Sunday, April 29, 2007

Briefing update, flight test booked!

I met with Dave last Friday morning and went over the questions that he had giving me. Then we went over some of the stuff that I might be asked during my flight test.

This weeked sucked weather wise but Saturday looks like it might be nice enough to fly to the mainland airport where the TC examiner is located. (We need at least a 6,000 ft to get across the straight VFR). We'll fly to Debert, (45 minutes one way) then I'll meet with the examiner and take the flight test, and if everything goes well I'll fly back home a licenced pilot.

I've never been to Debert before so I'll be flying out of an airport and over terra firma during the test that I've never seen before, also we'll be skirting the Halifax terminal control area. It should be quite interesting to say the least, let hope my sense of direction doesn't fail me... I'd hate to get lost and not be able to find my way back to the airport!

As always I'm walking into this challenge with the standard "10 foot tall and bullet proof attitude". I'd hate to be humbled now..... I think that I hear "Mr. Reality" knocking at the front door!

I'll let you know how I make out...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Final Flight Test Review

There were a few outstanding items that Dave wanted to touch on one more time before unleashing me on the poor TC examiner. We booked this flight for Thurday afternoon and it turned out to be the nicest day yet this spring.

In preparation for this flight I did another mock cross country, this time taking Dave's advice into consideration. My set heading point was 9 miles from the airport and this would give me plenty of time to climb to altitude and get everything trimmed up. My first checkpoint was exactly 10 miles further, and it was easily identified (I used a cove along the south shore). At this checkpoint I took out the whiz wheel and did the ground speed and revised the time calculations then did the aircraft checks. (reset heading indicator, carb heat, lean mixture and check the engine temps). Dave was happy.

We then jumped into some instrument upset recoveries. I have to tell you that if you've never had you head down and eyes closed while some madman is tossing the aircraft around in the sky you've got to give it a try. Not for those with weak stomachs! My recoveries were correct and quick. Dave was happy

Next was a spiral dive. I recovered quickly and correctly, making sure to avoid any torsional stresses. Old Cessnas don't mind being shaking and stirred, but they don't like being twisted.

Dave then asked me for the checklist, I didn't know why he wanted it but while I was searching in the side pocket for it he hauled the power back and announced with a smile that the engine had just failed. I did not have any problems with this during my mock flight test but Dave feels that you can never get enough practise. I trimmed and found a nice place to land, then did a simulated mayday call and pax brief. I decided at about 1,200 feet that while the original field that I had chosen was nice, there was a nicer one two fields over which I decided to land in. As long as I can make my original I'm allowed to change my landing spot without occuring a penality. (I went to the TC website and looked at the benchmark document that examiners use to test student pilots). I easily made my field and Dave was happy.

Dave then asked for me to take us back to the airport. I hauled out my map and proceeded to determine our exact location, then told him that I was going to go north a bit and follow route 2 home. (I thought he was testing my deversion skills). He looked at me and said OK or you can just take us back. It turned out he wasn't testing me he just wanted to head back.

During our flight back we talked, he said that I that everything went very well and that I'm ready for my flight test. The end is finally in sight!

We now need to get together and go over the test questions that he gave me a few weeks ago. I'm going to complete the few remaining ones this weekend and meet with him, hopefully I can get my flight test book for late next week.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mock flight test complete

Finally everything lined up and we were able to get up for my mock flight test.

While I finished the paperwork for my pretend cross country to Moncton Dave played musical aircraft in the hanger, moving three and a tug to free the one we wanted. Dave returned to the office and then I went out to preflighted the aircraft and pull her over to the fuel pumps to top her up, a few minutes later were off.

To make a long story short, there was much that went very well today and a few things that I need to brush up on. Dave did not provide me any feedback until after the flight.

We started off with my cross country. It turns out (after the fact) that my set heading point was too close to the airport and I should choose checkpoints that are easier to identify from the air, and my cross country log keeping needs more work too. Yes even flying has its paperwork. These issues are easily fixed.

We broke off the cross country and started with some slow flight, slow flight turns and then some power off and power on stalls, no problemo. Next up was steep turns, my first steep turn was perfect but during my second 360 I wandered from my starting altitude more than I wanted too, I corrected it but "all-seeing" Dave still caught it. I think what also screwed me up was the fact that I started my second turn with the altimeter at an odd number like 3, 430 instead of something more simple like 3,400.

Next he had my do some instrument work under the foggles, basically fly this heading at this altitude, now descend to this altitude etc., no problem. Now that I have my scan down pat and I keep it moving I find this kind of flying simple, no outside distractions.

Next we did some upset recovery work. I recovered each time quickly but during the first one the sun was directly in my eyes so I couldn't see anything with the glare coming from the foggles. I took my hand off the throttle to block out the sun during recovery, without adding throttle (hand blocking sun) I traded altitude for airspeed. Due to the issue with the sun Dave had me do another, during my second recovery I added only 1/2 throttle and without thinking traded height for airspeed again. (Both times he left me in a steep climb with airspeed quickly falling).

Dave then took over again and promptly put us into a spiral dive, I recovered fine without exceeding any important v-speeds, but Dave wants my recovery to be quicker and with more rudder.

About 30 minutes into the mock flight test we encountered a real problem with our radio, we could recieve fine but couldn't transmit. We checked all the obvious stuff, unplugged and replugged everything but nothing fixed it. Dave contacted the tower using his cell phone to update them on our radio situation and we continued on.

Dave then asked me what direction I would fly to get us back to the airport. I took out my map and pinpointed our current location, which was easy, then I used the airport's compass rose to compute a return heading home. Dave agreed that this was an easy way to do it but he wanted me to use geographical feature such as roads, high-tension power lines, railroad tracks or bodies of water to find my way back.

Dave then announced that we had a simulated engine problem, oil pressure was low and the temp was high. I throttle back a bit and did a precautionary landing in a grain field which went perfect, we overshot at a couple hundred feet. A few minutes later we had a complete mock engine failure, my forced approach was perfect as well. No feedback on either.

I followed the north coast back to an area north of the airport and then turned south to follow a road to the control zone. As we arrived back at the airport there was a large commecial jet getting ready to leave, we could hear the conversation. Getting clearance would take him a few more minutes so tower cleared us to land over our half functioning radio. Dave asked me to keep a tight circuit to speed things up and keep us from delaying the commercial.

Dave requested a short field landing on base so I dropped 40 degrees of flaps, throttle to idle and quickly trimmed for a 75 mph glide, we were coming in high on final due to the tight circuit. With full flaps and a full forward slip I brought us down rather quickly from our high approach on final, I came out of the slip at 20 feet to let everything stabalize again, then added just a hint of power to get us over the runway lights. We could have been easily stopped by 500 feet but I let her rollout to get us to our taxiway faster. Tower had called us on final to politely request that we clear the runway as soon as possible using taxiway charlie so the big commercial, with it clearance now approved, could get underway. Tower must have watched my textbook short field because they were on the radio telling us that we could take taxiway Bravo at our descretion, which is what I did. (I was very happy with this landing).

Back in the office a few minutes later Dave and I discussed how things went. As I outlined above there were a few things that he wants to be a little better so we've decided to do one more dual flight which will hopefully to wrap things up.

Looking back over this mock flight, knowing what still needs a little work I feel quite confident that my flight test is just around the corner.

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