A dearth of flying, and a clearer view!

Recently I’d been noticing that my eyesight was no longer as good as it once was, and with my Class 2 Medical Renewal looming I decided that I should do something about it! A visit to a local optician confirmed my suspicions, showing that while still meeting the requirements for driving without glasses, I no longer met the stricter requirements of the Class 2 Medical.

My near vision required almost no correction, meaning that I only strictly needed glasses for long distance vision. However, removing glasses during flight to read (for example) a chart and then having to replace them would obviously not be feasible. The optician advised that the correction I needed was such that varifocals would be a good option for me. She did warn however that these can take some getting used to, and some people find that they can’t get on with them and have to revert to traditional bifocals.

Initially I decided to only buy a single pair to ensure that I wouldn’t have to replace two pairs should I not be able to get used to varifocals. After wearing these for a couple of weeks without any ill effects, I then ordered a further pair, this time prescription sunglasses. In the meantime, my Class 2 renewal was passed without any issue, but my AME confirmed my recollection that I would now always need to carry a second pair of glasses when flying, in case anything happened to the pair I was wearing.

All of this (and a busy social schedule!) meant that I went almost 2 months without flying at all. I was a little concerned that the glasses might affect my ability to land, due to the fact that peripheral vision with varifocals can be affected. As such I tried to schedule a flight with an Instructor alongside in order to have an experienced pilot who would be able to take control should the need arise.

Sadly weather and scheduling meant that we were unable to fly before my Club 60 day currency also expired, so this flight was to be a full-on currency check rather than just a quick flight with an Instructor along to ensure that I could still land while wearing the new glasses. Ideally I’d have liked to make the flight in the Club’s Arrow, so that I could refresh all of my currencies in a single flight. Sadly the Arrow was down for maintenance, so instead we flew in G-BPAF, an aircraft familiar to me from my PPL training at RAF Brize Norton.

Before the flight I made to sure brief Roger on the additional things I wanted to cover above and beyond a regular currency check. As I now had both pairs of glasses, I wanted to attempt some landings wearing each pair. I also wanted to ensure that I could clearly see everything I needed to in the cockpit, so briefed Roger that I may ask him to take control at some point during the flight just so that I could be ‘heads in’ for a little while ensuring I could read all the instruments, radio displays and also plog etc. without having to worry about controlling the aircraft at the same time. Also I warned Roger that he may need to take control during the latter phases of the landing, and that I wouldn’t take offence if he felt the need to do this!

I had carried out the A check while Roger finished off some of the work he was doing on the Arrow, and as we settled ourselves into the cockpit I took a little extra time to check that I could see and interpret all the relevant instruments and avionics before starting up the engine. Kemble were using runway 08 today, so we taxyed down the grass past the Tower to carry out the checks on the North Apron. Once these were all completed, we took to the runway and departed, heading initially to the South for the General Handling exercises.

The weather was clear, with little cloud to affect the flight, and we headed towards RAF Lyneham to use it as a reference point for some of the manoeuvres. Stalls and steep turns were all carried out without any difficulty, and I was having no issues with my vision either inside or outside the cockpit. Roger suggested I try some instrument flight (which I hadn’t considered) and I had him take control briefly while I found my foldaway hood in my flight bag. We carried out some turns, climbs and descents under the hood, and these also all went well.

The PFL practice gave me an obvious choice of ‘Lyneham’ as my landing ‘field’, but out of habit I lined myself up for runway 26, despite the Southerly surface wind obviously favouring 18. At Roger’s suggestion I repositioned for this, and he announced he was happy at around 700 feet AGL, and I climbed away and set course to rejoin at Kemble. I had Roger take control briefly so I could double check I could clearly read the PLOG and chart on my knee, and operate SkyDemon with the tablet mounted in my knee-board. Again, these checks all showed that my glasses were working well.

As we signed on with the FISO, it was clear that the strong Southerly wind would make the circuits interesting! There was another student in the circuit as we approached, and I carried out a standard Overhead Join to slot in behind him for the circuits.

The first landing was far from pretty, primarily due to my lack of recent flying and the tricky wind conditions. I rounded out at the correct height, but had a little difficulty in completing the flare and holdoff correctly, leading to a relatively firm arrival. We flew a couple of further circuits using my regular glasses, and all of the landings were acceptable but hardly among my best!

I had Roger take control on the next circuit to enable me to switch to my prescription sunglasses, and completed the flight wearing these. Again, all of the issues I had with the landing were down to the conditions and my rustiness, sadly nothing I could blame on the new glasses!

We completed 5 landings in total, with my performance gradually getting better as time went on. Roger announced he was happy to sign me off as ‘current’ again, agreeing with me that the problems I was having could not be blamed on the new eyewear!

We taxyed back and refuelled the aircraft before pushing it back to its parking space and putting the cover back on. As usual, Roger gave me a thorough debrief, picking me up on a few things from the flight. As the flight was a total of 1 hour 10 minutes, it also meant that I had satisfied the requirement to complete a flight with an Instructor of at least an hour, meaning that when my Class Rating needed to be renewed next May that this was one less detail I would have to worry about.

Track

Track

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It’s always nice to fly with Roger, while flying he’s generally supportive and helpful, while still picking up on important details that he covers during the debrief. Hopefully now I’m current again I can get back into some regular flying!

Total flight time today: 1:10
Total flight time to date: 275:05

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2 Responses to “A dearth of flying, and a clearer view!”

  1. Another currency check, and a minor technical hitch | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « A dearth of flying, and a clearer view! […]

  2. 2015 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] flights (including a total of 5 currency checks!, 1 solo local and a flight offered as a raffle prize to raise funds for […]

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