Sunday 6th March 2011

The three of us that had started training together (Jens, Andreas & myself), were becoming a little concerned that we were not getting enough flying hours in, to complete the course in time, so we have been looking at every opportunity to get in the air. Today, there appeared to be a slot in the early morning, when the aircraft were not being used, so we decided to get up early, go to the Airport, and see if we could make use of the spare ‘slots’.  Jacob, one of the Instructors was there early to carry out a lesson with his Student, so he checked the scheduled, and cleared us for flying. When we had pre-flighted the aircraft, and lined up on the taxiway, it was like a ‘Squadron Scramble’, as we all waited for take-off clearance from the Tower. This allowed us all to record another hours solo in our log books, and the early morning calm was a bonus, as we didn’t have the usual midday cross winds we have seen recently.

After our early morning flight, we decided that an American breakfast was called for, so we drove into Daytona, to go to the local IHOP Restaurant for Breakfast. When we arrived, however,  the place was jam packed with Bikers, all in town for Bike Week. Bikers were queuing at the door, so we decided to give it a miss, and find another place to eat. I hope to get another opportunity to eat at the IHOP place during the week, I want to see if the Breakfasts are as good as those I remember from ‘Big Boys’ last time I was in Florida in the 90’s. The place we found to eat was OK, and the egg & bacon sandwich, whilst not up to UK standards, certainly filled a hole this morning. Back at the house, it was back to studying the books in between flights. Later on in the day, I had another solo session lasting 0.8 hours, so I only need another 0.5 hours solo now, and then I will be allowed to go cross country.

As Andreas was to do his three hour night flight this evening, we brought forward our trip to Daytona Airport to collect the hire cars we had ordered.  We did this over the Internet. However, when we arrived at the Airport, the lady at the Alamo desk told me she wasn’t expecting me until the evening. “No problem”, she said, “I’ll just see what vehicles we have available. Well I can give you the car you ordered, or you can upgrade to a Dodge Challenger for an additional $10 per day?” Well what is a boy to do? I jumped at the chance. When Jens & Andreas came to get their new car, they asked if they could have a Challenger too, and after a bit of searching around, Alamo came up with another for them. We drove back to the house in convoy, past the Daytona International Speedway Track (we had photographed this from the air a couple of days ago), which was awash with Bikers. I am not sure that ‘awash’ is the right descriptive word to use, as most of them looked like they hadn’t washed in a year (but I wasn’t going to tell them that). The Bikes certainly seemed to bet better groomed than the Bikers. When we got back to the house, we couldn’t resist lining the two Challengers up on the drive, and taking some photos.

My third flying stint today was to be another night flight, to catch up on the hour I had missed out on yesterday. The only problem was that Mike was flying with Andreas for three hours from 7 PM, so after the usual de-briefing following that flight, we didn’t get airborne until 11 PM. We then completed eight take-offs and landing within the next hour. Together with the two from last night, that made up the ten I need so that I can now go solo for the remaining two hours of night flying I still have to do.

The pace is certainly hotting up now, as we approach our final week of the course; we need to get some serious hours in this week, so I can’t see much leisure time being available this week. Let’s hope the weather stays fine for the rest of the week. There were Thunderstorms forecast for today, but fortunately, me missed most of them at Ormond (although Andreas had seen some interesting lights over the sea during his night flight ); the only problem we had during the day were the accompanying winds, which curtailed some of the flying hours available.