Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cross Country Cancelled

Early this morning my cross country looked like it was going to happen, there were only a few clouds at 1,400 ft. As the morning wore on though, the few clouds turned into a broken layer at 2,000 ft.

This is far too low for our requirements for a couple of reasons. First, one doesn't general fly cross country at such a low altitude unless it's a low level site seeing trip. Second, we have to cross the Northumberland straight which is 9 miles wide (we actually fly directly over the Confederation Bridge) so we need height to stay legal with respect to gliding distances to land.

At least I got up once this weekend.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Lesson #27 Instrument flying

Woke up to a nice beautiful day for flying, it was sunny and 4c, no wind to speak of.

I went out to the airport slightly late, and jump right into the pre-trip. A few minutes later we were climbing out and Dave was searching for a map to put over the windows.

To make a long story short, my instrument work went really well. Dave had me doing various turns while decending or climbing to such and such heading, to this altitude and maintain this airspeed. Task overload nearly, but I kept my scan going and I was able to do everything he asked for to satisfaction.

Next we did some upset recoveries. With my head down and eyes closed, Dave flew like a madman... now recover. This went well too. Afterwards I had Dave show me what he was doing while I had my head down.... I'm glad I had my eyes closed, that's all I can say!

Next we moved onto some VOR work while headed back to the airport, no problems. We overflew the VOR and watched the "flip". Finished off the lesson with a fairly decent, but not perfect landing.

Tomorrow we do our first cross country, I have to do some homework tonight to get ready.

It's good to be back in the air again.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Non Flying Update

I had a lesson booked for this afternoon but the overcast is 600 feet with a light drizzle. Dave has a cross country planned for tomorrow morning, other than that he's booked up solid. There is however a slight possibility that the cross country might be cancelled due to weather at the other airports. If this happens and the weather is good enough locally for a lesson he'll give me a call.

Monday Update:
I just checked the METAR, overcast is at 600 feet and the TAF says it's not going to get any better. I'll see if I can take some time off work this week and get a lesson in.

Thurday (Nov 16) Update:
Tried as I might I have not been able to get both Dave and the Fern lined up to make a lesson happen. To top it off Dave is leaving this Saturday for a one week trip to Europe, which is good for him but sucks for me. Oh the joys of living in smallville PEI. When I spoke to him this morning I had him book my next lesson, another hour of instruments for next Saturday, and also a cross-country, (three provinces, three airports in three hours) for Sunday morning.

I'm still hoping to complete my PPL by Xmas.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Lesson #26 Instrument flying

This morning was beautiful and sunny with a light wind, a great day for flying. It kinda sucked that I wouldn't see much of it.

I arrived at the airport and Dave was nowhere to be found, so I started preflighting Fern in the hanger. She needed oil and fuel. I added the oil and then I had to haul another 172 outside in order to get Fern out of the hanger. The fuel pumps are about 100 meters away so I just hauled her over there without firing her up, (a 172 is quite easy to move around by hand). I then returned to the hanger and put the other 172 back inside and shut the door. Back out to the pumps I top up both tanks and by now my hands are frozen, as it's only 4 degrees out. I roll up the fuel hose and static line and head back inside to wash the oil off my hands under some warm water, halfway back to the building Dave comes strolling out of the door.

Takeoff was soft field which went well. It's amazing how rolling down the runway with the nosewheel in the air can become common place. I didn't remember to put the flaps back up until 600 feet. Ten degrees of flaps really keeps the nose down during climbout, and they don't seem to add much drag at all. I put the flaps up and retrimmed.

A few minutes later and I was flying using only the instruments, Dave commented that he might need some sunscreen. We started off with a straight climb to 3,500 feet, then some straight and level flight to take us to the west . Next Dave had me do a couple of standard rate turns in both directions. Then straight and level at 80 mph, I trimmed for the requested speed and used the throttle to maintain correct altitude. Next we did some climbing and decending turns both left and right at 90 mph.

The key to staying on your numbers (altitude and heading, and at times speed) is to always be scanning, never fixate on one instrument for too long. It's a simple concept but one that must be learned, as a student pilot it's easy to watch one or two instruments for too long, to the determent of something else.

With some of the basics out of the way we moved on to unusual attitudes. During my last lesson there was a couple of times that I felt like we were in a slight decending left turn and I had to keep myself from correcting us because all my instruments were telling me that my inner ear was wrong.

To recover from unusual attitudes a pilot needs to ignore most of the instruments because they are unreliable or lag too much during recovery. I remember back to an earlier lesson when we were doing spin recovery, the attitude indicator got tumbled and it took forever to come back online. The two main instruments that Dave taught me to use during recovery was the airspeed indicator and the turn and bank coordinator.

I put my head down and basically looked at the floor while "madman" Dave started tossing the aircraft all over the place, after about 30 seconds he asked me to recover. When I lifted my head I felt like we were in a very steep spiraling dive to the left. I looked at the ASI and it was climbing fast, so I pulled the power off while I looked down at the turn and bank indicator, it said that we were wings level. I still felt that we were in a very steep left turn. I maintained level flight and pulled the nose back up until the airspeed stopped increasing then I brought the power back up. All this took maybe four seconds. I was now flying straight and level but it still felt like we were in a steep left turn.

We did this exercise a few more times and each time my senses told me one thing and the instruments told me something else, most time I was off by a little, but a couple of times I was off by alot, usually when I closed my eyes. Dave said that I did a good job of recovering. I have to tell you that it was a strange feeling, your instruments telling you one thing and your inner ear telling you something else. I didn't find it hard to ignore my senses and believe the instruments. Dave asked how I was doing and I replied that I was starting to feel a little light headed and dizzy, I reassured him that there was zero chance of me tossing my cookies though. He then hauled the map off the windshield so I could get everything "coordinated" again by flying for a couple of minutes VFR.

It was still a nice day.

Next we discussed how we could use the VOR reciever to return to the airport. I turned the dial until the needle centered, then I looked at the To and From indicator and from that I could tell what radial that we were on. Using the VOR I could determine the heading that I needed to fly in order to return to the airport. A quick turn and a minute later we were inbound for the airport on the radial I tuned, then Dave turned the dial a bit and had me practise intercepting a radial. Simple stuff.

It's important to remember that the To and From indicator has nothing to do with the heading of the aircraft, but rather the location of the aircraft in relation to the VOR station and the radial you've dialed in.

I flew us the rest of the way back to the airport using instruments with Dave calling out headings, I went back to looking out the window during final. There was a 7 kt crosswind so I put Fern into a slip and did firm but decent landing. Much better than last week, but it still needs work.

A beautiful day for flying, and other than a couple of minutes I didn't get to see any of it. However, instrument flying is getting easier and I am getting better at it. We're going to do one more lesson on instruments and then it's on to our first cross country.

Another 1.2 hours in the old logbook.

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