Sunday, 30 June 2013

I don’t wanna solo today

Bob’s really sensitive to my mood, I guess you have to be as a flight instructor. He noted that I wasn’t “as gung-ho as I had been last week.”

He was right and I’m not entirely sure why. The weather was better than the forecast, the winds light and variable and cloud base not really an issue for circuits. I did feel a higher than usual degree of anxiety than I had for a while. I think I still have a mental challenge over runway 08, which the winds were favouring today and it’s for a stupid, stupid reason.
I don’t like the lack of run up area. I don’t like trying to position myself between the other traffic trying to get past and have visions of me getting myself stuck in a corner that will necessitate me inadvertently either crossing the hold short line, getting stuck in the grass or wiping out a line of taxi lights.

I’d just like to point out that I’ve never come remotely close to doing any of the above but still it bothers me apparently.
We did some circuits, it was a little busy. I somehow lost the ability to communicate coherently on the radio. I didn’t really make any mistakes (apart from requesting the wrong runway on one circuit, luckily what I’d asked for made no sense, so both ATC and I got it sorted fairly quickly!) but I did produce some of the most bizarre readbacks and acknowledgements you’ve ever heard.

My landing s were Ok(ish), one overshoot because ATC kept haranguing me to keep it in tight until at one point I just couldn’t lose the altitude quick enough. Bob reckoned we’d have made it down but I was off track, too high and uncomfortable so a go around was called. At some points I was noticing the lack of performance in the climb and putting it down to the high density altitude when in reality I’d still got 10 degrees of sodding flaps down. Stupid little stuff like that. I asked Bob in my best whining voice “what’s w  r  o  n  g with me today?” (I’m really good at whining, I do an awesome " I don't wanna go to school today!")
He didn’t have an answer (or perhaps lacked the time to give a full response!) and called for a full stop on the next circuit. I was unsure what our next step was, would he want to get out and let me go on my own? Did I actually feel up to going solo? What would be worse, going solo and being stressed out  by it, or chickening out and knowing that I’d bottled it yet again?

So Bob made the call, told me to go up and have some fun. I told him I’d do ONE circuit just to keep my hand in and then probably call it quits.
I didn’t

I did more :-) 


Saturday, 29 June 2013

When METARS get out of hand

Today’s weather…

SPECI CYTZ 281827Z AUTO 06006KT 2 1/2SM RA BR SCT008 BKN028 OVC039
19/18 A2952 RMK PCPN 8.6MM PAST HR SLP998 DENSITY ALT 1200FT= 

SPECI CYTZ 281826Z AUTO 07006KT 2 1/2SM RA BR SCT006 BKN012 BKN026
OVC039 19/18 A2952 RMK PCPN 8.3MM PAST HR SLP998 DENSITY ALT 1200FT= 

SPECI CYTZ 281825Z AUTO 08007KT 2 1/2SM RA BR BKN008 BKN023 BKN030

SPECI CYTZ 281821Z AUTO 06008KT 010V070 2 1/2SM RA BR SCT008 BKN013

SPECI CYTZ 281818Z AUTO 04007KT 2SM RA BR BKN008 BKN013 OVC023 19/18

SPECI CYTZ 281817Z AUTO 04007KT 1 3/4SM RA BR BKN006 BKN013 OVC023

SPECI CYTZ 281816Z AUTO 04007KT 1 3/4SM RA BR SCT006 BKN010 BKN018

SPECI CYTZ 281815Z AUTO 04006KT 1 1/2SM RA BR BKN008 BKN012 BKN018

SPECI CYTZ 281812Z AUTO 04004KT 1 1/4SM R08/5000FT/U +RA BR BKN008

SPECI CYTZ 281809Z AUTO 05005KT 1SM R08/3500V6000FT/ +RA VCTS BR

SPECI CYTZ 281805Z AUTO 04005KT 1SM R08/4000FT/D +RA VCTS BR SCT008

METAR CYTZ 281800Z AUTO 05006KT 040V110 1 1/4SM +RA VCTS BR BKN008
SPECI CYTZ 281757Z AUTO 06007KT 040V120 1 1/2SM +RA VCTS BR BKN008

SPECI CYTZ 281756Z AUTO 07006KT 040V120 1 3/4SM RA VCTS BR BKN008

SPECI CYTZ 281755Z AUTO 07005KT 040V120 2SM RA VCTS BR BKN008 OVC014

SPECI CYTZ 281754Z AUTO 07004KT 040V120 3SM RA VCTS BR BKN010 OVC014


SPECI CYTZ 281749Z AUTO 10007KT 5SM -RA BR BKN008 BKN014 OVC023 19/18

SPECI CYTZ 281748Z AUTO 10007KT 6SM -RA BR BKN008 BKN014 OVC023 19/18

SPECI CYTZ 281741Z AUTO 09008KT 9SM -RA FEW008 BKN012 BKN020 OVC026
19/18 A2953 RMK SLP000 DENSITY ALT 1100FT= 

SPECI CYTZ 281722Z AUTO 09007KT 9SM -RA BKN019 OVC026 19/18 A2953 RMK

METAR CYTZ 281700Z AUTO 08009KT 9SM BKN017 BKN024 OVC070 19/18 A2953
SPECI CYTZ 281641Z AUTO 08008KT 9SM SCT020 BKN024 BKN030 OVC070 20/18

SPECI CYTZ 281632Z AUTO 09008KT 9SM SCT020 BKN030 BKN039 OVC070 20/18

SPECI CYTZ 281623Z AUTO 09008KT 9SM BKN020 BKN030 OVC039 20/18 A2953

SPECI CYTZ 281611Z AUTO 09006KT 9SM SCT018 BKN028 BKN035 OVC042 20/18

SPECI CYTZ 281607Z AUTO 09006KT 9SM BKN018 BKN028 OVC036 20/18 A2952

SPECI CYTZ 281605Z AUTO 08006KT 9SM SCT018 BKN028 OVC036 20/18 A2952

METAR CYTZ 281600Z AUTO 08006KT 9SM BKN018 BKN025 BKN030 OVC036 20/18

TAF AMD CYTZ 281802Z 2818/2914 VRB03KT 4SM -RA BR OVC020 TEMPO
2818/2819 VRB15G25KT 11/2SM +TSRA BR OVC006
FM281900 08008KT 4SM -RA BR OVC020 TEMPO 2819/2823 11/2SM SHRA BR
OVC006 PROB30 2819/2821 VRB15G25KT 2SM +TSRA BR BKN007 OVC012CB
FM282300 10005KT 4SM -DZ BR SCT007 OVC015


Can be summed up in two words….

…Don’t fly!

Friday, 28 June 2013

This city is insane … and I love it!

I truly love where I live. Toronto is definitely my kind of city. It has character, quirky bits, and distinct neighbourhoods. It feels real. Toronto and I suit each other just fine. Ok so our Mayor may or may not be a crack addict. And he may have gone on record as saying that this scandal is “good for the city”! But in Toronto as long as the coffee is flowing, the roads are more construction than surface and our sports teams losing, everything is business as normal.

I walk along the streets of my adopted home seeing things that I don’t give a second glance but cause visitors to look twice. I walk through the throngs of people with blue, red or green hair* wearing ripped denim or designer suits; business attire with sneakers or paint covered construction overalls with a $600 winter jacket.  Carrying lunch pails, designer purses or small dogs! The variations are endless.
Last week I was overtaken by two people on unicycles, while I was walking home.   Yesterday someone got on the street car carryng half a bicycle and a step ladder. At lunch I walk through the usual bunch of crazy-but-harmless people who call out randomly at anyone passing by. The bible bashing guy who can be permanently found on the corner outside the Eaton centre makes you jump out of your skin the first time he shouts in your direction but he’s more amusing than dangerous.  It’s always fun to take visitors past him without warning them. 

I go to my regular coffee shop in the morning and the staff knows what I want as soon as I walk in. My usual sandwich shop gets worried if they don’t see me that week.  I feel that I belong here, something I never felt in the UK.  My home town in England is, umm, an interesting place to say the least and quite frankly we never really got on.  I left at the age of 18 for university and didn’t look back.

Toronto is just a little bit insane and that’s probably why we get on so well.


* I don’t judge, Mine was pink for a while.

Thursday, 27 June 2013


I’ve said this so many times but attitude is everything; whether you are talking literally about the angle of the plane or figuratively about your mindset.

People with a positive attitude are fun to be around. Quite often I can be mistaken for being a little negative, I think Canadians struggle with the dry British wit sometimes! Many people at work though have commented about my manner when I talk about flying. I’ve progressed beyond boring my friends with every mundane detail but they often ask me questions because they like to hear someone talking with such passion about a subject. I’ve been told my entire face lights up when I talk about flying, even the challenging lessons, and the mistakes, the hurdles still to overcome. Positivity is contagious in a really good way.
Bob is a positive person, he really loves what he does and it shows. I was mildly concerned today. He’d had a heavy workload flight wise. An intro flight, an instructional flight to Buffalo with a couple of students, me sandwiched in the middle and then RTH and another student back to Buffalo again (more about that trip in another post). To be honest I was a little concerned about whether Bob’d be up for our flight. He walked straight in from his Buffalo flight, confirmed that I’d done the walkround and then launched straight into our briefing.

“You can take a break if you like,” I said. He looked puzzled “you’ve been on the go since God-knows-when this morning,” I pointed out.
“But this is fun!” He replied. Seriously the kind of flight that wipes me out for the rest of the day and leaves me a hot sweaty mess, is Bob’s idea of relaxation. Being in the cockpit with someone like that is a joy and a privilege. The same goes for RTH as well, his excitement about his upcoming Buffalo flight and our long term flying plans is totally and utterly contagious.

Good people to be around.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Situational awareness.

I frequent aviation forums occasionally; sometimes to ask questions, sometimes to answer them or offer an opinion, sometimes just to lurk.

I spotted a question recently, haven’t answered it because I’m not sure I have an answer. The question was “how do you teach situational awareness?”
It’s a good question, an important one. In the circuit every decision you make needs an awareness of what traffic is around you and what it is doing. You can’t turn base if someone is in front of you. You might cut them off. Calling for a stop and go when a commercial airliner is right up your tail is not going to win you many friends.

Like most students, I struggled with this at the start. You have so much going on just trying to fly the plane that it just isn’t possible to figure out what is going on around you. Slowly though, you begin to understand fragments of what is happening. Occasionally you even manage to predict what might happen next. Over time, the pieces slowly slot into place.
A lot of it is experience, but experience itself is not enough. You have to evaluate each flight; review each tiny detail, ask yourself the following questions:

“What did I do?”
“Was it the right thing?”

“What could/should I have done?”
“What will I do next time?”

Some of this can be achieved on the ground, just by looking and listening to planes in the circuit; by driving RTH mad and asking a million and one questions. I hope he realizes how much this has helped. Gaining situational awareness has never been something than came easily to me. I’ve had to really work at it, but I’m not sure I can accurately describe how I have.
Bob told me today that I have “great situational awareness” and he’s “100% confident in my ability to know what’s going on out there.” Which is interesting because I’d say that it is an area I’m still working on. I still talk out loud; asking myself “what’s around you WMAP? What’s it doing? Where is the traffic?” I still count off the planes ahead of me in the circuit. I get told I'm number 3, I count out loud , "One, two and then me." as I spot the planes.

Maybe that’s what constitutes good situational awareness, maybe other people work just as hard at it, without me realizing . Either way I don’t know how you teach it, I just know that between them RTH and Bob are doing a pretty good job.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Well that was worth the time and effort.

40 hours of ground school and 300-odd bucks worth of tuition; to spend the last 15 minutes fixing the aerodynamics on the paper aeroplane that my office mate keeps throwing at me!

Flies a treat now though, just needed a slight COG adjustment and the addition of a horizontal stabiliser!


I got down to the flight school my usual 30+ minutes early, surprisingly enough this time I hadn’t beaten Bob there. There was another familiar face too, M from ground school. M and I keep in touch sporadically; we have on occasion shared a taste for wine in a local bar with a good view of the airport. We’ve traded stories and videos and generally talked aviation.

I know enough about M to know that he really doesn’t like JES. He has more of a leaning towards SAR and doesn’t seem to notice her nose up tendency, in a pinch he'll settle for JPM. . Ah well to each their own I guess.
We take a look at the flight sheet and see that I’m down for JPM and sure enough he’s got JES. So what do two civilized students do in this situation? They swap planes!

A quick check with dispatch and I’m in JES and M gets JPM, both happy and off to preflight their respective plane of choice.
Although M did stop to snigger at my collection of cushions. That wasn’t called for at all!

Monday, 24 June 2013

What do you care what other people think?

I try to live my life by the above motto, a favourite saying of my all-time physics hero. And the truth is most the time I don’t. I don’t usually care what I look like. I don’t care what people think of the language I use and I don’t care what people think of pretty much anything else about me. There are a couple of exceptions though. I care if people think I’m stupid. I care if people think I’m incompetent.

Today I think ATC thought I was both of the latter and that bothers me a little bit. Not enough that I'm pulling the “should-I-be-flying” angst routine, but enough that I’m going to have to review the video carefully to figure out just what happened as ATC and I had a little bit of a communication issue up there.
I had to do a 360 for spacing and was told to report re-established on the downwind. I did the 360 but then it got a bit messed up. I think I thought I was on the downwind, ATC kept telling me to re-establish on the downwind. I have a suspicion that I got sucked into the rookie mistake of following the shoreline rather than flying parallel to the runway, I think. Still not 100% sure at this point. They kept telling me to follow traffic that I kept telling them that I couldn’t see (it was very hazy out there).

By the time they called my base turn I was pretty much abeam and at the same altitude as a large smoke stack. They told me to turn base. I told them I would have to make it a 270 to avoid the stack. I got told to “do whatever you need.” In a slightly snotty tone.
A month or so ago this would have shook me up sufficiently that I would have called it a day after one circuit, but the new improved WMAP with added confidence realised that she was established on final at 65 knots with the centre line in sight at a decent altitude and basically no harm done. I was gonna carry on this flight no matter what.

And I did, for 3 more circuits and that was probably the best lesson I could learn from this. I just don't like ATC thinking I'm useless. I know I'm learning but "The Student Who Got Lost in the Circuit" is one distinction I could do without.

And therein lies the problem, I know I probably screwed up but I really resent the "stupid student" tag I feel I flew with for the rest of that flight. I wish I could dismiss this stuff as easily as Bob does.
"It's a challenging environment out there, you did great!" is his take on it. Whereas my mind thinks that the "plane police" are going to come knocking on my front door any moment now. These controllers deal with two gazillion planes per day, they are never going to remember what I did last time. Hell chances are I'll not even get the same controller.

I do have to stop caring what other people think. I'm a student pilot, It's practically my job to screw up.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Imperfection (mostly!)

I dropped Bob off, got my taxi clearance and headed back out on my own, quietly confident that I was about to do a repeat performance, 3 beautiful circuits executed to the best of my ability and then back in to smiles all round.

Yeah, that’s not how it worked out. At all. Not a single “standard  circuit*” and some tricky decisions.
First circuit was all over the place, a 360 turn for spacing on the downwind, some confusion between me and ATC left me thinking “WTF?” and a little shook up.  Despite all that was going on, I managed to set up for a pretty decent touch and go.

Circuit number 2, a bit of traffic dodging, nothing too stressful but somehow I misjudged the landing a little. I flared a little too early and too much, realised I was too high, resettled the plane but didn’t feel like I had a good handle on just exactly where I was height wise in relation to the runway. I’d lost my visual markers. Dangerous to flare when you don't know how high you are, you risk stalling it from a great height.Time to go around.
Number 3, ATC called an extended downwind. No problem. Let me know that they were going to be departing a Dash 8 in front of me. OK, no sweat. I turn final. Porter still lining up on runway. Hmmm I’m not going to get a touch and go in here am I? Not sure what’s behind me. Think I’ll go for the full stop option when asked. Hmm I’m on short final now, that damn plane is still there. ATC: “Porter XXX, start your roll NOW please”

“JES unable to touch and go; I can offer you runway 24 if you want to widen it out.” I feel too low to alter course and too committed to 26 now. “I’ll take a full stop on 26.” I set up for the landing, as I cross the threshold the plane starts to shake a little, the wing drops. I know what this is; I feel the familiar roll of wake vortices. Power in and around we go. Disaster averted as far as I am concerned. I take a moment to let ATC know what happened
4th one, another extended downwind. This time I power back to 1500rpm and drop 10 degrees of flaps, I don’t want to end up back abeam the stacks. I finally spot the traffic and turn to follow. I call for a full stop. I’ve had enough excitement for one day. I set up for the final approach, holding off on the flaps for a while; it’s a long way in.  I set up for the landing, determined to see this thing through. I bounce it, damn! I think I can recover this though, I reflare, hold off and down she comes gentle as anything. Sweet!

Exit and off.
Bob’s waiting to guide me in. I take my time with the shutdown routine. Now isn’t the time to screw up. I open the door and immediately launch into a tirade of the things I screwed up

Bob doesn’t seem too concerned though and while desperately wishing that I’d just flown 4 perfect circuits, I suddenly realised; I’d had the world and his wife thrown at me out there, I’d dealt with a whole stack of nonstandard stuff. At some points I was probably less than ideally configured for flight but I stayed in the air. I had to make decisions that directly affected the safety of me and the plane. I may not have made the most optimal ones but I did make safe ones.
Up until this point I wasn’t sure I could do that. I’m still alive and the wings are still attached, what more could a girl ask for?


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Perfection (mostly!)

Simple plan today, dual circuits until Bob was happy with my flying and more importantly my landings and then he’d cut me loose on my own. Bob’s target: 3 acceptable circuits and landings then he was out of there.

Winds were light and variable, variable enough so that the ATIS was calling 08 the active, whereas it was actually 26, despite a small tailwind initially. I didn’t mind too much; 26 is my runway of choice.
I was determined to step up my game today, tired of missing out on solo opportunities because I’m fighting the plane. And step it up I did. BAM!, BAM!, BAM! 3 good circuits one after the other. Sweet landings. Not a murmur from Bob, he could have been asleep for all I know. On circuit number 4 he woke up enough to let me know “call a full stop on this one.”

I searched my inner self for the inevitable signs of panic and found none. I was ready. I wanted to do this! Unbelievably I was almost relieved to see Bob get out. The traffic was quiet; the winds calm, perfect conditions to get some nice gentle relaxing solo time in.
Little did I know that wasn’t what was going to happen at all!

More next post.


An efficient use of time

Crazy day last Friday, lots of stuff packed in and scheduling precision that the Swiss would be proud of.
I started off with a super-highly-important strategic planning meeting. Jury is still out on my opinion of that meeting, to be honest. It had the bonus of the fact that I’m not really responsible for any deliverables. This is more of an offer your opinion type of deal. I’m good at giving opinions. Most of them are unsolicited and occasionally involve suggestions regarding people, objects and orifices. I have to be on my best behaviour on this committee though because for one thing I volunteered.

This was followed by a quick dash home to put on some more suitable clothing (you can’t fly in dress-to-impress-the-Principal suit and boots) and grab something to eat before heading down to the airport to squeeze in a flight.

Finally it was time to jump in a taxi and head to a meeting with one of my many friends whose name begins with A.

 A and I had a girly evening at a local spa planned. Usually not my kind of thing but I’ve become a bit addicted to a nice relaxing Swedish massage as a way to switch my mind off. I’m so out of place in these kinds of facilities though. For a start everyone turns up with their little spa purse, while I’m trying to cram my flight bag into a locker! They have a hairbrush and eyeliner and mascara in their bag. I have a headset and kneeboard. They probably smell vaguely of channel perfume. I’m covered in a thin sheen of engine oil and probably smell vaguely of AvGas.

Still I’m sure that the people in the whirlpool spa with us appreciated the enthusiastic demonstration (complete with hand gestures) as to exactly how you land a plane in a crosswind.

We ended the day with the obligatory trip to eat frozen yoghurt, a local shop that does self-serve in multiple flavours and charges you by weight (the frozen yoghurt‘s not yours!) Yes I did regret that part the day after but I was so relaxed from the massage, I didn’t really care!

An excellent use of a Friday I feel, but then again any day which involves flying is a good one!


Friday, 21 June 2013

Maybe I should clean up my image a bit.

Appearances are everything in life. At work people assume I’m competent because I act confidently. I will 100% absolutely assure my boss I can do something, then walk out her office and exhale slowly and at length before figuring out how the hell I’m going to pull it off*.

After a good flying lesson now, I occasionally allow myself to dream of a time where I may actually pass that elusive flight test. So I need to start thinking about the image I present. No examiner is going to be impressed by a candidate who curses every second word and thinks that hissing “geddown-you-bitch” is a mandatory part of a stall recovery procedure.

I get the impression that you do your best on your flight test if you treat it just like an ordinary lesson.  Maybe I need to start treating an ordinary lesson a bit more like a potential flight test. I need to be careful that the sardonic humour that I originally used to deflect from my sheer terror doesn’t become a bad habit in the cockpit. Now would be a good time to start developing good habits.

Who knows, maybe if I act like a proper pilot, the examiner might be fooled into thinking I am one!


* I usually manage. I have quite the reputation as a wheeler-dealer, mostly because I am utterly shameless in what I’ll ask companies to do for me!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Weird priorities

Not aviation related , musings From Vegas

I’ve just had to fight my way through a massive horde of people, all of them clamoring for a glance of some allegedly famous person called “Kim Kardashian.” Now the only Cardassians I’m aware of were in Star Trek, DS9; so I have no idea who this person is but apparently you can pay $160 for the privilege of meeting her. I think I’ll pass thanks.

I really can’t help but wonder about the messed up priorities of some people. They’ll pay $160 to meet someone I’ve never heard of (presumably one of these famous-for-being-famous people ) yet when I visited the Air and Space museum in DC I was probably the only one who stood there with her hand touching (or as close to the protective plastic as you can) the Apollo 11 command module. I had a near spiritual moment while small kids chased each other around it and the world bustled right by , without a second glance.
I don’t get it at all.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Speaking my language

After a pretty rough flight (combo of me not being 100% on my game and some freaky wind conditions) Bob and I found ourselves in the desk area with J from dispatch, trying to make sense of the current wind conditions. Bob was sat at the computer and I was round the other side of the desk, probably paying. I don’t remember the exact context, he may have been describe the wind conditions, we may have been discussing how ATC was, and I quote from J “jerking me around”; but anyways Bob swore.

J may have looked slightly surprised, Bob laughingly apologised. I shrugged it off as “ hey, finally you’re speaking my language!”
“Oh is she like that in the cockpit then?” Asked J

In unison, Bob and I “worse, much worse!!!”
J laughed, I don’t think he believes us.

He should.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A different perspective.

I`ve always liked airshow type stuff, even though before this weekend I'd never actually been to one. Let me tell you I got a whole other perspective on so many things. For a start you cannot possibly get the full effect of an aerobatic display by watching it on the TV. You need to be there to see just how close those planes get.

I also get a very different perspective as a potential pilot now. That little bit of knowledge I have means I appreciate so much more what these guys are actually doing. I spent a lot of thing thinking (and at some points shouting out loud!) “You can't do that!” It’s almost horrifying to watch someone take off and then perform a barrel roll at about 50 ft above the runway! Arghh!!!
I don’t have the vocabulary to describe a lot of what I saw, I just don’t know the names of the maneuvers but it was impressive beyond belief. I remember screaming “opposite rudder!” at the pilot who let his plane fall in a sustained flat spin for what seemed like forever!

I watched the Snow Birds fly in such close formation that you couldn’t tell how many planes you were looking at, bemoaning the fact that I had trouble maintaining my position within a hundred feet let alone a few inches as these guys do. I have a hard enough time correcting for the wind direction enough to keep my circuit square, these guys fly in tight formation while constantly making those adjustments. Add to that the fact that the guys on the outside of the formation need to fly at a different speed and course to the guys on the inside. I have so much respect for them.
I also took a few minutes to chat with the guys from CFB Trenton, because if I ever get into trouble out there, these are the guys who are going to come looking for me. I desperately tried to ignore the fact that the payload officer of the Hercules looked approximately 12 and I sincerely hope that my forehead didn’t do any damage to the co-pilot’s HUD!

Finally I remarked to RTH as we finished wandering down the line of planes that were about to fly in the display, “they must have to preflight the hell out of these planes.” Can you imagine what state they are in after tourists have been poking and prodding at them? Even so I really appreciate the fact that they do let us in. it’s awe inspiring to be able to sit in them, touch them and make that pilot to plane connection.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Enjoy the journey

Bob’s parting words to me after my last lesson. I’d had a solid lesson in some fairly challenging conditions. Similar winds to this lesson with the added bonus of the wind literally swinging round over 180 degrees from one circuit to the next. The difference was that this time I was able to pull off some fairly decent landings from it. Well for a start there wasn’t a single overshoot. I forced myself to commit to the landing, even from a tricky approach. I made a huge effort to get the “nose up” attitude we are looking for to banish those flat and bouncy landings to the history books. It worked, Both Bob and I are much happier with my landings now and they are consistently better as well. Hopefully the start of an upward trend.

A couple of curve balls thrown in, ATC got me to do a complete 360 pretty much on final to make way for an Medevac helicopter. I had enough presence of mind to turn away from the runway to give myself some space but I was very nervous about turning when I was configured with full flaps and at a low altitude as well as airspeed. I concentrated on keeping the turn gentle and coordinated in order to minimise the potential problems, all the time aware of this particular accident from my home country where it all went wrong for a solo student on final and interestingly enough led to the introduction of the “Student” prefix on call signs for trainee pilots in the UK. Something which I personally think is a good idea.
I also caused my own set of problems when I got distracted by a sail boat right at the edge of the Marine Exclusion Zone. It was literally touching the markers. I had visions of me impaling myself right on its mast.  I made the classic rookie mistake; I think it was even subconscious, of allowing the nose to rise and my airspeed to drop alarmingly. I eventually spotted and corrected it but it shook me up a little to see the airspeed in the low fifties!
It was a solid lesson but I still get overly frustrated with my mistakes,  I just didn't feel as "in control" as I normally do. A tight turn out of the tie down spot that I needed Bob's help with, a stupid mistake during start up all just left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied with my performance; hence Bob’s gentle reminder. This is an incredible journey and I shouldn’t necessarily be in a hurry to see it end.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Best day out … ever!

It has been a busy few days but yesterday was amazing! RTH and I grabbed a hire car for the day and headed to the Hamilton airshow. I’m still trawling through the near 2000 photos that RTH took to find the star shots to put on my blog but expect a few posts in the next week or so with some kick ass photos. As his nick name suggests RTH is an awesome photographer as well as everything else.

There was so much going on that it is hard for me to pick out the highlights. As we pulled up on the bus from the parking lot, I started bouncing up and down in my seat going “ooooh, shiny planes!”
We spent a few hours wandering along the ramp display of the planes that would be starring in the actual airshow. I loved the way you could get up close and personal with the planes. I’m a very tactile person. I spent a few minutes running my hand along each one, absorbing every morsel of history I could. Making a personal connection with each and every plane.

Of course this meant that by the end of the day I was covered in a thin film of sun block, engine oil and wheel bay grease, as well as sporting a slight dent in my forehead from where I whacked it on the HUD in a Hercules!
The weather was just perfect, warm but not baking. A slight breeze (it started to pick up a bit later) and just enough cloud to provide some contrast for the planes in the sky.

So much going on but I managed to:

Get very up close and personal with a Lancaster bomber. I actually stood in the open bomb bay doors.

See a formation fly by involving a Lancaster, Mosquito, 2 Hurricanes and a Spitfire

Sit in the co-pilots seat in a Hercules

See a pilot do things with a Beech twin that it was never ever designed to do

Watch an amazing display by the Canadian Snow Birds, OMG they fly close!

Feel the raw power of an F18 Hornet flying overhead

So much more I can’t even begin to remember

Such an inspiring day.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Random questions.

RTH and I were watching TV last night. Actually RTH was watching TV, I was half watching the TV but was paying more attention to 2 Cessnas in the circuit doing touch and goes.

They first got my attention because I spotted one on short final with another one behind, also on final. “Ooh that’s not going to work,” I commented out loud. RTH briefly glanced over my way, realised where my attention was and promptly ignored me.
I watched as indeed the plane behind was made to overshoot, the old "overshoot and make a right turn" manoeuvre that I’m all too familiar with. Usually this happens because the Cessna in front is a 150/152 and the one behind is a 172. The faster plane inevitably catches up with the slower. ATC then get you to overshoot and turn in front of the slower plane to resequence you.  This situation is inevitably complicated by the commercial traffic they try and slot in.

I watched the planes in the circuit for a while, either they got bored with playing catch up or the winds shifted but one of them ended up doing circuits on 06.  This got me thinking; I’ve landed on 06 before but never done circuits on it.
“What taxi instructions would I get for doing circuits on 06?” I asked. RTH now looked mildly irritated at this point; I forget that he hasn’t been watching the same thing I have! As far as he’s concerned we’ve both been watching the same program for an hour or so. He forgets how easily I get distracted by shiny things!

Turns out he’s never done circuits on 06 either, so didn’t have much in the way of useful advice. Of course this is now bugging me. My track record of navigating the taxiways is not exactly 100% and it’s be just my luck to get some obscure clearance when I’m soloing and its kind of embarrassing to have to ask for progressive taxi instructions at your home airport!
Never fear, Google to the rescue, I pulled up the Google maps image for CYTZ and took a look at the airport layout*

I reckon in the unlikely event of doing circuits on 06 I could expect the following instructions

·         Taxi via Bravo

·         Enter runway 15 (I may have to hold short at this point)

·         Cross runway 08 (again may have to hold short)

·         Line up 06

At least now I’m reassured that I won’t get lost on my way to 06! That’ll do me until the next random question flits into my head.

* I know I could use the airport diagrams in the CFS but for some reason I need to see a picture rather than a schematic, my mind struggles to match the diagram with the actual visual. It is one of the reasons I’m so bad at map reading.