Monday 7th March 2011

When we checked the schedule for this morning, there was about an hour of early morning daylight when it appeared that several planes were not being used. One aircraft and Student had an early start, so we knew that an Instructor would be in to sign him of. A quick check of the schedule showed that this was going to be Jacob, who is a very helpful and laid back guy, and who goes out of his way to help the Students. He was a great help to me a few days ago, when he gave †me some one-on-one tuition with the Whizz Wheel, when I was finding it hard going. Most of the Instructors are very helpful, but like in all walks of life, some people will go the extra mile to help out, and Jacob definitely falls into this category. We decided to get up early, go to the airfield, and see if we could get the early slots. When we arrived, as expected, Jacob tried to help us out, and I and Andreas got an aircraft, but unfortunately, Jens missed out.† We had each chosen an aircraft to pre-flight before Jacob arrived, and Jens was just unlucky, the one he chose was due for a 100 hour check, so couldnít be used before this. I only needed 0.5 hours to complete my four hours solo in the circuit (needed before I could go cross country), so I just did enough to get this, two take-offs and landings before taxying back to the ramp, with exactly 0.5 hours on the clock. Then it was back to the house for breakfast. Jens was annoyed that he couldnít get a flight, so went to see ĎThe Managementí later in the morning, which I think has had a beneficial effect for all three of us, as we seem to be getting priority now, to complete the course by the weekend.

I had expected another lesson with Mike around midday, but when I turned up, he told me take the aircraft myself for another hour in the circuit. Apparently, I have an excess of dual hours, but need to catch up some solo hours, to ensure the mix is right at the end of the week. I had another hour scheduled for later on in the day, so Mike told me to prepare a Nav Log for a short cross country flight to the airfield at Pierson we had oveflown the other day on the way back from Titusville. I went back to the house, and got to work.

It was later in the afternoon when I returned with my Nav Log for Mike to review, before he let me go off alone. This was quite exciting for me; it had started to get a bit boring just flying around Ormond Beach Airport in the circuit, I wanted to have a go at going further afield. There was naturally a bit of trepidation as well, I remember how only a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea where the Airport was from the air, (unfortunately, there are no road- signs up there to point the way). However, I had become a little used to the area from the air, and being near the coast is a definite advantage as VFRís (Visual Reference Points) donít come much bigger than the ocean. I was also a little nervous of finding the airfield at Pierson, when we had overflown it the other day, we were almost on top of it before I realized; it is a grass strip, and these are much harder to spot than Tarmac Runways. However, all the time Mike has spent teaching us Navigation paid off; I flew directly to it, and had no trouble this time in spotting it. I wasnít due to land on it for this trip, so I just circled this field, and then headed back to Ormond. The first of my three cross country exercises successfully completed.

When I was back in the office, one of the other Senior Instructors, Bill, told me that he had scheduled the three of us for our Radio Telephony Practical exam for Thursday afternoon, as the weather forecast for then is pretty dreadful. As it is unlikely that we will fly that day, I think I will schedule the one other remaining exam (Navigation) for the Thursday Morning. Everyone seems to agree that Navigation is probably the hardest of all the exams. You are expected to plan a cross country flight on the UK Map, work out the headings and speeds, based on wind direction and velocity, and then calculate things like time, fuel used etc. There are then twenty five questions based on this, and radio navigation knowledge. There only needs to be an error of a very small percentage to throw the whole thing out, and although the questions are multi choice, the four answers proposed are quite close together, so accuracy is everything. I also prefer the exams were there are more questions than less, as when you have to get 75% to pass, with only 25 questions to go at, you donít need to get many wrong before you fall below the threshold. I think some serious studying and practice is called for in the next couple of days.