Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

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By MattL
#1910108
The Benson zone controller will often be working all us military traffic on UHF frequency as well, and potentially vectoring radar traffic, so they may be juggling and hence sometimes it may seem to be a slower response - Brize only work VHF frequencies generally.
T6Harvard liked this
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910407
Another good lesson this morning.

Bit unsure of the weather before I left for the airfield today but was fine by the time I got there. Metars and tafs around the local fields indicated north was the best bet so instructor suggested another solo nav to Hereford, Ludlow and back to Glos.

All planned nicely with whizz wheel etc. without too much head scratching. 214, 215 checked. Notams checked on SD. Booked out with ATC, tech log filled in, pre-flight then off we go. All starting to become a bit more ‘normal’ now and all the more enjoyable for it. I recall some of the earlier lessons when it was all so new and over-whelming.

Just as it was all going so well, I made a right Charlie of it. 09/27 is now open at Glos. With it, they have renamed some holding points. Tower gave me A3 and advised it was a new one up where the old A2 was. I reverted to plain English and advised I’d head along Alpha and look when I got there. Had it been left at that, I think it would have been ok. Tower came back and tried to explain where it was. I thought I understood where it was and headed up there. Having mentally pictured where I thought it was, I sailed right past A3, then started looking and thought ‘ah, I’ve ballsed this up’. Tower kindly advised a 180 at which point I saw that I’d passed A3. How I missed it is a perfect lesson in human performance - react to what is in front of you and not necessarily what you think is right. It was right in front of me as I taxied along Alpha, but I didn’t see it because I was already fixated on where I thought it was. Fortunately, I went to the side of it and hadn’t crossed the holding point. Sorry to the Ikarus pilot that I ended up pushing in front of. If you’re on here and want to identify yourself, I owe you a pint.

I was quite pleased at my next actions. Started to do pre-take off checks and was rushing. Told myself to slow down, and extra 30 seconds doing it right isn’t going to matter but saving 30 seconds and doing it wrong might matter. Still a bit flustered and ballsed up the readback on the clearance call but eventually got away.

Nav was ok ish. Bit off to start with but realised and got back on track. Some Freda checks, remembered to write times down etc and the first leg was ok. Cloud was a bit lower than expected so had to dip under a couple and only briefly got to 2500 as planned but all ok and surface in sight at all times.

Transferred to London Information for a basic service. Good to listen in to some of that chatter, including a mysterious Heli flight from BHX with clearance into the Hereford danger zone. Good reminder not to overshoot Hereford into the danger zone.

Next leg to Ludlow all good. Headings working out ok and good reference to ground features.

Turn at Ludlow and next leg going well until about half way looking back at the SD log. For some reason, I ended up about 20 degrees off track and was a bit lost for a while. In the end, I succumbed and looked at SD. At the same time, I saw the airfield and wasn’t as lost as I though I was. Had a good chat over it when back and instructor helped to identify features. When we looked at the log together, it seems that I wasn’t far off and he told me not to worry about that small amount of deviation.

Given a SOHJ back in and a reasonable amount of traffic. Again, pleased that I could visualise where I thought the traffic was and when I looked, it was where I thought it would be. What used to blow my mind is slowly becoming a learned skill.

Landing was a bit fast over the hedge (80kts) but I recognised it, managed to slow up before the threshold and was mindful not to float it too far. All down safe and sound.

Back in for shutdown, fess up to being a knob and missing A3, debrief and off to work.

33:05 flown. About 7:05 solo. Happy with progress.

VOR nav next week. Also, booked a 5 hour lesson on 3 June. Was offered the full day but felt that would break my brain and wallet.
johnm, T6Harvard, ericgreveson and 1 others liked this
By TopCat
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910421
Milty wrote:

> Landing was a bit fast over the hedge (80kts) but I recognised it, managed
> to slow up before the threshold and was mindful not to float it too far.
> All down safe and sound.
>

May I ask what you mean by "was mindful not to float it too far"?
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910431
Sorry, poor description. Basically, I was aware having approached with too much speed that it was likely to float and if I didn’t allow the speed to bleed off, I was at risk of a balloon. There’s a fair distance from the hedge to the threshold on 27 and it’s plenty long enough so I’d bled a decent amount of speed off I think by the time I got there. Anyway, I managed to get it down with a bit of sink before flare, no balloon and was slow enough to taxi off at the first exit as requested by ATC.
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By skydriller
#1910432
lobstaboy wrote:
> It's very important to get some experience on grass so that you will realise that
> it's just the same as tarmac, only easier

Absolutely... up to a point though.

The takeoff & landing performance on grass varies considerably with the condition of the airstrip - how long is the grass, is it dry, hard ground, soft ground, frosty, is there morning dew, is it wet etc - most of which dont make a difference on a tarmac/concrete runway. Grass just requires a little more thought sometimes. For example, I dont think I have ever "walked" a tarmac/concrete runway to check its condition, but I have grass runways.

Regards, SD..
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910438
I’m adding this bit to my ‘blog’ as a result of another thread topic that arose by coincidence and reminded me of something that happened on the lesson yesterday.

During preflight with my instructor, I discussed I might check in with London information. He emphasised the importance of making sure I made Gloucester aware of changing and again making London aware I was changing back to Gloucester. The consequence being that if I didn’t and appeared to disappear, the alerting service should start trying to track me down. A scenario was also discussed if leaving Gloucester to the east and going beyond the ridge line at low level, it’s common to lose contact with Gloucester. Important in that scenario to advise your next station that you left having lost contact and ask them to let Gloucester know you were safe.

I know this is basic stuff and most will know to do it. It’s in the comms exam info and I think will be part of the RT practical (must book that up) but I thought it was an interesting coincidence that a thread on the same basic topic appeared so added this in for any other students that might read it.
T6Harvard, ericgreveson liked this
By TopCat
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910450
Milty wrote:
> Sorry, poor description. Basically, I was aware having approached with too
> much speed that it was likely to float and if I didn’t allow the speed to
> bleed off, I was at risk of a balloon. There’s a fair distance from the
> hedge to the threshold on 27 and it’s plenty long enough so I’d bled a
> decent amount of speed off I think by the time I got there. Anyway, I
> managed to get it down with a bit of sink before flare, no balloon and was
> slow enough to taxi off at the first exit as requested by ATC.

Nice. :thumleft:

Thanks for clarifying. Let me explain why I picked up on that. What follows refers to nose-wheel aircraft.

We've all arrived with too much speed sometimes; it's what you do about it that counts, and there are basically three options.

If you've got enough runway ahead to just keep flying while the speed bleeds off, it's just a question of patience - you wait until you start to run out of airspeed and sink, at which point the back pressure comes in to stop the sink, the nose keeps coming up and eventually you touch down because the wing stops flying.

If you haven't got enough runway ahead to do that, the only safe option is to go around.

The third option is the dangerous one - it's where you get the aeroplane on to the ground even though it still wants to fly, and attempt to stop with the brakes. It is in fact the only way to control the distance the aeroplane 'floats' (which is why I wondered if that's what you meant), and in a fully functional aeroplane it should never be used. It's the cause of many of the landing accidents that litter the reports.

The whole notion of an aeroplane 'floating' is bullshit, anyway, and I wish we could completely expunge it from our landing vocabulary. A seaplane floats, which is handy because it's nice to be able to use it more than once.

An aeroplane 'floating' in the last phase of the landing isn't floating, it's flying. It might fly a little longer than it would at altitude because of ground effect, but from a handling point of view that is irrelevant.

If it's still flying, keep it flying and don't try to land it. Wait until it stops flying of its own accord.
Milty liked this
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1910452
[usermention=862]@TopCat[/usermention] I got your point completely and was pleased that I was conscious that the last thing I should do is try to force it to stop flying before it was ready. Thanks for pointing out my poor description which did need clarification. It’s starting to sink in with a combination of instruction and other sources such as topics like this and other student posts. Input and guidance always welcome and appreciated.
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1911381
And another good lesson with a decent amount of learning.

First item on today's agenda was the Aircraft General Knowledge exam. Wish I'd got this one out of the way earlier. As a mechanical engineer by education, career and experience, a good chunk of it was known already and the rest made good sense. Annoyed to get one wrong which was on the topic of gyros and to be honest, I can't recall which question it could have been. There were a couple of questions, and I've found this on some of the other exams, that the answers could be a bit subjective. Anyway, a 93% pass is alright and ticked the box. Going to study Nav next - I want to get one of the biggies out the way. Then it will be PoF and flight planning left to do.

In the air, today was VOR and DME day. Not really studied these yet but had a chat about it last week with the instructor and a bit of youtube last night and it all seemed fairly logical. Having spent and hour or so messing about and using them, I actually found it easier to do than to read about and learn.

Missed the runway crossing readback today before taxiing out but nice controller reminded me and off we went.

Pretty breezy down at Gloucester this afternoon so good and wobbly as soon as the wheels lifted off 22. Off to the north visually up to Tewkesbury then put the first Daventry radial in. All a bit confusing with different radio's, confirming ID's etc. (didn't realise I had to know the morse code for the VOR). It all seemed to fall into place though and I reckon if I had to do it tomorrow, I'd have a decent stab at it.

First exercise was I had drawn a line from Tewkesbury to the Daventry VOR - had to put that in and follow it until we were 26m away on the DME, then switch to the 015 Honily radial until 11m from Honiley, then pick up and fly the 270 radial from Daventry. All going well so far.

We then got a position fix from the Daventry VOR and DME, then cross referenced that by re-tuning to the Honiley VOR and confirming the intersect point. I'm not going to lie, flying and drawing accurately on a map seems to be the most stupid thing to try and do at the same time but it wasn't quite as hard as I imagined. It was a touch bumpy and kindly, my instructor helped out on the yoke a bit to keep us in the sky given the conditions were what they were.

I'm going to stop writing about this now because as I'm writing it, I fear it is probably intensely boring to read and I'm aware that some of you may be operating aircraft or heavy machinery within 24 hours of reading it which could be dangerous. I'm also aware as mentioned at the start that it's harder to write about than do. Any students that haven't done it yet, please don't read this and panic - it really is easier than it sounds.

We did do a few more intersect exercises before finally taking a radial from Honiley to Gloucester, flying at around 50 degrees to it until intersecting it, then followed it back to Gloucester.

PFL on the way back went quite well. The flying bit and finding the field was all good. Engine restart checks left a bit to be desired and the less said about the mayday call the better. Chosen field wasn't quite as nice when we got a bit closer and right in front of us was a nice, newly mown one so I elected to go for that. Good choice was the feedback. Back up in the air and homeward bound.

Feeling happy and smug with today's performance, I was immediately brought back down to earth by a brainfart on the SOHJ readback. Valuable lesson learned - write it down. Was feeling that I had it all under control so got a bit over-confident. Just completely clammed up and had to ask the instructor to step in. Say again would have been my friend and I suspect had I been on my own, I'd have put my big boy pants on and got on with it. I do find having the instructor there at times, whilst brilliant and necessary, does almost distract from learning by being forced to get on with it.

Anyway, no puppies killed, nicely executed SOHJ and we got down safely. Little bit of crosswind and a bit gusty but not too bad overall.

Instructor happy with progress in fairly challenging conditions. Me happy with progress and some good lessons learned.

Next week, if the weather is a bit poor, will be foggles and cloud (been promised both as instructor wants to show me that cloud is more difficult than foggles - I understand that this will be conducted safely with a radar service from Brize but don't quiz me on the detail - I'm leaving that to the bloke that needs to know. If the weather is OK, we're off for a transit through Bristol (hopefully). Week after that is holiday, then on 3rd June, instructor has had mass cancellations due to bank holiday so I've got him for 4-5 hours and we're off to Cardiff to practice for my QXC which will follow relatively shortly after he feels. Seems a bit surreal that it's all happening quicker than expected, but I'm enjoying it and it's now nice to feel that I can cover the basics reasonably well and from now on, it's finessing, e.g. bit like when you learn to drive a car and you get to that point when you realise that you're not having to think about pushing pedals, changing gear etc.

FRTOL is booked for 17th June. Need to do a bit of swotting to get that good enough to pass. I know most of it, but don't know it well enough to regurgitate it from memory without mistakes so I want to be more confident. If anyone is lying on a sunlounger in Crete in a couple of weeks time and overhears a nutjob wittering mayday mayda mayday, it's me reading CAP413 and practising :lol:

34:10 flown. About 7:05 solo. Happy with progress. Life is good.
Harleyatrix, T6Harvard, ericgreveson and 2 others liked this
By FlyingBoot
#1911444
That was actually quite interesting @Milty. I don't have to do the VOR/DME stuff for NPPL. However, have quite extensive experience of them in flight simulators. Are NDBs still used? They still appear on charts but I don't recall people mentioning them. Good luck with the foggles and possible cloud.

Regarding your RT exam, at least you have experience of ATC. I have very little radio experience except for blind calls. Only done MATZ penetration once, radar service once, basic service twice and A/G twice. Okay four times as I had to take off again. I almost had a chance to at least talk to Approach once but they decided to have the day off.
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By Milty
FLYER Club Member  FLYER Club Member
#1911446
Not sure about NDB’s. Not heard that term myself yet.

I found the use of VOR’s more interesting than I thought I would but as mentioned, it’s harder to make it an interesting reading topic.

I’m lucky to be at a busy ATC field but I then lack the experience of other types of control. I’ve not landed at an A/G myself yet. I basically know how to do most of it but need to work on it all being muscle memory recollection. I’ve got a month so plan to make up cheat sheets to read at bedtime, break time etc. over the next month. Fingers crossed it will work.
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