Studies some years ago, I began inquiring into the pedagogy that would be necessary for the commercial space traveller.  There was much adieu about the major changes in American space policy toward aiding the growth of the private sector.  Rather than lampoon the changes as many of my classmates were doing, I decided to embrace the future.  I interviewed Stacy Tearne (then at Space Adventures, Ltd.) to discuss the topic in an interview and had done extensive research.  Eventually, I wrote my final paper on the subject, which I would publish years later as Training the Commercial Space Traveler.  From then on, my growing fascination with private space travel would eventually affect my teaching strategies.

So here we are.  It is late 2013, and I am ready to put into place what started outs as these initial thoughts:
  1. Private space travel is here to stay.  Dennis Tito and others have ended the says of space access being limited to government professionals.  The window of Non-Career space travelers will become even wider as the costs of space travel become lower, making it more accessible to those who are not multimillionaires.  
  2. Aerospace education programs that function under the paradigm of space-race era astronaut corps are thinking in operating in an obsolete mindset.
  3. Aerospace education programs that incorporate ultralights into their programming will allow youth to both experience the engineering principles of flight, as well as flight itself at costs much lower than general aviation based youth flight training programs.

So what happens now?  I am starting the Southeast Atlanta Space Academy, and I need your help. 

Friday, December 30, 2011


I have not posted a blog since 2011 on this particular blog. But my head has remained in the clouds and I have remained active in a variety of ways.
  1. I began my persuit of a 2nd Bachelors Degree in Space Studies at American Military University and I am now nearing completion of that degree. It has been a very exciting experience and I have made friendships with other students, as well as had the opportunity to have some phenomenal instructors such as Space Shuttle astronaut Wendy Lawrence and Dr. Benjamin G. Davis.
  2. I founded the African Space Science and Policy Institute in May, which originally began as a Facebook group. As of the date and time of this blog, I am waiting for the the train to Newark International airport to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, and later Kampala, Uganda to engage in several ASSPI projects.
  3. While I have not done any flying this year, I have upgraded to the VIP Package at Lookout Mountain Flight Park later this year. This will solidify my ability to train solid and prepare for later goals.

2012 fast approaches. I am anticipating and working towards a productive year.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Micro Flight Version 5

I initially played around with one of the older versions of HangSim a few years ago. Last year, I downloaded Micro Flight Version 5, which was an improvement on HangSim.

Micro Flight allows you to fly various different types of aircraft. But it's specialty is ultralights. It includes Hang Gliders. It comes standard with 1 hang glider, which is a medium performance hang glider. You can download additional hang gliders from the Micro Flight website.

  1. The scenery is very good. It allows you to select multiple locations. It comes with France as a country, which has many different mountains to launch from. As with the aircraft, you can download additional scenery from the web page.
  2. The in-flight characteristics are very realistic. The stalls, turns, sounds, etc. are very much like a real ultralight aircraft.

  1. Landings and takeoffs aren't very realistic. I am willing to cut some slack here, because It is very difficult to simulate running down a hill properly. On the training hill, hang gliding students have to learn how to walk, jog and run while holding the glider, and to continue running into the first few seconds of a launch. It's not uncommon for students to fall down on their first or second runs on the small hill.
  2. The hang gliders are generic. It would be nice if they were modeled after specific gliders. This would allow people to do "virtual demos" for gliders, or allow novice pilots to get virtual experience before transitioning to medium and high performance gliders. Many of the ultralight aircraft are generic, while the general aviation aircraft are specific.

In all, I like it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 in review

I began this blog on January 20th 2010, which was 2 days before my 28th birthday. Ten years ago on this date in the year 2000, I was a senior at Mays High School and awaiting my 18th birthday. My acceptance letters from various colleges were beginning to pour in, and the financial aid chase had begun. I had loved aviation and flying all of my life, and was awaiting the opportunity to persue that dream. Although I had always loved children, I never had any intentions on becoming a school teacher. I wanted to be a pilot and later an astronaut.

Adulthood happened. My inner activist took over as I began to explore the world and community development would become my focus for a great deal of my life. My travels would take me to St. Louis MO, Greenfield MA, Southwest Florida, and then back here to Atlanta GA where I would finally commit myself to becoming an instructor at AYA Educational Institute in 2005.

I love teaching and I am happy that I have committed myself to the profession. But my desire to fly has never gone away. Ten years after I originally committed to becoming a resident of the sky, I renewed that commitment in my first post on this blog:

My current focus is flying ultralights. My most burning interest for the past couple of years is to fly hang gliders. Hang Gliding has been a popular sport since the 1970's and has recently come a long way in its development. Also, the FAA has since created the Sport Pilot rating.

I am back at it this year in 2010 and am determined to make this happen. My goal is to reach the following USHPA Ratings:
  • Hang II certification by spring
  • Hang III certification by Fall

I earned my H2 rating on April 11th 2010. I haven't made it to H3 yet and I am not going to rush it. I had intentions to spend my entire summer at Lookout Mountain, but that didn't pan out. But the summer was not a complete waste, as I joined the Academy of Model Aeronautics and took my modeling skills to another level, and incorporated model aircraft into my science and mathematics pedagogy.

This has been a fascinating year in Commercial Space Travel, where watching the accomplishments of private corporations and backyard astronauts have motivated me to pursue the up and coming commercial space travel industry.

  • Virgin Galactic has completed its construction of SpaceShipTwo. As of this blog, Virgin Galactic has successfully completed a drop test of the Vehicle from the VSS Enterprise. They are making moves to get space tourism underway, so that people can ride their private sub-orbital shuttle just as a person could take an airline flight.

  • Several Model Aircraft builders have sent homebuilt UAV's into near-space altitudes. The Brooklyn, NY based father-son team of Luke and Max Geissbuhler constructed a UAV with a weather balloon, a video camera, and an iPhone. The UAV traveled to an altitude of 19 miles. While this altitude is 41 miles short of the Karman Line (Edge of Space), which is defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) as 100 KM (61 mi), it was able to reach an altitude that far exceeded the altitude of passenger jets and was high enough to see the blackness of space and the curvature of the earth that is experienced by astronauts.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

Despite the difficulties posed by the continuously souring economy, it is an exciting time for an air & space enthusiast to be alive. People are giving it all they have in order to accomplish their dreams.

2011 will build on everything that I have accomplished this year. I will
  1. Continue to work towards becoming a flight instructor for ultralight aircraft... sticking with hang gliders for the time being, and eventually expanding to sailplanes and powered parachutes.
  2. Launch my own near-space UAV
  3. Offer Model Aeronautics educational experiences to Metro Atlanta K-12 students using AMA resources.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

UAV Aerotowing?

So ever since I started hang gliding, I began wondering how UAV's could be used for aerotowing. Lo and behold...

... somebody did just that!

The flight looks marvelous. The video was a lot of fun to watch. However, there remain some safety concerns...

1. What type of protection is there for the pilot in the event of the various types of mishaps that can cause the pilot to come in contact with the propellers?
2. Where is the prop exhaust?

Nonetheless, this video proves that it can be done. With more design improvements, this could be a new era for aerotowing in hang gliding?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Plane Crash W/ Senator Ted Stevens

There comes a time in all aviation that we have to deal with these very sobering moments. I was no fan of Senator Stevens and will not pretend to be in the least bit, but my political opinion of Senator Stevens is irrelevant for the purpose of this particular blog entry.

It takes a special type of person to dream to be a pilot of any kind, regardless of the aircraft. Whether it is hot air balloons, hang gliders, supersonic jets, helicopters, powered parachutes, gliders... you have to be the type of person that loves to be in the air, and loves the idea of flying through clouds, etc. Those of us that love the air will look up at the sky at circling birds and wish we could join them. We get excited when we go up the elevators of tall buildings.

But then there's that whole thing about returning to the ground. Sometimes that can be more complicated than getting in the air. And every now and then, there is a tragedy that occurs that reminds us of this. Those of us that fly must take a minute to pause for the sadness of any loss of life that occurs from a crash. But then the time comes to stop morning, and to start studying.

Every crash is a lesson. There a many different ways to crash. Most crashes are caused by pilot error. Then there are crashes that are caused by atmospheric conditions. Others can be caused by hardware failure. Crashes are examined by the NTSB and reports are released afterwards. NTSB investigations can take quite some time, as they should. Examining a crash is a scientific process... you must examine all available evidence to reconstruct what happened. In general aviation, they have many tools for this.

A big deal that is coming out in light of this crash is the fact that the pilot did not file a flight plan. Flight plans are very important for helping the pilot to establish an idea of how they will navigate their aircraft from start to finish. The thing is that deviations from flight plans are not uncommon, and sometimes they are necessary. I have watched multiple broadcasts from CNN where several of their anchors, such as Rick Sanchez, have been raising a lot of hoopla about the fact that the pilot did not file a flight plan.

The following is an example of what a general aviation flight plan looks like...

That is a flight plan for domestic flights. A international flight plan is slightly more detailed.

How much good would a flight plan have done in this particular situation? Reports from pilots say that the weather in the area of the intended landing site was horrible, which would have been a great reason for the pilot to find another landing site. But this is apparently in a very remote, mountainous part of Alaska.

I am going to continue to watch this story, as more details will come out. It is hard to come to any hard conclusions without having so many details.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Black Children, Bicycles, and Helmets

"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. But there are no old, bold pilots."
- Aviator Expression

According to the CDC, Black children are at the highest risk for suffering a head injury than any other ethnic group in the United States. And every summer, I am reminded of one of the major factors as to why this is the case. It never fails: whenever I see Black children outside on their bicycles, they seldom wear helmets. And when I ask the children why this is the case, they always respond with the same excuse: "I am good enough to ride without a helmet."

My frustration is not with them, but with parents that allow their children to ride outside without a helmet. And if you are a parent that allows your child to ride a bicycle without a helmet, then yes I am talking about you! If a child does not want to wear their helmet, then they should not be allowed to ride a bicycle. Period. Bicycles are not toys. They are transportation vehicles, and all transportation vehicles have safety precautions. Cars have seatbelts, airbags, and anti-lock brakes. Bicycle helmets are an integral part of making bike riding safe. When a rider gets on a bike without a helmet, then that bike rider is making an unnecessary risk.

Why it is so widespread for Black Children to ride without helmets is something that I am sure could be examined, and root causes could be found. But no possible reason is a valid excuse. Bicycle helmets do not cost as much as bicyles. Helmets can cost as little as 12 dollars from K-Mart or Target. If you buy a bicycle, then you should buy a helmet.

A helmet can mean the difference between living a normal life and living in a vegetated state. It can mean the difference between having full intellectual capabilities and having a loss of cognition due to brain injury/shrinkage. But most of all... a bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death. Accidents can happen in a matter of seconds.

In addition to the revolutionary improvements to the design of Rogallo gliders, helmets played a huge role in making Hang Gliding a safe sport.

Take a look at this video...

This is a Hang Glider Pilot that forgot to do a hang check, which is a procedure that hang glider pilots perform before every flight to make sure that they are properly hooked into the hang glider. The pilot could have lost his life because of this mistake. But fortunately, he only received a concussion. What saved his life? His helmet.

There are thousands of pilots in the USHPA, and only a handful of injuries each year. Be assured that one of the reasons for this is because of the adamant usage of helmets by all pilots on USHPA flying sites. On the other hand, bicycle-related head injuries are far more common, resulting in 3% of head injuries in the United States. Why? Because there are more bike riders that ride around carelessly with no helmets.

So if you are reading this blog and you are the parent of a young cyclist, then buy them a helmet and make sure that they wear it.