Diary Page Two
my progress from trial flight to Solo I wanted
to try my hand at going further afield.
meant Canada at the time, but here we were on hols and I was to have
fours days to my own devices. Into a borrowed truck (thanks Hugh!) and
off to CZBB it was then. CZBB is
Boundary Bay, Vancouver's second airport. This is Canada's sixth
busiest airport close behind Montreal. I had chosen to fly with Pro based on a personal
Flying One: Culture shock
yoor nahmba siyx, fahllo the twin johnin dahnwind" I'd never even
seen six planes together before, let alone have them all in the circuit
with me! In fact there were a number of differences with sleepy old Bourn back in the UK:
really quickly and had two different frequencies for me to use
to be obeyed, and now
flying a bigger, full airways IFR C172 with bonus dials, puzzling even
the FI a little
were tight at 700ft
busy, busy, busy
clearance (or not) could be very late in an approach
back, the approach path was just a stack of incoming landing lights
land then get your plane off the runway fast
And oh yes,
the ASI was in MPH. Much, much confusion until I realised this.
We did five
circuits and my FI said I flew well enough, but didn't look out for
circuit traffic enough. Good point and very apt at Boundary Bay. My FI
this day was Raeleen, since my expected FI Michael was stuck somewhere
else due to weather.
A case of
wrong plane, wrong instructor one might think, but I really learnt a
22 June 2004
Flying Two: Tailwheel Taming Time?
more other rudder!"
day, another new plane, another new instructor. "I didn't give you
the tailwheel notes last night? Never
mind, jump in" Today's plane was the Citabria and my FI was
Michael, an ex-pat I had got to know on the UK Flyer Forums. We had in
fact just had a very good look over the airplane inside and out, which
was very interesting. It reminded me a great deal of an old Land Rover
I once restored - and that was no bad thing.
C-FSPH is a
wood and fabric plane, and just running my hand over it conjured up a
sense of history, quite unlike a Cessna. The ASI was again in MPH and I
was wise to this trick now after yesterday's jaunt. Seating was tandem
with massive elbow room and all instruments up front where I was to
sit, with a view over the nose which was really good. I had a stick, a
side throttle and an overhead trim.
Citabria taxied like a shopping trolley when I had a go. Oddly, it
didn't do this for Michael. When all was going well, the slightest need
to alter course was met by a delayed but very large swing of the tail
in what seemed to be a random direction. We lined up and began the
roll. It all felt really strange. Perhaps it wasn't going too badly
until I lifted the tail, then the fun started. I made the mistake of
not looking far, far ahead and Michael saved us from the runway lights.
We went to
Langley and back, stopping for lunch. We had joined left base from a
lazy angle. This actually felt fine, although it's far from UK
textbook. The landing fee was precisely zero dollars despite Tower
control, which also felt better than the UK. Possibly a lesson for
someone here. Getting into the three point attitude was fine, but once
on the wheels and it was Tesco's time again for me. Langley was a
lively field, as I would find they all were, with someone restoring a
Harvard just outside the restaurant.
Over at the
training area at 2500ft we did my first steep turns of 45 degrees and
60 degrees followed by clean stall practice (there are no flaps).
Michael was truly horrified that I hadn't done stalls myself before,
although I had done slow flight. In Canada there is a checklist of
items a student must have done before solo. It includes stalls with and
without flaps and incipient spins. Later we got a Canadian training
record for me to complete with this checklist on it.
Much to my
delight, steep turns went really quite well and I was able to hit my
own wash on a 360 at each angle of bank.
for Michael when we returned to Boundary Bay - I'd never done a touch
and go either - apart from with Raeleen the previous day! Later,
another tailwheel instructor, Bob. was chatting to me after the flight.
I told him my steering woes. "Normal", he pronounced sagely.
This was what 'tailwheel introduction' was.
23 June 2004
Flying Three: Wing Drop Stalls
feel OK? You can't pick up a wing with the aileron when stalled"
And what a scare if you try. I had been expecting the stall in landing
configuration to be similar to the clean stall. Nope. What happened
next was that the sea rushed up to meet me as the wing dropped about 60
degrees and we pitched downwards in well under a second. This scared me
half to death. It took a while to regain my composure.
I knew I
would have to conquer this another day.
We went on
to do steep turns just like in the Citabria and a few different landing
types, including soft field which felt really satisfying. The Citabria
has no flaps hence our use of a 152 today.
24 June 2004
Flying Four: The Chilliwack Pie Trip
the middle, Captain"
I bet any
of Michael's students would recognise this phrase. I got to hear it a
fair bit in the Citabria, which does actually require the pilot to use
the rudder as something more than a foot rest.
cross country day. I had the Vancouver quarter mil chart and the AD
info book. Our objective was pies at Chilliwack, which are famous at
least as far as MacKenzie Heights.
I had not
started too well. Reading the map for the first time whilst
simultaneously trying to fly had me feeling ill by Langley and our
planned touch and go became a stop to recover. To be truthful I was
feeling a bit low after the earlier day and my abject terror at the
wing drop. However Michael gave me a pep talk which worked well and we
were off for Chilliwack.
wasn't that hard on this trip. Too far off course and you would hit a
mountain. Much more geography than back home in East Anglia. So we
could do little else but arrive at Chilliwack under my guidance. The
pie was blueberry and peach with ice cream. You'd have to be there.
run was down the Fraser River at 500ft. Really.
the numbers at CZBB.
25 June 2004
Flying Five: Wing drops again
could do that all day now, couldn't you"
Michael couldn't see what all the fuss had been about, and now neither
could I. But it sure had taken a lot of determination from me to get
back up there and get so I could just do the wing drops one after the
other. My wife had seen how important it was to me and took the kids
off elsewhere to let me have an extra go at conquering this demon
before we left Canada. I'm so glad I did. I even enjoyed the view of
Pitt Lake at the foot of the mountains.
Thanks to Michael for a good time whilst at
30 June 2004
Flying Time 5 hours 40 mins
None of the
Canadian flying counts towards the UK JAR PPL course time, I still have
at least 45 UK hours to do in total.
20: Solo X-wind consolidation
Another new instructor
sit in for a few?" I asked the FI. My normal FI was away and I
hadn't flown for some time. It was a bit x-windy too and I knew that a
few trips with a new instructor could be good for me, having seen some
new perspectives this way already whilst in Canada.
jumped out and I did some solo x-wind landings I was really happy with.
This FI did have a different attitude to my normal FI. Whilst I was
clearly being taught the same thing, I did get few pointers for flying
on a windy day which I hadn't fully appreciated before.
23 July 2004
21: An out-and-out Jolly
Old Buckenham Flyer Fly-in
be put off by the giant haystacks on short final" I wasn't, but I
was a bit put off by the hoards of assembled Flyer Forum people watching
my approach. It felt too fast, but after a go-around and a tight
circuit, I was able to put it down nicely.
followed a very pleasant hour of meeting people from the Forum, none of
whom I had actually seen before, although I felt as if I knew some of
there had been a piece of cake Nav-wise, although my FI did do the
radio for me across the Lakenheath CMATZ. This trip was purely a jolly
which I felt like doing. Actually the aim was for students like me to
be flown there by an experienced Forum pilot, but I felt more like
arriving under my own steam.
24 July 2004
22 + 23: Finishing Solo Circuit Consolidation
we get to leave the circuit"
24: Precautionary Landings
too bad to leave the circuit"
get to do some low flying instead"
flying was fun, but actually quite difficult. Adding to the fun was my
FI's new-found sense of the dramatic. Perhaps having done a few too
many PLs recently, he was describing imaginary weather fronts beating
us from all sides with great gusto. This was probably to keep him awake
through yet another one, but I thought it fit the occasion.
quite a high workload to keep the plane flying slowly but straight and
level whilst looking closely at the ground for obstructions and turning
blind 180's at the end of each run. The final approach was a short
field, full flap affair. I'd already practiced these on hols, so found
them quite easy. We stopped only a few hundred metres after landing on
25: First Navex Proper
we diving at the ground at over 100 knots?"
It had been
a busy lesson and I was tired. All that time ago when I began circuits
it had felt busy too. This was not that bad, but it was a host of new
things at once again.
So we had
found ourselves heading sharply downwards during my first attempt at an
overhead join back at base after an hour's navex. The landing was poor
too, since I completely forgot to tip us into wind on kicking off the
crab. How bad is that? My mind was chock full of other things.
been a lot of traffic to spot, including the Rockwell Commander who
blasted through the ATZ at 1500 ft as I was climbing up to 2000 ft to
set course overhead. Then it was glider city. It's my job to avoid
them, no problem there, but they could have made life easier by not
circling for lift slap bang over Bourn's runways at 2000ft. We avoided
some more later too who appeared to be keeping a far better lookout. I
was pleased to have spotted all the traffic in good time today.
problem of the day was keeping height, not heading. I was just too keen
to dip the nose to see the ground ahead. I hadn't studied this route,
since I had thought we were going elsewhere. This made all the
difference. It was like being lost, I suppose. I was looking at map
features for the first time and trying to match the ground from that.
Far better to have done what I did for Chilliwack and Old Buck and
study the routes and waypoints first. That was much easier.
waited through 4 weeks of bad weather for this day and I had enjoyed
it, despite being a bit rusty. But as usual the bad wx had allowed me
to sit another exam: Aircraft Technical. Very straightforward.
we would be going Bourn-Leicester-Sywell. And after that, some
consideration would be given to sending me off to find my way around a
short route by myself. Then it would be time for land aways and
ultimately the QXC itself - a solo trip with two land aways, over at
least 150 nm.
PPL time, of which 3:40 solo.
we diving at the ground at over 100 knots?"
This had a
familiar ring to it, but this time we had no engine either. "We've
done PFLs before" "Erm, no". "OK, I have control" And so I
was given my first PFL demo. It looked easy enough, especially using
the 'engine warming' trick. But my turn would be next lesson, because
this lesson was over.
It had been
a good day in the best wx for well over a month. We had first found
And it had
not gone too badly at all. I had been a bit fluffy on my first real
need to use the radio in anger, but the lady on Leicester Radio was
very nice about it and Sywell Information was very helpful and patient
indeed. Thank you both.
looked over the route before and hence was able to keep height quite
well, since I wasn't having to peer over it at the ground as if lost
this time. The learning point of the day was to keep heading better and
to do FREDA checks more often as the DI did drift away from the compass
far more than I had expected over the course of an hour's flight. My
checks were to be every 10 mins in future.
the distance of ground features was getting better. By Grafham Water I
could see I was about 1nm off track; best to correct it early. This was
achieved by an old RAF technique - turning 20 degrees towards track and
flying this heading for twice the number of minutes as miles off track.
Hence one mile off at Grafham meant two minutes flying after a 20
degrees turn towards it. I had done the maths behind this rule of thumb
and it is very approximate, getting much worse for larger track errors.
But it did the trick, and would work as long as we were flying at 90
arrived at all my check points at the prescribed minute, but under my
FI's suggestion I had lessened the wind correction factor, since it did
not seem as strong as predicted. A trial and error approach led to how
much correction to remove on the first leg and this was carried over to
the other legs - bearing in mind their direction relative to wind and
an hour's flight we were back overhead Bourn and my overhead join was
much better than the first attempt the previous week. Our arrival was
'firm', since I was tired after the concentration of the navex. But not
nearly as tired as last time. Things were sinking in and becoming a bit
more automatic, hence not overtaxing my short term memory quite so
blatantly. My FI allowed me to forget flaps until I noticed things
weren't right myself on the approach. It is good to be allowed to make
such mistakes and correct them, much better than being told right away.
It was just
another navex for my FI, but I felt quite thrilled at having been to
Leicester and Northampton in the hour.
As I drove
away, I was already wishing for good weather to do more of this.
27: Stalling with Style
Good, I had
banished my stall demons with Michael in Canada already.
28: Steep turns and more PFLs
was our own wash we went through"
that. A nice 60 degree bank complete turn pulling 2g for fun to finish
the lesson. Also, PFLs had gone well which meant I was judged ready for
first solo navex. Time next to leave the airfield alone!
29: First Solo XC
And the right hand seat was free for my map etc !
All set for
departure on 36...
As usual I
had needed to pick my day and hour carefully to get flyable weather.
Yesterday the forecasts had borne little relation to the actuals, but
today was closer. Cambridge were saying a cloudbase of 2500ft, but my
FI said he had already found it was 1800ft. Did I want to do the little
solo xc (cross country) course at 1500ft. Of course I did!
event I found I was OK at 2000ft on the QNH, i.e about 1800ft above
ground level. It really was a straightforward flight and I didn't have
the slightest trouble holding heading or height. I had my PLOG strapped
to my right leg and this was much easier without the FI in the right
hand seat. Landmarks came up spot on time and I was able to read from
map to ground and get a match in all forward directions. When I had
first flown this course I had found it hard and a bit barren as East
Anglia is so flat, but this time I realised that there were lots of
visual clues, once you'd had a bit of training of the types of thing to
look for and an idea of what 5nm looks like from 2000ft. It was also
easier without my FI reminding me to do things in a different order to
what I was remembering myself. Clearly he has taught me well. It seemed
like a classic day for carb ice, so the carb heat was used without fail
on regular FREDA checks. This time the DI didn't seem to be drifting
away from the compass, but this may have been because I was making more
regular, smaller corrections.
came up on the nose and I could see the no-go area of the parachuting
site over on the far side. I turned through over 300 degrees onto my
next heading, noted the time, calculated my next ETA and called in to
Bourn. Alconbury disused was the next unmissable landmark, but after
that there isn't really anything major, so I had to look at the pattern
of the clumps of villages and maintain a good heading, if I was to find
Chelveston disused airfield. Even with its current use as a truck park,
it could be quite easy to miss. It's not much more than a few patterns
in the grass of a large field.
point the cloudbase has decended a little, so I dropped down to 1800ft,
in order to remain clear. In fact my eyes were on the route home to
Bourn behind and to my left, but that continued to look OK.
Top tip for
better viz on bright, overcast days - yellow shades, ask any skier.
I had other
traffic at Grafham, having seen no other GA up to that point. This is
such a major landmark, it was to be especially expected. This other
traffic was a Piper a few hundred feet below out to my right going in
the opposite direction. On a whim, I decided to look around for a hard
to spot small strip and purposely deviated from my course. Having found
it I regained track and went onto St Neots, through a little light
rain, which made me jump when it started.
I was only
a minute late at St Neots and called up Bourn for rejoining
information. Bourn had got busy since I had set out. To be number three
in circuit was busy for Bourn. I joined overhead, called, and descended
on the deadside of the circuit towards my next report of downwind. I
had the other two aircraft in sight by late downwind. Number one
appeared to be on a downwind leg of cross-country proportions, so we
all had to follow him. Perhaps there was someone with less experience
than me! That small excursion meant not needing flaps until well into
finally, a rather better landing than of late.
be a longer XC, given good weather; Leicester-Sywell solo.
30: Hovering the 152
I'd say we're stationary.... perhaps just about moving backwards."
right too. I had been concentrating so much on balanced, slow flight at
45 knots, that I had not registered the countryside slow down and begin
to go the other way.
surface wind had been 18 gusting 28, so winds aloft could easily have
increased above the forecast 40 knots. We were doing more of the 2
hours of stall and spin awareness required for the PPL. Stalls in each
config were good, but hovering with the stall warner chirruping away
was something else.
with such a headwind was a new experience too. It really did need to be
dragged in with way more power than normal. Fortunately there was no
major crosswind component, so the gustiness could be tackled by adding
half the gust factor to the approach speed and watching the airspeed
closely, ready for mainly pitch attitude corrections. We came in at 70
rather than 65 knots and about 2100rpm, just 250 rpm below cruise
power. For all that extra power and speed, which might ordinarily have
caused some float, we were down with the shortest ground roll I've ever
done and quite a greaser it was too.
to my FI for going up today, he had been really surprised that I had
turned up in this weather. We'd had to avoid the big black CB's, but
that was all useful experience for me. It was a bit chilling to feel
the powerful up and downdraughts from even miles away and the clear
realisation that our little 152 could never be used to try to outfly or
outrun them. All this was already learnt for the Met exam of course,
but nothing beats feeling the theory working.
like up there?", said someone back at the club, watching the trees bend
over. "Oh, not too bad - he landed it" replied my FI with a
grin. I decided I'd take that as a compliment.
31: Navex Landaway and some Feature Crawling
is too poor for your next solo xc, so let's go dual to Wellsbourne and
get in some low level nav."
It was cold
enough for fleeces, and the dew on the plane rolled and spilled from
the ailerons as I did the walk around. The cloudbase was quite low, but
that had been expected, so I had PLOG'ed Wellsbourne-Leicester as plan
B if it was too bad for a solo xc.
My FI had
already pointed out that one of my waypoints was a poor choice and we
probably wouldn't be able to spot it today. This was 'abeam Daventry',
not a very precise choice at the best of times. We started out at
2000ft, but soon had to drop down to 1800ft and my FI's prediction was
proved right and guesstimated viz fell from 10km to 6-7km. I wouldn't
have flown on in this solo, since it was the worst viz I have ever seen
on an unfamiliar route. It was probably typical for the UK though and
hence something to get used to.
gave us a FIS, especially comforting as we were to pass the end of
their instrument approach, which is outside controlled airspace.
Waypoints loomed up ahead and soon it was time to call Wellsbourne. I
had already PPR'd and knew 05 would be open - a better choice for
today's Easterly than their North-South runway. I had already read
their noise abatement and knew that join and land for 05 was normal,
but that we would have to turn left 30 degrees on departure.
work of getting here, my concentration lapsed on short final and I got
a ticking off for not hitting the numbers. Still, we were down OK and
easily able to turn off on the cross runway to taxi over to the tower
and restaurant. R05 was pretty close in length to Bourn's runways,
although apparently some people consider this short. I did notice that
the Cessna behind did use a lot more tarmac than me and had to
backtrack the runway to get onto the taxiway. But I still had to pay a
tenner, just like he did.
towards Leicester and talking to Coventry. They were busy and I had to
stand by a couple of times. Upon calling to drop them and change
frequency at the reporting VRP, I got the rather strange reply
'continue approach'. I wish I hadn't heard that. My FI made comment.
turning for Bourn at Leicester, my FI passed on the surprisingly bad
news that Bourn had mysteriously closed, so we would have to divert to
Stoughton. New stuff. So I guessed a heading and flew off on that. But
that really wasn't nearly good enough, so I was passed pens and a
plotter. Eventually I managed to draw a line whilst flying, got a wind
corrected heading and an ETA. We did get to Stoughton when I said we
would, but it wasn't an impressive performance.
Next my FI
showed me what he really had wanted me to do: Let go of the yoke with
both hands and use the chart and ruler on my lap to measure heading and
distance. A demo just in time it turned out, as Stoughton's runway also
suddenly became unavailable and we had to divert to Willingham. This
was to be at low level to simulate the wx closing in - the irony being
that viz had just jumped up to the best all day. Low level was 1500ft
and safe slow flight at 75knots and 10 degrees of flap was used. This
made for rather slow progress into the 30 knot headwind, but that gave
plenty of time to look around.
bumps were the sort when holding the yoke seemed a good idea, but I let
go and fluffed my way through the procedure. I did get a better line
and ETA, but the flying was a little haphazard, although we did get
there. Note to self - get a shorter ruler or a wider plane for next
we were back at Bourn and a good debrief followed. I needed once again
to maintain a heading consistently, even when distracted and not forget
to complete FREDA checks regularly, although my radio work had been
very good. All familiar feedback, although the distraction level had
increased dramatically during the diversions. More practice needed
until some actions become more automatic even when the cockpit workload
were to be covered thus in future: First, ring the diversion on the map
or it will be lost on looking away. How true. Set an approximate course
immediately. Then use both hands to draw a track and slide the ruler
over to a nearby VOR rose to measure the magnetic track directly. Check
the track for obstructions, airspace etc. Adjust for wind mentally to
get a heading and ground speed. Calculate an ETA mentally - and update
it regularly via ground features. 'Feature crawl' is expected, after
all we are simulating low level nav in poor viz. Yet the priority
remains to fly the plane, of course.
trips really do build up the hours, I now had over 33 hours towards the
45 hours minimum for the PPL. It was easy to see how at least 12 more
hours would be burnt by another dual nav, solo nav and the QXC itself,
plus instrument flight, radio nav and finally practice for the skills
test itself. But this did feel like the home run.
Leicester-Sywell solo xc is planned next, given the weather for it.
32: Leicester Sywell Solo !
get lost and if you do call me first" Said the FI.
This was a very uneventful trip with plenty of time to look around and
spot traffic, of which there was a fair bit. Plenty of FREDA
checks, and height and heading keeping were good. Viz was
excellent and Leicester came into view not quite on the nose, but very
close. I had made a small correction at Thrapston for a little
less wind than predicted and this appeared to be about right now.
Sywell came up spot on the nose.
avoiding traffic at Grafham by making sure I passed well behind, it was
soon time to land at Bourn.
As I landed
the carb heat stuck hard on, I couldn't shift it. 'Ah yes' they
said as I filled in the log. 'Someone else already had trouble with
that'. I thought I should have been told - and why wasn't it in
the log? It later turned out that the cable had broken on me -
so that full power had I needed a go-around would have been impossible.
a grand day
33: ... and some you lose
would you do if you were flying solo?" Said the FI, as I
pressed the case for a 180.
was easy - I would have already turned back. Getting to
Nottingham regardless wasn't such a pull. We had already made use
of his IR to get us up and out of Bourn and we were mixing it with the
wispy stuff more and more as we passed Corby. Off to our right it
was blacker than black and we had heard Cottesmore Zone talking to a
pilot flying down at 800ft to avoid the clouds. They were
concerned that this pilot should know he was responsible for his own
terrain separation. How many more clues did we need?
My FI said
he could probably have made it round our route. I thought that
was an odd thing
to say. We weren't here to show off his IR skills. My aim
was to get the lie of the land for later solo trips and I certainly
wasn't doing that in these conditions.
So, I made
180 watching the turn needle and back on a reciprocal heading to
Bourn. We could do this another day and get a lot more from
it. My FI was apologetic as he had turned back only once before
on a student navex.
On the way
back we diverted to Bedford for practice and it went a whole lot better
34: Second time lucky
landing was good" I said as we touched down at
Nottingham. It had gone well. We had taken the plane with
the working transponder specifically to improve our chances of getting
a class D airspace transit - my first. I had been a bit flumoxed
East Midlands Approach couldn't see our squawk. It turned out we
dodgy transponder switch which we needed to 'recycle', which meant
the unit to standby, reselecting the squawk and turning the unit back
'ALT' to send out the encoded information again. This worked, but
in concentrating on this, I had drifted
off heading slightly.
over the MATZ had me flying by the needles for a few seconds from time
to time as we
flited in and out of cloud. Strictly not VFR I thought.
me not so much as it would have without a FIS, but more that we hadn't
made a VFR
suitable plan. I wouldn't have done scud running solo and I
wasn't being shown what I should have done instead, although I suspect
the alternative was to stay on the ground. However, it
didn't last long and soon we were out into clear blue sky.
enjoyed my day. The view during overhead join and land at
Nottingham had been superb.
35: High cockpit workload