Tuesday 15th Feb 2011.

As is usual for me these days, and despite losing 5 hours from the previous day, I awoke about 6am local, so decided to get up, and do some work on my Computer, as I wasn’t to be collected until 9am. If I can continue this pattern, it should work out quite well, as I can contact the office back home, and do whatever I need before heading off to the Airport.

At 9am prompt, there was a knock on the door, and Hector (one of the dispatchers from EASA) was there to collect me.  Jens and Andreas had left after breakfast, they had a hire car, and Jens was scheduled for an early flight. Hector had already collected Christian (the other Student from the Airport yesterday), so we set off for the mile or so drive to the Airport, and the EASA Offices. Once there, we were met by Kim, who put us in a room to complete all the formalities. These consisted of various forms to be filled in, and a Contract to be signed. In the middle of this, I was interrupted to be taken to the local Police Station to be fingerprinted (another Immigration formality). Phil drove me there, and waited whilst I did the deed, then drove me back to continue the enrolment procedure. Whilst I had purchased the all-in Deluxe PPL Course, there were a few other expenses to be covered, such as paying the single room supplement I had elected to take, Aircraft Insurance ($200, as against a possible excess of $5000 should I damage the aircraft), Headset and Carry Bag, and a couple of other sundry items. Having read about these additional expenses on one of the Forums, it didn’t come as a shock, but may do to the unwary. A tour of the facility, and the services available followed.

By the time this was finished, it was midday. I asked Kim if there was any chance of a flight that day, but everything had been scheduled, so I enquired if there were any of the ground school syllabuses I could do. One of the tutors was assigned to give me the initial pre-flight checklist briefing, but he wasn’t available until 5:30 pm, so, after some soup for lunch in the ‘Slip & Turn’ on-site cafe, I decided to head back to the house for a few hours. This was when I realised that the honeymoon was over, as when I enquired if I could ‘catch a ride back’ (notice the Amercaneese way of talking I have slipped into!), I was informed that no-one was available, so I decided to walk. This seemed like a good idea, until I picked up my case, and realised that not only was it full of my original study books, but all the other paraphernalia I had collected that morning. There was nothing for it but to trudge off, I swear my arms were two inches longer when I arrived home.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading up some of the information I will be expected to know for the remaining examinations I need to take (R/T Practical, Navigation and Flight Planning). I am real glad I decided to do the other five before I left the UK, it would really be a struggle to complete all eight, and the studying necessary, during the three week course. I also had an hour’s kip, to catch up on the sleep I had lost from the day before.

With a much depleted flight bag, I walked back to the Airport, ready for my evening briefing. My instructor for the evening, John, took me through the pre-flight checks with efficiency, on one of the Aircraft on the Apron. When we were finished, John told me he was due to take another Student on a night flying lesson. Not knowing if it was ‘the done thing’ or not, I asked if I could tag along. John was quite happy for me to do so in the back seat, so after checking with Mehmet (the Student); I was ready to get my first flight underway after all. After emptying my flight bag at the house, I had left my newly acquired Headset back there, Fortunately, John had his girlfriends set in his car, and he loaned these to me. She had painted them bright pink and sparkly, so I was glad it was dark, and no-one could see me wearing them.  As we were taxying out to take off, John pipes up ‘Did I tell you it would be a three hour flight.’ It was a good job I had been to the bathroom before we left!

For the night rating (which I also will be taking as part of my course), five hours night flying, with 15 landing/take-offs are required. Tonight’s sortie would consist of a flight of about an hour, across Orlando airspace, to Lakeland airport, several touch and goes there, the flight back, several more T&G’s at Ormond Beach, before a landing no sooner than after three hours of flight time. The next two hours of night flying for Mehmet, would be solo flights, with at least five T&G’s 

I really enjoyed this unexpected flight. Prior to leaving the UK, I had undergone four hours flying tuition, and found it quite hard going. However, during this flight, lots of the previous lessons came back to me, and I found myself recognising things I thought I never would. This was probably due to several factors, such as repetition, and not least because I wasn’t actually flying the airplane, so I could concentrate on instrument reading, and awareness. I also found the gobbledygook coming through the headphones was starting to make some sense, as I began to recognise the air to ground messages passing between aircraft and ground controllers. Perhaps there is hope for me after all. The three hours flew by (pun intended), and we were soon back on the Apron, filling up the aircraft with fuel, ready for the next day’s flying.

Fortunately, Mehmet had a car, so he dropped me back at the digs. This unexpected flight meant I had missed dinner (I was thinking of trying the golf club next to the Airport), so my evening meal consisted of four slices of toast, a bag of pretzels, and a can of beer. You may have gathered I’m not much of a cook.  Before I sat down to write this, I flicked through the hundreds of channels on the TV, but nothing caught my eye, until I came across a station playing hits from the 70’s, so these have provided a very pleasant background to my scribbling.