Friday, 30 November 2012

Things a pilot shouldn’t own (or things I let myself get talked into.)

Not really flying related this post, so feel free to skip if you are not interested in my occasional rants and raves. Sometimes stuff happens that causes me to go off on a semi-feminist rant.

Its almost Christmas, in fact some stores seem to feel that it has been “nearly Christmas” since October but that’s not the point. Traditionally RTH and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, mainly due to a combination of my disdain for anything religious and our sheer laziness to really do anything. The Christmas vacation is traditionally a time for us to eat crap and catch up on computer games and movies.
This year though, something has changed. I find myself having to attend, horror of horrors, the work Christmas party! No, not mine, I never go to mine. I’m just smart enough to realize that if you put me, alcohol and some of my fellow employees in the same room, well let’s just say the chances of me keeping my job are slim. Although I may bitch and complain about my job (secretly it’s not so bad), it does pay for those expensive hours in the plane.*

No this is even worse, this is RTH’s Xmas do! That means I have to be on my best behavior and do the “happy smiling wife” routine. This isn’t a role I do too well and I get the feeling that RTH actually cares about his current job. There seems to be room for him to move up. I don’t want to be the one who messes that up for him. So no pressure or anything.
First problem to solve, clothes! I literally have nothing that is suitable to wear to any kind of formal occasion. To quote E from work I “dress like a boy”. That’s because women’s clothes are fundamentally stupid and not designed with any degree of practicality in mind. Still, I realize that I can’t turn up in jeans and a Star Trek T shirt so I enlisted E to assist me in the great shopping saga.
The first warning sign should have been when I realized how excited she was. Clothes shopping is a necessary evil and not a recreational activity as far as I’m concerned. Anyways, to make a long story slightly less long. E walked round the shop, pulled stuff off of the racks, thrust them in my hands and shoved me in a changing room.  Under duress I put the stuff on and emerged while E and the shop assistant discussed me as if I wasn’t there. Eventually we agreed on a fairly conservative black dress and jacket. Apparently though you have to buy jewelry and stuff to go with it. And then the coupe de grace, the shoes.
Ok I want you to look at the picture below and ask yourself, “Are these really something a pilot should own?”  


Seriously how did I ever let them bully me into getting those! No pilot should ever own sparkly shoes! And the heels!
You know as a society we have some seriously screwed up ideas. Why is a woman in ridiculous heels that limit her walking range to mere metres, rip blisters on her heels and limit her speed to a snail’s pace considered attractive but a woman in decent runners who can get from a meeting on one side of the campus to the other in less than 3 minutes, not?

Why is the ability to paint ridiculous, unnatural colours on your face considered a desirable skill in a woman, but the ability to improvise a soldering iron to fix your crappy apple headphones less so? How wrong is it that I wear stupid shoes when meeting with clients but keep my black sneakers under my desk to change into? I mean can you imagine a guy saying to his boss “Sorry I’m late to this super-important meeting but my heels are killing me?”
Everything is messed up, my boss praises me for wearing my shiny new, proper work clothes but she doesn’t appreciate that my efficiency is inversely proportional to the height of my heels. Thing is, why am I buying into this stuff? Who is worse, “society” for making these standards, or me for conforming?

Bizarrely enough, despite my long-standing fear of flying, I’m going to be a lot more comfortable in the cockpit of a C-172** than I am in those shoes.


*See I got some aviation stuff in

** and again!




Thursday, 29 November 2012

So what’s changed?

Good question from RTH over lunch today. He’d picked me up straight from a flying lesson, complete with solo circuit at the end. I was full of my usual Tigger-like* enthusiasm that usually accompanies me doing the near-impossible.

Once again we were discussing the fact that a year ago , no one (especially not me) could have envisioned that I’d be flying a plane. So he asked the above question, “What has changed? How come you can do this now?” Was it the fact that I was happier at work? At home? In our new country?
 I honestly can’t give a straight answer. I can never understand myself what finally convinced me to start this process. I can tell you though, that it is self-feeding. The more I achieve, no matter how small, the more I feel I can do.

 I still maintain that the spins lesson was the major turning point. I can never describe the sheer level of doom, dread and terror that accompanied the long walk and ferry ride to that lesson.  I’m sufficiently embarrassed by the method I used to talk myself into that plane that I’m not going to blog about it (just think of the embarrassing stuff I have blogged about , that should give you an idea of how hard that is for me to say.)

 Of course all this new found confidence has its price. I still have stuff in life that freaks me out but RTH is a lot less patient about it now. For example I don’t like ladders (I feel I lack the physical coordination to successfully tackle them), we were at an observatory last night, grabbing a peek at Jupiter through a 74inch telescope. This necessitates climbing a set of ladder steps. I was less than enthusiastic about the process. I was considering not attempting it. RTH’s take on it was “For God’s sake woman, you just flew a plane, get your arse up that ladder!”

Meh, he may have a point!


* I do tend to be a bit exuberant on return from a lesson. Normally I have the walk home to calm me down a bit!


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

It takes a village to fly a plane

Myself and a good friend from ground school came to this conclusion via a text conversation the other day. I was sharing some powerpoints that I acquired from RTH to help her prep for some reading she wanted to get done.

This isn’t exactly an earth shattering statement but student pilots need other student pilots. We need to share our screw ups with people who are making the same screw ups. We need to know that what we are feeling isn’t unique and that it too shall pass. We need tips on flying, tips on studying, tips on how to deal with our instructors, tips on how to deal with friends and family who just don’t get it and we need them from people who are at the same stage as us.
It is remarkable how quickly you forget the emotions behind your flights. I’ve only just soloed but I’m not sure how much use I’d be in encouraging someone else who was nervous about it. For a start I truly have no recollection of a lot of it and secondly I’ve moved onto the “raring to go” phase. That’s kind of what I’m hoping to achieve with this blog.  Its why I spent so long obsessing on the internet , desperately tryng to find other people who had been through it and made it out intact the other side.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Got me a new toy!

I’ve mentioned before that I like shiny gadgets and aviation lends itself to a lot of potential new toys. I have a whole wish list of things I’d like (yes, a plane is up there on the “if-I-win-the-lottery list*) but seeing as my numbers never seem to come up**, I’m resigning myself to the lesser items.

Like this one


It’s a Go-Pro Hero 2 camera. A tiny little video camera that comes with various options to mount it, including a head strap (how cool is that? Literally a bird’s eye view!) And a giant suction cup*** that means you can fix it to the dashboard of something (like a plane for example).
Yes I have plans to attach this camera to either myself or the plane and get me some flying video shot. I’ve already co-opted a colleague with serious video editing skills to help me with this project.

Woo Shiny things. I am excited!


* RTH reckons we should buy a place to live first, but he has strange priorities!

** Apparently you have to purchase a ticket in order to be in with a chance of winning

*** It is rated to about +/- 5G or 100+mph. It also sticks nicely to balcony doors and then takes an idiot husband 10 minutes to get it off



Monday, 26 November 2012

Worrying Google search results

Apparently if you plug the words “plane everything went wrong” into Google, my blog is the first result that is returned.

I’m a little worried by this.

My little corner of the world

For those of you not familiar with my neck of the woods, here is a link to Google maps view of CYTZ (aka Billy Bishop Toronto City Centre Airport).  I’ve also stuck a picture in where I’ve attempted to label the runways so you get an idea of what I’m going on about when I express a preference for one over another.

The first thing you will notice is the close proximity of the water. Yes, the airport is on an island. At the moment I have to get a ferry across. I’ve blogged extensively about how annoying that is.  They are building a tunnel at the moment; it is due to be finished in 2014.  I don’t want to go on about this too* much but the proximity of the water is very very very scary.
If I’m attempting short field landings then you actually flare over the WATER. That takes some nerve. Or maybe it’s just me. I’ve been dubious about whether the proximity of the water was a good idea. Right from my intro flight when I was told “if you feel water round your ankles, you need to pull back a bit more!”

What you can’t see I the picture is the proximity of sailing boats. Technically there is an area at the end of 26/08 that is marked off with buoys.  Boats are not meant to enter this area. There is an outer marker as well that boats with a mast over a certain height are not meant to go in without permission.  When I sailed, I always obeyed these rules but to be honest I was a bit disdainful of them. I mean planes have all that sky to play with right? Who are they to tell me where I can and can’t sail?
Okaaay let me tell you from a flying perspective it’s a whole different story. When you come in on short final and there are a whole load of boats in the inner harbour, you feel like you are about to impale yourself on their masts. It is very very wrong!

The yellow splodge represents roughly where my plane is usually parked, roughly half way between 08 and 26. As a side note, 33 is usually closed in the summer because the reduced lift of the hot air means you are liable to end up on someone’s balcony in the penthouse apartments just out of shot!
Oh yes , this is a fun place to learn!


*actually I do, it’s scary, very scary. I want you all to know this. So there!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

A little too enthusiastic!

I like backtracking on the runway; it feels all kind of wrong but in a good way, to do a quick 180 and then speed off in the other direction. It’s kind of the equivalent of driving the wrong way down the highway, but with permission!

I may have gotten a little too enthusiastic this time though. I was trying to expedite my backtrack because I knew there was a lot of traffic in the circuit*, but Bob had to point out to me that we came perilously close to becoming airborne! Woops!
On a slightly related note, interesting radio call from tower on my final landing. After I requested a full stop on 26 ( I always emphasize that bit because they usually assume you are doing touch and goes), they came back and asked “Is that a full stop as in you’re done, or will you be needing a back track?”

I wasn’t having the greatest of times up there (see this post), I jumped in before Bob could get a word in and said “that’s a full stop as in we are most definitely done!”

We weren't though , Bob kicked me up there on my own.

*That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Voices in my head, again

Radio traffic was insane today, seriously insane. I’ve never heard anything like it. I know I’m hardly in a position to cast stones here but a lot of them seemed to be the equivalent of weekend drivers. The standard of radio work was terrible! Truly awful and I`m afraid to say, that included tower! God he seemed to like the sound of his own voice. I couldn`t get a word in edgeways. This is NOT a good thing in the circuit. I still struggle with the prioritisation of flying vs radio work, and it was freaking me out that I would be on final before I could get a call in.
This distracted me from the crucial act of actually flying the plane.I was reacting to the radio chatter the same way I react to people who don`t know when to shut up in meetings (I work with a lot of people like that). It irritates me. Stupid people tend to. Getting wound up affects my flying. I need to stop that. In the same way that I take my drawing pad to meetings and scribble away, I need to find a tactic that allows me to ignore the stupid stuff and focus on flying the plane.


*I have reputation at work (probably deserved) for not suffering fools gladly. When my boss was introducing me to the new faculty this year, her speech was pretty much ``this is WMAP; she knows almost everything that goes on here. She’s an excellent person to ask questions. She is usually willing to help you with pretty much anything, but don`t piss her off”. Still not sure if I was being praised or insulted.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

I got lucky, again.

Getting into a bit of a pattern here. I have a slightly scuddy lesson in the circuit and Bob ends it by sending me up on my own. I really don’t get it. Now obviously it went ok because I’m here blogging this and JES is still intact. Although I am intensely proud of what I achieve every lesson, especially the solo stuff but there is still a little voice in the back of my head that still thinks “you got lucky…again!”

I don’t know what’s going on here. I know at work that I’m at my best when I’m on the ragged edge, just at the limit of my comfort zone. Is this what happens when I’m flying, am I in fact at my best when Bob cuts me loose and leaves me to sink or swim*? Scary thoughts. I must be doing something right, I mean I coped this time with traffic in the circuit, I even lost sight of them at one point but had enough capacity to realise that they were slightly faster than me so I wasn’t in danger of rear-ending them. Once I did spot them I had tower’s plans already figured out and knew that I was going to be extending my downwind even before they told me to.

I’m just going to stop thinking and let Bob do his thing. He obviously knows what he’s doing. He sent me up on my own to build the confidence again. I think he could see I was getting frustrated with myself. Gotta trust in his instincts cause mine are all over the place at the moment.

* Given the airport's proximity to the lake that may be an unwise metaphor!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Get Down!!!!, or where are my wheels again?

Thought I’d hit the jackpot wind-wise today. Calm , virtually non-existent.  After struggling in crosswinds and stuff, I thought that this would be the treat I was looking for. A chance to get some solo time in. I had visions of flying a couple of easy circuits, to prove to Bob that I still knew what I was doing and then up for a few on my own.

Ha, no such luck. What I failed to take into account is that with no headwind, the plane simply does not want to descend. I could not get the damn thing on the ground. It just wanted to stay up there. I was on final, with 30 degrees of flaps , fully powered back, desperately high and had to turn to Bob and say “ I can’t get this thing down.”

We practiced some slipping. We got it down but I just couldn’t seem to find where my wheels were, leading to some flat landings. Generally not a good list. Some overshoots , some flat landings a bounce or two. Comments from Bob, “Come on WMAP, give me a nice landing on the next one.”
He still sent me up solo afterwards though.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Man that felt good!

Bob has a new student (and another one on the way to sitting his flight test it would seem!), he seems like a nice kid. Keen, enthusiastic, clutching his rental headset in its bag* and probably learning at five times the rate I am. We chatted for a while, basic stuff discussing where he was at and what he was doing (turns, climbs and descents). I bet he manages them without hyperventilating. I was sat on the deep couch in the main dispatch area, working on weights and balance calculations, I must have looked like I knew what I was doing, he asked me what stage I was at. I was able to look up from my page of scribbled numbers and say “Oh, I soloed a couple of weeks ago”


*Always a sign of a novice pilot or alternatively a passenger!

Monday, 19 November 2012

I’m getting really good at holding short…

…it’s the bit of flying I’m best at, mainly because I get so much practice. Today was my second solo flight. Turns out I have to do this solo stuff more than onceL. After the runway confusion of my first solo, Bob was very explicit in his instructions to ATC, “Instructor drop off, this will be the student’s second solo, one circuit only on 26

So I requested my taxiing instructions, got told to wait while she* contacted tower to get a helicopter taking off out of my way and then I pootled off to the run up area. Parked myself so as not to interfere with the other plane already there and did my checks. Sod’s law they finished theirs a fraction of a second before me, so I followed them out to the hold short line, they got up. I didn’t.
Now I appreciate what ATC were trying to do. They wanted me to get up in a space that would enable me to do a relatively standard circuit. But they kept me waiting for what seemed like forever. JPM had time to do a complete circuit in front of me before I got my takeoff clearance.

I do seem to spend a disproportionate amount of my solo time at the frackin hold short line!

* I think this was the same controller who was on ground during my little taxiing mix up for my first solo. I hope they aren’t holding it against me!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

It’s just dawned on me

The horrific realization that having done this solo thing once; now I have to do it again. And again.

Actually, now I’m kinda looking forward to it.

Seems like I'm not the only one for whom it took a while to realise the implications. I just got this text from a friend*
"I think it has just sunk in that you flew a plane!"

 *I also got a rude email from a friend with regard to my “flying SOLO” status on Google , but c’est  la vie!

My friends are in awe of what I’m doing…

…but they’ll never fly with me. One of the disadvantages of having such supportive friends is that they relive every scary moment of my training with me. I've confessed every mishap,mistake and general f@#k up. Consequently I really can’t envisage a situation where they’ll ever be comfortable with me as the pilot!*

E hates flying at the best of times, the smaller the plane the more likely she is to die, in her opinion. KW is mildly amused at my use of milk crates for my preflight but distinctly horrified at my use of cushions for the actual flying (No KW they are not regulation approved cushions!). I can’t imagine that JN has any faith in my coordination skills when I had to call her last year because I got my jacket button wedged in my keyboard tray and couldn’t get myself free**.
I’m not even sure that RTH would sit as a passenger if I was flying, although to be fair this probably has to do with his need to be in control than his lack of faith in my abilities (I hope!).

I guess I’d better get used to flying solo. I may be doing an awful lot of it!

*Especially when the first question you have to ask them is "How much do you weigh?"

** Seriously I managed to permanently attach myself to my keyboard tray in such a way that pinned my limbs to my chair. We had to get maintenance to sort it out. I couldn't actually get up. And yes, they let me fly a plane!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Developing a bit of a soft spot…

…for Juliet Echo Sierra. Initially I disliked it because I got used to the sportier S model. JES felt a bit sluggish in comparison. Now though I’ve come to realise that JES has several things that I’ve come to appreciate

·         Steps on both sides- checking the fuel is only a minor mountaineering expedition in comparison to SAR and JPM

·         Pockets in the front – both sides to allow easy storage of charts/ glasses cases/ checklists etc.

·         A heading bug on the heading indicator – useful for keeping track of various directions (wind/course etc.)

Rather than sluggish, I’ve actually come to appreciate JES’s gentler approach to life. I don’t feel like I’m fighting her. I don’t get freaked out when applying full power because she doesn’t leap up on you like the others. Obviously I’m not cut out to be a girl racer. Finally of course we can’t overlook the fact that not only did I do both my first flight and first solo in her. RTH also passed his flight test in her.
I may be getting to like this plane a whole lot more than I thought.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Didn’t think my landings were that hard.

Walking back from today’s lesson I felt that something was not quite right wardrobe wise. I ignored it, and continued on my way home.

A  side note about my clothes choices when flying. Although it may look like I just throw anything on, my flying clothes are very carefully chosen. I select clothes that are from my slightly-on-the large-size section of my wardrobe (since losing some weight I have six different clothes sizes in my closet), mostly because I don’t want anything too constrictive and uncomfortable on in an already tight cockpit. I also have a selection of t shirts that are presentable but that I don’t mind getting oil/fuel/dead insects/assorted bird crap on. Nothing too revealing and nothing with long sleeves (I hate long sleeves). Most of my tops tend towards the geeky side as well. Maybe I'll post pictures of the best ones. I've decided that my "Bazinga!" t shirt is cursed. Gravity hates me when I wear that shirt.
Footwear-wise there are a couple of schools of thought; RTH likes to wear his heavier boots because he feels that it gives more authority on the rudder pedals. I like my lighter sneakers because I get more feedback from my feet positioning. Unfortunately my most comfy sneakers are my old sailing ones. They’ve been dunked in Lake Ontario a few times; consequently I don’t think they are the most fragrant item around!

So back to the wardrobe malfunction, I got home, took off my jacket, looked down and nearly stabbed myself in the eye. Yep I’d somehow managed to bounce the wire clean out of my bra!
I really didn’t think my landings were that bad L



Thursday, 15 November 2012

Thought for the day

With thanks to K from work for her fabulous suggestion, knowing that I sit on the Salary and Benefits committee at work.

If it were up to me…….

Stop jinxing us Bob!

Two things today that I rest the blame squarely on Bob’s shoulders. In reverse order, we started off a fairly innocuous conversation on the way back from the practice area. Basically a “what if you couldn’t get through to tower on the radio for whatever reason, could you still enter the zone?” discussion.  Now I know that the airspace around City is class C, so I also know that I need prior permission to enter.  I correctly surmised that if I wasn’t able to get that permission then I’d have to orbit until I could get through.

Sod’s law then, guess what happened on the way back into the zone? Yep ATC had someone with a stuck mike or something going on. Anyways they weren’t interested in talking to me, not even acknowledging my calls.  So we circled for a bit before they deigned to speak to me. Weird huh ? Straight after our what-if conversation.
The first thing that I was less than impressed with was when, just before I was about to fire her up, Bob suddenly gasped sharply. In a kind of "OMG we're all going to die way*" When urgently quizzed as to what was wrong he said “I think I forgot to write the exercise numbers on the flight sheet.”

REALLY? THAT’S IT? I very quickly pointed out that was a noise, no student pilot EVER wanted to hear in the cockpit!! Especially from their instructor! Don’t do that to me! That’s a BAD sound! Instructors have a duty not to scare (however temporarily) the living bejesus out of their students**! This was all said while laughing out loud but it’s a good job I was wearing my kneeboard at this point. If I’d had it loose then, and to quote E from work, I would “have slapped him upside the head with it”!

* I may be exaggerating slightly here but not by much!

**  I have it on reliable authority that flight instructors are specially trained during times of high stress in flight only to sweat on the right side of their face!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Your guess is as good as mine.

Not quite the weather briefing I got from flight services today but close enough. The weather and hence the forecast have been severely screwed recently. All week it was looking like Saturday was going to be an OK day for flying. My resident meteorologist at work reckoned that there would be some light showers but the winds were looking to be nicely down the runway.  Sunday was looking sunnier but with stronger winds.

That all changed on Friday, The mist lowered, the air was still and the airport was MVFR all day. Saturday’s forecast was for much the same. I held out a small glimmer of hope; remember the cloud base was forecast to be 800ft on the day I did my first solo. Alas it wasn’t to be. Saturday arrived with mist, rain and IFR conditions. I sulked for a while and then fired off a text to Bob enquiring as to his availability on the Sunday. He replied with a “definitely maybe” pointing out the winds were forecast to be 15 gusting 25 and not at a great angle either. On top of that it didn’t appear that there was a plane available anyways. We agreed to touch base on the Sunday morning to see if there were any cancellations.
Sunday morning came with almost non-existent winds, A plane was suddenly available, so I pootled off down to the airport dragging RTH with me*.  It became apparent that the conditions predicted on the TAF bore no resemblance to what was actually happening (the winds switched 180 degrees while I was waiting for Bob to arrive). So I was dispatched to phone flight services to get a weather brief and see what their take on it was.

I could almost hear the guy shrugging his shoulders over the phone.  Basically the surface winds were not doing the same as the upper winds. There had been some PIREPS of severe turbulence over areas to the south and some windshear at Pearson.  So basically after stalking the METAR and TAF and phoning flight services. I was still left with “let’s get up there and see what its like.” And people wonder why I have no time for Met. It’s a black art at best!

* RTH wanted to talk to Bob about getting his night rating, very cool!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Well then that’d be a stupid place to put an airport then.

Today’s pre-flight briefing was a discussion on different types of “speciality” takeoffs and landings. Namely short field, soft field and obstacle. Bob was explaining that although the flight training manual treats them as separate items you can get them in combination. Worst case scenario, you might get a short grass runway with a line of trees at the end for example, he pointed out. This was when I raised the point of view expressed in the title of this post. We’re a big country, people. Let’s think about where we stick these runways! As if putting an airport on an island wasn’t bad enough. I’m dreading practicing short field landings, we’re going to get wet!!!

Short field takeoffs just feel all wrong. There is something fundamentally wrong with forcing the nose DOWN on takeoff.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Best lesson yet!

Bob’s assessment not mine! It was a good lesson though; I was so relaxed from the get-go. Everything was going right. Right from the taxiing (nicely on the line), run up was smoothly executed. Even a lighthearted moment when I realised that my GO/NO GO brief was going to be different because Bob was going to demo a short field takeoff. So I made him do the briefing! I answered all his sneaky little questions properly, “are you going to make your call to tower now?”, “No because there’s a honking big Dash 8 on final.”

The flight itself went well, apart from trying to level out at circuit altitude, forgetting that I was going to exiting the circuit and going out the practice area. I navigated us out. Actually feeling relatively confident that I can spot all the landmarks. Remembering where I’m exiting the zone, where I can climb up to the next level* and so on. I spotted Claremont first time and my position calls are getting better.
We worked on steep turns and stalls today. Steep turns are ok, still a little tricky but easier once I relax into them. At first I was tending to lean forward into them, which makes back pressure on the control column problematic. Stalls were fine once I realised that power off stalls are not that violent and you don’t need to nose down too much to break the stall.

Now that I’ve soloed I’m not feeling any time pressure at all. I just want to fly! I don’t really mind what we do up there. Every flight I learn something new. Every time I get to practice something else and every time I’m up there I do a little better!


*Pearson’s (YYZ) control zone stretches out beyond City’s (it gets kinda messy out there) but basically I have to stay below 2500ft until I get to a certain point then I can climb to 3500ft and so on

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The worst reason ever for finally doing my solo flight…

…talking to my good friend E at work it suddenly dawned on me. I finally agreed to do it because I didn’t want to have to tell her and all the others that I’ve bored with this saga that I’d backed out of it.

Having a large ego means occasionally you have to put your money where your mouth is!


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Bullsh#tters need not apply

My biggest asset at work is also my biggest handicap when flying. What do I mean? I’m talking about my ability to blag my way through any situation.

I regularly find myself at work, in situations where I’m out of my depth, in unfamiliar territory, lacking the required knowledge. But I learn quickly, I find stuff out with ease and have an uncanny ability “to talk the talk” while desperately trying to figure out how to walk the walk. I'm the person you throw at a project when it needs rescuing and this can be anything!
You might consider this would be an asset in flying; dealing with unknown situations, making decisions quickly, but not so much. You simply can’t bullsh#t your way through flying. Gravity is non-negotiable. You can’t talk your way out of a bad approach. The tarmac wins …. Always.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Twice the fun but..

The general feeling on the interweb is that it takes twice of much of everything than you think to get your PPL. Twice as much money, twice as much time, twice as much studying, you get the picture.
So how am I doing?

Well moneywise its okay I guess. Neither RTH nor I are exactly rolling in cash but we have no kids, no real debts and no car, which means we have some spare cash each month. Of course we have no house either. This may be a bad thing long term.  Me flying means that RTH doesn’t fly as often as he’d like but things can’t be too bad if he’s considering getting his night rating soon.
Time wise, I am in no hurry at all. Bob’s sage advice to enjoy the journey is spot on.  Now that I’ve soloed I’m really not feeling any time pressure at all. I want to enjoy and savor every last moment of my flying time.

Studying is a little bleuch! Motivation is hard sometimes, context makes it easier. I know I’m going to have to get my head around the Nav stuff soon , and I can’t put Met off forever L I’m also a little scared that I’ve pushed the earlier stuff out my brain , so I need to refresh slow flight , stalls and other airwork stuff. I’ve also had a few lessons where I didn’t really need much of a pre-flight brief from Bob. Other than, “we’re-doing-circuits-try-to-put-it-down-on-the-centerline-and-don’t-break-it” kind of thing.
Soon we are going to be back in the dreaded “hanger of doom” classroom talking about all kinds of stuff like precautionary landings, instrument work, navigation etc. A big motivator at the start to keep up with my reading was that I was fed up of looking stupid in front of Bob on the ground*.  

I really have no excuse; I get Thursday nights all to myself. I need to read some books instead of watching crappy movies on Netflix. Oh and I need to remind myself that stalking online aviation forums or watching "Top Gun"doesn’t count as “studying” either.


* It would appear that I have no problem with looking stupid in the air

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Need my octopus back…maybe some more eyes as well please?

So I promised (threatened?) a post about steep turns. This maneuver represented my first foray out of the circuit in almost 3 months. Apparently steep turns are one of the first skills to deteriorate if you don’t practice them, and quite frankly it’s not hard to see why.

Let’s get the technical stuff out of the way first. Basically you need to maintain a bank angle of 45 degrees (plus or minus 10 degrees) while not letting your altitude deviate by more than 100 feet and your airspeed by not more than 10 knots.  On paper it sounds a bit tricky. In the air it very definitely is.
The problem, as ever, is physics. A soon as you bank that steeply you stop generating as much upwards lift, so you have to pull back on the column, whilst managing the power to maintain your airspeed.  At the same time you need to coordinate (counteract any yaw) the turn by using the appropriate rudder pedal.  With me so far? No I thought not. E just glazed over at this point when I tried to explain it to her.

Ok let’s address it from a physical point of view, what do the bits of your body need to do?
Your left hand both turns the control column and pulls it back when needed. Your right hand adds power to compensate for the nose up attitude. Your ears listen for the subtle increase in engine rpm and your eyes; well they need to be in sixteen different places at once,

·         Looking outside – so you don’t hit anything

·         Looking at your VSI to make sure you’re not climbing or descending

·         Looking at your Attitude indicator to see that you are maintaining the required bank angle

·         Looking at the turn coordinator to see if you need any more/less rudder

·         Looking outside again to visually check the bank angle and nose up attitude

·         Looking at your ASI to check that your airspeed is still good.

Mean while the rest of your body has to deal with the fact that the plane is now at 45 degrees. If you are turning to the left, this means that you appear to be suspended by your harness over nothing. I use my elbow against the window to brace myself and stop myself leaning. If you are turning to the right there is a tendency, if you are not careful, to end up in the examiner’s lap. And while this may be one way to attempt to pass your flight test, it’s not the route I’m aiming for!
So how did I do? Not too bad, I think. Bob said, and I quote, “you weren’t as rusty as I expected you to be.” Which I guess passes for a compliment! No seriously he reckons I did Ok.

Bizarrely enough though I found that the more I think about what I’m doing the worse I perform. For example If I actively watch the AI and wait until I’m passing 30 degrees before applying power I get into all worlds of hurt, but if I just bank and then add power when I reckon we need it. It all goes much better. Gotta stop thinking it would seem.