Friday, July 2, 2010

Meeting the STS-132 crew

This week I had the opportunity to meet the crew of Shuttle mission STS-132. They have just completed a week long visit of Great Britain. 10 days ago, the Center for Life group managed to secure the astronauts for an evening.

The crew spoke for an hour, showed several slides and a video. It was a very inspiring evening. My seven year old came along for the ride. He very much enjoyed meeting them too. He managed to get one of his questions answered during the Q&A session. I still don't think he has separated Doctor Who/Star Wars from real life! I think he was expecting the crew to arrive in a Tardis or with a light saber!

First flight at an international airport

I hired a PA28-161 Warrior for an hour from Northumbria Flying School and flew from Newcastle to Carlisle and back with an instructor.

My mission goal for the flight was two fold (a) just get flying again and (b) practice my RT skills in relatively busy airspace.

The lesson got off to a bad start when the instructor asked me to pre flight the Warrior. 95% of my previous flying has been in a C172, but a plane is a plane and I started my external checks. Mistake number 1. I was very disappointed with myself. I failed to get into the aircraft and start the internal list first. The instructor proceeded to remind me of all the small mistakes I was making for the first 20 minutes.

Once I finally took off, I settled down and enjoyed the rest of the flight. We flew VFR to Carlisle never getting above 2200'. I managed to make a couple of mistakes locating some of the key visual reporting positions, but I did manage to find Carlisle without any help! I performed a touch and go on runway 25 and arrived back at Newcastle approx 80 minutes after starting the engines.

I was not prepared for the lesson. My knee board did not work too well and I failed to write down all the read backs from ATC. Mistake number 2!

I have to be better prepared next time. I know I can do better.

One of the reasons for learning to fly is so I can fly amongst the airliner traffic. This was my first flight at Newcastle and a chance to test my RT skills. Despite a couple of stumbles, I survived and only made an arse of myself once. I just need be write instructions down in the future.

Lesson's Learnt
(1) Follow the checklist from the beginning and don't rush (I should have done this)
(2) Buy a good knee board and write everything down.