At the Controls Again

It’s been quite a long time I did not fly: my previous flight was in Warsaw in October. I was studying ATPL subjects since then and did not practise at all.

Today I made a flight to renew my SEP (Single Engine Piston) VFR rating. We used Cessna 152, and I remembered the feeling of acceleration with 2 people on board on a grass runway – it seemed way too slow.

The weather was not perfect, but nothing critical, so we performed all required maneuvers. It’s so good to feel the flight controls again!

The bird
The weather does not look so good

ATPL Theory is done

Finally the EASA ATPL theoretical course is done and I got a certificate of completion. I can take exams in the CAA with this document.

The course was really tough. 4 months is definitely not enough without any prior knowledge, but even with some preparation it’s challenging. I took tests every day except Mondays, and I was studying about 7-8 hours per day. It was a nightmare.

From the other hand, I completed everything in less than 5 months: 4 months of online studies and 2 weeks in class. But, again, I already had some prior knowledge.

I was making some notes (actually I am still doing that), sort of condensed knowledge for each subject. Basically it’s some numbers and facts for a quick checkup before the exams. I have no more than 3-4 A4 pages for each subject, so it’s not a big deal to go through them in some minutes. I am adding some info to this website too, but I don’t have enough time for that.

ATPL Theory

It’s been a while I did not make an update, but I am still on the way to my first pilot job.

From January 2019 I am studying EASA ATPL theory subjects in a Polish flight school. Actually the online part is already finished (in April 2019), and it was very tough: you really need to study for about 7-8 hours per day to make it happen. I still did not quit my main job, so it was even worse for me. I was sleeping for about 6 hours per day on weekdays.

I had a test every day except Monday and an exam every 2 days. They are very similar, but the exam covers more topics than a test. They are all multiple choice questions.

I had a sort of day-off on Monday (the only day in a week without tests), but actually I used it to study.

Each test contains 30 questions, and the time limit is 50 minutes. It’s barely enough for General Navigation and Performance, but for other subjects it’s OK. Sometimes I needed only about 10 minutes (for example, most of Air Law questions require only knowledge).

Sometimes I submitted my result literally within the last minute (fortunately only a few times). Bu finally I made it! I made it all, and I succeeded! I can’t believe it!

Now the offline part is going on. That part lasts 2 weeks (70 hours). Every day I have offline classes in Poland.

EASA theory exams can be taken in any EASA member state. With some preparations it’s true for practical exams as well. I have 2 obvious options: Poland and Czech Republic. I prefer Czech Republic – there is less bureaucracy there, and it’s just better to fly. There are much more schools and instructors, more aerodromes, more English-speaking ATS, more aircrafts available. Czech aeronautical online services are also much better than Polish ones.

What’s next? I am going to obtain the EASA IR and CPL. And now I need to obtain a medical, renew my SEP (Single Engine Piston) rating and pass theoretical ATPL exams. Then probably MCC (Multi-Crew Cooperation) and JOC (Jet Orientation Course) – they are required for airlines. If I have some free time and money, it would be fun to get an EASA SES (Single Engine Sea).

As a result I will have standalone FAA and EASA commercial licenses. Hopefully it increase my value as a potential candidate.

And what’s now? I am going to fly, of course! It’s the greatest part of all this stuff!

Free Flight

The blog is still alive, as like the idea ๐Ÿ™‚

Last week I traveled to Prague. It was not related to my aviation progress, but I did not want to miss the opportunity to fly while being in Europe, so I tried to find an airplane. Unfortunately I had a very tight schedule, and it did not happen.

I had a day in Warsaw though, thus I signed up for ATPL theory course there. It is a distant learning with just 2 weeks on site. I signed the papers, and now I am waiting for the Polish CAA approval.

At the aerodrome I realized that I still have some time, and there are some planes available ๐Ÿ™‚ I tried to hire a plane, but did not succeed. Neither Ventum Air nor Salt Aviation could help me with that. When I had almost lost my hope I spotted a small building with the label “Runway Pilot School”. I entered there and asked for a plane, and voila! They provided both an airplane and a safety pilot in some minutes!

I got a nice Cessna 172, but it was a fuel injection modification with 180hp engine. It has fuel pumps, and does not have carb heater. It climbs faster than I used to in C172, and it flies nicely ๐Ÿ™‚

One more flight hour, and my first flight in Poland!

Priorities Update: FAA CPL

It looks like I have to change my priorities compared to my December plan.

Currently I have to stay in Moscow due to my job, so I am not flying now. Meanwhile, it is becoming some more difficult to obtain the US visas, and risks of not getting F1 at all are becoming pretty high. So it is safer to obtain my FAA CPL now, using my M1 visa, and postpone (or even abandon at all) CFI/CFII/MEI programs. Anyway FAA CFI(I) license is useless anywhere out of the US.

I need about 100 more flight hours total time for meeting CPL minimums, including about 15 complex hours (retractable gear, constant-speed prop, flaps) and 2 night hours. It is not so much, and with a proper dedication it’s doable in two months. I am pretty well prepared for a written test, so I can fully utilize my free time for flying.

I contacted some Polish flight school for the ATPL theory classes, and they have a program starting this October. That perfectly aligns with my current schedule!

So, my new plan is the following:

  • FAA CPL under M1-visa before the end of this summer;
  • EASA ATPL theory before spring 2019;
  • EASA IR after passing ATPL theory exams;
  • EASA CPL after obtaining the EASA IR.

Of course, I will try to find a job just after getting my FAA CPL, but it seems highly unlikely for a brand new pilot with a FAA license who is not a US resident. I knew that even before start. But currently it’s better to concentrate on getting my license than on thinking about far future: I will think about it later. Our life is challenging, and flying is fun just the way it is ๐Ÿ™‚

First Class Medical

Today I got my first class medical certificate. For pilots there are two classes in Europe: the first one is the highest, and without it one cannot work as pilot. Before that I had the second one because it is cheaper and totally enough for a private pilot certificate (which one I have now).

Initial first class medical usually should be taken only in a hospital. Then it’s possible to go to aeromedical examiner (some doctor approved by the CAA). I’ve never had that certificate, so the only option was a hospital.

There is only one approved hospital for that in Czech Republic. I made a call, and it turned out that the earliest date when I can do that is August, 14. I supposed to be in Moscow that time, so I started my small research where I else I can get my medical. The closest options were Austria, Poland and Hungary.

I chose Poland. They were ready to make the examination without booking in advance, the price was about 150 euros, and Warsaw is on my way home. For example, in Austria you should pay around 500 euros.

There were no queues, the doctors are nice and professional, and the whole thing took about 4 hours. The result was ready at the same day.

Almost all doctors were not speaking neither English nor Russian. The only doctors who spoke English were the ophthalmologist and the therapist, but anyone else spoke slow and clear in Polish so I could understand them pretty well. For all procedures they also provided instructions in English, so I did not have any problem at all. Now I have an impression that I could learn Polish with a very little effort if I want, it seems very familiar to Russian.

So now I know that I am fit, and it’s really great: I can continue my studies to achieve a higher level!

Strong Winds

I supposed to fly early in the morning, but it did not happen: the airplane did not have enough fuel, and the fuel service is usually available only in the afternoon. Anyway I needed some more sleep.

I took off in the afternoon. During the flight I noticed that the ground speed is way less that the airspeed. It means that I had a strong headwind, which means that I would fly faster on my way back. Today I chose a direct route from one point to another.

I found one more abandoned aerodrome on my way and made some photos.

The wind was strong, but there were not so much crosswind and no gusts as well, so the landing was smooth.

Today was really hot. I suppose that it was up to 40 degrees celsius in a sunny areas, so I experienced a longer takeoff run and a slower climb: hot air really affects the airplane performance.

On the way back I landed on some airfield where I owed a landing fee previous time, and finally paid it today. I felt some gusts, so it was safer to approach with a higher speed: the airplane was more stable.

When I returned to the home base the wind became almost calm, and the landing was very easy and smooth. Very nice flight!

Circle Around Prague

Every pilot should have some minimum flight time before taking an exam. For the modular commercial pilot program in Europe it should be 200 hours (total time). Now I am continuing gaining these flight hours.

Today I decided to go to the North-West where I found a nice aerodrome with a concrete runway. I already mentioned that I like them some more than grass runways.

It was supposed to be a sort of circle: to the West of Prague on the way forward and to the East on the way back. It’s more interesting, and the route distance is almost the same.

I am still a little nervous about controlled airspaces and talking with ATC, so it’s better to avoid crowded CTRs for now and practice somewhere else, for example, in Karlovy Vary.

In summer there are usually some thunderstorms around. I found one cell to the west of my route, but not so close to be dangerous, so I just took some photos.

Czech is really beautiful for sightseeing, especially from the air. I photographed a nice golf-club and an old windmill on the route.

I used to empty aerodromes. Small aerodromes in Czech are usually uncontrolled, and nobody is there, especially after 6 pm. Today it was different, and somebody answered on the radio. I was some unexpected communications practice ๐Ÿ™‚

On the way back some clouds started to form. Not the turbulent ones, but it is still not so good if they are low. Of course I checked the weather before departure, and nothing seemed wrong, but it’s always better to check one more time if needed. I asked the controller, and he confirmed that nothing special is expected enroute, which was really good, because I am not allowed to fly at night yet. If the weather becomes bad, I could get stuck until morning.

I landed about an hour before twilight. One more outstanding day!

Sorry for the rubbish on the windshield ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m A Little Black Rain Cloud, of course

I’m just a little white rain cloud
Hovering under the honey tree
I’m only a little black rain cloud
Pay no attention to me…

Sometimes the weather does not want to cooperate at all. Today one of these rain clouds just did not allow me to not pay attention.

The clouds are gorgeous, but they can be scary. Particularly this one looks not so dangerous, but in reality it is huge and very turbulent. I was thinking about circumnavigating it, but it would require flying almost half of the country, so I decided to go back. Anyway now I am flying just for sightseeing and meeting necessary flight time minimums, so it does not matter a lot where to fly.

Today I had a chance to overfly a very beautiful landscape. Sometimes flights over that area are restricted, but today it was not a case, and I made some beautiful photos.

The clouds were forming very beautiful patterns. There were mainly cumulus clouds because of high thermal activity – usually cumulus are the most beautiful but the most dangerous clouds.

According to the weather forecast for today something huge, scary and dangerous was expected from the west in the afternoon, so I decided to return to the home base before it would come there.

In the sky the power of nature can be felt much better. It is something really powerful, real and beautiful, and sometimes you feel like a child facing these primeval, savage forces. And they are still charming and marvelous.

Pilot’s Holidays

I don’t work on holidays, and it means that I can fly more. Or at least I can work less if the weather does not allow to fly.

Today the weather is good, so I can practice my landings. More landings are better for gaining skills, and different aerodromes also help in that.

For now the most challenging part is crosswind landings, and I am going to master them. Bumpy weather cooperates to gaining better skills. And, of course, relaxed en-route part between the aerodromes.

I made some photos today. Who can say what’s on the first one? It’s some training site for horseriders (or horses, I cannot say for sure). It took some time to realize that ๐Ÿ™‚