Learning to Fly

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Fri Oct 02, 2015 4:27 pm

RT Practical Exam 02/10/15: Cleared to Roger your Juliet and Foxtrot Oscar

With P-J still away on annual (its the 3 year one where the tanks come out etc.) I have used the time to get stuck into my RT practical and Navigation studies.

The navigation studies are on-going (there is a lot to take in with the Navigation and Flight Planning and Performance) but today I passed my R/T practical exam, which brings to an end the 8 week R/T course (3 weeks theory, a weeks theory practice papers and four weeks practical).

Another stepping stone on the way to my PPL - rather pleased with myself :)

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby badhand » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:14 pm

Haven't you done it yet? Blimey, how hard can it be?

:roll:

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Sat Oct 17, 2015 7:36 pm

Not quite there yet, no :butt

Lesson 26 16/10/15: Instrument Flight Training; NDB tracking
WOOOOOO, PJ is back from her annual and I can start flying again. Today’s lesson is the second of three instrument flight training lessons. The subject matter; flying on instruments whilst tracking and intercepting an NDB (Non Directional Beacon) using the aircrafts ADF (Automatic Direction Finder). The normal briefing followed by walking out to the newly serviced G-AWPJ, a transit pre-flight check and it was time to get going. The wind was from the north so with permission granted from ATC we taxyed out to holding point uniform on runway zero two for the run up checks. Six weeks since the last flight it was nice to blow the cobwebs off and get back into the air and see things from a birds perspective, a textbook takeoff and climb out though by 600ft the foggles (they look like safety goggles but most of the lens is frosted) were on and I could see sweet FA other than the aircraft instruments and that is how it remained for me until 600ft on the landing approach.

The broken cloud at 1,500ft meant that my instructor’s instrument rating came into its own the lesson in part was a true instrument flight. We were operating on a traffic service rather than a basic service from Humberside Radar, the traffic service provides alerts of other aircraft in the vicinity, essential when you can’t see anything. The only time I am allowed to look out of the window is to see how bad getting caught in cloud actually is, imagine the worst fog you have encountered in a car and then quadruple it. I hope I never have to deal with a situation like this for real (not least because the CAA would chew my arse big time). Anyway, the NDB; the beacon sends out a signal in all directions which the ADF interprets and allows you to point the aircraft towards it. It is tuned in like any other radio receiver to a frequency. You then identify the beacon, in this case it was Doncaster airport, formerly RAF Finningley, its NDB identifier is FIN, this is transmitted by the NDB as a separate signal in the form of Morse Code: dit-dit-dah-dit dit-dit dah-dit (..-. .. -.). It is very important to identify the beacon so you know you are tracking the correct one otherwise you could end up anywhere. We tracked the FIN NDB until we were at the River Trent then turned around 180 degrees (so we didn’t wander into the controlled airspace around Doncaster). Next was tuning the Humberside NDB, its identifier KIM (it was RAF Kirmington back in WW2): dah-dit-dah, dit-dit, dah-dah (-.- .. --) and tracked back in the direction of Humberside, maintaining a correction angle for the northerly wind. Once John was satisfied with my ability to track the NDB’s using the ADF we flew around for a bit, me following john’s directions whilst flying on instruments.

Now it was time for the Simulated Radar Approach (SRA) though this is not part of the PPL syllabus John tags it on to his own syllabus. Humberside has the equipment to do it, so its extra preparation for going alone in the big wide world. The Radar controller passes me directional and altitude information to follow and I fly to it on the instruments. We are informed of “base” which means we are flying 90 degrees to the runway and it’s time to do our pre landing checks, soon we are vectored onto the runway, we are instructed to start descending and following the controllers instructions we are handed back to a visual approach at 600ft MSL. The foggles finally come off and I can make a normal visual approach, a comfortable flapless landing on runway zero two; a slight bounce as I didn’t hold the nose up enough, but otherwise fine.

Flying on instruments is intense, really intense, 100% concentration is required on the aircraft and keeping it straight and level. One important thing to remember with instrument flying is to ignore sensations and trust the instruments entirely, if you convince yourself that the instruments are wrong and the sensations you are receiving are correct, you are going to end up in one place – a smoking hole in the ground.

Next week’s lesson is a repeat of this one but we are tracking VORs (look it up or wait until next week where I tell you what it means) instead of NDB’s and hopefully - if I feel ready for it my Navigation Exam. I have also been asked to speak to a scout group about flying (one of my work colleagues is a scout leader) for their aviation stage badge, more than happy to oblige, more interest in GA has to be a good thing :) not sure when that will be mind.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:24 pm

Lesson 27 23/10/15: Instrument Flight Training; VOR tracking
Before today flying lesson began I took my Navigation theory exam, 12 questions set by the CAA to make sure I can do the basic navigation calculations using nothing by my circular slide rule (whizz wheel) and my grey matter. Thankfully I apparently can as I only got one wrong (can’t tell you want as I can’t divulge the test contents) but I know what I did wrong, 92% a comfortable test result I think. Next week I am taking my Flight Performance and Planning exam, hopefully I will have a similar if not better result.

On to today’s flying lesson; the normal pre flight briefing followed by me heading out to check the aircraft over before John came out to meet me at the aircraft. Once airborne and following the right turn out of Humberside the foggles went on and I could see sweet FA once again, shame as it was a relatively clear day.

As I said today we were tracking VOR stations, a VOR or VHF Omnidirectional Range is a radio based ground station that transmits two frequencies that are slightly out of phase with one another. The two signals (on very slightly different frequencies but selected by one frequency entered into the navigation radio) are interpreted and displayed on the Omni Bearing Indicator (OBI) in the cockpit. You can select the heading on the OBI and a small flag (either an up or down arrow or on some, TO and FROM tags) tells you if you are heading towards the station or away from it. The display is a vertical needle that moves left if you are left of track or right if you are right of track.

With 235 degrees set on the OBI I flew a heading of 210 degrees as I was left of track, eventually you will cross the radial and can turn onto it, it is then a simple matter of making gentle left and right corrections to stay on the selected course which I did. We tracked the VOR until we were approaching the River Trent I then turned north (360 degrees) and John set the OBI to 030 degrees (we would be tracking the VOR but flying away from it) I maintained 360 degrees until the OBI needle started to move then began turning slowly onto the required heading. Once established I continued to track the VOR until we were well east of Hull and Beverly. By this point we were ready for our Simulated Radar Approach. Unfortunately we had to wait for the KLM city hopper to come in and land, so I did a 180 degree turn and tracked the VOR on a heading of 210 degrees.

Humberside Radar were ready for us as soon as the KLM flight was on finals and we could be guided in to the airport, I managed to nail most of the headings and hold them, as well as getting the rate of descent correct, once RADAR handed us over to the tower and the SRA was over the foggles came off and I could see again. A nice smooth landing followed and we parked up on the grass.

I now have 28hours 40 minutes flying time towards my licence, next week I move onto cross country navigation :)

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:23 pm

30/10/2015: Another Exam Down
No flying today as the weather was awful. However, as I had another exam to do (still in the 10 day sitting from the Navigation exam last week) I went to the flying club to sit my 8th theory exam, Flight performance and Planning. I passed, 92%, only messing up one question, that had I have read the question properly I'd have gotten correct. Still I passed so I am happy. My theory studies now turn to Meteorology for the 9th and final theory exam.

I also sat with John and went through my navigation plog and the route marked up on the map for the navigation exercises when the weather lets me anyway.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:30 pm

Flying Lesson 28: Cross Country Navigation 1. 12th of November 2015.

After what seems like an eternity due to frankly awful weather, a mix of low cloud, fog, rain and high winds I have been flying again. Today’s lesson was my first ever cross country navigation exercise. I wasn’t going to be flying to another airport just yet, but flying over a few Visual Reference Points (VRPs). John gave me some VRPs to mark on a map and draw a route out, they were:
1) Brigg Town Centre
2) The Howden Motorway Junction
3) Driffield Train Station
4) Elsham Wold Industrial estate

After marking the route on the map, the next step is to measure the distance, in this case a total of 62.5 Nautical Miles (NM), each leg of the route is divided into four equal sections, this makes it easier to work out where you are. On longer trips you might break each leg up with multiple 5NM or 10NM marks. Using the protractor you then mark on 10 degree drift lines (dotted) in a different colour – red is fine for daytime, this allows you to work out how far off track you are (if you become off track). Next I have to look at the map and look at the high objects within 5NM of the desired track and use their altitude (rounded up to the nearest 100ft) plus 500ft as the minimum safe altitude for the trip.

With the headings measured using a square protractor and the wind drift calculated, magnetic variation (2 degrees) added, ground speed and times worked out we can go and fly the route.

PJ was freshly fuelled up and waiting for us on the GA apron, the usual pre-flight and pre-take off checks and we were away climbing under blue skies, sadly dark horrid looking clouds were coming in from the south west. I climbed the aircraft to 2000ft, it was a bit bumpy (21knot winds on the ground) and they strengthen as you climb) but once at 2000ft all was calm (constant wind rather than turbulence) – for a bit anyway. I picked up the Brigg VRP and steered onto 297 degrees, the wind was a little stronger than initially compensated for so by the half way point we had been blown well off course, by the time we reached Howden I had another 30 degrees of left drift applied to bring us back on course, we were two minutes late to the Howden VRP due to the wind being stronger than we had been told, we also had to drop down to 1,500ft to make sure we were clear of the overcast cloud that had rolled in.

I turned the aircraft onto 051 degrees for the next leg of the flight to Driffield. We passed over the former RAF Holme-On-Spalding Moor, no runways left now though, only a few buildings and the scars in the land of where they once were, bang on track this time we passed over the mid way point of Market Weighton, before reaching the Driffield VRP minutes later. We arrived 2 minutes early over Driffield, the wind really pushing us along.

I now turned the aircraft onto 191 degrees to head back south towards Elsham Industrial Estate – our last VRP. This leg of the flight took us overhead of Leconfield, and we were bang on track, though we were a bit slow, in fact very slow. Passing over our mid way point (half way between Beverly and Cottingham) and then over Hull and Hessle, parallel with the bridge, we could see cars and trucks moving faster than us. A quick groundspeed check with Humberside Radar confirmed it, 39-41knots! Given the airspeed indicator was indicating 82knots we were bucking a 40knot headwind – ouch.

The landing was made flapless as we simply didn’t need the flaps to slow down as we were slow enough over the ground already; a 1 hour flight took us 1 hour 25 minutes. Still I completed it successfully (we didn’t get lost).

Next Time; my meteorology exam and I fly the route in reverse with John aboard again.

I will be visiting the Grimsby Scout troop next week to chat to them about aircraft and flying for their Aviation Stage badge. Not sure what to expect to be honest.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:56 pm

My Blog is also now live on WordPress:

http://mattspplblog.com/

I will of course keep this thread going :)

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Thu Nov 19, 2015 4:15 pm

Meteorology Exam and Scouts. 19th of November 2015.

Sadly despite it looking hopeful for a flight a band of low cloud and rain called it off before I had any chance of getting airborne. However, I did have the opportunity to do my meteorology exam.

I passed; 88% so I am more than happy with that.

That brings to a close the ground school studies around the exams with all nine completed.

On the 18th of November I went along to the Grimsby Scartho scout group to chat with the scouts about flying in general, I made it into a Q&A session after a brief into. They seemed to enjoy it, all appearing genuinely interested. Hopefully some will be inspired to go on and learn to fly at some point and of course get their aviation related scouting badges.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:59 pm

Flying Lesson 29: Cross Country Navigation 2. 26th of November 2015.

The weather was kinder than it had been over the past couple of weeks allowing me to get the first of two flying lessons in today.
Lesson 29 was to be a repeat of the last cross country navigation exercise except I was flying the route in reverse. Take off and land as normal at Humberside International.

1. Elsham
2. Driffield
3. Howden
4. Brigg

As before each location had its own Visual Reference Point (VRP), Former RAF Elsham Wold, Driffield railway station, Howden motorway junction, and Brigg town centre. We had to sit around for a short while whilst some early morning mist cleared then it was off on the first lesson. One good thing about this time of year is the low levels of turbulence associated with thermal activity which makes for a nice smooth flight. I turned the aircraft North over Elsham, started the stop watch, noted the route start time and expected time of arrival (ETA) at Driffield. The climb to 2000ft was completed just north of Elsham, as such I expected to be a couple of minutes late on the ETA from there it was a nice cruise keeping an eye on the heading and regularly scanning the instruments and scanning outside for traffic. Whilst navigating it is also advisable to do a FREDA check every so often; FREDA stands for:

Fuel: On and sufficient
Radio: tuned to the correct frequency and operational
Engine: temps and pressures in the green, performing normally
Direction: DI aligned with the compass and on the right heading
Altitude: is the correct regional pressure setting set.

For this flight the FREDA checks were done just after departing the VRP and at the half way point. On longer cross county flights you would do them at time intervals rather than at the VRP and half way to the next one. Once we were overhead the railway station in Driffield I noted down the actual time of arrival (ATA) before overflying the VRP and completing a 270 turn brining the aircraft onto heading so that it would fly straight and level over the VRP giving a precise start time. Flying heading 230 (West-South-West) I re-set the stop watch over the VRP and noted the start time, I expected to be over the motorway junction at Howden seventeen minutes later. FREDA check completed. To the left of us over the Wolds there was a lot of low cloud and showers, thankfully we didn’t have to fly through that the light winds meant that we were on track at the half way point (just between Goodmanham and Market Weighton).

After 18 minutes (1 minute late) we arrived overhead the Howden motorway junction, I noted the time and turned the aircraft through almost 270 degrees after overflying the VRP to steer towards Brigg, 140 degrees. It became apparent on this leg that this was a bit too much, (despite the triple checked calculations before we departed) and I was 10 degrees off course to the right by the half way point (Burton Upon Stather) and I had to correct by 20 degrees to the left to get back to Brigg. We arrived at Brigg 2 minutes early. I think the estimates for the wind were a bit on the high side which caused the incorrect heading and off times. Once overhead Brigg VRP I pulled the power back and begun the descent into Humberside. A normal right base entry and short final onto runway two-zero before being fuelled up and ready for the afternoon lesson.

To anyone that is trying to follow this on a map you may find it a challenge as the headings obviously take into account wind drift so they won’t correlate directly with the track lines on a map.

My second navigation exercise completed, net up – navigation 3, solo navigation.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Thu Nov 26, 2015 8:59 pm

Flying Lesson 30: Cross Country Navigation 3. 26th of November 2015.
The afternoon of my 32nd birthday, given how the weather has been recently I had hoped that I would be able to go solo on my birthday after the rescheduling of several lessons over the past couple of weeks. Thankfully the:

TEMPO 2614 2618 PROB30 4000 RADZ BKN007

from the met office took the 70% part of it and didn’t show its ugly mug; that bit of gobbledy gook (to most of you) translates as.

Temporary between 14:00 UTC and 18:00 UTC on the 26th Probability 30% of 4000m visibility in rain and drizzle with broken (5/8ths coverage) cloud at 700ft.

As that didn’t show its ugly mug it meant that I could go and fly my solo navigation exercise.

I filled in my flight plog with the relevant headings based on the wind and headed out to the aircraft. As I had just been flying with John it was a transit check before the flight and I was ready to taxy. With clearance from the tower gained I eased P-J off the grass parking blocks and after a short hold whilst a helicopter hover taxyed back from the runway I was parked at holding point Bravo doing my checks. With permission to depart given I took off and began my climb, there can’t be many better ways to spend a birthday than taking off on your own in a light aircraft. I turned westerly at 500ft and continued my climb to 2000ft; my route was Brigg -> Howden -> Driffield -> Elsham, a repeat of Nav 1. I turned the aircraft onto a heading of 307 as I crossed Brigg town centre and headed towards Howden. Humberside Radar wanted me to report when I was overhead each VRP which I did, not a taxing task. I arrived 1 minute late and I had to make a course correction on my way to Howden (being off course to the left), once over Howden I noted the time, and overflew the VRP before making an almost 270 degree turn and steering 045 degrees towards Driffield, reset the clock and note the ETA. FREDA checks being made at the half way point and just after the VRP.

The flight to Driffield went well, I was smack on time and had to make no course corrections, though the dropping sun was going to be a pain until it dropped behind some cloud. As I approached Driffield I cleared the broken cloud 1500ft above me and was flying in clear blue skies, rinse and repeat for the Driffield VRP and I was heading south towards Beverly, Hull and then Elsham.

In between activities I had a few minutes to take in my home town from the air as I cruised over Hull at 2,000ft, it is surprisingly green (mostly autumnal leaves at this time of year) for a city. A little bit of turbulence from the warm air generated in a town but nothing to disturb the flight. Once south of the Humber (East of Barton) I descended to 1,500ft for the last few miles, I didn’t even get chance to call in to Humberside Radar to tell them I was on approach to Elsham before they handed me over to Humberside tower.

Once over Elsham I noted down the time and turned onto a heading that would align me with a right base entry to the pattern so that I could complete a regular short final onto runway two-zero. I taxyed back and parked up on the grass and shut down. One hour and ten minutes solo, fantastic. Before leaving the aircraft I made sure P-J was tied down and all the relevant covers were on as John had no more lessons to do.

My next flight will be a dual land away to Gamston (Retford) should be fun :)

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Fri Dec 11, 2015 6:01 pm

Flying Lesson 31: Cross Country Navigation 4. 11th of December 2015.
After two weeks of no flying a break in the weather this morning meant that I could get Navigation exercise four completed. My first land away at another airport, this one dual with John my instructor aboard, the flight was to take me to Retford (Gamston) Airport in Nottinghamshire. Flight planning was the same as any other; calculate the heading to fly on based on the desired track, taking into account wind drift and magnetic variation.

The route it down to Gamston would begin overhead Brigg, as it is a convenient start point giving me time to get levelled off and trimmed out after climbing to 2000ft. After working out the route using my trusty ARC-1 flight computer, John phoned Gamston to make sure that the airport was open, then the tower to book out. We headed out to P-J, where normal pre-flight checks were completed and we were away. I turned to the right as instructed by ATC and began my climb to 2000ft, the normal hand over from tower to radar occurred at around 1,500ft. Shortly I had a few minutes cruise before and it was time to turn onto the route heading.
I start the stop watch, note down the route start time and add the calculated time on that leg to get an expected time of arrival (in this case 25 minutes). At this point I will point out that it is always good airmanship to do a FREDA check – I didn’t and John let me get on with it just to demonstrate what can happen (see a few sentences further on). Conveniently a railway line parallels our track for most of the route, it swings out further to the west to go around and then into Gainsbrough at the half way point. Hibaldstow was active with parachutists and Skydivers today so I had to make sure that I remained away from their airspace, being slightly to the left of track this meant altering heading momentarily so that I kept a safe distance. Kirton-In-Lindsey was my 1/4 distance check, I was on time but about 5 degrees off my desired track by this point. Wondering why we were off track John advised me to check the DI with the compass – it was out. Hence why I was off course by five degrees, FREDA checks completed, I corrected the heading and steered the aircraft back onto track. I was using the West Burton power station as a steer point (the route passes directly over it) as it provides a nice visual reference to fly onto.

By the half way point, two miles north east of Gainsbrough, I was back on track. Once overhead Gainsbrough I left Humberside radar behind and changed over to Gamstson radio, the first time I have ever set a transponder to 7000 (a convenient VFR button auto selects it). I also took this opportunity to descend to 1500ft to ensure I didn’t inadvertently stray into Doncaster’s airspace; its CTA (Control Area) has a base of 2000ft.

One other aircraft in the pattern as we were arriving, thankfully that aircraft was on final long before I considered putting the flaps down so there would be no holding whilst it landed. Obeying the noise abatement on the way in to Gamston (wouldn’t want to upset the locals) I called final approach and landed, I was a little slow at one point in the approach so lowering the nose and applying some power corrected that, rate of descent with the throttle, speed with the elevators. The slightly crosswind landing went well, despite the eddy currents from the trees on the right doing their best to cause me problems and I was soon parked up on the apron. With the £15 landing fee paid and a quick natter with the friendly people at Gamston we headed back to P-J for a quick pre flight check and to plot the return route.

We were soon in the air again, and extending the climb out slightly to avoid overflying Elkesley before turning right and then right again (right hand pattern). I picked up the route track, again using the West Burton power station as my initial steer point, as it brings me nicely back on track. The wind was giving us a push back to Humberside and as our ground speed was fairly high because of that I could climb straight to 2000ft with no risk of an incursion into Doncaster’s CTA. Over Gainsbrough I contacted Humberside Radar for a basic service, set the transponder to the code they gave me and tracked back towards Brigg, the Brigg power station providing a convenient reference point on the horizon and being directly under the track. This time I managed to maintain a nice straight track all the way back, I was rather pleased with myself.

With the route completed I descended to 1500ft at the northern side of Brigg (tracking towards Elsham) and contacted Humberside radar to let them know I wanted to land. A normal right base entry and approach, given the headwind I was instructed by John to use no more than 10 degrees of flap, a nice landing considering the developing blustery conditions. Had the weather been good John would have sent me on my way to do the trip solo this afternoon, sadly that will have to wait until next week (as long as the weather is happy to let me that is).

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Sat Dec 19, 2015 12:14 pm

Flying Lesson 32: Cross Country Navigation 5. 18th of December 2015.

Yet again the weather was kind to me and I was able to go flying. This lesson was a repeat of the last one; Humberside to Gamston (via Brigg) and back, only this time I was doing it solo, my first ever solo land away at another airport. As before flight planning was done at the flying club (any alterations to the return leg due to weather changes would be made at Gamston), as before calculate the heading to fly on based on the desired track, taking into account wind drift and magnetic variation. I called the tower and booked out for a land away before heading out to the aircraft.

As this was the first flight of the day for PJ I complete the full A-checks before getting going, the windscreen needs a wipe over as it is covered in morning dew. The morning dew and probably the remainder of last night’s rain on the ailerons; mostly down my sleeves...never mind, time to get going. I take a quick photo before I board the aircraft with the flaps still down at 40 degrees and the door open.

Internal checks complete, three good shots of fuel into the manifold from the primer and PJ bursts into life, settling into her usual smooth idle, I pull the cabin heat on so it gets to work on the windscreen (the heater takes its heat from the exhaust manifold so its instantly warm and takes no heat from the engine whilst it warms up). I occasionally pull the carb heat whilst she is warming up to prevent carb icing. With the engine warmed and the pre-taxy checks complete, I get the ATIS information and call the tower for taxi clearance. I am soon on my way to holding point bravo where I perform the pre-take off power checks and vital actions checks required before take-off. With those checks complete I call ready for departure.

Take off clearance given I taxy to the runway and line up on the centre line. A quick pull on the carb heat to make sure the carb is clear of ice, transponder on mode charlie (transmitting altitude information), directional indicator aligned with the compass. Heels on the floor toes on the rudder pedals, full power, hold her straight as she begins to accelerate, air speed alive (indicating an airspeed and accelerating) temps and pressures (Ts & Ps) good and in the green, speed 55 knots, rotate (raise the nose). The wheels come off the ground, hold the nose down as she accelerates in ground effect and ease her into a climb. Trim for 65 knots, around 500 feet per minute and right turn out away from the runway at 500ft.

The turbulence begins to clear as I climb past 1000ft towards my target altitude of 2000ft, I weave every 500ft I climb to check for traffic under the nose. I get warned of an incoming Cessna 150, a few hundred feet above me, I eventually catch sight of him as he passes by my starboard (right) side a fair distance away.

As before the route down to Gamston would begin overhead Brigg town centre. I’m north east of Brigg at this point level at 2000ft, given the wind gusts I’ll keep a close eye on my altitude as its going to want to go up and down a little as well as push me off course. I turn onto the required heading and fly towards Brigg, I complete the FREDA check (see previous posts) and as soon as I am overhead the town centre I re-set the stop watch. Hibaldstow is not active today but I am clear of it by a good couple of miles anyway, still nice to be told that nothing is going on.

Kirton-In-Lindsey was my 1/4 distance check, I was slightly behind my estimated time (one and a half minutes), the wind was due to pick up through the morning. Make a note and continue (on a longer flight fuel burn against a headwind would be a serious consideration). Again I was using the West Burton power station as a steer point. I was three minutes behind at the halfway point, consistent with the minute and a half behind at the quarter distance point. Overhead Gainsbrough I swapped over to Gamston radio and got in touch for joining instructions. I hit the VFR button on the transponder setting it automatically to the general conspicuity code of 7000 and descend to 1,500ft so that I don’t risk entering Doncaster’s CTA.

The wind was directly up and down the runway at Gamston which incidentally was quite busy today but my arrival seemed nicely timed and I got in before an aircraft doing circuits called downwind. I went in with 10 degrees of flap rather than 20 as the headwind was over 10 knots avoiding the hamlet that is under the approach path into runway two one for noise abatement. A nice bounce free landing following me parking in roughly the same place as I did last week, the landing fee paid at the tower (£15, no Christmas specials ;) ) and I was ready to get going again.

Same drill as always; transit check to ensure nothing has fallen off, start up and taxy to the holding point for power checks and vital action checks. With the traffic that was around earlier either on the ground or away from the airfield I could back track and depart from runway two one with no delays.

I extended the climb out before turning crosswind to avoid overflying Elkesley and then right downwind whilst climbing before turning onto heading. I re-set the stop watch and make a note of the start time and estimated arrival time on my nav plog. FREDA check completed and keeping the West Burton power station to the right of the nose I leave the circuit. The flight back to Humberside was going to be quick due to the strong tail wind. Once I was level with West Burton power station I throttled up and climbed to 2000ft, as I was going to be well clear of the Doncaster CTA, no risk of an incursion into their airspace and the subsequent telling off from the CAA.

I called into Humberside radar overhead Gainsbrough for a basic service, set the transponder to the code they gave me and tracked back towards Brigg. On the approach to brigg a small cloud bank in front of me forced an earlier than planned descent to get below it, it was such a small bank of cloud that by the time I had established my base leg I’d passed under it. I decided to go for a flapless approach and landing, and it went really nicely, on the numbers and on the centreline, no bounce - lovely. I parked the aircraft on the Southern apron at the behest of air traffic as the fuel tanker was on its way.

The next flight (looking at the 7 day forecast will be after Christmas and the new-year) will be my dual cross country. I may do a separate post about planning that one as it is a long flight.

I find it incredible how far I have come with my flying, from that first trial flight through to that sweaty palmed first solo circuit and now my first solo land away, coupled with the completion of the theory study (as far as the exams are concerned anyway), it is a great feeling.

PJ, parked just after the A Checks.
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PJ, parked after transit checks at Gamston.
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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:45 pm

Flying Lesson 33: Low Level Unplanned Diversions. 21st of December 2015.

As the weather was going to be rather unpleasant later in the day the planned long cross country was cancelled. However, we did have a weather window during the morning so the lesson that normally fits in-between the dual cross country and the solo qualifying cross country was the ideal candidate for today. The plan was simple; take off from Humberside (the wind though strong and quite gusty was directly in line with the runway) climb to 600ft MSL (above sea level) and track to North Moor, John would give me directions from there.

A checks complete I taxy us to holding point bravo on runway two one for the pre-take off power and vital actions checks. Those complete, the KLM flight on its way back to Amsterdam, and an arriving Cessna 172 off the runway we are cleared for take-off, the wind gusts make themselves known as we climb away from the airfield, as normal we turn out from the airfield at 500ft MSL onto heading and then level off at 600ft. The half way point is just to the west of Brigg, knowing that I can estimate the time it will take to get overhead North Moor. Just before we get to North Moor John takes the map and marks on the next waypoint; Hemswell. The M180 is a good line to follow as it runs straight past North Moor. The aircraft is bouncing around a bit in the low level winds, still the Cessna 150 handles it well, I just have to remember not to reply to every lump and bump with a control input.

Looking at the map I turn onto an approximate heading and hit the stop watch. I now measure the heading a little more accurately on the map (I have a small plotter – useful thing) and work out the heading, as the wind is 45 degrees to the nose I use half of the calculated drift angle and then add two degrees for the magnetic variation (if the wind is directly side on we use all of it). A half way mark on the plot line is used to work out time to Hemswell. Once over Hemswell (former RAF base, though none of the runways are there now the buildings and Hangars remain) the stop watch is re-set and I steer towards the next waypoint; Market Raisen racecourse.

The wind side on this time so the full calculated drift value is used plus two degrees for the magnetic variation, the flight to Market Raisen is uneventful, though I have to use the carb heat quite a bit to keep the engine running smoothly. I start to climb as we near our next steer point as there is high ground east of Market Raisen; and I don’t quite fancy clipping the trees on it. John marks the next place on the map, Waltham, former RAF Waltham the half way point being clear on this leg, former RAF Binbrook*, half the wind drift plus two degrees, Waltham is almost devoid of buildings and I actually miss it initially, a 180 degree turn and there it is on the nose.

The next steer point is Humberside Airport; full wind drift angle, plus two degrees and steer for home (back down at 600ft as the high ground is south of us). I soon pick out the quarry near to the airport (and then the Elsham Wolds mast) and hold that as a steer point. I inform Humberside Radar of my intentions and I take us back for a left base entry to runway two zero. Back on the tower frequency I am cleared to land, though given the headwind I use no flap and carry a bit of excess speed (the runway is long enough) and fly a cruise descent all the way down, she floats a bit and a bounce (my first one for a while) before touching down.

* It is truly fascinating as to just how many former RAF bases (mostly bomber command) are in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:55 pm

Flying Lesson 34: Cross Country Navigation 6. 15th of January 2016.

Wow, I couldn’t believe how nice the weather was today. It remained cloud free but chilly all day, with a light north easterly wind, that meant that I could get my dual long cross country done.

The day started with a cloudy and chilly Friday morning at Humberside. John went to move PJ onto the southern apron to be fuelled up ready for the flight, we would need the tanks filled to the brim to make sure we were carrying an adequate reserve and I got down to finishing my route plan. I say finishing because the map was already marked up from before Christmas when I had hoped to do this flight and I had already filled in my navigation plog with altitudes, headings and distances. First things first get the wind for the first flight; Humberside to Leicester so that I could calculate the on route times and the headings I’d need to steer to stay on course. The route start point is Brigg, from there we route to Gainsborough and from there south to Melton Mowbray and the final turn heading south west takes us unto Leicester. This route keeps us out of the CTA for Doncaster, East midlands and of course over to the right of Hibaldstow and to the left of Langar making sure we are clear of any parachute activities. I highlighted some of the taller obstacles (TV masts) with a red circle on the map.

We headed out to the aircraft after a brief chat, John took care of the fuel sampling and oil checks to speed the pre flight check process up, shortly after PJ was warming through ready for taxy and run up checks. With the run up checks complete it wasn’t long before we were lined up on runway two six cleared for takeoff I eased PJ into the crisp January air. Cool dense air is good for engine performance, the little Continental O-200 feels much stronger in air like this than it does in summer; today was a cracking day to go flying. I climbed straight out so that I would be just north of Brigg when I turned onto heading. It’s good to be back in the air again :)

On heading I started the stopwatch over Brigg town centre, the flight towards Gainsborough was uneventful; the cool winter air and cold ground below meant that warm air related turbulence was restricted to built up areas. The danger area at RAF Scampton was active today and from our lofty perch it was easy to see why. In the distance and slightly below us two trails of white smoke from a pair of Red Arrows Hawk jets practicing for the 2016 air show season. The leg took 9 minutes to complete and once overhead Gainsborough I turned the aircraft south to pick up the track towards Melton Mowbray. Humberside Radar being helpful handed me over to Waddington Radar, so no need to give all my details over the airwaves to Waddington, just change the transponder frequency and call them. The route south to the next turning point ran parallel with the river Trent as far as Newark, which conveniently also served as the half way point for this leg. I was advised of parachute activity at Langar and as the route took us on the fringe of their airspace I steered left a few degrees to make sure we were clear. The Waltham TV transmitter also to our left, though we were several miles clear of that.

Once overhead Melton Mowbray, the leg taking 22 minutes I turned the aircraft towards Leicester and moved onto the Leicester radio frequency to get the airfield details to facilitate our arrival. The wind direction meant that we were going to be using runway three-three, a shorter narrower runway than I was used to using, though not short enough to need full flap, 20 degrees would do.

The landing was uneventful and I touched down just past the numbers and taxyed to the parking area. After paying my landing fee we headed up to the club room and ordered a bacon and egg sarnie and a coffee apiece and sat down to discuss the flight and plan the next leg across to Peterborough Conington.

We departed Leicester for Peterborough Conington on runway three-three, the wind had not moved around at all and departed into the traffic pattern to the left, today helicopters were right hand circuits and fixed wing left hand circuits. As we swung back over the airfield at 1000ft AGL (Above Ground Level) I re-set the stop watch and continued climbing to the cruise altitude of 2000ft. The Eyebrook Resevoir in the distance provided a nice initial steer point for this leg, which would only take around 20 minutes at cruise altitude. RAF Wittering isn’t there as an active military airfield anymore so we didn’t need to call them for a basic service or any MATZ clearances (we would be just clipping the edge of the MATZ if it were still active), Rockingham Motor Speedway passed by on our right a handy point for the (roughly) half way point on this leg. It looks like nothing more than a go-kart track from this altitude. There are plenty of land marks on this leg to keep you on course, numerous wind farms in the distance for example. Oundle was our three quarter way point for this leg, and by this time Peterborough Conington was in sight. I put my call in on the radio so that they knew I was coming and that I could get the airfield information, a slight crosswind on this landing given the wind direction.

My landing was less than stellar, I managed to mess up the kick straight and I also managed to bounce her – oops. My downwind leg was also a little longer than it should have been which meant I was a little bit low. Bit of a cock up really and I felt like one to be honest. Anyway that would be discussed later. We headed into the bar/cafe at Peterborough Conington and paid the landing fee. We found a table, discussed the flight and planned the route back to Humberside.

The route to Humberside would take us overhead RAF Coningsby, as long as they grant us clearance through their MATZ that is. We departed Peterborough Conington and I turned right out of the end of the runway at 500ft MSL. It wasn’t long before we had reached 2000ft (four minutes to be exact) and I levelled off. With RAF Wittering not being there anymore we proceeded north, maintaining a listening watch on the zone frequency listed in Pooleys 2016 guide, no response to my initial call to I carried on. The Deeping Fen wind farm was a good steer point as it was just south of our halfway point which is abeam Spalding. Once at Spalding I got my radio call in to Coningsby so they knew who we were and that we wanted to fly over and on to Humberside. We cruised over the top of Coningsby, Typhoons and E3 Sentries parked on the pan below us, I changed heading and hit the stop watch, my last on route heading change for the day. The visibility today was excellent; John estimated it would be something like 25 nautical miles and it wasn’t long before the Brigg power station and the smoke/steam from the quarry near Humberside were visible.

I changed over to Humberside Radar abeam the Belmont TV transmitter who gave me the OK for a left base approach to runway two six. It wasn’t long before I was handed over to Humberside Tower, a quick check of the ATIS beforehand to double check the wind and information for the airport and we request left base entry onto runway two six. I start letting down, a little early, so I have to apply a bit of power to maintain a lower rate of descent until I can throttle back again. The pre-landing checks are carried out and I turn from base onto final, flaps 20, cleared to land, a fairly uneventful landing, and taxi back to parking. The amount of power and speed needed on the grass parking area was staggering, the amount of rain we have had in the area over the past month has made the ground rather soggy.

After a debrief over a brew, John has given me the all clear to do the flight on my own – so the next flight I do will be my qualifying cross country.

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Re: Learning to Fly

Postby mattmoxon » Mon Feb 01, 2016 12:44 pm

Well I'm still waiting, the weather has been less than favorable on all the days when I have had a slot :x

The problem is now having not flown for three weeks if I don't go this week I will have to think about trying to squeeze in a session of circuits to keep myself sharp. I have the aircraft booked all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week in the vain hope that I might actually get to do my QXC this side of June.


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