Monday 28th Feb 2011

As I was sat having breakfast I looked out of the French Windows, and there was an enormous insect at the top of one of them. I went for a closer look, and it had amazing camouflage, if it was in the grass, or on a plant, you would swear it was a leaf.  I have put a couple of photos of it in the Gallery, one is a close up, and another is just a bit further away, to give some perspective to its size.

I wasn’t scheduled to fly till the afternoon today, but I decided to go in early, so that I could have a word with Bill, one of the Senior Instructors. I was becoming a little concerned that we were falling behind the schedule, having only completed approx 15 hours in the first two weeks. He told me that the flying hours would increase now that we had gone solo, as we have things like our cross country, and night flying to do, which typically take three hours at a time, so he expects us to complete the course within the next two weeks. Let’s hope the weather holds up, the forecast isn’t too good for tomorrow.

I decided to stay at the school to do some studying in the study centre. However, four of the PC’s were occupied, and I was told by Shaun that the others were broken. As I didn’t want to hang around, I had a look at one of the PC’s that wasn’t working. I rebooted the PC, and this seemed to start up OK, but the screen remained blank, even though the indicator light was on. Having checked that the video cable was in, I found I couldn’t turn off the Monitor by the switch, so I did the usual PC Support first step – I pulled the plug. Pushing it back in, the Monitor burst into life, and the PC was fixed. Glad to see I haven’t lost my Support Skills!

This could have been a mistake, because when Shaun saw that I had fixed this, he promptly dragged me into helping him setup the transfer of his photos from his camera to one of the PC’s, for posting on to Facebook. Those of us who work in IT quickly learn never to disclose this fact to others, as we always get the “could you just look at this for me” question, much like Doctors get asked to give diagnosis at Dinner Parties.

Jens and Andreas were going back to the house, and as I had a few more hours before flying, I decided to go with them, to study there.  The upside was that I got a few hours of quiet time to study; the downside was that I had to walk back to the Airport mid afternoon. I had a quick look in the Paint Shop Hanger as I was passing; they are starting on the ‘naked’ PA-28 I photographed the other day. When I got to the Airport office, I found that we couldn’t fly solo today, the winds were too strong.

As Students, we have a limitation of 12 Knots headwind, and 6 Knots crosswind at the moment, and the winds this afternoon were 15 knots, gusting to 20. We were allowed to fly with an instructor however, so the school had rescheduled our program so that we could do the instrument flying part of the course today. Although we will not be able to legally fly on Instruments with the PPL VFR rating we are doing, this part of the course is to give us an appreciation of what Instrument Flying is like, and of course, we can always go on and do an IFR (Instrument Flying Rules) course later on if we wish to.

Katie was to be our Instructor again today. As I arrived at the school, she was just about to go up with Jens, and as Andreas had just finished his lesson, had a bit of a headache, and decided not to back-seat with Jens, I jumped a the chance to take his place. I find this works very well, it is almost like getting two lessons in one, because I can watch and learn what the Pilot under Training is doing, which makes it much easier when my turn comes around. Basically, for this exercise, the Student wears a ‘Hood’ (like a plastic elongated baseball cap), so that he cannot see out of the windscreen, and must fly by reference to the instruments. The Instructor gives the Student various exercises to do by instruments alone (climb, turn, descend etc.).

The second part of the lesson is learning to use one of the instruments known as the VOR. This picks up radio signals from a transmitting station at an Airport, and the instrument homes in on these, to give a heading for the pilot to fly either towards, or away from. Very handy, when you are still coming to terms with the general geography of your surroundings! Once Jens had completed his lesson, we flew back to Ormond, he alighted from the aircraft, and I took the pilots seat, for my lesson.

Fortunately, Jens & Andreas were still at the Airport when I returned after my lesson, so I got a lift back to the house. Before leaving for the house, I put my name down for one of the examinations tomorrow, Flight Performance and Planning. I therefore decided to spend the evening studying for this, so dinner was a mixture of Pretzels and Doritos (when the Pretzels ran out). Must get a proper meal tomorrow.