Wednesday 23rd Feb 2011.

Well today would turn out to be quite busy, with lots happening. As I was about to take the walk to the Airport, Judith, who looks after the houses for EASA came by, so I was able to hitch a lift with her. I then had an hour’s flying lesson with Mike, practicing my take-off and landings. It was fairly windy again, with winds of 15 knots, gusting to 20, so as usual, the landings left a bit to be desired. Whilst I was in the circuit, it became very busy, and the Air traffic Controllers had their hands full maintaining separation between the aircraft. In fact, they got a bit touchy with a couple of aircraft who were not following the rules. More on this later.

After a quick lunch in the ‘Slip & Turn’ Inn, Phil arrived to take myself, Jens, Andreas and Ali for our medicals (Ali had arrived late last night, and has joined us in the house. He is from Germany, but as usual, speaks almost perfect English. Our European neighbours put us to shame, language wise). The Doctors Surgery was a bit of an eye opener, I don’t know how to begin to explain it! First of all, it was in a ’fly-in’ estate called Spruce Creek. This is a gated community, for millionaires! Apart from the usual big houses, and nice roads, it has its own runway for all the private aircraft owned by the residents, as well as hangars instead of garages.

Dr.  Kurrle has his surgery in one of these hangers, where he is building another aircraft (apart from the one he already flies). The surgery occupies one corner of this Aladdin’s cave with its photos and mementoes of his flying career. Whilst looking around these, I came across a signed photo of the US Navy Blue Angels aerobatic team, and noticed that one of the flyers name was Robert Kurrle. “Is this you?” I asked. “No, it’s my son” came the reply “He is living my dream”. He was quite a character, and I enjoyed the visit to Spruce Creek. I photographed some of the fantastic planes, automobiles, and houses to be seen on every street corner.

When we got back to the Airport, Liz, one of the flight examiners, called the Tower on our behalf, and asked if we could visit them to see what they do. As the afternoon was nowhere as busy as the morning, they were happy to accommodate us, so we drove around the periphery of the Airport, and climbed the several flights of stairs to get to the top. We met Gary and Steve who were very happy to show us around the place, and also explain the function of the various bits of kit, and their responsibilities. Today, Gary was ground Controller, and Steve was Tower. In essence, this meant that Gary looked after all traffic on the ramp, apron, and taxiways up to the Runways, and Steve looked after the flyers in the circuit and approach. This visit certainly gave us a better appreciation of the ATC functions, and how we as student pilots could make the most efficient use of the services available to us.

Whilst we were in the Tower, Tracey managed to get in the air. She had a very frustrating day, as the winds have prevented her from putting in the solo hours she has come to Florida to achieve. Her luck didn’t get any better, after half an hour’s flight, she was back on the ground, as the weather started to close in, below the minima required for VFR (Visual Flying Rules) flight. She arrived back at the house not long after us, very dejected, after waiting all day to fly, then only managing 30 minutes. I hope the weather improves for her tomorrow, and she can get some hours in before she has to leave for Orlando International.

Once back at the house, I spent a couple of hours trying one of the Navigation Tests from the examination books. The tuition Tracey had given me the day before certainly helped, and whilst I need more practice, I am beginning to get the hang of it.

As this was Tracey’s last night, we went into Daytona for a bite to eat. We found the Outback Restaurant (a franchise where I have eaten before in Spain), so both had a rather juicy Steak, before returning to the house for another evening of beer and chat amongst the residents.