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! =)

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.

High Altitude

I continue flying my cross-countries. Today I explored incredible mountains near the Czech border with Poland. I climbed to 5500 feet, so I am getting closer to airliners 🙂

I enjoy cross country flights. I can see beautiful forests, castles, fields, mountains, houses, cars and people below my plane, and incredible blue sky above. The clouds look great. I am already pretty good in controlling the airplane, and I have plenty of time to enjoy sightseeing.

After some days of practice here I can fly in the vicinity of the aerodrome even without a paper map, but for longer flights it is still vital. The airplane also has a GPS, but I try not to use it.

There are some interesting places around: the Skoda automotive factory, a paper factory (I can see a lot of lumber there), beautiful rivers, an abandoned military aerodrome, mountain villages.

Today I had a different airplane again; it is also a Cessna C-152, but I like it much more. I think it is more stable, and its performance is better. I will try to book this plane next time.

The traffic is so hard to see! The airplanes seem really tiny from distance! Even more, once I saw a radio-controlled airplane near the airfield, and initially I thought it was a regular plane.

Today I did not like my landings. I flared too high. I will work some more on it in the next few days.

Surprisingly I was not tired today. Probably probably because the weather was easier to control the airplane, or I am just getting used to flying.

Long Cross-Country

There was one more important stage for me today: I flew my long cross-country with two full stop landings in different aerodromes. In my case there were Hradec Kralove (hurray, concrete runway!) and Pribram (hurray, asphalt runway!). I already said that I like concrete and asphalt runways more than grass or turf ones.

The landscape was incredible, the weather was great, and the flight was a pleasure.

Today I flew a different airplane. It is a Cessna C-152. I like it less as there are some more vibrations, controls forces are higher, and ground roll is longer. However it has a VOR receiver, its airspeed indicator is in knots, and one does not require holding flaps lever for some seconds to set flaps in the required position. The flaps switch looks like this:

Do you see what happened with fixed position limiters due to wear and tear? The photo is not from that airplane, but it is a common problem. You should guess a proper switch position.

To be honest, I like electric flaps in C-150 some more as it is easier to set it to required position (I have to count 3 seconds for flaps 10, and 1 more second for each higher position), and the airplane also has a flaps position indicator.

Generally it is not important, and I enjoy flying both airplanes.

As I want to finish my PPL ASAP, I flew one more time after my long cross country. The destination was LKMB, an aerodrome with two grass runways for different wind. It is not very common in Czech Republic, usually aerodromes have only one strip. The approach there is a little bit scary, I had to fly pretty low above the hill.

I am almost done with my PPL syllabus!

Navigation Flight

The first navigation flight with a full stop in a different aerodrome. The complete planning: map route, NOTAMs, weather, fuel and time estimation.

The interesting thing is the definition of cross-country time. For example, FAA strictly states that cross-country flight should be more than 50 nm from the departure point, but not the EASA. Moreover, there is no even a column in my logbook for logging cross-country time. EASA simply requires using flight preparation and navigation procedures, i. e. technically even 5 nm between adjacent aerodromes qualifies, if you prepare for that and use navigation procedures. If we strictly follow the definition, it can be even the same aerodrome! It seems that I will have some troubles computing my totals in future. Just to be totally safe, I am going to follow FAA rules for my commercial time, but now I am just following the syllabus and EASA regulations (I am in Europe now, am not I?). So, navigation.

It is relatively easy to follow the map in Czech Republic: a lot of roads, villages, towns, rivers and lakes (ponds?). For me rivers are the most straightforward, but I am trying to use pilotage (i. e. spotting enroute landmarks) as much as I can.

We flew to Roudnice (LKRO). Much easier to land there: no trees on final, so, less turbulence. But the runway is a little upslope, and I have to keep the nose higher. Somewhat unaccustomed.

We found precipitation on our leg, and had to divert for some miles. I am glad that I did not have any difficulties to find where I am after that.

I failed to properly estimate my time: my computations showed about 10% faster route than the real one.

es

Keep going, keep working 🙂