Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today I remembered why I am doing all of this.....

So still feeling pretty good after knowing for sure that yesterday wasn't a dream it was nice today to know the exams are out of the way. A friend is doing some hour building here so I jumped in the right seat with him for a day out and lunch in Venice Florida. The weather was just unbelievable, clear blue skies low wind and a time to reflect on how lucky I am to be able to do all this. We flew from coast to coast of Florida for lunch...... how crazy does that sound to write. Quite quite bonkers.
Captain Diaz
But thats what we did, with my colleague Nuno, from Portugal. I have been out there a couple of times and its great to be able to head there again in such good weather.
Me blocking a great view
When you arrive there you can call a courtesy car to pick you up and take you to "sharky's" restaurant on the beach, its awesome. The food was great, and to have a nice stroll on the beach after a pretty stressful week, well couple of weeks, the chance to take a breath and have a quiet smile after all of the stress was great. The most important thing was they had Key Lime Pie......... this is one happy pilot !!!


Venice Beach
First time I have been to the beach for a while.

I really wanted to take this for a spin......

Venice beach

The views were fantastic from nearly 4000' so I have taken some pictures of the day out, hopefully there will be many more like this.
Okeechobee Airport enroute
I think sometimes its important to get away from the studying and get to breath a little and look out of the window and just realize that being able to fly where ever you want is a privilege and sometimes, just sometimes we should make sure we go out and enjoy it.
Departing Fort Pierce

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The big test......

My test certificate
I am just back from a very long day. A little bit lost, I am expecting my brain to oooze out of my ears at any time as it has melted. I know I need a beer.
I thought I had better write about it now before I forget what a day its been.
It started early with a judgement call on the weather and it was good to go so confirmation with the examiner and it was time to get the plane ready and notice my nerves going through the roof.
I bumped into another guy here, Peter who was also on his Commercial test today and when I saw hoe nervous he was I was more than happy that I wasn't that bad. With the plane ready, fueled to go and the mass and balance calculations done it was time to wait for the examiner to arrive.
The man who turned up was a really nice guy who went out of his way to break the ice, we sat down and had a long briefing before the flight explaining what to expect and what is to be expected at all stages of the exam. This took about 2 hours in total.
Then it was time to head out to the airplane with my passenger and give him the full safety briefings as though he has never been in a plane like this before, it was time to get us underway and in the air. Runway 32, N2878U cleared to take off.
The departure was straight forward and it was kind of into pilot zone then rather than nervous student, I found my heading and starting point for the navigation leg of the flight which was to be a 60nm route, through some fun airspace but due to cloud i was having to skirt quite low which makes navigating quite difficult. The navigation part of the exam is a simulated commercial flight to take a photographer to a grass air strip in the middle of nowhere, yes that would be a grass strip in the middle of a grass field, whilst flying a plane at 3000ft flying a plane at 120kts. If thats not enough, just when you get there the passenger decides he wants to go and see another one that you haven't been able to plan for and have to do the flight planning in the air, calculate heading, time to get there and the amount of fuel you will use to do it. Infact as i write that it really seems quite mad having to do all that and fly a plane at the same time. So this part got done and went the best I have managed it at all since I have been doing the training. Next I had to put my goggles on so that I couldn't see outside to simulate flying into clouds by accident, this involves getting to safe altitudes and emergency calls, then you are getting vectored away from the area so have to fly instructions, climbing and descending with only the instruments to use. Oh then the fun part, half of your instruments break down so it gets quite tough and is a real mental test as you have to trust the instruments and not go with what your body is telling you. As your body can be telling you that you are descending when actually you are climbing with the plane on its side.
Next it was time to get a position fix with the navigation instruments whilst flying the plane and still "under the hood".
Thank god this went quite well and all of a sudden I was out of the cloud and i could take of the goggles and it was time to do some landings into a nearby airfield which was pretty busy and not a controlled field which means making some good decisions and knowing exactly where every other aircraft is around in a mental picture whilst doing your own flying as well. Its pretty taxing but also an enjoyable part of it when you are getting it right. After glide approach, flapless and normal landings off we went away from the airport and it was time to start stalling the plane in different configurations, flaps, gear down and then some steep turns.
These seemed to pass in a flash and we were to start in the general direction on home and I was having a think about what would be left for us to do, just as I was thinking that my examiner pulled the power to off and it was engine failure simulation time. The examiner asked, what is your plan, I told him I would land at the airstrip just off his side of the plane, which it turned out he himself hadn't seen so he was happy with that, I flew my plan to get in and he was happy I would have got there safely and intact.
This was the final stage to the test apart from us getting back to our starting airport safely and expeditiously, joining the airport and landing. Believe it or not people have got this far landed and failed for messing up the taxi back to the ramp.
This wasn't going to happen for me, I made sure I wasn't going to mess that up, had to make sure I was concentrating until the very end.
The best bit of the day was to come when I had stopped the engine undone my seat belt and the examiner leaned over and said to me Well done Captain Morton. I had to stay sat in the plane for a few moments as my legs weren't working so well. After getting myself back into the school we had a de-briefing to go over the good bits and the bad bits of the test and there were a few bits of both, we completed the paperwork and to explain what a decent guy my examiner was he took me over the road for a well earned pint and a late lunch. A big day, and finally got through it after having it cancelled 4 times due to weather.

Its the eve of the big test.....

Here I am the night before my test, the weather has been a bit ropey today wind, rain, low cloud, the lot, so I am glad that the test wasn't booked for today, but it means no flying today to have a final practice run and get in the air.
I am really surprised how quickly this short journey has taken since I got here on the 4th October, 30 or so flights, lots of home work, sweat and stress. It has really tested me to the core, this course is very much a test of one's self and ability to get your mind around problems and be prepared to act, and act without a safety net as the guy in charge of nothing less than an airplane.
I am sure my flying has improved, I feel it has improved along with my confidence, I have learned to fly a new, heavier and complex aircraft which makes me wonder what it will be like to go back the smaller Piper Cadet after this is over. Most of the training has been thanks to Matthew Adams, who has dragged me kicking and screaming from a Private Pilot to one who is on the eve of my flight test for my Commercial Pilot License.
For now I am watching that weather to see if I will be flying tomorrow morning and if I can keep it together for 2 and a half hours, my legs are pretty much like jelly, I feel pretty sick. I have sat and gone through the whole test flight in my mind with a pen and paper, "arm chair flying" it through. I know my drills, I know how to do it, I have the skills, its just a case of putting it together on one flight.
I am not putting this post up directly as I am not wanting mom, dad and the rest of the family to be sitting there waiting upon news of the test when it might not even happen with the weather and having the 5 hour time difference. But I will post it what ever happens after test O'clock.
Game time......

Monday, November 7, 2011

No blogging for a little while

I have been sitting here for a week or so now waiting for my flight test for my commercial license. Originally it was meant to be last Tuesday at 9am and then at that point the bad weather started.... here I am a week later and I was hoping 4th time lucky (as 3 appointments have been cancelled) for tomorrow morning, yet below is the weather forecast:
When you are doing a test here, or anywhere for that matter the test is a simulated Commercial passenger carrying flight, so the weather has to be firstly within legal limits for the airplane and secondly within the legal limits for the manouvers which are to be performed on the test. Thirdly the forecast has to be within limits for the time when you are due to return, so that if the wind is forecast is to be too windy to land then you can't go either. So with all that in mind, I am sitting and waiting for the weather to get itself into shape and then it will be time for testing.
Fingers are crossed for some news soon.

KFPR 072320Z 0800/0824 05007KT P6SM VCSH SCT035 BKN070
     FM081500 04015G20KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 BKN040
KSUA 072320Z 0800/0824 04010KT P6SM VCSH BKN060 
     FM081500 04015G20KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 BKN04
KPBI 072330Z 0800/0824 03010G15KT P6SM VCSH FEW028 SCT035 BKN060 
     TEMPO 0800/0804 -SHRA SCT028 SCT035 BKN050 
     FM080400 04010G15KT P6SM VCSH FEW028 SCT050 
     FM081300 04014G20KT P6SM SCT035 SCT060
KVRB 072320Z 0800/0824 05009KT P6SM VCSH SCT035 BKN060 
     FM081500 04015G20KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 BKN040

A pretty big week of flying with some centreline hopscotch.....

Hours flown this month(FEB): 33 Landings: 8 Countries visited: 5  Continents visited: 3  Quick iron of the shirt and in th...