Author of "Real Digital Forensics" and realdigitalforensics.com, a dad, an amateur photographer, a pilot, a USA Ice Hockey Coach, a researcher, a practitioner (that uses his non-theoretical research), a computer forensic leader, a frequent expert witness in Federal Criminal and Civil courts, a programmer, and an electrical engineering professional… you never know what you might get here! My current CV is accessible at the link just down and to the right which probably explains me better than I can!
April 28, 2013: In case you missed it, I was quoted twice in Computer World about the Boston Marathon Bombings and how computer forensics can play a role in catching criminals that performs their crime in the physical world:
Despite the unfortunate event, I hope you enjoy the aspects of tying the “virtual world” to the physical world when crimes are committed to help law enforcement gain additional leads in order to find the truth.
April 28, 2013: I am making this blog more than just about flying, I have decided. So here starts a new subject: I have a passion and desire to learn all about 3D printing because not only am I very convinced we will run into the subject in computer forensics, but I’m also curious what people will do with their printed objects. This article about making a gun that will work for a few shots and tossed after being printed on a 3D printer reminded me of the “Burner Cell Phone” era that set law enforcement back for wire taping capabilities. Logically, to me, it seems similar to the same concept. I’m afraid no matter what laws or limits you can place on this, if it is even possible, it’s a pretty simple and cheap way to make a gun when you need one that would be virtually untraceable… for now.
November 30, 2011: Today I did something really fun in a plane. I was able to fly into BWI with a Cessna 172 at night during gusty conditions. I haven’t flown since the end of June, so I was out of currency big time. I asked Rich (my CFI in previous posts) to come along with me since it’s been so long. Even though I don’t think he touched the controls the whole time, I needed some confidence.
I called the briefer before we left and he was pretty chipper. He was one of the funnier briefers I’ve talked to, which surprised me a little because I know the calls are recorded. He even said he has to say the same things so many times a day and we hear them so many times that he tries to make it as fun as possible. I hope that I get him again the next time I call.
That night at KGAI it was gusty. The winds were reported as 340 at 12kts gusting to 20kts. Watching the windsock you could tell the wind was moving around anywhere between 310 and 340, which are directions to the left and right of runway 32. That makes crosswind control a little more difficult than just holding your ailerons into the wind like you are trained to do. I was doing our runup at the entrance of runway 32, about ready for takeoff, and I kept looking up and becoming startled. One of the runway edge lights looked like a nice sized deer standing silently at the end of the runway staring at me. I must have looked at that thing 10 to 20 times and stepped on the brakes harder because it looked so much like a deer with the legs and long neck holding the edge light facing the other way. We finally took off and instead of rotating the plane at about 55kts like the checklist states, I held it onto the runway until we were above 60kts. Once we hit 60kts I pull back to abruptly come off the runway cleanly (while still applying the proper crosswind controls). This was the way I was taught to help counter gusty crosswind conditions.
The night was overcast so there wasn’t a moon to check out or anything like that. As soon as I took off we were bouncing around. The briefer was correct, there was moderate turbulence from 10,000ft down to the surface. He also said the winds were approximately 30 kts at 3,000 feet and you could sure see them as you were flying. Although you were flying forwards you could see the plane was moving with the wind. It was a very odd sensation because your body’s senses don’t match up with what your eyes were seeing, movement-wise. This was one of the windiest days I can recall flying. Getting into BWI wasn’t that difficult. Almost immediately after checking in with Potomac Approach (a requirement in the DC SFRA) they cleared me into Bravo before I was even close. From there, they gave me my headings and altitude. Things like “Fly 040 at 2,500″ and I obeyed. They moved me around some hovering helicopters in the area. I’m wondering if the helicopter we saw was the new sign helicopter I read about in the news. It was pretty bright.
We flew right over Raven’s Stadium, Camden Yards, and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The controller gave me the numbers for the airport (winds 300 at 10kts versus the ATIS reporting 320 at 14 and barometer 30.01). She vectored me near the airport and handed me off to the tower. The tower cleared me for landing on runway 33R (the smaller general aviation runway) as I was already on an extended right base leg for that runway. I was watching a line of commercial jets landing directly in front (perpendicular to me) on runway 33L. That’s the runway positioned with a park at the end of it that I enjoy watching the larger planes takeoff and land. Coming into 33R was odd. I felt like I was too low because I don’t practice a lot of non standard traffic pattern entries. In general, I want to start landing with a greater glide slope in the future… especially at night. As I landed it was smooth and either the left main touched without a bump or the left main and nose wheel touched simultaneously. Either way, it was a smooth touchdown. I want to be sure to have a greater angle of attack during landings. That’s one thing I’m keeping in my mind as priority #1 for future flights. I settled the rest of the plane onto the runway without much problem and the tower kept me on their frequency all the way to the general aviation terminal. Once we were ushered in by the lineman, he escorted us to the terminal. Because it is BWI, the security is a lot tighter than your typical “shack in the woods” airports where I usually land. On the way to the terminal I was able to capture a couple of pictures:
Rich, Eddie the Flying Dog, and I hung out at the terminal for a few minutes to calm the nerves. The staff loved Eddie and stuffed him full of dog biscuits they had hidden behind the counter. I’ve never been in such busy airspace (and frequencies) before. It was a lot of fun and quite an accomplishment.
After having security escort us back to our plane we called Clearance Delivery for our departure information. We then contacted Ground Control to get our clearance to taxi to runway 33R via taxiway Q. We were handed off to the tower and they asked us if our transponder was on. It was, but I clicked “ALT” as our transponder has an automatic function to switch to “SBY” while you are on the ground. They were able to pick up our position and clear us for takeoff. I stated that I needed to perform our runup. They acknowledged it and told me to check in when I was ready for takeoff. I performed our runup and notified them I was done. Immediately they cleared me for takeoff. I took off simultaneously with a British Airways jet on the runway to my left. He gained a lot of altitude quickly and turned left. My instructions via Clearance Delivery were to fly the runway heading (ignoring any wind drift that may occur) at or below 2,000 ft. I did that. Then the tower handed me off to Potomac Departure. They vectored me out of the Class B airspace heading back towards Gaithersburg. After I exited BWI’s Bravo airspace they dropped my radar services but notified me they did not see any traffic in the area. Traffic is usually pretty light at night which makes night flying more pleasurable. This night I flew within 5mi of GAI before I could pick it up visually. I notified the controller I had the airport in sight and they cleared me to switch frequencies. I notified them I was going to do some traffic pattern practice (as I had noted in my original flight plan with the briefer) and that I had the phone number to call once I was done.
I practiced two landings so that I had a total of 3 landings at night, which would make me night and daytime current. The wind felt much gustier at GAI compared to BWI. The AWOS reported winds from 330 at 13 kts gusting to 20kts. You could feel it while trying to land. The wind would push you into the runway while you were on a downwind leg and it was just different than all the other times I practiced in nicer weather. This was the practice I wanted to have: windier conditions. My first landing had a downwind (and hence final approach) that was far too long because of the wind. When I landed the airplane wanted to fishtail around the runway a little which was unnerving if you’ve never experienced that before as the pilot in command. While I was taxiing (all night) it felt so foreign because the nose of the airplane would push much harder than normal one way and then the other way. I had to use some force to (try to) keep it on the taxi center line. Then, it hit me: I was fighting the effects of the wind on the tail trying to weathervane the nose into the wind. THIS is what it feels like. I’ve read about it, but now I got to experience it.
My second landing was much like the first, but I wonder if I got a nice big gust of wind as I was rolling out. At first the plane was on the runway but then it felt like the wheels lifted up and the airplane’s lift just wouldn’t dissipate. Our speed felt higher than normal too. Once the plane slowed down and we were firmly on the runway I was able to use some brakes to slow us down the rest of the way and turn off. I could have gone for another landing, but frankly I was tired. It was 10PM and a lot of goals were accomplished in one flight. I decided to call it a night.
I logged 1.7 Hobbs hours at night with 3 landings as the PIC. One of the landings was at BWI, a class Bravo airport.
November 18, 2011: I was able to participate during the annual inspection on N5135R. I was able to help with cleaning out the engine, cleaning off the belly, tightening some oil return hoses, installing the carpeting, checking the infamous Cessna seat rails for wear, and installing the seats. I was also there for the runup. The annual was done at Davis Airport (W50).
October 24, 2011: Today I got to give a Cessna-182 a 50 hour inspection. I got my hands on changing the oil, changing the oil filter (and safety wiring it up), cutting the oil filter open to check for metal, sandblasting the spark plugs clean, testing the gaps, testing the sparks created by the sparkplugs, testing the battery, torqueing down the sparkers, removing/installing the cowling flaps, and installing the upper/lower cowling. Working on a plane is almost as fun as flying the plane! I also got to fly shotgun as we took it up for the test flight. A 182 is much roomier than a 172.
I definitely want to participate in maintenance again. Here are some pictures from today:
July 26 – July 30, 2011: My son Aiden and I went to Oshkosh AirVenture 2011 again this year. We went for the first time last year and loved it. Last year, Aiden turned 7 while we were there and lost his first tooth. What a big week for a little guy! This year we were there during his 8th birthday and took a helicopter ride (even though I cannot add this to my flying log, I can still blog about it!):
Sorry about the not-fun sound(tm), but I couldn’t add background music without Facebook becoming unhappy with me.
It was a big week for us. I was a little worried because the first few days were very rainy.
Rainy Days At KOSH
Entering "Celebration Way"
Other than getting wet, there were still plenty of things for us to do. For example, we volunteered for a few hours for our women pilot friends (and eventually-to-be-women pilots) at the Girls With Wings booth:
The Girls With Wings Booth At Oshkosh 2011
The Girls With Wings Booth At Oshkosh 2011
After that, we visited a number of booths including our friend Victoria at AIR-PROS. Aiden asked to go see Lynda at the Girls With Wings booth and Victoria at the AIR-PROS booth every day. It was fun, and he got to load up on Squirt, so all was good. The nice folks at UMA Instruments showed Aiden everything he wanted to know about aircraft lighting. He’s a man all about circuits, and this time he was able to apply it to flying. Aiden also got to play with a moving cut out engine at RAM. He really liked seeing the pistons move, gears turn, and hearing the mags fire.
Aiden Playing With RAM's Cutaway Engine (With His Squirt!)
The guys at the Rolls-Royce booth walked Aiden through a computerized movie on how their jet engines were constructed. They had a really large fun touch screen wall where he could rotate each part and look at it from any view between assembly steps.
Aiden was really excited about sitting in the pilot’s seat of a real flyable Blackhawk helicopter. He was pretty sure he was going to use one of these to fly to school someday:
Aiden's Adventure In A Blackhawk
We also saw “FiFi”, the last flying B-29 Superfortress:
FiFi's Aft Bomb Bay
Probably the most memorable portion of our trip this year was being able to meet the cast of Discovery Channel’s Flying Wild Alaska. That is our favorite show around the Jones house. We watch first runs and re-runs. Ariel Tweto, John Ponts, Luke Hickerson, & Doug Stewart were there and they signed Aiden’s Oshkosh map. All four were super nice and seemed genuinely shocked at how popular their show was to pilots in the lower 48. The cast also took some pictures with us:
Aiden and John Ponts from Flying Wild Alaska
Aiden and Ariel Tweto from Flying Wild Alaska
Luke and Doug from Flying Wild Alaska Autograph Aiden's Things
I was on Facebook today and saw that Cessna Aircraft Company posted some pictures of the event and Aiden and I are in them! What are the chances of that happening?
(Next time if someone takes a picture I’ll try to remember to open my eyes!)
As we were taking a break in the EAA store, we saw Captain Sully, who successfully ditched US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River, and I got a copy of his book autographed. What he did with that plane was nothing short of amazing, and only at EAA’s AirVenture are you able to run into people like this all in one place in a short amount of time!
Aiden and Captain Sully
As I flip through our library of pictures, I realize that I am barely scratching the surface of what we saw last week in this single blog article. I am so lucky to be able to spend this time with my son. It is probably the single most important activity we are able use to bond as father and son. With no offense intended to our female friends, Aiden and I often refer to it as “dude week” because we get to hang out together. :-) This year was a lot of fun, and I would guestimate that Aiden and I only got through about 1/8th to 1/4th of the total airshow. If you’ve never been to this event, you definitely should go at least once. It’s like New Years Eve in NYC or July 4th in Washington, DC – except for pilots and in Oshkosh, WI!
June 29, 2011: I had fallen out of day and night currency. The last time I flew was with my kids at the end of March. There are many reasons this happened. Some of it was because of work, some of it was because of being busy with 3 kids, and some of it was maintenance and/or weather related issues. A couple of pilots told me this happens to new pilots because you are suddenly “without a mission” like you had when you were a student. I think they are right. I need to find a mission.
This night I went up with Rich to become day and night current once again. We took off around 9:15-ish PM and flew to Tipton airport (KFME) to get gas for the plane because it was only about half full. It was an uneventful flight to Tipton and we were heading straight into the downwind leg for runway 28 without much effort. Only one other plane was in the pattern. After we landed, I realized how nervous I was because it had been so long since I last flew. It was also really weird having Rich as more of a passenger than a full time CFI. He was a lot quieter than when I was in the middle of my training. That was not a bad thing… it just took some getting used to.
We took off for Gaithersburg (KGAI) to practice some night landings. No one else was in the pattern, but the DC SFRA frequency was pretty busy. I also had a plane pass me closely (but legally) going the opposite direction. Once we made it to GAI, my first couple of landings were a little flat. Well, strike that, my first landing attempt was a go around because I was hugging the runway too closely on downwind and when I turned from base to final I had greatly overshot the runway. THEN, my first few landings were a little flat. Rich was encouraging me to keep the nose up more when I was trying to land. One of my landings wasn’t bad, so I said “Let’s do one more”. On my last landing I had the nose wheel off the runway almost all the way to the turnoff to the taxiway. I put the plane to bed after that. It was hot, late, and I was really to head home.
I logged 1.7 hours (1.4 of night), 1.7 dual, and 5 full stop night landings. Yay! Now I can take passengers again! Now, I am planning a long cross country flight to hopefully pick up my kids from their grandparents in MI in a few weeks. I hope the weather works out!
March 26, 2011: Aiden and Madeleine have been wanting to fly for quite some time. I’ve really been trying to get them into the sky with their Daddy as the PIC. It has either been bad weather, the plane I usually fly has been in unscheduled maintenance, or the plane was reserved by someone else. Finally on 3/26/2011 we were able to get the plane, weather, and kids’ schedules to all come together in one day. I waited to tell them they were going to go flying until the night before, when I was pretty sure the weather was going to work out. They both were pretty excited and have always wanted to sit in front. They couldn’t before because I had an instructor with me. Now, it was just me and the kids! What a weird feeling it was. I was pretty nervous. I’m a nervous pilot as it is. I’m new, I’m ultra conservative safe, I don’t have a lot of time in the air, I haven’t taken any passengers since I earned my PPL, and I haven’t had my PPL for more than about 2 months. It’s easy to make a mistake that you would regret. I never want to do that. Today I had extra precious cargo with me and it made me more nervous than normal… maybe even more than I was for my exam!
The kids and I showed up early. We met a student pilot friend and an instructor that used the plane just before us. The ADF was out on N739BA and she (the student pilot) put a pink heart shaped “INOP” sticker over the instrument because, as she said, “there aren’t enough girls in our club!” I agree. I’ve been supporting women in aviation ever since my daughters took an interest in flying and I met Lynda Meeks from Girls With Wings. My daughter Madeleine loved the sticker for some reason. When we were flying she said “I kept looking at the love sticker, and then out the window… then the love sticker… then out the window”. It was cute.
I called in our flight plan and had to quiet the crew to do so. Then we preflighted the plane and again I had to stop them from talking because it was taking me twice as long as normal! It literally took me 45 minutes to check out the plane, get their booster seats in, teach them how to take off their seat belts and open the door themselves… “just in case”… and strap myself in. I called Potomac Clearance, got my squawk and frequency, started the plane, and taxied to runway 32. The winds were around 330 at 8kts. Not too bad. It was supposed to be the same at 3,000 ft as well. It seemed like it would be a smooth day. We planned to fly over Harpers Ferry, turn towards Frederick Airport (KFDK), turn towards Carroll County Airport (KDMW), land for some gas, and then head home:
Our Planned Flight
Madeleine was able to sit in front with me on the first leg of our journey:
The Back Seat Passenger
We took off without any problems. I am the type of pilot that remembers every error he makes. I realized I had not turned to at least 340 for noise abatement. That’s on my list not to mess up again! We flew towards Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was nice being able to use the plane’s GPS. Rich would not let me use it during my training. It was nice to have it to back up my eyes and my visual checkpoints I’ve used in the past. As soon as we started getting near the mountains the updrafts and downdrafts started. We would gain 300-500 ft, then lose 300-500 ft. The wind would bank the plane one way, then the other way. I was having to correct the plane almost continuously to keep it at the same attitude. The kids were quiet. Later, they told me the bumps made them a little nervous. I told them it was part of flying and it was OK. You have to say that to your kids… inside I was a little nervous myself. I was hoping the first time I took passengers, especially my kids, would be a little smoother.
We turned towards KFDK at around 3,000 ft and continued on to KDMW. I overflew KDMW , where the winds were reported around 340 at 7 kts (variable between 290 and 350), from the South West. I descended once I overflew the airport and made a left hand (nearly) 270 degree turn to put myself on a 45 degree entry into the right handed downwind for runway 34. I flew the pattern and landed the plane pretty darn well! Aiden said “Good Landing Dad!” from the back seat. That always makes you feel bigger than life when your kids say that! We pulled up to the pumps and filled up the plane. The kids stretched their legs for a bit:
I switched the seats around so Aiden could sit in front. We headed back to runway 34:
We took off and headed back home to KGAI. The updrafts and downdrafts continued. I was still nervous, but I tried to not let it show. At one point, I put in the wrong frequency for Montgomery County Airport. There’s another error I will watch for next time! We entered a the right downwind to 32 at a 45 degree angle and landed. When I was landing I ballooned a little more than I wanted to and without enough correction we landed a little harder on the mains than I am usually known for. The thing with kids is that they will tell you exactly how it is. “Wow! That scared me a little!” Madeleine let me know over her headset. Yes Madeleine, that wasn’t the smoothest of landings! That’s another error I will watch out for next time.
We taxied back to the parking spot and put the plane to bed. I had the kids go play in the grass while I did all the heavy pushing of the plane. It still amazes me you can push a nearly 2,000 lb plane on the cement without too much effort by yourself.
So today I logged 1.8 hours with 2 takeoffs/landings as the pilot in command (PIC) and I wasn’t “Solo”! I was very nervous for this flight, but it was a milestone I had to complete in order to grow as a pilot. I took my first non-pilot passengers up with me and we had a great day. Even with the nervousness, this is a day I will never forget. My kids flew with me as the pilot… and this was a goal I have been thinking about for over 3 years during my training. I look forward to my next set of passengers. I think my nerves will be much more at ease now. Now I have to work on getting my youngest child Charlotte up with me for her first flight ever!
March 4, 2011: I need to be able to fly both models of Cessna 172′s our club owns. In order to do that, I had to check out N5135R with an instructor and reset my club’s annual checkout clock. I went up with one of our club instructors so he could sign me off. I hope to use N5135R for the Women Fly It Forward event next weekend.
After a bunch of discussion with the instructor on the ground, we went up and stayed in the pattern at KGAI. Maybe it was just me, but I noticed a big difference between my main plane, N739BA, and the plane I was flying, N5135R. 35R felt like a brick with wings compared to 9BA. Its nose felt very heavy. It felt almost as heavy as the Cessna 182 I flew once. The first time around the pattern we performed a normal landing. Except for the nose of 35R feeling really heavy, everything went well. It felt like I haven’t missed a beat since I last flew for my exam on 1/20/2011. We performed some short field takeoffs & landings along with some soft field takeoffs and landings. We also performed a simulated engine out. It was pretty windy that day. The METAR reported winds from 160 degrees blowing at 7 knots and gusting to 14 knots.
The most notable part of this flight was when we encountered some wind sheer off of the approach end of runway 14 about 100 ft above the ground. The wind sheer picked up our right wing and put it above our heads. The instructor said firmly “add power… add power…” and I did. I added so much power it felt like we were preparing for a go around. After adding power and using the yoke, the plane was level a few feet later and I chopped the power. I was able to land perfectly not much further down the runway. Lesson learned.
I learned a few more lessons that day. For example, little details like knowing the wind will die at the surface because of the tree line off the side of the runway wasn’t something I’ve picked up on before. I did this day. I also learned a neat trick to calculate the approximate crosswind component for the wind on a runway. Here it is: $5.79. The 5 matches up with 30 degrees, the 7 matches up with 45 degrees, and the 9 matches up with 60 degrees. Therefore at a 30 degrees off center, the crosswind component would be approximately 50% of the wind speed. At 45 degrees off center, the crosswind component would be approximately 70% of of the wind speed. At 60 degrees off center, the crosswind component would be approximately 90% of the wind speed. That’s a nice easy way to compute it in your head in the air after listening to a METAR of an airport you’ve selected for landing.
There isn’t really much else to report from this flight. It was pretty simple. I logged 1.1 hours as PIC and received 1.1 hours of dual (instruction) time with 6 landings. I’m current in both club Cessnas until March 2012 now! Keep ‘em flyin!
Something you should know about if you’re in the local Baltimore/DC area is an upcoming event called “Women Fly It Forward”. On Saturday March 12, 2011 at Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK), women and girls of all ages new to general aviation can get on a FREE FLIGHT (usually costing $100 or more under normal circumstances) to see how all the amazing opportunities available in aviation. Even after 100 years of aviation, women still only make up 6% of the pilot population. Having 2 daughters of my own who like flying, I find that number staggering. The event organizer is hoping to get 300 women and girls in the air on the 12th.
My wife and two daughters will be there, even though they are not new to it all. I may be volunteering and flying one of the planes giving the free flights that day. I’ll probably go up tomorrow night (3/2/2011) to re-familiarize myself in the other Cessna 172 our club owns. Tomorrow may be my first time back in the air after I passed my practical exam. How exciting!
Please visit the following website and sign up for your free flight!