Friday, October 7, 2011

Weather the Whether.....

Today was a strange day and a good day.
I was woken early this morning at 4:45 with a huge clap of thunder and some serious rain fall. Try as I might get back off to sleep, not a chance. No flying today I thought, this is one huge storm. A cup of tea and breakfast later and the rain really was coming down with thunder and lightening still I head off to school expecting a ground school day.
Todays weather
I met a new instructor today, Thomas, who's an airline pilot and from Denmark but lives here and flies 737's and teaches part time as well. He was to be flying with me today but the weather was stopping that for the time being.
So it was to the classroom to learn about some of the radio navigation techniques for a couple of hours, which was kept interesting by Thomas and I learned a lot, then looking at the weather forecasts it was starting to clear up and pretty quickly, so as the Captain I had to make the decision to go flying. On the agenda was instrument flying, which involves me wearing a hood over my eyes and then trying to fly the plane simulating flying in clouds. This I have practiced with Darrell last week in France so it went quite well. Next was unusual attitudes, which means putting the plane into a spiral dive or a into a position more like a space rocket whilst I have my eyes closed then when I open my eyes have to right the plane quickly and safely. Quite good fun to be honest, I am surprised how much I enjoy these.
So all in all this exercise was enjoyable, just in time for my brain to go on vacation once again and I started to get my self in a flap when having to make my way back to the airport. I still don't know why I am being like this, every now and then the red mist comes down in the cabin and I get flustered and a little lost with my procedures.
Thomas mentioned that he saw it in progress and that I need to have more preparation, give myself time and not rush. Get everything straight in my mind before I start the process.
So I am going to go through these things on paper over the weekend and try to create a mental process to go through without having a plane to fly at the same time. So definitely work to be done over the weekend to get some of the procedures into place I also have some technical reading to do regarding the airplane and learn the various speeds for flying the plane off by heart as thats now important at this stage.
For the moment in reflection at the end of the first 8 hours of the training, I am a little frustrated at the silly mistakes that I seem to be making and almost feel I have started the course with stage fright, but I am really happy at the progress I am making, I am learning each day and the instructors are top drawer. I think with a full week next week I will be exhausted by the end of it as I am sure things are gathering pace now. I am really enjoying being here and feel I am at the right place for this part of my flying career. For now its a little rest over the weekend.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Radio head.

Well another early start to the day, but I had to put my captain's hat on and decide to delay the flight for 45 mins as there was some local weather around. So let it pass and we got onboard the plane, went through all of the checklists only at the final moment to have one of the instruments stop working, the attitude indicator. Can't fly without that so shut down and back in we go.
Fortunately there was another plane there and we were shortly off and away. Although once again I seemed to leave part of my brain behind as my radio work was really quite bad and not in the game at all, but the flying side of things was much improved on yesterday as I finally feel like I am getting used to the plane. We finished what we were doing yesterday in the gusty winds, with glide approaches and short filed landings. Matt seemed happier with my flying and I felt it was a marked improvement on yesterday.
I did get my knuckles wrapped over not knowing all of the approach speeds for each of the configurations of the plane today, so some serious home work to be done, I really should gotten a Pilots handbook for the plane before I started, so work to be done there.
In general one of the things I am enjoying is seeing how Matt instructs, although he must go through dozens of students doing these same lessons over and over yet at no time do I feel like he is just going through the paces, he is on the ball and sees the mistakes a mile off and we seem to be able to correct them, he's not condescending or mocking, he strikes a good balance which I must try to learn from if I get to the point of instructing further down the line.
All in all a positive start to the day but I need to get this radio work done, so a lot of concentration on that this afternoon if the weather stays away.

This afternoon's flight was my first taste of Commercial Pilot Navigation, now to explain this in simple terms, my passenger is a photographer for The Sun newspaper, Ironic isn't it, mind you he did promise not to hack my phone. My job is to collect the paying customer and brief him take him to the plane, then fly him to the place where he wants to shoot some aerial pictures. Which of course is some remote place really in the middle of nowhere. Then we went onto another one and eventually another one. The whole time whilst flying giving updates of where we are, what time we will arrive and then point out the house, building, prison, airstrip or whatever the subject of the photographs is.
All well and good you might think, programme the gps and off you go. But no, No gps its the old steam gauges with map and compass, judging where the wind has blown us off course and then correcting the course as we do.
Todays navigation route.
The first leg of this was a demonstration by Matt then it was my turn to navigate, then the 3rd leg I had to navigate, fly and do the radios and find the tiny airstrip. Suddenly I have realized that the flying part now has to become second nature, whilst you are completing paperwork, map reading and informing your passenger, the work load has very quickly increased, always something to do. The adrenaline started to flow a little as the eyes start to scan the horizon for my waypoint or the subject of the pictures. To my surprise I managed to find it, although I do think I was given a relatively easy one for starters, and my passenger got his pictures.
I let my guard down a little too early though as we were also nearly back to our home airfield and I hadn't set the aircraft up for arrival and I was rushing once again and making some mistakes. Silly errors that really shouldn't be there but I will be ironing out.
Matt seemed altogether happier with my radio work this afternoon, I am feeling more at home with the plane now, knowing where to look for things and getting the landings better and better each time. I hope this stands me in good stead for when I move up to the bigger aircraft at the end of next week.
I am really pleased to have chosen here to come and do this course, the school really is well set up, the instructors around the place seem to enjoy working there, always wishing a good morning, I even crossed a Texan in the corridor earlier as I wished him good morning I received a "Howw Dee" from him wild west style.
I am exhausted at the end of each day my brain literally hurts, so I know I am trying my hardest not sure if I can keep up at this pace, but I will certainly be trying.
If anyone reads this and would like to leave a comment feel free to on the bottom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wobbly legs, 21knots of cross wind and the final exam result.

My letter from the CAA with my final result.
Right, where do i start today..... i suppose at the beginning.
Early start this morning for lesson 1 on the CPL(commercial pilot license) agenda which is climbing and descending with power, without power, and turning whilst doing the same. Obviously now we are in commercial land I have to now treat the instructor like a passenger the entire time. Even when I meet him in the morning I have to introduce myself and guide him through all safety briefings and even show him how to put his seatbelt on.
The other difference with CPL are the check lists, both written and mental. Before the climb, during the climb and after climb, check list check list check list. My brain is slightly fried with those and there are so more to come, but I like the feeling of being more in control and understanding the reasons behind the checks. I seemed to do ok with these as they were pretty straight forward but I will have to keep going over the check lists.
After I got back from the flight and wished my passenger well I went for a coffee and as my emails came through... to my enormous surprise an email from the CAA was waiting with my exam result on it.
I was nearly sick when I saw I had passed with 82%, my legs literally went from under me, the waitress came to take my order and my mouth couldn't form words, i think she thought i had torrets syndrome or a horrendous stutter i managed to say wa wa wa water ..... sitting there in a pilots uniform i think i just scared her off from flying.
Anyway its done, no more study with those books I can concentrate on the flying so it wasn't long before I was back with my passenger briefing him once again and taxiing out for some circuit practice, in a 21knot cross wind. Sweaty hands, the blood drained from my face and the joy of having passed my exam was left behind at the hanger.
Trying to put in a straight circuit with wind like that was a tough ask for me and truth be told I was a little worried about the conditions, Matt talked me through it well but at the start the hand-eye-plane co-ordination seemed to have been left behind at the hanger as well my first attempt at landing was just awful so I went around as the plane wasn't settled down right.
Slowly after that with some help from my passenger it came into place but not without a few bumpy approaches. On the final one I managed to nail it and came away feeling a lot better than at the start, I don't mind the not being able to do things part when they are improving each time.
The wind just got too much after that so we cut things short and did a flapless approach and landing and it was time for lunch. After each flight we have a thorough debriefing and I was a little annoyed with myself as I would like my flying to better than I am doing at the moment, but my passenger told me not to be so hard on myself as there are ups and downs and the most important thing is that when I am not doing something right I am learning from the mistakes and improving, which seems to be the important part at this stage.
So after day 2 some tough flying, some improvement but it needs to get better.
Day 3 tomorrow and another 2 flights, some instrument work and then my first CPL navigation exercise.
Maybe a few beers at the weekend now that the Theory exams are all passed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Arrival and day one......

My ride to Orlando
I arrived into Miami airport after a bumpy ride across the atlantic, never had a 9 1/2 hour with seat belts on the whole flight. Arrival was the same old nightmare at immigration but hey ho I made my connection to Orlando and managed to track down my ride to get down to Vero beach with one of the instructors.
My new training partner
I have been assigned a room in a house in Vero Beach off of the airport site, which I think is better as I am able to get away from it all at the end of each day and there are only 3 of us in the house. The others are 2 students currently doing their theory exams and will then be heading into the CPL around xmas time I think all being well.
I arrived into school for the first day to be met by Matt Adams, my instructor, and so began the paperwork. Contracts, safety briefings, ID card, etc.
To my surprise I have been given my own car which I am pretty impressed with, I will be able to have an amount of freedom when I have to odd spare hour or 2.
Matt comes across as an intelligent, bright guy who knows what he is talking about and pretty personable. We are around a similar age and I feel that his standards are high, I like that, I think its going to make my flying improve and so far he listens and that's important in an instructor-student relationship. At the end of the day this is the guy who's going to get me to where I really want to go, by hook or by crook.
We have got an introductory flight booked for this afternoon to see exactly where I am at, to be honest I am pretty jet lagged and nursing a sore head but that's just down to coming half way around the world. So I will save this entry and add in below how the flight goes and a summary of my first day.

The apron at EFT
I survived day one !!
Todays flight was a kind of a mini test, to see if I am ready to go onto the CPL course, carrying out manouvers and emergency drills when the instructor pulls the power and says we have an engine failure and its time to find a field to put it in. After 45 mins he said he was happy with it all and it was time to head back in. I had forgotten how flat Florida really is by comparison to France its really amazing, like a billiard table.
Anyway after a slightly iffy landing in the Piper PA28 the Matt said I was cleared to start the course for real first thing in the morning, as he handed me booklets and paperwork for my homework to study.
I am really pleased that the work done last week with my friend Darrel has paid off and all credit to his patience as he's kicked me into shape with the preparation.
In reflection the first impressions of the school are good, they picked me up from the airport, the owner are the Chief flying instructor were there to greet me on the first morning, the accommodation is good, the place is very professional, I like the aircraft, and as a bonus they have even given me a car to drive.
Early start tomorrow so I had better get some sleep now the homework is done.
All in all a good start.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time to close the eyes and jump....

So the Caa say the exam results take 10days to come through. 3 Weeks later I am sitting in the hotel at Heathrow airport no results yet heading off to Florida hoping I have passed and going to start my CPL practical training. It feels slightly strange, even taking the edge off of the excitement of heading off for the stage of the training. I fly to Orlando via Miami tomorrow and start day 1 of training at European Flight training for my commercial pilots license.
Apparently the sun is shining over there, the skies are clear, so hopefully my flying will be up to scratch after last week's brush up and I can get through it.
After the CPL will come the juicy bit, the Flight Instructor course, which is a pretty grueling 5 weeks of training in the classroom as well as in the sky
I have decided I am going to try to do a diary over the next few months and try to post each day as I think it will be good to remember exactly what $20,000 and 18 months of study actually buys and the trials and tribulations of putting myself through all of this.
I will be away for sometime so feel free to add any comments or ask any questions as it all goes along, I will do my best to post as many pictures as possible and hopefully will have my exam result in over the next day or so and it will be a pass or I will have to head back home pretty quickly.
I am looking forward to some further adventures with my flying friend Blake as well I have missed the fun we have had over the passed 12 months, get yourself ready Blake, you've been warned.
So my fingers are crossed my next post will be to say its all systems go, the sun is shining and we are under way........

Pointy Pyramids and a windy Nile, back in Africa and a room with a view

The River Nile whilst on descent into Egypt Today was a good day in the air. Up early after a shockingly bad nights' sleep, unfortu...