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 🙂

Summertime

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.

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.

They Are So Different…

I enjoy exploring new aerodromes. They appear very similar, but they are not. Of course I say that only with my level of experience, but I think that it’s true for many pilots.

Today we flew circuits in an aerodrome with a grass runway. The runway itself is rather uneven and rough: firstly, it has a slope, and there are small bumps and hollows. Secondly, the grass is very uneven, and does not cover the entire runway. Actually there is no significant difference, but I still like concrete runways much more.

Here is the picture about how approach to a grass runway looks like:

Approach. Land. Go. Repeat.

I had a lot of landings on the grass. In fact, I had REALLY a lot of landings on the grass. Today I fly patterns on the aerodrome with a grass strip.

Today I made many landings. The main outcome is that finally I mainly fly the airplane than it flies me. I see where it is going to land, and at least I have proper feedback from the flight controls. At least the approach becomes stabilized. Previously it was more like “trying to aim to some point by any means, using all available flight controls”. Now I have to be more precise: the strip is shorter. I was pretty good in theory, but for the some reason it did not help a lot. Possibly the reason is that I mainly concentrated on an instantaneous correction without building a ‘big picture’.

Today I have a level-up: now I analyze my track during the approach and try to keep the straight paths really straight, and curved paths as smooth as possible. I use trim even in turbulent weather. I mainly set the flaps to the desired position for landing earlier instead of correcting a glide path by using flaps.

I am making progress. I perform slower than I wanted to, but I am moving on.

Coordinated Turns

What is required for a good landing on a pretty small landing area? One should correctly estimate an altitude, estimate wind and apply proper wind correction and make coordinated turns with a predictable altitude loss. Today I practiced those things, except for wind estimation which is easy because there are a lot of windsocks on the hill. Firstly do 45-degree turns, then 90-degree turns. The goal is establishing a proper course on an appropriate height, i.e., I should not lose substantial altitude before and during my turn. Then level the wings, flare and land.

Straight legs are much better, for both the glide path and horizontal projection. You can do good solid takeoffs even with a nil wind. Of course I understand that with a 16 wing I will still need to run much faster and longer. Landings are good, almost all of them are on the feet and with a proper wing stall. I am making progress 🙂

Landings Again

Morning visibility was terrible. It was so awful that I almost lost any hope to fly today, but in the afternoon it improved, and the weather became flyable. Let’s go!

Today we are moving on. We fly circuits, but sometimes the instructor sets power to idle and says “emergency landing”. Usually he does that when I do not expect. Depends on altitude I should either turn around towards the runway and land downwind or find a suitable field and continue straight in. If I have enough altitude, the best option is turn and land upwind on the runway, but for that I have to be at least on a downwind leg.

Then the instructor simulated partial panel. Now we have only altimeter, VSI and engine instruments. No airspeed indicator, no CDI, no attitude indicator. To be honest, after about third circuit you can understand that in basic VFR it is not a problem: a familiar aerodrome and a good visibility allows to fly visually. Exactly what my instructor wanted. But initially I was confused. And turn coordinator really helps.

My landings are much better, my altitude estimation is also improving. I still cannot use to descend with flaps 40: I still feel that we fall like a rock. I think that it is because we rarely use flaps 40 in a normal landing because of a long concrete runway. I definitely need more practice.

Gloomy Weather

Today the weather is gloomy with wet, cold and misty precipitation. Yesterday it even snowed! There are heavy gray clouds. Everything is so dark and dull.

But there is an advantage though: absolutely no wind. Ceiling is higher than pattern altitude, and it is the perfect weather for practice landings! At least I feel a proper height for flare. The plane is not ballooning. The landings are smooth!

Possibly there is one more factor: recently I watched tons of movies about landing techniques. And I feel much more self confident and less nervous. I apply controls more smoothly. I even have time to communicate now.  I suppose that those calm winds and stable air helps very much.

I will not fly in the next 3 days as the airplane is unavailable. At this stage I’ll try to remember those feelings as  my skills are starting to develop and I have to practice as frequently as possible.