Visit to the CAA

Today I picked up my freshly-issued license. Everything was OK, except for one small mistake in my home address, and it took some more time because of that. The interior of the building seemed very similar to the Russian Traffic Inspection office (or any other legal department), but there were no queues at the CAA 🙂

At least I found a proper parking space near the CAA. When I had come to take my exam two months ago, I found only P13 “reserved” places. I did not know whether the spots were reserved for the CAA or not, and whether it was legal to park there. In any case, I decided not to take chances, and found another parking area in a mall, in about a 15-minute walk. Today I came just to finish some paperwork, and that’s why I wanted to park somewhere near the building, and I found it. It is P11, which has a barrier and tickets.

Strictly speaking, I am done here, and I can return home, but I drove more than 2000 km, and I’d like to do more than just obtain my papers. That’s why I decided to stay a bit longer, and fly some additional hours.

Documents

I headed to Czech Republic for my PPL. I passed my checkride in May, and my documents are ready now. I think I could ask for mailing them, but I decided to pick them up by myself. There were two reasons for that: I want to obtain 1st class medical, and I enjoy traveling.

I figured out that I cannot schedule an appointment in Czech for my medical until August, 14, therefore I would not sign up for any ground school now, but it gave some more time for preparation and schools research, and I found some Polish institutions. They have the same terms as in Hungary, but they are cheaper.

I think I will make my 100$-hamburger-flight during this trip, because I don’t want to drive over 4000 km just to take my papers. Anyway, I need more flight time, and I miss flying.

Checkride

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 🙂

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.

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!

One More Exam

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 life. I recorded it with my action cam, just in case. To be honest, I felt that I had not have 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.

Controlled Airspace

Karlovy Vary is a very beautiful place. Lakes and buildings look fantastic from the altitude.

Today I flew to the control zone. I did not expect that the workload would be so high: the flight itself is almost the same except that I have clearances instead of advisories, but I felt somewhat uncomfortable. OK, possibly it is just the unfamiliar environment…

The controllers speak English much better than our tower. Actually our tower is not so bad compared to some airfields in the vicinity: sometimes they only speak Czech. I remember that I am in Czech, and I try to do my best, but I wish to see some more operators speaking the international aviation language (which is English), at least at a basic level.

Additionally we made some landings on the way there, it is a good practice for me. I am becoming more confident, and I make better and better landings even on sloped runways.