Bartow

Today I succeed in my efforts of trying to wake up early in the weekend. Actually it is a good reason to do it: much more chances to fly cross-country wherever you want before thunderstorm activity. Today I am going to Bartow. It is an airport on the South-East, about 70 miles. Close enough to have a breakfast and go back before significant weather activity. Today it is a typical Florida summer day near the Gulf of Mexico: after about 11 am South is closed by some thunderstorms lines or at least isolated thunderstorms. So, I am going to Bartow. Controlled airport, class D. I can practice my communications. I checked tower working hours, and everything seems OK. With that weather and my working hours I fly to the South-East not very frequently.

I decided to ask for a flight following: good practice for IFR flight communications (of course, not exactly, but close enough). And it is a good idea to get a traffic information in that area. Climbing to 5500. The air is calm and cool. Perfect in summer. No clouds, so nothing prevents me to climb to that altitude.

15 miles to the destination. ASOS. Weather, runway in use. “The restaurant is closed”. Oh, it seems that I have no breakfast today.

Landing, vacating the runway. I am asking taxiing to the FBO. Taxiing to something that I supposed to be the FBO, but… “N7692U, FBO is in another direction!”. “Request progressive taxi…” How can I know that the FBO is the small building with a 4-plane parking? I thought that it is a group of hangars and 100-plane parking nearby… No signs in the airport, no marks on the airport diagram. BTW, thank you very much for understanding!

The airport is a cozy place. Interesting small museum, free coffee. Friendly tower controller 😉

So, it’s time to go back. The weather still looks good, the coffee is done.

On the way back I decided to ask for a flight following again: there are some clouds on the way, and it is a good idea to have traffic advisories. I fly non-IFR airplane, and possibly I even cannot go direct. In that case flight following can be a good advantage.

I requested 4500, but the controller asked me for 3500. OK, why not. After some time I have been seeing clouds straight ahead. OK, asking 4500. Clouds are still somewhere in front of me and getting closer. 6500. No way, still below the tops somewhere in front of me. Damn, I supposed that tops should be at about 4000-5000! I have absolutely no wish to try to go through that labyrinth. So, I should either try to go higher, or descend and proceed below them. OK, descending back to the summer hot. I cannot continue direct, I don’t want to go back, so making 360. 6000, 5000, 4000, 3000. Still a little bit above the cloud base. 2000. OK, at least here I am well below. I can proceed to my destination, and it is easy to find a labyrinth path when you are below it.

After about 10 miles the clouds become scattered to few. Oh, every day in that place I can see almost the same. Two more hours, and there will be thunderstorms here. But now it is still good.

What a nice weekend! =)

Lakes and Mountains

I always wanted to see the mountains and lakes near the Austrian border. It really worths to see them, they are incredible. The problem is that you should climb pretty high, up to 6000 feet, but today’s weather allowed to do it.

I bet that glider pilots would be jealous about my flight today. There were very wide and strong thermal flows, that weather is ideal for gliders. Even in Cessna I could turn a little bit and get +200 feet without any power change. I wonder whether it is possible to stay in that flow in Cessna, probably it is, but of course I did not check it 🙂

One more impression for me today. In the pattern at České Budějovice I was the second after a small jet. Actually it’s the first time when I see a jet flying out of a large international airport.

I saw incredible landscapes today. I cannot find proper words to describe them, so I am just attaching some photos. Sorry for my camera, some day I will replace it.

The Clouds

Today I planned a long flight across the country. I literally wanted to fly almost half of Czech Republic. The weather was not so bad, and I headed to the East.

The significant part of the route laid in controlled airspace, therefore my workload was higher than usual. I’m still not used to talking to ATC so much.

At some moment the cloulds moved lower, and it became really dangerous to fly below them because of the terrain, the margin was not so high. There were still some VMC corridors to climb, and I asked the ATC to climb to 5000 above the cloud layer. The weather about 20 nm to the East seemed much better, so I just needed to overfly that layer. Neither the online wx radar nor ATC observed any thunderstorms, so it should be pretty much safe. After overflying the hills I finally found a VMC corridor to descend below a cloud layer: it was more than 3000 AGL there. The rest of the flight was pretty calm.

Vysoke Myto has three runways, one of them is paved (asphalt). The aerodrome also has runway and taxiway lights and some hangars nearby. However, there was nobody there. I didn’t see a single person. Neither on the frequency, nor at the hangars. Complete silence.

On the way back I came across one more abandoned military aerodrome with a perfect wide concrete runway. It looked like a precise copy of my home base (LKLN), even the hangar looked the same. I saw a stage and some temporary buildings, probably it was some openair. Of course I did not land, I just overflew the runway.

It’s always better to practice more, so I made 7 landings on different aerodromes on the way back 🙂

Clouds and Chicken

The morning weather was not cooperating, and I supposed that my flight would not happen. At about 10 am the clouds started to dissipate though, and the weather briefing did not show any thunderstorm in a reasonable time, so it seemed that we could takeoff!

Today our route was to the South-East. There is a very interesting aerodrome with a grass runway, Stankovice, and haven’t flown there yet.

On the direct route I saw some low clouds. I am still not instrument-rated, so the only option I had was to find another route with sufficient visibility. I tried to go to the South, and it worked. Visibility was perfect there, and after some miles I found a very comfortable wide corridor to the East.

I used to empty small aerodromes with a little traffic. Usually nobody answers from the ground at such aerodromes, but in Stankovice I had an answer, moreover, it was in English! It’s luck, it’s always good to practice my communication.

The airport had a grass runway with a white centerline (actually it was the first time I had ever seen a centerline on a grass runway).

It was lunch time! Let’s have one more 100$ hamburger! The city was beautiful with a nice castle and river. The food was inexpensive and delicious. I like my timebuilding!

On the way back I found a long concrete runway and decided to fly over to look at it more closely (there was no airport in that place on the charts). It was a really long runway with great taxiways. No runway markings, no tower. Probably it was an old military airfield… I found two roads crossing the runway, and some bikers on the runway itself. It’s a pity that that perfect airfield is not used for airplanes nowadays…

Finally I made some tonch-n-goes on some airfields around my home base and landed. Just in a few miles before landing I caught a small rain. The runway became wet, but the visibility was OK. That rain did not stop till the evening.

100$ Hamburger Flight

Today it was a great day. I flew a lot, and I am excited about that.

I started with touch-n-goes in the home aerodrome, then a short flight to LKPLES with a 1640-feet-long and 15-metres-width runway. That airfield is pretty close to LKLN. I made a standard pattern, and on a base leg found out that I don’t have flaps. It is not very good idea to land without flaps on that short runway, and I decided to return. Our runway is very long for Cessna C150, therefore landing even without flaps is not a big deal – just a little higher speed and longer flare.

After landing our technician fixed the airplane in a short time, and I was able to fly once more. And this is a great flight for it is my first 100$-hamburger-flight! Not literally, I ordered pork and french fries, but it does not matter. One more grass runway, a little sloped. Czech Republic is a great place for initial training 🙂

Here are some photos from our home base:

The weather is great now. The sky is great, and I can see breathtaking landscapes from an airplane. I could see the scenes of terrific beauty. After about 2 pm the wind became stronger, and landings were some more difficult, but it allowed to make a progress.

I can say that the clouds look differend from an airplane than from the ground. They are almost flat at the bottom, while from the ground they look like pieces of wadding. There were some weak thunderstorms far away, and they also look very interesting.

On my way back I found a small house (actually a former windmill) where I was living some days in May. It looks even more cosy from the airplane. Actually there are a lot of beautiful places to fly here, including small villages and old castles.

From some moment I found out that I have more time on the pattern than earlier. I make all necessary actions faster, and they require less thinking. I suppose that it is a good sign 🙂

Skills Recovering

Today I finally was able to fly. I know that landing and approaches are still my weak point, and today I practiced them a lot. I flew at six different airports to increase challenge.

I was pretty good at my home aerodrome with a wide long runway, and so I moved to LKPLES, where the runway is 1640 feet, and its width is only 15 meters. It is still paved though. After my home airport it seemed tiny!

All other aerodromes were with grass runways. Nevertheless, none of them is similar to others. I landed on a runway with a “step” where the airplane wants to jump like a kangaroo. I landed on another one which was downslope, and it was unusual that land goes further during the flare. I landed on a plain friendly runway. I landed on a rough short runway with a powerline and trees in the vicinity. It was a very interesting day.

I am happy that I have time to fly again!

I’d like to see some interesting places during my hour building, but I cannot find detailed information. Probably I have to discover it myself. For example, there are very beautiful mountains in the Northern and Southern parts of Czech Republic, and I am going to visit them.

I suppose that some day I will rent an airplane and fly across the whole Europe with multiple stops in different countries. I think it is even better than traveling by car. Some day. Probably anyone wants to join me 🙂

Turbulence

After about 2-months break I continue my practice. The school allowed me to fly only with a safety pilot. We made a normal take-off, standard pattern, and on a base leg we caught very strong downdraft. I started preparing to a go-around procedure, but on final everything was OK, and I made a normal full stop landing. Safety pilot did not want to take off again today, and so did I. It’s safer to wait for a better weather.

Summertime

The summer is coming, and it means that we will see thunderstorms. I need two more hours to complete my training, and today these hours are going to fly by. I came to the aerodrome and saw a dark cloud accompanied by thunder. I have to be in Moscow soon, and extending my stay is not an option; therefore all I can do is just wait and hope for better weather…

Fortunately that front didn’t last long, and I could finish my flight lessons. There was one more cloud not too far from the aerodrome, but it was far enough to let me fly.

The sky was incredible, especially closer to sunset, and it was a pleasure to see.

I flew at LKMO today which has a much better runway compared to LKRO where I used to practice. The runway is shorter, but it is much flatter and wider, with much clearer borders, and I don’t have to cut my downwind turn due to the village below. The wind also helped today, thus my landings were better.

Today I completed all required flight hours for my PPL, so tomorrow I am going to CAA.

One More Exam

Today I had one more check conducted to sign me off for navigation flights. That check is internal, and it is mandatory for all students according to our syllabus. It was nothing special, just a usual cross-country flight using a paper chart. We flew a very beautiful route today.

I am not afraid of the navigation flights. To be honest, on one of my previous lessons, I miscalculated my heading and deviated about five miles off course, but after that I saw Pilsen, and it was impossible to get lost as it is a very big city. Of course I flew without a GPS that time, and today flight was also without a GPS. In any case, I feel that I don’t have any problems with cross-countries.

The flight was very relaxing as the wind was calm and the landscape was absolutely awesome. One more record to my logbook!

The First Solo

Finally it happened: I flew my first solo today. It is a very important step for every pilot. That day we had done more than 10 patterns with my instructor and 3 patterns with the examiner before I flew alone. The examiner was staying on the ground with a handheld radio. I was instructed that if he say “GO AROUND!”, I have to go around immediately. Fortunately, it did not happen.

My landings were perfect. I think that I never landed so great. Probably it is because the airplane is lighter with just one person aboard, or I simply tried to do my best.

I heard that one remembers it for the rest of life. I recorded it with my action cam, just in case. To be honest, I felt that I had not have time for worrying: checklists, runup, taxiing, before takeoff checklist, full power, acceleration, pitching up a little bit, acceleration, rotation, acceleration in a ground effect, climbing, brakes, after takeoff checklist, trim, climbing some more, flaps, trim, climbing, turn, one more turn just before this village, level off, power cruise, trim, before landing checklist, radio call, carb heat, turn before red building, maintaining altitude, reduce power keeping level attitude, speed for flaps, flaps 10, trim, check traffic on final, turn to final, flaps 20, nose down, radio call, flare, keeping nose up, keeping nose up, keeping nose up, keeping nose up, keeping nose up…. Touchdown. Nice and smooth touchdown. Full power, carb heat off, flaps 10, acceleration, and do everything one more time except full stop instead of touch-n-go.

After landing I could not stop smiling. All day long =)