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!

Priorities Update: FAA CPL

It looks like I have to change my priorities compared to my December plan.

Currently I have to stay in Moscow due to my job, so I am not flying now. Meanwhile, it is becoming some more difficult to obtain the US visas, and risks of not getting F1 at all are becoming pretty high. So it is safer to obtain my FAA CPL now, using my M1 visa, and postpone (or even abandon at all) CFI/CFII/MEI programs. Anyway FAA CFI(I) license is useless anywhere out of the US.

I need about 100 more flight hours total time for meeting CPL minimums, including about 15 complex hours (retractable gear, constant-speed prop, flaps) and 2 night hours. It is not so much, and with a proper dedication it’s doable in two months. I am pretty well prepared for a written test, so I can fully utilize my free time for flying.

I contacted some Polish flight school for the ATPL theory classes, and they have a program starting this October. That perfectly aligns with my current schedule!

So, my new plan is the following:

  • FAA CPL under M1-visa before the end of this summer;
  • EASA ATPL theory before spring 2019;
  • EASA IR after passing ATPL theory exams;
  • EASA CPL after obtaining the EASA IR.

Of course, I will try to find a job just after getting my FAA CPL, but it seems highly unlikely for a brand new pilot with a FAA license who is not a US resident. I knew that even before start. But currently it’s better to concentrate on getting my license than on thinking about far future: I will think about it later. Our life is challenging, and flying is fun just the way it is 🙂

First Class Medical

Today I got my first class medical certificate. For pilots there are two classes in Europe: the first one is the highest, and without it one cannot work as pilot. Before that I had the second one because it is cheaper and totally enough for a private pilot certificate (which one I have now).

Initial first class medical usually should be taken only in a hospital. Then it’s possible to go to aeromedical examiner (some doctor approved by the CAA). I’ve never had that certificate, so the only option was a hospital.

There is only one approved hospital for that in Czech Republic. I made a call, and it turned out that the earliest date when I can do that is August, 14. I supposed to be in Moscow that time, so I started my small research where I else I can get my medical. The closest options were Austria, Poland and Hungary.

I chose Poland. They were ready to make the examination without booking in advance, the price was about 150 euros, and Warsaw is on my way home. For example, in Austria you should pay around 500 euros.

There were no queues, the doctors are nice and professional, and the whole thing took about 4 hours. The result was ready at the same day.

Almost all doctors were not speaking neither English nor Russian. The only doctors who spoke English were the ophthalmologist and the therapist, but anyone else spoke slow and clear in Polish so I could understand them pretty well. For all procedures they also provided instructions in English, so I did not have any problem at all. Now I have an impression that I could learn Polish with a very little effort if I want, it seems very familiar to Russian.

So now I know that I am fit, and it’s really great: I can continue my studies to achieve a higher level!

Strong Winds

I supposed to fly early in the morning, but it did not happen: the airplane did not have enough fuel, and the fuel service is usually available only in the afternoon. Anyway I needed some more sleep.

I took off in the afternoon. During the flight I noticed that the ground speed is way less that the airspeed. It means that I had a strong headwind, which means that I would fly faster on my way back. Today I chose a direct route from one point to another.

I found one more abandoned aerodrome on my way and made some photos.

The wind was strong, but there were not so much crosswind and no gusts as well, so the landing was smooth.

Today was really hot. I suppose that it was up to 40 degrees celsius in a sunny areas, so I experienced a longer takeoff run and a slower climb: hot air really affects the airplane performance.

On the way back I landed on some airfield where I owed a landing fee previous time, and finally paid it today. I felt some gusts, so it was safer to approach with a higher speed: the airplane was more stable.

When I returned to the home base the wind became almost calm, and the landing was very easy and smooth. Very nice flight!

Circle Around Prague

Every pilot should have some minimum flight time before taking an exam. For the modular commercial pilot program in Europe it should be 200 hours (total time). Now I am continuing gaining these flight hours.

Today I decided to go to the North-West where I found a nice aerodrome with a concrete runway. I already mentioned that I like them some more than grass runways.

It was supposed to be a sort of circle: to the West of Prague on the way forward and to the East on the way back. It’s more interesting, and the route distance is almost the same.

I am still a little nervous about controlled airspaces and talking with ATC, so it’s better to avoid crowded CTRs for now and practice somewhere else, for example, in Karlovy Vary.

In summer there are usually some thunderstorms around. I found one cell to the west of my route, but not so close to be dangerous, so I just took some photos.

Czech is really beautiful for sightseeing, especially from the air. I photographed a nice golf-club and an old windmill on the route.

I used to empty aerodromes. Small aerodromes in Czech are usually uncontrolled, and nobody is there, especially after 6 pm. Today it was different, and somebody answered on the radio. I was some unexpected communications practice 🙂

On the way back some clouds started to form. Not the turbulent ones, but it is still not so good if they are low. Of course I checked the weather before departure, and nothing seemed wrong, but it’s always better to check one more time if needed. I asked the controller, and he confirmed that nothing special is expected enroute, which was really good, because I am not allowed to fly at night yet. If the weather becomes bad, I could get stuck until morning.

I landed about an hour before twilight. One more outstanding day!

Sorry for the rubbish on the windshield 🙂

I’m A Little Black Rain Cloud, of course

I’m just a little white rain cloud
Hovering under the honey tree
I’m only a little black rain cloud
Pay no attention to me…

Sometimes the weather does not want to cooperate at all. Today one of these rain clouds just did not allow me to not pay attention.

The clouds are gorgeous, but they can be scary. Particularly this one looks not so dangerous, but in reality it is huge and very turbulent. I was thinking about circumnavigating it, but it would require flying almost half of the country, so I decided to go back. Anyway now I am flying just for sightseeing and meeting necessary flight time minimums, so it does not matter a lot where to fly.

Today I had a chance to overfly a very beautiful landscape. Sometimes flights over that area are restricted, but today it was not a case, and I made some beautiful photos.

The clouds were forming very beautiful patterns. There were mainly cumulus clouds because of high thermal activity – usually cumulus are the most beautiful but the most dangerous clouds.

According to the weather forecast for today something huge, scary and dangerous was expected from the west in the afternoon, so I decided to return to the home base before it would come there.

In the sky the power of nature can be felt much better. It is something really powerful, real and beautiful, and sometimes you feel like a child facing these primeval, savage forces. And they are still charming and marvelous.

Pilot’s Holidays

I don’t work on holidays, and it means that I can fly more. Or at least I can work less if the weather does not allow to fly.

Today the weather is good, so I can practice my landings. More landings are better for gaining skills, and different aerodromes also help in that.

For now the most challenging part is crosswind landings, and I am going to master them. Bumpy weather cooperates to gaining better skills. And, of course, relaxed en-route part between the aerodromes.

I made some photos today. Who can say what’s on the first one? It’s some training site for horseriders (or horses, I cannot say for sure). It took some time to realize that 🙂

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 🙂