Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Lesson 16: Enjoying Circuits...

It felt great this morning, that is to say it all kind of clicked and I felt very comfortable in the approach and the landing. To be fair the wind was right down the runway giving me plenty of time to line her up. I was on runway 02 main today so another left hand circuit. It was unusual in that there was no choppiness on the approach which is usual for this runway. Instead the turbulence seemed to be on the climb out.

Anyway - it was a very very good day in my training. Mike my instructor was very pleased and said I deserved to pat myself on my back. I said that my third lesson (this holiday) is tomorrow and I'll probably make a hash of it after two really good days. We shall see!

I took some snaps (pictures enclosed) and of course the usual track plot.

16.27-04-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 09:05 10:05 1:00 1-1 EX12/13


Above Left: Leaving the keys on top is a visual comfort to anybody walking around the front of the aircraft that it is safe to do so. Above Right: The three main controls, Carb Heat, Throttle and Mixture.
Left: In case you were not sure how to get out of a Cessna - simply follow the signs! Above: Where it all comes together.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lesson 15: More Circuits...

O joys of joys - back to circuits today! On runway 34 - [btw - this means it lays in the magnetic direction of 340 degrees] and the wind was 20 knots from 350 degrees. So then, a bit of a cross wind from the right hand side and [as it transpired] some kamakazee sea gulls to contend with!

I had a bizare start to the lesson actually as 1) I forgot my c-152 checklist in my excitement to leave home 2) I started external checks on the wrong aircraft and the final Pièce de résistance 3) after completing all the external and startup checks in Foxtrot Mike, I was left with a radio that was about as much use as a pork chop at a bar mitzvah. My instructor and I could hear each other perfectly well but not the controller! She sounded like a Dalek who had lost its voice ! Turning the engine off this improved things but (surprise surprise) the engine wouldnt start! Over to Papa X-Ray and a trip upto the fuel pump.

Anyway - all said and done then, the circuits went OK. Mike said the last two were very good. It was a bit blusty and we got threw about abit but I seemed to come in on line. This was despite not being too familiar with the runway 34 circuit. Landings were ok as well - despite 34 having a bump halfway down the runway which is right on the landing spot!

Mike (my instructor) said I am making progress and seemed very pleased with my lesson today. I was sweaty and knackered at the end of my lesson but went home happy.

I have another lesson booked for 8:30 tomorrow morning. After todays great lesson the pressure is on to not fluff it up tomorrow. I really don't want to let my instructor down who was happy with things today. In fact , on the penultimate circuit he said "it doesnt get much better than this, 65 knots, 700 ft on base, this is exactly where I would be if I was flying now". Thanks Mike! Pressure, pressure pressure! Anyway we shall see about tomorrow. I expect to ebb and flow on the circuit training until it all clicks.

Oh - I remembered switching on Motion X...

15.26-04-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 15:20 16:20 1:00 1-1 EX12/13

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Aircraft General and X-Plane

Absolutely glorious weather lately! Long may it continue!

Anyway, no flying this past weekend but hoorah hoorah one more ground school exam ticked off which was Aircraft General Knowledge and Flight Principles. I've added a page to track exam progress on the blog here, but suffice to say a few more still to go.

About that Flight Simulator I mentioned the other day. It was a few weeks ago now, but I treated myself to a copy of X-Plane 9 and a couple of accessories... a saitek yoke, throttle quadrant and some rudder pedals. Yup I know ... the perils of shopping on-line.

I also downloaded a Cessna 152 pack from x-aviation.

It's just a bit of fun quite frankly and to be honest I'm actually quite impressed with the engineering that has gone into the software. There are a couple of things which understandably don't work so well on a simulator though, which are those things based on peripheral visibility (not sure that's the term I should use but you know what I mean). This is the sort of thing you would take for granted doing circuits for example. Anyway, let us not dwell on the negatives, having the opportunity to muck about practising some task lists and developing some motor skills for flying is a good thing right :-)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Lesson 14: A break from circuits - Ex 15 Advanced Turns

A nice break today with a no circuits instruction from the airport. This meant heading out over the Medway Estuary over to Swale and then up to 3,300ft for some steep turns. This involved 30, 45 and 60 degree banks left and right. Also I was made to do some descending steep turns, keeping the nose down for 70 knots. The behaviour of the aeroplane is as you would expect, going round the level turn you have to keep pulling back to keep the top left edge of the cowling (from my left hand seat view) skimming the horizon. Failure to do that means she wants to sink. You have to keep this back with some effort to be honest. If you can feel it starting to "wind up" you can turn back out the turn or pull back further. On the steeper turn passing 30 degrees I had to increase the throttle from the cruise setting to max. It is a straight forward but very useful lesson as it builds confidence in the general handling of the aircraft. Well that's how I saw it.

What else can I say, there was a noticeable right hand crosswind on taking off on runway 02. Mike made me take off with the ailerons turned into the wind full lock. This technique involves slowly reducing the turn as the airspeed increases until you are in the normal laterally level sense at the point of rotation. It seemed to be ok. landing I thought was ok but coming in on the approach over the trees and motorway onto runway 02 I lost the line with the buffeting. Oh well, practice practice practice.. One thing that was clear about today was the gorgeous weather, a bit gusty but visibility was excellent and it was so nice to see the sun out dominating proceedings.

My instructor is off now for a bit so I've got a little flying break until the Easter week. I'm scheduled to be off work then so I thought I would book some weekday flights. This could be useful because runway 02 does not allow circuits in the summer [at the weekend] so it's probably the right thing to do, especially if getting back in the circuit is going to be on the agenda.

I will post something about the simulator I setup this weekend. With the break in flying I intend to have a really good go at this. It looks fab.

Oh... I have an exam next Saturday. Aircraft General and then after that I intend to start preparing for the Navigation test.

Learning to fly really does feel special and today was just another great day in that voyage.

Logbook Entry:
14.10-04-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 14:55 15:55 1:00 1-1 EX 15

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lesson 13: Circuits - Nothing like a relaxing Sunday afternoon...

Silly me, I forgot to switch on my iPhones Motion-X app GPS Tracker so you will have to take my word for it... I did lap after lap today. Every time my instructor called in on ATC "India Victor on Finals for .......touch and go" I thought to myself - "No way, not again!! You are having a giraffe!" Its got to be "India Victor on Finals for ... landing!" surely then NEXT time.

I couldn't believe it was just an hour today. In the words of Mike, my super instructor - "you starting off c_r_@_p ..... but finished quite well..". We did several right hand circuits in India Victor in quite a warm cockpit - it was a tiring experience to be honest. Mike said I worked quite hard today. In addition to circuits, we did some mock engine failure drills thrown in. "What field would you go for right now?" ... "C'mon glide descent - 65 knots, glide attitude"... One of these little tasks meant doing a glide descent from half way round the circuit. This means cutting the engine back to idle and swooping in (on glide) to land.

Right then - things OK and things to learn or take note of today:

1) Keep to 90 Knots on the downwind leg of the circuit and 1000ft and KEEP it at that... right till the end. Don't lose ALTITUDE. Don't encroach inwards on the circuit!!! If you can do that then.... you are ON the mark.

2) Level turn (30 Degrees Bank) from downwind to base and THEN wash away the airspeed ASAP. I need to improve on this point. I was encroaching on the circuit and therefore not leaving myself enough time. Get on with it Lyrick, be positive. Close the throttle on the turn.

3) I wasn't so nervous about the takeoffs today even though it was on Runway 20 where I think I got hit by a crosswind and a clumsy rudder foot a few weeks back. This runway results in your climb getting hit by gusts from the motorway but you just have to fly through it. My instructors words.

4) Taxying felt OK, oh and apparently my turns were OK. I specifically asked about this afterwards. I still think that I'm too soft on these but Mike said they are OK. The only one to watch out for is the turn from the downwind leg onto the base leg. Take too long and you run out of time to get everything else sorted out. Make it 30 degree bank and reduce speed straight away. Enough to bring in two levels of flap.

5) Landings were OK again. I wasnt too nervous about them. It's all about the path on to the centre line and keeping the attitude correct. Too high, reduce throttle, too low, increase throttle and change attitude. I am a bit "change this and change that" and not properly on this yet which I guess is how it goes. Practice, Practice, Practice.

6) Rudder wasn't too bad on take-off but I must keep the weight off the nose wheel".

A lot to take in. Mike my instructor seemed very happy with things today.... "You are making progress" he said. I felt tired, a bit sweaty and somewhat exhilarated at the end of it. Taking off my headset, I just said... "Nothing like a relaxing Sunday Afternoon!"

He got the joke.

Flying ... love it!

A picture from Rochester Airport Website Gallery. A beautiful Spitfire. For me nothing more than this machine captures my imagination about aviations historic past so much. Seeing her each time teleports me back from today over some 70 years to a completely different time altogether. Oh to dream, to be able one day to fly over Kent in one of these. I saw one recently at Rochester Airport which was from one of the Polish squadrans (I think 303) and as I run my hand over it I couldnt believe how immaculate she felt. I walked around her and then I stood in front of the prop, looked up and her magnificence and was awestruck ... so much history ... so much emotion and so many stories to tell...