Thursday, January 30, 2014

Its time to ask a favor...... (just a little one)....

I have been noticing of late that there are more and more people having a look at this little blog of mine from more and more diverse countries..... infact countries I have never been to and didn't think that I knew anyone living there, examples being Finland, Germany, Russia, Ireland and the Ukraine, I have never really addressed those who read this blog before as its more of a personal diary to aid my awful memory but I would really like to invite anyone who reads my ramblings to leave the occasional comment in the comments below or even just say hello & let me know who you are or even just which city you are in anonymously as it would be nice to say hello personally.....Of course if you have any questions please don't be afraid to ask.......
Anyway just a thought as my curiosity is getting the best of me, and most importantly thankyou for taking an interest......
Stu

War games, clouds and icing

Not the best conditions for flying in
Yesterday was a bit of a hum drum type day with bad weather here in Limoges so I have been sitting and writing the new Ground School theory courses that I will be delivering for students this year.
When I was taking a short break I looked outside and my friend who flies his own Cessna 414 high performance twin engine plane was outside and invited me to go for a flight with him to La Rochelle in his plane where he was having to have a revalidation flight for his qualifications......
To say I jumped at the chance is an understatement.
I have flown this plane a few times already and have always thoroughly enjoyed it, but I have never flown in the weather conditions which we had yesterday, storms, rain, icing ...... all in all proper IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions).

The owner of the plane (JP) had filed the flight plan and in we jumped and away we go..... he went through the start up procedures and then turned around and gave me control of the plane to fly it........
Looking ahead of me down the runway I knew that we had a cloud base of about 600ft so it wasn't going to be long until we were going to be straight into the cloud at 130knots.....
Thats when I felt myself Clench.....
Having not done this before for real, especially in a plane so powerful, I realized this is the sharp end and it was time to hop onto the learning curve......
Throttles gently up to full power and away we go.
The Cessna 414
It was actually less dramatic than I was expecting although with the storms that we around in the area it certainly was a touch bumpy, what was quite nice was the fact that we were heading to the coast and fairer weather.
 Infact we broke out at about 10,000ft and could see La Rochelle away in the distance, it seemed like a pretty standard flight over there although we were routed a long way in the wrong direction at the start sue to the French air force playing war games so what would normally have taken an hour took an hour and a half and we were vectored into final approach and when we landed it was blue skies and sunny......Oh to live by the beach
The fun really came for me on the return journey. I had sat on the ground whilst JP had done his check flight and could see some proper storm clouds in the area and when it was time to head back I realized this could be a slightly different flight for me on the return.
We had a standard departure out of La Rochelle and once again had to head all the way south to Royan to avoid the war games and were immediately into the cloud from about 4,000ft. I wanted to practice my Instrument flying so hand flew the plane rather than use auto pilot all of the way back. We were cleared to 9,000ft and I felt I did a pretty good job of holding heading and altitude all of the way back, as we couldn't see a thing, its a pretty strange sensation whilst hurtling along at about 180knots.
We then had a call through to commence the descent into Limoges down to 4000ft with a warning of Icing and moderate turbulence.......mmmm I thought....... this is a new one on me. Then I noticed JP start to strap himself in properly with his seat belts.
Now he is a very experienced pilot and he had his game face on, it was time to Clench again.
We bumped and shook around a little, well quite a bit but I managed to hold at the 4000ft to the start of the instrument procedure (The IAF), taking directions from JP I made the turn and started to hit the headings that he gave me, although I have to admit I was feeling a little as though the plane was racing ahead of me like a race horse down the back straight during the 11:10 a Kempton and I was holding on with everything I have and realized I was holding on to the controls a little too tight as my knuckles were a little white.......
The magic needle came into place and after following it for a while the view in the photo below came as a welcome sight when popping out of the cloud.....


That welcome view when popping out
 The heart carried on beating for an hour or so after the flight...... maybe I'm mad but I wanted to get back up and do some more......

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cover girl me ????

Back at the end of summer I was contacted by a journalist called Cally who works for an English magazine based in the UK called Living France.
She had apparently read my blog and seen some news about my flight school here in Limoges and she asked if she could come to meet me and talk about the possibility of doing a story for the magazine.
I decided to have a read of some of Cally's previous articles and her writing was really balanced and enjoyable to read so I agreed with her to come and spend a day with me.
She came to my home firstly and then we travelled into the airport and met one of my students for a good chat with those who work around me too.
All 5 pages of the Article
I was a nice surprise them when a week ago a friend contacted me to tell me he has seen my ugly mug in a magazine in the UK and he scanned it and emailed it to me so I thought it would be a nice record to put the article on my blog. I was shocked to see it being 5 pages but I really like Cally's writing and feel she's done a great job and wish to send her a huge Thankyou.



London's calling..... London's calling.....

Well, where are we......? I was reminded at the weekend that I hadn't done my blog in a while, (thank you Gruff) so I have sat myself d...