Sunday, 29 September 2013

IMC Rating - Lesson 03

Another early start this morning (29/09/2013) saw me up at Rochester Airport ready for my third lesson in my IMC Rating course. This time it was to be some more full panel and limited panel work supplemented with quite a few compass turns.

It was really interesting to experiment with different turns to see how the compass plays tricks with you. I had always remembered it previously (though not really practiced it) as UNOS - "Undershoot North, Overshoot South" but I hadn't messed around at all accelerating and decelerating heading East and West to see the compass oscillate so much.

Also, one new thing today which was on leaving Rochester, we did a simple instrument departure (which I guess is going to be a theme now (so I may as well get it nailed on the simulator pronto). This meant exiting Runway 02, climbing to 2000 ft and then tracking over the right shoulder back down to the Detling beacon and then from there heading out east on the 090 radial. 

Mike my instructor also started to introduce the ADF more today and on the way back home we tracked toward the Rochester NDB from the Detling beacon. 

The next lesson is going to start getting quite interesting with some more extensive VOR and ADF tracking. I am really looking forward to the challenge.

Brakes Off: 09:05 Brakes On: 10:05
Total Time: 1:00 | IMC Rating: 0:50

Total Hours = 55:10 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS]
Total IMC Rating: 2:55

Total Time = 78:20

IMC Rating - Lesson 02

My alarm was set for 06:45 Saturday morning (28/09/2013) and I was up at the airport within the hour ready to commence my checks on G-CMBR. My second lesson was to be based still on the foundation of instrument flying which meant we headed out to the east of Kent to do some more limited panel work and some recovery from unusual attitudes.

I thought it was kind of challenging to be honest, but Mike my instructor commented it went well so I was happy. Coming back we were on Runway 02 and I became visual around 300 foot (basically I was told I could take the Foggles off!) and so the landing felt to me a bit rushed but, in the end, seemed satisfactory.

I'm really enjoying the task of just flying on the instruments and look forward to progressing to some pretty challenging times ahead.

Brakes On: 09:45 Brakes Off: 09:55
Total Time: 1:10 | IMC Rating: 1:00

Total Hours = 54:10 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS]
Total IMC Rating: 1:55

Total Time = 77:20

Saturday, 21 September 2013

IMC Rating - Lesson 01

Some strange goings on at The Tiger Club at the moment and it seems that their aircraft are all grounded. It appears from an email I received that there is a dispute between them and the airfield operators at Headcorn. I hope whatever the problem is, it can be resolved and their aircraft are free to fly again.

Meanwhile after buying a book I thought would be an interesting read "Radio Navigation & Instrument Flying" I've decided to do the IMC rating and this morning I went up to Rochester to do my first lesson. My instructor is my previous PPL instructor so it felt like old times. The course I'm doing is going to be done in a C172 which is also a nice change.

So, it went really well today. Basically we went out to the Faversham area and did some general handling. My Foggles (the glasses you put on to obscure your sight outside of the cockpit) went on at the end of the climb out so in the end I had around 55 minutes IMC.

Things we covered were general handling and a bit of radio navigation (VOR tracking and DME work). The first few hours are going to be built around this. I think because I had been doing some simulator work previously the scan process wasn't so alien and as Mike said "You knew what you was doing" in the debrief.

I'm not sure what the future is for the IMC rating but first things first, I have to give this a good go and get through it. There will be some really challenging times ahead for sure.

Brakes On: 11:00 Brakes Off: 12:05
Total Time: 1:05 | IMC Rating: 0:55

Total Hours = 53:00 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS]
Total IMC Rating: 0:55

Total Time = 76:10

Monday, 2 September 2013

Flying the Tiger Club's beautiful CAP10

This Sunday (September 1, 2013) the PA-18 SuperCub I set my heart on mastering was sadly not in service so I took the opportunity to try out the Tiger Club's Cap10.

This is a high performance aircraft which quite frankly goes exactly where you point it! A lot different to what I'm used to thats for certain. I also took the opportunity with the fine weather to have a family picnic at the airfields grass viewing area. This ended up being a fiasco as my 2 year old switched the air con on while I was away. It seems the family were sitting there enjoying the picnic listening to the car stereo and were oblivious to the fact the battery was running dead! Later upon my return and with everybody back in the car I was met with the dreaded click click click sound of a dead battery. It took some comical attempts to jump start it (it's an automatic so I guess that was never going to work but I was willing to try anything) before I went and begged a favour from some kind chap. Anyway ... 
What can I say about the Cap10 aircraft? 

Well it's a beautifully light dancer which requires little effort to put it into the position you want. Although fully aerobatic I wasn't in it for that on this occasion ,so I just carried out some general handling moves. I was happy with this aviation fix. 

My take off seemed ok and my landing was quite good actually even to the point of being complimented by some proper pilots who were following us around the circuit and who I later met at the club. I think that was maybe a fluke though as I understand its quite tricky to pull off. 

One thing I nearly did do wrong though, was go free castoring and ground loop just at the very point of relaxing at the end of the ground roll! I had done a very good landing and there I went and nearly blew it! Thankfully Pete the vastly superior and experienced one in the airplane was one step ahead of me (and the aircraft) and stopped it before it developed. Silly me I really need to watch that when I get back in the Cub.

Oh, I have to say one thing which I liked with it was the toe brakes [versus the Cub's heel brakes] and well, the view out of the perspex dome is totally awesome. There was also a cunning contraption over the ignition switch which was the fuel switch. This prevented you from starting the engine without the fuel on. Simple design and yet masterfully clever.

Quick notes to myself (geek alert perhaps), approach was 75 mph, glide on base was 80 mph. Landing was two stage of flaps. Downwind at 1700 rpm was just under the flap limiting speed. The tail wheel arrangement was similar to the Cub. Substantial rudder pedal pressure was needed to keep the aircraft in trim.

Startup was fuel pump until you saw fuel flow registering or 3 seconds. Similar to the c172 you start with a weak mixture and then as it fires you bring the vernier control forward to full mixture while closing the throttle if the power is set too high. Handbrake application was a question of brakes down, pull the handbrake back, release toes, release handbrake.

Will I be going back up in this beautiful aircraft? I hope so yes because it is such a wonderful plane to fly, but first I need to finish things with the SuperCub. This means learning a lot more about it to a competency level where I can get signed off by an independent examiner. This is my challenge. It also happens to be a whole lot of fun!

Brakes Off 16:40 Brakes On 17:20 - 0:40

HOURS = 51:55 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS] 
Total Time = 75:05

Le Touquet

I took the day off from work on Friday and with my old PPL instructor popped over to Le Touquet in his C172. The trip only took an hour and is a straight forward enough route. However the sense of adventure comes from it being cross channel and the additional preparation you have to go through before setting off. I hope I get the opportunity to go many times again in the future.

The weather on Friday was fine here in the UK but at Le Touquet the cloud base was broken at 800ft. After a few chats and an hour or so later it was improving and so I decided to go for it. Mike had filled the flight plan the previous evening for a 10:45 Local time departure. At the same time he had logged the return.  This left the GAR (General Aviation Report) form for customs and special branch requirements in the UK and a two other things. one, an email to the destination for PPR (Prior Permission Required) and the other an email for french customs. As the same type of information is needed by both I merely sent the same email to both addresses. I have to say I didn't get a response from either of them ( and

Heading off from base was a pretty standard drill and I was to track down to the Dover VOR leaving Rochester around the Faversham area and switching to Manston radar. Rochester activated the flight plan which they advised us of as we were climbing out from runway 20. In speaking with Manston I advised them of the route as I would normally do (i.e. from, to part of the message) and then also of the fact I would be routing via Dover and my ETA there. One addition item they like apparently is the ETA at the FIR boundary. Once at the coast I called 'coasting out Dover, climbing 3,500 feet'. I was told to report mid channel which I did and was then directed to "freecall Le Touquet Tower". I routed over to Cap Gris Nez and altered heading by turning right to track down the coast. The ATC at Le Touquet were very friendly and welcomed us onto the frequency asking us to "report at calling point November". As we were above cloud from pretty much mid channel this meant consulting the Le Touquet Visual Approach documentation for the calling points and of course our GPS unit (we had 4 - the one I was using was SkyDemon running on an iPAD). 

We tracked to the right of the coastline and headed down to Boulogne making the position call. I think at this point they advised of the conditions at the aerodrome and the runway in use which was 32. I started the descent at this point, gradually descending through cloud keeping a vigilant eye on the attitude indicator and making gentle heading corrections. This part went quite well actually. 

Once at Le Touquet we approached from the coast side of the ATZ (Sainte-Cecile Beach) and joined at the beginning of what would be the downwind leg. I was number 4 in the circuit and could just make it around the circuit at about 950 feet (nearly circuit height). Moving around the landing was OK although there was a bit of crosswind which seemed to knock me off a little while on the ground. A bit of directional instability occurred caused by over correcting on my part.

After taxing to a stop on the apron we headed to the rather nice restaurant situated on the airport for a what was an enjoyable lunch. I couldn't pay my landing fees when we arrived as there was nobody on reception but on our way out it was staffed so I paid my fee. They hadn't recored our arrival for some reason but this was soon cleared up.

Heading home, the route was the same although we were slightly inland (tracking up the coast but keeping it to our left). When leaving Le Touquet they sent us to Lille Info, who at Mid Channel told us to go to London Info however I wanted to go to Manston so advised them that this was our preference. They obliged, approving the change and wished us well. 

Going back over the channel we crossed at 4,500 ft. When at Dover I called that I was "coasting in at Dover". It was explained to me that these two new calls (coasting out and coasting in) were useful as the route from Dover to Cap Gris Nez is the shortest over water and for this reason is very popular. As a result, these calls tell everybody where you are and what you are doing. Makes sense.

The journey back from here was standard stuff joining crosswind at Rochester for runway 20.

All in all a great day out and very useful experience for me. I hope to repeat some time in the future with my family.

Rochester to Le Touquet Brakes Off 11:10 Brakes On 12:15 - 1:05
Le Touquet to Rochester Brakes Off 14:40 Brakes On 15:45 - 1:05

HOURS = 51:15 DUAL + 21:00 PIC [P1] + 2:10 [PICUS] 
Total Time = 74:25