Clouds and Landings

Today the flight is especially beautiful.

Previously the sky was clear, no any clouds. In a sunny day everything is blue and homogenious. Today it is totally different: one can see clouds of a various sizes and shapes. Initially it is a little bit scary, because in reality these cute fluffy innocuous things are very dangerous. One can see nothing inside them, but it is not the worst… Just imagine a boiling kettle. And now imagine that you are inside. OK, you wear a thermal protected clothes, but you are still inside. And you are dashed in random directions with random speeds, and can easily hit the walls of the floor. But I have to admit, the clouds are still very beautiful.

After some time I realized how to avoid them, and it becomes a bit easier. And, of course, more interesting. But time and distance estimation is harder.

We started to make the first traffic patterns and landings. I know the theory, but I have no real experience. When the Earth becomes closer, the tension is increasing: I have plenty of time when I am in the air, but I have almost no time when I am close to the Earth. And our planet is very firm. Previously I did not notice that 🙂

Necessity

A summary of my day: I got my medical certificate, and passed ICAO English. I am happy! =)

So, here are some explanations. Everybody has to be healthy to fly. It means that one should pass a medical. There are three types of certificates. From the most strict to less: the first class (the most strict and expensive) for commercial and airline pilots, the second class for private pilots and the third class for air traffic controllers (and, possibly, light sport airplane pilots, I don’t remember it exactly).

The first class can be obtained only in a special clinic (for example, there is only one in Czech Republic, or about three in Poland). The second and the third one is available from designated doctors with special accreditation. At least in Czech Republic the first class medical requires booking an appointment in advance, at least before two weeks. And the price is pretty high. The second class is faster and way cheaper. So, for now I decided to make the second one.

The inspection is thorough, but relatively fast: about an hour for everything. And now I have the document.

Some time later I discovered that I can do the first class in Poland. It is available just as a walk-in, and somewhat cheaper than in Czech. There are all inspections including spirometry, blood analysis etc., and the whole time is more than two hours. It is a bit strange: every country has its own regulations, procedures and prices, even though it is an EASA…

ICAO English is simple. If you can read, speak and understand English, and don’t have any problems with PPL theory (mainly terminology), everything is easy. I don’t say something new: there are tons of books, videos and offline classes. Possibly it requires some practice for fast understanding ATIS/AWOS, but nothing special. Anyway, I have less upcoming paperwork now 🙂

Stalls

There is the second day. I am flying with a B737 pilot. A very positive person with normal English. Much simpler.

Today I was going to mount my action camera for better analyzing my errors and having a simpler progress monitoring. I even brought a box with it to the airport. But that box was empty… I forgot to put the camera there. 🙂

At least I understood that I have to look outside, not only at the instruments. Everything became simpler. The airplane flies where you look. Like a hang-glider. Of course, I am still slightly scared and nervous, and I fly very strange S-like paths (both horizontal and vertical profiles), but it is becoming better than yesterday.

The most interesting thing for today: minimum speed flight, and stall with recovery. Minimum speed flight is relatively simple. The airplane is somewhat more unstable, and thermal turbulence is felt some more, but nothing special. But stalls…

Gaining safe altitude. Setting throttle to idle, trying to hold an altitude. Speed is falling, the stall warning is screaming,and I feel some bumping… Yuhooo! The first time it is really scary. A roller coaster is nothing compared to that. Next time it is better. And better. And better. But it is still not very comfortable when the airplane stops flying and starts falling.

Today I realized that it was a really good idea to start studying theory some time ago, because I have a written test in the end of April. So, it is like in the university during my sessions 🙂

My First Flight

So, there was my first flight today. Of course, it was with an instructor. Everything is totally new, unfamiliar and interesting! Now I understand that it is really very hard to maintain altitude, direction and engine RPM and simultaneously look around to see what’s happening. I actively drive more than ten years, and I used to two dimensions, when it is enough to maintain proper speed and direction 🙂

I am not telling about take off and landing: I perfectly understand the importance of altitude, and it is much more comfortable for me when there is at least 600 feet to the ground. Occasionally when I catch some upside thermal flow, my mind becomes very happy, and only some seconds after I understand that we HAVE and ENGINE, we can go up without thermal flows. Maintain altitude!

As a result, I have my first flight hour in my logbook, my mind is full of new impressions, and I am pretty sure that my decision was right: after 10+ years driving (I was driving almost every day) I am still happy with it, and I am extremely happy flying in an airplane as a passenger. And finally I got both: I am a pilot!