Sunday 27th Feb 2011

The previous evening, after the euphoria of our first solo subsided, (and we couldn’t really think of anything else to say about it, we had talked it to exhaustion), we decided to call around to one of the other houses, as the guys we had met on Friday night had invited us around to watch a movie. Perhaps “Top Secret” wasn’t the most politically correct choice of film, given the nationality of some of our colleagues, but it was what they had chosen! Before we settled in to watch the movie, Stefan decided he needed some beers from the local gas station. As this was his last week here, he had treated himself to the hire of a red Mustang convertible, so Jens, Andreas and I volunteered to join him on the shopping trip, to see what this car was like. I want one!

For a change, I was scheduled to fly first of the three of us on the Sunday Morning. We were going to go out for a typical American breakfast from one of the local diners, but unfortunately, I didn’t have time, so left Jens & Andreas to sample the fare on offer. They dropped me off at the Airport on the way.

My instructor this morning was Katie, and the plan was that she would carry out a few T&G’s with me, then I would be let loose for an hour of hour of Take-Off and Landings on my own. When I was about to pre-flight the aircraft, Katie suggested that, as it had already flown that morning, I should take it to the fuel farm, and fill it up, before she joined me for the flight. I carried out the pre-flight checklist, checked the ATIS weather broadcast, and started the engine. I wasn’t sure if I needed Ground clearance to taxi to the fuel farm (in fact Katie told me later that it wasn’t strictly necessary), but on the basis of better safe than sorry, I called Ormond Ground, who gave me permission to “proceed as requested”. After filling both tanks, as I waited for Katie to join me, three nice looking bi-planes taxied back after landing, so I managed to photograph them as they passed. Once Katie was on board, I completed the take-off checks, and we taxied out and took off for our T&G’s. Once I had done a few of these, Katie asked me to drop her off on the ramp, and I proceeded out for some further solo flying. This time, I remembered to contact Ground for permission to taxi!

Today, we were using runway 17, with a right hand circuit in force. On one of the circuits with Katie, Tower had instructed us to change to a left hand circuit, as an aircraft towing a banner was returning past us to Daytona Airport, hence the need for the temporary change. Students are only allowed to do T&G’s whilst accompanied by an Instructor, when solo, we have to land, then taxi back to the runway using the taxiways, before taking off again. With such a long runway at Ormond Beach (4000ft), this usually means taking one of the taxiways where the two runways cross, but on my first landing, I overshot this, and had to take the end taxiway back to the start line. This is no big deal, it has been drummed into us that we should use the full runway if necessary. However, a better landing nearer the threshold, usually gives enough runway to slow down in time for the mid-point taxiways to be used, and I achieved this on my second landing. As I was approaching to my third landing, I heard Tower announce that they were changing the runways in use, due to a shift in wind speed and direction. As I am still getting used to the Airfield layout, I decided to use the full length of the runway for landing, so I could sneak  a peek at my airfield layout sheet, so I would know where to go when Tower directed me to the next runway for my next take-off. The guys in the Tower rattle off the directions so quickly, and in a strange (to me) accent that I have to concentrate to take it all in. However, they are happy to clarify any information when requested.

My final take-off and landing of the day could have gone better. As I approached the end of the runway, I was too high and fast, so decided to do a go around when I was about 50 feet above the runway. On my next approach, I was still too fast, and wasn’t happy with my configuration when the wheels touched down, so I took off again for another go-around. I managed a much better approach on my third attempt, landed, and even managed to turn off on the mid-point taxiway, back to the ramp.

Back on the ground, I enquired of the dispatcher if there was any flight time available later in the afternoon, but all the slots were taken. This meant I had no excuse but to go back to the house, and fly the washing machine. This is much more complicate than the aircraft (and no-where near as much fun).I also spent the rest of the afternoon with my nose into some of the study books, I still have three written exams to take whilst I am here.

Jens & Andreas were taking their hire car back to Daytona Airport to swap if for another, so I tagged along for the ride. Apparently, their hire deal makes it cheaper to hire by the week with a full tank of gas, rather than keeping one car for the duration of their stay. I am sure they won’t mind me calling them a couple of “petrol-heads”, so they like having different automobiles to try out. First week it was a Chevrolet Malibu, last week, it was an Audi Q5, this week it is a Chrysler 300. As we walked through the Hire Car Park, I noticed a beautiful bright yellow Camaro. I enquired with Avis how much it was to hire. The clerk started at over $600, and came down to $550, but it was still too rich for me. I did think about hiring a car this week, but have decided to continue on foot, I will probably hire one for the final week (but not a Camaro!). After the guys completed their deal, it was back to the house for more hours on the books.