Monday, January 07, 2008

First flight of 2008

OK, so I'm a little with updating the blog after my flight last Tuesday. James and Victoria came over to spend New Years with us here in Amsterdam. And since Jim is signed off on the Piper, I thought it would be nice to show him what the little C150 is like to fly. I booked a plane with Polder and checked the weather the night before. The weather was expected to have a high pressure right over the Netherlands, and sure enough when we awoke, there was only blue to be seen in the sky...not even the whisp of a white fluffy cloud anywhere.

We set off for the airport and arrived to find that the sun hadn't quite burned off the fog and low lying clag over the airfield. So while we waited, I went and preflighted PH-HIL (or Phil as I call it). The checks all done and a quick check on the satellite image with Wouter to comfirm the clouds progress during our flight and plan our way back home, we were all set. Jim strapped in, as did I, but then when we started her up the ignition would catch, but she would then splurt and stop. I primed her a few times, but the same thing happened. I didn't want to keep priming in case I got an engine fire on start-up. So I got out and asked Wouter for advice. "Inject the primer as you're keying the ignition....she should start then for you", and sure enough she did. With the radio check and call-in done, we taxied down to the active. The engine hadn't warmed the cabin up yet, so the windscreen was misty, but I knew with the cabin heat turned to "On" and the engine run-ups to come, we'd be fine.

Sure enough, we were soon lined up and ready to go. Jim had his camera at the ready and was already snapping away. When we got up though, the cloud was patchy. I could see vertically down, but every now and then the low cloud would necessitate us dive under it. Eventually though we got a hole and climbed up through it, knowing that it was crystal clear out over the city and still being able to legally stay within the VFR minimums with the ground in sight. I dialled up Schiphol Tower after we'd departed Lelystad and they asked to give them a call when we were approaching the CTR. They asked me to squawk on 0060 Mode C and to remain at or below 1200ft. I elected to pootle along at around 700-800ft since the cloud was above us at arpound 900-1200ft and I didn't know how deep it was. Better to stay in VFR than to do something silly and knowingly fly in IMC just to get to VFR on top...besides, doing that is illegal.

After a little while we were over the city, I had already given the call to Schiphol. We did some orbits of the city, with Jim snapping away. I tried to point out some places to him, but since I was busy concentrating on flying, I wasn't able to help him so much. As ever, the turbulence over the city from the heated rooves and buildings always makes for interesting flying, as does the lack of safe places to land in an engine failure, so my eyes are always on the engine instruments to check they're OK.

Soon though, we were ready to fly back. Knowing that the cloud was moving East to West and was currently over the field but soon disappearing, I was still a little worried that it would still be as low as it was when we left. I flew overhead Almere and followed the roads (map of the Earth flying...hahahaha) and canals back to the airfield. I showed Jim the HUGE aerial they chose to plonk right on the departure end of RWY 23. It's 600ft high, you can't miss it, but it just bugs me that nobody thought about smal aircraft when they decided to build it there. Listening to Lelystad Radio, I could tell that the circuit was getting busy again. I asked Jim to keep an eagle eye out for traffic. When I heard someone call out overhead BRAVO (a reporting point) I knew we were close, so I asked him again. It was Jim who spotted the plane, and when he showed me, I was able to position myself behind it. I kept hearing this plane saying they were doing a 360 because the runway was occupied, and I started thinking to myself if that's even legal, never mind if it's a good idea. Personally, if I know someone is bearing down on me in the pattern, I'd execute a go-around rather than mess up everyone elses day. Afterall, there was a mid-air here only a few months ago. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't more given the way some pilots fly. As always, I am grateful for learning at Gillespie....if you can handle Gillespie, then you can handle any other airport.

Soon we were downwind, I saw two ahead of me, one turning final, one ahead of us on downwind. Jim saw someone on short final. So I extended my downwind a little bit to give spacing between me and the guy ahead. Landing checklist done, selected the last stage of flaps. I got a little too low, powered up a little and then brought us in for the flare. The flare was a little wobbly, but the landing was nice and soft. And off at the first exit.

All in all, a nice first flight and landing for the New Year. Jim...the next time, you're taking me up over the UK ;-)


lifeofmarky said...

Sounds like it was a good day flying :-) Orbiting in the circuit is dodgy, cant believe people actually do that, never mind when it is busy as well. Still to get my first flight of 2007, and the current weatehr over here seems to be against flying in general lol ...

CMP said...

Don't you mean 2008 Mark? Hahaha

lifeofmarky said...

Yep, 2008 lol, that was just a test for you lol ... !!! Just looking at that photo of you two in the cockpit and you look a little squashed lol !!!