Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flying with Pendair

Since we all forgot to bring a camera, I'm afraid there are no photo's for you to see. Next time....I promise.

Anyway, I had to go for my biennial Medical Examination to get my new medical cert. It expires on the same day as my birthday, and given the fact it took the pen pushers in the Dutch Transport and Water Inspectorate an inordinate amount of time to process the last time, I booked myself in good and early at the medical examiners office this time and went for my check-up yesterday.

I hold two medicals, one for each of my licences (JAA for Europe and FAA for the U.S.). And since I'm flying to Florida for a holiday and intend to do lots of flying there, I would have had to find a flight surgeon when I got to the U.S. or find one here before I left. Thankfully, the same place I get my JAA medical can do the FAA one....and as with everything when it comes to Europe vs. U.S.A, the European medical was four times more expensive!!!

For those of you who care dearly about me, you'll be glad to hear I got a clean bill of health. I was even told that my hearing is as good as that of an 18 year old.....I guess it's true. If one of your senses is bad (in my case my eyes) something else compensates :-)

I had planned to go flying yesterday evening also. I met two of my friends in the office on Monday and chatted to them both briefly. I asked them if they were free on Wednesday evening, that they'd be more than welcome to come fly with me. Well, both of them jumped at the chance.

I arranged to meet Liat and Paula at the airport at around 18:30. I planned to get there myself a little earlier. I wanted to take the plane up by myself before taking anyone on board. It had been a little while since I flew and I wanted to get my hand in on my own and just relax and get ready for the main flight. The guys in Polder told me that they'd all be gone home by the time I'd get there. They'd leave the plane outside and the logbooks etc inside for me. Wouter asked if I wouldn't mind tucking the plane in for the night. Of course not'd be my pleasure.

I pre-flighted the plane and taxied out to the runway. I was to take off in the direction of the sun, which is never a good thing because it affects your visibility when the sun is low on the horizon. Power checks done, a quick look at the windsock which was completely limp (my best friend Matt has a saying, "Happiness is a limp windsock", my motto is, as long as it's only the windsock that's limp) and I lined up on the runway. Full power and off I went.

I was flying PH-PJL (Julie) tonight, and it's been a while since I was last flying this girl. It's funny, I've either gotten used to flying the lighter C150 or she was feeling a little heavy on the controls. It wasn't just when you climbed, but also when turning, with a little play in the ailerons. But nothing to worry about. I entered downwind and started getting ready for the first touch and go. I didn't get the speeds nailed properly and ended up being far too high and far too fast. I floated down the runway after trying to sideslip a little and I ended up giving up that attempt. Power to full, climb away and take the flaps back in. I was soon back in the circuit and started to visualise the steps I used to use when learning back in San Diego. I throttled back, brought in the flaps and aimed for 80 knots, imagined the blue building I used as a marker to turn onto base leg, then more flaps and 70 knots, then turned final with the final stage of flaps and 65 knots. I was still high (partly due to the fact that I'm so used to doing circuits at 1000ft, and in Holland they do them at 700ft, still not used to that. I sideslipped again a little, got the plane lined up straight and then nailed the landing. It was a little bumpy, but I was on the ground.

I took off for the last touch and go, and half way down the downwind leg the tower asked if I could do a 180 and go land at the opposite end. Sure, since I was the only one in the circuit. But this was a right hand circuit (a bit unnatural for pilots who are used to doing left hand circuits all the time) but I judged the heights and power settings perfectly. I came just over the threshold lights and landed nicely.

Touch and Go's over, it was time to pick up the girls. They were waiting for me in Martinair's restaurant. It's a really nice place and they have a veranda you can sit out on and enjoy some beers after a long days flying. The girls were enjoying a glass of Chardonnay and proffered me a glass, when Liat remembered that I was flying and it probably wasn't a good idea. Paula was worried because she hadn't brought any ID with her. It was not a problem though because she wouldn't need it.

We walked to the plane, I strapped them in and game them the safety briefing. Liat was going to be in the front today. Paula will join me up front the next time. I started up Julie and taxied out to the runway. Power checks done, we lined up and took-off heading West towards Lelystad and then South towards Amsterdam. I called the guys in Schiphol tower and was told to Squawk 0060, not above 1,200ft. Even though it was a glorious day, the air pressure was quite low and the QNH was only 998mb. But there wasn't a cloud on the sky and the wind was almost negligible.

On the way out there, I let Liat have a go at flying. I started her off with some steering. She soon got the hang of it and when we would climb or descend I told her to push or pull back. She did very very well. We were soon near the Amsterdam Sector, I called ATC to let them know and they cleared us to enter. I dropped altitude a little bit and slowed the plane down so the girls could get a good look at the city.

It seemed that in the beginning they were trying to get their bearings because they didn't really spot anything at first. Then I showed them the New Metropolis (looks like a ships hull sticking out of the water) and Dam Square. Paula was shouting "Ooh, the Bijenkorf". I wonder if that's were she likes to shop :-) We then flew down Overtoom, Paula trying to spot her house and over Vondelpark and up to Rembrandtsplein. I got to thinking if anyone down below was looking up at us with wonder and awe, and what must they be thinking. After about 20-30 mins of sighseeing, we then headed back. I had wanted to go towards Naarden, but with the light fading, and the fact that the Cloggies don't allow VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flights in the dark, we had to get back by sundown.

I let Liat take the controls again, and she was a natural. She even climbed and maintained an altitude, and descended and maintained, all with the greatest of ease. She seemed to be having lots of fun. So she flew it for most of the way back. Before getting near the airport, I was reminding the girls that the plane could not do aerobatics, but that I could show them something which would not stress the plane. I showed them the Dutch Roll (which is essentially what sideslipping is when you're too high on final approach) and a quick negative G. That got the biggest laugh of the night.

Minutes later we were soon on final approach and a little bit of a bump on landing (I've had worse in a KLM 737) we were home. We taxied back to Polder and the girls help me push the plane back into the hanger. That was the most difficult part of the night I'd say, but with lots of pushing and pulling and the girls watching the wings on either side, we soon got Julie back into her bed for the night. When we were done, we could hear someone taking a plane out for aerobatics, so the girls went out to watch. I think they want a piece of that action the next time they go flying. It was the perfect ending to a great evenings flying. I'm looking forward to taking them up again soon.

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