Circuits – AP12 & 13

Staying in the pattern (flying circuits) is the best way to practice landings because you get a landing in every five minutes or so.  The video above shows one of those circuits.  It’s not me flying but it shows what I was doing moments earlier.


The basic left-hand traffic pattern.

The basic left-hand traffic pattern.

The traffic pattern is pretty simple.  It can either be left-hand or right-hand.  Sometimes both circuits run at the same time depending on how ATC are running things.  A normal circuit only takes about five minutes so you can get plenty of landing practice in a single lesson.  The pattern here at Goodyear is flown at 2000 feet above mean sea level.  On the ground you are already 968 feet above mean sea level so the pattern is 1000 feet above ground level.  You fly the upwind to 500ft and then turn crosswind, still climbing.  Upon reaching 2000ft level off and if you haven’t already, turn for the downwind leg.  The downwind leg is flown about one mile away from the runway.

When the touchdown point on the runway is about 45 degrees behind your wing, that is a good time to turn onto your base leg.  When turning base reduce power and set flaps to 25 degrees to assist with altitude loss and slowing down.  Turn onto final and set flaps to 40 degrees – maintain 70kts until over the runway.  When over the runway, reduce power to idle as appropriate and raise the nose (flare) for touchdown.  As you probably heard on the radio there was a quick chirp from the stall warner just before touchdown.  That’s pretty much how you want it to be.  You don’t want to stall any higher than just above touch down!

This is the view of the runway on the base leg.

This is the view of the runway on the base leg.

Turning onto final.

Turning onto final.

If you look at the full size version of the ‘final’ picture (by clicking on it) you will see the PAPIs (Precision Approach Path Indicators) on the left hand side of the runway.  These help in setting up the correct descent rate when approaching the runway.  What you want to see is white on the outside and red on the inside.  That shows you’re on the correct glide path.  Two whites tell you that you’re too high and two reds tell you that you’re too low.

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 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 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.

The Inertial Discumbobulator Has Failed to Reciprocate

As previously stated, our instrument teacher is a comedy genius and just might be one of the best teachers I have ever encountered.  He is extremely knowledgeable on his subject (as you would expect) but also on the English language.  He explains things in a terrific manner and often with much humour.  Today we were discussing the inertial navigation system and how it warns of errors and then the procedure for identifying them and correcting them.  The error he came up with was that the ‘inertial discumbobulator has failed to reciprocate’ which makes absolutely no sense but the way in which he said it just cracked me up.

What else is going on since T1’s?  We’ve finally finished propellers and made our way on to gas turbines, we’ve covered way too much AC Electric theory and nightmarish amounts of stability and control in Principles of Flight.  Other subjects such as Human Performance and Airframes & Systems are seeming to flow along nicely (or so it seems!).  Meteorology you ask?

Sunset at Eynsham Hall

Sunset at Eynsham Hall

There were some recent JAR examinations (the big ones, the real thing) recently which means some more people have left Eynsham Hall to go on to bigger and better things like Arizona and aircraft.  As far as I’m aware, there are only three of us left here now.  We’re extremely lucky, the surroundings are wonderful and the facilities are great.  The sunset picture was taken just last night and it was taken by my phone so it’s not the best.  I don’t take much time to get my ‘proper’ camera out at the moment.

All in all, things are going well here in North Leigh.  I wouldn’t have said the same thing yesterday, it was a tough one and I let it get on top of me.  Today has been far more positive and far more productive as a result.  To enable tomorrow to be as positive as possible I’m going to go and get a decent sleep.  Bye for now.

Post Exam Debrief – or Relief?

My three-day weekend.

Last weekend was the run up to the first school tests, aptly named Test 1’s.  As previously mentioned (I think), these tests are to see how we’re doing and how well we’re receiving the ‘stuff’ being taught.  The three-day weekend was a life saver, I don’t know how I would have covered all that I wanted to without it.  Notice how there isn’t a book in sight in the picture?  No comment.

Runway parallel with the coast, crosswind due to sea breeze.

Super cool diagram.

Above is one of my super cool diagrams.  Probably one of the best I have ever done.  The thing is, they don’t really need to be so detailed.  I was trying to visualise which way the crosswind would be coming from when approaching in a particular direction.  Notice how I put the wrong approach on first!  Like I say, they don’t need to be so detailed, I was just looking for a way out of answering more questions.

Drawings help you out in a number of subjects – instruments, meteorology, and some systems stuff too.  I used drawings in many of my recent tests, I’m certain they earned me a good few marks.  I’m not quite ready to publish my results to the entire world, it is sufficient to say that I did well enough to not have to see the chief ground instructor or be thrown off the course.  I’m relieved, I worked really hard over the last six weeks.  I was worried that I wouldn’t get the grade I expected because I wasn’t sure what I would do differently to improve.  So, relief all round.  I’m going to have to keep up that pace to maintain (and hopefully improve) my score throughout the next six weeks.

Sunday Lunch

Here’s one I made earlier.

It’s important to eat well when you’re working really hard, hopefully that is common knowledge.  I don’t make a Sunday lunch everyday, but it does make a nice treat on a Sunday afternoon when there’s a bit more time to make one.  I’m a cheat, I think everything on the plate was frozen an hour before the photo was taken.  Everything except the gravy that is, that was still powder.

My family were down for the weekend, that was most enjoyable.  Had they been down the previous weekend I would hardly have seen them.  There was much good food to be had over the weekend too.  The weather was amazing and I had no studying to do.  All this combined made for a wonderful weekend.  Now…back to work!

As air temperature increases, density…?

Air temperature and density is most important to the aviator.  On Monday the temperatures rocketed to levels I didn’t know were possible for the UK in mid summer, never mind May.  The thing is, I wasn’t doing any aviating so all it did for me was ensure I got frostbite from the air conditioner in the classroom.  It also made me enjoy my lunch too so that’s two things.

Last week I was two weeks away from T1’s, now there is only one week to go.  I’m not as wound up about it, there’s no need to be.  There has been an improvement in Principles of Flight; Meteorology too but there’s still a long way to go.  The rest of the subjects are going quite well, the pace is still rapid and there is a lot to remember but they are not quite as complicated.  Human performance is the least complicated and is just based on remembering stuff – including how the memory works!

Recently, in Instruments, we started looking at gyroscopes.  I knew they were cool and all that but I didn’t know how cool.  It turns out that they are extremely useful.  I finished off my studies this evening by answering some questions on gyro wander.  I was going to offer a decent explanation as to what gyro wander is but it’s really late and I can’t get my head round it enough to do so.

Resident Squirrel

I tried to find a ‘picture of the week’ but there were only two options and I didn’t think either of them were suitable.  One was a picture of the resident squirrel attempting to break into some bin bags left over from a party and the other was the address of a local dentist.  See what I mean?

It has been a crazy week, there has been so much to do.  In each of the subjects we are more than one hundred pages into the text book.  Some of them we are more than two hundred pages in.  I managed to get some studies done at the weekend but not as much as normal because I went home for my Dad’s birthday.  When I first decided I’d go I almost talked myself out of it thinking that it would stress me out too much with the amount of work I had to do.  When the time got closer, taking a break and seeing my family became ever more important.  Now, post-weekend, I can definitely say it was the right decision.  It’s not something I can do too often but it was a great refresher.

We’re in our fourth week of ground school and today finished the third day of that fourth week.  In two weeks we will have our T1’s.  Test 1’s are some school tests to see how well we have understood the things we have been taught so far.  They will be a good measure of how on track we are – something I’d quite like to know.  Before our JAR exams we have school finals but they are a little further down the line right now.  Not as far as you think though, by the end of this week we’ll be a third of the way through Phase 1.

I’m finding Meteorology and Principles of Flight the hardest right now, for reasons that I’m not quite sure how to explain.  Simply put, they are complicated subjects.  I’ll see if I can expand some more on this later, I’m not even sure what you want to know.  All I know is that it’s time to get a decent sleep so I can pay attention tomorrow.  On occasion the only thing keeping me awake is the freezing cold air conditioner blowing in my face.

Quote of the day:  You know this stuff, you just…forget it.

The Wonders of Subsonic Airflow

How many times have you stepped onto an aircraft and wondered about the subsonic airflow that would occur over the surfaces of said aircraft?  I think the answer is highly likely not many.  It’s okay though, I hadn’t thought about it either before this week.  The first I heard of it was in ground school.  It’s all very interesting but at the same time quite complicated – you know, the kind of stuff that never goes in first time.

This week we have begun studying the principles of flight along with six other subjects.  Those other subjects are:  DC Electrics, Airframes, Instruments, Human Performance, Piston Engines and Meteorology.  I don’t have a picture of those book because they are scattered around my room and some are in my flight case.  Take a look at the following picture and imagine twice the amount of books.

That pretty much sums up my life for the next six months.  The pace is rapid, in some of the books we have already covered more than sixty pages.  I’m determined though, I haven’t made it this far by chance.  With it being a bank holiday today I had the day off school.  Normally that would be cause for a celebration but in this case it was cause for more study.  I really needed the time, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the work next weekend in just two days.  I’m sure it’ll be fine, hundreds of others have somehow managed it.

Across the Atlantic – Part 2

So, the flight.  It was huge!  Totalling eleven hours it was the longest flight I’ve ever been on.  Like I said in my previous post it would have been great to have had breakfast in Paris but time wouldn’t allow so we had to wait until lunch was served on the flight.  I have to say, the food was excellent, the best I’ve ever had in-flight (no it wasn’t my first in-flight meal).


The meal was most welcome.  I’m not sure what the green stuff was but it was tasty and the piece of chicken was top notch.  I was also surprised to see that the butter was from Ireland.  Once I had demolished the meal and had my tray taken I started a letter to a good friend – another first; I’ve never written a letter while in flight before.  It was so good at passing the time, I usually think for ages about what I want to say.  The in-flight movies sounded so lame that I didn’t attempt to watch a single one.  I spent the rest of the flight bouncing between trying to sleep, listening to music and reading.  I find it almost impossible to sleep on a plane.  Maybe that’s a good thing bearing in mind that I’ll be in the front seat in the not too distant future.


It was a relatively smooth flight, only a few patches of turbulence.  The weather wasn’t amazing, we were above cloud for the majority of the flight.  When you could see though, the scenery was brilliant.  Snow-capped mountains and sweeping glaciers could be seen for miles.  It looked fantastic from our nice warm viewpoint in the sky.  I wasn’t in a hurry to get down there.

The decent and approach into SLC seemed to take forever – mainly because we couldn’t see anything.  We were only about 1000 feet above the ground before we could see it – how do I know that you ask?  I’m either just really good at estimating altitude or I spoke to the pilots afterwards.  You’re right, I spoke to the pilots.  Being unable to visit the flight deck during the flight I stopped by on my way off the plane.  The pilots were very friendly and I was grateful they gave me a bit of their time.  They must have been pretty tired by this point.  While I was in the flight deck the ground power hookup fell out and all sorts of stuff started clicking.  A ground engineer came up to look at a few things and all was well because the APU was still running.  I made a quick exit after that, even though they said I was fine to take a look I could tell they wanted to finish work and get home – good on them.

Introduction – Part 1

I’m not entirely sure how to start a new blog, it’s been a long time since I last did it and my last one had nothing to do with flying.  If you look carefully, you’ll find my name.  Currently I’m 21 years old.  I wear glasses – don’t let anyone try and tell you that you can’t fly because you wear them too.  The CAA has clear standards on eyesight here.  I’m not sure what the reqiurement for the RAF are, I heard that they don’t accept people with corrected vision (glasses and contacts).  Not sure about laser eye surgery either.  Don’t take my word for any of the RAF stuff, best look it up yourself.  For as long as I can remember I have watched planes come and go from the local airport.  On the odd occasion Concorde would visit which was a must see.  Every time I hear a plane pass over I can’t help but look and see what it is.  I imagine what it’s like to be in that front seat.

I first flew when I was around three but I couldn’t remember that so I had to wait until 2002 when I was fourteen.  We went on a family holiday to the USA and of course, had to fly.  Standing in the departure lounge I had my nose pressed against the window looking at the planes only a few feet away.  I remember thinking how cool it was to be so close.  The long wait finally ended and we boarded.  My brother and I were in on the right hand side and were right over the wing.  The time for takeoff came and I couldn’t believe it!  The force was incredible, I watched in amazement as the ground got further and further away.  I was fascinated as I watched the flaps on the wing retract and the ailerons move to bank the aircraft.  A total of five flights later, we’re back in Manchester after a fantastic holiday.  I was hooked.  Flight simulator became much more important to me, so did my choices in schooling.

I did my GCSEs, I took all the standard ones and chose Systems and Control for my technology option. Between History and Geography I chose the latter.  The choice wasn’t really influenced by my desire to fly, I just disliked History and so had to take Geography anyway!  I chose French over German just because I’d done it longer.  I can’t remember if it was a choice between two but I also took I.T. becuse of my interest in computers.  Not long into the course I realised that I had made a mistake, it was all about using computers for publishing – posters, documents and spreadsheets.  I thought it would be all about the workings of a computer, both hardware and software, interesting stuff like that.  It was too late though,  I was on the course.  I tried to make the most of it and I succeeded, I got another GCSE out of it.

I went on to start my A Levels – the first year being A/S.  I took Maths, Physics, Geography and Religious studies.  I found the Maths and Physics quite challenging and after the first year found out that they definately weren’t for me.  I wanted to keep studying so I found a course at a local technology college and studied computer technology for a year.  I already knew 90% of what was on the course but I didn’t have any paperwork to prove that.  The course allowed me to put my skills on paper so I was more employable.  By the time I had finished the couse I was tired of education and wanted to get a full time job.  I was fortunate to secure a job at a nearby hotel in their I.T. department.  It was a great place to work, it was enjoyable to work with each of the departments and my manager was fantastic to work with.

I worked there for a year and then I left to do two years as a volunteer missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I spent my two years around Ireland.  The bulk of my time was spent in the suburbs of Dublin.  I also spent time in Northern Ireland – Coleraine and Belfast, Dundalk and a summer on the west coast in Galway.  I throughly enjoyed those two years and now look upon Ireland as a second home.  Since my return in September 2009 I have been looking for work and looking at my options for flight training.