Saturday, 28 May 2011

Lesson 21 Joining Circuits and More Solo Practice...

I was worried this morning as the weather forecast was not great. Showers and windy conditions were expected. So, when I woke up and saw it looking quite gloomy I was not expecting to fly. However, lady luck was smiling upon me because when I got up to Rochester Airport the weather there (elevation of about 435 feet) was slightly better.

The wind was building up but it was fine and it was straight down runway 20. I had a flight briefing with Mike my instructor on all the different types of circuit joins (which I must now read up on) and we went out for my lesson.

I was in G-BNIV again today. We did one normal circuit and then on the second climb out we did an emergency drill (instructor pulls throttle back and basically you have to go into a glide and say which field you are going for)!

On the recovery we then went downwind tight and did a glide decent - again a similar approach, don't panic, sort out the aircraft, get into a glide and aim for the threshold. When you know you are going to make it, decide on the use of flaps etc).

Following this we went out and did a mock radio failure overhead join when we were at 2000 ft QNH overhead loop back to the deadside and descend to 1000ft before joining the circuit at 1000ft over the end of the runway you will be leading on. In our case Runway 20 , right hand circuit.

Click this link to a CAA Safety Sense leaflet talking about various things including Circuit advice.

Diagram below courtesy of

After the landing Mike got out and I did 3 touch and gos. They were OK, not brilliant but no tooth rattlers! It was getting quite gusty. I think the last wind call was 21018 knots on final. This means wind is 18 knots from a 10 degree offset from the right [if using runway 20]. I was happy with the lesson to quit there. 35 minutes with Instruction and 30 minutes on my own. All in all I would call that a great day!

Lesson next week of course but some reading up on Circuits (joining patterns) and I better get my head down in that Navigation Book!

21.28-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 09:25 10:00 0:35 2-2 EX12/13 NROH join
21.28-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 10:00 10:30 0:30 3-3 EX12/13 SELF
01:50 SELF

Flight Performance and Planning Exam

Yesterday I sat and passed my Flight Performance and Planning Exam which now makes 5 exams down and 2 to go.
The 2 to complete still are Navigation and Communication. I am really looking forward to Navigation as it will allow me to study at the same time as
actually doing the subject matter from a practical stand point. That is to say, as soon as I get through my training on Circuits (3-4 hours solo required) I should start to work towards the other parts of the PPL.

I got 100% for this test which was nice but in truth I should have sat the exam earlier as I did over revise somewhat. Perhaps that wasn't necessary. To be honest, the test is fairly straightforward and covers such things as take-off and landing distances, Centre of Gravity calculations and Pressure Altitude calculations. It sounds difficult but it's at school level Maths and provided you read the questions properly it shouldn't really catch you out.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lesson 20: Circuits and More Solo Practice...

I woke up to an amazingly clear blue sky and just a very light wind from SSW. With the visibility so good, it was just perfect.

I had the first slot of the day which meant 8:00 for the aircraft checks and hopefully an 8:30 start.

I was really excited on my way to the airport. I think it's the most nervous part part of flying actually! The anticipation!!

When I walked out to the aircraft (G-BNIV) I was the first person on the airfield and it was gorgeous. There was hardly any wind and it was so warm.

Aircraft checks went well. I took a few snaps along the way included here in this post.

Today I really needed to kill the ghost of that landing number 2 from last week. Mike [my instructor] was great and when talking about landings for today was really encouraging about how I dealt with last weeks balloon. 

For me though I wanted to nail the approaches this week and not make the same mistake again (last week I was too high and too fast). I had been annoyed with myself until this Wednesday about that! It was a bit of a test today. I really had to get it all right.

So then, we were on runway 20. This is the one where your climb out is over the motorway and it can get a little choppy. This morning though the wind was so light that conditions were perfect and on the first takeoff this was all confirmed.

We went round the circuit twice. The first one was a standard circuit and then on the second one we did a glide descent from downwind.

 Following the second landing my instructor got out and asked me to do some touch and go circuits on my own. And so I did. I did 5, I think the third landing was a slight bounce but nowhere near as tooth rattling as last week. The last two I think were quite good. The wind was picking up slightly but by and large the conditions were exceptionally good. I think general circuit pattern felt OK and again the takeoffs were not an issue (although I am curious what the experience is like on a super smooth runway). It must feel great.

So then, my hour was made up of roughly 20 minutes with my instructor and 40 minutes solo. I loved the lesson, in absolutely beautiful weather. But... but but but..... what it was really all about today was sorting out the landing again. I got the approach speed and flare right this time and the landing was all the easier because of it. 
Lesson again next week? You betcha.... And I can't wait!

20.21-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 08:45 09:05 0:20 1-1 EX12/13 FL /Guide
20.21-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 09:05 09:45 0:40 5-5 EX12/13 SELF
01:20 SELF

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Photograph - My First Solo [Courtesy of my Flight School]

Photo from May 8, 2011

Lesson 19: More Circuits, Second Solo and OUCH - a Ballooned Landing.

A lovely early morning start today saw me up at Rochester Airport at 8AM busy carrying out my checks in bright sunshine on G-BNIV. Today was obviously my first flight after my solo so emotions felt a little different this morning. It was if the pressure was off now that the looming spectre of that first solo flight had passed. That said, I was still acutely aware that I had to concentrate and work equally as hard as before (perhaps more) in order to keep progress going and avoid any backward steps. The high from last Sunday lasted the whole week. I guess that is quite normal. I wasn't as "nervous" as normal.

Today's lesson was based on circuit flying of course as well as a glide descent. You can see the glide descent clearly in the motion track below. We did the normal two stage of flap landings, plus a flapless landing. We also did a three stage of flaps landing. I enjoyed that. You have to really drive it with power. Without the power it sinks pretty fast. I did 5 circuits with my instructor Mike then we did the stop, and he got out for me to do to 3 touch and goes. 

We were on runway 34 with that wretched bump in the middle and sure enough I managed to hit it on the second touch and go and ballooned right up. I came down with a B-A-N-G on the nose wheel and in the process I may well have lost a tooth filling! It was quite a shock. I managed to raise one stage of flap and with the carb heat already sorted I hit full throttle. At about 15ft, keeping the nose down I ran parallel to the runway and gained enough speed to commence a good climb out. The recovery from from that point was fine. 

In talking with my instructor afterwards, it was clear that the second landing was one of those "when it goes wrong" landings and he said I did the right thing in dealing with it. It was good experience. Thankfully with the feeling of the second bad landing still fresh the last one was OK. Albeit a tad fast again.

What went wrong then? Well, I was a bit too fast on all three approaches and I naffed up the landing on the second touch and go. I payed the price with the balloon brought on with the bump in the runway. There is a tree before the threshold of 34 which [keen to avoid] I was high across. My ground speed was high because as it transpired the wind went from being a head wind 330 to 300 and then to 270. Different on each approach. The last one having practically no headwind component. To be honest - I was wondering about my stop distance as the hedge was looming up!

Experience. Practice. That's what it comes down to.

As for the rest of it. The circuit handling was fine. Speed and altitude was pretty much under control and I seemed to have plenty of time to carry out my checks and RT calls without any issue.

Mike my instructor said "Well done Paul" as I left but I have 7 days to mull over that landing [number 2]. I am determined about nailing this, and I must do better.

P.S Oh - certainly one positive ... Take-Offs are feeling better. As I may have said before, they were something that I was not particularly enjoying. For me I think it was the trundling along a bumpy grass runway waiting to rotate (take off) that just didn't feel comfortable. These seem to be feeling fine now. 

Next Lesson? Saturday 21st. I also need to book my Performance Planning Exam!

19.14-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 08:40 09:20 0:40 1-1 EX12/13 FF/FL
19.14-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 09:20 09:45 0:25 1-1 EX12/13 SELF
00:40 SELF

Sunday, 8 May 2011

My First Solo - A Day To Remember...

A Day To Remember

I set my alarm for 7 this morning and I was up looking out the window at 5:40, 6:20 and about 2 minutes after my alarm, wondering if my lesson was going to go ahead. I was quite nervous to be honest, I don't know why - perhaps intuition. Yesterday's lesson was quite good in fairly blusty conditions but today seemed much worse. I thought to myself, if I had to wait for another week for an aviation 'fix' that wouldn't be so bad. The trees were swaying around, and with the wind from the same direction as yesterday, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to happen. I logged on to XC Weather but it wasn't conclusive. I went downstairs, made some breakfast, a huge coffee and stuck on the x-box for some Halo. Shortly after, phone on my lap, the buzz went off and it was a text from my instructor. Weather was c-r-a-p , cancel the first lesson and lets see what happens for the second one! My other lesson (fallback option) was scheduled for 12:00.

At 11 the wind showed no sign of abating so I went out into the garden and after looking up at the clouds charging across overhead texted my instructor.."Hi Mike - Low level Cumulus clouds, quite gusty - shall I book for next Saturday?". No answer. Hmmm. My wife said to me "I really think he wants to fly today!".

By this time, my electric shower switch had for some reason decided to meet its maker and the upstairs landing was full of an acrid burnt smell. OK I thought, no problem, I'll head up to the airport and when I see the lessons cancelled, I'll shoot next door to Homebase and sort out a replacement.

I arrived at the airport in good time and my instructor was there and to my surprise said "OK Paul, it's not too bad out there. It's a bit rough on the climb out but thats fairly normal on 20. We are in Papa X-Ray which is coming back soon. when it's here you may as well go start your checks".

We were on Runway 20, Barometric pressure 999 (QFE) and the wind was about 14 mph from 190 Degrees. Being on 20 you get quite a battering shortly after takeoff when you fly over the M2 motorway and a valley full of trees. On my first take off and climb out I certainly felt it was rough. This continued for a few laps. I commented to Mike my instructor, that it really was quite difficult today.

And so the lesson continued. I was quite nervous and struggling with keeping the aircraft stable at times. It was quite rough. In addition to this, I also had a Helicoptor in the circuit to contend with.

Everything was going well, so on a turn into the base leg I said to Mike... "We're landing this time yeah?"... to which he replied ... "Well, maybe if you like but you're doing really well and you're Ok arent you?"... I replied in the affirmative "Yeah - I'm fine". I thought to myself... maybe he wants to do do one more circuit. 

So.. on the turn into Finals, he then says to me: "I'll get the radio." A couple of seconds later..."Papa X-Ray Finals for ......Short Stop"

I was concentrating on the approach to land but after a couple of seconds that phrase hit me like a rocket. "Short Stop?" ....... NO WAY! DOES THAT MEAN HE'S GOING TO GET OUT?????

And he did. We landed and turned off the runway. We stopped. "I want you to do this on your own. Enjoy it. I've not done anything today." I was a mili-second from saying "Thanks, but maybe next week Mike." but pride and determination got the better of me. In that split second I felt like this wasn't my choice now anyway, I owed it to everybody else, including my instructor to do this. And so I did.

I cannot describe how I felt when he shut the door and walked off, nor the feeling when I landed but it will live with me forever. I was only on my own for 15 minutes but it was a pivotal moment in my training. It was magical.

Learning to fly really is a wonderful voyage.

18.08-05-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 12:20 13:05 1:00 1-1 EX12/13
18.08-05-11 C152 G-CEPX EGTO EGTO 13:05 13:20 0:15 1-1 EX12/13 SELF

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Lesson 17: Guess what ..... Circuits!

A beautiful morning today saw me up at the airport, with all checks done and sitting in the aeroplane (G-BNIV) at 12:30. It was warm (21 Celsius), barometric pressure (qfe) 997 and quite humid following early morning rain. Wind was SSE initially straight down runway 16. Circuits are allowed on this runway, 20 and 34 at the weekend but I couldn't recall using 16 before, certainly not for circuits. By the end of the lesson the wind was 190 degrees so the final couple of circuits were on our old friend 20.

The lesson went well and my instructor said that there isn't much more he can do for me now. I should say, he meant this in the positive way ha ha. This means a bit more practice and then it's time for the solo circuit work.

In today's lesson it was quite windy and the approach into 16 did bring some wind sheer to some but I seemed to escape this. I also covered an abandoned take off, short field landing and a go around.

There was lots of activity at the airport on a beautiful day for flying.

17.07-05-11 C152 G-BNIV EGTO EGTO 12:40 13:30 1:00 1-1 EX12/13B-E(12E)