Summertime in Czech Republic

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.

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 (Cross-Country) Endorsement

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 the life. I recorded it with my action cam, just in case. To be honest, I felt that I havn’t had 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 =)

Land in Sight!

We fly a lot of aerodrome patterns. We do it in different aerodromes for a richer experience. My instructor is not totally assured in my flying, and so he does not want to let me fly solo now. Probably with the only instructor from the beginning it can be faster, but now we have what we have.

However I do not complain. Safety is the first priority. Additionally, I enjoy flying even patterns, and I am happy to see my confidence improve. Furthermore, I need 200+ hours for my commercial license, and it does not matter a lot whether I have 45 or 60 hours under my belt after private.

EASA PPL Written Exam

Today I passed the rest of my written exam subjects. There is a nice point: retaking is totally free. I supposed that I have to pay for all attempts, but I was wrong, in Czech you pay only once.

This time the exam was easy for me. I was better prepared, I knew what to expect, and I went through all of questions in aeroweb.cz. Nevertheless, I am happy that I read the books. I heard that every pilot should do that not just for passing an exam but for solid knowledge, and I am totally agree with that.

Today I saw some students from Hong Kong with graduation certificates from “Flying Academy”. As I know, they did not pass all subjects from the first attempt. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to ask about that school.

I am happy that now I can study in English! ATPL subjects are approximately the same in all EASA countries, but PPL varies significantly. The exam questions in Czech are perfect, but there is not enough evaluation tools in English before the exam. British resources do not work: you can have 95% result in average there and still fail that subject in Czechia. British books help though. Nevertheless, now I am on the ATPL track in terms of theory. I believe that ATPL books and Question Banks match the questions in all EASA countries. Of course, I am not talking about FAA: English is a first language there. I still did not make a final decision about EASA vs FAA track.

EASA PPL Written Exam

Today I took a written test. Actually there were multiple tests, because the whole exam contains 9 subjects. I remember my student years, when I used to not sleep at night before exam, and tried to fulfill all possible blind spots in my knowledge.

Generally speaking, I am a passionate leaner, if the subject is interesting for me. That’s why I don’t suffer from the theoretical part of my education. Possibly only Air Law bothers me a little bit: I don’t understand why I should remember a year of Rome convention on something like that. But to be honest, most of information is relevant and important.

Every time I am very nervous before an exam. I can do nothing with that. This time it was the same: I entered the room, got the question list. Initially checked every question multiple times. And, as usual, after some minutes my brain starts working on the subject itself: I am pretty well prepared, and I should just carefully read the question and select the best answer.

At about 6th subject I felt like that: “ONE MORE? Oh, I supposed that it was the last one!”

Generally I got a very unexpected result: I failed the subjects I was the most confident in before the exam. Of course, during the exam after getting the question lists I approximately understood that I am in danger with those subjects, and possibly I have to retake.

I failed Navigation, Aircraft General Knowledge and Principles of Flight. About Navigation – everything is OK with charts and computations, but compass turning and acceleration errors, magnetic north drift, AIP GEN 1-2-1… Uhh. About Aircraft General Knowledge and Principles of Flight – I just have to study some more, it is not so simple as it seemed to me.

I have to tell some words about question banks. I used to read the books, but I also use question banks to estimate my level. For PPL I used ppltutor.com (heh, now they provide only FAA version, but in 2017 they gave EASA) and pplcruiser.co.uk. None of them is a good idea for Czech. Later I also found aeroweb.cz, and it is great. The only problem is that it is in Czech, and google translate works (or worked in 2017?) terribly with that language. Anyway, oxford books works in any case.

I am not very disappointed. Of course I am not happy, but not a big deal. The main point is that I passed Air Law: I have to do it before the first solo. I am still not ready to fly solo according to my instructors, but it is always good to finish at least the paperwork. The next exam is in one month, so I have plenty of time to prepare just 3 subjects. Especially because now I better understand my weak points.

Aviation Medical and ICAO English

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 every pilot should pass a medical. There are three types of certificates. From the most strict to the less one: 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, and about three of them in Poland). The second and the third one is available from designated physicians with special accreditation. 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 obtain 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 by walk-in, and somewhat cheaper than in Czech Republic. 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 can’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 🙂