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!

USA flight training

The blog is still alive, and I am still keeping going. I haven’t been posting here for a while since noting interesting was happening. I was studying (not the EASA subjects though, I switched to FAA IR preparation) and was waiting for a visa approval.

For those who is interested in flight training in the US, there are some more considerations that for Europe. I had to obtain a student visa, pay SEVIS fees, obtain a TSA permission and get a verification letter for my license. Finally all that was done, and after about 20 hours of getting here from Russia I am writing this post from the school campus.

I like this site compared to my accommodation in Czech Republic: there is a washing machine, pretty well equipped kitchen and a large store nearby. But the problem is that I wasn’t able to drive here from Russia, and I didn’t want to rent a car, so I walk everywhere, and the school campus is the only option for me.

Firstly some paperwork must be done. Mainly it’s the license validation and getting the US medical certificate – I’ve already done the longest part (TSA approval) from Russia. I’d like to finish my Instrument rating within a month. I am pretty well prepared for a written exam, but I haven’t been flying for some months, and I’ve never flown by instruments at all.

There is an uncontrolled airport here with a long concrete runway, and the weather is perfect for training. I missed flying so much!

So, here I am, and I changed my plans a little bit. Instead of full EASA conventional step-by-step route, I’m going to obrain a FAA IR, and then apply for a F1 visa. If that visa never happens, I will get the EASA IR, it will be easier to do with a valid FAA IR. Then the usual EASA route: ATPL theory and CPL. And then… I don’t know, time will show.

FAA Instrument Rating

Long time passed since my previous post, but that’s only because almost nothing was happening. I am studying a lot, it’s really hard to remember all this stuff. I didn’t have much free time, but when I did, I was looking for the best American flight school.

Finally I found the option which satisfied me enough, and I’m in progress of getting I-20 for M1 visa. I decided to obtain an Instrument Rating in the US.

I’m not going to stay in the US for a log time since I still have a job in Russia, but I’d like to obtain a Commercial License there. I am almost sure that I will have to come more than once for that, so I am talking about Instrument Rating only for now.

Since I cannot speed up the visa process, I am studying and gaining money for my training. I am going to get my EASA license as well regardless of the FAA one.

IFR English

Today I passed my practical IFR English exam. In Europe it is a requirement for Instrument Rating. I don’t plan to get European IR now, but my English is pretty good, so why not? It was nothing special even in spite of the fact that I don’t have any IR experience except one flight as a backseat passenger in Cessna C172. Of course I don’t consider my flights as an airline passenger because I don’t hear any communications 🙂

In the first (written) part I had to define some terms like “straight-in approach”, “jet stream” or “alternate current”. I did not find any unfamiliar terms, and it was harder to express it than understand. After that I had to unfold some abbreviations.

In the second (oral) part I described approach plates (RNAV and ILS) and answered some questions about them, and finally there was a simulated communication with ATC.

Everything was OK, and now I have one more important document 🙂

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 🙂