Friday, December 31, 2010

Advanced Stalls

Wednesdays lesson was on advanced stalls.  It is the last fundamentals lesson before starting circuits.  We got booted from the office mid arvo as the power went out, so I took the opportunity to squeeze in this lesson.  I've been excited about this lesson as I know it involves some fun manoeuvres, particularly wingdrops when stalling with flaps and power.

The lesson was no disappointment, it was fun.  We covered a bunch of different stall configurations which included:

Straight & Level1500 rpm00Basic stall, slower speed.
Straight & LevelIdle200Basic stall, slow airspeed, lower attitude.
Straight & Level1500 rpm200Slow speed, wingdrop occurred :)
Climbing (departure stall)2100 rpm00Small wingdrop.
Descending Turn (approach stall)1500 rpm200Was fun, but we couldn't get the C-152 to stall in this configuration.
Glide StallIdle030High attitude, slow speed.

To try and capture the fun, my trusty GoPro HD Hero was along for the ride.  The only problem was that I hadn't charged the battery, so 80% of the flight was not recorded.  However it did get Adam demonstrating the powered flap stall, which delivered the first wingdrop.  This one wasn't to severe, well not as severe as the one that occurred when I did it.  Particularly because my first attempt I did a few wrong things, like use the Ailerons, making it worse (more fun).  Here is a link to the wingdrop with Adam calmly recovering it or watch it below.  What you can't see is the full right rudder it kicks in...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stalls (basic)

Second lesson this week and it was stalls.  I was quietly hoping that we would do stalls and advanced stalls today.  Not so, too much to cover, so they are in two lessons.  There are two reasons for my enthusiasm.  First is that stalls are the closest thing to aerobatics so far and secondly, when stalls are done, we get to start circuits.  I've booked for next Sunday morning, hoping that is when circuits would start.  So with advanced stalls still to be done, I think I'm going to have to find time for another lesson so we can get to circuits on Sunday.

Startup and taxi out were good, run up ok too.  We rolled out to runway 06L and had immediate clearance.  I had controls and started our roll in VH-IGX with full power.  At about 20 knots Adams door popped open slightly.  He managed to pull it shut ok pretty much straight away and we continued our takeoff.  All good and we were away, tracking south west then out to the training area.  The thing I noticed today, is that I'm feeling more natural on the controls and that far less thought is required.  The Attitude, Lookup, Attitude and Performance checks are becoming automatic as well.  While performing each of the basic manoeuvres, the quick checks on the appropriate instruments are becoming more routine.  Even setting the elevator trim is becoming automatic too.

The lesson involved basic stalls.  This involved bringing the engine back and holding the aircraft at the same altitude.  So all we are doing is constantly increasing the Angle of Attack (AoA), upto about 16 degrees when our Cessna stalls.  At this point the air speed is about 40 knots in clean configuration (no flaps or load).  The stall buzzer comes on and the nose drops.  It was the same routine for each stall.  The focus was on three types of recovery.  The glide recovery.  No power and a drop in the attitude (lower the nose) to decrease the AoA.  We lost about 200 ft with this recover.  The next was a power recovery.  This time as we lowered the nose slightly we used full power.  We lost about 75 ft with this recover.  The last stall was the incipient.  This one we lowered the nose and full power right on the stall.  We didn't loose any altitude at all with this recovery.  Having done each a few times, we headed home.

We approached Jandakot via Forrestdale Lake.  My radio calls today were alot better, getting all the read backs right.  A not insignificant help was using the LiveATC iPhone app to listen into and get used to calls.  Anyway, the approach to Jandakot was over the airfield, joining the circuit downwind (to the North today) and around into runway 06L.  I had controls through the decent and onto the ground.  Adam claimed that I did it myself today :)  He guided me through every step and the landing was a big improvement from yesterday.  Bring on the circuits, this landing thing is fun :)

For something new, I mounted up my GoPro HD Hero camera on the side window to record the flight.  It started just after we fueled up and climbed into the aircraft.  However, I had left it in full HD model at 60 frames a second.  That means it ran for about 35 minutes till it hit the 4gb file size and shut down.  What it missed was literally half the lesson, including the Wing Drop that Adam demonstrated and the landing.  Will bring it to 720i and 30 fps for the next flight.  At some point we'll get some footage up on Youtube to show what its all about...


Flight profile (blue shaded area is altitued, green is the GPS speed).

Jandakot departure and approach flight paths for Runway 06R.  The sequence markers differentiate the departure and arrival paths...

30 degree turns

Been a little over a week and Christmas out of the way, took the opportunity of the two public holidays this week to fit in a couple of lessons.  Yesterday was medium turns.

Back with Adam again and in VH-IGX.  Did the usual pre-flight briefing.  The air exercise is for straight and level 30 degree turns, then climbing turns, followed by descending turns.  Out of the box was pretty much the same as usual.  However I had duty for all radio calls.  Hmmm.  Was a bit "how your going" with the read backs.  On taxi clearance I read back the time, rather than the runway, oops.  Adam was quick to correct it.  So to help get more familiar with radio calls, I thought listening to some radio chatter would be cool.

On the net, the website provides access to a bunch of radio feeds.  Australia has pretty good coverage, but even better, Jandakot is online.  The Jandakot feed provides Perth Radar, Jandakot tower, Jandakot tower for circuits and Jandakot ground.  Pretty good coverage if you want to get some familiarity going.  Anyway, the website is good, but they have an iPhone app which is alot better.  You can take ATC with you on the go and listen through your ear plugs anywhere that tickles your fancy.  On the bus, driving along etc.  I've just added a page for the Best aviation apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  The details for the iPhone LiveATC and a few tips can be found there.

Anyway, the turns.  They were good fun.  We started out by doing an "S" type manoeuvres to get used to turning in, getting balanced and then exiting the turns.  All good.  The turns were done as full 360s.  Left was good, but my right turn was rubbish.  Lost too much altitude.   Tried again and it was a bit better.  The direction change requires a small nose down, turn in, keep balance and then back pressure to get the nose up to maintain the height.

The climbing turns were next.  I found these much easier for some reason that the straight and level.  The descending turns were the same, they were pretty easy too.  Anyway after that we tracked back to Jandakot via Cockburn Sound and in over Boat Shed.  We headed in on runway 06L.  We got immediate clearance and then into land.  Hmmm.  It was not too flash the approach.  Using a little too much power at one point, the plane pulled out of its decent into a climb.  Anyway, sorted with the power drop and burrying the nose towards the ground.  Adam helped with the quick adjustments needed and in to land.  We won't chalk that landing as a good success, rather a lesson in how not to perform throttle control on landing :p

Here are some GPS maps of the flight.  These were created using my cycling computer, a Garmin 305.  The images are then generated by the Mac software called Ascent, which I use to track my cycling efforts.

This next image shows the aircraft speed and altitude over time.  The blue shaded area is the altitude, whereby the green line shows the speed.  The max speed was 238km/h, not bad for a Cessna 152.  It was during a decent :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Forms, forms and more forms

When doing your pilots license in Australia, you need to get your Student Pilots License, obvious.  To get it done though, you have to go through a process of CASA forms and various other checks...

The steps to your student pilots license...

1. ARN Application - Form 1162
Complete Form 1162 (Aviation Reference Number application) to get your Aviation Reference Number.  You can fax, email (scanned copy) or post it to CASA.  There is no cost associated with this step...

You will need your ARN for everything you do as it is your unique ID when dealing with CASA.

2. Medical Certificate
You need to get a CASA designated Aviation Medical Examiner to perform a medical.  No problems, but which medical do you need done?

When your a student pilot, you just need a "Class 2" medical.  Details of when you need the other types can be found on the CASA site here.

You can't get your medical done until you have your ARN.

3. Security clearance
Next you need to be validated as not being a nutter.  So you either need an AVID or an ASIC clearance.  The AVID is the basic security clearance, there the ASIC is the more detailed security clearance.  Basically if you need to fly into or out of a security controlled airport, you need an ASIC.  My flight school recommends the ASIC.  It costs about $15 or so more than the AVID and seems to take about the same 4 weeks as the AVID.

For the AVID - Form 499 Aviation Identification (AVID)
For the ASIC - Form 498 Aviation Security Identity Card

The requirements for each is different, so visit the info on the CASA AVID/ASIC page for which one to do.  In the "Your questions answered" links, the details of the costs are buried in there.

By the way, with this application you will need to provide two passport photos, your medical certificate and a bunch of certified copies of specific documents.

4. Student Pilot License
Finally, the Student Pilot Licence.  Fill out the relevant sections of Form 497 - Student Pilot Licence.  The instructions cover off what needs to be filled in.

With this application you will need to provide 2 passport photos and certified copies of identification.  You'll typically need to meet with the Chief Flying Instructor with all the documentation and your "English assessment" completed...

You can do steps 3 and 4 together to be more efficient :)

There will be more, such as radio, PPL etc.  But I've got no idea on how that works yet...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Climbing, decending and a surprise landing

Landing, well it kind of just happened.  The story goes...

The lesson started doing climbs once out of Jandakot.  But that was even slightly eventful and learnt a lesson in that.  On takeoff in IGX on runway 012, there was a 15knot cross wind.  No sweat, but on rotation at 55knots I pulled the nose up, but not really enough.  I kind of did a little skip with the back wheels before giving it a more solid tug.  That sorted, the cross wind gave us a good roll, but balancing that felt almost second nature already.  Lesson, get the nose up and don't bugger around.

The climbs we did were best angle of climb (55 knots), best rate of climb (65 knots) and a cruise climb (75 knots).  With them the M. R. L. check was introduced.  Mixture, Reference Point and Lookout.  Then power up, set the attitude, get the right performance and then trim the baby to do it itself.  On doing the 500 foot interval, ie drop the nose for a visual check, we spotted another C-152 in the areas.  Anyway we climbed out to over 5000 feet.  You really notice the drop in engine performance and the reduced lift.  The theory books prove right after all...

By this stage out near Mandurah we turned back along the coast.  The decents were good.  A glide with no engine power, cruise decent at 500 ft per minute at 2100 rpm.  Finally a 20 degree flaps, 1500 rpm, 70 knot decent for landing.  Good practice as it turned out.  We turned west over Rockingham towards Garden Island, then up Cockburn sound.  Was beautiful in the sky, there was rain in the distance which looked great.  Everything looks so good up there.  We tracked over the boat shed (Austal), then towards Jandakot.

The tower was closed, so it was intra-plane comms for landing.  Peter, my backup instructor was with me today, he guided by to Adventure World to then track into Jandakot.  Anyway still at the controls Peter just guided me to do an approach decent.  Setting up the plane and doing so, I visually lined up the runway.  Down, down, down and Peter didn't take over the controls, I took it right into the runway maintaining 70 knots with throttle control, till Peter said cut it.  The nose dropped quickly, but pulling it up we flared and touchdown.  Nose wheel down next and the first landing just happened :)  Performing a ridiculously silly dance move, I think I might have worried Peter.  But he smiled and said "Nice one"...

It was the first time today with a different instructor.  There was some good contrasts between the two instructors, all positive.  The takeaways from Peter were that he pointed out quite a few tips that I know will shape me to be a better pilot.  Such as doing a final ground walkaround once passengers are seated (and chocks removed :p ), heavy focus on pre-takeoff control checks (which he said are a focal point for the PPL practical exam) and his approach to visual checks.  All were good.  We had a good yack too and he is really passionate about flying, I liked that...

Right then, radio calls, time to make some palm cards or something :p

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Straight and Level

Today was straight and level flight.  Pretty straight forward in terms of the concepts we needed to work through.  We did straight and level at 2500 rpm, 2300 rpm and 2000 rpm.  The difference was simply the different angle of attach (AOA) required for each.  The PAST check process was introduced.

Power - set the power correctly for the change you needed to make
Attitude - get the right attitude
Speed (performance) - achieve the correct indicated air speed (IAS)
Trim - adjust the elevator trim tab based on the IAS and attitude changes.

With the strong cross winds, it was a good demonstration of "drift" as well whereby particularly at the slow speed compensation in yaw was required to keep heading towards our visual target.

The runway today was 120 due with 12knot cross winds.  Meant I got to learn cross wind take offs too.  It simply meant turning the ailerons towards the wind and as we approached 55knots, eased them back to straight and pulled up.   Then in the air, maintained a good climb air speed and off right to the training grounds.

To do straight and level we did an anti-clockwise lap of the full training areas.  It runs from Jandakot, to Manduarh, almost east to the hills and back up towards Forrestdale Lake.  We did a few turns here and there basically when Adam was deliberately messing up my straight end level.  He dropped me into a tight left turn with a good rate of decent at one point, so recovering was fun.

Today it was also my job to do all the radio calls.  As I had a few sample of the calls, I initially quoted the wrong aircraft number, oops.  That was while we were on the ground before taxi, so was ok.  Anyway, they went ok and I don't think I made too much of a fool of myself :p

I was suppose to have a second lesson today, but Chuck hand't book it in.  So back tomorrow I'm thinking.  Also a few lessons booked in for the 2 public holidays after Christmas.   That will probably see out this year, or will it...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) - choosing a theory book to study

So I'm new to this, but one thing that you figure out quickly, for every hour of flying there is probably 5 in studying theory or doing lessons with your instructor.

My flying school sells their own book which has a lot of what you need to get from your first lesson to PPL, a guide of sorts with the lessons the instructor takes you through before each flight. Its pretty good, but really only helps with the flying component. The theory requirements are most certainly required. In fact, if you were to do the theory lessons relating to the flying lesson of the day, the pre-flight briefing is simple.

So which book to study to nail the exams? Well there is something to do first and foremost, download the student VFR syllabus for aeronautical theory from the CASA website. You can get it here:

Day VFR standards and syllabus

The reason for getting this info first is that it tells you exactly what you need to learn. It covers the requirements for your 1st Solo, 1st area solo and the GFPT, PPL and CPL. The tip came from the CPL student who helped me out at the Pilot Shop at Jandakot today. He said that after a few friends failed tests, they soon learnt to use this source as well. By reading the guidelines, the knowledge sources you will need are broader that what is in the BAK books. You'll also need the aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook and know where to find certain info, be able to quote all units of measure and what they mean, radio rules for your aerodrome, local emergency procedures and also how to do certain unit conversions mentally.

Ok with that covered, back to the book comparison, Bob Tait vs. Trevor Thom (Aviation Theory Center). I started out with the ATC book. It was pretty good with details, the theoretical definitions of everything you need to know and the general flow. It has certainly given me a good foundation having finished reading it from cover to cover. However when I tried to recall knowledge based on criteria in the CASA syllabus, I struggling I quite a few areas. So based on some opinions in the downwind forums, I thought I'd give the Bob Tait book a go, rather than read the ATC book a second time. Now having read half of the Bob Tait book, I can see a difference clearly. I'll try to describe it.

The Bob Tait book takes a somewhat different approach. Rather than the out and out theory and science, it alternatively descriptively demonstrates the theory. As a result, when I try to recall something, I am able to recall the practical demonstration of the theory with the examples provided. This works for my head. Ok, maybe the foundation provided by the ATC book and the recent read of the Bob Tait sways my view. My counter to that, I'm finding the Bob Tait book alot easier to read and far less mind numbing.

The synopsis, if you only want to have to read the BAK once, use Bob Tait. If you have a bigger than average brain and want the detailed theory to try and relate to situations yourself for easier recall, get ATC. Also get the ATC if you have insomnia and need a hand to get to sleep...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Flight

Well I was and still am booked in for next Sunday, but took the opportunity and did the second lesson this morning.  You can get really hooked on the flying bug thats for sure...

Today the lesson was on the effects of other flight controls, such as throttle, flaps etc.  We did the theory and prepared to head up and do the practical.  The pre-flight checks were alot quicker today, doing them the second time around.  I did them and talked my way around with Adam checking as I went.  All good, with the only things I forgot without prompting was the rear wheels and the engine fuel sample.  Anyway, with those done we were all good.

We dragged the plane (VH-IGX) out to the apron.  It was busy though, so had to navigate around a few of the planes already out there heading for joy flights.  The Robin aerobatics planes seem to be really popular for joy flights and they were in and out all morning.  Anyway, we got out pre-flight checks done, made our call and headed out.

Today, the yellow line was dead centre on taxi, this aircraft was easier to steer.  We did run-up tests and taxied out to the runway.  Adam requested takeoff clearance with a 10 second hold.  That was so he could hand over control and guide me through a take-off.  Brilliant!  Was pretty straight forward due to a lack of cross-wind and we were away.  We climbed out over and headed down to the training area.  We seemed to have the area to ourselves, but it seemed by the radio traffic that everybody else was somewhere near the southern end of Cockburn Sound or wanting to pass through.  The tower kept reminding them all of the aerobatics of the Robins down there.

We did the practical of lowering flaps and controlling the attitude change when the aircraft tried to balloon.  We did it a few times till I could comfortably keep the heading and altitude constant without change.  We did the reverse when lowering the flags.  We also covered carb heating.  Few others bits and pieces done and then a good flight back from down near Serpentine airfield.  We did some climbs and then descents with flaps, showing how you can really lower the angle of attack for better visibility.  Finally some good straight and level before making our calls to head home.  Time really flies when your up there.

Once we were over the airfield and clear to land, Adam brought us in behind the other aircraft already on approach.  Since I got to sit back for landing, I pulled out the video camera.

Debrief was good again and we covered what we'd done in practice.  We also did the aircraft inspection briefing after, which was much easier to follow having been over the aircraft a few times now.  Sweet, all done and lesson 2 in the bag :)  The bug is biting...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

First flight

Today was my first flying lesson.  The reason I'm writing this is for me to keep track of what I did and how I progressed.  If others find it useful, all the better.

The desire to learn to fly started along time ago, but its expensive and wasn't high enough up the priority list to do.  Anyway the time is now.  So a week ago, my little girl and I visited Jandakot airport to check out a few flying schools.  Basically we visited the Royal Aero Club WA (RACWA), then Air Australia.  By the time I left Air Australia, my decision on who I'd learn with was made.  Chuck gave me the run down on how things worked there and it suited me perfectly.  Adam showed us a few of the aircraft and seemed a good bloke.  Turns out he is now my instructor.  On the way home I rang Chuck back and booked in the first lesson.

Leading up to today, Caroline gave me her old ATC "Basic Aeronautical Knowledge" (BAK) book by Trevor Thom and I started reading about aerodynamics.  Aerofoils, lift, drag, parasite drag, centre of gravity, centre of lift, lift co-efficients, yaw, rolls, pitch and a bunch of other theory.  It was good at putting me to sleep.  Anyway it paid off as the pre-flight briefing today was all about exactly those things.

The briefing with Adam was great, Air Oz had a folder prepared, all the necessary forms and a check list of what I needed to do over the coming period.  Form 1162, a medical, then after that form 498 and 497. I few purchases will be required to get started, such as a log book, VTC Perth (map) and a clipboard...

So finally, the flight, well not quite yet.  A good chunk of time beforehand was spent on going over the aircraft, a Cessna 152 (VH-AOH), and got a taste of the repetitive checks.  I have a feeling that almost all we will learn will be repetitive checklists so that it becomes natural.  The aircraft was sweet and well maintained.  The checks so I remember were the power, flaps down and nav lights, then power back off.  The check was then done and the flags put back up.  We dragged the aircraft out to the apron and then commenced the aircraft checklist.

That was pretty straight forward and I sure will become more routine.  Again, all good.

So finally, the flight.  Well not quite yet.  Once we got permission to move, there were more checks and we began our taxi.  My initial efforts were pretty poor.  The yellow line was somewhere in the middle of the right wing, rather than the centre of the aircraft.  Anyway, that sorted and the pre-flight run up.  More checks and all good.  On taxi out to runway we had to wait for the RFDS aircraft to leave then us.  Again more checks then our turn.

So finally the flight, yes, Power up and quickly we were in the air.  Adam did most of the work, but I could feel the controls and his inputs.  Very relaxed and easy.  I got to do the climb out to 1500 and the smile set in.  From there we headed up to 2000 and into the training area.  We went over the primary and secondary effects of all the flight surfaces.  Sweet, although the yaw made for a few good stomach moments with the gusty wind bouncing us around a bit.  Then onto secondary controls such as trim.

Anyway, after a bit of free flight, we headed back.  A few calls, visuals on other aircraft and we were no sooner on our way down.  A quick right hander after passing over the air field, Adam demonstrated a smooth and short landing as another RFDS aircraft was coming in behind us.  That done, we I taxied us back and this time held the yellow line all the way in.  Yet more checks and then done.

The post flight briefing was good.  We went over the whole flight and discussed and reviewed everything we learned beforehand and applied in the air.  Good records were noted and we were done.  Next lesson booked, although I might try and squeeze another in tomorrow :)  I'm convinced I have chosen the right school and very happy with my assigned instructor...

Lesson 1 - tick!