Free Flight

The blog is still alive, as like the idea 🙂

Last week I traveled to Prague. It was not related to my aviation progress, but I did not want to miss this opportunity, and 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 Polish CAA approval.

At the aerodrome I realized that I still have some time, and there are some planes 🙂 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 Cessna 172, but it was 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 🙂

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

Night flight

During my previous visit here I completed almost all commercial requirements related to night hours except one 2-hour cross-country. I wanted to fly it, but some circumstances prevented that flight.

This time it seems to be as planned. I checked the airplane in advance, ensured that we have full tanks and enough oil. Ensured that nobody will fly the airplane since that check.

The airplane is just from maintenance. We fly with my instructor.

So, here we go. Checking everything one more time, reading checklists. Everything is OK. Taxiing to the runway. Accelerating. Airspeed raises, but extremely slow. It is more than 500 ft, but we still have 45. 45, 47… The runway is long, but not endless. Aborting take-off… We are OK and stopped well before runway threshold, but I think that the real speed was more than 70 when decision was made.

Some system malfunction is not a pleasant case. I was slightly scared. And I have to react quickly.

Taxiing back, shutdown. But I still want to fly! The weather is good. Another airplane is OK, fuel is OK, oil is OK. We still can fly!

The flight was good. I thought that it’s hard to see clouds at night, but actually it is not. We can fly well below them.

We flew to KVNC, and requested flight following. For the some reason the controller diverted us along the shoreline, around class B airspace.

Return flight is also around class B airspace, but on the East side. Firstly because of weather avoidance, and secondly because it’s fun to fly a different route.

I like night flying 🙂

Jacksonville

One more cross-country flight to jacksonville Executive. Our route crosses a restricted area: when it is active, I cannot fly there in specified altitude range. That area can be activated in specified hours, or by NOTAM. If it is active, I should avoid it or choose an altitude out of the area range.

Briefing. The area is inactive. The weather is good. Let’s fly!

It is the first flight when I asked for flight following: ATC sees me on the radar and potentially warns about close traffic and bad weather. It is very similar to IFR flight, but now I can look around =)

At about 10 miles before entering restricted area I ask the controller about area status, just in case. Everything is OK. And the controller gives me some more information about adjacent areas.

Flight following is a very useful thing. I like it. Especially because I don’t have neither TCAS nor ADS-B equipment, and traffic information can be useful in busy areas.

I also plan some flights with IFR flight plan in a good weather to maintain my communication skills and shoot some approaches. I have to be proficient in it before entering real IMC.

To be continued

This post is becoming traditional when I continue my practical training after 1-3 months interruption: blog is still alive, the idea is alive too.

At least I am piloting again. I flew more than an hour today. Normal take-offs and landing, short field take-offs and landings, soft field take-offs and landings. Stalls, steep turns. I missed it a lot!

I continue my training. I already wrote that I am going part 61 instead of 141 for my CPL, and it is really perfect. Yes, it is 250h TT vs 190, but I highly doubt that I can find any job with < 200h TT. And I already have 150h after my EASA/FAA PPL + FAA IR, because I flew more than 50 solo cross-country hours in August for meeting my EASA CPL requirements in future.

So, it’s really great, because I can go faster. The instructor is unavailable, but the weather is good? OK, fly solo. The weather is bad for cross-country? OK, practice commercial maneuvers in the vicinity of the aerodrome. Bad weather? Fly IFR. For part 141 it is not recommended: you should follow a syllabus.

Besides, I am preparing to FAA written. Now I use aviationexam and gleim with more than 90% score. Possibly will purchase sheppard, but not sure for now.

Finally I ordered an iPad. I’m not a fan, but I’d like to use foreflight, and it exists only for iOS. I understand that there are plenty of alternatives, but what is the point? Foreflight is really great. Everybody knows it, and almost everybody uses it.

I am also thinking about portable ADS-B receiver for better situational awareness. Or I can just wait until 2020 requirement will enter into force =)

Crosswind

The airplane I was flying today was really great, but I cannot say the same about the weather. Crosswind and gusts up to 15 knots were not a pilot’s dream, or at least not a beginner pilot’s dream.

First of all, we made a couple of landings one of which was terminated by a go-around procedure. I just was not completely ready for this weather in a new airplane, and I decided that it’s safer not to land when we met a gust at about 100 ft above the ground.

Our school go-around procedure for Cessna 172 is not the same I used to in Cessna 150. Here I had to set flaps 10 simultaneously with full throttle. Previously in cessna 150 I was taught to apply full throttle, stabilize, the next (lower) flaps setting, stabilize, etc.

Anyway, I did not have a lot of opportunities to practice in that kind of weather, so that it was a useful experience.

My flying gradually becomes more stable, I am getting used to this airplane and instrument flying. Of course it was not ideal, but it would be foolish to expect ideal piloting after only two lessons, so I just have to practice more.

We were practicing unusual attitudes recovery. That is included in a usual syllabus in the US compared to Europe (where it is a separate course). That also will be checked on my checkride. I have to cover (or close) my eyes, then the instructor makes some maneuvers (during that you feel something similar to roller coaster riding), and then he says ‘OK, recover’. The goal is understanding what’s happening and bringing the airplane to a straight and level flight. The important detail is that all of this stuff should be done ‘under the hood’, i. e. I was not able to look outside.

My IFR hours are increasing, and I am also working on a written test preparation.

737

I’m proud to say that I flew 737! It’s so cool that I’m going to tell all my friends about it!

Of course, it was not a Boeing, it was just a small Cessna N737HW =)

Almost Boeing

Actually the airplane itself flew a little worse than the one I flew yesterday. I remembered Czech OK-STB: it was also pretty old and had a flaps switch with fixed positions (it was a Cessna 152 though). I am used to a different flaps switch: I had to push it and hold some seconds, longer time means lower flaps position.

The airplane’s takeoff run was longer, and the climb rate was less. The outside view was pretty much covered by the instrument panel so that I wanted to stand or even jump to look outside while taxiing and landing. I remembered my early driving experience with my father, when my head was barely above the dashboard.


Today we were practicing stalls, slow flight and steep turns. Everything was ‘under the hood’, i. e. wearing ‘foggles’, so it was flying solely by reference to the instruments. Initially I struggled to maintain altitude, especially in steep turns. I definitely need more practice.

When we’re not flying I prepare for the written test. I already feel rather confident since I was studying in Moscow, but it’s better to keep it up.

I Was Waiting for That So Long

All that legal stuff for studying in the US took some time, and I really missed flying. Finally I am here!

It is not easy to work with many new factors, and I had four of them: I haven’t flown since August, I’ve never flown Cessna 172, I’ve never flown under IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions – either simulated or actual), and the radio communications were a little different here.

First of all, takeoff in that Cessna differs from the one I used to: the airplane is faster and heavier. The instruments are also arranged a little differently, so it takes some time to get used to the new layout.

The flight was more difficult that I expected. I supposed that I had learned how to fly straight and level, but it seemed that it was not so. I really need more practice.

Currently I am flying with so-called ‘foggles’ which covers anything but the airplane instruments, so I cannot see the beautiful Florida landscapes. And I cannot even think about taking photos. Nevertheless, I am excited!

foggles

We landed without ‘foggles’ in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions, it means that I could remove foggles and look outside), but the landing was not perfect anyway. The approach to the runway is easier due to VASI (Visual Approach Slope Indicator). To be pedantic, it is even the improved version – PAPI (Precision Path Approach Indicator). The runway itself is long and concrete. Cessna 172 lands with much more ‘nose up’ attitude than cessna 150, so the feeling is different.

VASI and PAPI

I am so happy that I can fly again!

IFR Flight

Today I made my first IFR flight. Actually, it was not my flight but I took a backseat in a Cessna 172 during another student’s IFR lesson. Now, it is almost useless for me to practice IFR by myself because my theoretical background is pretty low, but it is extremely useful and interesting to learn from someone else’s experience. Additionally, it was totally free for me 🙂

We flew to Karlovy Vary, a famous spa resort in the Western part of Czech Republic. Of course, we flew there not because of spa but because of the ILS at the airport. We made ILS and RNAV approaches. I am happy that I understood a lot during the flight, and I hope that I will feel more confident when I pilot the aircraft.

I started to consider to adding photos to my blog, because I tried reading it myself and found out that it looks dull and sad, with a huge amount of text and no images. Please enjoy yourselves 🙂