Tuesday 22nd Feb 2011.

I have been following the Space Shuttle ‘blog’ during the last few days, as the launch time this Thursday approaches.  Today, I was pleased to read the following:

“STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey and Pilot Eric Boe will practice landing approaches at the Shuttle Landing Facility in shuttle training aircraft……”

Glad to know I have something in common, as I have been practicing my landings alsoJ.  It just goes to show that no matter how experienced you are, everyone needs to keep practicing, to hone skills and improve performance.

I had a call from my Daughter Helen this morning. She has her hands full at the moment, as earlier in the month she gave birth to our first Grandson, Jack. She also has a Daughter Olivia, who is not yet two, so she has a busy time of it. Today, Olivia was at Nursery, and Jack had just been fed, so we had a nice chat for 20 minutes or so.

I had hoped to set up another Skype session with Carole and Sarah, but ran out of time, as I needed to be at the Airport for midday. I was having a chat with them on the phone as I walked to the Airport, when Jens & Andreas pulled up in their car, and offered me a lift. It’s just as well, when I arrived, Mike was waiting for me to start the pre-flight checks. However, on the way past the paint shop hanger, I took a moment or two to take a picture of a naked PA-28 that was obviously being prepared for a new paint job.

This was to be my only flight of the day today, and we practiced take-off and landings again (T&G’s). The wind was 15 knots gusting to 20, so it was again a bit hairy, and I had to abort a couple of landings and go around. Mike says if I can learn to land in these conditions, I will be able to land in any!

I asked Mike about the pre-solo check with Bill, one of the Senior Instructors, and he told me that Bill had asked him to do a few more lessons with Jens, Andreas and myself before the next pre-solo. Mike also gave some additional instructions about the pre-landing checks we need to follow on the downwind leg of the circuit, and changed the shape of the circuit slightly, which were probably suggestions from Bill, following Jens flight with Bill. Having spoken to some of the other Students, this pre-solo with an Instructor does not appear to be a standard procedure. I think Mike is fairly new to the school, and the pre-solo for us is also a way for the Senior Instructor to suggest and advise Mike, in the standard operating procedure that the school want followed.

When I landed, I met Tracey outside the office. She had been on her early morning flight with her Instructor, and had then done several solo flights in the circuit. She was waiting to see if the winds died down, so she could do some more solos in the afternoon. I sat down with Mike in the sunshine, to continue my pre-solo written exam evaluation, which we completed in about half an hour. Tracey and I then went to the Golf Club for lunch, before I walked home, and she went back to the airport in the hope of some more flying. She goes home on Thursday, so needs to get her hours in before then.

Unfortunately, the wind didn’t improve, so Tracey arrived back at the house about 90 minutes later. She had offered to help me with my Navigation exercises, so I suggested we stay in for Dinner, and crack on with these. I needed to stock up with some supplies, so Tracey kindly drove us to the local Wall Mart, where I bought some on-going provisions (you’ve guessed it, beer and pretzels), a garlic pizza, and a tub of ice-cream for tea.

Back at the house we got stuck into plotting a flight plan, from one of the books. I found this quite a difficult exercise, and one I am going to need to practice before the exam. Foolishly, I had left the UK aeronautical map at home (as had Andreas), not thinking I would need it in the USA, but of course the exam is based on the UK map. Fortunately, Jens had brought his, and he is happy to share it with Andreas and myself. We will need it for the exam.

Jens and Andreas had also bought a garlic pizza for their dinner, so I pity the poor doctor who has to give us all medicals tomorrow. After dinner, we all sat around discussing our flying and life in general for a few hours. A most enjoyable evening.