Friday, October 21, 2011

Nav in the clear blue skies......

This being a commercial course I am not getting to take too many pictures but I love this one of Miami
This morning was a kind of simulation to the first part of the CPL exam, I had 1 hour to plan a flight to a small grass airfield in the middle of nowhere, but there was a huge lake next to it so it shouldn't have been too hard. Unfortunately for me there was no internet working in school this morning to have a look at google earth to see what the place actually looks like.
Never mind the RAF didn't have google earth before setting off on their many bombing missions in 1945 at night, so I would have to trust in my ruler and compass and flying skills.
The last time I did a navigation flight in the previous flight, it wasn't one of my best days out in the plane and my confidence was a little low before todays sortie.
I planned the flight, then went through over once more, just to check there were no silly errors there.
All checked and it was time to collect my passenger and head on our way.
Strapped in and heading out on runway 28L which put me directly over my start point for the nav.
Time logged, heading and altitude set, and we were off. With a briefing to the passenger with an ETA of just over 20 minutes.
I found the first check point ok and on time, i was happy with that. It makes so much difference when the weather is clear, and you finally get the plane trimmed correctly. (I have been spending way to much time arsing around trimming, instead of getting it right at the start, its a lot less workload then) the second check point came and went and we were right on the button I could see the huge lake in the distance so it was time to wait for the parts of the picture to come together and confirm where we were with various roads and the lake in the right place. As the time ticked on the picture came together perfectly and the grass strip was right off our nose. I was pleased as punch but it was an easy day to do it on.
Then it was time to get the goggles on and start the instrument work, I had a complete brain malfunction here with the drill on what to do you in accidently go into cloud. I have been reading and reading this over the couple of days i was sick, and there I was goggles on and mind blank...... totally blank. Flying can be so frustrating, I think it was probably the shock of getting a nav right.
I managed to get my act together with a little prompting, but that was a serious failure.
I managed to get my radio nav fixes done properly and a little quicker than the previous times and then there was partial panel time and unusual attitudes. These seemed to be ok but my timed turns were not up to scratch, i need to stop and think whilst doing this rather than rushing straight into it. Careless mistakes.
It was then time to rejoin, and I was not an A grade student with that today I can tell you.
I could actually see myself buggering it up, slow and indecisive getting the plane ready for landing, and my passenger had pulled the fuse on the landing gear, so no green lights for landing, once again, slow decision to go around, all of this whilst I was 4 miles on final and there was someone else landing ahead of me, and I didn't think to slow us down..... Just Go Around......silly.
So I did go around and was about 500ft lower than I should have been making that decision.
The circuit I managed well and got us ready and came in for a reasonable landing, a little flat but ok.
I really need to start being the boss in the plane and not sitting behind it like a horse on the gallops.
But in debrief I have been given my papers to complete over the weekend to apply for the test and Matthew was reasonably complimentary in saying that I really am nearly there but need to get myself up  that final level be test ready. So more working on my "couch flying" going through the procedures and the Pilots handbook. Its a scary thought to be filling out exam applications already.


On a side note I really did realise why I am putting myself through all of this today and why I really do know that instruction is for me. One of the fellow international students and Italian called Michele whom I have met on a couple of occasions whilst he's studying for his first license, the PPL . Well I saw him going out in the plane this morning with the examiner and it took me back to my first test. He arrived back and I saw him having his debrief with after and then saw the look on his face when he was told he had passed. It was amazing, all of the hard work had paid off I thought he was going to explode with joy. His instructor must be so happy to take someone who can't fly at all to now being a Pilot. That's why I want to become an instructor. Well done Michele.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coughs and splurts, Stalls and gliding......


Today I was back with Matthew, it was our first flight together in the Arrow as all of the previous ones have been with Thomas in the news plane.
Firstly just to explain that I haven't been hiding under a rock for the passed few days, unfortunately my trusty instructor is so generous with his advice and flying skills that he's also pretty generous with his flu germs too as I managed to get a smaller and reduced dose of his cold that managed to block my ears up for the passed 2 days so its been deafness, night-nurse and no flying.
But back in the cockpit this morning with a glorious day if not a touch chilly at 16 degrees C.
We were in the Arrow once again and it was the lesson to finish off all of the stalling, there are basically 3, the clean stall, the base turn stall and the finals/Approach stall to be done. All went reasonably well, but I did forget props fully forward on 2 occasions which is a silly mistake.
Then we managed some gliding turns which are a lot of fun in this plane, 60 degrees of bank !!!
I am starting to feel more and more comfortable in the plane now, not quite at home in it but another few hours should help.
I seem to have got my cockpit management more under control now, not 100% but its better each flight.
Rejoining the airport control area is better each flight but there is a little too much hesitancy there, I think its a fear of making mistakes which is causing me to do it. Need to be much more assertive and decisive, thats my goal for tomorrows flight, be ontop of those things, the actual flying seems to be ok.
Upon returning and through the debrief Matthew mentioned that over the weekend we will need to fill out the test application and send it off over the weekend, at that point I felt quite sick, we can't be at that stage already, surely. Apparently so.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bows and Arrows

The National Park beach at St Lucie
Today, Monday, involved quite a lot of flying and I am glad I did some preparation.
Firstly over the weekend I actually got to have some down time and the weather wasn't raining cats and dogs like last week, so a nice long walk along the beach at the local national park was in order, to blow away a few cob webs and have a reflect upon it all whilst building up a nice appetite.
A great bit of surf here for the locals
Before heading for a nice lunch though I decided on taking some of my instructors' advice and spend some time sitting in the new Arrow on the ground at the flying school and just going through my check lists nice and slowly, getting to know where all of the bits are that make up this new plane. Then going through some of the procedures for the emergencies, such as fires and engine failure. Just sitting there talking to myself on a Saturday afternoon on my own in a plane on the ramp without the engine turning, I can only imagine what people who were walking by must be thinking. For me it was a great exercise and will be doing it each day now.
So after a weekend with some study mixed in it was time to get 100% back to it at school today. Due to a nasty bug Matthew my regular instructor had been replaced with Danish Thomas whom I flew with on Friday as well for my introduction flight with the new plane, so we continued on from where we left off. Today's morning flight was to be instruments, tracking VOR's and NDB (Navigation beacons where little arrows point you in the right direction if you program them correctly). This I seem to be getting the knack of but the NDB still needs some working on, I am tying myself up in knots slightly but its coming along. The VOR work seems to be ok so far.
Me at the beach over the weekend
Then it was time to rejoin the airport to land the plane which I seem to have stopped myself flapping about so much. This wasn't helped today by a controller who seemed to be flapping more than I usually do as he started to give us instructions which weren't entirely possible and were back to front, then he started into a bit of a melt down, so I pointed the plane away from the airport for a while whilst he got himself together and also all of the approaching planes, when he then continued to get it wrong my instructor got onto the radio to ask him in firmer terms whats going on. At which point the chief controller took over and started to organize things in short order.

There still was a little to much disorganization on my part there but its getting better.
The weather has been closing in all day and I thought that would be it for us but we decided to give it a late call so I had some lunch at the airport tiki bar and went back to see Thomas and as the Captain it was my choice for us to go up again we were doing stalls this afternoon. This was something a bit different in an aircraft alot heavier and also with landing gear which has to be considered in some of the recoveries from different stalls.
But my trusty instructor did a good demonstration each time and then it was my turn and I felt pretty comfortable with it all, by biceps certainly feel like they have had a work out, I need to practice the procedures over again in the plane like I did at the weekend but it feels good.
It was then time to head back into the circuit and get the reigns on this plane for some glide landings, in this plane, I can only describe this as driving your own roller coaster, its BRILLIANT.
The procedure involves flying parallel to the runway about half a mile away and then cutting the power off when you think you can make it to touch the wheels down upon a certain point. The basic of the procedure is that you have to keep a certain speed so not to stall the plane and as this plane is so heavy you are pointing the nose right down to hold the 79 knots. When you are certain you are going to make the runway you put down the gear and put your flaps down, which means that you are even more nose down all the way in until its time to flare and put touch down.
It was on the point of landing the plane on the centre line that I realised I hadn't been breathing for the whole exercise. Thomas, my instructor seemed happy with the job done and it was time to call it a day.
All in all a good positive start to the week. Some things I really need to work on, cabin organization is definitely the main one. But I am smiling after a good monday.

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...