Monday, September 27, 2010

The Onset of Summer

This past Sunday, New Zealand turned it's clocks ahead to Daylight Savings Time in preparation for summer.  And I must say, it worked!  After weeks of wild rainy and windy weather, yesterday and today have been beautiful clear "summer" days.  In fact, we don't really start summer until Labour Weekend (25 Oct) but the weather is good enough right now to really amp up the anticipation.

Over the past few days, the props have been turning and students have been enjoying their lessons...except me!  I usually take the 'left-over' spaces available when there is an instructor out here at the field already.  These past few days, with the weather being so good means that all the spots have been filled!  Everyone has been hanging out for some great flying weather, not just me.  I'm all right with that, I probably need a bit of distance from the frustration I was feeling over my poor landings so that I can get in a positive head space about learning to fly again.  

I'll let you all know when I'm in the air again - probably this Friday! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Yesterday I sat my 3rd theory exam - Flight Radio Telephony Operator.  I feel very positive about the exam - if there's one thing I know how to do, it's talk.  And using the radio is all about talking.  Although there are some confusing rules, the overall thing is to be clear, concise, and accurate and to use the proper terms associated with radio communications.

As a student, you start using the radio early on to make basic calls and as you progress with your flying skills, you begin to make more and more of your radio calls yourself.  You get a good idea of what calls need to be made and what to say by listening to your instructor making calls for you when you're too busy learning to fly the plane.

For me, I think the fact that I've been using the radio and hearing other people's radio calls for some time now helped  me with the written exam.  I think it must be much harder to pass the written exam with no practical learning behind you in this case.  While I was studying for and doing the exam, I would imagine in my head that it was a real person making a radio call - what they sounded like, what the pace of their speech was and how I would respond (including my tone of voice and pace).  Imagining voices in my head seems a bit weird, but whatever works, right?

Other than studying for my exam, I have not been doing anything towards my flying.  There was a weather system approximately the size of Australia moving over our little country and it took it's time.  We had gale force winds, thunder, lightning, and hale - certainly not conditions to be out flying!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flying in Style

Harriet Quimby, the first woman in the US to receive her pilot's license once said, "If a woman wants to fly, first of all she must, of course, abandon skirts and don a knickerbocker uniform."  While I wouldn't go quite that far, I do believe that there are certain considerations to be taken when dressing for a flight - you must dress so that you will be comfortable and unrestricted.

My usual flying outfit leaves a lot to be desired in the style department, but fits the comfort and ease of movement conditions to a t.  Generally I fly in a t shirt and jeans with a pair of well fitting flat slip on shoes on my feet and a I wear a light weight wind breaker jacket while I'm outside checking over the plane.  While I'm perfectly happy with this, I do think I could easily dress far more stylishly and glamorously and STILL be comfortable and able to move.

You may wonder what has prompted me to reflect on what I wear while flying.  It's simple, I got an email the other day from BurdaStyle encouraging me to try a new look...that look is Aviator Chic.  I suppose the fact that I'm a real live aviator made me take notice of this, and the fact that I don't really bother with chic at all when I fly.  They cite Amelia Earhart, the "First Lady of Flight", as their inspiration for donning such classic pieces as bomber jackets, wide leg trousers, and button up blouses or being a bit more daring in khaki jumpsuits.  Amelia was also known for wearing slim leg jodhpurs tucked into her boots and scarves, knotted expertly around her neck.

I trolled around and found a few of my favourite images of Amelia Earhart and actresses playing Amelia to share here for your inspiration and my own.

While I probably wouldn't go for the khaki jumpsuit, the wide leg pants, blouses, and light scarves would be easy and comfortable to wear and I already have 2 bomber jackets (one black light weight "fashion" jacket and one real army green flight jacket).  So, I will keep the idea of dressing well for flying in the back of my mind for future promises, but you may get a photo of me one day as I'm heading off to a lesson and looking as casually glamorous as today's style icon, Amelia Earhart.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Starting the second page of my log book...

So, today I made the first entry on the second page of my log book.  I have been double spacing, but it still seems like quite a lot of flying...9.8 hours brought forward and 0.8 hours logged today.  I've cracked 10 hours, so I guess that's something.

Today's flying was okay.  Well, actually, the flying was good but the landings are still tripping me up.  It's annoying to have everything down to those last few feet above the ground.

I think that's all I have to say about that today...

Friday's Flight

I had a flying lesson on Friday.  Yes, it's now Monday and I'm just finding the time now to say anything about it.  That's what preparing for children's birthday parties does...I had to spend the rest of Friday and Saturday baking for the 16 kids we had around yesterday...not to mention parents!  Good thing I like cupcakes and cookies about as much as I like flying...

My lesson on Friday, while yet another lesson in the circuit, was different to any lesson I've had so far.  I was flying with a female instructor.  The dynamics of the lesson seemed somewhat different flying with a female instructor.  I'm not sure what it was but it was nice to have a different perspective on flying anyways.
As I said it was another lesson in the circuit...actually, another lesson on emergency procedures in the circuit - glide approach to landing.  As usual, all of the in the air stuff was good and I found myself setting up the glide approach with relative ease.  As usual, putting the plane on the ground was the difficulty.  For once, there wasn't a crosswind, but my landing technique is only good in a crosswind...side slipping and S bends aren't very nice on a calm day. 

While I can consider glide approach to landing learned, I have yet to perfect my landing techniques and can't really go on to the next lesson, flapless landings without getting regular landings down pat.  My goal for the next lesson is to pick a nice calm day and hammer the circuit with a real emphasis on a nice smooth landing without a crosswind!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Quest for the Perfect Crosswind Landing

Today was a funny day.  The weather was so up and down that we cancelled my lesson at one point and then decided it was back on.  That's not to say that the weather cleared right up and we had perfect conditions...

In fact, today's conditions were rather challenging.  There were good physical demonstrations of the effects of wind shear, head winds, tail winds, and crosswinds. 

The main goal of today's lesson was to get that crosswind landing technique down.  Crosswind landing technique is hard to describe but to do a good one, you want to land on one of the rear wheels, let down until the second rear wheel is on the ground and then gently let down the nose wheel.  You have to physically 'dip' the wing into the wind and then oppose that action using opposite rudder to keep you straight.  I had a good number of tries today and did relatively well.  Did I get the technique down pat?  Well, my instructor did say one of my landings showed "perfect crosswind technique" and was "sweet as" and on the last landing when I had a momentary doubt and asked him to take control, he chided me saying that I had that one and he was perfectly confident that I could have handled it. 

We also simulated a few engine failures after take off and I was able to handle them without any stress...even when the simulation came late on the crosswind leg and I wasn't expecting it.  The instructor was impressed that I didn't get confused by difference as engine failure can happen at any time.

With such positive feedback today, I feel like I'm really on track to going solo in the next couple of hours.  Hard to believe I've done 8.8 hours of flying already! 

One other thing...I found this quote today and I thought it was awesome:  Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.  ~C.D. Jackson