Friday, May 7, 2010

Its all foggles...

Well its Friday, and thats the end of the weeks flying. Todays lesson was all under the foggles, carrying out turns at level altitudes, climbing turns, descending turns and now doing the radio calls whilst tracking the VOR, whilst descending onto finals.
The workload is starting to be increased so that the flying under IFR comes naturally and can be done whilst handling the rest of the cockpit duties. I can only imagine what its going to be like over the coming weeks when having to handle the holding patterns and the ILS approaches. I have realized how much learning there is to get done and am also very pleased I have taken on this course as it is improving my pilot skills no end and I am sure will push me on to the commercial license.
I am hoping I wont be sent too far from home next week so that I can continue. Time to get my head back in the books and ready for the next sortie.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

PFL's at 2000ft over the Alligator Alley in the everglades

Today was a good day.
Well it started a bit rough as someone had left the Master switch on over night on the aircraft so all was a bit quiet when I hit the switches and nothing happened. But after a jump start from the engineers it was all systems go. The objective today was to finish off the official check ride which I have to go through to be officially allowed to fly here. Its the same as the PPL flight test but a lot less stress as you do parts of it and then. The fun part was a 2000ft when it was time to pull off the power and go through practice forced landing, the one slightly different part to this from when I did my flight test in Limoges was we were over the Everglades which is thousands of square miles of Alligator infested swamps......MMMmmmmmm.
There is one small stretch of grass near a road and that was the target, but I was happy with the result and Chris was as well, he signed me off after a couple of circuits (or patterns in U.S parlance) and get a few landings in. So all clear for solo flight in the U.S.
Then it was time to start talking about the Instrument work, Straight and level flight, Trimming, Constant airspeed climbs and descents all with the foggles on. For those of you who don't know what foggles are, its like flying with the curtains pulled in the plane so that you can't see anything outside so you can only fly by the instruments inside the aircraft.
Its quite disorientating and you have to trust your instruments and not what your body is telling you, and I think that is going to be half of the training during these early stages.
Happy with another good day, its 94 degrees here at the moment so losing a few pounds in the warm cockpit each day, so dieting whilst flying, can't be bad.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Slow flight and getting in the swing of things

2 hours in the air today, and feeling like I am getting the hang of the 172.
After some ground school work as I have to go through the Faa "Check out" procedure as well, which is similar to the 2 year check ride. Some questions from the theory exams and also demonstrate all of the basic skills required for the PPL skills test.
Chris my faithful instructor has been going through all of the turns, stalls, landings to complete the check out which provides a good catch up for me too.
The all new glass cockpit which you can see in the picture is the newest and safest way of flying I have ever seen and is taking some getting used to. I am looking forward to the cross country exercises with it, all of the information at your finger tips, there are no maps flapping around in the cockpit.
The 172 is a pretty good plane to fly, it turns well and holds its line really well, getting used to a yoke instead of the stick on the good old Robin is is fun too. I am enjoying flying it, the stalls are pretty different, especially the powered stall, we were needing to go virtually vertical.
My main learning curve with the flying here is the radio calls, they are carried out very differently to europe, there are no standard down wind then finals calls for clearance to land, just one down wind call when you are cleared to land. Similarly taxiing and take off radio procedure is different. More practice needed and it will all slot into place.
I have to complete a set amount of take off and landings tomorrow and the check out should be complete, and the Instrument training will commence.
All very positive here, I feel happy I have found the right school at last. Back in the air again tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

N12453D New plane, new cockpit and lots of new fun

Now that was a fun first day in the new stead. Not a serious lesson but a good familiarization flight around north Miami to check out the reporting points and try to get used to the new aircraft.
A Cessna 172 and with my new instructor Chris we took to the skies to let me stretch my legs with her after a prolonged period out of the saddle so to speak.
We went through some ground school work, and the professionalism of this school over the previous disaster area was apparent straight away.
I felt unusually nervous before it all started which is unlike me but I suppose a mixture of new aircraft, instructor, airport and after my last false start it was to be expected.
After a good chat on the ground where Chris got an idea of where I am at and where I would like to get to he showed me around the plane. What I liked about this is he was in no hurry what so ever. This plane is very different from anything I have been in before especially the cockpit, with a very different check list to go through before even turning the keys.
We went through everything methodically with a good explanation, for example there are 7, yes 7 different sumps to check for fuel contamination for starters.
Then you have to fire up the 2 huge glass screens, the G1000, its awsome and is going to take some getting used to as non of it looks the same as the good old 6 pack.
We got through the check list fired her up and taxied off passed some fantastic aircraft on the apron.
There were even a few museum pieces there aswell as the US coast guard and military jets, not to mention the line of Hawker and Citation jets. I will get pictures uploaded of a few examples when I can.
We were cleared to take off from runway 18 and off we went, the first thing i realized from an over wing is they pick up the cross wind pretty quickly on take off so plenty of wing down and left rudder was needed and we nicely climbed out.
The nice thing about the G100o is on your secondary screen you have a full map showing all other aircraft and collision avoidance system, which is a handy piece of kit when in the training area in Miami which serves 4 different airports and a dozen schools !
After some basic handling and a trip around the reporting points it was time to get back to the circuit where we were cleared number 2 straight in from 10 miles out. The radio work here is going to get a little getting used to but I am sure it will come along over the next few days.
We had a nice cheeky little crosswind from the right again on approach which was nice to get used to with the Cessna and it handled nicely crabbing its way in and even earned " Nice Landing " from Chris, sure he was just being polite.
We taxied off the runway and 30 seconds later the tyre screech a Hawker Jet kissing the tarmac behind me, reminded me that its pretty busy air space here so good to keep me on my toes.
Day 1 went well, plenty of small rusty mistakes but the basics have held firm so happy with that and really chuffed to be heading straight back up tomorrow.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The head is back in the books...

Today I collected my books and software to start studying tonight ahead of my first flight at the Cessna school tomorrow. Its all very technical but very well thought out, there is a series of DVD's that you down load onto your computer with tests attached to each one after the end of each lesson. Once you have passed the test for each lesson you get to do the flight for that part of the training. Each test is automatically sent to Cessna HQ as well as the Chief instructor so they can keep an eye on how you are progressing and also how your instructor is getting on with teaching you.
Unfortunately I am an Apple Mac user and the DVDs are Windows based so I have had to go and spend $300 to get conversion software and a version of Windows but it should see me through all of my training up to CFI .
Tomorrow will be a familiarization flight, and the first chance to use the G1000 glass cockpit which should be a useful skill, so can't wait. Will report in after, just hoping it doesn't go like the other false start with the throttle coming off in my hand !!!!!

Up and away again..... heading North, a long day and then home.....

At Starbucks in Beirut, thinking about where I'd like us to go away holiday this year The phone rings..... "Can we leave to...