Climb, Descent and Medium Turns – With Radio Calls! (AP4)

My flight on Thursday was history in the making – it was the first time I was let loose on the radios to air traffic control.  It was a good flight and when my instructor said ‘right, time to go back’ I couldn’t believe it.  The lessons always go so quick.  We covered climbs, power-off descents and medium turns (up to 30 degrees of bank).  I was looking forward to having a go at landing but we were short of time and the sun was getting low in the sky – and directly lined up with the runway we would be approaching which would make it difficult for anyone to land, never mind a first timer!

I downloaded and  compiled my radio calls to the tower from liveatc.net so everyone can have a good laugh.  You can tell from the calls that I am an absolute beginner.  That’s okay though, the tower controllers were patient and helpful.  Have a listen!  One of my friends was on the tower frequency at the time and had a good laugh at my ‘arrival’ call.

Everything up to that point was okay, a little hesitation here and there but nothing too bad.  Listen out for Warrior 271SG, that’s me!  I’m pretty inconsistent with my call sign, I sometimes miss bits off or give more than the tower was looking for.  Once they have addressed me as Warrior 1SG I can use that but I forgot!  Once I have my hold short instructions from the tower you can hear Airship Snoopy Two call up.  I had to leave that in there because if I had to pick any voice for an airship pilot – that one would be it!

Straight after that you can hear me call up the tower to state my position and tell them I want to land.  It wasn’t really that quick, I just cut out the bits inbetween.  Instead of saying ‘…two miles south of the gap with information sierra inbound for full stop’ which means I want to land I said: ‘…two miles south of the gap fooooooooor…arrival?’  Ha!  It sounds as if I was asking the tower what I wanted.  After that things start getting a little busy so my instructor takes over.  There are two aircraft in front off us to land so we have to listen and look out for where they are.

My radio calls on friday were a lot better from what I could tell, I’ll post them when I get them put together.  I’ve just discovered a problem with my keyboard – sometimes it prints the letter I have pressed twice and sometimes not at all.  That needs fixing quick and I have no idea where to start.

Thanks to liveatc.net for the recording.

Effects of Controls & Straight and Level

Me with the wee Warrior.

Me with the wee Warrior.

My next two lessons (AP2&AP3) covered effects of controls and straight and level as the title of this post suggests.  I was a little nervous about the second flight because of the nausea thing but it wasn’t an issue.  Both lessons were very smooth because they were the first of the day.  A favourite part of both of these lessons was taking off.  Even though the wee warrior doesn’t have the same acceleration as a passenger jet it is still really satisfying to push the throttle forwards and accelerate towards rotation speed (the speed where you lift the nose off the ground) which is 65kts in the Warrior.

B-E-A-utiful view! Kind of looks like Sim City from up here.

B-E-A-utiful view! Kind of looks like Sim City from up here.

My lessons are usually back to back with my two flying buddies so our instructor will do one flight after the other.  If the first two pilots go together on the first flight, we can land away at another airport, switch, and have the second pilot fly back to Goodyear and then the third pilot gets his flight.  I hope you followed that!  On AP3, we landed at Mobile which is about 20nm south/south-east of Goodyear.  It is insanely quiet out there, the airport is un-manned and the only other thing nearby is a landfill and I couldn’t even hear that.  I haven’t landed yet but I look forward to it.  It looks like quite the challenge!  Taking off isn’t terribly difficult, keep the nose on the centre line with the rudder (requires right rudder due to various forces acting on the plane) and rotate at 65kts.  Hold a slight nose up attitude to climb away but not too steeply.  Keep your hand on the throttle until 1000ft above the ground – that isn’t strictly essential in a single engine aeroplane, it’s more preparation for flying a twin.  If you have an engine failure on takeoff in a twin, you want to throttle back the live engine straight away.  You can’t do that unless your hand is on the throttle.  It’s fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge of landing.  Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as taking off – but then it wouldn’t be a challenge.  AP4 will be tomorrow morning – climb, descend and medium turns.

Straight and level was a good lesson for getting to know the area better.  There’s not much else you can do going straight and level for over an hour!  We did turn, just not very often.  The aim of the lesson was to be able to hold altitudes (using trim) and hold headings using references on the ground.

Who said there was a 'right' way up anyway?

Who said there was a ‘right’ way up anyway?

I was out at an RC flying club this morning – my first time ever to such a place.  It was a lot of fun too even though I didn’t get to fly.  If I was even allowed to fly the pictured aircraft above I would have said no right away.  The risk of messing up is way too high!  The pilot of the blue plane has been flying RC aircraft for about thirteen years and that is clearly visible when watching him do that flying thing.  He had it upside down, spinning, looping, ‘hovering’ and flying sideways.  The performance was a complete show stealer, everyone stopped to watch and for good reason too, it was very impressive!  He was just as good with RC helicopters too, I had no idea they were so maneuverable – or strong enough to withstand such insane flying.

Helicopter or lawn mower? Both!

Helicopter or lawn mower? Both!

Right, that’s it.  I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes.

Goodyear Arizona & First Flight (AP1)

Amazing sunsets are common here, almost every night.

As is usually the case, I haven’t updated in months.  I now find myself in Arizona at the beginning of my foundation flight training.  My first flight was this afternoon and I have one scheduled for tomorrow, Friday and will probably fly Saturday too.

Before I get into the flight, let me talk a little about the end of ground school.  The thing that I really really didn’t want to happen happened.  I landed myself with another re-sit.  I thought I had had my fair share of re-sits but that was not the case.  This time round I failed Aircraft Performance.  It is a very similar exam to Principles of Flight incidentally – it even has the same number of questions.  I did what I did the first time round and focussed on the bigger, ‘more important’ subjects and forgot about the not so big one.  I was very pleased with my results for those, I thought General Navigation or Flight Planning would be one I would mess up but not so.  No subject is more important than another really, you need to pass them all before you can get your licence (or start your training in AZ should you be studying with OAA).

I took the re-sit in December and passed this time.  It would have been a lot cheaper and a lot more convenient to pass the first time round but having to re-take the paper has also had some benefits.  The greatest of said benefits being that I was able to spend Christmas and New Year with my girlfriend and her family.  I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  Another of the benefits I had was being able to slow down for a few weeks, I actually had some time off.  The rest of my group didn’t have much time before they were put to work once more.

Another sunset picture taken from the same place I took the previous one while I was eating the delicious fish I had cooked on the BBQ moments earlier.

Enough of the re-sit.  It’s in the past now.  I arrived in Phoenix ahead of the group I was to be flying with and so met my good friends from AP313 who then drove me over to Goodyear.  To say it was good to see everyone was an understatement.  The next few days were ground school and tours/familiarisation of the centre and local procedures etc.  We covered a lot of things such as safety, course vehicles, a briefing from the local police on traffic, airspace, charts, flight pro (scheduling software), pre-flight checks, air law, mass and balance, performance and flight controls.  I was glad when it was over though, I’ve had enough ground school to last me a lifetime but I know for sure this won’t be the last time I have to be there.

This is what I flew today; the Piper Warrior.  Sorry about the poor picture, I had already left the parking area and didn’t want to go back to my room to get my high visibility jacket so this’ll have to do for now. I’ll get some proper pictures later.

My first flight in the Warrior was so much fun.  It was fairly short (50 mins including taxi) but it was still enough to get a first look at the training area and have a quick go with the controls.  My instructor is excellent, he explains things very clearly and is also a lot of fun.  He knows the aircraft very well, he showed us some steep climbs and turns and his landing was superb.  The air was pretty smooth for the most part but was a little bumpy towards the end when we passed by the mountains.  I was even feeling a little nauseous at the very end and I thought I had a strong stomach.  fortunately it didn’t develop into anything too crazy but my instructor has some tricks up his sleeve if any of us feel ill so I’m not worried.  If worst comes to the worst he has some barf bags too but I’m not about to let my 14+yr record fall into a paper bag three thousand feet in the air.  On that note, that’ll do for now!  Flying is fun!