City Orbits and Wake Turbulence

How so much can be lost in a month!  It was now four weeks to the day after my first navigation solo flight.  There had been a lot going on and but the main culprit had been the shite weather.  We’d have nice big storms on the weekends, and then the weekdays would be fine.  The weather just has no consideration for those of us who have to work office hours and only had weekends off (apologies to those who work weekends too).  Then to top it off the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was scheduled and the only decent weekend was gone.  As a result Victa Mike Hotel had been sitting on the central apron at Jandakot longing my touch.

The morning came and the navigation flight I’d been waiting for had finally come.  The weather gods decided that Victa Mike Hotel and I could be re-united at long last.  The lines I’d drawn on my maps weeks before we still there waiting too.  This time I could adourn them with wind compensating tracks, 10 minute markers and a bunch of scribbles that give me inflight clues.  The reason I was so excited about this flight was that it involved two highlights.  Firstly, we would be doing a “Victa 65” (ok, that is code for doing orbits around the Perth CBD in controlled airspace) and second, if Perth Air Traffic Control (ATC) was willing, we would perform a missed approach into Perth International Airport.

The pre-flight planning was fun.  Our planned track today was to depart via Fremantle, up the coast to Cottesloe, commence Victa 65 in towards the city, perform a few orbits of the CBD, then out to Herdsman Lake, City Beach, back down to South Beach (PowerHouse), overfly Jandakot for Armadale, track to Quairading and land, then Cunderdin, Northam, Perth Airport for a missed approach, Scarborough Beach, back down the coast and into Jandakot.  The flight plan spanned 2 pages as I’d included the alternative route from Northam in-case we didn’t get our missed approach into Perth.

“Perth Clearance Cessna 172 Victa Mike Hotel on the ground at Jandakot, request squawk code and frequency”

“Victa Mike Hotel Perth Clearance squawk 0433 contact Perth Centre on 135.25 for clearance”

“Jandakot Ground Cessna 172 Victa Mike Hotel Central Apron for a Fremantle Departure Information Bravo Request Taxi”

“Victa Mike Hotel Jandakot Ground taxi holding point delta hold short runway 24 right time 34”

“Taxi holding point delta runway 24 right”

With the formalities out of the way, we did our run-ups and reported ready at runway 24 right.  Despite Jandakot being the busiest airport in the country, based on the number of aircraft movements, we never seem to have to wait more than one preceding aircraft.  Today was no exception, a Royal Flying Doctor PC-12 lined up at Charlie blasted past and climbed out to the west.  We were given immediate clearance and got ourselves airborne.  This was only my second flight at the controls departing Jandakot via Fremantle.  The last time had been when Adam and I had gone to Rottnest in India Golf X-Ray for Cross Wind circuits.  Admittedly I’d been a passenger on a few previous occasions when out formatting with the JATA mob.

As we climbed out over Murdoch Uni and approach our waypoint at Fremantle Golf course, I requested clearance for our city orbit.  “Perth Centre Cessna 172 Victa Mike Hotel approaching Fremantle Golf Course one thousand five hundred feet, request traffic and clearance”

“Victa Mike Hotel Perth Centre identified there is traffic at 500 feet northbound over Cottesloe contact Perth Approach on one two three decimal six for clearance”

“Contact Perth Approach for Clearnance Victa Mike Hotel”

Without boring with lots more radio calls, we requested clearance from Perth Approach but were told to standby.  The problem with that doing this for the first time is that you are at Cottesloe in less than 3 minutes and then your left to either track north up the coast, or perform an orbit out over Cottesloe and be in the vicinity of other traffic.  Luckily today we’d just crossed Pepermint Grover when our clearance for Victa 65 arrived.  Woo too!

I handed Wilson my camera before we took off so I could get a few nice photos of the city and the waterways leading up to her.  It was rather enjoyable and our cleared level was 1500 feet.  The view was fantastic and knew that this route would be a must do when taking passengers for joy rides.  On the ground at Burswood, a chopper was given clearance to take off for city orbits as well.  Seconds after his clearance, we were requested to climb to 2000 feet so we could maintain separation.

Approaching the Narrows, I requested 2 anti-clockwise orbits so we could enjoy the views while here.  We got the ok and thoroughly enjoyed the view. The city looks great from up here, but when your overhead the east or west ends that you realise how small Perth really is.  After the second orbit we tracked out to the coast over City Beach.  Having being a passenger flying down the coast a few times, I knew what to expect, but there seemed to be something that little more special when your doing it yourself.

Once we got to Powerhouse, we called to Jandakot tower and requested transit to Armadale.  What this means is if your cleared, you fly overhead Jandakot and track to Armadale.  If you don’t get it, you do a right turn and track outside of Jandakot airspace to Armadale.  Today the cards were falling our way and the tower gave us clearance.  Soon enough we’d passed Jandakot and reached Armadale.  Here we climbed to 3500 feet and got the traffic report.  All clear.  It was pretty much at this point it all went south!

The leg from Armadale to Beverly seems to be my Achilles heal, every time I fly it I seem to struggle to find Beverly.  Today was no exception.  In the end I had only tracked about 5 miles south when it came into view.  By this stage I’d missed my 10 mile inbound call to let them know I’d be tracking overhead (or thereabouts).  Looking ahead I spotted 2 gliders flying some sort of formation directly towards us.  We held our level and they passed one above and one below at less than about 100 metres to our left.  It was a bit of a wake up and my enjoyment of the flight took a steep dive.  From Beverley I changed my track towards Corrigin.

Within a few minutes, Wilson made his usual, “I’m not sure where your going, but it isn’t Corrigin”.  I’d come to dislike this statement as it regularly threw me from my plan.  I could see the salt lakes off to my right and a few features to my left, but I didn’t really think I was that far off.  The same statement happened a few more times on subsequent flights and now I’m not entirely convinced he was right.

Today however I kept my track, the salt lakes and the NDB at Cunderdin gave me a cross section in which to roughly determine where my destination would be.  At my next 10 minute marker I was able to make out the runway, it was about 15 degrees to the left of my current track.  Turning towards Corrigin Wilson asked me to make a straight in approach.  This is where I really got thrown.  I tracked straight at the runway over the township, leaving my decent till I felt I was on profile.  The big screw up was that I had my runway number wrong and subsequently would have had any traffic thinking I was coming in from the other direction.  Secondly the approach was fast and felt wrong.  If I’d had my complete wits about me, I’d have realised that I had a tail wind and the approach I was making was going to be downwind landing.

It was only on late finals that I realised we were downwind and that I’d screwed the runway number. Wilson wanted me to continue the approach and do a touch and go regardless.  We did it and climbed back up to circuit height.  This was the second time I’d tried a downwind touch and go.  It isn’t really a fun thing, your ground speed is quick and climb rate after touching down is very slow.  After turning downwind for the runway, I crossed mid-field cross wind and joined downwind for the other runway.  How nice is it to be on approach correctly and with the right runway.  For this reason alone, I don’t like straight in approaches when you can’t ascertain the wind in advance of your arrival, I’m a lot happier arriving overhead.

We finished the approach and completed a normal touch and go.  On downwind, Wilson gave me my next challenge.  Ok, I want you to divert low level to Clackline, and by the way, your ADF (Automatic Direction Finder) is broken.  Also, as your ADF isn’t working, I want you to find the NDB towers at Clackline.  If I wasn’t already thrown enough today, this was the icing on the cake.  I started by attempting to draw a track free hand to Clackline on the map.  With that we got an approximation of the direction.  After calculating the minimum altitude, I began tracking approximately towards Clackline.  My departure call to Corrigin and the subsequent diversion call to Melbourne Centre  were somewhat shite!

The positive thing about this track is that the huge hill next to York stands out for miles.  It gives you a long distance reference point.  From it I approximated a reference point half way to Northam, which would put us on track for Clackline.  Northam soon enough came into view and the roads between York and Northam provided a positive fix.  Wilson kept up the distractions and doubt of my track.  When I was sure and he knew it, he pulled the throttle and gave me a PFL.  Finding a farmhouse and nice big paddock, we flew down nice and close before going around.  That had me off track, so it was back to finding another fix.  Luckily Great Eastern Highway and an intersection came into view, so that gave the fix I needed. As luck would have it, those two towers of the Clackline NDB appeared right on our nose, sweet!

Wilson focused on my crappy radio calls at this point and told me to track for the Perth missed approach.  Despite nailing Clackline, I was still pretty thrown after my rather stressful previous few legs.  I radioed to Perth Centre to request clearance for Perth approach.  Totally expecting the response of it not being available, I was re-issued my earlier squawk code and give my track.  I was ready to argue the point if they’d not given it, despite that not being good form.  I keep hearing stories of student pilots not being given the opportunity by ATC to fly into Perth.  Us pesky VFR pilots are second citizens when it comes to class C airspace.

So the lovely Irish accent of the lady on Perth Approach vectored us in for runway 21.  We were given a slightly wider track to allow a Boeing 737-800 to land on runway 24 ahead of us.  Slowly I got over the stresses and started to enjoy the Perth approach.  We watch the 737 come in and land and continued our approach.  We were told not to descent below 500 feet and that we should make a right turn before crossing the runway threshold.  Our departure waypoint was given as Observation City.  The approach was fun.  We had the VOR / ILS tuned in so we could track our descent and make sure we were bang on.  The PAPI lights alongside the runway also confirmed our approach profile.

Soon enough, we turned right and tracked towards Observation City.  I was rather excited, as it was another opportunity to enjoy the sites as we passed the city and flew down the coast.  I was thinking that there were no more tricky navigation legs left and I was home and hosed.  Well Wilson had other ideas.  He took control and asked me to put on the visor, apparently the only thing I would be seeing for the rest of the flight were the instruments.

The rest of the flight involved starting at the Attitude indicator and the surrounding instruments.  It was all good, practice with instrument flight is a worth it.  Wilson kept me under the hood till we were pretty much at Adventure World tracking into Jandakot.  From there, the hood was off and we joined for a long awaited landing on runway 24 right.

 

It was a huge relief to be on the ground and out of the plane.  After a good 3.6 hours in the air and a fair bit of pressure, my head was hurting.  It was a bit of a realisation of how much work I needed to do to get on top of the navigation, emergency procedures and radio calls.  After my head had cleared though, I remembered the fun bits.  The city orbits and Perth approach.  At this point I also convinced myself to try and string the next set of flights closer together so to perfect the navigation techniques and get straight into the flight test.

Good in principle, but not so in practice as time would tell.  A few curve balls, including the PPL theory exam would soon disrupt that…

Posted in Circuits, Jandakot, Navigation, Pilot License | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Solo Navigation Flight: How strong winds nearly claimed a victim

There are a few highlights which every student pilot experiences on their journey to become a licensed private pilot.  The First Solo is huge, the Area Solo is amazing and of course the first Navigation Solo!  This is the one where you are given permission to leave the safety of the airfield training area and venture into the unknown, alone!  The day had come for me, but its wasn’t all smooth flying by any stretch, the strong turbulent winds attempted to claimed a victum, not once but several times!

The day started out that bit different from every other training flight.  The excitement was there, but it was also accompanied by a strong feeling of apprehension.  Having read the area forecast before heading off, it disclosed what I would be up against.  It said there would be medium turbulence below 3000 feet and strong gusting winds in the afternoon. I could already tell the conditions weren’t going to be that fantastic, but having had such a long road to getting to this point, I was determined to get on with it.

My instructor was a little late, but that didn’t matter today.  He had already used all of his influence on how the day was going to turn out, through the lessons and training he’d given me over the previous little while.  Today it was all in my hands.  To get things started, I printed off the latest forecasts and got myself deep into the pre-flight planning. Having prepared the charts the previous night, I was left only to apply the weather conditions and submit the flight plan.

The route for this flight was fairly straight forward.  It was:

  • Jandakot (YPJT)
  • Armadale (ARE)
  • Boddington (BODD)
  • Bunbury (YBUN) – 40 minutes of circuits
  • Boat Yard (BOAT)
  • Jandakot (YPJT)

Preparing the plane was as per the usual routine.  Full tanks of fuel and everything look pretty straight.  Then came the hitch.  The oil level was on the minimum at 6 quarts and there was not a single bottle of oil anywhere in the hangar.  Only mineral oil used during the run in of new engines.  On advice from the maintenance engineers they cleared using the mineral oil.  The plane had only 4 hours left before it’s 100 hourly maintenance, which would see the oil being changed anyway.

Wilson arrived and checkoff the Maintenance Release and gave me the pre-requisite pep talk.  I don’t know if really any of it sunk in, I was pretty focused on the task at hand.  By the time he’d finished, I’d pretty much visualised every stage of the flight, the radio calls and even how I was going to join the Bunbury circuit.  Finally before I headed off, Wilson insisted I install the Google Altitude application on my iPad.  That was it could continually broadcast my position and let him track how I was going.  That done, it was time to go.

After firing up, the Jandkot ATIS reminded me about the weather conditions.  Medium turbulence in the circuit and cross winds at 12 knots.  At this point I was feeling rather nervous, but also feeling confident that I’d do ok.  I wanted to navigate accurately to Boddington and fly the route as planned.  However at the end of the day, if I was to get lost, all I would have to do it turn west, fly back to the coast and then track home to the north from there.

As I taxied out I could fee the nervousness rising.  It was annoying me because my head felt ok.  So I decided to take my time in the run-up bay and do a longer than normal safety brief.  Here I talked myself through every second of the flight, radio frequencies, radio calls, headings, everything until I was well outside of controlled airspace and on the way to Boddington.  Minutes later I found myself at 60 knots, straightening the ailerons and pulling back on the yoke, we were away…

The next 6 minutes were to be the first of two major moments in the flight.  After turning right towards Armadale and climbing to 1000 feet for the Jandakot departure, the turbulence was very evident.  It was probably similar to driving across a bumpy paddock at 100kmh in a car, not much fun.  Crossing out of Jandakot airspace and about to commence the climb out over Armadale a more than medium turbulent pocket of air gave me a right jolt.  Hitting my head on the roof was the outcome, leaving me feeling more pressure.  It did cross my mind at this point to turn South and return to Jandakot via Forrestdale Lake.  Although feeling a lot like a vodka martini, I went with it and got on with the job at hand, navigating to Boddington.

“Perth Centre, Cessna 172 Victa Mike Hotel is at Armadale two thousand three hundred feet on climb to five thousand five hundred tracking to Boddington, request traffic and flight following”.

“Victa Mike Hotel, Perth Centre Identified, traffic is three miles to your one o’clock at two thousand five hundred, appears to be on decent to the west, flight following approved”.

“Thanks, Victa Mike Hotel”

I’m sure he was thinking this muppet doesn’t need flight following, there is no other traffic.  It was actually part of my plan to get myself a positive fix as I exited the boundary of Perth Radar.  “Victa Mike Hotel, Perth Centre, you are leaving my control area, there is no other traffic, frequency change approved, identification terminated”.

“Perth Centre, Victa Mike Hotel, thank you, request DME from Perth”.

“Victa Mike Hotel, Perth Centre, you are on heading one four niner degrees at thirty four miles, identification terminated”.

Sweet, a positive fix and it had me pretty much exactly on my planned track.  This was a little trick I’d learnt from listening to radio comms between Perth Centre and an air survey aircraft operating just north of Perth in the week before this flight.  I’d pre-drawn not only the Armadale to Boddington track, but also the Perth track so I could validate the position without having to rule it inflight.  Within minutes anyway, the huge Boddington mine came into view and I had visual on Boddington township.  Also by this point at 5500 feet, the turbulence was all but gone.

With Boddington ending up being no problem, it was now Bunbury.  I was pretty sure this leg would be pretty straight forward too as there are a significant number of huge features long the way.  Just little things like a dam, a mine, huge power lines and of course the coast visible in the distance.  This leg was very relaxing and a good time to practice the various navigation skills, such as dead reckoning, 1 in 60’s and how I’d perform a lost procedure.

While descending into Bunbury, the airfield was pretty easy to locate.  Having flown in as a passenger with the JATA mob (they sound like a gang) and once with my instructor, I’ve learnt to locate it.  Listening in on the CTAF (airport) frequency, there were two other aircraft already in the circuit.  Sweet, its runway 07 and I’m going to join the circuit downwind, rather than an overhead join.  I slotted in nicely behind the two existing aircraft, put in my downwind call and did the landing checks.  Sweet!  As for the flying bit, there was some turbulence and a gusty wind from the right.

The Bunbury airport traffic was fairly dynamic.  In the 40 minutes I remained in the circuit, there were 9 other aircraft which either arrived, departed or transited through.  While flying the circuits in non-controlled aerodromes, you learn 10 times more than you ever could on paper or in the classroom.  Everything I’d read, practiced was cemented during this short period.  It became more second nature and I was focusing more on the flying and spatial awareness, rather than having to worry about what was the next radio call.  The only thing that was a little bit of a challenge was a Mooney which joined the circuit from the South.  He joined with a mid-field crosswind join and turned onto the downwind leg.  He did it right as I’d just made my downwind call, meaning he pushed in and left me literally chopping his tail.  He was very apologetic and offered to do a right orbit to get out of the way.  It was fine, I just slowed down and let his higher performance aircraft pull away.  On landing he very quickly exited the runway and once again said thanks.  Although I was a bit pissed with him at first, he redeemed himself pretty quickly.  Damn Mooney pilots!

With 7 or 8 touch and go’s done, it was time to navigate back towards Perth.  “Bunbury traffic Cessna 172 Victa Mike Hotel is airborne runway 07, will be turning left and tracking North to Jandakot at four thousand five hundred feet Bunbury”.  With that, it was a left turn onto cross-wind and out of Bunbury.  Once about 10 miles out, I put in another departure call to alert any other transiting traffic know I would be joining them.  Although not required, I figured that there was a high number of other planes through the area and I wanted to let them all know where I was.  With no replies or other traffic calls, it was happy days on the way North, well that was at least what I thought…

The turbulence was not easing as I climbed higher.  Even at 4500 feet it was like driving across that bumpy paddock yet again.  The respite was the simplicity of navigating along the coast.  It was a good view and absolutely straight forward.  At my first ten minute marker near Myalup, I was well short, approximately 5 miles.  I put it down to the climb, however the second ten minute marker for Preston Beach came up and I was going to be a good four minutes shy of my revised estimate.  With a quick re-calc on the flight computer, the headwind was around 10 knots stronger than predicted.  I revised my remaining ETAs right through to Jandkot, making the leg nearly fifteen minutes longer than original planned!

The turbulence continued so I decided once again to just ignore it and this time enjoy the views.  It was pretty hazy, but the visibility was still great and the views awesome.  I was impressed with some of the houses nestled in the dunes along the coast past Lake Clifton.   With the ridiculously strong headwind, the leg from Bunbury to Jandakot was going to take 71 minutes, which is completely nuts.  Even those super cool Mooney dudes would have taken an hour.  While nearing the southern end of the Peel Inlet, I tuned in to the Jandakot ATIS to get the arrival information.  In some ways I wish I didn’t, the 22 knots maximum cross-wind got my attention pretty quickly.

From that point, the anxiety rose.  It reminded me of a conversation I overheard earlier in the day, where the owner of “VH-NMN” was spruking his skill of landing the identical Cessna to this in 40 knots of cross wind.  VMH is demonstrated in 12 knots of cross-wind, but I’ve done 16 knots at Rottnest in a 152.  I was having to convince myself it would be all good and that I could always go around and try again if needed.  At Mandurah I contacted Perth Centre to ask about traffic.  He said there wasn’t any.  Great, nobody else is stupid enough to be up at the moment.  However minutes later one of the familiar kiwi accents of the Air Australia aero pilots came across with the usual, “we’ll be conducting aerobatics between 3000 and 5000 feet…”.  Ok, there is somebody else, cool.

By the time I got to Rockingham, the joy flight passenger must have had the sick bag handy and they were heading back in.  Perth Centre advised us both of the proximity and I followed him in.  At 1500 feet at boat yard the turbulence was at least as strong when I’d departed a few hours earlier.  I just followed the Robin in front and we joined base for runway 24 left.  He went in and made the landing look pretty easy, it was now my turn.

I remember being very busy on the controls on approach.  It wasn’t your typical cross wind landing where you’d crab in and then side slip to the runway.  The wind was really gusting, it was turbulent and all that meant you had to be extra active on the controls.  You’d lean into the wind and find that a big gust would kick you over, or it would ease and you’d fall into it.  With about 2 miles left to run and well established on finals, I was feeling a bit more confident.  It was just a case of try and crab, compensate and on late finals side slip and compensate.  In the flare, we side slipped down and put the left wheel firmly on the ground before bringing the others firmly down as well.  The relief was grand!

From there it was a simple taxi in and the joy of competing my first Navigation Solo was building.  The turbulent winds and strong cross-winds actually added to the excitement once down.  I really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment with the added challenges.  At that point I was so looking forward to having my license all done and doing this with friends and family!  Although this was now many months back, it is all still so vivid in my memory.  Something I don’t think I’ll forget for a damn long time.  Then again, I’ve always got the video, the photos and blog to remind me 🙂

Posted in Circuits, Crosswind, Jandakot, map, Navigation, Pilot License, Solo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Perth International Airport Plane Viewing Area

Having just left the airport, I searched google on my phone to see if the new viewing area was opened.  Turns out it is.  The area is half way between the domestic and international terminals on the new link road.  You can find it on this map.

I was expecting to turn up and see a line of SLR toting Plane Spotters, but instead there was a mix of folks enjoying the close view of the planes rocketing past.  Yes, there were a few plane spotters with their jolly big lenses.  Chatting to a few, they said that some of the photos and video of they have captured is awesome, particularly from A380 and 747s departing.  Anyway, the best way to see what its like is with this quick video of Virgin 1485 taking off to Broome and a few pics of the area.  Worth while dropping in for a look if you driving past!

Posted in Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PPL Theory Exam, License and Aerobatics!

Although the blog posts have been a little slow, a fair bit has been happening over the past little while.  The current update on where I’m at with my Private Pilots License, is that I’m already thinking about what I’m going to do after it is complete!

Actually what has happened and what is left to be done is this…

  • PPL Theory Exam – Complete (and passed)
  • Navigation Training – Complete
  • Still doing laps of the Training Area with Friends & Family – Over Achieved!
  • PPL Theory Knowledge Deficiency Verbal Check – Not Complete
  • FROL – Flight Radio Operators License – Not Complete
  • English Proficiency Exam – Not Complete
  • Private Pilots Pre-License Check Flight – Not Complete
  • Private Pilots License Flight – Not Complete

Navigation training actually finished back on the 3rd December (2011), however I wasn’t able to progress any further until the PPL theory was done.  As I had been totally unstructured, slack and generally dis-interested in the theory, I wasn’t really doing much study.  A bit of token study here and there, but it was all about the flying and Navigation.  The reality of the study situation is, it is a full time, hard yakka activity.

What I should have done was study hard from the start and I mean from the point when I completed my GFPT theory exam.  There is nothing stopping you continuing straight on.  In fact it would have been the absolute right thing to do.  The reason being is that the PPL theory exam includes all of the human factors, aerodynamics and calculations learnt for GFPT.  If you leave it for a long period like me, then you have to re-study it for the PPL exam.

My tips to those wanting to do their PPL license and prepare, all I would do is this:

  • CASA Visual Flight Rules Guide – find a copy as you can take it into the exam, it is the VFR pilot bible
  • Bob Tait BAK (Basic Aeronautical Knowledge)
  • Bob Tait PPL
  • C.A.A.P. for Night VFR – the reason is that there were three questions on Threat and Error Management that were just not covered in any of the above.  Section 8 covers these.
  • Know the sections of the AIP – which you may need in the exam (generally covered in the Visual Flight Rules Guide)
  • Know the sections of the ERSA – which you will also need in the exam

Then, do a couple of practice exams.

  • The questions in the back of the Bob Tait PPL Theory book (I think these are taken from those released by CASA as examples)
  • CASA Example PPL questions – many of these are in the exam that I got
  • ATC (Aviation Theory Centre) Practice Exams – buy these from your friendly Pilot shop.  Some of these questions were in the exam too, word for word

There are some questions that you just can’t directly prepare for, which you have to apply some common sense.  For example, “If you were to fly over Cumulus Clouds, would it be:  1. Bumpy, 2. Smooth, 3. Heavy Turbulence”.  Also, you need to be able to recognise Co-efficient of Lift.  Anyway it is a huge relief to have this done, the rest is paperwork and of course kick-ass flying.

Anyway, what has me very interested at the moment is aerobatics!  It has always been my intention to head back and get my Aerobatics rating in the Robins 2160.  They are a couple of nice planes and I’ve enjoying going up in them a few times.  I know I’d look forward to taking friends up.  Anyway, when I mentioned at the new school that this was my intent.  They mentioned that before I did that, have a look at the CT-4 they have on cross hire.  I ignored this suggestion for quite some time, however after it was mentioned the last time, I thought I’d look into it.

Lets just say that I’m glad I did.  Do you know what a CT-4 is?  Well I’m going to tell you. It is the aircraft that is used for military training by the RAAF and RNZAF.  Actually the RAAF sold all of theirs, to both private buyers and BAE systems.  BAE systems bought a bunch and do the initial training / screening for the RAAF now.  The long and short of it though, if you want to be an Air Force fighter pilot in Australia or New Zealand, you will be starting in a CT-4.  In fact the Kiwi’s still use the CT-4 as the aircraft of their “Red Checkers” aerobatics display team.  Have a gander at this video…

Everything I read and watched about the CT-4 has left me impressed.  My lingering concern was that I’d do the flight training in the CT-4, but once that was done, I wouldn’t be able to use it to go solo or take friends up.  As I haven’t been able to get much info on the CT-4, I put a call into the owner.  He was a good bloke and spoke very highly of both of the instructors he allows to train in the aircraft.  Both of whom I know too and would be happy with either of them.  However he did answer my question, yes it would be ok to use after a check ride 🙂

So I guess I better get this PPL thing done then and then think about aerobatics.  There’s a lot going on at the moment, so I guess I’ll have to look towards the later part of January to get the PPL completed.  I do owe a special somebody an aero flight, so I have incentive and a date.  Lets just say they maybe in for some fun when they visit late February 🙂  Will anybody else be game?

Posted in Aerobatics, Flight Test, GFPT, Pilot License, Theory | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Eve NOTAM from Air Services

Air Services have issue a NOTAM (Notice to Airman) for Christmas Eve.

You can find the general details here.

Happy Christmas and safe flying 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Appearance in AVIATOR Magazine December 2011 Edition

AVIATOR Magazine December 2011 Edition

Last night I received a text message from Adam, my old instructor, “Hey buddy, whats with our ugly faces in AVIATOR magazine?”.  It was a good question, but at first I was slightly taken back by being branded ugly!  I was under the impression that the hours in front of the mirror each day were taking care of that :p

Once I got over my vanity, it got me wondering.  I’d have to head to the newsagent in the morning and suss out this claim.  So at the Cloisters newsagent, the last copy of the mag was on the shelf.  Initially examining the front cover, it certainly wasn’t Adam and I flying the Eurocopter.  Working with BHPB, there is the odd occasion that we have to don the orange tops, but that wasn’t us…

Ugly Mugs

It was on page 4 that I could see what prompted Adam’s text message and what would appear to be founded ugly claims.  One of the pictures I’d posted on this blog had found its way into the magazine, accompanied by a short news article on Qantas.  At first the association was overly clear, but the final tag line was “So prospective pilots should get their heads down, gear up and keep concentrating on those theory lessons”.

Never were there more appropriate words for me right now.  However, there was only one person who I could think of who could make something like this happen, Chuck from Air Australia (the original, not the recent wanna be airline)!  Anyway a few texts today confirmed it Chuck to be the culprit.  Cheers mate, but why did Adam’s and my first spread had to share the page with a dunny!  Kind of appropriate possibly…

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Navigation Lesson 3 (take 2)

On the ground in Cunderdin

Navigation Lesson 3 was my first flight since the transfer to JFC.  Coming away from that lesson there was considerable feedback which I needed to seriously look at (its a common theme, right Mav).  That lesson, and this one (15/10), were now some time ago and my over sleeping today and insomnia tonight provides the perfect opportunity to catchup on a blog post or two.

Having taken on board the feedback from Wilson after Nav 3, I felt much more prepared, more familiar with the newer aircraft and far more relaxed.  Knowing that the reward for a good flight would be my first Nav solo, the incentive to do well was there.  The plan was to fly largely the same route as last time, Jandakot, Armadale, Victors 66, Clackline, Cunderdin, Corrigin, Beverley, Byford and back to Jandakot.  From Cunderdin we’d not actually go to Quairading, but divert at low level to Beverley.

Straight up, the biggest improvement was my flight planning.  It seems to be considerably faster, from 4 hours down to about 2 :-p well so it seemed.  Then the pre-flight of the aircraft was also quicker.  The 13 drain points didn’t seem so bad this time and there was actually some fuel left in the tanks after I was finished.  See, the later model Cessna’s have 5 drain points per wing, then 1 underneath the engine cowling for each tank feed, followed by one for the fuel injection.

Departure, controlled airspace and the route to Cunderdin were all much easier a second time.  I felt much more relaxed and largely enjoyed the trip up.  On arrival at Cunderdin, we joined and did circuits.  The traffic this time was considerably higher at the airfield, with no less than 7 gliders operating, the glider tow plane and numerous other General Aviation folks buzzing around.  There were also regular Instrument Rating Folks flying through.

We did 4 touch and goes and practiced non-controlled airfield procedures.  There were a few gliders in the air and we had to share the circuit with 2 that were coming back to land and the tow plane launching another glider.  From Cunderdin, Wilson had me track towards Corrigin, from there he pulled the power and we did a Practice Forced Landing.  It was at this point I was feeling rather seedy, as the warm air was making the flight a little on the bumpy side, combined with the stress of navigation and the PFL.  Wilson’s concern escalated when I asked if he had a sick bag handy, on the chance my lunch decided it wasn’t staying down.  Given he had the IFR hood out, we discussed landing and taking a short break.  On that we decided to back track to Cunderdin and land for a rest.

On the ground at Cunderdin, we parked off the runway near the gliders and wandered over to meet the strange folk that fly these aircraft.  The first impression was not of the strategy pilots that lurk in the shadows of the old caravan, but the damn flies!  They were everywhere!  It seemed they would find their way to every part of your exposed body and annoy the b-jesus out of you!  There may be logic to why the strange glider folk hid in the depths of their old caravan.

The first thing you notice about the glider pilots is that they seemed quite normal.  I thought this strange, given they like to fly planes without motors.  However I was to learn in a little while, that these folks are like your every James Bond types, had little secrets…  Anyway we were offered drinks and good conversation.  It wasn’t long before I was feeling considerably better and had a good look around at the gliders.

Here are a few photos…

The scene, our ride, the tow plane and a glider readying to leave

James Bond's glider has a secret motor

High tech glider cockpit. Solar powered with moving map.

The James Bond glider is quite something.  From the cockpit the motor can be deployed, started and operated.  It is capable of taking off under its own power and of course sustaining flight one airborne, even when the thermals finish up.  That day was the actual hand over of this aircraft to its new owner who paid a cool $150k for it (reduced from the $250k new price tag).  The original owner was on hand to tell us about his achievement of having the Australian record for the longest (by time) solo flight in a  glider in this particular aircraft, exceeding 8 hours.  Pretty impressive given the motor was only used on that occasion to take-off.

Overall, both Wilson and I were glad we stopped in Cunderdin and met these fine folk.  They were extremely accommodating, even offering to take us up for a ride in the glider.  We were also offered to head back up and get endorsed for the Tow Plane.  This will be an offer that I might have to take up once my PPL is done.  I can see a Sunday of flying up to Cunderdin, getting a good few hours towing the gliders up, then flying home late arvo.  Would be a good day!

After leaving Cunderdin, it was low level to Beverley and then home to Jandakot.  On the way back we did some instrument flight and another PFL.  Overall it was fun and I learnt a lot!   Apparently Wilson was also in a good mood, he ok’d for me to do my first Nav solo the next day 🙂  Woo Hoo!

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