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Week 3: Stalling, IFR & A Lot of Hanging Around

Up until this week we have managed to get quite a bit of flying in each week…. this week was completely different!

Piper Seneca VMonday we had a day off due to instructor availability. I decided to drive back from London early Monday morning and pop into school of my way. It was really lucky that I did because after only being in the building for a few minutes I was asked by one of the instructors if I wanted to backseat an Instrument flight going to Birmingham. The flight was conducted under instrument flight rules all the way to Birmingham, cruising at 9000ft and joining regular commercial traffic such as Ryanair, Flybe and Turkish Airlines. We then did an ILS procedure at Birmingham which ended with a go-around and engine failure procedure. We then flew back to Oxford under visual flight rules with some general handling and stalling practice on the way. The whole flight was on one of Oxfords brand new Seneca V’s.

Route Oxford-BirminghamOn Tuesday the weather was bad so we were grounded. It was a great opportunity to catch up on some of the SOP’s and our essay for the foundation degree. We decided to go out into Oxford on Tuesday evening for a burger and a cocktail… we could have stayed out all night but we were very careful to observe the 8 hour flight rules!
The weather on Wednesday was a little better in the afternoon, however as I was a lesson ahead we ran out of time before I got to fly. I did get to backseat again so at least i had some airtime. Thursday was another bad weather day so after a brief for the next flight and a lot of waiting around we decided to call it a day and head home.

FGarmin 1000inally the weather picked up on Friday and i got to fly! This lesson was the first part of stalling. After a smooth taxi and take-off we climbed to the north east at 4,000ft to carry out our stalling drills. Stalling is a very strange thing to experience because there is a point where you have basically lost control of the aircraft. I have been told by a few people that the sign of a good pilot is one who can regain control of the aircraft with minimum height lost… hopefully I managed to achieve this to a high standard and with a bit of practice will be perfect!

Hopefully the weather next week will be much better and ill get a few more hours of flying.

Week 2: Climbing, Descending and Take-Off

UK Chart CroppedAnother week of flying around the Oxford countryside complete. I have now been living in Oxford for just over 9 months and you never can truly appreciate what is around you until you see it from above. At this point I would love to share some images with you taken from the aircraft however we are, unfortunately, not allowed to take any pictures from the aircraft during flight.

On Monday I flew G-MPLD for AP4 – ‘Straight and Level Part 2’. In this lesson we looked at keeping the aircraft straight and level whilst introducing different stages of flap and different power settings. As well as following the general lesson format we are also adding in more and more radio calls and pre-flight checks.
On Tuesday we came in early as the weather forecast was looking good, unfortunately the forecast was wrong! The airfield was foggy all morning and once the fog lifted the cloud base lowered so we decided it was too dangerous to fly.

FullSizeRender-6On Wednesday I flew G-MPLC for AP5 – ‘Climbing, Descending and Medium Turns’. As part of the climbing element of the lesson I also flew the take-off and climb out from the airport. The take-off was quite a bit harder than I expected it to be. We had quite a strong crosswind so the aircraft was constantly trying to turn on the runway. Holding the aircraft level whilst monitoring the speed for rotation is a tough…. I am told with practice it becomes a lot easier. The rest of the lesson was also pretty tough due to the quantity to cover in such a short amount of time. Keeping an eye on the aircraft instruments whilst battling with the British weather and monitoring the radios is tiring!
On Wednesday evening the whole course went in to Whitney to Chequers Smokehouse to attempt a burger challenge. What a challenge it is! The burger is a 14oz burger topped with pulled pork, beef brisket, chilli, bacon, cheese, onion rings and salad. The burger bun was bigger than my head and alongside is coleslaw and fries. To complete the challenge you have to eat the whole thing – only 10 people have ever finished it! I didn’t manage to finish mine but i felt i gave it a good go!

On Thursday, feeling slightly funny after the burger, I flew G-MPLA for AP6 – ‘Climbing, Descending and Steep Turns’. After a slightly better take-off and climb out we moved on to look at emergency descents. This isn’t the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done in an aircraft, pitching the nose to the ground, but good to know how to do it.

On Friday the weather was bad again so we didn’t fly. I drove back to London around midday ready for another relaxing weekend!

Week 1: Oxford 47, Cleared for Take-Off

The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be? —it is the same the angels breathe.

— Mark Twain

When I started at OAA all I could think about was what it would be like to actually start flying…. this week I found out exactly how that felt. We have now started the next chapter of our ATPL training – Foundation Flight Training.
As I have previously posted I am going to be doing my foundation flight training in Oxford rather than Phoenix so my experiences will be very different to the normal OAA ATPL course.

G-MPLCWe started on Monday morning with a quick introduction to the course and an introduction to the instructors. As OAA don’t usually do foundation flight training in the UK we are being paired with the MPL instructors (usually assigned to the easyJet sponsored cadets). There are 5 instructors in total so we have been split into groups of three and each assigned an instructor. I am paired with Marcus and Lily and our instructor is called Jamie. Next we went through some basic pre-flight paperwork, which includes checking weather & NOTAM’s and filling in all relevant paperwork (including mass & balance, performance and booking forms). After lunch we collected our SOP’s and checklists for the Cessna 182 and went out to the aircraft to talk through how to perform an A-Check. The A-Check is the first check of the day and therefore is much more thorough than any other check carried out on the aircraft. The check includes oil, fuel and tire pressures as well as a detailed look at the entire outside of the aircraft including the control surfaces and lights.

Pilot PaulTuesday was an early start (7.30am) to make sure we could fit everything in that we needed to. We started the day with a briefing for AP1 (all flight lessons are number starting with AP1 and finishes with AP78), which is ‘Familiarisation and Effects of Controls 1’. We walked out to the aircraft (G-MPLC) just before 8.30 for an A-Check and we began our taxi at 8:50. Once airborne we looked at each flight control in sequence and how to hold the datum altitude. We landed back in Oxford at 10:05 and after a quick debrief we were ready for the next person to fly. I was in the backseat of the aircraft for the second flight of the day and then had the rest of the day to read up on my SOP’s.

Garmin 1000Wednesday was a bad weather day so we didn’t actually fly. We used the day to go over the Garmin 1000 on a simulator and talk over more paperwork and the local map. We finished the day with a brief of AP2 which was scheduled for Thursday.

The weather was still not great on Thursday morning so we had to delay our early flight until the afternoon. We used the morning to go over more paperwork and practicing our SOP’s in the Garmin sim. I ended up taxiing at 14:40 for AP2 – ‘Effects of Controls 2’. This lesson we looked at the effects of changing power and configuration on the aircraft attitude and how to hold the datum whilst making these changes.

Week 1 LogbookFriday I flew AP3 – ‘Straight and Level 1’ in G-MPLC. This lesson was all about using the altimeter alongside the datum to keep the aircraft straight and flying at a constant altitude. By the end of the week I was also performing all preflight checks, taxiing the aircraft to the active runway and starting (with difficultly) to make the radio calls to air traffic control.

I have this weekend off so I am looking forward to having some time to myself without having to worry about doing work! Next week I am scheduled for AP4 on Monday afternoon!