Friday, 31 August 2012

One way I actually have the upper hand…

..over RTH is my lack of motion sickness. I actually genuinely feel sorry for him over this. RTH suffers terribly from it (or at least he did). I think he gets queasy on the ferry ride over!
I don’t find it all a problem. I did used to get that “anxiety bubble” in my stomach but not to the point where I was actually going to throw up.
Really it’s all just a reaction to stress. RTH throws up. My brain shuts down. I suspect that Bob can tell how overloaded I feel by the number of syllables I manage to get out at a time. If things get really bad then I do tend to ignore him!
Consequently I can quite happily throw the plane around the practice area for an hour and a half doing stalls, spirals and the like whereas RTH would have to call it quits after a relatively short period of time.
I have read horror stories on the internet posted by instructors whose students didn’t give them any warning that they might feel a tad ill. I give Bob a hard enough time in the cockpit as it is, the least I can do is not to hurl over him!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Reached the depths….

…of insanity. OK, I can’t believe I’m actually writing this. I think I may have finally lost the plot. I can’t believe I’m actually thinking this. So I’m gonna keep you in suspense until the end of the post!
I had a great lesson yesterday. That makes two in a row now. So not just a fluke! Again it was another lesson that I felt in control of that plane. I was showing it who was boss and if something went wrong I knew what to do to fix it. I even had enough brain power spare to discuss ways to improve my landings, while I was actually flying. Compare this to the person who started out not being able to grunt more than a syllable at a time. Seriously my entire conversation repertoire for my first 5 flights or so consisted of “Yep”, “Right”, “No”, “Ok” or “ got it” if I was feeling particularly adventurous! In fact last lesson I even had time to have a massive giggling fit in the middle of a simulated engine failure.
Ok, so I made some mistakes last lesson, but there were some fricken awesome approaches and my landings are slowly sliding down the Richter scale!
So what’s the big insanity moment? I WANT to go solo! I’m actually excited about it! I’m raring to go and I believe I can actually do this!
OMG, send in the men with the strait jacket!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Being a rebel

So tonight I did something totally outrageous. I started reading a book that had absolutely nothing to do with aviation and wouldn’t help me at all in my quest to become a fully-fledged pilot.
Sometimes your brain needs a break and to read some trashy sci-fi. In the meantime my emergency procedure cards are sitting in my bag silently mocking me for not having memorized them yet.

An Apology, Please don’t break my plane.

Apparently I missed some fairly important people off of my previous post. The mechanics.
Sorry guys. I genuinely appreciate all you do. I suspect that the planes take more than their fair share of bashing, the way that we students throw them around the place.  Those planes go through a lot of landing and takeoff cycles in a relatively short space of time and we do like to bounce them down the runway in a skippy-the-kangaroo like fashion. Despite all the punishment , I’ve never had a plane quit on me yet, so thank you and please don’t break my plane!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My life, their hands

So after my whinge about ATC, it got me thinking about all the other people I rely on to get me into the air. Literally my life in their hands, as it were. So here’s a list. It’s not exhaustive, I’ve probably forgotten someone. Don’t get offended.
Bob – Obviously this goes without saying. I’ve extensively covered his role in this whole malarkey. He often goes above and beyond the line of duty. Last week he managed to make it back from Montreal in a stupidly short space of time, in order to make our lesson.
Dispatch – contrary to the belief of some student pilots, the planes don’t magically appear on the apron each morning. I rely on these guys to make sure my plane is in good working order and has enough fuel in it. They also manage all the bookings and other related miscellaneous phone calls. On top of that most of them are working towards commercial pilot status themselves. I have them on my list of “people-who-you-shouldn’t-piss-off”
ATC – yes we may have our differences but they are kind of important as well. I have a healthy amount of respect for them. I fully appreciate what the hell they are trying to deal with. They have commercial airlines, who just want to be on their way with as little delay as possible. Medevac flights who need to be with the patient as soon as humanly possible, sightseeing tours who just want to spend hour after hour circling the big pointy thing. Then they have us little Cessnas zipping in between all the aforementioned traffic like annoying little gnats. On top of that you have to factor in the fact that most of us annoying little gnats have very little clue as to what we are actually doing. They are certainly on my list of “people-who-you-shouldn’t-piss-off”, because if I exit their control zone, technically they don’t have to let me back in!
The fine people from the Toronto Port Authority – there may be a hint of sarcasm lurking around here. Obviously I’m grateful to the ferry operator for getting me there and occasionally the operators are nice enough to hold the ferry when they see the gang from ground school doing the 9:30 death run to catch the ferry. But the guys managing the vehicle traffic are another matter. You see for an airport that advertises the fact that you can “walk to the city centre”, it has no fricken pedestrian access whatsoever. The most dangerous part of my flight isn’t the takeoff or the landing or even spin recovery it is playing chicken with the lineup of Beck Taxis on my way in/out. You see the security people are very good at controlling the various lines of traffic. They stop one and then get another one going no matter who might be in its path. I’m one step away from telling them exactly what I think of them. They are on my list of “people-whom-I-would-happily-push-into-Lake-Ontario”
RTH – 10 minutes spent over a cup of tea discussing the day’s flying conditions really helps set me up for a lesson. When we go flying together, I get a right hand seat view of various maneuvers. We have plans for me to practice a lot of my nav stuff when flying together as well.
 All of the above at some point literally have my life in their hands.
 Overall I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about me doing something stupid; there are plenty of people who could quite happily kill me without too much effort!

Monday, 27 August 2012

We have ways of making you fly

We’ve had quite a substantial summer here in Toronto this year. Very hot and very humid. The good side of this is that the weather has been very stable and pretty reasonable flying conditions. As I’ve mentioned I’ve only had one lesson cancelled due to scuddy weather, in comparison to RTH who learned to fly during one of the most active thunderstorm seasons we’d had in years. The downside of this is that the hot weather makes for miserable cockpit conditions. The planes bake in the sun; the engines get hot and bloody difficult to start. Once you are in the air, you can get some relief from the cabin air vents, you can even open the window! Mentally I have a hard time with that concept. Windows on planes should not open, full stop. However; on the ground it is icky. You have no choice but to spend a good 10 minutes on the ground doing all your preflight, pre taxi and run up checks. Get stuck behind a Dash 8 and you could be there for a good 20 minutes (standing on the toe brakes, getting cramps in your shins)
It’s no surprise then that the first thing I do after a flight is head straight for the drinks machine and down a can of whatever pop takes my fancy. I get really dehydrated. Yesterday’s lesson was also a reminder that clear air conditions can also make for uncomfortable flying. Despite my expensive sunglasses the sun was streaming straight through the windshield into my eyes. It wasn’t enough to obscure my vision but it seriously felt like I was being interrogated by the Gestapo. Apparently we have ways of making you fly accurate circuits! Or maybe this is a genuine teaching technique employed by slightly more sadistic instructors. <shrug>

Sunday, 26 August 2012

OK, ATC; What did I ever do to you?

Seriously guys. I have a lot of respect for you. So much in fact that I spend ages rehearsing my radio stuff so that I don’t sound stupid in front of you. I always use proper terminology and everything. I’ve only once tried to make up my own runway numbering system (and you caught that fairly quickly). My readbacks are concise, clear and correct.

So why, in the space of a week have you turned me directly into the path of a medevac helicopter and tried to bounce me off the Hearn Stacks? Not only that but you’ve gotten annoyed with me when I haven’t complied with your instruction to commit suicide. To cap things off if I’ve had done what I wanted to do, then there wouldn’t have been a conflict at all.
Honestly guys, most of the time I like you. You keep the big nasty Dash 8s out of my way. Occasionally you even make them give way to me! And I understand that on a busy Saturday morning we must increase your workload considerably, but I’m not going to smack myself into something at your request.

Looking at blips on a screen is one thing but those buildings come up on you awfully quickly when you are in a teeny-tiny plane. I’m just sayin’

Saturday, 25 August 2012

It’s all about attitude…

…both mine and the plane’s. Today’s lesson couldn’t have been more different. Everything just came together beautifully. The plane seemed to be almost flying itself. I actually had time to breath during the circuit. The landings are improving, I think the seismic activity generated by them has quietened down somewhat!

Today, for the first time, I felt like a pilot!! That plane was doing exactly what I wanted it to do, exactly when I wanted it to do it.
As Bob would say, “YEEE-HAH!!”

Friday, 24 August 2012

A new addition ….

.. to my bedtime reading list, “Air Command Weather Manual”. It’s published by National Defence. It sounds very impressive.
According to RTH it’s the book for meteorology. Apparently it’s much easier to read than From the Ground Up.
Bad news: it’s not.
Good news, I’m finding it much easier to get to sleep at night!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Problems in common with a vampire….

….A distinct lack of reflection.

One thing that I’ve gained from the whole flying experience is a good dose of introspection. Normally I spend the couple of days after each flight reflecting on what I’ve done, what I need to improve on and how I’m going to achieve that.
The last couple of flights, not so much. I mean I know I need to improve things. My landings still show up on the US Geological Survey’s instruments in San Francisco  (I suspect they wonder why twice a week, every 6 minutes or so it looks like the Big One is just about to happen) but to be honest I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it.

It’s not a lack of enthusiasm per se, but I am feeling a bit flat (not as flat as my landings though). It’s just my mind doesn’t know what to do with the problem, so it’s ignoring it and refusing to even think about it. This may or may not be a good thing

A degree in physics…

.. but sometimes I struggle with the seatbelt L
It’s more complicated than it looks to physically get yourself set up in the cockpit. There’s not a lot of wiggle room. You have to coordinate finding somewhere to stow your headset within easy reach (you don’t need it on until about halfway down your checklist, and putting it on before means you can’t hear anything), getting your cushions under your ass and behind your back (if you are short like me), pulling your seat forward, fastening your seatbelt (which works just enough like a car seatbelt to lull you into a false sense of security but is actually subtly different) and shutting the door (due to the confined space, this actually needs to be done after you fix your seatbelt). It’s no wonder I’m a sweaty mess before I’ve even moved the plane. Now multiply this by the fact that you both need to sort this out in tandem.
If your instructor is a gentleman (like mine) he will attempt to assist you, however, it still requires a degree of both cooperation and understanding that your instructor is trying to help rather than randomly grope you!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

High praise indeed

Two separate people, completely unsolicited, complimented me on my radio work today. Apparently I’m clear and confident on the radio. Ha! Ha! Confident?

Apparently being in love with the sound of my own voice has paid off. Personally I just think that Canadians are suckers for a British accent. I’m kind of flattered though because as you can see from previous posts, I found radio work tricky at first. Just to bring my ego in line though. I had a bit of a moment with my first radio call today. I’d literally just opened my mouth to start and then had to release the trigger fairly quickly when I had to ask Bob “which plane am I in again?”

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Wasn’t sure whether to post this

I originally wrote this quite a few weeks ago now, in a fairly significant gap flyingwise. I got myself into a bit of a funk for some reason. I hesitate to post this now because certain people read this blog and I don’t want them to think this is my current frame of mind, (Hi Bob!).
However I think I should post it because it is an accurate reflection on my mindset at the time and if I ever get back into that mind frame, it’ll be good to remind myself that I got out of it. So here goes (warning it’s a long one)
In a strange kind of mood right now.
Flying still excites me but I’m experiencing a strange kind of pessimism at the moment.
I think I’m a little overwhelmed by all the other stuff that comes with it. The studying isn’t coming along as well as I’d hoped. Despite my jokes about throwing stuff around, I’m not that far from it. I’m even losing confidence in the skills I’ve already developed. So I figured I’d get all my thinking down in writing and maybe I’ll see how ludicrous I sound, or at least it’ll stop me pissing off my friends by whining at them.
The theoretical stuff and studying: I think that I’m suffering from a lack of structure and/or self-motivation. Anything I’ve ever done in my life before (include all my Project Management stuff I did at the U of T) was structured. Go to this class, learn this stuff and sit this exam on this date. Flying isn’t like that. There are no fixed dates. Want to go solo? Then you need to have done X, Y and Z, but no one is going to chase you up for them. You don’t get round to it, then there are no real repercussions. I wonder if I’m holding back slightly (maybe even subconsciously refusing to learn the stuff) because sitting the Transport Canada exam commits me to taking my skills test in a certain time frame (24 months). I don’t think I’m convinced I can do it in that time (I’m not sure I can do it at all but we’ll come to that later).
There doesn’t seem to be an end to it all: As soon as I get one thing under my belt, I seem to think of another thing I need to do. This is true for both the theory and the practical stuff. I’m reasonably happy that I can climb, descend and turn and basically fly the plane. But then I realise at some point I’m going to have to navigate as well, or I remember that Bob was controlling the power when I did steep turns, for example. I know that I’ll revisit things but at the moment I’m very much focussed on what I can’t do. I’m aware that I’m skimming the theoretical stuff that doesn’t seem relevant at the moment. I’m also aware that my judgement on what is relevant is also a bit suspect. I’m avoiding anything to do with Met at the moment but deep in the back of my mind I know it’s important but I find it boring!
I’m impatient with myself: Although I know that RTH loves answering my questions about flying (I’m constantly asking him all kinds of stuff) he did raise a valid point. I seem to have a problem allowing myself to be a student. I have problems accepting that I will be a bit crap at times, and that I won’t know everything straight away. As RTH points out, I only have 13 hours. He has nearly 10 times that. Of course he knows more than I do. That’s Ok. Intellectually I know he is completely right. Emotionally I’m obviously having an issue with it.
Lack of confidence: I’ve battled a lifelong struggle with this, I think. No matter how much people tell me otherwise if I get it into my head that I’m bad at something. Nothing you tell me will convince me. Intellectually I can appreciate all the things Bob does to boost my confidence but in the back of my mind there’s still that little voice that says “you’re still a bit rubbish, you know”. I have no idea what’ll convince me otherwise.
I think too much: In my mind I’m revisiting maneuvers and stuff that I’ve already covered and I’m asking myself questions like “did I remember to use the rudder in that turn to base leg in my lesson 2 weeks ago”. Of course I don’t remember, so I convince myself that I didn’t and maybe Bob was correcting this stuff without telling me ( or even more worryingly without me noticing). This isn’t helped by the fact that I know that Bob is making inputs and correcting stuff. Of course he is, that’s his job. Just as I learned to take off in stages (first lesson I just did the rotation, second lesson I did that and the rudder input etc.), learning all the other stuff in stages like that is completely the correct way to do it. For some reason (see the point above) I get angry with myself that I’m not doing everything. I can give you a brilliant example, my first circuits lesson. I thought I’d done really well. I had a whale of a time. Until the next day, when I started to analyse what I’d done. I was going through all the steps in my head, turn at this point, put 10° flaps here, 20° there. Land, rinse, repeat. Hang on how am I putting down 10° flaps a second time. I never retracted them back up from 30°. Do I have magic flaps? No, Bob was obviously retracting them for me. Now I don’t have a problem with that. I have the problem with the fact that a) I didn’t notice him doing it and b) it never even occurred to me that this was happening until 24 hours after the lesson. How much more stuff am I blindly ignoring? That scares me.
Wow, I had no idea all that stuff was inside my head! It’s been quite cathartic getting it all down in type. Now to just get over myself and keep on flying!

Oh Gravity thou art a heartless bitch!

I knew I shouldn’t have worn my Big Bang Theory “Bazinga!” T-shirt* when flying today.
Gravity was definitely not my friend. There were some hard landings, but also one OK one that I know for a fact Bob wasn’t assisting with (more on that later).

Some good points, more overshoot practice (not my fault this time). One for a Medevac helicopter, so we’ll forgive them! One when I was virtually over the threshold and still didn’t have landing clearance, so round I went. That one was OK, I’m happy with it because first of all I realised that I didn’t have landing clearance and secondly I made the decision to go around. Of course Murphy’s Law dictates that the second I opened the throttle ATC came on the radio to give the long awaited clearance. But yah, boo sucks to you I was already going around!
So today’s terrifying moment wasn’t a result of the really busy airspace  (it’s been a while since I heard any plane being told they were number 4 for the runway), it wasn’t when I realised I was so low I wasn’t going to make it to the threshold unless I added power. It wasn’t even when ATC were haranguing me to make my crosswind turn well before I was even at 500ft. No, todays terrifying moment came when I was on short final on what I reckoned was a fairly good approach and realised that Bob’s hands were nowhere near the controls. That’s bloody scary stuff!

*My friends at work brought it for me last birthday. They call me Sheldon when I start getting too boring about physics stuff.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Apparently the trick to a successful landing..

… is to keep your eyes open. Who’da thought it? J
Seriously I know I need to relax a little. In the few moments before touch (crash?)down I tense my arms and screw up my face, anticipating the inevitable “thunk”. It would seem that adopting the “brace” position is fairly detrimental to a successful landing, especially when you are the one who is meant to be in control.
Tense arms provide no tactile feedback and scrunched up eyes don’t pick up on visual clues. Although I still think the funniest line I’ve ever read comes straight from the Flight Training Manual, and I quote “Try to judge the point at which the ground seems to be coming up so rapidly that something must be done about it”
Yeah at 65Kts that ground appears to be coming up bloody rapidly from about 2 miles out but somehow I don’t think I should start my flare at that point, any other brilliant pearls of wisdom?

From the Ground Up....

…Displays a surprising lack of aerodynamic properties for a book about aviation.
I know this because I've just thrown it across the room in an aborted attempt to read the Navigation section.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Golf Sierrarghh Something or other!

Myself, Bob and ATC seemed to have a bit of a problem with our call sign today. All of us kept tripping over GOLF SIERRA ALPHA ROMEO. To an outsider if must have been quite amusing. It always makes me feel better when ATC mess up.

On a related note Porter seem to employ a female pilot who sounds exactly like a Smurf.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The elephant in the plane

Despite being banned from mentioning the dreaded “Solo” word. It is very much the elephant in the plane at the moment. Bob and I both know that is where I’m heading but I refuse to let him even speak of it.
I honestly don’t know if I’m looking forward to the day or dreading it with the same level of panic that I previously reserved for spins. Part of me wants it to happen because it’ll be some kind of validation that even if I don’t manage to achieve my actual PPL I will at least have this. Another part of me thinks that anyone would have to be insane to even consider letting me go up in a plane on my own. I’ve never even driven a car on my own before.

There are a number of hurdles that I have to pass before I can fly solo. These include passing my PSTAR and radio licence exam (both done) and getting my medical (also done, waiting on paperwork). There are also a number of maneuvers/scenarios that have to be signed off by Bob before he can let me up on my own. I can’t help but notice that the sneaky so and so has been quietly signing them off, one at a time without saying a word to me.
My Training Record has become a ticking time bomb, and that’s never a good thing to have in a plane!

Flight Planning, how not to do it.

So our household is pretty much aviation geek central at the moment. RTH needs to fly at least once a month in order to keep current with the flight school and I’m aiming for twice a week at the moment in preparation for the dreaded “S” word (that’s not going to happen any way; Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt!).

This manifests itself in various ways, last night instead of doing the normal mid-week coupley things like arguing or mindlessly watching TV, we whiled away the time by planning a flight to Niagara Falls. This had two purposes. 1) RTH knows that I’m struggling with the Navigation part of my studies (mainly because I haven’t really had to do any yet) and 2) we fancy actually doing a flight to Niagara Falls.
Now this is a more challenging flight to plan than say, our trip to Muskoka, for many reasons. Niagara Falls is a busy area and so has special procedures in place for VFR sightseeing traffic, you are also very very close to US airspace (in fact I believe that the VFR sightseeing route actually skirts into it). US airspace is not a place you want to find yourself in accidentally! There are also other routing issues to consider, the main one being that you can’t just nip over the lake. You need to stay within gliding distance of the shoreline. There are other factors which will become clearer later.

So we pulled out our VNC chart and established that I knew where we were and where we were heading. We found the appropriate Niagara Falls specific procedures in the CFS and decided that it doesn’t look so bad as long as you stay above 3500ft. We discussed our planned route and altitude and I was reasonably confident that I had a pretty good handle on all of this.
Then the gentle question from RTH, “so we’re good to fly down at 3500ft then?” Ah ha! He’s trying to trick me but I’ve checked on the chart, our minimum obstacle clearance height is only 2500ft, yep we are good to go. “Pull out your VTA chart.”

Oh crap, I’ve just flown us through two major airport control zones! One of which is probably the busiest in the country.  Nice if you fancy playing chicken with a 777.
So then we have a discussion on class E airspace, Flight Following Services and other ATC miscellany. I’m sure normal couples don’t spend their time this way!

Friday, 17 August 2012

I am not an antelope

A delightfully helpful comment from RTH, and I quote “Your radio calls still sound like an antelope caught in the headlights”. I can’t even begin to think about what’s wrong with that sentence. Oh so many things!
However he may have a point. Initially my radio calls were very confident, because I’d spent hours rehearsing the damn things. In real life though, radio calls are like a conversation. They don’t go as planned. You actually have to listen and respond in a reasonably quick time frame. At the moment my brain still takes too long to parse the information I’m given for me to formulate the response. A brilliant moment today was over the practice area. Bob says “Go ahead and make a position call” “by all means” says I, full of confidence. “Err, Bob. Where am I?”
For the record, sweetie-pie. I was listening to some of your first radio calls. They weren’t much better!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The old switcheroo

I’ve long held the suspicion that ATC hate me and today’s lesson did nothing to dispel that thought. I get the distinct impression that ATC play a kind of light aircraft Tetris. Basically they view us as irritating little bricks that have to be slotted into whatever gap they happen to have.  Today I was receiving really helpful landing clearances like “line up as for runway 26 but land on 24”. Seriously WTF?
They swapped me round so many times that at one point Bob and I were having a discussion as to which runway I’d actually been cleared to.  Of course at the precise moment we wanted to radio in and ask for confirmation, the entire world decided that this would be a good time to jump on the radio. We were on seriously short final before getting our confirmation (I was poised to initiate the go around).
For the record, I was right  J. I’m just throwing that out there!

Please don’t let me kill him

This is a common plea heard in the cockpit when I’m flying. I have few goals in life but I’d be really happy if I can get through my PPL without any fatalities. Today had the potential to be a little dicey. It was the first time that someone had attempted to marshal me in when taxiing back to the apron.
So basically I’m (semi)controlling a large piece of machinery with a nicely lethal spinning thing on the front and heading towards a guy who’s waving his arms in a way that’s mildly incomprehensible to me (I may have glossed over that section in the book). The thing is Bob, I don’t think you should be telling someone who has marginal taxiing control at the best of times, to “aim directly for him”. I really don’t.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Clogs and Boxing Gloves.

I haven’t flown for three weeks so you might say that my flying lacks a certain finesse at the moment. I sincerely felt like I was flying whilst wearing the above accessories. They don’t make for good fine motor control that’s for sure!

OK, so  my circuits were a little suspect and my landings even more so (only one on each approach now , so that’s an improvement) and there was no need to deliberately practice overshoots when my approaches were so all over the place that I had to do them anyway. There were some good points though. I was doing the radio work in the circuit (first for me) and it went kinda ok. Listening to ATC outside of my lessons has been a real help. The biggest achievement today, radiowise, was not only could I give the appropriate response, I understood what they were asking me to do. Another positive (I’m desperately trying to find them, cause over the last couple of weeks I got myself into a bit of a negative funk about my abilities) is that I’m a LOT more comfortable on the ground with all my preflight checks , my run up, taxiing and stuff. This means I’m not already stressed out by the time I take off.

BTW touch and gos are still the most fun thing I’m doing at the moment. I think Bob likes them too. I swear he was making cowboy noises down the runway at one point!!!!!!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Another first

Not such a great one this time… first cancellation due to sucky weather.
The first clue should have been during my walkround, where I elected to leave the tie down ropes tied down. It was fairly windy and the flight school has rules about planes departing with no one inside. Still it looked like it might be ok for a while, so Bob and I disappeared inside for a while to do our ground briefing. It probably took longer than it should because I have been watching and listening to planes in the circuit for the last couple of weeks and had loads of questions about stuff I’d seen and heard.
Anyways by the time we came out it was looking decidedly damp and slowly getting worse. We sat it out for a while, vainly looking for a gap in the rain. We calculated the crosswind component (about 14 knots) and then waited some more. Eventually Bob got me to phone flight services (another first), who basically told me, yeah the weather’s sucky and it is going to get suckier. At that point we called it quits.
I knew this was going to happen eventually. RTH reckons that about 50% of his lessons were cancelled due to the weather it’s just bad that it happened straight after my gap of two weeks.
Oh and I got wet on the way back home because I didn’t think to put an umbrella in my flight bag. Didn’t cross my mind that I’d need one!

Monday, 13 August 2012

I think my instructor trusts me not to kill him

At least on the ground anyways. He’s started letting me do the walkround on my own now. Last time he hadn’t even arrived yet before I was doing it. Seriously though, little things like this are a big ego booster. Trust is a two way street. I already trust Bob implicitly but I realize that I have a lot to prove to him (and myself).

Sunday, 12 August 2012

To help you sleep a little better at night!

A multiple choice quiz for you….
If you look up to the sky overhead and see a light aircraft flying above you, do you think ..

A) Oh look it’s a light aircraft

B) I bet they get a great view from up there

C) OMG are we in danger? That’s a complete novice flying that plane, with less than three hours flight time, no sense of direction, no motor skills and a tendency to forget which way to move the throttle when they want to slow down. I bet they are also thirty seconds away from having a complete panic attack and breaking down.

I ask this because occasionally your answer should be “C”

Sleep well and look out above!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The name of the game*…….

Or to be more accurate the blog.

The practice area where we throw our planes around doing turns, stalls, spins etc. is roughly east of here. When you talk to ATC you have to tell them where you are going, so that they have a rough idea of what direction you might like to be heading once you’ve taken off. So picture the scene, my first radio call that I’m in charge of, the first that I’m not just parroting what Bob tells me to. It went something like this:
WMAP: “City Ground this is Golf Sierra Alpha Romeo Cessna 172, Request taxi to active runway” (at this point WMAP is patting herself on the back for an awesome radio call)
WMAP (quietly kicking herself for forgetting the intentions bit of the call):local flight east” (in a very small voice)

To cap it all off, later that day I was speaking to RTH, he was kind of curious as to what my plans were. At this point I don’t think we’d really discussed the fact that I wanted to take more lessons, but he phrased it in an odd way. We were talking about flying and then he said “What are your intentions?” Without even thinking (because I was still thinking about my radio call and working on getting it right) I replied “Local Flight East”
He gave me a very strange look J

*For some reason this ABBA song has been going round my head and driving me crazy. I think it’s the elevator muzzak.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Stalking, talking to myself and other psychoses

So I’m probably in more serious danger than usual of losing the plot.
I appear to be:
stalking the mailman - no medical yet ….grrrr
haranguing the weatherman  - I will cry if it rains on Saturday, my first lesson in god-knows-how-long
talking to myself -  I sit in my window with my magic box, listening to ATC (primarily as a way of improving my radio work), so I also answer them back as well.
Obsessing about all things aviation based – including my dreams. I’ve always been a little on the OCD side.  My journey to and from work is a fine example. I like to sit in the exact same seat where possible. I know exactly where to stand on the subway so that when the doors open I’m directly by the stairs to exit etc. I get upset when travelling with someone else who doesn’t know where to stand! So anyways back to my dreams: When we were doing spins, for the next couple of nights I had a recurring dream where we were pulling the nose u p and up and the stall horn was getting louder and louder and then – just as we stalled and the wing dropped, I would jerk awake!
Currently I’m flying circuits in my sleep. Seriously! Just after the conference when I was stressing about the paperwork, I had this dream where I was flying circuits and trying to figure out how much each circuit cost and then filling in expense forms based on fractions of a circuit rather than $.
I really need to be back in the air (or in an institution!)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What not to read

There are certain things that I have no choice but to commit to memory. Euphemistically called “Critical Procedures” are such beasts. Basically they are all the nasty things that could possibly happen to you, things that you have to react to instinctively because you don’t have time to look them up. These include (but are not limited to)
             Engine fire (both on ground and mid air)
             Electrical fire
             Precautionary landing (with power)
             Forced landing (without power)
             Cabin Fire
             Wing Fire
             Engine failure ( Mid air , on takeoff, just after takeoff)
They consist of a series of check list items and as E from work pointed out, none of those items include “die horribly”. My approach to learning them has been to write them out onto index cards and read through them whenever I have a free moment. This mostly encompasses my commute to work. I didn’t think about it too much initially but I have realized that they can attract an audience on a tightly packed subway train or bus.  I have caught people staring over my shoulder (probably intrigued by the sight of someone reading anything other than Metro). I even caught one guy next to me googling “KIAS” (it stands for Knots, Indicated Air Speed). I have learnt though that it may be completely acceptable to be a little eccentric on the TTC, you should never, ever start reading these at an airport!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Units units units

Aviation uses the most godawful mix of units I’ve ever come across. It makes my head hurt. Despite what most British people would like you to believe, I’m basically European. That means we’ve been using the metric system since the 70s. I’ve never ever had to work in feet, inches, pounds etc.
Throw in the Canadian contingent and that means I’m having to get my head round distance in feet, miles (both statute and nautical), weights in pounds, volumes in gallons (US not UK) or quarts and just for fun we’ll do temperature in proper units (Celsius).

I’ve also come across mm Hg, hectoPascals (I think they used to be millibars), force measured in pounds, horsepower and dynes. I’m dealing with speed in knots and so on and so forth.

And so what? I hear you ask. They are all just numbers right? Well yes except that I have no internal frame of reference for these numbers. I have no idea how many feet in a mile, tell me a runway is 3000ft long and I have no idea if I could land a Cessna or a Space Shuttle there.
It all conspires, yet again, to make me feel stupid. It’s a whole new sub-language I need to assimilate and learn. My only other option is to keep doing the conversation math in my head. That’s probably not the best plan long term. Canadian Aviation and converting between metric and imperial don’t have the best history…. Gimli Glider anyone?