Thursday, 31 October 2013

Is there anyone out there?

I usually fly on a Saturday; it just tends to work out that way. Bob knows that I organise my entire world around flying at the moment but I also know that Bob appears to have this thing called a “life”; maybe they give you one when you get your PPL, I don’t know.

I suspect that he ends up with one flying day at the weekend and one day for the rest of his life and family. Either way, mostly for weather considerations, we flew on a Sunday this weekend.
Saturdays are usually quite busy airspace-wise. If you hit the period of time when all the commercial traffic seems to be taking off and landing then you can spend a large portion of your precious Hobbs time at the hold short line or orbiting somewhere remote. Neither of which are particularly productive from a training point of view. It gets busy at the practice area as well; you end up having to negotiate carefully for space.

Sunday was weird, there was nobody around. No one at all. No tower chatter in the background as I took off. I fiddled with my radio twice on the climb out as I wasn’t convinced it was working. Not a sole on frequency. Not even ATC.
They cleared me en route fairly quickly, so obviously no one else around. Ditto on the practice area frequency, apart from one other plane from our school, who recognised me enough to call me by name over the airways. We were passing in opposite directions and very quickly agreed that he’d stay north of the shoreline and I’d stay south. I spotted him easily, no problem.

Once I was out at the practice area, there really was nobody. I made far more position calls than I normally do just because I really couldn’t deal with the silence.
It really was twilight zone quiet out there. I don't like it.


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Reinforcing stereotypes

Ok, so I’m afraid there is one stereotype that I feel I do actually conform to.

I can’t park

Seriously the flying is a doddle compared to trying to plonk the damn plane in a decent spot on the ground.  Most the time it is Ok, there’s either a dispatcher around to wave you in (yep bet you never thought you’d hear me being grateful for those stupid arm signals!) or there is the space right down the middle of the tie downs that you can at least dump the plane in until someone comes out and helps you shove it back into a space.
Yesterday was my worst nightmare, No convenient spaces to pull in to, an instructor and student in one plane obviously about to start her up , so couldn’t shove it in front of them and a guy right behind me.

Arghh! Dilemma, where to shut her down? I ended up pulling as close to the building as I could , to leave room for the guy behind me but kind of at an odd angle because I’d tried to make a corner turn and then realised that the wing tip clearance probably wasn’t going to allow it.
I went in to pay for my lesson and debrief with Bob (dunno where he had been hiding but was kind of relieved he didn’t witness my efforts)

After I’d paid up, the owner of the school was kicking around and asked how things were going. I mumbled something about maybe needing some help shifting JPM as there wasn’t a space available (He’s not always the most patient with mistakes and I seem to make my worst ones when he’s around,)
Then I ran away.

Problem solved!
I think Bob and his next student were in JPM, so they’ll probably have to deal with it.

Ah well, consider it payback for the sim echo you pulled on me.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I’ve invented a new description for flying conditions. “Sporty.”

Seeing as the word “turbulence” is enough to set my nerves off, I’ve decide not to use it any more. Ditto with “bumpy,” won’t be using that one either.
Sporty invokes images of zipping along the autobahn in a Ferrari, or rallying through the English countryside in an Aston Martin.

Sporty makes me feel like I’m dodging obstacles on a race track, rather than threading my way through rain showers.
Sporty is fun, exciting and probably reasonably apt seeing as JPM has that touch more horsepower than JES.

Sporty makes you feel you are in control of something sleek and exotic, rather than bouncing around in a spam can dodging the weather!
I can probably manage “sporty.”

Monday, 28 October 2013

Do you wanna fly this thing?

Needed to do a couple of circuits with Bob before venturing out on my own.  Was feeling a little anxious as the conditions weren’t exactly perfect, winds a little gusty and due to get gustier as the day went on. Coupled with the fact that it’s been a fair few weeks since I’ve flown and I’m suffering the usual angst over my decision making abilities, I was not exactly in a sunny mood.

We took off just fine, little squirly on the centreline tracking once airborne but corrected quickly enough. ATC buzzing in my ear almost immediately “Turn crosswind when able JPM, faster traffic behind you.” My usual reply of “Crosswind when able,” fulfils two uses. One, saying the phrase out loud buys me a few seconds of time and two, also lets ATC know that I’m gonna do exactly that, turn when safe and nothing they say will persuade me otherwise.
OK enough, Bob pointing out that I’m drifting slightly due to the winds. I acknowledge this fact a little testily, the windy conditions and general struggle to maintain situational awareness (the first thing that gets rusty in my case) making me a little short tempered.

“Turn down wind JPM” from ATC. I acknowledge and do exactly that. I sort out my slight altitude deviation and set up for base turn.
“JPM, turn base for 26” I acknowledge and dutifully do so, pulling back the power and dumping 10 degrees of flaps.

I’m musing out loud about when to turn final to avoid overshooting the centreline when I get ATC in my ear again “Turn final JPM”
“JEEZ, DOES HE WANNA GET IN HERE AND FLY THIS THING?” I ask Bob. ATC get a more muted “turning final”

Next time round Bob pre-empts my argument with ATC by pulling back the power and simulating an engine failure, thus giving me something else to bitch about. Luckily for him and the controller I made the runway just fine.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

It might be the wine talking…

..but I think I’m out of my funk and through the other side. It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling a little on the depressed side recently, stuff at work and home conspiring with the lack of flying to leave me feeling down and lacking confidence in my judgement. That and my usual drinking buddies bailing on me at the last minute. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

It’s funny how your body seems to know exactly what it needs to fix the problem. I had a day where I craved nothing but really sugary carb laden food. I went out in search of sugar laden donut rings, purchased and consumed probably too many of the aforementioned items. The next day I craved high fat food, I fell back on my standby comfort dish of poutine. Unheard of outside Canada. Basically a heart-attack-on-a-plate that leaves your stomach unsettled for days. I consumed said foodstuff and then fell asleep on the sofa (not an unusual reaction).  I woke up long enough to remove my contacts and transfer myself to bed.
I slept a solid 12 hours (really unusual for me, and I’m really not sleep deprived at the moment) and woke up feeling…… better for the lack of another description.

The weather is crap at the moment and looking marginal for tomorrows flight but I dunno, I seem to have accepted this.  I have no idea why I’m putting myself under time pressure.  Despite what I may think there is actually no deadline on me getting my license.
I have a fresh resolve to take each flight one lesson at a time. Let the weather do what the hell it likes, because me huffing and puffing is gonna have no effect on it whatsoever. And just enjoy the ride as what seems to be the entire internet is telling me to!

I got nothing for ya

A lack of flying means a lack of blog-worthy material. All I got kicking around in my drafts folder are the posts from the wake turbulence incident, a post from the airshow nearly two years ago and the redacted font rant.
Honestly, I got nothing for ya at the moment.

Friday, 25 October 2013

False alarm?

Despite my claims that I have forgotten any higher level physics whatsoever, I pleasantly surprised myself last night. Before it was even revealed as an integral part of the plot I was actually able to figure out that Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory appeared to be working on both the nuclear and electronic configuration of Trans-Uranic elements.

Both RTH and I are keen fans of this TV show as it is pretty much representative of our time at University. We are still figuring out which of our friends represent which characters but we definitely used to live with Sheldon!

Permission granted

Been an off kind of week. Crappy weather. Crappy things happening to people at work, even crappier things happening to RTH’s friends in the UK.

I’m still feeling a bit “meh”,  My good friend C’s dropping by this evening and a quirk of weather and scheduling sees me flying on Sunday rather than Saturday.
I’m taking this this as implied permission to drink a lot of wine on Friday night.


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Short Fall

I’ve mentioned that the weather is crap at the moment. Now it’s become colder and crappier. While out for my lunchtime walk I noticed the sky getting darker and cloudier. “Hmm,” I thought “this really looks like a winter sky.” In reply the heavens opened and it started to rain. I barely had time to curse my luck before I realised that the rain had a bit of a bite to it.

I was caught in a hailstorm. The weather gods seemingly oblivious to my calls that “weather shouldn’t be sharp and pointy.”
Flying wise the stupidly short Fall season means that I need to start thinking about winterising my flying kit. I carry basic winter stuff in my flight bag; gloves, toque and fleece as well as handwarmers.  I’ll be starting to do the “shoe shuffle” soon, whereby I wear my winter walking boots down there and change into my sneakers at the last possible moment. I have a nasty habit of leaving my walking boots in the school. I probably should stow them in the plane. If I ever brought it down in a field, my sneakers ain’t gonna cut it in the snow, that’s for sure.

I also need to face the fact that I may not get my cross country in before the snows seriously hit up north.  I’ll be disappointed but it’s not as if there isn’t other stuff I could be getting on with. I can spend the winter getting up to flight test standards on everything else I need and maybe pick up the distance flying in the spring.
Or we could be in for a mild winter. So hard to tell.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Skills gained, skills forgotten.

Cruddy weather means I don’t have much in the way of flying stuff to post and work is getting potentially interesting again. The other day I started analysing the skills I’ve developed (often against my will) in my second career and along with them the skills I appear to have lost.

Skills I have gained/Stuff I now do

·         I know faaaaaar too much about fonts – I did a whole ranting blog post on this a while back. I redacted it on RTH’s advice. It got nasty. And probably named names. Just don’t EVER send me anything in comic sans.

·         Bus roulette – got a trip of 96 people going out? Only got space for 94 people on your two buses? What d’ya do? Book an extra bus? Nope, that adds 30% to your costs. You book two and pray to God that two of the buggers get sick. I have a flawless record in this department. One day it is going to seriously bite me in the ass

·         Idiot proof instructions – I have a good working sample to test them on

·         The “Crazy or Bluetooth?” game – played on your way to/from work whereby you try to decide if the person talking to themselves is crazy or on a Bluetooth headset. Pretty good track record on this one

·         The ability to source anything from anywhere – when the apocalypse strikes, I’m the one to know, as long as you want bouncy castles, photographers, online registration software, dubiously shaped cookies or giant clothing for mascots.

Skills that I appear to have lost

·         Any form of higher physics – I caught myself contemplating Maxwell’s Equations thinking “I used to know what to do with those upside down triangles”

·         Documentation – I have to source new software for my conferences as I’m about to inflict serious physical harm on the person who designed the stuff I inherited. I’ve totally forgotten how to draw up any form of requirements documentation whatsoever. I forgot that the ability to link into a credit card system was a fairly major need.

·         The ability to give a damn – maybe!!

See, I really need to be flying!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

A little down.

I don’t know if it’s the Fall weather, but I’m feeling a little down. Maybe it’s the weather cancellations, but they are fairly normal for this time of year, even looking back at my blog posts from this time last year. It could be the fact that although I swore not to compare myself to others, I see people overtaking me. Bob’s latest student has soloed and is happily churning out the circuits with utmost confidence, casually throwing in some speciality takeoffs and landings in a way I don’t think I could do even now.

Maybe it’s the way I feel mildly guilty every time I make a decision not to fly, even though I probably know it is the right choice.
It might be the guy from ground school that I run into on occasion. He’s got half the hours I have but has just done his cross country. It probably wouldn’t bother me so much but he was a bit of a dickhead in ground school and seemed to take delight in saying “what happened? I thought you were so much further ahead of me?”

Well in hours I guess I am, but, meh, I don’t know. I shouldn’t let it get to me at all. After all RTH took a while to get his PPL and he’s an awesome pilot; calm, collected and smooth.
I’ve actually taken the step of turning down the potential for a flight tomorrow. I’m tired and I don’t really want to be stressing about “should I, shouldn’t I”. Even if I do go outside of my solo currency. Again.

Maybe I just need a break, both mentally and in the weather.

Monday, 21 October 2013

More VOR

Eventually I managed to get on top of the simulator. I genuinely don’t think I have a problem with the instrument flying but I did have serious issues with that damn simulator. Rolling out from a turn is near impossible when you have to remember that level actually means 10 degrees of left bank.

The one BIG advantage of a simulator is the ability to pause it. Once I was on a reasonable heading and a fairly stable altitude Bob paused the torture device and asked me to tell him where I was. He was looking more for an answer involving VORs and radials than “the seventh level of hell” apparently.
Actually this is something I know how to do.

1)      Dial in the VOR frequency on Nav 1, for this one I was using the Simcoe VOR

2)      Listen to the Morse Ident. My Morse listening skills are terrible (even more so with the ELT bleating) but the Ident for this VOR involves … followed by - - - , and is relatively easy to spot.

3)      Turn the OBS card until the flag reads FROM and the needle is centred

4)      Read the radial off the top and draw a line from that radial on your chart

5)      Rinse and repeat on Nav2 for your next VOR, in this case YYZ’s

6)      Where the lines intersect, that’s your position.

First problem, we can’t seem to switch between Nav 1 and 2. Bob tries. No luck. I continue to fly the plane. We rope in another instructor; he reaches over and starts rotating things at random to see if they move the second OBS card.

“Will you NOT move my bloody heading indicator while I’m trying to fly a sodding course here” I request not so politely. He immediately apologises and I feel bad as yet again I realise that not everyone appreciates all I’m mouth and no real bite.
We can’t figure it out, so I dial in Simcoe VOR do my stuff, pause it and then switch to YYZ. I manage to get a rough position. Bob pauses the machine.

Holy crap! I’m actually pretty much spot on.  Against all the odds, something has actually worked. Still paused we look at my chart and figure out a course to a nearby airport. We talk over the procedure for intercepting a radial, I work out the 90 degrees and fly that course as much as the damn machine will let me.
Again I am mildly amazed as I see the needle slowly start to move towards the centre. I fly along my selected radial and against all the odds I look up at the screen and see an airport in front of me. I power back and make contact with the runway. I won’t dignify it by calling it a landing. No rudder, remember.

Jeez that was bloody hard work but I guess I’m a lot happier with the VOR stuff. Added bonus I’ve tripled the amount of instrument time I have.
Bad news, I’m still not half way to the amount I need.  I just don’t know if I can face that simulator again for a while.


Sunday, 20 October 2013

1.2 hours of hell.

With my decision made with regard to the weather, Bob and I started making alternate plans to achieve something productive. Bob grabs my PTR and looks it over, “Hmmm, only 0.4 hours of instrument time, how come that’s so low? He wonders out loud.
“Well,” I reply “It could be that I complain any time you try to put me under the hood. Most vocally. Oh yeah and last time I threatened to vomit over you.”
“That’ll do it,” he laughed. “We need to get you some more instrument time before your cross country. Up for some simulator work?”
I agreed, even though I know that simulator is universally reviled throughout the flight school community. It is, errm, let’s say “special”.
It’s overly sensitive and no one seems quite 100% sure how to work the finer points of the darn thing. But it has its uses and is considerably cheaper than time in the air. We will give it a go.
Usual briefing on what instruments give what info, scan technique, selective scan and what we plan to achieve. An optimistic list including some VOR work as well as the usual straight/level, turns, climbs and descent combos.
First problem, my legs don’t reach the pedals and no chance of solving that issue with cushions. Ok we’ll make do the best we can and hope I don’t need too much in the way of rudder.  We eventually figure out how to fire the thing up and I attempt a takeoff.
I promptly crash because the damn thing is stupidly, ridiculously sensitive and appears to require 10 degrees of left aileron input to maintain wings level.
This minor setback leads to me flying the next half hour or so with the ELT bleating in the background because we can’t figure out how to reset it.
I manage some flying and a lot of swearing, somehow muddling through some basic instrument manoeuvres.  Bob sits manning the computer at the back, occasionally calling out instructions. His solo student lands and pops in to say “Hi”. I can hear him and Bob having a conversation about his flight. I provide a background commentary of four letter words. I apologise in passing but daren’t look around to see the poor kid’s reaction to the scene in front of him. I’m having trouble keeping both altitude and heading and so am oscillating back and forth on both. The kind of flying that induces nausea in any passengers.  I’m swearing profusely and cursing Bob out with every second breath. Bob’s used to this and promptly ignores me. The kid, probably not so much!
I did manage to achieve some useful stuff, but maybe I’ll save that for another post

Saturday, 19 October 2013

This is getting beyond a joke.

It has been a while since I got any decent flying in and it is beginning to bug me.  This weekend had been looking marginal but the Friday evening TAF was mildly optimistic, so Bob and I decided to give it a bash.

I got down to the flight school a little later than initially planned, the flight before me had been delayed so the instructor called me to ask if it was OK if they bumped me for 30 minutes or so.  This gave me time to look out the window and contemplate the weather.
It was looking a little grey to be honest, not much in the way of horizon and it was definitely a case of when it was going to rain, not if. I was a little nervous about the conditions. I took some time to figure out which way the weather was coming from and figure out what would be my alternate airport if I got weathered in.

Winds were from the south west which leads to the distinct possibility of my getting out to Claremont and City getting weathered in. So Oshawa would be my “bolt hole”, I looked at the runway configuration and made sure I had the ATIS and tower frequencies on my chart. Worst case scenario planned for.
At the flight school I waited for Bob and my plane to land. I got chatting with various people down there. The METAR and TAF remained OKish. As long as I wasn’t out too long, I’d beat the rain.

I got a bit distracted by a conversation Bob was having with one of the examiners and was caught off guard when Bob asked me “so how’s the weather looking?” I shrugged and said “Ok I think as long as I’m back before 12:00,” and then realised that this was a terrible answer to give, especially in front of an examiner and added “I’m just about to go call flight services to check.”
I sat on the steps and called, rapidly scribbling notes as I got the full briefing. Just for a laugh below are my notes

Roughly interpreted

Radar at 13:15Zulu showing a mid level trough with precipitation

Ceilings are dropping

Conditions will become marginal @ midday

Claremont is expected to be IFR @ 18:00Z

Pearson (YYZ) is already showing overcast cloud at 2800 ft

System developing more quickly than expected  

 I duly reported this back to Bob, he nodded and pulled up the METAR and TAF for himself, talking through it he noted the dropping ceilings, but the still flyable conditions at one airport, compared it to another in the vicinity, studied the METAR there, reading off the figures for himself.
I allowed this to continue for a minute before saying “Bob, stop stalking the weather. I’m not going.”

I have no idea if Bob was truly indecisive or if he was waiting for me, but I had made my call.
Yet another weather cancellation.

Friday, 18 October 2013

How things change

On October 20th it will officially be one year since my epic first solo. Things have certainly changed since that fateful flight.

When I flew down to Dulles last month, I actually enjoyed the flight. I sat there either looking out the window or reading my book, completely unaffected by the previous jitters that have accompanied my presence on a commercial airliner.  The last flight I took with RTH was an absolute pleasure. I sat in the back and just watched the scenery flow beneath us. Sure I still felt that little rush of adrenaline and intake of breath when you and the runway first part company. But quite frankly if flying doesn’t hit you with that buzz, then I wonder why you would do it in the first place?
Flying has made me new friends, some local, some the other side of the world. My lack of paralyzing fear has probably made me a nicer person to be in the cockpit with. The fact that I am capable of uttering more than two words at a time, we can actually talk, joke and exchange ideas whilst in the air. Something I simply wouldn’t have believed possible a year ago.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cloud magnet

That’s me!

On Saturday I managed to find the only bit of significant cloud in an otherwise clear sky and that kind of luck managed to follow me right through the Thanksgiving weekend.
The original plan was to take RTH’s mother (who is visiting) out to lunch at Lindsay airport, the same place we had our anniversary lunch. The weather looked flawless, as did the sky. We set off confident that we’d get an awesome view of the changing Fall colours. I was looking forward to a nice relaxing ride in the back, where I didn’t have to worry about where to put my hands, or inadvertently stepping on the rudder.

The plan started to unravel as soon as we got to the flight school. We appeared to be booked in the only plane that hadn’t returned yet. We were a little early, we waited patiently.
And waited and waited.

Long story short, we were over an hour late taking off. Maybe more on that another time. As we took off I couldn’t help but notice the appearance of the dreaded white fluffy stuff. It’s hard to gauge cloud height from the back but it was only a tad over 3000ft maybe. From my perspective I wasn’t sure if we would make it up to 2500ft as requested by ATC.
As the flight went on the cloud base got lower and lower. At one point we can’t have been much more than 600ft or so above the ground! It was a lot of fun, the scenery as breath taking as usual.  I’ll pull some stills from the video I took and post them when I have a moment. You could see that RTH has having an absolute blast, barely containing his glee. But RTH is a safe pilot and when it became obvious that the radio masts were getting a little too close for comfort, we made the obvious choice and turned around to head back to home. Some stations not far from our intended destination were reporting IFR conditions and cloud base at 800ASL. That is the beauty of having a passenger in the back seat with a smart phone and the AeroWeather app. I could tell RTH exactly what various stations were reporting while he concentrated on not hitting any cows!

It was a fun flight even if we didn’t achieve what we set out to. I just need to stop attracting that cloud!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

I did good!

Now that I’m happy with my decision to abort my flight let’s take a rare moment and review something I am 100% happy with!

I saw some marginal weather ahead
I knew that I had to do something about it

Despite accepting the clearance , I thought twice about climbing into it
I told ATC that I couldn’t comply and why.

I didn’t panic*
I knew I had to make a decision and quickly

I used reasonably good radio work to tell ATC what I needed
I didn’t panic*

I turned back and reoriented myself with regard to the course I needed to fly
I understood what ATC were telling me to do and where they wanted me to go

I didn’t panic*

I re-entered the circuit and flew a reasonable approach

I even had enough nerve to attempt a short field landing

I nailed that sucker!

I did good!



* I am immensely proud of this fact

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


We watched the footage together, RTH with his eagle eyes spotting stuff that I may have missed.
“Pause it there,” he said, “look, you can’t even see the stacks at this point.”

He also pointed out the fact that the CN tower was obscured, the view to the north was getting worse and that it was indeed reasonably thick even if it was just passing through. Then we realised that a plane behind me was landing early and cutting short their flight for cloud based reasons.
The icing on the cake was the report from RTH that several students after me had taken off and landed fairly sharpish once they realised what was going on. RTH and Bob were up after me doing an instrument flight and they actually found themselves in proper IMC for a few seconds. Even after changing their plan for local east to local west in an effort to avoid the cloud.

Short story is: I made the right call and I have video evidence and other people’s decisions to back me up.
I feel pretty good about the whole thing actually. I found myself in a time critical situation and made the right decision, without undue panic. At least I know that when the chips are down, my brain does the right thing.  Even if I agonise over it afterwards.


Monday, 14 October 2013

Second guessing myself

At the time I was 100% sure I was making the right decision. The cloud came out of nowhere and I was heading straight for it. I will admit that my heart was racing somewhat but I wasn’t panicked. I had a split second to make a decision as every moment saw me getting closer and closer to what appeared to be rapidly deteriorating visual conditions.  I decided to turn around and come home.

I was proud of myself. As far as I was concerned I’d made a good decision. That was definitely cloud. I couldn’t see a way through it. I couldn’t see the extent of it to work a way round it. It was fluffy and cotton wool like. I’d had a short space of time to decide and I’d made the right call.
Of course the conditions were massively transient. By the time I’d put the plane back in the parking spot, there wasn’t much evidence of the cloud around me. I was starting to wonder if I had imagined it all, but I knew that I had it all on video and I had a very vivid mental picture of looking down onto cotton wool. I walked into the flight school with my head held high. I had made the right call.

I talked it over with Bob, the radar had indeed shown some transient cloud but it is hard to get the scope of it from a computer screen, it looked wispy and insignificant. We talked about whether I could have flown under it. I wasn’t confident descending that low over the downtown. We discussed going around it, I couldn’t see the total extent at the time, it looked to be getting worse towards the practice area. Bob was OK with my decision but I was starting to second guess myself.
I got home and pulled up the video on my computer, watching the pertinent footage as a preview while I shoved it into my editing software. As usual the camera gives a slightly different view to what I actually see. I started revisiting my decision. Did I overreact? Should I have carried on? Was I being too cautious? Did I bottle out?

I agonised over my actions. Yes the cloud was transient, but I was well and truly in the thick of it. I probably could have flown though it, but I wasn’t sure just how extensive it was. It seemed to be getting worse. But should I have just waited it out? Would it have gotten better? Should I have gone under it? Around it? Through it?
I agonised and agonised over the decision as I viewed the footage again and again, a million thought racing through my head as I washed off the dirt, oil and grime in the shower at home ( for some reason I do some of my best reflecting in the shower!).

The more I thought about it, the less sure I was.
I waited until RTH got home and then we watched the footage together.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


So I’m heading out to Claremont solo, aiming to practice at the very least some slow flight and stalls. Hopefully a forced approach too. Bob’s aware that it’s been a few weeks, so reassures me that it’s ok to stay within my comfort level. The plan to just get out there and do some of this stuff.

During our circuits Bob and I have been taking note of some wispy stuff kicking around over the lake. We have a brief conversation that it doesn’t constitute “cloud” as you can see through it and keep reference to the ground, essential for VFR flying. I’m not unduly concerned, mildly pleased with myself that not only am I unconcerned by the fact that it throws you around a little as you get near it, I’m actually anticipating that effect and reacting accordingly.
As I climb out though, I notice I’m flying through more of the “wispy stuff” and in fact it is getting wispier. I level out briefly to avoid some heavier “wispy stuff” and take a brief glance around me.  I’m definitely above some “wispy stuff” and there appears to be more of it around. My heartrate quickens a little bit. ATC tell me to climb to 2500ft. I acknowledge as an almost automatic reaction.

Then I take a final look around me. I’m heading towards a layer of something. In fact I’m going to be above that layer of something. Something that I can no longer see the furthermost edge of.  I tell ATC that rather than climbing I actually need to descend.
ATC helpfully advise me to “remain VFR at all times”. Whilst contemplating this ever so helpful advice I make a split second decision. That something has a name. It’s called cloud and any second now I’m going to be above it.

Time to come home.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Ground shy

It had been three weeks since my last flight for various reasons. Today’s aim was simple, throw out a couple of circuits with Bob on board, let him get out and then head out to Claremont to practice some airwork type stuff.

We took advantage of the relative lull in traffic to practice some short field takeoffs and landings.  There is nothing fundamentally hard about these but they take both practice and nerve. I don’t like forcing the nose down on takeoff, it really isn’t right you know. Bob calls me “ground shy” and he’s not far wrong to be honest. There’s a fine line between holding it in ground effect and dinging the prop on the runway. I tend to fight Bob’s insistence that I keep the nose down because I’m scared of doing the latter. Probably doesn’t help that we have a pretty long runway to play with at CYTZ. If the runway was a bit shorter I’d probably have a bit more of an incentive to get the technique right.
Landings are much easier, full flaps and a slightly slower approach speed. Despite having a not-so-quiet bitch at myself on the way down, I managed a very acceptable short field landing where I could have easily got it off at 33.

Then it was back to the apron to drop Bob off and head back out on my own. Circuit flying has become so routine now, almost carried out automatically. A long way from this time last year where I was bemoaning how much you had to cram in. The Claremont run is rapidly approaching that level too. I had a good idea of what I needed to do out there, a solid plan.
You know what they say about the best laid plans? Well they’re right. It didn’t work out at all as planned.

More next time.

Friday, 11 October 2013

From the Archives: Lies I tell myself

As I’ve mentioned before, random stuff sticks in my head. Useless stuff like movie quotes, song lyrics, the fact that Sea Cucumbers can contract their muscles and jettison some of their internal organs out of their anus. Nothing useful like stall speeds or control inputs during taxiing ever sticks

Having emerged from a not-so-nice incident that left me considering my aviation future, I’d like to think that I’m a stronger person for it. I didn’t quit (tempting as it was) I got back in that plane and showed it who was boss!
So now I have these lyrics stuck in my head

I'm not afraid
Of anything in this world
There's nothing you can throw at me
That I haven't already heard
It’s from “Stuck in a Moment” by U2, a band about whom I have mixed feelings. I like some of their music but have a very low tolerance for some of their politics. The lyrics are highly appropriate I feel. A complete lie*, but highly appropriate!


* I’m still scared, all the time; but I hide it well and push through regardless.