Friday 4th March 2011

It turned out that Ali from our house had used the bike to get home from the Airport yesterday, and had then visited one of the other houses with it, so when he turned up back at our house about 10 PM this was something of a relief. It meant I didnít have to walk to the Airport for my early morning solo; taking the bike reduces a 20 minute walk into a 5 minute ride. However, when I got to the Airport, my aircraft hadnít been released from Maintenance, so it looked like I would miss out on the flight. However, after about 30 minutes, things were sorted out, I was given the keys, and told to get on my way. After the usual pre-flight checks, I started to taxi out to the runway. This was the first time that I had been the first to use an aircraft after the over-night lay-up, so I was a bit concerned to note that the oil temperature didnít appear to be registering. I thought this may be due to the engine being cold, so I waited on the taxiway to see if it would start moving. After a few minutes, another aircraft was approaching my position from the taxiway behind, so I was just about abort my flight, and request permission to return to the Ramp, when the needle started to move. With the temperature rising, I carried out my power checks, requested permission to depart, and I was on my way.

I managed two take-off and landings on my curtailed flight, before I needed to return the aircraft for the next student. The winds early morning were non-existent, and this certainly helped me in the landing configuration. After the second landing, I had been given permission from the Tower to return to the runway to take-off again, and had taxied to the start point. However, when I checked the time, I thought that I could probably just get another circuit in, and get back to the Ramp, but with no time to spare. I decided that this would put me under unnecessary pressure, at my level (or lack of) experience, and decided the sensible thing to do would be to return now to the Ramp. I called Tower, told them of my intentions, and they gave me permission to taxi down the runway to the first intersection, and then take the taxiway back to the Ramp. By the time I had returned to the Ramp, and closed down, I realized I had made the correct decision; I couldnít have got in another circuit, and got back in time.

This early morning flight, although shorter than I had planned, did wonders for my confidence, and I cycled back to the house for breakfast, looking forward to my next flight later in the day. I just had time for breakfast (a bowl of Frosties; I am delighted to see these are available in the USA), catch up on few e-mails, and then it was back to the Airport for my next lesson with Mike. This was just over an hour or so, carrying out some emergency checks and flight maneuvers. After we landed, Mike told me to prepare for another cross country flight tomorrow, and also my first night flight for later tomorrow evening. The daytime flight is down to Titusville, back to Deland, and then on to Ormond Beach. The flight to Titusville should be exciting, as we will need to go through Dayton airspace on the way, and we should also be able to see the Shuttle Facility from the approach to Titusville, it is the closest place to the Canaveral you can get when for viewing when a launch is imminent. As we saw Discovery launched a couple of weeks ago, there will be no Shuttle on the Launch Pad, but we should easily be able to see the Launch Tower, and the Assembly Building. I remember seeing these when we last visited in 1990; it was an impressive sight then, so it should be even better from the air.

Back at the house, I started my Nav Log planning for tomorrowís flight. On the flight to St. Augustine the other day, I had found difficulty in identifying objects from the map to use as Visual Reference Points (VFRs). I was having the same difficulty for this flight, when Andreas gave me a good tip. He had used Google Earth to zoom in on the track of the proposed flight, and used this to pick out more identifiable VFRs. Using this technique helped me a lot in my planning. However, my lack of experience at the Planning Process meant I had to revise my plan several times before I was happy with it. Now I know why it is done in pencil.

I have decided to hire a car for the last week here, to give me a bit more independence, and to make me more mobile. I had thought about it last week, but had been put off by the prices when I enquired at Daytona Airport when I went with Jens & Andreas to exchange their car. Andreas had said I would be better off booking via the Internet, with a discount code he uses. He was not wrong; I have managed to get an Economy 4-door automatic for $111 (less than £70) for the whole of next week. I will collect it on Sunday Evening, when Jens & Andreas change their car again. This price includes all Insurances, and a tank full of petrol. It costs more than £70 to fill my car with petrol, back in the UK!

Jens and Andreas were going to Wall Mart, and Dean, John and Lydia took the opportunity of going with them to get in some supplies. I asked Lydia to get me some more ready meals, and another tub of ice cream, having polished off the last of the previous tub last night. Whilst I am enjoying the new meals I have been trying, I drew the line at a Lasagna (I really donít like Pasta), and had swapped the one Joanne had got for me, for a Meat Pie that Dean was willing to trade. The supplies I now have in should last till the middle of next week.