|Total to date||25.44||1.40||1.20|
Today was an extremely ordinary day from a weather point of view. However, we did get up this morning to do my 2nd lesson of Basic Instrument Flying (building on my rather successful first instrument flying lesson several days ago) and to do a simulated radio failure on return to the aerodrome.
Basic Instrument Flying
We headed out into the murk (bottoms broken around 2000 feet) in UFY. After turning left off runway 11L, John almost immediately directed me to put on the hood. A few minutes of flying on instruments and then John made with the post-it notes, progressively blocking out more of my flight instruments (altimeter, vertical speed indicator, airspeed indicator, turn coordinator) to simulate instrument failures. Very difficult to fly on instruments without benefit of my altimeter – when John removed the post-it note I found that I’d lost a few hundred feet in altitude despite my best efforts to fly straight and level.
But all this must have gone OK, because we then progressed to the next part of the lesson. John directed me to put my head down (so I couldn’t see any of my flight instruments) while he put the aircraft into an “unusual” attitude (eg. nose high or nose low, wings banked, airspeed rapidly increasing or decreasing) and then had me resume control and quickly restore the aircraft to straight and level flight using only instruments.
Not easy. But again, must have done OK. In a nose-high attitude with airspeed decreasing, basic drill was to increase power, lower the nose and level the wings. Conversely, in a nose-low attitude with airspeed increasing, basic drill was to reduce power, level the wings and level out.
I’m under no illusions that I’m anything like a capable pilot on instruments. There is, after all, a reason that there are entire ratings devoted to learning this highly specialised flight skill. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not allowed to go anywhere near cloud and never intend to, but it’s good to have had at least an elementary exposure to instrument flying.
Simulated Radio Failure
Scenario: I’m out in the training area, returning to the airport and I tune my radio to the ATIS to find out latest weather, runway direction etc. No joy. I try to get the tower frequency, no luck there either. I try to figure out if there’s something easily fixable with my radio set – volume, squelch, correct frequencies, switches etc. Still no luck. What do I do then? I have to get back to the airport and get down somehow.
First thing is to remember that just because I can’t hear the ATIS or tower doesn’t mean they can’t hear me. My receiver may be faulty but my transmitter works just fine. So, in sequence:
- Squawk 7600 on my transponder
- Make my inbound call as normal including the phrase “transmitting blind” – at least if they can hear me, they’ll know I’m inbound and that I can’t hear them
- Overfly the aerodrome at 1500 feet – 500 feet about circuit height – and identify wind and/or traffic direction (look at the windsock, other aircraft in the circuit or on approach etc.)
- Once landing direction is determined, overfly the runway in the landing direction and let down to 1000 feet while overflying the runway
- Make my crosswind turn, then turning downwind, make my standard downwind call including the phrase “transmitting blind”
- Start looking at the tower for light signals – I’m looking for the green that signals me I can land if satisfied no collision risk exists
- And start flashing my landing and nav lights – certainly on base leg, but no reason I can’t start doing this on downwind
- Turn base and start to descend, keeping firm eye on the tower for my light
- If green light sighted, I’m clear to land – acknowledge by flashing lights, then land
- If red light sighted or no light sighted, go around and repeat until tower “wakes up” and signals me in!
Not a circumstance I want to encounter in real life, but at least I know what to do now.
Pre-Area Solo Exam and next steps
The weather turned filthy, so I sat my Pre-Area Solo exam and got that out of the way (86%). If the weather is good tomorrow, I may fly 3 times. Need a lesson on Steep Turns. Then I have a checkride booked with Ashley (from my first solo) to verify my readiness for my first Area Solo. And if that works out, and weather still permits, I’ll do my first Area Solo tomorrow afternoon.
Weather I do Area Solo tomorrow or early next week, I don’t mind so much, but really looking forward to it. First solo sortie away from the airport! First time around I’ll basically fly out into the training area and kind of float around for an hour, keeping good proximity to Prospect Reservoir so I can find my way back to the airport. One done, my 2nd and 3rd area solos will be similar but I’ll be able to do some more practice of stalls, forced landings etc.
And, we’re planning ahead now to the GFPT (General Flying Proficiency Text) exam. We’ve booked our Chief Flying Instructor for Wednesday 13 April! There’s plenty of flying to do before then, and also the BAK (Basic Aeronautical Knowledge) theory exam. But now it’s getting serious. The GFPT exam is a good 1.5 hours in the air and probably another 30 minutes or so on the ground. Exciting, a little daunting, but this is what I’ve been after. Once this is done, I’ll have my “restricted” licence and will be able to carry passengers in the local training area.
Following that point, it’ll be the cross-country navigation exercises and accompanying theory leading up to the full PPL (Private Pilots Licence). Some or most of this component I’ll be doing part-time, as my 5th week of my 8 weeks off work is almost done. But that’s all fine.
Things are accelerating!