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 Friday, April 20 2018 @ 06:31 PM EDT
RADIO FAILURE

Flight TrainingHad an interesting flight with my instructor today, just brushing up on a few things from my stage check ready for my FAA checkride. From when the throttles went full, for almost the entire duration of the flight all I could hear was static. We tweaked the volume and squelch on the intercom but couldn't really improve it. I could sometimes make out my instructors voice through it all, but he could hardly hear me. We could communicate with each other through shouting, and we actually had a very good flight. It was probably the best I've flown since we've been here.

When it came to flying back to the airport we could get in contact with them and hear everything they said, but they couldn't understand our transmissions, apart from our callsign. We followed radio-failure procedures, Squawking 7600 on our transponder and, when requested, hitting IDENT to show we could recieve them (sparing us the indignity of trying to spot light-gun signals from the control tower) and back to a great landing right on the centreline.

We tested the radios back on the ground and they were both fine. I think it might have been something caused by one of our headsets, combined with the loud noise of the engines with power on.

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STAGE CHECK PASSED

Flight TrainingI've just got back from doing my stage check with the chief pilot and I've passed, although he has pointed out some things I need to go over again with my instructor before my FAA Check Ride. I thought I flew really badly, especially the single engine approach, but he said that since I didn't scare him it was good enough! Hopefully I will be able to get an FAA Checkride scheduled this week so that I can progress on to instrument quickly.

The Instrument Groundschool is still taking up a lot of my time. I have the second stage exam for that tomorrow, so lots of 'Time with the Gleim' tonight!

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STAGE CHECK POSTPONED

General NewsMy Stage Check has been moved to tomorrow, so I've been using the extra time for more study. I've also found out that Bank of America managed to screw up my bank account, so I spent two hours at the local branch trying to get my money back. You know a bank is bad when the manager hands you a phone number and says: 'It goes to voicemail at the moment, but you should call her to sort it out'.

Apparently one woman in the fraud department had blocked my account and noone else had a clue why. Two hours of complaining and I left with my entire balance in cash, walked accross the road to another bank, who were more than happy to take it from me. Hopefully they are more willing to give it back. I then had to explain to the flight school why my cheque had bounced....

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READY FOR STAGE CHECK

Flight TrainingIt seems like I've been working on these same manouvers for ages, but I think I'm pretty much there. The biggest change is that I'm much more comfortable operating at this large controlled airport. I will probably be doing the stage check for this part of the course on Tuesday and I have only one more flight with my instructor before then. I'm looking forward to moving on to the instrument rating, and getting to fly to places instead of just lurking around the practise areas near Fort Pirece.

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MORE FLIGHTS AND GROUND EXAM

Flight TrainingWe've managed to do a couple more flights, running through the same things. It's hard getting used to following rigid procedures again, but I'm pretty much there, and I have a stage check with the chief instructor tomorrow. The weather has been better, but not perfect, and there has been a lot of wind. It's hard to fly approarches and landings with a wind of 15Kts, gusting up to 27Kts, and not all of it down the runway! I've always been able to land, and apart from on one occasion, the actual touchdown has been pretty smooth, but we get thrown around so much in the approach it's mainly just luck! There was one appraoch today which would have been perfect but I left too much power in so we floated a long way down the runway. The forecast is for winds to drop during the rest of the week, so hopefully it should get easier.

When I've finished the multi-engine private class rating I'm working on at the moment, the next step is an Instrument Rating, which will let me fly in bad weather conditions (which might have been handy this week!). I've been going to an instrument groundschool class every afternoon preparing for my Instrument Rating ground exam. I had a stage check today for the first part and I scored 82% (pass mark 70%). It's only really a guide to show which areas I need to study more and I'd like to improve on that result, but I'm pleased. The lowest mark in the class was 42%!.

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BAD WEATHER

Flight TrainingWe've had some bad weather over the last few days, torrential thunderstorms at the weekend and low ceilings and high winds so far this week. I've had a few flights cancelled, but managed to get one flight in when, during a brief lull in the weather, my instructor banged on my door (I'd given up for the day and gone home) wanting to go fly.

It was an interesting flight, with a lot of wind and gusting 23Kts. We managed to go over slow flight and stalls, but we were being thrown around a fair bit in the air. Another Vmc demonstration and then emergency gear extension and descent. I really had fun with the descent part! Then we went back to the field for more circuits. I'm getting the hang of the radio now, and having fun flying the Duchess. The last landing I set it up for a short field, but forgot to add more flaps on the final approach. We crossed the runway threshold and as our airspeed dropped to 75 Kts, aided by a strong gust, we dropped very quickly! I managed to pitch forward for some speed and then flare, and we tocuhed down very smoothly. Helps to keep my instructor awake!

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MY APPARTMENT!

General NewsI'm staying in a student appartment right at the airport. You can see the Control Tower and airport beacon from my porch!








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FLIGHTS THREE AND FOUR

Flight TrainingThe next couple of flights followed the same structure. Take-off, climb to about 3500 feet out to the west of Fort Pierce and then running through all the manouvers, slow flight and stalls, before returning to the airport to practise flying the pattern. We have to do landings to a full stop, before taxiing back to the end of the runway and doing a full take-off because of an accident last year, which makes it take a lot longer than doing a touch and go.

I managed to do some very good landings, but I still tend to round out a little bit too high. Fortunatelyt I have enough fine control to stop the plane ballooning and I manage to touch it down very gently. My best landing was a short field landing that managed to follow a perfect glideslop, holding 75Kts all the way to the numbers and only rolling the last little bit of power off as the wheels touched the ground. My instructor said it was better than his demonstration!

The other highlight was a practise emergency gear extension and descent, out over the ocean. The landing gear has a freefall system, so if it fails to lower when moving the control to the down position, all you have to do is pull out the circuit breaker for the motor, and use a special tool to turn the valve thats under the floor by your feet, and the gear will drop. Then for the descent, just pitch forward so the windscreen is filled with ocean, and hold just under 140Kts!

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FLIGHT TWO

Flight TrainingStarted very well, I'm beginning to get the hang of taxiing the Duchess, and the RT procedures are making a lot more sense now that I've reviewed them. We went and did the same slow flight, and power-on and power-off stalls. It's really just a question of learning the different procedures and getting everything into the right order.

Next came a demosnstration of Vmc. basically when flying on a single engine, you have to correct the roll and yaw that results using rudder and aileron. Vmc is the speed at which you run out of rudder! It's similar to a stall in a way, you basically run out of directional control and have to take action to correct it although the result is a turn rather than a pitch change. The speed varies according to nine factors. We then went through feathering (setting the prop so that the blades don't obstruct the airflow) and securing a failed engine, and then the restarting procedure. Basically putting the pitch back into the prop until it starts turning and then introducing fuel until it starts..

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FIRST FLIGHT

Flight TrainingI had my first flight in the Duchess yesterday, 1.4 hours. It feels so much bigger than the Cessnas I've flown before. I had trouble keeping it on a straightline on the taxiway, but thats something which comes with practise. Fort Pierce is a very large, busy airport, compared to the places I've flown from before, so I had to do a lot more taxiing as well, so hopefully that will improve soon as well.

The take-off procedure is a lot more complicated, compared to the cessnas 'drive on to the runway and go' approach. Not only are there extra levers for the other engine, but since the propellers have a variable pitch there are extra levers for each propeller, and I have to learn the settings for each stage of flight.

We took off, and the gear comes up as soon as we have 85kts, (part of the preflight involves calculating the distance needed to land again should an engine fail on climbout, and we don't have space!). We climbed to about 3500 feet somewhere to the southeast of fort pierce and did some manouvers, turns, slow flight and power-on and power-off stalls. The basic procedure is much the same as with a single engine, but there are lots more parts added on, when to use the landing gear, and which prop settings to use at different times.

We turned back towards Fort Pierce to do some circuits. The procedure here is again much more complex. With the Cessna it was a question of setting it up for landing and then 'flying the numbers', with the duchess it's much more progressive, flaps bit by bit, with differet throttle settings along the way, and of course repeated checks that the landing gear are down! My instructor did the first approach and landing and then I did the second, which actually went surprisingly well! I rounded out just a little too high, so the touchdown wasn't perfect but for a first attempt I think it was pretty good!

2 comments Most Recent Post: 04/10 12:52PM by Nick Views: 254
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