Archive for the ‘PPL Training’ Category

PPL(A) SEP (Land)

June 2, 2008

Finally got a break with weather and aircraft availability, so arranged to sit my Skills Test with Mark in two parts.

The first part was Navigation. Planned a flight to Conington and Luton, with a view to carrying out a diversion somewhere on the leg to Luton. The flight in general went pretty well, with my Nav being good and the various other bits like VOR tracking and the like going without too much trouble.

The next afternoon was the General Handling part of the test. This was probably the bit I was least looking forward to, as I always seem to have problems with steep turns and PFLs.

Mark threw me straight in at the deep end with an EFATO (Engine Failure After Take Off) as we departed, and then we headed out into the training area. Mark put me through my paces by first checking my flight under instrument conditions. The weather for the day had turned out to have quite a low cloud base, so the only way we could get sufficient height for the stalling etc. was to climb up through the cloud. So, up we went, and a few turns etc. in the cloud was enough to please Mark.

Once above the cloud we move straight into the stalls, which all went well. Indi’s aircraft never gets into a ‘real’ stall with the nose dropping and the like, and we were bobbing up and down while losing height for a while before Mark had me recover from the first clean stall. The rest went well, and we moved into steep turns.

The first one was to the left, and went well for a change. Mark had me roll out and try another to the right, which was much less well executed. After recovering from the minor spiral dive I’d put us into, I had another go, this time making more of an effort to maintain the nose attitude, and this one went much better.

Then Mark pulled the power, announcing a simulated engine failure. We were up at something like 3500 feet at this point, over a relatively solid bank of cloud. I trimmed for the glide, and carried out the initial checks to see if the engine could be restarted (as touch drills) before simulating a Mayday call. From then it was a matter of waiting (for what seemed like hours!) for us to descend through the cloud base so that I could pick a landing point.

Got slightly confused approaching the field in terms of which way the wind was, but got it all sorted out and made a passable approach to my chosen field. If anything I was a little high (as usual!) but not too terrible. Once Mark was happy we would make the field, he told me to climb away. I remembered to get the drag flap away once we were back to straight and level (this was something I’d been tardy with on recent attempts) and then climbed away, gradually bringing the flaps up as we were established in the climb.

From then it was back to the field for the circuits. The first was flapless, and I failed to correctly take into account the (now stronger) wind, and ended up blasting through the correct final approach after turning from base to final. Got it back on track though, and made a passable touch and go.

The next was supposed to be a standard landing, but I ended up high on this one, so it was actually pretty much a glide approach! For some reason my approaches weren’t very good on this flight, but they were never dangerous or bad enough to cause Mark any concern. Finally we made a ‘bad weather’ circuit, keeping in tight to the runway to simulate poor weather conditions, before making the final full stop landing and taxying back.

Mark announced he was happy that I was safe (‘I’d happily hire you an aircraft’) and I had done it!

Spent the following minutes completing all the paperwork and being congratulated by Luned, Indi and Barry as it all sunk in. Finally Mark shook my hand, and I broke out into a grin. It had finally sunk in.

After 11 months, 65 flights and nearly 58 hours in the air (over 12 of that solo), I was a pilot!

So, now the paperwork is off to the CAA, and I just have to wait for my licence to return before Luned and I can head off somewhere. We’ll probably fly with Indi in the meantime (flying is flying, right?) but it’ll be nice to be able to make my first real flight on my own licence sometime in the next few weeks.

Total flight time today: Dual 2:20 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 4 – Landings: 4

Total flight time to date: Dual 45:15 – Solo 12:40
Take-offs to date: 118 – Landings to date: 113

Mock Skills Test (and a good job too!)

May 13, 2008

As there’s a chance I will be having a go at the skills test this weekend, I wanted to try to do a ‘mock’ skills test with Indi beforehand. So, we met at Oxford, and I planned a route as I would on the skills test. Indi went over the pre-flight briefing, and gave me some hints on what the examiner would be expecting from me on the day of the test.

I had already done the A check, and as we went out to the aircraft I did another ‘transit’ check. Then we fired the aircraft up, and Indi gave me a quick run down on the essential features of the Garmin GPS in Echo Alpha.

From there, things started to go downhill! As we moved off the grass, I checked the brakes as normal. However, I hadn’t checked behind me. Mistake number 1 (I’m not gonna keep counting the mistakes, as there are too many to write about!). During the taxi checks, Indi was talking me through the full details of what I should be saying as I do them, and as I was a little distracted by this it caused me to nearly run off the taxiway!

Power checks went Ok at the hold, and we called ready for departure. Made a good crosswind take off on 01 (wind was something like 040 at 15-20 kts) and climbed up to the altitude of 2200 feet for the first leg. Or at least, that’s what I’d said I was going to do, what I actually did was climb straight up to 2500 feet. That would pretty much guarantee me an instant fail if I did it on the test for real. My height keeping was very poor on the remainder of the flight too.

Also, my lookout in the climb was poor, I need to remember to weave the nose or fly level every 500 feet or so. I think the reason I haven’t been doing this is that at Brize we tend to ‘step climb’ anyway, turning at 500 feet, levelling off at 1000 feet until Burford, and then climbing from Burford to the first leg altitude. I need to remember to lookout more on the initial climb out, either by weaving or dropping the nose every so often.

Set course for Banbury, a short ‘dog leg’ I’d added as the direct route to Conington blasted straight through a danger area and the parachuting drop zone at Hinton in the Hedges. Banbury appeared bang on schedule, and this was where things started to go downhill.

The weather forecast for the day was almost perfect, CAVOK with the odd bit of cloud with a base of 6000 feet. However, Indi pointed out a large bank of low cloud rolling in from the North Sea (this was obviously a hint that I completely missed at the time). However, I ploughed on regardless, when I should have realised that this cloud would affect us at some point on our route.

We had been talking to Brize Radar, and now switched to Coventry Approach (who corrected me, telling me they were Coventry Radar, oops) and they asked me to report at Daventry. For some reason I took this too literally, and decided we needed to change our route to go over the Daventry VOR (I should have just replied ‘Negative, routing direct Northampton). So, I dialled in the VOR and set an appropriate radial and started to try to track it. Indi again interjected, and said I should just centre the needle and follow whatever radial we were on to the VOR.

At this point the cloud was getting lower, and I had to descend to stay below it. I ended up at 1900 feet, and Indi queried the MSA for our route (1700 feet). We crossed the VOR, reported it to Coventry and informed them we were routing to Northampton. I set an appropriate radial and followed it out to Northampton. At this point we switched frequencies to Northampton Sywell, only to be informed by another pilot on frequency that they were closed. Again, something I should have checked before setting off, and factored into my planning.

Overhead Northampton, I finally decided that we weren’t going to be able to continue due to the cloud, and said we’d have to abort this leg and turn around. Indi said something to the effect of ‘about time, but now you’ve got me so close to that cloud you might as well go into it’. So, we continued into the cloud, and Indi had to prompt me to turn on the pitot heat, and apply regular carb heat. I also should have switched back to Coventry for a Radar Information Service, as flying through cloud with no radar cover isn’t a particularly good idea.

I handled the portion of flight in the cloud quite well, but as we turned 180 degrees to get out of it, Indi’s point became clear. Because we’d barely entered the cloud, turning 180 degrees should have got us out of it pretty quickly. However, as the cloud was actually moving in the same direction as we were now flying to try to get out, it took us a lot longer to become completely clear of the cloud. Another lesson learned, I should have made the decision to abort much earlier.

Indi decided to head back towards Brize and carry out the General Handling section of the test (‘You’ve failed the Nav, we might as well see if we can get you a pass on something’). As we got North of Brize, the cloud mostly cleared, and we had good conditions for the manoeuvres we were about to carry out.

The first thing Indi did was pull the throttle, announcing ‘Simulated Engine Failure’. I trimmed for 65 knots, and looked around for a suitable field. We were at about 3000 feet by this point, so I had plenty of time to look for something suitable. I then turned onto a base heading, which put us into sun (another thing Indi said wasn’t a particularly good idea).

Then carried out the touch drills to see if I could restart the failed engine (Indi said these were done well) and made the simulated Mayday call. At this point I should have carried out a passenger brief, but it completely slipped my mind. Must remember this. Also, descending towards the field I was so focussed on keeping the field in site, that I didn’t spot a cloud that we descended straight through, again, not a good idea.

I’d picked a field quite close to us, so ended up circling to lose height for the approach to it.  As we neared the field it looked like I would make it in, but the closer we got the more obvious it was that the choice I’d made wasn’t a great one. There were trees on the approach, and also rising ground on the overshoot. By this point I also realised I’d failed to lower any flap. I think I probably would have been able to make the field if I’d had to, but Indi told me to climb away, and we gave it another go.

This second one was much better, and I used some steep turns to lose height as we approached the second field. This time I remembered flap (but still forgot the passenger brief) and made a much better approach into a more appropriate field.

While climbing away, Indi pulled the power again, this time to simulate an engine failure after take off. For some reason, I’ve always found these a lot easier to do, probably because you have a lot less time to think about things, and all the actions are carried out quite instinctively. Indi announce she was happy with the field I’d chosen, and that my approach to it was good, so we climbed away again.

Next we moved on to stalls, starting with a full stall in the clean configuration with no power. This went well, so we moved on to stalling in the simulated base turn. For this one, the aircraft is configured as it it were on the base leg of an approach (two stages of flap, descending at 75 knots and turning 90 degrees). You then pretend that perhaps another aircraft has appeared on final, so you pull back hard on the yoke and stall. In the first recovery, I was applying correcting aileron long before the airspeed was back up to flying speed, which is a definite no-no. If I did this for real, there’s a good chance of dropping a wing and entering a spin.

So, we tried again, and this time I was much more conscious of having to use the rudder to keep the wing from dropping, and only using the ailerons once we were back up to flying speed. Also, I should make sure that carb heat is off before entering the stall, so as to be able to recover easier.

Finally we did stalling in the final approach configuration. Full flap, approach power and then pull back on the stick to stall. The aircraft proved very difficult to stall in this configuration, and Indi also said I was inducing an oscillation during the recovery. However, the next time we did one she had me hold the control column back rather than recovering, and the aircraft tended to nod its head rather than recovering cleanly.

The next thing we tried was some slow flight. Initially coming down to 60 knots in level flight with no flap, and gradually reducing the airspeed and adding flap until we had full flap and were down at about 50 knots. These exercises all went well, and Indi announce she was happy.

Finally we tried some steep turns. Initially I was a little poor at getting enough bank on, but Indi had me keep increasing the bank until I could get it up closer to 60 degrees (the skills test requires a minimum of 45 degrees). Towards the end I was doing these much better, so I hope I can repeat this on the actual test.

That concluded the general handling section, which Indi said I would have passed (assuming I can get the PFL and steep turns right!), so we headed back to Oxford for a couple of circuits. Indi showed me how to do a ‘direct to’ on the GPS, and I followed the line towards Oxford. Switched back to Oxford approach, and were cleared for a crosswind join for 01 right hand. As I joined crosswind, Indi said she probably would have asked for a direct downwind join for 01 left hand (as it was late now and there was nobody else in the circuit).

Our first approach was a standard touch and go, and I made a good crosswind landing. However, I made the mistake of adding power before retracting the flap, which tends to make the aircraft very ‘nervous’ as it accelerates and starts trying to fly.

Next we did a bad weather circuit, with a runway inspection. The idea behind this that you get really stuck with the weather (something I’m now quite good at!) and decide you’re just going to put down in a field. You make a low level, tight circuit, and then fly low over the proposed landing area to inspect it. You then return to your low level circuit, but next time land. To complicate things, Indi pulled the power as we turned from the downwind leg, so I made the rest of the approach (very steep and tight to avoid a noise sensitive area to the South). This culminated in a good landing, although I did tend to float a lot as I’d built up some airspeed trying to lose enough height.

We taxyed back to parking (Indi warning me that I was taxying way too fast!) and it took me two goes to park in the correct place on the grass.

We shut down and went in to debrief. I was feeling thoroughly dejected, as I couldn’t remember flying so badly, particularly on a Navigation flight. My height keeping was truly awful, and blundering straight in to cloud was a definitely mistake.

So, I have one more flight before the date of my proposed skills test. We’ll treat the Navigation portion of this as another simulated skills test, and have the option of trying some more PFLs and steep turns on the way back. I just hope this flight was just the result of some pre-test jitters, and that I manage to get myself together for the real thing!

Total flight time today: Dual 2:10 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 2 – Landings: 2

Total flight time to date: Dual 42:55 – Solo 12:40
Take-offs to date: 114 – Landings to date: 109

QXC!

May 11, 2008

The big day dawned bright and clear, and like an excited child on Christmas morning, I was awake a good half an hour before the alarm was due to go off!

Checked the weather and couldn’t believe my luck. The TAFs were all giving poor vis in haze, clearing mid-morning and becoming CAVOK. So I printed off all the weather, checked the NOTAMs, and after a quick call to Indi drove in to Brize.

The aircraft arrived back from its previous flight in good time, and the thoughtful chap had even taken the time to drop in to Oxford on his way back to fill it with fuel. I went over my plan with Indi, and we went through the QXC checklist to ensure I had covered everything. She filled in my QXC authorisation form, and it was time for me to go!

Headed out to the aircraft, and took my time over the pre flight walk around. Jumped in, and made sure that all the things I needed were arranged so that they were close to hand should I need them, and began the pre-flight checks. Engine started fine, and I taxyed out to the hold for the power checks. All normal, was cleared for take off, and my QXC began!

A normal departure, leaving from 08 and headed over to Burford, before climbing to my first leg altitude and following the road up to Shipton under Wychwood, the normal starting point for Nav flights.

From there set heading for the first leg, and made a note of the time. The first leg was a relatively short hop up to Wellesbourne, and a route that was now becoming quite familiar to me. The visibility wasn’t great, but was slightly better than it had been yesterday, and the familiar landmarks slid by under the aircraft, with each checkpoint being reached right on track and to schedule. After around 10 minutes Wellesbourne appeared out of the murk slightly to the left, and I had already ascertained that they were using runway 36 today.

The circuit was quite quiet, but I resisted the temptation of a straight in approach for 36 (I was coming from the South so it would have been the simplest arrival method, but wouldn’t have given me much feel for the other aircraft in the circuit) and opted for a standard overhead join. As I approached the field I was getting the normal excellent service from the on-duty FISO in response to a ‘Student’ call sign, and I planned the approach.

Overhead the airfield, I made a left turn at 2000 feet to cross the start of 36 with the runway on my left, and made a wide descending left turn (avoiding Wellesbourne itself) to cross the end of the runway at circuit height, again with the runway on the left. From there it was a relatively simple matter to join the downwind leg, and I soon was visual with the other aircraft in the circuit ahead of me, turning base as I turned downwind.

Carried out the downwind checks, and turned base as the aircraft ahead of me was on short final, making the ‘base’ call deliberately as another aircraft had reported being on a straight in approach to the same runway. The leading aircraft landed as I turned final, and I was a little unsure as to whether he would clear the runway before I was ready to land. Luckily he was clear of the runway before I needed to go around, so I continued my approach and made a relatively good landing. I tried to make good progress up to the intersection so that I could clear the runway, but just as I turned left I heard an aircraft behind me call ‘going around’. Sorry, whoever you were!

Taxyed over to parking, and found a nice spot on the end of the row so that I didn’t have to try to squeeze inbetween two other aircraft, then headed in to pay the landing fee and get that all important signature on the QXC form!

Was rated ‘Satisfactory’ for my airmanship and landing, and made a quick call to let my wife and Indi know I had arrived safely, before heading back out to Alpha Fox for the next leg, probably the longest leg I had ever flown solo, direct from Wellesbourne to Peterborough Conington.

Despite being quite long, the route was peppered with good visual fixes, and I had 4 checkpoints spaced an average of 10 minutes flying time apart. As I left Wellesbourne I contacted Coventry Approach, asking for Flight Information Service, and planned to stay with them until I was nearing Northampton Sywell, which I would pass a few miles North of. This was my first ‘glitch’, as I switched the transponder to ‘Standby’ to change the code, but neglected to switch it back on to ‘Alt’. Doh!

Coventry asked me to report crossing the M1, which was conveniently just after my second checkpoint North abeam Daventry. The first checkpoint at the Cement Works (one of Coventry’s VRPs) appeared on time and showed that I was on a good track, and I continued on to the next checkpoint. Around Daventry, Coventry asked me to confirm my position, and then to squawk ident. I pressed the ident button, but the light next to it didn’t illuminate. I decided to cycle the transponder (turning it off, then rotating each code setting dial back around to the correct setting) when I realised that it was still in the ‘Standby’ position. Quickly realising my mistake I set it back to ‘Alt’, and continued.

Daventry came and went, showing me on track, and I then headed to the next checkpoint, North abeam Sywell. This was a leg that should have been easy to maintain an idea of position, as I had the huge town of Northampton to my right, followed by Kettering and Corby.

Sometime along the leg, I spotted the M6 off to my left. The M6 curls around Kettering (which I was supposed to pass slightly South of) and then continued East passing Thrapston, which I was due to pass slightly to the North of. By this point I was talking to Sywell, and was probably slightly overloaded trying to spot the airfield, as well as maintaining an idea of my position.

I somehow managed to convince myself that the huge town I could see ahead was not Kettering, but the smaller town of Thrapston. In hindsight, if I had thought a little harder I should have realised that I would have had to be doing about 50kts quicker than I could possibly manage to have reached Thrapston that soon, but I had convinced myself that was where it was, so that was it! As a result, I started trying to ‘regain’ my track, by putting the town and the motorway to the right of the aircraft.

I continued on for a little while, still not entirely happy with my position fix, and then out of the haze appeared a wind farm. I had never been so happy to see one of these before, as there is a wind farm on the chart just to the South East of Kettering, with the motorway between it and the town. With this many clues, it was obvious then that I had made a mistake, but I regained my track and continued on to Peterborough.

As I passed Kettering (for real this time!) I said my goodbyes to Sywell, and switched to Conington. I was still some 15 minutes or so from Peterborough, but I wanted to get a good feel for how busy they were. The answer to this was ‘very’! There was a flight of Bulldogs in the area due to pass overhead quite soon, and another couple of aircraft in the circuit and joining. I announced my presence, and set about planning the approach into their runway in use, which today was 10. I spotted Conington right off the nose, and then a moment or two later I spotted the real Conington slightly to the left! Good job the runway layout there is quite distinctive, or I’d have landed on a road somewhere!

Again, I could have taken the easy option of a straight in approach, but decided to opt for another overhead join to build up a good picture as I joined the circuit. The join was fairly normal, with the Bulldog flight overhead at 4000 feet as I joined, and one other aircraft calling crosswind as I was overhead. I descended on the deadside, and followed him around the circuit, with plenty of spacing between us. I somehow ended up turning final very late, and ended up on a very long approach! This confused me slightly, as did the narrow runway at Conington (at least, narrow compared to what I’m used to at Brize!) and I ended up quite high on the approach.

Managed to get it under control, and as I approached the threshold I was positioned nicely, but probably 5 kts or so quicker than I should have been. Conington’s runway is nice and long though, so I wasn’t too concerned, and made a relatively good landing. Continued along the runway exiting second left after calling for fuel, but there was already a Cessna on the pumps, so I angled myself ready to be pushed back into a parking space, and shut down.

I was immediately greeted by a couple of very helpful and friendly locals. As per usual, their names have completely slipped my mind now, but one was the person I had spoken to on the phone when getting PPR, and the other was an instructor at the local flying school. They helped me push the aircraft back to parking, and we chatted about flying in general. They both made me feel very welcome, and it was definitely a nice reception to receive on such a long first trip by myself!

By this point I decided I had earned some lunch (I’d eaten half of my packed lunch – lovingly prepared for me by my darling wife 🙂 – before leaving Brize and while waiting at Wellesbourne) so I had a ham sandwich and a cup of tea, before arranging to have the aircraft fuelled for its final leg back to Brize via Wellesbourne’s overhead. Before I left I took the time to get the important 2nd signature on the QXC form, gaining another ‘Satisfactory’ for both airmanship and landing.

Leaving Conington involved backtracking down their runway to a hold point at the other end, but I had already done my power checks in my parking space (I was right at the end of the apron with nobody behind me) and I followed another aircraft down the runway and we both joined the hold. He turned at the hold and carried out his power checks, leaving me waiting idly as he did so! I did consider ‘jumping the queue’ (there was plenty of room to get past him to the runway) but decided to bide my time, as I was in no real rush.

He departed, and I followed on to the runway after he had rolled, beginning my take off run as I saw him turning crosswind at the other end of the airfield. Made two 90 degree right turns to head West again, and tried to have the airfield in the correct position behind me when I set course back towards Wellesbourne.

The visibility into sun was slightly worse now, but I had plenty of visual features to navigate by, and I was kept busy with traffic information and spotting other aircraft on the way back. Passed North of Sywell (again failing to spot it with any conviction) and switched back to Coventry as I approached the M1. This time I remembered to turn the transponder back on when given the squawk, and continued on track

As I passed Draycott Water and the Cement Works, I made ready to switch back to Wellesbourne, and when I did I had to double check that I was on the correct frequency. The last time I switched to Wellesbourne and heard nothing, it was because I had inadvertantly dialled in the wrong frequency! However, this time I was on the correct frequency, but there was no radio traffic to be heard.

Received great service from the FISO as ever, and turned overhead, heading South on the last leg for Brize. This area is quite devoid of good Nav features, but I dialled in a radial from the Honiley VOR to help me keep a good track. However, as I continued the landmarks I regularly used (Shipton on Stour, the disused airfield at Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Norton) were all clearly visible.

As I passed Chipping Norton, I started to try to find Brize, expecting it to be very difficult in the murk, but at this point someone was smiling on me, because I emerged from the haze and could suddenly see for miles! It was easy to pick out Little Rissington off to my right, and the huge expanse of Brize Norton ahead of me some 12 miles or so away! I can’t remember a rejoin at Brize being so easy in terms of visual navigation!

Had been talking to Brize Zone since leaving Wellesbourne, but as I approached Burford and began my descent, suddenly the frequency came alive with calls from the drop plane at South Cerney, and someone crossing Brize Zone. I was just about to orbit short of Burford (because I couldn’t get my ‘at Burford’ call in!) when the nice lady on ATC called me, asking if I was at Burford with the field in site. Just in the nick of time!

I responded, and was cleared into the zone, switching to the Tower frequency. From there headed towards the disused airfield West of Brize (Broadwell) using that as an indication of base leg for joining. Turned final, made a good approach, culminating in a slightly heavy landing, but one that was still quite acceptable I think.

Qualifying Cross Country

Then it hit me. I had done it! I had just single handedly flown an aircraft over 150nm, navigating by visual landmarks, and finding two airfields amongst open countryside with little more than a compass and a chart. Navigating visually was the one part of the PPL syllabus that I was really concerned about when I started, and I had worked quite hard as a result of this. Now I’d proved I could do it!

Total flight time today: Dual 0:00 – Solo – 2:45
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 40:45 – Solo 12:40
Take-offs to date: 112 – Landings to date: 107

Solo, finally!

May 10, 2008

For the last couple of months I’ve been trying to get a solo land-away under my belt so that I could move forward to the next stage and get ready for my QXC.

The plan was to try this again today, with a flight from Brize to Oxford, using Wellesbourne as a turning point. The check of the weather in the morning looked promising, so we headed over to Brize.

The first flight of the day returned a little late, which meant that ATC were then on their lunch break. However, the news on the weather wasn’t good. They had been up to Wellesbourne too, and were reporting very poor visibility up there due to haze.

We decided I’d give it a go, and if I wasn’t happy then I’d turn around and come back again (much like I’d done last week!).

So I booked in at Oxford, informing them I’d want fuel (the club still hasn’t had a fuel delivery) and once again headed out to Alpha Fox by myself. Carried out a quick pre-flight which showed no issues, so jumped in and got ready to go. Once again the novelty of being in an aircraft by myself soon hit me, and I felt slightly self-conscious going through all the checklist items out loud, with nobody to hear them but me!

All pre flight checks were Ok, and I was cleared for take off on 26. The wind was very light today so the choice of runway was fairly arbitary given the conditions. A normal takeoff (again no problems maintaining the centre line!) and I was airbourne and turning North for Burford. When I switched to the Zone frequency they offered me a direct route to Oxford through the Zone, but as I wanted to use Wellesbourne as a turning point I informed them of this and continued up to Burford.

Made the usual call at Burford, and climbed up to the chosen altitude of 2400 feet. Already I could see that it was a very hazy day, but after a look behind me I decided to press on. I’m going to have to get used to flying in hazy conditions someday, so it might as well be now! I always had the option of aborting the landaway and just coming straight back to Brize if things got too bad, and always being under radar cover meant that I would have someone looking over my shoulder to help me find the field if necessary.

Set the time at the starting point (Shipton as usual) and headed North towards Wellesbourne. On a clear day you would be able to see Wellesbourne at this point, but today the visibility was only perhaps 5 miles or so. Reached the first checkpoint (abeam Chipping Norton) a bit earlier than expected, but a quick look at the map showed that my distance measurement had gone awry somewhat, and the distance to this checkpoint wasn’t as far as I had measured.

Was the correct distance from Chipping Norton, so continued on track and reached the next checkpoint (Shipton on Stour) bang on time and on track (there was little wind today, so the flight planning had been fairly simple with no great difference between track and heading. I was now just 5 minutes from Wellesbourne, but it still wasn’t easily visible in the haze, and spotting Stratford on Avon wasn’t possible either. I switched from Brize Zone to Wellesbourne Information at this point, informing I would be turning in their overhead and giving them an ETA.

Wellesbourne was quieter than I had ever heard it (probably due to the haze) and I had no difficulty getting my radio calls in today. It soon became visibile through the haze slightly to the left of the nose (I had spotted the industrial estate to the East and had probably been slightly drawn towards is) so headed straight for it, and once in the overhead I reported that and made the turn on track for Oxford.

This leg is always very difficult, even in good conditions, as there are very few landmarks to use for visual navigation. I was also conscious that I would be passing within a couple of miles of Shenington (a busy glider field) and so was deliberately steering right of track to ensure that even if I couldn’t see it (in fact, it’s very hard to spot even in good visibility) I would be well clear.

Switched back to Brize Zone and confused them slightly as they asked me to report when ready to rejoin. I informed them that I was still planning to land at Oxford. In hindsight, I probably should have switched to Brize Radar at this point (the Zone frequency is for traffic crossing or entering the Class D airspace around Brize) but it didn’t cause too much drama.

By now I was aware of not knowing exactly where I was, so tuned the ADF to the NDB on the airfield at Oxford. As expected, this showed I was right of track, and as enough time had passed on the leg to get me well clear of Shenington, I steered for Oxford and prepared to switch over to Enstone Radio (I would be flying almost through their overhead so it was good airmanship to let them know I wa there and to get a picture of traffic around the field.

After a few minutes I left the Brize Zone frequency for Enstone, to find them very busy with traffic waiting to depart. I soon spotted Enstone slightly off to the left (if I was perfectly on track it should have been slightly to the right, but I’d deliberately stayed right of track until this point) but couldn’t get in the radio call until I was right overhead. The A/G operator asked me to report overhead (even though I’d just told him that I was in the initial call) and I replied that I was overhead, and was asked to let them know when I was leaving the frequency.

Enstone is less than 10 nm from Oxford, so once I was clear of the overhead I left their frequency to talk to Oxford Approach. Helpfully he told me that if I received no reply from the Approach frequency I should try again on the Tower frequency. This was useful to know even though I had already made a note of the Tower frequency on my flight log.

I was now nearing Blenheim Palace, and on the initial call to Oxford was asked to join Crosswind for runway 01. It took a little time to get the picture straight in my head before I realised what I needed to do. I was basically heading direct for the crosswind leg on my current heading, so once I had the field in sight I just needed to cross the runway at 90 degrees at circuit height, ready to turn downwind for landing.

Once the field was in sight I reported this, and was told to switch to Tower. From then on the approach was fairly standard, just one aircraft in the circuit ahead of me, and another joining behind. Turned base and final, and made a pretty good landing (although with little wind it wasn’t a particularly challenging day).

Brize to Oxford via Wellesbourne

Tower asked me to taxy over and park next to the fuel pumps, where I waited 10 or 15 minutes for someone to come over and fuel the aircraft. He told me that I should probably just have parked anywhere, as the pumps I had parked in front of were self service for those with fuel cards! Oh well, I guess all I can do is what I’m told!

Headed in to Ops to pay the fuel bill (after texting Indi and Luned to let them know I had arrived safely!) and book out for the short hop back to Brize. As I was checking out the aircraft ready to leave I had a quick chat with someone who came over after recognising the aircraft. He had been involved with Brize Flying Club back in the days when they had 2 Cherokees and 1 Warrior (they currently have 1 Cherokee and 2 Warriors) and we had a bit of a chat while he became re-acquainted with ‘an old friend’. Once he walked off, I realised that I hadn’t thought to ask his name! Doh.

Climbed back aboard and started up, then contacted the Oxford Ground frequency for taxy and departure instructions. Got no reply, so switched to Tower and repeated the call. The response was ‘Have you copied the ATIS?’. Doh again. One of the problems with being based at Brize is that the ATIS is not available on VHF, so we have to get it by telephone before leaving the club. This means that when I’m at an airfield where ATIS is available on the radio, I forget to check it (I should probably have checked it on the way in to Oxford too).

I replied with an embarassed ‘Errr, no. Standby’ before switching to the correct frequency and copying it down. Back to Tower and I was given taxy instructions and headed off to the hold. All the power checks were normal so I called ‘Ready for Departure’ and was given clearance to take off. Once airbourne I turned left towards Burford, and told Tower I was switching to the Brize Zone frequency.

Back on familiar ground now, I made the initial call and asked for a Burford arrival. Once I was cleared for this, I then realised I should probably have asked at this point for a straight in arrival. So, I did this, and was granted permission for this. Set course for Brize (backed up by the ADF) and thought I had the field in site until it became clear that what I could actually see was the built up area just to the North East of Brize. A little later I had the field in sight and was just about to inform Zone of this when they called up and told me the field was in my 12 O’Clock, and I should report it in sight!

So, I reported ‘Field in sight’ and was handed over to Tower. They cleared me for a straight in join and asked me to call Final.

A fairly normal approach followed, but just as I crossed the threshold the aircraft banked slightly left suddenly (probably due to the turbulence generated by the hangars to the South of the runway). As I tried to recover this, I was never fully stable as I headed for the runway, and I was on the verge of applying full throttle and going around. However, knowing that I had miles of runway to play with, I flew level along the runway as I got it under control, before making an Ok landing. Oh well, I guess they can’t all be perfect!

Taxyed back, pushed the aircraft back in to the hangar, and walked back to the club, where I was given a hero’s welcome (well, not really!). My wife and Indi were both there to offer congratulations, and we talked over the flight.

The talk soon turned to what I should plan for the next day, and the answer was pretty obvious really. The QXC! Gulp.

So, tonight I have a flight to plan from Brize to Wellesbourne and Peterborough Conington. Hopefully the weather will be good and I can get this out of the way. Then, on Tuesday I’m going to be doing some revision, with a view to doing my skills test on Sunday! Suddenly, the end is in sight! Just got to hope the weather co-operates tomorrow!

Total flight time today: Dual 0:00 – Solo – 1:15
Take-offs: 2 – Landings: 2

Total flight time to date: Dual 40:45 – Solo 9:55
Take-offs to date: 109 – Landings to date: 104

Disappointment, and a nice surprise!

May 5, 2008

The plan for today was for me to finally get my solo landaway done. The weather forecast was good, with a weak front moving away to the East, leaving clear skies and good weather behind it.

Luned and I arrived at the airfield in good time, to find the club in slight chaos! There was no fuel available, and the aircraft I was due to fly was virtually empty, and had also been teched because the LV light was on. Luckily, someone was there who could check it out, and although the LV light was on dimly when the engine was at low revs, once it was run up to normal operating power the light went off and the ammeter was showing a good charge. He also agreed to make the short hop over to Enstone to refuel the aircraft, leaving me with full tanks and ready to go.

While he was away I sorted the plan out, and made sure I was happy with the flight I had planned (from Brize to Oxford using Wellesbourne as a turning point). When he returned however, he didn’t have good news. Although the weather on the ground looked perfect, once in the air the visibility was decidedly difficult. He reckoned that it was more like 3 miles or so, something that wasn’t good news to me.

Indy and I ummed and ahhed a little, before deciding I would give it a go, but if at any time I felt unhappy then I would turn around and come back again. I was fairly confident that I could pull the flight off as long as the visibility wasn’t too bad. However, on a previous flight I had problems on a flight to Wellesbourne when I headed back to Brize into the sun in similarly poor visibility. That flight gave me a bit of a scare, and I certainly didn’t want to repeat it.

So, off I went, pre flight checks all done and out to the hold, then onto the runway for a takeoff on 08. Turned crosswind at 500 feet and the visibility was already looking a bit ropey. Persevered and got to Burford at 1000 feet, and things still weren’t looking much better. I told Brize I was on a flight to Oxford via Wellesbourne, and headed for the start point for the Nav, about 10 miles North of Brize, while climbing up to 2000 feet. When I got there, things weren’t looking particularly great ahead of me, so I decided to orbit Shipton to see what things looked like back into the sun. I’m glad I did, because I could barely make out the airfield in the distance, so I decided to abort.

I let Brize Zone know this, and on the way back they told me they’d informed Oxford I was no longer on my way. Made a normal arrival via Burford, joining left base for 08, making a nice landing feeling slightly frustrated.

There was still chance for me to get some more flying in though, as Indy had an IMC lesson planned with Barry. They were intending to head out to somewhere like Cardiff where the weather would hopefully be worse and he could practice an instrument approach there in real IMC. They wanted to do this in Indy’s aircraft, but that was at Oxford. So, the plan was hatched for me to fly over to Oxford with Indy, Barry and Luned, then for them to jump into Echo Alpha while I flew back solo. On the way Indy suggested that perhaps Luned should fly back (I’d been trying to convince Luned that some sort of companion course would be a good idea once we started flying places) and surprisingly she didn’t seem to against the idea!

So, once Indy’s program for the day was complete, we all headed out to Alpha Foxtrot, and I carried out the pre-flight while they all got comfortable. Then made a normal start to the flight, heading out to the hold and then taking off from 08 again. This time things were a little different than normal, as Brize offered me a flight straight through their zone, direct to Oxford. They co-ordinated with Oxford, and we positioned to join for Oxford’s 01 runway on a left base. This threw me slightly, as I had planned for going via Burford, so I had a quick look at the chart to plot a rough course for Oxford. I also took the time to tune in and ident the NDB on the field at Oxford as a bit of a backup.

There are plenty of visual clues on the way to Oxford, so finding it wasn’t too hard. I later found out that Luned was also following our progress by spotting landmarks from the back seat using my old chart! Barry was chattering away in the back to Luned and Indy while I concentrated on getting set up for the approach, but once we got onto short final I asked him (relatively politely!) to keep quiet so I could concentrate on the landing. He obliged and I made a nice approach leading to what I felt was a near perfect landing. I even got a ‘nice landing’ from Barry in the back!

Then it was time for a quick turnaround. I pulled up in front of the pumps so that we could take Alpha Fox back full of fuel, while Indy, Luned and Barry jumped out and (after I gave Luned another prod to take the controls on the way back) they all headed over to Echo Alpha. Once refuelled I headed in to Ops to pay the landing fee and fuel bill, before coming back and doing a quick transit check (including draining the fuel to check it) before getting ready to go.

Indy was ready slightly before me, and I watched them taxy towards the hold as I started the engine and got ready to move off myself. I stopped just behind them to do the power checks as they took off, and then I followed them in fairly short order.

After a drama free takeoff (no problems keeping the centreline on any of my flights today) I said goodbye to Oxford Tower, and contacted Brize Zone to ask for a Burford arrival. Again, they were being helpful and offered a straight in approach to join downwind for 08. I accepted this and headed towards the field (again using the NDB on the field as a backup to my Nav) before realising I hadn’t fully absorbed the circuit direction. I asked for clarification to make sure I was heading for the right downwind, and they prompted me to call ‘field in site’ and I switched to tower.

The rest of the approach was fairly normal, with the slight novelty of following Echo Alpha in, watching them touch down just as I passed the end of the runway on my downwind leg. A normal base and final led to another great landing, obviously being more ‘current’ over the last few days had certainly helped keep my landings up to scratch!

Taxyed back to the flying club to find Echo Alpha parked up, with a grinning Luned sitting in the pilot’s seat! Apparently she’d flown most of the flight, including having control on the takeoff and landing! Not bad going, as it was about 3 or 4 flights into my training before I was trusted to do that 🙂

She seemed to have enjoyed the experience, so I hope that this has convinced her that it would be a good idea for her to be able to take control of the aircraft and land safely should something untoward happen while I’m flying. Indy was very complimentary about her flying on the way back, so hopefully that’ll help too!

So, I’m still waiting to do the solo landaway I had originally planned, but I’d had a great day, and was back in to the swing of flying again. Bring it on!

Total flight time today: Dual 0:20 – Solo – 0:50
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 40:45 – Solo 8:40
Take-offs to date: 107 – Landings to date: 102

Expanding my horizons

May 3, 2008

Wind wasn’t favourable for solo flight again (from the South, and Brize’s runway is East – West) so Indi offered me another flight in Echo Alpha from Oxford. The original plan was to go to Leicester, but on checking the narrow route brief on the AIS site, this showed an aerobatics competition taking place at Leicester that day, so that seemed out of the question.

The next plan was Sywell, so we arranged to meet Indi at Oxford. Luned was coming along too, and we later found out that Barry (an ex-Brize student) was going to join us too. Sywell is all grass, and waiting for Indi we all questioned whether an arrival there in a fully loaded Warrior was a good idea. However, when Indi arrived the plan was changed again. Back to Leicester! Lynne from Brize was one of the judges for the aerobatics competition, and had told Indi that there shouldn’t be a problem getting in there as long as were took note of where the competition was actually taking place on the airfield.

So, we planned for Leicester, going via Banbury to avoid various glider fields and parachuting DZs on the direct route.

Headed out to check the aircraft out, when we hit our first snag. When opening the engine covers to check the oil, one of the catch retaining bolts came off, which would have left that catch flapping in the breeze. A few minutes fiddling got it attached again, and after the preflight we were ready to go.

All loaded up and safely seated (including a bit of juggling in the back seat swapping Barry and Luned around) we were ready to go. Called for taxi and departure, and headed up to the hold. All checks were normal, and when calling ‘ready for departure’ we were asked if we wanted to backtrack. I initially answered ‘No’, but Indi and Barry both thought a backtrack would be prudent given that we were four up, so we waitied for a suitable gap in the traffic before being given clearance to line up.

Another aircraft was doing an aborted take off from the intersection in front of us, and once he had completed that we headed off. Was having trouble maintaining the centreline of the runway today for some reason (the wind was pretty much straight down the runway), and some prompting was required from Indi for me to get back onto the centreline. Once that was sorted, we took to the air, and began climbing and turning right to the head North.

Our track took us past Enstone, and I was trying to regain track (pretty much due North from Oxford) when I spotted an airfield off to our right hand side. I jumped straight to the conclusion that this was Enstone, and started to head for it. Luckily (for me!) at this point Barry said ‘That’s not Enstone, Enstone is all the way over there’. I’d been heading for Upper Heyford (a huge disused runway now used for Track Days on occasion). In hindsight it was obvious that what I was seeing wasn’t Enstone, but it’s a good lesson that you shouldn’t immediately jump to a conclusion and make what you’re seeing fit into what you’re expecting to see.

That resolved, we regained our track and headed up to Banbury. This came up slightly behind schedule, but we weren’t maintaining 90 knots as I had planned, and also the wind didn’t seem to be as strong from our rear as had been forecast. At Banbury we switched to Coventry to receive a Flight Information Service for the remainder of the route, and turned on track towards Leicester.

The checkpoints all came up pretty much on track and on time, and for some reason my height keeping was much better on this flight than it had been on previous ones. Perhaps I was just trying harder to impress Luned and Barry!

As we passed Bruntingthorpe, we switched to Leicester Radio to receive the airfield information. As expected after our pre-flight phone call, they were using runway 15, and wanted us to join downwind to help avoid the aerobatic competition ‘box’. Indi had the Garmin set with a ‘direct to’ Leicester, and I made the mistake of taking a quick glance at this, which showed the destination field off to the right hand side of the display. However, I made the mistake of assuming it was showing ‘track up’ and began to head to the right in order to reach the airfield. As it happened I was pretty much bang on track, so if I’d just carried on as I was we would have spotted Leicester ahead.

Unusual paint job!

I was slightly concerned about how short the runway in use, and before the flight had discussed the possibility of using the longer runway (10). However, Indi was confident we could make it, so we continued be joining downwind. The circuit was relatively busy with two aircraft ahead of us, but we turned base and final as normal. Was a little high on final and Indi had me cut power and get the speed down to 60 knots on final. Got back on to the correct approach, and make one of my best landings in a while, easily stopping barely half way down the runway.

We were aware of another aircraft on final behind us, so Indi took over to expedite our backtrack so that we could clear the runway and not force him to go around. Taxyed over to the parking area and shut down.

So, here we were at another new airfield! Headed in to pay the landing fee (taking time to sign the petition against the airfield’s closure while we were there). Then had a rather nice lunch upstairs in the club house, watching the various aerobatics going on to the North of the field while we were there.

Barry and Indi headed off for ‘a few circuits’ while we waited for them to return. This turned into ‘just heading off to the local area for some general handling’ and they were gone over an hour before they returned!

Barry and Indi doing touch and gos

In the meantime I had planned the return flight to overfly Silverstone (my wife and I had both attended several F1 races there in the past) going via Sywell, the Daventry VOR and the Westcott NDB.

We refuelled Echo Alpha when they returned, and at this point I noticed that the retaining bolt on the engine cover had again come loose. However, this time it was nowhere to be seen. A quick temporary repair was effected, and after completing the pre flight we all loaded up and got ready to go.

Barry and Indi make makeshift repairs

Out to the hold for the power checks, and we again headed out to the runway. Given the shortness this would be my first ever ‘short field’ take off. 1 stage of flap, and then set full power while holding the aircraft on the brakes. Then release the brakes before continuing the take off as normal from this point. Again, I had real trouble maintaining the runway centre line on the take off run, and as we became airborne it was clear we were significantly off to the left of the runway. I can’t remember having any particular problems in this area in the past, so it’s something I need to pay attention to in the future.

The first leg was direct to Sywell, and was due to take around 20 minutes. Around 10 minutes in the weather started to close in, and it soon began to rain. Indi took the decision to take a more direct route to Oxford due to the weather (if the worst came to the worst she could always take control and use her IR to get us home), and I would continue the remainder of the flight on instruments.

Indi began giving me vectors as Barry planned the rest of the route from the back. We headed to the Daventry VOR, then doglegged around Hinton in the Hedges for a direct ILS approach into Oxford. The rain we had experienced turned out just to be a brief shower, so Indi got out the screens to simulate instrument conditions for the remainder of the flight. Just for good measure, Indi also covered up the DI and AI to simulate a failure of those two instruments. Thanks!

Hold on, I thought I was supposed to be looking out of the window?

Flying on instruments is a very different skill to flying visually, but I think I managed to keep us on track and on height without too much wavering around. We were tracking the Daventry VOR for a while, and then established ourselves on the ILS for Oxford at a distance of around 15 miles. Barry was calling out heights and descent rates from the back seat (he’s doing an IMC rating so this was good practice in reading the approach plate for him) while I followed his instructions. Decision height was around 800 feet QNH, and at this point Indi removed the screens to show the runway right in front of us! Nice to know that the procedures work when you need them!

From then it was a pretty normal visual approach, culminating in what I think was probably my best landing ever. Perhaps having a bit more weight in the back helps!

Taxyed back and parked up before shutting down, and then debriefed in a local pub over (another) nice meal. All in all, an excellent day, and I hope it’ll be the first of many!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:55 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 2 – Landings: 2

Total flight time to date: Dual 40:25 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 104 – Landings to date: 99

A slight change of plan…

April 26, 2008

The original plan for today was for me to do my first solo land away, going from Brize up to Wellesbourne and back.

Sadly, the wind forecast wasn’t favourable (190 @ 10 knots, right on the limit of a solo student as far as crosswind goes) so a change of plan was necessary. Indi suggested I meet her at Oxford and take her plane up to Wellesbourne with her, so that at least I could get my eye in again after a fortnight away from flying.

So, we headed off to Oxford, and planned the route while waiting for Indi to arrive. Luckily, I realised I had used an old wind forecast during the planning, because when I re-planned with the correct wind figure, I noticed I’d written a completely wrong heading on the chart for the return leg (I’d written 260 for a virtually due South leg, I can only assume I copied the wind direction down).

That little hiccup corrected, we headed out to the aircraft and checked it over while waiting for the fuel bowser to arrive and top off the tanks. Once this was done we were ready to go, and Indi gave me a quick brief on how the COM setup in her aircraft worked.

Because I had planned from the overhead of Oxford, we needed to have a way of knowing when to turn ‘on track’ for Wellesbourne. Knowing the heading for the first leg, I decided we would set the ADF to the frequency for the NDB on the field. Then, while heading due North, I would wait until the ADF needle pointed to the reciprocal of our desired heading, so that I would know we needed to make the turn.

This seemed to work quite well. After taking off we headed North, and made ready to switch to the frequency for Enstone, as we would be passing virtually through their overhead on the route. I looked down at my plog (where I’d written all the useful frequencies for the flight) and managed to read off the Brize Radar frequency instead of the Enstone radio one. I spotted Indi writing something down as I dialled this in (and something in my mind told me that the frequency was familiar) so I double checked and realised my mistake before making an embarassing radio call!

We informed Enstone we would be passing through their overhead and were asked to report then, and after a few minutes I spotted Enstone a mile or so off to our right (it should have been just off to the left). This tended to suggest that the wind from our left wasn’t as strong as the forecast had said. After passing overhead Enstone, I turned right to get back on track, and then continued on the leg.

We then switched to Wellesbourne, and they were busy as ever! I got my initial call requesting joining information in Ok, but from then on it was almost impossible to get my calls in on time due to the number of other people on the frequency.

Wellesbourne appeared well off to our right (another indication that the wind wasn’t where we expected it to be) so I headed straight over to it and planned the join. They were using runway 18, which meant we had to fly overhead, then turn to a heading of around 090 such that we flew with the start of runway 18 just off the right wing. Then we made a wide descending right hand turn (wider than usual to avoid overflying the village of Wellesbourne) before ending up on a heading of 270 at circuit height, with the end of the runway just off the right wing. From then it was a normal downwind and base leg.

Partly because of the problems with getting calls through on the radio, and also due to the very variable winds, my final approach wasn’t particularly good (although I guess not having flown at all for a fortnight didn’t help either). I was deliberately keeping my speed up a little higher than normal because of the gusts (as we initially got established on final the airspeed dropped to about 55 knots because of one of them) but I probably overdid it and we ended coming in a little quick. Then I neglected to completely remove the throttle to idle in the flare, and the slightly heavier elevator on Indi’s plane meant I didn’t pull back on the yoke as far as I should. The result was my first ever bounce, not good.

The runway at Wellesbourne was plenty long enough for a second landing attempt, and this time I did close the throttle and got the nose up a little higher, but this wasn’t particularly pretty either. Indi said the problem was initially that I didn’t close the throttle correctly, and from then on I was always fighting the aircraft, trying to force it on to the ground when it was still at flying speed. Oh well, will try harder next time!

A quick run in to the tower to pay the landing fee and we were ready to head back to Oxford. We were in a queue of 3 at the hold waiting to take off, with the aircraft in front of us taking a long time to head onto the runway once it was clear. We followed him on, and once he was off the ground we began our takeoff roll. I commented to Indi how well the aircraft in front was climbing, and it became clear that this was partly due to the fact that we weren’t really climbing as well as we should have. I was climbing at virtually cruise airspeed (90 knots as opposed to the usual 75 knots climb speed), which Indi pointed out and I tried to sort out.

From then it was a straight out departure before turning on heading to Oxford. Switched back to Enstone (a little earlier than I should have Indi said) and told them we’d be passing through their overhead. Completely missed the checkpoint on the route, but did spot a town which I thought was Chipping Norton just off to the right. We shouldn’t have been anywhere near Chipping Norton (about 5 miles off to the left of it in fact) so I took a little time before convincing myself that it was in fact Chipping Norton (the tower on the mill is the usual giveaway) and realising that we were indeed well off track to the right (remember that wind that wasn’t as strong as it was forecast?).  I began a correcting turn to the left, and then spotted Enstone off in the distance, so headed there (we should have passed just to the left of Enstone so it was a good landmark to use to get back on track).

Once back on track and overhead Enstone, we switched to Oxford Approach to get joining instructions. I was using a headset Indi had loaned me with active noise cancellation, and the Oxford Approach response was almost inaudible. I had to jack the volume up and ask them to ‘say again’, and this flustered me somewhat so I read back completely incorrect information to him. We were told to report the field in site, which we did a little while later and were instructed to join right base. Once established on right base, they told us to switch frequencies, and the frequency I read back bore little relation to the one I actually should have selected! After clearing up that confusion (and double checking on the plog before I actually switched) we changed to Tower and continued our approach.

We were a little high on the approach, but the rest of the landing was much better than the one at Wellesbourne, with a very satisfying ‘squeak’ from the tyres as we gently touched down.

Taxyed back in and parked up, before heading back to the coffee shop to debrief.

The only thing Indi really pulled me up on was the landing at Wellesbourne, and switching away from their frequency a little early on the return leg. Apart from that, a good couple of (short!) flights which have certainly helped me get back into the swing of things.

We’re hoping to head out to Conington on Thursday evening (Conington are open late on Thursdays) and hopefully my wife will be joining us on this flight. Then we have to decide what to do next weekend. I should probably do a solo land away before thinking about the QXC, but to be honest Indi did nothing on the approach into Wellesbourne, so at least that’s given me the confidence that I could probably have managed it on my own. Let’s see what happens!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:20 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 2 – Landings: 2

Total flight time to date: Dual 38:30 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 102 – Landings to date: 97

Out into the big wide world

April 12, 2008

The plan for today was to try to get a few more landaways under my belt, with a view to me getting to do some solo in the near future.

Indi complicated matters somewhat by offering me the chance to fly her aircraft down to Brize. So, I headed off to Indi’s home field, where I met up with Barry, who was taking a workmate out on a flight to Conington and then Kemble. We agreed to meet up later in the day at Kemble for lunch.

Then we prepped Echo Alpha for takeoff, and headed off for the short flight to Brize Norton. Indi had booked us in for an ILS approach, so this would be a good excuse for me to have a bit of a play with that, something that I don’t need to cover for the PPL, but which would be a good exercise nonetheless.

Takeoff from the A/G controlled field was fairly normal, and we immediately switched frequencies to talk to Brize Zone and get established on an ILS approach. As this was radio work I’m not familiar with, Indi did most of the initial calls to get us established, and then I responded to the controller’s instructions for height and heading changes as appropriate.

We had to orbit a few times in the vicinity of Brize to give spacing from an outbound aircraft, but we eventually were cleared onto the approach and were established on the localiser. Then as the glide slope got to about half scale, we gradually established a descent of a couple of hundred feet per minute. From then it was just a question of ‘following the needles’, something which I didn’t have too much trouble doing. I have to admit to a few sneaky peaks out of the window, but in general the tracking of the ILS wasn’t all that difficult.

At 250 feet Indi instructed me to go ‘visual’, and I looked up to see the runway almost exactly where it should have been. From then it was a normal approach, getting the flaps down and ready for the flare. The landing went well, and we taxyed Echo Alpha back to the flying club, ready to switch over to Delta Delta for the rest of the day.

The plan was to hop over to Oxford (an airfield I haven’t visited before) and land there, before planning the flight to Kemble. I’d asked Brize ATC if we could have a ‘direct’ route to Oxford (which would keep us in the Brize Zone for most of the flight) but they insisted we carry out a standard Burford departure. Once we’d checked out Delta Delta, we headed out to the hold and carried out the rest of the pre-flight checks, before getting take off clearance and taking to the air again.

As we switched to the Zone frequency, they then cleared us direct to Oxford (result!) but not above 1000 feet QFE. We switched almost immediately to Oxford Approach, and were given instructions to join on a right base leg for their southerly facing runway at 1500 feet QNH. We had to be careful not to climb up to 1500 feet (which in reality was about 1200 feet on the Brize QFE) before we were clear of the zone.

The wind at this point was coming pretty much from the West, at about 15 knots, so was close to the demonstrated crosswind performance of the Warrior. Indi told me to keep an eye on my speed on the approach, and if at any point I was unhappy to say so, and either go around or get her to take control.

We were established on the base leg without difficulty, and then turned to final at the appropriate time. The wind was obvious at this point, because I needed a significant crab angle to maintain the centreline. This was the most crosswind I’d experienced in quite a while, but it was something I’d need to learn to deal with so we continued.

The rest of the approach was fairly normal, and as we approached the flare I kicked off the crap with left rudder, dropping the right wing into the wind to maintain the runway centreline. In the flare I never really got it all sorted properly, and we landed slightly crabbed to the left. I was a little concerned that it was a ‘bad’ landing, but Indi said I had coped well with the conditions.

We were given taxi instructions from the Tower, and parked up. Then we headed into the terminal (an impressive facility compared to what you see at most airfields) for a cup of tea ad to plan the next leg to Kemble.

Sadly, at this point I received a phone message that meant we had to cancel the rest of the day, as I needed to get home quite quickly. The best way to do this was to take Delta Delta back to Indi’s home field (where my car was!) and for me to head home from there. Indi would then return Delta Delta to Brize. While not exactly what we had planned, it did mean I still got in two landaways, so the day wasn’t spoiled too much.

So, we quickly finished up our drinks, had a quick check of the chart and booked out ready to go for the short flight back to Indi’s home airfield. Take off was relatively normal, and we turned direct for our destination.

Once we got close, we contacted the air ground operator, who asked us to join crosswind on a right hand circuit for their Westerly runway. As we were approaching from the South this seemed a little strange, so I eventually told him we would join directly on left base. We did this, and again got set up for the landing.

This was where things started to go a little wrong. It was probably because I was a little distracted about having to rush home, but also the wind was very variable at this point, and our air speed was varying considerably. By the time we got over the threshold of the runway I had allowed the speed to drop somewhat, which I noticed and applied power to get the speed back up. This distracted me from the flare, and at this point I probably should have gone around. However, I flared a little late, and the mains touched down just before the nose wheel did. One of my worst landings for a while, but Indi said that I had dealt with the changeable wind conditions well considering the extra pressure I was under.

So, although the day didn’t go exactly to plan, I had got a couple more landaways under my belt, and the next step is to try and do the same thing solo!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:15 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 37:10 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 100 – Landings to date: 95

I thought I was supposed to be looking outside…

March 30, 2008

After yesterdays weather I didn’t hold out too much hope for flying today, and last night’s TAF also didn’t give me much optimism either. However, at 9 O’Clock this morning the sun was blazing and there was barely a cloud in the sky. Ideal conditions for my instrument flight practice!

Arrived early at Brize to find that ATC were at lunch until 1:30 (my slot was 11:30 to 15:30), but today that wasn’t too much of an issue as it gave me plenty of time to plan the flight, and it wasn’t likely to be too long anyway.

The plan was to leave Brize and head to Shipton-under-Wychwood (our usual Nav starting point) and then track the 223 radial to the Daventry VOR (DTY). This would give us a heading over 043 to overfly the VOR. From there, we would track outbound on the 276 radial to overfly Wellesbourne. Just past Wellesbourne, we would intercept and track the 176 radial of the Honily VOR (HON) back to Shipton-under-Wychwood.

At some point on the flight we would simulate IMC to give me the required practice of flying by sole reference to the instruments. Ideally we would do this ‘for real’ if we could find some suitable clouds.

Alpha Fox had already flown today, so I did a transit check to ensure everything was Ok, then Indi joined me and we prepared to go. Did the pre-flight checks and headed out to the hold, before being given clearance for departure. The last time I was due to fly Alpha Fox I spotted that the fin beacon had been knocked off, and was dangling from the tail by its connection cables. This had been patched up by removing the beacon, so we couldn’t use it today (more of this later).

At the hold I did the power checks, then the pre-departure checks before calling for clearance and switching to tower. They cleared me to line up, and this was where the first ‘gotcha’ of the day occurred. Normally at this point we would switch on the wing strobes, transponder and (if necessary) the pitot heat. However, as the wing strobes can’t be switched on without the fin beacon being on, and the fin beacon being out of action we couldn’t carry out this step. This meant that I didn’t carry on and turn on the transponder.

After we took off, we switched to the Zone frequency and identified ourselves, and the controller replied ‘No transponder indication’. Whoops. Switch the transponder on to ‘ALT’ and carry on.

At Burford we informed Zone of our intentions and headed up to the start point at Shipton. On the way (while climbing), we tuned the two Nav receivers to the Daventry VOR, and set the first radial (043) onto Nav 2, with the second (223) onto Nav 1. I had problems recognising the ident from the VOR. It was easily audible, but I just couldn’t match up what I was hearing with the Morse I’d written down as the ident of the VOR.

While messing around with this we reached the top of the climb, I turned the fuel pump off and we (in theory!) started tracking the VOR. I thought I was doing Ok, but the GPS log (see below) shows otherwise! I asked Indi what sort of error I was ‘allowed’ and she said that my tracking of the VOR was very good. I guess in reality I was never more than a couple of degrees off the radial, but at this distance that equates to quite a distance off the required track.

Time for ‘gotcha’ number 2! Our route took us a few miles away from Enstone, but because of my poor tracking on the first section we passed virtually through their overhead. Indi took control of the radio and told Brize we were going to switch briefly to Enstone, just to let them know we were passing overhead and to make sure we weren’t going have any issues with traffic from them. Again, whoops.

Continued tracking towards the VOR, and were informed by Brize that Hinton was notified as active with parachuting. Indi seemed concerned as to how close we were to them, but our planned route kept us well clear of them. It was probably this reminder that improved my tracking of the radial around Hinton!

Indi spotted some cloud above us, and we decided to try to climb into it to do some practice on the instruments. We upgrades to a Radar Information Service to get better notifications of traffic while we were on instruments, and tried to climb up in to it. Sadly, the could was higher than we thought and we could get into it, because of (drumroll) time for ‘gotcha’ number 3!

Around the VOR the controlled airspace is at various altitudes down to FL55 and above, and then eventually FL40 and above. I hadn’t properly registered this during my pre-flight planning (and Indi didn’t mention it specifically at this point – more later!).

As we approached the VOR, I became aware of the needle becoming much more sensitive (as is to be expected, this close to the VOR 1 degree off track is a much smaller distance than it is when further away). Indi challenged me to spot the VOR itself as we approached, but I really didn’t know what I was looking for. I knew it would be a circular set of antennas, but it wasn’t until we were very close (we had no DME which made things more difficult) that I spotted the VOR on the ground just as Indi was about to point it out to me.

Set course for the next leg to Wellesbourne and tried to intercept the correct radial. Sadly, I was still looking at the needle for Nav 2, which is why I ended up so far off as we left the VOR. Indi said that in these circumstances it’s often better to set both radios to the same settings so that there’s no chance of confusion. A good tip!

Once this was remedied, the next few miles were flown on a much better track. Indi decided at this point we’d simulate IMC for some practice on instruments, so took my chart away and placed it in the windscreen in front of me. The problem was that she had to hold it in place, which obscured my view of some of the instruments (most notably the VOR needle I was trying to track!).

Flying on instruments like this wasn’t too difficult, but it probably wasn’t an accurate simulation as I still had cues in my peripheral vision and from the front as I could see past the chart Indi was holding.

We now got to the next ‘gotcha’ (sorry, I’ve lost count now!). On the leg to Wellesbourne, the controlled airspace gets lower and lower, and we were flying at FL40 or so. After a while the controller at Brize informed us that we were in danger of entering controlled airspace (the benefits of still being on a Radar Information Service rather than just Flight Information Service!) and told me I should descend. I descended to FL30, and Indi removed the chart from the screen so that we could continue visually to Wellesbourne as we were getting close, and it was likely to be busy.

Informed Brize we were switching to Wellesbourne and then contacted them, informing them we would be turning in their overhead. The last few miles to Wellesbourne were flown visually (probably why the track is straight!) and we overflew them. At this point we were receiving traffic information from Wellesbourne, and at one point Indi asked me to get Wellesbourne to confirm the height of one of the joining aircraft.

Wellesbourne informed me that ‘joins are usually done at 2000, so well below you’. I had told them I was at 3000 feet, but in actual fact I was at FL30. We reset the altimeter (it was quite a low pressure day) and our actual height was more like 2500 feet, significantly lower than what I hold told him. Another important lesson.

As we approached Wellesbourne, I set the final radial (176 from Honiley) on the other Nav, and turned as the needle started to come to the centre, ready for the final leg back to Brize. Once we were clear of Wellesbourne’s zone we thanked them for their help and switched back to Brize.

We were still receiving a Radar Information Service and Indi spotted a nice bank of cloud on our track. We headed towards this (from here on we were no longer tracking the VOR radial) and told Brize we were climbing (we were now well clear of the controlled airspace, it’s floor was now at FL75 or above).

We eventually had to climb up to FL60, and entered cloud for real.

I’d read all the scare stories of how tricky it is flying in real IMC, and I’d also read up on the sensory illusions you can be subject to when you have no visual reference to go by. However, I’d flown Flight Simulator games on my PC (where you fly on instruments pretty much all of the time because the view forward is often quite poor) so I thought ‘How hard can it be’.

Initially I was right, but after a minute or so my head was telling me that we were leaning to the left, while the Attitude Indicator was telling me I was actually flying wings level. This is a classic case of the ‘leans’ and is where you have to ignore the ‘seat of the pants’ sensations and trust the instruments. Initially I found this quite hard to do, and found myself continually banking right by 10 degrees or so to get back to what I thought was wings level.

Eventually I got the hang of it, and Indi had me do a number of rate 1 (180 degrees in 1 minute) turns through the cloud. I think the only requirement for instrument flight on the skills test is that you are able to execute a level rate 1 turn through 180 degrees. The idea is that you suddenly find yourself in cloud accidentally, so you head straight back out the way you came in.

We did some more practice, including some ‘valley running’, where Indi picked a hole between two cloud and told me to fly through it, manoeuvring the aircraft so as to keep us out of the clouds. If a wing tip went into cloud, then I owed her a Guinness! Fortunately the hole was bigger than it looked so I managed it without too much of an issue.

By now we had been flying for about an hour, and decided that we should head back to Brize. I was up at FL60 with not too far to run, and it looked like I was never going to be able to get back down to 1000 feet before Burford. I started to turn away to orbit and lose height, but Indi suggested I practice a sideslip. So, I applied full right rudder, and then enough left aileron to keep us heading for Burford. This puts the aircraft severely out of balance which causes the speed to bleed off, so the nose is lowered to maintain airspeed, and also means you get a higher rate of descent without any associated increase in airspeed. We soon got down to 1000 feet, so this was a useful demonstration that I’ll have to remember for the next time I mess up a Practice Forced Landing and end up too high!

We switched to Tower at Burford as normal (after thanking the Zone controller for his help – he’d been pretty busy calling out traffic to us) and headed for a base leg join. Indi suggested we do a few circuits, as it’d been several weeks since I flew last, so a bit of practice at landing probably wouldn’t do me any harm.

All of the circuits were good, and the landings started out pretty good and got better by the third one. We were on our best behaviour on the final circuit as we were overflown by the Police helicopter! The final landing was the best of the three, and we taxyed back to the club, refuelled the aircraft and put it back in the hangar before heading in to debrief.

VOR Tracking

(Not sure exactly what happened with the GPS track. It doesn’t show all the manoeuvring we did in IMC, and instead just shows us flying straight back to Brize! There’s also a bit that shows us heading due South from Brize, and we were never anywhere near that direction!) 

This had been a pretty eventful flight, and Indi said that my flying had been very good throughout. However there were a number of mistakes made:

  1. Failing to turn on the transponder. My only defence is that we couldn’t use the wing strobes and that didn’t jog my memory for the transponder. Must try to remember this in future, as it’s not the first time I’ve forgotten it.
  2. I didn’t call Enstone, and to be honest had never considered calling them. This shows poor judgement on my part, as I should have recognised this during the planning phase of the flight.
  3. I didn’t have as much awareness of the controlled airspace restrictions as I should have. My only defence here is that I was barely using the map on this flight as we were tracking VORs (in fact Indi took it off me on a number of occasions!). However, to be honest during the flight planning I had never really considered the controlled airspace (in fact had even written one of the leg information right over the numbers of the lowest bit) so that isn’t much of a defence. It was a good reminder that radio aids should be a backup to normal visual navigation methods. If I’d been navigating visually, I’d have had a much better idea of where I was on the map, and would have been more likely to spot the controlled airspace as a result.
  4. Approaching Wellesbourne, I’d had the altimeter set to 1013 (because we were above the transition level) and informed them of my height using this pressure setting. However, when the altimeter was set to the correct pressure for the area as we descended, there was a discrepancy of some 500 feet, which could have had dire consequences if someone had been at that height too.

In general, a very enjoyable flight, despite the problems I had. Indi said she’d deliberately put in a number of traps in this route, and I’d fallen for pretty much all of them! Still, I think I’m more likely to learn in the future by doing things wrong and seeing the consequences, than simply being warned in advance and never really experiencing what might happen.

I think I need to pay more attention when planning routes to the features around the route (airspace, airfields and the like) and not just plonking a line on a map and following it. In reality, you will pretty much always end up off track, and if you blindly overfly another airfield without letting them know you’re asking for trouble.

Next flight will hopefully give us a couple more landaways, and then I need to do some solo. Once they’re done, then it’ll be on to the Qualifying Cross Country flight. Gulp!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:30 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 35:55 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 97 – Landings to date: 92

Progress check.

March 9, 2008

Yesterday’s weather passed through leaving a great looking day. The forecast was for bad weather to come in later in the day, so I was keen to get going relatively promptly.

Sadly that wasn’t to be. Firstly Alpha Fox had a problem with the fin beacon being knocked off during a previous flight (it was hanging from its wiring where the mounting faring had been broken). So, a change of plan and we’d take JP as it had returned early from the previous flight.

Indi was running a little late, and turned up with yet another ‘passenger’ in tow! Another fellow student who’d been flying for years off and on, but hadn’t really progressed much.

The plan for today was originally to combine a Nav progress check with a landaway at Wellesbourne. However, given the poor weather forecast I thought it best to drop the landaway part and just plan a basic NavEx.

Planned the flight from the Northleach Roundabout, to Tewkesbury. From there to the Southam Cement Works VRP (routing overhead Wellesbourne) and then back to Brize Norton. The route from Southam to Brize flew directly over a gliding site, so I routed via Gaydon to avoid this.

This was to be a progress check flight, aimed at ascertaining how far I’d got with my Nav and identifying any weak areas to work on during future flights.

Headed out to the hold after the pre flight checks (with our passenger watching the arrival of one heavy, followed soon by the departure of another), and then lined up ready for the off. Quick check of Ts and Ps and the DI and Compass and we were rolling. The Cherokee didn’t climb as well as the Warrior (to be expected due to its shorter wing span and less powerful engine) but we made the turn at 500 feet and headed towards Burford.

From there we climbed as usual to the altitude for the leg and headed out to the Northleach Roundabout, or starting point for the Nav.

Set course at Northleach, took the start time and estimated the ETA. The first checkpoint was just before we clipped the edge of Cheltenham, with the town of Southam off to the right hand side. It was obvious before we reached Cheltenham that we were left of track so I steered right to try to rejoin our track.

From there we flew virtually overhead the racecourse, and then on to Tewkesbury. Tewkesbury was easy to spot as it has the M5 running right through the middle of it, and my turning point was the junction of the M5 for the town. Never really spotted it properly, so turned as we were overhead the town, perhaps a minute or two earlier than predicted. This probably meant the wind was slightly less than forecast.

Turned for the next leg, letting Gloucester know I was turning. They asked me to report at Evesham, which was coincidentally one of the checkpoints on the next leg. Reported at Evesham and informed them we were switching to Wellesbourne in preparation for passing through their overhead.

Approaching Evesham it was obvious we were again left of track (reinforcing the suggestion that the wind was less than forecast) so used SCA to get back on track. Informed Wellesbourne we would be passing through their overhead, and soon spotted the distinctive buildings on the airfield, with Stratford on Avon to the West of the field.

On this leg our passenger was doing a good job of spotting traffic for us. What was weak on this flight for me was my lookout scan. I had a tendancy to focus inside the cockpit during FREDA checks for example (something I was doing more frequently after identifying this in a previous flight).

Also at around this point I noticed that Indi had written ‘Fuel Pump’ on her paper, and I had neglected to turn this off at the top of the climb. Whoops.

Having identified Wellesbourne, I now steered towards it rather than following the planned heading, and reported in the overhead. Continued on to the Southam Cement works (which is a VRP for Coventry).

Along this leg Indi asked me where the controlled airspace was. I knew the Birmingham zone was off to our left, but hadn’t thought through just how close we were. About 5 miles off our track the floor drops from 3500 to 1500. I should really have realised this during the pre flight planning and made sure I was well clear (in reality we were, but this was more a fluke than by design).

I had written down the frequencies for Coventry ATIS and Approach, as the flight guide show these as a means of determining if the Shenington gliding field was active or not. However I hadn’t really considered that I should talk to them anyway, as I was quite close to their field (indeed I would be crossing over one of their VRPs!).

Indi prompted me with a ‘Who are we going to talk to next?’ and I realised that obviously I should be talking to Coventry. Informed Wellesbourne I was switching, and switched over to Coventry Approach.

We reached the VRP a little later than expected (again probably due to the lighter than forecast wind). Then Indi asked if I wanted to try a PFL. I agreed, and Indi cut the power, announcing ‘Simulated Engine Failure’.

So, I trimmed for glide, and started looking for a suitable field. The one I chose was probably Ok, but I picked one that would be a directly crosswind landing, rather than into wind as is more appropriate. Did the ‘touch drills’ for restarting the engine, then made the ‘Mayday’ call (over the intercom rather the radio!) and carried out a brief to our passenger as I would (hopefully!) do in a real emergency.

The approach to the field was (as usual) way to high, and it’s unlikely we’d have made it in successfully. This is something I really need to have a proper session on I think, because I need to get this sorted properly.

As we were climbing away, Indi then announced ‘Engine failure after take off’, again pulling the power. This time I picked a good field, and the approach was much better (I guess because there’s a lot less time to get it wrong!). I definitely would have made it into this one.

We headed back to the cement works so use it as the starting point for the final leg back to Brize. This is always a difficult area for Nav, because there aren’t many good landmarks to use on the way. I ended up using the gliding field at Shenington, which should have been a couple of miles off our left hand side.

We used Gaydon as a turning point to route around the gliding field (otherwise we’d have flown straight over it) and as we reached Gaydon there was another aircraft off to the left of us on a converging track, slightly below us. I climbed a couple of hundred feet, but soon realised that the aircraft was going to pass right below the nose and I would lose sight of it, so decided to orbit before it became a problem.

Resumed back on course at Gaydon, and looked out for the gliding field off to our left. This appeared right where it should have been, and we carried on the leg.  I later identified Chipping Norton (pretty easy to spot because of the mill) and then the railway that leads past our finishing point, an un-named town just South of a distinctive bend in the railway, which is Shipton-under-Wychwood.

Today I could easily identify Burford in the distance, and Brize slightly off to the left. Descended to 1000 feet QFE, and reported that we were at Burford with the field in site before being handed over to the tower.

Tower asked us to join right base, with one heavy on an 8 mile final. This traffic was easy to spot, and I didn’t think we’d get in before it, so I told the Tower that we’d orbit North of the field. After two or three orbits to allow a good 5 minutes of spacing (for wake turbulence) we resumed our approach, and I carried out the downwind checks.

Turned final (which is actually base at Brize!) and called in, then being cleared to land. This was only my second flight in the Cherokee, so I was particularly careful of the approach speeds and mindful of the tendency to sink more than the Warrior. What I forgot about was that the Cherokee tends to pitch down when you extend flaps (the Warrior pitches up) which caught me a little by surprise!

The approach was good, nicely on centreline (although there was little crosswind so that wasn’t too difficult!) and as I flared I remembered the extra sink and left on a small amount of power. Drifted slightly to the right of the centreline, but as I began to correct this there was a gentle ‘squeak’ as the mains touched down, followed shortly by the nose gear.

Indi was nicely appreciative of the landing, and I even got a ‘That was a great landing!’ from the back. That’s 2 for 2 in the Cherokee now, perhaps I should stick to it!

Tewkesbury, Southam VRP and Gaydon

Taxyed back in, and shut down, refuelling the aircraft and putting it back in the hangar.

While debriefing with Indi, she told me that our passenger hadn’t realised that our PFL was only a practice! She was a little shocked when she heard the ‘Mayday’ call over the intercom (it obviously wasn’t transmitted) but apparently I was so calm giving the brief to her that it put her mind at rest! She was certainly pleased when we applied power again to climb away!

The only things Indi really commented on were the lookout (something I recognise I’m sometimes not very good at) and the fact that I’d left the fuel pump on. I’ll try to make more of an effort in the next flight to get the lookout sorted. Oh, and she mentioned the ‘QXC’ word too. Gulp.

Next flight was supposed to be just Shrivenham, Princess Risborough (flying through the Benson MATZ) then Towcester and Chipping Norton. However, we’ve modified this to go via the Compton VOR (so that I can do some VOR tracking) and then from Princess Risborough we’re going to ‘divert’ to Wycombe air park for a landaway. Should be fun!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:35 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 1 – Landings: 1

Total flight time to date: Dual 34:25 – Solo 7:50
Take-offs to date: 94 – Landings to date: 89