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!
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
Finally I did it! To be honest, I was worrying that I would have to return to Moscow before finishing my PPL, because I did not have any possibility to stay here after the 1st of July. It is much easier to take an exam right after finishing the course because of fresh skills, and I highly desired to do it before leaving.
I got an unexpected route via Prague CTR, and I had never flown it before. During my training I was flying through another CTR in Karlovy Vary, and it happened only two times. Besides, today I had an airplane that I had flown only once on my long cross-country.
On practice everything was not so scary as it sounds. I flew as usual, I contacted a controller, and he approved my request for flying my route. After leaving a CTR I contacted an ATC one more time and reported leaving a controlled area.
I think that the most difficult part was the weather. Thermal activity was pretty strong causing a bumpy ride. I saw hanggliders on some aerodrome, and they were climbed very fast. In those conditions the approach was a little tricky: for example, I experienced altitude changing from about -5 to +5 and vise versa just in some seconds without any power adjustment. At least it was not boring 🙂
I am very happy that I made emergency landings without any stress, I was just calculating a new path and turning at a proper point. During engine-out procedures there is no more feeling that I fall like a rock.
Thus, now I have almost 60 hours and an EASA PPL. I am accepting congratulations 🙂
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.
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.
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.