Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Gotta Go!

Now as promised some stories

Almost immediately after I got my Private Pilot Licence it was time to do the long cross country flights. The First one we do is from Port Elizabeth to East London, on to Queenstown and back. I was initially scheduled to do it all on my own as my licence wasn't ready yet so I couldn't carry a passanger. Pretty daunting to go all that way alone first time but somehow it ended up being postponed and later on I could get somebody to go with me.

Took a while before the weather was good enough for me to on the flight, what's more it could only be done on a weekend as I was in class during the week. After a couple of postponements I got up early on a Sunday ready to go but yet again the weather was dodgy so I gave up and went for breakfast. Now as I was having my breakfast I was told that I had to for the flight, The big man had come that morning and said that all guys scheduled to fly should get on with it. I talked about him in my earlier post, old British guy with this Sean Connery voice thing going on. His theory was that the bad weather was only at the coast and on our way back once past the mountains all we had to do was descend below the clouds and we'll be all right. We had to take his word for it and off we went.

No sooner had we taken off than we met some clouds, could hardly see the horizon but fortunately for us it was just a small patch and further on things were ok. As we got closer to East London it was pretty clear. Now my passenger had decided to have a little too much juice that morning and you can imagine the side effects. Now a little physics lesson here, as you go lower the atmospheric pressure increases so you can imagine how his bladder was feeling as we descended to East London. As soon as we landed he couldn't take it any more, he Simply HAD TO GO! So he decided to relieve himself out the door as we were taxiing along. Hope nobody up there in the tower had binoculars...

So busy was he that he forgot to talk to tell me about the marshaller( who directs where to park) who I passed and went all the way to the end of the apron and asked the tower where the marshaller was and was told " but sir, you've just passed the marshaller!" Talk about embarassment. After that we did the necessary refuelling and stuff and went on with the rest of our trip. The rest was pretty much uneventful though it was pretty bumpy in the mountainous Queenstown area. We didn't hang around for long as we were told that the weather in PE was getting bad.

As we got closer to our destionation the clouds kept increasing and getting lower and lower and we had to keep on descending. Was pretty stressful but once we were past the mountains it worked pretty much as the old man had told us. It was getting worse as we went along and we arrived back at the school just in time as the clouds were rolling in at low altitude. 5 minutes later and we'd have been in trouble.

Phew it was finally over first experience, had doubts but what is amazing is how the old man had got it spot on about the weather, it's like he had a sixth sense or something. Truly experience is the best teacher. Yeah and I nkow better than to drink a lot before a long flight!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Learning Curve

Hmm. I have so fallen into the trap that has caught many other bloggers.What with Facebook and twitter hogging my attention the blog has suffered. Seven months into the year and no post whatsoever. better late than never!

So Last time I was in the blogosphere I was on about my first experience as the Pilot in command. A lot has happened since then, logged many more solo hours and learnt a lot along the way. I eventually got my Private Pilot license and recently passed the 100 hour mark. There's a saying that goes at 100 hours a pilot thinks he knows everything, at 1000 he does know everything and at 10000 hours he realizes that he knows nothing! So you can see where I fall in all of this right now.

Flying is interesting, there's always something new to learn and I doubt there's any pilot who can say he knows everything. In my short aviation career I've had numerous lessons drilled into me, some with ease and others with difficulty. There's one lesson that really stuck as I'll explain.

Referreing to my previous post I had detailed how prior to my first solo I had gone on a check ride with the big man of the school and that he had taken some time to take me back to basics. The exercise he drilled me on was called control co-ordinaton, here's where I launch into some technical mumbo- jumbo so please bear with me. Let me explain, turning an aeroplane is a delicate art which invollve proper co-ordination of hands, eyes and feet. Naturally you would think that you bank( turn i.e) usign the control column alone but your feet have to move in tandem otherwise the result won't be so good to put it simply. Hope you get the picture. It's a pretty basic skill but at the time my handling of it was not to his satisfaction so I had to endure the embarassment of being taught again.

Fast forward to a few weeks later when I went on anothe check ride with another instructor. It was a mess of a flight could hardly get anything right and he ended up recommending that I repeat it. However there was one positive remark in all of it- "You can co-ordinate!" Still laugh when I remember that story, lesson learnt- the hard way!

More on my adventures and misadventures in the air shall be coming soon, stay tuned...