Friday, 24 July 2015

Improving safety

Flight safety is everyone’s top priority. In general pilots tend to be risk-averse and conservative in nature. Sure there are always a few idiots but in general we prefer to keep our planes intact and ourselves alive.

There have been many studies carried out in many different countries and many millions of dollars spent all with the singular purpose of improving flight safety.

In the light of such extravagant expenditure I feel it is only right that I do my bit. So I have carried out my own study, based on direct observations of a number of years and I’m pleased to tell you that I’m now in a position to report my findings.

The single most effective way of ensuring a safe and uneventful flight is………..

To remove all instructors from aircraft effective immediately.

You see I have noticed a direct correlation between there being an instructor on board and the likelihood of the engine mysteriously quitting on you!

Ok, you got me. This might be my not so subtle way of complaining about the fact that I was happily in the circuit, after a reasonably good flight in which I’d easily demonstrated my ability to land the plane after an engine failure. I was quietly contemplating my last abomination of a landing (seriously out of practice) and how I was going to claw the next one back when I see Bob’s hand dive for the throttle. I’ve never managed to win the hand slapping battle-of-the-throttle, so I resign myself to the inevitable, trying to get it on the runway in one piece.

I manage, but it wasn’t pretty.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Normal pilots don’t do this….

… I grumble as I set up my HASEL check for the airwork that Bob has persuaded me to attempt.

Secretly I’m a little bit proud of the fact that even though it may well have been 6 months since I last attempted one, my steep turn was easily within test standards. I’m even prouder of the fact that although I’m about to attempt the dreaded stall, I’m not scared. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it but the fear has most definitely gone.

I pull back on the controls muttering “normal pilots don’t do this. They take off, fly to airports. Eat pancakes and then come home. None of this stalling crap”

Bob doesn’t seem to care about “normal pilots”; JPM is a tad more sympathetic, reminding me gently of just what a none event a stall actually is in this plane. I’m half expecting Bob to tell me that I recovered too early but it seems that he’s satisfied.

We move on to the next manoeuvre. Just as it has done so many times before, the engine mysteriously quits and I’m left mulling over my choices of field.

There are a fair few likely candidates around. Bob shrewdly makes me state very clearly just which one exactly it is I’m aiming for.

The approach is by no means perfect but I recognise relatively quickly that I’m too high and widen out my approach to accommodate.

We make it easily. Again not bad considering that I reckon I have, at best, a fifty-fifty track record on my forced approaches.

Happy that I seem to have remembered just how to fly one of these things, we head home for the circuit.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Tigger takes flight.

I haven’t flown in the left hand seat for a good few months now. It isn’t until I firm up plans with Bob to get me back and current again that I realise just how much I’ve missed it.

Despite the heat of the day (a hot and humid 30 + degrees) I barely notice the discomfort until we climb on board and Bob comments “Welcome to the Cessna greenhouse!”

It takes me a few minutes to get into the flow of things, I’m too used to the view from the right hand seat and my checklist doesn’t flow as easily as it once did. I don’t care though, just unbelievably excited to be back behind the yoke again.

I give a mental chuckle as the hot, finicky fuel injected engine takes what seems like an eternity to kick over and start. Idly I’m wondering what’s worse, having to faff around with carb heat or the inevitable summer vapour lock.

Anyways we get her started and I talk to ground, glad to realise that my radio work is still as sharp as ever, despite my jaunts to unicomed airports and their casual conversations over the airwaves. As we taxi to the runway Bob gently chides me for riding the brakes. I, of course deny all such knowledge of that particular action whilst sliding my feet surreptitiously down the pedals.

I’m already having a blast and we haven’t even left the ground yet. We line up and I smoothly advance the power. I check that we are generating full rpm and apply the slightest bit of back pressure on the controls. It is summer and I need to let her come up and off the runway in her own sweet time.

She does and we climb away, my face beaming as we leave the runway behind us, I reach down and then the grin temporarily fades a little…

...”crap…no rudder trim!” I curse, reaching for a control that isn’t there.

“right rudder” Bob reminds me as we yaw away.

“yeah, yeah I guess I’m going to have to use my legs then” I laugh.

As we head out to the practice area, I’m like a kid in a candy store. “Weeeeeeeeee!!! This is fun”  I’m bouncing up and down like Tigger and its getting hard to tell where my enthusiasm ends and the bumps of day time thermal heating begin.

Obviously Bob decides he’s had enough of this overabundance of enthusiasm and sticks me under the hood.

Guaranteed to shut me up!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

And I’m back…

Yep, apologies for the lack of posts. It isn’t as if I haven’t been doing a tonne of flying related stuff. I’m just finding writing incredibly difficult at the moment.

But I’ve had enough people bugging me about the lack of blogging that it is going to be easier to write than come up with more excuses!

So expect some blog posts in the coming days. Not sure if they’ll be up to my usual standard (whatever that is) but at least they should be enough to keep people off my case!