Sunday, 29 November 2009

Familiarisation flight and Night Rating

This is getting quite hard with 35h of lectures per week, and the night rating at the same time, and the exams coming up in just over a month. But hey, I'm really loving it, it is just so great to fly again !

So yesterday, we went for a familiarisation flight on the Piper PA28-161, under the callsign Blackadder 26. Fourteen months seen my last flight as a pilot in command, what a feeling to be in control of a plane again ! I did pretty well, but my R/T in english was terrible. Not easy when you've been doing this in another language for several years. New aircraft, new airport (I didn't know until yesterday the airport layout, the taxiways, procedures and such), and new way of flying. And that might be in fact the most surprising bit, flying with a flying club, and flying with a flight school is just totally different. You've got to be accurate, precise, ahead of your aircraft at all times, and the checklists are 3 or 4 times larger.

"Blackadder 26, Bournemouth Approach, Standard Sandbanks departure VFR, 1800 feet". I really have to work on my R/T in order to fly solo in a couple of days (could be wenesday if things go well).
We did some engine failures yesterday, went over the 4 VRPs around the airfield, the landing was ok, and I was very very happy.

I just really have to remember that Pre-Landing Check :

B - Brakes off
U - U/C down and locked (fixed on the PA28-161)
M - Mixture, Master, Mags - Full rich, On, Both
P - Pitch Prop (fixed on the PA28-161)
F - Flaps (0-25° on the base leg here)
F - Fuel - On and sufficient
A - Alternate Air - A/R (as required)
I - Instruments, Engine Ts + Ps, Altimeters set
H - Harnesses
H - Hatches
L - Landing lights - On
A - Air Conditioning - Off

And the frequencies (tower : 125.6 , app/rad 119.475 , Atis 133.725, ILS/DME 110.50, NDB 339, ...).

Tonight was my very first flight at night, and it also was my very first time flying in clouds ! We took off on runway 26, standard special VFR (we are sVFR within the controlled airspace, IFR outside) departure via Sandbanks (track on the South-West). We did some general handling over the sea, and went into clouds (not really on purpose, but there were clouds everywhere). 180° turns in clouds, climbing and descending turns on instruments (all Rate 1 turns at night), etc ...
That was just awesome, this is such a feeling to fly at night, in clouds, on instruments !!!!

1h flying, and then back to Bournemouth EGHH, missed approach on rwy 26 to get an idea of the low and high glide slopes, right hand circuit and a full stop landing.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Trip to the Air Traffic Control Tower

With the Progress Tests taking place this week, I haven't much time to update my blog.
We already had 3 mock exams last thursday, and I'm rather happy with my results. I got 75% in HP&L (Human Performance and Limitations, probably the most boring subject), 81% in PoF (Principles of Flight) and 95% in Performances. Still four to go, with Meteoroly and Ops being quite tough, I'm not gonna sleep much in the next few days.

Anyway, BCFT organised a trip to the control tower this morning, and although I don't really like getting up early on a sunday morning, I was quite excited about it. We had to walk from the Terminal building to the ATC through a very heavy pouring rain, arrived all wet and finally made it into the control tower.

We had a chat with the controlers, the "pilots' eyes". Usually we don't talk much about them but they really do an amazing job. It's great to see the other side of the radio equipment we talk through. They now have a touchscreen equipment that came with the lighting system, where they can easily select for example runway edge lights only. Runway 26 has been fitted with a CALVERT approach lighting system, it appears on the touchscreen map and in a click you can turn it on.

And what an awesome view despite the tower being quite short. A Monarch B757 took off just 200 yards away and we were sitting at one of the best places to watch those birds flying ...

We then went down to the approach room which was just beneath us.
They also have an impressive piece of equipment there.

They receive instant meteorological information, METARs and TAFs, they can display all the SID and STAR procedures for each runway, instant wind, max wind, average 10 minutes wind and all kinds of relevant stuff for controlers and pilots, along with of course several radar screens where you can follow the pattern of any aircraft over the UK.