Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sent off my licence to the CAA

When I started this flying malarchy, I knew it was a costly hobby, but after filling out the forms, I found out that my licence itself will cost £300!!! Daylight robbery. Anyway, I hope to get the stuff back in a few weeks. I sent it via DHL, so it should get there by Friday at the latest :-).....I'm SO excited :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

A HUGE big thank you for everyone who made this possible

Firstly, I want to thank Kevin, my instructor, for teaching me how to fly and making it possible to get my pilots licence. Your patience, trust and encouragement was fantastic, and I will also keep my fingers and toes crossed for you that you get the Jet job soon.

I would also like to thank the boys in the "Squadron". They are Sqdn Ldr Matt Arman, Mark "The Machine" Nulty and James "Jimbo" Bayes. Your encourage and drive and belief that I was MORE than ready for the writtens and to stop faffing was the boot up the arse I needed. Especially Mark....who's passing his writtens in a fortnight must be a record!!! Matt, I will be forever grateful for your help throughout, especially when it came to the Nav and how to use that fecking Whizz-wheel.

Then there's Paolo and Enrico. Two crazy Italian's who are the funniest pilots I have ever met. Paolo, your drive and determination is an inspiration and the fact that you never give up has inspired me to believe that I too can do anything I put my mind to, as long as I don't give up. When you're "climbing like a monkey" out of your aerobat, then I'll know you've achieve that one huge goal. Enrico.....what can I say to Enrico. I hope that you get BOTH your greencard AND your type rating but that you do it whilst behaving yourself with the ladies. Thank you for your help and support and for making everyday and fun day at the airfield.

Janis and both know that you're near and dear to me and your advice was what I needed and I hope your ears (when I was complaining) recover after I'm gone. John.....Matt and I are going to get our taildragger endorsements, so we'll be seeing you again soon ;-)

And Laulu......for knowing that I could do it and for believing in me that I could do it. Kiitos kultaseni.

I'm a Pilot!!!!

Mission Accomplished ;-)

The day of reckoning came, and I passed. The weather might have been shit, my examiner was a little kooky and kept trying to fly the plane when I was doing it, and he made up the flight as we went along becaus eof the fact that the weather weas clagging in. But I got the result I wanted. I passed my checkride, I have the rubber stamp in my log book and I've all the forms filled and countersigned to send to the CAA to get my licence.

I'm looking forward to going to the flight schools here and renting a plane and taking friends up for a spin around Holland. I really cannot wait :-)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Flight test scrubbed

Well today has been a comedy of errors, only I'm not laughing. I woke up this morning at the crack of dawn to meet Kevin with the intention of flying out to Phoenix to pick up our examiner, Victor. We would then sit the test on the way back and he needed to come back to examine someone else also. But it's has been raining and really shitty weather all day today.

Kevin checked the weather, didn't like the look of it (thunderstorms and icing conditions) so we held off for a while to see if it would improve. While we waited, Kevin said he'd head off home and come back. He came back, but with a huge gash in his head. Apparently he'd walloped his head against a cupboard door and cut open his head. So he went of to get stitches. So I was paired with the guy who did my stagecheck the other day.

I preflighted the plane, fueled her up and taxied back to pick up Mike. We'd be flying IFR (on instruments) to get there because of the weather. When Mike got his clearance, his phone rang. It was Victor. He was calling to scrub the flight because when all was said and done, by the time we'd have gotten there and prepped for coming back, it'd be dark. And Victor didn't want to fly night IFR on the way back. So it looks like I'm doing it tomorrow. But tomorrow is D-day for sure because I'm flying back on Monday!! Please everyone.....keep your fingers and toes crossed that it all works out tomorrow.

Skills test today......with a twist

So it seems my examiner had to go off to Phoenix to sort out some personal stuff....taxes and such like, which menat he was to be picked up to come back here and test myself and some other girl. But he's now dreamed up a plan that myself and Kevin fly out there at the crack of dawn to pick him up, and then the flight back will basically be my flight test!!!

I'm more worried now than ever, because I don't kn ow the terrain and don't know all the little airfields there. I'll also have Kevin in the back when the test is being done, which means I'll have extra weight in the plane when I do my "Practice Forced Landings" and my various other landings. I'm not a happy bunny, and if I fail the test, I'll ask immediately for a new San Diego!

Please keep your fingers and toes crossed and say a wee prayer for me that I pass.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stage check is's the verdict

Well I did my stage check this afternoon. Everything seems OK, and got some good pointers. Did it with this small Latino bloke called Mike Diaz.

We took off from Gillespie, and as soon as we departed East, he had me put on the "foggles" which are glasses which limit your vision to just the instruments. He had me fly headings, climb at specific speeds etc and I felt I nailed it. He said I did well on that part, no problems.

Then we did some slow flight. We did slow flight without flaps...never did it before, so he gave me a speed to fly and I did that. Did pretty good, and then also some slow flight with flaps. Again, no real problem. Then we did some stalls. First one.....a clean stall, wasn't great. Not enough rudder from the beginning and then I had to carefully not over correct. His tip was not to be afraid of the rudders and to use them to stop moving side to side. Overall it was OK though.

Then we did "turn to final" and "final approach" stalls. It was a little difficult to get the turn to final stall setup. But once I got it, I recovered well. The final approach stall was good too.

Then he pulled an engine failure out of the bag. I did the drill and set best glide, but I'd forgotton to retract the flaps and we were dropping faster than normal. He asked why were we dropping faster and I said "shit", retracted the flaps and set us up for a forced landing. His biggest tip was to not just work from memory, but to also go through the checklist when I've got everything done to make sure I got everything covered. He said that because I had forgotten to do the Mayday call. D'OH!!!!

Anyway, picked a field, coasted out and turned base leg and then final. But it's very difficult to get the height sorted out. SO I was a little high, and had to slip. Wasn't the best PFL, but was good enough. We'd have landed safely, albeit a slightly worse for wear airplane. Climbed out and went to do steep turns.

I learned something new here too.....Kevin has taught me, and as do the books read, that you put in full power for the steep turns. But he asked why I did. So I told him it was how I was taught. He told me you don't have to, so I pulled back on the power. Turns were OK, but he gave me a tip to pull the power back as I roll out of the turn.

We headed off home and did some touch and go's. I did the checklists and he wanted to see a shortfield landing. It was a bitch, because ATC had us do a straight in approach. This is annoying, because when you're in the circuit, you have specific turning points and the picture is set in your mind. But coming in straight, you have to amend everything. Consequently I came in a little high. I still made the number, because I had to side slip like to loose height, and I landed in a very short distance, so no biggy....but I was just vexed because it wasn't a smooth landing. But if I remember what Neale said (one of the senior instructors who did my pre-solo checkride) said, "If you've landed and you and the plane are all in one piece, it doesn't matter then how slick it was....all that will come later and you can work on your finesse"

The next landing was supposed to be a short approach landing (i.e. pretend the engine is out). But Mike was too late in asking ATC, so we did a soft field landing instead. Because we were too late, I was a little late setting up the plane, and again a little too high. Once again a little sideslipping was needed, and I landed OK. Nose was kept off for as long as I could and we came off the taxiway and headed back.

So his tips were not to be frightened of the rudders when stalling, to remember the pull out the checklist for everything (even when doing stuff from memory), and not to put in full power in the steep turns and pull out the power when turning wings level.

Some night flying later tonight with Kevin, and it now seems the checkride will be Saturday now and NOT Friday....fucking hell.....I think that means no Mirimar this year :-(

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bimble up to find Billy Joe

This morning saw me get into the school and prep for a solo ride up towards French Valey to locate a private airfield called Billy Joe. Why?....I hear you ask me? Well, because it's one of the designated diversion fields for my checkride flight and it's NOTORIOUSLY difficult to find. When I got there, I spent about 15 mins circling trying to find it, and then had to fly radials from two of the lakes there to try and pin point it. EVENTUALLY, I managed to find it, but fuck me is it difficult. It's nestled in between a bunch of houses, so almost looks like a normal road from the air. I made a note of where it is in relation to other big features, so I should be able to spot it when I do my test tomorrow.

Later this afternoon I'll do my stage check with another instructor to make sure I'm ready for my test and then tonight Kevin and I will do some more night flying to complete my Night Rating. The clock is ticking down closer and closer to the big day. I can already feel my tummy churning. Better grab some Peptobismal and continue with memorising my Emergency Drills.

Last written paper passed

Good news everyone. I have passed both my last written paper AND my R/T Licence practical test. Now all I need to do is sit a stage check with another instructor so they can see if I'm ready for my checkride and of course the checkride itself which is scheduled for Friday.

I only got two questions out of a total of 50 wrong in my written test....not bad, even if I do say so myself. I was up till very late last night cramming and revising for the R/T practical and I arranged with Kevin to take today off from flying so I could concentrate on the written exam. I was planning to sit that one tomorrow, but after memorising the answers in the confuser and reading the books I felt as ready as I was ever going to be and sat it int he afternoon.

I made a couple of mistakes during my R/T practical, for example, getting my callsign a bit muddled in the beginning (I still have ZP and GF on the brain) and repeating one or two things I didn't need to from time to time. But the examiners main concern was that I knew my Mayday calls, I knew my direction finding calls (if I ever get lost) and that my basic radio etiquette was up to scratch. He was happy enough and said he noticed how much better I got as it prgressed and I started to calm down and relax. So now I'm licenced to operate a radio in the air :-)

Tonight will be spent memorising the emergency procedures and the aircraft settings for the different manouvres I'll need to do during my checkride, and hopefully the weather will be good enough for me to sit it on Friday, because I really want to go to the Mirmar airshow on Saturday.

So today was a VERY good more written exams and the countdown is ever closer to the deciding flight. Am I nervous ?......Is the Pope Catholic? :-)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

And then there was one

Well, the day of Matt's leaving has finally come. The last three weeks with him, and the rest of the guys, have been fantastic. I, however, am left to fend for myself for the remainder of my stay, which is only 6 more days.

I've learned a lot from the guys, not just flying, but lots of other things too. And I want to thank each and every one of them for their help, support and for being good mates, helping share a laugh and a tall tale.

I think I have made some really good friends who I hope to plan many a bimble together and share our passion for flying.

Matt, I hope you had a safe (albeit LONG) trip back and that your licence doesn't take too long in making its way from Blighty to the Fjords of Norway. I'll miss your support and advice about the exams, but I hope to be winging my way to do a bit of Fjord flying Noggie style in the none too distant future.

Something old and something new.

Today, Kevin and I flew up to Borrego Valley airport. The plan??? To work on my landings prior to my checkride and to also work on "short field approaches", also known as engine out landings. I had a lot of fun, although one or two were slightly heavy because I misjudged my heaight a wee bit. But I had fun doing the short field approaches. On the first one, Kevin pulled the power on me without telling me and said "Engine failure". So I went through the drill, trimming for best glide speed, spotting the airfield and then checking the fuel tanks on both, fuel mixture is set to rich, carb heat is on, magneto's are on both. All the time I'm doing this, I'm watching my approach back to the airfield.....or area I've chosen to land, to make sure that I canb make it. As soon as I know I can make it then I bring in flap to help loose height. I had to slide slip in to loose height, but I think that's good. Afterall, it's better to be slightly too high than slightly too low.

We headed home and grabbed something to eat. Matt had his "Triple triple burger" from In & Out burger. Since he heard about it a week ago he's planned to have it before he leaves, which is tomorrow sadly. So we got our burgers, and I prepped for the night flight. Since I've done my minimum solo and dual hours I can now fly at night with Kevin to gain my Night Rating. The main advice from Kevin was about depth perception and how it can trick you to think you're at the right height when you're actually too high. I got caught out about twice, and on one occaision Kevin admitted he'd even been caught out on it too. Made me feel less bad after the slightly heavy landing that my instructor even thought it looked OK. But mostly I got the knack of flying at night. The only two things that I noted were that it's harder taxying than flying at night and secondly, for some reason I kept coming in slightly right of the centreline. I never do that during the day, but I asked Matt and he said he noticed the same when he was flying.

I'll do another stint in the afternoon and again a night flight with Kevin, and I'm really looking forward to it. The downside to tomorrow........Matt's leaving for home, which means I'll be on my own for the remainder of the week :-(

Another one bites the dust....

Another exam out of the way. That makes 6 with one more left. I'm planning to sit that one on Thursday, in time for my checkride which is scheduled for Thursday. I basically memorised everything in the "Confuser" and then sat the exam. So that's "Flight Planning" out of the way.

Another one bites the dust....

Another exam out of the way. That makes 6 with one more left. I'm planning to sit that one on Thursday, in time for my checkride which is scheduled for Thursday. I basically memorised everything in the "Confuser" and then sat the exam. So that's "Flight Planning" out of the way.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The floating city that is USS Midway

Matt and I took the afternoon off and headed out to the USS Midway. It's an old aircraft carrier moored in San Diego harbour and is open to the general public to see whatlife aboard a working carrier was like. My first impressions??? I'd say it was VERY hot, VERY sweaty and VERY cramped....not my cup of tea. It was interesting to see what life was like and to see those conditions first hand, but after a while we got a little bored because we really came to drool over the planes on board :-) Here are some pics I took. Enjoy.

Me looking like a git in front of an F-9 Panther

President Matt boarding his personal Helo

The old reliable F-14 oldie, but a classic!

My favourite fighter jet of all time, the F-18

F-4 Phantom in front of the Flight Deck Control

The ubiquitous "Huey", a Vietnam veteran, some of which we've seen coverted into forest fire fighters flying out of Gillespie

The F-8 Crusader, which I thought was a Corsair...but anyway. Nice pic in front of the Flight Control deck.

T-2 Buckeye....despite the ugly name, I think she's a bit of a looker

Finally I did my X-country solo

As I had previously mentioned, I had some problems trying to get my long x-country flight done. The first day I was supposed do it I scrubbed it due to bad weather. I rung the weather brief guys and they mentioned lots of lovely things like "visibility obscured in the hills", "thunderstorms in the area" and "winds gusting at 34kts".....all wonderful things you DON'T want to meet when you're alone and many hundreds of miles from home.

The next day saw Matt and I go for a jaunt in my friend John's BEAUTIFUL bi-plane. I made my way to the school while Matt was having fun doing lazy eights and I replotted my route with the weather. The weather was behaving itself at least....but someone had take "Foxy Girl" up on a checkride and didn't get back on time. As the minutes, and then hours, ticked by, John was saying if it was him he wouldn't go up because the visibility was worsening as the evening came in and the haze was quite bad aloft. So I decided I'd scrub it again and go for a jaunt up towards French Valley to familiarise myself with the area I'd fly in during my flight test. But I got halfway there and had to turn back because sure enough, that clag John had predicted made it impossible to see very far. So home I came.

The following day was much better though. I woke up to blue skies, no clouds and made my way in to the school. Replotted the route for the winds again (3rd time's a charm) and off I went. I was flying "Foxy Girl" for this one and felt quite happy in the fact that she had GPS which, if all else fails and I find myself having the same general sense of direction as my mother, I could switch it on and figure out where to go. Luckily Kevin had showed me how to use it on our duel flight a few days earlier.

But something was amiss as soon as I set-off. I noticed that the track I was flying was taking me away from the track I wanted. Which meant one thing....the bloody winds on the NOAA website were old...AGAIN!!! To be honest, the weather available to pilots in the U.S. is bollocks. They only update the winds twice a day, so they can be 12 hours old when you use them. Unlike in Europe which updates the weather 6 times a day!!! So I had to make course corrections in flight. I made it safely to stop number one.....Imperial Airport. Here was were the fun started. First of all, I was too high coming in to land. So I sideslipped all the way in, but then I floated a good bit down the runway because I was carrying about 5kts too much, and I had a heavier than normal landing. On top of that, I need to get a piece of paper signed by a witness to prove I was there. But do you think I could find anyone? There wasn't a soul about. I must have walked round for about 20 mins, until I saw this guy running along the fence on the outside. BINGO....I nabbed him (he was apparantly having trouble with his own plane or something) and he signed my paper. And off I went to stop #2...Thermal airport.

This was much better....flew in, approached the runway....which is very very VERY long, and made a nice soft shortfield landing. I stopped right were the exit to taxi to the ramp is and made my way there. I couldn't remember where I needed to go to get my paper signed, so I called Matt and he gave me dirtections. A brisk walk there and an ice-cream later and I had my second signature. I basked in the sunshine.....about 30C, chatted the nice lady there for about 5 mins and went for a pee before setting off again. I was now beginning to feel like a real pilot....having a set destination to go to, a flight plan to follow etc etc. Off I went and headed South to avoid the looming mountains to my right. I think most of all that I'll miss seeing mountains when I get back to Amsterdam.....It'll be weird flying around a country that's as flat as a pancake. Anyway, I intercepted a radial for a Julian VOR (a radio beacon) and flew towards it, over Borrego Valley airport. But between Borrego valley airport and the VOR the winds became turbulent. At one stage I dropped about 200ft in a matter of seconds. So I climbed higher hoping to get out of the downdraughts. It helped, but only a little bit. I overflew Julian and aimed South to El Capitan reservoir. I heard one of the other instructors, John Locke, doing the same trip with one of his students only going the other way, so I told them about the severe turbulence. And shortly afterwards I was nearing Gillespie, pre-landing checklist complete and clearance from the tower. But again, nearing the field, between two hills...Rattlesnake hill and Twin Peaks I encoutered some windshear. I dropped 200ft odd and lost about 10 knots in airspeed. But I landed safely and let ATC know about the windshear. They warned other pilots about it and I taxied home. All in all a pretty eventful, adventurous and fun trip. I can't wait to do another time as a fully fledged pilot :-) Matt and I relaxed for the rest of the day by going to see the USS Midway, an old aircraft carrier.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Joy ride pics

This is John's baby.

John pre-flighting

Me trying to climb into the plane.

Who is this handsome devil?

"Roger Red Leader....Bandits in sight....Tally Ho!!"

Claython and John together after our flight

Joy riding in the sky

Well this morning saw Matt and I take a jaunt in John's beautiful bi-plane. It's an Acro Duster and is open cockpit tandem seating. I called John in the morning to double check if his offer of taking us up the night before was still on and he gave me the thumbs up. I called Matt to let him know, had a quick shower and we drove down to John's hanger.

When we got there, John already had her out and was about to set-off to fuel her up. Matt and I took out our cameras and waited for him to return. When he got back, we had lots of fun trying to fit me in the cockpit. It's a tight fit, especially for someone who's legs are as long as mine. But we managed it. Then the next fun bit was trying to get the five point harness strapped around me so I wouldn't fall out. We managed to figure it out with a little help from John. Then I tried on the hat with the headphones, Matt took a few photo's and then off we went.

It's a taildragger, which means that you have to swing side to side to see what's up ahead as the forward visibility isn't too good when on the ground. John got taxi clearance and we made our way to the runway. We took off from 27R and made our way to El Capitan lake and did some light aerobatics there. Then John gave me the controls and my god is it different. Flying a Cessna is like flying a tin can with wings.....they fly, but are extremely manouverable. That's the whole point to them being a good trainer, because they're stable. But flying John's was totally different. It was very ginger at first, afraid to do too much, but then John told me to try turns to the left and right. I was putting in too much rudder, again my foot is heavy because I'm used to the Cessna's. But I think I eventually got the knack. Only the lightest touch is needed on John's plane. Then we did some lazy eights in the sky and climbed back up.

Because it's a opencockpit plane, the wind rushes past you and it makes communicating between one another rather difficult. So we had a deal that if I see traffic ahead and think John hasn't seen it, then I waggle the stick and then take control to steer us away from the traffic. It happened to us briefly and I helped steer us clear and then handed control back to John. On the way back to Gillespie though I was worried that he wasn't away of a mountain looming ahead of us. So I asked John, he climbed just to be doubly sure and made our way back to Gillespie.

A soft landing later and a taxy back to John's hanger, I then had fun getting out of the harness again. We then shot off for lunch before returning again for Matt to have his spin in her. I made my way then to the school to get ready for my solo cross country......more on that later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Cross-country solo postponed

Today I awoke to almost "Dutch style" weather. There were large rain clouds near the apartment and some fluffy cumulous clouds the other side of the apartment. The worst bit was the fact that they were all so low.....that basically inhibits me from flying too far away because they're low, the mountains are high and I'm not aloud fly into clouds.

I came in early anyway to get the results of my Nav exam....passed it by the way....and to find out if I'd even be allowed do the x-country solo. I finished the basic planning part and rang the weather guys to get a weather brief. That's when it all went pear shaped. Their basic brief was that the weather was shitty.....low lying clouds en-route, visibility obscured in the clouds, winds gusting at both my destinations and icing and thunderstorms reported in the area. The decision??? Wait until tomorrow.

So I took Foxy Girl up for a quick jaunt just around the airfield to get more landing practice in. But the winds were quite strong (as expected because of the fluffy cumulous clouds) and I was being bandied about in the air. Since I was on my own this time, I didn't feel too happy about flying around for very long, and after just 45 mins I came in for a full stop and taxied back to the school. Kevin dropped by and I filled him in on the craic vis-a-vis the weather and he agreed. So I've spent the afternoon studying. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better weather and I can do the x-country as planned.

Navigation exam passed!!!

Good news....I passed my Navigation exam today. In standard tradition I passed with flying colours. My head is in the book for the next one....Aircraft General....and it's like reading paint dry it's so boring. I'm planning to sit that one on Sunday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What a crazy couple of days

Well, the last few days have been relatively crazy. To start with, I have some good news to report. Both my friends James and Matt have passed their flying exams (known as check-rides). James passed his with only a few days to spare, and by all accounts he had a tough flight (and a fairly tough examiner). But he was happy to have passed. He then sat his R/T (Radio Licence exam) the following day, after two attempts.

Matt sat his check-ride two days ago and had to endure a two hour debrief from the examiner to find out that he too passed. It seems he also had a tough flight, but not as tough as James'. He also has to sit his R/T exam, but with a week to go before he returns home, he's lounging by the pool and revising before he sits it on Sunday.

And what have I been up to? Well, apart from the copious amounts of beer drunk in celebration that two more of my friends have earned their wings, I have been busy revising for the Navigation exam and also doing my duel x-country with Kevin. I have to pass my Nav exam before I can do the long x-country solo. But I sat the exam this evening and will have one of the examiners mark it tomorrow. Kevin has booked the plane for the flight already, such is his faith in my abilities to pass the exam.

It's rather a tough exam.....and if I pass it, I'll have the three heavy hitters (Aviation Law, Meterology and Navigation) out of the way and have easier ones to look forward to at the weekend. The Nav exam consisted of planning an imaginary route on the UK aviation maps and then calculating distance, time, speed, fuel, ETA and taking wind into account for everything. And then they ask you lots of questions on the route and also on radio navigation (using radio beacons to navigate with). I think I've passed, given that I did the mock exams until 2am last night, but we'll wait and see.

The x-country flight with Kevin was lots of fun. I had to plan a trip from our airfield to teo other airfields taking into account the winds, terrain, obstacles, restricted airspace (of which there's a lot with the U.S. Military around every bloody corner here) and of course things that are easy to spot from the air to determine my position. But we also cheated a little. We flew the flight using the in-built GPS in order for Kevin to play around with it but to also put to test my calculations. Since we didn't route exactly like I'd planned we were a little earlier than plotted, but my groundspeeds, when compared with the GPS, where EXACTLY on the money.....pen and paper still works ;-)

When we got to each airport, Kevin showed me where I'd need to go when on my own in order to get my log book signed by witnesses to say I was there, which is used by the CAA when they issue my licence to confirm I complied with the requirements for the PPL course. We did touch and go's at the airports and then flew back to our airport.

Matt and I also went to this seedy bar, with some very strange characters the other day. There was this weird guy who came into the bar with his girlfriend at about 23:30 and he looked REALLY odd because he was wearing a yellow helmet that you'd find someone wear on a building site. Matt and I just laughed to ourselves and continued chatting up the bar maid. She called us "fly-boys"....a first for me :-) We were chatting away to her through the night and got invited to go clubbing with her on Friday. We'll see how it goes tomorrow with my x-country tomorrow and if I'm up for a long night.

Today's flying was a bit of a non-event. I was supposed to go up for 4 hours, but in two seperate planes. The problem with the first plane (Alpha Juliet) was that it was basically f*cked!!! The pilots door wouldn't close and only stayed shut because the wind when flying kept it closed. The window on the passenger's side would close either because the latch used to keep it closed was missing, the transponder (which helps ATC see the plane on radar) only worked 50% of the time and there was something else wrong with her but I can't remember what it was. So basically I had no plane. Kevin used the two hours to prep me for the questions I'd get asked during my check-ride....looming for next week. I then took "Foxy Girl", otherwise known as "Golf Foxtrot" up for a spin on my own and worked on my landings, steep turns, stalls and slow flight. I have developed a bad habit since going solo of flying my approaches too shallow and consequently needing power to maintain speed before landing. This is a bad thing, because if the engine were to fail, then I'd land short of the runway. So we worked on fixing that problem and I did some more practice today. I think I've got the hang of it again. My landings in general are pretty damn good, the odd one being a bit heavy, but I just wanted to get the "proper" landing nailed again before the check-ride. When I came in after my flying, I was positioned behind a Citation Jet :-) was pretty cool, flying behind a jet plane coming in to land.

Well, I'll let you all know how I did on my nav exam when I get the results in the morning, and wish me luck for the solo x-country too.....keep your fingers and toes crossed that I passed the nav exam.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Busy last few days

Well the last few days have been pretty busy. On Friday I did my first solo cross-country to an airfield North of ours. I spoke about it in my last update. I basically used the same route I plotted for the trip I did with Kevin, and I just updated the headings to fly with the latest winds and off I went.

The trip up was pretty uneventful. I took a few snaps on the camera of me flying and of the scenery outside, always consious to be on the lookout for other aircraft. As it happened, there was a fellow pilot on the same trip as me but he was about 20-30 mins ahead of me.

I arrived at the destination and did a full stop landing. I heard the fellow student saying he was already departing and I setup the plane for landing. On the turn to final I saw a beautiful glider, turning with me. We were probably about 100m apart and aiming for parallel runways, but it was funny seeing an engineless plane so close to me.

I landed safely and taxied back to the runway for a takeoff. I then headed back the way I came and started to get a tiny bit anxious when I couldn't see Ramona airport. It was one of the waypoints I used in my flightplan and it's hidden a little bit by a ridge when you travel from the North. But I spotted it eventually, right where it was supposed to be and called them up for permission to transition their airspace. But then I could also hear the other student saying he was near Ramona. I must have been going faster than planned or he slower than planned because judging by his calls I was fast catching up on him.

But then I heard him call Ramona asking for radar vectors to Gillespie (our home airport). He was clearly having issues figuring out where he was. Ramona asked him to switch frequencies and I carried on my way. Gillespie Tower told me I was number two for the approach, I could see my traffic and I set the plane up for landing. But as I was on approach I heard the student on the Gillespie Tower frequency call up and say he wanted radar vectors to the airport. The tower asked if he was lost and he confirmed he was. So they asked him to ident his transponder and then told him to steer a heading. I landed safely, shortly followed by the other student. I am looking forward to my Long X-Country solo flight, but it's quite a long trip and I've learned to try and spot some waypoints closer together than the ones I had for the shorter trip.

Saturday saw Matt and I go to Mexico with John and Janis. We went to Tecate, a small (VERY small) border town. They have a brewery there and John suggested we head there for some beers as apparantly they have a beer garden and you drink for free in the beer garden. As luck would have it, there was a music festival of some sort on and a Mariachi band was playing. We had a few beers, enjoyed the music and then headed off to the square to get something to eat. And also for Janis to get a Margarita as she doesn't drink beer. The food was nice, but we had these annoying kids coming up and trying to flog us stuff which got annoying after a while. It's extremely cheap there. Janis explained that a lot of people in the U.S. go there for dental work and to fill their prescriptions as it's 4 times cheaper.

We sat in the sunshine and talked for hours, enjoying the other Mariachi bands duel for our attention. And as the evening soon started to go down, we decided to call it a day. We walked back to the border. Instead of the ZERO inspection performed by the Mexicans (Matt and I even asked if they'd stamp our passports for us and they refused) the situation was decidely different when returning to Old Uncle Sam. I was last in the queue (Matt going through first, then Janis and John) and got this really annoying immigration guy. He was on the phone for about 2 mins before he'd even look at my passport. He also breezed over Matts and let him through. But for some reason he didn't like the look of either me or my passport. He started to ask me what I was doing in the U.S. and I told him "the same thing you let my friend in for a second ago....learning to fly." Probably a mistake right there to be curt with the guy, but he was already getting up my ass. Matt or John joked that it was rubber glove time and the guy told them to wait outside. Then he asked me what countries I visited....I told him I was just in Mexico...but it seems he was asking me ALL the countries I off I rambled.....all of the European countries I been to (which is all except Poland, Lithuania and Belorussia), Japan and the US of course. He then asked smartassedly if that was all....and I said I might have left out one or two, but yes, as best as I can attest, that's them all....then he asked me if I had been to any African or Middle Eastern countries....I told him no, and then he asked me again what I was doing in the U.S. Eventually he gave up annoying, let me through and I went outside, FUMING and effing and blinding to Matt, John and Janis about how I HATE anyone working in U.S. immigration because they're all a but of idiots. We drove back and had a beer with John and Janis at their house before heading off home ourselves.

We then went for a quick beer with James and his girlfriend and listened intently as he explained everything to us about his checkride. He just about passed his test and has to sit his Radio Telephony (R/T) test tomorrow before everything is hunky dory. But I have vowed NEVER to eat another mexican dish as long as I'm here in San Diego. Whatever I ate last night ran through me. I was fine when I woke up, but the food here has my stomach in bits and I miss vegetables....I never thought I'd say that too often....but a salad that isn't DRIPPING in dressing would be my idea of heaven right now.

Today's flight was an interesting one. Some new stuff for me. We did some touch and goes and then headed off North East. Kevin had me put on the "hood". The "hood" is a device we wear in order to simulate instrument weather conditions. It basically looks like one of those thingy's you'd put around your dogs collar to stop them licking at a wound or something, but it sits on out head and restricts our view so that we can ONLY see the instruments. Kevin asked me to fly certain headings, climb and descend to certain heights, sometimes together at the same time. Then he said we'd do some "unusal attitude" work. No....this does not mean that Claython's attitude suddenly changes from a smart assed know-it-all to generally loveable nice guy. Instead, what it entails of for me to close my eyes, whilst wearing the hood, and for Kevin to fly all over the place and disorientate me. Once he's done that, he puts it in an unsual attitude (nose high or low) and I need to figure out when I open my eyes what the planes doing and recover. It seemed to go OK, but I didn't feel I was quick enough. But compliments from Kevin none-the-less, I think especially on the instrument flying. We landed at Gillespie and Kevin told me I could go for a jaunt. He jumped out, I taxied back to the runway and did some touch and go's.

I had the really nice lady on the tower. She speaks much slower and is just a joy to work with. I did some soft field take-offs and short field landings and then buggered off to do some practice over Alpine. I practiced slow flight, steep turns and stalls while I was over there and then came back for more touch and go's. But the initial landing was a bit nervy. I was cleared for a stright in approach to 27L, and then the lady controller changed and it was the gumpy fecker from when I screwed up the radio work when I went solo. But my radio work has improved considerably and I'm more confident now when I talk to ATC. I called 3 miles final, he cleared me to land on 27R, whoch meant I'd have had to change frequency. He apologised and said stick with 27L, that he had come off from 27R and was a bit confused. So I carried on. But as I was almost landing he cleared another aircraft to take-off!!!! I quickly jumped in saying "Tower Cessna 2 7 Golf Foxtrot on short finals for 27L".....and he told the other aircraft to stop, re-cleared me to land and apologised....!!!!

I landed and took off for another landing. When I landed and stopped at the exit of the runway, he then said "2 7 Golf Foxtrot, contact Ground and appreciate you help back there....good catch". I was chuffed, said no problem and contacted Ground to go back to the school. It was a good days flying, learning new things and putting into practice the R/T work and airmanship Kevins' taught me. I'm looking forward to my Long X-Country Nav trip....just need to pass my Nav exam which Ihope to do on Tuesday.