Sunday, 30 January 2011

Lesson 8: Exercise 10B - Stalling

Yes - yes - yes! Finally back in the air today - and what a relief! I loved it. I have to say the met office got their forecast spot on. It was chilly at around 3C, but it was dry and the pressure was 1021 hpa and falling. We had medium level cloud cover with a wind about 8mph gusting to about 16. Visibility was good though. Clouds were at around 1800ft-2300ft.

The wind made it feel really very cold and completing the checks my hands were so numb from the chill it was a pain undoing the tie downs. When we were all ready, we were both surprised to see the old girl (India Victor) wouldn't start. She offered a few "click-clicks" and that was it. There would have been more life in a chicken McNugget! This was strange as she had been out twice earlier in the day and when I arrived to do the checks the master switch was off.

Anyway, after a couple of attempts, Brian came out from the comfort of the flying school portakabin and after a few failed attempts she was fired in to life the old fashioned way - by hand cranking.

Eventually we were on the 02 Relief runway and rotating and I made a conscious effort to keep level after a bit of buffeting, and keep the attitude correct. No "keep the nose downs" from Mike this week and before no time it was time to hang a right at 1000ft and proceed over to Sheppey. I climbed through some cloud up to about 2,300ft with the Isle of Grain on the left and then a further climb to 3,400ft for Sheppey. Once there, nature had given us a big hole in the cloud with the ground in sight and glorious sunshine to the east.

Today's lesson was all about stalling, and some more stalling. And when that was done (you've guessed it) some more stalling. We must have done around 20 - 25 different stalls in various configurations.

Note to self: These were steady even flight stall, with and without flaps, recovery with and without power. Left and Right Bank Stalls, with and without flaps, recovery with power.

Takeaways being - HASELL checks! HELL checks, keep that nose up (pull the column right back), level the wings while you can, don't use the ailerons just above the stall speed (<10 knots). When stalling on the bank - keep the (banked) attitude as it stalls - DON'T TOUCH the ailerons, power in and recover roll by use of the ailerons ONLY when the Air Speed has regained.

I really enjoyed the lesson today, it was a beautiful day up there. I definitely want to take some pictures pretty soon.

Heading back to Rochester Airport and a little RT practice for rejoining the ATZ, landing felt heavy to me but apparently it was ok. No bounce or anything so maybe it was just the relief runway I wasn't familiar with.

Anyway - I loved it today and I can't wait for next week. My homework is to be researching about Circuits.

8. 30-01-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 15:05 16:05 1:00 1-1 EX10B

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Air Law Exam & CAA Class 2 Medical

No flying today due to the rubbish weather. Looking outside it's one of those depressing winter days... very cloudy, quite still, cold, very very damp. Basically miserable.

On a more positive note I did get two things achieved yesterday, one being the Air Law exam and the other was the CAA Class 2 Medical.

On the first one, its a 40 question multiple choice setup which you are given an hour to complete. I didn't read one question properly despite all the best advice you are given, and know yourself.... so that was dumb of me, and then waiting with time to finish (an hour is more than enough) I changed two correct answers to the wrong ones! In those cases I thought they were trick questions, and with time to spare convinced myself of that! Another dumb move as the only person tricking me was myself. Despite being irritated with myself I got 90% in the end which was still OK. Somebody joked that every point over 75% was a waste of effort anyway!

As for the Medical, that lasts just over an hour and covers various eye tests, ECG, a questionnaire, weight, height, ear inspections, chest breathing etc. The doctor who performed my medical was a top guy, a very experienced aviator and just generally speaking a really nice bloke. Apparently, most of the people who bomb out of the Class 1, would probably have bombed out of the Class 2. The main difference being the more in depth eye and ear tests on the Class 1 which is not the most common cause of issues. As I'm past the 40 mark the certificate is valid (fingers crossed - health permitting) for 2 years.

So these two things are done now which means I can legally fly solo when the time comes. I've booked up the next exam for Sunday Feb 13 (Human Factors and Flight Safety) and I've rebooked today's cancelled lesson for next weekend.

At least the days are getting longer now .. the sun WILL return!

Sunday, 16 January 2011


They (Met Office, BBC ..) got the forecast completely wrong. Woke up to a gorgeous blue sky.

I read somewhere weather forecasts are just horoscopes with numbers.

Anyway, despite the aerodrome webcam showing little activity apart from cars moving around I had hope of flying right up to the last minute but sadly after all the rain we had (earlier this week), the runways were deemed to be still not up to scratch.

Oh well. Bummer. Re-booked for next Sunday.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Friday, 14 January 2011

Better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here.


5 Day Forecast for Rochester Airport...

Friday - Heavy Rain, Saturday - Heavy Rain, Sunday - Light Rain, Monday - Heavy Rain, Tuesday - Heavy Rain

OK! With this weekends weather forecast looking like the apocolypse I reckon I'll be pretty much grounded this weekend. Bummer. I guess this leaves time for more study. No! No! Not more Air Law please!!!!

I have my first ground school exam (the wonderful, delightful, riveting.... Air Law) next Saturday morning, and then in the afternoon, my CAA Class II Medical.

To be honest I'm not unduly worried about the former (although I'm not going to book an exam so far ahead in the future because it just drags on) but with the latter medical exam you just never know.

Anyway.. Bring on the Spring and the Summer (....obviously following hopefully, fingers crossed, everything crossed - a medical certificate).

Sunday, 9 January 2011


I was very fortunate today as the airfield only opened up about 1pm. Phew! My lesson was booked for 2PM! Despite the warm temperatures and gloriously clear skies all morning the runways were very wet from the last couple of days rain. In parts they were very messy. I went up to the airport yesterday to sign up for my yearly membership and the runways had been closed all day, so I was already worried about my prospects of flying today. I relaxed this morning with my PC fixed on the Webcam and it was showing no activity. After a couple of phone calls, I was pleased to hear that the inspection had passed and we were in business. Hoorah!

Because of all the mornings shenanigans, lessons had been delayed so I sat with a coffee and watched out from the Skytrek office at all the activity. The strange maneuvering requirements brought on by the airstrip condition certainly seemed to be causing a lot of confusion with people taxing in the wrong areas. As I waited for my lesson I was listening to the Air Traffic Information Service issue repeated instructions and also the odd reprimand to those that had got it wrong. It seemed very chaotic to me. I was glad my Instructor Mike was going to be there to guide me.

The runway in use was runway 20. I also heard we had right hand circuits in force. A quick check of the landing T and the ball above it told me that today was a bit different. According to the Air Law book I remembered that sign meant "The direction of take offs and landings are not necessarily in the same direction". BTW that Air Law exam is in a couple of weeks time. Should be OK, I just want it done now so I can get on to the other exams. Flicking through the literature the other subjects don't appear so heavy going and certainly look more interesting.

For take-off we had to taxi up the left hand side of runway 16 (going NW) and as that crossed runway 20/2, cross over and go up the left hand side of runway 2 (in other word UP the runway we were going to use 20). At the top there was a break denoted by two cones on the right hand side and a taxi way loop to taxi back onto the start of runway (20). Still with me? Exactly - anyway even my Instructor had a map they must have issued earlier and he took the wrong turn taxiing on the lesson before mine and got a bollocking. 

Wind was about 230 degrees 10 knots, QNH 1013. Once we were round the loop, no stopping in, throttle in and off we shot down runway 20. It felt bumpy. Bumpier than normal and I realised I hadn't been down 20 before.  

Easing the weight off the nose (but not too much), we bumped along on a straight line until it was soon time to ease back and rotate. Up we went. Hand keeping on throttle, three reminders to "keep the nose down" jolted a memory from the last lesson. This is is something I should now have in mind for next time.

Up to 1000ft and a right climbing turn due East to Sheppey.

The lesson went from Sheppey and down south past Canterbury. Stayed around 2,300 ft. Very few aircraft around today which I was surprised at but was good for us though. Spent around 30 minutes doing some slow flight with and without flaps and some gentle turning. Got the Airspeed down to about 45 and 50 Knots (keep the nose up, keep the nose up!). Emphasis was on gentle movements of the aircrafts controls. It felt a lot better with flaps down than it did up but generally flying at such a slow airspeed is not something you really wanted to be doing (I did ask!).

Following this we headed back for home in the fast approaching dusk. On the way back we performed a few stalls and went through stall recovery with and without power. The C152 (I was in India Victor today) seemed gentle and placid in the stall. I guess both wings had stalled and the recovery was an attitude adjustment with power and no rudder was required.

So coming to and end, the lesson ended in a twilight landing which was a new one for me down the right hand side of runway 20. The landing was ok although turning to final I was too high. I was surprised to see this runway had approach path indicators, so keeping one red and one white was an easy way to get in the correct angle of decent. Simple idea, simple piece of technology but rather clever.

Key takeaways and reminders for me personally today:

I made more of a conscious effort to check the Turn Level Indicator today and using the rudder to stay in balance when turning. This probably came about after reading this morning the acronym BBBL which means Bank, Balance, Back (pressure), Lookout. I hadn't really been focusing too much on the Balance before and so I think I addressed that today.

Take a torch or a source of light! Reading the instruments and for example setting the subscale on the ASI in fading light is not easy.

Watch the attitude on take off, keep nose down and watch airspeed.

Pitot Heat - If waiting for a long time prior to taxi switch off (remember to switch on later)

AVGAS is currently about £1.90 a litre!

Vs0 Vs1 are the minima speeds for stalling with full flaps (landing configuration) and no flaps (specific configuration) respectively. These are indicated by the end of the white arc and the end of the green arc respectively. These aren't on the ASI in this C152.

Logbook entry: 7. 09-01-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 15:35 16:40 1:05 1-1 EX10A

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Starting Off : Lessons 2 - 6

Since that very big smile and first flight I have had a further half a dozen lessons (*) and have throughly enjoyed the experience. Virtually all the flying is carried out over the Isles of Sheppey and Grain with towns such as Maidstone and Canterbury a stones throw away and the Kent coast line towns like Whitstable clearly visible.

In addition to the flying itself, all the staff at Skytrek are approachable and very friendly. The instructors skilled and professional and for me the place just has a great friendly atmosphere.

24 October 2010. A gloriously beautiful day for flying.

Papa X-Ray prior to inspection.

This is one of the three 152 Cessna's that Skytrek provide in their training fleet.

Wikipedia: Cessna 152

There isn't much room in a C-152!

As I add this post and in doing so bring this blog up-to-date, I am already excited at the prospect of getting up in the air on Sunday [January 9, 2010]. Fingers crossed. It's an unfortunate but obvious fact that winter restricts opportunities for people to fly and that's particularly true with the weather we have experienced so far this winter.

However, that said...I can't wait!

* More pictures are posted on the Gallery pages.

* My flying to this point is 6 lessons. These are detailed in the Logbook page.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A New Challenge

Unexpetedly one day. Wham! Right there at work and probably lost in a sea of email; It came back to me like a bolt. I wanted to learn to fly. Yes, like I used to, I really did.

Following the 1 year anniversary (in Feb 2010) of the passing away of my father to lung cancer, I gave up smoking. It was so ridiculously easy in the end that I felt incredibly stupid and ignorant for having taken so long to do it. Although I started relatively late (25), I had still smoked for 17 years meaning the habit was ingrained into the majority of my adult life.

I believe this event against the backdrop of the melancholic flashbacks to time with dad, fueled a new appetite and refocussing of my life. In truth, as the architypical "fidget" I had always experienced my share of those 'what next' thoughts but now, now felt different. With more conviction than before I felt compelled to do new challenging things and make the most of time.

And so it was that I embarked upon testing myself with a new sense of vigour trying various new pursuits like sailing, power boating, short wave radio courses and I was just buzzing with ideas of a new exciting future. I was loving life again, and was thirsty for knowledge. I got married to my best friend and soulmate Ewa and things were looking up. I had dreams again and it was all a akin to being like I used to be ... younger and happier again!

So anyway, the flying thing. Where did that come from you may ask? Well, in all honestly it used to be a dream of mine in my 20s although it has to be said, it wasn't really the type of pursuit somebody from my background really got in to. I know that sounds a bit working class defeatest but it's true. However, I had started my working life in an avionics company and I had known people that had got into flying. I had thought at the time how fortunate they were as they had received financial assistance and for whatever reason I was never offered that opportunity. I think wrong place right time sums it up. Anyway, that's life (no grudges), now was a different time and given some sacrifices I could have the opportunity. It didn't take long to rationalise the idea. No doubt about it, this venture would be a big commitment in cost, time, study and generally emotional investment but it would be a great long term project that would appeal to my innermost love of a good challenge. It would also occupy my mind, something I've learnt from my past that I need to do inorder to keep myself positive and energised.

I discussed it with my partner who took all of about 2 seconds to say "That's a great idea - GO for it" and I was on-line quicker than it takes to read a stop sign.

Next day I made some further calls and looked at various flying websites, aerodromes and courses and ended up booking an "Experience Flight" for October 10, 2010 at Skytrek. They are a Flight Training Organisation based locally to me at Rochester Airport in Kent.

Needless to say the day went off like a dream, it was 30 minutes, and I loved it. I came back home wearing the biggest smile.

The journey had begun.