Stalled & Grounded

After several postponements, I finally managed to have my ninth lesson on Friday. This has now taken me through the 10 hour mark and a little further as the lesson lasted approximately an hour and forty five minutes and actually covered the material for two lessons. I was originally only booked in for a single lesson, but my instructor felt that I had grasped and mastered the first exercise of stall practice quickly enough that if I had the time available, he was happy to continue the lesson through to the second exercise. Completing these last two exercises now opens the way for me to begin circuits around the aerodrome.

I was fortunate with the weather yet again, and it was only when we decided to return to the airfield and dropped back through the clouds did we find that visibility was closing in to around 1.5 – 2Km. An expected warm front was sweeping in and conditions were starting to deteriorate quite rapidly. It was also the only time during the lesson that I had any chance to take some aerial photographs as my instructor had taken control. However, I was annoyed to have my phone battery die after only snapping one photo! There will be future opportunities I’m sure and I’m already investigating ways to mount a GoPro in the cockpit or on my personage for some video footage.

Something I found interesting a few weeks ago was that the flights I do seem to be tracked on flightradar24.com. I’m not sure if the data is collected from the aircraft’s transponder or from my instructor’s iPad (he runs SkyDemon for GPS positional location). Either way, the tracking data is stored and freely viewable for a few days after. I’ve screen captured the map and speed/altitude graph for my stall practice – ignore the reference to Cardiff, we were never even close to Wales 🙂

So, that’s the stall training done and dusted. But unfortunately, there is now the issue of being grounded to consider. There is a very good chance that my flight training may have come to a grinding halt. Literally. Just last weekend the semi-automatic gearbox on our Ford C-Max failed, causing some alarming and potentially dangerous jolting and jerking when attempting to drive in 1st or reverse gears. Since then, the reverse and 2nd gears have failed completely and the car is effectively immobile, despite only having clocked up 65,000 miles. Estimates for repair are hideous and taking the issue up with Ford seems likely to be fruitless, therefore unexpectedly we have found ourself in the situation of needing to purchase a  replacement vehicle. With the need to prioritise, it is likely that the funding we had set aside for my flight training will need to be used and therefore further lessons are potentially cancelled. I am working at the moment and jobs are coming in, so it may just be a temporary hiatus. I will provide an update to the situation in a future post and in the meantime continue as normal, working toward passing the first three of my exams.

Quote of the Day : – “Roger the Army.”

Radio Silence

It’s been exactly two months to the day since I last posted to this blog and I can’t believe just how that time has flown! Well of course, it’s not just the time that has been flying either. Despite the absence of blog updates, I have been making steady progress with my flight training and am now about a quarter of an hour short of reaching a third of my minimum hour requirement. The past couple of weeks has seen my ninth lesson postponed at least twice, preventing me from breaking the 10 hour mark. All being well, next week should fix that hopefully.

Continue reading “Radio Silence”

That Friday Feeling…

After a rather stressful and challenging lesson the previous week, I was understandably a little apprehensive about climbing into the cockpit once more. The weather earlier in the day had been quite cold and rainy and my daughter was adamant that she had seen sleet on the car windscreen that morning. The breakfast show presenters on the radio announced that there had been snow at Okehampton, so I should not have been surprised when I saw that the hedgerows and fields around Dunkeswell were white with a light snowfall as I travelled to the aerodrome. However, such a pretty sight did little to quell my feelings of uneasiness. My scheduled lesson had already been cancelled the day before due to strong winds and despite the pale winter sun, a quick look at the horizon indicated a possible repeat.

Continue reading “That Friday Feeling…”

A Turbulent Day

There are days when you know you should have just gone back to bed. Today was one of those days.

The morning started with what was described by my instructor as ‘wierd weather’ – one weather front had passed through in the early hours of the morning, with another quickly chasing it, leaving a mixture of cumulus and stratus clouds and low visibility. When I got to the aerodrome for my 09.00 lesson, there wasn’t an aircraft in sight and I was informed that we would need to drive over to the hangars at the far side of the airfield and retrieve my aircraft from overnight storage.

It was at this point that the day started to nosedive. While moving the aircraft from hangar storage back to the GA parking area, my instructor decided to allow me to have a go at taxiing. It did not go well. I over-compensated with my rudder pedal movements and couldn’t manage to use the toe brakes equally to bring the aircraft to a straight line stop. “Oh well,” thought I “practice makes perfect. Plenty of time for this in another lesson.” But I remained annoyed at my incompetance anyway. Continue reading “A Turbulent Day”

Heady, Set, Go…

headsetselfie

Blue Steel

I’m a couple of posts behind due to a busy week, so I’m adding them a week later for posterity, with their original dates intact.

It seems to be common practice for student pilots to have their own headsets for use in the cockpit, but like everything else related to aviation, there is of course a hefty price tag attached. While there are a number of low-cost options available, David Clark headsets have set the standards of comfort, quality and performance in design and manufacture and their ‘green domes’ are very widely recognised. I knew that I couldn’t stretch to anything as advanced as their Electronic Noise Cancelling (ENC) range of sets, so I spent a few days scouring eBay for one of their passive offerings. I soon became disheartened that few were available as second hand models, at a price point I could afford, and even commented to my father that I can never find a good deal for the things I want on eBay. But within forty eights hours of making that comment, I had won an auction for the H10-13.4 headset, at 50% of its brand new retail cost.

I always experience some doubt and trepidation whenever I buy anything off of eBay… Will it turn up? What condition will it be in? Will it be the one that was shown in the photograph? Well, I’m pleased to say that the headset arrived within 24 hours by Special Delivery, was the item shown in the photograph and both it and its carry bag were in mint/’as new’ condition! I gave them their first use during my second lesson and they worked beautifully.

Anyway, enjoy the obligatory black and white selfie.

Let That Be A Lesson

Based on Murphy’s Law, I wasn’t surprised to wake up this morning and see overcast conditions out of the window, especially since we’ve recently had several cold, crisp, sunny Autumn days. I immediately checked the AeroWeather app on my phone and was informed that conditions were ‘MVFR’ – Marginal Visual Flight Rules. There was hope.

To say that today dragged is an understatement. I never thought 2.00pm was ever going to arrive. But arrive it did, and with it came a half an hour wait for my instructor, Iian. Patience is definitely a pre-requisite quality for aviation because there are so many factors that dictate when things can happen, and as safety is of the utmost priority, nothing can be rushed. The wait was an interesting one though, especially when a Chinook landed at the airfield. Weather conditions had also improved by this point as well, with clouds at a ceiling of about 4000ft and wind conditions calm, although it was still overcast. Continue reading “Let That Be A Lesson”

Cleared For Departure

Yesterday was a beautiful autumnal day, and following fog and poor visibility in the morning, I knew that any activity at Dunkeswell was going to be happening from midday onwards. So, with my LAPL Medical Certificate and Log Book in hand, my wife, daughter and I made our way up to the aerodrome. While lunching in ‘The Aviator‘ cafe, we had a wonderful view of Runway 05/23 and were able to watch a number of student and private aircraft land and take to the skies. We were also treated to a constant stream of brave souls going up and back down again on parachute drops – I’m regretting not having taken my camera now. I will snap some photos at a later date though and post them up here. Continue reading “Cleared For Departure”

My Finest Hour

To date, my most comprehensive flight experience came on the 8th April 2014 in the form of a lesson in G-BZWG, a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee. Originally, my wife had purchased a one hour flying experience from Panshanger aerodrome as an anniversary gift, but having already had some time in light aircraft cockpits before, I asked them if the experience could be treated more as a lesson – and they were happy to oblige! Continue reading “My Finest Hour”

What’s Really Gone Before – Part II

Following on from Part I of my previous real-world flight experiences, I’ve had a few more in more recent years. In 2008 I visited Malta with a friend. Not long after arriving at the island I saw that there was a seaplane transit service between Valetta and Gozo. Thrilled at the prospect of not only seeing the beautiful island from the air, but also taking off and landing on water, we booked up for a trip and I paid for the co-pilot’s seat. I enjoyed a wonderful up-front cockpit view of the trip and learned a good deal of information from the pilot about operating a de Havilland Canada DHC-3T Turbo-Otter. Enjoy browsing through this aerial gallery of Malta… Continue reading “What’s Really Gone Before – Part II”

What’s Really Gone Before – Part I

Having covered my virtual flying adventures  in my last post, I’m now going to reminisce about my (more important) real-world experience to date.

My first flight in a general aviation (GA) aircraft took place in June 2004 when a friend of my cousin offered to take us both up as passengers. At the time, the friend was funding his own training to become a commercial airline pilot and needed to increase the number of flying hours in his log book. We met him at EGTR Elstree and climbed into G-ODEN, a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior. Continue reading “What’s Really Gone Before – Part I”