Monday, 22 July 2013

Tiger Moth Trial Flight : Did I dream that ?

I don't think I could have written about this yesterday, because my head kept spinning all day. It was like I remained high on an adrenaline rush. I could not have articulated anywhere near the sense of magnificence I had felt flying such a historic and beautiful aircraft as G-ACDC - the worlds oldest surviving Tiger Moth.

I had booked myself a 40 minute trial flight at The Tiger Club based down at Headcorn aerodrome and what a time I had. What a lovely club and what a wonderful aircraft. I knew it was going to be special. Manufactured in 1933, I believe G-ACDC was one of the first batch of ten made and is the only survivor making it the oldest Tiger Moth in the world. To be given the opportunity to take her for a spin (obviously with one of her amazing custodian pilots) was not just a privilege but an absolute honour.

My pilot for my trip was Bruce Abbott, a top guy who put me at ease from the second I walked into the Tiger Moth club room. After completing the necessary paperwork, completing payment and a chat about what I might like to cover it was outside for an aircraft briefing. At all times I was made to feel like a VIP, as the personal attention was second to none. 

I was shown into the front seat and how to buckle in tightly and then a description of the cockpit controls and various instruments followed. We were to do some general handling and some basic aerobatics. Looking at my cockpit and the basic controls and instruments I had nothing but awe for all those nervous young men that had climbed aboard for their flight training all those years ago.

The Tiger has no electrical system so the prop is hand swung and thats what happened. A great spectacle when for the first time, you are wearing a leather flying helmet siting right behind it as I was. 

Within 4 minutes of the engine being warmed up we were trundling along runway 03 into wind and were off. I was asked to take the controls and manage the climb out. This was done around the 60 knot mark and it was the first time I had used a stick. What struck me was how natural it felt and how the Tiger responded. She flew beautifully.

For the majority of the next forty minutes I had the controls whereupon I did some general handling. She handled beautifully and is such a lovely plane to fly. 

Of course unlike the C152 I learned to fly in, this has proper adverse yaw to manage. Almost in recognition of that there is a lovely slip indicator front and centre of the cockpit. This all contributed to a good rudder appreciation session.

I love doing aerobatics and so imagine my thrill when we performed an inside loop, wing over and two spins. I was in heaven! Dancing around the clouds, she looked magnificent. 

Coming back to Headcorn it all felt unreal really, I couldn't believe what I was doing - flying a Tiger Moth.

At the end as we landed and shut down it felt emotional. I had danced around the sky in a little piece of history. It was like a thunderous dream except that the sights and sounds I had just experienced were very real and would live with me for the rest of my life. 

Brakes Off 11:00, Brakes On 11:40. The Tiger Moth (G-ACDC) and The Tiger Club are unique indeed. Long may they continue!

HOURS = 49:15 DUAL + 20:00 PIC [P1]
Total Time = 69:15

Friday, 19 July 2013

Impressions of a Pilot - Gary Claude Stoker

Flight is freedom in its purest form,
To dance with the clouds which follow a storm;

To roll and glide, to wheel and spin,
To feel the joy that swells within;

To leave the earth with its troubles and fly,
And know the warmth of a clear spring sky;

Then back to earth at the end of a day,
Released from the tensions which melted away.

Should my end come while I am in flight,
Whether brightest day or darkest night;

Spare me your pity and shrug off the pain,
Secure in the knowledge that I'd do it again;

For each of us is created to die,
And within me I know,
I was born to fly

Monday, 15 July 2013

A skip around Kent - Sunday 14th July 2013

Back at the pumps "Inch from
the top please"
Yesterday was a flying day :-) and ... further more the recent fantastic weather continued. 

Temperatures have remained very high for the last couple of weeks and even at the time of writing we have had yet another hot sunny day. And more forecasted for several days as well! After the disappointment of last year it is nothing more than we deserve perhaps!

Bewl Reservoir
Yesterday was a great occasion not just because of the flying but also in that I saw an old school friend who came to be my right hand seat companion. It was great to see him. It had been far too long. 

Unfortunately for both of us visibility was not great to be honest due to the haze. Unfortunate but (hey ho), that's the way it goes. We did an anti-clockwise circuit of Kent which is very familiar to me (Rochester, Bewl, Rye, Canterbury, Rochester) but it was enough of an aviation fix for me and my old school chum enjoyed himself.

Although familiar navigation, and perhaps not that much of a challenge it still felt a bit like "a workout" on the radio as Lydd sent me to freecall Manston radar so it was a lot of changing squawk codes and passing messages which was good practice and good 'exercise' so to speak. 

Base for R20 Rochester
Turning Downwind
for R20 Rochester

Isle of Sheppey Top Right

Despite seeming to be quite high when turning onto Final a good landing was made (my passenger was very complimentary on this point and unprompted at that) although I have to say I seemed to chug around Kent without getting the airspeed I was after. I will have to check in with the school to see if that's consistent with G-BNKV at the moment, or my poor speed control, or well, both!

So then an hour and ten as Pilot in Command. The airfield seemed very quiet to be honest. I guess people are on holiday or they have had their aviation fix recently with this great weather! So logbook records - Brakes On : 10:05 Brakes Off : 11:15 PIC 1:10

HOURS = 48:35 DUAL + 20:00 PIC [P1]
Total Time = 68:35

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Southend and more Aerobatics - Sunday 7th July 2013

Southend Flying Club C152 Aerobat
What a great day Sunday. In spite of a little haze, the current period of high atmospheric pressure remained and the weather was lovely and warm with very little cloud. I was headed over to Southend for another aerobatic fix. I soon realised I wasn’t the only one going towards Southend as traffic on the A127 was rather slow to say the least. Door to door it took me about 2 hours to get there. Oh well, on the positive side I was going flying what could be better and the temperature according to my car was 28 degrees coming into the Airport….. Nice!

Pete the flying instructor there is such a top guy. He really is. His style makes you feel completely at ease and I think it pays off for the student. Its relaxed but effective. Once all the checks had been done, off we headed from runway 06 out to the inactive danger area D138. This seems to be the popular playground for these aerobatic  lessons. I think this is due to the fact that people (pilots that is) generally avoid these areas like the plague so it should (in theory) mean less traffic avoidance action required.

Anyway for this session I really wanted to do some aileron rolls so that was the focus for the 45 minute session. I absolutely loved it, I really did and unlike the first session of aerobatics (which was mainly focused on inside loops)I  didn’t once feel in the slightest bit queasy. I had read up on the generic procedure beforehand and it was kind of close to how Pete showed me. Basically, this is roughly how it went on the day (btw – always seek proper instruction from a qualified flying instructor… always!)

  • Throttle back to 2100 rpm
  • Dive keeping wings level to 115 Kts
  • Sharp pull up to about 30 Degrees
  • Full throttle
  • Neutralise yoke (ailerons and pitch)
  • Full left ailerons (left roll)
  • Going round it was a little right (top) rudder (keeping the nose from dropping)
  • Approaching inverted a little forward on the yoke (as above)
  • Coming back to the start position a little left (top) rudder (as above).
  • Ease back on the throttle

Of course it takes a few of these to get it going well as like anything it is an unusual attitude (lets be real, you don’t fly around like that you do) and so you have to learn how much pressure to apply through a little trial and error and repetition. For example, its common to apply too much forward pressure when inverted (over enthusiasm I guess in keeping the nose up) which is what I did. I also applied too much (left) top rudder when approaching the start position from being inverted. A couple of tries and climbing back up to 3000 ft thinking about it puts it right though and my last one was really good. Pete seemed very pleased with it anyway.

Coming back to land the landing went well and we taxied back to Southend Flying School. Brakes on, brakes off 12:45 to 13:30. Superb!

HOURS = 48:35 DUAL + 18:50 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1]
Total Time = 67:25

Friday, 5 July 2013

Cessna 172 Checkride and a visit to Eastchurch

It was a gloriously sunny and warm day today which was absolutely fantastic as I had planned to take the day off work and do a checkride in a Cessna 172! Yup more flying!!!! It's just fantastic at the moment. 
So for todays treat, I headed over to Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey. This is where the instructor who took me through the PPL course is based. This little airstrip of his is situated in between a collection of farms, is totally charming and full of history. Check out the Eastchurch link above for details.

This little farm strip runway runs East - West and has a noticeable downhill gradient which runs West. Fortunately we had an easterly wind today so our landing was uphill making it a lot easier to make it in. There is also a slope running across the runway, which you can just make out on the picture below.
A look down 27
So G-FACE was the chariot for an hour and a quarter and I was absolutely struck by how clean and immaculate it was. When I climbed up to inspect the fuel I had a short sleeve shirt on and my skin literally 'squeeked' as it moved against the polished surface. In terms of the flight, I did the usual general handling type of stuff. Stalls, clean and with full flaps, recovering with no power and then with power. Glide descents, PFLS, Steep turns and finishing with some circuits. It was great experience as the airfield circuit pattern was not a typical rectangle due to the proximity of my instructors neighbours houses! 

I found the extra power in the 172 very good and in a few instances had to use a good bit of right rudder to stay in balance. A lot more than a C152. Take off was fine (extra power was appreciated here), the approach seemed a bit fast but then I was coming in at 45 degrees to the threshold, turning right at 50 ft to track over the runway which was something I've never done before.

I found the nose attitude quite a lot lower than a C152 and the leg room very spacious indeed. Visibility was excellent, you can see right down the leading edge of the wings. Visibility is also very good behind the front seats as well. My instructor also used a TCAS unit. This little device gives a visual and audible warning of nearby traffic. It was the first time I had seen one in action and I would like to look into this interesting technology in some more detail.

At the end of the session I was getting a feel for things around the circuit and I have to say the C172 feels more solid, stable and much more powerful than the C152s that I have been used to. I think its definitely the way to go in the future although for building hours I guess the C152 will also suffice for now.

HOURS = 47:50 DUAL + 18:50 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1] 
Total Time = 66:40

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Trip down to Manston - Sunday 30 June 2013

A great day Sunday. I flew an airplane. And I loved  it. What more could I ask for.

Just arrived at Manston
I had always fancied flying down to Manston in the South East corner of Kent, and so on Sunday I headed down there to check it out. In the right hand seat was a friend from my flying school. Like me he has recently earned his PPL but he works there as well. He is a great guy and he is no doubt destined for a career flying airplanes. Good for him I say! Do it!

Weather was great I have to say, I mean it was summer weather (27 Celsius), with a moderate westerly wind. Thermals weren't really active so it was all a bit sedate really. It was a lovely day for flying. And of course going quite early in the day meant there was hardly anything else around the skies. It was really quiet.

Manston has a 2.7KM runway. It's massive. I mean, really, really massive. Whats more, its 61M wide! It's ridiculously big. I think this contributed to the  fact I landed my chariot (a new C152 they have at the club G-BMCN) a little 'flat'. On reflection of this fact later in the day I was not happy with myself and so next time I will be better prepared. Flaring before the landing was a whole different perspective with such a wide runway but I should have adjusted better. Maybe the crosswind was preoccupying me. I don't know. 

Anyway all went well coming back to Rochester, note to self experienced a bit of nosewheel shimmy just prior to take off at Manston which next time perhaps I'll catch a little earlier. My friend Ashley did the radio calls and so it was quite relaxing really. 

Forgot to mention, the landing fee at Manston is £19.50. Brakes On/Off 40 Mins each way.

HOURS = 46:35 DUAL + 18:10 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1]
HOURS = 46:35 DUAL + 18:50 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1]
Total Time = 65:25