Plane Catchup

Mooney Formation over the Perth coast during the 2011 Bomber Command Memorial Flight

Its been a good few weeks since the last post and alot of flying and other related activities have happened in the mean time.  No real excuses other than its been busy and my head has been in the books.  With my my flying, there has been more lessons, another area solo, my CFI check flight and the Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) is in the bag.  Also there has been more formation flights and some aerobatics thrown in their too.

As I jot these few notes, the video of the aero flight is playing on the tele.  My 4 year old has just announced she is now never coming flying with me and my 8 year old has asked how much longer he has to wait before he can come…

One thing I am absolutely certain of, after yesterdays aero’s, once my PPL is done the very next lesson will be for aeros!

Anyway a quick catchup on where I’m currently at, next Saturday is pencilled in to be my GFPT flight test.  Frederic the chief pilot at Air Australia wants to go over a few things with me between now and then, mainly the screwed up approach I did into the Jandakot circuit during my CFI pre-GFPT flight review and wants to do some more instrument time with me.  In the mean time, I’ll work on catching up the blog…

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Lesson 27 – Performance Circuits

Performance Circuits

Yesterday I was lucky enjoy to tag along with the JATA (Jandakot Airport Tragics Association) boys on a lunch run to Jurien Bay. It was 3 Mooney formation. Once again it left me busting to be behind the controls flying cross country. To make the next small step towards that, it was down to Jandakot again today to do a lesson on performance circuits. Performance Circuits focus on the techniques for short field take-off and landings then onto soft field take-off and landings. To spice it up we added a low level circuit too… ooohhh!

Short Field Take-off and landings are the skills required to take-off and land in the shortest possible distance as you may have guessed. It involves having 10 degrees of flaps, running the engine to about 1800 rpm while holding the plane on the brakes, then straight to full power as you come off the brakes. At about 50 knots you yank it skyward and climb out steeply till about 200ft above the ground. Once you hit the 200ft mark, you level out a little to go from 55knots to 65 knots, bring the flaps up and climb as usual. Easy peasy…

The landing is similar to your regular landing except from 400ft above the groun you slow from 65knots to 60, then down to 55 over the fence of the airfield. Your goal is to land right on the piano keys at the start of the runway. Then its heavy braking till you stop in the shortest distance. With each landing we came to a complete stop before doing the take-off technique again. We did about 3 of these then swapped to the soft field landing technique.

Soft field is similar except you apply full back elevator to try and lift the front wheel off the ground. Once it is off you balance the plane on the rear wheels in a wheely till the plane gets itself off the ground. Once off the runway, you lower the nose a little till the speed comes up and climb away as normal. The landing is almost the same as the short field landing except you hold the nose wheel off the ground as long as possible and don’t use your brakes. With the wind at barely 5knots, it was smooth and fun. The only downside, all the runways at Jandakot are bitumen, so there were no grass runways to try it on.

Lucky last we did a low level circuit, having been denied on previous circuit lessons when we requested it. Instead of climbing to 1000ft we do the circuit at 500ft above the ground. It is more curved and tighter than a regular circuit, basically you keep closer to the runway in case you engine dies. It was fun!

It was good to be doing circuits again getting in lots of landings. The only complication today was there were two kangaroos which decided it was appropriate to stand on the runway and watch approaching planes. Luckily we were on downwind and another aircraft was called to go around. They decided to do a low level pass over the kangaroos and scare them off. It worked. We were next to land but didn’t see them. It wasn’t until we did our final landing that we saw them crewing grass between the two active runways. Unfortunately for those clever roos which found their way into the Jandakot airfield, their outlook is likely to be that of a .22 calibre rifle. So next lesson it will be Precautionary search and landings…

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Lesson 25/26 – First and Second Training Area Solo Flights

Area Solo 3D GPS Google Earth flight track

3D GPS Track of First and Second Area Solos. Green: Solo #1 Blue: Solo #2

A beautiful day in Perth today set the backdrop for for an even better day of flying.  Arriving at Jandakot Airport today for my scheduled 8am flight, I was straight out to do my pre-flight checks.  There was an eager, yet nervous anticipation of this flight, it was to be my first Training Area Solo flight.

The first training area solo second major milestone during your flight training.  It is when all of the skills required to successfully leave the airport, be able to bring the plane down safely in the event of an engine failure, conduct steep turns, recover from stalls, return to the airport and land it in cross winds.  All must be demonstrated to a level where a class 1 instructor feels you are safe.  Cameron signed me out at 8:25am today and at 8:27 I was sitting in the little Cessna 152 (VH-AOH) with the checklist in my hand.

Prior to heading out to the plane, Cameron sat me down and asked me what my plan was.  I described the Jandakot departure and the list of skills I was going to practice.  His reply was “Good, but this is going to be the first time you can go and explore alone. So my advice is to go up, explore the training area and have fun!  You are learning to fly for exactly this reason and there will be plenty of time to practice those skills later.”  It was the best advice I had today!

So sitting there with that checklist, then in the run up bay, pushing full throttle at takeoff and every other minute of the flight, I had those words in the back of my mind, “have fun!”  Flying out to the training area I had a look around the map and chose to go find pipehead dam in the hills.  On the way I did medium turns, climbs, decents and straight and level flight.

In the distance I could make out 2 dams, but with a quick look on the map, the northern dam was Serpentine and it was the target.  Pipehead dam is a small narrow dam in front of Serpentine Dam, so the bigger was the easiest to spot.  On arrival I did a medium level turn around and enjoyed the fantastic views of both dams from 2500 feet.  My little GoPro HD camera caught some great views which I’ll post later.

Leaving the hills I did steep turns and a dance with another aircraft as it flew past.  Later I worked out it was Adam in the other Air Australia Cessna 152 (VH-IGX)  and one of his other students.  At this point I decided to do a Practice Forced Landing (PFL) before heading back to Jandakot.  Having not been my strongest skill area, getting in as many as possible in is a good thing!

Returning to Jandakot there was a stack of traffic and the Air Traffic Controller was getting a little testy with any of the pilots.  I got a call to join upwind at 1500ft and watched out the window as another aircraft took directly below me.  Its quite a sight.  I joined behind a twin engine aircraft and landed fine.  After the flight I had a debrief with Cameron, then Adam when he returned.  My smile is still beaming large!

Training Area Solo Flight #2

A week earlier, I’d anticipated the excitement of the first area solo, so pre-emptively booked another flight for the arvo. Adam called around midday to tell me VH-AOH had gone offline, so if I could delay till 4:30 VH-IGX would be available.  All good after an apology to mum :-p (mothers day and all).  Anyway, it was no less exciting, but with the fading light I had to get a move on. Adam signed me out and I was away.

For the entire flight I was treated with a spectacular views of the sky and it continued to get better the longer it went.  This flight I focused on medium and steep turns and PFLs.  With the fading light, I turned back towards Jandakot a little earlier.

My reward was an amazingly colourful sky!  On approaching Jandakot the airport had prepared for darkness and the lighting was in full swing.  I was given the unusual instruction for a left base into runway 24 right.  With two other aircraft late in the normal right hand circuit, I was a little apprehensive.  I switched on the landing lights to make sure the tower and other aircraft could easily spot me.

On joining base, the other aircraft became visible with his landing lights blared directly at me.  He turned and I followed him in.  He was slow and I backed off to give him as much room as possible.  He selfishly used the full length of the runway to save himself taxi time which left me with coming over the airport boundary without landing clearance.  The tower gave me clearance acknowledging the other aircraft was about to pull off and in the end save me the trouble of a darkening circuit.

It was a brilliant day of flying and lots of fun with my kids in between.  Big thanks to Adam for getting me this far.  Now only a few more lessons and an hour or two of solo time, the General Flight Progress Test (GFPT) is just around the corner.  That gives me clearance to take passengers to the training area!  The next major milestone after that will be my full Private Pilots License!  Bring it on 🙂

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Video for Lesson 21 – Cross wind landing practice at Rottnest Island

Posted in cessna 152, Crosswind, Jandakot, Pilot License | 1 Comment

Lesson 24 – Instrument Flying and more PFLs

So this Saturday still hasn’t come quick enough!  Getting impatient late one arvo at work, about two hours before home time, I made the phone call, “Chuck, what is the chance of getting a C152 and Adam?”.  His answer was “which one do you want, but Adam isn’t on”.  A quick call to Adam he agreed to come in and do the flight, what a champion!

I left about an hour early after an early start and a long day of meetings.  The late arvo freeway traffic was still ok, so getting to Jandakot was quick.  Very co-incidentally I got a text from Tulky, a mate saying, “just sitting at Jandakot watching the planes, cool”.  A quick call confirmed he was still there and mentioned I was about 10 minutes away.  He hung around and came over to have a look at the tiny planes I fly.

Tulky will be one of the first few who will no doubt join me for a flight after my GFPT, so having a look at what he was in for was quite timely.  He came and had a look as I did the pre-flight checks and marvelled at the simplicity and basic nature of the aircraft.  We both agreed that the off-road buggies we’ve been building for the last 3 1/2 years are probably more complicated.  He help me pull the plane out and headed off back to the viewing area once I went into the briefing area with Adam.

The goal of the lesson was two fold.  Firstly for me it was about doing the PFLs and arrival procedure for area solo clearance.  But at the same time do our first of 2 lessons on Instrument Flying.  Instrument flying is taught this early as a precaution if you end up in clouds and allows you a good chance of controlling the aircraft safely when you have no sight.

This meant wearing the hood.  I grabbed a sick bag as Adam claimed that by the time he dis-oriented me with the hood on, I would probably throw up.  Since the front seat briefing a few weeks back, I’ve been regularly studying and reviewing the Instrument Flying procedures.  This means knowing which instruments apply when entering straight and level flight from both a decent and climb, doing a rate 1 turn, doing a turn in a climb and doing a turn in a decent.  After all those, Adam did some rather dis-orienting maneuvers and gave me the controls to recover all while my hood was on.  This meant using only the instruments.

These went well, except when he did a negative g dive and my head hit the roof.  He was amused at the expense of me not having my lap belt tighter.  Right, enough of that for today, it was time for those pesky PFLs.

The first was ok, but I was high, the second the same.  I would have still successfully got in, but probably half way up the paddock.  Then on the climb out at maybe 700 feet, Adam tested me on an engine failure.  Straight away I reacted and did what you would do during a take-off engine failure.  On the third I was pretty much spot on, but had knocked the flaps down to full during my restart check.  Although I made the mistake, it ended up being pretty spot on.  Then the fourth I was again a bit high.  This time I did some slide slipping to drop some altitude out quickly.  Still a little high but ok.

That was all we had time for.  On the way back towards Six South before demonstrating an unassisted Jandakot arrival, Adam asked what I could improve.  Although the PFLs were ok, they weren’t perfect.  The key was that you don’t have to rush when you have the altitude.  Plan well and fly to that plan.  My answer was that I was making my flight plan too tight.  I was correctly flying the plan, but the size of my flight pattern was too tight.  Adam agreed and it gave me something to work on when I head back out alone…

The final test was to fly back into Jandakot without any guidance, including all radio calls.  Although I’ve been doing this a while, this was the formal sign off test.  To say today was routine was far from the norm.  We got the ATIS info, the same as when we left, then reported ok at Six South.  But between Six South and Forrestdale Lake a following Cessna 172 reporting in.  Then about 4 miles out a twin engine plane reported in.  The tower advised me that the twin was going to fly straight past me.

We kept a close eye and spotted the lady in the C172 behind, but was still to spot the twin.  It was only about when we crossed the training circuit that the twin finally caught us.  He had a good head of steam and was cleared visual approach.  The tower advised we were to follow him.  Forgetting to give us “clear visual approach” the tower called back.  The C 172 behind us was then given clearance to follow us in.

With the speed of the twin he flew a wide long down wind and then in.  I slowed slightly so I wouldn’t have to head too far out and then turned onto the base leg as he turned final.  We flew our normal base and final leg and were given clearance to land.  Immediately as we touched down the C172 behind us was told to go-around.  Adam looked out the back window and she had flown right up behind us, just crossing the airfield boundary.  We were surprised why she didn’t space herself out a little better and as a result she cost herself another circuit.

After getting back to the Air Australia office, Adam and Cameron had a chat and gave me the ok to go ahead my area solo.  However Cameron said that due to starting footy back up, he wouldn’t be available to come in on the weekend to sign me out.  He said I’d have to find a weekday slot.  Farrrk!  Anyway he said, I suppose I can come in Sunday and you can do it.  His humour and offer resulted in him copping a hug 😉

So, Sunday 9am, its time for my first Area Solo.  So eager am I, that my second area solo will be 3pm the same day… Woo hoo, a big milestone is just around the corner! and, my blog is now upto date!!!

Will report back on Sunday after the area solo’s 🙂

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Lesson 23(b) – Pre-Area Solo Check Flight

The big day had come!  Back from a few awesome days camping with Josh.  Oh how I love 5 day weekends.  Cameron was my instructor today.  He is authorised to sign me out to do my area solo.  Having done my steep turns lesson with him, I felt ok about the flight.  My goal today, impress him!

Cameron was good enough to ring me earlier in the day and give me a run through of what was going to happen.  That provided a guide on what to concentrate on.  It went like this… “You will do everything, pretend I’m not there.  Then when we get to the training area, I’ll get you to do some steep turns, which you should be good at since I taught you, then you can show me your Practice Force Landings.  On the way I’ll get you do everything again without my assistance.  If that all goes well, I’ll sign you out for your area solo”…

The curve ball was there straight away, with the Western Winds blowing in, runway 30 was in use.  This was the first time I’d seen this runway used.  Cameron made me take him through all the arrival and departure procedures for each of the runways.  That was all ok.  Anyway we did our runups and taxied out.  It is a long taxi for runway 30.  We had no one in front and got clearance to line up.  On the taxi to line up on the runway, we both noticed a cough from the engine.  We did a 2 second meeting, “did you hear that?” while sitting out on the runway.  Cameron immediately called the tower and cancelled the take off ready request.

With this he asked if we could hold for 30 seconds to run up the engine and see if we could clear the cough.  We got the ok, did the run-up and when we checked, the engine was happy again.  Straight away we gave the tower the ready call and they gave us immediate clearance for takeoff.  I took control and we headed off without any further issue.  We talked about what happened and how to handle the situation.  Cameron said that it was likely the long taxi out caused the plugs to get some build up and it needed to be cleared again.

With that behind us and being in the training area, we did the steep turns.  On the first one, I went slightly past my reference point.  On the second it was all good.  They weren’t perfect but Cameron was satisfied that I was good enough for area solo standard and I would be safe enough to practice them myself.

Next was the PFLs.  We climbed to about 2200 feet and Cameron kicked off the simulated engine failure by closing the throttle.  I was into it straight away.  I did the checks, selected my field and then did a quick plan.  However I was thrown somewhat as all the previous practices were started from around 3000 feet.  Bugger, I’m already lower than my “high key point at 2500” before I started.  So I started flying outside of the plan I had already put together and basically did a rather rubbish job.  Ok lets try again he says…

With some words of advice and what to do if you are in any situation lower than each of the planning points, move on to the next point.  Also take more time to get the plan right as it will set you up for the greatest chance of success. This time we started from about 2000 feet.  Straight away into the routine and into the plan.  I started flying the plan and again wasn’t doing a good job.  Cameron then started guiding me and talking me through how I could fly my plan.  This meant going outside the normal method of getting into the “planned circuit”, with a steep turn.  Following his guidance I got back onto the plan and brought it around for what would have been a successful landing.

That was all we had time for, so we headed back towards Jandakot.  The first I had confirmation that it all wasn’t good was when Cameron said, “we’ll do a simulated radio failure entry to Jandakot”.  Knowing that a normal unassisted approach is a criteria of the check flight, the area solo had disappeared…

The simulated radio failure entry  was kind of fun.  The tower guys were awesome, they didn’t answer any of our “Transmitting Blind” calls, then when we were setup on finals, flashed the green light, meaning we were cleared to land.  Following this they gave us the ground light signals to taxi back to the Southern Apron.  Very cool!

In the debrief, Cameron wanted me to go back out with Adam, do the unassisted arrival to Jandakot and do heaps more PFLs.  If Adam was ok with those, Cameron would sign me out for the area solo.  His debrief was that the PFLs were ok, but thought that doing some more would be a good idea before wasting time alone during the area solos.

So, the next lesson with Adam was booked in for 2 weeks time as I was away the next weekend.  The flight this that Saturday wouldn’t come quick enough…

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Lesson 23(a) – Pre-Area Solo check practice flight

Its a beautiful Saturday morning, 7am, the sky is clear, sun is out and I’m super excited. I could only get VH-IGX this morning, rather than my new favourite C152 at Air Australia, VH-AOH. Anyway, IGX had just had maintenance and the news was that it was performing super well.  Sweet!

Pre-flight checks, done.  Anyway, we taxi out to the run-up bay and get into the checks.  We get to checklist item “Check Magnetos Left / Right”.  Left good, Right, cough cough splutter splutter.  We do the usual and run the engine to about 2200 RPM and lean the mixture out.  This clears the carbon and usually sorts the splutter.  Anyway, the engine was struggling to make the 2100 rpm mark.  On the check of the mags again, the same result.  This means the flight is over 😦

We taxi back and report the fault.  One of the senior instructors takes the plane out to the run-up bay and tries it himself.  When he gets back he promptly gets on the phone and starts re-scheduling students.  I was angry that we couldn’t do the lesson, now the third time because of a problem with the aircraft.  The earlier instances were due to the VHF radio not working before the flight.  The checks are mandatory in any case and are there to ensure the safety of you, your passengers and the aircraft. My takeaway from today was that this re-enforces the critical nature of all the checks and diligence is a must!

Anyway, the planes spark plugs were pulled out and checked, something that a pilot is permitted to perform without having to send the plane off to maintenance or take it offline.  One of the plugs was replaced and the plane was back to top performance.

What this meant, was that I had a good hour or so up my sleeve.  So Adam sat me down in the test area and I did my pre-area solo exam.  It was pretty straight forward, since I’ve been pretty much reading the Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) most nights.  I got a call later to say that I’d passed.  All that remains at this point, is a successful check flight with Cameron and it is time for the area solo 🙂

The next few days I took my son Josh camping.  We took our 4×4 and my brothers boat away with us.  We found ourselves on the beach fishing and camped in our swag overnight.  The next day we spent a good few hours playing in the dunes and then out in the boat to catch crabs.  All was great fun and we both are hanging to go again…

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Lesson 22 – More Practice Forced Landings

This lesson was again to do more PFL (practice forced landings).  Adam and I headed out to the training area to the regular spot.  It was the same routine as last time.  Climb upto about 3000 feet and then fail the engine (idle).  This time I was more routinely through the checks and picked the paddock.  At least now I could remember the 8 s’es…  Quick check Size, Shape, Slope, Surface, Surroundings, Stock (live stock), Services and Sun.  Sweet!

The first was ok, I came in a bit high, the second, Adam took the controls and re-started the climb to try again.  He wasn’t happy with the my paddock choice as the one he thought I had chosen had a huge powerline through the middle.  Anyway we started again with a different paddock choice.  On the way down I pointed out the paddock I had previously chosen and we realised it was different to the one he thought I had chosen.  Oops.  Anyway the new one was a good call.

We came in ok, although I made a few mistakes on the way down.  I’m not sure Adam was too happy about me asking him to remove his dentures during the passenger “don’t panic” brief.  Third was a bit high.  Anyway, we were out of time and it was back into Jandakot for a right base join.  A bit of fine tuning on the way in, but otherwise all ok.

I didn’t do a video or gps, but I did record the radio conversations.  However that is boring as bat sh#% so no pretty pictures or videos this time around. What is slightly frustrating with PFLs is that the little 152 takes forever to climb back up to try again.  We are pretty much only getting 3 to 4 PFLs in within the hour lesson.

There was also a bit of a false start to this lesson.  With the growing popularity with Air Australia as a flight training school, both Adam and the C152s are getting much harder to book.  Even on this good Friday public holiday Friday!  In the end Adam offered to start at 6:30am to squeeze in.  On the day though, Adam forgot the keys to the office, so we were locked out. Instead we did the “instrument briefing” in the front seat of my car.  Noice!  Anyway, Warrick arrived at 7:20am and we got straight into it.  We managed to get a quick move on and had the plane back at 9am for the next punter.

Before heading off I booked another early lesson for the next day so we could head to the training area to practice everything before my pre-Area Solo check flight, sweet!

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Lesson 21 – Crazy Crosswind Landings at Rottnest

Ok, I’m that far behind in my blog posts, its time to bring them upto date quickly.  Will quickly cover off the Rotto cross winds.  There is some good video footage of the landings at Rotto, but that will have to wait for now.

Some time back I did my crosswind briefing and we did them at Jandakot.  However for whatever reason Adam hadn’t signed me off for them.  This meant we had to head up and do cross wind landings and get the big tick.  Rotto was the choice.  With 14-16 knot cross winds at 90 degrees to the runway, it was the perfect spot.

This was the first time to depart Jandakot other than to the training area.  So there were a few new things to learn.  Firstly, exiting the circuit towards “Murdoch Open Space”, the climb points and so forth.  Actually it was all pretty easy.  Once out of Murdoch open space you line up for mid-Fremantle Harbour so you track over Fremantle Golf Course.  This is where we swapped out to Perth Radar frequency.

“Perth Radar, India Golf Xray, Fremantle Golf course 1500 tracking to Rottnest, request traffic”.  The lovely lady on Perth Radar this morning provides the traffic and we continue on our merry way, trying to spot the other aircraft on route.  It is a great view along the cost and over to Rottnest, I can’t wait to get my PPL and be able to do more of this!

On arrival to Rotto, we overflew to check circuit direction etc.  We opted for the standard runway 27, but either direction was fine due to the cross wind.  Adam said he’d do the first touch and go to re-cover the steps and to show me what happens as you approach the Jandakot airstrip…

Crabbing in is normal, basically the nose of the plane into the wind somewhat to compensate for the crosswind. What suprised me was the angle at which we had to crab to get in.  All good and smooth, so I’m under the impression that this is going to be easy.  Then you get down just above the small hills on the southern side of the airfield, it all goes bad.  There is huge amounts of turbulence and instability!  We are all over the place.  The runway keeps approaching and in the final moments using the rudder we straighten.  At the same time Adam lowers the left wing into the wind to get us down, mainly to touch on the left wheel first.  We are all over the place and have a degree of sideways drift.

On touchdown, it is the left wheel first, then the right and nose in unison.  The scary part was the amount of sideways drift we have on the surface of the runway.  Quick to remove the flaps and turn the Ailerons into the wind to keep it safe, Adam continues to just hold control.  We continue to slide sideways on the surface until full power is restored and we pull up again.  As soon as the wheels break the surface, the wind pushes us off the side of the runway.  The turbulence off the hills is equally as bad on climb until we make about 150 feet.

I had to ask the question, was that a bit unsafe, should we be doing this in these winds?  We were on the edge of the demonstrated cross wind rating of VH-IGX.  With adrenaline pumping and one scary landing down, I asked, should we be doing touch and go’s in these conditions?  Adam said, “mate, up to you”…

Well since I had the choice, the answer was of course yes 🙂  My next question to Adam, “Are you scared? I’ll will be me now???”.  That is the great thing about dual control planes, we can both hold the controls and Adam can render any assistance he feels necessary to preserve his own existence.

Long strong short, I did two touch and go’s and two go arounds.  It was a boat load of fun, the adrenaline was awesome and it will make cross-winds at Jandakot seem easy.  We had one close call, an aircraft arrived directly in on finals without making appropriate calls.  We had clearly called we were on downwind and coming in, he entered directly in front of us as we were on base about to turn final.  Not only were his radio calls shit, so was his attempt at landing.  He was way off the centre line coming in and did the right thing, that is go around.  He didn’t stay for another try and headed off.  Another aircraft arrived a little later to have a go too.

He was at 6 miles out when we were turning base.  He was that quick, he caught us after we’d touch and gone.   He aborted his landing due to the cross winds and opted to do a 500 foot orbit of the island instead.   At this stage we turned for Jandakot and headed home.

The lesson was fun, the adrenaline good and my cross wind skills a bit better.  So all round good fun.  Adam signed me off for cross winds after this trip, so that means next it is time to be signed off Practice Forced Landings!

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Study and Preparation for pre-Area Solo Exam

Having been a bit slack on the blogging front, current 2 lessons behind and haven’t been through the behind the scenes things that are required to support the fun flying bit.  I’ll cover that off quickly. Before I do though, the last two lessons have been formalising practical sign off for cross winds and for Practice Forced Landings (PFL).  However in the mean time, study and flying knowledge review have been filling the short period before sleep each night.

The five documents that I’ve been focused on includes:

  1. Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) – for which the exam is fast approaching
  2. Air Australia Flight Training Guide  – to re-enforce everything the Area Solo check and General Flight Progress Test practical tests are going to be reviewing
  3. Plane Operating Handbook (POH) for the Cessna 152
  4. Jandakot Visual Pilot Guide
  5. Day VFR Syllabus for Pilots

All have an important role.  In fact, the last document is key.  It provides the details of everything (theory and practical) that is required for the Area Solo and the GFPT.  So I’m literally working through this as a check list.  I’m finding a few gaps and have been cycling back on the above documents to cover them off.

The thing that is important when learning to fly in controlled airspace, is knowing all the correct procedures.  This includes all the arrival and departure points, radio calls and clearances.  It can get complicated when the airport is busy.  The Jandakot Visual Pilot Guide is gold here, it goes through everything in detail.  The Air Australia Flight Training Guide also covers it, but only the standard items.  It doesn’t really go into the exceptions.  I’m feeling pretty confident in this area and you can always ask the controller in the tower anyway. For those learning to fly in non-controlled airspace (class G), flying into controlled airspace I could imagine may appear a bit daunting for the first few times. So I’m happy I’m getting the experience now.

The other major area I’ve been focusing my study has been on the BAK. This is all the theory required for the BAK exam before doing the GFPT check flight. GFTP is the pre-navigation milestone whereby as a pilot you can take passengers up into the training area. It is a formal endorsement and a huge milestone. My goal is to achieve this by the middle of May. Anyway, the BAK goes into a lot of details on everything about the plane, airports, basic weather, human performance and other goodies. Most of these are not a real stretch if you have a mechanical mind or a good understanding of basic physics.

The other area that I know is going to be of critical importance is to know all the flying theory so that it can be put into practice in the air. After all, flying the plane is what it is all about. So far I’ve been back over all the flying lessons. Key items are memorising all the acronyms that act as a checklist for practical actions. The other is knowing all the limits of the aircraft.

To be type rated in an aircraft, you have to complete a type rating document for that aircraft. This requires you to read Plane Operating Handbook and complete all the questions. It was an exercise which I have to say was more difficult than I initially thought. The flight training manual covered alot of the key points for the Cessna 152, however on reading the official documentation there is infinite more detail. The areas I found of particular interest were the emergency procedures for the aircraft, fire situations and plane handling info. Basically you have to read the document to complete the form for the most part. What is obvious is that as you look at the POH for more advanced aircraft, it is going to be absolutely critical to have studied this document and know it well before flying the aircraft. Knowing exactly what to do when the undercarriage in your Mooney wont lower itself I would think is a good thing to know…

Anyway, the study continues. I’ll sit the Pre Area Solo test this weekend and hopefully on Tuesday afternoon I’ll get checked out by Cameron to do my area solos. Once I’ve done 3 hours of those, it is the flight test and BAK exam time for GFPT. Bring it on!

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