Thursday 3rd March 2011

Following on from yesterdays Navigation Exercise, Mike told us that we would be doing a longer practical exercise today, and I was scheduled to undertake the first one. Mike had told us to complete the flight planning document (Nav Log) as much as possible at home (apart from †the wind information, which would not be accurately available until just before the flight), before arriving at the Airport. To do this, I need my map, protractor, rule, etc. It was when I was assembling these items that I realized I had left my map in the aircraft. This wasnít too much of a problem last night (I just borrowed one form the other guys), but a quick check of the on-line schedule told me that the aircraft I had used was due to leave at 7:30 AM this morning, and my map with it. I wasnít sure that if I didnít retrieve it, I may not see it again, so I decided to pay an early morning call to the Airport, to get it back. Fortunately, I still had the bike (hidden around the back of the house), so cycled to the Airport, and got my map. I think I got back before most of the others in the house had got up!

I had looked to see if my exam result was in when I visited the Airport, but the results were not yet posted. As I was scheduled for an hour further instruction before lunch, and then the Nav Exercise after lunch, I had a few hours at home before heading off again to the Airport. †John, who had arrived yesterday, had still not had a flight, so I suggested he may like to back-seat with me during my one hour flight before lunch, and he was keen to do so. He left a bit earlier for the Airport than me, as he had to do an initial Ground School exercise. When I cycled to the Airport, he was ready to join me in the initial pre-flight checks. Before this, I enquired about the exam results, but they were still not in. Mental torture!

The pre-flight was quickly completed, and we were off. The point of this exercise was to refresh my stall, steep turns, and emergency procedure knowledge. After a couple of 45 degree turns, three or four stalls, Mike pulled the throttle back to idle to simulate an engine failure in flight. I then had to run through the emergency drill (establish best glide speed, pick a field for an emergency landing, go through the engine failure and/or fire procedures etc.), as we started to lose height. At a safe distance from the ground, Mike confirmed the exercise was over, so I applied power and climbed away. After a few more exercises, we headed back to the Airport. †My landing this time was the best I had done so far, so I was quite pleased about this. As we got out of the aircraft, I asked John how he had enjoyed the flight. He told me that it was fantastic, although a bit frightening, as this was his first flight in a small plane! I hadnít realized he had not flown in a Single Engine Plane before; had I done so, I would have spent a bit more time telling him what to expect. Anyway, I donít think I have put him off; he seems as keen as ever to get back into the air.

When I got back to the office, at last the exam results were in, and I had passed the Flight Planning and Performance Syllabus. Only two more exams to go now. I hope I pass these remaining ones, as a failure in Navigation incurs a $40 re-take fee, and a failure in R/T Communication incurs a $150 re-take fee.

Mike and I had lunch at the Airport, so that we could complete the Navigation Exercise planning documents before setting off at 2 PM for the actual exercise. We were to fly from Ormond Beach, to St. Augustine ( the holiday town we had driven to a day or so ago), land there, then take-off again, to fly to Flagler, for another landing and take-off, before flying back to Ormond Beach. We checked the winds-aloft information, area weather information, TAFís and METARs for each Airport (donít ask), so that we could complete the planning with the latest information. All of this stuff is available on-line; whatever did the Aviators do before the Internet? It must have taken ages to plan a flight. Another new Student joined us to back-seat on this flight; David was here to do some hour building before undertaking a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) course. We took off, and flew North up the coast to St. Augustine. It took me a while to spot the Airport (I was looking out of the left hand window, but the Airport was under the starboard wing). The circuit was very busy, so we were refused permission to join the pattern, and had to circle outside of their airspace for about 15 minutes, which rather ruined the timing for arrival we had planned in the exercise. At this point we were circling at about 3500 feet, and when we were eventually given permission to join, we were instructed to circle and descend to 1500 feet before joining the pattern. I was amazed how different the approach looked from this shallower angle, and again ílostí the airport for a few moments. Another important lesson learnt.

After landing at St. Augustine, we took off again, and completed the exercise by navigating to Flagler, landing and taking-off, and then returning to Ormond. After landing, and the de-brief, I discovered that another student must have snaffled the bike, so it was the long walk home for me tonight. This time, I walked half of the way through the golf course, before rejoining the road, which was very pleasant at that time in the evening.† I had managed to get in three hours of flying today, which will go some way to helping me catch up on the hours required. The staff keep telling me not to worry about getting the full 45 hours in, but I am conscious that it will only take a few days of bad weather to adversely affect the schedule.† The number of students has also increased quite dramatically this last week, so there is bound to be more call for Instructors, and aircraft, time. With this in mind, I have managed to book another solo session first thing tomorrow morning (7:30 AM), so I will have to search for the bike, and snaffle it back, or itís the long walk again tomorrow.