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.

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