Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Flight to the coast

Hi all,

On Friday, I really did come back from my lesson with Cabair grinning from ear to ear. In my lesson I’d taken a little trip to the coast and back all within an hour. Flying is most definitely the way to go! I came back home after and asked my Dad, ‘and where do you think I’ve been’? He had no idea of course and so I told him that we’d flown to Southend and back.

As I arrived at Elstree, Liam and I sat down and worked out all the calculations we’d need to do to fly first to Potters Bar and then fly in a triangle pattern via two other airfields. There certainly was a lot to take in and it will definitely take a little while to know it like the back of my hand. I did really like working it all out though, and wow does doing all the calculations make the flight easier.

Once we were up in the air, we first flew alongside the M25 until we came to Potters Bar which is where I live and I pointed out my house to Liam too which was good fun. It’s pretty easy to find from the air thanks to our old and little above ground swimming pool in the garden.

I took note of the time and we then proceeded to fly the route I’d laid out on the map.  I continually estimated the ETA at each point and also the ATA when we got there. It was really nice to see how accurate my predictions were.

Flying over Southend was pretty cool too, as it just opened my eyes up to how easy it is to travel by plane. No traffic jams to worry about that’s for sure!

After flying back and landing at Elstree, we debriefed and looked at things that I could improve on and also how to or how not to do some things differently perhaps.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Flying again

Hi all,

Since I got back from Aus, it really has just been non stop. I thought I would have a busy time ahead of me but often it seems like I don’t have a spare hour in the day!

At the weekend, seeing as my whole family was actually in the same place for a change, we decided to take off to the Gower in Wales for a couple of nights as a family. We were due to camp for the two nights but typical dad, he packed the wrong tent so we ended up grabbing a cheap hotel for the first night and buying another small tent the day after. I love it down at the Gower as it is just so pretty and on the last day of our short but sweet stay we walked up over Rhossili Downs overlooking the beach, to Rhossili village which took an hour or so and then walked back along the beach which was lovely. We used to go there every year but as we’ve all been so busy over the last few we haven’t been there for 3 years. It was so good to go back.

I’ve also been getting back into my flying lessons with Cabair since returning which has been just superb. I was a little rusty at first as I hadn’t flown for 6weeks but I got right back into it no problem. My last lesson with Liam was really great fun as we were practicing forced landings. Obviously not doing them for real I should add! We would fly up to 3000ft and then put the engine into idle so it’s just ticking over. I would then bring the aircraft onto it’s optimum glide angle and speed which is 75knots and then turn the nose into the wind to give us a little more time.

Looking around I would pick a suitable field, then do a little lap around it keeping the field just at the edge of my wing and then line up to glide in on final. We wouldn’t drop too low in altitude as we were just training but I wonder if any farmers questioned if we were genuinely going to land in their fields! I’d apply full power and climb away trimming the aircraft at the same time to make it easier on the controls.

Over the last few lessons, I’ve also been doing more and more circuits to seriously ingrain them into my mind. I’ve learnt how to do a glide approach and also how to do a flapless approach. They’re all pretty different! Gliding onto the runway is very interesting as it helps me learn really how to reduce speed and height effectively to come down onto the runway. At around 600ft of altitude whilst still on base leg I’d cut the engine and then begin a steady turn towards the runway trimming the aircraft to glide down at 75knots. If I feel like we’re too high, I‘ll slow the plane down to help lose some height but still maintain a good 70knots minimum. I’ll bring the flaps in as necessary pointing the nose at the numbers on the runway. And just as the nose comes over them I’ll level out the aircraft, and then let the plane find the runway herself whilst just gliding over it.

A flapless approach is pretty different, as instead of flying down at quite an angle toward the runway, one has to approach the runway much more level as the speed of the plane has to be at around 80knots or so. Surprisingly I’ve found these landings very smooth and they have been some of my best.

I can’t wait until my next lesson when we’ll be trying a few new things.


Monday, 6 September 2010

Bye to Australia

Hi all,

To be honest, I can barely describe just how much fun the last few weeks have been! Sailing at Hamilton Island race week and then sailing at Airlie’s multihull regatta. Two fantastic weeks of really competitive on the water fun.

On the last day of racing at Airlie after the sailing and once we’d berthed, this guy came over in his dinghy and was like “ah guys that was so impressive when you were flying a hull under kite earlier”. We all responded with a “did we seriously?!” Looking back I do remember it being quite smooth on the helm at that moment!

I’m typing this whilst on the plane flying back from Dubai to London. I’m certainly in a real need of some sleep but it’s only 4 in the afternoon London time. I’m going to hold out as long as possible to help readjust to the time zone! It’s still nowhere near as bad as flying to Sydney though because at least this way I gain 9 hours or so.

I’m really looking forward to cracking on more with my flying nice and soon. I’m very excited as I’ve got quite a lot of lessons booked for the next few weeks which should be really awesome! I can’t wait to go solo!

Lastly I can’t say bye to Australia without saying thanks to everyone who has helped me out during my stay, from Dom at the Sydney Boat show to the girls from Hachette, to the great people who helped with our accommodation at Hamilton Island, to Frase and also to Bruce, Suzanne and Steve for some great multihull racing!