Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Mixed emotions during the solo flight. I felt ready. I treated the flight as it was any other flight. 

I taxied to ALPHA for power checks. I double checked everything, I questioned one of the magnetos during the RPM drop check, but I gave it the thumbs up. Just paranoid. There was no issue.

I taxied onto the active. Then it hit me. The decisions I make in the next 10mins could kill me. It really hit me as I applied full throttle. Rudder control. Ailerons neutral. 65kts.

I probably flew one of my best circuits. I was 100' high on the downwind. I extended my downwind leg due to traffic ahead turning base. I didn't panic. I didn't want my first approach to be a go around with the need to retract the flaps.

Turned final. 600' on the QNH. Felt low. Power. Pitched for 70kt. 10deg then 20deg. Perfect profile. 65kts. Runway not moving up or down.

Wind? Slight xwind. No factor Fly the approach.

Landing was amazing. With an instructor, you always feel he/she is giving you guidance. This time, there was no help. I felt in complete control.Right wheel, followed by left (1sec). Then the nose wheel. 

I had done it. I think I only swore ten times to myself during the circuit!

ATC audio available on the following link. Audacity misses the first second of each transmission.

0 --> 2156mins (Solo!!)

My journey to date has all been about stop/start. 

2000 --> 2001 = 733 minutes (stopped due to lack of money. Medical not complete)
2007 --> 2008 = 858 minutes (stopped due to work commits situation. Medical, complete 1hr before training stopped!)
2009 --> 2010 = 140 minutes (lack of flying due to work commits) 

I started flying again on the 23rd July 2011. Circumstances came together allowing me to fly at least a couple of times a week. At this point, all the previous experience started coming back to me. "I just get it" I said to myself after nailing a few landings. After another 425 minutes of flying, I was ready for the solo. 

On Tuesday 20th September, the wind was 10kts down the nose. I had been struggling with cross controls with a cross wind component >8kts. I knew there was a chance that today would be the day. 

I started off with two normal flapped T&G's. Nailed the landings. On the third landing, the instructor called the tower asking for a glide approach and the option for a full stop/touch and go. I knew at that point that if I nailed the landing I would be going solo Glide approach, turned base early, no flap until I knew the airfield was reachable, full flap, pitched for 60kts, nailed the landing. Vacated at BRAVO and taxied to the ramp. My instructor said, "On you go, power checks at ALPHA, 1 circuit and come back and pick me up.

The time had come.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Just as I was getting back into flying in the circuit and pushing for that solo flight, the weather closed in. I have not flown for almost two weeks. This week Ireland bore the brunt of ex Hurricane Katia with winds gusting over 50kts. (http://www.nowpublic.com/environment/hurricane-katia-photo-iss)

Being grounded has allowed me time to think about the procedures I need to follow whilst in the circuit. @askcaptainjon on Twitter has asked me adhoc questions on what I would do if a particular scenario transpired. There is no harm in revising the procedures once in a while. I am fully aware that a PPL is a License to learn and not an indication that I know everything about flying!

On a positive note, I did pass my English Proficiency Test. Armed with my valid Student, Medical and EP License, I am now ready to push for that elusive solo flight.

Next flight is Wednesday 14th.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

English Test

Where possible I am practising all my radio calls ready for my English Proficiency Test next week.

The radio doesn't scare me. Just need to remember to write everything down that ATC asks me to do. I am always anticipating what the Controller might ask me. When I flew out of Newcastle (EGNT) last year in a PA28, I came unprepared to fly out of such a big airport. No pen, no paper etc. Lesson learnt!

Here is a link to a recent flight where I had to call into the Dublin Controller who was handling several inbounds into Dublin. I know it's not perfect. Didn't mention VFR once. But with the help of websites like liveatc.net, I am improving.


What a Difference a Day Makes & Social Media

With 3 years away from flying, the world has become a smaller place. Since starting to fly again in August, there is a large amount of information out there to aid student pilots. One resource is Twitter. I am now tweeting updates on each flight to my followers (I call them fans!). I am finding that people are very helpful with providing inspiration to continue and advice when needed. 

I lost a lot of confidence during my latest lesson where I could not judge a 40degree 10kt crosswind. People like @askcaptainjon and @JamesDCessna152 are providing instant feedback on what I should be thinking about. One comment was made that I should not get back in an aircraft until I understand the following. Thinking about what the Tweeters were writing to me helped me understand the issue.

Speaking of the issue - On Tuesday, I nailed the 6 T&G's. Felt I was getting closer to solo. On Thursday I screwed the whole thing up. What a difference a day makes. I now understand what went wrong and I need to work on ensuring it doesn't happen again.

Thanks to those who are tweeting me. For me, it's an additional briefing/de-briefing session.

Now focusing on getting these landings sorted and solo before moving to Arizona in October.

Next up is my English Proficiency test.