VaibhaV Sharma

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Category: Interests (page 2 of 4)

Tailwheel endorsement

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Tailwheel endorsement

Originally uploaded by Dalfry

One more flight and I should have my tailwheel endorsement. My first experience flying a stick controlled aircraft. Lots of fun. Airplane in the pic is a Bellamca Citabria at Amelia Reid Aviation, Reid Hillview Airport.

Ham Radio setup in California

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Ham Radio setup in California

Originally uploaded by Dalfry

HF propagation is so unpredictable. Just yesterday night we were
talking to radio stations from Hawaii to Idaho to Texas and North
Carolina and tonight, 20 meter band is totally dead. Not even a single

Surprisingly, there were still a few morse code stations audible. More
reason to finish those last three morse code training sessions.

BTW, this pic is our current radio setup at home. A table right next
to the balcony where the antenna is hoisted 10 ft in the air using my
camera tripod and conveniently hidden behind a pillar to avoid
complaints from neighbors. Also a copper wire running to the water
pipe for better electrical grounding. The rig sucks 23 amps on full
100 watt transmit power.

If nothing else, we can probably write a chapter on stealth ham radio
operation from a balcony.

Ham Radio

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Back in school, we had these “extra curricular activity” sessions. Some of them, we could opt for during school hours and the others were available after-school hours.

Instead of taking “arts and craft” like everyone else (so that they could just sit on their ass), I opted for playing musical instruments and that too percussion music because I just thought they would be more interesting. For the next 7 years, I played with the school orchestra, in morning prayers, in inter-school competitions and wherever the school orchestra was pulled in to play.

I learned how to deal with 10 – 12 different instruments including Indian classical and western pieces. I can confidently say that I was pretty good at it. Even today, I can play most of those instruments if I can get my hands on one. I just love it.

That was during school hours activity, which was free.

The activities after school hours included –

* Computers (I could not get through the aptitude test, so no go)
* Scouts / NCC (The wear-the-blue-half-pants-and-scarf Scouts was interesting for a year, then got boring)
* Aero Modelling (Rs 300/month were expensive but dad tried for a month or two and then we gave up)
* Ham Radio (Again, expensive and needed an aptitude test and all)

Exposure to these activities just blew my mind. Unable to pursue them, I used to hunt for cheap hobby electronics circuits to build. Learnt how to solder electronic components on general PCBs and made several projects at home.

We had a 20 year old Philips “hifi” radio tuner + amp + record player with two speakers. I spent loads of hours trying to tune-in distant AM radio stations from the UK and other countries. I used to look at pictures in the Yagi antennae design books in school and failing to understand the theory, used to try and build at least the antennae at home using aluminum clothes hangers and then mounted them high on the roof using wood sticks. Those did not work too well for radio stations but I found out it worked very well for stealing cable television signals from the splitter on our neighbor’s roof. So the ham radio thing never worked for me and most of the time I had my school exams to worry about getting through. 🙂

Fast forward 15 years, here I am with a fresh Private Pilot License. Shortly after I landed in the US, I bought some ham radio books and tried to study but I used to be too worried about the paperwork that would be needed to get anything done in this country.

Two days ago, I decided I had to just DO IT! Went and bought the Ham Radio License Manual and an account on And here are the results from the first practice tests after barely 24 hours of studies –

Woot! I am going to take the test this saturday. I need to start thinking about what ham call sign I should get. 😀

Why couldn’t I get these kind of grades in school / college. These exams are not rocket science but I have never scored such numbers in my life. 🙂

The Private Pilot Checkride

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Before I forget the details, I have to put this on record.

My Private Pilot certificate checkride happened on November 2nd 2007 and this is a brief description of my experience.

Needless to say, there is a tremendous amount of effort required to get through the training. From my perspective, I had three major stages in the training. The first solo flight, the knowledge test (during the time you are busy doing the cross country and night flights) and all of that leads you to the final checkride. It took me one year and 2 weeks to do all that.
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I’m a Pilot!

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As of 11/02/2007 1.45pm, I have a FAA Private Pilot Single Engine Land certificate or most commonly known as a Private Pilot License (in India).

It took me rest of the day on Friday and this morning to catch up with what had just happened. After the Checkride, I was driving back home and my head just went quiet as if a hammer hit me. Met Tom this morning and he said something that I am still trying to absorb – “Do you realize you can now fly to *anywhere*? That means *anywhere*! To the beach, to Seattle, even to California, whenever you want to“. I was so involved with the training and enjoying it that I had not given any thought to what all I could do once I had the certificate. It is still a bit hazy.

I can fly any single engine land airplane which has a 200BHP or less engine and which does not have a retractable landing gear. Once the rest of the paperwork is complete, we might fly down to Siletz bay tomorrow. The beach is walking distance from the airport.

The checkride was an interesting experience. More on that later.

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